Archive for May, 2011

Tours through Hopi reservation showcase tribe’s culture, tradition through agriculture


Tours through Hopi reservation showcase tribe’s culture, tradition through agriculture


Posted 30 May 2011, by Felicia Fonseca  (Associated Press), The Daily Reporter,

BACAVI, Ariz. — Agriculture tours on the Hopi reservation are feeding the desire of tourists to learn about one of the oldest indigenous tribes in America.

One of the tour guides, Micah Loma’omvaya (Lowmuh’ ohm vie yah), shares stories about a tribe whose culture and tradition is rooted in farming.

The Hopi anthropologist talks about the preservation of ancient seeds and crops. Tourists are greeted by farmers at terraced gardens and at corn fields.

The tours also serve an economic need where business opportunities are scarce.

The lack of infrastructure on the 1.6 million-acre reservation means that industrial development is nonexistent. Tribal members have twice rejected gaming.

Tribal officials say tourism can help boost the economy.–Hopi-Agriculture-Tours/

Community Currencies and Happiness

Community Currencies and Happiness

Posted 30 May 2011, by Kuo Li-chuan, Taiwan News,

The permaculture concept includes the use of local currencies. Ithaca, New York, for example, introduced its own local currency in the 1970s.

A local currency, (also called “community currency”) is printed and issued at the local level, and can be used to purchase goods and services. The underlying spirit, however, is very different.

The Garden City community in New Taipei City’s Xindian District began issuing a community currency on May 20, 2008 at the suggestion of resident Lai Jiren, an active participant in community affairs. They call it “flower money,” and the idea is for people to help each other through activities supported by use of the currency. The organization running the scheme calls itself the Flower Money Club (hua qian bang), a pun with a second meaning: “spend money to help.”

Upon joining the club, each member receives 200 basic spending points. To spend the flower money, the parties to a transaction need to agree on how to deliver payment. They are not subject to the expectations, practices, or prices of mainstream society.

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Native Americans’ circumstances don’t keep them from being socially aware


Native Americans’ circumstances don’t keep them from being socially aware


Posted 29 May 2011, by Albert Bender, The Tennessean,

It was recently brought to my attention that a radio talk show host in Tampa, Fla., stated that “almost all Native Americans are drunks, do not work and live off the government dole.”

Obviously, this racist commentator is not aware of the thousands of Native Americans in multiple marches for health and clean water now crisscrossing the country.

Nobody, no other nationality or ethnic group, is doing anything to compare with native efforts. Keep in mind that Indian people are the most economically disadvantaged, the most ridden with health calamities, existing under the worst living conditions and yet evince more socially aware zeal and energy than the rest of America.

Let’s start with the Native American diabetes march, the “Longest Walk 3,’’ now trekking across the country. It’s organized by longtime Ojibwe Indian activist Dennis Banks, co-founder of the American Indian Movement. This march, composed of a northern and southern component, began on Feb. 14 and will arrive in Washington, D.C., on July 8.

The northern group started in Portland, Ore., and is crossing nine states; the southern group started in La Jolla, Calif., and is traversing 13 states. The components will meet in D.C. for the National Summit for Diabetes. The purpose of the 5,400-mile walk/run/relay is to focus attention on the diabetes epidemic among Native Americans.

Native Americans’ determination is incomparable

But this is not the only national Native American march. There also is the Mother Earth Water Walk to protest pollution and focus on the sacredness of clean water. This trek involves Indian people marching from the four corners of North America to meet on the shores of Lake Superior on June 12. On this march, water will be carried by hand in buckets from the Pacific Ocean, the Gulf of Mexico, the Atlantic Ocean and Hudson Bay to Lake Superior.

The Mother Earth Water Walk was begun in 2003 by an Ojibwe grandmother as a prayer for clean water, for Mother Earth, for all the animals, birds, insects and for all human beings. There are western, eastern, southern and northern legs of this walk being trod by thousands of Native people. The energy, determination and strength of Native Americans, long laboring under such adverse circumstances as no one else in this land, is incomparable and incredible.

