Cultural Survival Q
The Electronic Drum
Community Radio’s Role in Indigenous Language Revitalization
Vol. 37, Issue 1 • March 2013 US $7.50/CAN $9
M ar c h 201 3 V olum e 37 , Issue 1 Board of Directors President & board Chair
Vincent Nmehielle (Ikwerre)
Nicole Friederichs Clerk
Jean Jackson Karmen Ramírez Boscán (Wayúu) Duane Champagne (Turtle Mountain Band of Chippewa) Laura Graham Steve Heim James Howe Edward John (Tl’azt’en) Cecilia Lenk Pia Maybury-Lewis Les Malezer (Gabi Gabi) P. Ranganath Nayak Stella Tamang (Tamang) Jeff Wallace Che Philip Wilson (Nga-ti Rangi) FOUNDERS David & Pia Maybury-Lewis Cultural Survival PO Box 381569 Cambridge, MA 02238 t 617.441.5400 f 617.441.5417 www.cs.org 2769 Iris Ave., Suite 101 Boulder, CO 80304 t 617.441.5400 f 617.441.5417 5ª calle 14-35, Zona 3 Apartamento 202 Edificio Las Tapias Quetzaltenango, Guatemala, 09001 Cultural Survival Quarterly
Copy Editor: Jenn Goodman Designer: NonprofitDesign.com Contributing Arts Editor: Phoebe Farris Production Manager: Agnes Portalewska Copyright 2013 by Cultural Survival, Inc. Cultural Survival Quarterly (ISSN 0740-3291) is published quarterly by Cultural Survival, Inc. at PO Box 381569, Cambridge, MA 02238. Periodical postage paid at Boston, MA 02205 and additional mailing offices. Postmaster: Send address changes to Cultural Survival, PO Box 381569, Cambridge, MA 02238. Printed on recycled paper in the U.S.A. Please note that the views in this magazine are those of the authors and do not necessarily represent the views of Cultural Survival.
View writers’ guidelines at our website (www.cs.org) or send a self-addressed, stamped envelope to: Cultural Survival, Writer’s Guidelines, PO Box 381569, Cambridge, MA 02238. Cultural Survival recognizes that Indigenous Peoples have long been exploited by photographers and publications. This publication does not pay photographers for images and makes no money from publishing them. We also make a tremendous effort to identify every Indigenous individual in the images that appear here. From time to time, however, such identification is not possible. We apologize to the subjects of those photos and to any reader offended by the omission.
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Coke Salish by Sonny Assu (Ligwilda'xw of the We Wai Kai First Nation, British Columbia). Duratrans and Light box. 24” x 35”. 2006. (See page 4 to see more of Sonny Assu's work.)
F e at u r e s
10 Keeper of the Knowledge
Agnes Portalewska Interview with Cultural Survival Board Member Che Wilson (Nga-ti Rangi Tribe, New Zealand).
12 The Electronic Drum
Mark Camp and Agnes Portalewska Indigenous language loss is occurring all over the world. Concerned communities are using many methods including community radio as an effective tool in revitalizing their languages.
18 Piecing Together Ma-ori, Word by Word
Erin McArdle In reversing language decline, the Ma-ori of New Zealand have achieved what many communities hope for. Community radio has played a major role in this monumental effort.
20 Making Waves: Hawaiian Language On The Air
Kaimana Barcarse The Hawaiian people’s storied history of using technology to better their lives and their language.
22 Wishing on “Shooting Stars”
Cara Dukepoo A Hopi radio station in northern Arizona reignites the Hopi language.
24 Yva Poty Rising
Eric Michael Kelley In the early morning of November 20, 2012, Paraguayan national police entered an Avá-Guaraní community in eastern Paraguay armed with an eviction notice.
27 Change Is in All of Us
Danielle DeLuca Our final installment about December 21, 2012 and what it means for the future.
Departments 1 Executive Director’s Message 2 In the News 4 Indigenous Arts Challenging Tradition, Challenging Pop Art: Sonny Assu 6 Women the World Must Hear Being Idle No More: The Women Behind the Movement 8 Rights in Action Rights Talk: Q’eqchi Maya Communities Meet Across Borders 26 Bazaar Artists Enabling Women to Live the Life They Choose: Women’s Work 28 Take Action Take action with Maya communities in Belize as they assert their right to Free, Prior and Informed Consent in the wake of oil exploration.
On the cover
iDrum (Red)iscovery #3, 2009 by Sonny Assu. Acrylic on deer hide 18” diameter. Image courtesy of the artist and the Equinox Gallery Photo Credit: Chris Meier.
Executiv e Director’S message
Our Languages on the Air: A Sense of Home, Place, and Belonging
onny Assu’s “iDrum” art piece on the cover of this issue conveys a poignant, complex, and exciting message for language learning and revitalization. It’s a message of the traditional blended with the contemporary—an artist’s challenge to his own people to “look past the debate of contemporary vs. traditional.” This message introduces this edition of the Quarterly, which focuses on the role of community radio in sustaining and revitalizing Indigenous languages. In an emerging conversation on how the use of media technology can revitalize languages, Cultural Survival has taken a lead in promoting the role community radio plays in language sustainability. In July, Cultural Survival collaborated with the Recovering Voices Initiative at the Smithsonian Institution to host “Our Voices on the Air: Reaching New Audiences Through Indigenous Radio,” a conference that brought together Indigenous radio producers from Canada, Columbia, El Salvador, Guatemala, Mexico, New Zealand, Peru, and the United States as well as language scholars and Indigenous leaders to share experiences. We spotlight the work of several conference participants in this issue. New technology and mainstream media in dominant languages have contributed to Indigenous language loss, but they have also created new tools and opportunities to reach younger generations. “iDrum” and its message reminds me of my family’s journey with our native language. My mother attended a Christian boarding school and experienced brutal repression for speaking her native tongue. Ironically, my grandmother assisted missionaries in translating the Bible into Navajo. Today, a local Navajo radio station permeates my elderly mother’s home on a daily basis as the preferred station. In Navajo, she hears community information,
local and national news, and cultural teachings. “When we listen to radio programs in Navajo, we are engaging something more than just words,” she says. “We feel a sense of home, place, and belonging. We listen to elders speaking who give us guidance. We feel secure and connected to our people.” Traditional ways of socializing are also carried out through community radio programs. For younger generations, inundated with mainstream media, radio provides a sense of pride and engagement beyond just words. Radio provides a creative space to discuss our contemporary lives and identities as Indigenous people, and makes Indigenous languages relevant. Community radio also plays a significant role in disseminating information about Indigenous rights across rural regions. Radio is also a highly charged political tool for Indigenous people to assert their rights, speak their languages, and educate and organize their communities. Cultural Survival works with Indigenous communities in Guatemala to build radio infrastructure and programming capacity throughout many villages, despite government efforts to criminalize community radio. We recently launched a new initiative to produce radio content about the right to Free, Prior and Informed Consent for dissemination around the world. The article “Rights Talk in Belize” describes a community exchange between Guatemala and Belize that seeks to raise awareness and understanding of the right to Free, Prior and Informed Consent. The challenge ahead of all of us is to support Indigenous communities’ efforts to keep their languages relevant using new and creative ways as they assert their rights to self-determination.
Donors like you make our work around the world possible. Thanks so much for being part of Cultural Survival. Staff Suzanne Benally (Navajo and Santa Clara Tewa), Executive Director Mark Camp, Deputy Executive Director Danielle DeLuca, Program Manager, Global Response Program and Free, Prior and Informed Consent Initiative David Michael Favreau, Bazaar Program Manager Sofia Flynn, Accounting & Office Manager Maria del Rosario “Rosy” Sul Gonzalez (Kachiquel), Free, Prior and Informed Consent Initiative Radio Producer Jamie Malcolm-Brown, Communications & Information Technology Manager Cesar Gomez Moscut (Pocomam), Content Production & Training Coordinator, Community Radio Program Agnes Portalewska, Communications Manager Angelica Rao, Program Assistant, Community Radio Program Alberto “Tino” Recinos (Mam), Citizen Participation Coordinator, Community Radio Program Patrick Schaefer, Director of Development Miranda Vitello, Development Assistant Jennifer Weston (Hunkpapa Lakota), Endangered Languages Program Manager Ancelmo Xunic (Kachikel), Community Radio Program Manager
INTERNS AND VOLUNTEERS Erica Adelson, Lauren Bolles, Don Butler, Febna Caven, Jessie Cherofsky, Ryann Dear, Laura Garbes, Madeline Hall, Terrance Hall, Daniel Horgan, Curtis Kline, Danielle Kost, Caitlin Lupton, Erin McArdle, Mehreen Rahman Ava Berinstein, Linguistics Advisor
There are so many ways to
Suzanne Benally, Executive Director (Navajo and Santa Clara Tewa)
W h at o u r s u p p o r t e r s a r e s ay i n g :
“Cultural Survival doesn't merely fight on behalf of threatened groups.
www.cs.org facebook.com/culturalsurvival twitter: @CSORG firstname.lastname@example.org
It empowers Indigenous people to harness the media, education, and legal systems of their countries so they can stand up for themselves and take steps to maintain their own lands and languages.” —Matthew Simonson
Cultural Survival Quarterly
March 2013 • 1
i n t he new s tionally. Observers believe the state’s decision was motivated by RAIPON’s status as an obstacle to resource extraction and other potentially harmful legislative measures.
Thousands of Zapatistas March in Silence Across Chiapas, Mexico December 2012
On December 21, the Zapatistas broke their year and a half silence by marching silently through town squares in Chiapas, Mexico.
Ngarla People Regain Land Title in Australia November 2012
Ngarla people have been reawarded their claims to land titles in BHP Billiton’s Mount Goldsworthy mining projects in the Pilbara region of northwestern Australia. In an overturn of a 2010 Federal Court decision, the Ngarla people will be able to reassert their title once mining is complete—although the ruling does not affect the company’s leases to mine during the span of the projects.
First Nations Party Founded in Taiwan December 2012
In hopes of filling a historical void of Native representation in the Taiwanese legislature, the Taiwan First Nations Party was launched in mid-December in the Taiwanese capital of Taipei. The party’s first priority is to gain autonomy for the island’s 14 officially recognized Indigenous Peoples, a population of over half a million residents.
Removal of Illegal Settlers Begins on Xavante Land in Central Brazil December 2012
Following the initial removal of the Xavante people from their land called Marãiwatsédé in 1966 and nearly 20 years of court battles, the removal of current illegal occupants recommenced in December. A landmark court decision in 1995 ordered settlers to vacate the 2 • www. cs. org
region, but a string of appeals, protests, and dialogues delayed the process until November 2012 when residents were notified of their impending relocation from Marãiwatsédé.
On December 21, over 40,000 Zapatistas marched silently through the town squares of San Cristóbal de las Casas, Ocosingo, Las Margaritas, Comitan, and Altamirano in the Mexican state of Chiapas. The peaceful protests aimed to call attention to the continuing repression exercised upon their communities by the government and its paramilitaries. The Indigenous Revolutionary Clandestine Committee released a communiqué on December 30 detailing the Zapatistas’ plan of action.
New Telecommunications Law in Guatemala Criticized by Reporters Without Borders
Federal Court Affirms Métis and Non-Status Indian Rights in Canada
The Canadian Federal Court ruled in favor of Métis and Non-Status (offreserve) Indian rights in the context of section 91(24) of the Canadian Constitution Act of 1867. These communities, comprising around 600,000 people across Canada, have been ruled legally entitled access to the same health care, education, and other benefits made available to status Indians, along with the rights to hunt, trap, fish, and gather on public lands, and the ability to negotiate and enter into treaties with the federal government.
Reporters Without Borders has condemned Guatemala’s newly adopted General Telecommunications Law, calling it “unjust and discriminatory” for “upholding a grave imbalance in the allocation of frequencies.” The new law places restrictions on the number of times a radio or TV station can be granted a frequency, while official stations that already own their own frequencies are unlimited.
Russian Association of Indigenous Peoples of the North, Siberia and Far East (RAIPON) To Be Closed by Russian Ministry of Justice November 2012
RAIPON faces imminent closure at the behest of the Russian Ministry of Justice for allegedly failing to adhere to federal law in its statutes. The organization, which represents some 300,000 Indigenous people from 41 groups in Russia’s Arctic areas, has been a key lobbyist for Indigenous interests and rights both domestically and interna-
Bribri Recover Land in Costa Rica January 2013
Bribri families of Cabagra Reserve in Buenos Aires de Puntarenas recovered about 40 hectares of land in the community of Santa Elena de las Brisas. The land had been held illegally and used as pasture. The Indigenous Indian Development Association and the Common Law Court of the Territory issued the orders required to reclaim the land.
