Bolivia: Singing to the Plants - Shamanism and the Medicine Path
How important is traditional plant knowledge in the Amazon? According to a recent study among the Tsimane' in Amazonian Bolivia, each standard deviation of maternal ethnobotanical knowledge increases the likelihood of good child health by more than fifty percent. And the study raises the question: What will be the cost — to the Tsimane' and other indigenous peoples — if such ethnobotanical knowledge is lost?
Natanael Karaja, a 26-year-old from Brazil's Karaja Indian tribe wearing a striking headdress and body paint, was drinking Coca-Cola and being interviewed by MTV.
"This forum was very important because it is a place where every citizen is respected," he said. "In Brazil, politicians, businessmen and farmers have not respected the rights of Indians guaranteed in the constitution of 1988."
But Mzonke Poni, a 30-year-old activist from South Africa, worried that governments and non-government groups were hijacking a forum that was supposed to be based on grass-roots dialogue.
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The "Jackson Pollock and Shamanism" exhibit at the Pinacotheque is startling. One walks downstairs into a red chamber -- a womb of sorts -- where one is met with a black-and-white video of Native Americans in ceremonial dance, next to early works by Jackson Pollock (in dark yellows and black), alongside text that explains that shamanism -- the key to Pollock's work, argues curator Stephen Polcari -- is a world phenomenon, where the shaman leads participants into an underworld, he himself turning into his otherworldly double, an animal. Shaman, we learn, is a Siberian word that means "he who jumps for joy and agitates."Fire starter
Over the Lunar New Year the Red Dzao hill tribe of Ta Phin commune near Sapa in Lao Cai province will celebrate ‘Put-tong’ a mysterious fire dancing festival. Text by Duc Hanh, Photos by Huu Nghi.
On the morning of the first or second day of the Lunar New Year, the three biggest clans (the Ly, Ban and Trieu families) in Ta Pin commune come together to discuss the organization of Tet Nhay or “Dancing Tet” festival.