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So far Terralingua has created 49 blog entries.

Traditional Textiles of Cusco: Weaving Heritage

The Center of Traditional Textiles of the Cusco (CTTC) was founded in 1996, when the textile traditions in the Cusco Region of the Andes, based in the ancient Pre-Columbian cultures of Peru, were in danger of disappearing forever. Younger generations had ceased to learn how to weave as well as the traditions behind it, leaving the fate of Peruvian textiles in the hands of aging generations. The principal objectives of the Center are to recapture the history of, spread information about, and stimulate the production of traditional textiles, as well as provide support and assistance to the communities of weavers with which the Center works. By researching and documenting techniques, styles and designs, the Center works to preserve weaving traditions for future generations. Presently, the Center works with nine communities in the Cusco Region: Chinchero, Chahuaytire, Accha Alta, Patabamba, Mahuaypampa, Sallac, Chumbivilcas, Pitumarca and Acopia; All of which preserve unique ancestral techniques in their textiles. These communities are working to improve their quality of life while reinstituting millennia old practices integral to their cultural history and identity. By promoting the sale of textiles, providing each community with an appropriate place to weave, and, above all else, encouraging younger generations to weave, the Center for Traditional Textiles of Cusco is accomplishing one of its more desired goals: enabling Cuzqueñan weavers to feel proud of their heritage, traditions, and, most importantly, themselves.

The Kala Vernacular Education and Local Ecological Knowledge Project

While Papua New Guinea is widely known as an area with high levels of biolinguistic diversity, Tok Pisin, the creole lingua franca of the country, as well as English, have been edging out indigenous languages across the country. In the Kala speaking region, there is diversity across the villages as to the level of Kala retention, but Tok Pisin is steadily replacing Kala, causing language shift in all villages. The fact that English is the official language of education in Papua New Guinea has also helped to cause language shift here. While there are policies in place across the country that state that children should be taught in their indigenous language for their first three years of schooling, language diversity and limited resources and teachers have not guaranteed the equal implementation of these policies across Papua New Guinea. Noticing the language shift occurring in the Kala communities during his doctoral work, Wagner realized “how fundamental the [Kala language] was to the transmission of entirely basic, never mind more esoteric levels of ecological knowledge and related skills”; this realization sparked the development of the Kala Vernacular Education and Local Ecological Knowledge research project.

Worlds of Difference: Local Culture in a Global Age

The “Worlds of Difference” radio series was produced by Homeland for national broadcast on public radio stations in the USA. It used both radio and the internet to generate awareness of how people with strong local traditions are responding to the pressures and opportunities of rapid cultural change.

The Language of the Environment: A Comparative Environmental Thesaurus

The “Environmental Applications Reference Thesaurus” (EARTh) project, carried out by the Institute for Atmospheric Pollution at the National Research Council in Italy, is developing an advanced tool to be used for environmental information management and environmental policy and research. The project’s aim is increasing awareness among policy makers of the complexity of the environmental domain and of the cultural dimension of environmental knowledge. Thesauri are controlled vocabularies designed to allow for effective indexing, classification, cataloguing and retrieval of information. They consist of a network of semantic relationships, by means of which a representation of the meaning of each thesaurus term as well as of the conceptual structure of a knowledge domain is provided. Thesauri can be regarded as “semantic road maps” for information indexers and searchers and for anybody else interested in a systematic grasp of a given field. Existing terminological or knowledge organization systems at the international level do not provide an adequate and updated account of the environmental domain. To meet the present needs of environmental information management, more refined semantic structures are required, in the form of thesauri.

