Oct 29, 2018

Fulfilling the Bushman Vision

Dear Donors,


Imagine you were told you must leave your home and your way of life. You are moved to lands that don’t even have basic necessities such as water, meaning you either have to buy bottled water, or walk up to a mile to retrieve water from a tank. The ways that you (and your ancestors) had successfully sustained yourselves and your families for tens of thousands of years was also stripped from you, and the land that you once used for cultivating (or hunting for) your own food was taken away and now used for tourist sites. The schools your children attended were shut down, and the only way for them to get an education is to either move away from you and live in the town where the school is located, or they must travel an hour and a half each way, every day. When you tried to stand up for yourself to create change with local officials or with the federal government for your family and community, you are silenced. It is hard to fathom, but that is exactly what has happened to the last remaining first people, the Bushmen.  


The first people carry unfathomable knowledge and wisdom of the stars and the earth systems well beyond anything Western science can conceive of. However, the Elders who carry the knowledge area dying at a rapid pace, meaning this knowledge goes with them unless it can be passed on to the next generations.


Last year, a Bushman Elder and Healer shared her vision for her community with us. She can see the road ahead for her people, and she has been working almost singlehandedly to carry the traditions forward with the youth. During this past year, she has been bringing youth to the Bushveld and ancestral lands to share their stories, and she’s been teaching the youth the sacred trance dances as well as some of the ancient healing modalities such as “smeer,” a form of Bushman massage. For the first time, the youth are responding, recently telling her and community leaders, that “they want to know more,” and that they want to know “who they are.” Inspired by this, this turn of events, this Healer requested our support to bring a group of youth to Namibia to meet with an intact community of Bushmen living deep in the Namibian Bushveld. The Bushmen in Namibia still practice the sacred trance dances, live off and on the land, and as a result, have been less consumed by some of the pitfalls of Western society and modernity.


I had the good fortune of traveling with the Bushmen from South Africa to this community in Namibia. Sitting under the stars of the immense African sky, we sat in a circle around a small fire. Supported by a group of old and young women chanting with the rhythmic beat of the wooden bars they clapped together, an Elder Medicine Man went deep into trance for nearly five hours. The shells adorning his back side clicked and swayed rhythmically as the energy of the earth, stars, and ancestors moved through his slight, muscular body. The South African youth were rivetd and inspired, and ready to bring what they learned back to their own community.


The village, which consists of about 10 round huts constructed of reeds, wood branches, and in some cases, pieces of plastic tarp, has no running water, plumbing, or electricity. Despite these “hardships,” the village Elder said that he intentionally moved his community this far out—to live on the land and connected with Mother Earth. I got just a very small taste of the hardships and immense beauty they experience on a daily basis.


The Elder Healers and the youth returned from this journey hugely inspired. They are now working on setting up a self initiated and managed foundation to bring back their own healing, power, and identity. We thank you again for your support and for helping us spread the word about this project and others.

Jul 31, 2018

Summer 2018: Bushman Renaissance, a Beginning

Lys standing in the doorway of her healing hut
Lys standing in the doorway of her healing hut

Dear Donors,


We are very grateful for the support we receive from you, which makes our work with the Khomani San Bushmen of the Kalahari possible.


The Khomani San Bushmen are faced with immense challenges that most of us in the Western world could never fathom. Forcibly moved off their ancestral lands onto lands with no water, their schools were closed down and two liquor stores opened up in the community often selling liquor for less than water. It was a recipe for disaster. Addictions, domestic abuse, and disease are rampant as they are in many indigenous communities around the world facing similar scenarios.


Healer and Elder Lys has lived through the decimation of her people, witnessing first hand the devastation caused by alcohol addiction. Armed with help from some members of her community, the Worldwide Indigenous Science Network, and her own guiding vision for how to heal and restore Bushman health, power and identity, Lys has constructed a “healing hut” and “kraal” (enclosure) through which she can begin to teach the Khomani San youth the ancient healing practices of their ancestors—“smeer,” an ancient Bushman healing massage technique, as well as the medicinal uses of many plants found in the Bushveld. She has also started to receive clients in the hut, which will help with the sustainability of Lys, her family, and members of her community. 


Part of her vision also includes bringing Khomani San youth to Namibia where the Bushman culture continues to live on their ancestral lands and has remained more intact. Seeing the possibilities of what can be and learning from Elders who have continued holding the traditions for generations will both education and empower the youth.  WISN program manager met with Lys and others in the community to discuss their plans and to create a strategy to make it happen.


Though we will continue to raise funds for the Mobile Addictions Treatment program, in the meantime, we will also conntinue to support the Bushmen—on their own terms—to empower and build their community from within.


We thank you again for your ongoing support and for helping us spread the word about this project and others.  

The newly finished healing hut
The newly finished healing hut
Lys inside the kraal sharing her vision
Lys inside the kraal sharing her vision
A woman's vision to empower her community. . . .
A woman's vision to empower her community. . . .
Jul 30, 2018

Summer 2018 Report: Networking in Mexico

Dear Donor,


Our mission is to save the apex cats from extinction and to ultimately save the earth’s ecosystems by bridging Indigenous and Western sciences to develop new, radical conservation methods.


Why It’s Critical now more than ever—Indigenous prophesies understood the critical times we are now experiencing. Habitat destruction, poaching, and destruction of native traditional values have brought the big cats to the brink of extinction. Without these culturally central, sacred animals, entire ecosystems will die.


Alone, neither science nor indigenous knowledge can stop the extinction of snow leopards, lions, tigers, and jaguars. Through the Global Alliance for Big Cat Conservation, we are working with Western science to find new ways of conservation.


In June, WISN partnered with a Mexican-based organization called Naturalia. The Mexican government is only doing so much. This organization, working with local communities in Northwestern Mexico, is purchasing and establishing private protected lands for Jaguar conservation. While they have the conservation expertise needed for such a project, WISN offers expertise in bridging the cultural, indigenous perspective with Western science in an effort to create new forms of conservation that aren’t only based in one realm.


Naturalia and a WISN representative also attended a conference in Mexico in June—the National Alliance for Jaguar Conservation hosted in Cozumel. While the majority of the attendees were from Mexico, others from Central and South America were also in attendance, all joined by a combined mission of wanting to create strategies for saving this endangered big cat, integral to their ecosystems as well as to the cultures who have been intrinsically involved with Jaguars for thousands of years.


We will be planning to meet with the conservationists of Naturalia within the next six months and our hope is that together, we can develop new ways and strategies of creating a corridor of protection for these beloved cats that extends from Brazil through Central America.


Donors, we give much heartfelt gratitude for your support for our ongoing conservation efforts and we will continue to keep you updated of our progress. Please consider sharing our work with friends, family and colleagues so that we can continue.

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