Campaign Updates Guatemala: We Are All Barillas—Stop a Dam on Our Sacred River! Political Prisoners Released After eight months of wrongful imprisonment, in January local courts in Guatemala declared innocent the final eight men that were arrested following protests against a proposed hydroelectric dam in the town of Santa Cruz Barillas. A total of 11 men were proven to have been wrongfully incarcerated since May 4. This is a major victory for the Q’anjob’al Maya community, which has suffered threats and violence for its opposition to the Spanish company Hydro Santa Cruz. The community continues to press for respect for their decision to reject the hydroelectric project on their sacred river.
Kenya: Stop Human Rights Abuses Corrupt Judge Steps Down In a major victory for Samburu communities battling for their land rights in Laikipia, Kenya, a judge handling the case was found unfit to continue serving in the judiciary and was dismissed in late December. Richard Leiyagu, community organizer for the Samburu case, is optimistic about the Samburu people’s efforts to claim their land rights: “Every day the community is growing stronger and able to demand for more and more of their rights. They have pushed the court to a position where they are no longer taken for granted,” Leiyagu said.
Cultural Survival's Global Response program launches international advocacy campaigns with Indigenous communities whose right to Free, Prior and Informed Consent is being violated by agribusiness and extractive industries.
Bangladesh: Ban Coal Mine, Save Forests and Farms Share Prices Plummet as Protests Flare On December 20, activists dressed as Santa Claus dumped coal at the entrance to mining company GCM Resources during the company’s annual shareholders meeting in London to protest the company’s plans for an open-pit coal mine in Phulbari, Bangladesh. One Santa delivered a stocking full of coal to the company chairman, chanting, “Ho, ho, ho, have you been naughty or nice this year? This year you threatened to evict 220,000 people so you could profit from polluting the climate. St. Nick always knows—your stocking’s full of coal!” The meeting was quickly broken up following the interruption, and ensuing negative publicity led share prices to drop to a 52-week low during the week of the protests. Official government spokespersons have reiterated that GCM has not been awarded a mining license, and said they were “unlikely” to do so in the next year, citing the project’s implications for displacing Indigenous Peoples.
Cambodia: Help Us Save Prey Lang (“Our Forest”) Dancing to End Evictions Cambodian human rights activists performed a choreographed dance to a land rights-themed version of the viral video “Gangnam Style” in Phnom Penh in celebration of International Human Rights Day on December 17. Activists chanted alternative lyrics to the song by Korean pop star PSY, singing “Stop evicting us. Stop, stop, stop—stop
evicting us! Hey... we have land rights!” while doing the video’s iconic dance in front of the country’s National Assembly. The activists wore T-shirts signed by over 11,000 Cambodians protesting forced evictions by the government to make room for logging and other agribusiness and development concessions. Panama: Revoke Repressive Laws Government Failing to Comply with Accords The NgäbeBuglé peoples held protests in January to highlight the government’s noncompliance with the peace accords that ended last year’s deadly protests. The protests aimed to cancel mining and hydroelectric projects within the Ngäbe-Bugle territory. Leaders claim that the state has failed to compensate victims of police violence and has allowed the continued construction of the Barro Blanco hydroelectric dam, which will drown Ngäbe communities and farmland along the Tabasara River. The UN released an inspection report on the Barro Banco project as part of the peace accords, corroborating the claims of riverside Indigenous communities that they depend on the Tabasara and its farmland for their livelihoods. Construction of the dam continues despite the opposition of the Ngäbe communities that would be displaced by the floodwaters, as well as an ongoing legal challenge in the courts.
Learn more and take action on Global Response campaigns at www.cs.org/ take-action. Sign up for our e-newsletter and read more news at www.cs.org/news. Cultural Survival QuarterlyDecember March 2012 2013 •• 3 3 Cultural Survival Quarterly
i ndi geno u s a r t s
Challenging Tradition, Challenging Agnes Portalewska (CS Staff) Silenced: The Burning Acrylic on elk hide drums 2011
onny Assu is a mixed heritage First Nations interdisciplinary artist from Canada. He is Ligwilda'xw of the We Wai Kai First Nation (Cape Mudge, Quadra Island, British Columbia), and was raised in the suburbs of Vancouver. Assu’s work merges Indigenous iconography with the aesthetics of popular culture, branding, and new technologies to question historical sociocultural values. His work has been featured in several exhibits, notably Don’t Stop Me Now! and Comic Relief at the National Gallery of Canada; Beat Nation and How Soon is Now? at the Vancouver Art Gallery; and Changing Hands: Art With Reservation Part 2 at the Museum of Arts and Design in New York City. His work has been accepted into the National Gallery of Canada, the Seattle Art Museum, the Museum of Anthropology at the University of British Columbia, and in various other public and private collections across Canada and the United States. Assu graduated from Emily Carr University of Art + Design with a BFA in Visual Art: Print Making, Painting and Digital Arts in 2002. He currently lives and works in Montreal. Assu recently spoke with Cultural Survival Quarterly (CSQ).
There Is Hope, If We Rise 2013
CSQ: What brought you to art and the mediums you use today? Sonny Assu: I consider myself an inter-
disciplinary artist; I don’t want to be limited to any one medium to convey my message. My practice is divided between painting, sculpture (found object or fabrication), installations, and computer-aided artwork. Material has always been an important aspect to my practice. From painting on drums to the use of found cedar and fabricated copper installations, I’m using materials that have a strong connection to my culture—whether that’s my contemporary pop culture or my inherent traditional culture. iHamatsa Dancer Acrylic on panel 2007
iDrum: Consumption Acrylic on elk hide 2010
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What are the central messages or themes in your artwork?
Education. Or, giving people a way into the issues revolving around the Indigenous people in North America. But I present these messages in a light and open way. Rather than berate someone for the education they didn’t receive, I invite them into the issues by [way of] a human face.
Pop Art: S o n n y My most recent works aim to help people understand the ramifications of colonization; a lot of my newer work invokes a personal narrative into the conceptual work. Silenced: The Burning; Ellipsis; and Billy and the Chiefs: The Complete Banned Collection all reference my great-great grandfather. New work references my grandmother and my auntie (who are both alive in their 80s and 90s), and my grandfather. In giving the issues a human face I hope they invoke the empathy and tolerance that Canadians assume they have, which is rooted in this notion of the Canadian utopia where Canada is free from hate, bigotry, and ignorance; where Canadians will go out of their way to help others. But what I’ve noticed, as a person of both worlds, is that the Canadian empathy doesn’t—or rarely —extend to our own backyard. I help people understand how to see past their own noses to experience the issues and educate themselves. You juxtapose the traditional and the contemporary in your work often. Can you speak a bit about that?
I’m looking past the debate of contemporary vs. traditional, which is often heated and contentious. At its core, my work explores who I am as a mixed individual. And in that, it takes on a very contemporary edge. Traditionalists want to see the Northwest Coast culture retain its roots; they feel any introduction of “contemporary” as a threat. And rightly so: for years the Indigenous culture in North America has been suppressed or left to the realms of the stereotype. Traditionalists want to teach the ways of the past to help
A ss u
preserve the future. They see the contemporary as something that will only water down the culture further. From my standpoint, the traditional and contemporary cultures work side by side. Without the influence of the contemporary, the traditional runs the risk of becoming stagnant and mitigated to the realms of the stereotype or what people expect Indian people to be. In the work exploring who I am, I am acknowledging the fact that I grew up in the suburbs, away from my traditional culture...in the early stages of modern pop culture and consumerism. A lot of my work uses the iconography of pop culture as totemic representation. In particular, the “iDrum” series stipulates that these items of technology that we covet as a contemporary society have become our totems. It takes on the notion of clan-based structures, much like how the crests of the Raven, Eagle, Bear, etc., inform the personal or family story behind the crest. The “iPotlatch” series takes those same notions but infuses an element of “what if.” What if, instead of denouncing the contemporary influence, we embrace it? That series looked at how technology would work within the traditional. My more recent work, specifically the painting in the Longhouse and Chilkat series, takes up the notion that all Indigenous cultures were oral, lacking in written communication or records. But I noticed that cultural objects like totem poles, masks, and regalia all have elements that can be read. So, adding an element of “what if,” these two series explore the notions of communication, language, and the loss of language by creating an understanding that these images can be read. I am Dialect Acrylic on panel 2010
All images courtesy of the artist and the Equinox Gallery.
removing all notions of traditional storytelling and introducing an abstract notion of character writing, taking on influences from pictorial-based writing and graffiti. At its core, Northwest Coast imagery is an abstracted, stylized representation of something. This work takes that into account, abstracting from their abstraction. Can you comment on the current state of affairs of First Nations people in Canada? How is your work related to advancing Indigenous rights?
It is an interesting time in Canada right now. A sense of frustration has been bubbling for some time. Recently [Prime Minister] Stephen Harper tabled a number of bills that have direct impact on the environment and Indigenous people. In response, the Idle No More movement was started by four women who wanted to provide education to Canadians to remove the historical hatred and bigotry that exists against First Peoples. They held information and education sessions and eventually started a hashtag on Twitter (#idlenomore) that called upon [users of] social media to step up to action. The movement directly challenges the Canadian’s self-reflection. It’s not aimed at shaming. It’s aimed at education, an education that Canadians are lacking in regards to who First Peoples are and why they live in the conditions they do. It calls into question Canada’s colonial practice of assimilation and brings [to light] the inherent misinformation and bigotry that is present in modern Canadian society. The Idle No More movement has the power to change. Even though it has strong roots in the Indigenous population, the Idle No More movement is open to all who believe fully in the Canadian utopia. There is hope, if we rise. See more of Sonny Assu’s work at www.sonnyassu.com.
Cultural Survival Quarterly
March 2013 • 5
women th e wo r ld m u st hear
Being Idle No More The Women Behind the Movement
Photo courtesy of m.pet productions
Movement founders (L–R): Sheelah McLean, Nina Wilson, Sylvia McAdam, and Jessica Gordon.
n December 11, 2012, on International Human Rights Day, northern Ontario Attawapiskat Chief Theresa Spence began a hunger strike, calling on Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper and the Governor General David Johnston to “initiate immediate discussions and the development of action plans to address treaty issues with First Nations across Canada.” Her peaceful resistance, emphasizing the importance of dialogue, catapulted the Idle No More movement to a new level of urgency. What began as a resistance against an impending bill in Saskatchewan spilled across the border to the United States, ultimately spreading as far as Ukraine and New Zealand as a movement empowering Indigenous communities to stand up for their lands, rights, cultures, and sovereignty. The Idle No More movement began as a thread of emails between four women from Saskatchewan: Jessica Gordon, Sylvia McAdam, Nina Wilson, and Sheelah McLean, who decided to make a “sincere effort to make some change.” The context for their resolution was the Canadian Bill C-45, the government’s omnibus budget implementation bill that includes changes to land management on the reservations. It attacks the land base reserved for Indigenous people, removes proWomen are at the forefront of Idle No More marches, round dances, teachins and solidarity gatherings that have spread across Canada and the US. Photo courtesy of Nadya Kwandibens (redworks.ca).
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tection for hundreds of waterways, and weakens Canada’s environmental laws. The women started a Facebook page to brainstorm ideas and a plan for action. Gordon, who is from Pasqua 4 Treaty Territory, decided to name the page “Idle No More” as a reminder “to get off the couch and start working.” The movement’s grassroots tactics were evident from the first major event, a mass teach-in at Station 20 West, an innovative community enterprise center in Saskatoon, Saskatchewan, on November 10, 2012. Following the teach-in, which was loosely coordinated via the group’s Facebook page and Twitter hashtag #idlenomore, a series of rallies and protests spread across Saskatchewan to Manitoba and Alberta. Speaking to a reporter at one such rally, Wilson, a Nakota and Plains Cree from Treaty 4 White Bear territory said, “We are trying to help people get their voices back so that we can make more change and we are able to have more of a First Nations voice…not just a First Nations, but an Indigenous voice, and not just an Indigenous voice but a grassroots voice, because it affects us all.” And it does affect us all, as it does the environment. Though it was the Omnibus C-45 bill that led to the movement, Idle No More is not just about legislation. It is also a call for renewal of the Indigenous identities and lifeways. The leaders and spokespersons of the movement have no hesitation linking the political to the personal, as the personal is very much a part of the movement. From her teepee on the frozen Ottawa River, a stone’s throw away from the Parliament Hill, Spence spent 44 days on hunger strike and recently said, “I am in this resistance because the pain became too heavy. I just could not take it anymore.” She explained how the alienation and pain she feels stems from her years in the residential schools. “It was a closed chapter, until one day you realize this generation is facing the same pain we felt at resident school. We want a life of freedom and not a life of pain and fear for the generation.”
