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Indigenous Peoples Are at the Forefront of the Conflict With Transnational Corporate Power

A very similar battle is occurring between the Yinka Dene Alliance in British Columbia and Enbridge. There the Yinka Dene is accusing the British Columbia government of violating international law by issuing permits to Enbridge Inc. for drilling and tree removal in their territories along the proposed path for the Northern Gateway pipeline, despite their opposition and the lack of consultation on the proposed pipeline. They made the accusations in a 15-page submission to the UN Special Rapporteur on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples.

Although the fight against Enbridge and the governments that collude with them have not made much progress, the Nez Perce in Idaho have won a significant victory. Last month a judge ordered the prohibition on the use of 100 miles of roadways through tribal lands to transport huge pieces of equipment, called Megaloads, made by General Electric that are used in extracting Canadian tar sands.

Tribal members filed a court case in August to prevent the Megaloads from crossing their land, something that is already illegal but wasn’t being enforced. They also blockaded the road in August to prevent passage of a Megaload. During the four-day blockade, eight of nine Nez Perce Tribal Council leaders were arrested.

The judge’s decision suspends the passage of Megaloads for now and may be lifted after an impact study is completed. However, another significant aspect of this decision is that the Nez Perce Tribal Council must be involved in future decisions to permit the Megaloads to use roads through their lands.

The first of two megaload shipments of oil refinery equipment is halted by a legion of protesters along U.S. Highway 12 just outside of Lewiston, Idaho on Tuesday, Aug. 6, 2013. Authorities said 20 protesters - including eight members of the Nez Perce Tribe - were arrested, jailed and charged with misdemeanors for disturbing the peace. The shipment and its hauler, Oregon-based Omega Morgan, ended the first leg of the trip Tuesday morning, about 25 miles short of its planned stopping point. (AP Photo/Lewiston Tribune, Steve Hanks)

The first of two megaload shipments of oil refinery equipment is halted by a legion of protesters along U.S. Highway 12 just outside of Lewiston, Idaho on Tuesday, Aug. 6, 2013. Authorities said 20 protesters – including eight members of the Nez Perce Tribe – were arrested, jailed and charged with misdemeanors for disturbing the peace. The shipment and its hauler, Oregon-based Omega Morgan, ended the first leg of the trip Tuesday morning, about 25 miles short of its planned stopping point. (AP Photo/Lewiston Tribune, Steve Hanks)

Another active occupation to protect tribal land is in New Brunswick, where the Elsipogtog have been taking action for months to stop a Houston-based company, SWN Resources, from exploring their land to begin fracking. Tribal members blockaded SWN work trucks throughout the early summer to prevent them from testing the land for potential fracking. In addition to blockading, some of SWN’s equipment was destroyed.

There was a temporary peace beginning in late July, when SWN Resources agreed to leave for the summer. Negotiations at that time included dropping charges against 25 of the 35 people who had been arrested. SWN did say it expected to return in September.

When SWN Resources recently attempted to return, it was met with an eviction notice and another blockade, which included a sacred fire. The Elsipogtog First Nation and Mi’kmaq Warrior Society contend that the land being explored was supposed to be held in trust for them but that the Canadian government has done such a poor job of caring for the land that the tribes are concerned whether the land will be able to support them. Along with the eviction notice, they are claiming sovereignty over the land and their responsibility to care for it.

On October 7, in solidarity with the days of action to proclaim indigenous sovereignty, activists in Houston delivered an eviction notice from the Elsipogtog to the office of SWN Resources. Office staff members refused to accept the letter, so it was left on the receptionist’s desk and copies were faxed directly to the office. The letter requested a response within 48 hours.

At present, the blockade continues. Some of the chiefs met with David Alward, premier of New Brunswick, but the talks have not been satisfactory. Alward would not allow members of the Mi’kmaq Warrior Society to attend the meetings. The Mi’kmaq Warrior Society is calling for solidarity actions October 18, when they expect SWN to serve a court injunction. The blockade has brought together tremendous support from the surrounding community and tribes across Canada.

Moving Toward Peace and a Healthy Planet for Future Generations

Also on October 7, members of Veterans for Peace and their allies held a ceremony in the Vietnam Veterans’ Memorial in New York City to mark the 12th anniversary of the US invasion of Afghanistan and to oppose all wars. As they did last year, the veterans read the names of those who were killed in wars and laid flowers at the base of the memorial. However, this year, the organizer, Tarak Kauff, began the ceremony by recognizing the 500-year war against First Nations and read the names of Native Indian warriors who were killed.

A shift seems to be happening in public awareness of the ongoing effects of colonialism on indigenous peoples and the importance of indigenous leadership in the struggle to heal and protect the Earth. During the past year, the indigenous-led movement in collaboration with non-indigenous allies has grown, and the tactics being employed to protect the land from extreme energy extraction have escalated.

On Monday, October 7, 2013, indigenous nations and their allies held 70 actions throughout the world proclaiming their sovereignty. The call to action was issued by Idle No more and Defenders of the Land to coincide with the 250th anniversary of the British Royal Proclamation of 1763, which was the first document in which an imperial nation recognized indigenous sovereignty and their right to self-determination. As we wrote last week, treaties with First Nations are not being honored, and even the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples does not adequately recognize the sovereignty of indigenous peoples.

In Canada, where the Idle No More movement was founded, an attack is being waged by the Harper government on the rights of the First Nations. A bill referred to as C-45 weakens laws that protect the land and allows transnational corporations to extract resources from First Nations’ lands without their consent. Idle No More was founded on December 10, 2012 (the anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights), when Chief Theresa Spence began a hunger strike to protest C-45 on an island across from the Canadian Parliament.

The Idle No More (INM) movement has grown exponentially during the past year to become a worldwide movement. At its core, the INM taps into issues that are essential to all people. INM is a struggle against transnational corporations that collude with governments to allow the exploitation of people and the planet for profit, and it is a struggle for a new economic paradigm. INM is also about facing up to the horrific history of the way that colonizers have abused and disrespected indigenous peoples so that there can be reconciliation and justice and so that the peoples of the world can coexist peacefully. And INM is about the recognition that indigenous peoples are stewards of the Earth and must lead the way to protect the Earth and teach others to do the same.

Throughout the year, there have been teach-ins, round dances, flash mobs and rallies to raise awareness of the ongoing racist and exploitative treatment of indigenous nations as well as the continued decimation of their land to extract resources. There have been long walks, rides and canoe trips to call for healing of the Earth and for the recognition of indigenous sovereignty. And there have been blockades and other nonviolent direct actions to stop further degradation of the planet. INM has already achieved some successes.

Idle No More is an indigenous-led movement, but it is not a movement exclusive to indigenous people. As Clayton Thomas-Muller, an organizer with Defenders of the Land and Idle No More, states, “We understand that the rise of the native rights-based strategic framework as an effective legal strategy supported by a social movement strategic framework is the last best effort not just for Indigenous People but for all Canadians and Americans to protect the commons … from the for-profit agenda of the neoliberal free market strategists that have taken over our governments … and indigenous peoples have been thrust into the forefront of global social movements not just because of our connection to the sacredness of Mother Earth and our traditional ecological knowledge and understanding of how to take care of the Earth as part of that sacred circle of life but also because our ancestors … made sure we had the legal instruments to be able to confront the enemies of today and that is what Idle No More is doing in the US and Canada and across the world where Indigenous People continue to live under occupation and oppression.”

