Indigenous web round-up

Every month we share indigenous news, stories and media from around the world in our round-up. With a focus on arts, culture & promoting the strength of indigenous knowledge. We also introduce new members who have joined our global collaboration network.

This week, we’re happy to feature:

Unrepresented Nations and Peoples Organization (UNPO) promotes and protects the human rights of indigenous people and minorities.

Amsterdam based gallery and meeting-place for anyone who loves art, music and performance in a cozy setting Home of Art.

Brazilian photographer and filmmaker Fabio Nascimento, committing body and soul to his storytelling mission.


We are humanity

On the Andaman Islands, just off shore India, lives a tribe of 400 said to be one of the oldest people on the planet. Baring little resemblance to inhabitants of South East Asia, the Jarawa look more like people with creole ethnicity. According to recent DNA research, their lineage can be traced back thousands of years, possibly even as far as 70.000, making them the first people to leave Africa. How they got on these islands remains a mystery, but one thing is for sure: the Jarawa have lived secluded from the rest of the world for thousands and thousands of years and have done so with great prosperity. What is their secret? The documentary ‘We are humanity’ sets out to show the importance of community, the absence of property and a life lived in complete balance with surrounding nature; resulting in nothing less than a blissful state of being for the inhabitants of the Jarawa community.

However, ‘We are humanity’ also stresses the dangers these people are facing, now that they’ve become a tourist attraction and it’s becoming increasingly difficult to shut down from the modern world. Biggest threat seems to be the Indian government, having set it’s target on the riches of the Andaman islands to build resorts and expensive apartment complexes, leaving the future of the Jarawa people and their land at odds. Campaigns against these people revolve around stereotypes of their primitive and supposedly cannabalistic and therefor dangerous nature, which this documentary aims to eviscerate. For the first time ever, the Jarawa are telling their own story and we get to see their world through their own eyes.

Watch this short trailer in which directors Alexandre Dereims and Claire Beilvert tell you why and how they made the documentary and how we can help to save the Jarawa and their culture survive:

Sign the petition here.


An indigenous approach of Van Gogh

What happens when you let an Aboriginal art critic comment on a very idealized and western view of nature and naturalism? Tyson Yunkaporta wrote a sobering piece about Van Gogh’s depiction of authentic landscapes in The Guardian, after visiting the exhibition ‘Seasons’ at the National Gallery in Victoria, Australia. Yunkaporta regards Van Goghs’ art an uncanny representation of the longstanding western conflict between nature and industrialized landscapes, making him detached from the land;

” There is something desolate and unfulfilling in a view of nature that separates us from it, leaving us to plunder it for food products, minerals and even light and colour for art. There is a kind of desperate longing for connection and meaning through country that I see in the works of Van Gogh, who was outside of the land, looking in.”

This analysis of a well respected western artists’ view of the world is a very good example of how different Aboriginal people perceive their surroundings, crossing the borders between modern and indigenous worlds. One of the most interesting points Yunkaporta makes is about different perceptions of natures’ seasons. He describes how the 4 seasons have been imposed by the northern hemisphere upon Australia a few centuries ago, whereas Australia actually has up to twice the amount of seasons relating to the biodiversity of the different regions. His explanation is that the continent is not -yet- entirely superimposed by mono-culture, therefor the call of the lyrebirds (for example) reminds him it’s time to collect the starchy sweet cores of the ferns in the Kulin nation. Yunkaporta hereby demonstrates how this approach of the seasons is way more connected to every aspect of nature, as opposed to western industrialized approaches with a heavy focus on economic merit, an artificial concept of growth, one that can ultimately only obliterate and consume itself. And exactly the latter is also represented in Van Goghs’ work.

Want to read the full article? Go to the The Guardian website.


Canada’s National Aboriginal Day

With a few very dedicated Canadian advocates for the indigenous cause within our Sinchi network, we’ve taken some time to get more acquainted with Canada’s national Aboriginal Day this past week. National Aboriginal Day takes place on the 21st of june every year since 1996. Why 21st of june? … Because it’s the summer solstice and if there’s one thing the great variety of indigenous groups in this large country have in common, it’s the celebration of the longest day of the year as a part of their cultural heritage. The purpose of this day is exactly that: the celebration of the rich and various cultures of the Metis, Inuit and First People. Apart from that, (local) governments and organizations ask attention for the advancement of reconciliation between indigenous communities and the rest of the Canadian population, by organizing events that document and portray important aspects of indigenous history and culture and bring people together.

For example, the Summer Solstice Indigenous Festival in Ottawa hosted a pow wow competition this year and the dancers looked amazing. Pow wow literally means “spiritual leader”, set up as a circle for the musicians and dancers to go around in traditional and ornamented dress. The inner circle is the dance arena, the second circle consist of drummers, masters of ceremony and sitting areas for friends and families to relax and enjoy the show. The outer circles are for spectators and vendors.

This is what the dancers at Summer Solstice Indigenous Festival 2017 looked like:


Photofeature: Children of the Deer

A photodocumentary by José Luis Carrillo:

On the Iberian peninsula, there exists a region known as “Spanish Siberia,” a territory of extreme temperatures and intense mountainous terrain. This area is currently the least populated region in Europe. “Children of the Deer” is an ongoing documentary work in which I visualize the relationship that the region’s inhabitants have with the territory around them.

For these people, the deer is a totemic animal, widely represented in popular imagery and very present in daily life. These beliefs were inherited from the Celtic people who populated these lands for more than a thousand years. For the Celts, the deer was one of the oldest and most important deities, called Cernunnos. This god was depicted in a multitude of rituals and on many decorative objects. Cernunnos was the master of nature and animals; he also represented fertility, the union of worshippers with their ancestors, and their link with the territory.

This long-held tradition has left its imprint even today. At present, the descendants of the first Celts continue to worship animals, the forest and nature. They are the last Celtiberian settlers of the Spanish plateau: they are the Children of the Deer.

—- José Luis Carrillo

This photojournal was published by Lensculture.