Archives for September 2012

Detailed Maps of Keystone XL Pipeline

For those of us concerned about the proposed Keystone XL Pipeline it can be frustrating trying to find detailed maps of the proposed routes, information critical for assessing potential impacts. Drawing on data obtained from a FOIA request, the Keystone Mapping Project has assembled an excellent mapping tool based on Google Earth’s KML format.

Map layers include:

  • Keystone XL Route
  • Milepost Markers
  • Waterbody Crossings
  • Gas Well. Within 1 mile of KXL route
  • Water Well. Within 1320 feet or 1 mile of KXL route

To view the highest resolution maps and interactive data, install the free Google Earth software and then download the Keystone Mapping Project’s KML file here.


Native Strategic Land Planning – A New Online Training Course from Village Earth

Village Earth and Colorado State University’s Online Plus is pleased to announce the launch of a new online training offering specifically developed for Native American land owners or anyone interested in learning more about Native American Land Tenure in the United States. The new course titled “Native Strategic Land Planning: Now and For Future Generations”  draws heavily from the curriculum of the same name developed by the Indian Land Working Group (ILWG). The original curriculum as well as Village Earth’s online adaptation was developed with support from the Indian Land Tenure Foundation (ILTF) based in Minnesota. Village Earth originally utilized this curriculum in 2008 during a series of Strategic Land Planning Workshops we hosted across the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation in South Dakota as part of a grant from the ILTF during which we developed the Pine Ridge Strategic Land Planning Map Book. Just this year, Village Earth and ILTF launched a new, enhanced mapping resource for the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation The Pine Ridge Land Information System (PRLIS), a free web-based mapping tool that gives Oglala Lakota Tribal members access to information about their lands. The online training takes advantage of the PRLIS as well as other online mapping tools not available when the ILWG curriculum was originally developed. We also hope that this new format makes this valuable training more accessible to Native American land owners across the United States.

This online training lasts 5-Weeks. The next session of this course will take place January 18th – February 22nd, 2013. Registration Deadline is January 14th.

For more information please contact David Bartecchi [email protected]

Update from Earth Tipi

It’s been a long hot and very dry summer in South Dakota. Despite temperatures reaching over 100 degrees F and no rain, we grew some wonderful produce in our garden. Onions, parsley, collard greens and eggplants were bountiful while other choice veggies have been in sufficient supply but could have been better. Our main focus however, has been our light straw clay, home/office project. Construction began on June 15 and has been going non stop since then. A number of short visits from large groups made the project possible. While at times we have struggled just to keep things going with one to three of us, the days when we had groups of 5,10 and even up to 35 people (for 4 days) kept the pace manageable. One of the hard things about a project like this is to match up labor with critical points in construction. One phase is dependent on the next being completed. This week for example we are pressed to finish packing the walls with straw and clay so that when help arrives on Monday (Sept 17) we can start installing the roof!

We are still short funds for this project. If you would like to make a contribution please click here

Update from Living Roots

Written by McKenzie Campbell, Founder and Director of Living Roots

Living Roots, Baja California Sur, Mexico, based non-profit is working to: Help endangered cultures protect their unique cultural identity by increasing economic opportunity and kindling a generation of youth as stewards.

We are excited to announce the roof is up on a Cultural Center/Marketplace in the mountain community of San Javier, which is the oldest continuously cultivated mission orchard in the Californias, rich with grape vines, pomegranates, dates and several of the oldest olive trees in the Americas. Throughout the summer, the community has come together to build adobe walls, a thatch roof and stone floor in the traditional way. The space will be an exhibition of San Javier history and culture, a store for regionally-made artisan food and craft and a tourism hub for visitors interested in mule rides, interpretative medicinal plant walks, rock art etc.

 We have been working with the community of San Javier and the surrounding ranches since June 2010, when the community identified the desire to protect their unique, self-reliant culture while developing a direct connection with a market for traditionally Baja sierra-made products and rural tourism. Through helping the community incubate a regional marketing association, Raices Vivas San Javier, and facilitating the collaboration of the municipal and state governments and the foreign resident community in Loreto, Living Roots has helped turn San Javier’s vision into a reality with the creation of the Cultural Center/Marketplace. With Living Roots assistance, the Raíces Vivas Marketing Association, primarily governed by women, has set the goal of forming as a legal entity by May 2013, with the hope of fully taking over fiscal and administrative reasonability for their community driven enterprise.

 We have also been pleased with the success of their youth programing this year. As part a series of Sierra Heritage Skills workshops with the aim of inviting local master craftsmen into the school system to re-teach traditional skills, Living Roots organized a several month Leather Work course. Students learned from tanning to making small bags and wallets how the unique regional leatherwork has been made for generations.

We are excited about this opportunity, secondary school students and teachers alike were eager to explore more ways to learn from local experts. Their enthusiasm has led to the creation of a “Jóvenes Documentalists” program which will launch this fall. This year long program will begin by professional training for youth in how to use cameras and audio equipment to capture the stories and know-how of the elder generation. Teams of students will then hike and ride to remote ranches, learning how to identify useful plants and the essential skills of traveling through their arid back yard landscape, and arriving to interview and learn from these local legends. Older ranchers are thrilled with the idea of being able to tell their stories and impart their knowledge before it is too late.

