State of the World’s Minorities and Indigenous Peoples 2009

July 24, 2009 at 11:18 am | Posted in Education, Organization, Research | Leave a comment
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A new report on minorities has just appeared. It has been published by the Minority Rights Group in collaboration with Unicef, and it’s called State of the World’s Minorities and Indigenous Peoples 2009.

In addition to the report, you can also download some special articles, some of them only available on-line. Enjoy!

Alaska Native Collections

September 28, 2008 at 3:41 pm | Posted in Alaska, Education, Maps, Naming, Siberia | 4 Comments
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Today I want to share a very good general resource I found las week: the Alaska Native Collections site, by the Smithsonian institute. Despite its name, the site includes information about Alaska but also about Russia or other polar contruies. The site is not only beautifully designed but also packed with a lot of maps, photographies and information, allowing the visitor to learn about the arctic cultures easily. If you just want to learn a few basics, you can do a quick reading, if you want to deep more, you just need to open the “Read more” sections.

Through the Sharing Knowledge project, members of Indigenous communities from across Alaska and northeast Siberia are working with the Smithsonian Institution and the Anchorage Museum to interpret the materials, techniques, cultural meanings, history, and artistry represented by objects in the western arctic and subarctic collections of the National Museum of Natural History (NMNH) and National Museum of the American Indian (NMAI) in Washington, D.C. The Arctic Studies Center, which organized and implemented the project, is a special research program within the Department of Anthropology, NMNH, with offices in Washington and at the Anchorage Museum in Alaska.

The goals of Sharing Knowledge are to make the Smithsonian collections accessible to all and to support cross-cultural learning among Indigenous home communities, in schools, and around the world. Interest in the extraordinary arts and cultural heritage of the North is truly global in scope. Participants in this project are Elders, scholars, artists, and teachers who invite all to explore, learn, and appreciate.

The combined holdings of NMNH and NMAI are vast—more than 30,000 items from Alaska and northeast Siberia, most collected between the mid-19th century and the mid-20th century. The great majority has never been published, exhibited, or seen by contemporary residents of source communities in the North. Collaborative study of these collections for Sharing Knowledge began in 2001-2005, with a series of trips to the museums in Washington by more than forty Elders and regional representatives. This documentation process will continue as many more objects are brought from Washington to new Smithsonian exhibition galleries and Arctic Studies Center facilities at the Anchorage Museum, starting in 2010. Through its alliance with the Arctic Studies Center (since 1993) and its planned physical expansion to house these programs and collections, the Anchorage Museum has become an important Smithsonian partner in fostering the collaborative work of museums and Native communities.

Object records on this site include edited transcripts of museum discussions as well as summaries drawn from history, anthropology, and recorded oral tradition. The Cultures section includes regional introductions and information about contributors. The Resources section offers reading materials, web links, and a curriculum guide with lesson plans designed for middle and high school students.

The Sharing Knowledge site reflects the current state of an on-going project, with inevitable gaps and uneven representation of the different cultural regions. It will grow over time as more information is recorded and new contributors can be brought into the discussion. Please watch the site for continually updated materials and features.

Photography (C) Larry McNeil

As I mentioned this place has tones and tones of info about the cultures and the people, so it seems an unforgetable place to ask for help whenever I can manage to do the big trip!

Scott Polar Research Institute

August 20, 2008 at 2:30 pm | Posted in Education, Research | Leave a comment
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Another cold website, this time is the turn of Scott Polar Research Institute:

Scott Polar Research Institute

Welcome to SPRI

The Institute is a well-known and long-established centre for research into both polar regions. It is part of the University of Cambridge and is a sub-department of the Department of Geography.

We have several research groups investigating a range of issues in both the environmental sciences and social sciences of relevance to the Arctic and Antarctica. Our polar library, which includes the Shackleton Memorial Library, has comprehensive holdings of scholarly books and journals on polar research, with exceptional archival collections from the exploration of the Antarctic and Arctic. We also have extensive online resources, including bibliographic and other information.

Around 60 academic, library and support staff, together with postgraduate students, associates and fellows attached to our research programmes, are working in the Institute, providing a strong core of intellectual activity focused on the Arctic and Antarctic and their adjacent seas.

