Monday, June 28, 2010
By Forgotten People
The Forgotten People announced today that they have given notice to the President and the Attorney General of the Navajo Nation of an intent to sue the Navajo-Hopi Land Commission and others to account for the expenditure of funds from the Navajo Rehabilitation Trust Fund.
The trust fund was established by Congress in 1988 to be spent “solely for purposes which will contribute to the continuing rehabilitation and improvement of the economic, educational and social condition of families, and Navajo communities” that were affected by various events of the “Navajo-Hopi Land Dispute,” including the Healing decision, federal legislation that addressed the dispute and the set aside from grazing district No. 6 “for the exclusive use of the Hopi Tribe.” The trust consists of funds from surface and mineral interests in lands in northwest New Mexico (also known as “The Paragon Ranch”) and federal appropriations.
There have been news reports over the years about mismanagement of the trust and its funds but there has never been an public accounting of how much money has been received from Paragon Ranch or Congress, how those monies were spent when they were transferred to the Navajo Nation through the Navajo-Hopi Land Commission, and how the statutory purposes for the trust were served.
This suit seeks to resolve lingering questions about the trust, its size and income, and how monies have or have not been used for the benefit of the Navajo survivors of the Navajo-Hopi Land Dispute. That information should be made public so the people will know whether or not a public trust has been violated or observed.
The notice is the initial step prior to the filing of suit and the Navajo Nation will have thirty days from receipt of the notice by the President and the Attorney General of the Navajo Nation to consider the claims.
Forgotten People will hold a public press conference at the conclusion of the notice waiting period to more fully explain why the suit is being brought, who is bringing it, and why it is necessary.
YOUTH EXCHANGE CHEMNITZ, GERMANY - NORTHERN, AZ
JULY 1st - JULY 10th, 2010
This is a 10-day cultural youth exchange between German and Northern Arizona youth.
The spirit and purpose of the youth exchange project is to connect young people with
different cultural backgrounds to find out similarities, to learn to respect differences,
to complement and help each other, and to be creative.
Participants in the exchange will bring together ideas to collaborate to create a performance for the community to be presented on Saturday, July 10th. The exchange is open to youth ages 13-25.
If you'd like to participate in this 10-day cultural exchange project please email firstname.lastname@example.org or call (928) 527-1041.
If you cannot be present for all 10 days but would like to make a donation or volunteer please contact us.
More info: www.oybm.org
Located at: Taala Hooghan Infoshop & Youth Media Arts Center
1700 N. 2nd St, Flagstaff, AZ
Thursday, July 1st - Meeting & Discussion
1:00PM - Participants will meet & discuss the project - Lunch will be provided
3:00PM - Presentations about regional cultural and environmental issues
Friday, July 2nd - Trip to Black Mesa area and Peabody Coal Mine
9:30AM - Depart from Taala Hooghan Infoshop
Saturday, July 3rd
9:30AM - Trip to Grand Canyon
6:30PM - Planning for collaborative presentation
Monday, July 5th
4:00PM - Planning/rehearsal
Tuesday, July 6th
10:00AM - Trip to San Francisco Peaks
4:00PM - Rehearsal
Wednesday, July 7th
9:30AM - Trip to Sedona
4:00PM - Rehearsal
Thursday, July 8th
Rehearsal (schedule to be determined)
Friday, July 9th
Rehearsal (schedule to be determined)
Saturday, July 10th - COMMUNITY PRESENTATION
6:30PM - Location TBD
The exchange hopes to address:
• Cultural experiences, building bridges
• Creative media and theater improvisation workshops
• Visiting chosen areas of political, historical, cultural meaning
• Learning the foreign language
• Visiting the reservation and learning about life of Native Americans in AZ
• Learning about the political situation of Native Americans
• Reducing prejudices
• Organization of public actions
The youth exchange is an cooperation beween OUTTA YOUR BACKPACK MEDIA
(AZ) and PYROCATHARSIS E.V. (Germany).
We are a 6 years old registered association located in
Chemnitz, Germany. We facilitate theatre and circus
projects for mainly young people in schools, youth
centres etc. We teach subjects like fire spinning,
acrobatic, jugglery, balance, creative expression.
During the last years we organized different projects
in cooperation with international artists to connect
people from all over the world and to sensitize and
conscientize young people for political, environmental
and social concerns.
Outta Your Backpack Media
Since 2004 Outta Your Backpack Media (OYBMedia) has empowered Indigenous youth through free movie making workshops and resource distribution. OYBMedia is an Indigenous youth response to the need for media justice in our communities.We seek to create community ownership of media through youth empowerment.
www.oybm.org - Indigenous Youth Empowerment! / Filmmaking Workshops / Resource Distribution
*If you would like to be removed from this list, please reply with the subject "REMOVE".
Saturday, June 26, 2010
Video by Free Speech TV.
Bolivian Ambassador Pablo Solon speaks on the final day, Saturday, of the US Social Forum in Detroit.
By Brenda Golden
OKLAHOMA CITY -- John Rich (Big & Rich) and Holden Productions are holding the Taking Our Country Back Tour today Saturday, June 26 at the Ford Center in Oklahoma City. The rally and concert will feature conservative talk radio and television host Glenn Beck and former Senior Advisor to the President Karl Rove, plus country artist John Rich performing in concert.
While their mission states they are attempting to unify and inspire all Americans to raise their collective voice. They have left out one important part of that picture – this land was not theirs in the first place. We the American Indians never willingly gave up this land called the United States of America. Witness the fact that there are over 500 broken treaties in which promises were made by the United States in exchange for land. In almost every instance, the federal government promised, “as long as the grass will grow and the rivers flow.”
Since the US Government broke the treaties; that makes the bargain broken and we American Indians consider them null and void.
You cannot take something back that is not yours. American Indians are the ONLY true indigenous people of this land, everyone else are immigrants.
A group of American Indians will be outside the Ford Center on the north side sidewalk in solidarity at 12:00 PM today, Saturday, June 26, 2010 in protest. Oklahoma is our land, this country is our land, taking back America is our line not theirs.
For more information, contact Brenda Golden at 405-471-7610.
Read more news at Censored News
Friday, June 25, 2010
By Leonard Peltier
Welcome to the traditional lands of my people, the Anishinabe. Greetings, my brothers and sisters. Greetings also to my relations from the many different Indigenous Nations who now call this place "Home". Thank you for your warm welcome.
Hello to all the people of conscience in attendance at the US Social Forum. Thank you for taking the time and expense to attend an event that people will talk about for years to come. I know if you focus and believe, this event can be a major step in the development of a new societyone that turns away from fossil fuels, war and the rampant destruction of our universal home and, instead, focuses on the betterment of all... as opposed to the enrichment of a select few.
I ask that you work this week, in particular, toward full recognition of the Rights of Indigenous Peoples as an essential component of a just and honorable U.S. human rights policy. As many of you may know, the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples was developed over many years with the participation of thousands of Indigenous Peoples. It is consistent with human rights principles as contained in international law, as well as the U.S. Constitution. And, yet, two nations with the largest Indigenous populationsCanada and the United Stateshave failed to endorse the Declaration. We call upon the United States government to finally endorse the Declaration in its entiretywithout qualifications or exceptionsand to work in full partnership with Indigenous Peoples, Tribal governments and Nations to ensure its implementation.
I am Leonard Peltier, an American Indian political prisoner who fought against some of the same ideas and mechanisms many of you are fighting against today. Perhaps it was in a different way and a different time, but many years ago we were warning against the very realities many of you face today. The energy companies were raping Indian Country years agolong before the oil spills, the mining disasters, and the poisoned waters America has come to know so well. So perhaps you can spare a few minutes to listen to the admonitions of an old man, an old warrior whose wisdom has come at a very high price.
I encourage you to find unity in your various causes, because all of your struggles are linked. Actually, you don’t just find unity, you create iteach of you individually. Create unity within your specific organizations. And between them. Link your efforts and find ways to network and maximize those efforts.
Making change has never been more important. Make the most of every second, for time is growing short, as so many prophecies have foretold. Educate others about the realities you are struggling for and against. Especially focus on educating the young people who will further your efforts tomorrow. Know that your sensibilities are a gift from Creator intended to wake up and shake up the world so that we may improve how we treat the Earth and each other.
We Indian people like to say “we are all related”. I pass that truth on to you now. Each and every one of you and the work you are doing are related. Let that be your greeting between groups and persons, as well as an ethicthe very spirit of what gatherings like this are intended to be. Practice thinking and saying it until it is automatic. We are all related, so put aside whatever differences you may have and make solidarity a new and constant reality. Remember, this is not your struggle. It is for everyone.