“In a gentle way you can shake the world.” M ahatma
The fact that the movement’s leaders speak so openly about the pain they have experienced is one of the things that sets Idle No More apart. It reminds supporters, especially the Indigenous communities in Canada and across the globe, of their shared stories and memories and urges them to stick to their loyalties. The leaders speak in ways that their people can understand. Idle No More is a personal, global, and spiritual movement. As McLean, who is the only non-Indigenous member in the initial group of four women, says, “It is a very loving movement…and it’s almost entirely female-led. Even though there are hundreds of men who support the movement, the vast majority of the movement’s participants and organizers are women.” The nature of the fluid, nonviolent, and unifying movement is one that both reflects and engages women’s agency. McLean’s passion for the cause is a statement that the resistance to Bill C-45 is a resistance relevant to every Canadian. As the movement continues to grow, only loosely coordinated through the use of Twitter, Facebook, and a blog, there is an increasing chance that it could lose control of its core values: nonviolence, inclusion, and peace. Gordon, who has long served her community through nonprofit organizations and by volunteering on committees and boards, has taken up the responsibility for monitoring the virtual space of the movement. She manages the movement’s website idlenomore.ca, and takes great care in ensuring that the events that get promoted and added to the Idle No More banner are all peaceful in nature. “If I’m posting, I’ve been able to make sure [the contributions] are all peaceful. That’s what we’ve been saying from the beginning,” she says. McAdam, who is from the Treaty 6 territory and a direct descendent of the treaty makers, is a scholar of Cree culture as well as law and human justice, and author of the book Cultural Teachings: First Nations Protocol and Methodologies. Nonviolence is a movement of great spiritual strength and necessitates precepts and reminders as to how the movement’s followers should renew and conduct themselves. McAdam invokes Cree history and laws to unite the Indigenous people. She says, “I’ve heard many of my relatives say, ‘yes, I will be there,’ but they don’t attend. Perhaps the reasons are legitimate; however, in our nehiyaw weyeswewna (Cree laws), when we say we are going to do something, the spirit world listens, your keepers listen, and our ancestors listen. When we say we are going to go ‘support,’ we mean, e we ni towh setohks ka ke yak. This means we are doing more than supporting;
our keepers, [and] spirits are going too. The ones that are listening will begin to pave the journey there for you so you may arrive safe and unharmed. When we don’t follow through with our plans, then our keepers will have set the path for that journey for nothing. When a person does this far too many times, then you are e pah kachimayak, which means dishonest, unsupportive.” Each of the four women leading Idle No More fills a valuable niche. But even as the movement has strong leadership provided by the blend of their roles and experience, the masses at the grassroots still retain their place at the core of the movement. As the movement leaders speak of disenfranchised communities left without potable drinking water, as the extended history of colonialism and violation of treaty rights are recalled, the focus still remains on dialogue so that solutions are sought together and not imposed; so that the space and chance for co-creation is securely protected; and participation and Free, Prior and Informed Consent are respected. Speaking up, dancing, and rallying together, co-creating, let’s too join. Let us be Idle No More. — Febna Caven is an independent researcher and writer on communities in contested environments. Top: Wabanaki supporters of Idle No More at a solidarity rally in Houlton, Maine, January 11, 2013. Middle: The drum has been a powerful tool in the Idle No More movement. Tawoma Matinez shows support through song in Houlton, Maine. Bottom: Jan Paul proudly displays a sign made by her nephew, Gabriel Paul, at the Houlton, Maine rally. Photos by Sierra Henries.
Follow the #IdleNoMore Movement: www.idlenomore.ca, on Twitter @IdleNoMore4 and Facebook goo.gl/cJ0pb.
Cultural Survival Quarterly
March 2013 • 7
r i ght s i n a ct io n
Rights Talk in Belize Q’eqchi Maya Communities Meet Across Borders
Aurelio Sho, Paula Pop Quib, Karina Azucena Garcia, Walter Can Cuc, Anselmo Xunic, Matilde Chocooj Cuc, Rosy Gonzalez, and Victor Cal outside Radio Ak'kutan in Blue Creek, Belize.
Mark Camp (CS Staff)
n a recent January evening, Matilde Chocooj Coc stood talking to the mayor and town council members of Crique Sarco, a Q’eqchi Maya community of about 400 people in southern Belize whose territory is being explored for possible oil reserves by Texas-based drilling company US Capital Energy. Chocooj Coc comes from El Estor, a Q’eqchi Maya community in northeastern Guatemala with years of experience with similar development projects, especially mining and oil palm plantations. She told them, “I am not here to convince you of anything, but simply to share the experiences of my community so that your communities in Belize can be better informed about what could happen as a result of development. What you decide to do with the information is up to you.” Crique Sarco is a two-hour walk north of the Sarstoon River that forms the border between Belize and Guatemala, but to get there, Choccoj Coc had traveled five hours by bus, then two hours by boat, another two hours in a van, and finally a 20-minute slog up a muddy path across a wooden footbridge over the Tamash River. She came as part of a small delegation; her co-worker, Karina Azucena Garcia, represented the Defensoria Q’eqchi, a Maya organization in El Estor. The two women, along with El Estor residents Walter Roberto Can Cuc and Paula Pop Quib, came to discuss strategies that Q’eqchi Maya communities have been using in Guatemala to
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exercise their right to Free, Prior and Informed Consent. They explained how their communities have been trying to claim their rights via the rules for community consultation as described in the International Labor Organization Convention 169 (ILO 169) and the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples. Traveling with them were two Maya radio producers, Aurelio Sho from Radio Ak’kutan in Blue Creek, Belize, and Rosy Gonzalez from Radio Ixchel in Sumpango, Guatemala, who were documenting the exchange and use the material as part of a Cultural Survival radio series to inform Indigenous audiences about their right to Free, Prior and Informed Consent. The series will be broadcast later this year on radio stations in Indigenous communities around the world. The exchange was organized by Cultural Survival as part of our Free, Prior and Informed Consent Initiative and co-facilitated by Gregory Ch’oc, director of the Sarstoon-Temash Institute for Indigenous Management. The meeting took place primarily in Q’eqchi with English and Spanish mixed in for the benefit of some of the visitors (Xunic and Gonzalez speak Kaqchikel, which is not mutually intelligible with Q’eqchi). The purpose of the exchange was to help ensure that community leaders in Crique Sarco, and nearby villages of Midway and Conejo, had the opportunity to hear an instructive example from neighboring communities in Guatemala. Ch’oc explains, “[US Capital] held a community meeting that was meant to be a ‘consultation,’ but it was really just the company telling the community what was going to happen from the perspective of the company. Essentially the company says, ‘there will be lots of benefits and no risks.’” According to Ch’oc and Sho, US Capital first tried to convince the leaders and most educated members of each community to back oil exploration by offering them paid jobs; Can Cuc affirmed that the same tactic was used in Guatemala. “They get the people to accept the development with promises, but later, the promises are not fulfilled,” he says. Sometimes the information is misleading in other ways. Behind the school building where the meeting was held in Crique Sarco, a new two-story concrete school building has been constructed. On the side of the building is painted “US Capital, Energy Belize, Energy that becomes life,” giving the impression that the building was constructed with funds from the oil company. But in fact, according to Ch’oc, the building was built by the European Union, and “the next year, US Capital came and painted it and added their name.” Pictures of similar schools bearing the US Capital name have been shown to other communities, implying that such benefits will come with development. The following morning the delegation met with the leaders of the village of Midway, an hour’s drive from Crique Sarco. The leaders of both communities had a general underAll photos by Danielle Deluca
understanding of the right the Free, Prior and Informed Consent, and the Cultural Survival radio series will help to reach additional communities. Representatives from US Capital and the Cultural Survival delegation were staying in the same hotel in Punta Gorda. Kiera, an employee at the hotel, says, “The oil people have been coming here for the past three years. I don’t think [drilling and oil production] will happen in the end. It is too much arguing for too long and it won’t be worth the headache for the company. They come for months at a time and spend a lot of money and then they go away. I think that soon they will give up and not come back.” This exchange and the international radio series about Free, Prior and Informed Consent was made possible with funding from the Christensen Fund. Matilde Chocooj Coc refers to her booklet of the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples during a conversation about the right to Free, Prior and Informed Consent.
standing that the government and the oil company should talk to the communities before moving forward with plans for development, but neither community understood the rules established in ILO 169 and the Declaration. “They really need a better understanding of their rights under international law when they are talking to representatives of the company,” Chocooj Coc says. Later that afternoon, in the 188-person village of Conejo, the delegation’s reception was chilly despite the hot afternoon sun. The newly elected alcalde (mayor) is pro-oil, and had invited an agent of the oil company to the meeting who argued that oil drilling won’t present any health threats to residents. “The new mayor has accepted a job with the oil company,” Ch’oc quipped. After her presentation, which was followed by a heated exchange with the mayor and the agent, Chocooj Coc says, “These community leaders have already been convinced by the company. Let’s hope that the people understand what they are getting into.” Four members of the Belize Parliament also arrived in Conejo as the delegation was leaving. The Belize government will receive 5 percent of the oil revenues. Ch’oc suggested to them that they ask the company for 25 percent instead of 5 percent and let the communities decide how to use most of the money. In Guatemala the company will pay only 1 percent. The community of Sunday Wood has already signed an agreement to allow exploration, while other communities, including Crique Sarco, Midway, and, before the new mayor was elected, Conejo, have signed resolutions to continue to negotiate and/or fight the exploration. Ultimately, the decision of whether or not to allow oil drilling or any other development project needs to be made by the community. The principles are outlined in ILO 169, the Declaration, and other agreements, but in practice, the decisions are often not free and the communities, as opposed to just community leaders, are not informed. In cases when they are informed, the information is not complete, truthful, nor is it delivered prior to the beginning of the development. Community-to-community exchanges can contribute to raising awareness and increasing
For more information, see our Action Alert on page 28.
Free, Prior and Informed Consent (FPIC) FPIC is the principle that a community has the right to give its consent to proposed projects that may affect their lands and communities. This principle is protected by international human rights law as “all peoples have the right to self-determination” and “all peoples have the right to freely pursue their economic, social and cultural development.” It is enshrined in the ILO 169 (which only 22 countries have ratified to date) and the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (Article 32), which states: 1. Indigenous Peoples have the right to determine and develop priorities and strategies for the development or use of their lands or territories and other resources. 2. States shall consult and cooperate in good faith with the Indigenous Peoples concerned through their own representative institutions in order to obtain their free and informed consent prior to the approval of any project affecting their lands or territories and other resources, particularly in connection with the development, utilization or exploitation of mineral, water or other resources. 3. States shall provide effective mechanisms for just and fair redress for any such activities, and appropriate measures shall be taken to mitigate adverse environmental, economic, social, cultural or spiritual impact.
To learn more about Cultural Survival’s Free, Prior and Informed Consent Initiative visit: www.cs.org/fpic.
Cultural Survival Quarterly
March 2013 • 9
Keeper of the Knowledge
Interview with Cultural Survival Board Member Che Philip Wilson
Che Wilson (left) with a talking stick and tribal members singing a song for an elder.
Agnes Portalewska (CS Staff) Our series spotlighting the work of our board members continues with newly elected board member Che Philip Wilson (Nga-ti Rangi from the North Island of Aotearoa-New Zealand). He was the chair of his tribe from 2008–2011, when he stepped down to become the chief executive. Wilson is also on the boards of several tribal associations and philanthropic trusts. He and his wife own a local accounting firm where his wife is the managing director.
he Wilson is the youngest of nine children and a direct descendent of Nga-ti Rangi, one of the tribes associated with the Whanganui confederation. Raised in a small town of about 1,000 people at the
Che Wilson reading an agreement with a power company at a hydropower river diversion before it is signed by Nga-ti Rangi elders.
