News and Reviews
The tradition of hunting walruses in some Inuit communities, such as Igloolik and Hall Beach, remains an important, even a vibrant aspect of their culture. Desjardins (2013) points out that for millennia walruses, particularly on the perimeter of the Foxe Basin, which is on the Arctic Circle just south of Baffin Island, have provided an essential source of food, fibers, hides, and tusks. Portions of the walrus skulls would be brought back to the villages by the hunters so the ivory tusks could be removed and used.
And to judge by a news report from the CBC last week, walrus skulls have also been used, at least in legends, as soccer balls. The news story indicated that two Inuit carvers are at work carving a 26-ton block of granite into a large sculpture depicting a legend of some spirits using a walrus skull as they play soccer. When it is completed, the sculpture will be on display at York University in Toronto.
The two sculptors, Kuzy Curley from Cape Dorset and Ruben Komangapik from Pond Inlet, are collaborating on the project, called “Ahqahizu.” The pair is enthusiastic about the work. "When it first came here, I thought I felt like I was dreaming," said Mr. Curley. "I've been wanting to do a monument this big since I first started carving as a young boy." He told the reporter that he normally worked with materials that are not as hard as granite and that are much smaller.
The two artists are excited about the prospect of showcasing the Inuit culture through their carving for a wider Canadian audience. Komangapik is pleased that the sculpture will be located on a major university campus. "By doing something at this scale I hope it really inspires everybody else to look more into our culture and learn," he said.
As part of their outreach to a broader audience, the two sculptors are also mentoring high school students, teaching them the basics of Inuit carving. Curley says the result will be that they will “have knowledge of Inuit culture and heritage.” He says it has been a challenge teaching the students to carve, since he and his colleague do not draw their creations ahead of time.
Anna Hudson, the leader of the Mobilizing Inuit Cultural Heritage project and an Associate Professor at York University, says that the collaboration is part of a project that aims to center the Inuit voice on their creative works of art. The problem, she explains, is that many Inuit art works are in private hands. The goal, she says, is “creating opportunities where there is greater interaction and more knowledge and awareness of Inuit art as a vital presentation of Inuit culture.”
Visitors to the York University campus should watch for the sculpture, which the two artists expect to complete in the fall. The CBC reporter doesn’t mention the fact that a major result from the spirits playing soccer with walrus skulls is that the game creates the northern lights—at least in Inuit legend. Brekke (2008) writes that the spirits have fun with the walrus skulls “because the sun is away (p.8).” Toronto is 1,800 miles due south of the Foxe Basin, it is not as dark in the winter, and doubtless it does not experience displays of northern lights comparable to Baffin Island, but one can still imagine the spirits visiting the city and liking the granite sculpture of them having fun.
Brekke, Pål. 2008. “The Aurora Borealis.” Scandinavian Review 95(3): 6-17
Ten years ago, during the first full year of this website, almost nothing was reported in the Indian news about the then obscure Kadar society. The situation has changed dramatically since then. Three news reports on the Kadar were published last week alone. This society and its problems seem to have captured the attention of some important media in South Asia.
The first story published at the beginning of last week by Scroll.in, an online Indian news service, reviewed the status of the proposed Athirapilly hydroelectric power dam on the Chalakkudy River, which threatens a couple nearby Kadar communities and the Athirapilly Waterfall located just below the dam site. The essence of the report is that the Kadar are fighting what appears to be a renewed effort by the state—Kerala—to push for the dam construction.
This story—of a small, hitherto obscure, peaceful tribal society, ignored and then threatened by the vast bureaucracy of the Indian and the state governments—may be one of the reasons that the media has focused so much attention on the Kadar over the years beginning in 2006, as a review of the news about the group implies. An article last year in a scholarly journal reviewed the way the Kadar have been treated by surrounding communities and by bureaucrats over the issue.
The report from Scroll.in last week describes the attempts by the state to start construction of the dam, the various reviews of the project over the years, and the controversy surrounding the Kadar communities and their hopes to survive. The review makes it clear that the dam proposal has been approved by various agencies and committees beginning in 1998, but the opposition by the Kadar, expressed in meetings and public rallies starting in 2006, began to turn public opinion against it.
An environmental minister at the national level, Jairam Ramesh, issued a show cause notice in 2010 that required reasons why such a damaging project should not be stopped. His action effectively shut down the proposal. A group called the Western Ghats Ecology Expert Panel, chaired by Madhav Gadgil, reported in 2011 that the dam would irrevocably alter the ecology of the Chalakkudy River, which was threatened by the proposed dam, and harm the Kadar communities.
