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Wind Powering Native America

“You are either at the table, or you are on the menu," a Wisconsin utility executive advised Rosebud Tribal Utility Commission Attorney Robert Gough. Few tribes would argue: whether you consider federal appropriations (or lack thereof), or the issues surrounding energy development and tribes, today's pitched battles over rising federal deficit, an energy policy looking toward either the Arctic…

Weaving a Future for Tibetan Refugees: Tibetan Rug Weaving Project

The recent history of Tibet has been one of sorrow. Despite the relative impenetrability of its mountains, it was invaded and occupied by armies of the Communist Peoples Republic of China in 1950. After an unsuccessful popular revolt in 1959, thousands of Tibetan refugees fled across the Himalayan Mountains to India and Nepal, and a government in exile was established under the Dalai Lama, the…

The State of Amazonas in Pieces

A plan before Brazil’s House of Representatives calling for the division of the state of Amazonas could have a significant impact on the indigenous peoples who live there.The state of Amazonas in the northern region of Brazil, represents one-fifth of the Brazilian territory and possesses 33 percent of the world’s rainforest reservations. It contains natural and mineral resources that make it a…

The Changing Sinai

Ahlan, Nora!” exclaimed the two Bedouin boys who had just come to the door of my art gallery in Dahab, Sinai. I have worked for 20 years in the Sinai as a photographer, and know many of the Bedouin families there well. Because Laura is an unusual name for the Bedouin, they call me the more common name Nora, which means “Light” in Arabic. “Do you remember the boy you photographed two…

Spiritual Hucksterism:The Rise of the Plastic Medicine Men

“Yes, I know of Sun Bear. He’s a plastic medicine man.”— Matthew King, Oglala Lakota Elder, 1985 The past 30 years have seen the birth of a new growth industry in the United States. Known as “American Indian Spiritualism,” this profitable enterprise apparently began with a number of literary hoaxes undertaken by non-Indians such as Carlos Castaneda, Jay Marks (a.k.a.: “Jamake Highwater,” author…

Shamanisms and Survival

Shamanism, humanity’s most ancient spiritual practice, has undergone a dramatic modern resurgence. The concept of shamanism is widely utilized in contemporary spiritual healing groups and has gained such popularity that traditional healers have adopted the term to tell outsiders about their practices. Some reject this wider application of the concept of shamanism, suggesting that the term…

Shamanism Defends a People

In 1984 the Gitxsan of northern British Columbia, Canada, and the neighboring Witsuwit’en First Nation launched a landmark land claims case in response to incursion on their territories culminating in clear-cut logging operations. In this lengthy case, called Delgamuukw v. Regina, Gitxsan and Witsuwit’en head chiefs testified they had never given up rights to their land and culture that were…

Seeking the Shaman

In this issue of Cultural Survival Quarterly, readers are introduced to the extraordinary category of people who have come to be known as “shaman”—those otherworldly men and women chosen by the spirits to mediate between the human and spiritual dimensions. In a collection of papers from numerous settings assembled by anthropologist Michael Winkelman, shamanism’s universal features become…

Canadian Supreme Court to Rule on Historic Metis Rights Case

When Steve Powley and his son Roddy were charged for hunting moose contrary to the province of Ontario’s Game and Fish Act 10 years ago, they claimed that, as Métis, they had a right to hunt for food. The Powleys won the case three times in lower courts before the Ontario government appealed to the Supreme Court of Canada. The case was heard in March in Ottawa.Canada recognized the First…

Better Living in the Village<br>A Well-Balanced Development Policy in Benin

The “top-down” policy of development implemented in Benin gives an absolute priority to medium and large-sized towns, to the detriment of the rural areas of the country. Consequently, after more than four decades of political independence, the villages, where 80 percent of the population of the country still live in very poor conditions, are characterized by a low level of income due to poor…

Ayahuasca: Shamanism Shared Across Cultures

Ayahuasca is a sacred brew that has a long history of ritual use among indigenous groups of the Upper Amazon. It is made from the stem of the ayahuasca vine (Banisteriopsis caapi, or in Quechua, “the vine of the ancestors”) and the leaves of either the chacruna (Psychotria viridis) or chagropanga (Diplopterys cabrerana). Ayahuasca is associated with healing in collective ceremonies and in…

Among Spirits and Dieties:Diverse Shamanisms in the Nepal Himalayas

A recent anthropological emphasis holds that there is not one universal shamanism, but many shamanisms. The diversity of shamanistic and mediumistic practices in Nepal supports this argument. Although the country’s specific ethnic groups can each be associated with particular religious or ritual practices, it is more useful to think of these cultural strands as part of the larger Hindu-Buddhist-…

American Indian Movement Resolution

Sovereign Diné Nation, Window Rock, Arizona May 11, 1984 Whereas the Spiritual wisdom which is shared by the Elders with the people has been passed to us through the Creation from time immemorial; and Whereas the Spirituality of Indian Nations is inseparable from the people themselves; and Whereas the attempted theft of Indian ceremonies is a direct attack and theft from Indian people themselves…

Ainu Shamanism:A Forbidden Path to Universal Knowledge

The Ainu are the largest indigenous population of Japan. They descended from the first peoples on the Japanese archipelago, commonly referred to as the Jômon, who migrated there more than 10,000 years ago. Some Ainu populations developed large-scale sedentary communities in the northern part of the archipelago that thrived until the migrations and influence from the Asian mainland began to…

A Sustainable Future for the Pimbwe: Peoples of Mpimbwe Fund

The area known as the Mpimbwe Division, lying at the northern end of Tanzania’s Rukwa Valley, is home to the Pimbwe people. Lakes Katavi and Chada are sacred to the Pimbwe, and their former chiefs are believed to be buried at Lake Chada where the Pimbwe god Katabi can be seen driving herds of hippopotamus along the shore. With the establishment of the Katavi Game Reserve in 1954, as well as the…