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foot of Mount Ruapehu, Wilson recalls that he learned to speak Ma-ori around the age of 10. While other family members spoke the language, Wilson’s parents had made the decision to speak only English to their children in response to trauma suffered in their childhood and the pressures of colonization. “Mum was beaten at school for speaking Ma-ori and beaten at home for speaking English,” Wilson says. “Dad’s family had to learn the English way.” Wilson attributes his cultural education to the maternal side of his family. “Mum was a rebel in her family and it’s actually been my mother’s side that has influenced my learning of the culture… mom’s sister ended up taking me under her wing and from the age of 10 I started to learn. Now I’m one of the key holders of knowledge for our whole confederation, even though I’m only 36.” Wilson remembers accompanying his aunt to national and regional tribal events until she died, when he was 16. “This actually opened the door for me. After she passed away, my two uncles and grand-aunt took over and the different knowledge they had was passed on [to me] right up until two years ago, in October 2010. These were my last key mentors. My four mentors were equivalent to, I suppose, the key keepers of the knowledge.” Wilson also credits his parents for instilling in him strong values, including what he calls “spiritual protection.” “They gave us the tools from the age that we could describe our dreams. They gave us the tools to look after ourselves,” he says. “Mum and dad were also very strong in having a good work ethic and making the most of western education. Some of my family was teased as being the ‘white folk’ for making the most of western education, having non-Ma-ori friends, going to non-Ma-ori events. I’m really appreciative even though we were teased because it’s helped us all mingle and mix in both worlds with ease.” All photos courtesy of Che Wilson
Independent at a young age, Wilson left home when he was 17 and moved to Wellington to study law, politics, and Ma-ori. He spent a few years in London working on policy and community development and became the chair of the London Ma-ori club. During this time he became connected to the British Museum. His tribal knowledge led him to several advisory positions, which ultimately revealed his true passion: cultural revitalization through the linking of poetry of the landscape to the poetry of language. He has curated a couple of exhibitions that highlight the importance of storytelling in environmental protection. “It’s not just ‘once upon a time;’ it’s a way of maintaining the oral traditions and then linking those stories to a culture’s observation of their world,” he explains. Currently Wilson is CEO of Nga-ti Rangi, which is based inside the Tongariro National Park. Tongariro is the oldest national park in New Zealand, fourth oldest in the world, and a UNESCO natural and cultural heritage site. The park is managed by a government-appointed board where individuals are nominated. “Sometimes we [Nga-ti Rangi] get a position, sometimes we don’t get a position,” he says. “It’s politics. But, things will change. We have to go through our own training program over the next two decades to ensure that we have those that are skilled to represent us and to maintain our values while being mindful of the various responsibilities that may be associated with legislation. “The key thing I’m doing at the moment is to work with the government to ensure that [our]cultural heritage status is realized. Our government’s done a great job of lying to the UN about the cultural heritage status and the involvement of us as Indigenous people working the management and governance of the park. Fortunately we’ve just had a treaty of Waitangi tribunal prepublication report. [The report states] that the legal status of the park should be changed [to] where it’s given its own legislation and realized as its own legal entity, [and] that governance and management should be [handled jointly] with the local Indigenous peoples. “It’s going to be a huge challenge for New Zealand because it’s been seen as the iconic national park, which has been controlled by the government for 125 years now. For us it’s about us maintaining our relationship with our relatives while insuring that the crown doesn’t play us off, that New Zealand isn’t encouraged to be fearful of ‘what the natives are up to.’ We’re willing to share our land, even after everything that has
happened to us. We’re willing to share our land because we realize it’s other people’s homes as well. It is our role and responsibility to care for everybody that visits and enters our tribal area.” The report is only a recommendation at this stage, but Wilson is confident that Tongariro will achieve the status of the Whanganui River (recently granted personhood status, see CSQ article goo.gl/P7nCD). “They’re now recommending that our mountains be given the same status. It’s exciting times! If we collectively have the courage to work it out, I’m confident that so long as we don’t use fear to engender racism, we can get there. I’m sure a lot of people will see me as being too idealistic, but if you have strong leadership and you have the will to do what is right, I’m confident that we can get to a good place. It has to be a living document that needs to be reviewed, but we’ll get there.” Wilson’s ambitions for the future of his tribe are bigger than the mountains he is striving to protect. He wants to see his people as major players on the global stage. “We need to enter into commerce at the same speed that our ancestors did in the 1810s. From the 1810s to about 1855, Ma-ori controlled commerce in the South Pacific. Even though you had the English, French, Russians, the Americans, and some Dutch, we controlled commerce for that 45-year period, and we have to get ourselves back to that place again.” As to how this can be achieved? “We have to be multilingual, so that not only are we doing Pan-Pacific [business] with various countries and companies, but also global commerce. Sometimes you have to play a certain western game, but [you also] need to maintain your beliefs and values because it’s very easy to be lured by the glitter and tinsel. Our vision is that we continue to vibrantly exist for 1,000 years, so [this] is just one step in that 1,000-year journey.”
Cultural Survival Quarterly
Che Wilson with his children at a tribal picnic.
March 2013 • 11
Th e El e c t r Community Radio’s Role in Reversing Indigenous Language Decline Rosendo Pablo of Radio Qman Txun, Todos Santos, Huehuetenango, and CS Staff Cesar Gomez Moscut, of Palín Escuintla interview Congressman Marvin Orellana, sponsor of Bill 4087 that would legalize community radio in Guatemala.
Mark Camp and Agnes Portalewska (CS Staff)
"Our language is the number one source of our soul, our pride, our being, our strength, and our identity.” Indigenous language instructor, Cultural Survival Quarterly, 2010
aniel Gomez is a farmer and carpenter who lives in Palín, Escuintla, a Poqomam Maya town in Guatemala and a virtual island in the sea of Spanish-speaking cities and towns that comprise the Guatemala City metro area. Gomez and his wife raised their children to be bilingual speakers of Poqomam and Spanish. They worked hard to ensure that their children (including Cultural Survival staff member Cesar Gomez) all received a university education, while at the same time remaining deeply rooted in Poqomam culture (see page 14). Gomez was concerned that the Poqomam language and traditions were slipping away, subsumed by the waves of Spanish language and culture that washed over the people in the form of radio and television from nearby Guatemala City, coupled with the schools’ monolingual Spanish education system. In an attempt to stem the tide, Gomez, together with other citizens of Palín, established two community-based institutions: a bilingual school that gave equal weight to Poqomam and Spanish, and a radio station that did the same. The idea was simple: students would become bilingual in the classroom, and their bilingualism would be reinforced on the local airwaves. The success of Gomez’s story is one of many inspiring examples of a grassroots effort to reverse the trend of an Indigenous community’s language loss. Language Decline: A Global Phenomenon
All photos by Danielle Deluca
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According to many linguists, half of the world’s 6,000–7,000 languages will be gone in the next century, and Indigenous languages are at the forefront of those going silent. Of the original 300 tribal languages spoken in North America, just 175 remained in 1997. Of these, 125 were spoken by very few, mostly elders, and 55 were spoken by 1 to 6 people (Indigenous Language Institute). When a language goes silent, we lose more than just a grammatical system or a vocabulary. Each language represents a unique worldview or cosmology. Languages embed knowledge about cultural values, spiritual practices, and ancient knowledge
onic Drum accumulated through long-term interactions with natural environments and resources. In losing a language, we lose part of our cultural diversity and a priceless record of local biodiversity. While documentation is undeniably important, no dictionary, database, or static audio recording can match the importance of creating fluency. And this is where community-controlled Indigenous media, especially community radio, comes in. While there are few quantitative studies to substantiate the methodology of coupling language revitalization efforts with Indigenous language radio in stopping language decline, there is ample proof in the communities themselves. To save a language, it must be transmitted to the next generation. Radio raises the prestige of a peoples’ heritage language and instills pride in younger generations, solidifying the fact that their language is relevant, living, and useful—not a relic of the past. In many Indigenous communities around the world, people already have a radio on daily. Even if they do not, it is relatively easy to create the necessary infrastructure for a community-based volunteer-run station. Efforts of immersion classes and traditional forms of language revitalization can be greatly amplified through the use of radio. Cultural Survival’s experience working with community radio stations over the past seven years has identified four primary contributions of radio to language revitalization and sustainability. Community radio: • supports successful revitalization of an endangered language. • promotes language use and halts further language decline. • builds awareness of language loss and inspires new language learners. • serves as a source of alternative media for broadcasting in Indigenous communities.
Hawaiian-language immersion Pa-nana Leo preschools were started in 1984; the first students to attend immersion schooling have graduated from college, and many are fluent Hawaiian speakers. In 1972 the radio program Ka Leo Hawai’i (The Hawaiian Voice), was broadcast on KCCN-AM as the first and only secular radio show to use Hawaiian fully for the purpose of maintaining the language. Several programs have since followed, continuing to bring the Hawaiian language into people’s homes and daily lives. In McLaughlin, South Dakota, KLND-FM 89.5, “The Lodge of Good Voices,” conducts some of its broadcasts in Lakota. “In the morning we have one fluent Lakota speaker and we do the best we can to add vocabulary to all of our programs. [Our] programs vary from ‘Voices from the Circle,’ in which we try to speak mostly in Lakota, to news, sports, as well as music,” explains station DJ Virgil Taken Alive. “We have gotten a lot of comments from the younger people saying how much they enjoy hearing their own language. Speaking our Indigenous language is important because when you are speaking it, you are more connected to the land around you.” Building Awareness and Inspiring New Language Learners
Indigenous language radio shows alone do not produce fluent speakers, but they do build awareness of the impacts of language loss, instill pride in a community’s heritage language, and encourage new language learners. In communities like Sumpango, Guatemala (see page 17), it is often the radio enthusiasts that bring attention to reviving a language. Given
As in the case of Poqomam (see page 14), two decades ago, the Ma-ori language was facing a sharp decline in fluent speakers. The experience of the Ma-ori of New Zealand (see page 18), exemplifies the powerful combination of formal educational instruction/immersion and radio broadcast. At the August 2012 Our Voices on the Air conference organized by the Smithsonian Museum of Natural History, the Smithsonian Center for Folklife and Cultural Heritage, the Smithsonian National Museum of the American Indian, and Cultural Survival, Wena Tait, the general manager of Wellington-based Ma-ori radio station Te Upoleo o Te Ika, credited this model with the successful revitalization of the Ma-ori language. Both the schools and the radio stations started as grassroots community efforts that later gained government support. Halting Language Loss
In Hawaii (see page 20), as recently as 2001, native speakers amounted to less than one-tenth of 1 percent of the statewide population. However, increased attention to promoting the Hawaiian language has halted further language loss.
Community radio volunteers Idelfonso Ambrocio Tambriz (Quiche) and Lorenzo Fransisco Mateo (Q’anjobal) interview Ixchel Mateo Riquiac (Quiche) of Ixmucané Estereo during the October 12 Day of Indigenous Resistance march in Guatemala City. Cultural Survival Quarterly
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Community Radio CS Staff Cesar Gomez Moscut interviews grassroots activist Daniel Pascual (Quiche), leader of the Comite de Unidad Campesino, during a protest in front of the entrance to the Guatemalan Congress.