We offer two Graduate Degree courses; a one-year Master’s Degree (M.Phil.) course in Polar Studies, and a three-year Doctoral Degree course, leading to a Ph.D. degree. Both courses are closely tied to the research activities of the Institute.

Research

We have several research groups investigating a range of issues in the environmental sciences, social sciences, arts and humanities of relevance to the Arctic and Antarctica:

– Glaciology and Climate Change Group.
– Glacimarine Environments Group.
– Polar Landscape and Remote Sensing Group.
– Polar Social Science and Humanities Group.
– Circumpolar History and Public Policy Research Group (HiPP).

In addition, the Institute is part of the NERC Centre for Polar Observation and Modelling.

The most interesting part for my project is the Polar Science and Humanities Group. They are running a bunch of interesting projects:

Polar Social Science and Humanities

Staff and students

The following scientists at the Scott Polar Research Institute are involved in the activities of this research group:

– Academic staff: Dr Michael Bravo, Dr Piers Vitebsky.
– Institute Associates: Prof Valerie Alia:(indigenous and northern media; media representations of polar peoples; Inuit naming; names, identities, politics and power; media ethics; research ethics), Keith Hill (transport, telecommunications and economic development in the Russian Far East; 18th century German scientists in Siberia), Dr Florian Stammler, Dr John Tichotsky (Regional economic development in Siberia, Alaska, Mongolia and China), Dr Emma Wilson.

Research students

– Elizabeth Beiswenger: indigenous political representation and self-government in the Chukotka Autonomous Region.
– Mark Dwyer: spatial modelling of pasture use by Komi reindeer herders
– Janne Flora: suicide and personhood in Greenland.
– Stephanie Irlbacher Fox: the development of political institutions in the Canadian North.
– Otto Habeck: the future of reindeer husbandry in the Komi Republic
– Sean Maher
– Traplines and Tar Sands: an Ethnographic Analysis of Intersecting Economies in a Subarctic Indigenous Community.
– Richard Powell: field practices and environmental science in the Canadian Arctic, 1950-2000.
– Hugo Reinert: political epistemology of reindeer herding in the Norwegian Arctic.
– Elena Khlynovskaya Rockhill: the institutionalisation of children in Magadan.
– Steven Sawhill: environmental diplomacy in the Barents Region; the decentralisation of foreign affairs.
– Olga Ulturgasheva: narrative and concepts of memory among the Eveny of northern Sakha (Yakutia).
– Sam Van Vactor: energy economics and gas pricing in northeast Asia
Kostas Zorbas; patients’ experience of shamanic healing in Tuva, Siberia
Movements: A Comparative Study of Nunavut, Canada and Tuva, Russian Federation.

It is a pity they do not have RSS to follow them. I will have to come back to the old method: memory!

Sealaska Heritage Institute

August 17, 2008 at 4:42 pm | Posted in Alaska, Education, Research | Leave a comment
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Another interesting website for Sunday:

Sealaska Heritage Institute

Sealaska Heritage Institute (SHI) is a regional Native nonprofit organization founded for the Tlingit, Haida and Tsimshian people of Southeast Alaska. SHI was established in 1981 by Sealaska Corp., a for-profit company formed under the Alaska Native Claims Settlement Act (ANCSA). SHI, formerly Sealaska Heritage Foundation, administers Sealaska Corp.’s cultural and educational programs.

Programs
You can view their programs page here. The list is quite long! You can also take a look at their online language resources page here. Sealaska Heritage Institute produces Native language curriculum and other education tools through its Language and Education Programs. The institute encourages students and teachers to use its online resources to perpetuate and revitalize Tlingit, Haida and Tsimshian languages.

Publications

Sealaska Heritage Institute has produced numerous books and videos relating to Alaska Native cultures, languages and historical events. The book collection includes language texts used in Native language classes. SHI is constantly developing new materials to perpetuate and enhance Tlingit, Haida and Tsimshian cultures, the mission of the institute. Check them here.

