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Whirlwind Legislature Threatens Garifuna Lands

The government of Honduras is currently amending its constitution, and Article 107, which forbids the sale of lands within 40 kilometers of the coast to foreigners, may be altered to allow for the sale and development of coastal lands to foreigners and tourist interests. Since 1998, the Garifuna have been campaigning internationally to stop this amendment, claiming the government's actions have…

Welcome to Oaxacalifornia

The political experiences of indigenous migrants who seek to influence, from the United States, political processes at varying levels from local to national presents a challenge for the emerging indigenous movement in Mexico. How can the demands of indigenous migrants who are scattered beyond their traditional territory be incorporated into the list of causes taken up by the national indigenous…

Voices from the Silence: Guatemalan Literature of Resistance

Described as a "collage epic" by its editors, Voices from the Silence attempts to creats a literary narrative of Guatemalan history from the Mayan Conquest to the 1991 elections. Organized chronologically, and centered on specific events, the first part of the book contains writings from 1300 to 1954 -- the period of conquest, colonization, and independence. The second part, literature of the…

Treaty Violations and the Hydro-Payment rebellion of Cross Lake, Manitoba

When the signing of Treaty 5 took place in Norway House, Manitoba in 1875, the leaders representing the Cree hunters and their families who put their "X" next to their names in the Roman alphabet understood that they were being assured the future prosperity of their people, that they were sharing the land with the settlers only to the extent that it would not interfere with their practices of…

The Wixaritari Today

The Wixaritari are an extremely religious people, linked through their ancestors to a mythical, primordial past. Despite having adopted some Christian elements, they maintain a mesoamerican religion strongly rooted in their history and surroundings. The current population forms part of a community that has existed for at least 1000 years.(1) For the Huicholes, the land is the fundamental point of…

The San Andrés Accords: Indians and the Soul

The San Andrés Accords: Indians and the Soul The colonial period opened up a theological and social debate over whether or not American Indians had human souls. During the Cárdenas presidency [1934-40], national policy-makers insisted that Indians disappear in the common identity of "Mexican." The Zapatista uprising of January 1994 and the signing of the San Andrés Accords on Indigenous Rights…

The Lesser Antilles in the Age of European Expansion

The eighteen essays in this weighty tome provide much new information about a region that at one time had sufficient stature to be the cause of general European wars. Stretching from the Virgin Islands in the north to Trinidad and Aruba in the south, the Caribbean's Lesser Antilles were once the scene of the most advanced economic enterprises in the world. In the 1700s and 1800s hundreds of…

The First Anniversary of the Acteal Massacre in Chiapas

December 22, 1997, forty five Tzotzil indigenous women, children, and men were massacred while praying for peace in their chapel in Acteal by paramilitaries. Among those assembled in the church were people not only from Acteal, but also from several surrounding communities such as Los Chorros, Pechquil, and Yabteclum, who had been driven out by paramilitaries. Increasing violence in the fall of…

Preserving Andean Weaving: The Center for Traditional Textiles of Cusco

Textile systems, developed in Peru over the millennia, represent a treasury of techniques, forms, layouts, and symbolic meanings unique in the world. In the Andes weaving contains many layers of meaning and serves ritual as well as utilitarian functions. Peruvian textiles honor Pachamama, Mother Earth. Peruvian weavers express appreciation for the process of growth and generation, concepts of…

Police Raid Protesters Blocking Highway Construction

More than 600 armed law enforcement officers swarmed Camp Coldwater in Minneapolis, MN, on December 20, 1998 to forcibly remove members of the Mendota Mdewakanton Dakota who were "blocking" the construction of Highway 55. Journalists were kept from the scene, but witnesses said that the police were overly abusive, spraying pepper spray into eyes that they held open. Jim Anderson, at the site that…

Nunavut Territory Established: Inuit Gain New Homeland April 1

While January 1, 2000 signals the beginning of the new millennium for most of the world, the next century symbolically begins on April 1, 1999 for the Inuit of northern Canada. On April 1 st, a new flag and coat of arms will be unveiled as the Inuit celebrate the official establishment of their new homeland, Nunavut. Long-held aspirations of self-determination will finally be realized on this…

Not In The News: Class Action Against Texaco Reinstated by US Court of Appeals; Victory for Secoyas

The lawsuit involving Texaco and 30,000 Secoya people from the Eastern province in Ecuador has been reinstated by the US Court of Appeals. The case was originally presented in 1993, but later dismissed in 1997 on jurisdictional grounds. The reinstatement of the case in November 1998 renewed hope for the Secoya plaintiffs in the case, as well as environmental and human rights activists around the…

