Things That Matter

The Nazca Lines Have Captivated Scientists For Centuries And Now They’ve Just Discovered Hundreds More

People love conspiracy theories, particularly if they involve ancient civilizations and aliens, right? The recent craze over the Area 51 flash mob highlighted that talks about life in outer space are still relevant in popular culture, even after the craze of the 1990s culture which included TV shows like The X-Files, which had a revival just five years ago. Well, a recent archeological discovery in Peru promises to reignite conspiracy theories that point to what many believe is clear evidence that indigenous civilizations in the region has some sort of contact with extraterrestrial beings. But beyond suppositions, the recent discovery in Peru has huge scientific and cultural value, and they are evidence of the complexity of the knowledge produced by 

So what are Nazca lines anyway?

Credit: Atlas Obscura

Located in the Nazca desert in southern Peru, these amazing designs are geoglyphs that depict animals, unknown symbols and humanoid forms. But what is a geoglyph? Simply put, a drawing made on a natural mineral surface such as sand and rock. The drawings are sometimes several feet long and they are best seen from the sky, which has of course puzzled scientists and fed conspiracy theorists. Some experts believe they might have been used to map the territory and provide guidance to travellers who might have seen them from far away mountains.  The Nazca lines cover an area of about 1,000 square kilometers and up to 300 figures have been found. Until now… 

So over 140 new Nazca lines have been recently discovered! And it is a BFD! 

Credit: Newsweek

The discovery was made by scientists in the Yamagata University in Japan (it is important to note that there are strong historical ties between the Asian and Latin American countries). As The Independent reports, the findings are a result of a mixed methodology that involved both human and machine intelligence, and money from industry: “The research team used a combination of on-the-ground fieldwork and data analysis to identify these newest carvings, or geoglyphs. Working in partnership with IBM Thomas J Watson Research Centre, the team was able to use artificial intelligence to scan aerial images and for what they called “biomorphic” shapes, or shapes that look similar to plants, animals, or humans.”

Some of the newly discovered lines have a humanoid form, which also echoes the beliefs of those who believe that “the truth is out there.”

As The Independent reported, theories relating the lines with alien spaceships are around since the late 1960s: “A 1968 book, Chariot of the Gods, hypothesised that the geoglyphs were constructed by ancient peoples as landing strips for alien visitors.”

This is how The Smithsonian Magazine described this humanoid figure: “The etching almost resembles a contemporary cartoon character or mascot. Its subject stands on two legs, wears a hat of sorts represented by three lines rising above its vaguely television-shaped head, and wields a club or stick in its right hand”. 

The researchers also found pottery near the newly discovered lines.

Key to evaluating the archeological significance of the lines is finding evidence of human settlement or camps in the area. The researchers did field work and found shards of pottery buried in the sand. This is significant as it can help date the lines by making the assumption that the pottery was left there roughly at the same time as the lines were drawn. According to researchers, the lines are about 2,000 years old. Think about it: the Roman Empire was still a thing when indigenous civilizations in what is not the Americas drew these enigmatic figures. 

As technology advances, these kinds of discoveries will be more common: Artificial Intelligence rules.

Akihisa Sakurai, a researcher with IBM Japan, told The Verge: “We specifically built techniques in the deep learning framework to learn and distinguish between these different patterns and sizes of the geoglyphs”. There are still vast areas in Peru’s southern desert that need to be studied, but through computers scientists can run algorithms that identify 

The research will continue! 

Key in finding these giant drawings of animals, plants and humanoids is bringing together data from different sources. In the next few months, and even years, the researchers will overlap images from drones and satellites with geographical survey data to potentially find new drawings. The biggest challenge, however, is to keep the lines intact. In the past few years they have suffered all sorts of misadventures: a truck veered off the highway and left tyre marks on them, rainfall is eroding the land, pig growers have left their animals loose in the area and illegal mining and agriculture is also damaging the site, which UNESCO has names a World Heritage site and which, as such, should be preserved for posterity.

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At 78-Years-Old, This Oaxacan Woman Learned To Read And Write And Even Authored An Award-Winning New Book

Things That Matter

At 78-Years-Old, This Oaxacan Woman Learned To Read And Write And Even Authored An Award-Winning New Book

Jorge Fernandez / Getty Images

It’s never too late to follow your dreams. It may sound cliche but one Indigenous woman from the Mexican state of Oaxaca is showing just how true that sentiment really is.

Although growing up knowing how to speak her native language of Náhuatl, she was never able to read or write it – let alone Spanish. Now after years of studying and being too embarrassed to attend classes, this 78-year-old woman can say that she achieved her dream and is now an award-winning author.

Despite being illiterate for years, Justina Rojas has finally finished primary school.

Justina Rojas Flores, a resident of the Oaxacan community of San Miguel Espejo, learned to read and write at 76. She remembers that at first she was embarrassed to attend her classes, but with the support of her teachers sh was motivated to learn the alphabet and words and communication.

