Vision is a flowing river

A Path of Hope for the Future

Keynote address delivered at the 2000 Houston Youth Environmental Leadership Conference, 1/26/00

Yesterday a teenager sent me an email letter in which he said, “I feel cheated that it’s all UP TO ME. By being in the younger generation, I have to save the world before I can even begin to think of building a life for myself, or there will be nothing to build my life on.”

I think this is a profound statement and a statement of profound importance to this particular audience. I’ve known several generations of kids your age, and I can tell you that feeling cheated is something NEW, and something new is always worth paying attention to.

The kids of my own generation didn’t feel cheated, we felt terrified. We grew up in the coldest part of the Cold War, cowering in the shadow of the H-bomb, expecting at any moment to see the world come to an end in a nuclear holocaust. All we knew was that we had to get down to the business of getting as much of the good life as we could before the end came. We were the Silent Generation, and all we wanted was to get out there and get a job, a career, a marriage, a family, a house in the suburbs, squeezing in as much as we could before it all went up in smoke.

The kids of the sixties and seventies didn’t feel cheated. They were just fed up with their parents’ idea that the best life was the one the Silent Generation was struggling to get–the job, the career, the marriage, the family, the house in the suburbs. They wanted to LIVE, to have a little fun, and to hell with the goddamned H-bomb. Who could blame them?

Michael feels cheated, he says, because it’s all up to him. If you haven’t yet been told that it’s “all up to you,” believe me, you will be. Of course, this business of it all being up to you is pretty standard commencement day rhetoric. Every commencement day speaker worth his or her salt has got to say, one way or another, “The future is in your hands. Today the torch passes from one generation to the next,” blah, blah, blah. This in itself is not new. I heard the same thing when I was your age.

But it meant something different when I heard it. It really was just commencement day rhetoric back then. Nowadays it means something different.

Nowadays it means something like this. My generation and my parents’ generation and their parents’ have really screwed things up here, and that’s no joke. I can’t even bring myself to look at the latest WorldWatch Institute estimate of how much time we have left to turn this around before we head down a slide from which no recovery is possible. It was 40 years the last time I DID have the nerve to look, and that was about ten years ago.

What does this figure mean? It doesn’t mean human extinction in forty years. It means we have 40 years to find a new path for ourselves, and if we let those 40 years go to waste and just go on the way we are, the momentum that is carrying us forward to extinction will be too great to overcome. So that date is not the end of it all, it’s just the point of no return. Irreversible.

So when people tell you now that it’s all up to you, they really mean “If you can’t find what we were unable to find and our parents were unable to find and their parents were unable to find (which is another way for us to go), then you may very well live to see the extinction of the human race.”
I’m sure you haven’t failed to notice what a monstrous copout this is.

Oh yes, we–your parents and their parents and their parents–have screwed up the world royally, and we admit it!! But if YOU don’t find a way to FIX what WE’VE done, then it will be YOUR fault! Not OUR fault, because we have an excuse. We were just dumb and greedy. And because WE’VE been dumb and greedy, YOU’RE going to have to be smart and self-sacrificing. Got that?

Michael puts it in a nutshell: “By being in the younger generation, I have to save the world before I can even begin to think of building a life for myself, or there will be nothing to build my life on.”

Your parents didn’t have to save the world before building a life for themselves. Maybe it would’ve have been a good idea–but they didn’t HAVE to. So they didn’t.
You HAVE to, because if you don’t, as Michael says, there will be nothing LEFT to build your life ON.

So that’s the deal. Forget about having fun. Forget about taking up some career just because it happens to appeal to you. Forget about getting the good things in life that your parents have. Forget about the six-figure salary. Forget about the BMW. Forget about the 8000 square foot house. Those things are okay for people like Bill Gates and Steve Jobs and Donald Trump and Steve Case, because they belong to the same old, unregenerate generation as your parents. They can AFFORD to be dumb and greedy. They don’t HAVE to save the world first. YOU DO.

Is it any wonder that Michael feels cheated?

When he speaks of being cheated, Michael unconsciously brings into play the language of games. I mean that Michael dimly recognizes that a game IS being played with him, and I’d like to take a few minutes to examine the game that’s being played with him–and with you when people tell you that “It’s all up to you.”

In his book, The Book: or, The Taboo Against Knowing Who You Are, Alan Watts examines the notion of the “double-bind.” “A person,” he writes, “is put in a double-bind by a command or request that contains a concealed contradiction. ‘Stop being self-conscious!’ ‘Try to relax.’ . . . Society, as we now have it, pulls this trick on every child from earliest infancy. In the first place, the child is taught that he is responsible, that he is a free agent, an independent origin of thoughts and actions. He accepts this make-believe for the very reason that it is not true. He can’t help accepting it, just as he can’t help accepting membership in the community where he was born. He has no way of resisting this kind of social indoctrination. It is constantly reinforced with reward and punishments. It is built into the basic structure of the language he is learning. . . . we befuddle our children hopelessly because we–as adults–were once so befuddled, and, remaining so, do not understand the game we are playing.”

I hope you’ll leave here today with a better understanding of the game that is being played with you. “The child,” Watts says, “is taught that he is responsible, that he is a free agent, an independent origin of thoughts and actions.” This is what you’re hearing when people of an older generation say, “It’s all up to you.” You might say that this is HALF of the game. They themselves were told, “It’s all up to you,” when they were your age. But if you watch them in action, you’ll see very clearly that they don’t act as if it were all up to them. They act as if it were all up to SOMEONE ELSE. They were taught, just as you were, that they are responsible, that they are free agents, but they know perfectly well that this is make-believe. SOMEONE ELSE is responsible for saving the world. SOMEONE ELSE is a free agent CAPABLE of saving the world. It may not come to mind immediately who this SOMEONE ELSE is, but you’ll certainly recognize it when you hear it.

Who is everyone WAITING for to save the world? Who is EVERYONE waiting for to save the world?

They are waiting for our LEADERS, of course. This is the other half of the game. The first half of the game is: It’s all up to you. The second half of the game is: they don’t have to do anything because they’re waiting for the President to save the world. They’re waiting for the Secretary General of the United Nations to save the world. They’re waiting for some unthinkable industrial giant to save the world. They’re waiting for some great thinker to save the world. They’re waiting for Mikhail Gorbachev to save the world. They’re even waiting for Daniel Quinn to save the world!

