Yaa Heen Koosge: Indigenous Peoples and Water Wisdom

Water governance from an indigenous perspective; exploring key values, concepts, and approaches that underlie how Indigenous Peoples’ interact and relate with water.

River with sunlight shining throughFrom: Shutterstock

For over two years, Indigenous Peoples partner organizations and the UNDP-SIWI Water Governance Facility have been putting together Yaa Heen Koosge: Indigenous Peoples and Water Wisdom.

This co-created report is intended to provide insights and knowledge on Indigenous values and/or approaches to water governance by way of contributions made directly by different Indigenous communities and their partners, in their own words. Each of these contributions is based on the important message that each respective group wished to convey to external parties, rather than being set in advance or according to a template.

As a result, a rich and diverse set of direct contributions that touch on many facets of water governance has emerged, and these contributions are the focus of this report.

The report is intended to help explore key values, concepts, and approaches that are important for understanding Indigenous Peoples’ interactions and relationships with water, as well as recommendations for actions or activities that help to bridge multiple perspectives on water values.

Please note that this version is a Living Document that the contributors have agreed to make publicly available, but the final version is anticipated to be completed by the end of 2023. The reason for the finalization delay is to ensure that contributors have an opportunity to provide more images and/or further acknowledgments as appropriate or desirable.

The development of the Living Document has been coordinated by David Hebart-Coleman at SIWI on behalf of the different contributors including Carcross/Tagish First Nation, Dharriwaa Elders Group, Karen Environmental and Social Action Network, the Northern Maasai, and other authors including Humberto Cholango (Ecuador), Te Tui Shortland (Aotearoa New Zealand) and Jennifer Veilleux (United States).

Indigenous People and water

Indigenous peoples are the custodians of many of the world’s most fragile and important ecosystems. They also possess invaluable knowledge about sustainability and resilience, so they have a vital role in protecting our environment.

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Mitchell Plateau, WA, Australia - May31, 2015: An indigenous Australian woman from the local Kandiwal community sits beside a prisitne outback river. (Photo: Philip Schubert)