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Native Americans were digging up bones long before Columbus

Paleontology has a long history in the Americas, dating back to (at least) the Aztec and Inca, who excavated the bones of mammoths and other mega-fauna and showed them off to Spanish invaders. Maggie 2

Mayan Oxlajuj Baktun: "End of an Era, More of the Same," photo essay by James Rodriguez

James Rodriguez, a brave and talented photojournalist in Guatemala, has a striking photo-essay up on his blog.

On this occasion I share a photo essay documenting events in the Guatemalan northern city of Huehuetenango during the much-awaited end of the Mayan Oxlajuj Baktun. These provide a clear reflection of the divisions and challenges faced by Mayan communities today. The media exploited erroneous apocalyptic rumors, the government and business sectors viewed it as an opportunity to gain economically through tourism, and progressive groups seized the opportunity “to strengthen ancestral wisdom and never-ending search for balance” while vindicating what seem never-ending struggles for justice, inclusion, and self-determination.

Read the rest

Shit White People Do, part umptybillion: "Les Indes galantes—Les Sauvages" (video)

[Video Link]

BB Community moderator Antinous (the person who nukes your comments at Boing Boing when you act like a dick) plucked this gem from the jaws of YouTube and says,

I could watch this a hundred times and find something new to be horrified at every time. I love Rameau's music, but who thought that it was a good idea to have the singers doing the chicken dance in front of a giant turkey cloaca while clenching corncob pipes in their teeth?

You need to see it on a proper monitor to appreciate the full cavalcade of racialist nuances.

The opera-ballet shown, "The Noble Savages" is by French Baroque era composer Jean-Philippe Rameau. More about its history here, and you can buy the music on Amazon if you're so inclined. I can maybe give the dude a break, seeing as how it was all, like, 1725 when he wrote it and stuff, man. But there can be no forgiveness for any of the contemporary humans involved in this production.

Indigenous Americans and Carl Sagan agree: We are star stuff

In the language of the Diné (what the Navajo call themselves), the word for "star" is "sitsoi yoo." But that word means more than just "star." According to Nancy Maryboy of the Indigenous Education Institute, sitsoi yoo means something closer to "my ancient relation from which I came," a reference to a traditional Diné belief that humans were born from stars. Remind you of anything?

I'm currently attending the 6th Science Center World Congress in Cape Town, South Africa. Tomorrow, I'll be talking about how science museums are failing adult visitors, but I've also gotten the chance to sit in on several really interesting panels. The anecdote above comes from a panel on Indigenous Astronomy, which I hope to write some more about in the future.

Image: Sergio Eguivar — Buenos Aires Skies, via Astronomy Picture of the Day