Friday, November 30, 2007

Challenge to uranium mining, poisoning water, on Lakota lands

Challenge to uranium mining, poisoning water, on Lakota lands

CONTACT: Debra White Plume, Executive Director, Owe Aku
Kent Lebsock, Owe Aku International Human Rights Project:

Seven Petitioners File for Hearing on Uranium Mine Expansion
First Request for Nuclear Regulatory Commission Hearing in 17 Years

“The entire issue is water, which is life itself, and our struggle is to protect it.”
Thomas Cook

WASHINGTON, D.C. -- On November 12, 2007, seven Petitioners from parts of the poorest region in the United States asked the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) to participate in decisions relative to uranium mining and its harmful effects in northwestern Nebraska and the Lakota (Sioux) Pine Ridge Indian Reservation in Southwest South Dakota . According to NRC sources, this is the first request to intervene in an NRC proceeding relating to the expansion of an existing uranium mining operation in approximately 17 years. The petitioners are Thomas Cook, Chadron Native American Center, Slim Buttes Agricultural Development Corp., High Plains Community Development Corp., Western Nebraska Resources Council, Debra White Plume, and an Oglala Lakota nonprofit organization called Owe Aku.Canadian-owned Crow Buttes Resources, Inc. (CBR) is asking the NRC for a permit to expand uranium mining in and around Petitioners’ towns, farms, and Indian territories. Petitioners assert that CBR’s process currently consumes and contaminates 4.7 billion gallons of water per year from the High Plains Aquifer which is also the water source to communities in eight western states. The petition (see for text) challenges CBR’s request for an additional 2.4 billion gallons a year to expand its operations. CBR's application is made while drought is depleting the aquifers at 160% of recharge.In addition to the use of additional valuable water resources, CBR has admitted to:§ a spill of approximately 300,000 gallons of radioactive liquid waste at its mine in Crawford , Nebraska ;§ failure to clean up one-third of the spills equaling approximately 100,000 gallons of radioactive liquid waste;§ admission that a broken coupling led to a one gallon per minute leak for several years into the Brule aquifer. It is believed that the leak resulted in toxic contamination of at least 525,000 gallons of water per year; and§ admission of a leak that contaminated 25,000 sq. ft. of the Brule aquifer.From existing operations, CBR has had no less than 23 reported leaks of radioactive material. Petitioners assert that this contradicts CBR’s statements that they have operated without any environmental impact and indicates that CBR should not be allowed to expand its existing operations. As one member of the Western Nebraska Resources Counsel stated, “In our book, you clean up your first mess before you are allowed the opportunity to create a new mess.”Petitioners are asking the NRC for a chance to submit evidence that a slow-moving, underground radioactive plume of contaminated water is moving through several inter-connected aquifers. It is believed that CBRs admitted contamination of the aquifer “plumes” through the Arikaree, Brule and High Plains aquifers. CBR’s expansion application to the NRC states that the toxins that have leaked into the aquifers probably enter the human body through water as well as food sources exposed to the contamination. These toxins include Radon-222, Thorium, Uranium and inorganic Arsenic. As part of the application process, Petitioners seek an evaluation of CBR’s proposed expansion relative to the health and environment of people and wildlife relying on the aquifers. The Arikaree aquifer lies directly under the Oglala Lakota Pine Ridge Indian Reservation. Petitioners believe there is a link between 98 wells that were closed on the Western side of the Reservation because of radioactive contamination and unusual incidences of cancer, kidney disease, birth defects, miscarriages and infant brain seizures.Indigenous Petitioners from Native American communities also assert that the United Nations’ Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples applies. Article 32 acknowledges that Indigenous peoples have a right to “free, prior and informed consent” with respect to development, utilization or exploitation of mineral resources. It further provides that “[s]tates shall provide effective mechanisms for just and fair redress for any such activities, and appropriate measures shall be taken to mitigate adverse environmental … impact.” To date, no opportunity has been provided for members of the Oglala Sioux Tribe or Native communities to analyze CBR’s License Amendment or its affect on Indigenous lands and resources. Petitioners stress that it would be entirely consistent with international human rights standards if the NRC affirms the Indigenous peoples’ right to intervene in the permit process for CBR’s application.It is currently unknown when to expect a decision from the NRC.Kent LebsockOwe Aku (Bring Back the Way)International Justice & Human Rights Project

Border wall plans ignore environmental justice rules


By No Border Wall

RIO GRANDE, Texas -- In the recently released Rio Grande Valley Tactical Infrastructure Environmental Impact Statement (EIS), the Department of Homeland Security attempts to brush aside issues of environmental justice in its plans for the border wall. Although the Rio Grande Valley’s population is over 85% minority, and its border communities are some of the poorest in the nation, the EIS states that the impacts of the proposed border wall “would not fall disproportionately on minority or low-income populations.” The EIS is not only of interest to environmentalists. By law, environmental impact statements are required to cover issues of the human environment as well. Unfortunately, the Rio Grande Valley Border Fence EIS (copy available at does not adequately address these issues, and the most vulnerable residents of the Rio Grande Valley are being left unprotected from the damage a border wall is certain to cause. Environmental justice is defined by the Environmental Protection Agency to mean that “no group of people, including racial, ethnic, or socioeconomic groups, should bear a disproportionate share of the negative environmental consequences resulting from industrial, municipal, and commercial operations or the execution of federal, state, local, and tribal environmental programs and policies” (EPA Fact Sheet). This sentiment was codified by President Clinton in executive order 12898 (Federal Action to Address Environmental Justice [EJ] in Minority Populations and Low-Income Populations), which provides that “each Federal agency must identify and address, as appropriate, disproportionately high and adverse human health or environmental effects of its programs, policies, and activities on minority populations and low-income populations in the U.S.” In 2004, the Operation Rio Grande Environmental Impact Statement found that environmental justice was indeed an issue for projects in the Rio Grande Valley: Approximately 85% of the population in the area can be classified as minority (well above the state average of 39.4%).. The median annual household incomes for the counties in the project area (Starr, $10,182; Hidalgo, $16,703; and Cameron, $17,336) are well below the state average of $27,016 and, in the case of Starr County, below the $15,000 established by the EPA for defining the economic status risk group. Therefore, many of the households in the project area doubtless have a high potential EJ index. (Operation Rio Grande EIS, Section 3.12.6, emphasis added) However, in the 2007 Draft Rio Grande Valley Border Fence EIS, it is claimed that the protections of environmental justice do not apply. This questionable judgment is achieved by sleight of hand and is revealed in the following quote: Of the 21 fence sections, 11 are within census bureau tracts in which a portion of the tracts have a higher proportion of minority or low-income residents. Of the proposed 70 miles of tactical infrastructure, substantially less than half is within census bureau tracts that have a higher proportion of minority or low-income residents—therefore the overall impacts of the proposed tactical infrastructure would not fall disproportionately on minority or low-income populations. (Section 5. 5.11) Rather than stating that the majority of people who will be negatively impacted by the border wall are poor and/or minorities, which is what environmental justice is all about, the EIS counts miles. Miles that fall within US Fish and Wildlife refuge tracts, where no people live, are counted along with the miles that pass through poor communities, allowing them to dilute, at least on paper, the wall’s impact on minority and low-income populations. Mileage is irrelevant to the question of environmental justice. The question is whether a disproportionately high number of the people who will be negatively affected are members of minority and/or low income populations. The grassroots coalition No Border Wall is concerned that the Department of Homeland Security is papering over the real human hardships that a border wall tearing through Rio Grande Valley communities will cause and that minorities and the poor will bear the brunt of the damage of a misguided and politically-motivated project. “Hard-working people who may not have the money to hire lawyers are going to have their homes bulldozed or family farms sliced in two for a wall that won’t stop anyone. DHS is prepared to perpetrate a terrible injustice against the very U.S. citizens that they are supposed to protect,” said No Border Wall member Scott Nicol. DHS and Customs and Border Protection will hold two public meetings regarding the RGV Tactical Infrastructure EIS at which the public can submit comments. The first is in McAllen on December 11 from 4:30 pm to 8:00 pm at the McAllen Convention Center.. The second is in Brownsville on December 12 from 4:30 pm to 8:00 pm at the Brownsville Events Center. # # # No Border Wall is a grassroots coalition of groups and individuals united in the belief that a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border will do irreparable harm to the borderlands and to the country as a whole. No Border Wall is opposed to the construction of a border wall because of the devastating consequences such a wall would have on border economies, on the environment, on human rights, and on the U.S. relationship with Mexico and the rest of the world.
For more information or for an interview, contact Scott Nicol at 956-532-5983 or email
PO Box 8124 Weslaco, Texas 78599 956-532-5983 Fax 956-968-1388

