A Thousand Roads: Exploring the Lives of Native Peoples of the Americas



HOST: Welcome to AMERICAN MOSAIC, in VOA Special English.

I'm Doug Johnson. On our program this week:

Music from Al Green…

A question from a listener about food safety in America…

And a report on a new film at the National Museum of the American Indian.

'A Thousand Roads'

FILM: "Whatever our trials, we're never alone. From each other, even our ancestors, we draw the strength we need to carry on."

HOST: The Museum of the American Indian in Washington, D.C., is showing a new movie called "A Thousand Roads."

FILM: "Indian country is really all of us. Wherever we are in this world, we're traveling together on this journey down a thousand roads, all leading home."

Visitors can travel to four areas in North and South America to experience the living traditions of Native American people and communities. Barbara Klein tells us about it.

FILM: "Good morning Indian Country! Breathe in the day and breathe out a few thank yous for all the gifts this day will bring. Greet the day. It's a great day to be alive"

This is the voice that guides visitors on an exploration into the lives of four American Indians. The movie begins in New York City. We meet a young business woman. She is having trouble dealing with the demands of her job. But she feels better after she talks with a member of her Mohawk tribe.

Next, we travel to the cold mountains of Alaska where a young girl of the Inupiat (in-NEW-pee-at) tribe goes to live with family members she has never met before. She feels lonely at first. But her family's love and cultural traditions make her feel welcome.

Our journey continues to the desert land of New Mexico. Here, a young man of the Navajo tribe struggles to find a balance in his life. He feels divided between a need to be like his wild city friends and a need to be part of his family and culture.

Last, we travel south to the mountains of South America. In this beautiful place, a Quechuan (KETCH-u-an) healer uses traditional medicines to help a sick boy. He cannot heal the boy and struggles with his sadness over losing a child.

These four stories might seem very separate, but they have a common idea. The director of the film, Chris Eyre, wanted to show the living cultures of today's Native Americans. These stories demonstrate how American Indians may come from different tribes, but they are linked by a shared culture. They may be in different parts of the continent, but they face similar problems.

"A Thousand Roads" is special for another reason. It is the first public showing in the United States of a movie produced under the guidelines of the Digital Cinema Initiative. This means that the technology of the theater and the movie is very advanced. The picture and sound are extremely clear. This movie is also beautifully filmed. And the music adds to the richness of the experience.

Food Safety in America

HOST: Our question this week comes from a listener in Argentina. Raul Colquehuanca wants to know how Americans are protected from the food industry and unsafe food.

The Food and Drug Administration is the main government agency responsible for food safety in the United States. It is involved in food inspection from start to finish. Investigators supervise the manufacture, import, transport, storage and sale of thousands of millions of dollars worth of food products.

The agency makes rules for almost ninety-five thousand businesses in the United States. The agency has about nine thousand employees. Investigators are among them. F.D.A investigators inspect thousands of food manufacturers and farms each year. The investigators make sure that food products are made correctly. And they make sure that the information labels on the products are truthful. They often collect products for label inspections or testing by F.D.A scientists.

The F.D.A also supervises the food and drugs that farmers give to cows and other animals that provide meat that is sold to the public.

The Food and Drug Administration has several choices if a business is found violating any of the laws the agency enforces. F.D.A. officials can urge the business to correct the problem. Or, they can legally remove, or recall, bad food products from the marketplace. About three thousand products are recalled in the United States each year. In addition, F.D.A. investigators will seize products if they appear to be unfit for public use. About thirty thousand shipments of imported goods are seized at American ports every year.

The federal government has not always been responsible for the quality of food and drugs in the United States. In the nineteenth century, American states were generally responsible for the safety of locally-made food and drugs.

In nineteen-oh-six, President Theodore Roosevelt signed the Food and Drugs Act into law. It banned the transport and sale of unclean or falsely labeled foods, drinks and drugs. In nineteen twenty-seven, the Food, Drug and Insecticide Administration was established. Later, its name was changed to the Food and Drug Administration. Today, the F.D.A. is part of the Department of Health and Human Services.

Al Green's New Album

HOST: The Reverend Al Green has not recorded real soul music since the middle nineteen-seventies. Now he has a new album called "Everything's OK." Shirley Griffith tells us about it.

SHIRLEY GRIFFITH: Al Green became famous as a soul music singer thirty years ago. He says a personal tragedy in nineteen seventy-four was a sign from God that he should turn to religion. So he bought a church and became a clergyman. He began releasing albums of gospel church music in nineteen seventy-nine.

His new album, "Everything's OK", reminds people of the Reverend Al Green of the past. The album is filled with joyful love songs. He wrote all of the twelve songs except this one. Critics say his version of "You Are So Beautiful" is one of the best.


The album includes work by several musicians who also performed on Green's hit albums of the nineteen seventies. Here is another song, called "Build Me Up."


The Reverend Al Green is fifty-eight. He is known around the world for his unusual voice and recognizable sound. Since nineteen seventy-nine he has led the Full Gospel Tabernacle Church in Memphis, Tennessee. "Everything's OK" is not a gospel album. It is a combination of rhythm and blues and pop. The songs tell about love relationships and life lessons. We leave you now with the title song from the album, "Everything's OK."


HOST: I'm Doug Johnson. I hope you enjoyed our program today.

Our show was written by Dana Demange, Shelley Gollust and Caty Weaver, who also was our producer. Join us again next week for AMERICAN MOSAIC, VOA's radio magazine in Special English.