Saturday, March 22, 2008

The Ingush Indigenous Peoples of the Caucasian Mountains

The Ingush indigenous people live in the area between the middle course of the Terek River and the main Caucasian Ridge in the western part of the Chechen-Ingush Republic, and the eastern region of the North-Ossetian Republic of Russia. There is no official estimate of the Ingush people’s population, although in the 1989 Soviet census there were 238,000 counted as Ingush.

The Ingush indigenous people speak Ingush, a language that belongs to the Nakh (or Veinakh) branch of the Ibero-Caucasian family. Possessing a rich folklore, the Ingush written language dates back to the 1930s – prior to that it was based in oral traditions.

The Ingush traditionally live in the mountains in three-story stone houses. In the old vuls (villages) located on the steep slopes and in canyons, many of these stone houses have been preserved. As waves of modernization came into the Ingush traditional homeland during the sixteenth, seventeenth, and nineteenth centuries, a considerable number resettled in the plains for agricultural and trade purposes. In the 1860s, however, the Ingush indigenous people began to be pushed back into the mountains by Russian Terek Cossacks. This pushing and marginalization continued when a large wave of Muslim emigrants moved into the area during the mid-nineteenth century. During the Soviet reign, the Ingush were completely marginalized and were not recognized as an official ethnic group. After the Soviet Union dissolved, various armed conflicts erupted in the Ingush homeland as they – and other ethnic minorities – fought for recognition.

Traditionally, the Ingush economy and livelihood was based on cattle breeding and terrace agriculture in the mountains. Today, some of this traditional economy remains, but many Ingush also now work in urban industries. They continue to fight for greater recognition and self-determination as they are presented with new challenges as a result of globalizing forces. Though strongly traditional in behavior and customs, the Ingush indigenous peoples are sophisticated and well-educated participants in the modern world.

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Thursday, March 20, 2008

Traditional Ecological Knowledge: Africa and North America Compared

Conference: "Indigenous Environments: African and North American Environmental Knowledge and Practices Compared"

The Africana Studies and Environmental Studies Programs at Bowdoin College are pleased to be hosting a conference to discuss indigenous environmental knowledge April 3-5, 2008. The conference, "Indigenous Environments: African and North American Environmental Knowledge and Practices Compared" will bring twenty scholars of African and Native American history and culture from across North America to campus to explore pre-colonial, colonial, and post-colonial relationships with the environment over time. Funding for the conference has been provided by a generous grant from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation

Arun Agrawal of the University of Michigan will open the conference with the keynote address "Indigenous Knowledge and Power" on Thursday, April 3. The keynote address is open to the public. We encourage interested faculty and students to attend the conference.

By placing African and Native American local knowledge and practices alongside one another, we hope that participants might not only compare differences between period and place, but also between different traditions of scholarship. Specific topics will include land tenure and treaty rights, health and food ways, religion, science and scientists, identity and ethnicity, and natural resource management.

For more information about the conference, please visit the web site.

If you are interested in attending, please contact David Gordon ( While Bowdoin cannot offer any financial support, we will make every effort to enable you to participate in all the conference functions.

Organizers of the Conference

Connie Y. Chiang, Assistant Professor of History and Environmental Studies, Bowdoin College David Gordon, Assistant Professor of History, Bowdoin College Matthew Klingle, Assistant Professor of History and Environmental Studies, Bowdoin College Lance Van Sittert, Mellon Global Scholar in Environmental Studies and Associate Professor of Historical Studies, University of Cape Town

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Wednesday, March 19, 2008

March 2 - 9, 2008: Five Key Indigenous People's Issues

Five Important Indigenous People's Issues for the Week of March 2 - 9, 2008

Protecting Isolated Indigenous Peoples

London-based indigenous rights organization Survival International (SI) launched a campaign on Feb. 6 to protect indigenous groups living in voluntary isolation in Peru.

The organization estimates that there are 15 native peoples living in voluntary isolation in Peru who are severely threatened by illegal logging and oil exploration, the latter of which is being promoted by the Peruvian government. Read the rest of the article here....

Aboriginal Communities in New South Wales Need Help

The payday party at South Moree starts early on a Thursday. It is Linda Duncan's 20th birthday, so she and some friends are sitting in the front yard of an aunty's house on infamous Arunga Street, where school buses, pizza delivery boys and even police fear to tread. Read the rest here....

Coast Salish Leaders Commit to Environmental Action

''Enough talk, it's time for action.'' Billy Frank Jr., chairman of the Northwest Indian Fisheries Commission, summed up the consensus at the second day of the Coast Salish Gathering at the Tulalip Tribes Feb. 27 - 29.

''We are the Indian people, the Coast Salish Indian people, who live on all the watersheds, on the headwaters and on the bays throughout the Salish Sea region. We've got a message for all the nontribal governments and communities and we're delivering it.''

In the second full day of planning, Coast Salish leaders from British Columbian First Nations and western Washington tribes committed to a goal of environmental action, including a Salish Sea-wide information sharing database, a water quality information gathering project, and a Coast Salish environmental indicators project. Visit

Threats to Uncontacted Tribes Deemed "Vital" Issue by Indigenous Federation

The threats to uncontacted tribes living in the most remote parts of the Amazon basin has been named an ‘issue of vital importance’ by the Amazon’s most prominent indigenous federation.

‘At risk are the individual and collective lives of indigenous peoples living in isolation and those recently contacted for the first time,’ a statement from COICA (Coordinator of Indigenous Organizations of the Amazon basin) reads. ‘We will defend the rights of our indigenous brothers – no one else either in government or civil society is protecting them properly.’ Read the rest of the story here....

The Crofters – Indigenous People of the Highlands

The Scottish Crofting Foundation has presented the research project ‘Crofters; Indigenous People of the Highlands and Islands’ to the Scottish Parliamentary Crofting Cross Party Group. The report looks at parallels between Highland crofters and Norwegian Sami and some of the political implications of indigenous status, and the project was carried out for SCF by freelance researcher, Ian McKinnon. Read the rest of the story here....

Last weeks Five Key Indigenous People's Issues can be found here.

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