To the racist Florida talk show host: One wonders when he has walked across the country for the betterment of this land and its people. The rest of this country’s citizens need to take heart from the heroic actions of Native Americans and join in efforts for the uplifting of this country.

Where is the rest of America?

Albert Bender, a Cherokee activist, journalist and historian, lives in Antioch. Email:

Mother Earth’s rights get new respect


Mother Earth’s rights get new respect


Posted 29 May 2011, by Patricia Randolph, The Cap Times,

All beings have “the right to life and to exist.” — Universal Declaration of the Rights of Mother Earth, April 2010

“Humanity is now using nature’s services 50 percent faster than what Earth can renew, reveals the 2010 edition of the Living Planet Report — the leading survey of the planet’s health” according to The Good Human website.

Nature’s services include wildlife. Sometimes hunters rationalize their sport with the model of American Indian traditions of ritual and prayer, assuming that the animal willingly agrees to give up his life. Just as we no longer treat black people as chattel, the indigenous people have evolved beyond that rationale to declare reverence for all life.

Some ancient cultures believe that the trees are the wisest beings and the animals are our teachers. We are to be humble and learn from them. Listen to them. Their suffering is our own. We must act urgently to replace our killing culture with a living paradigm.

There is no doubt that the dominant culture is killing the planet. Nature has been treated as a subsystem of the economy rather than the other way round. With all the new accumulation of knowledge, it has not translated into understanding.

Nothing can be more important than life.

With billions of animals confined for slaughter, with killing interests in control of state agency agendas to destroy wild native nature by farming her for maximum killing profit, we either awaken to the scope of this destruction, or allow this juggernaut to destroy life as we have known it. There are some very educated scientists who assert our trajectory threatens our very survival as a species.

After the Copenhagen global warming conference failed, Bolivia held its own gathering of world citizens in April 2010. There the Universal Declaration of the Rights of Mother Earth was adopted by indigenous peoples and activists from all over the world. This document recognizes Mother Earth as the source of an indivisible linkage of interdependent beings with a common destiny. It gives legal standing to all beings.

This ethos harks back to the core teachings of major religions that we are all one. When we harm the other, we harm ourselves. With the rise of cancer, autism, heart disease, obesity, chronic wasting disease, and with the prevalence of oil spills, tsunamis, nuclear threat, Queensland and Pakistan under water, the Mississippi Valley flooding, unprecedented storms and tornadoes, drought, and war, we need to change almost everything. The declaration puts it this way:

“The capitalist system and all forms of depredation, exploitation, abuse and contamination have caused great destruction, degradation and disruption of Mother Earth, putting life as we know it today at risk through phenomena such as climate change.”

This declaration puts front and center that the rights that humans have given only themselves create imbalances that come back to haunt us, and may end us.

“Mother Earth and all beings are entitled to all the inherent rights recognized in this declaration without distinction of any kind, such as may be made between organic and inorganic beings, species, origin, use to human beings, or any other status.”

The revolutionary concept here is that destroying non-human life on the rationale that it is useful to humans to do so is an unacceptable violation of other beings. We do not have the right to kill or confine because we want to eat, display, own, wear, use or profit from another being’s life for our own human purposes.

This paradigm dignifies human rights with our profound obligations of stewardship to ensure the rights of all beings, to include the following:

The right to life and to exist, to be respected; the right to regenerate bio-capacity and continue vital cycles and processes free from human disruptions; the right to maintain integrity as a distinct, self-regulating and interrelated being; the right to water, clean air, and health; the right to be free from genetic engineering, contamination, pollution, toxic and radioactive waste; and the right to full and prompt restoration from the violation of these rights caused by human activity.

We protect ourselves only by protecting other beings.

I urge you to read this declaration for peaceable kinship in its entirety and to read about its presentation to the United Nations.

My 79-year-old American Indian neighbor pronounced the document “just common sense.”

I invite you to help organize on behalf of our bears, bobcats, wolves, coyotes, deer, our ducks and mourning doves, who cannot defend themselves. A webmaster would be really helpful. Artists, songwriters, students, organizers and representatives of like-minded groups (peace and justice, unions, teachers, hikers, bikers, birders, wildlife lovers and photographers) — please step up to help by contacting me. I am also available to speak to groups.

