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Archive for March, 2009

Poet Heid Erdrich speaks up for sanctity of human artifacts in ‘National Monuments’

Posted by deborahmclaren on March 11, 2009

This is an interesting article, written by Amy Goetzman at the MinnPost, a web magazine in Minneapolis. She highlights the work of Native American poet, Heid Erdrich, and objections to desecrating human artifacts.

By Amy Goetzman | Published Tue, Mar 10 2009 8:00 am

Leave those bones alone, says Heid Erdrich.

A 25,000-year-old skull is still someone’s ancestor, after all. Maybe yours. So don’t use it as a paperweight.

The Ojibwe poet notes that writers aren’t often called in to determine policy, but the cavalier treatment of human artifacts — often under the guise of scientific study — led her to issue her own statement on the subject, in the form of poems.

In her third book of poetry, “National Monuments,” which has been nominated for a Minnesota Book Award, Erdrich reminds us of the humanity of those old bones in stories about human artifacts going up for sale on eBay, an exhibit of children’s bodies taken from a Peruvian sacrificial site, and other incidents in which native artifacts stolen from graves are marketed to collectors and museums.

The poems are haunting, and sometimes humorous. In “Guidelines for the Treatment of Sacred Objects,” she writes, “Never, at any time, sing ‘Dem Bones,’ ” and:

Avoid using the bones as drumsticks
Or paperweights, no matter
The actions of previous Directors or Vice
Directors or your institution.

Questions vs. pronouncements
“[Poets] can aim for the meditative center of things because we want to bring our readers there. I like to bring up questions, rather than make pronouncements with my poems,” she says. Ultimately, though, it’s pretty clear where Erdrich stands: “I think bones should be allowed to go home.”

“Mostly I want people to think about the line: When is a body sacred and sovereign, and when is it scientifically significant and what happened in between? Is it more about whose bodies remain sacred? How does relationship to the body define our larger culture, our scientific belief system?”

Or consider this: Instead of trying to connect with people from the past by studying their bodies, get to know them much more deeply by studying their souls, via their artwork. “I love any place with ancient picture writing visible,” Erdrich says. She’s also intrigued by the stories of Obabaamwewe-giizhigokwe (Jane Johnston Schoolcraft), an early Native writer whose work inspired Longfellow’s “Hiawatha” — though she doesn’t often get the credit she deserves. Erdrich corrects that with a poem.

When she isn’t writing or teaching, Erdrich curates exhibits of Native art for the Ancient Traders Gallery in Minneapolis. “The shows I’ve curated have felt a lot like editing an anthology or building a course. Working with visual artists is something I’ve always loved, but it is a tremendous commitment, since we are such a small program and always seeking funding. Still, the artists I work with have lit up my imagination and made it easier for me to write,” she says.

Heid will read at 7 p.m. Friday, March 13, at a book release party for “National Monuments,” held at her sister Louise’s bookstore, Birchbark Books, 2115 W. 21st St., Minneapolis.

Posted in sacred sites, sustainable tourism | Tagged: , , , , | Leave a Comment »

2009 Geotourism Award Competition Announced

Posted by deborahmclaren on March 8, 2009

Nominate your favorite Geotourism changemaker.

Are you a savvy traveler, alert to the unique quality, history and character of the places that you visit?

National Geographic and Changemakers invite YOU to be at the centre of the next big change.

Join National Geographic and Ashoka’s Changemakers in the global search for innovative ideas in tourism that celebrate the distinct destinations of the world by honoring culture, cherishing history and enhancing the environment.

Nominate someone who inspires you and mobilize the globe to care for the destinations you love.

Tell us about your Geotourism hero and we’ll do the rest. Fill out the form below and help us to spread the word!

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged: , , , , , , , | 1 Comment »

Spring Solstice with the Mayans!

Posted by deborahmclaren on March 6, 2009

We’ve just returned from our Yucatan adventure. I’ll write some short reviews over the next few days. First, for anyone interested in heading there for the Spring Soltice on March 21st, you may want to visit the HACIENDA CHICHEN RESORT & YAXKIN SPA, which claims to be “Mexico’s Best Green Jungle Resort and Eco-Spa Wellness Destination.” I wouldn’t disagree!

C.H. is run by 99% Mayan people from local villages. The Hacienda is owned by 4th generation Mexicans who have dedicated their lands and business to improving the land and culture of the Maya. The grounds are a bird sanctuary, set in a lush tropical forest. The restored cottages were originally built for the Carnegie Institute archeologists who were investigating Chichen Itza starting in the early 1900s. Organic foods are grown in their garden and used in their delicious recipes, based on traditional Mayan foods.

At first I was concerned that they advertise Mayan ceremonies as part of their experience. However, I learned that the staff has helped create and promote the work of the local Mayan Elders Association and the Maya Foundation In Laakeech. These organizations are dedicated to preserving Maya culture, creating healthy opportunities for their people, and sharing culturally-appropriate customs and ceremonies with visitors that help them protect the lands they are making a living on.

More from their website:

Both Jose Santos and Lorenzo Tamay have worked since their late teen years at Hacienda Chichen with a high dedicated service attitude to the guests and an eager personal commitment to learn and grow spiritually in the traditional Mayan holistic Cosmovision of their ancestors. Their commitment to the Maya Foundation Board of Trustees has helped them become the Hacienda Chichen’s Maya cultural spokesmen. They work together preparing the many Mayan rituals performed at the Sacred Maya Ceremonial Site use by the Holy Elder J-Men, or Wiseman, while they continue their training to become Elder J-Men themselves.

In their work as Mayan cultural representatives, they continue promoting the Mayan language, culinary arts, and holistic spiritual understanding of the Mayan healing traditions. Their dedication to preserve their ancestors Mayan cultural legacy has help co-workers see the value of their ancestors Cosmovision and spiritual believes. In August 2008, Jose Santos Tamay represented the Maya Foundation In Laakeech in the 8th International Mayan Encounter dedicated preserve the Maya Culture & Traditions, specially the language and rituals, this three day convention was held in Jolom Konob’ (today the town of Santa Eulalia, Guatemala).

Learn more at Hacienda Chichen.

Posted in ecotour, green travel, Mexico, sustainable tourism, sustainable travel, Uncategorized, Yucatan | Tagged: , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments »

Winners of Tourism and Biodiversity Website Award Announced!

Posted by deborahmclaren on March 2, 2009

Planeta Update – Indigenous Tourism/Biodiversity Website Award

February 26, 2009

Breaking news! — Winners have been announced for the 2009 Indigenous

Tourism and Biodiversity Website Award. The winner of the judged 2009 Award is Guurrbi Tours. Runners up are Squamish Lil’wat Cultural Centre and Nguna – Pele Marine Protected Area.

The winner of the popular count ITBW Award is Indigenous Trails.

Runners-up are TIME Unlimited NZ Tours, Squamish Lil’wat Cultural Centre and Nguna – Pele Marine Protected Area.

This initiative is a collaborative effort between and the Secretariat of the Convention on Biological Diversity to showcase best practices in web-based technologies helping indigenous people manage
tourism in a biodiversity-friendly way. More than 200 people made their selection. The award is presented to an indigenous tourism operation which has a website that promotes sustainable practices and educates visitors on cultural protocols and biodiversity conservation.

Voting took place from January 20-February 20, 2009.

More info

Tourism and Indigenous People

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Luz en Yucatan

Posted by deborahmclaren on March 2, 2009

A beautiful world in the middle of an old Mexican city.

Check out Luz en Yucatan!


Posted in Buy-local, Mexico, sustainable travel, travel, Yucatan | Tagged: , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

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