Saturday, May 9, 2009

SERI World Conference on Ecological Restoration: Three Sessions Featuring Indigenous Knowledge

SERI 2009 World Conference on Ecological Restoration, August 23-27, Perth, W. Australia

Theme: Linking science with the arts - social and cultural aspects of restoration

Sub Theme: indigenous ecological knowledge for restoration

SYMPOSIUM TITLE: Traditional values for a new future: Aboriginal traditional ecological knowledge and land management.

PRINCIPAL ORGANIZER: Joan Gibbs, Lecturer in Ecology, School of Natural and Built Environments, University of South Australia, Mawson Lakes, SA 5095. Phone: +61-8-8302-5164; Fax +61-8-8302-5721. Email Moderator for symposium.

Traditional land owners need to be heard, speaking out about caring for their land. The land is suffering because young people need to be taught the old ways. Ecological restoration provides the network necessary to acknowledge the attachment and understandings of people living on the land of their ancestry. Rapid global change is placing unprecedented pressures on the world's Aboriginal peoples and their traditional lands. Bringing together traditional Indigenous people at the 2009 Perth symposium of the International Society for Ecological Restoration will encourage and value the old knowledge about land management practices, to share their successes and lessons learned. We hope to capture the growing movement to conserve and reintroduce Traditional Aboriginal Knowledge of caring for country, as the basis for restoring land.

This symposium will bring together many traditional land owners who are trying to keep the management practices handed down for generations. People will converge from all parts of Australia, North and South America, Africa and Oceania, to find the common themes of land restoration for people living on their traditional land. By open discussions and listening to traditional owners speaking, participants will experience other ways of knowing the land.

SPEAKERS (listed in order of appearance):
1. Noel Nannup - Noongar elder and land manager, Australia
TITLE “Noongar land management: a spiritual basis: Why we are compelled to maintain the balance in a modern world”

2. David Claudie - Cape York, Chuulangun Aboriginal Corporation, Australia
TITLE: "Indigenous Knowledge and land management, Cape York Peninsula"

3. Victor Steffensen - Cape York, Traditional Knowledge Revival Pathways (TKRP) Australia
TITLE: " Traditional Knowledge Revival Pathways (TKRP): Indigenous-led, grass roots land management and research”

4. Agnes Pilgrim - Author, Oregon, USA
TITLE: "Water can hear" - about managing her land and water in Oregon for conserving culture, ecosystems and weaving materials

5. Leanne Liddle1 and Wattaru women2 (1Coordinator of Aboriginal Parks & Wildlife, South Australian Dept. Environment and Heritage; 2Wattaru country, NW South Australia
TITLE: “Our life, our land” - about keeping culture to keep animals and land alive

6. Ellen and Tom Trevorrow --Ngarrindjeri basket weavers, Meningie, South Australia
TITLE: "Working on country for ecosystem conservation and baskets"

7. Veronica Perrurle Dobson - Arrernte elder, land manager and author, Australia
TITLE: “The springs of Urlampe in the Arennye Ranges, Santa Teresa, Alice Springs”

8. Riki Gunn1 and indigenous speakers2 – 1Coordinator, Carpentaria Ghost Net Project; 2 Indigenous land and sea managers from Torres Strait, Qld and Northern Territory, Australia
TITLE: “Carpentaria Ghost Net Programme: Saltwater people working together”

9. Dennis Martinez - Indigenous Peoples’ Restoration Network, USA
TITLE: "Balancing Two Worlds: The Complementarity of Indigenous Traditional Ecological Knowledge and Western Science in Restoring Natural Systems"

10. Alejandro Argumedo – Asociacion Andes, Peru
TITLE: “The Potato Park, an Indigenous Biocultural Heritage Territory”

11. Aareka Hopkins – Applied Riverine Lake and Wetland Restorations, Aotearoa-New Zealand
TITLE: "Restoring the mauri of lakes and wetlands of North Waikato, Aotearoa-New Zealand"

12. Mr. Essa Souso – The Gambia, West Africa, with Amadou Camara (translator), Suwareh Kunda Village, North Bank Region
TITLE: “The role of village cemeteries and cultural sites in ecosystem management and maintenance of cultural identity in The Gambia”