Sovereignty is Fundamental in the Struggle for Global Justice

The United States and Canada are two of the wealthiest nations in the world. Much of this wealth comes from the extraction of resources on land that belongs by treaty to Native Indians. Rather than honoring these treaties, the governments of the US and Canada have a long history, which continues today, of using laws and even manipulating the process of creating the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples to exterminate indigenous sovereignty.

As the extraction of resources becomes more extreme through processes such as hydro-fracking and tar sands excavation and the serious consequences this has on the health of people and the Earth become more apparent, indigenous nations have realized that their struggle for sovereignty must intensify. The INM movement is one manifestation of this effort.

Halifax Media Co-op reports that a piece of drilling equipment was set ablaze on the 24th, by person or persons unknown.  This comes amidst escalating resistance to hydraulic fracturing by indigenous peoples in Elsipogtog, “New Brunswick”.

Halifax Media Co-op reports that a piece of drilling equipment was set ablaze on the 24th, by person or persons unknown. This comes amidst escalating resistance to hydraulic fracturing by indigenous peoples in Elsipogtog, “New Brunswick”.

One of the six core demands of the INM movement is to “Honour the spirit and intent of the historic Treaties. Officially repudiate the racist Doctrine of Discovery and the Doctrine of Terra Nullius, and abandon their use to justify the seizure of Indigenous Nations lands and wealth.” This is a particularly appropriate time to reflect on these doctrines as some in the United States celebrate Columbus Day.

Columbus used the Doctrine of Conquest to legitimize seizure of land in the Americas. This doctrine “grants invaders legal title to the lands they conquer.” Additionally, the Doctrine of Discovery from the early 1800s allowed colonizers to occupy and claim title to any lands, and their resources, that were not part of the European Christian monarchy. And the Doctrine of Terra Nullius similarly permitted colonizers to occupy and claim land that was not settled according to European standards, such as having an established township.

These doctrines continue today. The Doctrine of Discovery was codified into law by the Supreme Court decision of Johnson v. McIntosh in 1823, which left Native Indians “with the mere ‘right’ to occupy their ancestral lands, subject to U.S. dominion.” And so it is that Native Indians are subjected to policies that continue to allow corporations to extract resources and poison the air, land and water without their consent.

Although the INM movement began in Canada, it has also taken off in the US. And solidarity between Indian Nations in the US and Canada is developing. This summer, the Dakota Nation Unity Ride from Manitoba met up with the Two Row Wampum Renewal Campaign canoe trip in Woodstock, New York, to travel together to the United Nations in New York City. Two Row Wampum is the oldest treaty in North America between an Indian nation, the Haudenosaunee, and a European nation. This summer marked the 400th anniversary, which they highlighted with an epic canoe trip down the Hudson River.

The Two Row Wampum treaty “outlines a mutual, three-part commitment to friendship, peace between peoples, and living in parallel forever (as long as the grass is green, as long as the rivers flow downhill and as long as the sun rises in the east and sets in the west).” The Two Row Wampum campaign seeks to uphold the treaty by creating friendship and peace between all peoples and by working together for a sustainable future, as outlined in their campaign goals. They seek recognition of their laws, the right to self-determination, including living in accordance with their culture and laws, and to be leaders in restoration and stewardship of the Earth.

The Dakota Unity Ride and the Two Row Wampum canoe trip landed in New York City on August 9, which is the International Day of the World’s Indigenous Peoples. They walked together to the United Nations building, where they met with UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, representatives of the UN Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues and other officials. The UN press statement describes the theme of the meeting as “Indigenous peoples building alliances: honouring treaties, agreements and other constructive arrangements.”

This is a positive step, but the fight for sovereignty continues. Sylvia Mcadam, a founder of Idle No More and a professor and author, teaches that sovereignty includes “land, language and culture.” It is not just land that has been taken from indigenous peoples but also their language and culture through the forced attendance at residential schools and barriers to access their traditional foods. Mcadam states that her involvement in Idle No More began when she returned to her traditional land with her parents to do research for her current book. She was shocked to see how the land had been developed without consent of the people.

Mcadam reminds us that the First Nations are not a lawless people but that the Creator’s Laws are “expressed in everything we do.” Colonizers have a lot to learn from Native Indians – not only about caring for the Earth and living in ways that preserve resources for future generations but also about governance. Native Indians are matriarchal societies that practice deep democracy.

While indigenous people describe themselves as people who follow laws, they have suffered injustice on their lands. Last week, a panel of judges at the International Peoples Tribunal on Leonard Peltier issued an executive summary and preliminary findings following three days of testimony from Native Indians who described abuse inflicted by the US government and FBI agents. The tribunal concluded that US laws must be changed in order for FBI agents to be charged for their crimes of assault and murder on Pine Ridge Indian land in South Dakota and elsewhere. Further, the tribunal said justice is dependent on the immediate release of Leonard Peltier.

Non-indigenous groups are working in solidarity with Idle No More and other indigenous groups. For example, the Two Row Wampum campaign, led by the Onondaga Nation, works with Neighbors of the Onondaga Nation. This collaboration is particularly evident in the environmental movement.

Stewardship of the Land, Air and Water

Central to the Idle No More movement is protection of the land, air and water from corporations that steal resources without any regard for the environmental effects. Indigenous Peoples believe that many harmful substances, such as uranium and oils and gases, were put in the ground because they were meant to stay there. They oppose the extreme methods of extraction being used today.

During the past year, often with leadership from indigenous nations, the environmental movements in the US and Canada (and elsewhere around the world) have escalated their tactics to protect the Earth. Their focus has primarily been on stopping the pipelines that carry bitumen from the Alberta Tar Sands and stopping fracking for oil and gas. Throughout the summer, there were numerous direct action campaigns, including Sovereignty Summer and Fearless Summer, which collaborated to blockade roads and equipment to prevent pipeline construction.

We highlight three active campaigns that are being led by indigenous nations: The Red Nation’s efforts against an Enbridge pipeline, the Nez Perce fight to stop Megaloads from carrying humongous pieces of equipment through their lands and the Mi’kmaq Warrior Society, which evicted a fracking company, SWN Resources, from its land.

On February 28, Marty Cobenais from the Indigenous Environmental Network led the beginning of an occupation, which included building a sacred fire on top of a pipeline that runs across Red Lake Tribal land in Leonard, Minnesota. The pipeline carries bitumen from the Alberta Tar Sands, which is being mined and poisoning the land of the Athabasca Chipewyan First Nation in Canada without their consent. The pipeline is owned by Enbridge, and the Red Lake tribal members say that it is illegal. They understood that there was a requirement that if there were a permanent structure over the pipeline it would have to be shut down. Unfortunately, that has not happened, and in fact the Minnesota Public Utilities Commission voted unanimously this summer to allow the pipeline to be expanded to carry more tar sands bitumen even though hundreds attended the hearing in opposition to it.