Weekend in Solidarity with Political Prisoners

Saturday, December 1 & Sunday, December 2
Saturday, 12/1Jericho Boston Presents
The Shootout
Performance artist, Jihad Abdul-Mumit will present The Shootout, a two-person theater performance and workshop. The Shootout is a two-man dramatization depicting the spiritual and psychological divisions that have historically ripped apart just about every semblance of unity amongst African Americans. The Shootout starts right from the beginning when Africans were snatched so violently and decisively from Mother Africa. The play speaks to the many problems people are confronted with. Among the root causes of violence in oppressed communities are economic exploitation, social underdevelopment and the colonial relationship between the community and those in power. CORI and other draconian laws have been passed to keep people marginalized and disenfranchised, while prison expansion cuts in education continue.
This is a special performance in honor of the International Day of Solidarity with Political Prisoners.
Saturday, December 1st
2pm (Doors open at 1:30)
Great Hall(corner of Washington St. and Talbot Ave.)
Codman Square, Dorchester
Sunday, 12/2
Panel Discussion
In commemoration of the International Day of Solidarity with Political Prisoners
Sunday, December 2nd, 2-6pm Encuentro 533 Harrison Ave., Chinatown
Let us remember and honor, not only the political prisoners being held in the u.s., but also those being held everywhere in the world, in places like Palestine, Turkey, the Basque Country to name a few. We are honored to have as speakers:
Ashanti Alston (former Black Liberation Army Political Prisoner)Edwin Cortes (former FALN Prisoner of War) Jihad Abdul-Mumit (former Black Liberation Army Political Prisoner)Dhoruba Bin Wahad (former Black Panther Party Political Prisoner)Pam Africa (MOVE! Organization, ICFFMAJ)Chuck Turner (City Councillor, Activist) Ward Churchill (American Indian Movement, Author) Marta Rodriguez (Puerto Rican independence activist and member of the New England Committee to Defend Palestine)
Speaking of their struggles and of their peoples' struggles to overcome the fierce repression and imperialism unleashed against them for their fight for self determination and freedom from oppression.
Many of the root causes of economic exploitation and social underdevelopment which were in place back then are still affecting our communities today. CORI and other draconian laws are being passed to keep people, especially people of color, marginalized and disenfranchised.
Join us to strategize to bring our freedom fighters home and liberate our communities!
Sponsors: Jericho-Boston, (617)830-0732, and NECDP,
These events will be followed by a dinner fundraiser on Monday, December 3, International Day of Solidarity with Political Prisoners with Lynne Stewart, Ward Churchill and Ralph Schonan.
Monday, December 3, 7pm Community Church 565 Boylston St., Copley Square., Boston
FREE ALL POLITICAL PRISONERS AND PRISONERS OF WAR! Jericho-BostonPO Box 301057Boston, MA 02130 (617)830-0732

Thursday, November 29, 2007

Action alert: Western Shoshone's Sacred Mount Tenabo in danger

Western Shoshone Defense Project

Alert! Alert! Alert!

We need to take a stand against U.S. and corporate destruction of indigenous lands and spiritual areas NOW. Using laws which continue to stem from the “doctrine of discovery” – where indigenous peoples were claimed to be “savages”, “pagans”, and “childlike” in nature, the United States continues to claim vast areas of native lands as “federal” or “public” lands – denying Indigenous Nations, like the Western Shoshone, the right to make decisions about the types of activities allowed in their traditional territories. Since the days of Columbus, the companies and a pack of elites have been profiting immensely from this fundamental discrimination against the original peoples of this land we call the United States.

The United Nations Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination has told the United States to stop any new mine permitting on Shoshone lands - and the corporate entities – in particular Canadian-based Barrick and U.S.-based Newmont Mining have been told to respect Western Shoshone rights and stay away from mining in spiritual areas. Have they listened? No – mining expansions on Shoshone lands are on the rise again affecting burial areas, spiritual sites, cultural resources, water, wildlife and the natural environment. When will the greed for gold end – and what is the cost of this insatiable hunger to all of us? The latest expansion proposal by Barrick Gold and Kennecott (Australian-based) – ironically named the “Cortez” project targets an area which is the home of local Shoshone creation stories and extreme spiritual and cultural significance, Mt. Tenabo. Coincidentally, the mining industry has also discovered an immense deposit of gold in the area.

We need to say no - Help us protect this area on Western Shoshone lands from gold mining! The deadline for comments is coming quickly, please do one of three things:

Sign the online e petition with Oxfam America (Please sign the petition today!)
Send in your own letter by email, fax or mail– key talking points below
Sign and send in a postcard – attached.

If you want to do more, forward this email to others to take action now AND take the postcards or the information to meetings, events, etc. to distribute to your friends, colleagues and others.

PLEASE TAKE ACTION TODAY – What do we have to give thanks for in this “Holiday” season if we don’t stand alongside the first peoples of the land in their struggle to protect traditional territories???

Questions – need more info? Contact the Western Shoshone Defense Project at – 775-744-2565.

Action Alert - Mt. Tenabo in Jeopardy December 21st deadline for comments
Mt. Tenabo and the surrounding environs are again under attack from gold mining. It is critical now for the Bureau of Land Management to hear the strength of opposition for this mine; see talking points and how to send your comments and concerns below.
The U.S. Bureau of Land Management has released a draft Environmental Impact Statement, dEIS, which reviews the proposal by Cortez Gold Mines, a subsidiary of Barrrick Gold Mining Co., to conduct new gold mining operations at the south end of Crescent Valley in central Nevada. The Project, although termed as an “expansion” of the existing Pipeline and Cortez mines, is really a new gold mine complex. It would be located on the slopes of Mt. Tenabo, a mountain sacred to the Western Shoshone Indians, who have lived in the area since time immemorial. This mine would:
Disturb (devastate) 6,792 acres of land, including a heap leach and waste rock facilities covering much of the Horse Canyon pass just south of Tenabo, and extending east into Grass Valley
Blast the new Cortez Hills mine pit approximately 8,900 feet in length, 6,400 feet in width, and a maximun depth of 2,200 feet
The pit would be within a few hundred feet of the White Cliffs at the base of Mt. Tenabo
Expand an underground mine with a horizontal extent of 1,000 feet wide by 5,000 feet long
Pump groundwater from around the pit with an average dewatering rate of approximately 1.8 billion gallons per year for ten years to keep it dry for mining
Create a drop in the water table of 1,600 feet surrounding the pit, decreasing to 10 feet at 3-4 mile radius of the pit
Potentially impact the 50 springs and seeps in the project area with 28 in the Horse Canyon area; however, according to the BLM draft analysis none of the 28 springs are expected to be impacted
A pit lake will result after mining is completed with an eventual depth of about 1,000 feet, and according to the BLM draft analysis of acceptable water quality
Of the 11 non-Cortex Gold Mine water rights, only one is expected to recover fully within 100 years after dewatering ceases
It is important to keep in mind that the results of the environmental analysis presented by the BLM are only estimates. In many mines across Nevada and elsewhere predicted and actual impacts have varied substantially. Thus, being critical and skeptical of anticipated impacts is essential to a good review of this project.The permanent impact to the cultural and spiritual practices of the Western Shoshone is undeniable. Mt. Tenabo has been, and continues to be, used by Western Shoshone people as a central part of their religious practices and world view. Western Shoshone visit the mountain and the valley below (the location of the mine pit) for prayer ceremonies, gathering of sacred plants, fasting, and vision quests, among other uses. The Mountain also contains Western Shoshone gravesites. All of these values and uses will be destroyed by the Project. In addition, the massive pumping of groundwater will dewater sacred springs and streams on and around Mt. Tenabo.
From the draft EIS, "Although not quantifiable, the project area and the region surrounding the project area have been home to local Indian groups for centuries, and the resources in the area, the value placed on those resources, and potential effects to those resources are intertwined with the culture of local Indian tribes more so than any other population in close proximity to the project area."
There is no need for another gold mine in Nevada, especially one that will destroy such invaluable resources. The BLM has never denied a big mining project in Nevada. This is one BLM must deny. In Summary:
The BLM has ample authority to deny this Project, as it will cause “undue degradation” of religious, cultural and environmental values.
The Project will permanently and irreparably destroy current and future religious practices and values of Western Shoshone people.
The BLM should prevent any impacts to area springs, waterholes and streams from dewatering.
The Draft EIS fails to fully review impacts to these and other critical resources and should be re-done.

How to take action
The BLM’s Draft Environmental Impact Statement is online at: you write a postcard or letter to BLM, mail it to:U.S. Bureau of Land Management Battle Mountain Field OfficeAttn: Steve Drummond, Cortez Hills Project Manager50 Bastian RoadBattle Mountain, NV 89820If you send an email, it must be emailed before December 21st – email it today! the online petition with Oxfam America – (see below)
Background on Mt. TenaboMt. Tenabo is located in central Nevada, approximately 20 miles south and a little west of the town of Crescent Valley. It stands at the intersection of three valleys, a familiar land mark along major Newe trails, one coming up Grass Valley from the south and another coming from the west through Carico Lake Valley and Reese River Valley.It is an area is an enormously rich cultural and spiritual locus for the Western Shoshone people since time immemorial. Mt Tenabo Is a significant landmark on an important north south trail, Dinabo is a place of food and medicine gathering, a place for refuge and spiritual guidance, a place whose springs feed the wildlife that feed the people.Mt. Tenabo is located in central Nevada, approximately 20 miles south and a little west of the town of Crescent Valley. It stands at the intersection of three valleys, a familiar land mark along major Newe trails, one coming up Grass Valley from the south and another coming from the west through Carico Lake Valley and Reese River Valley.There is abundant archaeological evidence of Newe occupation since “prehistoric” times, this evidence of Newe occupation extends through the historic mining period from 1863 to the 1940’s, with several historic camps documented containing both grinding stones and more modern “trash.” A map of Nevada from the late 1860’s identifies the area of Cortez as Shoshone wells, and the natural spring at this site was later developed by Chinese workers, whose camp was adjacent to this area. Another Chinese camp is buried beneath arsenic laden tailings near the Cortez ghost town.Like all mountains it catches the clouds whose snow and rain feed the groundwater table and various creeks and streams. The sole spring at Shoshone wells is the only water source on the west side but several creeks flow off of its east side into Pine Valley including Horse Canyon creek, Willow Creek and Four Mile Canyon Creek (flowing off of Mt Tenabo’s unnamed neighbor to the east). Medicine and food plants are found around the mountain and include doza, Indian tobacco, water cress, and yomba. Plants also provide for abundant wildlife including mule dear (over a dozen of which came within a 1/4 mile of the Shoshone camp during the April 2003 Spring Gathering.) ya-ha, rabbits, bobcats, mountain lions, and many species of hawks, eagles and birds. An active sage hen (hucha) dancing ground (lek) is on the eastern flank of the mountain and I believe there is another in Grass Valley towards Mt Tenabo’s southern end. Pinion trees and juniper have long been sources of food, fuel and medicine for the Newe. Pine trees close to the “Shoshone well” are known to local Shoshone as a place where pitch was gathered to waterproof baskets and for other uses. Gathering of these things by local Newe continues to the present day. Hunting, trapping, and gathering of food and medicine occur throughout the area of Mt Tenabo. Pine forests around the mountain were almost entirely cut down in the 1870’s to make charcoal for the mine smelters, but historic miners burrowed underground with shafts, leaving the soil covering the ground intact. Over time mother earth healed the damage and the pinion forest has grown back and matured. What will the trees grow on if the new mine is created?When Cortez proposed a new mine in the early 1990’s, the Danns and the Western Shoshone Defense Project (WSDP) opposed this because of both the unresolved land title issue and the fact that this mine would require dewatering, threatening the most precious resource out there, the water. In order to operate, the Pipeline mine must drop the water table over 800 ft at the mine site, pumping anywhere from 20,000 to 30,000 gallons of water per minute, 24 hours a day from wells over 1000 feet deep. This deep groundwater meets drinking water quality standards, with slightly elevated levels of fluoride as it is warm geothermal water. The mine then pumps it to a series of shallow ponds and trenches laid out in an arc several miles from the mine where it soaks this water back into the valley floor. Unfortunately the soil in the valley floor is full of salts, leftover from the evaporation of inland lakes and seas. When the clean water is filtered through the salty soils it is contaminated and no longer meets drinking water standards when it reaches the water table. The WSDP and its allies in Great Basin Mine Watch predicted this would happen, but the State and the BLM have allowed it to continue to this very day. In addition to water contamination as a result of dewatering, we continue to be concerned that pumping at the Pipeline mine is affecting groundwater in the Cortez mountains. Computer modeling done by Cortez indicated that there would be no waters affected by the pumping farther then a few miles from the mine site, no surface springs of creeks were predicted to be affected. However as soon as the pumps were turned on at Pipeline in September 1996, the old pit lake 7 miles across the valley at the older Cortez mine began to dry out until finally disappearing after remaining at a static level for a decade. Initial studies indicated the water table in the bedrock around Cortez was dropping. The WSDP and Minewatch pressured the BLM and mine to look into this. Cortez commissioned a study in 1998 to study this. Its conclusion was that pumping at Pipeline might be affecting the water table but it was one of several different scenarios the report discussed. Its final conclusion was that they needed a lot more data to understand what was going on. A followup study conducted in 1999 reached the same conclusion that they needed more information. Unfortunately we know of no additional studies after 1999. This is especially important because in analyzing the impacts of the Pipeline Mine, the BLM relied upon these models to state that no surface waters and especially the springs around the flanks of Mt Tenabo and its adjacent mountains would not be affected by the pumping. If indeed the pumping is draining the bedrock in the Cortez mountains, that means many springs and creeks are at risk and that their computer model was fatally flawed. Of course this would be inconvenient information for Cortez so it is no surprise that aren’t looking for the answers.

Western Shoshone Defense Project

So-Ho-Bi (South Fork) office:
775-744-2565 (fax and phone)

Main office:
P.O. Box 211308
Crescent Valley, NV 89821
Newe Sogobi
775-468-0237 (fax)

November 28, 2007
Dear ,
Help Protect Native American Lands!
The US Bureau of Land Management is currently reviewing a proposal to expand the Cortez Hills Project. If approved, it would be one of the country's largest gold mines. The project would disturb over 6,500 acres of public land—all of which are considered traditional lands by the Western Shoshone. We urgently need your help to convince the US government to deny this proposal.
Click here to sign our petition calling on the US government to deny further mining on traditional lands.
The entire area lies within Western Shoshone boundaries of the 1863 Treaty of Ruby Valley, which recognized Shoshone rights to this land. The area includes Mount Tenabo, an extremely significant spiritual and cultural area to the Western Shoshone. Many Shoshone have long expressed deep concerns and outright opposition to any further exploration on their lands, without their free, prior, and informed consent. The US Bureau of Land Management is currently taking comments on this proposal until Dec. 4. We are calling on our supporters to join with us in signing the petition urging the bureau to reject this proposal. Please sign the petition today!Thank you for standing with Oxfam and the Western Shoshone.Sincerely,
Tim Fullerton Oxfam America

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

NCAI joins NAGPRA Coalition in opposition to Berkeley Museum desecration

NATIVE AMERICAN NAGPRA COALITION CONTACTS: Reno Franklin 707-591-0580 Ext 105; Lalo Franco, 559-925-2831; Radley Davis 530-917-6064; James Hayward, 530-410-2875; Morning Star Gali 510-827-6719; Bennae Calac, 760-617-2872; Silvia Burley, California, 209-931-4567; Douglas Mullen, 530-284-7990.

NCAI, the Nation’s Largest Indian Organization, Condemns UC Berkeley on Ancestral Remains, Supports Tribal Coalition’s Position

National Congress of American Indians Resolution Rejects UCB’s Elimination of Repatriation Unit, Subordination of Native Religion to University Research

DENVER, Colorado, Nov. 28, 2007 – The Native American NAGPRA Coalition (NANC) today strongly endorsed the National Congress of American Indians’ (NCAI) resolution protesting UC Berkeley’s decision to eliminate its tribally approved NAGPRA unit, diminish tribal participation and influence in repatriation processes and declare a huge portion of the Phoebe Hearst Museum’s collection of ancestral remains and funerary objects “to be culturally unaffiliated and thus not subject to tribal repatriation and NAGPRA requirements.” The resolution, which passed without dissent at the NCAI Annual Convention in Denver, also states that the “needs of scientists and scientific values” at the Museum “must be subordinate to the religious freedom and human rights of American Indians...” The Museum’s recent reorganization has elevated research goals over Native American entitlements under the Native American Graves Protection and Repatriation Act (NAGPRA).

The text of the resolution is pasted below and the signed resolution is attached to this email.

Founded in 1944 in response to termination and assimilation policies forced upon the tribal governments by the United States, NCAI now has over 250 member tribes across the country. NCAI the largest and most venerable Native American organization in America, and is best positioned to monitor federal laws, policies and decisions that affect tribal government interests. In this capacity, the organization “strongly recommends that appropriate authorities immediately undertake a formal investigation of the Phoebe Hearst Museum…”

In August, the Native American NAGPRA Coalition asked UC Berkeley Chancellor Robert J. Birgeneau to stop the Museum reorganization and meet with NANC to discuss the past and future of NAGPRA at the Hearst Museum. NANC’s letter protested the complete and deliberate exclusion of tribal representatives from the reorganization decision process, the new organizational structure that subordinates Native American religious rights to the goals of science, and the failure of the University to adequately consult with tribes on the cultural affiliation of ancestral remains and sacred objects per the requirements of NAGPRA. The Chancellor ignored the Coalition’s request, dismissed the protest as the agitation of a “few disgruntled employees,” and referred all tribal NAGPRA inquiries to subordinates. In spite of a major and successful NANC-sponsored demonstration on the Berkeley campus in October, UC system chief Rory Hume subsequently ignored similar requests from the Coalition.

“Thus far, the attitude of University officials toward sovereign Indian tribes has been dismissive, discriminatory and paternalistic,” said Ted Howard, Shoshone-Paiute, NANC representative and member of the 30-tribe Great Basin NAGPRA Coalition. “Their primary concern has been to placate powerful scientists who are extremely hostile to NAGPRA and who want to keep our ancestors for the purposes of research. If UC administrators continue this policy and ignore an organization of the stature of the National Congress of American Indians, they may destroy any prospect of cooperative and positive relationships with tribes in the future. Native American ancestral remains belong to Native Americans, and we will not stop until our ancestors are repatriated and returned to our mother earth.”

Indians regard repatriation as a human rights issue. The right to control ancestral remains is a basic human entitlement that has been extended to almost every ethnic group in the United States except Native Americans. Throughout American history, scientists routinely pillaged Native American burials and shipped massive amounts of ancestral remains to museums for scientific study. “It is time to correct this fundamental injustice,” said Howard.

For additional information on the UCB NAGPRA issue, visit and



The National Congress of American Indians
Resolution #DEN-07-033

TITLE: Support for NAGPRA at the University of California - Berkeley

WHEREAS, we, the members of the National Congress of American Indians of the United States, invoking the divine blessing of the Creator upon our efforts and purposes, in order to preserve for ourselves and our descendants the inherent sovereign rights of our Indian nations, rights secured under Indian treaties and agreements with the United States, and all other rights and benefits to which we are entitled under the laws and Constitution of the United States, to enlighten the publictoward a better understanding of the Indian people, to preserve Indian cultural values,and otherwise promote the health, safety and welfare of the Indian people, do herebyestablish and submit the following resolution; and

WHEREAS, the National Congress of American Indians (NCAI) wasestablished in 1944 and is the oldest and largest national organization of AmericanIndian and Alaska Native tribal governments; and

WHEREAS, the Chancellor of the University of California at Berkeley has,without properly consulting with appropriate American Indian tribes, decided todiscontinue the tribally approved NAGPRA unit dedicated to discharging Universityresponsibilities to tribes under federal NAGPRA laws and regulations and has movedto place the NAGPRA program within other activities of the Phoebe Hearst Museumof Anthropology, thereby diminishing tribal participation and influence in the existingNAGPRA unit; and

WHEREAS, the needs of scientists and the scientific values of the PhoebeHearst Museum of Anthropology’s collection of skeletal material and other sacredobjects must be subordinate to the religious freedom and human rights of AmericanIndians whose ancestors and sacred cultural properties are housed in said collections; and

WHEREAS, The Great Basin Intertribal NAGPRA Coalition (30 tribes) andother tribes have vigorously opposed this action by the University of California atBerkeley; and

WHEREAS, as much as fifty percent (minimum of 5,675 biologicalindividuals (50%) and 69,028 Associated Funerary Objects) of the Phoebe HearstMuseum of Anthropology’s collections have been incorrectly declared to be culturallyunaffiliated and thus not subject to tribal repatriation and NAGPRA requirements; and

WHEREAS, the decision by the Chancellor of the University of California atBerkeley places sacred American Indian skeletal remains and artifacts into the handsof University employees who are inadequately trained in the care and preservation ofsuch sacred items according to tribal customs and traditions; and

WHEREAS, the NCAI quotes Section C of NAGPRA; Museum means any institution, including institutions of higher learning – colleges, universities etc. or state or local government agencies that possess or has control over Native American collections (human remains or cultural items) and receives funds through grant, loan, contract or other arrangement by which Federal money or assistance is given to a museum for any purpose, are bound by the stipulations of NAGPRA; and

WHEREAS, Section 5 of NAGPRA says, “In general” each Federal agency and each museum which has possession or control over holdings or collections of Native American human remains and associated funerary objects shall compile an inventory of such items and, to the extent possible based on information possessed by such museum or federal agency, identify the geographical and cultural affiliation of such item. Requirements (1) the inventories and identification required under subsection (a) shall be (A) competed in consultation with tribal governments and Native Hawaiian organization officials and traditional religious leaders.

NOW THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED, that the NCAI does hereby stronglyrecommend that appropriate authorities immediately undertake a formal investigation of the Phoebe Hearst Museum of Anthropology of the University of California at Berkeley, to determine what provisions of NAGPRA and related federal requirements have been overlooked by the actions and inactions of the Phoebe Hearst Museum and the University of California, Berkeley.

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED, that this resolution shall be the policy of NCAI until it is withdrawn or modified by subsequent resolution.


The foregoing resolution was adopted by the General Assembly at the 2007 Annual Session of the National Congress of American Indians, held at the Hyatt Regency Denver at the Colorado Convention Center in Denver, Colorado on November 11-16, 2007, with a quorum present.

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Free the imprisoned migrant children of Hutto Texas

By Jay Johnson Castro

If we cannot free innocent children imprisoned "for profit" on American soil...right here in the "heart of Texas"...our State and our country are doomed. We must free them!
Many of you have been there since day # one…and already know this. Many are just coming to discover the details. Many of you from all parts of the country have shared in solidarity with us in our quest to free the innocent children from the Hutto prison.
A year ago, May of 2006, Secretary of Homeland Security, Michael Chertoff proclaimed the T. Don Hutto prison for immigrant families the prototype of many more to be opened across our great land. Hutto just so happened to be a privately owned "for profit."
Immigrant children would condemned to becoming a commodity for huge financial gain of the corrupt political-corporate world. A few informed Texans tried to find a way to expose and bring public awareness to this immoral, callous and criminal scheme.
At that time, children were confined to 8' x 12' cold cells for 23 hours a day in a medium security prison surrounded by razor wire walls. Often not with either parent, the children, ranging from 2-y-o and up, were forced to wear prison uniforms, stand for head counts starting at 5:30am and only allowed 20 minutes to finish a meal, often prepared with out of date food and spoiled milk products. They were getting sick on a regular basis and loosing weight. Those were the conditions...up to early December, 2006 when an alliance of Central Texas organizations solidified to form Texans United For Families (TUFF) collaborated to hold a protest walk and vigil. Starting with a press conference, hosted by Texas State Senator, Carlos Uresti, at the Capitol building, the first Hutto walk was launched on December 14th. Arriving at 11:00am on December 15th, in Taylor, TX at the Hutto childrens prison, the walk joined the first Hutto Vigil...with some 150 grassroots citizens coming together for the first time to publicly condemn the Chertoff-ICE-CCA-Williamson County collusion to imprison children and their mothers for profit. Since that time numerous vigils and walks have been conducted. The most recent walk, Hutto Walk III, went from the Hutto childrens prison in Taylor to the Williamson County Commissioners Court in Georgetown, in order to confront the commissioners about moral breakdown and their complicity of profiting from the imprisonment of innocent children.

