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Indigenous. Endangered.
2015/08/19
By : Burt Kempner
Experience The Xukuru Story - a scenic visual narrative which immerses virtual travelers in a rustic Brazilian context as they learn how indigenous communities from around the world must fight against pervasive commercial interests for their rights, land, and livelihood.

Digital installations include stunning photography and a vibrant music video of The Tore - a sacred cultural celebration - captured for the first time by Compathos. The interactive documentary moves from experience to education and action by enabling audiences to participate in data harvesting solutions for the Xukuru nation so they can support global indigenous communities facing similar challenges.

Some of the students and young media professionals selected to work on this project were chosen from a student media contest hosted by Compathos Foundation's Media Intern Program. The winners traveled to Pernambuco, Brazil for a 14-day Media Expedition with Compathos' non-profit partner Global Citizens Network, an organization recommended by National Geographic, Budget Travel, The New York Times, NEED Magazine, and Oprah Magazine as one of the "Best Volunteer Vacations."

The project explores the intersection of new interactive documentary forms and digital journalism with the intent to address the profound needs of an informed society. This approach to digital storytelling combining interactive media with long-form journalism can be found among publications such as The New York Times, the BBC, and The Guardian.

Start your virtual journey here: The Xukuru Story

Excerpt by Burt Kempner:

"When they look out reverently over Nature's works, they see a sacred ally, not a force to be tamed. Their shamans regard their surrounding landscape as a vast open-air pharmacy. Their men and women know secrets that we have forgotten and many more that we have never learned. They are the world's indigenous peoples - some 370-million souls residing in around 90 countries - and they have endured a continual state of siege for over 500 years.

We read in books and see in films the romantic notion that indigenous societies are inherently nobler than industrialized societies. Some are; some aren't. But what is indisputably true is that they know how to live in true harmony with their environments, and those who insist that native peoples have nothing of value to teach the outside world today are guilty of the same arrogance that has brought us to the edge of physical, material and spiritual collapse.

If we adopted their view that we are not separate from Nature but a vital part of it, it would have a revolutionary impact across the entire planet. If we studied how they educate their young and come to decisions as a group, it would strengthen and perhaps restore our failing institutions. If we practice immense gratitude for that which has been given to us, and abandon zero-sum games based on competition in r of endless, life-affirming play based on cooperation, we just may avoid the calamitous future so many see in store for us.

Indigenous people have known how to live like this since time immemorial. What they have received from so-called civilized societies have been never-ending cycles of war, environmental disasters, dispossession, racism, crushing poverty, ethnic cleansing and extermination and the forcible suppression of their languages, spiritual practices and traditional knowledge. In recent years, the world's indigenous people have finally started making themselves heard, both in the United Nations and their countries' halls of government.

But is it too little, too late?

The question takes on added urgency when we consider what's at stake. If indigenous folkways were to disappear, here's what would disappear along with them:

1) Stewardship of some of the most biologically diverse territories in the world;
2) Much of the world's linguistic and cultural heritage;
3] Intimate knowledge of thousands upon thousands of plants, many of which might contain invaluable medical properties;
4) Millennia-tested agricultural, land management and sustainability practices;
5) A strong, Nature-based spiritual tradition;
6) A unique relationship with the environment.

The loss of this heritage wouldn't just affect pockets of native villagers in the Americas, Africa or Asia. All of human civilization would be impoverished, which is why we must heed the call to enlist under the indigenous banner."

Start your virtual journey here: The Xukuru Story
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