Thursday, February 10, 2011

Struggles for land and justice: Splitting the Sky nominates Anthony Hall for peace award

Struggles for land and justice: Splitting the Sky nominates professor Anthony J. Hall for peace award

Censored News

ALBERTA, Canada -- Writing a peace prize nomination, Splitting the Sky, Mohawk, weaves together events that have solidified the movements of Indigenous Peoples. From Oka to Gustafsen Lake, the histories of struggle are found in this tribute to professor Anthony J. Hall. When Splitting the Sky attempted a citizens arrest of former President George Bush for war crimes, Hall was among those who assured the world that Bush should be held accountable.
Today's submission to Censored News begins with correspondence between Splitting the Sky and Hall, and continues with a tribute to this legacy of struggle.--Brenda Norrell, Censored News
By Splitting the Sky, Mohawk

Dear friends,
Enclosed is a biographical sketch I have done of my friend and colleague professor Anthony Hall for nomination for a peace award which is explained within.
I am also initiating a campaign to get his latest book Earth into Property as mandatory reading for all persons working at the United Nations level, especially the UN Security Council, General Assembly and hopefully members of the non aligned movement and non governmental organization that would be willing to help nominate this incredible work for a Nobel Peace prize in literature.
I will be writing a blurb for this massive work of love and peace and invite you to get a copy of his book and read cover to cover.
From Anthony Hall,
Thanks for nominating me, STS, and passing by me the text of your proposed info to explain your nomination. I approve of the text and thank you for your generous characterizations of my work in which you have often been so integrally involved.
Given the need for timeliness and the limitations of E-Mail access to you while you are traveling, I'm submitting the text to the Peace Consortium as well as to you.
Meegwetch, Tony Hall
Peace nomination from Splitting the Sky
Anthony James Hall is Professor of Globalization Studies at the University of Lethbridge and Alberta Canada. He is a prolific author of many publications including the epic series, Bowl with One Spoon. Volume One is entitled The American Empire and the Fourth World. It won the Alberta book award in 2004 as the best non-fiction text by an Alberta author. Volume 2 is entitled Earth into Property: Colonization, Decolonization and Capitalism. Earth into Property was selected by The Independent in the UK as one of the best English-language history books in the world published in 2010. Both volumes are published by McGill-Queen’s University Press.

Hall was born and raised in Toronto Canada. He did his BA and MA in History at York University and then his Ph.D. at the University of Toronto. His Ph.D. thesis, entitled “The Red Man’s Burden: Land, Law and the Lord in the Indian Affairs of Upper Canada, 1791-1858,” was supervised by Professor J.M.S. Careless. In 1982 Hall was hired as Assistant Professor by the Department of Native Studies at Laurentian University in Sudbury Ontario. In the mid-1980s Hall was deeply involved in the work of the Canadian Alliance in Solidarity with the Native Peoples, becoming a board member and a co-president of the organization.

During the 1980s and early 1990s Hall worked on many aspects of the process to entrench and then define the extent of existing Aboriginal and treaty rights as recognized and affirmed in Canada’s Constitution Act, 1982. He attended with his students all four of the First Ministers-First Nations constitutional conferences on Aboriginal matters between 1983 and 1987. Hall responded to the Meech Lake accord in 1987 with an array of publications in academic and popular venues. He was a frequent media commentator on this subject and contributed to the work of various parliamentary and legislative committees in Ottawa and Toronto, calling attention to the failure of the Meech Lake accord to include Aboriginal peoples in the first ministers’ proposed definition of Canada’s “fundamental characteristics.” This phrase was introduced to provide the context wherein Canada’s first ministers proposed to define Quebec as a “distinct society.”

Some of Hall’s arguments were incorporated into the positions of the Assembly of Manitoba Chiefs, the organization backing Elijah Harper when in the spring of 1990 this elected parliamentarian in the Manitoba Legislature used his veto power to block the incorporation of the Meech Lake accord in Canada’s constitution. Elijah Harper’s stand helped initiate what Hall has referred to as the Indian Summer of 1990. Harper’s stand in the Manitoba Legislature was interpreted in Quebec as an Indian rejection of the province’s constitutional identity as a distinct society. This resentment in Quebec was a factor in the police attack on a small Mohawk blockade set up to prevent the expansion of a golf course into a sacred stand of white pine trees covering a burial ground at the old Sulpician Indian mission at Oka on the Ottawa River.

