I'm glad to report that this roundup did reasonably well. There was one Native and several non-Natives with a Native connection. Here they are:
Making the Grade
Yurok Indian Geneva Wiki is helping other young Native Americans "develop their best selves"
More than half of the 30 teens attending this public charter school are Yurok and more than two-thirds are American Indians. As young as 13, they have all taken college placement exams and are co-enrolled in high school and the local community college, working simultaneously toward high-school diplomas and college credits. The idea behind this innovative project, part of the Early College High School Initiative, largely funded by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, is that low-income, minority and otherwise disadvantaged young people at risk of dropping out are encouraged to stay in school and get a free, non-intimidating taste of college. There are now 147 such schools in 23 states and the District of Columbia, 11 of which are specifically for American Indians.
"This is the front line of our civil rights movement," says Wiki. "Past generations struggled first over rights to fish and hunt, and then to govern ourselves. Now we need to work on reclaiming ourselves through education."
Down to Earth
Anthropologist Amber VanDerwarker is unraveling the mysteries of the ancient Olmec by figuring out what they ate
What they found suggests that the Olmecs differed from early peoples in Egypt, Mesopotamia and China, where the growth of urban centers was closely tied to a single grain—wheat, barley and rice, respectively—and central powers coordinated vast networks of fields and farmers. Most researchers had assumed that it was the cultivation of maize that made the Olmec prosper.
On the contrary, say VanDerwarker and her colleagues, who identified an astonishing array of foods in the Olmec diet—from deer, ocelots, rabbits and turtles to beans, avocados and tree fruits. For several centuries, because the Olmec lived with what she calls "an abundance of resources," they even managed plots of fruit trees. Animals drawn to such forest gardens would have been easy to hunt.
Even if this was true only in the outlying regions of the Olmec civilization, it's still significant. In cultures such as ancient Egypt and medieval Europe, the central authority (the pharaoh or pope) reached into every corner of the realm. Almost every aspect of life was controlled by rules and regulations from above. Even with a central government, the Olmecs may have been less rigid and authoritarian.
Studying ancient botanical drawings, Daniela Bleichmar is rewriting the history of the Spanish conquest of the Americas
From them, Bleichmar has pieced together how naturalists and artists working for the Spanish Crown surveyed flora in America and took what they learned back to Europe; how their images helped the empire in its search for supplies of coffee, tea, cinnamon, pepper, nutmeg and medicinal specimens; how their keen observations earned them favor with rulers and their ministers; how their omissions—of indigenous people, of wider landscapes—reflected the colonizers' attitudes toward the colonized.
Crossing the Divide
Novelist Daniel Alarcón's writings evoke the gritty, compelling landscape of urban Latin America
Also, there's Matt Flannery, a software engineer who "pioneers Internet microloans to the world's poor." His organization is named Kiva.org--presumably after the religious centers of the Pueblo people. I don't see any real connection between the name and the mission, but "kiva" certainly sounds low-tech, Third-World, and people-oriented.
Of course, we could come up with hundreds if not thousands of young Native leaders as innovative as these people. But these choices give us a fair sampling of what today's generation are doing to change the world.
Moreover, it's good to see Native values seeping into the mainstream--into the work of non-Native innovators and into bastions of the establishment like Smithsonian magazine. Five of the 37 innovators have some connection to Native Americans, and more are linked to minorities and indigenous people around the world.
P.S. There's no truth to the rumor that "Geneva Wiki" is also a website run by the United Nations. ;-)