Someone UP THERE, someone in AUTHORITY!

Well, guess what, folks. There is NO ONE “up there” who is remotely CAPABLE of saving the world. Most of the people I’ve just mentioned aren’t even THINKING about saving the world. Trust me, you will never hear Al Gore or Bill Bradley or George Bush utter one word about saving the world*. And whichever one of them is elected our next President, he will not spend a single minute of his administration thinking about saving the world. This is not something they should be blamed for, in all honesty. We don’t ELECT presidents to save the world, and any candidate that campaigned on that basis would be laughed off the stage. We elect ALL our political leaders to address SHORT-TERM goals.

The kids of your grandparents’ generation were told, “It’s all up to you”–and they waited for SOMEONE ELSE to save the world.

The kids of your parents’ generation were told, “It’s all up to you”–and they waited for SOMEONE ELSE to save the world.

Now the people of your parents’ and grandparents’ generation are continuing the game by pointing at you and saying, “It’s all up to YOU.”

I’d like to try to persuade you to REFUSE to play the game. Don’t let anyone get away with saying, “It’s all up to you.” No. It’s all up to EVERYBODY. Refuse to accept your parents’ and grandparents’ copout. It’s not good enough to say, “We’ve failed, so it’s all up to you.”

Tell them, “STOP failing!” Which means stop WAITING!

Tell them, “There’s nothing to wait for. There’s no ONE to wait for. No one is going to save the world but the PEOPLE of the world, and you can’t make it the sole responsibility of MY generation. We are the ones with no experience, no clout, no connections, no power, no money–and it’s all supposed to be up to US??? What are YOU going to be doing while WE save the world?”

Obviously in the few minutes I have here I can’t give you a blueprint for saving the world. But I can give you a couple of fundamental notions that I think you can follow with complete confidence. The first of these might be called Quinn’s First Law. It won’t surprise you. It may even strike you as obvious. Here it is. No undesirable behavior has ever been eliminated by passing a law against it.

The second is Buckminster Fuller’s Law, which is this: You never change things by fighting the existing reality. To change something, build a new model that makes the existing model obsolete.

Most of the time when people write to me to ask what they should be doing to save the world, there is in the back of their minds two general notions of how change takes place. One is the notion that passing laws makes things change. The other is that fighting makes things change. We’re trained to think that you really are DOING something if you’re out there fighting and getting laws passed.

But if you heed these two laws, you may think differently about this. Once again they are Quinn’s First Law, No undesirable behavior has ever been eliminated by passing a law against it, and Fuller’s Law, You never change things by fighting the existing reality. To change something, build a new model that makes the existing model obsolete.

Here is Quinn’s Second Law: What people think is what they do. And its corollary: To change what people do, change what they think.

At the present time, there are six billion people on this planet pursuing a vision that is devouring the earth. That’s our problem. Our problem is not pollution. Our problem is not consumerism. Our problem is not capitalist greed. Our problem is not conservative selfishness or liberal utopianism. Our problem is not lack of leadership. Our problem is a world-devouring vision that six billion people are pursuing.

Now what can we do about this vision? We can’t legislate it away or vote it away or organize it away or even shoot it away. We can only teach it away.

If the world is saved, it will be saved by people with changed minds, people with a new vision. It will not be saved by old minds with new programs.

Vision is a flowing river. Programs are sticks set in the riverbed to impede the flow of the river. But I don’t want to impede its flow, I want to change its direction.

Is it so easy to change a cultural vision? Ease and difficulty are not the relevant measures. Here are the relevant measures: Readiness and unreadiness. If people aren’t ready for it, then no power on earth can make a new idea catch on.

But if people are ready for it (and I think they are), then a new idea will sweep the world like wildfire.

In our culture at the present moment, the flow of the river is toward catastrophe, and programs are sticks set in the riverbed to impede its flow. Our path of hope is not to add more sticks to impede the flow. Our path of hope is to change the direction of the flow–away from catastrophe.

I think people are ready for this new idea.

Don’t pay attention to people who talk as if saving the world is someone else’s business–bigshots in international politics or bigshots in international commerce. I say again: If the world is saved, it will be saved by people with changed minds, and anyone can change a mind. I mean that. Back in the seventies, a lot of eight-year-olds came home and told their parents, “By God, you’re going to stop smoking!”–and they made it stick. Back in the eighties, a lot of eight-year-olds came home and told their parents, “By God, we’re going to start recycling aluminum cans!”–and they made it stick.

I’ve changed lots of minds, through my books–but the absolute fact is that my readers have changed more minds than my books have. A lot more.

One by one, readers did the work. Not me–people like you. Having done this work, having carried the word to parents, to children, to teachers, to friends, to relatives, even to strangers, they would then sit down and write me to say, but how can I help save the world? And I’d write back and say, “Look, you’re already doing it!”

If the time is right, a new idea will sweep the world like wildfire.

Let me share with you the most inspirational story I’ve heard in a long time. This story comes to me from a high school teacher in Alaska who was using Ishmael in a third-year science course. One of the students in his class was recognized as a probable drop-out. She was a lukewarm student at best–indifferent and uninterested. But instead of dropping out, after reading Ishmael, this young woman did the strangest thing anyone had ever heard of, including me. She took it upon herself to buy copies of Ishmael for her parents and to organize a week-long seminar in her own living room that her parents were commanded to attend in order to engage in a Socratic dialogue on Ishmaels themes. From that point on, she never looked back, and no one thinks of her as a probable dropout any more.
Let me make it clear that I’m not telling this story to because I’m proud of what Ishmael did. I’m proud of what this seventeen-year-old girl did! She found a path of hope for the future–all on her own. She didn’t ask me, she didn’t ask her parents, she didn’t ask her teachers, she didn’t ask her friends, she didn’t ask anyone.

If the time is right, a new idea will sweep the world like wildfire–because of people like this seventeen-year-old girl.

Because of people like you.

Because of this seventeen-year-old girl, there are two more people in the world with changed minds. That’s no small thing, believe me. Because where there are two with changed minds, there can be four. And where there are four, there can be eight. And where there are eight, there can be sixteen. All because of that one that started the whole thing by saying, “I’ve got to change these two minds.”

That’s exactly how new ideas sweep the world like wildfire–and that’s how I see it.

That’s our path of hope for the future.


