Kozak to Discuss Ethiopian World Heritage Site threatened by proposed dam

On Aug. 31, Dr. David Kozak will present “Ethiopian Crossroads: A UNESCO World Heritage Site, Indigenous Cultures and the Damming of a River.” The presentation, part of the 2012 Four Corners Lecture Series, will begin at 7 p.m. at the Crow Canyon Archaeological Center and is free and open to the public.

The south Omo River basin in southwest Ethiopia is an isolated region of vast cultural and environmental diversity and integrity. In 1980, the Lower Omo Valley was named a UNESCO World Heritage site as a result of the hominid fossils discovered there—many of fundamental importance to the study of human evolution.

Today, proposed dam construction on the river poses deleterious consequences to the area. Thousands of indigenous agro-pastoralists are slated for relocation and estimates are that the way of life of up to one million people will be adversely impacted. The dam is intended to generate electricity and to reallocate water for irrigating agribusiness plantations of sugar and other export commodity food crops planned for the fertile river valley soils.

In his presentation, Kozak will focus on the cultures and environment of the south Omo River basin that are at a crossroads of the traditional present and a modernizing future. He will also discuss the international outcry over the dam development project.

Kozak is a professor in the department of anthropology and in the peace and conflict studies program at Fort Lewis College in Durango. His academic research interests include the translation of healing song poetics of the Tohono O’odham culture of southern Arizona, humanitarianism, type 2 diabetes and obesity and land access issues regarding conflicts of recreational and sacred land use. As a medical anthropologist, Kozak applies his expertise to collaborative projects related to diabetes, substance abuse, sanitation and community development. He works locally, regionally and internationally on these projects.

Organized by a consortium of area organizations, the Four Corners Lecture Series features presentations by guest speakers from around the Southwest. This year’s theme is “Crossroads of Arts and Cultures.” All lectures are free. The location of the lectures rotates among the sponsoring organizations.

This year’s sponsors are the Anasazi Heritage Center, the Bureau of Land Management, the Cortez Cultural Center, the Crow Canyon Archaeological Center, the Hisatsinom Chapter of the Colorado Archaeological Society, KSJD Dryland Community Radio, Mesa Verde National Park, the Mesa Verde Museum Association, and the Office of the President and Department of Anthropology–Fort Lewis College.

For more information, call 970-564-4396 or 800-422-8975, ext. 136.