The occupation is ongoing and is being supported by indigenous and non-indigenous environmental organizations. In October 2013, Winona LaDuke and the Indigo Girls led a weeklong Honour the Earth horseback ride along the route of the pipeline to raise awareness. They are very concerned about spills from the pipeline, which are inevitable. Enbridge has a poor safety record.

Spills have occurred already. In 2002, 48,000 gallons spilled near Cass Lake, Minnesota, and continues to pollute the water table. In 2010, more than 800,000 gallons spilled into the Kalamazoo River in Michigan, and nearly 300,000 gallons remain today. And last year, 50,000 gallons spilled near Grand Marsh, Wisconsin. The pipeline runs through the Straits of Mackinac, which connect Lakes Huron and Michigan, and so it threatens to contaminate large supplies of fresh water.

Just as we must abolish imperialism abroad, we must also end it at home. To accomplish this, we must begin by understanding the ongoing 500-year war against Native Indians, and we must begin to speak about it. The Idle No More and other indigenous-led movements seek a peaceful solution that recognizes the sovereignty of indigenous peoples and their laws so that everyone can live in peace. And they understand that if we are to end the practices that are destroying the Earth, we must learn from those who are stewards of the Earth.

It is time for all of us to be Idle No More. We face common opponents – corporations that profit by exploiting people and the planet and the governments who collude with them. The Trans-Pacific Partnership, currently being negotiated, continues this global exploitation of the planet and people by transnational corporate interests. It is time to end imperialism and the neoliberal economic agenda that perpetuates this destructive behavior.

It is time for solidarity, cooperation, reconciliation and restoration of peaceful human relationships and the land, air and water. It is imperative that we act now so our children and future generations will have the opportunity for healthy lives. The future is literally in our hands.

– from truthout,  This article is the second in a two-part series on the ongoing struggle for indigenous rights. The first article was It Is Time to Recognize the National Sovereignty and Human Rights of Native Indians.

Water.Is.Life

The Holders of the Light held several Idle No More water-related messages in front of the 2013 Indian Summer Festival’s tipi, prominently located on the State Park Island in front of the Indian Summer grounds. (Photo: Light Brigading / Flickr)


We want to continue thinking the words that we think; we want to continue dreaming the dreams that we dream

Traveling Seminar continues First Encounter of Indigenous Peoples, Yaqui Territory, Vicam, Sonora 2007

Comandante David, Marcos and Juan Chavez at Rancho el Penasco, Sonora
Photo 2007 Brenda Norrell

TRAVELING SEMINAR “TATA JUAN CHÁVEZ ALONSO”

June 2013.

We are the Indians that we are, we are peoples, we are Indians.
We want to continue to be the Indians that we are; we want to continue to be
the peoples that we are; we want to continue speaking the language we speak;
We want to continue thinking the words that we think;
we want to continue dreaming the dreams that we dream;
we want to continue loving those we love;
we want to be now what we already are;
we want our place now; we want our history now, we want the truth now.

Juan Chávez Alonso. Words presented at the National Congress,
March, 2001. Mexico.

Brothers and Sisters:
Compañeras and compañeros:

This is the word of a group of indigenous organizations, native peoples, and the EZLN. With this word we want to bring among us the memory of a compañero. After one year without him, with his memory as company, we want to take another step in this long struggle for our place in the world.
His name is Juan Chávez Alonso.
We were and are the path for his step.
With him, the purépecha people became travelers amongst the people who gave birth to and who sustain these lands.
Tata was, and is, one of the bridges that we built with others in order to see ourselves and recognize ourselves as what we are and where we are.
His heart was and is the perch from which the indigenous peoples of Mexico look, even though we are not seen, from which we speak but are not heard, and from where we resist, which is how we walk through life. His path and his word always sought to give voice and echo to the pains and grievances of that Mexico below (the “basement” of Mexico). The National Indigenous Congress is one of the great houses that his hands helped to build.
The struggle for the recognition of indigenous rights and culture has, in him, in his memory, a reason and an engine to persevere. Rather than fleeting condolences and a quick forgetting of his absence, we, a group of indigenous organizations and peoples, have looked for the way to extend his walk with us, to raise his voice with ours, to expand the heart that, with him, we are.
We, as the collective color of the earth, have agreed in our hearts and minds to build a space in which the word of the indigenous peoples of Mexico and this continent that we call “America” can be heard without intermediaries. This space will carry the name and history of this brother and compañero.
We have decided to name this space the “Seminar Tata Juan Chávez Alonso,” in order to emphasize how much our native peoples have to teach others during these calendars of pain that now shake all the geographies of the world. In this space we will be able to listen to the lessons of dignity and resistance of the native peoples of America.
As a continuation of the efforts that took shape during the “First Encounter of Indigenous Peoples of America” celebrated in October of 2007 in Vicam, Sonora, on the territory of the Yaqui tribe, the seminar “Tata Juan Chávez Alonso” will hold its sessions at different locations of indigenous America throughout the continent, in accordance with the geographies and calendars agreed upon by those who convoke this seminar and those who join along the way.
This seminar is meant to build a forum in which the indigenous peoples of the continent can be heard by those who have an attentive and respectful ear for their word, their history, and their resistance. Indigenous organizations and representatives and delegates of native peoples, communities, and neighborhoods will have the floor.
In order to inaugurate this forum, we will hold the:

FIRST SESSION OF THE
TRAVELING SEMINAR “TATA JUAN CHÁVEZ ALONSO”

Here different native peoples, organizations, and communities will speak in their own voice about their histories, pains, hopes, and above all, their resistance.
This first session will have the following characteristics:

  1. The first session of the Seminar “Tata Juan Chávez Alonso” will be held Saturday and Sunday August 17-18, 2013, at CIDECI in San Cristóbal de Las Casas, Chiapas, México.
  2. The organizations that have convoked this seminar now constitute the “Organizing Commission,” which will invite the participation of other indigenous peoples and agree upon all things related to the method of this first session.
  3. The “Organizing Commission” will extend a special invitation to organizations, groups, and individuals who have consistently accompanied the struggle of the indigenous peoples.
  4. Those who have convoked the forum and those indigenous peoples and organizations of Mexico and the American continent invited by the “Organizing Commission” will participate in this first session with their word.
  5. The various sessions of this seminar will be open to the general public.
  6. More information regarding the calendar and schedule of participation will be made public by the Organizing Commission at the appropriate time.

Within the framework of the Seminar “Tata Juan Chávez Alonso,” and with Don Juan’s gaze as our horizon, the participating indigenous organization and peoples will also meet on their own to propose (extending an even wider invitation) the relaunching of the National Indigenous Congress of Mexico, and simultaneously make a call to the indigenous peoples of the continent to resume our encounters.