*At the time this was written Al Gore was one of the folks “up there,” where it was best to keep one’s mouth closed about “saving the world.” Being no longer “up there” Mr. Gore is now free to express his concern about the future of the world (and this speech, if it were being written today, would not include his name in this list).

Gauchos

 

Nomadic and colourful horsemen and cowboys have wandered the prairies as early as the 1700s, when wild Cimarron cattle overpopulated the flatlands. In the 18th century, when leather was in high demand, Gauchos arose to clandestinely hunt the huge herds of horses and cattle.

“A Gaucho without a horse is only half a man”

The word ‘Gaucho’ was used to describe the free spirits, inseparable from their horse and knife. Over time, when extensive portions of prairies were settled and commercial cattle began, there was less room for the Gauchos to roam. As their way of living changed, the legend of the Gaucho grew.

ESTANCIA EL OMBU, SAN ANTONIO DE ARECO

November 2011

The Argentinian Pampas – rolling terrains of grasses, flowers and herbs – are the home of the Gauchos. The nomadic and colourful horsemen and cowboys have wandered the prairies since as early as the 1700s, when  the flatlands were overpopulated by wild Cimarron cattle, originally brought to South America by the Spanish conquistador Pedro de Mendoza in 1538.

GAUCHOS

November 2011

Gauchos were loners who were hardy and uncompromising, but famed for their kindness to fellow travellers, always sharing their food or what little shelter they had. Sons of gauchos invariably became gauchos too.

The pastimes of the gauchos included gambling, drinking, playing the guitar and singing about their skills in hunting, fighting and love-making. The gaucho, his horse and his facon were inseparable. Knives could open cows and close discussions.

VAGABONDS

November 2011

Some presume that the name gaucho is derived from the Mapuche Cauchu, meaning ‘vagabond’. Others consider the Quechua word Huachu, meaning ‘orphan’, to be a better candidate.

Whatever its roots, the word ‘Gaucho’ came into existence for the first time in the late 1800s to describe a roguish individual that would ride alone, sometimes with a woman, whose only baggage was a facon (knife), Boleadoras (three iron or stone balls on leather cords thrown at the legs of an animal to immobilise it) and a reata (lasso), in order to capture running cattle or game.

ARGENTINA + ECUADOR○Go to journey ›
Artprint available

– Jimmy Nelson

LAGO ROCA

November 2011

Duels amongst gauchos were not intended to kill. They just wanted to mark the other, preferably on the face. That mark would make it obvious and forever to all that the bearer of the scar had lost a duel.

If one of the Gauchos unintentionally wounded his opponent fatally, sympathy was felt for the killer who would from then on be considered a man in disgrace in need of protection and help to escape. Little sympathy was felt for Gauchos known to be deliberate killers.

PATAGONIA

November 2011

The Gauchos spent their days caring for their herds and catching wild cattle. Being nomadic, the gauchos would spend little time at home, which was a mud hut covered with cowhides and containing a few horse skulls to sit on.

Gauchos usually did not marry the woman they lived with. She raised their children (with sons following in their father’s footsteps) and took care of housekeeping.

PARQUE NACIONAL LOS GLACIARES

November 2011

The gauchos were self-sufficient free spirits who were wedded to their horse and the open plain. Not only were the gauchos independent and tough, they knew the pampas intimately and were extremely skilled horsemen, which made them ideal cavalry during the wars of independence (1810-1816) and the civil wars that followed.

ASADO

November 2011

When on the range, the gaucho diet consisted almost entirely of beef, supplemented by yerba mate, a herbal tea-like drink rich in caffeine and nutrients. Cows were slaughtered for their hides, leaving the meat for the gauchos, who promptly roasted it on an open fire before it spoiled.
Argentina’s national dishes are derived from simple Gaucho cooking (Asado).

LAGO ROCA

November 2011

Gaucho beliefs consisted mainly of age- old superstitions varnished with Roman Catholicism. Setting themselves apart from society and being free spirited allowed gauchos to do whatever they thought necessary to survive, without being worried about fate, destination, sin, guilt, heaven or hell.

“All in the line of duty. Sometimes to get the best shots one has to end up with a mouth full of dust and hopefully not a horses’ hoof!”

SAN ANTONIO DE ARECO

November 2011

The life of the gaucho got increasingly difficult during the 19th century, as anti-vagrancy and other laws forced the horsemen further inland. Extensive portions of the prairies were settled, leaving less room for the gauchos to roam with their ponies and the wild herds of cattle they lived on. By then, commercial cattle ranching had begun, and the pampas had been fenced into huge estancias. The ranch and landowners (estancieros) needed managers to control cattle breeding and herding, and none were better qualified for the job than the gauchos.

GLACIER PERITO MORENO

November 2011

In the 18th century, when leather was in high demand and hides fetched great prices, gauchos arose to clandestinely hunt the huge herds of horses and cattle that had escaped more than a century earlier.

Gauchos were usually of mixed European and indigenous ancestry, but sometimes were of largely African or part-African descent.

ESTANCIA NOBEPO AIKE, LAGO ROCA

November 2011

The typical gaucho outfit would include a poncho (which doubled as a saddle blanket and sleeping gear), a facon, a rebenque (leather whip)
and loose-fitting trousers called bombachas. Nowadays, working gauchos are as likely to be found in overalls and wellington boots as in their traditional dress, the latter usually worn in desfiles (parades) during festivities and celebrations.

CERRO PIETROBELLI

November 2011

Over time, the early gauchos gave up their solitary existence to work for the estancieros. They settled down, rounded up cattle, mended fences,
branded animals and tended sheep. As their way of living changed, the legend of the gaucho grew.

CHUKCHI

 

The ancient Arctic live on the peninsula of the Chukotka. Unlike other native groups of Siberia, they have never been conquered by Russian troops. Their environment and traditional culture endured destruction under Soviet rule, by weapon testing and pollution.
“The way you treat your dog in this life determines your place in heaven”
Due to the harsh climate and difficulty of life in the tundra, hospitality and generosity are highly prized among the Chukchi. They believe that all natural phenomena are considered to have their own spirits. Traditional lifestyle still survives but is increasingly supplemented.

‘When I saw the vastness of the white landscape, my mind was overwhelmed with clarity’

ARCTIC TUNDRA, VANKAREM, CHUKOTKA

February 2012

Ancient legends and archaeological evidence suggest that Chukchi takeover of Chukotka was anything but peaceful.