TITLE: The Complementarity of Indigenous Knowledge and Western Science in the Restoration of Fire-Adapted Ecosystems in Spain, Northern Australia, and California

PRINCIPAL ORGANIZER: Dennis Martinez, (O’odham/Chicano) Co-chair Indigenous Peoples’ Restoration Network (IPRN), a working group of The Society for Ecological Restoration International (SERI) USA. PO Box 495, Douglas City, CA 96024. Phone 530-623-5056, Msg. 530-222-7576. Email Moderator for symposium.

SPEAKERS (listed alphabetically):
1. Otto Campion, Wanga Djakamirri Rangers. Topic: Aboriginal and park ranger perspectives on burning in northern Australia NPs. [C]

2. Dr, Michael Davis, historian and policy analyst, Woden, Australian Capital Territory, Australia. Topic: Indigenous knowledge and the language of law and policy. [C]

3. Dr. Don Hankins (Plains Miwok California Indian), Dept. Of Geography, Chico State University, California, Co-organizer of this session. Title: Patch Mosaic Burning: Indigenous Fire Use as a Baseline Process. [C]

4. Leaf Hillman, Karuk Tribal Council Vice-Chair, Orleans, California. Topic: Traditional Karuk Indian burning and cultural resources in northern California’s Klamath River Basin[C]

5. Kathy Mc Covey, Karuk Tribe, NW California. Topic: Traditional Karuk Indian burning and cultural resources in northern California’s Klamath River Basin [C]

6. Dr. Richard Minnich, Department of Geography, University of California at Riverside. Topic: Fire hazard and risk in the chaparral brushlands of southern California [C]

7. Joe Morrison, Chief Executive Officer, North Australian Indigenous Land and Sea Management (NAILSMA), Darwin University, Darwin NT, Australia. Topic: Aboriginal burning, climate change mitigation, and the West Arnhem Land Fire Abatement Project [C]

8. Dr. Jeremy Russell-Smith, NAILSMA, Australia. Topic: A Western scientist’s perspective on Aboriginal burning in northern Australia’s national parks. [C]

9. Dr. Francisco Seijo, American University, Seville, Spain. Title: Landscapes as Cultural Artifact: Traditional Peasant Uses of Fire in the Mountainous Ecosystems of Galicia, Spain

10. Dean Yibarbuk, Warrdaken Land Management and NAILSMA. Topic: Perspectives on aboriginal and park ranger burning in northern Australia [C]

The world can no longer afford the questionable luxury of working solely within the Western tradition if we are to learn to live sustainably. Conserving our options means, in part, conserving the diversity of ways of thinking about problems—including climate change—for the generations coming after us. Due to the unprecedented rates and intensities of environmental change and the variety of challenges we are currently grappling with, a diversity of knowledge systems and cultural land practices are urgently needed. We can no longer rely on Western science alone. Place-based local and traditional Indigenous knowledge may be complementary to the more generalized knowledge and remote sensing methodologies—too often not groundtruthed—of Western science. Native knowledge holders and practitioners could be partners in collaborative research with Western investigators. In a multicultural world, new relationships need to be forged between Western and non-Western epistemologies in order to transcend the conventional and limiting modern/traditional dichotomy. Traditional Indigenous societies should be viewed as alternative modernities (Swain in Reid et al, 2006) because of their time-tested capacity to adapt to consistently changing environmental and economic circumstances. That is how many adaptive traditional societies have survived for millennia in one place.

This symposium will compare three traditional cultural approaches to intentional fire: Gaelic northwest Spain, Aboriginal northern Australia, and American Indian California. We will also hear from a Western fire ecologist and geographer, park ranger, and historian/policy analyst. Two of the Native participants are traditional fire practitioners as well as scientists, and one is a park ranger. The symposium will present a diversity of emphases and methods in anthropogenic fire that spring from different cultures and environments as well as some similarities.

