Mapuches 101 at Americas Society

Mapuches 101 at Americas SocietyUnlike the Mayans or the Incas, the Mapuches never inspired a Mel Gibson or Indiana Jones movie.

But this indigenous group little known outside South America boasts an amazing breadth of history and culture being explored in an exhibition at the Americas Society until April 18.

"For more than 300 years the Mapuche successfully resisted colonization," says guest curator Thomas Dillehay, referring to a period from the mid 1500s to the mid 1890s.

"That is longer than any indigenous society in American history."

Amazon Promise: Sustainable Health for Peru

Amazon Promise: Sustainable Health for PeruPatty Webster is not a medical professional.

But one day, while working as a tour guide in the Peruvian Amazon rainforest, she found herself using a traveler's sewing kit to close a wound on a boy from a local village.

Word had long since gotten around among the people in this woefully underserved area that the young American was handy with a first-aid kit and willing to help them.

Life in a tepee

Life in a tepeeDressed in a navy suit, red tie and shined shoes, 25-year-old Jonathan Paulson looks like any other recent college graduate trying to make his way in the world.

As a commodities broker with his dadís company, Paulson Commodities, the Lake Oswegan spends most of his work days on the Internet and calling clients on the phone. Heís tall, with straight teeth and is knowledgeable about the stock market.

Bolivia: Singing to the Plants - Shamanism and the Medicine Path

Bolivia: Singing to the Plants - Shamanism and the Medicine PathHow important is traditional plant knowledge in the Amazon? According to a recent study among the Tsimane' in Amazonian Bolivia, each standard deviation of maternal ethnobotanical knowledge increases the likelihood of good child health by more than fifty percent. And the study raises the question: What will be the cost ó to the Tsimane' and other indigenous peoples ó if such ethnobotanical knowledge is lost?

Leftist forum ends in Amazon; capitalism seen dying

Leftist forum ends in Amazon; capitalism seen dyingNatanael Karaja, a 26-year-old from Brazil's Karaja Indian tribe wearing a striking headdress and body paint, was drinking Coca-Cola and being interviewed by MTV.

"This forum was very important because it is a place where every citizen is respected," he said. "In Brazil, politicians, businessmen and farmers have not respected the rights of Indians guaranteed in the constitution of 1988."

But Mzonke Poni, a 30-year-old activist from South Africa, worried that governments and non-government groups were hijacking a forum that was supposed to be based on grass-roots dialogue.