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Indians, Dictatorships and Democracies

Several South American nations have recently made transitions from dictatorship to democracy. Human rights and development groups have applauded as the military governments of Argentina, Bolivia, Brazil and Uruguay turned power over to elected officials. It is important to note, however, that the democratization of Latin America's southern cone does not necessarily solve the problems suffered by…

Torres Strait: Cultural Identity and the Sea

For the people of Mabuiag, the westernmost island in Torres Strait, heaven is not straight up; it lies on Kibu, an island to the northwest. When Islander die, their spirits sail to Kibu at sundown with the prevailing winds. The local Anglican Father regularly visits the ancestors in this mythical sea space. Belief in a marine afterworld is Melanesian custom. In Torres Strait, personal and…

The Unintended Consequences of the Boldt Decision

On February 12, 1974, Federal District Judge George Boldt dramatically altered the Puget Sound salmon fishery. Boldt ruled that, under the terms of 1854-56 treaties, certain Indian groups had retained title to 50 percent of the western Washington State salmon resource. In making this interpretation, Boldt overturned the ground rules that had structured the development of the commercial salmon…

The Flying Fishermen of Mandar

"After he East Monsoon, no one know where the flying fish goes!" Mandar Province in Indonesia is a land-poor, ocean-rich region of fishermen, traders and weavers located on the hip of Sulawesi's southwest leg. Even in relatively prosperous villages only 10 to 15 percent of the inhabitants own land for subsistence gardens, where they grow cassava, bananas and chili peppers. The women produce some…

Philippine Fisherfolk of the Bataan Peninsula

During a recent visit to the Philippines, we traveled to the southern trip of the Bataan Peninsula to the town of Mariveles. From Mariveles one can see the island of Corregidor and further across Manila Bay, the Manila skyline. After walking three miles away from the shoreline along a small river, we arrived at the family homesite of Nanding and Lelia and their four children. Their home was small…

Marine Fishing in the Philippines

This fisherman from Bicol Province in southern Luzon faces an uncertain future as his daily catch steadily drops below his subsistence needs. To match his former yields, he now has to venture farther out to sea. This has correspondingly increased his expenses and has reduced his time for supplemental farming. As he explained to the author over a meal of vegetables and fried bananas, "I can't…

Kenya's Muslim Maritime Community

Off the northern coast of Kenya is the island of Pate, and just south of it the island of Lamu. These islands are inhabited by Swahili-speaking people of Arabic descent and Islamic faith. Lamu has always attracted more attention than Pate - from colonialists and tourists alike. So when I traveled to these islands I opted to stay in Pate to gather information from fishermen in the villages of Faza…

Japanese Salmon Fleet Threatens Yukon Native Economy

Living within the Yukon-Kuskokwim Delta of Southwestern Alaska is the largest population of indigenous Native Americans still practicing the subsistence way of life. Hunting and gathering is the prime occupation of over 16,000 Central Yup'ik Eskimos. A mixed economy of subsistence, government transfer payments, and limited market employment characterize the economy. The Wade-Hampton and Bethel…

Fishing: Folklore to Foreign Policy

When I first began working on this issue of CSQ, the subject of fishing communities seemed a gentle one. Unlike "Militarizaiton" or "Forced Relocation," it didn't immediately suggest political conflict. Clearly, not all would be at peace on the water's edge: There would be cases in which modern fishing technologies threatened to eclipse the subsistence fishery of tribal peoples; cultural patterns…

Fisherfolk

Fishing has a fair claim to being humankind's most widespread and varied pursuit. From Lapland to Tierra del Fuego and Indonesia to Africa, in marshes, paddies, streams, ponds, lakes, rivers, estuaries, lagoons and the open sea itself, people use traps, spears, baskets, poisons, hooks, weirs, nets and their bare hands to catch everything from single basking sharks to masses of wriggling spawn -…

Endangered Ideologies: Tukano Fishing Taboos

For long-term survival, human populations must maintain a balance between their rate of harvest and the yield of an area. There is evidence that indigenous communities have evolved cultural mechanisms which, in effect, manage extraction activities to reduce the probability of irrevocable destruction to important but fragile resources. The Tukano of the Uaupés basin in the Northwest Amazon reserve…

Doctrine of National Security Threatens Brazil's Indians

When the leaders of the present government of Brazil assumed their posts. They inspired hope with promises reforms and transformations. The Indian peoples and their supporters anticipated a more democratic behavior in the conducting of government indigents policy, the effective demarcation of some territories where there have been conflicts, and the punishment of assassins and aggressors against…

Cultural and Ecological Survival in the Ituri Forest

Since the 1970s research conducted in the Ituri region of northeastern Zaire has documented the importance of climax tropical moist forest to the foraging practices of Mbuti hunter-gatherers. The forest is a major source of dietarily important ungulates and preserves of obligate species such as the unique and endemic forest giraffe (okapi). Given the importance of this resource to the Ituri's…

Constitutional Lobbying in Brazil: Indians Seek Expanded Role

On behalf of all Brazilian Indians, representatives of several indigenous groups presented a proposed text on indigenous rights to be included in Brazil's New Constitution. More than 60 Indians from the Xavante, Kraho, Txucarramae, Karaja, Canoeiro and Terena nations participated in a series of formal events which made up their constitutional lobby on April 22 and 23. The delegation was…

Chernobyl Fallout: A Hard Rain for the Sami

At the end of April 1986, Swedish nuclear power authorities noted unusually high rates of radiation in routine measurements at a plant north of Sweden. They initially feared that a nuclear accident had occurred in one of Sweden's own 12 nuclear power stations. It was several days later when they learned that they had actually measured fallout from the nuclear fire and explosion at Chernobyl that…

Botswana: Fishermen of the Two Way River

Habitat changes resulting from climatic shifts or overexploitation by human populations have often had negative effects on indigenous peoples. Deforestation in the Amazon Basin, desertification in the Sahel zone of Africa and overhunting in many regions have resulted in a decline in the socioeconomic and nutritional well-being of hunter-gatherers, pastoralists and agriculturists. These processes…

Aids in Africa

The virus causing acquired immune deficiency syndrome (AIDS) was identified three years ago. Since that time, the press has regularly charted the spread of AIDS, and, gradually, the world has come to realize that AIDS may well become the most killing disease in the history of humankind. This point was brought home on a recent NBC evening news broadcast. Researchers now believe that AIDS was first…

African Palm Oil: Impacts in Equador's Amazon

The development of large African palm oil plantations in Ecuador's Amazonian province of Napo has become a sensitive issue for this small South American country. Over the past couple of years the Cofán, Siona-Secoya and Quichua peoples have felt threatened by the existence of palm plantations and are concerned because of palm plantations and are concerned because of plans to greatly expand this…

A Close Encounter of the Third World: West Indian Fishermen & Supertankers

On a rocky beach on St. Lucia's leeward (western) coast, harry and I place our gear in Simon's little wooden chaloupe, lay some logs out and roll he "Good Shepherd" into the sea. As I sit on the bow, Harry is at the stern, feeding line baited with sardines into the water while, in the middle, Simon rows with tree-limb oars. The soft splash of the oars and Harry's nonstop discourse in patois add…

A Chippewa Case: Resource Control and Self-Determination

In the spring of 1982 the walleye population of Lake Superior congregated in the Chequamegon Bay to begin its annual spawning run up the Kakogon and Bad Rivers on the south shore of the bay. While many observers doubtlessly expected some walleye to fall prey to Indian fishermen's nets, few expected them to be subjected to over-fishing of such an unprecedented scale. Nearly half the breeding…