A Tale of One City, Two Languages: Palín, Guatemala Cesar Gomez Moscut (CS Staff)
“We are not going to forget it. As our grandmothers and grandfathers said, ‘It is our life.’” Ana Concogua
the discrimination that they have faced in the past, the people of Sumpango have stopped speaking Kaqchikel to their children and have prohibited their children from speaking it as well. Consequently, Kaqchikel is spoken mostly in rural areas and only by those older than 50 years of age. Sumpango’s community radio station Radio Ixchel has made great efforts to promote and rescue the language. Segments like “word of the day” and station-sponsored training workshops on language revitalization are bringing awareness of language loss into the community. Some 2,000 miles north, in Sapulpa, Oklahoma, Yuchi language revitalization efforts center around master-apprentice instruction at the Yuchi House. Renee Grounds, Yuchi language instructor, says, “Yuchi radio is an important reminder that our language is alive and relevant to contemporary culture. We encourage youth to speak on the broadcasts so that they are recognized for learning the language and are role models for other young people. It lets our young people know that their language is important, appearing in public media like any other language.” Once a week, hUda: yUdjEhalA nÔ’wAdA (Listen: We Are Speaking Yuchi) on Sundays on KCFO-AM 970 broadcasts songs and practical learning tutorials that make the language accessible to all listeners— at least a half million people. “We don’t look at the broadcast as a significant teaching source, but primarily an inspiration for community members and family members who can hear their kids speaking in their heritage language and as a way to raise the prestige of the language,” says Grounds. Medium of Choice
Small, community-based radio stations may seem an outdated mode of communication, but for many Indigenous Peoples the low cost of community radio makes it the ideal tool for defending their cultures, their lands and natural resources, and their rights. Even in very poor communities lacking electricity, many can afford a small battery-powered radio. In communities where Indigenous languages are relatively strong, radio plays an important role as the alternative source of media informing people in their own languages, broadcasting information that is culturally appropriate and relative. High levels of illiteracy in many Indigenous communities in developing countries prevent people from accessing information from print sources. And in many remote areas, continued on page 16 14 • ww w. cs. org
Palín: Poqomam Territory Amid beautiful mountains and volcanoes sits the town of Palín, Escuintla, land of the Poqomam people. It is located 40 kilometers from Guatemala’s capital, Guatemala City. Here, the people speak the Mayan language of Poqomam. The close proximity to the capital and the Pacific coast has made the town a strategic center for commerce and industry; the city is a cosmopolitan center where Indigenous people, Guatemalan Ladinos, and Central Americans coexist together, comprising a population of about 60,000. In contrast with other Maya towns, where Indigenous people are often contained to the fringes, in Palín the Indigenous people are concentrated in the urban center and account for 50 percent of the population. “Many years ago, we Indigenous people were the majority, not the Ladinos. There were few Ladinos,” says Ana Concogua, a native of Palín. “We were only taught to speak Poqomam, and when a Ladina addressed us in Spanish, our mother would say, ‘don’t bother talking to her, you won’t understand.’ This is why, today, we teach our daughters, sons, and grandchildren both Poqomam and Spanish, so that they can relate to and understand what the other culture says and does.” Distortion and Loss of Language To address the disappearance of Poqomam, the first linguistic seminar was held in the town of Palín in 1985. The seminar was a sort of cultural call to arms, where Poqomam leader Nicolas Moscut warned that “our generation could be the last to speak Poqomam; or we could be those who motivate its regeneration.” Since then, a group of farmers, students, and teachers worked together to create the Cultural Association of Poqomam Qawinaqel, along with an educational center of the same name, to allow for children’s education and care to be provided in the Mayan language. The existence of these centers has improved the self-esteem of many Poqomam people, inspiring them to fight for recognition of their rights and identities and to challenge the notion put forth by anthropologist Richard Adams in the 1950s: that Indigenous people in Guatemala were on an irreversible path to Latinization.
Upon seeing the impact of the resurgence of Poqomam language on the people of Palín, organizations and businesses have joined in to transmit their messages bilingually as well. Verónica Dávila, who leads the community health center’s efforts against malnutrition in young children, says that since they began broadcasting health campaigns in Poqomam and Spanish on Radio Qawinaqel, the number of patients visiting the health center has increased. And because three Indigenous women work there, Mayan speakers are more confident coming in for their exams.
Ana Concogua speaking about the importance of the Poqomam language.
Radio as a Service to the Community Radio has become a popular medium to make information widely accessible and to facilitate the strengthening of Indigenous identity. On July 30, 1997, Radio Qawinaqel was born after the signing of the Peace Accords established the Accord on Rights and Identity of Indigenous People, which gave Indigenous communities in Guatemala the right to com- munity radio. However, without being granted a license from the Superintendent of Telecommunications, the station had to purchase a license for its frequency at auction for Q215,000 (approximately $27,000, adjusted for inflation). To raise the funds, the station had to mortgage its building, a debt that took 10 years to pay off. Since its inception, Radio Qaqinaqel has broadcasted bilingually in Spanish and Poqomam. Some people have liked this, though others have not, considering it a regression for people to listen to Poqomam music and language. But after 15 years of work, public opinion is beginning to change. “Now, many people call and congratulate us on the work we are doing. Some have even told us that they have learned Poqomam words by listening to the radio,” says station director Carlos Gomez. Elías Choc, president of the Poqomam Linguistic Com- munity of the Guatemalan Academy of Mayan Languages, explains that his institution has joined the effort to de-stigmatize Poqomam by developing texts for the teaching and learning of the Mayan language. It has also provided facilitators to public schools who help teach students to speak and write in Poqomam. “We see positive changes, like various people coming into the office to learn to pronounce words or to request information,” Choc says. Because of it, the Academy has recorded a series of messages in Poqomam on topics such as correct word usage, the resurrection of terms that have fallen into disuse, and elements of identity that can be shared over public radio.
Beyond Palín Palín is not the only town where Poqomam is spoken, so part of the Poqomam Linguistic Community’s action plan for 2013 is to seek out media organizations in the towns of Mixco and Chinautla in the department of Guatemala to replicate what is being done in Palín. However, in order to ensure that Poqomam prevails for many more generations, responsibility ultimately rests with the parents. “The home is the first school where the Poqomam language should be taught to children,” says Choc. All participants in this article agree that Radio Qawinaqel has contributed greatly to the revival and diffusion of Poqomam, but more work is needed. “We must continue to raise awareness of the richness of cultural differences, so as to construct unity among our diverse cultures. With the help of the radio, the language has become stronger,” says Moscut. “The next step is to resurrect the academic Poqomam spoken ancestrally by our elders.” While the community understands the urgency of the situation, native speakers are confident that Poqomam will endure. Says Concagua, “I do not believe that the language will disappear. Each day, more babies are born. My granddaughter just had her baby and she must teach him Poqomam. We are not going to forget it. As our grand- mothers and grandfathers said, it is our life.” Elias Martinez Choc, president of the Poqomam Linguistic Community of the Guatemalan Academy of Mayan Languages shows Poqoman language books.
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Community Radio Indigenous people, especially elders, may only speak one language; important messages broadcast in other languages in mainstream media often do not reach this population. In Kenya, Serian 88.9 FM is a Samburu community radio station started in 2008 by Reto Women Association, catering to a pastoral audience and broadcasting in the Samburu language. “The aim of the radio is to broadcast to the people living on arid and semi-arid areas so as to entertain, inform, and educate, especially on the climatic changes they are facing and challenges they are experiencing as pastoralists,” says Nick Lenyakopiro. “It’s [also] an important space for creating dialogue around the negative sides of culture like [female genital mutilation]. Change will only happen through a radio, which is a source of information and communication.” In Australia, community radio serves as a voice for those who wouldn’t otherwise have access to information relevant to their local areas. It also provides training opportunities for individuals so that people can learn what is involved in radio production. Aboriginal community radio stations in Australia are very strong, as they have received significant government funding since 1984. In 1987 the Broadcasting for Remote Aboriginal Communities Scheme (BRACS) was established to give Indigenous people access to and control of their own media at the community level. Currently the Indigenous Broadcasting Program supports 77 Indigenous communities’ broadcasts across the nation. In Nepal, Radio Sagarmatha was established in 1997 and was the first independent public and community radio of Nepal. Community radio in Nepal is independent and nonprofit. Presently there are 144 stations in operation, aimed at serving the rural population who are deprived of easy access to public resources and government services. Unfortunately, 11 Nepali languages have already died, 19 are very close to becoming extinct, and 23 are severely endangered. Radio
Young girls of Radio San Jose in San Marcos take turns narrating a children’s soccer tournament hosted by the radio station in celebration of International Children’s Day. 16 • ww w. cs. org
Nepal has been broadcasting the news in some of the endangered major ethnic languages for over a decade in order to revitalize them, and is an essential source of information for many Indigenous communities. Challenges and Lessons Learned
Special Rapporteur on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, James Anaya, on World Radio Day 2012, made the following statement: “Radio has been a fundamental means for Indigenous Peoples to maintain their languages and to exercise and defend their rights. As recognized by the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, Article 16: 1. Indigenous peoples have the right to establish their own media in their own languages and access to all other non-indigenous media without discrimination. 2. States shall take effective measures to ensure that the media duly reflect indigenous cultural diversity. States, without prejudice to ensuring full freedom of expression, should encourage privately owned media to adequately reflect indigenous cultural diversity.” Despite international protections, in many places around the world, Indigenous people are officially barred from broadcasting their views and languages on air. Cultural Survival’s work with community radio stations in Guatemala speaks to this point. Indigenous Peoples’ right to their own media is guaranteed in the 1996 Peace Accords and the constitution; however the Guatemalan telecommunications law does not allow licenses for nonprofit community radio. Defiantly, stations operate, but under the threat of being raided by police, having their equipment seized, and their operations shut down. The struggle to pass a Guatemalan Community Media Law exhibits how a national government can just as easily impede the exercise of self-determination of Indigenous Peoples. The continued existence of com- munity radio stations shows how important the stations are to communities. The value community radio brings to Indigenous people is innumerable. It is imperative that we back Indigenous radio producers, volunteers, and language activists in their efforts to legalize community-controlled media as a form of supporting Indigenous Peoples’ rights to self-determination. Recognition, private and government funding for Indigenous language programming can truly make a difference in reversing language decline. The examples of Ma-ori and Poqomam demonstrate that immersion or bilingual schools, coupled with radio stations, can be effective tools in the hands of communities wishing to revitalize their languages. New Zealand has further demonstrated how government funding can support Indigenous self-determination by backing local initiatives to increase their scale and impact. Through the tireless efforts of the numerous radio volunteers and producers highlighted in this issue of Cultural Survival Quarterly, we have seen how collective action to build awareness of the importance of one’s language, together with the creation of opportunities for new language learners, can stop, and in many cases reverse, the tide of language loss. As Kaimana Barcarse says, “If not now, when? If not us, who? If not on our Indigenous lands, then where?” Governments should support and encourage such community efforts, or at the very least, get out of the way.
Radio Ixchel for over seven years has been collaborating with Instituto Guatemalteco de Educación Radiofónica promoting primary and basic education and Kaqchikel language classes for young people who do not have the opportunity to go to school.
Reviving Kaqchikel Language in Sumpango, Sacatepequez Anselmo Xunic Cabrera (CS Staff) Sumpango is a town in the Sacatepéquez department of Guatemala, 42 kilometers from Guatemala City. It has over 50,000 inhabitants, 80–90 percent of whom are Indigenous and whose native language is Kaqchikel. The Kaqchikel language is spoken in the central region of Guatemala, and many of its words are similar to those in the Kiche and Tzutujil Mayan languages. Given the discrimination that they have faced in the past, the people of Sumpango have stopped speaking Kaqchikel to their children and have prohibited their children from speaking it as well. Today, Kaqchikel is spoken mostly in villages and rural areas and only by those over 50. Young people do not use it, much less small children. Kaqchikel is spoken in neighboring towns, but not in ours. Sumpango’s community radio station, Radio Ixchel, has made great efforts for over nine years to promote and rescue the language via radio programs developed in collaboration with the Kaqchikel Linguistic Community of the Guatemalan Academy of Mayan Languages. Radio Ixchel is collaborating with the Guatemalan Institute for Radio Education, which has instituted the study of Kaqchikel for middle school students and successfully provided language classes. These students have appreciated the opportunity to take up the language, especially since their parents have not been able to teach it to them. Over the course of two years the radio station has sponsored training workshops on language revitalization for more than 40 participants, as job opportunities exist for which
fluency in a Mayan language is required. The participants have expressed their appreciation for the radio station’s renewed efforts to rescue our language. On the air at Radio Ixchel, various programs impress upon listeners the importance of teaching their children Kaqchikel. Listeners often call in to thank us for the attention we have given to the revitalization of our native language. We have also developed programs in Kaqchikel about traditional medicine, broadcast among neighboring Kaqchikel radio stations and produced with the help of the Kaqchikel Linguistic Community, Wuqu Kawoq, and Cultural Survival. Over the course of this year we intend to continue with these programs, in addition to implementing other teaching methods through educational public service announcements over the radio. The radio station’s Facebook page and other social media platforms may also be used for this kind of language lesson. It is necessary to continuously improve since new words have been created and we must update speakers of Kaqchikel. We believe we have made progress, since many people who still speak the language feel more confident. On the street, these speakers confidently greet others or initiate conver- sation in our mother tongue. There is still much to be done. Following the example of Radio Ixchel, I believe the people, individually and collectively, must put serious effort into this project. With improved funding for our projects, we can succeed in having our youth and our children speak the rich language of our culture. Cultural Survival Quarterly
March 2013 • 17
Piecing Together Maori, Word by Word “Ahakoa kei whea, Ahakoa a-whea, Ahakoa pe-whea, Ka-rero Ma-ori!”
