Longform’s Picks of the Week
The best stories from around the world.
Every weekend, Longform highlights its favorite international articles of the week. For daily picks of new and classic nonfiction, check out Longform or follow @longform on Twitter. Have an iPad? Download Longform’s new app and read all of the latest in-depth stories from dozens of magazines, including Foreign Policy.
“Rom Watangu” by Galarrwuy Yunupingu, The Monthly
An indigenous leader reflects on a lifetime following the law of the land
My father, Mungurrawuy, understood the difficulties and the complexities of white men, and the threats posed to his people’s future by white society. As a young man he had been present when the massacres occurred in the 1920s and 1930s, and as a young man he was shot by a man licensed to do so. These were days not too distant from today – days that every Yolngu person knows of, and remembers. The men who hunted my father were simply tasked to their job by their superiors, and they carried it out as well as they could.
At Gan Gan these men on horseback performed their duties and killed an entire clan group – men, women and children. They shot them out and killed them in any way they could so that they could take the land. These men on horseback then rode to Birany Birany and killed many of our Yarrwidi Gumatj, the saltwater people who cared for the great ceremonies at Birany Birany. There are few places in our lives as sacred as Gan Gan – from its fresh waters all things come – and Birany Birany.
“Gao’s Map” by Christopher St. Cavish, California Sunday Magazine
On the trail of one of the most expensive, controversial teas in the world.
Gao Fachang is walking up a jungle path deep in China’s Six Great Tea Mountains. We have spent the last hour on steep dirt roads, being tossed around in a pickup truck like rocks in a washing machine. Now on foot, we scramble past a hut with split bamboo walls and an earthen floor. Gao, 56, was born in these mountains, and this is the kind of home he grew up in. “Tigers scratched themselves on the outside of the house while we were sleeping,” Gao recalls before hustling on.
I’m here with Gao in search of some of the most coveted tea in the world: ancient-tree pu’er. For most people, the dark tea is just an accessory to dim sum — a musty and sometimes bitter brew meant to cut through a heavy meal. But in China, and in circles of tea enthusiasts, pu’er has recently become the object of a devoted collectors’ market and the subject of heated controversy. Though by day Gao is the town math teacher, he is also one of the most outspoken figures in the industry.
“The great tide: is Britain really equipped to cope with global warming?” by Simon Parkin, The Guardian
As the Earth’s temperature continues to rise at an alarming rate, the country faces the threat of catastrophic flooding.
Scotland will be first hit. A gale pushes the rising tide into the mouth of the Firth of Forth. Unhampered by any storm barrier – plans for which were rejected by the Scottish government in 2007, due to the impact it would have on shipping – the five-metre tide will batter the oil and gas facilities, food distribution depots and power station that line the estuary. The nearby petrochemical complex at Grangemouth, which handles 40% of UK oil supplies, will be flooded. Swaths of Scotland will be left without power, while broken bridges and choked roads leave much of the country without fuel. Food shortages will continue for months.
In Yorkshire, as the storm moves south, homes as far as 10 miles inland will be flooded. Many people, unable to afford their insurance excesses, will be left homeless. As the tide continues its rampage south, in the Norfolk village of Happisburgh, those houses not already claimed by the sea over the previous decade will be demolished by waves. In the following months, residents of coastal towns, villages and cities up and down the country will probably head towards higher land. The housing market in coastal areas will collapse, while house prices further inland will continue to rise steeply.
“The Beautiful Joke of Zuism” by Isaac Wurmann, Roads & Kingdoms
Young Icelanders are using a satirical religion to protest the lasting ties between church and state on the island.
The elders have been called con artists, tax evaders, and heroes. But they might best be described as “millennials.” They are young and ambitious, they don’t own cars, and the best way of reaching them is Snapchat. When I met a few of the elders not long ago on a surprisingly sunny afternoon at a coffee shop near their apartment, one excitedly pointed out a new affordable grocery store that opened down the street. As we spoke, church bells from a more traditional faith ironically tolled nearby.
I’m with the leaders of Zuism, one of Iceland’s newest religions. Although its numbers still pale in comparison to the Lutheran state church, it is fast becoming one of the country’s largest faiths. Followers say it is an offshoot of Sumerian beliefs, a nature-worshipping religion that evolved in Mesopotamia more than 5,000 years ago. But the group’s elders, as they call themselves, make clear that there is nothing truly religious about Zuism. Instead, it might be more accurately described as an anti-religion—and as a protest of Iceland’s parish tax, which has drawn the ire of many as a growing number of Icelanders turn away from the church.
“The Vanishing of Canada’s First Nations Women” by Marin Cogan, Foreign Policy
More than 1,000 indigenous women have gone missing or have been murdered in Canada. Meet the sisterhood trying to bring them justice.
A cultural educator by trade, Manyfeathers has the tough disposition of someone who’s spent decades living a national crisis. Among the missing and slain aboriginal women, some have been felled by random crimes. Others have been sex workers strangled by johns, teenage runaways targeted by violent offenders, or victims of abusive boyfriends. Certain regions are more affected than others — a lonely stretch of mountain road in British Columbia is known as the “Highway of Tears” because dozens of women have died or disappeared there — but no location is immune.
What unites the cases are the conditions that make native women vulnerable to violence, rooted in a colonial legacy of neglect and humiliation. Until just a few decades ago, the Canadian government tried to erase aboriginal cultures. Among other policies, the state denied natives voting rights until 1960, unless they agreed to forgo indigenous status. Canada also forced 150,000 aboriginal children into “residential schools” — state-funded boarding institutions where assimilation into white culture was mandatory. Students were beaten if they spoke in their native tongues, and an unknown number of girls was sterilized. The last of the 130 schools didn’t close until 1996.
Photo credits: Fairfax Media via Getty Images; Nicolas Sich/Paris Match via Getty Images; Matthew Horwood/Getty Images; JOEL SAGET/AFP/Getty Images; Diego Patiño/Foreign Policy