Collections

The Special Collections Research Center (SCRC) houses more than 3,000 publications, approximately 20,000 photographic images, roughly 300 cultural objects, nearly 2,500 media items, and more than 750 linear feet of manuscript material that document the history, culture, heritage, and language of the Tlingit, Haida, and Tsimshian people of Southeast Alaska. Below is a sample of some of the center’s special holdings, including digitized photograph and manuscript collections and
views of artifacts:

    Dr. Walter A. Soboleff ANB Papers: In 2007, Dr. Walter A. Soboleff officially donated to SHI his papers, which document his time as a ranking official within the Alaska Native Brotherhood (ANB). Funded by IMLS from 2005-2007, SHI staff arranged and scanned a significant
    portion of Soboleff’s ANB papers. The scanned papers are now available online and consist of over 1,000 pages of material that span 1929 to 1995. Scanned papers include issues of the ANB periodical “The Voice of Brotherhood,” ANB meeting minutes, correspondence, working files, camp files, and papers that show how ANB fought to improve the lives of tens of thousands of Alaska Natives.

    Digital Photo Collections: This link takes researchers to a selection of online photographs from
    the Special Collections Research Center’s holdings. These images date from 1880 to the present and document various aspects of the Tlingit, Haida, and Tsimshian life. This web album will continue to grow as materials are added by Special Collections staff.

    Digital Celebration Photo Archive:This digital interface is a searchable database of historical photographs from the institute’s collection showcasing select photographs from SCRC’s Celebration Photograph Collection. The database includes images of the first Celebration festival in 1982 and from various festivals that followed. The creation of this photo database was funded by a two-year
    grant from the Institute of Museums and Library Services.

    Bowlsby Collection: In July 2002, a private collector donated more than 50
    Alaska Native cultural objects and a slide collection to Sealaska Heritage Institute. It is the largest private collection of cultural objects ever given to SHI. The collection includes baskets, halibut hooks, carving tools, spoons, a rattle and a number of stone objects that appear prehistoric, said SHI President Rosita Worl, a Tlingit anthropologist.

    William Paul, Jr. Photos
    :This photography collection features Southeast Alaska Native people during the 1940s through the 1950s, and they are a joy to view. However, much of the information identifying people, places and events depicted in the photographs has been lost. We are hoping you
    will help! We are interested in anything you have to say about the photos — perhaps you remember some of these events and have stories or memories to share?

    Tlingit Fighting Pick: An old, stone artifact received by Sealaska Heritage Institute in 2003. The object was discovered in the early 1950s in the village of Kake by Lloyd Davis during
    a construction project and later presented to SHI by Davis’ son, John Davis. The artifact measures 16 inches in length and weighs about 5 pounds. SHI is trying to determine the age of the artifact and the type of stone used. SHI asked Native elders, museum personnel and academic experts to view the artifact and to consult with the institute about the object’s potential historical use. Two theories have emerged.

    Curry-Weissbrodt Collection
    : In 1981 a wealth of Alaska Native land-claims documents were donated to SHI by I.S. Weissbrodt and James E. Curry, tribal lawyers who represented the Tlingit and Haida Indians from the 1940s. SHI has scanned and digitized a selection of key documents from
    this collection and they are posted on our website for public use. The project was funded by a grant from the Institute of Museum and Library Services.

Impressive! They run also a blog, you can check it here if you want to keep in contact with them.

Indigenous People Issues & Resources

August 15, 2008 at 6:25 pm | Posted in Education, Links, News, Organization | Leave a comment
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Thanks to a comment, two weeks ago I found this site, dedicated to indigenous people. It does not have information about all the tribes, but it keeps growing and its future seems promising!

Welcome to Indigenous Peoples Issues & Resource

Today, our world is experiencing a rapid decline in cultural diversity. One in five people in today’s world speak the same language: the Mandarin Chinese spoken by the largest single ethnic group in the world – the Han – whose 1.3 billion population represents 92 percent of the mainland Chinese population and 19 percent of the world’s population. Likewise, in India – the world’s second most populous country – there are 415 living, recognized languages, but the majority of people speak either Bengali or Hindi. Linguists recognize some 6,000 to 7,000 spoken languages, of which 5,000 or so are spoken by indigenous peoples who represent an estimated 6 percent of the world’s population.