For recognition and respect for indigenous rights and culture.
CONVOKED BY:
Nación Kumiai.
Autoridades Tradicionales de la Tribu Yaqui.
Tribu Mayo de Huirachaca, Sonora.
Consejo Regional Wixárika en Defensa de Wirikuta.
Comunidad Coca de Mezcala.
Radio Ñomndaa de Xochistlahuaca, (Pueblo Amuzgo), Guerrero.
Comunidad Zoque en Jalisco.
Organización de Comunidades Indígenas y Campesinas de Tuxpan (Pueblo Nahua), Jalisco.
Comunidad Nahua en Resistencia de La Yerbabuena, en Colima.
Colectivo Jornalero de Tikul (Pueblo Maya Peninsular), Yucatán
Comunidades Purépechas de Nurío, Arantepacua, Comachuén, Urapicho, Paracho, Uruapan, Caltzontzin, Ocumicho.
Comuneros Nahuas de Ostula.
Comunidad Nahua Indígena de Chimalaco, en San Luis Potosí.
La Otra indígena Xilitla (pueblo Nahua).
Comunidad Mazahua de San Antonio Pueblo Nuevo, Edomex.
Comunidad Ñahñu de San Pedro Atlapulco, Edomex.
Centro de Producción Radiofónica y Documentación Comunal de San Pedro Atlapulco (Pueblo Ñahñu), Edomex.
Comunidad Nahua de San Nicolás Coatepec, Edomex.
Ejido Nahua de San Nicolás Totolapan, DF.
Comuneros Nahuas de San Pedro Atocpan, DF.
Mujeres y Niños Nahuas de Santa Cruz Acalpixca, DF.
Mazahuas en el DF.
Centro de Derechos Humanos Rafael Ayala y Ayala (Pueblos Nahua y Popoluca), de Tehuacán, Puebla.
Asamblea Popular Juchiteca (Pueblo Zapoteco), Oaxaca.
Fuerza Indígena Chinanteca “KiaNan”.
Consejo Indígena Popular de Oaxaca-Ricardo Flores Magón, (Pueblos Zapoteco, Nahua, Mixteco, Cuicateco), Oaxaca.
Comité de Bienes Comunales de Unión Hidalgo, (Pueblo Zapoteco) Oaxaca.
Unión Campesina Indígena Autónoma de Río Grande (Pueblo Chatino y Afromestizo), Oaxaca.
La Voz de los Zapotecos Xichés en Prisión, Oaxaca.
Temazcal Tlacuache Tortuga de la comunidad de Zaachilá, (Pueblo Zapoteco), Oaxaca.
Colonia Ecológica la Minzita, (Pueblo Purépecha), Morelia, Michoacán.
Colectivo Cortamortaja de Jalapa del Marqués (Pueblo Zapoteco), Oaxaca.
Radio Comunitaria Totopo de Juchitán (Pueblo Zapoteco), Oaxaca
CIDECI-UNITIERRA, Chiapas.
CCRI-CG del Ejército Zapatista de Liberación Nacional (Pueblos Tzeltal, Tzotzil, Chol, Tojolabal, Zoque, Mame y Mestizo), Chiapas.
Mexico, June 2, 2013.
::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::
See and listen to the videos that accompany this text:
In memory of Don Juan Chávez Alonso. Produced by the Cooperativa de Condimentos para la Acción Cinematográfica.
El Comandante Guillermo, introduces Don Juan Chávez Alonso at the Festival of Dignified Rage (Digna Rabia), in CIDECI, San Cristóbal de Las Casas, Chiapas, México.
Baile tradicional “Los Viejitos,” performed by students of the Casa del Estudiante Lenin, Michoacán, México.
********************************
Traducción del Kilombo Intergaláctico.
*********************************
 – reblogged in its entirety from Censored News, Zapatistas Tour continues Yaqui Gathering
zapatista

Splitting-the-Sky (1952-2013): A Warrior for Justice

Published on Mar 22, 2013

SHOW NOTES AND MP3: http://www.corbettreport.com/?p=7148

Mohawk activist. 9/11 truth campaigner. War criminal protester. Attica State riot leader. Gustafsen Lake Standoff organizer. Splitting The Sky had a remarkable life. Tragically, that life was cut short last week after an unexplained incident near his home in Chase, British Columbia. Today on The Corbett Report we memorialize his life and reflect on the legacy he leaves behind.

From Veterans Today:

I first heard about Splitting-the-Sky in 2007 from the editor of the Mohawk Nation News, who had published an article referencing 9/11 truth. When I asked her to appear on my radio show, she said: “You need to talk to Splitting-the-Sky.”

Was she ever right. Splitting-the-Sky turned out to be one of the most charismatic and eloquent people I have ever met. As his name suggests, he seemed to be channeling a never-ending lightning bolt. (He explained to me last June, during dinner after the Vancouver 9/11 Hearings, that he practiced a kind of tantric kundalini yoga to bring all that electricity up his spine and into his brain.)

From Mohawk Nation News:

Mohawk Warrior and Champion of the People Dies – March 13, 2013. A great loss to the people, to the nation, to the resistance, anti-imperialist  movement right across Great Turtle Island.

JOHN HILLOn March 13th, Dacajeweiah, Splitting-the-Sky, 61, left us forever when he passed away in his home in Adams Lake, British Columbia. Dac’s colonial name was John Boncore Hill, from Six Nations. “From Attica to Gustafsen Lake,” and thereafter, he was a warrior, a comrade, a brother, a father, a grandfather, a friend.

We deeply mourn his loss.

The family will release a biographical statement and details of memorial arrangements in due course. With deepest love to his wife, She-Keeps-the-Door, and children. We stand with Dac’s many many co-fighters and friends. He loved the People. The AIM song is dedicated to the continuance of the resistance after a warrior has fallen A.I.M. song


Savage Fam’s Wild Rage

I’m pretty amazed that Savage Fam is not the biggest underground hip-hop group out there. “Hands of Vengance” is the first track I heard from them and it features Ant Loc, the main MC for Savage Fam. The track impressed me the way Cypress Hill’s “How I could just kill a man” hit me when I first heard it “This is the hardest shit out there” No rap group in the scene at the moment is hitting the issues of colonization, genocide and indigeneity with the lyrical dexterity of Savage Fam. All this with a foundation of solid beats and highly produced music videos. Maybe this shit’s too scary for white folks, the way Public Enemy was back in the day. If this is the case I invite you to let go of your fear and embrace the rage of Savage Fam.

Here are a few more of their vids :

1. Truth be told
2. War Mask
3. Hatred

reposted from submediaTV

savageFam


Chiapas: Villagers Defy Pressure to Forfeit Farms for Carbon-Offset

Colonialism and the Green Economy: Villagers Defy Pressure to Forfeit Farms for Carbon-Offset

All names are fictitious as sources requested anonymity out of fear of retaliation. Anonymity and people’s requests that no pictures be taken were prerequisites for attaining interviews. No one wanted to go on record in connection to a new, politically charged, government program.

Sunday, 13 January 2013 08:09 By Daniel C Marotta and Jennifer Coute-Marotta , Truthout

Consuela’s identity, like most indigenous farmers of the Americas, is strongly connected to the heirloom maize seeds her family plants on their milpas every year. She is from one of the most isolated parts of Mexico, called Marques de Comillas, within the state of Chiapas. It is bordered to the northwest by the Montes Azules, or Blue Mountains, and by the Guatemalan border on the other three sides. It is a low-lying area dominated by wetlands, tropical forests and mosquitoes and gives way to the Peten rainforest as it sprawls out across Guatemala and northward into the Yucatan Peninsula. Truthout interviewed Consuela as part of an investigation into the growing biofuel industry, and she talked with dignity and defiance about the reasons why she and her village refuse to plant African Palms for biofuels on their land.

