Saturday, February 2, 2008

The Ifugao Indigenous Peoples of the Philippines

The Ifugao (Ifugaw, Ipugao, Yfugao) are an indigenous mountain people from northern Luzon, an island of the Philippines. Estimated to number around 150,000, they live on the slopes of Mount Data in western Bontok along the waters of the upper Abra, Chico, and Magat Rivers. The Ifugao indigenous peoples recognize several subgroups: the Banaue, Bunhran, Mayayao, Halipan, Hapao, and Kiangang.

The Ifugao indigenous peoples have been living in the same geographical area for several hundred years, speaking the Ifugao language, which is a Malayo-Polynesian language of the Northern Philippine grouping. Despite increasing pressures of modernization, many Ifugao have maintained their traditional cultural practices. Subsistence is mainly through wet-rice agriculture and slash and burn cultivation of tubers. In addition to agriculture, hunting and gathering continue to play a large role in Ifugao indigenous subsistence. For example, the ginga - a clam found in the rice fields - is still a main source of food. Recently, coffee has become a growing agricultural crop for the Ifugao as demand from Western countries grows.

The Ifugao indigenous peoples are known for their sophistication in wet rice terracing and their intricate ritual and legal organization, even though traditionally they have little or no intervillage political systems. The Ifugao indigenous people call themselves the "inhabitants of the earth", a loose translation from "I-pugaw."

Currently the Ifugao indigenous peoples are experiencing great change as more and more land is being turned into non-traditional crops: coffee, palm oil, etc. Tourism has greatly increased, espeically after the Banaue Rice Terraces were declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1995. Despite these encroachments of modernization and globalization, the Ifugao indigenous peoples of the Philippines continue to maintain many aspects of their traditional lifeways.

A couple of good books for further reading on the Ifugao indigenous peoples include:

Asian Development Bank. (2003). Indigenous Peoples: Ethnic Minorities and Poverty Reduction: Philippines

Gatmaytan, A. (2007). Negotiated Autonomies: Case Studies on Philippine Indigenous Peoples' Land Rights. IWGIA.

Wallace, Ben. (2005). The Changing Village Environment in Southeast Asia Applied Anthropology and Environmental Reclamation in the Northern Philippines. Routledge.

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Wednesday, January 30, 2008

January 21-27: Five Important Indigenous People's Issues

Five Important Indigenous People's Issues for the Week of January 21-27, 2008.

United Nations Human Rights Commission Establishes New Subsidiary Body

The United Nations Human Rights Council has established a new subsidiary body to focus on the issues facing indigenous groups and provide expertise both to advise and inform the Council. Read more here.

More Troops Won’t Solve Indigenous Peoples’ Mining Woes in Tampakan, Philippines

Philippine green groups cautioned the Environment Secretary against supporting larger deployments of military and police personnel to protect the operations of foreign mining firms such as Xstrata in South Cotabato, warning that this would give rise to even more conflict and human rights violations against mining-affected communities. The full story is here.

Land Shortage in Brazil Provokes Murders of Indigenous People

At least 76 indigenous people were murdered in Brazil in 2007, 58 percent more than in 2006. The killings increased the most in the west-central state of Mato Grosso do Sul, where the Guaraní people are confined to territories too small for them to maintain their traditional way of life. Get the rest of the news here.

Writer and Author Andrés Henestrosa Morales - 101 - Promoted Zapotec Indian Culture

Andrés Henestrosa Morales, a prolific poet, essayist and journalist whose lyrical writings helped raise the cultural profile of Mexico's indigenous people, particularly the Zapotec Indians of southern Oaxaca state, and whose wide circle of friendships and intellectual partnerships included Diego Rivera, Frida Kahlo and Langston Hughes, passed away at his Mexico City home after a months-long battle with pneumonia. The full article is here.

Marlon Santi, the New President of Ecuador's Indigenous Confederation Interviewed

Marlon Santi, the new president of the Confederation of Indigenous Nationalities of Ecuador (CONAIE, Confederación de Nacionalidades Indígenas del Ecuador), was elected by consensus on January 12 at 3:30 p.m. in Santo Domingo de los Tsachilas, and granted this first interview before the rest of the Governing Council was elected. Read the rest here.

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