Cultural Survival Projects - 1985
Since 1972, 60 percent of Cultural Survival's limited funds have supported field projects. This year, as in past years, some projects have ended, others have continued and new ones have been undertaken. The following update provides a brief overview of the projects Cultural Survival currently supports.
How are Projects Selected?
Cultural Survival, rather than designing projects, responds to requests either from Indian communities, their regional organizations or Indianist support groups. But our budget permits us to support only about 15 percent of the requests received. To make funds most effective, we select projects that 1) address representative problems faced by small societies in many areas and 2) allow for extensive documentation and analysis.
By confronting common problems we can, on the one hand, respond to a few groups' urgent needs and, on the other, generate case studies useful in developing methodology and theory to help other populations. Documented results are disseminated to concerned individuals, human rights groups, development organizations and, when appropriate, national governments. Cultural Survival also provides emergency assistance such as medicine, travel funds or advocacy during periods of urgent violations of human rights.
What is a Representative Problem?
Physical decimation, either from murder or introduced diseases, threatens numerous distinct ethnic populations; it sparks justified outrage and demands immediate action in the form of denunciation, or international intervention and monitoring. Such gross violations of human rights usually cannot be confronted by field projects. Local development projects, nonetheless, serve a vital function and perhaps can prevent some atrocities. Genocide or other extreme human rights violations often occur after a long process of gradual social erosion and economic marginalization which weakens a population's ability to defend itself as a group. Terms such as "assimilation" and "integration" usually only mask, and thus make more palatable, the destruction of the social fabric that binds a group, provides it with a voice, and permits an integrated program for controlling its future.
Cultural Survival's field projects develop from a concept of culture that is defined as a set of social mechanisms that permit a society as a group to have a sense of itself, to comprehend its situation, and to adapt to changing circumstances. Cultural Survival does not aim to preserve a romantic status quo, but rather to maintain these social mechanisms. Cultural Survival takes the position that societies do change and that it is not for outsiders to determine whether indigenous people are being "true to themselves." The organization responds to the needs native peoples themselves express, not to some outsider's idealized image of an appropriate life.
Typical requests fall into two general categories:
1. Specific proposals which request assistance to improve the lives of native people. Foremost among these are reports which address the fundamental need for a secure territorial base. In addition, there are requests for appropriate education, access to credit, assistance to grass roots organizations, improved health care and opportunities for locally managed economic activities.
2. General requests to eliminate the abuses ethnic groups face from the dominant society, such as:
* Political domination
* Violence and other forms of repression
* Absence of equal rights and justice under the law
* Distorted or Eurocentric histories
Cultural Survival's field projects generally assist groups that are anticipating or undergoing radical social change and are often at critical crossroads in their social and economic evolution. Cultural Survival's projects are selected with the goal of providing groups with as much control as possible over economic and social variables that will permit them the flexibility and control necessary to prevent their becoming marginalized victims.
Cultural Survival's projects demonstrate that culturally sensitive alternatives are not expensive and need not impede national development. Below are descriptions of Cultural Survival's new and continuing projects during 1985.
CIDOB, the Confederation of Indian Peoples and Communities of the Eastern Bolivian Lowlands, receives core support to meet general office and operating expenses for its special programs including community and federation-wide meetings, CIDOB's Fourth National Congress, publicity through radio, audio-visual, the CIDOB publication Boletin, and other books and pamphlets.
In 1982, subsequent to initial meetings between local Indian leaders from several ethnic groups sponsored in 1980 by CS, local leaders, with the help of APCOB (Assistance for the Indian Peasant of the Eastern Bolivian Lowlands) formed the pan-ethnic Confederation of Indigenous Peoples and Communities of the Eastern Bolivian Lowlands, CIDOB.
CIDOB, a member of the newly-founded Amazonia Coordinating Group, has not only organized and federated several ethnic groups, but has begun to develop economic programs that will hopefully lead to community self-sufficiency and allow the groups to finance CIDOB.
Community Development Among the Miranhas Indians in Tefe
In spring 1985, Cultural Survival initiated support to allow a Brazilian anthropologist, Priscila Faulhaber Barbosa, to prepare and publish three volumes that will document the evolution of recent interethnic collaboration among Indians and their efforts to obtain a degree of economic independence in the state of Amazonas in northwest Brazil.
The volumes will evaluate the regional development project "Community Development Among the Miranhas Indians of Tefe." Undertaken by communities affiliated with the National Indian Union (UNI), an Indian organization partially supported by Cultural Survival, the project involves incipient, local political organization and economic self-determination.