Today are 21 Iwi (tribal) radio stations in New Zealand broadcasting in the Ma-ori language to over 130,000 speakers (24 percent of the Ma-ori population).
he beautiful thing about language is that it has the power to define the world around us. By protecting the past and looking towards the future, it embodies exactly what it is we are all about. It connects people, bringing them closer to their lands, traditions, and to each other. As Joseph Te Rito, the chairperson of Radio Kahungunu based in Hastings, New Zealand, states, “Should a person’s language become endangered, so does the culture of that people become endangered.” In the past few centuries, a cultural epidemic has taken hold in New Zealand leaving only 9 percent of the Ma-ori population fluent in their native tongue. This epidemic threatens to destroy their language along with their valued
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traditions. However, New Zealand has been working to reverse the effects of colonization and revive the valuable Ma-ori culture and language. These revitalization efforts have primarily come about through classroom teachings, increased emphasis on Ma-ori language use in the homes, and the support of electronic media. A 1995 survey found that nearly 60 percent of Ma-ori adults spoke a certain amount of Ma-ori, while 83 percent of the overall population admitted that they had low fluency or simply did not speak it at all. English is by far the main language used by adults, while the Ma-ori language was most commonly heard on the marae (ceremonial space) in a Ma-ori community. Now, after close to four decades of efforts toward language revitalization, individuals over the age of 55 as well as those under the age of 15 are more likely to
Slide courtesy of Wena Tait
Slide courtesy of Wena Tait
— Te Ma ngai Pa ho Ma ori Broadcasting Funding Agency (“Ma ori language — everyday, everyway, everywhere”)
understand Ma-ori, thus proving major progress in the daunting task of reversing language decline. The winds of change began with the Ma-ori Language Week in 1975. Three years later the first bilingual school opened at Ruatoki in the Urewere, and then finally came the first Ma-oriowned radio station, Te Reo-o-Poneke, in 1983. In 1987, Ma-ori was proclaimed an official language of New Zealand alongside English and New Zealand Sign Language under the Treaty of Waitangi. In 1988, frequencies were made available by the New Zealand government for a network of individual Iwi (tribal) radio stations. The government now provides $9 million US dollars annually to fund Ma-ori language radio around the islands. Not only has the interest and passion that the Ma-ori people hold for the language been reignited, but the way in which the community is providing access to the language has changed. No longer does the Ma-ori language resemble a priceless and sacred yet slightly dusty artifact one might find locked away in a museum. This language is now fluid, pouring out of radios nationwide in the useful and relatable form of music, media, sports, and current events. There is a new counterculture that young people feel they can relate to and understand in a way that no classroom could reach them. Wena Tait, station manager of Te Upoleo o Te Ika, based out of Wellington, states that the “focus of Iwi radio is on the development of community engagement and Ma-ori language outcomes.” By fostering community participation through sponsoring different events such as barbeques or free concerts, or by collecting donations for the Christchurch Earthquake victims, radio stations are creating a community that would not have existed 30 years ago—all while encouraging the revitalization of the Ma-ori language. An important key to keeping language alive is to instill it in the minds of the next generation. The world is becoming increasingly centered around media and the various electronic devices that deliver that media to the masses. To this end, various Ma-ori community-based radio stations have been set up across New Zealand devoted to reviving the Ma-ori Language since the New Zealand Broadcasting Act of 1989. The Act was promoted by the Waitangi Tribe, who were concerned about the lack of radio frequencies devoted to their people. There are now 21 Ma-ori language radio stations active throughout the islands, broadcasting from New Zealand to New York, each delivering eight hours of Ma-ori language content daily. Government funding today provides for a radio distribution system that links all 21 stations as a national network, a
How the language landscape has changed: In 1984, a telephone exchange worker was fired for answering the phone with “Kia ora” (Ma-ori greeting). In 1999, the Ma-ori version of the New Zealand national anthem was sung at Rugby World Cup game in England, causing great controversy. Today, it is standard practice to have both English and Ma-ori used at national events.
Members of parliament doing a Haka for Ma-ori Language Week (2008). Photo courtesy of YamBareMunch.
national radio news service and midnight to dawn programs available through the network system, and a pool of Ma-ori music. The Act also created the Ma-ori Radio Board, which promoted Ma-ori language and culture by reserving a number of radio frequencies exclusively for Ma-ori use. One of the first such stations was Raukawa FM, established in 1990 by Emare Emily Rose Nikora in Tokoroa. An advocate for Ma-ori language and development, Nikora was an electronic media pioneer of her time, working and promoting Ma-ori radio for 20 years before retiring. From the station’s beginning, the involvement of the surrounding Indigenous community has been encouraged. Te Mangai Pa-ho (Mouthpiece of the Airways) Ma-ori Broadcasting Funding Agency in Wellington was established in 1993 under the Broadcasting Amendment Act. The agency works to promote the language and culture by funding television and 21 Iwi radio stations, ensuring the broadcast of eight hours of Ma-ori language content daily. The Agency also allocates a sizeable amount of funding for independent Ma-ori language programs. In 2004, Ma-ori Television was launched. Te Mangai Pa-ho’s mission is to spread the Ma-ori language “every day, every way, everywhere,” reaching out globally to those who have a keen interest in keeping the culture alive and bringing them “the joy of the language.” The intention is to stabilize Ma-ori-English bilingualism as a valued part of society in New Zealand and to integrate it into daily life. The future of Ma-ori language rests with its people and the support of the government. With the assistance of radio, youth are steadily beginning to pick up the pieces of a broken language and string them together word by word. The beauty of this important language is in the process of rediscovery. As Tait says, “Broadcasting brings to Ma-ori language revitalization a powerful medium for social change. Radio and television make a culture and language accessible and raises their profile.” We have seen throughout the world that the new revolution of social media in the form of radio, TV, Facebook, Twitter and so on, allow waves of change to radiate over vast distances with powerful and lasting effects. The cries for language revitalization are growing louder over the 21 Ma-ori radio frequencies. The time is now. —Erin McArdle is an intern at Cultural Survival.
Cultural Survival Quarterly
March 2013 • 19
Hawaiian Language On the Air
Ho-ku-le'a sailing (Moloka'i Island).
KWXX DJs Kaimana Barcarse and co-host.
rom the cannon Kamehameha mounted on his war canoe to the numerous newspapers printed in Hawaiian, to the inclusion of Hawaiian fonts and keyboards on computers straight from the factory, the Hawaiian people have a storied history of utilizing technology for the betterment of our lives. The first informational technology widely used by Hawaiians of years past was the printing press. Prior to the arrival of Captain Cook, the missionaries, and other Westerners, Hawaiian was strictly an oral language. The printing press arrived on Hawaiian shores in 1822 at Hale Pa’i (Literary Print House). By then, the Hawaiian language was already transitioning to a written language; the royal class favored the ability to read and write, and that desire spread among the majority of Hawaiians as well. With the aid of the printing press, stories and cultural knowledge were published in more than 100 newspapers and journals. The articles were published so that the knowledge and language they contained would be preserved, and it is this forward thinking of our chiefs and ancestors that has left us with such a large canon of literature. However, the flourishing of Hawaiian in print was short lived. In 1896, teaching in Hawaiian was banned. A sharp decline in the use of the Hawaiian language ensued for much of the 20th century. The literary scene brightened during the cultural renaissance in the 1970s, when all things Hawaiian were once again in favor and the Hawaiian people began to stand with pride and fight for the rights of their people. Hula, the traditional 20 • ww w. cs. org
Kaimana Barcarse with Lahela Burgess-Camara (L) and Lokelani Brandt (R), guest student DJs/interns.
dance, was practiced with renewed vigor. Hawaiian songs, both new and old, along with slack key guitar, became popular. Natives fought to end the military bombing of the sacred island of Kaho’olawe, and the double-hulled deep-sea voyaging canoe Ho-ku-le'a was conceived, built, and sailed to Tahiti. In spite of these advances, however, Hawaiians remained concerned about the survival of their native tongue. So, nearly a century and a half after the printing press landed on the islands, informational technology was once again utilized to transmit the language to Hawaiians everywhere, this time over the airwaves. In 1972, the radio program Ka Leo Hawai’i (The Hawaiian Voice), was broadcast on KCCN-AM. It was originally conceived as a 30-minute, biweekly program on Sundays, but due to popular demand it was soon extended to a weekly All photos by Kaimana Barcarse
hour-long format. Ka Leo Hawai’i was a general interest talk show consisting of interviews with native speakers. Though there were other programs in which one could hear Hawaiian spoken, Ka Leo Hawai’i was the first and only secular radio show to use Hawaiian fully for the purpose of maintaining the language. Larry Kimura, one of the program’s founders, describes the show as an effort to “help and support Hawaiian language students to get their ears used to hearing the Hawaiian language.” Ka Leo Hawai’i aired for 16 years, ending in 1989. Although it is no longer being broadcast, the knowl- edge transmitted over the airwaves survives today thanks to Kimura’s foresight in recording the show for the benefit of future Hawaiian speakers. After Ka Leo Hawai’i, it took almost a decade for another Hawaiian language program to appear on the air. In 1998, a student at the University of Hawai’i at Hilo conceived of Alana I Kai Hikina (Rising In the Eastern Sea). Alana I Kai Hikina began as a class project by Ma-kela Bruno, a student in the Hawaiian Studies Program, and is a Hawaiian language program that plays Hawaiian music. The main goal of Alana I Kai Hikina is to provide a venue for the broadcasting of Hawaiian, as a living language, for the entire Hawaiian speaking community. The program has two regular DJs, along with many high school and college students who are invited to sit in and assist on the show. Musicians and cultural experts are also invited to share their knowledge with the audience. In addition to playing traditional and contemporary Hawaiian music, the program contains informational segments that bring Hawaiian language and culture into a modern context. Pana 'Aina (Place Names) illuminates traditional place names, geographical boundaries, history, and events of notoriety relevant to those places. As a living language, we are in constant need of new words pertinent to modern life, which we share in the Hua 'Olelo Hou (New Words) segment. There is also Hanana Hou (Current Events), to which the audience can submit information to be shared as well. Po- Mahina (Moon Phase) announces the current moon phase and explains its application for such uses as fishing and farming, when to hold an important meeting, or when to dedicate a new home. The 'Olelo No'eau (Traditional Sayings) segment shares proverbs bequeathed by our ancestors to guide our daily lives. In order to expand our listenership globally, Alana I Kai Hikina is simulcast live online at www.kwxx.com, and is also available through tablet and smart phone apps. Alana I Kai Hikina is a successful living language program, but where do we go from here? One thought is not to simply extend the program for a few more hours, but to bring the language into the everyday lives of our listeners. We could do this by conducting other radio shows in Hawaiian. When Hawaiian is normalized to the point that it is a part of everyday broadcast, especially those segments that are not purely Hawaiian in nature, then we can truly say that the Hawaiian language lives! — Kaimana Barcarse is the the program director and lead DJ of Alana I Kai Hikina on KWXX-FM, an instructor at Ka Haka 'Ula O Ke'elikolani Hawaiian Language College of the University of Hawai'i at Hilo, and is serving on the board of directors at The Cultural Conservancy. This article was translated into English from Hawaiian.
Ka 'Olelo Hawai'i Ma Na- Kukuna Lekiona Kaimana Barcarse He mo-'aukala lo-'ihi ko ka Hawai'i ma ka ho'ohana 'ana i ka 'enehana no ka ho'oholomua 'ana i na- 'ao'ao like 'ole o ka nohona, mai ka pu- a Kamehameha i kau ai ma kona wa'a, a i na- nu-pepa he nui i pa'i 'ia, a i ke-ia wa- e lako 'a-komi nei na- kamepiula i na- kinonahua a papapihi Hawai'i. Ua hiki i na- ku-puna ke ho'ohawai'i i ka 'enehana i lilo ia i ka-ko'o nui i na- pahuhopu ka-naka me ka lula 'ole 'ia e ua 'enehana ala. 'O ka 'enehana ka'a'ike hou i ho'ohana mua 'ia e na- ku-puna, 'o ia ho'i na- mı-kini pa'i. I ka wa- i ho-'ea ai ka mı-kini pa'i mua ma Hawai'i nei, 'o ia no- ka wa- e lilo ana ka 'o-lelo Hawai'i he 'o-lelo ka-kau, 'oiai ma mua o ka ho'ea mai o Ka-pena Kuke ma- a me na- mikioneli, he 'o-lelo waha wale no- ka 'o-lelo Hawai'i. 'O ia ka wa- o ka ho'a-la hou 'ia 'o ka 'o-lelo a me ka 'ike ku'una he 'ike i hiki ke pa'a mau ma ka pepa a ho'olaha nui 'ia mai 'o- a 'o- o ka pae 'a-ina o Hawai'i, a me ka honua holo'oko'a ho'i. Ua puni na- ali'i i ke a'o i ke ka-kau 'ana a ua laha ia 'i'ini ma waena o na- Hawai'i like 'ole. Ua ho'omau 'ia ma ka punaewele: goo.gl/33EGv.
