Skip to main content
 

The Price of Profits

The Initiative for the Regional Integration of Infrastructure in South America is the latest and largest in a series of bank-financed schemes to bring "development" to the Amazon Basin—and more trouble to the region's indigenous communities. Launched in 2000 by all 12 South American governments with funding from major international finance institutions, the Initiative for the Regional…

Standing Up for Burma

A photo essay in this issue of the Cultural Survival Quarterly exposes in graphic detail the horrors that have been imposed on Burma’s indigenous peoples by that country’s military junta and armed forces. Burma is one of those human rights disasters that attracts far too little attention. The media pay attention when the military rulers order the arrest of protesting Buddhist monks or find a new…

Panama Dam Construction Steps Up the Pace

As we reported in the last issue of Cultural Survival Quarterly, the Ngöbe people of Panama are facing imminent destruction of their homeland as a result of a hydroelectric dam. Since then, things in Panama have become significantly more desperate. AES, the American company that is building the dam, began dynamiting Isabel Becker’s land after pressuring her to sign it over to them on a…

Mongolia Establishes Support Program for Reindeer Herders

After four years of lobbying the Mongolian government to recognize the threats facing the indigenous nomadic Dukha reindeer herders, Cultural Survival’s Totem Project has achieved a significant victory. Project director Dan Plumley reports that in November the government established a Program to Improve the Life Standards of the Reindeer Herding Citizens and Reindeer Farming, a three-year, $300,…

Javatrekker

By Dean Cycon Chealsea Green Publishing, 2007 ISBN 1933392703 Reviewed by Cheri Kramer You might want to put on your seatbelt while reading this exceptional book. Not only because the author’s whirlwind globe trotting could give anyone a kink in the neck, or due to his candid, clipped writing style, but also because of the intensity of the cultural exchanges exposed in his experiences. Dean Cycon…

Isolation

In South America's Gran Chaco, voluntarily isolated indigenous groups are still dodging the rampant development of the region, and with good reason: those that have already come out have found that even greater isolation awaits them. The young Totobiegosode sitting next to me is an “Ishi” for our time. Like the famous Yahi tribesman who suddenly emerged from the California forest almost a century…

Guatemala Radio Project Update

The past year has been exceptionally productive for the Guatemala Radio Project, a partnership between Cultural Survival and 168 indigenous community radio stations operating throughout Guatemala. The project educates indigenous Maya about their rights and reinforces local languages, music, and customs, all in their own local languages. Over the past 12 months, 36 radio station volunteers have…

For Indigenous Eyes Only: A Decolonization Handbook

Edited by Waziyatawin Angela Wilson, Michael Yellow Bird, and Angela Cavender Wilson School of American Research Press, 2007 ISBN 1930618638 Reviewed by Ramona Peters For Native Americans, the process of colonization created serious spiritual, emotional, and intellectual challenges for the survivors and all their descendants. This handbook is a healing tool full of important concepts and…

Flights of Fancy: The giant Mayan kites of Guatemala

A dazzling display of color and ingenuity, the giant kite looms above me, a circular construction 57 feet across, secured by tall bamboo stalks and plastic string. To both sides stand other kites, enormous demonstrations of the creativity and skill of their creators, as well as messengers of culture and social protest. Smaller kites—still reaching far above the heads of the milling crowd—rest…

Banished in Burma

Fifty years of civil war under a military junta has left Burma devastated, submerged in human rights abuses, poverty, and instability. An estimated 1 million people are internally displaced and another million have fled across borders. Particularly targeted are indigenous groups, including the Mon, Shan, Karen, and Karenni people. Originally fighting for autonomy from the Burman…

Australia Apologizes to Aborigines for Stolen Generations

After 12 years of a conservative Australian administration that was markedly hostile to indigenous rights and its own Aboriginal populations, the new labor government of Prime Minister Kevin Rudd took a dramatic step by issuing an apology at the opening session of Parliament on February 13. The apology, issued by Rudd himself, was, in fact, the opening item of business for Parliament. Rudd aimed…

Feasting in Fiji

In Fiji it is customary to welcome anyone, even a foreign stranger, into the home to share a meal. A mat or cloth is placed on the floor of the home and several dishes along with staple foods are placed in the center. Families are usually large, and there are often several guests at a meal. Sitting cross-legged in a circle you traditionally eat with your hands and, save for a quick prayer of…

Against the Odds

In the strongly patriarchal society of the Maasai, it's very hard for a woman to rise above her station, but Mary Simat is no ordinary woman. Things are changing for Maasai women in Kenya. Although Maasai culture provides equal roles to men and women in many ways, it has traditionally been a patriarchy, with women having little choice about education, marriage, or career. But thanks…