National Geographic January 2014, Part 1

Kayapo Courage, by Chip Brown, photographs by Martin Schoeller

The Kayapo are a relatively large indigenous group of Brazil. They still lead a hunting-and-gathering lifestyle based on traditional (if not stereotypical) gender lines. The men hunt and fish, the women gather produce and take care of the home and children.

The Kayapo are also one of the populations that are trying to balance the benefits of the outside world with their own traditional way of life. The village that Brown visits has solar panels, satellite dishes and, in some buildings, generators and flush toilets.

The Kaypo are also active in the outside world. Their numbers were reduced in the early 1900s by outsiders encroaching upon their territory, bringing diseases such as measles and smallpox. The survivors have used their immunity to Western diseases to go out into the greater population of Brazil and advocating not just for the Kayapo, but for the indigenous peoples of Brazil as a whole. It is due, in part, to the advocacy of the Kayapo that indigenous peoples’ rights were written into the Brazilian constitution in 1988. The Kayapo were also instrumental in halting the building of a series of dams that would have flooded parts of the territory occupied by indigenous peoples. A version of one of those dams, named Belo Monte, is under construction at the moment. The projected opening date for the Belo Monte dam is 2019. It remains to be seen whether the other dams will be built or not.

And if you are old enough to remember 1989, there is a good chance that you have seen at least a picture of a Kayapo. In 1987, the chief of the Kayapo, Raoni Metuktire, approached the musician Sting about the plight of the indigenous peoples of South America, and together, Sting and Chief Raoni founded the Rainforest Foundation and made an international tour in 1989 to raise worldwide awareness of indigenous peoples. So, if you remember that tour, that native Brazilian in those photos with Sting? Was Chief Raoni.

The Things They Brought Back, by Jeremy Berlin, photographs by Rosamond Purcell

The Things They Brought Back is a brief overview of the things in the back rooms of museums. We see the back rooms at the Academy of Natural Sciences in Philadelphia and of the Smithsonian Institution in Washington, DC.

They don’t just store these things in the back rooms; they continue to study them. One scientist, Helen James of the Smithsonian, has identified nearly 40 extinct species of bird from samples brought back from Hawaii.

I haven’t seen the back rooms of either of these museums, but for a time during my adolescence, my parents were members of the Field Museum of Natural History in Chicago (let’s see if I remember to put the link to my overview of the museum there once the Field Museum becomes a Northern Illinois Destination topic), and during members’ nights, members of the museum are able to visit the back rooms and see the work being done there. I enjoyed members’ nights so much that, on two different occasions, I brought friends with me. I am budgeting a trip back to Chicago for 2016. If I could guarantee being able to take Alex back to Chicago during the weekend of members’ night, I would actually contemplate joining just for 2016 so that I can take him to the behind-the-scenes events at the Museum

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