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 Arctos@worldnet.att.net, 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 support.
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, totaling $60,000.
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
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 resources.
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
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 Gardens-Kew.
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
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)
Checks can be made payable to: Central American Institute.
Your contribution will be formally recognized by the Institute, as well
as on our homepage.
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