The conflict between the Mohawk Warriors and the Canadian Armed Forces at Oka spread quickly, resulting in the closure of the Mercier Bridge running through Kanawake Indian Territory in Greater Montreal and a number of sympathy blockades elsewhere in the country. Hall was deeply involved in one of these actions at Long Lake Indian reserve #58, where his two sons, Sampson and Riley Nabigon, are band members. For one week in August of 1990 the people of Long Lake 58 together with Hall set up a protest camp on the CNR train yard on their reserve, asserting that the Crown’s railway corporation lacked proper land title to this plot and that the band’s interests in their traditional Aboriginal lands had never been the subject of a ceding treaty. Other bands further to the south took similar actions on the CPR mainline so that trans-Canadian railway service was entirely severed. Hall traveled from the Indian train blockades in northern Ontario to Oka Quebec where he and Bernard Abraham were afforded the status of negotiators by the Mohawk Warriors and the Canadian Armed Forces. Fortunately there was no more loss of life in the confrontation after the death of a member of Quebec’s police force in the opening episode of the conflict.

When he returned to Lethbridge to commence the academic term of 1990-1991, Hall joined forces with a group of Peigan Indians known as the Lonefighters. With a group of Lonefighter and Greenpeace activists, Hall took part in a peaceful protest directed against the illegal construction by the province of Alberta of the Oldman Irrigation Dam upriver from the Peigan reserve. Hall faced a criminal charge for the speech he delivered in this action. He was charged by the Crown of Alberta with “creating a disturbance” by allegedly speaking too loudly in a public place when he informed the museum’s visitors of the aggressive incursions of the RCMP in their efforts to shut down the Lonefighter’s dissenting resistance. The Crown of Alberta eventually stayed the charges against Hall, a prelude to the Crown of Alberta’s staying the criminal charges against itself for violating the federal Fisheries Act in constructing the Oldman Dam.

The Canadian Association of University Teachers deemed that the charges against Hall amounted to a government attempt to stifle Professor Hall’s academic freedom. By this time Hall had moved from Sudbury to join the Department of Native American Studies as Associate Professor. In the years that followed Hall helped the Assembly of First Nations with its representations to Parliament as efforts were made to revisit the constitutional file and come up with an improved version of the Meech Lake accord. This process ultimately broke down after 1992 when the Charlottetown consensus report failed to garner majority support in a national referendum. Hall also made several contributions to the work of the Royal Commission on Aboriginal Peoples set up to address some of the contentious issues that had emerged during the Indian Summer of 1990. One of Hall’s interventions appeared prominently in the Highlights pamphlet of RCAP’s recommendations.

In 1995 Hall wrote in The Globe and Mail about an Indian War at Gustafsen Lake in British Columbia. In the aftermath of this episode Hall entered into a lifelong friendship and professional collaboration with me, Splitting The Sky. In 2000 this collaboration gave rise to an expert witness report that Hall was invited to write for the court in Portand Oregon after it was charged to consider the request to extradite James Pitawanakwat back to Canada. The case of USA versus Pitawanakwat dealt with questions of whether political interference had taken place in the Canadian court proceedings where Pitawanakwat had been criminalized for taking part in the activities of the Sundance-turned-protest-camp near Gustafsen Lake. The Canadian government, which included Joint Task Force 2 in its military response to an action challenging the constitutionality of BC’s land title regime, admitted to firing 70,000 rounds of live ammunition at the self-declared Ts’peten Defenders. The Canadian government also deployed land mines. One of the casualties of the episode was the professional career of Bruce Clark who was eventually disbarred as a member of the Law Society of Upper Canada for his spirited and unorthodox tactics in defending his Indian clients.

In her ruling Judge Janice Stewart accepted much of Hall’s report wherein he argued that Canada’s political interference in Pitawanakwat’s criminalization was indeed serious enough to justify invoking the relevant passages of the Extradition Treaty between Canada and the United States. Judge Stewart overruled the US State Department that was seeking permission to extradite Pitawanakwat back to Canada because he had left the country while still on parole. To this day James Pitawanakwat continues to enjoy the same kind of asylum in the United States that Leonard Peltier was denied in similar proceedings in Canada when the Justice Department in the mid-1970s sought permission to extradite the accused man back to the United States. The effect of Judge Stewart’s historic ruling, based in large measure on her accepting the arguments of the expert witness for the defense, was to internationalize the issue of Aboriginal title in British Columbia and to call into question the means of representing Indian people in the modern-day treaty negotiations taking place in that province.