Biofuel refinery in new industrial zone in Tapachula, an exporting city on the coast of Chiapas. With plans for expansion, there is a coffee plant to its left and an oil refinery being built on its right. Mexico is currently laying the foundation of a biofuel exporting industry. (Photo: Jennifer Coute-Marotta)

Biofuel refinery in new industrial zone in Tapachula, an exporting city on the coast of Chiapas. With plans for expansion, there is a coffee plant to its left and an oil refinery being built on its right. Mexico is currently laying the foundation of a biofuel exporting industry. (Photo: Jennifer Coute-Marotta)

Biofuels are fuels derived from plants, with African Palm and Jatropha the two main biofuel crops in Chiapas. African Palm is a plant used widely as a foodstuff, especially in the developing world, while Jatropha is not. While the use of food crops for biofuels has been connected to increases in food prices and shortages, non-foodstuff biofuels should be implicated, too. Productive agricultural land is a scarce resource, and the more humanity relegates to biofuels, the less goes to the cultivation of food.

Biofuel plantations could double the monetary benefit for Mexico. The refined fuel can be exported, and the growing trees themselves may generate carbon credits. Through biosequestration, these African Palms take in carbon, which Mexico can then sell on the various carbon markets. (Photo: Jennifer Coute-Marotta)Biofuel plantations could double the monetary benefit for Mexico. The refined fuel can be exported, and the growing trees themselves may generate carbon credits. Through biosequestration, these African Palms take in carbon, which Mexico can then sell on the various carbon markets. (Photo: Jennifer Coute-Marotta)Biofuels are increasingly being viewed as a “green” source of energy as depleting oil and gas reserves are becoming harder to find and extract. Mexico plans to have 15 percent of its national demand for aviation fuels sourced from biofuels. Additionally, the country is laying the groundwork for a biofuel exporting industry. In Tapachula, an exporting city on the coast, a new industrial zone was created in which a biofuel refinery was recently built. It is sandwiched between a coffee packing plant and an oil refinery.

Mexico sees itself as a future leader in the fledgling “green” economy, and biofuel plantations could double the monetary benefit. Not only can the fuels be used and exported, the plantations themselves may be able to generate carbon credits. One ton of carbon “sequestered” in the palm trees as they grow would be equal to one carbon credit. The Mexican government could then sell those credits on the market to private entities interested in offsetting their carbon footprint. In an effort to spur this new economic frontier, Chiapas has been subsidizing farmers and landholders to plant African Palm or Jatropha plantations.

Accordingly, the villages surrounding Consuela’s are said to be contributing to climate change mitigation by converting their agricultural plots and forest tracts to biofuel plantations. California, which has an agreement with Chiapas to monitor its carbon credit-generating activities, is deciding on whether to accept them as legitimate offset credits in its cap-and-trade scheme.

REDD protocol neither permits or denies monoculture plantations as acceptable projects for carbon credit generation. Yet, it most likely will. How is it that plantations of palm trees for oil production can be accepted under a mechanism designed to conserve forests of the Global South? (Photo: Jennifer Coute-Marotta)REDD protocol neither permits or denies monoculture plantations as acceptable projects for carbon credit generation. Yet, it most likely will. How is it that plantations of palm trees for oil production can be accepted under a mechanism designed to conserve forests of the Global South? (Photo: Jennifer Coute-Marotta)Truthout interviewed Anne Petermann, the executive director of Global Justice Ecology Project. GJEP is an organization researching the impacts of biofuels on indigenous populations in Chiapas. “The use of palm oil plantations as carbon offsets,” she said, “will allow the world’s biggest polluters to continue emitting greenhouse gases while pretending to mitigate them through offsetting. At the same time, communities that have traditionally cared for the land are being faced with forced evictions or economic pressure to convert their lands to biofuel plantations. Chiapas is yet another example of the dangers of putting too much emphasis on forest carbon offsets and biofuels as a means to mitigate climate change.”

Such carbon credit-generating projects may soon find a home in an international climate change mechanism known as REDD (Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation). REDD creates a financial incentive to conserve forests through the marketization of trees’ natural ability to store carbon as biomass. Originally taking the form of individual carbon offset projects, REDD is morphing into national government programs in the Global South as the World Bank, other multinational institutions and the United Nations funnel money toward their creation.

Currently, REDD protocol neither permits nor denies biofuel plantations as an acceptable option for carbon credit generation. It likely will, however, considering that the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change includes plantations under its definition of a forest and views them as legitimate offset projects for countries signed onto the Kyoto Protocol (the United States is not a signatory). But how can a monoculture plantation of African Palm be accepted under a practice, the mission of which is to conserve forests? Until the problems surrounding the definition of a forest are resolved and unequivocally deny monoculture plantations as fitting that definition, attempts to save the world’s forests will be subject to the interests of industry.

It is important to note that the European Union’s Emissions Trading Scheme does not permit such offsets because “[these] projects cannot deliver permanent emissions reductions.” Trees simply do not live forever.

from truthout – Colonialism and the Green Economy: Villagers Defy Pressure to Forfeit Farms for Carbon-Offset


“Yes to Life! No to Gold!” Indigenous Communities in Peru Struggle to Defend Land From Mining

by Roxana Olivera

…in a remote corner of Peru’s northern highlands known as Tragadero Grande. It is situated in the district of Sorochuco, province of Celendin, department of Cajamarca. Set at 3,249 metres above sea level and against a backdrop of rolling mountains and natural water sheds, Tragadero Grande offers a breathtaking, colorful landscape. It looks a bit like Tuscany – but with potato fields and a few llamas. Acuña built a small shack atop one of those rolling mountains. And, like most campesinos – indigenous peasants – in her community, she, her husband and three children, have been, and still are, engaged in subsistence production as farmers and herders.

Sadly, beneath those majestic mountains, particularly beneath two of their pristine lakes, lie rich deposits of gold and copper, minerals that Minera Yanacocha is determined to extract at any price.

To do so, Minera Yanacocha – 51.35 per cent owned by US giant Newmont Mining Corporation, 43.65 per cent owned by Peru’s Compañia de Minas Buenaventura, while the World Bank holds the rest of the shares – has mounted an aggressive campaign to promote the development of the Minas Conga. Minas Conga will be an open-pit gold and copper mine in the heart of the region. Worth an estimated $4.8 billion, the project is slated to become the largest single investment in the country’s mining history, with an annual output of 580,000 to 680,000 ounces of gold and 155 million to 235 million pounds of copper during its first five years of operation. The total surface area of the proposed open pit is 2,000 hectares – 20 km2.

Contamination concerns

The proposed open-pit mine would destroy four mountain lakes while it also threatens to contaminate and deplete groundwater supplies in the high Andes region of Cajamarca. Two of the lakes would be drained for mining exploration and mineral extraction and the two others would be turned into tailings ponds for mining waste.

