SOMEONE ELSE'S TREASURE - INTRODUCTION
text and photos by Allan Lissner/PraxisPictures
“When the company first came here, we welcomed them because they promised to bring us development – services to local communities, schools, hospitals, basics. But since they came, they have turned our whole society upside down! Land is going away, our food sources are going away, culture, costume, everything is going away, fading away! It’s worse than you can imagine!”
– Jethro Tulin, Ipili tribesman from Porgera, Papua New Guinnea.
Broken promises, environmental disasters, human rights abuses, and cultural genocide, these are only some of the experiences that indigenous peoples all over the world have had to face when coming into contact with the global mining industry, and it’s perpetual pursuit of profit.
Someone Else’s Treasure examines the social and environmental impacts of different multinational projects from the perspectives of various affected indigenous communities. The companies’ perspectives are easily accessible. The views of NGOs, human rights organizations and environmentalists are easily accessible. The perspectives of economists, lawyers and academics are easily accessible. The views of politicians, geologists and engineers are also easily accessible. But the perspectives of the people who actually live next to these mines are not.
For this reason, the focus of Someone Else’s Treasure is on the people, not the companies. Someone Else’s Treasure is not about a handful of companies that are breaking the law because, in fact, there are no international laws that require these companies to respect human rights and environmental standards.
Someone Else’s Treasure includes the stories of affected communities in Australia, Canada, Chile, Guatemala, Papua New Guinea, the Philippines, and Tanzania. These intimate portraits are both a critique of the myth of progress and a celebration of the spirit of resistance. In an effort to better understand the true cost of an industry that shapes the world around all of us, the focus is on the externalized – the men, women, and children, that have been left out of the equations and are therefore forced to pay the price for someone else’s treasure.