Differences in worldviews between Indigenous practitioners, pastoralists and park rangers or fire ecologists exist with respect to burning practices (Lewis in Reid et al, 2006). Questions that will be addressed are whether these worldview differences will prevent finding common ground in burning practices; and whether a knowledge-practice continuum exists across time and locale that makes conventional dichotomies between “Indigenous”, “local”, and “science” irrelevant in a restoration context. (Davis in Reid et al, 2006). Is there sufficient common ground for collaboration despite differences in cultural relationships to the land? Finally, we will relate anthropogenic fire to climate change mitigation, including the Darwin Liquefied Natural Gas-Aboriginal pay-for-burning project. There will be one hour for audience questions and comments in a final interactive roundtable discussion with the panelists.

Reference: Walter V. Reid et al. 2006. Bridging scales and knowledge systems: concepts and applications in ecosystem assessment. Island Press, Covelo, CA and Washington D.C.


Title: Values and Ecological Restoration: Fostering Senses of Place and Relationships with Landscapes

Principal Organizer:
Dr Angela Wardell-Johnson,
Research Fellow (Building 208 Rm 426)
Curtin University of Technology
GPO Box U1987, Perth. W.A. 6845
Tel: 61 8 9266 4788


Through inviting speakers from the environmental, social science, applied and arts fields, this session will explore how restoration can draw on social relationships with the environment to offer participants a deeper experience of being part of nature and how this can help to transform society and cultures in a changing world.

Many members of SER work in community-based restoration where sense of place is a primary motivator for volunteer participation; whether in conservation, agricultural or urban landscapes. The development of deep attachments can enrich the restoration experience and the quality of ecological outcomes, but poor understanding of this can lead to sub-optimal support programs. Speakers will address both the philosophic aspects of restoring special places and the need for managers to understand the implications of our attachment to them, to optimise natural area restoration outcomes and the challenge of building ecologically sustainable cultural landscapes.

This symposium has speakers providing papers of 15 - 30 minutes and time for synthesis and discussion to draw conclusions and recommendations together.


1. Noel Nannup – (Noongar elder and land manager, Western Australia)
TITLE: "Sense of Place: An Aboriginal perspective of belonging.”

2. Veronica Perrurle Dobson1, Josie Douglas2 and Fiona Walsh (1Arrente elder, land manager and author; 2 Charles Darwin University and Desert Knowledge CRC; CSIRO and Desert Knowledge CRC, Australia):
TITLE: “‘Anperrentye - Relationships between plants, land, people and all things’: Arrernte values within landscapes and key bush food species in restoration”

3. Angela Wardell-Johnson (Curtin University of Technology, Western Australia)
TITLE: “Sense of place: scale, context and social surrounds”

4. Andre Clewell (Andre F. Clewell, Florida, USA)
TITLE: "Place and the Four Quadrant Model for Ecological Restoration."

5. William R. Jordan III (The New Academy for Nature and Culture, DePaul University Institute for Nature and Culture, Illinois USA)
TITLE: "Part and A-Part: Versions of Restoration in the Search for Community and Place”

6. Ross MacCleay - (Bush regenerator and author, Bellingen, Australia)
TITLE: “Place: restoration to test meaning in context”.

7. Cynthia Dunbabin, (Farmer, Tasmania, Australia)
TITLE: “Restoration on farm: restor(y)ing our place, extending care”

8. Judy Christie (Sydney Metropolitan CMA, Australia)
TITLE: “Local action in local places: Insights from Sydney's 8,000 ecological restoration volunteers.”

9. David Curtis (Southern Rivers CMA, Australia)
TITLE: "Creating empathy for the restoration of natural environments: the role of the visual and performing arts"

10. Pablo Peri, (National University of Southern Patagonia (UNPA), Patagonia).
TITLE: “The landscape as a sculptors palette: restoration and the arts in farmed landscapes in Patagonia”

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Friday, May 8, 2009

Fe y Alegría (Dominican Republic) And Vaga Lume (Brazil) Win Juscelino Kubitschek Award

Winners of Inter-American Development Bank’s Juscelino Kubitschek Award Announced

Three organizations won the Inter-American Development Bank’s Juscelino Kubitschek Award for their contribution to development in Latin America and the Caribbean. The award recognized contributions in economics and finance, and in the cultural, social and scientific fields. The criteria used to select the winner for the field of economics and finance was based on the magnitude of its social impact. For the second category, the committee looked into social activities, especially those related to education.