Why I Support Cultural Survival “Indigenous communities are made up of human beings who have the right to self-determination and ought not to be run over by ‘mainstream’ societies and economies. They represent a diversity that humanity, like any species, would be well advised to maintain for purposes of adaptation. They are wellsprings of knowledge about the environment and the universe. Cultural Survival is one of the few organizations I know of that tries to help Indigenous people grapple with the impacts of modernity on their traditional values and ways of life and to stand up to government and industry.” — Tom King, PhD., Silver Spring, MD. To learn how you can support CS, visit: www.cs.org/get-involved.
Cultural Survival Quarterly
March 2013 • 21
Wishing on “Shooting Stars” Hopi Radio Reignites a Culture and Its Language
“I volunteer at the station because I want Hopi to learn and keep our own heritage and language. It is my passion and we receive encouragement from the community.” — KUYI-FM radio volunteer
KUYI staff (L-R): Thomas Humeyestewa, production assistant; Anthoney Dukepoo, operations assistant; (baby) Abbott Dukepoo, Richard Alun Davis, station manager; Hongvi Preston, community volunteer; Macadio Namoki, marketing and development assistant.
Volunteer DJ Bruce Talawyma on air.
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ore than a decade ago, in 2000, the inception of KUYI 88.1 FM in Keams Canyon, Arizona, began through community efforts to meet the growing need to hear the news and music in the Hopi language on the Hopi reservation in Northern Arizona. Today, inside almost every home, office, and vehicle, the radio is tuned to KUYI, which is also Hopi for “water.” The station has become an integral part of life on the Hopi reservation, as listeners start their day with a morning greeting in the Hopi Language. KUYI Hopi radio is a project of the Hopi Foundation, the oldest nonprofit organization on the Hopi Reservation that invests in local capacity building and community-based solutions. The station is one of roughly 50 that broadcasts on Native American lands to Native American listeners. KUYI is fortunate to have a staff of volunteer DJs who are fluent in Hopi. They share the Hopi language through the airwaves, ensuring the language is heard and spoken. And they serve as positive role models for youth, giving them a sense of pride in their identity, language, and heritage. The sharing of language creates a strong connection with “home,” as apparent by Hopi listeners who live around the world and listen online. Volunteer DJ Bruce Talawyma says, “Speaking Hopi on-air is a comfort to fluent speakers. To non-fluent speakers it is a way for them to hear, learn, and engage. The language is not spoken by the younger generation; they are hungry to learn, yet they don’t have a place to learn. I hope that by my continuing to speak, the language will be picked up.” Hopi elders say that our language is the root of perpetuating Hopi culture. Fluency began to decline during the era when children were forced into local mission and Bureau of Indian Affairs boarding schools. With the decline of their language, Hopi people also experienced a loss of cultural identity. Those who attended the boarding schools from the 1940s through the 1960s now find it difficult to teach their children and grandchildren to speak Hopi because they are not fluent themselves. A 1998 language survey by the Hopi Cultural Preservation Office found that 100 percent of Hopi elders (60 years or older) were fluent, while fluency in adults age 40-59 was only 84 percent; the numbers dropped to 50 percent in young adults age 20-39; and just 5 percent in children age 2–19. The survey projected that within one to two generations, the Hopi language would be completely lost—unless young adults and children begin to learn, speak, and practice their language. For this reason, among so many others, KUYI serves as a lifeline to and for our community. Recently, on one of the coldest mornings in northern Arizona history, KUYI listeners heard All photos courtesy of KUYI FM
the news of a rockslide and resulting road closure leading up to the First Mesa Villages in both English and Hopi. Bilingual broadcasting was not possible prior to the inception of KUYI. In addition to reaching the local community spread across the 1.5 million acre reservation, as well as neighboring communities of Flagstaff, Tuba City, Winslow, and the I-40 corridor, the station has started streaming at www.kuyi.net. We have a Facebook and a Twitter page, and our listeners post comments that we air as part of a discussion. The station also receives letters, phone calls, and in-person listener visits that help shape new content and programming. Personal feedback sustains our relationship with our community. KUYI not only provides a window to the world through its affiliations with Native Voice One and National Public Radio, but also broadcasts an eclectic variety of music. Over the past five years the station’s collection of Hopi music has quadrupled, although limited resources prevent us from recording more music. Hopi Radio provides a new way of storytelling, an age-old tradition. We broadcast national news and debate and discuss how it affects our people and our community. Through Hopi Radio, we reaffirm our respect for tradition by preserving our language and culture in a contemporary context. Station programming revolves around the Hopi traditional calendar, which is based on the lunar calendar and deeply rooted around agricultural practices, honoring our traditions and ceremonial practices. During the month of Kyaamuya (December), the station only plays soft music— no drumming, no hip-hop or rap songs, and no hard rock. The station also makes an effort to air stories in Hopi, Hopi/ English, and stories from other tribes, since storytelling is traditionally done in the winter months. A daily community calendar airs at least three times a day to keep the community informed. KUYI has also partnered with several local entities to create culturally relevant local programming. The Hopi Foundation’s Hopi Lavayi (Hopi Language) program consists of monthly segments as well as recordings about “this date in history.” The Hopi Foundation’s Natwani Coalition and local farmers sponsor “Farm Talk,” a show about traditional Hopi agriculture that also includes live interaction with listeners through call-ins and feeds from Facebook and Twitter. The Hopi Tribe Cultural Preservation Office, with assistance from community volunteers, runs the winter storytelling and other cultural education segments exclusively in the Hopi language. The “Shooting Stars” radio program has also worked with the Hopi Head Start Program and Mesa Media Inc., to develop an educational program for Hopi students of all ages. The weekly Hopi Lavayi segments coincide with the Head Start’s Hopi Lavayi Curriculum. Many organizations work with KUYI to script and air public service announcements on a wide range of topics from cancer awareness to combating domestic violence. The Indian Health Services’ employees also host a weekly “House-Call” show, where medical advice and listener interaction takes place. The use of the Hopi language on air is increasing by popular demand. In January, the station did a live remote broadcast from Moencopi Village on the opening of the first-ever elder Hopi assisted living community, as well as a high school basketball game. This past season KUYI also aired a football
Bruce Tawyma, volunteer DJ; Richard Davis, KUYI station manager; Kyle Knox, Natwani Coalition; Donald Dawahongnewa, KUYI cultural adviser/volunteer.
game by a volunteer broadcaster doing a play-by-play commentary in Hopi. As Talayma says, “The community is realizing the role of the station to perpetuate the language and culture and they are becoming more accepting of the station as a tool. The cultural discussions are creating more awareness and the general public appreciate the discussions.” Talawyma’s ultimate wish is to hear the younger generation DJ at the station in fluent Hopi, and that wish might soon come true. —Cara Dukepoo (Hopi) is a long-time volunteer at KUYI-FM and the producer of “Shooting Stars.” Listen to the KUYI podcasts here: www.kuyi.net including Dukepoo’s show, “Shooting Stars,” for youth and children. www.kuyi.net/education/shooting-stars/sshlp soundcloud.com/kuyi_shootingstars www.facebook.com/KUYIRadio/info twitter.com/KUYI
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Cultural Survival Quarterly
March 2013 • 23
Primitiva prepares quail caught in traps set by her son in their cornfields. Game is preferred but becoming ever scarcer with deforestation in Paraguay.
Kids playing kotyvu, as opposed to remaining in gendered lines, as in jeroky, a dance that mimics the movement of the first shaman, Kuarahy, the sun.
Yva Poty Rising I Eric Michael Kelley
n the early morning of November 20, 2012, Paraguayan national police entered the Avá-Guaraní community of Yva Poty in eastern Paraguay armed with an eviction notice—setting off an ignominious chain of events in the community’s three decadeslong struggle to gain title to their lands. Homes were burned, wells were poisoned, a school was destroyed; an entire community was seemingly reduced to a pile of rubble and ash. Residents of Yva Poty have long suffered difficulties while endeavoring to live their lives on their own terms in their ancestral lands. The community, whose name translates to “flower of the fruit,” was founded in the early 1980s by the respected shaman Avamainó. In 1983, Avamainó, along with his wife and her brother, left the Avá-Guaraní community of Mbói Jagua due to resentment over the strong missionary presence and influence there. They wanted to be free to live as they saw fit, including the freedom to practice their own religious beliefs. Taking their families with them, they created a new community in their ancestral lands: Yva Poty. Avamainó continues to serve as Yva Poty’s spiritual leader, while his son, Rogelio has long served as the chief in legal matters. In 2005–2006, the owners of the Arroyo Mokói ranch contested the ownership of Yva Poty’s land, despite the fact that Yva Poty is recognized by the Paraguayan government as legitimate as evidenced by the creation of a school under the jurisdiction of the Ministry of Education and Culture by Resolution 1624, enacted on September 23, 2002. Such con-
tention has created a tense atmosphere for the many Indigenous people in Paraguay (and elsewhere) who are faced with constant insecurity regarding their lands. Working with the National Institute for Rural and Land Development, Yva Poty relocated to land purchased in 1994 by the National Indigenous Institute for Avá-Guaraní people. The move became official on December 4, 2006, and community members were happy to have the security of living on land with the title held by the Institute, and by the road to more easily sell their surplus crops. In the intervening years, however, claims have been made against both Yva Poty and the Institute, with the assertion that the land title is false. Outsiders commonly use this strategy to claim Indigenous lands in Paraguay, and until recently these problems were mainly a nuisance to Yva Poty, but that changed dramatically last November. On November 20, Paraguayan national police entered Yva Poty land with a Brazilian man named Paulo Ferreira de Souza, who held an eviction notice signed by Judge Carlos Goiburú Bado of Curuguaty. Ferreira De Souza had been contesting Yva Poty’s title for some time and had recently invaded the community’s land, beginning mechanized development to plant soy on 15 hectares while also limiting community members’ movements within that area by way of constant threats. With judgement in hand, the police entered the school during morning classes and ordered an evacuation of the building. As the national police—reportedly 400 from around Paraguay—cordoned off the road, hired Brazilian farmhands began demolishing buildings with chainsaws,
All photos courtesy of Eric Michael Kelley
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From the Ashes, a Cause for Hope
Fishing in the local river.
beginning with the health center then moving to the school. They proceeded to burn all school supplies—books, notebooks, student records—and destroy desks, chairs, and blackboards, lowering and burning the Paraguayan flag in front of the children. Ostensibly this last action was intended to instill a sense of hopelessness in the community, a signal that nobody, not even the Paraguayan government, would do anything to help them. While this was happening, neighboring residents were stealing Yva Poty members’ possessions, including their domesticated animals and crops from their fields. According to reports by the Ministry of Education and Culture and the National Indigenous Institute and the popular press, they even poisoned the community’s wells. In total, approximately 35 buildings were destroyed, among them the homes of 170 people. Police controlled the community members, taking Rogelio away and reportedly beating him for several hours. One old man who refused to leave his house would have been burned alive inside, but younger community members removed him to safety. Francisco, Avamainó’s grandson and director of the school, detailed the horrific chain of events in the Ministry’s executive report of November 26, 2012: “... a strong police contingent arrived in the company of
a Brazilian citizen named Paulo Ferreira de Souza, with orders to evict more than 40 families from a settlement they inhabited for more than 22 years, without any type of notification; they beat our leader, Don Rogelio Sosa. This land is 600 hectares, and was purchased by INDI in the year 1997 [sic.], for the Avá-Guaraní people. Mr. Paulo Ferreira de Souza came afterwards with 30 farmhands, who are our neighbor whom we [previously] provided manioc, corn, and beans; they were the ones who demolished all of our homes. [Mr. Ferreira de Souza] paid them 300,000 Guaranies [about $70]. Per day. Moreover, the Police who participated in the operation received 60 liters of fuel, provided by Mr. Paulo Ferreira de Souza ...”
Francisco, studying to become a teacher, and current director of the local school in Yva Poty.
