Posts Tagged ‘indigenous people’–New Real Creativity from Indigenous Americans is a custom content site. We highlight Indigenous artists, writers, musicians, designers, speakers, community organizers, movers, shakers, leaders, success stories, struggles, and current events as viewed through the lens of Indigenous perspective.

The Borneo Project

Photo: The Borneo Project

About a year and a half ago, a fellow travel writer pal asked me if I could go to Borneo with her. Sadly the timing was awful and impossible for me to negotiate with my job, so I had to pass. I’ve always wished I could have gone. My image of Borneo is pretty much just jungly-foresty green stuff and orangutans. Luckily, plenty of others know more than I (about so many things, really), and some of them have established The Borneo Project. This non-profit “brings international attention and support to community-led efforts to defend forests, sustainable livelihoods, and human rights. We believe that protecting human rights and environmental integrity in Borneo is a critical component of the global movement for a just and peaceful world.


To support indigenous-led campaigns to secure legal land rights, and to support actions and activists to preserve indigenous land rights.

To support communities acting to preserve and conserve local ecosystems.

To support cultural conservation efforts for indigenous and forest-dependent communities in Borneo.

To educate the American public about the importance of Borneo, indigenous rights, and the role of forests in climate change and biodiversity conservation.”

You can get involved from home with The Borneo Project, by showing the film “The Last Nomads” in your home, and using that as a fundraiser. They’ll send you a copy of the movie as well as information about the project and donation envelopes. You hold a private “screening” and get people activated and impassioned…and committed.

Then, let me know how excited you are, and we can book a trip together.


Act Now to Protect Indigenous Women

The senate just passed an incredibly important act, H.R. 725,also known as the Indian Arts and Crafts Amendment Act of 2010. While arts and crafts may not seem like a matter of life and death (except, of course, for the artisans–but that’s a different issue), attached to the act were most of the provisions of the “Tribal Law and Order Act of 2009,” and that’s where it gets monumental. Because of tribal law, sovereign nation status, and differing rules between tribal communities, a jurisdictional tangle and loophole has historically allowed for violent crime against indigenous women to go unpunished. Sexual assault and violence against Native American and Alaska women was not against the law!

The Tribal Law and Order Act represents an important step forward in combating violence against Native American women.  Violence that is an ongoing violation of Native American and Alaska Native women’s most fundamental human rights and freedoms.

Amnesty International detailed this violence in a 2007 report entitled Maze of Injustice: The failure to protect Indigenous women from sexual violence in the USA.  The report revealed shocking statistics of violence such as the fact that Native American and Alaska Native women are more than two and a half times more likely to be raped or sexually assaulted than women in the United States in general.

But the victory is not yet complete!

The Indian Arts and Crafts Amendment Act must now pass the House with the Tribal Law and Order provisions attached. Take action now to let your Member of Congress know that you support passage of H.R. 725, the Indian Arts and Crafts Amendment Act, which includes the Tribal Law and Order Act of 2009!

To find out who your Representative is, go to and enter your ZIP code.

Keep an eye out for an online action you can take – soon to be posted to the Amnesty International Maze of Injustice web page…and support Amnesty International while you’re there.

Manu Learning Centre

The Manu region of Peru, around the Madre de Dios River, is a truly stunning area of the rainforest. I’ve been blessed to be in  this general region twice, and it is other-worldly…as you hike through more shades of green than the Crayola inventors ever dreamed, you expect a dinosaur to round the bend any minute. It is truly nature at its finest.

The Manu Learning Centre is within the Manu Biosphere Reserve and strives to bring economic, social, and environmental harmony to the rainforest. There is such abundance here of flora and fauna, and like so much of the rainforest, so much remains undiscovered…and simultaneously, species become extinct EVERY DAY. Indigenous cultures and traditions are almost as threatened as the biodiversity.

Volunteers work 2-week to 12-week programs in conservation and education, starting with your own in-depth learning program in everything from mapping and giving education presentations to jungle exploration and even special studies into night monkeys.

I wonder if I can do a correspondence course in “Night Monkey”?

You should go, volunteer, do the training, and let me know. It is an incredible opportunity…just waiting for you.


Here’s another movie that’ll never make it to my small town cinema–but if you get the chance, see it when it opens this fall (and if you miss it on the large screen–a plus for the amazing Amazonian scenery–rent it).

For three years, filmmaker Joe Berlinger has been trying to bring the story of the “Chernobyl of the Amazon” to light. The involvement of Sting and Trudie Styler helped get the word out, and when the movie premiered at Sundance and other film festivals this year, it really grabbed the attention (and disturbed, as it was designed to) plenty of crowds.

It is the story of the indigenous people of the Amazon vs. Big Oil companies, and the struggle for justice in the face of unmanageable pollution and a homeland made toxic. I’ve been to the Amazon more than once–it is otherworldly and to tamper with it, and furthermore endanger it, is not only foolish (so many of our prescription drugs are sourced from nature here, and many scientists believe the only hope for an eventual cure for cancer will be discovered here) it is unforgivable.

Fascinating, infuriating, and hopefully inspiring in the way that we have to act because to not do so is simply too uncomfortable.