Hans Rosling makes data sing

Over on the blog of Tullamore Toastmasters I posted some videos of the Swedish Professor of Public Heath, Hans Rosling, whose statistics are fascinating, insightful, and, ultimately, encouraging. The world is in many ways better than we might have thought it was. (The world isn’t only healthier than we might have thought; it’s also a lot less violent.)


Twilight and the Quileute: protecting “indigenous peoples’ collective cultural property”

Stephenie Meyer’s Twilight Saga is set in Forks, a real town, and includes references to the Quileute people, a real Indian Nation, situated nearby. The books are incredibly popular, and busloads of tourists visit Forks and the Quileute Nation. The tourist industry in Forks has benefited greatly from this; that of the Quileute, less so.

Also, there is no legal protection of the Quileute name, which means that the “Quileute” hoodies, jewelry and other goods do not raise them a penny. In fact, they don’t really have much to do with the real-life Quileute at all.

Many Indian tribes develop markets for their own cultural property — or at least the part of it that is not deemed sacred and therefore private. Some have introduced culturally appropriate commercial products — Navajo rugs, for example, or Potawatomi porcupine-quill earrings — to educate non-Indians about their traditions or to earn a living.


The Quileute are likewise eager to share their tribal culture, even if the interest in it was created primarily by Hollywood. The Quileute welcome outsiders, as my own interactions with them have confirmed. When hordes of “Twilight” fans showed up in La Push in 2008, the tribe, as a sovereign Indian nation, could have closed its reservation, but tribal members chose not to do so.

As Angela R. Riley says, The ultimate choice, regarding not only the Quileute but all indigenous peoples, is not simply whether outsiders are free to appropriate tribal cultural property.