Many of these people, and their language and culture, face a questionable future. The relatively rapid decline in language diversity parallels the decline in cultural diversity. These changes are due in part to the product of both historical relationships – imperialism, colonialism, Cold War economic development, and militarism – as well as cultural beliefs that rationalize or justify actions that serve the powerful at the cost of lands and livelihoods of indigenous peoples.

Indigenous Peoples Issues & Resources is a new site that is slowly developing. Our goal is to provide information and resources for those concerned about, and for, indigenous peoples around the world. We recognize that our actions in the West effect indigenous peoples in all parts of the world – the consequences of water diversion and hydroelectric energy projects, militarization, global and national events, and consolidation of natural resource access, and the like are all having an unprecedented impact on the world’s indigenous peoples. But we can do something.

It is our belief that cross-cultural communication and understanding – as well as easily accessible information and resources – is one of the keys to helping indigenous peoples maintain their language, culture, and identity. We hope that you also share this belief. Diversity is one of the strongest components to a healthy world. Together we can help and make a difference – from large to small.

I will dig into it later on. Looks promising, doesn’t it?

Produced by Nutaaq

August 5, 2008 at 12:34 pm | Posted in Canada, Education, Organization | Leave a comment
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Last week I found a production company settled down in Québec, Canada, called Nutaaq. As they explain, they are specialized on multi-cultural and indigenous subjects. This is quite interesting, isn’t it?

Nutaaq Média

Nutaaq Média, Inc. was incorporated in 1991 with the goal of producing both independent and sponsored film, video and interactive media projects.

Although most of Nutaaq productions concern the Arctic or northern issues, Nutaaq has also shot many projects in southern Canada, as well as one project in South America. Our multi-cultural experience is indeed one of our great strengths.
Nutaaq Média represents many years of production experience which allow it to create broadcast programming intended for a mass audience or sponsored projects tailored to a specific few.

Working with a team of talented professionals and state of the art facilities for digital non-linear editing and multi-media authoring, Nutaaq Média produces effective multi-media, sponsored or broadcast programming tailored to client and audience needs in whichever languages are required. In the past, Nutaaq has produced programs in French, English, Inuktitut and Cree, Chinese, Japanese, Russian, Spanish, German and Italian. Nutaaq can also title and sub-title programs in any language. We also do closed captioning.

Recent Productions

Finding My Talk:A Journey through Aboriginal Languages This one hour documentary follows the journey of Cree filmmaker Paul M. Rickard as he searches for his own language roots and discovers the tireless efforts of many individuals who are promoting, reviving and preserving the use of Aboriginal languages within their communities. Distributed by Mushkeg Media Inc.

Broken Promises: The High Arctic Relocation In the summer of 1953, the Canadian government relocated seven Inuit families from Northern Québec to the High Arctic. They were promised an abundance of game and fish – in short, a better life. The government assured the Inuit that if things didn’t work out, they could return home after two years. Two years later, another 35 people joined them. It would be thirty years before any of them saw their ancestral lands again. Distributed by Nutaaq and National Film Board of Canada.

Nunavik Heritage CD-ROM The photographs reflect the life and people of Northern Québec (Nunavik) from the 1880’s till the present. The flexibility of the CD-ROM software allows the images to be organized and retrieved by thematic categories such as specific individuals or families, geographical locations, time periods, historical events or photograph contents. The disc design maximizes user interaction and allows images to be printed or incorporated into other documents. Distributed by Avataq Cultural Institute.

Running the Midnight Sun To their friends they’re eccentric, to the Inuit they’re bizarre, but they consider themselves just ordinary people who like to push themselves to the limit. They are ultra runners. Once a year, under a sun that never sets, they gather from all over North America to challenge an 84 kilometer gravel road located 700 kilometers above the Arctic Circle. Distributed by Nutaaq.

North to Nowhere: Quest for the Pole In North to Nowhere, nine adventurers from five countries attempt the Polar trek. They include Shinzi Kazama, a motorcyclist from Japan; Pam Flowers, a ninety pound dogsledder from Alaska; Nicholas Hulot and Hubert de Chevigny, ultra-light pilots from France and Dick Smith, an Australian helicopter pilot. As well, a planeload of American tourists fly to the Pole for a very expensive one hour photo opportunity. No Distributer (unavailable).