In conjunction with his father, Francisco petitioned the Ministry to reconstruct the school and to replace all of the lost school supplies. The men also asked for 20 million guaraníes (approximately $4,700) and denunciation of Judge Carlos Goiburú Bado along with the National Deputy, Andrés Giménez, for his logistical assistance to the police, hired Brazilian farmhands, and Ferreira de Souza. Preliminary investigations have uncovered numerous legal irregularities in the case, one of which involves Judge Goiburú Bado’s overturning of his decision the day after eviction. Just one day after the wanton destruction, community members were encouraged to return to Yva Poty, although they were understandably reticent initially. The Ministry was also quick to condemn the actions of the interlopers and formed a judicial team the following day. Non-perishable food was provided to the community, the school was immediately rebuilt, and electricity restored. As the rebuilding of Yva Poty continues, Rogelio reports that “everything is tranquil now.” Two of the community’s five wells provide potable water, and they have sufficient corn and beans to feed themselves along with food that they are purchasing with wages earned. The people of Yva Poty are seeking compensation for the destruction and theft of their property. They have begun rebuilding their homes, including the o’y guasú (great house), but will not be awarded any legal judgments until February at soonest, as January is a national judicial holiday. This case will undoubtedly set an important precedent for other Indigenous communities in Paraguay also facing claims against their lands, with or without title. And for this reason, perhaps above all others, the resilience of Yva Poty is not simply inspiring; it is a cause for hope. — Eric Michael Kelley is a visiting researcher and lecturer in anthropology at Boston University.
View photos of the destruction here: goo.gl/baQd4.
Cultural Survival Quarterly
March 2013 • 25
B a za a r Ar tis ts : E nabling W omen to Li ve the L ife T hey C hoose
or the San Bushmen, the ostrich egg is a gift from the gods. Not only does the inside of the egg feed a family, the outside can be used as a water vessel. An obvious sign of fertility and prosperity, an eggshell made into beads and given to a friend is a wish for good luck. As the very first bead humans ever made, dating back over 50,000 years, and with the San as the last to be making them as part of their tradition, the craft of ostrich eggshell beading preserves not only their tradition, but all of ours. At one time the women used eggs gathered in the wild, although that is no longer the case. Today ostrich eggshells are sustainably harvested from ostrich farms, making the jewelry an environmentally friendly product. Cecilia Dinio Durkin didn’t know any of this when she set out for the Kalahari Desert in Botswana in 2003. At the time she was a journalist living with her family in the big city, Gaborone, and the story she was writing about the Kuru Family of Organizations (a nonprofit advocate for the Bushmen in Namibia, South Africa, and Botswana) was just another assignment. Every three months the nonprofit would make its rounds to the various remote villages, buying crafts to be sold in its gift shop in Ghanzi and to some retail venues in Africa, Europe, Asia, and North America. The San women who participated in the project would anticipate the arrival of the buyers and prepare jewelry and other crafts in order to earn money to pay for their children’s school expenses, or for fresh meat and milk. Durkin was inspired by the women she met on that trip and taken by the beautiful handcrafted jewelry. Upon learning that a single bracelet, once sold, would feed a family for a month, she decided she would do what she could to sell them. In 2006, she and her family reluctantly moved back to Poughkeepsie, New York, where she opened a store called Women’s Work. Durkin believed that a retail outlet would be the best way to provide sustainable income for the San women she met in Botswana. Just a few months after opening the store, she learned of Cultural Survival Bazaars and began selling the ostrich eggshell jewelry there. “The beauty of reaching Bazaar buyers is that we are reaching an educated, caring audience who know the true value of buying fair trade, like the ostrich eggshell jewelry,” says Durkin. Durkin still sells the ostrich eggshell jewelry. Now, she also sells crafts from thousands of other women, many of whom she has been lucky enough to have met while on buying trips to Guatemala, Pakistan, and South Africa. “My store’s mission of enabling women to live their chosen, desired way of life is the same mission as Cultural Survival’s,” she says. “I’m so happy to support Cultural Survival as Cultural Survival supports my efforts working with women from around the world.” Women’s Work has been a vendor at the Cultural Survival Bazaars since 2006. (www.womensworkbw.com)
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The 2012 CS Bazaar series raised over $477,348 for Indigenous artisans and their communities. Find a Bazaar near you! Visit: bazaar.culturalsurvival.org
Change Is in All of Us Danielle DeLuca (CS Staff)
n the last day of the 5,124 year cycle of Oxlajuj Baktun, people gathered across Guatemala in curiosity, in prayer, and in hope. Guatemala’s Ministry of Culture extended an open invitation to participate in the “New Dawn” celebrations at the ancient Maya city of Iximche, outside the modern Maya city of Tecpan. As the sun set on the evening of December 20, a booming sound system played a soundtrack of conch shells and flutes while a professional dance crew, mostly white latinos dressed in costume, performed folkloric dances and re-enacted the ancient Maya ball game. Sculptors were hired to build a modern version of the typical Maya stellae, depicting in Maya glyphs the story of Iximche’s invasion by the Spanish, and in the words of the Ministry of Culture, the subsequent “death of the Mayan Civilization.” Meanwhile, a group of local Kaqchikel Maya conducted a small ceremony on the other side of the ruins. The irony of celebrating the “new dawn of the Maya” with a statement describing them as a race relegated to ancient history was not lost on the grassroots Indigenous activists. Arriving on the morning of December 21 with megaphones and banners, the Waqib’ Kej Convergencia interrupted the Ministry of Culture’s scheduled events to issue the following declaration: “The communities of the Maya Kaqchikel people of Guatemala announce to the world our indignation at the folklorization and commercialization of the Oxlajuj Baktun by the institutions of the Guatemalan State.” They further called for the recognition of the continuity between their ancestors and the generations of Maya that currently make up a majority of the country, who are systematically marginalized by Guatemala’s modern government and corporations. They urged Indigenous Peoples across the country to join together during this new era in exercising their rights to construct a social and political model based on the principles, values, and practices in accordance with their cosmovisión.
In a protest held at Iximche the morning of the December 21, grassroots organizations denounced the government's appropriation of their culture. “The Oxlajuj B’aktun is our time, the time of the people.”
Most Maya across the country had opted out of statesponsored events in favor of honoring the change of cycle more privately. Many held quiet, simple ceremonies in sacred places local to their communities, with friends and family, allowing for introspection on what the new cycle might bring. Daniela Ixmucané, a community leader from Tecpan, noted that those waiting for some momentous occurrence, be it positive or negative, were mistaken. Rather, she explained, “The change is in me. It is in all of us.” This same sentiment inspired massive mobilizations of Indigenous Peoples in Canada last December under the impetus to be “Idle No More.” It is also what brought thousands of Zapatistas out in heavy rains to march across Chiapas on December 21. Maya spiritual guide Alma Temaj emphasized that the new era is for “our people, but also for all humanity.” The words of Ixmucané ring true: “We are the only ones responsible to make change, to bring positive development for our peoples in this new era.” Read the rest of our five-part series on 2012 at www.cs.org/2012.
On December 20, ceremonies were held all through the cold night at the ancient Maya city of Iximche.
All photos by Danielle Deluca
Cultural Survival Quarterly
March 2013 • 27
w o N n o i t c A e k Ta
Young boy holding onto a cacao tree in Jordan Village, one of the communities within US Capital's concession for oil drilling.
Campaign Alert Belize
Photo by Tony Rath Photography/tonyrath.com
Our Life, Our Lands—Respect Maya Land Rights
n Southern Belize, Sarstoon-Temash National Park holds within its 42,000 acres the most pristine rainforest in the country. Recognized as a wetland of “international importance” by the Ramsar Convention, it is home to many endangered species, including the jaguar, manatee, neotropical river otter, and Hicatee turtle. Its primary forests have been attributed by National Geographic as remnants of the ancient Maya’s agroforestry systems, and today are sustainably maintained by the Maya peoples of Southern Belize. The Supreme Court of Belize ruled in 2007 and again in 2010 that the Maya who have ancestrally cared for these forests shall hold the legal titles to these lands. This court ruling, along with national and international laws, mandates that Indigenous peoples must give their free, prior and informed consent before any development project that may affect them. But that right has been trampled on again and again by the Texas-based oil company US Capital Energy, which received a concession from the Belize government to extract oil in Southern Belize beginning in 2001. In further flagrant violation of the Maya and Garifuna peoples’ land rights under national law, the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, and recommendations by the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights, the government has now granted the oil company permits to move to the second phase of exploratory drilling in the park and on Indigenous territories. US Capital Energy has so far cut over 200 miles of seismic trails for oil exploration in the national park and on communities’ traditional lands, also causing forest fires destroying 400 acres, including the unique ecosystem of the sphagnum moss, the last of its kind in Central America. The 21,000 Indigenous people in the region are fighting to defend their traditional lands, including the national treasure of the Sarstoon-Temash National Park, against this short-sighted land grab. As Gregory Ch’oc of the Sarstoon-Temash Institute for Indigenous Management explains, “The government is counting on our regional isolation, our poverty, and our relative lack of power to continue marginalizing and discriminating against us and violating our rights. Therefore, we are urgently calling allies of the earth’s biodiversity and Indigenous Peoples to take a stand with us and support our struggle.”
Take action today by advocating for US Capital Energy and the Belize government to respect the Maya 28 •Garifuna ww w. cs. org people’s right to give Free, Prior and Informed Consent on projects that affect them. and
Protecting an Ecosystem, Respecting the Right to Free, Prior and Informed Consent
ithin the boundaries of the Sarstoon-Temash National Park exist 14 major ecosystems, many of them home to endangered flora and fauna that exist nowhere else in the world. Through a unique and intricate system of traditional self-governance, or alcaldes, the 38 Maya communities of Southern Belize have maintained autonomy over their communities and sustained their natural resources for centuries. In events known as fajinas, held every few months, the alcaldes bring the entire village together in service projects like the maintenance of roads, trash collection, cleaning waterways, and caretaking of public spaces. They protect their environment because the rainforest, the corn and cacao crops, and the rivers and streams that run through their lands are often the Maya peoples’ sole source of survival. The victory of the communities of Conejo and Santa Cruz in a landmark case settled by Belize’s supreme court in 2007 was a great leap forward in the recognition of self-determination of Indigenous Peoples in Belize. Thirty-three additional communities proceeded to receive their own land titles, but now the government of Belize is appealing the decision to prevent them gaining authority over land it has promised to US Capital Energy. This past October, under the guise of “consultation,” US Capital Energy and the Belize government asked Maya villagers to review and approve a 300-page Environmental Impact Assessment document—in English—with less than two weeks notice and at the height of the harvest season. When asked to move the review date by a few weeks, the government refused. At the meeting, after more than two hours of presentations by government ministers, community leaders were given just one minute to present their concerns before security and military cut them off. The association of alcaldes demand that if oil drilling is to take place, it must only be with their Free, Prior and Informed Consent. “We have seen companies come and go promising development for the Maya people only to see our lands and forests taken away from us. It is time for the government to respect and recognize Maya peoples’ right to our lands. We have our own systems of decision-making and we demand that the consultation process respects this,” says Alfonso Cal, president of the Toledo Alcaldes Association. The government’s lack of transparency and decision to drill for oil in the national park sets a dangerous precedent that puts country’s remaining protected areas and all Indigenous villages at risk. A permit for US Capital’s exploration and drilling will undo decades of struggle by Indigenous people for their human rights. This is a defining moment for the environmental and Indigenous rights movements in Belize, Mesoamerica, and the world.
Photo by Tony Rath Photography/tonyrath.com
A Mayan family cooks a meal in their home in Santa Cruz, Toledo, Belize.
Make Your Voice Heard! Please write to US Capital Energy and the Belize government and state your demand for: • Full transparency about plans for oil development in the Sarstoon-Temash National Park and the application of free, prior and informed consent in all future dealings. • All further developments to be put on hold until and unless the project receives the legitimate Free, Prior and Informed Consent of the affected communities. • A new EIA that includes the participation and input of communities in every step. • Compensation for communities for damages done to their property without achieving their Free, Prior and Informed Consent, including the destruction of 400 acres of forest in a drilling-related fire. • Recognition of the official land title to the Maya peoples in accordance with the 2007 and 2010 Belize Supreme Court rulings and the 2001 InterAmerican Commission on Human Rights recommendations. Please send letters, emails, and faxes to: Hon. Dean Oliver Barrow Prime Minister of Belize 3rd Floor, Left Wing, Sir Edney Cain Building, Belmopan, Cayo, Belize Tel: + (501) 822-2345 Fax: + (501) 822-0898 email@example.com Hon. Vinai K. Thummalapally US Ambassador to Belize Floral Park Road Belmopan, Cayo, Belize Phone: + (501) 822-4011 Fax: +(501) 822-4012 Email: firstname.lastname@example.org Alex Cranberg, CHx Capital, LLC 1775 Sherman, Suite 2400 Denver, CO 80203, USA Telephone: 1 (303) 573-7011 Email: email@example.com US Capital Energy Headquarters 4743 Ocean Drive, Corpus Christi, Texas, 78412 USA Fax 1-361-9938518 Email: firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com www.cs.org/take-action/belize
Campaign Alert Belize
Cultural Survival Quarterly
March 2013 • 29
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