Since the first Hutto Walk and Vigil, many things had come to light. 1. ICE funnels a minimum of $2, 800,000 per month to the private prison company CCA...Corrections Corporation of America. 2. Parents were often separated from their children. 3. Fathers are generally imprisoned in a different prison far away. 4. Hutto did not comply with Texas or US educational laws. 5. Hutto did not comply with Texas family and day care laws. 6. Women were not being given proper medical care. 7. Women were chained to beds while undergoing checkups 8. Women were being sexually assaulted. 9. Media was not allowed to tour the facilities. 10. Hutto did not comply with the UN Rights of the Child. 11. CCA was grossing $7,000 per month per child. 12. WCC would make $1 per child per day. 13. No toys were allowed.
14. Mothers and children were threatened with separation as a form of punishment.
Under those conditions, at the end of January, 2007, the Williamson County Commissioners Court ignored the expressed concerns of a public with a conscience and extended their one year contract for two more years. But thanks to grassroots citizens, human rights organizations and media pressure, some of those things started to change as early as mid February. Razor wire started to come down, cells doors got painted lavender and the media was allowed to enter the facility...although they were not allowed the freedom of the press to interview the children or their mothers. In March, the ACLU, TCRP and UT Law Clinic filed lawsuits against Chertoff and ICE, adding another level of legal and media attention. On May 8, the UN Special Rapporteur, Jorge Bustamonte, of the Human Rights Commission, came to Texas to inspect the human rights violations of the children in Hutto. He was denied access by Chertoff. On June 23, an Amnesty International coordinated Hutto Vigil X was held at which half a thousand folks peacefully protested this international crime against innocent children. The ACLU effectively won their lawsuit against the form of a settlement. Conditions for the children would be significantly better...but…any settlement would fall well short the rightful freedom for the innocent children that we the public demand. Since there was a clear case of sexual assault by a guard on an immigrant woman in front of the woman's child, the Williamson County Commissioners Court finally saw their could get caught with their pants down. Concern about exposure and "liability" became public. For a short time, the WCCC entertained termination of their contract with ICE and CCA as the money laundering mechanism for ICE and CCA. Yet ICE and CCA courted the WCCC to keep it in the loop...with CCA offering the WCCC a $250,000 line of credit and legally holding them harmless in the event of law suit. Not at all concerned with the moral or criminal aspects, or the international mockery they had become for imprisoning innocent children, WCCC unanimously accepted the offer of protection from "liability". YET...not one national television network has covered this international crime against children. While more concerned this past year with celebrity crimes, paternity DNA, panties, drunk driving, dog fights and heists and jail sentences...CNN, MSNBC, ABC, CBS, Fox…national…have all refused to tell the story of innocent children being prisoners in a privatized "for profit" internment prison in the United States. While we recognize that the national networks are complicit with an administration that would commit this dehumanizing crime against the most innocent and helpless of our human family, we applaud all of the local media here in Texas…along with those around the country and around the world. “Hutto” has gone from four Google search results one year tens of thousands today.
From Australia to Iran, Russia to Argentina, the media…radio, television, newspapers, magazines and blogsphere... have carried the message all across the planet of how children are being imprisoned in the heart of Texas...for profit. Radio, newspapers, television and online news and blog sources...have faithfully published the story. We also applaud the vast national and international media that has tried to inform their audiences about this American tragedy. We look with cynicism upon the national networks that rebuff this international crime being committed by the administration on American soil. We have also had Texas legislators try to condemn Hutto during the legislative session. Unfortunately, and that's how corrupt politics is, legislators who are on the payroll of private prisons refused to allow the condemnation to be aired publicly.
This December 16th will be the anniversary of our first Hutto Vigil. We will indeed hold an anniversary vigil...regardless of the weather. Regardless of the weather, the children from upwards of 50 different countries have been imprisoned in Hutto. After months of being treated as criminals and slaves...we don't even know what has happened to them, or where they are or how they are. Worse yet...the vast majority of our fellow Americans do not YET know that Hutto even exists.
What’s interesting about this vigil…we have come to learn that it coincides with December 18…the International Migrants Day. How fitting that we would be protesting the imprisonment of immigrant children in the land of the free. So, we now notify you…and invite you…to join us on December front of the T. Don Hutto prison for innocent children...for our Hutto Anniversary Vigil….and in honor of the International Migrant. We will hold the Anniversary Vigil from 2pm until dark. After sunset, the anniversary vigil will become a candlelight vigil. T. Don Hutto is located at 1001 Welch St. in Taylor, TX, 35 miles N.E. of Austin. The following link can be used to get directions from your particular point of origin.
Before we sign off here, may we all, in total solidarity, make a personal appeal to the President of the United States. Would you join me in requesting his intervention in behalf of the innocent children imprisoned by his Secretary of Homeland Security, Michael Chertoff? Would you join me in demanding that he order the immediate release…the freedom of the innocent children…from Hutto and from any other facility that detains them against their will?
Do you, as President of the United States, approve of the imprisonment of innocent children…in America…in Texas…”for profit”? If not, please immediately free them and their mothers.
If you actually do approve of the imprisonment of innocent children…in America…in Texas…and “for profit”…then we expect you to give them at least as good a deal as you gave Scooter Libby. After all, if you can pardon Scooter Libby…a convicted criminal…before he had to serve even one day in prison, surely you can free innocent children that are already imprisoned under your watch.
One December 16th…and our Hutto Anniversary Vigil…may we have a 1001 candles lit up and down 1001 Welch St.
In solidarity…
BorderAmbassadors FreedomAmbassadors “Connecting the Dots...Making a Difference” Jay J. Johnson-Castro, Sr. Please read my column: Inside the Checkpoints:

Amazon Indians versus Big Oil, Greg Palast investigates

Amazon Indians versus Big Oil, Greg Palast investigates
War Paint and Lawyers: Rainforest Indians versus Big Oil
Greg Palast investigates for BBC Newsnight - TONIGHT Chevron: "Nobody has proved that crude causes cancer."Tuesday, November 27, 10:30pm GMT [5:30pm New York Time] - live on BBC2 TV or on the net at
BBC Television Newsnight has been able to get close-in film of a new Cofan Indian ritual deep in the heart of the Amazonian rainforest. Known as "The Filing of the Law Suit," natives of Ecuador's jungle, decked in feathers and war paint and heavily armed with lawyers, are filmed presenting a new complaint in their litigation seeking $12 billion from Chevron Inc., the international oil goliath.It would all be a poignant joke - except that the indigenous tribe is suddenly the odds-on favorite to defeat the oil company known for naming its largest tanker, "Condoleezza," after former Chevron director, US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice.For Newsnight, reporter Greg Palast, steps (somewhat inelegantly) into a dug-out log canoe to seek out the Cofan in their rainforest village to investigate their allegations. Palast discovers stinking pits of old oil drilling residue leaking into drinking water - and meets farmers whose limbs are covered in pustules.The Cofan's leader, Emergildo Criollo, tells Palast that when Texaco Oil, now part of Chevron, came to the village in 1972, it obtained permission to drill by offering the Indians candy and cheese. The indigenous folk threw the funny-selling cheese into the jungle.Criollo says his three-year son died from oil contamination after, "He went swimming, then began vomiting blood."Flying out of the rainforest, past the Andes volcanoes, Palast gets the other side of the story in Ecuador's capitol, Quito. "It's the largest fraud in history!" asserts Chevron lawyer Jaime Varela reacting to the Cofan law suits against his company. Chevron-Texaco, Varela insists, cleaned up all its contaminated oil pits when it abandoned the country nearly 15 years ago - except those pits it left in the hands of Ecuador's own state oil company.What about the Indian kids dying of cancer? Texaco lawyer Rodrigo Perez asks, "And it’s the only case of cancer in the world? How many cases of children with cancer do you have in the States, in Europe, in Quito? If there is somebody with cancer there, [the Cofan parents] must prove [the deaths were] caused by crude or by petroleum industry. And, second, they have to prove that it is OUR crude – which is absolutely impossible." The Texaco man stated, "Scientifically, nobody has proved that crude causes cancer."Even if the Indians can prove their case and win billions to clean up the jungle, collecting the cash is another matter. Chevron has removed all its assets from Ecuador.But, this week, the political planet tilts toward the natives as Alberto Acosta takes office as President of Ecuador's new Constitutional Assembly. Newsnight catches up with Acosta - who gives Chevron a tongue-lashing. "Chevron is responsible for environmental and social destruction in the Amazon. And that’s why they’re on trial.""He LOVES Chavez"Little Ecuador does not seem like much of a match against big Chevron - whose revenue exceeds the entire GDP of the Andean nation. However, behind Little Ecuador is Huge Venezuela - and its larger-than-life leader, Hugo Chavez. "Acosta," complains one local pundit to the BBC, "loves - LOVES - Chavez."And apparently, the feeling is mutual. That is, Chavez sees in Ecuador's new government, which won election campaigning to the tune of the Twisted Sister hit, We're Not Gonna Take it Anymore, a new ally in his fight with George Bush over control of Latin hearts and minds - and energy.Chevron-Texaco's largest new oil reserves are in Venezuela; Venezuela stands with Ecuador; and Ecuador now stands with its "affectados," the Indians and farmers claiming the poisons in their bodies trace right back to the Texaco star.Suddenly, the David-versus-Goliath story of Little Indians versus Big Oil is becoming part of the larger conflict between Uncle Sam and Uncle Hugo. The outcome is now a cliff-hanger. Indeed, Newsnight has learned that this month, Chevron will face a new legal challenge by Cofan attorneys before US securities regulators to investigate whether the company has fully disclosed to shareholders the massive potential legal liability from the equatorial Rumble in the Jungle.Watch the story live on BBC2 or, in the US, on the net at after broadcast - or via a link from WARNING: The day's news events may require Newsnight to delay broadcast to another evening.
And this weekend, catch Palast discussing the BBC Report with environmental crusader Robert F. Kennedy Jr. on RFK's Air America Radio program, Ring of Fire.And pick of a copy of "Ecuador: Oiled and Despoiled," one of the documentary shorts on Palast's DVD film collection, The Assassination of Hugo Chavez, released this week. Available only by making a tax-deductible donation to The Palast Investigative Fund at
BBC Television Newsnight story filmed in Ecuador by Rick Rowley, edited by Jacquie Shoohen in New York, produced in London by Meirion Jones, written and reported from Ecuador by Greg Palast.

Monday, November 26, 2007

Mohawk Nation News: Ecclesiastical tyranny, colonianism and terrorism

What is “ecclesiastical tyranny”? It is raw colonialism and terrorism, plain and simple!

Mohawk Nation News -- On Friday, November 23, 2007, a
hearing was held in Montreal . A Mohawk had been
fired the year before by the Sulpician Order because
he was a Mohawk. Little did they know, he was a very
quiet, reliable and hard working guy. It took the
Sulpicians more than a year to cook up a case against
him. While they were busy plotting, he quietly sold
rosaries and crucifixes to the multi-national clientele
that come into the shop at Notre Dame Basilica in Old
Montreal . This is where they sent him to get him out
of the way. Too bad for them, the bad old days are gone.
Quebec employees have some laws to protect them.
Once the church cobbled together some charges, they
had to deal with a union.

The church witnesses eagerly stated that, “We are afraid
of Mohawks. They are violent and associated with
organized crime”. Never mind that the Mohawk defendant
had no criminal record and no association with any known
criminals. The church expects divine intervention even if it
has to co-opt people with delusional fantasies to get its way.

This tactic is not new. It harkens right back to Samuel de
Champlain’s first encounter with the Kanienkehaka, the
people of the flint. Without so much as pausing for a
“howdy do”, or “by your leave”, he marched onto our
land on Lake Champlain and shot our chiefs the moment
he saw them. Then, he embarked on three genocidal
campaigns hoping to kill every Mohawk. They made up
crazy stories about us to justify their actions. It’s been
going on ever since. [This is “organized crime”!] The
subconscious of French-Canadian ecclesiastical and
military power has a tremendous animosity towards the
Mohawks. They have always tried to eliminate us. They
pretend they have a right to be here and that we don’t exist.
The defendant brought a female elder from his community
to sit in on the hearings. She sat beside him. Even though
the hearing was taking place on Mohawk land and involved
allegations against the Mohawks, everything took place in
French. None of the proper formalities were observed. The
“Ahenton kariwatekwen” was not recited. There was no
“condolence ceremony” as would have been proper in an
intercultural meeting. The elder decided to observe the
proceedings and show her joyful enthusiastic good nature
by smiling and showing good will to everyone. She never
spoke or made any other gestures throughout the day.

Eventually, the church witnesses became so agitated by
her smile that the arbitrator tried to claim that her presence
was disrupting the somber atmosphere. “Why are you
staring at the witnesses?” he asked.

She replied, “Everyone is observing the proceedings”.
The arbitrator wanted to put the woman elder in the far
corner of the room, like a child, so no one could see her
watching what went on. The reason why they did not want
an outside observer was obvious. As the day wore on, the
witnesses were finding it more and more difficult to think
up things that would make their victim look bad.

A young man who worked as a janitor for the church,
before moving to Ontario , was flown in for the day. The
poor guy was suffering from delusions, “I feared for my
life”, he stated as his face twitched and sweat poured down
his brow. He described an incident that happened in Verdun ,
a municipality of Montreal . He said that the defendant had
driven by him on his bike on a bike path, heading back into
Old Montreal to the church, at around 6:25 pm. He claims to
have heard the defendant say, “You’re next, you little fuck!”

The problem with this story is that, one, the defendant is not
in the habit of using that kind of language. Two, whoops!!
There are many witnesses who can prove the defendant
was still at work selling rosaries at 6:05 pm on that very day.
Maybe it was a doppleganger! This hearing proved
something for sure. Prejudice and dangerous delusional
fantasies about the Kanienkehaka [Mohawk] continue to run
rampant in Quebec , just as they did on the day of our first
meeting with Champlain and his French troops. These people
could sure use an exorcist real quick, or what!

A pall of darkness descended into the room. It was like going
back to the middle ages in Europe . The Sulpicians, who
believe that Louis XIV gave them our land in 1663, have been
running what they call a “civilized community” for 350 years.
It’s like going into the mausoleum, opening the creaking doors
and removing the cobwebs out of these decadent decrepit
buildings in Montreal . They are now empty and a relic of a
bygone era in Quebec history when the church had absolute
control over the minds of the French-Canadians. We thought
they had been set free from this oppression. This hearing gives
us serious cause for concern. School children in Montreal are
still being taught geography as if we do not exist. This makes
it difficult for us to receive justice.

We hope this hearing is the last gasp of the church to maintain
control over the people who were trying to eliminate us 400
years ago. They will never crush the Mohawks. At some level,
the Sulpicians know this.

The presence of a single elderly Mohawk woman made them
nervous, especially since she was smiling. She learned her
friendly attitude from her ancestors. The Iroquois always
presented themselves to people in a cordial peaceful manner.
This is why they are considered the masters of diplomacy.
This goes against church hierarchy which operates on
intimidation and domination. If this doesn’t work, they become

The Sulpicians are represented by a lawyer from one of the
most powerful, influential law firms in Canada , Heenan Blaikie.
This firm is dominated by former prime ministers like Pierre
Trudeau and Jean Chretien who are prominently displayed
on their letterheads. Heenan Blaikie is always trying to dominate
and control the Mohawks who have been constantly disputing
Canada ’s claim to our lands. They say Louis XIV gave it to them.
They can’t explain how it was Louis’ to give. We never give up
our land and they know that. The Sulpicians’ history of attempting
to oppress the Mohawks at Kanehsatake is long and dirty.
Heenan Blaikie not only represent the Sulpicians, but Canada
hired Heenan Blaikie to represent the Kahehsatake Mohawks
in the land claims negotiations that are currently taking place.
They sit on both sides.

The Supreme Court says aboriginal rights are sui generis. We
guess Heenan Blaikie think this means we are in a class of our
own and normal professional “conflict of interest” rules don’t

Boards of directors, outside accounting and law firms, bankers
and brokers, provincial and federal regulatory agencies and
legislators are either inert or complicit in this double dealing.

From the farce that took place at the Montreal hearing, the
Sulpicians has a lust for power that corrupts absolutely. The
catholic church hierarchical system is the model for the colonial
“pecking order. This is where the higher ups gobble those under

Bertrand Russell said, “Power is a drug, the desire for which
increases with habit”. Those who achieve the top rung of the
hierarchy begin to believe that their rapacious oppression is
normal in an abnormal world. To do this, they have to control
the money, the police, the army, the politics and the economy.

The church could not control all the players in the hearing. They
wanted conformity, suppression and obedience. They became
uncomfortable because they could not exercise their
“ecclesiastical tyranny”. They could not threaten us that we
would go to hell. We don’t share their cosmogony.

A spark of light can displace darkness. For Mohawks, the love
of freedom and our belief in human equality permeates our love
of our people. We all want to be free, to have children, to have
a home, to love and be loved.

When lies face the truth, the truth wins. If they can’t see it now,
people will look back on this as a very “dark age” indeed.

Kahentinetha Horn
MNN Mohawk Nation News

See: “Colonialism”

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Friday, November 16, 2007

Final Report from Indigenous Border Summit 2007

From the International Indian Treaty Council:

NOVEMBER 7-10, 2007
We, the representatives, delegates and traditional authorities of Indigenous Peoples and organizations from 19 Indigenous Nations, from throughout Sacred Turtle Island, the land currently known as the Americas, have come together at the Indigenous Peoples Border Summit of the Americas II with the following stated objectives:
To provide the opportunity for Indigenous Peoples’ of the border regions to exchange experiences and information about how the international borders impact their respective communities.
Create a way to unite Indigenous Peoples’ to address and resolve issues of mutual concern affecting our traditional homelands, cultural and ceremonial practices, sacred sites, treaty rights, health, and way of life.
Build awareness and educate all peoples about the impacts of policies and practices being carried out along the borders.
We extend our deep appreciation to the Indigenous Peoples of the Tohono O’odham Nation and the San Xavier Community, for their hospitality and generosity in hosting the various delegations attending this Summit.
We express our appreciation to the organizers of this event for this historic opportunity to bring together many of the Indigenous Peoples and Nations who are affected by these same situations, to share information, develop common strategies and express our solidarity for each other in this way.
We endorse and reaffirm the Declaration of San Xavier from the Border Summit of the Americas, at the Tohono O’odham Nation on September 29-October 1, 2006
We express our appreciation for the UN Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues 6th session, and the North America Regional Caucus Preparatory meeting for that session, which both recognized the importance of the First Border Summit in 2006, and encouraged the organization of this 2nd Summit to continue and strengthen these vital discussions.
We express our collective outrage for the extreme levels of suffering and inhumanity, including many deaths and massive disruption of way of life, that have been presented to this Summit as well as what we have witnessed in our visit to the border areas during the Summit as a result of brutal and racist US policies being enforced on the Tohono O’odham traditional homelands and elsewhere along the US/Mexico border.
We also recognize that many of our inherent, sacred and fundamental human rights, including our cultural rights and freedom of religion, self-determination and sovereignty, environmental integrity, land and water rights, bio-diversity of our homelands, equal protection under the law, Treaty Rights, Free Prior Informed Consent, Right to Mobility, Right to Food and Food Sovereignty, Right to Health, Right to Life, Rights of the Child and Right to Development among others, are being violated by current border and “immigration” policies of various settler governments.
We recognize and applaud the adoption of the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples which affirms and recognizes a full range of our human rights, including article 36 which affirms:
1. Indigenous peoples, in particular those divided by international borders,
have the right to maintain and develop contacts, relations and cooperation, including activities for spiritual, cultural, political, economic and social purposes, with their own members as well as other peoples across borders.
2. States, in consultation and cooperation with indigenous peoples, shall
take effective measures to facilitate the exercise and ensure the implementation of this right.
We also strongly affirm the message expressed by many of the Indigenous delegates at this gathering: to be sovereign, and to be recognized as sovereign we must act sovereign and assert our sovereignty in this and all other matters.
We therefore present this report with the intention of proposing, developing and strengthening real and effective solutions to this critical issue:
We call upon the United Nations and the International community:
To end international policies which support economic globalization, “free-trade agreements”, destruction of traditional food systems and traditional land-based economies, and land and natural resource appropriation which result in the forced relocation, forced migration and forced removal of Indigenous Peoples in Mexico, Guatemala and other countries, and cause Indigenous Peoples to leave their homelands and seek economic support for their families in other countries.
To ensure that the UN human rights system pressures States to provide protection and take action to prevent the violence, abuse and imprisonment of Indigenous woman and children along the borders who often bear the worse effects of current policies; to also implement immediate and urgent measures and provide oversight to end the physical, physiological and sexual violence that is currently being perpetrated against them with impunity as a result of their migrant status, whether it is being carried out by employers, human traffickers, private contractors and/or government agents.
To implement International Laws and mechanism to prohibit the practice by the US and other States of the production, storage, export and use of banned and toxic pesticides and other chemicals on the lands of Indigenous Peoples.
To provide protection under its mechanism addressing Human Rights Defenders to review and monitor all laws and policies which criminalize humanitarian aid to immigrating persons and provide protection for those carrying out these humanitarian acts.
To call upon the United Nations Permanent Forum 7th Session to recognize and take into consideration this Report and its recommendations and to transmit them to the United Nations system to ensure their implementation.
To establish as a priority by the Human Rights Council, it’s committees, subsidiary bodies, Special Rapporteurs; the U.N. Committee on the Elimination of all Forms of Racial Discrimination and other Treaty monitoring bodies; the UN Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues; and all other appropriate UN bodies and mechanisms to monitor the compliance to international Human Rights obligation of the U.S., Mexico, Canada and all other States in the creation and implementation of Border and immigration policies in particular those affecting Indigenous Peoples.
To call upon the CERD to specifically examine U.S. immigration laws, policies and practices as a form of racially based persecution and racial discrimination.
We call upon State/Country Governments and Federal Agencies:
To fully honor, implement, and uphold the Treaties, Agreements and Constructive Arrangements which were freely concluded with Indigenous Peoples and First Nations, in accordance with their original spirit and intent as understood by the respective Indigenous Peoples’;
To fully implement, honor and respect the rights to land, natural resources and Self- determination, which includes the right to freely pursue their economic, social and cultural development, for Indigenous Peoples in their traditional home lands.
To immediately initiate effective consultations with impacted indigenous peoples’ who are divided by borders for the development of respectful guidelines relating to border crossings by those indigenous peoples’ which ensure the recognition of each indigenous nation as culturally distinct and politically unique autonomous peoples and uphold their rights to move freely and maintain relationships within their homelands.
To respect and facilitate the use of Indigenous Nations/tribal passports, identifications, and immigration documents for travel across imposed borders, specifically tribes along settler borders between Mexico, the U.S. and Canada.
To end to the militarization of the U.S./Mexico border along all Tribal and Indian Nation lands, and an end to military and law-enforcement activity and occupation in Indigenous Peoples’ lands everywhere, without their free, prior informed consent.
To end forced assimilation perpetuated by immigration policies which categorize of Indigenous Peoples as “white” or “Hispanic/Latino” while they are in the process immigrating, acquiring residency and/or naturalization in the U.S. or other countries
To end the production and export of pesticides which have been banned for use in the U.S and other countries, and to accept full legal accountability for the health and environmental impacts of such chemicals that have contaminated Indigenous peoples, their health, lands, waters, traditional subsistence food systems and sacred sites.
To end to the continual violation of the Native American Freedom of Religion Act and the destruction, desecration and denial of access for Indigenous Peoples to their sacred sites and cultural objects along the border areas, and to enforce all cultural, religious freedom and environmental protection laws and polices for federal agencies operating in these regions.
To provide protection for and end the intimidation of Indigenous and other peoples providing humanitarian aid along and within tribal lands to Indigenous and other displaced migrant peoples crossing the borders and to call for an immediate end to the criminalization of such expressions of basic human caring and assistance.
To end to the ongoing environmental contamination, eco-system destruction and waste dumping on Indigenous and tribal lands along the border by the military, border patrols and private contractors doing business with federal agencies.
To ensure that the US Border patrol and other federal agencies operating on or near Indigenous Peoples' lands are held fully and legally accountable for restoration, reparations and/or remediation of any damages or harm they have caused to peoples, ecosystems and places, in full consultation with the affected persons and Peoples,
To reinstate the Sovereign rights of Indigenous Peoples whose rights and status have been terminated through colonialist rule of law and daily practices of forced assimilation in all countries.
To ensure respect for Indigenous Peoples’ land and resource rights in their own homelands in all countries as the most effective way to address immigration issues and Indigenous Peoples’ human rights concerns overall.
To implement humane immigration policies that fully respect the inherent human rights of all Peoples and persons and fully comply with States’ obligations under International Human Rights Law.
We call upon Indigenous Peoples’ and Nations:
To create and use Indian Nations/tribal passports, identifications, and immigration documents for travel across imposed borders, specifically tribes along settler borders along Mexico and the U.S. and the U.S. and Canada, and to fully reinstate their traditional border crossing rights and abilities.
To encourage and promote cultural and traditional knowledge exchange among Indigenous Peoples across borders in order to strengthen our ties and to restore our traditional life ways and practices.
To recognize each other fully as Sovereignty Peoples and Nations.
To acknowledge the intersection of Indigenous sovereignty and respect for our sacred mother the earth as a basis for maintaining and reestablishing the necessary social, political, spiritual, cultural and economic strength of the women of our nations.
To examine, review and amend as needed, all tribal government policies regarding the treatment of migrants traveling through their Nations’ lands to insure they are consistent with both creator given traditional laws and International Human Rights standards, in particular those that whose lands are in the border regions.
To refuse to accept the use, storage or transport of toxic contaminants or wastes on their lands, including those which have been transported across borders.
NGO’s and Supportive Groups:
To join with Indigenous Peoples to call upon the International Community, State governments and their agencies to implement this Report and its recommendations, and to continue to defend the human and sovereign rights of Indigenous Peoples throughout the Americas and all regions of the world.
The participants in this Summit request that the International Indian Treaty Council (IITC), as well as other Indigenous Peoples’ organizations continue to submit and present the information provided during this summit including this Declaration to appropriate international bodies including the CERD, HRC and UNPFII Sessions in 2008, as well as to disseminate this information widely in order to create awareness support for this critical human rights issue.
We also request that the UN Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues accept this Declaration at it’s 7th session in May 2008 and propose to all bodies and agencies of the United Nations System, as well as U.N. member States that they incorporate it into their respective plans of action and policies, including the plan of action for the 2nd International Decade of the Worlds Indigenous Peoples and the Implementation of the Millennium Development Goals.
Adopted by consensus of the Participants in the Indigenous Peoples Border Summit of the Americas II on November 10th, 2007, San Xavier, Tohono O’odham Nation

Thursday, November 15, 2007

Violent arrests at Berkeley prayer vigil

Violent Arrests Made At Prayerful Gathering to Support Berkeley Tree-Sit

Indigenous Peoples Decry Human Rights Abuses
By Morning Star Gali

Berkeley, CA -- Three people were violently arrested by University of California (UC) police officers at a midnight prayer vigil at the long-standing Oak Grove tree-sit on UC Berkeley's campus. More than 40 people, led by a group of Indigenous peoples, walked in procession to the Tree-sit to show support for Human Rights and Sacred sites and hold a prayerful candlelight vigil at the area, which is a sacred Ohlone burial ground.
"We heard that UC Berkeley wasn't allowing any food or water to be given to the tree sitters so we went to bear witness and offer our prayers," said Jimbo Simmons of the International Indian Treaty Council. "We were offering prayers and tobacco for the defense of this sacred Ohlone site and held a peaceful vigil for about an hour, then we witnessed one of the tree-sitters being violently attacked by a police officer. More officers arrived wielding batons and were very aggressive, they pushed me and abusively arrested two other people." Simmons stated.
In the peaceful actions that lead up to the arrests, members of the diverse group of supporters made an offering of ceremonial sage, water, food and prayer songs to the tree-sitters to resist illegal sanctions of food and water placed by the University.
Earlier in the day, University officials declared that no food, water, or "objects" could be delivered to the forest defenders, in an attempt to starve the resisters out of the trees.
"We came out to pray and offer medicine," said Morning Star Gali of the Pit River Tribe and part of the Native American NAGPRA Coalition. "The cops responded with riot gear and violence."
"This exhibits the ongoing Human Rights abuses committed by the University. They refuse to comply with NAGPRA by holding 13,000 of our ancestors remains and now they assault us while we pray at our burial grounds."
An hour into the vigil, one of the tree-sitters came down to see what was going on and a security officer grabbed his leg and violently pulled him to the ground from the tree he was in. The officer brutalized the tree-sitter for up to 5 minutes within the fenced area while pushing his face into the metal fence in front of the crowd.
Up to 30 additional police officers arrived, many in riot gear, some with shotguns. They proceeded to aggressively attack the peaceful crowd with batons, breaking the finger of a journalist and brutally arresting two more supporters.
At some point during the brutal police attack, both fences surrounding the tree-sit were apparently torn.
"This wasn't an isolated attack on our peaceful protest." Stated Ayr, a founder of the tree-sit.
Zachary Running Wolf, also a founder of the tree-sit, was arrested the previous night on charges of vandalism and trespassing, although he was not at the scene at the time of the alleged crimes.
"This is a clear issue of racial profiling and targeting of a well-known Indigenous activist." Said Ayr.
"With the addition of two fences and cutting off the tree-sitters access to food and water, the University is escalating the situation by choosing violence and confrontation instead of the peaceful resolutions that we have presented." Ayr stated.
The tree-sitters have agreed to come down if the University agrees to protect the site from any and all development.
"They put more fences up after they said they were going to take them all down 3 days ago.
They should immediately remove them and stop arresting the brave people defending this Sacred site. The University should also immediately release all political prisoners that have been arrested." Ayr Said.
The prayer vigil was held in anticipation of a pending court decision concerning the legality of UC Berkeley's plans.
Judge Barbara Miller is expected to return her decision any day in the multiple lawsuits against the stadium expansion project. UC Police are preparing for the violent extraction of all the tree sitters. UC Berkeley officials have stated that no matter what Judge Miller decides the University will try to end the tree-sit protest.
"What occurred tonight is a clear violation of our Human Rights." Stated Jimbo Simmons. "As native people we pray, as Sundancers we pray to the trees, to Grandfather and to Creator. Some have used the tree as a way of communicating with the Creator. The trees represent part of that connection. The threat of these trees being cut down is also a violation of our rights."
"We'll be continuing to go to the Oak Grove to offer our prayers. Is this how the police are going to respond?" Stated Mr. Simmons.
The three individuals that were arrested last night will appear at the Wiley Manuel Courthouse in Department 107 at 2:00 p.m. on Thursday, November 15, 2007.
The courthouse is located at 661 Washington St. on 6th and Washington in Downtown Oakland.

