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August 12, 2011

Indian Country in the News: Aug. 8 - 12, 2011

This week's news highlights include concerns about the whereabouts of an uncontacted Amazonian tribe, a growing movement in Chile to establish a university of indigenous Mapuche students, a lawsuit filed by American Indian students at University of North Dakota over the school's "Fighting Sioux" mascot, and a new book challenging the origins of Rapa Nui:

  • Christian Science Monitor: Concerns swirl over safety of 'uncontacted' Amazonian tribe - "The whereabouts of a remote Amazonian tribe who appeared in remarkable footage earlier this year aiming bows and arrows at a plane flying over their jungle homes was unknown Monday after government officials sent to protect them were forced to abandon their post and flee from armed drug traffickers. Traffickers crossed the border from Peru and threatened officials from the National Indigenous Foundation (Funai), the government body charged with protecting Brazil’s isolated Indians, a foundation spokesman said, underlining new threats for isolated Indians as traffickers seek new territory and routes."
  • ICT: Mapuche Students Fight for an Indigenous University in Chile - "Mapuche students in Chile have brought the issue of a Mapuche University with a focus on indigenous knowledge and history to the attention of the entire nation, and garnered support from certain Chilean leaders and government officials. Activists from the Mapuche Federation of Students (FEMAE) occupied an abandoned school building in the city of Temuco on two occasions in mid-July and were removed by soldiers within a day of each occupation, but their publicized action led them to meetings with some of the top officials of the Chilean government."
  • AP: Students file lawsuit over North Dakota school’s nickname - "Six American Indian students at the University of North Dakota filed a federal lawsuit Thursday asking to eliminate the school’s Fighting Sioux nickname, one day before state officials are scheduled to meet with NCAA officials about the moniker. The complaint alleges that a new law requiring the school to keep the nickname violates the state constitution and reverses a court-ordered settlement between UND and the NCAA that retired the logo. The students want a court order directing the state Board of Higher education and UND to drop it for good."
  • WSJ: Book Review: Don't Blame the Natives - "Easter Island was first an enigma, then a parable. The world's most isolated inhabited place, 1,500 miles from the next populated island in the Pacific, it was discovered by Europeans on Easter Sunday, 1722. Those first visitors—an expedition led by the Dutch lawyer Jakob Roggeveen—came upon an almost treeless expanse with perhaps 3,000 occupants, Polynesians who spoke their own distinct language. Scattered about the barren landscape were, incredibly, almost a thousand colossal stone figures, some weighing 75 tons. With their giant heads and tiny bodies, they faced inland, glowering at their makers like so many huge, surly bobble-head dolls. Rapa Nui, as the island is called by its residents, was small—just 63 square miles—and almost devoid of natural resources. Its people had no wheels, metal or draft animals. The situation has baffled Easter Island researchers, among them famous names like Thor Heyerdahl and Jared Diamond, for decades: How could so few people with so little technology have carved and transported such a profusion of monster statuary?"

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