I thank you for taking the time to remember an old activist and perhaps learn from the experiences of another people from another time.
Now go out and change the world! Make it a place you’ll be proud to hand to the next seven generations!
In the Spirit of Crazy Horse,
Also, please visit the website of the
Leonard Peltier Defense Offense Committee (LPDOC):
Tewa Women United speak out against the nuclear industry and the contamination of sacred Jemez Mountains by Los Alamos National Laboratories. Interviewed live at the US Social Forum in Detroit on Friday, June 25, 2010, by Earthcycles, Pueblo women describe the contamination from Los Alamos in northern New Mexico. Open air burning and the burial of radioactive substances exposes generations of Pueblos to risks. Beata Tsosie Pena said, "We live in the desert and our water supply is very precious to us. Water is our life. I'm scared for my children. I'm scared for my grandchildren. I'm sacred for my elders."
Tewa Women United http://www.tewawomenunited.org/
VIDEO LINK: http://www.ustream.tv/recorded/7887096
By Roberto Dr. Cintli Rodriguez
As we prepare to get arrested as a result of the passage of a new anti-ethnic studies law in Arizona, several attorneys explain to about 30-40 of us in Tucson’s state building the consequences of getting arrested. As such, the numbers are winnowed down to 15 due to legal reasons, parental authority, age, etc. Many of those making these decisions are middle and high school and college students.
All of us who remain on the 2nd floor have thoughts racing through our minds. As I think about why I will get arrested, all I can think of is the Nahuatl concept of Ipalnemoani: That for what we live for – or the Maya concept of Hunab Ku.
We can summons all the linguists and all the great philosophers of the world, but in the end, their translations will not suffice. It is meaning that I am looking for, not words. This is about who we are and about what makes us human. At this time, it boils down to one question: What in life is worth getting arrested for?
For those of us here, the right to our own narrative – the right to memory – is one of them.
The decision to get arrested is a collective one. These youngsters are courageous and determined to defend that which is theirs: a department (Ethnic/Mexican American Studies) that affirms who they are as full human beings – as peoples with a thousands-of-years culture, history and philosophy on this very continent.
Perhaps another 200 protestors on the first floor are also subject to arrest because they are also participating in a boisterous demonstration inside the state building. It is here where the state superintendant, Tom Horne – who spearheaded this law – has taken refuge after he failed to show up at Tucson Unified School District headquarters where perhaps 1,000 students surrounded that building.
Now in the heat of summer, that question – as to what triggers a decision to get arrested – is foremost on peoples’ minds, especially here in Arizona. It has come to that.
Several weeks before the racial profiling law (SB 1070) was signed, nine students and community members chained themselves to the state capitol and got arrested (The charges have since been dropped). After the 15 of us got arrested for criminal trespass, the week after that, five Dream students and community organizers staged a sit-in at Sen. John McCain’s office in Tucson. All subjected themselves to historic arrests – exposing themselves to deportation. Then a week later, a dozen members of the statewide O’odham Solidarity Across Borders Collective took over and occupied the Border Patrol Headquarters in Tucson (http://oodhamsolidarity.blogspot.com/). Six were arrested for Disorderly Conduct and Criminal Trespass.
This flurry of arrests highlights and brings to the fore what is happening in this insane asylum called Arizona, including the forthcoming attempt to void the 14th Amendment, which guarantees birthright citizenship to all those born in this country. This is also happening amid the constant arrival of racial and political extremists to this state.
As Arizona gets more insane, we have arrived at a moral precipice. Soon, others will face the same question; beyond protesting, people will ask: what am I willing to get arrested for?
In other countries, and at other points in history, this has triggered a different question: What am I willing to fight and die for? Here, that question has been inverted: What am I willing to live for? That such a question is being contemplated tells us that many people here are not content with simply sending emails or blasting text messages to our senators, etc.
And thus, as the anti-Mexican/anti-Indigenous and anti-immigrant hate-and-fear drums continue to increase in volume, the Obama administration capitulates by continuing to further militarize the border. This Arpaioization of not simply the border, but the nation, continues to elicit an unprecedented response. Human rights activists nationwide have united to boycott the state, while more than 100,000 recently protested in Phoenix.
As July 29 fast approaches, the date when the racial profiling law will take effect, people in Arizona, but also nationwide, will face a life-changing decision (We will also face that decision on Jan 1, 2011, the date when the anti-ethnic studies law goes into effect). Will we commit to mass civil disobedience or will we lack the courage as happened when Americans sat idly by as their fellow Japanese American citizens were illegally and inhumanely marched off to camps during World War II?
This is when history calls upon all of us to make that momentous decision. This time around, hopefully, the right decision will be made.
Rodriguez, an assistant professor at the university of Arizona, can be reached at: XColumn@egmail.com
Leona Morgan, Navajo, with Twa-le Abrahamson of the Shawl Society of the Spokane Nation, describes the threat of new uranium mining to Navajos in the Church Rock, N.M., area where one of the nation's deadliest uranium spills in 1979. Broadcast live on Earthcycles from the US Social Forum in Detroit on Friday, June 25, 2010.
FEDERAL COURT RULES URANIUM CORP. CAN PROCEED TO POISON NAVAJO WATER
In June, the 10th Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that Uranium Resources' subsidy Hydro Resources' 160-acre parcel of land, located six miles from the Navajo Community of Church Rock, is not on Indian land and is not under federal jurisdiction. The high court's decision means Hydro Resources can seek an underground injection control permit for its in situ uranium operation from the state of New Mexico rather than the EPA.
VIDEO LINK: http://www.ustream.tv/recorded/7887536
Watch more videos of Indigenous at the Social Forum on Earthcycles:
Read more at Censored News:
Thursday, June 24, 2010
Native Peoples Assembly at the US Social Forum Detroit
Broadcast by Earthcycles www.earthcycles.net
Movement to halt the destruction at the Tar Sands in Canada.
Video by Earthcycles at the US Social Forum Detroit.
Video Link: http://www.ustream.tv/recorded/7878955
SHOUT OUT FOR GLOBAL JUSTICE
On June 25, 2010, please join the Council of Canadians at Shout Out for Global Justice at Massey Hall in Toronto. NOW magazine calls the event a 'resistance highlight' confronting the G8/20 meetings in June.The event will feature global social justice speakers to challenge the G20 and demand trade, water and climate justice! This event will be broadcast live to the US Social Forum in Detroit, Michigan. Looking forward to seeing you!
For further information, call (800) 387-7177 ext. 239 or visit www.canadians.org/g20/event.html
Video of Indigenous Dancers opening the US Social Forum, by Free Speech TV. See more photos, videos and articles on Indigenous Peoples at the US Social Forum at Censored News http://www.bsnorrell.blogspot.com/
Watch live interviews at Earthcycles http://www.earthcycles.net/ Photo by Brita Brookes, published with permission.
Govinda, broadcasting live on Earthcycles, http://www.earthcycles.net/, from the US Social Forum in Detroit, talks with Free Speech TV, also broadcasting live from the Social Forum.
Earthcycles has broadcast live from the Indigenous Border Summits on Tohono O'odham land and across Indian country, from the Lakotas' sacred Bear Butte to Western Shoshone land and Navajoland. On the Earthcycles radio bus across America, Earthcycles and Censored News broadcast the Longest Walk Talk Radio, for five months, from Feb. through July of 2008. Focused on the destruction to Mother Earth by mining, drilling and power plants, Earthcycles and Censored News broadcast live from the Havasupai and Acoma Pueblo uranium forums in the summer and fall of 2009. In April, Earthcycles broadcast from the World Peoples Conference on Climate Change and the Rights of Mother Earth in Bolivia. Earthcycles and Censored News have no sponsors or advertising and provide a volunteer media service to Indigenous Peoples. (Photo Earthcycles bus at the end of the Longest Walk in DC. Photo Brenda Norrell.)
Casey Camp, Ponca, interviews Bineshi Albert at the US Social Forum Detroit on Thursday.
Live from Earthcycles http://www.earthcycles.net/
Bineshi Albert (Euchee and Ojibwe) who makes her home in Albuquerque, is a founding member of the IEN Youth Program, and currently serves as an organizer for Center for Community Change, which aims to establish and develop community organizations across the country, bring attention to major national issues related to poverty, and help insure that government programs are responsive to community needs.
Wednesday, June 23, 2010
Can't make it to the Shout Out For Global
Justice? We got you covered. rabble.ca will be presenting an exclusive livefeed of Shout Out For Global Justice, Friday June 25 at7:00 p.m. on www.rabble.ca/rabbletv
On June 25, please join the Council of Canadians to challenge the G20 and demand trade, water and climate justice!
Friday June 25th, 7:00p.m., Doors at 6:00p.m.
Massey Hall, 178 Victoria St., Toronto
Tickets: $14 for Council of Canadians members, $20 for non-members (incl. 1 year membership). Get your tickets fast!
Tickets available from Massey Hall: (416) 872-4255 www.masseyhall.com
Maude Barlow, national chairperson of the Council of Canadians and chairs the board of Washington-based Food and Water Watch.
Leo Gerard, International President of the United Steelworkers and Vice-President of the AFL-CIO.
Amy Goodman, host and executive producer of Democracy Now! a national, daily, independent, award-winning news program airing on over 800 TV and radio stations in North America.
John Hilary, executive director of War on Want , which campaigns for human rights and against the root causes of global poverty, inequality and injustice.
Naomi Klein, award-winning journalist, syndicated columnist and author of the international bestsellers, The Shock Doctrine: The Rise of Disaster Capitalism and No Logo: Taking Aim at the Brand Bullies.
Dr. Vandana Shiva, founder of Navdanya, an environmental justice organization that counts 5,000,000 farmer families in sixteen states of India among its members. Before becoming an activist, Dr. Shiva was one of India's leading physicists.
Pablo Solon, Bolivian ambassador to the United Nations and lead negotiator for Bolivia at the December 2009 climate conference in Copenhagen.
Clayton Thomas-Mueller, aboriginal activist and tar sands campaigner with the Indigenous Environmental Network.
Sat, 05 Jun 2010
Twenty-eight children lost their fathers as a result of the Israeli attack on the Freedom Flotilla.
Nine people were shot dead on May 31 by Israeli soldiers who attacked the Turkish vessel M.V. Mavi Marmara as it attempted to transport humanitarian assistance to the Gaza Strip.
Eight of them were fathers whose children are now yatims due to the Israeli assault on the Freedom Flotilla.
The Arabic word yatim is usually translated as orphan. However, in the Islamic religion, the word yatim actually means a child whose father is dead or whose father and mother are dead. This is the reason why Islamic media outlets are calling the children orphans.
Following are brief biographies of the nine people, as reported by Lawrenceofcyberia.blogs.com:
1. Ibrahim Bilgen
Ibrahim Bilgen, 61, was an electrical engineer from Siirt. He was a member of the Chamber of Electrical Engineers of Turkey. He ran as a Saadet (Felicity) Party candidate in the Turkish general election of 2007 and the Siirt mayoral election of 2009. He was married with 6 children.
2. Ali Haydar Bengi
Ali Haydar Bengi, 39, ran a telephone repair shop in Diyarbakir. He was a graduate of Al-Azhar University, Cairo (Department of Arabic Literature). He was married to Saniye Bengi and had four children — Mehunur (15), Semanur (10), and twins Mohammed and Senanur (5).
3. Cevdet Kiliçlar
Cevdet Kiliçlar, 38, was from Kayseri. He was a graduate of Marmara University's Faculty of Communications and formerly a newspaper journalist for the National Gazette and the Anatolia Times. For the past year, he was a reporter and webmaster for the Humanitarian Relief Foundation (IHH). He was married to Derya Kiliçlar, and had one daughter, Gülhan, and one son, Erdem.
4. Cetin Topçuoglu
Cetin Topçuoglu, 54, was from Adana. He was a former amateur soccer player and taekwondo champion who coached Turkey's national taekwondo team. He was married and had one son, Aytek. His wife, Cigdem Topçuoglu, was also aboard the Mavi Marmara, but survived.
5. Necdet Yildirim
Necdet Yildirim, 32, was an IHH aid worker from Malatya. He was married to Refika Yildirim and had one daughter, Melek, aged three.
6. Fahri Yaldiz
Fahri Yaldiz, 43, was a firefighter who worked for the Municipality of Adiyaman. He was married and had four sons.
7. Cengiz Songür
Cengiz Songür, 47, was from Izmir. He was married to Nurcan Songür and had six daughters and one son.
8. Cengiz Akyüz
Cengiz Akyüz, 41, was from Iskenderun. He was married to Nimet Akyüz and had three children — Furkan (14), Beyza (12), and Erva Kardelen (nine).
9. Furkan Dogan
Furkan Dogan, 19, was in his senior year at Kayseri High School, where he was awaiting the results of his university entrance exams. He had hoped to become a doctor and loved chess. He was the son of Dr. Ahmet Dogan, an associate professor at Erciyes University. He was a Turkish-American dual national with two siblings.
The Israeli military attacked the Freedom Flotilla in international waters in the Mediterranean Sea early on May 31, killing nine Turkish citizens on board the six ships and injuring about 50 other people.
The fate of three other Freedom Flotilla activists is still unknown.
Israel also arrested nearly 700 activists from 42 countries on board the Freedom Flotilla, which was attempting to break the siege of Gaza in order to deliver 10,000 tons of humanitarian assistance to the long-suffering people of the territory.
Hundreds in Oakland protest Gaza blockade
Victoria Colliver,David R. Baker
San Francisco Chronicle
June 21, 2010
Marshall Schwartz of Oakland waves an Israeli flag across the road from pro-Palestinian supporters protesting the Israeli Zim Shipping Line at the Port of Oakland on Sunday.
Protesters disrupt unloading of Israeli cargo ship at Port of Oakland:
(06-21) 04:00 PDT OAKLAND -- Hundreds of demonstrators, condemning Israel's blockade of the Gaza Strip, picketed at the Port of Oakland on Sunday and may have prevented an Israeli cargo ship from unloading for the day.
Two shifts of longshoremen agreed not to cross the picket line, leaving nobody to unload the vessel.
"Our objective was to boycott this ship for 24 hours, and we succeeded in doing that," said Richard Becker, with the ANSWER Coalition, one of the groups that organized the protest.
The demonstrators first gathered before dawn at Berth 58, where a ship from Israel's Zim shipping line was scheduled to dock Sunday, first in the morning then in the afternoon, protesters said. It eventually arrived around 6 p.m., Becker said, but by that time the dockworkers had agreed not to show up to unload the vessel.
An Israeli Consulate representative disputed that account, saying the ship was always scheduled to arrive about 6 p.m.
International pressure to end the Gaza closure has increased since Israeli commandos stormed a flotilla of ships attempting to run the blockade on May 31, killing nine people.
Israel formally announced on Sunday it would ease its blockade of Gaza, allowing more goods to enter the impoverished area. Israel said it would expand operations at the land crossings already operating to enable processing of "a significantly greater volume of goods" and "the expansion of economic activity."
More than 500 people showed up about 5:30 a.m. Sunday to begin the protest, according to police estimates. By around 10 a.m. the crowd dispersed, but about 200 protesters returned in the afternoon when the second shift of dockworkers were scheduled to work.
Becker said some workers showed up for the morning shift, but virtually none did for the second. All agreed not to unload the ship or cross the picket lines, citing concern for their personal safety.
"I want the Palestinian people to have peace and land. They have been suffering for 60 years, and it's time for them to have justice," said Marina Gutierrez of Kensington, a demonstrator who showed up both in the morning and the afternoon.
In the afternoon, two Israel supporters stood across the street from the pro-Palestinian demonstrators waving Israeli and American flags.
"Israel is a democracy, just like America, and Israel is faced with a fight for its life," said Faith Metzer of El Cerrito.
E-mail the reporters at email@example.com and firstname.lastname@example.org.
Israelis Targeting Grassroots Activists
By Mel Frykberg
EAST JERUSALEM, (IPS) - Israeli authorities are increasingly targeting and intimidating non-violent Palestinian grassroots activists involved in anti-occupation activities who are drawing increased support from the international community.
Several weeks ago masked Israeli soldiers stormed the home of Ehab Jallad from The Jerusalem Popular Committee for the Celebration of Jerusalem as the Capital of Arab Culture for 2009.
"Around 3am the soldiers started kicking and banging on the door and threatened to break it down if I didn't open immediately. My young daughters were terrified as they didn't know what was happening," recalls Jallad, a young Palestinian architect from Jerusalem.
"The soldiers then proceeded to ransack my home before confiscating my laptop, several computers, files with my contacts and my ipod. When I asked them why they were doing this and told them I wanted to call my lawyer, they told me to shut up and threatened to beat me up," Jallad told IPS.
This is just the latest incident in which the Israeli authorities have arrested and taken Jallad in for questioning over his organisation of cultural events marking East Jerusalem as the capital of Arab culture. Jallad has also been monitoring the protests outside Al-Aqsa Mosque during the last few weeks.
"The Israeli officer questioning me said he knew I was in contact with the media but stated this would not help. He further warned me that I was being monitored, and if I continued with my activities my family and I would be subjected to further raids and harassment," said Jallad.
The same morning that Jallad was arrested Israeli security forces raided a warehouse used by Jerusalem community groups and cultural events organisers.
"They vandalised material we use for cultural events and confiscated other material," Jallad told IPS.
To date Jallad has not been charged with anything. But a war between Palestinians and Israeli continues unabated over Israel's continued Judaisation of East Jerusalem.
This has involved the expulsion of Palestinian residents from their homes in the eastern sector of the city and the expropriation thereof to make way for Israeli settlers.
A number of Palestinian families continue to live in tents pitched on streets outside their former homes as they watch Israeli settlers go about their daily business in their former homes.
Periodic violence between the two groups has broken out during the last few weeks with the Israeli police selectively arresting only Palestinians.
The Jerusalem Municipality has deliberately limited building permits for East Jerusalemites despite a chronic housing shortage, while the settlement of Israeli settlers in the area has been actively encouraged. Palestinian homes built without permits are regularly destroyed.
The Palestinian Authority (PA) envisions East Jerusalem as the capital of a future Palestinian state. Under international law East Jerusalem is part of the Palestinian occupied West Bank.
The PA has tried to counter Israel's Judaisation efforts by asserting its presence in the contested part of the city. Organising cultural events has been part of the effort.
Hatem Abdul Qader, a PA official for Jerusalem Affairs, has been arrested by Israeli security forces several times over the last few months. He has also been banned from the city for several weeks on a number of occasions.
Meanwhile, Muhammad Othman, 33, from the northern West Bank village Jayyous continues to languish in solitary confinement in a dirty Israel prison cell devoid of natural light or windows.
Othman has been labelled a "security threat" by the Israelis ever since his arrest on Sep. 22 as he crossed into the West Bank from Jordan. Othman had returned from a trip to Norway where he met with senior officials to discuss human rights abuses in the occupied Palestinian territories. The Norwegian government has divested its funds from Elbit, an Israeli company which supplies drones and other military technology.
During his incarceration Othman has been subjected to hours of interrogation, handcuffed, seated in stress positions and denied sleep. Like Jallad he has had no involvement in military activities which could constitute a security threat to the Jewish state. He too, has not been charged with any infringement of the law.
But Othman, a political activist, has been joining the Stop the Wall Campaign against the illegal Zufim settlement built by Russian billionaire Lev Leviev. The Stop the Wall Campaign is fighting against Israel's construction of a separation barrier which separates Israel proper from the West Bank.
The wall cuts through swathes of Palestinian territory dividing Palestinians from their agricultural fields, and trapping some Palestinian communities in pockets of territory between Israel and the West Bank.
The wall was ruled illegal by the International Court at the Hague, and several years ago an Israeli high court ordered the Israeli Defence Forces (IDF) to reroute parts of the wall, arguing that is compromised the livelihoods of Palestinian farmers.
Othman is also involved in the Boycott Divestment Sanctions (BDS) campaign which has been drawing increased international support.
Othmans supporters believe his main "crimes" are his activities on behalf of the BDS which wants to see a boycott of Israel along the lines of the former boycott against apartheid South Africa.
"I think Israel is worried about its reputation amongst the international community now that more people are waking up to the human rights abuses and injustices being committed here," Jallad told IPS.
"I think in some ways we are perceived as more of a threat than an armed cell of Hamas fighters precisely because we are non-violent and what we are fighting for is reasonable."
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Thousands of people from across the country marched through Detroit Tuesday afternoon to kick off the opening ceremony of the US Social Forum. The colorful, joyous, and sometimes raucous procession down Detroit’s Woodward Avenue included social movements and community organizations struggling for justice on everything from healthcare, the environment, fair trade, labor solidarity, immigrant rights, and racial profiling to Palestine solidarity, ending the wars, police brutality, and the devastating impact of the recession on people’s lives and sense of security.
Interview by Casey Camp, Ponca, with Clayton Thomas-Mueller on the campaign to halt the destruction of the Tar Sands in Canada. Provided by Earthcycles, www.earthcycles.net , at the US Social Forum in Detroit.
Provided by Earthcycles, www.earthcycles.net , at the US Social Forum in Detroit.
Monday, June 21, 2010
In Memoriam of Western Shoshone advocate Ms. Renate Domnick
Photo: Nevada Test Site
It is with sadness that I must write to inform you that Ms. Renate Domnick, a longtime and trusted advocate for the Western Shoshone people has recently passed away. There are few who gain trust and then live up to that trust by their actions. Ms. Domnick was one whose actions spoke consistently on behalf of the Western Shoshone on nuclear issues.
I first met Ms. Domnick at the Nevada Test Site in 1985 where together we protested the testing of US nuclear weapons by both the United States and the United Kingdom . While most protesters were unaware of the Western Shoshone, our lands and people Ms. Domnick was keenly aware and took up the cause to support our Western Shoshone leaders. Among them, Joe Sanchez, Jr., Bill Rossee, Sr., Mary Dann, and Corbin Harney who have passed; and many others who still continue to press for the end of nuclear weapons. Ms. Domnick joined with the Western Shoshone people educating a wide audience including the protesters, most of whom were American, about the heavily impacted and already vulnerable Western Shoshone Nation.
Ms. Domnick was appointed as the European Envoy for the Western Shoshone Nation under Chief Yowell and conducted many independent visits and presentations on behalf of the Western Shoshone with supporters and foreign government leaders then faithfully followed up by coordinating visits by Western Shoshone leaders including Chief Yowell, Carrie Dann, and myself. It is that trait of faithfulness…a fidelity to the message of the traditional Western Shoshone leadership that I have known and here honor of Ms. Domnick by writing.
The result of those years of generous support for the traditional Western Shoshone beliefs and values has been fostering a new generation of hope for the Western Shoshone Nation to continue to achieve the full status of nationhood among the nations of the International Community. Also, we have been afforded an opportunity to challenge directly the United States development of our lands for nuclear development before the Nuclear Regulatory Commission Atomic Safety Licensing Board in the case of the Yucca Mountain high level nuclear waste repository designated by President George W. Bush--an act of environmental racism, a violation of the 1863 Treaty of Ruby Valley and a violation International Humanitarian Law.
Only more to be said would be to thank you on behalf of the countless future generations that will benefit from your effort.
Mr. Ian Zabarte, Principal Man
Western Shoshone Government
Mr. Ian Zabarte
An Open Letter and a Requiem
to Governor-General Michaelle Jean
from Kevin D. Annett
Dear Ms. Jean,
Yesterday, as I watched you preside so "regally" at the closing events of the "Truth and Reconciliation" farce in Winnipeg, and presume to smile at those native people who somehow survived the massacre inflicted on them by your government and your Queen and her church, I was once again disgusted to be a Canadian.
How dare you claim to speak for me when you declare that "Canadians are healing together" from the Indian residential schools nightmare? For we are doing no such a thing. All you are doing, in our name, is to candy-coat genocide, protect child killers in clerical garb, and muzzle the survivors while patting them on the head.
It's all so familiar. For, despite your claim, there is nothing new about your "truth and reconciliation commission", since its self-congratulatory hype and horrible exploitation of native people is an exact repeat of the torture they suffered in Indian residential schools.
My friend Doug Wilson of the Haida Nation is almost dead now, but as a child he was incarcerated in the United Church's Edmonton residential school in the late 1950's. At age nine, he was on the burial detail, hiding the murdered children from the school and the Charles Camsell Indian hospital in mass graves at night. School staff used to give him electric shocks to his head so he'd forget what he saw, but his memories have returned.
The one night of the year when Doug wasn't being sodomized, beaten and electro-shocked by Christians was Christmas eve, when he and all the other Indian kids were bussed to a local United Church to entertain the lily-white congregation by singing Christmas carols to them. Just like at the recent TRC forum in Winnipeg, Doug and his friends had to perform and make whites feel good so that their guilt and complicity could be relieved by the heart-warming spectacle of "assimilated" Indians behaving as expected.
Doug says that after the Christmas service, the congregants would hand them gifts - but before they left the church, they all had to hand them over to the white kids in church, or face a beating, or worse.
You know about Doug Wilson, of course, because his story was made public
by me and a few others twelve years ago, along with countless tales of murder and torture in the residential schools. Since 1907, when the crime was reported in national newspapers, Canadians have known that half the children were dying in these schools after being deliberately exposed to tuberculosis by staff and left to die. But despite this blatant genocide, you and your government have refused to press criminal charges against the churches responsible.
That's called complicity in murder, Michaelle: not "healing and reconciliation" .
When your government so magnanimously tossed a few dollars at some of the aboriginal survivors of this mass murder on the condition that they shut up, and pretended you were "healing" them, you were simply being Canadian: like all those nice, upstanding Christians in the Edmonton United Church who herded the violated and dying native children into church on Christmas eve for their own sick, private amusement.
I don't expect us to change. Why should we, when we won the war that started centuries ago when the first missionary landed here? We get to write history, define reality, and believe our own lies. We even get to brainwash and hire Indians to dance to our tune and issue nauseating "Forgiveness Proclamations" which declare it fine for us to rape and murder little kids, and then absolve ourselves of the crime with an "apology".
I also don't expect us to face justice, except at the hands of an equivalent to the Nuremburg trials, presided over by our victims after their successful overthrow of you and your government.
What I do expect, and demand, is the truth, which is all that the dead require. And, thankfully, such truth lies not in your hands at all, for you are incapable of bearing it. It resides, rather, among the very souls you trample and exploit so shamelessly, with typical Canadian nicety.
That truth is spreading, slowly but surely, throughout our land, and when its spirit and implications reach the next generation of Canadians, your regime will be over, along with its putrid legacy of Christian supremacy, colonialism and crown.
So enjoy the treats while you can, Michaelle. The hangman approaches, in the most unlikely of people.
Monday, June 14, 2010
By Roberto Dr. Cintli Rodriguez
Special length Feature
As a result of several recent draconian laws, Arizona’s image has taken a drubbing internationally. And yet, Arizona is but the spear. In reality, its politics are not that dramatically different from other states and not that different from Washington. That more than a dozen states are waiting in the wings with copycat legislation and that the Obama administration continues to view migration through a law enforcement and military prism is plenty proof.
Those politics, fueled by hateful and cowardly politicians and the hate-radio universe, are undeniably anti-Mexican and anti-immigrant. Yet in truth, they actually are anti-Indigenous. In effect, the politics that we are seeing are undeniably but an extension of Manifest Destiny. Its modern expression is a Manifest Insanity – an attempt to maintain the myth of America – conceived of as a promise of a pristine, God-given home – reserved for English-speaking White Anglo Saxon Protestants, this amid the “browning” of the nation.
These Arizona laws are part of a spasmodic reaction to this demographic shift, an attempt to maintain a political and cultural dominance over [brown] peoples seen as less than human and as defeated peoples. These laws seek to maintain this narrative of conquest. This is why the loss of lives of some 5,000 Mexicans and Central Americans – primarily Indigenous peoples ––in the Arizona/Sonora desert in the past dozen years, mean little in this clash. The same is true in regards to the recent killings of two Mexicans by U.S. agents along the U.S./Mexico border.
For those who are attempting to uphold this dominance, this browning represents a time reversal – a cultural and political reversal of the so-called triumph of Western Civilization. This is what Arizona represents; a civilizational clash and a clash of narratives over the myth of America itself. Nothing less.
Rodolfo Acuña, author of Occupied America, came to Arizona last week, offering a stark reminder about this clash. His book – along with Paulo Freire’s Pedagogy of the Oppressed – has been at the center of the anti-ethnic studies firestorm and law – HB 2281 – signed last month by Gov. Jan Brewer (She had signed SB 1070 – the racial profiling law – the previous month). The controversy surrounding his book has been fueled by an extreme Eurocentric ignorance. For several years, State Superintendent, Tom Horne, has been pushing an “Americanization” agenda, insisting that Arizona students be exposed only to "Greco-Roman" knowledge. Knowledge centered elsewhere is generally considered subversive and un-American, including Mesoamerican or Maize knowledge – knowledge that is Indigenous to this continent It is this knowledge that is at the philosophical heart of Mexican American or Raza Studies. Arizona is not alone in this insanity; Texas Education officials recently banned the inclusion of labor leader Dolores Huerta in Texas school curriculums.
Horne, via HB 2281, has long-claimed that Raza Studies preaches hate, results in segregation and promotes anti-Americanism and the violent overthrow of the U.S. government. Truth is, he has had a vendetta against Raza Studies since Dolores Huerta proclaimed in 2006 at Tucson High that Republicans “hate Latinos.” Horne, who constantly denigrates her as “Cesar Chavez’s former girlfriend,” and his allies have spent the past several years trying to prove her right.
As Acuña found out in Arizona, for some, having a different philosophical center, in and of itself, constitutes a threat to this cultural and political domination. More than that, it threatens the national narrative of having tamed a wild, savage and empty continent… of having conquered, exterminated and civilized “the Indians.”
Enter Occupied America and it upsets the carefully crafted myth and narrative of the United States as the land of freedom and democracy or Paradise on Earth.
Raza Studies critics in Arizona – including media professionals – are barely familiar with Acuña’s book (He matter-of-factly tells them to read his book before attacking). At best, they spar over its title and a few catch phrases (mistranslating La Raza to mean “The Race” as opposed to “The People”) and attempt to denigrate an entire discipline on the basis of their ignorance. Yet, at the core, the critics are correct. Ethnic Studies indeed is a threat to the myth of America – the mythical America where genocide, land theft, slavery and dehumanization are denied or are but mere footnotes, as opposed to being the recognized foundation of this nation (Unchallenged, this glossed-over view is what permits U.S. citizens to view permanent war as a God-given birthright). With such a denial, the concept of Occupied America – an occupied continent – becomes unfathomable. The narrative of an empty continent, incidentally, is what permits the myth of “no occupation.”
The best Raza Studies critics do is attempt to dehumanize Mexicans/Chicanos. In their conjured up narrative, Mexicans/Chicanos are neither legitimate Americans, nor legitimate human beings. Neither are they afforded the status of Indigenous peoples; at best, they are mongrels, undeserving of full human rights. This dominant narrative is dependent upon this process of de-Indigenization and dehumanization. Those of us that cannot be deported (can’t wait for next year’s Arizona battle over the 14th amendment and birthright citizenship) are welcome here, as long as we participate in our own assimilation or ethnic cleansing and are happily subservient and willing to accept this nation's mythologized narrative.
That’s the definition of Manifest Insanity.
Rodriguez, an assistant professor at the University of Arizona, can be reached at: XColumn@gmail.com
Thursday, June 10, 2010
By Brenda Norrell
NO SEATS: When I arrived in El Paso, the Greyhound clerk said, “We don’t know when you’ll be getting on the bus. All of the buses going west are full.”
Greyhound took an entire busload of us over the Mexico border and dumped us out at their partner's Americanos bus lines, and left us there. Then, Americanos said they had no buses going west. An 80-year-old disabled woman with a large suitcase was left on the corner in summer’s heat. I took her back to Greyhound in El Paso in a taxi. When I asked to be reimbursed for the fare, the manager could have cared less. He refused.
In Flagstaff, a large group of people had been waiting from dawn until afternoon because all the buses were full. So, I asked the clerk, "If I buy a ticket, does that mean I'm getting a seat on the bus?" The answer was: "No. Get in line and wait to see if there are any seats."
CUSTOMER SERVICE IN SOUTH AMERICA NOW: There is no Greyhound customer complaint center in the US. If the complaint center answers the phone at all, after hours of calling, you will find yourself talking to someone at Greyhound Customer Service Center in South America, where the complaint call center is now located at. This basically allows them to get away with anything.
Monday, June 7, 2010
By Roberto Dr. Cintli Rodriguez
Before the Dream students made their historic stance in Tucson, Arizona last week—to stage a sit-in, in Sen. John McCain’s office, and thereby subjecting themselves to deportation proceedings – this sun city had already been in the eye of the storm. The perfect storm.
And yet, they were not the only ones to take a powerful stance that week; several hundred Indigenous peoples from throughout the world rallied at the Tucson Immigration Department Headquarters, protesting Arizona’s new racial profiling law; it was followed by the dramatic takeover of a Border Patrol station in Tucson by more than a dozen members of the statewide O'Odham Solidarity Across Borders Collective. They were protesting the state’s draconian and nation’s anti-Indigenous immigration policies. Six were arrested (http://oodhamsolidarity.blogspot.com/).
That law confirmed that Arizona is governed by extremist politicians. On the day it passed in April, nine human rights activists chained themselves to the capitol building. The anti-ethnic studies law, which was signed in May – resulting in 15 arrests as a result of the takeover of the state building – proved that the state has returned to the Dark Ages as this law sets up a mechanism to censor books and curriculums (It was preceded by a siege of the Tucson Unified School District Headquarters by middle and high school students).
Two days before the racial profiling law passed, 800 military-clad federal agents swooped into South Tucson looking for human smugglers. This unprecedented action, along with the two laws had precipitated protests, walkouts, marches, community forums, boycotts, vigils and runs in both Tucson and Phoenix.
Now, as Dream students gathered in Tucson – something even bigger was about to happen. Dream students from throughout the country – students deemed to be without U.S. legal documents, in this country since they were children – had decided to intentionally turn themselves in so as to bring awareness regarding the approximately 65,000 Dream students who graduate annually and cannot continue their higher education. In the realm of civil disobedience, subjecting themselves to deportation was unfathomable.
But as they spoke of their proposed action, they stated that their historic action was to be taken because they could no longer wait for others to act for them; the leadership of their movement would hereafter be in their own hands. And if they did enter deportation hearings, they believed they might be able to remain in the country between 3-5 years – enough time to bring about passage of the Dream Act.
The Dream Act, in its original form, was first introduced in 2001. The logic of the act is that children are not responsible for the acts of their parents, etc… meaning, that to break a law, one must be conscious that one is breaking a law. Many of the Dream students were brought to this country as infants, thus, incapable of breaking any law. The Dream Act seeks permits such students to continue on with their higher education.
The calculated gamble by the Dream Students has paid off (see: http://www.thedreamiscoming.com/). Since then, other dream students have stepped forward nationwide. Just but a few weeks ago, the true identity of Dream students was a closely guarded secret. Now, they are confronting Sheriff Arpaio himself (June 3) and are leading marches nationwide… including the massive march and rally in Phoenix last week (Filming from a fixed point – a 4-lane street – it took 1.5 hours to film the march. The media is notorious for underreporting numbers, but the travesty in this case is that the media made the number of counter-protestors -- a few hundred – appear to be comparable to the more than 100,000 marchers).
The dramatic developments these past two months in Arizona – along with an international boycott of Arizona – reveal that resistance has entered a new phase. And with the addition of Indigenous peoples sending the world a dramatic message – regarding who is legal on this continent – it is clear that indeed, Arizona is rushing toward legal Apartheid.
Despite more than a dozen copycat states, those who fear a brown nation have decided to make their stand in the Arizona desert. Next year, legislators will attempt to revoke the 14th Amendment in Arizona, which guarantees citizenship to all born in this country. The state’s undocumented [unelected] governor, Republican Jan Brewer, is one of those with this fear. Appealing to the nation’s anti-Mexican and anti-immigrant sentiment, she has established a nationwide fund to support her legal retrenchment into the Dark Ages.
Morally, Brewer -- akin to George Wallace of a generation ago -- is on the wrong side of history.
Rodriguez, an assistant professor at the University of Arizona, can be reached a: XColumn@gmail.com
Thanks & Sincerely
Roberto Dr. Cintli Rodriguez
Column of the Americas
PO BOX 85476
Tucson, AZ 85754
ARCHIVED COLUMN OF THE AMERICAS
Independent human rights study details unjust B.C and federal mining laws
Monday June 7, 2010:
Takla Lake Traditional Territory/Takla Landing, B.C – The BC and federal governments must heed the recommendations contained in a just-released Harvard Law School report on the impacts of an “unjust” government mining regime on Takla Lake and First Nations across BC, Chief Dolly Abraham of the Takla Lake First Nation said today.
The 200-page study was initiated and funded entirely by Harvard’s International Human Rights Clinic and is its first involving indigenous peoples in Canada. It details how mining laws are stacked against Takla Lake and other First Nations in BC, describing them as in contravention of international and constitutional law, overly favourable to industry, lacking in fair compensation, and in need of “urgent law reform.”
“I strongly support this damning assessment of the provincial mining system because I know firsthand how BC law and policy are used to avoid meaningfully addressing our Aboriginal rights, title, and community concerns,” said Chief Abraham.
“For example, the provincial government's lack of action on historic and abandoned mining sites, such as the contaminated Bralorne mercury mine and the environmental impacts of numerous past exploration sites, have resulted in roads and contaminated waste strewn across our traditional territory,” she said. "BC promised to help us clean up the legacy contamination from the mining industry, and yet no progress has been made. At the same time, BC is constantly approving exploration projects in our territory while paying little attention to our concerns”.
“When these historic impacts are combined with today’s intense exploration, you start to see large scale damages to our land and we are still not consulted or compensated for this,” said Chief Abraham, who noted Takla has still not been compensated by the province for the massive Kemess South open-pit mine, which has generated huge revenues for the BC government over the years.
“Premier Campbell and the province must heed the call for reform and sit down with First Nations to get it done, and the federal government must start living up to its international commitments and its own laws to ensure our rights are protected,” said Chief Abraham, who is a member of BC’s First Nations Women Advocating Responsible Mining (FNWARM).
FNWARM Chairperson Anne Marie Sam said: “We commend Takla Lake First Nation for cooperating with this detailed study and Harvard for devoting its resources to this analysis of the human rights issues that our members and other First Nations across BC continue to experience.
“This report exposes the rights violations and other infringements we experience as a result of unjust and outdated pro-industry BC mining laws, and the failure of the federal government to meet its duties to us as defined in its international agreements and the Canadian constitution,” said Ms. Sam, a band councilor with the Nak’azdli First Nation, which is challenging the Mt. Milligan mine in its traditional territory because of the lack of meaningful consultation and environmental concerns.
"The provincial government has to reform its impoverished attitude toward First Nations' concerns with mining in BC, starting with the free entry system, which must be abolished, and online mineral staking,” said Ms. Sam. “The environmental review process is another major issue, and must be revised to fully address Aboriginal interests through joint decision making.”
The Harvard study found that mining “frequently prevents First Nations from using their traditional lands for subsistence and cultural practices and causes significant environmental harm,” and that First Nations generally “bear an unfair burden at every point in the mining process,” from registration of claims to exploration, production, and abandonment of closed sites.
It also found that current safeguards for First Nations and the environment in fact “favor the industry they are designed to regulate.” For example, the study highlights how the online mineral staking system, similar to British Columbia’s free entry system, gives miners legal access to First Nations lands without any specific requirement to consult or accommodate them.
The report says that despite the unfair burden that mining places upon First Nations they “do not always reap economic benefits” from the sector. It also states the province’s mining regime fails to live up to international laws and treaties that Canada has signed or domestic law, thereby leaving First Nations without the proper protection that these laws are intended to provide.
The report, “Bearing the Burden: The Effects of Mining on First Nations in British Columbia,” was authored by Bonnie Docherty, an expert on international human rights law and a lecturer with Harvard Law School’s International Human Rights Clinic, and a team of her students.
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View the report at: http://law.harvard.edu/programs/hrp/BearingTheBurden.pdf. Or go to www.fnwarm.ca for more information and background.
Chief Dolly Abraham: Contact Dave Radies, Takla Lake Mining Coordinator at 604-921-2024 or 250-961-1614
Anne Marie Sam, FNWARM Chair: 250-996-7171.
Author Bonnie Docherty: Contact Cara Solomon at 617-495-9214 / email@example.com
BEARING THE BURDENTHE EFFECTS OF MINING ON FIRST NATIONS IN BRITISH COLUMBIA
International Human Rights Program, Harvard Law School
Rich in mineral resources, the traditional lands of First Nations in British Columbia(B.C.) have been targets of Canada’s active mining industry. Mining provides important revenuefor the province, so many people welcome it. It also, however, frequently interferes with FirstNations’ use of their traditional lands and significantly harms the environment to which theirculture is inextricably linked. B.C. mining laws provide some safeguards for First Nations and the environment, but they favor the industry they are intended to regulate and do not adequately institutionalize the special protections First Nations are entitled to under international anddomestic law. While some First Nations have benefited from mining within their boundaries, ingeneral, First Nations bear an unfair burden at every point in the mining process,1from theregistration of claims to exploration, production, and abandonment of closed sites. Urgent lawreform is needed to shift at least some of that burden onto government and industry. Current lawpresumes that mining is an acceptable use of a piece of land, but the presumption should instead be that aboriginal rights require heightened scrutiny of mining activities. Reform should ensure1The Mineral Tenure Act (MTA) defines “mining activity” as “any activity related to” the search for minerals,“exploration and development of a mineral,” or “the production of a mineral,” “and includes the reclamation of apreviously mined area and the monitoring and long term protection, control and treatment of a previously minedarea.” Mineral Tenure Act, R.S.B.C. ch. 292, part 1 (1) (1996) (Can.), available athttp://www.bclaws.ca/EPLibraries/bclaws_new/document/ID/freeside/00_96292_01. This report will use the MTA’sdefinition and will specify when referring to a specific stage of the process.
more First Nations’ involvement in decision-making, increase environmental and culturalprotection, and balance the potential benefits among all key stakeholders.The experiences of Takla Lake First Nation, which is based in remote northern British Columbia, illustrate that the province’s mining laws are a problem in practice as well as on paper. While Takla has good relations with some mining companies, it has generally been ambivalent or even hostile to new projects. This attitude stems largely from the fact thatcommunity members feel excluded from the process that reviews proposals and inundated with mining claims and projects on their traditional territory. In addition, Takla—home to exploration sites, a major open-pit mine, and several abandoned operations—has seen the range of harmscaused by different stages of mining. Members of Takla widely report destruction of habitat, adecrease in wildlife, and a fear of health problems from contaminants. Because of Takla’s closeties to the land, these effects cause cultural as well as environmental injury. Finally, even thosemembers who are willing to accept mining say that they have not received the benefits that aresupposed to accrue from the industry—in particular, revenue sharing and employmentopportunities. Takla’s story—its experience with disenfranchisement and harms accompanied by few benefits—illustrates that the current legal regime needs reform to better preserve FirstNations’ lands and culture.2The situation is particularly troublesome given that international and Canadian lawrequire special protections for First Nations. Canada is party to international human rights and environmental treaties that recognize the unique connection between indigenous peoples and the2The unfair burden that First Nations in British Columbia bear could be described as an environmental injustice. Inother words, mining in the province causes a disproportionate negative effect on a disadvantaged group and givesdisproportionate benefits to those outside that group. While this report will present its arguments in terms ofaboriginal rights rather than environmental justice, its call for burden and benefit sharing is consistent with bothframeworks.
First Nations have the right to self-determination, which includes the right to decide howtheir traditional lands and resources are used. They also have a right to practice their culture,which requires the use of traditional lands. Treaty law not only enumerates these rights but also obligates Canada to ensure First Nations are able to enjoy them. In addition, Canada has a dutyunder international environmental law to encourage sustainable development and protect thequality of its environment. The Canadian Constitution, meanwhile, establishes aboriginal rightsat the domestic level, and a growing body of Canadian case law, notably the 2004 Haida Nation v. British Columbia decision, has strengthened the protection of First Nations by mandating consultation with and accommodation of the communities. Consultation and accommodation by the government mandate “good faith efforts to understand each other’s concerns and move toaddress them.”3International and constitutional standards thus provide a framework for the protection ofFirst Nations that calls for heightened scrutiny of projects affecting these indigenous peoples and the incorporation of aboriginal rights into domestic mining law. The standards are designed to give First Nations a voice in decision-making through consultation and an assurance that theenvironment with which they are linked is healthy. B.C. mining laws on their face and in theirimplementation, however, fail to guarantee either.Harvard Law School’s International Human Rights Clinic (IHRC) has based this reporton a field mission to Takla’s traditional territory and surrounding areas in September 2009 and follow-up research through May 2010.4The IHRC team conducted at least fifty interviews with 3Haida Nation v. British Columbia (Minister of Forests),  3 S.C.R. 511, ¶ 49 (Can.).4IHRC has done extensive work on human rights and the environment issues, including on mining in Africa, theAmericas, and Asia. It decided to investigate the situation in British Columbia after learning about the controversyover free entry although the final report covers much more. IHRC chose to focus its field research on Takla Lake
4representatives of First Nations (especially Takla), the B.C. government, and the mining industry.5During its field mission, the team made personal observations of the environmentaldamage that mining, including exploration, has caused in Takla’s traditional territory.6It hasalso drawn on a range of legal sources for an extensive analysis of international and domesticaboriginal rights law and B.C.’s mining law.7After making recommendations to government, industry, and First Nations, this reportexpands on the issues laid out in the summary in greater depth. It opens with a background chapter about Takla and an overview of international and domestic aboriginal rights law. Thereport then analyzes the problems mining raise for First Nations in detail. It provides an extensive legal analysis of the existing mining regime. It also documents the situation of Takla,describing the band’s experiences with and opinions about lack of consultation, harms of mining,and lack of benefits. It concludes that structural, procedural, and substantive legal reforms areneeded firmly to establish the heightened protections to which Takla is legally entitled and betterto balance the burdens and benefits of mining.First Nation because the mineral-rich nature of its traditional territory has led to a particular vulnerability to andextensive experience with mining.5The IHRC team conducted interviews with thirty-one members of Takla, including chief and council, keyohholders, and individuals who had worked in mining. It spoke with representatives of other First Nations and Takla’sformer and present mining coordinators and lawyer. It also interviewed officials from the Ministry of Energy,Mining and Petroleum Resources, the Ministry of Environment’s Environmental Assessment Office, and theMinistry of Agriculture and Land’s Crown Lands Restoration Branch. Finally, it had interviews with representativesof industry, including leaders of two companies that operate within Takla’s traditional territory and two provincialmining associations. Other companies provided additional information in written form.6During its field mission, the IHRC team visited an abandoned mine (Bralorne-Takla), a current exploration project(Kwanika), and sites near proposed operations (Aiken Lake and Bear Lake).7This report does not address mining regulations in other Canadian provinces, nor does it address important issuesregarding First Nations relations with other industries, such as logging or fishing, or with the B.C. governmentgenerally.
5Background on Takla Lake First NationThe Takla Lake First Nation, which consists of approximately 1000 members, has atraditional territory—the land it has historically used and occupied—of approximately 27,250square kilometers of mineral- and timber-rich country. As for most First Nations, the land isessential to the identity and survival of Takla. Many members still depend on traditionalsubsistence activities, such as hunting and gathering, for food and medicine. Subsistenceactivities also serve important social and cultural functions. Passing on this way of life linksgenerations, and Takla is currently engaged in a conscious effort to revive and maintain itsheritage. A spiritual connection to the land makes them respect it and teaches them not disturb itunless necessary.Takla’s traditional governance structure reflects this close relationship to the land.Known as the potlatch system, it is centered around keyohs, families’ traditional tracts of land. Afamily leader represents the keyoh at community gatherings and is commonly described as“speaking for the land.” The names these keyoh holders inherit often indicate theirresponsibilities to the environment. The name “wise fish,” for example, belongs to a man who must protect the water so that fish can safely spawn.The Canadian government, however, banned the potlatch system for many years and created an alternative governance structure—an elected chief and four council members—thatstill survives. The existence of two types of spokespeople sometimes creates tensions becausegovernment officials communicate primarily with chief and council as representatives of thewhole community while ignoring keyoh holders who “speak for the land.”Use of local First Nations’ resources began with the fur trade and then turned to logging.The latter in particular changed the environment and Takla’s relationship to it. For example, it
6made hunting more difficult because of a decline in caribou. As logging has started to decline,mining has risen to take its place as the key extraction industry in northern British Columbia and on Takla’s traditional territory.As mentioned above, Takla has experienced mining operations at all stages in theprocess. Claims, which give holders exclusive rights to explore an area for minerals, blanket themajority of its territory. Their prevalence is thanks in large part to free entry, a regime thatallows almost anyone to register a claim without consulting landholders. Companies, such asAlpha Gold, CJL Enterprises, and Serengeti Resources, have turned many of those claims into exploration sites, where they test the sub-surface soil and rock for the presence of minerals.Representing the next stage of the process are actively producing mines, i.e., those that extractminerals from the ground for sale. The most notable in this region is Northgate’s Kemess South Mine, a large open-pit operation in the north of Takla’s traditional territory. Finally, whileinactive, abandoned mines, including Bralorne-Takla and Ogden Mountain, pose lingering risksof contamination and no longer have identifiable corporate owners to hold responsible for theircleanup.The Legal Regime Governing MiningThe legal regime that governs this activity on Takla’s territory consists of a complexcollection of laws that can be difficult to understand and navigate. Provincial land-use planning,in the form of Land and Resource Management Plans (LRMPs), has determined what land isopen to mining, but the government and First Nations advocates disagree about the effectivenessof the consultation efforts during that process.
7The rest of the laws are administered by multiple B.C. agencies, particularly the Ministryof Mines, Energy, and Petroleum Resources (MEMPR), the Ministry of Environment, and theMinistry of Agriculture and Lands. MEMPR’s principle of free entry permits claim registration,or staking, with no consultation. Its recent online version called Mineral Titles Online (MTO)allows miners from anywhere in the world to register at the click of a button; they must pay onlya small fee and do not have to speak with traditional landholders. Companies that want to pursueexploration must submit a Notice of Work (NOW), which the government forwards to FirstNations; however, the process usually gives First Nations only thirty days to respond with any concerns. The tight deadline combined with the shortage of information to which First Nationshave access makes it unrealistic to prepare an adequate response. In addition, the NOW processprovides only limited environmental protection and takes place after some harm has occurred.The Ministry of Environment’s Environmental Assessment Office conducts a morerigorous review, in the form of environmental assessment, when a company seeks to move fromexploration to development (preparation for production) and production itself. Even here,however, First Nations argue that, in implementing the environmental assessment, thegovernment and mining companies do not take their rights and environmental concerns fully into account. Much of the design of the process is left to the discretion of a government official.Furthermore, First Nations again receive incomplete information and have limited resources to supplement it when they want to build a case against a particular project.Finally, the government bears legal responsibility for abandoned mines that predate a1969 remediation bond requirement and have no clear private owner. The Ministry ofAgriculture and Lands’ Crown Lands Restoration Branch, formed only in 2003, oversees their
8remediation. Its limited resources combined with extensive studies can slow cleanup of sites thatpotentially contaminate First Nations’ traditional territories.While international and domestic aboriginal rights law mandate added protections forFirst Nations and require that projects are subjected to higher scrutiny for possible adverseeffects, the B.C. legal regime and its implementation regularly fall short of that standard. They favor industry, leave great discretion to government, and deny First Nations an effective meansto have a say in what happens to their land.Takla’s ExperienceTakla’s experiences with mining exemplify the unjust situation British Columbia’simbalanced mining laws create. The lack of consultation imposes on Takla the burden ofovercoming, without access to full information, the presumption that individual mining projectsare acceptable on their land. When Takla fails to prevent or ensure adequate regulation ofmining, it bears the consequences of adverse environmental and cultural impacts. Finally, toexacerbate these inequities, its members receive disproportionately few benefits from theindustry. Cumulatively, these difficulties infringe on Takla’s enjoyment of its aboriginal rightsto use its land and participate in decision-making regarding its land.During interviews, Takla’s members voiced particularly adamant criticism of the lack ofconsultation. Because free entry does not require consultation, they often only learn aboutclaims registered on their traditional lands through chance encounters with miners. Theseencounters have become rare since the advent of online registration, yet the number of claims has
9skyrocketed.8Takla’s leaders said they are overwhelmed with NOWs for exploration proposals.They have neither the time nor the financial resources to conduct in-depth studies to supplementthe superficial information they receive and to identify any problems before the deadline. Even when they do respond, their former mining coordinator said, “99.9 percent of the time” thegovernment dismisses their objections. Mining companies sometimes voluntarily consult with Takla directly, and the band often seems to trust them more than the government. These effortsto reach out, however, take place on an ad hoc basis and have had mixed results. To complicatematters, confusion exists among all parties about whether government and industry should consult with chief and council or keyoh holders and which of these representatives of Takla havefinal say on a proposal.While exploration permits are the most common challenges it faces, Takla has had, atleast on one occasion, more success having a voice at the environmental assessment stage, whereproduction proposals are reviewed. Takla participated in a groundbreaking process involving aproposed open-pit mine at Kemess North. The government agreed to create a joint reviewpanel—consisting of representatives of the province, federal government, and First Nations—to evaluate the proposal. In the end, after the panel submitted its recommendation, the Minister ofEnvironment rejected the application for the mine. While this result was a victory for thecoalition of First Nations opposing the project, it was the first time such a panel had been appointed and the law does not require that such a panel conduct the environmental assessmentin every instance.In addition to experiencing a lack of consultation, Takla has seen evidence of the harmsmining can cause. While open-pit mines can completely destroy their areas, exploration sites,8See map “Claims Registered on Takla Lake First Nation’s Traditional Territory” in this report.
10which are more common, have a significant cumulative effect in the environment. Deforestation for roads, spurs, and drill pads combined with noise pollution have disrupted habitat, and members of Takla report a decline in the wildlife they hunt. In addition, they fear the effects ofcontamination from the many chemicals that different stages of the mining process require. Thepresence of abandoned mines, such as the sixty-year-old Bralorne-Takla mercury mine whosecontaminants are potentially linked to a cluster of illnesses, heighten the concern that exposure topoisons could affect human health. The government and mining companies often argue that theproblems are not as serious as Takla portrays, and IHRC does not have the scientific expertise to determine the exact environmental and health effects of mining on Takla’s traditional territory.Nevertheless, eyewitness reports and IHRC observations suggest that some harm does occur andthat there is a need for independent studies—not done by government, industry, or FirstNations—to allay or provide support for Takla’s fears.Mining also threatens Takla’s culture and spiritual life. The registration of claimswithout consultation may be viewed as culturally insulting to Takla given their historicoccupation and claims to traditional lands. At later stages of the process, environmentaldegradation interferes with Takla’s subsistence hunting, food gathering, and use of medicinalplants, and with the transmission of cultural knowledge that accompanies those activities. Finally Takla members generally feel a spiritual connection to the land, and some told IHRC that theyexperience personal pain when they see the environment injured by mining.While Takla feels the burden of a lack of consultation and faces environmental and human consequences from mining, the community receives few of the direct economic benefitsthat should accompany mineral development. Many members of Takla said they would like to see revenue sharing, but most mining in the region is at the exploration stage and exploration is
not a profitable venture. Northgate reportedly has such financial compensation agreement with Takla and residents of keyohs near the producing Kemess South Mine, but several recipientscalled it inadequate. In 2008, the B.C. government has adopted a revenue-sharing program,under which the revenue generated through permitting and regulation procedures will be shared with affected First Nations. The program recognizes that First Nations should share in theeconomic gains of mining, but Takla has received no benefits from it yet, and the programapplies to only newly approved projects, not to existing ones. Takla members also repeatedly called for jobs and associated training. Some mining companies voluntarily enter into ad hocemployment agreements with Takla, but these jobs are seasonal and, given the nature of thework, rarely provide health benefits. They are also limited in number because they often requireskills that members of Takla and other First Nations do not possess.RecommendationsTo help shift the burden of mining off First Nations and to increase respect for theiraboriginal rights, this report makes recommendations to each of the key stakeholders. Thegovernment should recognize aboriginal rights as a guiding principle of any developmentdecision that affects First Nations, thus solidifying the presumption that First Nations are entitled to heightened protections. The government should clarify the requirements of meaningfulconsultation and initiate it from the beginning of the mining process because once themomentum of a project gets started it is hard for First Nations to stop it. The government should also facilitate independent studies of environmental and human rights impacts, impose morestringent requirements on proposed mining projects, expeditiously clean up abandoned mines,and encourage the sharing of mining’s economic benefits with First Nations.
This report also makes recommendations to industry and First Nations. Mining companies should acknowledge that indigenous peoples have special rights and interests and takethem into account in their interactions with First Nations. They can do so by increasing consultation efforts and negotiating, in a fair and transparent manner, to share the benefits ofmining. At the same time, Takla and other First Nations should internally determine theirwishes, such as their desired means of consultation and how many and what type of benefits they want. They should then clearly convey these preferences to other stakeholders. Takla in particular should also finish its land-use plan so that all parties know where it is willing to permitmining and where traditional uses or spiritual significance make mining unacceptable.
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About Censored News
Censored News is published by censored journalist Brenda Norrell. A journalist for 27 years, Brenda lived on the Navajo Nation for 18 years, writing for Navajo Times, AP, USA Today, Lakota Times and other American Indian publications. After being censored and then terminated by Indian Country Today in 2006, she began the Censored Blog to document the most censored issues. She currently serves as human rights editor for the U.N. OBSERVER & International Report at the Hague and contributor to Sri Lanka Guardian, Narco News and CounterPunch. She was cohost of the 5-month Longest Walk Talk Radio across America, with Earthcycles Producer Govinda Dalton in 2008: www.earthcycles.net/
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