News and Reviews
Last week in Minneapolis, Tanya Tagaq, a prominent Inuit throat singer, used her vocal skills to accompany and enhance showings of the pioneering silent film “Nanook of the North.” Euan Kerr from Minnesota Public Radio interviewed Ms. Tagaq the day before the performance on Thursday, November 19, in the Walker Art Center. The performance was repeated on Friday the 20th.
During her childhood on Victoria Island in the Northwest Territories of Canada, Ms. Tagaq never heard any throat singing. A traditional Inuit art form, it had been suppressed by the Canadian authorities. But when she went to college in Halifax, Nova Scotia, she received a tape from her mother of some throat singing that changed her life.
Ms. Tagaq made it clear to Mr. Kerr that she performs throat singing differently from the traditional Inuit style. She combines notes from both breathing in and breathing out, while traditionally it is performed by two women, somewhat like a competition. Ms. Tagaq says that sometimes other Inuit criticize her for not doing it as an Inuk should. She replies that she’s an Inuk and that is the way she is going to do it.
She tells him that the throat singing can be so overwhelming that she sometimes loses consciousness. But she sees it as a way of healing social problems such as alcoholism, sexual assaults, and violence that the Inuit now endure in their communities. After her performances, members of the audiences will come to her and tell her how much she has helped them cope with life—and sometimes with death.
Several years ago she performed with the Kronos Quartet, but her attention has recently turned to “Nanook of the North,” the 1922 film by Robert Flaherty that is widely credited with being the first full-length feature documentary. The film had been popular for a time, but the obvious racist attitude it displays toward the Inuit has lowered the esteem for the movie for many people.
Ms. Tagaq argues, however, that, despite its flaws, Flaherty demonstrated in the film his love for the Inuit. “Yeah, he's foolish” she says. “But who isn't? I don't feel he meant harm.” The way Flaherty depicted Nanook as naïve and childlike doesn’t bother her. The many scenes that were obviously staged were just played for laughs. She feels that was the norm for film making back then.
She hoped that her throat singing during the film showings would help audiences better appreciate the struggles that the Inuit are facing today.
The Green Acres Hutterite colony, on its 20,000 acres in southeastern Alberta, manages a number of farming operations, a plastics recycling facility, and the largest solar farm in Western Canada. David Dodge described his visit to the colony and its extensive solar project in a piece published in the Huffpost Alberta Canada last week.
Mr. Dodge is met at the colony by the financial boss, Dan Hofer, and his brother, Jake Hofer, the colony electrician. After lunch—colony residents eat breakfasts and suppers communally, but they have their mid-day meals in their own homes—the men, plus David Vonesch, the CEO of SkyFire Energy which installed the solar system, go out to tour the facility .
It consists of 7,600 solar modules, many rows of them in a field, all of course facing south and generating 2 megawatts of power. Jake Hofer expresses his amazement at the fact that they all sit there quietly harvesting energy, with no moving parts. “It still blows me away to this day,” he says.
Dan Hofer links their installation of the solar system quite firmly to the basic Hutterite ways of doing things. They installed the solar project for the purely economic reason that over the long term it is sensible. He compares it to planting potatoes.
They calculated the initial investment—4.8 million dollars Canadian—added up the figures, and saw that in the long-term the results would be beneficial. If you grow your own meat and vegetables and rely on your own garden, then harvesting solar energy falls in the same category. He feels that it reflects the spirit of depending on your own resources rather than on someone else’s. He adds that it is also certainly good for the environment.
Mr. Vonesch, from SkyFire Energy, says that the solar resource itself is better in that part of Alberta than anywhere else in Canada. Wind energy is also plentiful in Alberta, and it is the choice of the Pincher Creek colony in the same province. But Jake feels that the issue of maintenance for the wind plants would be more of a problem than it would be for a solar system. And, he admits, he’s scared of the heights of the wind turbines.
The colony calculated that at the current price of electricity, they will have a financial payback in about 15 years, and even sooner if the costs of electric power go up.
Mr. Dodge notes that some First Nations people were also at the colony investigating the value of going solar when he was visiting. Mr. Vonesch tells him that the initiative taken at Green Acres has increased the interest of Canadians for possibly following the same route. He said that Ontario has moved far ahead of Alberta in installing solar power, and that that province has now ended coal-fired generating plants. Mr. Dodge concludes his article by reflecting that the colony’s initiative will help Canada nibble away at its greenhouse gas emissions.
Further information about the solar installation at the colony, and numerous photos, can be found on the SkyFire Energy website.
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.
November 19, 2015. LGBTI Families in Rural Thailand
November 19, 2015. Comparing Kauai and Ifaluk
November 12, 2015. The Amish Project Performed Once Again
November 12, 2015. Hallucinogens for the Piaroa
November 5, 2015. Hallucinogens for the Zapotec
November 5, 2015. Canadian Election Politics and the Hutterites
October 29, 2015. The Study of Amish Women
October 29, 2015. Black Carbon and Black Anger: Changing Conditions in Ladakh [book review]
October 22, 2015. Nubians Press for Right of Return
October 22, 2015. Life in an Indian Slum
October 15, 2015. Climate Change Affects the Inuit
October 15, 2015. Rice Beer and the Birhor
October 8, 2015. Semai Win Land Rights in Malaysian Court
October 8, 2015. Theatre Production about Piaroa Gardens
October 1, 2015. Ju/’hoansi Confront Climate Change
October 1, 2015. A Stairway to Heaven in India
September 24, 2015. Positive Attitudes about the Amish in Wisconsin
September 24, 2015. Improving the Status of Women in Rural Thailand
September 17, 2015. A Dance that Promotes Zapotec Values
September 17, 2015. Concerns for Batek Gender Equality
September 10, 2015. Ladakhi Village Electrified
September 10, 2015. Fipa Men Boil the Maize
September 3, 2015. Walrus Skulls Used as Soccer Balls
September 3, 2015. The Kadar Are in the News
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