June 12 column: For the love and defense of Wisconsin’s gentle black bears

Patricia Randolph of Portage is a longtime activist for wildlife.

Sturgeon’s death highlights threat to ancient fish


Sturgeon’s death highlights threat to ancient fish

Posted 29 May 2011, by Arthur Max (Associated Press), Taiwan News,

Alas, poor Harald. Wired up to a satellite transmitter, he had much to teach science about the life of the great sturgeons of the Danube River and Black Sea.

His probable demise is a cautionary tale of the multiplying threats to the great sturgeons, sought since Roman times for the wealth they yield in meat and caviar.

Consider: A living creature from the age of the dinosaurs, a fish that can grow as long as a minibus, lives longer than most men, sniffs its way to its birthplace to spawn and can yield a fortune in caviar.

When in 2009 a team of Romanian and Norwegian researchers attached a satellite transmitter to Harald’s 2.9 meter (9 1/2-foot) body, they hoped the data beamed back would show them ways of halting the rapid drop in the sturgeons’ numbers. But now the Beluga sturgeon is missing, presumed to be a victim of poachers.

Sturgeon have thrived in the Danube for 200 million years, migrating from feeding grounds in the Black Sea to Germany 2,000 kms (1,200 miles) upstream. Archaeologists have found wooden sturgeon traps in the ruins of Roman fortresses behind the willow trees on the Danube’s banks, along with sturgeon bones dated to the 3rd century.

In the 1970s and ’80s Romania built giant dams across the Iron Gates gorge, cutting off half the sturgeons’ spawning grounds.

Fishermen, unrestrained after the collapse of order in eastern Europe in 1989, caught them in huge numbers as they began their migration, trapping them before they could reproduce. Pollution from agricultural run-off and expanding cities put them under further pressure, although the construction of water treatment plants in the last decade has lessened the flow of filth.

Now environmentalists are trying to head off the latest threat: a European Union plan to deepen shipping channels in the Danube that they fear could eliminate the last shallows where the sturgeon deposit their eggs, which would doom the fish to vanish in its last stronghold in Europe.

“Right now it’s teetering on the edge of extinction,” said Andreas Beckmann, director of the Danube-Carpathian program of the Worldwide Fund for Nature, or WWF. “That one project, depending on how it’s done, could push it over the edge.”

Under the plan, engineers would block partially several side channels of the Danube and divert water to the main fairway, enabling year-round shipping through what are now low-water bottlenecks. Concrete would reinforce the banks of some islands.

European and Romanian officials insist the proposed action would not further endanger the fish in the wild, free-flowing waters of the Lower Danube.

“There will be enough water to ensure migration,” said Serban Cucu, a senior Transport Ministry official and Romanian negotiator. Still, construction has been delayed for a year to allow more monitoring of the channels.

“If the data collected shows there is some influence, we will decide together whether to stop the project,” said Cucu, interviewed in his Bucharest office.

Sturgeon, which can live a century or more in both salt and fresh water, are genetically wired to reproduce only where they themselves were born. Equipped with four nostrils, each fish sniffs its way to its birthplace, says researcher Radu Suciu.

After the Iron Gates went up, fish west of the two dams effectively were rendered infertile. The reproduction rate was reduced by half, said Suciu, of the Danube Delta National Institute in Tulcea, at the mouth of the Danube Delta.

Even now, 40 years later, older fish congregate at the foot of the dam in spawning season.

This month, conservationists, governments and the U.N. Food and Agriculture Organization agreed to explore building a fish ladder for the sturgeon to crawl around the Iron Gates dams. But unlike salmon, sturgeon cannot jump and would have to use powerful underside muscles to climb nearly 40 meters (130 feet) through a chain of pools.

In a separate attempt to revive sturgeon stocks, experiments have begun to breed sturgeon in fish farms, safe from poachers who kill them for their roe, which is processed into expensive caviar.

In 1999, Stelic Gerghi, an unemployed aquaculture engineer from the Tulcea area, famously caught a 450 kilogram (990-pound) fish and extracted 82 kilograms (180 pounds) of roe. It earned him enough to finish building his home and buy a new car. He is now serving his third term as mayor of the Vacareni district.

International trade in sturgeon was banned in 2001, and in 2006 Romania outlawed sturgeon fishing, followed by Serbia, Ukraine, Moldova and lately Bulgaria.

“We stopped the clock,” says Suciu.

But as Harald’s story illustrates, the threats have not disappeared.

Harald, named for the king of Norway because that country sponsors sturgeon research, was 12 years old and weighed 80 kilograms (175 pounds) when he was caught and taken to an experimental farm. There his sperm was harvested to artificially fertilize the eggs of females.

After a month he was tagged with a transmitter and released back into the Danube in May 2009, carrying the hopes of scientists to learn how sturgeons travel and behave.

“He was in very good health, a strong fish,” said Suciu.

He made his way downstream to the Danube Delta and into the Black Sea. Abhorring light, he stayed in murky depths of 10 to 50 meters (30-150 feet).

Scientists pieced together his movements from 11,000 messages transmitted over five days after the tag reached the surface six months later.

Harald had foraged for herring, sprats, mackerel and other small fish for several weeks. Then in October he swam north.

Suddenly, on Nov. 2, he stopped moving. For three days he stayed on the bottom of the sea, 65 meters (215 feet) down, immobile.

During the night of Nov. 6, sometime after 2 a.m., Harald rose swiftly to the surface and went in a straight line 11 kilometers (7 miles) to Ukraine’s Crimean coast. He remained offshore for two days and on land for another two. The transmitter’s final messages, plotted with the help of Google Earth, indicated movement along a railway line.

Much of Harald’s data was lost during transmission to the satellite, but the scientists had enough information to surmise his fate: he had been snared by a hook or net, then hauled up in the dead of night and taken ashore by rowboat.

“This was really sad. It was a young fish. He came into the Danube to spawn for the first time,” said Suciu.

But the scientist was consoled that Harald left offspring that were released into the river. “The sons and daughters of Harald are safe in the Black Sea. He didn’t die for nothing,” he said.

Sturgeon’s death highlights threat to ancient fish

Vacaville farm, furnishes fruit, produce cafe franchise


Vacaville farm, furnishes fruit, produce cafe franchise

Posted 29 May 2011, by Richard Bammer, The Reporter,

For Matthew and Terces Engelhart of Vacaville, sharing is a way of life. Viewing it as an asset, not a liability, they say it informs everything they do.

Besides being parents to five children and grandparents to three, they grow organic food with sustainable methods on their 21-acre farm on Bucktown Lane, operating Cafe Gratitude, a small chain of raw food and vegan restaurants, most of them in the Bay Area, writing books and hosting webinars worldwide about their farming practices, which they call “regenerative agriculture.”

“It’s the keystone to a workable community,” Matthew, 54, said of the idea. Farming that “regenerates the land’s ability to provide, farming that is a win for the ecosystem that it’s in. It regenerates the land’s ability to produce life.”

But during a visit to their Vaca Valley spread, dubbed Be Love Farm, which includes seven acres of fruit and nut trees, an equal amount in vegetables and greenhouses, conversations hovered around, or hinted at, the idea of sharing — with themselves, their employees, the people they come in contact with and the land on which they live and work — and how they incorporate sharing into their expanding franchise.

Sharing started early in his life, said Matthew. He learned it from his parents, who adopted the five children of their best friends after the friends died in an accident. So sharing is integral in Cafe Gratitude, which he called “an experimental business model” called “sacred commerce,” where, according to the company website,, “transformational growth” is part of the work environment.

After meeting in San Francisco in 2000 and later living and farming family property in Maui, Hawaii, the Engelharts opened their first Cafe Gratitude in 2004 in San Francisco. They have since opened up cafes in Oakland (in a Whole Foods store), Cupertino (also in a Whole Foods store), Berkeley, Healdsburg and San Rafael, plus Gracias Madre, a vegan taqueria in San Francisco’s Mission District. They also sell Cafe Gratitude products in partnering stores across the nation.