Unlike other native groups of Siberia, they were fiercely militant and have never been conquered by Russian troops. Under Soviet rule, the Chukchi people endured mass imprisonment and destruction of their traditional culture.

PEOPLE FROM THE SECOND BRIGADE

February 2012

The Chukchi are an ancient Arctic people who chiefly live on the peninsula of Chukotka. They are unusual among the Northern people in having two distinct cultures: The nomadic reindeer herders (Chauchu) who live in the interior of the peninsula,and the village-based marine  mammal hunters (Ankalyn) who live along the coasts of the Arctic Ocean, the Chukchi Sea and the Bering Sea.

VLADILEN KAVRI

February 2012

The staple foods eaten by the inland Chukchi are products of reindeer farming: boiled venison, reindeer brains and bone marrow, and reindeerblood soup.

One traditional dish, rilkeil, is made from semi-digested moss from a  slaughtered reindeer’s stomach mixed with blood, fat, and pieces of boiled
reindeer intestine. Coastal Chukchi cuisine is based on boiled walrus, seal,  whale meat/fat and seaweed. Both groups eat frozen fish and edible leaves and roots.
Traditional Chukchi cuisine is now supplemented with canned vegetables and other foodstuffs purchased in stores.

FOLK ART

February 2012

Sculpture and carving on bone and walrus tusk are the most highly developed forms of folk art among the Chukchi. Common traditional themes are landscapes and scenes from everyday life: hunting parties, reindeer herding and animals native to Chukotka. In traditional Chukchi society, only men engage in these arts. Chukchi women are skilled at sewing and embroidering.

‘It is considered unseemly for a man to perform work usually done by women’

– Jimmy Nelson

REINDEER SECOND BRIGADE

February 2012

Although both sexes share responsibility for running the household, they have different tasks. Chukchi men drive their reindeer in search of  vegetation and travel to the edge of the taiga to hunt sea mammals and gather firewood and fish. The women’s work includes cleaning and repairing the yaranga, cooking food, sewing and repairing clothing and preparing reindeer or walrus hides.

CHUKOTKA

February 2012

The coastal Chukchi, like the neighbouring Eskimo, enjoy tossing each other high into the air on walrusskin blankets. Chukchi of all ages traditionally enjoy singing, dancing, listening to folk tales and reciting tongue twisters.

CHUKCHI TRADITIONS

February 2012

The traditional dress for Chukchi women is a kerker, a knee-length coverall made from reindeer or seal hide and trimmed with fox, wolverine, wolf
or dog fur. On holidays and special occasions, women can be seen wearing robe-like dresses of fawn skins beautifully decorated with beads, embroidery and fur trimmings.

At important traditional events, we see men wearing loose shirts and trousers made of the same material.

VYACHESLAV & OLESYA

February 2012

Pollution, weapons testing, strip mining and overuse of industrial equipment and vehicles have greatly damaged Chukotka’s environment and endangered its ability to support traditional Chukchi activities.

YARANGA SECOND BRIGADE

February 2012

For at least a few hundred years, the coneshaped yaranga has been the traditional home of Chukchi reindeer herders. It takes about 80 reindeer skins to build a yaranga. Nowadays, fewer and fewer Chukchi live in yarangas. The coastal Chukchi traditionally used dogsleds and skin
boats for transportation, while inland Chukchi rode in sledges pulled by reindeer. These traditional methods of transportation still survive, but are increasingly supplemented by air travel, motorboats, and snowmobiles.

SECOND BRIGADE, CHUKOTKA

February 2012

The Chukchi, who call themselves the Lygoravetlat – meaning ‘genuine people’ – presently number slightly over 15,000. Their territory is mostly treeless tundra. The climate is harsh, with winter temperatures sometimes dropping as low as minus 54°C.  The cool summers average around 10°C.

CHUKCHI

February 2012

Traditional Chukchi sports are reindeer and dog-sled races, wrestling, and foot races. Competitions of these types are often performed following the reindeer sacrifices of the inland Chukchi and the sea-spirit sacrifices of the coastal Chukchi.

MYSTERY

February 2012

Chukchi beliefs and practices are best described as a form of shamanism. Animals, plants, heavenly bodies, rivers, forests and other natural phenomena are all considered to have their own spirits. During their rituals, Chukchi shamans fall into trances (sometimes with the aid of
hallucinogenic mushrooms), communicate with the spirits, allow the spirits to speak through them, predict the future, and cast spells of various kinds.

The most important traditional Chukchi holidays were festivals in which sacrifices were made to the spirits that the Chukchi depended upon for their survival.

CHUKCHI TRADITIONS

February 2012

Due to the harsh climate and difficulty of life in the tundra, hospitality and generosity are highly prized among the Chukchi. It is forbidden to refuse anyone, even a stranger, shelter and food.

The community is expected to provide for orphans, widows and the poor. Miserliness is considered the worst character defect a person can have.

The Maori People

The Maori People

The long and intriguing story of the origin of the indigenous Maori can be traced back to the 13th century, the mythical homeland Hawaiki, Eastern Polynesia. Due to centuries of isolation, the Maori established a distinct society with characteristic art, a separate language and unique mythology.

 

The long and intriguing story of the origin of the indigenous Maori people can be traced back to the 13th century, the mythical homeland Hawaiki, Eastern Polynesia. Due to centuries of isolation, the Maori established a distinct society with characteristic art, a separate language and unique mythology.
“My language is my awakening, my language is the window to my soul”
Defining aspects of Maori traditional culture include art, dance, legends, tattoos and community. While the arrival of European colonists in the 18th century had a profound impact on the Maori way of life, many aspects of traditional society have survived into the 21st century.

HARURU FALLS, NORTH ISLAND

January 2011

As a polytheist culture, the Maori worshipped many gods, goddesses and spirits. Maori believe that ancestors and supernatural beings are ever-present and able to help the  in times of need. Myths are set in the remote past. They present Maori ideas about the creation of the universe and the origins of gods and of people.

The mythology accounts for natural phenomena, the weather, the stars and the moon, the fish in the sea, the birds of the forest, and the forests themselves. The Maori understanding of the development of the universe was expressed in genealogical form.

TA MOKO

January 2011

Defining aspects of Maori traditional culture include art, legends, tattoos(Ta Moko), performances (notably Kapa Haka), customs, hospitality and community.

