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Going into this summer opportunity, I felt pretty sure of what I would be doing on the farm. I have been doing that sort of work my whole life. However, there was this other aspect of my work that I was totally unsure of. That was the research around indigenous land rights in Nicaragua.

Originally, my DukeEngage was going to be in Nicaragua working with these various Indigenous (mostly Miskito) people. However, that obviously did not come to fruition. It feels good at least to still be working with that community. We have been reading through a huge amount of articles around beef traceability in Central and South America, international and national law concerning the tracking of cattle, analyzing the power of different entities (states, nations, corporations, non-profits, international courts) to find points of leverage. The work feels important but also incredibly distant from the real issues; many thousands of indigenous people are being killed and forced to leave their ancestral lands as multinational corporations raze precious rainforest to make space for cattle to graze. Are the hamburgers and dog food (where ~90% of Nicaraguan beef goes) worth it?

In an incredible juxtaposition, I too work growing food almost every day, something I have no problem rationalizing…but often the endless research is hard to justify. Perhaps it will lead to change one day but how much rainforest will there be left…

A big shift recently came when my boss assigned me the task of compiling our research into a short podcast series to help raise awareness around the issue of cattle grazing on indigenous lands in Nicaragua. I am super stoked to get started with that and have already begun to work on the music.