In the spring of 2001 Hall helped organized a conference in Quebec City on the relationship of Indigenous peoples throughout the Western Hemisphere to the negotiation of an extension of the NAFTA Treaty between the governments of Canada, the United States and Mexico. The proposed Free Trade Area of the Americas (FTAA) was aimed at incorporating the governments of all 34 countries in the Western Hemisphere, excluding that of Cuba, into the legal matrix of a comprehensive commercial trade agreement. In his call for participation in the event, Hall pointed out that from the Vatican’s initial “donation” of the Western Hemisphere to the Crowns of Spain and Portugal, to, for instance, the founding of New England, New France and New Netherlands, to the Louisiana Purchase, to the Alaska Purchase, to the transfer of Hudson’s Bay Company lands to the Dominion of Canada etc. etc. etc., Indigenous peoples have consistently been excluded from efforts to redraw the geopolitical map of North, Central and South America. The efforts to institute the FTAA renewed the process that has historically excluded Indigenous peoples from taking part directly in the formulation of the highest order of international law.

The nascent National Security Section of the RCMP made an unannounced visit to Hall’s office at the University of Lethbridge to interrogate him on his role in organizing the Quebec City conference, Americana Indigenismo. Within hours questions were being asked about the incident in Canada’s Parliament. For the second time the Canadian Association of University Teachers intervened to allege that law enforcement officials had wrongfully interfered in Hall’s academic work in an effort to stifle his academic freedom. In spite of this interference Americana Indigenismo went ahead. Following the conference Hall was arrested and incarcerated for several hours in Orsainville Penitentiary. He was released without charge. Amnesty International did an investigation into Hall’s treatment by Canadian officials throughout the FTAA controversy.

In 2002 Hall was appointed as Founding Coordinator of Globalization Studies at the University of Lethbridge. This appointment was part of his efforts to expand the academic framework of his investigations. Increasingly his teaching, research and publication was devoted to looking at the encounter between Indigenous peoples and empire builders of various kinds, including the corporate empires that thrive through the agencies of globalized capitalism. Hall has used the Internet especially creatively through the incorporation of video conferences into his curriculum. In this way Hall has hosted for his students inside and outside the classroom a worldwide discussion on globalization through a primary medium of globalization. Increasingly his curriculum is devoted to issues of human rights and international law as evidenced especially in the second volume of The Bowl with One Spoon.

I have worked closely with Professor Hall in widening the picture of our shared preoccupation with the need to enforce the rule of law in the cause of international peace. This shared preoccupation led us to work closely together in the winter and spring of 2009 on organizing a peaceful protest aimed at making the point that law enforcement officials in Canada had a legal duty to arrest former US President George W. Bush when he delivered a speech in Calgary Alberta on March 17. I made sure that Hall’s main article on the subject, “Should George W. Bush Be Arrested in Calgary Alberta and Charged with International Crimes,” was part of the court evidence we brought forward when I faced a criminal charge for my attempt to conduct a citizen’s arrest of the former US Commander In Chief. Throughout this action I spoke frequently to Professor Hall’s students in Lethbridge. Hall’s graduate student, Joshua Blakeney, made a documentary published as a series of You Tubes about our intervention to have George W. Bush charged as a credibly accused war criminal. One of our shared motivations in taking this collective action with other activists in southern Alberta was based on our views concerning the unanswered questions of what did or did not happen in the shocking episode used to justify the 9/11 Wars.

Many important movers and shakers joined us in Calgary to help us publicize our contentions that the rule of law is not being respected when it comes to addressing the highest order of international crime. One such individual is Cynthia McKinney, a former US Congresswoman representing a riding in Georgia. Another is my long-time lawyer, Ramsay Clark, the international jurist that I credit with saving my life by getting me out of jail after doing 16 years as the sole individual charged in the Attica debacle of 1971. We appreciate the role of the Consortium for Peace Studies at the University of Calgary for hosting events in which we were able to present the facts of my case together with the opinions of our learned visitors to Albertan audiences. Both these events were recorded by Joshua Blakeney who has documented their contents in multiple You Tubes produced with the help of Hall’s unit, Globalization Studies.

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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:
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