U.S. Consulate General Kolkata
February 24, 2023
The U.S. Ambassadors Fund for Cultural Preservation Project Releases a Book in Itanagar documenting the Rich Cultural Heritage of the Indigenous Communities of Arunachal Pradesh
Itanagar: The U.S. Consulate General Kolkata, in association with non-profit Contact Base and the Department of Tourism, Govt. of Arunachal Pradesh, released a book titled ‘The Arunachalis – Living with Nature’, documenting the cultural heritage of 17 indigenous communities of Arunachal Pradesh today, February 24, 2023 at the State Guest House Itanagar.
The Advisor to Minister of Tourism Arunachal Pradesh, Shri Laisam Simai, and Melinda Pavek, U.S. Consul General in Kolkata jointly released the unique book.
Supported by the Ambassadors Fund for Cultural Preservation (AFCP) of the U.S. Department of State, the release of this book is part of a larger project titled, “Safeguarding of Traditional Culture and Lifestyle of Indigenous People in Arunachal Pradesh for Sustainable Development”, which, with community participation, documented the living traditions of 17 indigenous communities of this Northeast Indian state through 18 films, a website: www.arunachallivingheritage.com, and the Coffee Table Book. The U.S. Consulate Kolkata-led initiative, implemented by non-profit Contact Base, aims to empower the communities of Arunachal Pradesh, the largest state of Northeast India, to safeguard their rich bio-cultural heritage through this project.
As the Guest of Honor, U.S. Consul General Melinda Pavek said, “As a part of the United States-India Comprehensive Global Strategic Partnership, it’s important also to highlight the wealth of stories and experiences that come together to make our societies what they are today. The United States is proud to support Arunachal Pradesh’s indigenous cultures, ensuring preservation of its heritage through our U.S. Ambassadors Fund for Cultural Preservations (AFCP).” The U.S. Government celebrates 22 years of AFCP and of American leadership, cooperation, and support for the preservation of cultural heritage around the world. Through more than 1,000 projects thus far, the Ambassadors Fund continues to incorporate cultural preservation and protection into American diplomacy.
The field research for the book was facilitated by the Dept. of Tourism, Government of Arunachal Pradesh. Many of the villages documented are in remote areas of the state and the district tourism officers facilitated community consensus building and planning for sharing and showcasing cultural heritage elements during the workshop. The project engaged more than 450 community representatives in mapping and actively participating in the documentation and conservation process through workshops across 39 locations.
Arunachal Pradesh communities actively bear and practice traditional knowledge systems, lifestyles, and livelihoods with a deep-rooted relationship with nature. Despite having different origins and language they share a common heritage of faith based on nature. The book documents the rich cultural diversity, the nature-culture journey of the people, and their safeguarding and conservation efforts. The book has 11 chapters depicting the cultural landscapes, cuisines, architecture, dress and ornaments, weaving, tools and technology, faith and festivals, and heritage safeguarding of the 17 communities.
In September 2022, the U.S. Mission in India joined representatives from the Ministry of Tourism’s Northeast Regional Office and UNESCO’s International Information and Network for Intangible Cultural Heritage in the Asia-Pacific to celebrate the cultural heritage of the indigenous tribes of Arunachal Pradesh in New Delhi. In December 2021, the United States had launched this project through the AFCP to work with tribal members from 39 villages across the state to preserve and document their heritage through a series of short documentary films.
Background on Implementing Partner Contact Base
Contact Base (www.banglanatak.com) is a not-for-profit organization, headquartered in Kolkata, working across India for inclusive and sustainable development for over two decades. It specializes in culture and development and is globally acclaimed for its pioneering work on effectively using cultural industries and tourism towards alleviation of poverty, and empowerment of vulnerable communities. Contact Base is accredited with the UNESCO 2003 and 2005 Conventions for Safeguarding of Intangible Cultural Heritage and Promotion of Cultural Diversity. Contact Base is also in Special Consultative Status with UN ECOSOC and has national partnership with UNESCO in India for rolling out its flagship initiative Art for Life, where local cultural skills are used as resource for developing creative enterprise and cultural tourism. Contact Base has an ongoing global partnership with the UN World Tourism Organization for promoting community-based responsible cultural tourism.
Background on the Ambassador’s Fund for Cultural Preservation
The U.S. Ambassador’s Fund for Cultural Preservation (AFCP) supports projects to preserve a wide range of cultural heritage, including historic buildings, archaeological sites, ethnographic objects, paintings, manuscripts, and indigenous languages and other forms of traditional cultural expression. The AFCP is a highly competitive program that receives proposals from cultural museums, ministries of culture, NGOs, and other organizations around the world for a limited number of sponsorships.
Through the U.S. Ambassadors Fund for Cultural Preservation, the American people have invested $2 million over the past 20 years in the documentation, conservation, and restoration of 21 key historic sites and intangible heritage in India.
For further details, please contact:
Aniruddha Biswas, Assistant Manager, Press and Media, U.S. Consulate General Kolkata, + 91 93309-02862, firstname.lastname@example.org