Mexico's Indigenous Population

Mexico's indigenous population is one of the two largest in the Americas (only Peru is comparable in size). More than one in ten Mexicans speaks an indigenous language. The Mexican government's census asks whether citizens speak one of Mexico's 56 recognized indigenous languages. This data forms the basis for official estimates of the size and distribution of the national indigenous population.…

Indigenous Women's Participation in Formulating the San Andres Accords

Indigenous Women's Participation in Formulating the San Andrés Accords In the preparation of the Accords on Indigenous Rights and Culture, indigenous women participated in broadening the notion of indigenous autonomy and made specific demands about what kind of political culture they understand the notion of autonomy to include. In the process of trying to influence the content of the San Andrés…

Indigenous Rights and the Democratic Reform of the State

To promote a deep transformation of the State, as well as the social, political, cultural and economic relations with indigenous peoples, to satisfy their demands for justice" is the first joint government-EZLN proposal in the San Andrés Accords. One of the key consequences of the recognition of indigenous peoples as collective legal entities is the need for a multicultural reform of the State.…

Indigenous Rights and Self-Determination in Mexico

Indigenous autonomy or self-determination is understood as respect for the internal practices and decision-making modes of indigenous pueblos. I use the term pueblos here to refer to the multiple usages understood in Mexico, including, "towns," "communities," and "peoples." Autonomy also means that indigenous communities participate in the various levels of economic, political, cultural, and…

Indigenous Peoples and Autonomy in Mexico

Introduction The Zapatista rebellion opened the door for indigenous Mexicans to reach the national agenda, demanding the recognition of peoples and their collective fights, concretely expressing their self-determination through autonomy. This unleashed such a debate that since February, 1996 -- when the San Andrés Accords on Indigenous Rights and Culture were signed by the EZLN and the federal…

Indigenous Autonomy and the Strengthening of National Sovereignty and Identity

The Zapatista Army of National Liberation made indigenous autonomy a national issue. Autonomy burst onto a national scene that was historically marked by the absence and exclusion of the indigenous peoples from all arenas, beginning with the constitution, according to the idealized vision of National Identity and Unity that presupposes cultural homogeneity. History tells of numerous rebellions…

Hungry Lightning: Notes of a Woman Anthropologist in Venezuela

In Hungry Lightning, we journey with Pei-Lin Yu and researcher Dr. Russell Greaves away from our familiar world of "civilization" to the completely unfamiliar world of the savanna Pumé of Venezuela. The Pumaé live in small nomadic communities, shifting location according to the season. Yu and Greaves spent two years in Doro Aná, a traditional savanna Pumé community, collecting quantified data on…

Finding Our Own Solutions: Mixe Communities of Oaxaca

Beginning the Journey Every society faces both happy and conflictive circumstances in daily life. Indigenous pueblos -- as palpable and dynamic collectivities -- are not the exception. Celebrations are a clear example of the happy moments when different interests within the community are once again harmoniously interwoven. The other extreme involves conflicts over land, between members of the…

East Timor Considers Independence Offer from Indonesia

East Timor, a former Portuguese colony, was invaded in 1975 by the Indonesian military, which has since then killed 200,000 Timorese. New Indonesian president Habibie's administration has recently offered first limited autonomy, then full independence to East Timor. The most recent offers, first by Defense Minister Ali Alatas, then Habibie, were for independence within one year. According to…

Declaration: "Never Again a Mexico Without Us"

The representatives of indigenous peoples and organizations gathered together in the National Indigenous Congress from the 8th through the 12th of October of 1996 in Mexico City do solemnly proclaim the following declaration: CONSIDERING: The history of discrimination and exploitation that we the Indian peoples have suffered for 504 years, during which time our capacity to conduct our own destiny…

CS In The Classroom: Upcoming Conference; Community Organizing and Social Change in Chiapas

Our student conferences, educator workshops, and public events will focus on the the changing roles of women in Mexico, the Indigenous movement, and the demands of the Zapatista rebels. This spring Cultural Survival will be offering separate conference days for middle school and high school participants. These events aim to bring the issues and endemic problems facing Mexico's poorest state to…

CS In The Classroom: December Conference Summary

On December 7 and 9, 1998, the Education Program of Cultural Survival held its fourth annual Student Conference at the Harvard Graduate School of Education's Gutman Library. Sixteen schools and over 400 students attended. The conference theme was "Maasai Survival, Conservation and Development in Kenya." Students were asked to invent a role for themselves as Maasai community members, government…

Nation Building and the Pluriethnic State

Mexico has traditionally prided itself on being a mestizo nation, one that blended the cultures of its Spanish invaders with those of the local Indians to create a new civilization. This "new civilization, struggling to be born" (to quote the inscription in the center of Mexico City that commemorates the coming together of the Spaniards and Indians) has always been a work in progress. In the 19th…