Sunday, November 30, 2008

Rez Ball

Through my love of sports, I came across an article in ESPN the Magazine awhile back about basketball taking root in many indigenous communities across the U.S. and Canada. I found this quite interesting because "Rez Ball" as it is called is helping to keep the younger generations away from drugs and alcohol. "Rez Ball" has become so popular that there is now a nationwide tournament held in Phoenix every year where coaches and scouts from colleges can come and possibly recruit kids that normally wouldn't get the chance to play college basketball. "Rez Ball" is a great way for teens to stay away from the streets and it gives them something to look forward to when life on the reservations are very barren. This article addresses the struggles that young Native Americans go through when using and selling drugs is the easy way out, but for a growing population, "Rez Ball" is the way out.

-Ian Brown

Wednesday, November 19, 2008


All people- place-based, indigenous, and non-indigenous, will forever continue the form of self expression we can find through music. This video is of the women's Native American a cappella group, who created there sound by combining their traditional musical roots with personal contemporary style. The members of the group include Pura Fe, Soni, and Jennifer. Their music has been featured on NPR, as well as the Tonight Show, the feature film, 'Smoke Signals,' and even the Atlanta Olympics. 

"Ulali's sound encompasses an array of indigenous music including Southeast United States choral singing (pre-blues and gospel) and pre-Columbian music." 

"Breaking the stereotypes of Native women, Ulali is political, romantic, and humorous."

- Emily Ross

Indigenous Inspiration Today in Politics

A curiosity for how indigenous societies relate with politics and the current thriving interest in the presidential election brought my attention to this article published by the New York Times. The article documents how Barack Obama's election has inspired an indigenous party in New Zealand, a minority known as the Maori. The co-leader of New Zealand's own indigenous political party, the Maori Party has described Obama's campaign as a "triumph" over old stereotypes, especially those geared towards minority groups, and "a message to the whole world, that we can build on our past an move forward." Although Obama's win has been predicted to not affect the election in New Zealand, this indigenous political party found it inspiring to anyone looking to end the societal divisions in politics.
                  Maori  party's logo

                      - Emily Ross

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Indigenous Perspectives on Health

This website focuses on Indigenous Knowledge as applied to modern health issues. The website offers statistics on some modern issues, mainly the history of types of cancer but also talks about the way modern chemicals like PCB and DDT find their way into indigenous people's lives and bodies. This issue of disproportionate harm is very important. Indigenous people suffer from modern dangers that they had nothing to do with. These are not minor health effects either but can develop into substantial illnesses. The document proceeds to graphically represent indigenous perspectives on mental and physical health. These are perspectives desired by some in the western world and ones that should be more widely considered. The Alaska natives have a very smart outlook when you analyze the graphs, an outlook that makes westerners reexamine what is important. The harm modern technologies and inventions has done unto indigenous people needs to be compensated for along with reestablishing our modern values.

-Rachel McCaffrey

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Original Instructions: Indigenous Teachings for a Sustainable Future

In our steadily spiraling world, leaders around the globe, both political and scientific, are seeking solutions to our problems. Global warming is here, population growth is steadily rising, and we are almost out of oil to fuel our world. And these are only some among countless other large-scale problems for which we must take care of now or life will head into a great unknown.
In searching for the solutions to these issues, our leaders are not realizing the knowledge right in front of them. The TEK held by indigenous people in society today is of great importance to our current problems. Most of this knowledge is not in a fitting form for our modern society; however, some indigenous leaders are turning today's crises and applying their ancient knowledge to help put our world back on track. This is seen in the book "Original Instructions: Indigenous Teachings for a Sustainable Future."

"Explores the convergence of indigenous and contemporary science and the re-indigenization of the world."
"Original instructions are ancient ways of living from the heart of humanity within the heart of nature."
"Includes authoritative indigenous voices, including John Mohawk and Winona LaDuke."

-by Rachel McCaffrey

Sunday, November 2, 2008

Incorporation of Lococentrism in Education

   It is increasingly common for youth education to include vital information on their environments. Although much of the teachings are not directly related to indigenous beliefs, they stem from similar ideas. There is a huge need for children to become familiar with where they are from, not just geographically, at an early age. When kids develop an interest and appreciation for their environment early on, they will continue to embrace it later in life. The environmental education used today is not identical to the lococentric ways of indigenous people, it is a western approach to an idea of love of place. The education I am referring to does not merely involve a child learning the anatomy of a butterfly by looking at a real one versus a pictoral diagram or by touching 
soil versus just looking at it. Though these are crucial components of the education, it is more centered on a holistic appreciation and understanding of how humans should be interacting with their surroundings.
   Having been a part of experiential programs in science in the environment, it is not hard for them to become the most profound experiences of someone's life. Our world so beautiful and so deeply fascinating it's not very difficult to spark an interest. Here are a few links to place-based education programs. The third is program I was involved in and provides a more specific example of how environmental appreciation and place-based learning is evolving today.
(if you scroll down and go to the "Mission" page, you can find me in the picture!)

-Rachel McCaffrey