Photo Exhibit of Indigenous Corn Farmers and Protectors of the Americas at United Nations Headquarters

April 2018 – Maize: Our Identity, Our Food is a major traveling photo exhibit launched April 20th and on display at the entrance of the United Nations Headquarters through May 22, 2018. 

The exhibit displays 52 medium and large size photos of maize seed keepers and knowledge holders from nations spanning north to the south; from Onondaga in northern New York, USA all the way down to Mapuche communities in far southern Chile. Among the indigenous nations featured in the exhibit are: Kichwa Norte and Kichwa Sur (Ecuador), Tesuque Pueblo (New Mexico),  Mixtec, Zapotec (Oaxaca), Mapuche (Chile), Huichol (Nayarit, Zacatecas), Quechua (Peru), Mohawk (New York), Cuchumatanes (Guatemala),  Seneca and Onondaga (New York),  Zuni Pueblo (New Mexico), Maya (Chiapas), Nación Likan Antay (Chile), Laguna Pueblo (New Mexico), Raramuri (Chihuahua), Tzotzil (Chiapas), and Oneida (Wisconsin).

“Maize has sustained life on earth for many centuries. For communities across the Americas, maize is the center of creation and is called ‘Mother’. She is not just a food, but a relationship tied deeply to community health and identity. Her cycle of life has enabled a way of life based on coexistence, harmony, reciprocity and respect.

When we lose traditional seeds and foods, we lose the threads of cultural identity and the foundations of community health. Traditional seeds and foods are being replaced by hybrids and transgenics. Public policies displace our peoples from their lands. Non-traditional foods have created unhealthy communities.

The protection and defense of maize is intimately tied to the defense of territory, the self determination and autonomy of Indigenous communities and nations who continue to maintain the agrobiocultural diversity of maize upon which we all depend.”

The Photographers participating are: Asociación Andes from Cusco, Perú; Mona Caron from San Francisco, CA, USA; Ana Maria Castañeda from Cuchumatanes, Guatemala; Mateo Hinojosa from Oakland, CA, USA; Liz Hoover from Mohawk Nation, USA; Calfin Lafkenche from Mapuche Nation, Chile; David Lauer from Chihuahua, México; Manlio Masucci from Rome, Italy; Mario Neihual from Mapuche Nation, Chile; Elvia Quintanar from Chiapas, México; Karen Swift from Tumbaco, Ecuador; Adriana de la Vega from Chihuahua, México; Mauricio del Villar from Oaxaca, México; Jarrett Wheeler from Seneca Nation, USA.

The exibition was organized by Alianza Milpa with the colaboration of Asociación Andes, DISI Desarrollo intercultural Chile, Sisa Pakari centro cultural y laboral, Centro de Derechos Humanos de los Pueblos Indígenas Chile, Hampiriypacha, Asocuch, Fundación Tata Mallku, Photographer Juan Carlos Labarca, Pancho Ramírez Salas and the people at ONU Aurelie Kahn-Jochimek and Melissa Budinic.


The exhibition is inaugurated during the 17th Session of the United Nations Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues, with the participation of music and dance groups made up of children from indigenous migrant families who currently live in the USA who belong to the Sisa Pakari Cultural and Labor Center, who sang in the Quechua, Spanish and English language, and we shared several traditional foods and drinks based on corn throughout the Americas.