Heidi McKinnon

Heidi McKinnon (Association for the Integral Development of the Victims of Violence in the Verapaces, Maya Achí - ADIVIMA): Heidi holds a BA in anthropology and Spanish from the University of New Mexico and has worked with indigenous communities throughout Latin America since1997. Heidi worked at Smithsonian's National Museum of the American Indian (NMAI) in the late 1990s. Heidi researched human rights and sovereignty issues in every region of Latin America as she was developing content for the permanent exhibits at NMAI. Her research led her to ADIVIMA and the Chixoy Dam, which she recommended for inclusion at the Museum.

The First Rio Negro Memorial Textile

26 Sep

In late August, I met with a group of women from Pacux to discuss a memorial project for survivors of the Río Negro massacres that will hopefully form part of the work of the new artisans’ cooperative in Pacux. Since 2003, The Advocacy Project has assisted with a successful memorial quilt program with a partner organization in Tuzla, Bosnia called BOSFAM. BOSFAM supports women and families who were displaces by the wars and massacres in Bosnia, and they run a women’s weaving cooperative whose members are survivors of the Srebrenica massacres which took place in July 1995. More than 8,000 muslims were killed in Srebrenica and BOSFAM assists and supports survivors and widows through their weaving program.

When I explained the history of BOSFAM to Carmen, Maria, Laura and the other Pacux weavers and showed photos of the textiles BOSFAM weavers have created, they understood immediately and told me they had tried to develop their own Memorial Textile in 2007, but did not have the funding to do so. Thus began a conversation in which I explained that The Advocacy Project would like to assist them in developing their own Memorial Textile project.

Fifteen weavers volunteered to create twenty initial textiles commemorating family members who were killed during the massacres that took place on March 13, 1982 at Pak’oxom, a hillside above the village of Río Negro.

We met over several weeks and discussed design ideas until we came to the conclusion that everyone needed to express themselves in their own way, which is what they did.

Yesterday, I had the pleasure of meeting with everyone in Pacux to see their work. The textile squares are completed, and this week the first Río Negro Memorial Textile will be finished.

AP staff intend to use the textile for advocacy efforts on behalf of ADIVIMA and their economic development plan for all of the communities affected by the construction of Chixoy and the massacres in Río Negro. Donations to the project can be made directly to ADIVIMA through the AP website.

We hope this first textile has a long and well-traveled life of its own and helps thousands of people understand the history of Río Negro and why these fifteen women are living lives of desperate poverty in Pacux today.

Photos will be uploaded when possible.

Posted By Heidi McKinnon

Posted Sep 26th, 2008

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