There are concerns that the contamination may even leach into the Marañon River, an important headwater of the Amazon. Needless to say, the mining project also threatens to endanger the health of the local indigenous communities.

Yet, Minera Yanacocha claims that the Minas Conga venture meets rigorous environmental standards, and it promises to build four water reservoirs to replace the mountain lakes. ‘Water management practices incorporated in the Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA),’ the company proclaims on its website, ‘were based on more than 10 years of hydrology and engineering studies conducted by respected independent firms.’

But the company has a questionable reputation in Cajamarca.

With a 19-year-history of mining operations in the region, it was responsible for a mercury spill that poisoned more than 1,200 villagers in the nearby community of Choropampa.

And, according to health records featured in a documentary film that is currently on the festival circuit, it appears that many workers at the nearby Yanacocha mine – the largest open-pit goldmine in Latin America and the second largest in the world – are suffering from severe mercury poisoning.

As for promises of greater benefits from gold extraction, it is noteworthy that after 19 years of mining activity in Cajamarca, the province has sunk from being the fourth poorest province in Peru to the second poorest.

Defending the real treasure

Fully aware of that dubious past, Máxima Acuña doesn’t buy into any of Minera Yanacocha’s public relations rhetoric on economic opportunities and corporate social responsibility.

As she puts it, ‘I may be poor. I may be illiterate, but I know that our mountain lakes are our real treasure. From them, I can get fresh and clean water for my children, for my husband and for my animals!’ She then adds, ‘Yet, are we expected to sacrifice our water and our land so that the Yanacocha people can take gold back to their country? Are we supposed to sit quietly and just let them poison our land and water?’

In spite of her valid property documents, and without being served an official eviction order, according to Acuña, Minera Yanacocha has made several attempts to forcibly remove her from her land.

In May 2011, she says, a team of mining engineers from Minera Yanacocha, along with private security guards and police, marched into her property, tore down fences, and dismantled her shack. She went to the Sorochuco police to report the incident, but, she says, they simply told her to go away.

On 9 August 2011, the mining engineers returned with heavy machinery to Acuña’s plot of land. They were escorted by a large contingent of Peruvian riot police and soldiers. On this occasion, they destroyed what was meant to be her new shack. They confiscated all of her possessions: her bed, her clothes, her cooking utensils, even her food – cooked and uncooked.

‘Then, they beat me and my daughter without compassion,’ Acuña recalls, her voice cracking. ‘And, the police had their machine guns pointed at the heads of my husband and small son.’

Máxima Acuña shows the bruising to her arms following the beating by the police in 2011.

She wipes tears off her face with her poncho. ‘These mining people have tried to kill us, and they have threatened to come back again to kill us,’ she whispers, looking at me intently. ‘I fear for my life, for the life of my husband, for the lives of my children and for the lives of the people in my community who defend us and our water.’

there’s more, from upside down newsYes to Life! No to Gold!” Indigenous Communities in Peru Struggle to Defend Land From Mining


indigenous and environmental activists being exterminated in oaxaca, mexico

Drug-related violence has dominated recent reporting on Mexico. However, in addition to the country’s struggle with organized crime networks, multiple governance issues continue to hamper political, social, and economic progress. Two areas of persistent deficits are minority issues, particularly indigenous rights, which are often violated despite Mexico’s formal recognition of its “multicultural” status; and a lack of democratic accountability at the state level.

from the zapatistas:

TO HONEST MEDIA

TO HUMAN RIGHTS BODIES

INDIGENOUS PEOPLES OF MEXICO

THE OTHER CAMPAIGN

THE NATIONAL LIBERATION ARMY ZAPATISTA

TO OAXACA, MEXICO AND THE WORLD

Partners, companeros:

The attacks aagainst the community of San Juan Copala Triqi – now displaced from their village by the evil government and their henchmen – is aimed at women and men who have good heart enough to denounce the evil and powerful ambitions which know no limits, and who do not consent to become dispersed from their community, the people of Copala, even outside of their land, are still being massacred by paramilitaries in the service of this damned capitalist system, who have the nerve to denounce these people as being on the left.

Yesterday afternoon, as they walked to peer Copala, Yosoyuxi Teresa Ramírez Sánchez and Serafin Ubaldo were brutally murdered, and comrade Jordan Ramírez González was seriously wounded (and later died). The latest reports we have is that Jordan could not be treated at the Hospital of criminals Juxtlahuaca,  because the gunmen were outside. Not satisfied with that, the armed men went on patrol, looking for our friend to finish him off while the police do nothing. This is because Jordan was a committed comrade and he was the last to leave Copala on 19 September. First, he wanted to be sure none of his companions were left behind, only then did he decide to leave.

paraphrased from rough translation, from  Oaxaca: New Aggression In San Juan Copala: 2 Killed And One Seriously Injured – Indigenous Peoples Issues and Resources

more:

Environmental Activist Bernardo Vásquez Sánchez Murdered in Oaxaca

 

A well-known environmental activist in Oaxaca, Mexico was murdered Thursday night in a highway ambush about an hour south of the state capital. Thirty-two year old Bernardo Vásquez Sánchez – a vocal opponent to a Canadian-owned mining project – was shot multiple times in the chest when armed men attacked his car along the road which connects his hometown, San Jose del Progreso, to the regional hub of Ocotlán.

Armed group attacks Triqui community of displaced

An attack by an armed group carried out against the community of San Pedro River Valley, primarily made up of displaced persons from San Juan Copala, Putla de Guerrero Oaxaca,  .

In this regard, the Centre for Human Rights and Advice for Indigenous Peoples (Dedhapi), said that on Tuesday May 8, about 14 hours, a gray double cab, inside which several people were traveling, forcibly entered the community.

Attackers fired shots against some houses and killed Jaime Martinez and Joaquin Ramirez N, natives of San Miguel Copala, as well as Eulogio López Aguilar.

The group said the January 25, 2012, at approximately 6 am, San Pedro River Valley, San Juan Copala, comprising 66 people, was raided by some 200 elements of the Preventive Police heavily armed state board of 20 patrols, in order to evict them from land.

Despite the fact that they arrested Cornelio Martinez Ramirez 28-year-old Manuel Francisco Ramirez 70 years old, Jaime Ramirez 16 years old, and so far no one knows where they are.

translated from spanish from noticias.net

2010 Oaxaca Ambush Highlights Another Governance Challenge for Mexico

One attack on humanitarian workers in Oaxaca state illustrates the severity of these problems. On April 27, 2010, gunmen attacked a convoy of 25 Mexican and European activists who were bringing food and supplies to the inhabitants of San Juan Copala, a self-defined autonomous indigenous community that has been under siege since January by a paramilitary group known as the Union for the Wellbeing of the Triqui Region (UBISORT). The militia has been tied to the state-level Institutional Revolutionary Party (PRI), the party that led Mexico unchallenged between 1929 and 2000 and continues to reign in Oaxaca under the leadership of Governor Ulises Ruiz. Of the 25 workers, two were shot and killed: Jyri Jaakkola, a Finnish human rights observer, and Beatriz Alberta Carino, the director of a local NGO. At least two others were injured, and six were missing. Four of the missing persons, including two missing journalists, surfaced on Thursday. A survivor reported that the attackers revealed themselves as members of UBISORT and claimed to act with the governor’s support. The identity and motive of the group, however, have not been verified, and the state government has denied involvement.

from freedom house

for more on the background of this campaign of terror, see previous post:

 International Day of Action in Solidarity with the Autonomous Municpality of San Juan Copala, Oaxaca, Mexico


RCMP spied on B.C. natives protesting pipeline plan, documents show

The RCMP has been spying on a group of British Columbia First Nations whose vocal opposition to Enbridge’s Northern Gateway pipeline has taken them to the company’s annual shareholders meeting in Toronto, according to documents obtained through an access-to-information request.

The documents show that a provincial RCMP unit has been closely tracking the potential for “acts of protest and civil disobedience” by the Yinka Dene Alliance, a coalition of northern B.C. First Nations who have been at the centre of resistance to Enbridge’s $5.5 billion pipeline proposal.

Their territory covers a quarter of the route of the pipeline, which would carry more than 500,000 barrels of oilsands crude from Alberta through pristine territory to Kitimat, B.C., for export by supertanker to Asia and other markets.

The revelations add ammunition to critics who have charged that the Harper government is waging a campaign to demonize legitimate opponents of resource developments like the Northern Gateway, by labelling them as radicals or including them in Canada’s “counter-terrorism” strategy.

Saik’uz First Nation Chief Jackie Thomas, a member of the Yinka Dene Alliance who made a cross-country trip on the “Freedom Train” to protest in Toronto against the pipeline on Wednesday, said she has had suspicions for some time about RCMP surveillance.

“We’ve always been peaceful, but this is how they try to paint us as the enemy,” said Thomas, a grandmother and mother of four concerned that an oil spill could destroy the lands she hunts and fishes on with many of her community members.

“The federal government seems to be using all its arms to push through this project against the will of anyone who opposes it, but we won’t be deterred. It is not a crime to defend our land and waters from a tarsands pipeline and to make the future safe for our grandkids.”

According to the documents, the RCMP unit gathered intelligence from unspecified “industry reports,” newspapers and websites, and Facebook and Flickr photo accounts.

They also appear to have monitored private meetings, including one between First Nations and environmental organizations held in Fraser Lake, B.C., at the end of November, which Thomas says was not announced publicly.

The meeting’s purpose was “to strengthen the alliance between First Nations and environmental groups opposing Enbridge,” an intelligence report from December states.

Enbridge declined to comment about whether it has been exchanging information with the RCMP.

The monthly intelligence reports note that the oil company “will experience increasingly intense protest activity due to the environmental sensitivity of the Northern Gateway path, combined with the fact that the territory has never been ceded to the Crown by First Nations in B.C.”

The pipeline would cross more than 700 rivers and streams, whose abundance of fish has spawned an economy integral to the region, and three vital watersheds: the Mackenzie, the Fraser and the Skeena.

More than 100 First Nations have banned an Enbridge pipeline from their territories, declaring “we will not allow our fish, animals, plants, people and ways of life to be placed at risk.”

An intelligence report notes that the Yinka Dene Alliance will show an “increasing propensity and likelihood of utilizing blockades and confrontation to deter industry from accessing disputed territory.”

With opposition growing among the B.C. population, including NDP leader Adrian Dix, likely the next premier, Enbridge will face an uphill battle to build the pipeline.

As previously reported in the Star, a national RCMP surveillance program monitoring First Nations that ran between 2007 and 2010 shared similar intelligence reports about First Nations with the private sector, including energy companies.

According to newly released documents, since the closure of that national program the surveillance has continued under different RCMP branches.

A RCMP spokesperson said intelligent reports are provided only to law-enforcement agencies.

The provincial unit has been tracking protests by other B.C. First Nations, including opposition to the Pacific Trails pipeline that would bring liquefied natural gas to the coast for export, and the expansion of the Kinder Morgan pipeline carrying Alberta crude oil to tankers in Vancouver.

The RCMP kept tabs on and monitored ongoing and potential conflicts involving First Nations over logging, mining, and fracking.

http://www.thestar.com/news/canada/politics/article/1175824–rcmp-spied-on-b-c-natives-protesting-pipeline-plan-documents-show

Martin Lukacs and Tim Groves, Toronto Star, May 09 2012


Abenaki Leader Calls for Tribal Forests and New Popular Front!

The following speech was given by First Nation/Abenaki leader Luke Willard at the Put People and the Planet First Vermont May Day demonstration in Montpelier. This rally, largely organized by the Vermont Workers Center, made history by being the largest weekday demonstration in the long history of Vermont’s Capital City. Despite rain, cold, and a grey sky, and despite the fact that Montpelier has a population of only 7800 people, 2000 Vermonters marched to demand that the needs of the People and the Planet be valued over corporate greed.

Hello Vermont Workers, Farmers, Environmentalists, Abenaki, and Revolutionaries!!!

My name is Luke Willard. I’m the Chairman of the Vermont Commission on Native American Affairs, a Firefighter and Rescuer, and I’m a Conservation Organizer for the Vermont Sierra Club and the Nulhegan Abenaki Tribe in the Northeast Kingdom. Just over a year ago, I was here to celebrate the state recognition of the Nulhegan, of which I am a member, and Elnu Abenaki tribes, and I’m very happy to report that I will be here again six days from now to celebrate the state recognition of two more tribes… the Koasek and the Missisquoi!

As a Conservation Organizer, it is my job to work at the grassroots level to encourage communities to create their own Town and Tribal Forests. We call it the OUR Forests OUR Future initiative… and we do not stand alone! So I give a shout out to the Vermont Workers Center, the AFL-CIO, 350 Vermont, and many others.

So what is Our Forests Our Future? My people have known for centuries that the land we walk upon is a gift. From this land, my people were able to meet their every need while maintaining the health and beauty of the land we call N’dakinna in the Abenaki language. Today, most know it as the Green Mountain State… Vermont. Unfortunately though, this gift has been taken for granted.

Greedy corporations, self interested out-of-staters, and even some Vermonters who have traded in their birthright for real or imagined swollen bank accounts, do not see the majestic mountains, and miles of forests. They do not see the herbs of spring, the bounties of late summer, and the colors of autumn. They do not hear the ripples of a mountain stream, the call of the loon, or the wind as it dances with leaves of a giant Vermont maple. They do not benefit from growing organic vegetables or the blessing of a deer or moose who sacrifices itself to complete the circle of life. They only see potential development, dollar signs, a place to put their pollution, and an investment in vacation home development for the wealthy who reside in lands far south of these green and rugged hills. These people, the enemies of Vermont’s working families, only hear what they want to hear. They only see the alleged benefit from the gain of elitist non-productive economic and political power, and they seek to exchange that which could serve the community, for the destruction that can only result from their personal gain. This is the challenge set before us as we, today, declare that a healthy and vibrant forest, a clean and sustainable environment, is a basic birth right of all Vermonters!