In fact, she became so motivated that she’s recently authored a handmade book that earned her a national award. She recently told El Sol de Puebla, that “I was already cracking under pressure because I was cheating a lot, but the teachers told me ‘yes you can, Justina’, so I continued taking classes and it was thanks to them that I learned. After two years, I wrote La Mazorca, which is dedicated to the community of San Miguel Espejo.”

In her Indigenous language of Náhuatl, Rojas shared the history of La Mazorca, which emphasizes the value of appreciating all things – especially that which the land gives us.

“I beg you, if you see me lying on the ground, pick me up, don’t step on me. Just as you take care of me, I will take care of you,” is part of the story in the book that was awarded in 2019 by the State Institute for Adult Education (IEEA), an achievement with which Rojas feels accomplished, and with which motivates other people to enter the competition.

Rojas is proving that it’s never too late to learn something new.

Now, at 78-years-old, Rojas is able to celebrate her achievements. Though she admits that many in her community continue to doubt her real motivation. It’s common to hear people ask ‘Why do I learn if I’m old?’, ‘What use is it going to do?’, and ‘I’m on my way out so it doesn’t matter.’

But many of the people who ask these questions are the same people who don’t have the same opportunities, since they can’t read or write. According to figures from the National Council for the Evaluation of Social Development Policy (Coneval) in Rojas’ community, there are around 2,267 inhabitants, and the majority are living in poverty, a factor that significantly influences educational access. Many, from a very young age, leave school to work to support their families and take jobs working in the fields or construction.

Finally, Rojas wants everyone to know that they should not limit themselves and to embrace knowledge regardless of age. “If you don’t know how to read and write, or if you know someone like that, I invite you to go where they teach, so that those who know more can share their knowledge with us.”

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A Native American Veteran Shared a Video of Himself Being Tased By a Park Ranger on Sacred Grounds in New Mexico

Things That Matter

A Native American Veteran Shared a Video of Himself Being Tased By a Park Ranger on Sacred Grounds in New Mexico

Screenshot via hou5edm/Instagram

Recently, a video went viral of a New Mexico park ranger tasing a Native American man that sparked a conversation about the right non-Indigenous government authorities have to exert over Indigenous Americans.

Last Sunday, a Native American man named Darrell House shared a video of himself screaming in agony and calling for help as a park ranger tased him.

In the four-minute long clip posted to Instagram, House screams for help and writhes in agony on the ground as the unnamed park ranger continuously uses his taser on him. The woman recording the altercation repeatedly yells “What are you doing?” at the ranger while the ranger continues to demand that House show him his ID.

House, who grew up on a reservation and is of Navajo and Oneida descent, wrote a lengthy caption describing in detail what had transpired.

House wrote: “Today 12/27/2020, I was tased for being off trail at the Petroglyphs. I come here to pray and speak to my Pueblo Ancestor relatives. Even though I’m Navajo and Oneida, I honor this land.”

“Here, you will see a white man abuse his power. Both men pulled tasers on me after the first 1 couldn’t keep me down. This could have been a civil interaction. The law doesn’t work for the Indigenous. The government doesn’t give a shit about us. This was uncalled for. You see I’m clearly on the trail. I explained my reason for being off trail (which I shouldn’t have to. If anyone has the right to be off trail and wander this land, it’s the NATIVE INDIGENOUS COMMUNITY!”

“I didn’t feel I needed to identify myself for doing absolutely nothing wrong.
I’m traumatized. My left leg is numb and still bleeding. [My dog] Geronimo is shaking and hasn’t stopped. I’m shaking.”

Darrell House, who is also a military veteran, added: “I’m good people, the Marines I served with would agree. The many people I’ve crossed paths with–you know me.”

In response to the public outcry, the National Park Service said they were “investigating” the incident.

The National Park Service says that House was cited for walking off-trail at Petroglyph National Monument. House does not deny the claim, but says that walking where he wants to on sacred indigenous grounds is an ancestral right.

“Nature is what we’ve been worshipping … and protecting it has always been our job,” he told NBC News. “I am Native, you know. I have rights to this land. I have rights off the trail.”

House also doesn’t deny refusing to identify himself to the park ranger. “I didn’t see a reason to give my identification,” he said. “I don’t need to tell people why I’m coming there to pray and give things in honor to the land. I don’t need permission or consent.”

The local Albuquerque government has since become involved, releasing a statement that said the incident had been “elevated to the Federal investigation level”.

City Councilor Cynthia Borrego wrote that the incident was “troubling” and “uncomfortable” to watch and that her officer “recognizes and supports the investigation into any indigenous rights that may have been violated as a result of the actions taken in this unfortunate incident.”

The statement concluded by reiterating that Native Americans have the right “to practice their cultural beliefs as protected by the American Indian Religious Freedom Act and the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples.”

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