Fe y Alegría (Latin America and the Caribbean) – Created 50 years ago, this institution carries out programs and actions in education and social promotion in 17 countries in the region. It partners with government and civil society to develop projects that will help students find new educational opportunities that will improve their lives. Fe y Alegría focuses its actions in formal, alternative and informal education, part-time and remote learning through radio programs. The institution also works on teacher training and the creation of services that promote social and community development. In 2006 alone, the number of students and participants in its programs surpassed 1.3 million. Fe y Alegría has a network of more than 1,600 support centers, with 2,700 service units among schools, radio stations and centers of long-distance learning and alternative education. Fe y Alegría’s Dominican Republic representation will receive the award. The representation’s 1,126 workers currently assist 58,000 students through 56 educational centers in 32 locations in the country.

Associação Vaga Lume (Brazil) – This nonprofit organization promotes cultural and educational development of rural communities in the Amazon by promoting an exchange of knowledge between people living in the Amazon and other regions of Brazil. Since 2002, it has established libraries in 90 rural communities in 20 municipalities in the Amazon and it has trained 1,600 people to manage and direct group readings. The program has benefitted an average of 20,000 children annually, with the distribution of 65,000 books. Vaga Lume is seeking to become a national model for the creation of community libraries as a tool for human and community development. The organization wants to disseminate its methodology to other regions of Brazil and countries in Latin America and the Caribbean.

"These institutions have made an important contribution for community development and we expect their stories will inspire others to do the same,'' IDB President Luis Alberto Moreno said.

The first edition of the Juscelino Kubitscheck Award drew nominations from 145 organizations, representing 22 countries in the Americas and Europe. Individuals and institutions nominated organizations for the prize. The award, which is held every two years, is the biggest by a multilateral institution in Latin America and the Caribbean.

Each category winner will receive a prize of $100,000. The winners for the cultural social and scientific category will share the prize.

Learn more about the award

This first edition of the award will be for the 2009–2010 period. The selection committee, made up of well-known specialists in the field of development in the region, met at the headquarters of the Minas Gerais Development Bank (BDMG), in Belo Horizonte on April 25 and 26.

IDB President Luis Alberto Moreno chaired the committee and Ibero-American Secretary General Enrique V. Iglesias acted as the group’s secretary. The award ceremony will take place in Brasília later this year.

The selection committee was made up of: Billie Antoinette Miller, Barbados former foreign affairs and commerce minister; José Octavio Bordón, former Argentina’s ambassador to the White House; Francisco Flores, former president of El Salvador; Osvaldo Hurtado, former president of Ecuador; Ricardo Lagos, former president of Chile; Hitoshi Watanabe, chairman and chief executive officer of the Japan Bank for International Cooperation; (JBIC); and Paulo Paiva, president of the Minas Gerais Development Bank (BDMG).

The award honors Juscelino Kubitschek, the Brazilian president who envisioned the creation of a multilateral development institution for Latin America and the Caribbean. His vision resulted in the creation of the Inter-American Development Bank, which completes 50 years in 2009. The IDB is the biggest source of development loans for Latin America and the Caribbean.

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Thursday, May 7, 2009

California Native American Indian Conferece: Call for Papers

Call for Papers 24th California Indian Conference

The History Department of California State University, East Bay welcomes proposals for papers and sessions for the 24th annual California Indian Conference to be held October 29-31, 2009 on the campus of CSUEB in Hayward, California. The conference is an annual event for the exchange of views and information among academics, educators, California Indians, students, tribal nations, native organizations and community members.

Include the title and brief description of the presentation (no more than 200 words), names and affiliations of the presenters, and contact information. The deadline for submission is August 1, 2009. The committee will notify selected participants by August 31.

Proposals and questions:
Professor Khal Schneider ( or by mail to:
Khal Schneider, History Department, 4036 Meiklejohn Hall, CSU East Bay, Hayward, CA 94542.