They produced some documentaries in Inuktitut and Cree, this is interesting. I contacted them since living in Barcelona it is impossible to watch their programs, but the only option was to buy them, and that was really expensive for me too! I may wait when a relative or friend travel there, to see if they find something!

Virtual exhibition “The Saami, becoming a nation”

July 27, 2008 at 9:22 pm | Posted in Education, Scandinavia | Leave a comment
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Some months ago, some friends sent me the link to a virtual exhibition about the Saami people organized by Norway. It is a very good idea, because with a virtual exhibition people of all over the world can learn a bit more about the Saami people, their land and their culture:



“Should the Sami ever experience having books written in their own language, having literature and art based on their national heritage, and cultural institutions that nurtured their folk art, fairy tales and language, it would be the beginning of a process – cultural, social, and economic – the extent of which cannot be perceived today”.

Per Fokstad, 1951

[…] Our presentation is not intended as a typical ’exhibition’ of physical objects. Rather, it is an attempt to present a process of social and cultural development now underway. We aim to show how individual Sami have – through their ideas, debates, and actions – created the forums and measures which have come over time to shape the form and content of Sapmi. We are particularly interested in where this ethnic awakening is directed culturally and ideologically in the new century. The Sami context is no longer limited to a local community; today, international connections and a world arena is no less important for the Sami future.

Thus, our presentation is not only meant as a corrective to the conventional philosophy and practice of museums, but also to provide the public with means to grasp the implications of the emergence of Sami nationhood as a creative, innovative and cumulative process – a virtual revolution in political and cultural terms within the span of some decades. Moreover, we want to make the audience aware that museum displays- like the old and the new exhibit here in Tromsø Museum – are not just ”facts”, but presentations reflecting the interests, motives and historical contexts of those who made them.

It is an interesting idea, isn’t it? Go and take a look if you feel curious!

Teaching endangered languages in Siberia

July 26, 2008 at 12:02 pm | Posted in Education, Language, Siberia | Leave a comment
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During the lasts years the Mercator Centre has been running some projects concerning endangered languages, some of them in Siberia. I already told you about the Voices from tundra and taiga projects, which apart of a consistent database of linguistic information included also the creation of teaching materials and methods adapted to the specific sociolinguistic situation of those communities. Here you have a sample of their work:

Teaching Endangered Languages in Siberia

During the last years several teaching methods for endangered languages have been developed and special seminars have been organised for teachers of these languages in Yuzhno-Sakhalinsk (2003), Hanty-Mansiisk (2004) and Buryatia (2005).

Teaching Samoyedic
Within the framework of the joint project “Writing and teaching Samoyedic”, the Russian-Nenets Audio Phrasebook and the Nganasan Multimedia Dictionary have been created. This work has been initiated by scholars in St.Petersburg and Groningen and financially supported by the Netherlands Organisation for Scientific Research NWO (as part of the research program Voices from Tundra and Taiga), the Russian Foundation for Humanitarian Research and the Endangered Language Fund. The results of this project will be applied to other minority languages.

Russian-Nenets Audio Phrasebook Nganasan Multimedia Dictionary

Teaching Nivkh
During his research work on Nivkh the Japanese scholar Hidetoshi Shiraishi (2002-2005 in Groningen, since March 2005 at Sapporo Gakuin University) has written a series of books with Sound Materials of the Nivkh Language. These books are published together with the related sound material on CD and they can be used for the teaching of Nivkh. The World’s Largest Sound Archive of the Nivkh Language on the Web can be found at the web site of Hidetoshi Shiraishi, which refers to the following publications:

Sound Materials of the Nivkh Language 1 (2002)
-Folktales of V.F.Akiliak-Ivanova-

Sound Materials of the Nivkh Language 2 (2003)
-Songs and Folktales of the Amur Dialect-

Sound Materials of the Nivkh Language 3 (2004)
-Pygsk-

Read the preface to the third volume by Tjeerd de Graaf here.

Of course there is so much work to be done, but that is a beginning, and a very positive one. To be honest, I would not mind to work in something like this in the future!

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