The three volumes will also document the social, political and economic evolution of the region. In order to insure that the texts serve local Indians as much as any other audience, they will, in part, be based on discussions with local Indian leaders. Subsequent to publication, the author plans to periodically update the books through the publication of a bulletin the Miranhas, Cambebas and Mayorunas will produce themselves.
For years non-Indians have represented Indian interests in Brazil; recently native populations have developed their own organizations. UNI, National Indian Union, has taken the lead in defending native peoples' human and civil rights. Working in close contact with non-Indian support groups, UNI has begun to undertake activities the government's National Indian Foundation (FUNAI) previously dominated.
UNI's first request for funds from Cultural Survival was approved in April 1983. Modest Cultural Survival support permitted UNI representatives to establish an office and to obtain official recognition. Funds also allowed UNI to maintain regular contact with disparate Indian communities and assist their leaders in voicing their needs, claims, and rights to FUNAI or other appropriate national and international organizations.
Increasingly UNI has publicized Indian communities' complaints and prepared documents and reports on the social, economic and political situation of indigenous groups in Brazil. These documents are disseminated to local communities, government agencies and international support groups. UNI also helps communities design and present requests for economic assistance that promote environmentally sustainable development.
In February 1984, UNI published a pamphlet to inform Brazilian Indians of their legal rights and of FUNAI's role and obligation to the indigenous peoples living in Brazil. The pamphlet explains presidential decrees, legislation currently under consideration and existing legislation affecting Indians.
Another UNI publication, the Journal Indigena, first printed in July 1984, describes the Second National Convention of Brazilian Indian People, held in Brasilia from April 2-5. Over 500 Indian leaders attended, representing 85 Indian nations. Participants discussed land conflicts between Indians and colonists in different parts of the country, FUNAI's inability to resolve disputes and questions regarding Indian land rights. They also discussed ways to fight new and pending legislation: government attempts to open all areas to mining and the Brazilian Civil Code, a series of Federal laws and acts promulgated in 1983, threatens the Indian Statute which protects Brazilian Indians' rights.
Cultural Survival supports UNI through a grant from an anonymous donor and will work to increase that support with additional funds.
CIT-Secondary School Workshop
The Indian communities in the Sierra Nevada de Santa Marta, or the northern tip of the Andes in Colombia, are among the most isolated communities in the Andes. Recently the Colombian Agrarian Reform Agency set off 180,000 hectares as an Arhuaco Indian Reserve for approximately 14,000 inhabitants. Since a Capuchi mission involved in development programs with some Indians was removed at their request and the recent political shift has united the more traditional Indians with those the church supported, the communities are now a blend of traditional and modern forces and education.
Cultural Survival is providing funds to CIT, the Tayrona Indian Confederation, recently formed by Arhuacan, Kogui and Arsario Indians to buy tools for the first secondary school in Arhuacan territory. Located in the region of Nabusimake, students at the carpentry workshop will learn to make items such as benches, blackboards, desks, tables and parts for looms. Their first step toward Indian-managed secondary education in the region, the Confederation's training center will provide jobs and income for the communities, and strengthen their cultural identity and pride. Geared toward economic development and natural resource management, the project will also demonstrate land use in the face of encroaching colonists along the eastern border of the reserve.
CRIC, the Regional Indian Council of Cauca, is among the best organized and most widely known Indian organizations in Central and South America. Formed in 1971, the organization now includes a total of 57 Paez and Quambiano Indian communities. CRIC's organizational model has stimulated the formation of about ten other similar groups in Colombia. In February 1982 these groups formed the National Indian Organization of Colombia, ONIC.
In addition to education, community health stores and agricultural projects, CRIC is now working to establish a natural resource management project based on reforestation with native species. As a result of severe pressures from local landlords and colonists, many Indian communities' lands are now seriously deforested.
Conceived by community members, the project demonstrates community control over and use of land and provides community members with firewood, fencing and housing, and in addition controls erosion and drainage in the area.
While community members run the program, CRIC's Natural Resources Team supervises it. Cultural Survival is providing funds to help communities establish experimental plots and obtain technical assistance.
FUNCOL-Traditional/Western Health Program for Indian Communities of Eastern Colombia
Four years ago FUNCOL, the Foundation for Colombian Communities, a non-profit organization based in Bogotá, helped design and implement a village-based primary health care program which combines Western and traditional medicines in the small, isolated Indian communities in the northeastern Llanos region of Colombia. Peoples of these communities include the Piapoco, Tunebo, Betoyes, Chricoa, Hitnu, Guahibo, Cuiba and Sikuani. Most lack access to Western medical services. To treat their various health problems, they have relied on traditional medical knowledge and practices which are often inadequate for treating parasitic and infectious diseases. Such illnesses, common in communities whose members are in regular contact with outsiders, are exacerbated by widespread malnutrition.
The project provides primary health care to communities through approximately 30 paramedics, selected by local leaders and shamans and trained by licensed, professional nurse-practitioners. During a two-week course, paramedics learn basic principles of public health, primary care, and medical practices. They then return to their respective villages and work under the guidance of their instructors. In addition to providing primary health care, the paramedics compile medical records on such matters as morbidity, mortality and births.
Based on the success of the program's initial phase, Cultural Survival renewed funding in July 1984. A course training 15 indigenous paramedics in Tolima has been successfully completed, and another course is underway in the zone of Vichade. At last count, the program affected about 2,500 Indians in four areas.
To further assess the effectiveness of the health program, FUNCOL will conduct a comprehensive field study and laboratory analysis of the most common diseases in the Indian communities in the program and the factors that affect their prevalence.
This will enable FUNCOL to identify the program's shortcomings, strengthen those areas which have had positive results and help FUNCOL extend the program to other communities.
KUWEI Educational Posters
Cultural Survival is supporting the publication of KUWEI (formerly Yavi Mural), an educational poster published bimonthly in Bogotá, Colombia at 2,500 copies per edition. The posters, whose themes concern Colombian Indians, are sent to indigenous communities in Colombia and to numerous Indian organizations throughout the Americas. These themes include the Indian Congress held in Toribio, Cauca, the Wagu, the Tolima (Paeces), the Arhuaco, CRIC's Fifth National Congress, "No to the Indian Statute" and numerous other topics that illustrate and support Indian issues and rights.
Anthropologists and sociologists, who have worked directly with Indian communities and the problems they face, publish and edit the posters. They widely distribute them to 1) orient Indian communities to possible solutions to their problems; 2) publicize the problems and different cultural traditions and characteristics of particular Colombian Indian peoples to other Indians and non-Indians; 3) criticize oppressive policies and programs; and 4) take a stand on Indian issues to aid their efforts for self-determination and cultural survival.
AACTIN, the Association of Traditional Indian Music Groups and Artists of the Napo River, is a member organization of the Ecuadorian Indian Federation, FOIN (Federation of Indian Organizations of the Napo). The association has evolved out of a single group of musicians, "Los Yumbos Chahuamangos." Since their formation in 1982 they have expanded their activities to other areas by forming additional music groups, establishing a conservatory of traditional indigenous music, holding craft workshops, courses, and music, theater, dance and poetry festivals. The bulk of the project's support is provided by the Inter-American Foundation. Cultural Survival provides core support for the project's coordinator.
Awa (Coaiquer) Land Demarcation
The Tobat Donoso Project, a large-scale development project designated for the northwest Ecuadorian province of Carchi, included a road that was to pass directly through the traditional territory of the Awa, an isolated population of approximately 680 Indians dwelling in the high tropical forest. As the result of a 1980 project supported by Cultural Survival to promote land titling among the Awa, the Ministry of Agriculture made a formal commitment to demarcate and title Awa lands before further development took place. At the request of an inter-institutional commission including the Ecuadorian Ministry of Foreign Relations and other interested government agencies. Cultural Survival provided support for the land demarcation project through CONACNIE, Ecuador's Indian Organization working in conjunction with the commission. CONACNIE also provided funds to enable council members representing the Awa to travel to Quito to meet with Agrarian Reform Agency officials and representatives of Indian organizations for advice. The principal coordinator and advisor of this project was a former Peace Corps volunteer, James Levy, who worked among the Awa for three years and, with Cultural Survival's support at the request of all parties involved, continues to do so.
The achievements of the project to date are considerable. Awa lands have been formally demarcated, colonists have moved, and final titling is to begin soon. Adjacent forest lands have also been demarcated and a forest reserve established. In addition, the Awa have established a communal center for meetings and formed a cabildo (local political group), one of whose members was elected to direct CONACNIE. All Awa have formal identification cards, documents essential for ensuring a variety of rights, and some have participated in several training courses ranging from organization building to agriculture. Lastly, researchers from the University of Aarhus, Denmark and the Catholic University of Quito conducted a forest inventory.
During the work with Awa from Carchi Province, Levy, CONACNIE, officials from the Ministry of Foreign Relations and Awa from Carchi visited another Awa group (population 900) in the adjacent province of Esmeraldas to explain the rapid development that has been going on in their territory. Cultural Survival is now supporting the Esmeraldas Awa project which will replicate the work accomplished in Carchi.
At the First Regional Congress of Indian Nations of the Ecuadorian Amazon in August 1980, the Confederation of Indian Nations of the Ecuadorian Amazon (CONFENIAE) was established to promote the solidarity of these nations and their organizations. In March 1982, Cultural Survival began to support CONFENIAE, which represents five regional-level organizations and has begun to incorporate the three smallest and relatively unorganized tribal groups in the region - the Cofan, the Siona-Secoya and the Huaorani. CONFENIAE's goals, in addition to consolidating Indian communities, are to obtain land titles for the various groups and develop locally-managed agricultural and forestry projects. Since Cultural Survival's support began, CONFENIAE has held three Congresses, during which delegates elected new officials and discussed matters ranging from education to land rights. CONFENIAE representatives also participated in the Second Meeting of Ecuadorian Indian Nations organized by CONACNIE and held in Quito from April 11-14, 1984.
In July 1984, Cultural Survival provided funds to CONFENIAE to allow the organization's president to present testimony at the meeting of the recently formed United Nations Working Group on Indigenous Populations in Geneva, Switzerland. Representatives also participated in this meeting in July 1985. Cultural Survival is now providing funds for the continued publication of Amanecer India (Indian Dawning), CONFENIAE's quarterly, which is distributed among groups. The bulletin publishes analyses of the problems confronting Indians in Ecuador's Amazonian region.
Soon after Cultural Survival initiated support of CONFENIAE, the Board of Directors approved a request from one of its member federations, the Ecuadorian Indian Federation, FOIN. FOIN coordinates the activities of the Quichua communities (total population approximately 25,000) in the Upper Napo River Valley, and assists their organizations regionally and nationally. About 68 centers are now affiliated in FOIN.
FOIN's activities include organizing meetings and seminars regarding agricultural technology, animal husbandry, accounting, administration, marketing cooperatives and civil rights, training community leaders and promoting Quichua cultural pride.
Since 1982, Cultural Survival and Oxfam-UK have jointly supported FOIN. In the past three years, FOIN has made considerable progress, both in stimulating activities in rural areas and carefully managing its finances. It obtained municipal aid for the construction of a multi-service headquarters, a two-story building that provides space for offices, meetings, a medical clinic and temporary residence for visitors. In July 1984, the organization was granted corporate status.
Last year, representatives of FOIN participated in meetings in Lima, Peru, on Indian human rights and, with a special grant from Cultural Survival, called a meeting to discuss land problems. Expanded oil exploration and exploitation, increased lumbering and expansion in agro-industrial production have increased the urgency for land titling. In July 20-26, 1985, they held their Eighth General Congress to discuss strategies to halt the advance of African Palm plantations. Currently FOIN is establishing a carpentry workshop with funds from the Inter-American Foundation.
Cultural Survival and Oxfam-UK have recently renewed their funding for FOIN, to help it continue organizational work and to provide advanced economic development and resource management assistance among those communities who have already been receiving organizational training.
Mundo Shuar Press - Amazonia Ecuatoriana
In 1981, Cultural Survival provided funds for publishing Amazonia Ecuatoriana - La Otra Cara del Progreso, printed by Mundo Shuar at a center for documentation, research and publication associated with the Shuar Federation. The publication of Amazonia Ecuatoriana stems from Mundo Shuar's belief that anthropological research can be used directly or indirectly for the benefit of native people. The Spanish edition has (almost) sold out and Cultural Survival has provided funds for its reprinting. The Spanish edition (1,500 copies) will be available for purchase through Cultural Survival and Ediciones Abya-Yala.
In the fall of 1985, Cultural Survival funded OPIP, the Organization of Indian Peoples of the Pastaza, to help it continue training and organizing Quichua Indian communities of the Pastaza River basin in eastern Ecuador where rapidly developing road systems have brought an influx of colonists. Formed in 1979, OPIP, one of the newest organizations in the region, has established itself and over 30 local organizations in dispersed settlements.
OPIP's expressed goals are overall economic self-sufficiency, alternative native economic activities, the defense and legalization of lands and the development of a set of well-organized Indian communities to work toward these goals. Community stores, marketing of crafts and agricultural products and controlling lumbering of communal lands are all efforts toward achieving self-sufficiency. Cultural Survival's support will help cover costs of special seminars to train Quichua Indians in basic skills necessary to manage community activities such as accounting and administration.
Shuar Program of Bicultural Radio Education
The Shuar Indians, representing about one third of eastern Ecuador's 90,000 native people, have become one of the most effectively organized Indian groups in Latin America. They have a strong sense of ethnic pride and have won the respect of the Ecuadorian government.
One of the ways the Shuar have been able to achieve a high degree of cultural continuity has been through radio schools. Lessons broadcast from Shuar headquarters are transmitted to radios in settlements dispersed over a large region. Groups of students (sometimes no more than a few households) gather from 8 a.m. to 1 p.m. weekdays to listen. A teacher's aide assists the students in interpreting the lessons and helps them with their studies.
Radio schools have eliminated the need for church-run boarding schools where Shuar children who received educations were sent prior to 1982. The mission schools removed children from their communities for long periods, depriving them of a uniquely Shuar education and their parents of their assistance. The students' academic performance) well above the national average, demonstrates the success of an educational system that provides children with a high quality education in their own language while allowing them to maintain close ties with their communities.
Film Series: Human Rights of Indigenous Peoples in Latin America
Cultural Survival is providing a grant to Tamouz Productions in New York to co-fund the first of a three-part documentary film series, "Indigenous America," which focuses on the human rights situation of indigenous peoples of Central and South America. The objective of the film series is to raise viewer awareness of a situation common to many indigenous peoples, rather than just a particular country or people.
The first film of the series, provisionally called "Disappeared," will focus on the human rights situation of Indians of the highlands of Guatemala. Specifically, it will investigate the events of recent years in villages around Nebaj in Quiche province, as told by scattered survivors from the village. It will trace the fate of one family to the Campeche refugee camps in Mexico and to the Lacandon jungle, where some family members remained, hoping to return one day to Guatemala. The film will then move to the Guatemala highlands in search of family members who stayed behind, and from there to "model villages" and refugees hiding in shanty towns in Guatemala City and in the mountains.
The second film will document the struggle of the Apinaye Indians to defend their lands and rights against the threat of the Greater Carajas Project, a major development project in northeast Brazil.
The third documentary will look at Indian peoples' attempts to cope with threats to their physical and cultural survival. It will explore the different routes taken from peasant organizations in Bolivia with political party ties and class identity, to the ethnic federations, such as UNI in Brazil, or CRIC in Colombia. The intention is to document how a particular cultural and political reality brought about specific responses to the need to organize. The third film will include direct collaboration and consultation with Cultural Survival.
Chiapas Maya Writers Cooperative - Sna Jtz'Ibajom/Special Project(*)
The "Cultura de los Indies Mayas" project, a Cultural Survival special project since November 1982, seeks to maintain and revitalize Maya Indian culture in the Mexican state of Chiapas. It supports an independent Maya Indian writers' cooperative, Sna Jtz'Ibajom. Six Tzotzil and Tzeltal Indians work at the cooperative to revive their oral tradition and preserve it in literary form. The booklets and magazines they have published and plan to write include Maya history, folk tales, native medicine, humorous sayings and other themes chosen by the cooperative. These publications are distributed free among the Maya inhabitants of Chiapas to inform them and to stimulate similar efforts.
The Mexican government and local officials support the cooperative, and the Ministry of Education and Culture for Chiapas has agreed to publish three volumes annually. In 1983, The Ancient History of Zinacantan, The First Soldier Arrived, and Words of the Elders were published. The first two were in Tzotzil and Spanish, the last in Tzeltal and Spanish. Two more books, The Old Zinacantecan Traders and Ancient Traditional Maya Tales (Sipakna) were printed in 1984. The National Indian Institute (INI) has provided the writers with office space and facilities in San Cristobal de las Casas.
To aid the distribution of their publications, the writers formed a puppet theater. In January 1985, Cultural Survival provided funds for a North American puppeteer to train the writers in making rod and hand puppets and presenting puppet shows. The skits dramatize the contents of their booklets and they have performed to enthusiastic audiences in several Indian towns in the area. The writers plan to widen their scope of activities to include taping elders' stories for radio, cultural exchanges with various Indian groups in the region, and investigations into ceramic traditions. Additional writers from the same or other language groups may be added as the project expands.
Chiapas Weaving Cooperative - Sna Jolobil/Special Project(*)
The art of weaving in Chiapas, Mexico dates back more than 2,000 years. Traditional patterns and techniques used by Maya women in their weaving, brocading and embroidery have been revived and elaborated during this century. Over the past 10 years, Maya Indians, with the help of the Mexican government, have formed weaving societies and cooperatives. The largest and most successful of these is Sna Jolobil, founded in 1978, with around 650 members from various communities. Sna Jolobil was created to help the weavers market their work and obtain fair prices. It encourages production of high quality weavings, based on the study of old huipils from a collection of textiles assembled by Francesco Pellizzi. As a result, Sna Jolobil can market the weavings as art, in contrast to other forms of mass produced textiles where artisans realize a minimum of profit for their work. In addition, the cooperatives established a natural dye workshop. It now produces all the natural dyed wool used in Chiapas.
The weavers market their textiles in a store they run in the ex-convent of Santo Domingo in San Cristobal. The profits from the cooperative store help finance weaving and dying workshops and provide grants for weavers wishing to study the designs and techniques used in traditional huipils or to teach others to weave brocade.
In the spring of 1984, Cultural Survival's Board of Directors voted to accept Sna Jolobil as a special project.
Project Tuapuri with the Huichol
In October 1982, Cultural Survival provided funds for a carpentry workshop/school, "Project Tuapuri," with the Huichol of Mexico's Sierra Madre Occidental. This project resulted from the Indians' growing awareness of the need to guarantee and maintain their land base while creating new sources of livelihood on their land.
A forestry professor from the University of Guadalajara supervised a dozen apprentice Huichol in the community of Santa Catarina-Tuapuri in the selection of trees suitable for cutting as well as in felling trees and sawing and drying the boards. The program helps the Huichol utilize their forest resources selectively, demonstrates the community's rational use of their natural resources, and reinforces their territorial claims.
Instruction at the workshop is geared to the production of high-quality goods. In 1983, Huichol carpenters produced 55 chairs on commission for ITESO (Guadalajara's Western Institute of Technology and of Higher Studies). The Tuapuri workshop received 1,850 pesos per chair. One pine log yields enough lumber for 50 chairs, which gross approximately 62,500 pesos. This represents more than a 300-fold increase in profits over the 200 pesos paid for a pine log. Income is distributed first to the carpenters, but ten percent of all profits is contributed to the communal treasury. For Huichol, the workshop is a profitable community-run industry which offers a viable alternative to migratory wage-labor, and avoids disruption of the community's traditionally egalitarian economy.
Funds for an experimental solar-powered kiln to dry the Huichol's lumber was provided from Europe. The kiln was used successfully in 1983 when carpenters were instructed in its operation.
The profits from finished wood products and Cultural Survival's support have enabled carpenters to remain at the workshop and continue their training. The continued sale of chairs and other wood products will enable the workshop to become self-sufficient. Cultural Survival's Board of Directors has approved funds for the project's fourth and final phase to train carpenters to instruct similar workshops in other Huichol communities. The Huichol have obtained other sources of funding to expand the project to other communities. With this expansion. Cultural Survival has completed its efforts to establish a successful pilot project.
The Kurdish Program/Special Project(*)
When the modern states of Turkey, Syria and Iraq were created in 1923, Kurdistan, the traditional homeland of the Kurds, was not included. That territory, home of the fourth largest ethnic minority in the Middle East (approximately 18 million people) who inhabited it for the past 4,000 years, is now split and controlled by its five neighbors: Turkey, Iraq, Syria, Iran and the Soviet Union.
The Kurds have repeatedly attempted to reestablish control over their traditional lands, which extend over a territory approximately the size of Iraq, but have met with systematic and brutal repression in countries with Kurdish minorities. These countries actively engage in campaigns to assimilate the Kurds. For example, in Turkey, with a population of eight to ten million Kurds, using or teaching the Kurdish language and the weaving of Kurdish dress are prohibited. In Iraq and Syria, Kurdish areas are being "Arabized" and Kurds are forcibly relocated, sometimes with such haste that children are left behind. In Iran they have been victims of the bloodbath unleashed by the current regime.
Cultural Survival supports the Kurdish Program, a resource center created to publicize the Kurds' plight and to aid them by providing assistance for bilingual education and scholarship for Kurdish students, economic development programs, land rights and health projects.
!Kung San Development Foundation/Special Project(*)
Over the past century, the !Kung San (Bushmen) of Namibia have been reduced from a self-sufficient existence maintained through hunting and gathering in the Nyae Nyae region of the Kalahari Desert, to a life dependent on welfare. From 1900 to 1970, their population of 100,000 declined to 21,000 (1970 census, Namibia). In this time, the government or private farmers took more than 85 percent of their lands. Deprived of their land and resource base, most !Kung San have moved onto white- or black-owned farms to work as wage laborers. Since 1978, many young men have joined the South African army to fight against SWAPO (South African People's Organization). Those that remained were moved to the government post at Tsumkwe where they live in demoralizing poverty, dependent on government handouts. They suffer from malnutrition and alcoholism, high infant mortality, unemployment and internal violence, conditions unknown to them in their previous way of life.
The government is now attempting to create a game reserve with the remainder of the !Kung San's permanently inhabitable land, 6,000 sq. km. in eastern Bushmanland, inhabited by some 2,000 Ju/Wasi !Kung San. Some of these Ju/Wasi live by a mixed economy of cattle husbandry and subsistence agriculture, supplemented by hunting and gathering. !Kung San lack the land and few have the skills to live exclusively by hunting and gathering. Moreover, they do not wish to return to their traditional way of life which they see as a dead end. While they want to retain many of their old values, they also have a number of material needs that their traditional hunting and gathering way of life no longer provides. Nonetheless, the government intends that a few !Kung San will remain in the park and live as hunters and gatherers to provide the park's main tourist attraction.
The !Kung San believe that their best chance to improve their lives is to return to traditional waterholes and take up a mixed subsistence economy, supplementing hunting and gathering with animal husbandry, agriculture, wage labor and, at least initially, assistance from the government. Many !Kung San have experience working on farms and believe they can now use their skills to improve their lives.
To aid the !Kung San's efforts, the !Kung San Foundation was established in Namibia in 1978. Cultural Survival coordinates US efforts to aid the organization, which also receives African and European assistance. The Foundation raises funds to assist Ju/Wasi !Kung San self-development and those who are trying to help them. It provides basic training in agricultural and herding techniques and direct material assistance (including livestock, equipment and medicine) to Ju/Wasi !Kung San who are trying to resettle near traditional waterholes and recently drilled shallow boreholes. As of 1985, four Ju/Wasi groups of about 60 people had resettled successfully, and established cattle posts with 40 head of livestock. The !Kung San are improving their economic condition, increasing their independence and continuing many aspects of their traditional social and cultural life. Other groups would like to follow their example.
The Ju/Wasi vehemently oppose the government's plans to establish a game reserve. If the reserve becomes a reality, all traditional waterholes will be expropriated. All but a handful of Ju/Wasi will be evicted with their livestock and forced to move back to the government post or relocated far to the west to expensive boreholes the Ju/Wasi cannot afford to maintain, committing them to depend on government handouts. Subsistence farming would be prohibited in the reserve, and the role envisioned for the few Ju/Wasi allowed to remain would be as hunter-gatherer curiosities for tourists visiting the park. If the Ju/Wasi are not allowed to continue their efforts to support themselves at traditional waterholes, their population will continue to decline.
Tengboche Culture Center/Special Project(*)
Since Nepal opened its borders to foreign visitors in 1951, mountain trekking and tourism have become major industries. The Khumbu region in northeastern Nepal is the most popular trekking area. There, on the route to Mt. Everest, is the Buddhist Tengboche Monastery. For years a focal point for Sherpa religious, cultural and educational life, the monastery now receives around 5,000 visitors each year.
While increasing numbers of foreign visitors have given Sherpa greater employment opportunities as well as exposure to people and ideas from outside, the presence of tourists has threatened the survival of many Sherpa cultural institutions and traditions and increased pressure on forest resources and the region's fragile ecology. The Tengboche Culture Center was planned to help counterbalance those threats.
For several years, the head lama of Tengboche and other community leaders have developed a plan to help maintain the roots of Sherpa culture by creating a Sherpa culture center and promoting the education of young Sherpa monks in the Buddhist tradition. In late 1981 the monks' residence, which houses 24 new monks, was completed. In 1983, a library/museum was constructed adjacent to the monastery. The building's six rooms house a Tibetan library, a Western language and Nepali language library, two small study rooms and two small exhibition rooms, one containing examples of Sherpa history, the other containing religious and ritual artifacts. Cultural Survival provided funds to construct a traditional Sherpa altar/Tibetan library niche. Instillation of donated artifacts and Tibetan library materials, which the Tengboche head lama has collected, began in August 1984.
In an effort to protect and manage the Khumbu region's forest resources, most of this region has been designated as a national park and use of forest products is severely restricted. Young monks of the Tengboche monastery will implement programs in waste control and reforestation now being planned. The park warden reserved 7,000 seedlings that were planted in June 1984, and the two plantation areas were fenced.
The Department of Project Planning and Evaluation of AIP, the Paraguayan Indianist Association, recently printed a document on the land situation of the Pai Tavyera, one of the three major groups in eastern Paraguay. In the forested section of eastern Paraguay, where few support programs exist, the situation is most severe. The document will aid future investigations and decisions regarding field work in the area.
Cultural Survival is now funding an investigation by AIP into the health and education status of all groups in eastern Paraguay. It will examine problems health and education projects in the area are encountering, and how they are being resolved. The purpose, as with the land study, is not to produce a final evaluation but to document eastern Paraguayan Indians' health and education status.
The Land Situation of the Mbya-Guarani
The Mbya-Guarani are considered the most deprived and threatened Indian group in Paraguay. Only about 20 percent of the Mbya have relatively secure land claims. The other 80 percent live on what are considered private or state lands and thus are subject to removal. Even those communities or individuals with land titles generally have land insufficient for either present or future needs.
Cultural Survival, through the Paraguayan Center of Sociological Studies, is funding two Paraguayan anthropologists' research on the Mbya-Guarani. Their long-range goals are to provide essential census data and maps of land the Mbya need and claim for programs aimed at helping them. The Paraguayan group, Social Anthropological and Juridical Services, which is undertaking some of the only effective land titling work in Paraguay, has finally requested the two researchers to obtain the essential data for titling Mbya communities' lands.
In the event that a large development project to be funded by the World Bank gets underway, the researchers' data would enable Cultural Survival (and others) to monitor Mbya's situation and the project's impact on them, and to provide information to the World Bank.
In January 1980, AIDESEP, the Inter-Ethnic Development Association of the Peruvian Jungle, was formed as a non-profit Indian organization to unify the approximately 220,000 tropical forest-dwelling Indians of Peru. The organization, which works on behalf of about 50 percent of these Indians, includes 10 officially recognized Indian groups and 13 small, as yet unrecognized, Indian groups. Each member group has three representatives who pass information between the communities and AIDESEP.
Cultural Survival is helping AIDESEP to maintain a visible presence in Lima, expand its activities and visit constituent communities regularly. In March 1984, AIDESEP organized a meeting in Lima to inform and advise South American Indian delegates from countries with territory in the Amazon basin about the UN Working Group on Indigenous Populations. AIDESEP subsequently sent delegates to Geneva for the annual meeting of the UN Working Group on Indigenous Populations in July and August 1984, and again in July 1985. AIDESEP has also negotiated several formal agreements with government ministries for health and education programs for forest-dwelling Indians.
Cultural Survival funds are also used to publish pamphlets, manuals and educational brochures on health, civil rights and similar subjects for which AIDESEP organizes seminars for its member groups, and to initiate contacts with unaffiliated groups and organizations. In order to wean AIDESEP from international funding, a plan has been initiated whereby the 23 member organizations, will make progressively larger contributions to cover AIDESEP's budget.
Peruvian handicrafts - particularly ceramics and textiles - are among the finest in the world. Much production, however, is marketed through middlemen who rarely encourage traditional quality or pay prices that stimulate creativity.
Antisuyo, a non-Indian Peruvian crafts marketing organization, receives and-markets goods from members who range from family producers to large cooperatives. It also provides training in administration, bookkeeping and other technical assistance to members. Most of the 22 producer groups who are members live in Andean or jungle communities where the sale of crafts provides cash essential to supplement subsistence farming and allows the purchase of medicine, salt, tools, pots, kerosene and blankets. Founded in December 1981, Antisuyo serves as a middleman, but does not charge fees exceeding costs required to maintain its Lima-based store and its three-person staff.
Since April 1983, Cultural Survival has provided support for Antisuyo's expanded program. Cultural Survival funds provide working capital with which Antisuyo pays artisans upon receipt of goods.
Cultural Survival funds also support Antisuyo's efforts to encourage the production of high quality wares through seminars and workshops with local craftspeople. As part of their program, Antisuyo promotes visits among different groups to strengthen ties and exchange techniques and organizing experiences. Their work also includes the recuperation, study and documentation through photographs and writing of each group's crafts traditions. Antisuyo's activities are coordinated with elected representatives to promote each group's consolidation. In this way, the artisanry projects will be linked with other community activities.
Coordinating Group for Indian Organizations of the Amazonian Basin
In March 1984 the first meeting of Indian organizations from nations of the Amazonian basin took place in Lima, Peru. The purpose of the meeting was to inform the Indians of international forums through which they can channel their complaints with a unified voice (principally the UN Working Group on Indigenous Populations), consider the general pattern of human rights violations that occur in the Amazon basin, and develop a regional approach to resolving these problems.
The informal "Coordinating Group" developed from this meeting and attended the July-August 1984 meeting of the UN Working Group on Indigenous Populations in Geneva. Member organizations of the Coordinating Group include UNI (Brazil), AIDESEP (Peru), CIDOB (Bolivia), FOIN and CONFENIAE (Ecuador) and CRIC (Colombia). They held a second annual meeting in Brazil, sponsored by Oxfam-America, and attended the August 1985 meeting of the UN Working Group on Indigenous Populations in Geneva. Cultural Survival has provided administrative aid to coordinate their activities throughout the year.
Copal - Amazonia Indigena
Copal Solidarity with Native Communities is a Peruvian Indianist organization formed in 1979. Most of its core members are anthropologists who have had extensive experience with Peru's Amazonian Indians. They lobby on behalf of threatened Indian communities and initially published a monthly called Boletin. In July 1980 they began to publish a quarterly called Amazonia Indigena. Neither a purely academic journal nor merely a news bulletin, it combines serious research with analysis of the current economic and cultural problems and life of Amazonian Indian peoples of Peru. Cultural Survival continues its support of Amazonia Indigena started in the fall of 1984.
* Special projects are not fully funded. Contributions can be made directly to these projects through Cultural Survival.
Article copyright Cultural Survival, Inc.