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Friday, May 27, 2011

Portland's Ethnic Grocery Stores: A Gap in the Diversity Aisle

By Sean Cruz

Portland, Oregon—

In its annual publication titled “Devour 2011, a Hungry Shopper’s Guide” the Williamette Week recently identified 39 “world” or ethnic groceries in Portland, inadvertently exposing a huge gap in the diversity department.

None of these targeted markets feature American Indian foods, even though these foods sustained communities here for millennia and Portland is home to the ninth largest Native American population in the nation.

The WW article states: “There are those who say Portland lacks diversity, that it is little more than a playground for overeducated, underemployed white people, and that the city will never, for all the mayor’s talk of internationalism and manufactured weirdness, outgrow its white-bread personality…. Those people really need to spend more time shopping, because if it is all fair to judge a city’s diversity by its grocery stores (and it is!), Portland is far more cosmopolitan than a walk down SE Hawthorne Boulevard might lead you to believe. In the course of writing this guide, we sampled goods from every continent, amid shoppers speaking dozens of languages, and unfailingly discovered foods we’d never encountered before. The cultural riches of this city are boundless (italics added).”

The city is a long, long way from ever outgrowing its white bread personality, but that is another topic.

The WW researchers “sampled goods from every continent, amid shoppers speaking dozens of languages, and unfailingly discovered foods we’d never encountered before. The cultural riches of this city are boundless (italics added again).”

Yet, there is no Native American market…hmmm….

The sampling of goods…hmmm.

Shoppers speaking dozens of languages…hmmm….

Foods never encountered before…hmmm…..

“The cultural riches of this city are boundless”…hmmm….

That last one is something of a stretch, but there is a plan forming to create a Native American grocery in Portland, with the assistance of the Portland Development Commission, under its “Grocery Store Initiative”, and here’s an opportunity to find out how boundless the cultural riches of this city are…and to fill that gap in the diversity aisle.

Stay tuned on this one….

Here’s the Devour 2011 list, categorized as published:


G Mart


Caribbean Spice


Dutch American Market

East African

East Africa Market

East Asian

An Dong

East Indian, Fijian

Fiji Emporium

Eastern European

Anoush Deli
Good Neighbor


Awash Market
Merkato Ethiopian Music and Food


Foti’s Greek Deli

Indian (East Indian, like from Asia)

Apna Bazaar
India Sweets and Spices


Marinotti’s Café and Deli



Latin American

Dashen International Groceries (Central American)


International Food Supply
Zaky Grocery

Middle Eastern

Barbur World Foods
Bazaar International Market


Fruteria el Campesino
La Tapatia
Mercado Don Pancho
Su Casa Imports
Tienda Santa Cruz
Tortilleria y Tienda de Leon

Middle Eastern

Pars International Market

Pacific Islander

Island Foods

Pan-Asian, Chinese


Pan-Asian, Korean

H Mart


Roman Russian Market

Southeast Asian

Oriental Food Value


Lily Market


Hong Phat Vietnamese Market
Nam Phuong Market
Thanh Son Tofu

Vietnamese, East Asian

Thanh Thao Market

Link to Devour 2011:

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Celilo Falls, the U.N., World Heritage Sites and Indigenous Peoples

By Sean Cruz

Portland, Oregon—

The Tenth Session of the United Nations Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues (UNPFII) is meeting in New York, May 16-27, and anyone interested in seeing Celilo Falls resurrected from its gravesite behind the obsolete and misplaced 1950’s-era dam at The Dalles ought to think about this….

The International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN) “is the official Advisory Body to the World Heritage Committee on natural and mixed World Heritage sites and as such evaluates new site nominations and monitors the state of conservation of inscribed sites.”

The point that I’m going to get to in a minute is that there is a process to nominate new World Heritage sites, and that the time is right to begin the process to place Celilo Falls on the list of World Heritage 'inscribed’ sites.

Gonzalo Oviedo, IUCN Senior Advisor for Social Policy, presented a statement to the UNPFII that included these remarks:

“World Heritage sites are established under the World Heritage Convention; they are key places for the conservation of cultural and natural values of the world.

“As many of these sites overlap with traditional lands, the involvement of indigenous peoples and local communities in the establishment and management of World Heritage sites is paramount. Issues such as land rights, free prior and informed consent, access to resources and benefit sharing mechanisms are of crucial importance.

“We would like to convey to the United Nations Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues the importance we attach to these issues.

“We recognize the long-established indigenous peoples’ stewardship of areas contained in natural World Heritage sites and the associated tangible and intangible cultural heritage.

“We also value the commitment, ecological knowledge and customary practices of indigenous peoples living in and around World Heritage sites. Indigenous peoples therefore represent key actors and logical allies for us in the protection of these outstanding places.

“We believe that to assure realization of human rights gives the local populations long-term security and promotes lasting stewardship of their common heritage.”

