The other day, I found an IDRC report about the Asháninka and their use of the Internet dating back to 2000. Coincidentally, the Atlantic just ran a post about the Asháninka based on some photos and text released by Survival International. I have cobbled various bits together below with the intention of introducing the Asháninka and the IDRC project. As well, I have included two videos which offer different perspectives about the introduction of Internet technology into Indigenous communities. Rather a hodge-podge I know…

“A Threatened Way of Life”

From The Atlantic (December 16, 2011): The Asháninka are one of the largest indigenous groups in South America, their ancestral homelands ranging from Brazil to Peru. Since colonial times, their existence has been difficult — they have been enslaved, had their lands taken away or destroyed, and were caught up in the bloody internal conflict in Peru during the late 20th century. Today, a large communal reserve set aside for the Asháninka is under threat by the proposed Pakitzapango dam, which would displace some 10,000 Asháninka. The dam is part of a large set of hydroelectric projects planned between the Brazilian and Peruvian governments – without any original consultation with the Asháninka. Bowing to recent pressure from indigenous groups, development one other dam in the project, the Tambo-40, has already been halted. The Pakitzapango dam on Peru’s Ene River is currently on hold, though the project has not been withdrawn yet.

The images in the Atlantic article are also in this video from Survival International:

The Ashaninka and the Internet

The video and document below introduce the project which began in 2000. From the document: “The Asháninka do not see the Internet as the beachhead of a cultural invasion from the North. Rather, they have seized it as a tool to reinforce and perpetuate their own culture, to build a larger sense of community purpose among the 400-odd Asháninka villages scattered across South America, and to tell their own story to the world. In the process, they bypass outside news media and governments, which they think tend to marginalize them.”

The video below was posted on Youtube. The original .mov file and other info can be found here.

Read the article

La Comunidad Indígena Asháninka Marankiari Bajo

Visit the Asháninka website >>

From the Asháninka website: La Comunidad Indígena Asháninka Marankiari Bajo (CIAMB-PERU) es una organización comunal líder y autogestionaria, con personeria jurídica de derecho privado. Está llevando a cabo una estrategia de desarrollo local integral alternativo sostenible, compatible con su identidad cultural. Viene trabajando de manera organizada en el mejoramiento de la producción agrícola. También está recuperando suelos y bosques reforestando con especies alimentarias, medicinales y nativas. Viene poniendo en marcha proyectos de comercialización de cosechas y de desarrollo de microempresas, a través de un fondo de préstamos, lo cual fortalece iniciativas de las familias vinculadas a la producción con valor agregado y al ecoturismo.

Translation (hopefully accurate): The Comunidad Indígena Asháninka Marankiari Bajo (CIAMB-PERU) is a self-lead and managed community organization with its own private law. It is carrying out a comprehensive local development strategy compatible with their cultural identity. [We] have been working in an organized way to improve agricultural production. [We are] also recovering soils and forests reforested with food, medicinal and native. The project has been implementing the marketing of crops and micro-enterprise development through a loan fund which strengthens families initiatives related to value-added production and ecotourism.

The Internet: Power tool for Indigenous cultures

This bit is from an interview with Wade Davis by Current Green. In it, he explains how powerful a tool the Internet can be for Indigenous peoples:

The effects of social media and digital technology on global society

In the video below, Michael Wesch, a cultural anthropologist discusses the effects of new media on society and culture – somewhat of a counterpoint (if not simply a cautionary tale) to Wade Davis’ views above. After two years studying the implications of writing on a remote indigenous culture in the rain forest of Papua New Guinea, he has turned his attention to the effects of social media and digital technology on global society.

I am still on the research path to find out the current state of the Asháninka’s adoption and use of the Internet. Unfortunately, the “Centro de internet” link from their website is broken. I will post updates when I find new info…