Cultural Survival Quarterly Magazine

Sámi Facts

• The Sámi define themselves as an Indigenous People, as stated in the International Labor Organization (ILO) Convention 169: “Peoples in independent countries who are regarded as indigenous on account of their descent from the populations which inhabited the country, or a geographical region to which the country belongs, at the time of conquest or colonization or the establishment of present s

Northern Lights in the Blood

Everything changes. Except Grandpa Nils. He lives on the plains as the Sámi people have lived for hundreds of years. “Do you want more?” asks my father in his broken Norwegian. “Does my little girl want another piece of meat?” He cuts up the cured reindeer meat into small pieces. He knows that I am not used to large, coarse chunks of meat. “You look just like your Mom,” he says.


To be born and raised and, in time, to die on the sea; to live out one’s seamless days together with one’s family, wandering the turquoise waters of the Andaman Sea in a hand-built boat and feeling suffocated by contact with land or civilization—this is the heritage of the Moken.


In 1996, the village of Lalaulan on Taiwan’s east coast was an example of the worst-case scenario for Indigenous Peoples. The Paiwan people of the village had lost almost all of their traditional land, their language was not being transmitted, they did not perform or even remember their own ceremonies or spiritual practices, and they had abandoned their distinctive clothing.

Meeting Arutam

My name is Anank Nunink Nunkai and I am a man of the jungle in Ecuador. The name of my culture is Shuar, and our culture has existed for thousands of years in the middle of the jungle. We have the custom of making a spear for the really young children because the spear would be a friend of the child and his defense. If it’s a young girl, we make her a basket.

Ben Belghachi: A Berber Artist in America

Ben Belghachi is a Berber painter and photographer from Morrocco currently living in Washington, DC. I first met Ben Belghachi and his family as neighbors and have grown to know more about Belghachi and his culture through his involvement with community civic affairs and participation in an artist open-studio fund raiser for President Barack Obama.

The Tree of Life

Imagine a tree so large and resilient that its greatest threat is not climate change, disease, or deforestation, but only the nuisance of an elephant looking for water. The baobab (BOUGH-bob) tree is known for its size and spiritual significance in many African cultures.

A Man for the Cofán

While the rest of the country was celebrating Barack Obama’s electoral victory in November, incumbent Massachusetts congressman James McGovern was on a plane bound for one of the most remote places on the planet: Ecuador’s northern Amazon rainforest.

Reflections on the Iridescent One

My people, the Karuk people, live along the midstretch of the Klamath River in northern California, where there are three annual Pikyaavish, the Karuk American word for “World Renewal Ceremony.” In the old days, this ceremony was the paramount step in individual and collective spiritual consciousness.

Whose Woods These Are

Guatemala, like most Latin American countries, is facing devastating rates of deforestation, to the point where more than 75 percent of its original forest is now lost. And with that loss comes all the familiar side effects of erosion, flooding, and loss of biodiversity—a particularly dire consequence in a country that supports 1,246 animal species and 8,681 plants.