My people, the Abenaki, also know that this planet is changing. Our climate is changing. But as we adapt to these changes, it is necessary for us to lend a hand to our four-legged friends so that they may adapt to our changing environment by establishing forested migration corridors particularly in the northeast so that animals have a safe route from the spine of the Green Mountains to the vast forests of northern New Hampshire, Maine, and Quebec. We propose doing so through the creation of a mosaic of new town and tribal forests!

But let us not forget the two-legged creatures… you and me. Moms, Dads, Grandmothers, Grandfathers, and our greatest resource… our children. In exchange for our stewardship… yours and mine… Town forests and tribal forests can provide clean air to breath and clean water to drink. They can also provide essential food and medicines that haven’t been poisoned by synthetic fertilizers, hormones, and genetically modified organisms… Firewood for the disadvantaged and/or elderly… Cooperative maple sugaring… and a place for teachings our children the simplicity of sustainable living and stewardship!

Last year, over 1500 people signed our petition for the creation of new town forests. These petitions were delivered to the Governor and leaders of the Vermont General Assembly. We are pleased to report that this year the Governor is supporting increased funding for the Vermont Housing and Conservation Fund. This year, though, we are circulating a new petition… one that will demonstrate Vermont’s overwhelming support for Tribal Forests! It is our intention, this summer, to deliver this petition to the Governor, and to work with the administration to secure the first true and new Abenaki forest in over 200 years!

After 400 years of oppression, genocide, eugenics, and the near eradication of our culture and our people, it is time that the first Vermonters, the original Vermonters, the Abenaki, win back a meaningful piece of what was once all ours! We demand tribal-communal lands that we can hunt, fish, gather wood, and medicine. We demand a return of those tools of nature which were stolen from us generations ago. We do not stand before you today asking that we be become a ward of the state. No my fellow Vermonters; we stand before you today to demand that we be allowed the resources to not only safeguard our environment, but also to take care of our own people!! We are here today to declare that the time has come to establish Abenaki Tribal Forests in the Great State of Vermont!

Let me be as clear as I can… We do not seek acceptance or recognition from a federal government which is marred in blood, war, imperialism (both abroad and at home), corruption, inaction, and failure. We do not seek rights to gambling or other vices. We simply seek to work with the State of Vermont in setting aside lands which we can preserve in its natural state, and work according to our traditions; those which predate 1492 and 1791. We seek a place in these Green Hills that we can, again, call our own!

And here, we know we are not alone. We have been working with the Vermont Sierra Club and others represented in this crowd today to achieve these goals. We understand that our battle will only be won through a grand and united Popular Front composed of all those individuals and organizations who are gathered here today in solidarity! And in turn, we, the Nulhegan Abenaki, look forward to working with you to see that Vermont Put’s People and The Planet First!

So, as the sun goes down over this failed empire of greed, we, the Abenaki people, the People of the Dawn, reach out our hand in friendship to all Vermonters; be they the sons and daughters of the Green Mountain Boys, the grandchildren of Quebecquoi immigrants, or more recent arrivals. Together we are Vermont Strong and together we will win!

 Posted by David Van Deusen
Infoshop News
May 2, 2012

Happy Earth Day!

‘They’re killing us’: world’s most endangered tribe cries for help

The Awá are one of only two nomadic hunter-gathering tribes left in the Amazon

Logging companies keen to exploit Brazil’s rainforest have been accused by human rights organisations of using gunmen to wipe out the Awá, a tribe of just 355.

It is a scene played out throughout the Amazon as the authorities struggle to tackle the powerful illegal logging industry. But it is not just the loss of the trees that has created a situation so serious that it led a Brazilian judge, José Carlos do Vale Madeira, to describe it as “a real genocide”. People are pouring on to the Awá’s land, building illegal settlements, running cattle ranches. Hired gunmen – known as pistoleros – are reported to be hunting Awá who have stood in the way of land-grabbers. Members of the tribe describe seeing their families wiped out. Human rights campaigners say the tribe has reached a tipping point and only immediate action by the Brazilian government to prevent logging can save the tribe.

Their troubles began in earnest in 1982 with the inauguration of a European Economic Community (EEC) and World Bank-funded programme to extract massive iron ore deposits found in the Carajás mountains. The EEC gave Brazil $600m to build a railway from the mines to the coast, on condition that Europe received a third of the output, a minimum of 13.6m tons a year for 15 years. The railway cut directly through the Awá’s land and with the railway came settlers. A road-building programme quickly followed, opening up the Awá’s jungle home to loggers, who moved in from the east.

It was, according to Survival’s research director, Fiona Watson, a recipe for disaster. A third of the rainforest in the Awá territory in Maranhão state in north-east Brazil has since been destroyed and outsiders have exposed the Awá to diseases against which they have no natural immunity.

“The Awá and the uncontacted Awá are really on the brink,” she said. “It is an extremely small population and the forces against them are massive. They are being invaded by loggers, settlers and cattle ranchers. They rely entirely on the forest. They have said to me: ‘If we have no forest, we can’t feed our children and we will die’.”

But it appears that the Awá also face a more direct threat. Earlier this year an investigation into reports that an Awá child had been killed by loggers found that their tractors had destroyed the Awá camp.

“It is not just the destruction of the land; it is the violence,” said Watson. “I have talked to Awá people who have survived massacres. I have interviewed Awá who have seen their families shot in front of them. There are immensely powerful people against them. The land-grabbers use pistoleros to clear the land. If this is not stopped now, these people could be wiped out. This is extinction taking place before our eyes.”

What is most striking about the Funai undercover video of the loggers – apart from the sheer size of the trunks – is the absence of jungle in the surrounding landscape. Once the landscape would have been lush rainforest. Now it has been clear-felled, leaving behind just grass and scrub and only a few scattered clumps of trees.

Such is the Awá’s affinity with the jungle and its inhabitants that if they find a baby animal during their hunts they take it back and raise it almost like a child, to the extent that the women will sometimes breastfeed the creature. The loss of their jungle has left them in a state of despair. “They are chopping down wood and they are going to destroy everything,” said Pire’i Ma’a, a member of the tribe. “Monkeys, peccaries, tapir, they are all running away. I don’t know how we are going to eat – everything is being destroyed, the whole area.

“This land is mine, it is ours. They can go away to the city, but we Indians live in the forest. They are going to kill everything. Everything is dying. We are all going to go hungry, the children will be hungry, my daughter will be hungry, and I’ll be hungry too.”

In an earlier interview with Survival, another member of the tribe, Karapiru, described how most of his family were killed by ranchers. “I hid in the forest and escaped from the white people. They killed my mother, my brothers and sisters and my wife,” he said. “When I was shot during the massacre, I suffered a great deal because I couldn’t put any medicine on my back. I couldn’t see the wound: it was amazing that I escaped – it was through the Tupã [spirit]. I spent a long time in the forest, hungry and being chased by ranchers. I was always running away, on my own. I had no family to help me, to talk to. So I went deeper and deeper into the forest.

via ‘They’re killing us’: world’s most endangered tribe cries for help | World news | The Observer.