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Ways of Knowing: Experience, Knowledge, and Power among the Dene Tha

Jean-Guy Goulet's Ways of Knowing is a vivid account of the Dene Tha, a community of Northern Athabaskan natives living in the settlement of Chateh in northern Alberta. The book focuses on how the Dene Tha have reconciled indigenous and Euro-Canadian forms of knowledge after a history of missionaries, discriminatory policies, and oil and natural gas exploitation. Goulet lived with the community…

Update on the U'wa Medical Fund: A Collaborative Project of Cultural Survival

The U'wa Medical Fund was established in September of 1998 in response to the hospitalization and treatment of Berito Kubaruwa (Berito Cobaría), then president of the U'wa Traditional Authority, for tuberculosis. Mr. Kubaruwa campaigns internationally for the rights of the U'wa people of Colombiato, and self-determination, in the face of oil development. The U'wa, a community of 5000 people who…

Thoughts on the Selangor River Dam: Orang Asli and the Politics of Indigenousness in Malaysia

Early in January this year, 75 Temuan families living on the banks of the Selangor River in Malaysia learned that their land was in danger of being submerged by the construction of a dam. The Selangor State Government had already taken the first steps by granting permission to developers to conduct a feasibility study for the project. The dam on the Selangor River is intended to alleviate the…

The world Commission on Dams: A Review of Hydroelectric Projects and the Impact on Indigenous Peoples and Ethnic Minorities

The World Commission on Dams' Process Established through a process involving representatives from all perspectives of the debate, the World Commission on Dams (WCD) seeks to facilitate a better understanding of the past and more recent experiences with dams, as well as alternative options for development and effective and participatory decision-making processes. Against this background, the…

The Life of Our Language: Kaqchikel Maintenance, Shift, and Revitalization

Endangered languages have received considerable attention in the last decade, as it has been shown that a majority of the world's languages are facing possible extinction in the near future. The academic community has been called upon to show solidarity with dying languages, because these languages are 1) an important resource for the whole field of linguistics and language studies, since they…

The Kollas of San Andres vs. Seaboard Corporation: The Land Struggle of an Argentinean Indigenous People

The Kollas of San Andrés vs. Seaboard Corporation: The Land Struggle of an Argentinean Indigenous People The Kollas are an indigenous people inhabiting the valleys, foothills and high planes of the Andes mountains in Northwestern Argentina. About 2000 of the more than 80,000 Kollas live on the finca (ranch) San Andrés in the province of Salta. They have been struggling for their land for over…

Should Turkey Execute Ocalan?

Abdullah (Apo) Ocalan -- the longtime leader of the Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) -- was sentenced to death by a Turkish State Security Court for treason, separatism, and murder on June 29, 1999. He had been leading a still continuing insurgency against Turkey, which, since August 1984, has resulted in more than 30,000 deaths (mostly of ethnic Kurds), the destruction of more than 3,000 Kurdish…

Road Building in Chiapas Increases Tensions

A road being built in the Amador region, near La Realidad, has caused the first fighting since January 1999 between the Mexican army and the EZLN in Chiapas. Two skirmishes that left more than a dozen people injured between the two groups were reported in August. Diodoro Carrasco, the Mexican interior minister, ordered a stop to the project on August 26. According to sources in Chiapas who spoke…

Preschool Program Revitalizing Cherokee Language

Thousands of distinct American Indian languages have been silenced forever due to pandemics of smallpox and other diseases brought by European contact, acculturation, and total annihilation. However, some still exist and various tribes are doing their best to revitalize their languages. "Time is of the essence," according to Tom Belt, language instructor at Cherokee Elementary School on Qualla…

Maya Achi: The Story of a Forced Resettlement

Maya Achì: The Story of a Forced Resettlement The Chixoy dam was built in the area where the Maya Achì have lived for hundreds of years -- the department of Alta and Baja Verapaz, a region that holds approximately 75,000 Achì speaking Maya people. The project began during the period of military dictatorship in Guatemala and the dam was built in the midst of a violent civil war fought between the…

Massachusetts Burma Law Struck Down

On June 23, the First Circuit Court of Appeals in Boston struck down the 1996 Massachusetts Burma Law because it violated two articles of the constitution: 1) the prohibition against states regulating commerce if it unduly burdens interstate or foreign transactions; and 2) the supremacy of federal policy over state power. The judge ruled that "The conduct of this nation's foreign affairs cannot…

Managing the Rain from Heaven: Dams and Downstream Residents in Southern Zambia

This encounter took place between a surveying party and indigenous people living alongside the Kafue Flats, the inland floodplain of the Kafue River in southern Zambia. The 1963 survey (see Howard and Williams, 1982) evaluated the region's potential for hydroelectric power development and irrigated farming. Ultimately the Zambian government built two hydrodams in the 1970s. The proclaimed goal…

Indigenous Peoples Find Frustration with United Nations Conference

Dressed in traditional Incan clothing, a young Peruvian man stands in front of his fellow United Nations delegates and rips an official document into shreds. His fellow delegates applaud while a moderator, sitting at the front of a large auditorium, raises her voice into a tinny microphone to be heard over the clapping. The moderator herself is a Native American from the Yaqui tribe in Mexico.…

Green Alliances? Anti-Mining Activism and Indigenous Communities in the "New World"

Green Alliances? Anti-Mining Activism and Indigenous Communities the "New World" Environmental organizations aimed at protecting and preserving ecosystems have generally felt a strong sense of sympathy for indigenous groups throughout the world. The enduring theme of Natives living in harmony with their natural environment has led many non-governmental organizations to think of Native concerns as…

