News and Reviews
The Semai have won an important land rights victory in a Malaysian state court. A news story last Thursday reported that the High Court in Ipoh, the capital city of Perak State, agreed on Wednesday, September 30, with the Semai claim that their native tribal rights to their tanah adat (customary lands) did exist under Malaysian common law, and that the state government was wrong to have given the land to a private corporation.
The issue made the news in June this year in a story about the Semai attempts to gain recognition of their rights to their traditional lands. The people of Kampung Senta had been sued by an outside corporation, who claimed that the Semai were trespassing on their lands, for which they had deeds to show their ownership. The Semai in that community counter-sued.
The report last week provides details about the case as well as the news that the High Court had found in their favor. The court followed precedents set in other Malaysian states—Selangor and Sarawak—that had also recognized the land rights claims of the Orang Asli (original peoples). Justice Dato’ Che Mohd Ruzina bin Ghazah accepted the testimony of the Semai as well as the supporting evidence provided by Colin Nicholas from the Centre for Orang Asli Concerns.
The Semai in the community discovered in 2010 that representatives of the Bionest Corporation had been encroaching on their land so they challenged the company. Bionest sued the Semai and a court ordered that the people of Senta should be evicted from their land. In response, two Semai individuals, Kong Chee Wai and Bah Kana, representing themselves and the other 142 people in the village, countersued.
They asked the High Court to declare that the lands in question were customary lands. The plaintiffs also asked that the lands that Bionest had taken away be returned to the village. The court agreed, particularly since it found that the defendants had not provided any credible challenges to the Semai testimony.
Except for about 50 acres where the Semai had allowed Chinese farmers to grow papaya and guava, which are excluded from the judgment, the court declared that the government must now gazette the rest of the 2,209 hectares (5,460 acres) as a reserve for the Orang Asli people.
A Piaroa village put on a play this past Saturday evening, October 3, about their legend of the way the gods created humanity and the cassava gardens that they cultivate. The actors in the production were members of the village of Paria Grande, located in the municipality of Atures in Amazonas State, to the south of Puerto Ayacucho, the state capital.
The play, “Creación de los Conucos Huöttöja” (in English, “Creating Piaroa Homegardens”), expresses the indigenous knowledge of the Piaroa people through scenes that display the essence of their culture and society. (Huöttöja is another name for the Piaroa.) It was co-produced by the Centro Nacional de Teatro (CNT, the National Theatre Center) and the Teatrales de Construcción Comunitaria (Theatrical Community Building Program). The production was the result of extensive research and work since early in 2015.
According to a news report last week, the production was a way of commmunicating, by means of a theatrical performance, the importance of their traditional culture and artistic history. It was seen as a way of strengthening the traditional knowledge of the community, while at the same time reaching out to the broader population of Venezuela.
The play, which was collectively developed by the village, was guided by America Ramirez, a facilitator for CNT, and by Daniel Otero, an elder in the Piaroa village. The performance at 7:00 pm Saturday evening in the sports field at Paria Grande was free of charge.
The news article indicates that the play focused on the gods Buoka, Chejerü and Wajari, who collaborated on creating human beings and fertility. The special emphasis was on the role of the homegardens in promoting strength and autonomy to the people, as well as the use of cassava as a major food in their diet.
Heckler (2004) makes it clear that the homegardens of the Piaroa provide the central living spaces for the communities—the most important spots for their socializing, the places where families gather, where men discuss issues, where women visit, where visitors congregate. The homegardens have many different levels of meanings for their owners.
Overing (2006) says essentially the same thing. She describes the homegardens, and the cultivation of cassavas, as essential parts of the placid, peaceful Piaroa community lives. She writes, for instance (p.20), how the Piaroa village is “exceedingly comfortable, easygoing, and immensely safe” as children play freely, men socialize, and women chat while they peel their cassava roots.
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.
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