Tattooing has always been an important part of Maori culture. Receiving tattoos is an important step to maturity and there are many rites and rituals associated with the event. Every member of a Maori tribe had a specific role and a specific place within the social order.

ROBERT DAVIS

January 2011

These journeys established the Maori as daring and resourceful adventurers, and as one of the greatest navigating peoples of all time. Due to centuries of isolation from the rest of the world, the Maori established a distinct society with characteristic art, a separate language and unique mythology.

HUKA FALLS

January 2011

While the arrival of Europeans had a profound impact on the Maori way of life, many aspects of traditional society have survived into the 21st century. The Maori participate fully in all spheres of New Zealand culture and society, leading largely Western lifestyles while also maintaining their own cultural and social customs.

Traditional kinship ties are actively maintained, and the whanau (extended family) in particular remains an integral part of Maori life. Though many Maori migrated to larger rural towns and cities, they remained almost exclusively a rural population.

TAUPO VILLAGE

January 2011

Kai is the Maori word for food. The Maori diet was based on birds and fish, supplemented by wild herbs and roots. In their tribal gardens, Maori also grew root crops including yams, gourds and kumara (sweet potatoes).

The Maori usually cooked in underground ovens called Hangi. To this day, this traditional cooking method is still used on special occasions, creating feasts made from traditional ingredients.

DR PITA SHARPLES

January 2011

The Maori are the indigenous people of New Zealand and their story is both long and intriguing. On the basis of oral records, archaeological finds and genetic analyses, we can place the arrival of Maori in New Zealand in the thirteenth century AD.

The origin of the Maori has been reliably traced to the islands of Eastern Polynesia. Their journey to New Zealand from the mythical homeland Hawaiki occurred in a number of Epic Waka (canoe) voyages over a significant period of time. Legend has it that twelve large canoes each carried a different tribe (Iwi). Even today, most Maori people can tell which original tribe they are descendants of.

PROMISE TANIWHA

January 2011

By the end of the nineteenth century, the effects of early colonisation, wars and epidemics had reduced the Maori population to a low of around 40,000. In the early 20th century, the Maori population numbers began to recover and Maori culture underwent a renaissance. There are currently around 650,000 Maori in New Zealand.

THE ORDINARY

January 2011

The early Maori were very peaceful in comparison to later generations, amongst whom a warfare culture emerged with many battles between tribes.

The early settlers did not call themselves Maori until the arrival of the European colonists in the 18th century. They then needed a name to mark their distinction from the newcomers and used Maori, meaning ‘ordinary’ (as in different from the extraordinary gods).

TAUPO VILLAGE, NORTH ISLAND

January 2011

Maori society is particularly visible at the marae. Formerly the central meeting spaces in traditional villages, marae frequently host events such as weddings, funerals and other large gatherings, with traditional protocol and etiquette usually observed. These events are great occasions to show off their colourful traditional garments, jewellery, intricate tattoos, dances and chants: in short, to reestablish Maori traditions.

HAKA WAR

January 2011

The haka war dance, meant to intimidate the enemy, is one of the best-known cultural traditions of the Maori. These dances are accompanied by song and body percussion created by clapping hands, stomping feet and slapping thighs. The dance itself involves energetic postures representing warlike and aggressive poses.

Maori chanting follows very strict rules. To break a chant in midstream is to invite disaster or even death for a community. These chants often tell of family lines or the exploits of ancestors.

 

The Kalam People

The eastern half of New Guinea gained full independence from Australia in 1975, when Papua New Guinea was born. The indigenous population is one of the most heterogeneous in the world. Traditionally, the different tribes scattered across the highland plateau, live in small agrarian clans.

The eastern half of New Guinea gained full independence from Australia in 1975, when Papua New Guinea was born. The indigenous population is one of the most heterogeneous in the world. Traditionally, the different groups scattered across the highland plateau, live in small agrarian clans.
“Knowledge is only rumour until it is in the muscle”

The first visitors were impressed to find valleys of carefully planned gardens and irrigation ditches. The women of the indigenous groups are exceptional farmers. The men hunt and fight other tribes over land, pigs and women. Great effort is made to impress the enemy with terrifying masks, wigs and paint.

“We  wouldn’t have acquired a fraction of the extraordinary images had we gone in the measured, sensible way.”

RAINBOW OVER SIMBAI

2010

Nested high in the mountains Simbai is a village that is unreachable except by prop plane. It takes days walking through the bush through steep mud slick hills. With no roads, it is easy to get lost.

This has kept the culture strong and rich and from assimilating to the rest of the world. Simbai really is like stepping into another world.

KALAM PIERCE THEIR NOSE AS INITIATION FOR YOUNG BOYS

2010

Simbai is the home of the Kalam in the heart of the highlands of Madang. It is one of Papua New Guinea’s most secluded places where  still live a subsistence lifestyle in traditional villages scattered through pristine wilderness territory and untouched by Westernisation.

BODY DECORATIONS

2010

When it comes to body decorations, their bodies are heavily donned with “Bilas” (body ornaments) such as large Kina shells, Hornbill (Kokomo)
beak necklaces, cuscus fur, wild garden flowers and arm bands.

Pig fat provides the final shine.

BIRD FEATHERS & KINA SHELLS

2010

The crowns of the head-dresses are decorated with bird feathers comprising those of the cockatoo, parrots, lorikeets and bird of paradise species.

Small round Kina shells are hooked on to and hang suspended from the hole in the nose while others insert King of Saxony bird of paradise feathers.

KALAM MEN AND BOYS

2010

The eastern half of New Guinea, the world’s second largest island, gained full independence from Australia in 1975, when the nation of Papua New Guinea was born. The indigenous population is one of the most heterogeneous in the world.

It is believed that the first Papua New Guineans migrated to the island over 45,000 years ago. Today, over three million people, approximately half of the total population, live in the highlands.

LIFE IS SIMPLE IN HIGHLAND VILLAGES

2010

The highlanders live by hunting, done primarily by men, and by gathering plants and growing crops, done primarily by women. The men help clear
the land, but the rest of the cultivation is the responsibility of the women.
The residents have plenty of good food, close-knit families and a great respect for the wonders of nature.