The mission of IUCN is stated: “IUCN helps the world find pragmatic solutions to our most pressing environmental and development challenges by supporting scientific research; managing field projects all over the world; and by bringing governments, NGOs, the United Nations, international conventions and companies together to develop policy, laws and best practice. IUCN is the world’s oldest and largest global environmental network. IUCN is a democratic union with more than 1000 government and NGO member organizations, and some 10,000 volunteer scientists in more than 150 countries and hundreds of partners in public, NGO and private sectors around the world.”

Continuing his remarks, Mr. Oviedo stated:

“We consider that the Convention has much to offer in strengthening the appreciation of the heritage of indigenous peoples, but there is also much scope to enhance policy and practice to recognize local and indigenous peoples as key actors in the protection of their sites in full respect of their rights and responsibilities.

“We are keen to identify, with UNESCO and other partners, how best to meet the aim to focus more on indigenous peoples and local communities and promote and apply more inclusive conservation approaches.

“We are also keen to facilitate exchange with other stakeholders in preparation of the 40th Anniversary of the Convention in 2012, themed ‘World Heritage and Sustainable Development: The Role of Local Communities in the Management of World Heritage….”

The dam at The Dalles was the result of thinking and decision making as stupid and shortsighted and as willfully destructive as anything the Soviets did in the same era, yet there it sits….

It is time to form the Friends of Celilo Falls, to gather the Friends together, and to begin the process that will see Celilo Falls recovered and preserved, no less important than any other site the world treasures…hear the roar…the earth trembles…the flash of salmon and there the net….

Friday, May 06, 2011

Winona LaDuke Democracy Now! interview "The Militarization of Indian Country" and the abuse of the name Geronimo

Winona LaDuke was interviewed on Democracy Now! about her new book “The Militarization of Indian Country” and the abuse of the name “Geronimo”

“Native American activist and writer Winona LaDuke joins us (Democracy Now!) to discuss her new book, The Militarization of Indian Country. LaDuke covers the legacy of the seizure of Native American lands by the U.S. government—which became sites for industrial and military use, including army bases, nuclear testing sites, coal and uranium mining—and how the military-industrial complex is encroaching on native communities. LaDuke lives and works on the White Earth Nation in northern Minnesota and is executive director of the group Honor the Earth. ‘Indian country is not to be assaulted by the U.S. military,’ says LaDuke.” (from Democracy Now! website)

See/hear the interview:

Thursday, May 05, 2011

A slain son, a father's heartbreak and the end of poetry

By Sean Cruz

Portland, Oregon—

Grief-stricken Mexican poet Javier Sicilia read a poem dedicated to his murdered son last Saturday, and then declared that this would be his last, that “Poetry does not exist in me anymore.”

I understand how he feels, find much in common, remember when the poetry died in my life…and how long it took to come back….

24-year-old Juan Francisco was found in an abandoned car along with six other bodies, their heads, faces, hands and feet bound with tape, suffocated to death under that tape, among the latest victims in the ongoing war that has its foundation in American demand for drugs and the many billions of dollars U.S. citizens are willing to export in order to feed their habits.

These seven are believed to be innocent, “collateral damage” in the incessant violence between the gangs, the cartels, for control of the smuggling routes, and the Mexican government, the battle for the soul of Mexico itself “so far from God, so close to the United States”….

More than 35,000 people have been murdered in Mexico in just the last five years, most often with guns supplied by U.S. gun dealers, and by criminal enterprises nearly entirely funded with U.S. dollars, smuggled back across the border or transferred electronically to offshore tax havens by corrupt American banking officials.

And now there is Mr. Sicilia’s last poem:

El mundo ya no es digno de la palabra
Nos la ahogaron adentro
Como te (asfixiaron),
Como te
desgarraron a ti los pulmones

Y el dolor no se me aparta
sólo queda un mundo
Por el silencio de los justos
Sólo por tu silencio y por mi silencio, Juanelo.

El mundo ya no es digno de la palabra, es mi último poema, no puedo escribir más poesí poesía ya no existe en mi.

The world is no longer worthy of the word
They suffocated it inside us
Like you (they asphyxiated)
Like you
they slashed your lungs
And pain won’t cleave from me
only a world is left
By the silence of the just
Only by your silence and by my silence, Juanelo.

The world is no longer worthy of the word—is my last poem, I can’t write any more poetry...poetry no longer exists in me. (Javier Sicilia)

I understand the grieving poet’s sentiments so well…nearly fifteen years went by following the loss of my children in a Mormon abduction…and more than five years passed after the death of my son Aaron, a death preventable had he received medical care of minimal competence…before I could find my way to the poetry, to the lyrics, to the music once again….

No one knows how long these things take….

No one knows how much time will pass before Mr. Sicilia finds the poetry in his soul once again….

A year ago, I would have been among the first to say, “Never…it will never exist in me again”….

But today I taste the bittersweetness of life with purpose and compassion…I hear songs, melodies, feel the pulse of the drumbeat in my heart…lyrics close to the surface, where tears used to abide…and down the road, perhaps, another poem will rise for Mr. Sicilia, as it has for me….

I greet the day gladly.