Khal Schneider
History Department
California State University, East Bay
4036 Meiklejohn Hall
Hayward, CA 94542

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Wednesday, May 6, 2009

April 29 - May 5, 2009: Five Key Indigenous Peoples Issues

Five Key Indigenous Peoples Issues for the Week of April 29 - May 5, 2009

Australia: Fears Indigenous 'Marginalised' By Climate Change

Climate change could further marginalise indigenous people and force them off their land, a leading Aboriginal advocate says.

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Social Justice Commissioner Tom Calma said indigenous people might have to relocate if rising sea levels and temperatures destroy their traditional lands.

Mr Calma was speaking at the launch of the Social Justice and Native Title Reports 2008 in Sydney today.

The Native Title Report calls for the Federal Government to consider the impact of climate change on indigenous peoples' human rights when developing responses.

"According to all the experts, Australians will be hard hit by climate change and no more so than indigenous peoples,'' Mr Calma said.

"Indigenous peoples are at risk of further economic marginalisation as well as perpetual dislocation from, and exploitation of their traditional lands, waters and natural resources. Read more on climate change here....

Asia: Asia-Pacific NGOs Sue ADB Through People's "Tribunal"

Asia-Pacific NGOs are holding a two-day mock tribunal, with expert witnesses on debt, water, agriculture, gender, indigenous people and the environment to reveal the Asian Development Bank's "sins" through its loan program.

Organizers said the main idea of the tribunal - organized outside the venue of the ADB's annual meeting - is to prove through testimony and documentary evidence that the ADB's projects and values are directly affecting people's lives and violating their rights.

The mock tribunal began Saturday, with Indonesian urban poor activist Wardah Hafidz as the judge.

The trial heard expert witnesses from countries including Indonesia, the Philippines, Bangladesh and Nepal.

They stood under oath to share their testimony about ADB projects in their respective countries.

Sonny Africa, head researcher at IBON Foundation in the Philippines, said in his testimony that the ADB, initially set up in 1966 to help lift underdeveloped countries out of poverty, had shown a significant contradiction in terms of reality.

"The ADB has been proved to be a bank for profit and development. The ADB does not implement their vision of helping underdeveloped countries, it is promoting private profit, domestic capitalists and big foreign capitalists," he said.

He added that IBON has been monitoring ADB activities for the last 30 years. Read more on the ADB and indigenous peoples here....

Peru: Amazonian Indigenous People Rise Up

“Since April 9, an uprising has been occurring in the Peruvian countryside involving the Amazonian indigenous peoples from 1350 communities and a diversity of ethnicities”, said legendary peasant leader, Hugo Blanco in an important message. A translation of Blanco’s appeal for solidarity with this so-far mostly unreported struggle is printed below.

Blanco is no stranger to mass struggle in Peru. He was a central leader of the Quechua peasant uprisings in the 1960s. For this, he was sentenced to 25 years jail.

In 1975, he was freed and expelled to Sweden. He returned in 1978 and was elected to the Senate. In the early 1990s, he was again forced into exile. He has since returned and heads the Peasant Confederation of Peru.

The current struggle is led by the Interethnic Association of Development of the Peruvian Jungle (AIDESEP), which unites 1385 indigenous communities.

Blanco said the uprising consisted “of taking over installations of depredator companies, blocking roads, taking over airports, interrupting water transport”. Read more about the indigenous peoples struggle in Peru here....

Nicaragua: Mosquito Coast Bites Nicaragua's Ortega

A separatist attempt to form a breakaway nation of indigenous people on Nicaragua's jungle shores has the legendary Mosquito Coast buzzing once again — and posing a dilemma for leftist President Daniel Ortega. Frustrated by broken promises of autonomy and generations of exploitation by outsiders, traditional leaders on the rural Atlantic coast are calling for a clean break from Nicaragua and the creation of the Communitarian Nation of the Moskitia (named after the region's indigenous people). On April 19, the indigenous council of elders officially declared the secession of the Atlantic coast from the rest of Nicaragua, warning that if push comes to shove, their independence claims will be backed by a new Indigenous Army of the Moskitia.