A First Nation, Again<br>The Return of Self-Government and Self-Reliance in Canada’s Nisga’a Nation

Edtor’s note: This article is adapted from a speech given by Joseph Gosnell on March 3, 2003, for the Weatherhead Center for International Affairs at the Harvard Faculty Club in Cambridge, Massachusetts. Today I bring you greetings from a First Nation on the far side of this continent. I am happy to report that these people are alive and well. Isolated by distance and rugged terrain,…

Review

Rara! Vodou, Power, and Performance in Haiti and its DiasporaBy Elizabeth McAlister University of California Press 2002ISBN 0-520-22823-5 I cannot count how many times well-intentioned strangers, upon learning of my work in Haiti, have related some bit of information they possess about “the people” or “the country,” only to leave me with the task of deconstructing their misunderstanding…

Resolution of the Fifth Annual Meeting of the Elders Circle

Northern Cheyenne NationTwo Moons’ Camp Rosebud Creek, Montana USA October 1980 It has been brought to the attention of the Elders and their representatives in Council that various individuals are moving about this Great Turtle Island and across the great waters to foreign soil, purporting to be spiritual leaders. They carry pipes and other objects sacred to the Red Nations, the indigenous people…

Pumé Staking a Claim in Venezuela: Pumé Project

Indigenous groups are often intimately connected with the land they inhabit. The survival of their culture is inexorably linked to the survival of the natural resources they depend on and and relies on recognition by national governments of indigenous land rights The Pumé Project, a Cultural Survival Special Project, was established to document the land and resource usage and needs of the Pumé…

Manuscripts for Peace in Mali

“Tragedy is due to divergence and because of lack of tolerance … Glory to he who creates greatness from difference and makes peace and reconciliation,” —Timbuktu manuscript entry by El Hadj Oumar Tall (1797) Malian democracy now has the potential to lead West Africa, and even all of Africa, in the creation of the pluri-ethnic state. In Mali, cultural diversity is celebrated as an asset rather…

Keeping Their Own Records<br>The Record of Truth Participatory Photography Project

The Karen are the largest ethnic minority in Myanmar (Burma) (see CSQ 24:3). Due to an ongoing civil war with the Burmese military regime, more than 120,000 Karen have fled Burma. Many now reside in refugee camps in Thailand. In refugee communities undergoing a rapid political and cultural transition, the entire population must face the challenge of adapting their culture to survive. The…

Healing Makes Our Hearts Happy

Oma Djo, a highly respected elderly Ju/’hoan healer, referred to n/om spiritual energy as something that “helps keep us alive.” N/om lies at the heart of the Ju/’hoan practice of healing, a practice that follows the pattern of classical shamanism. During all-night community healing dances, n/om boils within the healers to create an altered state of consciousness (ASC)…

Glass Menand Spirit Women in Papua New Guinea

Missionaries have seriously impacted the world’s rich diversity of traditional religions. In Papua New Guinea, the loss of traditional spiritualities has been particularly severe because most groups experienced first contact with the West in the last 100 years. Novel religious forms have come into being, however, through the collision of cultures. The Asabano, a group of 200 living at Duranmin,…

Friends of the Kel Essuf: Perspectives on Shamanism in Tuareg Mediumistic Healing

The Tuareg are a semi-sedentary, Islamic, socially-stratified Saharan people who live in Niger and Mali, West Africa, and speak Tamajaq (a Berber language). Several types of healers serve among the Tuareg (also known as Tamashek), and many of them are believed to have a special contract with spirits called Kel Essuf (“people of the wild, solitude, or nostalgia”). Islamic marabouts

Contemporary Chinese Shamanism:The Reinvention of Tradition

Xu Ma tossed and turned in a disturbed sleep, lost in a land covered with green grass and trees that rolled on and on as far as she could see. Many times in past nights she had witnessed that same scene and awoken in a sweat. An enlarged lump had appeared on her wrist at about the same time the dreams had begun, and she felt a throbbing pain that continued to worsen. The village clinic could do…

Compassionate Development in the Himalayas

Arya Tara School opened in Kathmandu, Nepal, in winter 2000 with the profound vision of assisting young Tibetan Buddhist nuns to get a full secular and Buddhist education to enable them to fulfill their potential and act on their vows of compassion in practical ways. The 18 student nuns now enrolled at Arya Tara come primarily from poor villages in Nepal, with a few from Tibet and India, and…

Turkey and Armenia:<br>Is There Any Other Solution Than Dialogue?

Dialogue Across an International Divide: Essays Towards a TurkishArmenian Dialogue By Taner AkcamZoryan Institute 2001ISBN 1-895485-03-7   “It is absolutely necessary to eliminate the Armenian people in its entirety, so that there is no further Armenian on this earth and the very concept of Armenia is extinguished.”—Turkish Committee of Union and Progress, 1915 Dialogue Across an…

Pre-Christian Healers in a Christian Society

Armenia, an independent republic formerly within the Soviet Union, was the world’s first country to adopt Christianity as its national religion in 301 A.D. Consequently, one might assume that few traces remain of pre-Christian ways—and then only in remote villages and ancient monasteries lost in the mountains. A closer examination, however, dispels this stereotypical view. In spring 2002, during…

Coming Together:Buryat and Mongolian Healers Meet in Post-Soviet Reality

In late afternoon in June 1996, Lake Baikal was blue-gray and wavy, still too cool for swimming. Men, women, and young boys were unloading a boatload of fish onto shore in a huge net, and then tossing them into a truck. Buryat and Mongolian shamans, as well as academics from around the world, had gathered in the Baikal region for a conference on Central Asian shamanism. It had been a good day for…

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