Going Under: Indigenous Peoples and the Struggle Against Large Dams

During the past few years, the resistance of indigenous and other minority communities to the construction of large dams has intensified and become increasingly better coordinated. In some regions, local resistance has become better organized and more effective. Globally, strengthening transnational ties contribute information, resources, and political leverage to the struggle. Both of these sets…

East Timorese Betrayed

Following East Timor's UN-sponsored ballot on August 30 a wave of terror unprecedented in East Timor's grim history has descended on the country. Indonesian military and police and their licensed thugs, the militia, have plunged East Timor into anarchy and, worse, all the indications are that far from being spontaneous this genocide long been planned in the highest echelons of the Indonesian…

Displacement and Development: Construction of the Sardar Dam

Displacement and Development: Construction of the Sardar Sarovar Dam Since 1991, India has entered a new phase in its development path, aided by the combined kindness of the World Bank-IMF-ADB-WTO and Western governments. Liberalization, globalization and privatization are the cornerstones of this new phase. All available evidence shows that the alienation of the adivasis from their lands,…

Dams in the Mekong Region: Scoping Social and Cultural Issues

The standard social concern surrounding large dams and their associated reservoirs is the displacement and resettlement associated with these large infrastructure schemes. While such impacts remain of great concern, social and cultural issues associated with dams in the Mekong Region go well beyond questions of physical upheaval. This article examines a range of sociocultural issues associated…

Dams and Resettlement as Development: A Case for Building Good Practice

Introduction Dams have been a part of the economic development model of almost all nations of the world. At some stage of their development, most countries with water resources that can be economically exploited have built dams for energy, irrigation, and drinking water. Hydropower provides a non-polluting source of energy that may be generated in increasing amounts for the growing needs of…

Dalai Lama Speaks in Central Park

Forty thousand people crowded together on Central Park's East Meadow on Sunday, August 15th, to hear the 14th Dalai Lama, Tenzin Gyatso, offer a few words of wisdom. His larger message was one of compassion and of total nonviolence, but the real focus of his speech was the individual. "Spiritual development does not have to come with religious faith," he said. "What is important is the…

CS Hosts Forums on Large Dams and Indigenous Peoples, Arundhati Roy to Speak

Cultural Survival will host a series of forums on the subject of big dams and indigenous peoples on Wednesday, November 3 at the Geological Lecture Hall, Harvard University. The first forum, "What is the Greater Common Good? The Indigenous Struggle in India's Narmada Valley," will take place from 5 p.m. to 7 p.m. The second forum, "The Politics of Forced Resettlement: Social Engineering Or…

Caging the Rainbow: Places, Politics, and Aborigines in a North Australian Town

Francesca Merlan's latest book explores the lives of Aborigines in the small regional town of Katherine in Australia's Northern Territory. It combines ethnography and anthropological theory, grappling with issues surrounding the debate about the authenticity of contemporary cultural activity: specifically, changing notions of personal and group attachment to "country." The text has three major…

Big Dams: Serving the Greater Common Good?

It is well documented: Dams higher than fifteen meters from foundation to crest are rarely cost efficient. They wreak havoc on riverine ecosystems and in many instances result in the uprooting of entire communities -- destroying the people's livelihoods and prospects for the future. With the exception of a few countries, large dam building has all but ceased in the northern hemisphere due to a…

After the Deluge: The Urgent Need For Reparations for Dam Victims

In April 1998, the Indian Express newspaper published a horrifying story about female infanticide and baby selling in adivasi (tribal) villages in the southern Indian state of Andhra Pradesh. The story described how abject poverty had increased the value of boys and forced the adivasis into selling or killing their girl babies. According to the newspaper, every family in 60 hamlets surveyed had…

Adivasis, Dams, and Displacement in India

India today has over 3600 dams; more than 3300 of them built after independence in 1947. At least 700 more dams are under construction. Adivasis constitute 8.08 percent of India's population as per 1991 census figures. According to an Indian government working group, 40-50 percent of those displaced by development projects are adivasis. Information about number of adivasis displaced by dams is…

10/31/1999

The Namibian government, with Angolan consent, is in the process of choosing a site on the Kunene River, the border between Namibia and Angola, to build a new hydroelectric dam. The Namibian government is enamored with the Epupa Falls for the location of their new dam, and consequently the proposed dam is now the center of immense controversy. At the heart of the debate lies the fate of the Himba…

Uncertainty for Alaska Natives' Future

I have come to the point of despair. Having been born a Native, raised in my village, and lived my life in Alaska, I can say with conviction that there has not been a worse moment in Alaska's recent history for Alaska's Native peoples than now. In spite of all of the gains Natives have made for themselves in virtually every area of private and public endeavor, the result is a society in Alaska…

The Totem Peoples Preservation Project of Siberia and Mongolia

The Totem Peoples Preservation Project of Siberia and Mongolia, started by Dan Plumley, works to ensure the survival and sustainability of traditional, indigenous, and nomadic cultures whose lifestyle and spirituality are inextricably linked with totem animals. In the wake of past decades of assimilation, repression, ongoing resource exploitation, economic disparity, and a decline in health,…

Buddhism in Contemporary Tibet: Religious Revival and Cultural Identity

In his forward to this volume, Orville Schell quotes Mao Zedong on contradictions and the unity of opposites, thereby introducing two important points made in this significant book; contemporary Buddhist practice in Tibet can only be understood in relation to policies promulgated in Beijing, and this relationship is complex, creating paradoxes and conundrums for Tibetan Buddhists and Chinese…