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What Makes Culture: Theater- La FOMMA

La FOMMA [Fortaleza de la Mujer Maya or Strength of the Mayan Woman] is a Mayan women's playwright cooperative in Chiapas, Mexico, formed in 1994. The grassroots organization performs plays dealing with women's rights, domestic and cultural issues, and reproductive health. Proceeds support La FOMMA’s bilingual literacy, women’s rights, and professional development activities. The all-women…

Review: Oil on Ice

Oil on Ice2004, 58 minutesCo-produced and directed by Dale Djerassi and Bo BoudartDistributor: Bullfrog Films PO Box 149, Oley, PA 19547 Oil on Ice is an award-winning documentary about the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge (ANWR) and the controversy over drilling for oil within the protected area. The film takes the viewer on a captivating journey through a land enriched by…

Review: Mauna Kea: Temple Under Siege

Mauna Kea: Temple Under Siege 2005, 56 minsDirectors: Puhipau, Joan Lander Producer: Na Maka o Ka 'AinaDistributor: Na Maka o Ka 'Aina,P.O. Box 29 Na'alehu, Hawaii 96772-0029 Mauna Kea: Temple Under Siege portrays the ongoing tensions between the Western scientific community's notion of progress and indigenous cultures' concept of the sacred. On the island of Hawai'i, Mauna Kea's peak—…

Review: Like a Loaded Weapon: The Rehnquist Court, Indian Rights, and the History of Racism in America

In his new book, Like a Loaded Weapon, University of Arizona law professor Robert A. Williams, Jr. calls for a revolution. Not a violent revolution, nor even one that involves taking to the streets, but an immediate and transformative political event nonetheless. As it did in Brown vs. Board of Education, the 1954 decision that overturned a century of legally reinforced racism against African-…

Native Americans Fight to Save Sacred Site

The San Francisco Peaks are revered as a sacred site in Arizona, integral to the cultural and spiritual identity of at least 13 tribes in the Four Corners area. They are at the center of a current legal battle that could determine the future of Native American religious freedom. The Peaks, located outside of Flagstaff, AZ, and managed by the Coconino National Forest, have been a source of…

Guatemala Radio Project

Guatemala community radio stations prove essential to relief efforts in the wake of Hurricane Stan   The importance of community radio stations throughout Guatemala became especially apparent in the devastating aftermath of Hurricane Stan. On October 1, Hurricane Stan ravaged Guatemala, leaving 654 people dead, 828 people missing, and at least 120,000 homeless. The hurricane caused the…

Water Law and Indigenous Rights in the Andes

In Andean countries, widespread protests over violations of traditional rights have resulted in creative reform proposals to secure indigenous water rights and water system management.   For Rosa Guamán, indigenous leader in the Licto district in Ecuador, as for most campesinos and indígenas in the Andean countries and in Latin America, water rights express more than…

Tribal Women's Struggle for Water In India

Aided by the NGO Lokadrushti, indigenous women in Western Orissa, India, have mobilized effectively to gain greater access to water to improve livelihoods in their drought-prone villages.Drought. Death. Disease. Dissolution of families. Without sufficient water, these were stark realities of life that the tribal Indian women of Nuapada district in Western Orissa refused to accept. To salvage…

Traditional Water Management Practices of the Kankanaey

  Traditional religious beliefs and customary laws have enabled the Kankanaey of Besao in northern Philippines to sustain their land's natural resources despite current challenges.   With agriculture as the backbone of life and rice as a staple food, water is valued as much as land in Besao. This municipality in northern Philippines is home to more than 10,000 people of the Kankanaey…

The Black Mesa Controversy

  Complex issues confront the Hopi and Navajo tribes as they struggle to protect the critical Navajo Aquifer and salvage jobs upon the closing of the Black Mesa Coal Mine.As of January 1, 2006, one of the most contentious U.S. coal mining operations, the Black Mesa Mine on Hopi and Navajo reservations in northeastern Arizona, will close. This action is due in part to resolutions passed…

Teaching of the Rain God

A Maasai Legend One day, many years ago, the elephant said to the Rain God: You should be very satisfied, for you managed to cover all earth in green; but what will happen if I tear off all the grass, all the trees and the bushes? No green will be left! Then what? The Rain God answered him: If I stopped sending rain, no more green will grow, and you would have nothing to…

Indigenous Peoples and Water Rights

Till taught by pain,Men really know not what good water's worth;If you had been in Turkey or in Spain,Or with a famish'd boat's-crew had your berth,Or in the desert heard the camel's bell,You'd wish yourself where Truth is—in a well. Lord Byron (George Gordon Noel Byron)Don Juan (canto II, st. 84) Water—the source and sustenance of all life—increasingly is becoming a source of…

Genographic Project Discussion at Cultural Survival

In October 2005, Cultural Survival's Program Council met to discuss the issues presented by the recently initiated Genographic Project sponsored by National Geographic and private financial backers. The primary goal of this five-year project is to employ extensive DNA sampling to develop a comprehensive history of the peopling of the planet—showing relationships between historic and contemporary…

Genetic Research: How Much We Have to Learn

To study humankind's 60,000-year migratory journey around the world and explore our interconnectedness as a species, National Geographic, in partnership with IBM and with funding from the Waitt Family Foundation, launched the five-year Genographic Project in April 2005. The main components of the project are field research, public participation and communication, and the legacy fund. We are…

Genetic Research: Collecting Blood to Preserve Culture?

The National Geographic Society is going from collecting images and stories to the more invasive practice of collecting blood from indigenous peoples around the world. In April 2005, the National Geographic Society announced its partnership with the IBM Corporation to amass the world's largest bank of indigenous blood and a database of information related to the study of human origins and…

Genetic Research on Human Migration

National Geographic’s Genographic Project Advances Science but Poses Risks for Indigenous Peoples Science versus traditional belief systems, benefits versus risks, what constitutes genuine participation in project design, what constitutes free and informed consent—these are some of the issues raised in the debate over the National Geographic Society's Genographic Project. This project,…

Contamination of American Rivers Triggers International Complaint

  International Indian Treaty Council Files Human Rights Complaint for Indigenous Peoples in US to UN Special Rapporteur on the Right to Food   History was made on January 7, 2005, when the International Indian Treaty Council [IITC] submitted a formal Human Rights Complaint against the United States to the Special Rapporteur on the Right to Food of the UN Commission on Human Rights, Mr.…