Protection of an Indigenous Reserve: the Ka’apor People of Amazonian Brazil

The Ka’apor emerged as a people with a distinctive identity about three hundred years ago, probably between the Tocantins and Xingu Rivers in the Amazon Basin. They later engaged in a long and slow migration that took them into Maranhão State, in eastern Amazonian Brazil, by the 1870s. One hundred years later, in 1978, the Alto Turiaçu Indigenous Reserve (called Terra Indigena Alto Turiaçu today) was demarcated by Brazil’s National Indian Foundation (FUNAI). The reserve covers about 5300 km sq of high Amazonian forest and is inhabited by all remaining Ka’apor as well as by some Guajá, Tembé, and Timbira people. The Ka’apor, like many other settled Amazonian groups, are a horticultural people whose staple is bitter manioc. They grow about fifty domesticated plants, which are used for food, seasoning, medicine, fibre, tools, and weapons. In addition, they hunt game and gather fruit in the dense forests and fish in the tiny creeks of the reserve. Since the late 1980s, as much as a third of the reserve has been illegally deforested and converted to towns, rice fields, and cattle pastures by landless peasants, cattle ranchers, loggers, and local politicians. The present situation is marked by tension and escalating violence. Raids on indigenous villages by squatters and loggers and counter-raids by native people on squatters’ and loggers’ camps inside the reservation have occurred since 1993 with at least two fatal casualties.

A “Life Plan” for the Park: Culturally Appropriate Management in Brazil’s Xingu Indigenous Park

Since 1996, the Xingu peoples have been working together with the Amazon Conservation Team (ACT) toward the goals of abating illegal incursions into the Park and establishing a culturally appropriate management scheme, called a “life plan”, for the Park and its inhabitants. The project, “Territorial Management in Brazil’s Xingu Indigenous Park”, developed maps of traditional territories, sacred sites, fishing and hunting locales, and other salient features of the landscape to drive the conservation of biodiversity in the Park. Initial activities involved biocultural mapping for Kamayurá indigenous ancestral lands, upon the direct invitation of the tribe. ACT equipped the indigenous researchers with handheld GPS units and provided training in ethnographic map composition, while western-trained cartographers assisted with the technical map assembly. In 2002, ACT and its indigenous partners completed maps of the Kamayurá and Yawalapiti areas of the Xingu Indigenous Park, covering 1,250,000 acres. In the process, ACT worked in collaboration with FUNAI and with the Pilot Program to Preserve the Brazilian Rainforest. The maps were released in a three-day ceremony in the Xingu. Since then, ACT and its indigenous partners completed the collaborative mapping process for the entire Xingu Indigenous Park, an area of over seven million acres of savannah and lowland tropical rainforest.

Promoting Cultural and Biological Diversity: An Educational Program for Rural Communities in Peru

The “Andean Project for Peasant Technologies” (Proyecto Andino para las Tecnologías Campesinas, PRATEC) is a Peruvian NGO founded in 1988 and devoted to the recovery and valorisation of traditional agricultural practices and associated knowledge. PRATEC participates in the efforts of Andean Amazonian peasant communities to counter the socially and ecologically destructive effects of industrial agriculture and governmental agrarian policies. By using local knowledge and the practice of traditional “ritual agriculture” and through adopting a non-dualistic, eco-centric worldview, PRATEC supports the resurgence of local approaches to agriculture, which it sees as radically opposed to Western industrial agriculture. The Andean peasant practice of ritual agriculture embraces kinship-oriented visions of the land and encourages empathetic actions that illustrate respect for all living entities of the biosphere. Agricultural activities include ritual actions, utterances, and offerings that express both a deep respect for Pachamama (Mother Earth) and communitarian aspects that characterize the worldview of the Andean people.

Protecting Territories and Biodiversity: Indigenous Capacity Building in Ecuador

The project “Conservation in Managed Indigenous Areas”, or CAIMAN (Conservación en Áreas Indígenas Manejadas), was funded by USAID and implemented by Chemonics International Inc. in 2002-2007, in consultation with Indigenous Peoples’ Organizations (IPOs), primarily representatives of indigenous federations. The project focused mainly on supporting the Awa, Cofan and Huaorani indigenous groups and their respective federations, although it also provided some support to Chachi, Siona, Achuar, Kichua and Secoya populations. Work plans were developed through a combination of workshops with IPOs and consultations with organizations that have worked with these groups for many years. The project’s goals were to foster biodiversity conservation by helping secure indigenous legal rights on ancestral lands; strengthen cultural identity and key cultural elements such as language and traditional medicine; and promote income-generating activities that are compatible with the local indigenous communities’ socio-cultural and environmental setting and are both ecologically and economically sustainable (for example, eco-tourism—which is not feasible without a healthy ecosystem—and the production of handcrafts). As well, by ensuring that Indigenous Peoples were fully integrated into the development and implementation of work plans, the project enhanced capacity for biodiversity conservation within indigenous federations.

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