More recently, however, the High Level Working Group, chaired by K. Kasturirangan, came to a different conclusion. It decided that the project could move forward. According to the Scroll.in news report, the Kerala electricity board took this as an approval to move ahead on the dam project. The national Ministry of Environment allowed the state to reapply, and it was then referred to the River Valley Committee for clearance—for the fourth time. At its meeting in July 2015, that committee withdrew the show cause decision of Mr. Ramesh from 2010. The committee ignored the fact that the Kadar in the affected villages had obtained approval of their Community Forest Rights under the provisions of the Forest Rights Act of 2006; it accepted the information provided by the state—that the project will not harm any Kadar people; and it ignored the contradictory information provided by the Kadar themselves. It approved the project.
In response, a tribal council of the Kadar communities held a meeting on August 23. Geetha, a Kadar leader, had written an open letter in July stating that the Athirapilly project “will destroy 28.5 hectares of riparian (riverside) forests that sustain our way of life.” The purpose of the meeting was to draft a resolution opposing the dam. The Kadar clearly will continue to do everything they can to protect their forest, livelihoods, culture, and society.
But there were two other news reports last week about the Kadar. One, published by the New Indian Express on Tuesday, describes the business processes which some Kadar communities are using to improve the marketing of the non-timber forest products they sell. The Kadar at the Malakkappara community in Kerala have started releasing their products, such as honey, amber and cardamom, labeled with the brand name “Kadars.”
The Kadar are seeking to interest other nearby tribal societies, such as the Malayan and the Muthuvan, into also marketing products they gather under the Kadars brand name. The people are making “staggering” profits, according to the news report. Visitors are even surging into their hamlets in search of the products.
According to Mohanan, a local official in Malakkappara, the district government is providing training to help the Kadar sell their forest products better. Once that training process is complete, the Kadar plan to organize an exhibition in Athirapilly or Vazhachal, where the well-known waterfalls attract many tourists, to further promote their sales. If the other tribal groups want to launch their own products under their own names later, they are free to do that.
Mohanan added, “another Kadar ooru [village] in Vazhachal is in the process of commencing production of indigenous products for sales to tourists and we will be looking for a business tie-up so that we can sell our products in their stalls.”
The third news report on the Kadar last week, appearing in The Hindu on Thursday, was much less upbeat. The issue is that the number of males in some of the Kadar colonies has dropped to very low levels, which is limiting the stability of the population. In the Cherunelli settlement, near the Nelliyampathi hill station and the famous Parambikulam Tiger Reserve, there are now 9 males and 45 females. About 15 years ago, the colony had 150 males. In another settlement, Pullukad, there are 8 males and 29 females. In other settlements—Karappara, Aditharanda, Ailoor, and Kalchadi—the situation is similar.
The distress is caused by alcoholism and by an excessive use of tobacco products, which exacerbate the problems of poverty and malnutrition, the newspaper reports. An elder at the Cherunelli colony, Ravi Mooppan, compared the plight of his village with the better known Kadar communities in the Vazhachal region.
“Now they [the Vazhachal Kadar] are getting better privileges and their forest rights have been approved by the government. In the case of those who are living in adjacent Nelliyampathi, life is a constant battle against heavy odds including ill-health and lack of social security measures,” he said. These Kadar have not gotten their Community Forest Rights approved for them, they have no tribal schools in their region, and the major plantations in Nelliyampathi are not doing well, so Kadar laborers have lost their jobs.
“The Kadar community in Nelliyampathi needs immediate intervention of the State government,” argues S. Guruvayurappan of the Asryam Rural Development Society, which campaigns against tobacco and alcohol use among the Kadar.
News and reviews of publications relating to peaceful societies—and sometimes to related topics—are normally posted here on Thursday mornings (U.S. time) and are kept on this page for one week. Older news and reviews for 2015 are listed below, and ones from previous years are listed on the News and Reviews 2004-2005 page, the 2006 page, the 2007 page, the 2008 page, the 2009 page, the 2010 page, the 2011 page, the 2012 page the 2013 page, and the 2014 page. All stories are also included in the News and Reviews Subject Listing. They are listed at the bottom of each society entry in the Encyclopedia of Selected Peaceful Societies, after the heading: Updates: News and Reviews. News and reviews about peacefulness in general are referred to from the bottom of the Facts page, while news stories about this website are linked from the About This Website page. News and Reviews can also be found with the Google search bar.
