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Zapotec Weavers of Oaxaca: Development and Community Control

Economic development - one of the most controversial phrases of our time. Third World nations relegated to the "underdeveloped" end of the continuum have struggled to define on their own terms just what is meant by "economic development." This redefinition has led frequently to a critical stance toward unbridled capitalist development. Documents such as the Hammarskjold report (1976), written by…

Traditional Elephant Management in Sri Lanka

Multiple conservation strategies are needed to preserve the endangered elephant species Elephas maximus maximus throughout its range. Traditional cultures have profound and detailed knowledge of animal species in their environment and traditional practices for animal management that can be useful in conservation and appropriate to the values of local cultures. In 522 BC the Buddhist missionary…

The Qawasqar Indians of Tierra del Fuego

Life is hard in the archipelago of western Tierra del Fuego, at the southernmost point of the South American continent. It's a wind-swept country with blizzards 80 days a year, up to five meters of rain- or snowfall and only 20 days of sunshine per year. Sometimes the Indians are able to drink the fresh water from heavy rains which forms a layer above the salt ocean water. There is no arable land…

The Most Invisible People

Assistance to indigenous minorities of the world is complicated by the inability of tribal people to represent themselves at international forums, gain access to the press and cope with the bureaucratic environment which international support and funding entail. Typically, one or more of the most "Westernized" tribal members, and frequently even non-tribal members, become professional advocates,…

Tarahumara Handicrafts and Economic Survival

Before the arrival of the Spanish in northern Mexico, the Tarahumara people occupied a vast zone in what is now the central and lower part of the state of Chihuahua. The discovery of gold and silver at Parral in 1631 helped stimulate Spanish penetration into regions occupied by Tarahumaras. Along with this penetration came conscription of Tarahumaras into forced labor in the mines. According to…

Politics Affect Fiber Arts Development

The recent history of textile and fiber arts in Guatemala, El Salvador and Nicaragua reflect how life is changing dramatically for the people of those countries. Authorities who account for changes in the artisanry solely by citing foreign trade influence and industrialization have ignored how recurring political violence over the past 50 years has penetrated these societies and drastically…

Native Rights Movements

All over the world we are witnessing a resurgence of Native culture, Native claims and Native pride. The expansion of European powers, first Spain and Portugal, later France and England, and subsequently the consolidation of power in many states raised key questions: By what right do colonizers take the land and subjugate indigenous peoples? We are struggling still with the implications of that…

Native Rice, Native Hands: The Ikwe Marketing Collective

The Ikwe Marketing Collective is a grassroots economic development project on the White Earth Indian reservation in northern Minnesota. The project, formed by a group of craftswomen, works to get a good price for crafts and wild rice and to encourage domestic/subsistence economic activities. The project, in collaboration with land rights organizing on the reservation (the Anishinabeg Akeeng…

Indigenous Autonomy for Grassroots Development

In Latin America, as in large parts of Asia and Africa, colonial powers established an economic system by which they could extract resources and surplus production from the colonized and accumulate that wealth in Europe and the European-dominated trade centers of the world. This was held in place by the hierarchical social structure based on race, gender and the colonizer/colonized distinction.…

Hunters and Herding: Local Level Livestock Development among Kalahari San

The past two decades have witnessed a dramatic upsurge in activities involving grassroots socioeconomic development among Kalahari San. More and more San communities are electing rural development committees and initiating small-scale projects which promise to improve their livelihood. An increasing call is being heard for economic self-determination, particularly in decision making for…

Grassroots Marketing and Control

The struggles of small grassroots groups exist in almost every corner of our world. In Latin America and Mexico, grassroots organizations seem to be increasing in number of scope. This due in part to the urgency of meeting very basic needs and in part to an increasing political sophistication that sees organized efforts as one of the only ways to achieve positive improvements. Most often, these…

Grassroots Development: Not Just Organic Farming and Good Faith

Grassroots development - the term has a fresh, wholesome, democratic ring to. A group or a community takes control of the reins of change and works to determine its future, on its own terms. The imagery it evokes contrasts with that of large-scale national development and the international funding it usually requires. Cultural Survival Quarterly has illustrated numerous cases in which national…

Grassroots Development: A Question of Empowerment

Working with the mothers' clubs I learned how important we women are, and how important it was for us to get organized. Then all of a sudden the church pulled the rug out from under us. They wanted us to give food out to malnourished mothers and children, but they didn't want us to question why we were malnourished to begin with. They wanted us to grow vegetables on the tiny plots around our…

Grassroots Development - More Sunshine and Rain, Less Seed

Our intent with this issue of the Quarterly was to identify local-level development programs that were designed and run by indigenous peoples or ethnic minorities that may or may not have received assistance from outsiders. We found, however, that many projects, while identified as "grassroots," i.e. benefiting local populations, have been designed, implemented and managed by national or…

Development Aid: Minorities and Human Rights

Many of the disputes taking place in the "Third World" at present follow lines of ethnic or religious conflict - between neighboring states as well as within national boundaries. Reference to social and class conflicts alone can often fail to explain the underlying power relationships. They sometimes become understandable when we include those consequences of the colonial rule which - like the…

Classical versus Grassroots Development

The world has become preoccupied by "development." Every industrialized country has its "development aid agency," multinational development banks (MDBs) thrive on it and dozens of international organizations, including the United Nations system, are devoted to it. The purported goals of development are to eradicate poverty, raise standards of living to equal those found in the industrialized, "…

Banning Nuclear Weapons: How Many Times Must a People Say No?

In 1979, the nascent Republic of Palau, the western most islands of Micronesia that came under US control after some of the bloodiest battles of World War II, wrote and ratified the world's first constitution banning nuclear substances and weapons from their territory. Tosiwa Nakamura, the man who introduced the nuclear-free clause into the Constitutional Convention, said that 92 percent of the 7…

Artisan Development Projects

In the late 1950s, the Alliance for Progress initiated a new era of US development assistance to Latin America. During the 1960s and 1970s, there has been a tremendous increase in tourism to what were previously remote, inaccessible regions of the world and, consequently, interests in ethnic arts and crafts. In view of the expanding market for handicrafts, development agencies have supported…

Alaska Native Leadership Project

The mission of the Alaska Native Leadership Project (ANLP) is to enhance our leadership qualities by development of personal and professional skills while maintaining cultural awareness, balance and pride. We achieve this through statewide networking, community involvement and continued education. Sharing and applying our knowledge secures the survival of our cultural heritage, organizations and…