Thursday, October 18, 2007

A fatal bond to a valley of death.

This report on the daily challenges of the people of the Gwembe valley in southern Zambia, who were displaced in the 60’s to pave way for the construction of the Kariba dam is heart breaking. The area development chairperson had much to complain about poor roads, lack of electricity, schools, clinics, food and dry land. Yet despite the Zambian government’s failure to address these needs for the past forty seven years, the people of this hostile valley will not even consider relocating. In fact they are still angry at their initial displacement from their traditional habitant –

"Culture was destroyed during that period. People were taken to areas new to them meaning their beliefs and way of life were affected,"Mweemba Area Development Association chairperson Edson Sikalongo .

In an attempt to understand this fatal bond to a valley, that causes so much pain in the daily lives of these people and yet like a child sitting on nail but won’t consider getting up to end the resulting pain yet continues crying out loud. I found the Hualapai and Havasupai the native Indian tribes who were also displaced from their traditional habitant - the Grand Canyon, Arizona USA.

The Havasupai consider themselves the traditional Guardians of Grand Canyon. With the establishment of the Grand Canyon National Park in 1919, the tribe was restricted to a reservation at the southwest corner of the park.
Just as the Tonga of the Gwembe valley, the Havasupai have complaints against the US government, poor roads, high unemployment, and loss of their ancestral land and the destruction of their culture. The road to Havasupai is paved all the way though some parts are in need of resurfacing.

It is believed that by A.D. 1300, semi-nomadic, non-puebloan peoples also occupied the river corridor of Grand Canyon. These Pai and Paiute hunter-gatherers had a stable subsistence economy based on combined agriculture and hunting and gathering, supplemented by trade. Dispersed settlements included wick up rings, rock shelters, extensive roasting complexes that included ceramics and abundant flake stone tools and debitage. It is also believed that these hunter-gatherers made use of perishables such as baskets, mats, sandals, and twine. These ancestors of the present day Hualapai and Havasupai continued to seasonally utilize both the rim and river corridor until interdiction by the U. S. Government.

Recently the tribes lost an attempt to prevent the building of this skywalk on their ancestral land.

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