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Rangers by Birth

Mursi, Suri, Nyangatom, Dizi and Me'en have managed the biodiversity in Ethiopia's Omo area for centuries. Is it wise to push them aside in the name of conservation? The midday heat brings the men together under a small shade tree on the edge of a plateau overlooking the Omo River in Ethiopia. Long fighting sticks and cow skins for sitting have been stored in the branches, among dried…

Now, and Always, Wampanoag

Jim Peters, Executive Director, Massachusetts Commission on Indian Affairs © Jamie Brown In 1975, the Mashpee Wampanoag in the town of Mashpee on Cape Cod first approached the government about becoming eligible for federal acknowledgement as an Indian tribe. Since then we have watched many sunsets and sunrises with hopes of hearing something positive. In 1994 at the Mashpee Wampanoag annual Pow…

Justice as Healing: Indigenous Ways

This book of selections about indigenous, mostly North American, ways of justice is overdue. It can usefully serve as a reference and guide to how Native North Americans dealt with discord in their own precolonial societies and their varied responses to European-based law; it also provides guidelines for those seeking change in existing legal systems. The editor notes that the articles about…

Indigenous Voices Largely Unheard at U.N. Biodiversity Conference

One of the most encouraging outcomes of the eighth biannual meeting of the United Nations Convention on Biological Diversity, held in Curitiba, Brazil, from March 20–31, was the announcement that several Asian and Pacific Island nations will collaborate to create transnational park reserves. The largest of these efforts will take the form of a wildlife sanctuary in Kiribati, a tiny atoll nation…

Indigeneity in Africa

The articles in this issue of Cultural Survival Quarterly relate to the most marginalized and aggrieved peoples in Africa. Some, such as the Batwa (Pygmy peoples) of Rwanda or the San of South Africa, are hunter-gatherers, or former hunter-gatherers who were driven from their lands and lifestyles by colonialism or development. Others, such as the Maasai of Kenya and the Tuareg of West…

A Brush with History

Just six months ago, the majority of the artists now exhibiting at the Woolloongabba Art Gallery in Brisbane, Australia, had never held a paintbrush in their hands. Now, they are among the most celebrated of Aboriginal artists, and their works on canvas attract bidding wars and price tags in the five-figure range. Sally Gabori, from remote Bentinck Island in Australia’s Gulf of Carpentaria,…

A Brief History of the Indigenous Peoples of West Africa

Africa has been late in joining the rest of the world in the indigenous movement. It was the persecuted, oppressed, and sometimes-destroyed nations on the American continent that forced the the so-called modern world to recognize the rights of indigenous peoples. Their efforts compelled the United Nations to launch action to safeguard indigenous peoples’ rights in 1982 with the advent of the…

U.N. Special Rapporteur Reports on South Africa, New Zealand

The governments of South Africa and New Zealand must do more, more quickly, to address the inequalities between their indigenous and nonindigenous populations, according to two recently released reports by U.N. Special Rapporteur Rodolfo Stavenhagen. Although Stavenhagen was “encouraged,” and in the case of South Africa, “tremendously impressed,” by each government's declared commitment to…

Toward a Native Voice in Filming History

If Russell Means had been the producer of Disney’s Pocahontas rather than a voice-over actor, would the final product be different? If Wes Studi had been the director or editor of The New World, would the final product be different? If director Phillip Noyce had not faithfully adapted his movie Rabbit Proof Fence from aboriginal author Doris Pilkington-Garimara’s book…

The People Who Don't Exist

Banana leaf ashes float in the haze of charcoals still red from the pottery firing. With long sticks, one man and two women move scorching pots to the side to cool. I was with a group of 40 Batwa watching the pottery firing, close enough to feel the radiant heat on this humid, overcast day. The three potters smiled, happy to show off the work the community had accomplished together. Sitting on…

The Battle for Cattle

"Yantai!” shouted Jane Kamuasi from the inside of the candle-lit kitchen. Playing outside with her brothers by the light of a small headlamp and the countless stars, Yantai heard Jane tell her to get some vegetables for the evening meal. Moments later, the wooden door to Jane’s modified mud-and-cow-dung home pushed open. Yantai’s delicate frame and bright eyes appeared through the darkness; she…

San Cultural Center Opens in South Africa

This spring marked the official opening of !Khwa ttu, an innovative San education and culture center on the West Coast of South Africa. For years the San (or Bushman peoples) have been the victims of a rapidly growing tourism industry in South Africa, but they have shared very little of the economic benefits and have had no control over how their artwork and culture is used. Worse, because of…

Beyond Indigeneity

Darfur. The word evokes images of marauding forces on camel and horseback razing villages, burning crops, massacring men, raping women, and driving some two million innocent civilians of all ages into the desert. It also evokes exasperation. It’s been more than three years since reports of massive human suffering in western Sudan began appearing in the international press. It’s been more…