Kalam

The eastern half of New Guinea gained full independence from Australia in 1975, when Papua New Guinea was born. The indigenous population is one of the most heterogeneous in the world. Traditionally, the different groups scattered across the highland plateau, live in small agrarian clans. Lets talk about one of them, the Kalam

The eastern half of New Guinea gained full independence from Australia in 1975, when Papua New Guinea was born. The indigenous population is one of the most heterogeneous in the world. Traditionally, the different groups scattered across the highland plateau, live in small agrarian clans.
“Knowledge is only rumour until it is in the muscle”

The first visitors were impressed to find valleys of carefully planned gardens and irrigation ditches. The women of the indigenous groups are exceptional farmers. The men hunt and fight other tribes over land, pigs and women. Great effort is made to impress the enemy with terrifying masks, wigs and paint.

“We  wouldn’t have acquired a fraction of the extraordinary images had we gone in the measured, sensible way.”

RAINBOW OVER SIMBAI

2010

Nested high in the mountains Simbai is a village that is unreachable except by prop plane. It takes days walking through the bush through steep mud slick hills. With no roads, it is easy to get lost.

This has kept the culture strong and rich and from assimilating to the rest of the world. Simbai really is like stepping into another world.

KALAM PIERCE THEIR NOSE AS INITIATION FOR YOUNG BOYS

2010

Simbai is the home of the Kalam in the heart of the highlands of Madang. It is one of Papua New Guinea’s most secluded places where  still live a subsistence lifestyle in traditional villages scattered through pristine wilderness territory and untouched by Westernisation.

BODY DECORATIONS

2010

When it comes to body decorations, their bodies are heavily donned with “Bilas” (body ornaments) such as large Kina shells, Hornbill (Kokomo)
beak necklaces, cuscus fur, wild garden flowers and arm bands.

Pig fat provides the final shine.

BIRD FEATHERS & KINA SHELLS

2010

The crowns of the head-dresses are decorated with bird feathers comprising those of the cockatoo, parrots, lorikeets and bird of paradise species.

Small round Kina shells are hooked on to and hang suspended from the hole in the nose while others insert King of Saxony bird of paradise feathers.

KALAM MEN AND BOYS

2010

The eastern half of New Guinea, the world’s second largest island, gained full independence from Australia in 1975, when the nation of Papua New Guinea was born. The indigenous population is one of the most heterogeneous in the world.

It is believed that the first Papua New Guineans migrated to the island over 45,000 years ago. Today, over three million people, approximately half of the total population, live in the highlands.

LIFE IS SIMPLE IN HIGHLAND VILLAGES

2010

The highlanders live by hunting, done primarily by men, and by gathering plants and growing crops, done primarily by women. The men help clear
the land, but the rest of the cultivation is the responsibility of the women.
The residents have plenty of good food, close-knit families and a great respect for the wonders of nature.

Goroka

The indigenous population of the world’s second largest island is one of the most heterogeneous in the world. The harsh terrain and historic inter-tribal warfare have lead to village isolation and the proliferation of distinct languages. A number of different tribes are scattered across the highland plateau.

 

The indigenous population of the world’s second largest island is one of the most heterogeneous in the world. The harsh terrain and historic inter-tribal warfare have lead to village isolation and the proliferation of distinct languages. A number of different groups are scattered across the highland plateau.
“Knowledge is only a rumour until it is in the muscle”
Life is simple in the highland villages. The residents have plenty of good food, close-knit families and a great respect for the wonders of nature. They survive by hunting, gathering plants and growing crops. Indigenous warfare is common and men go through great effort to impress the enemy with make-up and ornaments.

GOROKA

2010

Goroka is the capital of the Eastern Highlands Province of Papua New Guinea. Though only discovered at the beginning of the 20th century it is now host of a major tourist attraction, the Goroka show.  The renowned Goroka Show is a three-day event that takes place annually around the time of the country’s Independence Day (September 16). Dating back to 1957, it is the oldest tribal gathering in Papua New Guinea.  Over 100 tribes from the region show their music, dance and culture.

“I have spent many years in conflict areas, but in Papua New Guinea I was particularly nervous.”

MISTY MOUNT JALIBU

2010

As diverse as the nature of Papua New Guinea is, as diverse are its inhabitants. The indigenous groups have an extraordinary and rich oral tradition, including myths, folk tales, magical sayings and charms. Their material culture is limited to the indispensable things of daily life. However, they do cherish the modest luxury of body ornaments.

PONOWI VILLAGE, JALIBU MOUNTAINS, WESTERN HIGHLANDS

2010Hornbills are a family of birds. Hornbills are found in Africa, Asia and Pacific Northwest. The bill, much to those of the unrelated toucans reminiscent, in many species, is brightly coloured. Their impressive size and colour have helped make them a part of local indigenous cultures and rituals.

FRIEND OR FOE

2010

Eastern Highlanders are considered the friendliest of the highlands with fewer tribal fights than other provinces. Territorial conflicts arise not only with other indigenous groups. Also, western colonialism, mining and the advancing developing world threatens their culture.

The territory of villages and indigenous groups – the land they lived on and that provided them with food and shelter for thousands of years – is something the Highlanders have always defended with their lives. A threat from any foreigner will make them feel forced to fight back.

BIRD OF PARADISE

2010

The indigenous groups from the highlands supply the tribes from the valley with decorative bird feathers, tree kangaroo and cuscus pelts and fine rare woods that have long since disappeared from the valley. The valley people tend to decorate their bodies more than highlanders.

GOROKA SHOW

2010

The staging of the Goroka Show started back in 1957 at the Independence Park opposite the Goroka Main Market. It was first introduced and organized by Australian Kiaps (patrol officers). Kiaps from each district built round houses typical of their districts and proudly displayed their cultures. The Kiaps brought in singing groups from their area. It began as an entertainment weekend for everybody in the Province, but it was also a competition to see which was the best organized and administered district.

KUI EAST WIGMEN, MOUNT HAGEN

2010

Mount Hagen in the western highlands also hosts a large-scale cultural event. Various regional, provincial, even national indigenous dance groups gather to celebrate their cultural heritage in the form of sing-sing. It’s near the Baiyer District which hosts the biggest collection of birds and wildlife in Papua New Guinea, the Baiyer River Bird Sanctuary.  Traditional culture and beliefs remain strong in Mount Hagen and its surroundings.

LUFA BOYS

2010

Lufa is a town in the Eastern Highlands at the foot of Mount Michel with a population under 1000. Their tradition and culture have over decades strongly been influenced by Western society from evangelist missionaries to Facebook, but traditions and customs remain strong.

