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Indigenous Rights Organizations Come of Age

On August 9, 2008, the International Day of Indigenous Peoples, Amazonian Indigenous Peoples across eastern Peru, organized by the Inter-ethnic Association for the Development of the Peruvian Rainforest (AIDESEP), held a massive but peaceful demonstration. They paralyzed road and river transportation, closed a hydroelectric plant, and blocked the output of oil and gas pipelines. They were…

A Mixed Aftermath for Peru Protests

Intense political repression and violence has continued in the wake of the June 5 protests in Peru, which resulted in the deaths of at least two dozen Indigenous people in Bagua Province of northern Peru. Violence continued in June, when government officials stormed the Petroperú oil facility in Bagua Province. Indigenous protesters had seized control of the pumping station, threatening to cut…

The Poetry of Politics

Haunani-Kay Trask is an Indigenous Hawaiian poet, scholar, and activist recognized in the United States and abroad for her leadership in the Hawaiian sovereignty movement and her use of the written word as one of the tools to support that movement. Commenting on Trask’s poems in the preface for Night is a Sharkskin Drum, New Zealand scholar Witi Ihimaera says, “She does not simply write with a…

The Doctor Is the Medicine

Medicine has existed as long as people have existed in the world. So, too, have the elders, who learn throughout their lives how to use medicine to help their families and communities. The elders begin their study of medicine by learning about the remedies, most of which are plants. After this, they specialize in different medical techniques. The first thing those who study medicine must know is…

A Passion for Pungent Paste

A dish holds balls of soumbala in its final, ready-to-use form. Photo by Christian Costeaux.Many cuisines have developed fermented protein sauces that provide flavor and nutrients year round: soy sauce and fish sauce have even become staples in kitchens internationally. In West Africa the favored item is soumbala, a labor-intensive preserved bean paste. In West African cuisine, soumbala has…

The Prescription for Indigenous Rights

Mirna Cunningham addresses an audience about Indigenous rights. Photo courtesy of Mirna Cunningham.Mirna Cunningham founds organizations and collects titles the same way many people write in their personal journals: passionately and often. A Miskito woman based in Nicaragua, she has served as executive secretary of the Inter-American Indian Institute in Mexico, general secretary of the Inter-…

Performing Dreams

On the morning of August 8, 1984, seven elder men in the Xavante community of Etéñhiritpa, known as Pimentel Barbosa in Portuguese, slipped quietly from their houses. Each followed the path that passes behind the arc of beehive-shaped houses, discretely making their way to the marã, a secluded forest clearing used for ritual preparations. The night before, Warodi had told me that the celebration…

The Tractor Invasion

Miles and miles of Cerrado have been cleared and planted with fastgrowing grasses for cattle feed. Photo by Eduardo Amorim on Flickr.It was evening in the Xavante community of Etéñhiritipa in central Brazil as the moon rose over the Serra do Roncador. We had just finished a refreshing bath in the river and were seated against the wall of a house facing the cleared red-earth plaza in the…

My Cerrado

Hiparidi Top’Tiro addresses a gathering of Xavante men to discuss ways to protect Cerrado rivers from pollution associated with the massive unregulated agribusiness. Photo by Laura R. Graham.My village, Abelhinha—Idzö’u in Xavante and “Little Bee” in English—is located in the Indigenous territory of Sangradouro, in eastern Mato Grosso, next to a town called Primavera do Leste, which is one of…

The Lever of the Law

An Interview with Deborah Macedo Duprat de Britto Pereira. Editor’s note: Deborah Macedo Duprat de Britto Pereira is an attorney in the Office of the Attorney General who specializes in Indigenous and minority cases.  This article is adapted from a conversation in the attorney general’s office in 2008 between Duprat, Laura Graham, Ellen Lutz, Hiparidi Top’Tiro, and Daniela Lima. Before…

The Parinai’a Still Live in the ‘Ró

Dzahadu te mo Dzahadu te mo ‘rópoto mono mono wa hã dzahadu te mo ‘rópoto mono mono wa hã dzahadu te mo Dzahadu te mo Dzahadu te mo Wa ãma tsimei wê te wa dza ‘re wa to dza’ra Wa ãma tsimei wê te wa dza ‘re wa to dza’ra Wa ãma tsimei wê te wa dza ‘re wa to dza’ra Wa ãma tsimei wê te wa dza ‘re wa to dza’ra Wa ãma tsimei wê te wa dza ‘re wa to dza’ra Wa ãma tsimei wê te wa dza ‘re wa to…

Saving the Cerrado

The Cerrado today is seen as an area for agro-industry and for raising cattle. To open more space for monocrop soy cultivation and cattle ranching there has been tremendous deforestation of the Cerrado. And now the government plans to produce biodiesel from sugarcane grown in this area. Mato Grosso is viewed as a state with great potential for developing the biofuels industry. In the 1980s, soy…

Future, Tense

One of the most significant developments in Brazilian Indigenous Peoples’ land rights took place in March, when the country’s Supreme Court issued a decision on the Raposa do Sol Indigenous territory in northern Brazil. The decision on March 19 ended more than 30 years of struggle by the region’s Indigenous Peoples to reclaim their land from farmers and development, and for those peoples the…

The Other Brazil

Much of Brazil’s Cerrado has be cleared for agriculture, in this case cattle ranching. Photo by Delcio G.P. Filho (Flickr).Say the words “Brazil” and “Indigenous,” and most people will automatically think of the Amazon and the Indians who live there. But there is another, very different Brazil, one that gets much less attention but that is home to at least as many Indigenous Peoples. The…