Raíces Cultural Center, a nonprofit organization in New Brunswick, NJ, began as an after school program that aimed to promote and celebrate Caribbean culture. It transformed into a cultural center, offering expanded cultural programming and activities, including a cultural exchange, archive, and performance ensemble. Today, Raíces continues to celebrate and share Caribbean culture while also making the connection between cultural and environmental sustainability.
Last year, Raíces began growing organic gardens and donating produce to another local nonprofit, Elijah’s Promise. In addition to the literal seeds the folks at Raíces are planting, they are also planting seeds of sustainability through programs and discussions that focus on sustainable practices, natural arts, and healthy leaving.
When a house is sold, the neighbors may have some minor concerns about what type of person will be moving into their community. But what happens when an entire island – or at least 98% of it – is sold?
The future of the Hawaiian island of Lanai now rests with its new owner, Larry Ellison. How the culture and lives of the island community will be affected is unknown, and Ellison has yet to speak with the people of Lanai about his plans for his latest acquisition.
To read more about the sale of Lanai, check out the article What will billionaire CEO do with his Hawaiian island?
To hear some local Hawaii perspectives, read Civil Beat’s Goodbye Lanai.
“We know that without language preservation, a culture dies.”
These are words recently spoken by Alaska’s Governor Sean Parnell. In an effort to protect and perpetuate the Native culture and languages of Alaska, he has signed SB 130, establishing an Alaska Native Language and Advisory Council.
KTOO News reported that the Council “will be charged with evaluating the state’s indigenous languages and making recommendations for preservation, restoration and revitalization.” While these efforts are encouraging on many levels and are being supported by some Alaska Native organizations, such as Alaska Federation of Natives, the legislation also raises many questions. Are there voices/Native organizations that do not support the legislation? If so, what is their story? Who will be chosen for the Council? Do these choices have the potential to have negative/divisive impacts on the Native communities?
It will be interesting to see what results from the formation of the Council, the future actions they take, and powers they are – or are not – granted.
If you have any firsthand experience or thoughts on this issue – whether in Alaska or elsewhere – please post your thoughts in the comments section below.
Often remembered for their contributions as “code talkers”, Native American men and woman have also served a lesser known but critical role of cultural educators. An interesting history of Native Americans in the military can be found in today’s article on Indian Country Today Media Network.
Earlier this month, the Uqul Tinamit radio station was raided by police. In spite of Indigenous Peoples’ right to their own media, as guaranteed by article 16 of the United Nations Declaration of the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, the radio station was shut down, the volunteer on air at the time was arrested, and station equipment was confiscated.
Indigenous radio has been an important source of information and entertainment, while contributing to the perpetuation of Indigenous languages and culture in Guatemala. The recent raid is disheartening and in direct conflict with basic human rights and freedom of expression.
To speak up in support of Indigenous radio and rights, and against the raids, you can send an email to the President of Guatemala by completing the form here.
Congratulations is in order for MACS student, Joanne Naniki Morales. This weekend she represented the United Confederation of Taino People of Puerto Rico, and won! Joanne placed second out of the 27 contestants who competed for the title of Miss Indian World. She was awarded 1st Runner-up, after displaying her archery talent and speaking out on the platform of embracing indigenous/mixed youth. I look forward to following Joanne’s journey, as she continues to sustain and share her culture. I hope you will join me in congratulating her on her most recent accomplishment!
To learn more about the pageant and see photos from the event, check out the Gathering of Nations website.
I just returned from India where I had the chance to attend an aarti ceremony along the Ganges River in Haridwar. The ceremony is a Hindu ritual that involves the five elements – earth, water, fire, air, and ether – and, in some locations like Haridwar, is performed every evening at sunset.
As I had never been to this type of ceremony, I had few expectations and was just looking forward to an opportunity to learn more about Hinduism and Haridwar. On the way to the ceremony, I met another visitor who claimed he was “skeptical” of the ceremony. Though I was not particularly interested in his negativity, I was curious as to what made him skeptical of a ceremony that my hosts had described as “traditional”. He explained that he had been to an aarti in another location and was told by a local that the ceremony had been introduced to that area by the tourism board, in an effort to increase tourism.
As we watched the crowd grow, the sun set, and the priests perform the ceremony, the man changed his tune. He said he “felt better” about the experience; he believed that this was genuine. Out of the hundreds – possibly thousands – of folks we passed by, stood next to, or spoke with, not one was a foreigner. These people were not putting on a show to bring in foreign tourists. They were practicing their religion and sharing the experience with others who had come to do the same.
I was, of course, left pondering some issues of cultural sustainability:
If it were true that a tourism board introduced the aarti to other locations, did it make the ceremony – practiced in the same tradition as others, such as in Haridwar – any less authentic? Is the introduction of the aarti to new areas not, in some ways, actually an act of cultural sustainability? Does it matter who introduced it, so long as the traditions are kept intact and respected? Does not every tradition and ceremony have to start somewhere? Does the attendance and/or participation of “outsiders” or foreigners in some way render the ceremony sacrilegious?
I am interested in hearing your thoughts! Please share them in the comments section below.
Visit this site to learn a bit more about the aarti ceremony and it’s possible origins.
Check out Reporting in Indigenous Communities (RIIC), an online resource created by Duncan McCue. Duncan is a professor at the University of British Columbia and a reporter for CBC’s The National. He is also a member of the Chippewas of Georgina Island First Nation in southern Ontario. The RIIC website is a guide that aims to – as their tag line states – help “journalists tell better Indigenous news stories”, and may also serve as a good resource for anyone working with or in indigenous populations.
According to a recent article in the Phnom Penh Post, radio programming in indigenous languages is an important way to perpetuate the local languages while giving indigenous people “the opportunity to talk about their own culture on national radio…to be informed, to reinforce their pride, and to allow them to maintain some of their control over their traditions and their languages.” Radio is particularly important to those languages – like many native to northeastern Cambodia – that do not have a writing system.
To read about a similar indigenous language perpetuation project in Guatemala, check out Cultural Survival’s Guatemala Radio Project.
Those in support of puuhonua wellness centers in Hawaii believe so.
Community Alliance on Prisons Coordinator Kat Brady explained in her testimony that we must find “alternative means to reintegrate people who have lost their way.” Native Hawaiian culture may be one possible alternative.
A bill that would require the Department of Public Safety to plan for a model wellness center has just been passed with amendments, and moves on to be heard by the Ways and Means Committee on February 28, 2012.
If passed into law, SB3016 will allow for the creation of a wellness center – that employs Native Hawaiian cultural practices to the treatment of incarcerated individuals – and a work release program, on the Big Island. Folks in support of this measure believe that this type of center and cultural programming can better serve to rehabilitate and reintegrate incarcerated Native Hawaiians.
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Goucher's Master of Arts in Cultural Sustainability is a completely unique new program. We teach our students how to work closely with individuals and communities to identify, protect, and enhance their important traditions, their ways of life, their cherished spaces, and their vital relationships to each other and the world.