I am writing to let you know about an emergency situation that I believe will be
of interest and concern to the members of this list. Thank you in advance for
taking the time to read this letter.
My name is Noga Weinstein, and I have studied and worked at the Central
American Institute of Prehistoric and Traditional Cultures at Belize for
over a year. The Institute is a non-profit research and educational institution,
established in 1991 and granted full recognition by the Minister of Education,
Government of Belize (Education Act of 1991, Section 38). The Institute's
mission is to preserve indigenous cultures through the preservation of
traditional knowledge, and my time at the Institute has given me the opportunity
to become involved first-hand with the important research that the Institute has
been conducting in anthropology, ethnobotany, and traditional healing techniques.
(For more information about the Institute, please, take a look at our website:
The Institute has the largest research and educational library in Belize,
consisting of rare and out-of-print books, field notes, medicinal plant
specimens, artifacts, slides and photographs of indigenous groups that have
already disappeared -- an invaluable and irreplaceable resource. The recent
series of rain storms and hurricanes have damaged the facility that houses the
library and archives, and moisture and worms have penetrated the building. The
collection is facing imminent destruction, and we are urgently trying to raise
the funds to rescue it.
If you would like to help with this emergency situation, please, read the letter
from the Director of the Institute, below, and you will find more information
about the library rescue operation. If you have any further questions, e-mail me
at [log in to unmask], or call (818) 344-8516. I would be glad to send you
more information about the Institute and the library emergency situation, and
answer any questions you may have.
Thank you in advance for any help you can offer.
The Central American Institute of Prehistoric and Traditional Cultures at Belize
urgently needs your assistance. The Institute has the largest research and
educational library in Belize, consisting of irreplaceable books, photographs,
artifacts, field notes, and other archival materials. The recent rain storms and
hurricanes have damaged the library and archival storage. Algae, microflora,
worms, and the dense tropical moisture have penetrated our building and are
rapidly destroying the collection. This is a loss that the people of Belize cannot
afford. Several of our staff members have returned to the United States to
appeal for help in rescuing this irreplaceable resource. We have initiated a
Library Rescue Operation to raise emergency funds, and urgently need your
The Central American Institute was established under a registry charter in
1991, and granted full recognition by the Ministry of Education of the
Government of Belize, in accordance with the Education Act of 1991, Section 38.
The Institute is a non-profit research and educational institution, established
for the purposes of promoting the preservation of ancient and traditional
worldviews and materials, and to act as a center for the dissemination of
knowledge and interest in the study of such cultures. The Institute aims at
preserving indigenous cultures through the preservation of traditional
knowledge. Now, this traditional knowledge is about to be destroyed.
The Institute's library and archives contain documentation of indigenous groups
that have already disappeared. If these field notes, slides, photographs, and
artifacts are destroyed, there will be no way to replace them. The collection
also consists of plant specimens and ethnobotanical fieldwork, documenting and
exploring the medicinal value of rain forest flora. The destruction of this
collection would be a great loss to all who value our planet's biodiversity, and
seek new medical solutions to today's health problems. Further, the Institute's
collection consists of rare and out-of-print books, providing an extremely
valuable resource to ethnologists, botanists, scientists, and students alike. The
Institute's collection contains priceless research and documentation about the
Maya, Creole, and Garifuna populations of Belize and the neighboring regions. The
collection, however, is not limited to Central America, but contains information
from around the world: from South America, to the Middle East, to Siberia. Once
this material is lost, this cultural and educational resource will be gone forever.
The rescue will be carried out in three phases, as follows:
Phase I: Salvage: Remove and Store.
The collection needs to be dried, repacked, and shipped to a safe,
temporary storage facility until we can rehabilitate a facility for the collection.
This will require movers, customs fees, transport fees, and storage fees,
Phase II: Restoration and Conservation.
Professional restoration and preservation of the collection: books, field
notes, plant specimens, photographs, slides, audio and video recordings,
computer disk repairs. Total: $25,000 (contingent on rescue time).
Phase III: Provide a safe facility for the collection.
Construct safe housing for the library and archives, so that it can be
brought back into circulation. Total: $55,000.
Emergency Fund Goal: US $140,000.
Time is of the essence. We need $60,000 now to halt the destruction, $25,000 to
restore the collection, and $55,000 to bring it out of storage and back into
circulation. We are appealing to foundations, corporations, research societies,
institutes, individuals, and television and radio announcements to raise these
funds. We need your help to disseminate this appeal to other parties within your
own, as well as other related organizations and memberships, in the hopes of
consolidating our efforts to rescue the Institute's research and cultural
We can provide documentation of our non-profit and educational status, and a
detailed break-down of the allocation of funds. Further information about the
Institute can be obtained on our Website at http://world.std.com/~chacmol/ .
The Institute is also listed in Issue 4 of the People and Plants Handbook,
published by World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF), UNESCO, and Royal Botanic
In these times of modernization, Westernization, and technology, traditional
life is being displaced and destroyed irrevocably. It is imperative that we
preserve cultural and natural resources, traditional epistemologies, and
biodiversity. We appeal to you to support the Central American Institute in its
drive to preserve these resources for the benefit of the developing country of
Belize, as well as the global community.
We all thank you for your support.
Dr. Michael Naxon
Central American Institute at Belize
8033 Sunset Blvd.
Los Angeles, CA 90046
818-344-8516 (Emergency Fund line)
[log in to unmask]
Checks can be made payable to: Central American Institute.
Your contribution will be formally recognized by the Institute, as well as on our
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