Saturday, April 5, 2008

Indigenous Peoples Summary Part II: Society for Applied Anthropology 2008

As discussed in the last post - Society for Applied Anthropology 2008: Indigenous Peoples Summary - this post continues highlighting some of the great panels and discussions that were delivered at the annual meetings in Memphis last week.

Another fascinating panel was held on Friday by Octavio Pimentel (Texas State-San Marcos) entitled: Engaging Education in Mayan Communities: Educational "Cuentos" from Guatemala. Ana M. Juarez (Texas State-San Marcos) contextualized the discussion for us with her paper on race, class, and gender in Guatemala, and then Amy Dawson (Texas State U) talked about parent's roles in schooling their children (Gritos mejor que Libros - Discipline before books). Silvia Patricia Solis (U Texas-Pan American) gave a very interesting talk on Ka'che women's sexuality in Guatemala (for more, I suggest one read: Health Care in Maya Guatemala), and Tanya Romo (Brigham Young U) continued on the theme by looking into Guatemala's changing gender discourses. Finally, Jennifer Vasquez (U Texas-San Antonio) concluded with a tale of the early educational abandonment practices of Ixtahucana women.

Later the same day, I attended the panel: Indigenous Communities and Anthropologists: Creative Applications of Cultural Anthropology and Archaeology in Addressing Indigenous Concerns. Chaired by Miguel Vasquez and Walter M. Vannette (Northern Arizona University), the panel provided a number of important points to think and act on. Natasa Garic (Northern Arizona University) opened up the panel with her talk on intergenerational learning of Hopi history and culture, while April Perry (Northern Arizona University) talked about traditional ecological knowledge and how it applied to environmental justice organizations in the American Southwest. Chelsea Lunders (Northern Arizona University) continued expanding on the same paper, while Nathaniel O'Meara (Northern Arizona University) and Esther Mae Bodie (Traditional Bahamian Farmer) brought us some case specific examples from the Exuma Cays, Bahamas and the dynamics between swidden agriculture and ecological sensitivity.

The American Indian, Alaskan and Hawaiian Native, and First Nation Topical Interest Group held its annual open discussion on Saturday. We learned that the National Park Service may be trying to squash their Applied Ethnography program. The top position for the program has been open for three years now, and we learned from inside sources that the Park Service has decided to terminate the position - despite funding and a clear need for the program. The word on the street was that "ethnography" is simply public relations. This is what happens when politics takes over from science - ethnography is a methodology to gather empirical qualitative data that can be used in policy and agency actions. It is NOT simply a public relations tool. All those concerned with the Park's activities should send a letter or email to:

Secretary of the Interior
Dirk Kempthorne
Department of the Interior
1849 C Street, N.W.
Washington DC 20240

Let's let the National Park Service know that there are citizens who value the types of data ethnography provides and believe it is an important program for the Park to continue supporting.

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2 comments:

Jalafave said...

I am not sure you read my blog, the right to water and the multinational state," but there is social movement involving many indigenous communities in Latin America..I thought you would be interested, hopefully you can read spanish. But here is the website check it out: http://movimientos.org/enlacei/show_text.php3?key=12016

Peter N. Jones said...

Thanks Jalafave, what a great blog. As you note, there are numerous indigenous peoples movements taking place in Latin America right now. Good to see you putting the information out there. Everyone else should check out Movimientos.

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