With cash from investors, including pop musician Jason Mraz, they recently opened their sixth cafe in Los Angeles — “The partners in L.A. raised the money, we provided the training and culture,” said Matthew. If all goes as planned, they will soon open another cafe in a second Southern California town, in the beachside community of Venice.

Business has generally been moderate and steady, said Matthew. He added that, in 2010, estimated sales were $8 million, a relatively minuscule part of the $26.7 billion in organic food sales nationwide last year, as reported by the Organic Trade Association.

While his business is a for-profit concern, however, the Plattsburgh, N.Y., native likened revenue margins to those of grocery stores — “3 or 4 percent,” he said — citing the costs of providing health care to employees and being required by law to pay one of the highest minimum wages in the nation, $10 per hour.

“It’s worth it, however,” he added. “We transform lives everyday and serve 1,500 people a day.”

During summer, the farm’s most productive season, of course, Be Love Farm supplies nearly 50 percent of all the fruit and produce consumed at the restaurants. After harvest, it is trucked three times a week to a central kitchen on 14th Street in downtown San Francisco. The bounty includes a sizable list of foods, including cherries, peaches, pecans, walnuts, pears, persimmons, watermelons, pomegranates, cabbage, lettuce, cauliflower, kale, potatoes, figs, tomatoes, olives, watercress, sunflower sprouts, limes and oranges. All of it is grown without chemicals but certainly with generous portions of compost. The Engelharts keep it in several haystack-size mounds, in varying degrees of decomposition, in a row near the barn. They also raise some 100 free-range chickens, but the eggs are not used in food at the cafes but sold by the dozen at the farm.

At the Cafe Gratitude in Healdsburg, a visitor finds the Engelhart’s philosophy in action, with part of it literally spelled out on the menu, which begins, in a sort of preface: “Cafe Gratitude is our expression of a world of plenty.” The soups, salads, raw and cooked specialties, the breakfasts, use affirmations in their names, like I Am Thriving (cooked soup of the day), I Am Complete (a Mediterranean plate with almond hummus) and I Am Grateful (shredded kale with quinoa, black beans and tahini-garlic sauce). The latter, the cafes’ biggest seller, is free for the asking but a suggested donation of $7 is recommended — or it can be purchased for $14, to help pay the cost to feed a homeless or needy person, said Matthew.

Even the bowls and plates carry the Engelhart’s philosophy, printed in black, in the form of a question: “What Are You Grateful For?” Matthew said it is merely a simple assertion of their views of life and business, “an ever-evolving experiment.”

Their experiment includes a simple, if not spartan lifestyle at the farm. They live in a yurt, but otherwise spend most of their time outdoors. They bathe in an outdoor bathhouse, prepare their food in an outdoor kitchen and use a composting toilet. They built a sauna for use in the winter months and a pool to swim in during the high heat of Vacaville’s summers.

The Engelharts hold fast to the idea of biodynamics, an approach to life and living fostered by Rudolf Steiner, the 20th-century Austrian-Swiss social and spiritual philosopher, that their farm can be viewed as a living organism. To that end, they nurture the land’s soil organically, adding compost and organic nutrients if needed, to increase yields, to prevent disease and thwart pests and to maximize nutrition in the crops.

From time to time, they also hold workshops, Matthew said, “to train people to be leaders, to train people to live in their communities, to practice regenerative agriculture.”

No Shame, No Respect: Solar Millennium Builds A Road On Ancient Geoglyphs – Video

No Shame, No Respect: Solar Millennium Builds A Road On Ancient Geoglyphs – Video


Posted 28 May 2011, by Staff, Indigenous Peoples, Issues & Resources,


In the deserts of California, fast-tracked solar projects are proceeding without shame and without respect. BLM (Bureau of Land Management) permitting allowed projects to go ahead on the basis of inadequate EISs (Environmental Impact Statements), in a way that damages the environment and destroys significant Native American cultural resources.


To watch the video, please visit this link: