sovereignty-rights

The Japan Times, September 23, 2014

Ainu, Okinawans join first U.N. indigenous peoples’ conference

Pictured: Keiko Itokazu, an Upper House member from Okinawa Prefecture, delivers a speech during the United Nations-backed World Conference on Indigenous Peoples, which ran through Tuesday. | KYODO

Delegates for indigenous peoples from around the world, including Ainu and Okinawans, gathered this week at the United Nations to discuss measures to ensure their political representation and freedom from discrimination in the first U.N.-backed conference of its kind.

Kazushi Abe, vice president of the Ainu Association of Hokkaido, and Shisei Toma, of the Association of the Indigenous Peoples in the Ryukyus, an Okinawa civic association, were among those invited to speak at the two-day World Conference on Indigenous Peoples through Tuesday.

The two-day conference focused on the implementation by the U.N. and national and local governments of the U.N. Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples Rights, which was adopted by the U.N. General Assembly in 2007.

The declaration promotes the rights of indigenous peoples to organize their own political systems, live free from discrimination, hold their traditional land, be consulted on development that affects them and other human rights. It is not a legally binding instrument under international law.

According to the U.N., there are at least 370 million people making up 5,000 indigenous groups in 70 countries throughout the world.

Opening the conference on Monday, U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said its success “is integral to progress for all humanity.”

Abe, 67, said: “It’s outstanding that an indigenous peoples’ conference is staged for two days (when world leaders gather) during the U.N. General Assembly.”

The Ainu group leader had planned a speech to press the Japanese government to implement the U.N. declaration but was unable to due to time constraints.

Abe, who participated as a member of the government delegation, said he was “very impressed that the Japanese government was understanding and took part together.”

“We hope to work together with other indigenous peoples in the world and that our children and grandchildren will be proud of being Ainu in the future,” he added.

Also at the opening session at the General Assembly hall, participants adopted a resolution reaffirming U.N. member states’ commitment to the declaration and asking the secretary-general to create an action plan.

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Earth Tribe - Activist News shared Nobel Women’s Initiative'sphoto.

"Our health as a civilization and the health of our Earth are intertwined."
The Nobel Women’s Initiative, in solidarity with the Healing Walk:http://youtu.be/fXQTyHkJkW4

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First Nations community, cut off from transport & trampled on for Winnipeg’s freshwater
March 29, 2013

Health worker Linda Redsky sits at her kitchen table, remembering when she almost drowned bringing groceries back from the market. With no roads to her community in western Ontario, she had to walk across the frozen surface of Shoal Lake, a sprawling body of water just north of the Canada-United States border.

She and her husband Wyne were walking back to their home on the lakeshore when they heard loud cracks all around them. “I went completely under the ice,” she says, her voice trembling. “I remember looking up and it was like a moment of clarity. I could see the hole I’d fallen through, I could see stars in the sky and I was sinking.”

But Wyne grabbed her hand and pulled her to safety. They kept each other warm until help came, and it wasn’t the first time that the couple had rescued each other. “At times like that I hate living here,” said Redsky. “It’s beautiful in summer, but I hate those trips across the ice.”

The Redskys live in an indigenous First Nation community, known as Shoal Lake 40. Though they’re just a dozen kilometres from the Trans-Canada highway and a few hours’ drive from a major city, their community had been cut off from Canada’s transport network for 100 years.

This isolation has been part of a long-running dispute that many First Nations people believe is emblematic of their troubled relations with the Canadian state.

In 1913, the city of Winnipeg - about 180km to the west - got the Canadian government to evict the people of Shoal Lake from their lakeside village so they could build a fresh water intake for a growing urban population. Then the city dug a canal to keep the water clean. That canal turned the new Shoal Lake settlement into an island, cutting off the inhabitants from the forests, trade routes, roads and railroad lines all around them.

"We were blockaded," said the elected chief of Shoal Lake, Erwin Redsky. "It’s manmade isolation. We’re not really remote. We can hear the traffic on the Trans-Canada [highway] and hear the trains go by." In January, that isolation came to a temporary end with the opening of what Chief Redsky calls "Freedom Road". Only open in winter, the road crosses a steel bridge that Chief Redsky demanded for years to end his community’s reliance on the often-dangerous ice crossing over Shoal Lake.

"To us it’s freedom, at least for now and until we build a permanent link. No more danger when the ice is thin," he says. "People have been just driving on the road for no reason, just to see what it’s like."

But Shoal Lake’s problems are far from over. There are few jobs and even the lake’s abundant fish and mineral-bearing rocks can’t be exploited, because of the City of Winnipeg’s insistence that no development take place near the source of its drinking water. Once-vibrant gold mines and commercial fishing have closed.

Now Winnipeg has big plans for its century-old water supply. A project to install central Canada’s largest inland port and a proposal to sell Shoal Lake Water to surrounding municipalities has given Chief Redsky an opportunity to call attention to his community’s plight. He and his fellow councillors have opposed the use of Shoal Lake water in these new schemes and have managed to get them delayed, if not stopped.

Treaties between the British colonial government and Canada’s First Nations explicitly allot water rights to aboriginal communities, and Chief Redsky intends to press that claim in the courts and international tribunals if necessary.

"Water is sacred to us, to all life, and our treaties call for the water to be shared. So why is only one community - Winnipeg - benefitting from this resource and not all of us?" the chief asks. "We’ll do what it takes to share this benefit."

Shoal Lake people, he points out, have to drink bottled water because they have no purification plant.

The City of Winnipeg isn’t commenting on the case while the legal ramifications are studied.

What hasn’t been forthcoming, says the chief, is support from Canada’s federal government, which has constitutional jurisdiction over First Nations affairs. Chief Redsky says he’s still waiting for a substantive reply to a letter sent in January to Prime Minister Stephen Harper.

Some members of his community, he says, are tired of waiting for Ottawa or some other government to resolve their grievances. With an eye to the recent Idle No More protests and hunger strikes, they’re looking to take matters into their own hands.

"We’re at a point now in terms of our relationship with Canada. We’re at a crossroads where there’s a road to reconciliation and a road to confrontation. We prefer reconciliation, we prefer sharing our resources, consultation, as promised in our treaties," Chief Redsky says, leaving it clear - if unsaid - that confrontation cannot be ruled out.

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The current U.S Supreme Court has consistently sided against Native Americans!

Currently the Bay Mills Indian Community faces a Supreme Court case that threatens tribal sovereignty. The State of Michigan is using this case to mount a full frontal attack on tribal sovereign immunity and the authority of states to regulate “gaming activity” under the Indian Gaming Regulatory Act (IGRA).

Support Tribal Sovereignty! and don’t forget to participate in our summer fundraising campaign- donations of $50 or more will receive a free Shepard Fairey “The Black Hills are Not for Sale” t-shirt! DONATE NOW!

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Women’s farmer collective in Sangju send out organic vegetable boxes to nearby consumers once a week. The women farm and process individually and collectively. Two men have been allowed to join the collective, but on the condition that they can not participate in decisionmaking. The women also work to protect native seed heritage from corporate takeover. The Korean Womens Peasant Association (KWPA) received the 2013 Food Sovereignty Prize because of projects like these and in recognition of their decades long struggle for democracy and women’s rights in South Korea.

Venezuelan indigenous Yukpa leader Sabino Romero assassinated
March 6, 2013 

Indigenous Yupka chief and land rights activist Sabino Romero has been assassinated in an act which has generated public repudiation from social movements and the Venezuelan government alike. A high profile investigation into the killing has been launched.

Romero was a chief of the indigenous Yupka people of the Sierra de Perijá in western Venezuela. He was assassinated on Sunday night as he made his way to vote in an indigenous election, in circumstances which are still unknown.

Romero was a leader in the struggle for ancestral Yupka lands in the Sierra de Perijá, lands held by cattle ranchers, but many of which have been formally granted to the Yupka by the Chavez government.

Last November, Romero travelled to Caracas with some 60 Yupka to demand that the government act against violence on the part of cattle ranchers who were refusing to give up their lands, as well as to protest against government inaction and public media silence over the conflict.

Several Yupka have already been killed in the land rights dispute, including Romero’s own father, and activists say that local judicial impunity has prevented the murderers from being brought to justice.

The Venezuelan government today condemned Romero’s assassination as a “terrible act”, and announced that a high-profile investigation into the killing had already been launched. The government, in a statement, said it suspects that the Yukpa chief was murdered for his role in the land rights conflict with cattle ranchers.

“We can’t get ahead of ourselves on a hypothesis about  this act, which is condemnable and must be repudiated from all points of view, but in general the just struggle for the fair distribution of land is on the table [as a possible motive],” said communication minister Ernesto Villegas.

Indigenous groups and social movements held a protest today outside the Public Attorney’s office in Caracas to demand that those responsible for Romero’s assassination be brought to justice.

Source

[photo: image of Coya White Hat-Artichoker speaking into a microphone into the audience.]

Exploring the Intersections of The Indian Child Welfare Act and The Reproductive Justice Movement — A.K.A Stop Stealing Our Children

guest blog by Coya White Hat-Artichoker

Last week’s Supreme Court ruling on the Indian Child Welfare Act (ICWA) while not a  direct attack on ICWA, was a legal “end run” around Native identity and who qualifies for its protection. While being the highest court in the land, the Supreme Court demonstrated a lack of understanding of tribal sovereignty and tribal identity.  I define sovereignty as the ability to determine your land, borders, and people.  It’s important to understand Native people have a unique relationship to the United States government that is unlike any other group of people of color: It is a nation to nation relationship and each tribe is considered to be sovereign. This court ruling challenges the sovereignty of the Cherokee tribe.  As a queer Indigenous woman, who was adopted and kept in my own community, the cases last week directly impacted multiple parts of my identity.

For those who are unfamiliar with the Indian Child Welfare Act (ICWA), it is a federal law that seeks to keep American Indian children with American Indian families.  The intent of Congress under ICWA was to “protect the best interests of Indian children and to promote the stability and security of Indian tribes and families” (25 U.S.C. § 1902). ICWA sets federal requirements that apply to state child custody proceedings involving an Indian child who is a member of or eligible for membership in a federally recognized tribe.

The Court ruled that when the father, Dusten Brown, relinquished his parental rights, despite not knowing the mother was going to give the child up for adoption, it meant that he had no legal standing to begin with because they never were a “family”.  However, once he learned of the potential adoption, Brown filed for and won custody of his daughter by the order of the South Carolina State Supreme Court because of their (correct) interpretation of the ICWA.

This decision is tricky and insidious, in part because it does not directly challenge the validity of ICWA.  The Justices instead decided that Brown was ineligible for protection underneath that statute.  They questioned the relinquishing of parental rights, and also questioned Veronica’s blood quantum, although they stopped short of saying the child isn’t Native enough.  Blood quantum in Native communities can be a painful and difficult issue.  Blood quantum determines enrollment eligibility.  The problem with a “set” blood quantum that determines eligibility for Native enrollment is that, like all things continuously divided, eventually you will not have enough blood to qualify anyone for membership, which some people view as way to eliminate treaty obligations.  In response, many tribes have altered their enrollments processes to account for this to include any lineage line.  Each Indigenous nation within the United States establishes membership differently. The Cherokee determine citizenship through lineage. Veronica’s membership in the Cherokee Nation is not defined by a measured blood quantum but rather she is Cherokee because her father is an enrolled member of the tribe.  As a citizen recognized by the Cherokee Nation, Brown’s parental rights should be protected by the ICWA, as that is the intent of the law.  It was designed to protect Native children and Indigenous nations by prioritizing adoptions from within the tribe.  Instead the Supreme Court determined that they were never a “family” and because Brown did not have custody at any point previously, he was not entitled to the protection offered by the ICWA.  With that, the Supreme Court chose to use a technicality to ignore their tribal membership, in direct opposition to the tenets of tribal sovereignty.

The Supreme Court actually sent the case back to the South Carolina Court to make a ruling.  As of last Friday, the adoptive couple (which is misleading because the adoption began but was not finalized) petitioned the Supreme Court to have their ruling go into effect immediately rather than waiting the usual 25 day period.  SCOTUS agreed to have the ruling go into effect within seven days -  an unusual step for the Court.