SEE AND BE SEEN

2010

The annually Goroka Show is a display of the traditional dress, dance and music from the diverse indigenous peoples Papua New Guinea inhabits. The biggest and most well-known tribes are the Huli Wigmen and Asaro Mudmen. Indigenous groups smaller in population and lower in rank, but no less creative in body decorations are: Kunana Su Wigmen, Kikuwya Wigmen, Wara Sua Group, Lufar Wigmen, Gahuku wigmen, Finchafen Group, Sobi Lau Waimo Group, Aipos Group, Wombun Group, Kamanibit Group, Arua Group

MIRAKEL LADY

2010

The Highlanders universe is filled with all kinds of spirits, some more personal in character than others. Particular reverence is paid to ancestral spirits. In times of trouble, domesticated pigs are sacrificed to the spirits of the ancestors.

GOROKA, EASTERN HIGHLANDS

2010Many indigenous groups of Papua New Guinea in the mountainous interior have little contact with one another, let alone with the outside world, and live within a non-monetarized economy dependent on subsistence agriculture.

GOROKA, EASTERN HIGHLANDS

2010Indigenous groups in Papua New Guinea are generally contacted in the sense that local authorities know they are there, but many remain pre-literate and out of reach of modern medicine and technology, and at the national or international level, the names of indigenous groups and information about them may be extremely hard to obtain.

GOGINE BOY

2010

A lot of Goroka, families have now taken to supplementing their family’s income by engaging in small agricultural and livestock businesses. The introduction of vanilla, wheat and rice has had a huge impact on agricultural enthusiasts throughout the Province. Rice and wheat are being grown for own consumption and/or selling while the vanilla is sold to the international market. Pigs, rabbits and especially chickens are readily farmed while fresh vegetables are still grown for the local and national markets.

Asaro

A number of different tribes have lived scattered across the highland plateau for 1000 years, in small agrarian clans, by the harsh terrain and divided by language, custom and tradition. The legendary Asaro Mudmen first met with the Western world in the middle of the 20th century.

 

 

Asaro Tribe
A number of different indigenous groups have lived scattered across the highland plateau for 1000 years, in small agrarian clans, isolated by the harsh terrain and divided by language, custom and tradition. The legendary Asaro Mudmen first met with the Western world in the middle of the 20th century.
“Knowledge is only a rumour until it is in the muscle”
Legend has it that the Mudmen were forced to flee from an enemy into the Asaro River where they waited until dusk to escape. The enemy saw them rise from the banks covered in mud and thought they were spirits. The Asaro still apply mud and masks to keep the illusion alive and terrify other indigenous groups.

 

“The circumstances in the mountain swamps were physically very arduous, but not particularly dangerous.”

Asaro Tribe

ASARO FROM THE EASTERN HIGHLANDS

2010

The mudmen could not cover their faces with mud because the  of Papua New Guinea thought that the mud from the Asaro river was poisonous. So instead of covering their faces with this alleged poison, they made masks from pebbles that they heated and water from the waterfall, with unusual designs such as long or very short ears either going down to the chin or sticking up at the top, long joined eyebrows attached to the top of the ears, horns and sideways mouths.

 

Asaro Tribe

“Our naivety got us access to many beautiful pictures.”

MUD MEN

2010

The Asaro cover themselves in mud, wear terrifying masks and brandishing spears. Legend has it that the Mudmen were defeated by an enemy
and forced to flee into the Asaro River.

They waited until dusk before attempting to escape. The enemy saw them rise from the muddy banks covered in mud and thought they were spirits. Terrified, they ran back to their village. After that episode, all of the neighbouring villages came to believe the Asaro had the spirits of the river on their side. Clever elders of the village saw the advantage of this and kept the illusion alive.

Huli

It is believed that the first Papua New Guineans migrated to the island over 45000 years ago. Today, over 3 million , half of the heterogeneous population, live in the highlands. Some of these communities have engaged in low-scale tribal conflict with their neighbours for millennia.

 

It is believed that the first Papua New Guineans migrated to the island over 45000 years ago. Today, over 3 million people, half of the heterogeneous population, live in the highlands. Some of these communities have engaged in low-scale indigenous conflict with their neighbours for millennia.
The indigenous groups fight over land, pigs and women. Great effort is made to impress the enemy. The largest indigenous group, the Huli wigmen, paint their faces yellow, red and white and are famous for their tradition of making ornamented wigs from their own hair. An axe with a claw completes the intimidating effect.

“We did know Papua New Guinea was a wild place, but not how intense it really was.”

HULI WIG MEN AT AMBUA FALLS

2010

The traditional highland apparel is scant: women wear grass skirts, men wear nothing but a koteka, or penis gourd. However, to impress and scare off the enemy, men go to considerably more effort.

The largest highland are the Huli Wigmen, who paint their faces yellow, red, and white. and are famous for their tradition of making ornamental wigs from their own hair. These look like plumed hats, intricately decorated with feathers of birds of paradise and parrots. Other ornaments include shells, beads, pig tusks, hornbill skulls and foliage.

“For all the remote places I had travelled in my life, with Papua New Guinea I was stepping into the unknown.”

AMBUA FALLS, TARI VALLEY

2010

The Huli are traditionally animists who abide by strict ritualised offerings to appease the spirits of their ancestors.

Sickness and misfortune are thought to be the work of witchcraft and sorcery.

“Using long exposures to get a deep focus in low light conditions, our subjects would often have to stand very, very still.”

TARI VALLEY, WESTERN HIGHLANDS

2010

The Tari Valley, with magnificent views of the valley below and surrounding peaks. High mountain forests with roaring waterfalls.  Life is simple in the highland villages. The residents have plenty of good food, close-knit families and a great respect for the wonders of nature.

The highlanders live by hunting, done primarily by men, and by gathering plants and growing crops, done primarily by women. The men help clear the land, but the rest of the cultivation is the responsibility of the women.

They practice cyclical agriculture, moving to a new location after the soil is exhausted to allow reforestation and recovery. The women are exceptional farmers. The first Westerners to visit the highlands were impressed to find vast valleys of carefully planned gardens and irrigation ditches. Crops grown include sweet potatoes, corn, cabbages and maniocs.

“Getting the light just right demanded a lot of patience from people.”