For more information, to get involved or to make a donation to Living Roots, please to go our website: or follow us on facebook Living Roots/ Raíces Vivas.

Kari-Oca II, the Indigenous People’s Conference at Rio +20

Written by Luminita Cuna, director of Maloca, who participated in the Kari-Oca II conference.

The United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development, popularly known as Rio +20, was one of the major international events of 2012. Over 100 Heads of States and Governments along with 45,000 participants attended this event which was supposed to nail an agreement on “the future we want” (the motto of the conference). The conference created big hopes and delivered very little, as opposed to Rio 92 United Nations Conference on Environment and Development where important and policy-changing agreements were drafted and signed.

Civil society had a strong participation in Rio+20, and one special event part of the UNCSD was the World Indigenous Peoples Conference on Territories, Rights and Sustainable Development, also known as Kari-Oca II. This conference was organized by the Inter Tribal Committee of Brazil (Comitê Intertribal de Memória e Ciência Indígena) with the help and support of other organizations and agencies. The event welcomed more than 400 Indigenous Peoples from all over the world. Its precursor was the Kari-Oca I conference, which took place in 1992, at the Earth Summit in Rio (UNCED).

Kari-Oca II took place June 13-22 in Rio de Janeiro. The 10 days were filled with activities from morning till night: meetings of the Indigenous Peoples where pressing issues were discussed, from the Belo Monte dam, to carbon credits and land grabs. There were daily work sessions to draft the declaration that would be the outcome of the conference, trips to the People’s Summit for Social and Environmental Justice during Rio+20, and the “Green Games”: cultural demonstrations and sports competitions open to the general public, in an effort to familiarize as many people as possible with the richness and beauty of indigenous cultures in across the globe.

The venue of Kari-Oca II was the “Kari-Oca village”, located on the Fiorcruz campus in the north-western part of Rio, the same sit of the Kari-Oca I conference. Some of the participants were leaders and organizers of the Kari-Oca I conference, 20 years ago. About 20 members of the Kamayura people arrived from their home in Xingu 2 weeks earlier to build two traditional ocas (longhouses) next to the arena where the Green Games unfolded. An electronic longhouse (Oca Electronica) was equipped with computers and internet connection and kept all participants linked to the rest of the world. On the main front patio, a beautiful Oca da Sabeduria (Wisdom Longhouse) held daily debates on environment, rights of indigenous peoples and Mother Earth, and other ardent issues. The Kari-Oca village was visited by government officials, and other important figures, some of the most notable ones being chief Raoni, and the princess of Kuwait. Indigenous People from Brazil that attended Kari-Oca took 3 or 4-day trips by boat, by truck, by bus, to join hundreds of their brothers and sisters from abroad. The Kari-Oca Caravan brought 54 leaders from Bolivia, Peru and Ecuador who travelled 9 days by bus across 5 countries, to join forces with Kari-Oca II participants.

The event was opened by a spiritual ceremony and the lighting up of the sacred fire, and it culminated with the signing of Kari-Oca II Declaration (read it here), followed by an impressive march of more than 400 indigenous people to Rio+20 site. Marcos Terena, one of the organizers and a prominent indigenous leader, walked into the Rio+20 conference and delivered the declaration to the UN Director for Sustainable Development Nikhil Seth, and Gilberto Carvalho, the Chief Minister to the Presidency of Brazil. The Declaration contains the Indigenous Peoples demands and recommendations for sustainable development and protection of the environment. It criticizes the “green economy” promoted strongly at Rio+20, stating that Indigenous Peoples are against the commodifying of nature, calling it the “capitalism of nature”. It decries the violation of the Indigenous Peoples rights to self determination, land, territories, resources, and to self-determined development. It criticizes unsustainable agricultural projects (chemically treated soya plantations), big infrastructure projects (hydroelectric dams), extractive industries , all which are a threat to the lives and livelihoods of Indigenous Peoples by poisoning and destroying their lands, besides contributing to climate change. The declaration demands respect for and protection of Mother Earth, lamenting the “continued economic colonization and degradation of Mother Earth and all life upon her”. It asks the UN and governments to stop looking for false solutions which will only further destroy Mother Earth, and demands the participation of Indigenous Peoples in decision making processes and the respect of their right to free prior and informed consent.

The event showed the important role that Indigenous People play in the big picture of sustainable development, demonstrated their capabilities of organizing themselves and delivering solutions to acute environmental, social and economic problems the world is facing right now.

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Globally, tourism initiatives receive considerable public funding and private investment as a means of economically developing low-income communities. NGOs are taking on a growing role in local tourism initiatives, as well as voluntourism, in hopes of injecting capital into the communities where they work. Amongst proponents, tourism is seen as a mechanism for local communities to capitalize on assets such as the natural environment and cultural heritage. Yet critiques often note that tourism can be destructive, elite and at times oppressive. In light of this critical lens, this course will explore both successful and problematic tourism initiatives. The course will critically examine the nature of tourism, its impacts on communities and considerations that must be taken into account in order for a tourism project to have the desired impact of development without destroying.  The course is now registering through October 14.  Click the link for more information or to register: