Saturday, May 31, 2008

Bury Me Standing

For more than four hundred years, until 1856, Gypsies were slaves in Wallachia and Moldavia, the feudal principalities that with Transylvania now make up modern Romania. Some Transylvanians also owned Gypsies, but only in the principalities was slavery an institution, at first guided by the "custom of the land" and eventually enshrined in a complete legal framework...

They were brought over in large quantities from south of the Danube specifically to be used as forced labor--a practice that alone explains why Romania is still home to by far the greatest number of Gypsies (some 2.5 million) in any single country.

--Bury Me Standing by Isabel Fonseca

Thursday, May 29, 2008

Biopiracy Patently Unfair

Fighting the pharmaceutical giants over the benefits from indigenous knowledge: as usual, a matter of reconciling grand theft.

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Patterns of Development

The industrial society project that began in Europe and quickly spread around the globe with colonialism may have peaked in its patterns of development, but it still has a ways to go in consolidating its ill-gotten gains. This system of social organization that spawned both elitism, consumerism and militarism -- abetted by the marketing and media industries -- is largely spent in terms of growth potential, and now practices a high-tech form of cannibalism and human sacrifice. Expecting anything good to follow from staying on the industrial trajectory is sheer folly.

Sunday, May 25, 2008

Fire Talk

The sweetest dreams are of fat horses on a summer day. The saddest mornings are waking after these dreams. Chief Joseph's dreams of spotted horses in Wallowa pines must have been haunting. Perhaps all the more so because his nightmares were real.

Falls apart and holds together--which is which?

The people and the stories and birds in the trees pile memories like blankets at potlatch for mornings when fog obscures the path and chills the bones.

And we cook salmon by a campfire and talk of stealing fat horses.

--Jay Taber, July 2004

Thursday, May 22, 2008

Anti-Indigenous Development

Reminiscent of the twentieth century displacement and subsequent impoverishment of Columbia River tribes by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, the indigenous people of the Amazon River now face extinction of their way of life at the hands of the Brazilian National Electric Company. Real News TV reports from Altamira.

Monday, May 19, 2008


From 1884 to 1951, it was a crime in Canada (and the US) for First Nations to potlatch; dancing, singing, and gift-giving -- in ceremonies comprising the system of redistributing wealth among the coastal aboriginal peoples -- was punishable by two to six months in jail. Today, the indigenous tribes of the Pacific Northwest have rebounded from this missionary-inspired punishment, and taken potlatch to a new level. Lucky for us, the Native tradition of giving is alive and well.

Saturday, May 17, 2008

Survival Through Diversity

Andean women use ancestral knowledge of potatoes to ensure "survival through diversity."

Friday, May 09, 2008

Consumption Drives Corruption

If Fair Trade is good for coffee, why not for petroleum? If Banana Republics are no longer PC, why are biofuel plantations OK? I mean, colonial outposts still require subverting democracy, murder of natives, and theft of resources--even if American consumers delude themselves by greenwashing their consumption. The SUVs and McMansions that surround us are testimony to that.

Wednesday, May 07, 2008

Island of Spirits

PBS, the Smithsonian, and Japan's National Museum of Ethnology offer some interesting views of the Ainu of Hokkaido.

Monday, May 05, 2008

Experience the Holy

Scholars discuss Deloria's legacy for indigenous people to reclaim responsibility in safeguarding sacred energy. Conference participants claim indigenous peoples' ability to experience the holy in the land illustrates the incompatibility of cultures.

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