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A Time for Change, Celebration, and Reflection

“Yá'át'ééh” Greetings!Hello friends and readers.In this issue of Cultural Survival Quarterly, there is much to be celebrated. Aboriginal artist Richard Bell invites us into his colorful and provocative world of visual art; Indigenous flautist Hawk Henries reminds us of the peace music can bring; the Mayan calendar is explored; the strength and determination of three women ensure that the…

Reclaiming Aborigeneity: Richard Bell

Aboriginal Australian artist Richard Bell’s artwork has been labeled “provocative,” “uncompromising,” and “controversial” for bringing race politics into the mainstream, however, Bell sees himself as “more activist than artist.” “I’m just being matter of fact,” he says. “I recognize some people find [my work] contentious, and that my paintings attract controversy. This response has nothing to do…

Awakening a Sleeping Language on Cape Cod: The Wampanoag Language Reclamation Project

How can a dream inspire an entire nation’s language revitalization movement? If you ask jessie little doe baird of the Mashpee Wampanoag Tribe that question, she is quick to explain how in one of her dreams, her ancestors told her to “ask Wampanoag people if they would like language home again,” so in 1993, baird met with tribal elders, leaders, and community members who transformed her dreams…

Voice of Conscience: Mick Dodson’s Place Amidst Australia’s Unfinished Business

Mick Dodson has held wide-ranging positions since becoming the first Indigenous Australian to receive a law degree in 1974, most recently serving as Reconciliation Australia’s co-chair and Pacific region representative to the UN Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues. He directs the National Centre for Indigenous Studies at Australian National University, and is currently a visiting professor…

In Pursuit of Autonomy: Indigenous Peoples Oppose Dam Construction on the Patuca River in Honduras

In May 2011, Cultural Survival’s Global Response program launched a letter-writing campaign at the request of Indigenous Peoples of the Moskitia, Honduras, to halt the construction of a hydroelectric dam along the pristine Patuca River. Despite years of protest from local Indigenous Peoples and international environmental groups, in January 2011 the Honduras government signed a contract with…

A River Tale: Protecting a Tawahka Way of Life

Doña Rufina Cardona picks her way barefoot to the riverbank. She bends down, cupping water in one hand and wetting her face, arms, and feet. It’s early. Mist rolls off the river and up the Patuca valley; it’s just possible to make out the rainforest-covered hills on the far bank. Children washing pots in the shallows greet her with respect in the Tawahka language: Mapiris yamni Kuka—Good morning…

A Day In the Life of Radio Doble Via

Radio Doble Vía (Two Way Street) in the town of San Mateo, Quetzaltenango, Guatemala is one of the 85 locally owned and community-run radio stations which partners with Cultural Survival’s Community Radio Program. The work of this alternative form of communication is based on the promotion of values pertaining to the various Indigenous cultures that exist in Guatemala, as well as exercising one’s…

The Yuchi House: A Storehouse of Living Treasure

Unnoticed by most passers-by, there’s an old yellow house in Sapulpa, Oklahoma that is the meeting place of the world’s only living experts on a unique language and culture, called Yuchi. Something remarkable is going on inside the “Yuchi House”— native speakers of this ancient language are conversing and passing on their vast knowledge to younger learners. Only five elders who were raised as…

I love Sauk Language

In the United States, 70 of the remaining 139 Native American languages will disappear in the next five years unless immediate action is taken to teach these languages to younger tribal citizens. Cultural Survival’s Endangered Languages Program is partnering with tribes to help develop the resources they need to teach their language to their children. The Sauk Language Department in Stroud,…

Walking In Time Towards 2012

The Mayan civilization is one of the cultures that expanded the studies of astronomy, architecture,mathematics, and the arts. Remnants of these studies remain enshrined in the ceremonial centers of Tikal, Palenque and Copan, among others. Some researchers say the Maya predicted the end of the world. What many find difficult to explain is how the Maya managed to study the movement of the heavens…