AMBUA FALLS, TARI VALLEY

2010

Tribal warfare is a common among the indigenous peoples of Papua New Guinea. They fight over three things: land, pigs and women – in that order. To be regarded as important, men need plenty of each: land forfarming, pigs as a measure of wealth and a number of wives to tend to land and livestock.

Himba

Himba

The Himba are an ancient of tall, slender and statuesque herders. Since the 16th century they have lived in scattered settlements, leading a life that has remained unchanged, surviving war and droughts. The tribal structure helps them live in one of the most extreme environments on earth.

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The Himba are an ancient indigenous group of tall, slender and statuesque herders. Since the 16th century they have lived in scattered settlements, leading a life that has remained unchanged, surviving war and droughts. The tribal structure helps them live in one of the most extreme environments on earth.
“Don’t start your farming with cattle, start it with people”
Each member belongs to two clans, through the father and the mother. Marriages are arranged with a view to spreading wealth. Looks are vital, it tells everything about one’s place within the group and phase of life. The headman, normally a grandfather, is responsible for the rules of the indigenous group.

MYSTERIOUS HARTMANN VALLEY

December 2011

In rainy years, the Hartmann’s valleys become grassy expanses, but generally their flat topographies are covered by sand broken only by a few tough grasses, shrubs and the mysterious ‘fairy circles’.

HER NAME IS PERAA MUHENJE

December 2011

Though scarcely clad, looks are vital to the Himba. It tells everything about one’s place within the group and phase of life. The characteristic ‘look’ of the Himba comes from intricate hairstyles, traditional clothing, personal adornments in the form of jewellery and the use of a mixture of goat fat, herbs and red ochre. This paste, known as otjize, is not only rubbed on the skin, but also into hair and on traditional clothing.

There has been much speculation about the origins of this practice, with some claiming it is to protect their skin from the sun or repel insects. But the Himba say it is an aesthetic consideration, a sort of traditional make-up that women apply every morning when they wake. Men do not use otjize.

DAY TO DAY IN HARTMANN VALLEY

December 2011

The Himba day starts early. Women arise before or at dawn and apply Otjize. They milk the cattle, which are then herded to the grazing areas by the men. If the grazing pasture is poor, the entire village will move to a place with lusher grazing land. Young men often set up separate, temporary villages and move around with the cattle, leaving the women, children and older men at the main homestead.

Women take care of cooking, gardening, milking cattle, looking after children, caring for livestock in the kraal and making clothes, jewellery and otjize. Flour is made from maize and butter is churned. Wood has to be collected, and water has to be carried from wells. The children help with the tasks.

NAMIB RAND

December 2011

The Himba have lived in scattered settlements throughout the region of the Kunene River in north-west Namibia and south-west Angola. The homes of the Himba are simple cone-shaped structures of saplings bound together with palm leaves and plastered with mud and dung. A family may move from one home to another several times a year to seek grazing pastures for their goats and cattle.

Although constantly jeopardised by development, including proposed hydroelectric projects, many Himba lead a traditional lifestyle that has remained unchanged for generations, surviving war and droughts.

BEAUTY IN OMBIVANGO VILLAGE NEAR EPUPA FALLS

December 2011

For centuries, necklaces and bracelets have been made of shells, leather and copper. Married women wear a small crown made of goat skin on
their heads. Girls wear their hair in two braids over their brow.

When reaching puberty, they adopt a hairstyle with a multitude of tiny braids that have been ‘waxed’ with Otjize. Himba boys can be recognised by a small plaited pony tail that runs from crown to forehead. Boys that wish to marry sport the same tail, but wear it tied in a bow. A married man wears his hair in a ‘Turban’.

UATERERETA FROM OMBIVANGO VILLAGE NEAR EPUPA FALLS

December 2011

Marriages are arranged with a view to spreading wealth. Once married, the women move to the villages of their husbands where they adopt the rules of the new clan. Himba men are not monogamous and may have a number of wives and children in different homesteads. Women are not monogamous either and may have a number of partners. However, courtship and relationships are bound by strict rules and modes of behaviour.

The best time to visit Sossusvlei is close to sunrise and sunset; the colours are amazing.

DEAD VLEI, SOSSUSVLEI

2011

The sand dunes of Sossusvlei in the Namib Desert are often referred to as the highest dunes in the world. Various arguments are laid out to support this claim, but all miss the point, which is that Sossusvlei is surely one of the most spectacular sights in Namibia.

DEAD VLEI, SOSSUSVLEI

2011

‘Vlei’ is the Afrikaans word for a shallow depression filled with water. During exceptional rainy seasons, Sossusvlei may fill with water, causing Namibians to flock there to witness the grand sight, but normally it is bone dry.

HIMBA FAMILY LIFE

2011

The Himba live under a indigenous structure based on bilateral descent that helps them live in one of the most extreme environments on earth. Every indigenous member belongs to two clans: one through the father (Patriclan or Oruzo), another through the mother (Matriclan or Eanda). The eldest male leads the clan. Sons live in their father’s clan. A son doesn’t inherit his father’s cattle, but that of his mother’s brother instead.

Himba children are cared for by all the members of the family in the homestead. Between the ages of 10 and 12, the bottom four incisor teeth of the child are knocked out in a ceremony that is believed to protect the child from dangerous influences and ensure the protection of the ancestors.

 

EPUPA FALLS

December 2011

Women take care of cooking, gardening, milking cattle, looking after children, caring for livestock in the kraal and making clothes, jewellery and Otjize. Flour is made from maize and butter is churned. Wood has to be collected, and water has to be carried from wells. The children help with the tasks.

Himba believe in omiti, meaning ‘bad medicine’ or ‘witchcraft’

MATUTJAVI TJAVARA IN EPUPA FALLS

December 2011

The Himba practice monotheism and ancestor worship. Their god is Mukuru, creator of everything, but a remote god.

Communication with Mukuru only takes place through the spirits of the male ancestors. For this reason the ancestral fire, or Okuruwo, is kept burning 24 hours a day. Mukuru created man, woman and cattle from the same tree, although he does not have unlimited power and ancestors can also greatly influence worldly events.

One of the duties of the male leader of the family is to maintain the ancestral fire, where he prays to departed progenitors and asks for their blessings for his family. Whereas Mukuru has power over most physical elements of the earth, such as the land, water and weather, ancestors control more immediate concerns, such as the health of kin or cattle.