Findings, music, and occasional reflections by Paul Woodward

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Indigenous Peoples

Why more places are abandoning Columbus Day in favor of Indigenous Peoples Day

Marchers celebrate the first Indigenous Peoples Day in Berkeley, Calif. on Oct. 10, 1992. AP Photo/Paul Sakuma By Malinda Maynor Lowery, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill Increasingly, Columbus Day is giving people pause. More and more towns and cities across the country are electing to celebrate Indigenous Peoples Day as an alternative to – or in addition to – the day intended to honor Columbus’ voyages. Critics of

How the loss of Native American languages affects our understanding of the natural world

Dance is a unique way of passing on cultural stories to a younger generation. Aaron Hawkins/Flickr.com, CC BY-ND By Rosalyn R. LaPier, The University of Montana Alaska has a “linguistic emergency,” according to the Alaskan Gov. Bill Walker. A report warned earlier this year that all of the state’s 20 Native American languages might cease to exist by the end of this century, if the state did not act. American

400 million indigenous people protect 80% of the world’s biodiversity

The Guardian reports: As presidents, prime ministers and corporate executives gathered at the UN climate action summit on Monday, for the first time, an indigenous representative joined the event in a formal capacity. Tuntiak Katan of the Ecuadorian Shuar people spoke on behalf of the International Indigenous People’s Forum on Climate Change (IIPFCC), a caucus of indigenous rights advocates who, for years, has been working towards more robust participation and

Brazil’s army wants to ‘occupy’ the Amazon

The Intercept reports: Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro is planning to push industrialization and development in the interior of the country’s Amazon basin. It is far from a new project. For more than a century, a series of Brazilian governments have sought to move into the country’s interior, developing — or, to be more precise, colonizing — the Amazon. From the populist president-turned-dictator who made one of the early industrial pushes

Amazon gold miners invade indigenous village in Brazil after its leader is killed

The Guardian reports: Dozens of gold miners have invaded a remote indigenous reserve in the Brazilian Amazon where a local leader was stabbed to death and have taken over a village after the community fled in fear, local politicians and indigenous leaders said. The authorities said police were on their way to investigate. Illegal gold mining is at epidemic proportions in the Amazon and the heavily polluting activities of garimpeiros

How science got trampled in the rush to drill in the Arctic

Adam Federman reports: Every year, hundreds of petroleum industry executives gather in Anchorage for the annual conference of the Alaska Oil and Gas Association, where they discuss policy and celebrate their achievements with the state’s political establishment. In May 2018, they again filed into the Dena’ina Civic and Convention Center, but they had a new reason to celebrate. Under the Trump administration, oil and gas development was poised to dramatically

Indigenous Waorani win landmark legal case against Ecuador government

Al Jazeera reports: The indigenous Waorani community in Ecuador won a landmark lawsuit on Friday against three government bodies for conducting a faulty consultation process with the community before putting their territory up for sale in an international oil auction. The ruling immediately suspends any possibility of selling the community’s land for oil exploration. It also sets an important precedent for other communities in Ecuador’s southern Amazon rainforest, trying to

Do you see what I see?

Nicola Jones writes: In a Candoshi village in the heart of Peru, anthropologist Alexandre Surrallés puts a small colored chip on a table and asks, “Ini tamaara?” (“How is it?” or “What is it like?”). What Surrallés would like to ask is, “What color is this?” But the Candoshi, a tribe of some 3,000 people living on the upper banks of the Amazon River, don’t have a word for the

Protecting indigenous lands protects the environment. Trump and Bolsonaro threaten both

Deb Haaland and Joênia Wapichana write: On Tuesday, Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro will meet with President Trump at the White House. Both administrations are pushing a host of policies that are detrimental to the rights of indigenous people. As two of the first female indigenous members of Congress in the United States and Brazil, respectively, we are concerned about these policies and the mounting threats facing our communities. We must

Why do so few Aussies speak an Australian language?

By Laura Rademaker, Australian National University Linguistically speaking, Australia is special. With around 250 languages spoken when Australia was first colonised, Australia was one of the most linguistically diverse places in the world. But few people speak our Indigenous languages. As of 2016, only 10% of Australia’s Indigenous population spoke an Indigenous language at home. Most Indigenous languages are now “asleep”, waiting to be woken up by language revivalists. Australian

In hunter-gatherer societies, excellent metabolic health is sustained by very active ways of living and a wide range of diets

The New York Times reports: Nutrition experts have long debated whether there is an optimal diet that humans evolved to eat. But a study published this month adds a twist. It found that there is likely no single natural diet that is best for human health. The research, published in the journal Obesity Reviews, looked at the diets, habits and physical activity levels of hundreds of modern hunter-gatherer groups and

Brazil’s Amazon rain forest is in the crosshairs, as defenders step up

Andrew Revkin writes: By now, anyone worried about the fate of the Amazon rain forest or the indigenous and traditional communities depending on this vast, rich ecosystem knows the litany of potentially devastating steps [Brazil’s newly elected far-right president, Jair] Bolsonaro has threatened to take. He won on a platform mainly built around change and order after the worst string of corruption scandals and economic troubles in Brazil’s modern history.

‘First contact’: What a missionary’s death tells us about the perils of colonialism

Ed Simon writes: Last week, Alabama native John Allen Chau bribed fishermen to take him to the protected Andaman archipelago in the Indian Ocean, where he wished to “establish the kingdom of Jesus on the island.” In a particularly American spin on first-contact narratives, Chau brought a football to the Sentinelese, among the last pre-Neolithic tribes on Earth protected from contact. He was ultimately killed by Sentinelese armed with bows

Wave of violence against Brazil’s indigenous communities follows Bolsonaro’s election

Grist reports: Even before Jair Bolsonaro won Brazil’s Presidential race last week, many environmentalists were on high alert. The far-right politician’s positions on agriculture and economic development (he’s gone back and forth on whether he’ll keep environment ministries and agriculture ministries separate) could open up Brazil’s precious rainforests to deforestation and economic exploitation. But it’s not just the Amazon that’s threatened — the lives of many of Brazil’s indigenous peoples

Indigenous people invented the so-called ‘American Dream’

By Lewis Borck, Leiden University and D. Shane Miller, Mississippi State University When President Barack Obama created Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, the 2012 program that offered undocumented young people brought to the U.S. as children a path into society, for a moment the ideals of the American Dream seemed, at least for this group, real. We call these kids, many of whom are now adults, “Dreamers,” because they are

How the loss of Native American languages affects our understanding of the natural world

Dance is a unique way of passing on cultural stories to a younger generation. Aaron Hawkins/Flickr.com, CC BY-ND By Rosalyn R. LaPier, The University of Montana Alaska has a “linguistic emergency,” according to the Alaskan Gov. Bill Walker. A report warned earlier this year that all of the state’s 20 Native American languages might cease to exist by the end of this century, if the state did not act. American