On Big Warm Creek, Living as a Free People

On Big Warm Creek, Living as a Free People

By Brenda Norrell
Special to Navajo Times
Part II of III
BIG WARM CREEK, Montana – Vernie White Cow Main of the White Clay People, remembers the log house where she grew up, the June berries she once picked and the wild horses in the mountains. She also remembers her son Jim Main, Jr., incarcerated in a bordertown for a crime he said he did not commit.
Seated at the table in her kitchen, eating fresh salmon brought toher by friends, the Sohappy family of the Columbia River Indian Nation, Vernie remembers life along Big Warm Creek on Fort Belknap Nation lands.
Seated at her kitchen table, near the huge wood stove for heat and surrounded by family photos and deer antlers, she looks out back at the log cabin where she grew up.
"I was born in there. My whole family was born in there. We had 14 children," Vernie Main says of her childhood, remembering two sets of twins.
Three of the four died in childhood.Remembering her father, she says, "He was always working. He would put in a garden and cut his own hay, but it wasn't like it was today."There were no hay bailers or farm machinery; they worked the land with their hands.
They also hunted. There was dry meat, both deer meat and antelope.
The family hunted sage hens, pheasants and wild turkey.
"I remember a really hard time," she said, asking her daughter Rose Main for the words for those hard times. Rose says those words: "TheDepression."
Vernie remembers, "We ate horse meat. Indians didn't really like to eat horsemeat. They didn't like to eat the horses. We must have beenpretty hungry to eat horse meat," she remembers.
Remembering the mid-Twentieth Century, she recalls the elderly Indian man that lived higher up the mountain, where they went with a barrel for water to the spring. He kept the old ways."
He painted himself red," she said.
With a warm flowing stream near the log cabin, there was swimming and healing."We swam everyday in summer." There were also chores, like picking up wood chips and milking the cows."We used to take turns milking them. We would put that milk in a jar. In the morning, it would be cream. We spread it over our bread in the morning."
There was also wheel bread, skillet-size rounds of bread dough cooked in a small amount of grease. "A lot of times we didn't have enough grease to make fry bread."
There were many hard times, after the fire in the Little Rocky Mountains burned up their food sources in 1936. Even now some of the devastation remains.
Then, there was the cold in northern Montana. She remembers it once being 50 below zero F.Remembering her mother, washing clothes by hand and usually at the cook stove, she said, "I never heard her complain."
The sweet life ended when she was about 10 years old. The federal government took her from her family, along with her brother, and placed them in a far away boarding school in Pierre, S.D. Pierre Indian School forced her to remain there in the summer months, and work the fields.The young girl did not see her family for three years.
"I was so lonely."When they took her away, the government placed shoes on her feet that were too small. The painful shoes kept her feet from growing properly and led to a lifetime of ruined feet. At home, she loved working with her father in the garden and watching their radishes andturnips grow. However, at the boarding school, with mean matrons, there was no joy in working the fields.
"They talked mean."
Now, she remembers her son, incarcerated in the Hill County Detention Center in the bordertown of Havre, charged with a murder he said he did not commit. He had been her full-time caregiver at home, as she recovered from two operations.
"I can't believe they put him in jail and kept him that long."
"He was always laughing and talking, always laughing. He was taking care of me at the time they put him in jail. He kept the fire going all night, he did everything."
She said the boys, her grandsons and his cousins, miss him too. "He took them fishing and to ride horseback. They would ride all day to Lodge Pole. The little one was afraid of the horses, but he is learning."
Her daughter Rose remembers one day when all the men and boys in the family went hunting for deer. While they were gone, she spotted a mule deer down below. She placed a pillow on her shoulder and fired.
"I dropped it in one shot. Mom walked down there and gutted it out. The men came back empty-handed and there was a deer already here."Rose, with a master's degree in public administration, is now caring for both parents. It is a full-time labor of love.
"We were raised a close-nit family. We came from a long line of leadership. My great-grandfather was the last traditional chief before the Indian Relocation Act, the new form of government,” Rose said of her great-grandfather Chief Lame Bull.
Rose’s grandfather Tom Main represented the Gros-Ventre and made many trips to Washington, a stalwart voice for his people. Tom, raised by his Grandfather Chief Lame Bull, was on the first executive committee of the National Congress of American Indians.
With a voice that championed Indian rights, Tom Main told NCAI, "Let us no longer yield or surrender to any force that has ignored andviolated Indian rights for so long."
Vernie White Cow Main, too, was descended from medicine people. Her mother's father was White Cow, son of the Great Chief and Warrior Chief Bushy Head, descended from Chief Blue Bird and Chief White Eagle.
The Gros-Ventre refer to themselves as the "White Clay People,"which refers to the natural mineral along the riverbeds. Their ancestral territory is north of the Milk River, including the Bear Paw Mountains, Little Rockies (known to them as the "Fur Caps") and the Sweet Grass Hills. Chief Joseph made his last stand her in the Bear PawMountains.
Living in the presence of history, place and spirit, the people have maintained their connection to the Earth.
The words of the final journey of one of their ancestor's Lone Fly, was carried in a May 21, 1920, newspaper article in the Montana Idea.
Lone Fly, 86, rubbed his feet into the earth and said, "This is the last time I will see you," Lone Fly told the Earth, and offered thanks and prayers for his relatives and grandchildren.
Eating the huge salmon that visitors have brought from the westcoast, Rose's mother Vernie, smiles remembers the good time along Big Warm Creek. The next day, however, her condition worsened and she was hospitalized with respiratory problems.

Update: Vernie and James Sr. continue to struggle with their health at home on Fort Belknap. Jim Jr. remains in the Havre jail, waiting for the January trial.Continued in Part III
Photos by Brenda Norrell/Vernie White Cow Main and daughter Rose at home on Big Warm Creek. (2) Rose standing by the log cabin where her mother was born, behind their current home, on the path where the wild horses come down from the mountains.
Part I: In Montana, Indians are guilty until proven innocent

Monday, November 12, 2007

Photo Lenny Foster sings for Leonard Peltier's freedom

Lenny Foster, Navajo, sings for freedom for Leonard Peltier at the Indigenous Peoples' Border Sumit of the Americas. Summit organizer Mike Flores, Tohono O'odham, holds the microphone. Photo Brenda Norrell
Read articles from the Indigenous Peoples' Border Summit of the Americas 2007:

Blackfire Rocks San Francisco Nov. 13 - 15, 2007

3 Shows in 2 Days!
We will also be giving updates on the latest info on the struggle
to protect the Sacred San Francisco Peaks.
Also check out our interview on FRA:
(scary title huh?)
Wed. Nov. 14th at 2:30PM
In Celebration of Native American Heritage Month
At City College
San Francisco, CA
Free show!
Presented by NASO/SKIP-IT
Wed. Nov. 14th at 8:00PM
At La Pena Cultural Center
3105 Shattuck Ave
With Bug
Berkley, CA
More info: After this show (At about 10:00PM) join a march to the UC Berkley Tree-sit to support the efforts to protect the Memorial Oak Grove!
Thurs. Nov. 15th at 5:00PM
5th Annual Richard Oaks Celebration!
w/ One Struggle & FUGA!
Jack Adams Hall - SFSU
San Francisco, CA
More info: You are invited to a Sacred Sites/NAGPRA (Native American Graves Protection and Repatriation Act) coalition fundraising event and concert at SFSU. This is a 2-day event November 14-15th. The concert fundraiser will be on November 15th with three (3) bands performing (One Struggle/Blackfire/FUGA). The concert will begin at 5pm. There will also a be a raffle. All proceeds will go to the Sacred Sites and NAGPRA coalition who are fighting to protect sacred sites and for the repatriation of ancestors to tribes.

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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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