"We are not puppets. We are men. And now we have the weight of a nation on our shoulders," said separatist leader Rev. Hector Williams, known as the Wihta Tara, or Great Judge of the Nation of Moskitia. The separatist leaders this week declared a state of emergency to protect their lands from the "colonialist" outsiders and sent a letter to U.N. Secretary General Ban Ki-moon asking for support and protection.

The separatists claim to be thousands strong with a standing army of 400 soldiers, mostly aging ex-combatants from the YATAMA uprising against the Sandinista government in the 1980s. Today, the North and South Atlantic Autonomous Regions (RAAN and RAAS) remain geographically and culturally isolated from the rest of Nicaragua. The northern Atlantic-coastal region is mostly inhabited by Miskito and Mayangna indigenous populations, while its southern neighbor is home to most of the country's black Creole population. Although both groups have suffered historic discrimination, it is the indigenous population in the north that's leading the charge on independence — a call that hasn't yet found much resonance in the RAAS. The self-proclaimed Communitarian Nation of the Moskitia says all land titles, concessions and contracts issued by the Nicaraguan government are now invalid, and that taxes must now be paid to the new self-proclaimed indigenous authorities. A new flag, national anthem and currency are in the works as the aspiring country appeals for official recognition. Read more on Nicaragua here....

Australia: Native Title Report 2008

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Social Justice Commissioner (2009) Native title report 2008.

Sydney: Australian Human Rights Commission

This report, released annually by the Australian Human Rights Commission (previously the Human Rights and Equal Opportunity Commission, HREOC) through the Office of the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Social Justice Commissioner, reports on the operation of the Native Title Act 1993 and its effect on ‘the exercise and enjoyment of human rights of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples’.

The progress the government has made during the 2007-2008 reporting period in achieving rights and equality for Indigenous peoples is examined, together with how the government can complement its symbolic Apology with practical, beneficial changes to the native title system. Three important native title cases which before the courts during the 2007- 2008 reporting period are discussed.

This year’s native title report also includes the topical issues of climate change and water and includes two case studies to illustrate the potential impacts of climate change on the human rights of Torres Strait Islander people and the Indigenous people of the Murray-Darling Basin. A number of recommendations are included in the report, aimed at heightening the participation and engagement of Indigenous peoples in addressing these issues. Read more on Australia's Native Title report here....

Last weeks Five Key Indigenous People's Issues can be found here.

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Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Confederated Salish-Kootenai Member Brings Native American History to Public Education

I would like to share a really inspiring story that was forwarded to me by friend Sharon Kaplan. The story recently appeared in the online community of the Miller-McCune Center for Research, Media and Public Policy and was about Julie Cajune, a member of the Confederated Salish-Kootenai Tribe in Montana. She is working to bring Native American history into the public education system of Montana so that school children will have a greater appreciation for the Native indigenous peoples history and relationship with the land.
Julie Cajune Education Native American Indians
This has been a tough road, as the article written by Joan Melcher highlights.

"Teaching of Indian history to Montana schoolchildren has not been without controversy. One of Cajune's early attempts to teach Indian culture ended amid a misunderstanding about a study of names that some took to be an Indian naming ceremony. They accused Cajune of "teaching spirituality" in the schools.

But Cajune knows that names can themselves be repositories of history. For example, the Salish word for Silver Bow Creek, which flows west from Butte to meet the Clark Fork River, is "The Place Where You Shot Fish In The Head." The names depict two very different realities. Silver Bow Creek was likely named by miners in Butte. For decades, beginning around 1870, it was a repository of arsenic and mercury tailings from mining operations, resulting in the largest Superfund toxic-waste cleanup project in the nation, downstream near Missoula. For the Salish, it was a stream so full of fish, you could walk across it on their backs, Cajune says."

This drive to bring Native American history into the educational system is not limited to Montana. Cajune sees this as only the start, and she has hope for the lives, history, and beauty of indigenous Native peoples to be incorporated into education around the country.

"Cajune would like to see the state's colleges become more involved in Indian education, noting that the constitutional amendment was not just aimed at K-12. On that score, she sees a need for the inclusion of Indian culture and history in many disciplines — not just in Native American studies classes. For instance, should there be a class on American Indian literature, or should works by American Indians be part of an American literature class? Should there be a class on Montana Indian history, or should that history be taught as part of Montana history? Cajune believes in the latter, in both cases.

For American Indians to join the mainstream educational community, Cajune says, they will need to be willing to share their culture. She hopes that groups of people who know their tribes' stories, languages and traditions — and are willing to explain them — can be formed. Success in Montana could have wide impact. Already educators and lawmakers in South Dakota and Washington state are considering integrating Indian history in their curricula and are studying Montana's approach."

The full article can be read here: A History in the Making: Julie Cajune leads a groundbreaking Montana initiative to compile American-Indian history and include it in public education.

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Monday, May 4, 2009

Scoping the Amazon: Image, Icon, and Ethnography Book Review

Scoping the Amazon: Image, Icon, and Ethnographyalt

Since the founding of anthropology as a social science in the late 19th century up through the end of the 20th century, the field has been one of the primary brokers of culture and the industry that surrounds it. Beginning with the founding “fathers” of the field and their desire to define culture and its subsequent particulars, up until recently with struggles over identity and who has the right to define that identity, anthropology has played a major role. This is particularly true in countries and among indigenous peoples that were at one point part of Western civilization’s colonial and imperial past. As distant lands and people became known to science and were brought under the fold of Western colonial and imperial discourse, the construction, definition, and identities of “culture(s)” largely became the privy of anthropologists.
Scoping the Amazon: Indigenous Peoples Book Review
This is no more so true then in the Amazon region of South America. As Stephen Nugent articulates in the recent book Scoping the Amazonalt“the geographical remoteness and marginality of most Brazilian indigenous peoples that survived through the 20th century has meant that anthropology as a field has been a key source and reference point for much public understanding of and knowledge about extant Amazonian indigenous peoples” (p. 221).

In this powerfully argued, and potentially deconstructive book, Nugent focuses on one product line within the anthropological culture industry – indigenous peoples of Amazonia – and its portrayal across three different, though linked, historical projections: the “green hell” of Victorian naturalism; the hunter-gatherer landscape of modern ethnography; and the Amazonia of Hollywood and popular media.

By reformulating one of anthropology’s more recent core contradictions – that of replacing the universalism of science with the universalism of the visual – Scoping the Amazonaltoffers a new medium, photography, as a way of retaining the possibility of anthropology’s cross-cultural discourse while disavowing any scientific pretensions or associations. Whether this is actually possible is still undecided, but Nugent makes several strong arguments for and against such a universalism.

Read the rest of the review here: Scoping The Amazon: Image, Icon, and Ethnography.

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Sunday, May 3, 2009

Eighth Native American Symposium and Film Festival: Images, Imaginations, and Beyond

Eighth Native American Symposium and Film Festival: Images, Imaginations, and Beyond

Papers are invited for the Eighth Native American Symposium to be held November 4-6, 2009 at Southeastern Oklahoma State University in Durant, Oklahoma. The symposium theme is Images, Imaginations, and Beyond, but papers, presentations, panel sessions, and creative productions addressing all aspects of Native American studies are welcome, including but not limited to history, literature, law, medicine, education, religion, politics, social science, and the fine arts. The keynote speaker will be Heather Rae, the Cherokee film director and producer, whose film Frozen River received two Academy Award nominations this year. Along with the regular conference sessions on Thursday and Friday, we will also begin presenting Wednesday night a wide selection of films by Native American filmmakers from across the Native film community, including established, emerging, and student filmmakers.

All papers presented at the symposium will be eligible for inclusion in the volume of published proceedings, which will also be posted on our website at

Send abstracts of 250 words or less by June 15, 2009 in either electronic (preferred) or hard-copy form to Dr. Mark B. Spencer, Department of English, Humanities, and Languages, Box 4121, Southeastern Oklahoma State University, Durant, OK 74701-0609,

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