August 27, 2015. Nubian Singing in Sudan
August 27, 2015. Spoken Pennsylvania German Focuses Amish on Humility [journal article review]
August 20, 2015. Paliyan and Kadar Dances
August 20, 2015. A Malapandaram School Remains Open
August 13, 2015. Lepcha Strike Resolved Peacefully
August 13, 2015. Ladakhi Woman Builds a Trekking Business
August 6, 2015. Zapotec Woman Poet Recognized
August 6, 2015. Witchcraft Violence among the Fipa [journal article review]
July 30, 2015. Tristan Has No Crime
July 30, 2015. Violence against Inuit Women
July 23, 2015. Kerala and its Peaceful Societies Part 1, the Kadar
July 23, 2015. Kerala and its Peaceful Societies Part 2, the Malapandaram
July 16, 2015. Nubians Insulted by Egyptian Racism
July 16, 2015. Happiness and Peacefulness in Thailand [journal article review]
July 9, 2015. Adventures in Botswana
July 9, 2015. Amish Singing
July 2, 2015. Statistics about Peaceful Nation States
July 2, 2015. Mbuti Bark Cloth and Babies
June 25, 2015. Schools for San Kids
June 25, 2015. Problems of the Nubian Diaspora [journal article review]
June 18, 2015. Orang Asli Land Rights
June 18, 2015. Photos of the Hutterites
June 11, 2015. Truth and Reconciliation for the Inuit
June 11, 2015. An Erection Points toward Peace on Ifaluk
June 4, 2015. The President Visits the Ju/’hoansi
June 4, 2015. A Dam Could Destroy Indigenous Communities [journal article review]
May 28, 2015. Yanadi Prohibited from Entering the Forest
May 28, 2015. Tahitians Cherish their Natural Heritage
May 21, 2015. The Lepchas Want Teachers
May 21, 2015. The English Are Coming, the English Are Coming—Run! Hide!
May 14, 2015. Inuit Men Helping Each Other
May 14, 2015. Overcoming Memories of Violence [journal article review]
May 7, 2015. Problem Drinking on Tristan da Cunha
May 7, 2015. Progress among the Ladakhis
April 30, 2015. Ju/hoan Man Appointed to Government Position
April 30, 2015. Semai Women Making Progress
April 23, 2015. Hutterite Innovations and Commitments
April 23, 2015. The Popularity of Redshirts [journal article review]
April 16, 2015. Resettlement Plans for the Malapandaram
April 16, 2015. Hard Hats for Amish Workers
April 9, 2015. Nunavimmiut Face the Future
April 9, 2015. Searching for Life in the Kalahari
April 2, 2015. Oil Palm Prosperity
April 2, 2015. Designs for Energy Efficiency
March 26, 2015. Is Baltistan Peaceful?
March 26, 2015. Semai Place Names Help Preserve Forests—and Peacefulness [journal article review]
March 19, 2015. Paliyans Obtain Better Housing
March 19, 2015. Some Hutterites Use iPhones
March 12, 2015. Archaeological Discoveries and the Media
March 12, 2015. Promises to Nubians in Wadi Qurqur
March 5, 2015. Unicorns, and the Mbuti, Are Troubled by Violence
March 5, 2015. Unicorns, Peaceful Societies, and Peace Systems
February 26, 2015. Paliyans Learn to be Guides
February 26, 2015. Inuit Experiences of Historical Traumas [journal article review]
February 19, 2015. Coltan Mining Fosters Violence
February 19, 2015. Yanadi Economic Tragedies and Successes
February 12, 2015. Human Trafficking in Rural Thailand
February 12, 2015. Donald Kraybill to Retire
February 5, 2015. Publicity for Lepcha Cardamom Crops
February 5, 2015. A French Polynesian Novel Portrays Tahitian Culture [journal article review]
January 29, 2015. A Love Jihad in Ladakh
January 29, 2015. A New Blog about the G/wi
January 22, 2015. The Kadar Preserve their Forests
January 22, 2015. Some Peaceful People Are Birdwatchers [a tenth anniversary reflection]
January 15, 2015. New Opportunity for Paliyan Youth
January 15, 2015. Update on a Birhor Tragedy
January 8, 2015. Review of the Tristan Year
January 8, 2015. Yanadi Woman Advocates Human Rights
January 1, 2015. Piaroa Women Protest Violence
January 1, 2015. Ice Stupas in Ladakh