To understand the insidious aspect of this ruling, we have to look to a larger context.  As Native people we have experienced high rates of child theft through the boarding school system as part of the “kill the savage, save the man” doctrine. This removal continues through the modern day racist foster care system that continues to steal our children, (sometimes justified by citing a family’s lack of ability to provide food for them) rather than working to support the family.  In South Dakota, my home state, the tribes and government are meeting due to their concern about the alarmingly high rates of Native children in the foster care system.

I grew up in a time when the children who had been adopted out en masse were returning.  Many only knew a last name or the name of one parent, there were ads in newspapers and people being introduced at pow-wows asking for anyone who might know who they were or how to find their family.  There are many who never returned.  Either way, there was a disruption to culture and community for these families and individuals that was systematic and intentional.

The United Nations defines genocide, in part, as the “(e) Forcibly transferring children of the group to another group”.  This ruling and the foster care issue in South Dakota and other states, leads me to believe that the attempts at genocide are not over.

In my opinion this case should have ended when the South Carolina Supreme Court decided in favor of Dusten Brown.  The case found its way to the US Supreme Court because the adoptive white couple refused to let the ruling stand.  They framed their fight in the racist context of “Saving Baby Veronica”.  My question is: Saving her from whom?

And this is part of the error of this decision – SCOTUS chose to ignore tribal sovereignty and tribal identity in favor of a white couple who refused to take no for an answer and had the privilege and resources to take up a court case.  This case was incorrectly racialized (problematic on its own) rather than seen from a sovereignty lens.

I do not believe in the borders that have been artificially created and imposed upon Native peoples across North and South America.  We are Indigenous people. As Indigenous people we have always traveled throughout the continent, without papers and without regard to the imposed borders between nations.  The parallel between what is happening to Native children in the United States and what is happening toimmigrant children through the deportation process is eerie and is crucial to note in the context of the current issue of the ICWA.  I bring this up because as Indigenous people, we are being robbed of our children regardless of what side of the border they are on.  I also don’t believe this is an accident nor are we alone in this struggle.

The right to raise our children is a Reproductive Justice  issue.  This decision is not just a blow to tribal sovereignty but another example of the way our communities of color are told we cannot raise our children or we are dangerous to them.  The Court ruled against Dusten Brown because at no time were the biological mother, father, and child “a family”.   There was irony in SCOTUS’ ruling on ICWA being timed to coincide with the DOMA ruling. I am a queer woman who has watched the mainstream gay movement fight for years for our families to be seen as valid families. These two rulings, together, seem to show the Court is confused about how or for whom it will define family.  Although the gay marriage rulings stopped deportations of the partners of U.S. citizens, we continue to deport the parents of immigrant children.  I worry that these contradictory rulings could pit our communities against each other and erode opportunities for solidarity.  I offer this as point of caution because as a queer Native woman, I saw so much information from the mainstream gay community about the passage of DOMA with little commentary regarding VRA and none regarding ICWA.  We know that queer people of color cross all these communities and if we are not careful and if we don’t develop multi-issue strategies, these rulings can and will become pressure points against our ability to hold and create solidarity with one another.  When the highest court in the land parcels out small pieces of limited freedoms, we must take a larger view and see what’s really at stake and who’s really benefiting and to what end?

To learn more: http://www.nicwa.org/babyveronica/

Coya was born and raised on the Rosebud Reservation in South Dakota; she is a proud enrolled member of the Rosebud Sioux Tribe. Coya has been doing activist work in various communities and movements since the age of 15.  More of her work can be found at: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/coya-white-hatartichoker/and you can follow her on Twitter @coyahope.

* For the purposes of this blog, we have used the terms Native, Indigenous and American Indian to refer to the same community of Indigenous people within the Americas.

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Via Hunt Saboteurs North America:

This is the photo of the first wolf killed in Unit C of the Wolf Management Area of Michigan’s Upper Peninsula. A 100lb male that was brought into the DNR’s Newberry Check Station this morning. The hunt is continuing despite local protests from several tribes who hold the wolf as a sacred relation. Much of the talk justifying the hunt has now legitimately been called into question. The only argument not yet discounted has been the impact of wolf predation on whitetail deer. Let’s be honest, wolves are not the greatest predator impacting deer, humans are, with not just recreational hunting but through auto collisions as well. Yet deer hunters in Unit C are showing high success rates with locals saying that more bucks have been killed on opening day than usual.

The wolf is not a recreational predator. But they are a predator that will indeed have an impact on their prey populations, only not to the degree that many people propose. We need to share not only the deer with their natural predators, but our wilderness home as well. The Upper Peninsula is a spectacular place and its natural beauty is its greatest asset in the changing economy of the Midwest. Wolves are an even greater asset to the environment as predators who survive on not only the deer they kill, but those wounded and abandoned by firearms hunters. We have the potential as Michiganders to create a healthy environment for both wolves and humans by living in harmony with wolves and respecting the religious beliefs of others who are so dis-respected with this hunt. Better that than continuing to live in the past and rejecting a willingness to share our home with others who have survived genocidal persecution, both animal and human. Without a foundation of reciprocity and respect, we threaten not only nature’s delicate balance but also our place and relations within it. 

Support the Hunt Sabs and activist in the field, donations are needed for food, hotel (when needed), petrol and basic supplies, you can make a PayPal donation using offchainsoutofcages@hotmail.com , purchase a hunt sab shirt or patch via Because We Must, or donate to Food Fight! Grocery (make sure you state the donation is for the Hunt Sabs) for dry food supplies.
Any support large or small is appreciated.

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The title of Ms. LaDuke’s talk is “Food Sovereignty, Biopiracy, and the Future.” As part of her visit, she met with Center for a Livable Future staff, as well with members of the Johns Hopkins Center for American Indian Health. Information about her work on food sovereignty with the White Earth Land Recovery Project may be found on Native Harvest website.

Excalibur is the legendary sword of King Arthur, sometimes attributed with magical powers or associated with the rightful sovereignty of Great Britain. Sometimes Excalibur and the Sword in the Stone (the proof of Arthur’s lineage) are said to be the same weapon, but in most versions they are considered separate. The sword was associated with the Arthurian legend very early. In Welsh, the sword is called Caledfwlch.

Text from Medieval and Mythology page

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The ghost of Pinochet haunts the campaign against Chavez

"Thousands of "the detained and the disappeared" were imprisoned in the stadium following the Washington-backed coup by General Pinochet against the democracy of Salvador Allende on September 11, 1973. For the majority people of Latin America, the abandonados, the infamy and historical lesson of the first “9/11” have never been forgotten. “In the Allende years, we had a hope the human spirit would triumph,” said Roberto.

"But in Latin America those believing they are born to rule behave with such brutality to defend their rights, their property, their hold over society that they approach true fascism. People who are well dressed, whose houses are full of food, bang pots in the streets in protest as though they don’t have anything. This is what we had in Chile 36 years ago. This is what we see in Venezuela today. It is as if Chavez is Allende. It is so evocative for me."

In making my film, The War on Democracy, I sought the help of Chileans like Roberto and his family, and Sara de Witt who courageously returned with me to the torture chambers at Villa Grimaldi, which she somehow survived. Together with other Latin Americans who knew the tyrannies, they bear witness to the pattern and meaning of the propaganda and lies now aimed at undermining another epic bid to renew both democracy and freedom on the continent. Ironically, in Chile, said to be Washington’s “model democracy”, freedom waits. The constitution, the system of electoral control and the designer inequality are all Pinochet’s gifts from the grave.

The disinformation that helped destroy Allende and give rise to Pinochet’s horrors worked the same in Nicaragua, where the Sandinistas had the temerity to implement modest, popular reforms based largely on the English co-operative movement. In both countries, the CIA funded the leading opposition media, although they need not have bothered. In Nicaragua, the fake martyrdom of the “opposition” newspaper La Prensa became a cause for North America’s leading liberal journalists, who seriously debated whether a poverty-stricken country of three million peasants posed a “threat” to the United States.

Ronald Reagan agreed and declared a state of emergency to combat the monster at the gates. In Britain, whose Thatcher government “absolutely endorsed” US policy, the standard censorship by omission applied. In examining 500 articles that dealt with Nicaragua in the early 1980s, the historian Mark Curtis found an almost universal suppression of the achievements of the Sandinista government — “remarkable by any standards” - in favour of the falsehood of “the threat of a communist takeover”. 

The similarities in the campaign against the phenomenal rise of popular democratic movements today are striking. Aimed principally at Venezuela, especially Hugo Chavez, the virulence of the attacks suggests that something exciting is taking place; and it is. Thousands of poor Venezuelans are seeing a doctor for the first time in their lives, their children immunised and drinking clean water.

On July 26 Chavez announced the construction of fifteen new hospitals; more than 60 public hospitals are currently being modernised and re-equipped. New universities have opened their doors to the poor, breaking the privilege of competitive institutions effectively controlled by a “middle class” in a country where there is no middle. In Barrio La Linea, Beatrice Balazo told me her children were the first generation of the poor to attend a full day’s school and to be given a hot meal and to learn music, art and dansce. “I have seen their confidence blossom like flowers,” she said. One night in barrio La Vega, in a bare room beneath a single light bulb, I watched Mavis Mendez, aged 94, learn to write her own name for the first time.

More than 25,000 communal councils have been set up in parallel to the old, corrupt local bureaucracies. Many are spectacles of raw grass-roots democracy. Spokespeople are elected, yet all decisions, ideas and spending have to be approved by a community assembly. In towns long controlled by oligarchs and their servile media, this explosion of popular power has begun to change lives in the way Beatrice described. It is this new confidence of Venezuela’s “invisible people” that has so enflamed those who live in suburbs called Country Club. Behind their walls and dogs, they remind me of white South Africans…”


http://johnpilger.com/articles/the-ghost-of-pinochet-haunts-the-campaign-against-chavez

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Regaining Food Sovereignty: Neyaab Nimamoomin Mewinzha Gaa-inajigeyang

Published on Jun 20, 2013

Regaining Food Sovereignty explores the state of food systems in some Northern Minnesota Native communities; examining the relationship between history, health, tradition, culture and food. By reclaiming and revitalizing knowledge and practices around tradition, local and healthy foods, many communities and Tribal Nations are working toward a new model of community health and well-being for this and future generations. A co-production of Lakeland Public Television & The Indigenous Environmental Network.

The Iroquois Are Not Giving Up

Confronted with a string of unfavorable court rulings, the Confederacy staged a 13-day demonstration to kickstart a social movement.

  The history of Native Americans is still alive and ongoing, and the Iroquois Confederacy, or Haudenosaunee, wants you to remember that. On Friday, August 9 th, their chiefs met with the Dutch Consul General on the 57th Street Pier in Manhattan to honor the 400th Anniversary of their 1613 treaty with the Kingdom of the Netherlands. It was the culmination of a thirteen-day paddle down the Hudson River, with daily stops where tribe members and supporters held cultural events and lectures, and invited locals to listen to traditional music and dance. The goal: not just to raise consciousness over land rights—suits for which have been uniformly unsuccessful in recent years—but to build support for enforcing treaties between natives and settlers for the purposes of environmental conservation, as well.

"Despite bogus U.S. government claims, after Hugo Chavez was elected president of Venezuela by an overwhelming majority in 1998, and subsequently refused to take orders from Washington, he became a fast target of U.S. aggression. Though a U.S.-supported coup d’etat briefly overthrew Chavez in 2002, his subsequent rescue by millions of Venezuelans and loyal armed forces, and his return to power, only increased U.S. hostility towards the oil-rich nation. After Chavez’s death in 2013 from cancer, his democratically-elected successor, Nicolas Maduro, became the brunt of these attacks.

What follows is a brief summary and selection of U.S. aggression towards Venezuela that clearly shows a one-sided war. Venezuela has never threatened or taken any kind of action to harm the United States or its interests. Nonetheless, Venezuela, under both Chavez and Maduro – two presidents who have exerted Venezuela’s sovereignty and right to self-determination – has been the ongoing victim of continuous, hostile and increasingly unfriendly actions from Washington.”