Knowledge of medicines by indigenous communities receding
Down To Earth

It’s quite well-known that indigenous communities share an intricate relationship with their environments. Their understanding of plants, also called ethnobotanical knowledge, is crucial to the health of these communities. Researchers from four different universities—Northwestern University, Illinois, universitat Autonoma de Barcelona, Spain, University of Georgia, Athens, and Brandeis University, Massachusetts, studied the Tsimane tribe in Bolivia and found that there is a correlation between mothers’ knowledge about plants and the health of their children. However, with pharmaceutical industry regularly looking for leads to drugs from plants, it is possible that the Tsimane community could be in the early stages of market integration. And then, access to plants could get remote. “in areas where rice has been introduced through the public distribution system, the people are less healthy,” says Nirmalendu Jyotishi of the Regional Centre for Development and Cooperation, Bolangir, Orissa. Migration too affects a community’s ability to use the natural environment to their advantage. More…

Philippine Centre for Indigenous People’s Education to preserve indigenous cultures
Sun Star General Santos (Philippines)

KORONADAL CITY, PHILIPPINES: The Philippines Department of Education (DepEd) has opened a facility that will lead the promotion of culture-sensitive education for indigenous peoples in Koronadal City and the neighboring areas. DepEd Southwestern Mindanao Director Luz Almeda said the facility, dubbed Center for Indigenous People’s Education (Cipe), was established to facilitate the full implementation of the indigenous peoples program, which pushes for a more holistic and culture-sensitive approach in educating the indigenous people and to promote the preservation of various indigenous cultures in the region. More…

Mapuche: Hospital to Offer Indigenous Medicine
Latin America Press

BUENOS AIRES, ARGENTINA: A Buenos Aires provincial hospital is planning to become the country’s first health care center to offer traditional indigenous (Mapuche) medicine by the end of the year. The step taken by the health care institution is a major recognition of Argentina’s indigenous legacy. The idea was born in 2006 by the Mapuche group Epu Bafkeh, which means “Eyes of Water” in English. Health care officials in the Buenos Aires province accepted the proposal to use the native medicine techniques. Mapuche people currently use hospitals in cases of extreme emergency. Mapuche people believe that there is a unity between human beings, the community, supernatural forces and nature. Illness is considered a break with harmony, an imbalance, meaning it must be treated in a holistic manner. More…

Ecotourism: an innovative conservation and development strategy or a celebration of poverty?
id21

KENT, UK: Many organisations support ecotourism as an effective way to integrate conservation and development. Non-governmental organisations with a conservation focus (such as WWF) and those with a rural development focus (such as SNV) have pioneered ecotourism to this end. In this opinion article, Jim Butcher questions the assumptions underlying ecotourism as a tool for sustainable development. On the issue of traditional knowledge of the environment, he notes it can be a starting point for ecotourism development, but it should not be the basis for development. To do so implies that cultures exist in a steady state with nature. More…

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