Sunday, November 30, 2008

Black Mesa Caravan, Harry's reflections on herding sheep and service

Shoshone grandmothers to Barrick Gold 'This is Treaty Land!'


By Lisa J. Wolf
Crescent Valley, Nevada
(Photo Western Shoshone Bernice Lalo on Mount Tenabo/Photo Lisa Wolf)

The day before Thanksgiving at 11 a.m. the call came to cover the Shoshone Grandmother’s Day of Resistance on Mt. Tenabo at the Cortez mine site. To reach the place where the Western Shoshone Grandmothers were protesting Barrick Cortez’s uprooting of trees and “devastation and destruction” on Mt. Tenabo, as they termed it, required driving some ten miles out from Crescent Valley and a trip up the winding dirt Grass Valley road past the entrance to the mine at the base of the mountain and straight up the curving mountain road for miles. Dave Mason of Barrick Cortez directed the press to look for a parked group of cars and trucks. A natural wood wickiup on the hillside beyond the parking area amongst the juniper and pine was empty. Fresh footprints were seen on a trail leading up the mountain. Following that trail for some 10 minutes, the Western Shoshone protestors were encountered. The Grandmothers accompanied by Shoshone men and children held signs and spoke to the Barrick representative present, George Fennemore.

The Western Shoshone grandmothers told the Barrick employee, “This is our treaty land. It was a treaty made with the federal government. It was not made with a foreign nation. And it is a foreign mining company that has come into our country and is destroying our mountain, our land, our food, our medicine and they have no respect.”

Mary McCloud said she was “here to make my statement against what is happening. Yes, back in the 1800s there was mining but it was only by hand and pick.” McCloud reiterated, “This is treaty land and we have never given it up and furthermore Mr. Schack [External Communications Manager for Barrick] says the majority of the Shoshone people is ‘okaying’ the mining company. Let Mr. Schack show us the document that shows the majority of the Shoshone people. They don’t have that. They do not have any document to prove that they own this land. That’s all I have to say but I’m saying it on behalf of my grandchildren, and my great grandchildren.”

Shoshone Elder Bernice Lalo said, “I came here because from our beliefs that we practice here on the land, we’re protesting because they will be destroying the pine trees which is very important to the land. We’re protesting because this is our land. No two ways about it; and when they come and destroy things, they’re destroying our spirituality, our ways, our beliefs” for “our children, our children’s children. So, we’re all here to protest that” because “it can’t go on. It’s perpetrating genocide against the Native American people. And we are not the only Native people suffering this distress. It is happening world over; but we happen to be Western Shoshones and this is our land and we’re protesting the poisoned water, the destruction of the land, the road we’re standing on here, the big machines: everything that the mining industry stands for. They say they’re doing it responsibly, but they’re not because when they leave the Western Shoshone people will still be here and the land will be barren.” Lalo said, “They reclaim something, but only with weeds and mounds like a big burial ground and that’s what they’re leaving us. And they’re never going to clean it out.”

Carrie Dann told Fennemore, “We want the tree cutting stopped now,” explaining, “That’s our food.”

Fennemore told the Grandmothers it was a normal day for him and that his work was in getting permits from the BLM.

The Grandmothers told Fennemore, “This isn’t BLM land. This is Shoshone” and challenged Barrick to “come to us per your treaty with the US government.”

Mary Gibson asked the Barrick employee, “What are you leaving for your grandchildren? Where is your heart? Where is that? Do you understand how important this is? This is our life.”

Dann said, “When you destroy the earth, where is the food coming from?”

One of the Grandmothers suggested, “You guys go and tear down the Vatican, the Mormon Tabernacle” which “actually have things stored. Because that’s what you’re doing to us for gold.”

In response to statements made in a November 21st article in the Elko Daily Free Press which stated, “Barrick Gold, meanwhile has spent hundreds of thousands of dollars assisting Western Shoshone improve lives through enhanced education, health and wellness programs.”

In the article “Schack and tribe members” are quoted as saying “tribal gatherings were not held at the site until Barrick began exploration.”

Dann told Fennemore, “You don’t know where we gather because we don’t leave anything.” Dann called on Barrick and the US government to “sit across the table and talk to us.” Dann said, “This is wrong” and said the tree cutting and mining “should be stopped peacefully now” as the activity is “destroying our culture, destroying our spirituality.” Dann called on Barrick to “call the woodchoppers off” and to “sit down and talk to us about what’s going on.” Dann said, “Some areas that will be totally off no matter how much gold, or silver, or uranium or whatever it takes because that is the area that we didn’t set; that was set by something else, something higher than us. And this is one of the areas: this whole area around here; and yet you guys come in and you’re destroying it. You’re destroying under ground, you’re destroying above ground. Don’t you guys have any conscience?”

Another Grandmother pointed out, “And it’s not replaceable.”

Mary Gibson asked, “What do you guys feel? You’ve got to feel some compassion for the earth. You’ve got to realize what you’re doing. Don’t you lay awake at night or are you just counting the bucks? Is that all? You just want to line your pocket and you’re just getting a portion of it in comparison to what the corporations are making: you’re just getting a little piece of that.”

Bernice Lalo said, “Last week, there was a news article in the paper about Barrick and Barrick dialogue and how different” Shoshone “signed-off on your collaborative agreement and Barrick said, ‘If you don’t sign this collaborative agreement, you will not be getting any funds from here.’ That was economic blackmail and the people who signed that agreement, they are people that are not affected by mining. That mining is not in that area; so the people that you are working with and said ‘yes’ and you guys had a big write-up on it, wasn’t true. And Lou Schack said that the majority of the Western Shoshone were covered by that and how you had spent thousands and thousands of dollars on the Western Shoshone; that’s not a true statement and when he said the majority of the Western Shoshone people agreed with that concept, that was not a true statement. So when you guys print things like that in the newspaper and you make it sound like you’ve done the Western Shoshone a big favor, it’s not true either.”

Lalo reiterated, “Those people do not represent the majority. Those people stand to have some economic benefit from that, and we don’t and we still are saying ‘no’ and we’ll be at your dialogue meeting and we’ll tell you the same thing because that’s something that has been promised until now; and the one thing that we had asked for that Barrick had talked about was ‘cultural resources:’ that was number one on our list when we started, that was three years, four years ago; but that has never been addressed.” Lalo held up a piece of wood and said, “Cultural resources is this stick. Cultural resources is those pine nuts. Cultural resources is the place where we had our prayer this morning. And we even had people tell us, we started to pray sometime; then one of the people sort of made fun of us and said, ‘Is this going to be a cultural resource? Is this going to be a significant area. Damn right.”

Dann agreed, “Every area is significant. It’s not just one little area.” Shoshone have “been doing this long before the white people ever came,”Dann said, “Long before there was ever mining. My grandmother used to live down in here. This is where my family came from. This is my family’s area. Many of my family is buried in this area. Their bones are in here. You people don’t give a damn about whose bones are here. You don’t care who lies here.” Dann challenged Barrick: “Why don’t you go to the national cemetery in D.C. and start destroying it and see what would happen to you. That’s what you’re doing to us. Because we’re Indians. You call us Indians, and then because of that you can walk over us. You call us heathens. We have more prayer than you ever know.”

One Grandmother explained, “We pray for you the hardest. We come up here and ask our Creator for forgiveness for hating the mining company.”

Gibson asked the Barrick employees, “What have you got to say for yourself?”

Fennemore answered, “We’re here to listen.”

Filmmaker George Gage (Our Life, Our Land; American Devastation) who had driven from out-of-state at Dann’s request was shooting footage for possible inclusion in the American Devastation film, asked Fennemore if he could “say something as a Caucasian. This is so important to these people. It goes back to their roots and they have a connection with the earth. I personally looked at the Treaty of Ruby Valley, which maybe you’re not aware of; but in that treaty it’s declared Shoshone land, all this land. That Treaty has never been cancelled.” Gage noted that “treaty gave us White people permission to do a certain of mining, to move civil war troops; but mining then was pick and axe. It’s not this giant desecration of the earth. I’ve shot aerials going over these mines: they’re just enormous and that earth will never come back; and I don’t know how as a White person I can convey how important what a connection that I wish I had that they have to the land and it’s so important to them. It’s important to me but nothing like it is to them. This is their heritage, this is their spirituality. This is Mother Earth. It may sound corny to a lot of White people: ‘Mother Earth;’ but it really is Mother Earth to a lot of Native Americans; especially this particular group of Western Shoshone. I wouldn’t be out here donating my time, spending my money, if I didn’t feel a real commitment and feel I’m learning from them. As a White person I learn from them.” Gage thanked Fennemore for “listening.”

Fennemore answered, “Any time. Any time you want to be here, you’re welcome to come up.”

Dann asked, “What kind of commitment are we going to get on the tree cutting?”

Fennemore said, “I’m not going to lie to you. We’re going to continue to cut trees unless somebody produces a court order that says to stop.”

Dann said, “We are the keepers of the land and the keepers of the land is asking in a nice way to quit. This is just a small group of us” but, said Dann, “Your mines shouldn’t be surprised when we really sit down to organize and get people together. It’s not going to be just Americans, or American Indians; it’s going to be world-wide and your company’s do operate world-wide and what happens here, if you want it to happen here; it can start here, and then it can expand and you can tell your company men that they should have the dignity to sit across the table from us, talk to us; but be sure to bring along a government person, someone who’s in the U.S. government, in a high place that can talk and where their words can stick. But,” said Dann, “in the meantime we are going to go down and do something where they are pulling those trees out. They should not kill those trees. Those trees are alive just like you are. They have a heart; they have a spirit just like you have and they are being destroyed because they are the food for the future. They’re our food” and “food for everybody and yet it’s being destroyed. For what? For a brick of gold? If you can eat that brick of gold, I’d like to see you eat it. If you can drink that brick of gold, I’d like to see you drink it. Because everything that comes from the earth is useful.” Dann pointed out, “Everything you’ve got on comes from the Mother.” Dann said if “somehow someway” you “have these things you have that don’t come from the earth, then I can say you’re probably pretty independent from the earth and you can go ahead and destroy it; but when everything comes from the earth,” Dann said, “You have no right to destroy our lands. These are sacred lands. Our lands, the Western Shoshone land area is sacred because every bit of the land gives somebody food.”

As Dann walked down the road to look at more of the clear cutting, McCloud told Fennemore, “You’ll leave us and leave us with the poison. What comes around, goes around. And you’ll leave a pit” which “will fill up with water.” The Grandmother pointed out, “Mother Earth’s trying to tell you, ‘wake up;’ but you guys aren’t waking up. I don’t know what it will take to make you wake up.”

Gibson said, “You treat us as if we’re nothing; as if we’re creatures.” She told them, “You came to a country that was clean” while “where you go, we find plastic; we find beer bottles. We know where you people have been because you don’t respect our Mother Earth.”

As the Shoshone grandmothers witnessed the devastation on the Sacred mountain, a rain began to fall. “The tears of the Mother,” said one Grandmother as the others nodded.

Attorney Roger Flynn of the Western Mining Action Project reported on Sunday November 30, 2008 that on Monday, December 1st there is “just a hearing for a request for a temporary restraining order, an emergency order to stop things.” Flynn explained the “judge can do what he wants” and can issue an order for “a couple of weeks” while legal briefs are being prepared for a motion on a preliminary injunction.” Flynn said, “If we got the preliminary injunction granted that would stop things for a much longer period. The mine would be enjoined and stopped while the court ruled on the merits and that could take months or years.” Flynn will participate in the hearing by phone although he expects the company attorney from Reno to be there as well as the lead attorney from the Justice Department. Flynn characterized the hearing Monday as an emergency meeting.

Private prison abuse: Hold GEO accountable

Private prison problems have long, troubled history

By Bob Libal

As the indictment hearings continue in Willacy County this week, one thing should be clear: private prison corporations, especially the indicted GEO Group, have a long history of scandal and abuse in Texas.

Earlier this year, Idaho pulled its prisoners from Texas's GEO facilities after the suicide of Randall McCullough, a prisoner held in solitary confinement for over a year. This was the second tragic death of an Idaho inmate in Texas' private prisons. In 2007, the suicide of Scott Noble Payne led to an Associated Press expose revealing the facility's "squalid" conditions. The Idaho Department of Corrections health director deemed the prison the worst he'd ever seen.

Last fall, the Texas Youth Commission shuttered GEO's Coke County Juvenile Justice Center after learning that conditions in the youth facility included feces covering blankets and walls, that the jail's educational and health programs were severely lacking, and that safety standards were not being upheld.

Then there's the case that led to the current indictments. A Willacy jury returned a verdict in favor of the family of Gregorio De La Rosa, who was beaten to death by other inmates in the Willacy County Jail, against Wackenhut Corrections Corporation (now Geo Group) for $47.5 Million. The GEO Group was found to have destroyed key evidence in the case, including the destruction of tapes showing the beating and a murder weapon.

Unfortunately, the list goes on and on. It's time that companies like the GEO Group are held accountable for their actions.

Bob Libal is Texas Campaign Coordinator for Grassroots Leadership in Austin, Texas. He contributes to, a website covering the private prison industry.

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Listen: Morning Star, Shellmound Walkers

Audio Morning Star, Shellmound protest Nov. 28, 2008

Black Friday at Emeryville, California, across from San Francisco, where

a shopping center was built on Ohlone remains. Click filename in

white box to listern. Audio Brenda Norrell/Earthcycles

Listen to Clyde Bellecourt on Alcatraz 2008

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Dooda Desert Rock's message to Obama on coal mining impacts


By Dooda Desert Rock

Nearly 60 grassroots and national groups from 26 states have joined together to ask President Elect Obama to think first of the communities impacted by coal when selecting appointees for key positions.
The positions of concern include the Secretary of the Interior, Director of the Office of Surface Mining, Assistant Secretary of Labor for Mine Safety and Health, and the Administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency. The letter states that "it is absolutely essential that all of these posts be filled by people who fully and fairly enforce laws relating to underground and surface mining, mine safety and health, coal burning and coal combustion waste."
"For far too long, the regulatory agencies have been led by people with close ties to the coal industry, people who seem to have forgotten that their responsibility is to protect human health and the environment, not the profits of the coal operators. The new administration needs to break this cycle and appoint regulators who will put our land, water, and people first," said Teri Blanton of Kentuckians for the Commonwealth.
Groups are also opposed to Obama appointing candidates who have called for decreased regulation under the Bush administration, noting that for the safety of communities located near coal facilities, as well as the workers at these facilities, increased enforcement and regulation are needed.
For example, Pennsylvania Governor Ed Rendell has been mentioned as a Department of Energy possibility, but citizen groups in Pennsylvania are highly concerned. "Pennsylvania's carbon emissions have increased by 11% over the last five years under Rendell, and he has called for an even more lax environment for coal power plants and coal combustion waste―despite serious health issues and cancer clusters found in communities near current coal facilities," said Lisa Graves Marcucci, Pennsylvania Coordinator for Environmental Integrity Project.
The letter also states the need for appointees to the new administration who are responsive to the residents living near coal operations. "Working for enforcement of the law is like having to work against the government agencies and the coal companies to protect our land and our health. I feel we are being taken advantage of by the industry and the lack of enforcement from regulatory agencies," said Rick Handshoe of Floyd County Kentucky, where more than 21,000 acres have been destroyed by mountaintop removal coal mining.
"Unfortunately for our members who live in the Powder River Basin, increased coal mining has come with significant costs to our air quality and our way of life," said Shannon Anderson of the Powder River Basin Resource Council. "The mines are woefully behind on reclamation compliant with federal law and some impacts to livestock and wildlife habitat will never be reversed. We urge the Obama Administration to not just generate permits but to balance interests in a manner that will be protective of places and people in Wyoming and elsewhere." The Powder River Basin of Northeast Wyoming and Southeast Montana provides about 40% of the nation's coal.
Groups also urge Obama to select candidates who are dedicated to using authentic science for rule-making and enforcement, particularly science related to climate change findings and the impacts of coal on human health.
"With the new administration in Washington, DC and Congresssman Waxman winning the new Chair of the House Energy and Commerce Committee, we hope our issues go forward with a change in coal policy," said Elouise Brown of Dooda (No) Desert Rock, based in the Four Corners area in Chaco Rio, New Mexico (35 miles SW of Farmington, NM), a part of the Dine Nation. Dooda Desert Rock is fighting the construction of a third coal fired power plant (Desert Rock Energy Project) in their sparsely populated community.
The letter concludes by noting the sacrifices that workers and communities impacted by coal have made to provide America with electricity, despite remaining among the poorest communities in the United States, noting that, "We have a vision of long term economic and environmental prosperity for our communities, but we can't achieve this without support from our government."

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Yoeme Fundraiser for Rio Yaqui Children

5161 W. TAROOK

Contact Person: Thomasina Jaimez , Chairwoman
Ralph Lim

Yoeme Commission on Human Rights and Alianza Indigena Sin Fronteras Fundraising Event – Raffle & Collecting, Children’s Clothing, Blankets, Toys

Yoeme Commission on Human Rights and Alianza Indigena Sin Fronteras are having a fundraiser to benefit the Rio Yaqui Sonora, Mexico Humanitarian Project "I'tom U usim Hiaki Vatwe Vetana" (Our Children from Rio Yaqui), an effort created by the Yoeme Commission on Human Rights on January 6, 2006 to celebrate El Dia De Los Santos Reyes (Day of Ephiany) with our relatives form Mexico with the primary focus on Rio Yaqui Children. Life in Rio Yaqui is very hard for our people, more so for the children. So, we decided to recognize and bring a little joy of goodwill to the children of Guasimas and Guasimitas, Sonora with gifts of candies, fruit, toys, clothing shoes, and school supplies. We also provided the parents and other adults with basic first aid kits, clothing, blankets and shoes.

The Yoeme Commission on Human Rights in partnership with the Alianza Indigena Sin Fronteras will be having a Raffle on Monday, December 15, to raise funds to support the Rio Yaqui Event and travel expenses for our trip on January 2 through January 4, 2009. Raffle tickets are already on sale. We are honored to receive work of art from local/Sonora Yaqui Artist, and a well known local Chicano Artist: Raffle Prizes & Name of Artists

• Louis David Valenzuela - wood sculptor
• Cesar Buenamea - original painting and wood burned clock
• Rio Yaqui Artist - Handmade ladies rebozos (shawls), Ladies embroidered blouses and skirts, Pascola mask
• Chicano Artist David Tineo - original painting "La Princesa"

To purchase Raffle Tickets contact: David Jaimez - 578-2399, Juan or Thomasina Jaimez - 883 – 4585, Ralph Lim - 400 – 2523

Sponsored by: Yoeme Commission on Human Rights and Alianza Indigena Sin Fronteras - two Indigenous non-profit community projects created to promote Indigenous rights locally and internationally

Monday, November 24, 2008

Human rights concerns over Napolitano pick for Homeland Security

PRESS STATEMENT: Human Rights Concerns Regarding Prospective Appointment of Janet Napolitano as Secretary of DHS

Pedro Rios, Director, US/Mexico Border Program
(619) 233-4114; (619) 370-5908 (cell)

Caroline Isaacs, Director, Program Arizona Area Program
(520) 623-5901


AFSC border offices emphasize urgency to move away from failed border enforcement policies

SAN DIEGO, CA & TUCSON, AZ [NOVEMBER 21] – The border offices of the American Friends Service Committee (AFSC), a human rights organization that advocates and works on behalf of migrant communities, urge President-elect Barak Obama and his advisors to prioritize a human rights agenda in selecting a new Secretary of the Department of Homeland Security (DHS). News reports that Arizona Governor Janet Napolitano could be selected as secretary of the DHS raises apprehensions that Governor Napolitano will prioritize failed border and immigration enforcement plans in place of offering real solutions for border and migrant communities.

“Governor Napolitano has pushed for an employment verification program in Arizona that is largely ineffective and relies on erroneous information,” stated Caroline Isaacs, director of Tucson-based AFSC’s Arizona Area Program. “If we can expect this type of program on a national level, as has been proposed by outgoing President Bush, there will be no real ‘change’ from the incoming Obama Administration, just further attempts to criminalize the right-to-work for migrant workers and their families.”

Governor Napolitano, as Secretary of the DHS, has an opportunity to address human rights concerns by rectifying failed policies with direct impacts to border communities. Policies and measures that should be repealed or eliminated include the following:

• Secure Fence Act of 2006 - calls for hundreds of miles of barriers along the US/Mexico border. Barriers along the San Diego and Texas border have pushed migrants into dangerous, inhospitable terrain, leading to enormous costs: billions of dollars spent and over 5200 men, women, and children dead since 1994.

• Real ID Act of 2005 - especially problematic in its entirety concerning the rights of refugees and migrants. Section 102 of the Act provides unprecedented power to the DHS Secretary to waive any and all laws deemed necessary to expedite construction of fencing along US borders. Over 35 laws have been waived already, including the Endangered Species Act, the Clean Water Act, and the Clean Air Act.

• Operation Streamline – in use in Arizona and Texas. The program seeks criminal prosecution of migrants detained entering the US. It preys on the most vulnerable, and circumvents due process rights by fast-tracking prosecutions, overburdening the courts, and misdirecting valuable resources. In addition, the AFSC calls on the incoming DHS Secretary to open avenues of communication with migrant and border communities.

“Governor Napolitano’s controversial call for the National Guard to beef up patrols of the border was highly unpopular in border communities, and was largely seen as a capitulation to extremist groups with no common sense about public policy,” commented Pedro Rios, director of the San Diego AFSC office.

The State of Arizona has developed a terrible reputation under Governor Napolitano for its treatment of undocumented migrants. Although in the recent past Governor Napolitano has supported proposals to change immigration laws, these were laden with enforcement measures that would have further militarized border communities, increased home and worksite raids, and implemented structural changes to immigration laws that would have further eroded civil rights protections for refugee and migrant communities.

The AFSC San Diego and Arizona offices urge President-Elect Obama and his advisors, including Governor Napolitano, to demonstrate real change for border communities, by reversing ineffective border policies that have created a human rights disaster along the US/Mexico borderlands.

# # #

The American Friends Service Committee is a Quaker organization that includes people of various faiths who are committed to social
justice, peace and humanitarian service. Its work is based on the belief in the worth of every person and faith in the power of love to
overcome violence and injustice.
Photo: Human rights activists from the border, including those that search for the bodies of Indigenous women, protested Gov. Janet Napolitano in Tucson 2007, because of her anti-immigrant stance. Photo Brenda Norrell

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Leonard Peltier Turtle Mountain Gift Drive


Leonard Peltier Turtle Mountain Gift Drive
Date: Fri, 21 Nov 2008 14:54:32 -0800 (PST)

Leonard Peltier is organizing a holiday gift drive for the children of the Turtle Mountain Reservation in Belcourt, North Dakota.

Leonard and his family have grown up in Turtle Mountain and many of his family members still live on the reservation. This is one way Leonard continues his humanitarian work for his people despite his 32-year incarceration.

Help him reach out beyond the bars that imprison him. The gift drive helps not only the children and families, but also Leonard himself, keeping his spirit strong through the difficult holiday season.

Mail all gifts to:

Tamara Patneaud
PO Box 308
Rolla, ND 58367
Tel.: 701-278-6121

The Gift Drive will serve ages newborn to 18 years.
Ideas for Christmas Gifts per Age Range:

Board Books
Building Blocks
Stuffed Animals
Musical Instruments for Toddler
Riding Toys
Push Toys
Baby Dolls

Children Ages 3-6
Baby Dolls
Dolls or Barbies (All Ethnicities)
Developmental Board Games (Counting Games)
Arts and Crafts Sets
Race Tracks
Dress Up Clothes
Children's Videos

Children Ages 7-12
Board Games
Purses and Wallets
Art Sets
Boom Boxes
Sports Equipment
Barbie Dolls (All Ethnicities)
Arts and Crafts Sets
Model Car Kits

Teens Ages 13-18
Bath and Body Gifts
Make Up Sets
Sports Equipment
Purses and Wallets
Jewelry and Watches
Art Supply Kits
Gift Certificates to Wal-Mart or Target
DVD's or Videos

Mail all gifts to:
Tamara Patneaud
PO Box 308
Rolla, ND 58367
Tel.: 701-278-6121



IPF e-mail:

Also, please visit the website of the
Leonard Peltier Defense Offense Committee (LPDOC):

LPDOC e-mail:

Cynthia McKinney prevented from leaving US for Syria

Cynthia McKinney prevented from leaving US
McKinney speaks out on human rights and Palestine
November 23rd, 2008

Today, November 23rd, I was slated to give remarks in Damascus, Syria at a Conference being held to commemorate the 60th Anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and, sadly, the 60th year that the Palestinian people have been denied their Right of Return enshrined in that Universal Declaration. But a funny thing happened to me while at the Atlanta airport on my way to the Conference: I was not allowed to exit the country.

I do believe that it was just a misunderstanding. But the insecurity experienced on a daily basis by innocent Palestinians is not. Innocent Palestinians are trapped in a violent, stateless twilight zone imposed on them by an international order that favors a country reported to have completed its nuclear triad as many as eight years ago, although Israel has remained ambiguous on the subject. President Jimmy Carter informed us that Israel had as many as 150 nuclear weapons, and Israel’s allies are among the most militarily sophisticated on the planet. Military engagement, then, is untenable. Therefore the exigency of diplomacy and international law.

The Palestinians should at least be able to count on the protections of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. What is happening to Palestinians in Gaza right now, subjected to an Israeli-imposed blockade, has drawn the attention of the United Nations Secretary General, Ban Ki-moon, who noted that over half of the civilians in Gaza are children. Even The Los Angeles Times criticized Israel’s lockdown of Gaza that is keeping food, fuel, and medicine from civilians. Even so, Israel stood fast by its decision to seal Gaza’s openings. But where are the voices of concern coming from the corridors of power inside the United States? Is the subject of Palestinian human rights taboo inside the United States Government and its government-to-be? I hope not. Following is the speech I would have given today had I been able to attend the Damascus Conference.

Cynthia McKinney
Right of Return Congregation
Damascus, Syria
November 23, 2008

Thank you to our hosts for inviting me to participate in this most important and timely First Arab-International Congregation for the Right of Return. Words are an insufficient expression of my appreciation for being remembered as one willing to stand for justice in Washington, D.C., even in the face of tremendously difficult pressures.

Former Prime Minister Tun Mahathir, thank you for including me in the Malaysian Peace Organisation’s monumental effort to criminalize war, to show the horrors of the treatment of innocent individuals during the war against and occupation of Iraq by the militaries and their corporate contractors of Britain, Israel, and the United States. Thank you for standing up to huge international economic forces trying to dominate your country and showing an impressionable woman like me that it is possible to stand up to “the big boys” and win. And thank you for your efforts to bring war criminal, torturer, decimator of the United States Constitution, the George W. Bush Administration, to justice in international litigation.

Delegates and participants, I must declare that at a time when scientists agree that the climate of the earth is changing in unpredictable and possibly calamitous ways, such that the future of humankind hangs in the balance, it is unconscionable that we have to dedicate this time to and focus our energies on policies that represent a blatant and utter disregard for human rights and self-determination and that represent in many respects, a denial of human life, itself.

In the same year as Palestinians endured a series of massacres and expulsions, the Universal Declaration of Human Rights became international law. And while the United Nations is proud that the Declaration was flown into Outer Space just a few days ago on the Space Shuttle, if one were to read it and then land in the Middle East, I think it would be clear that Palestine is the place that the Universal Declaration forgot.

Sadly, both the spirit of the Universal Declaration for Human Rights and the noblest ideals of the United Nations are broken. This has occurred in large measure due to policies that emanate from Washington, D.C. If we want to change those policies, and I do believe that we can, then we have to change the underlying values of those who become Washington’s policy makers. In other words, we must launch the necessary movement that puts people in office who share our values.

We need to do this now more than ever because, sadly, Palestine is not Washington’s only victim. Enshrined in the Universal Declaration is the dignity of humankind and the responsibility of states to protect that dignity. Yet, the underlying contradictions between its words and what has become standard international practice lay exposed to the world this year when then-United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights Louise Arbour proclaimed:

“In the course of this year, unprecedented efforts must be made to ensure that every person in the world can rely on just laws for his or her protection. In advancing all human rights for all, we will move towards the greatest fulfillment of human potential, a promise which is at the heart of the Universal Declaration.”

How insulting it was to hear those words coming from her, for those of us who know, because it was she who, as Chief Prosecutor of the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda, willfully participated in the cover-up of an act of terror that resulted in the assassination of two democratically-elected Presidents and that unleashed a torrent of murder and bloodletting in which one million souls were vanquished. That sad episode in human history has become known as the Rwanda Genocide. And shockingly, after the cover-up, Louise Arbour was rewarded with the highest position on the planet, in charge of Human Rights.

Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. once said that justice delayed is justice denied. And 60 years is too long to wait for justice.
The Palestinian people deserve respected self-determination, protected human rights, justice, and above all, peace.

On the night before his murder, Dr. King announced that he was happy to be living at the end of the 20th Century where, all over the world, men and women were struggling to be free.

Today, we can touch and feel the results of those cries, on the African Continent where apartheid no longer exists as a fact of law. A concerted, uncompromising domestic and international effort led to its demise.

And in Latin America, the shackles of U.S. domination have been broken. In a series of unprecedented peaceful, people-powered revolutions, voters in Venezuela, Brazil, Argentina, Bolivia, Chile, Ecuador, Nicaragua, and most recently Paraguay used the power of the political process to materially change their countries’ leadership and policy orientation toward the United States. Americans, accustomed to the Monroe Doctrine which proclaimed U.S. suzerainty over all politics in the Western Hemisphere, must now think the unthinkable given what has occurred in the last decade.

Voters in Cote d’Ivoire, Haiti, Spain, and India also took matters clearly in their hands to make “a clean break” from policies that were an affront to the interests of the majority of the people in those countries.

In country after country, against tremendous odds, people stood up and took their fates in their hands. They did what Mario Savio, in the 1960s, asked people in the United States to do. These people-powered, peaceful revolutions saw individuals put their bodies against the levers and the gears and the wheels of the U.S. imperial machine and they said to the owners if you don’t stop it, we will. And I know that people of conscience inside my country can do it, too: especially now that the engines of imperial oppression are running out of gas.

Even though the Democratic Party, at the Convention that nominated Barack Obama, denied its microphone to Former President Jimmy Carter because of his views on Palestine, let me make it clear that Former President Carter is not the only person inside the United States who believes that peace with justice is possible in Palestine.

Inside the United States, millions who are not of Arab descent, disagree vehemently with the policy of our government to provide the military and civilian hardware that snuffs out innocent human life that is also Arab.

Millions of Americans do not pray to Allah, but recognize that it is an inalienable right of those who do to live and pray in peace wherever they are–including inside the United States.

Even though their opportunities are severely limited, there are millions of people inside the United States struggling to express themselves on all of these issues, but whose efforts are stymied by a political process that robs them of any opportunity to be heard.

And then there are the former elected officials who spoke out for what was right, for universal application of the Universal Declaration, and who were roundly condemned and put out of office as a result. My father is one such politician, punished—kicked out of office–because of the views of his daughter.

In my case, I dared to raise my voice in support of the World Conference Against Racism and against the sieges of Ramallah, Jenin, and the Church of the Nativity. I raised my voice against the religious profiling in my country that targets innocent Muslims and Arabs for harassment, imprisonment, financial ruin, or worse. Yes, I have felt the sting of the special interests since my entry onto the national stage when, in my very first Congressional campaign, I refused to sign a pledge committing that I would vote to maintain the military superiority of Israel over its neighbors, and that Jerusalem should be its capital city.
Other commitments were on that pledge as well, like continued financial assistance to Israel at agreed upon levels.

As a result of my refusal to make such a commitment, and just like the old slave woman, Sojourner Truth, who bared her back and showed the scars from the lashes meted out to her by her slave master, I too, bear scars from the lashes of public humiliation meted out to me by the special interests in Washington, D.C. because of my refusal to tow the line on Israel policy. This “line” is the policy accepted by both the Democratic and Republican Party leadership and why they could cooperate so well to coordinate my ouster from Congress. But I have survived because I come from the strongest stock of Africans, stolen then enslaved, and yet my people survived. I know how to never give up, give in, or give out. And I also know how to learn a good political lesson. And one lesson I’ve learned is that the treatment accorded to me pales in comparison to what Palestinian victims still living in refugee camps face every day of their lives.

The treatment accorded to me pales in comparison to the fact that human life is at stake if the just-released International Atomic Energy Agency report is true when it writes that “The only explanation for the presence of these modified uranium particles is that they were contained in the missiles dropped from the Israeli planes.” What are the health effects of these weapons, what role did the U.S. military play in providing them or the technology that underlies them, why is there such silence on this, and most fundamentally, what is going on in this part of the world that international law has forgotten?

Clearly, not only the faces of U.S. politicians must change; we must change their values, too. We, in the United States, must utilize our votes to effect the same kind of people-powered change in the United States as has been done in all those other countries. And now, with more people than ever inside the United States actually paying attention to politics, this is our moment; we must seize this time. We must become the leaders we are looking for and get people who share our values elected to Congress and the White House.

Now, I hope you believe me when I say to you that this is not rocket science. I have learned politics from its best players. And I say to you that even with the failabilities of the U.S. system, it is possible for us to do more than vote for a slogan of change, we can actually have it. But if we fail to seize this moment, we will continue to get what we’ve always been given: handpicked leaders who don’t truly represent us.

With the kind of U.S. weapons that are being used in this part of the world, from white phosphorus to depleted uranium, from cluster bombs to bunker busting bombs, nothing less than the soul of my country is at stake. But for the world, it is the fate of humankind that is at stake.

The people in my country just invested their hopes for a better world and a better government in their votes for President-elect Obama. However, during an unprecedented two year Presidential campaign, the exact kind of change we are to get was never fully defined. Therefore, we the people of the United States must act now with boldness and confidence. We can set the stage for the kind of change that reflects our values.

Now is not the time for timidity. The U.S. economy is in shambles, unemployment and health insecurity are soaring, half of our young people do not even graduate from high school; college is unaffordable. The middle class that was invested in the stock market is seeing their life savings stripped from them by the hour. What we are witnessing is the pauperization of a country, in much the same way that Russia was pauperized after the fall of the Soviet Union. There are clear winners and the losers all know who they are. The attentive public in the United States is growing because of these conditions. Now is the time for our values to rise because people in the United States are now willing to listen.

So the question really is, “Which way, America?”

Today we uplift the humanity of the Palestinian people. And what I am recommending is the creation of a political movement inside my country that will constitute a surgical strike for global justice. This gathering is the equivalent of us stepping to the microphone to be heard.

We don’t have to lose because we have commitment to the people.

And we don’t have to lose because we refuse to compromise our core values.

We don’t have to lose because we seek peace with justice and diplomacy over war.

We don’t have to lose.

By committing to do some things we’ve never done before I’m certain that we can also have some things we’ve never had before.

I return to the U.S. committed to do my part to make our dream come true.

Thank you.

For more information on Cynthia McKinney please visit

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Black Mesa Water Conference April 2009

For Immediate Publication
Contact: Vernon Masayesva, (928) 255-2356

KYKOTSMOVI, Ariz., Nov. 19 -- Native American traditional spiritual leaders, artists and scientists and their Western counterparts will come together in Flagstaff, Ariz., on April 6-7, 2009, to create a new vision of leadership and responsibility as the world faces the challenges of water scarcity, energy production and global warming in these troubled times. The Braiding Conference, so named because participants will braid together knowledge from a wide spectrum of cultures and disciplines, is expected to be the first round of an on-going conversation.

The Braiding Conference is sponsored by Black Mesa Trust, a Hopi grassroots organization dedicated to preserving water resources; it is funded by the Christensen Fund. The overall purpose of the conference is "to enhance understanding of the world in which we live and to demonstrate the power and reverence traditional teachings and science bring to bear," said Black Mesa Trust Executive Director Vernon Masayesva.

The San Manuel Band of Mission Indians in California has provided funding for scholarships for Hopi and Navajo students and honorariums for their teachers. Fifteen $300 scholarships will go to Hopi high school students, and 15 to Navajo students. Five Hopi and five Navajo teachers will each be awarded a $500 honorarium to attend the conference and to help support the post-conference development of curricula based on the information they learn there.

The Braiding Conference hopes "to demonstrate to Native youth the significant contributions of their tradition and to encourage them to pursue purposeful learning of Western science, technology and mathematics as well as their own traditions of knowing and ancestral wisdom," said Masayesva.

To learn more about the conference, scholarships and honoraria, contact Vernon Masayesva, (928) 255-2356,

Tanya Lee

(603) 377-0267

7270 Slayton Ranch Road
Flagstaff, AZ 86004

2 Chester Street
Cambridge, MA 02140

Algonquins of Barriere Lake briefing package

Algonquins of Barriere Lake Briefing Package
1. Short Introduction
2. Barriere Lake’s List of Demands
3. Blockade: Algonquins Defend the Forest, from 1989-2008
4. The Trilateral Agreement
5. Arthur Manuel’s Submission to the United Nations
6. Assembly of First Nation’s Briefing Note
7. Ottawa Citizen Op-Ed by Boyce Richardson, Order of Canada recipient
8. Algonquin Nation Secretariat Grand Chief Norman Young’s letter to Minister of
Indian Affairs Chuck Strahl and Laurier Riel report
9. Message from the Community
Contact Information
Community Spokespeople
Michel Thusky 819.435.2171
Marylynn Poucachiche 819.435.2142
Norman Matchewan 819.334.0411
Barriere Lake Policy Advisor
Russell Diabo 613.296.0110
Grand Chief of the Algonquin Nation Secretariat
Norman Young 819.723.2019
Barriere Lake Solidarity Collective
Organizer Martin Lukacs 514.522.8416
For more information:
1. Short Introduction
For twenty difficult years, the small Algonquin community of Barriere Lake, 5 hours
north of Montreal, has been struggling to hold the government to their word. In 1991,
they signed a resource co-management and sustainable development agreement with
Canada and Quebec to protect Algonquin land uses, conserve the forest and wildlife, and
improve their dire economic situation. To avoid fulfilling their obligations, the
Department of Indian Affairs has been playing divide and rule in Barriere Lake, wreaking
havoc in the community by ousting the Customary Chief and Council and illegally
recognizing a more pliable, small faction as the leadership. Despite knowledge of his
government's illegal and immoral actions, Minister of Transport Lawrence Cannon,
Harper's Quebec lieutenant and MP in Barriere Lake's riding of Pontiac, has not
ensured his federal government complies with the law and deals fairly with the
2. Barriere Lake’s List of Demands
1. That the Government of Canada agree to respect the outcome of a new leadership reselection
process, with outside observers, recognize the resulting Customary Chief and
Council, and cease all interference in the internal governance of Barriere Lake.
2. That the Government of Canada agree to the immediate incorporation of an Algonquin
language and culture program into the primary school curriculum.
3. That the Government of Canada honour signed agreements with Barriere Lake,
including the Trilateral, the Memorandum of Mutual Intent, and the Special Provisions,
all of which it has illegally terminated.
4. That the Government of Canada revoke Third Party Management, which was imposed
unjustly on Barriere Lake.
5. That the Province of Quebec honour signed agreements with Barriere Lake, including
the 1991 Trilateral and 1998 Bilateral agreements, and adopt for implementation the
Lincoln-Ciaccia joint recommendations, including $1.5 million in resource-revenue
6. That the Government of Canada and the Province of Quebec initiate a judicial inquiry
into the Quebec Regional Office of the Department of Indian Affairs' treatment of
Barriere Lake and other First Nations who may request to be included.
7. The Government of Quebec, in consultation with First Nations, conduct a review of the
recommendations of the Ontario Ipperwash Commission for guidance towards improving
Quebec-First Nation relations and improving the policing procedures of the SQ when
policing First Nation communities.
3. Blockades: Algonquins Defend the Forest, 1989-2008
In 1989, an NFB film called 'Blockade: Algonquins Defend the Forest' (Dir. Boyce
Richardson) documented the dramatic stand taken by the Algonquins of Barriere Lake.
To force provincial negotiators to stop the clear-cut logging on their traditional lands and
to push for the development of a sustainable plan for resource management, they initiated
a sustained campaign of logging road blockades that culminated in a one-day blockade of
Highway 117.
In 2008, the Algonquins of Barriere Lake are back on the blockades. Despite their
successes at the negotiating table and in the development of a co-management plan, the
impressive Trilateral Agreement has lost the support of federal and provincial
governments. Instead, the federal government has been actively interfering in the
customary governance of the community. Norman Matchewan, youth spokesperson for
the community, explains their current predicament and what led the community to block
the highway, in an op-ed published on October 9, 2008 in the Montreal Gazette:
The Barrière Lake Algonquins' decision to peacefully blockade Highway 117 was not
easily made. We have always preferred co-operation to confrontation. We do not wish to
disrupt the lives of Canadians. Unfortunately, it seems their governments otherwise
ignore or dismiss us - or worse, treat us with contempt.
During a protest at federal Transport Minister Lawrence Cannon's campaign launch last
month, his assistant insinuated that I was an alcoholic. After the ensuing media scandal
forced Cannon to hold a meeting we had been requesting for two years, he vilified our
community's majority as "dissidents" in an op-ed in regional newspapers.
The government has now tried to add "criminals" to the charge. To avoid negotiations,
the government had Monday's peaceful blockade dismantled by the Sûreté du Québec,
which without provocation shot tear gas canisters into a crowd of youth and elders and
used severe "pain compliance" techniques to remove people clipped into lockbox barrels.
But Canada and Quebec have never been overly concerned with the rule of law in their
dealings with Barrière Lake. Our relationship has been defined by breached agreements
and illegal interference in our internal affairs.
In 1991, Barrière Lake signed a historic Trilateral agreement with Canada and Quebec to
benefit from the resource extraction on our land and sustainably develop our traditional
territories - a United Nations report called the plan an environmental "trailblazer." Yet in
1996, the federal government tried to hijack the agreement by replacing our Customary
Chief and Council with a minority faction who let the agreement fall aside.
We are one of the few First Nations in the country who have always ruled ourselves
according to custom, outside the electoral provisions of the Indian Act: Elders nominate
eligible leaders who are then approved, by consensus if possible, in assemblies.
Participation is open only to those who live in the community, speak our language, and
have knowledge of and connection to the land. But in 1996, the Department of Indian
Affairs encouraged this faction, located mainly off-reserve, to collect signatures for a
petition; Indian Affairs then imposed this group on us, claiming our leadership customs
had "evolved into selection by petition."
It was a patent lie. Former provincial Liberal cabinet minister Michel Gratton issued a
devastating rebuke to the government: "This unilateral and sudden decision to dismiss
and replace the existing chief and council,” he wrote in the Montreal Gazette, “goes
against the grain of every democratic principle."
We suffered grievously for a year and a half. Although we barred the minority group
from our community, they colluded with the government from Maniwaki, 150 km to the
south. On the reserve, we were deprived of federal transfers for employment, education,
social assistance, and electricity. We lived in the dark, educated our children as we could,
and barely subsisted off bush food.
A resolution was finally achieved in 1997 by Quebec Superior Court Judge Réjean Paul
and two federal facilitators, who restored our legitimate Chief and Council and renewed
the Trilateral agreement. To prevent future interference, they helped codify our
leadership customs into a Customary Governance Code that the government promised to
respect. This is our aboriginal right protected by the Canadian Constitution - the highest
law in the land.
Even this proved a paltry deterrent to further meddling. In 2001, the federal government
pulled out of the Trilateral agreement, the implementation of which was meant to lift us
out of our impoverishment – 90% unemployment, as many as 18 people to a home, in a
59-acre reserve powered by a diesel generator.
This ensured that internal divisions continued to fester, and the government was soon
favouring certain community members opposed to our legitimate leadership. The
Department of Indian Affairs has little sympathy for leaders unwilling to forget the
government's outstanding debts. Judge Paul mediated again in 2007, concluding that the
opposition to our chief and council remained "a small minority" whose leadership
challenge "did not respect the Customary Governance Code."
But when this same minority group conducted another illegitimate leadership selection in
January 2008, the federal government quickly recognized them. In court, we forced the
government to release an observer's report they relied on: not surprisingly, the report
stated there was no "guarantee" that the Customary Governance Code was respected
during this selection.
Yet again, the government is throwing democratic principles to the wind by ignoring our
customs and the wishes of our people. And Cannon has the audacity to call the
overwhelming majority of our community members "dissidents"!
This time, the Department of Indian Affairs has played coy: they claim they innocently
made an administrative “acknowledgement" when they recognized and started doing
business with the minority faction. Reconsidering this decision would amount to an
unacceptable "intervention" in our internal affairs. The leadership problems are our own.
This ludicrous line of defense was accepted in August by a Prothonotary, who dismissed
our Elder’s Council’s legal challenge of the leadership change (the decision is being
appealed in Federal Court).
Indian Affairs even hinted that the ideal solution to our leadership dispute, one largely of
the government's making, would be to sweep away our constitutional rights to traditional
governance and impose on us an electoral system. As Karl Kraus might have said, Indian
Affairs is the illness for which it regards itself as the cure.
To resolve this crisis, we are prepared to participate in a new leadership selection
according to our Customary Governance Code. We ask only that the federal government
appoint an observer and promise to abide by the result, and that they and the province
honour our agreements.
We set up the blockades Monday morning as a last resort, to inspire in the government a
changed attitude. Our good faith and patience and reasonable demands have so far been
rewarded by broken promises, deceit, and deplorable interventions. Is this all we can
--Norman Matchewan, Barriere Lake youth spokesperson
4. The Barriere Lake Trilateral Agreement
Claudia Notzke, excerpts from A Report Prepared for the Royal Commission on
Aboriginal Peoples, October 1995:
The 1980s and 1990s have been witnessing a redefinition of the relationship between
aboriginal and non-aboriginal Canadians, and as part of it, a restructuring of power and
responsibility with regard to natural resources. Co-management, joint management or
joint stewardship regimes have been the most tangible result of these changed
parameters. These innovative management regimes integrate local and state management
systems, allocate control of resources among competing interests and facilitate the
merging of knowledge. They have been established in all parts of Canada under different
circumstances and for different purposes.
The Barriere Lake Trilateral Agreement of northern Quebec is more than just another
variation on this increasingly familiar theme. It constitutes a category of its own and is
unmatched (at least in the provinces) in its vision as well as in the problems its
proponents have had to overcome. This Agreement was designed to address a situation,
where a small aboriginal community, the Algonquins of Barriere Lake in La Verendrye
Park, pursuing an essentially land-based way of life, saw themselves confronted with
aggressive resource exploitation in their traditional use area, in the form of logging,
recreational hunting, and hydroelectric development. This situation is embedded in a
political framework of non-recognition of treaty and aboriginal rights, centralized
decision-making with regard to land and resource use planning, and a strong emphasis on
extractive resource utilization.
The Barriere Lake Trilateral Agreement was signed on August 22, 1991, by the
Algonquins of Barriere Lake, the government of Quebec, and the government of Canada.
It owes its existence exclusively to the initiative of the Algonquins. Their rationale for
pursuing it was not an assertion of their aboriginal rights, but rather the realization of
integrated resource management which would take the needs of their subsistence
economy into account. As integral part of the Agreement, the Algonquins propose a
model of 'sustainable development', patterned after concepts of the 1987 Brundtland
Report by the World Commission on Environment and Development. This report
advocates an approach to development, where economic growth 'must be based on
policies that sustain and expand the environmental resource base.' (World Commission
on Environment and Development 1987:1) The report also acknowledges that aboriginal
peoples have a singular role to play in this process.
The Barriere Lake Trilateral Agreement is not a co-management agreement in the sense
that it immediately effects the establishment of co-management institutions and comanagement
procedures, concerned with the joint management of a particular species or
area. Rather it is designed to lay the groundwork for the cooperative development of an
integrated resource management plan for a region comprising 1 million hectares, the
major portion of the traditional use area of the Algonquins of Barriere Lake.
Several major tasks are involved:
- design and implementation of interim protection measures for the duration of the
- analysis and evaluation of existing data and information, and compilation of new
inventories and information on renewable resource use, potential, impacts and interaction
of activities related to their exploitation and development within the perimeter of the
Agreement territory;
- based on the above, the preparation of a draft integrated management plan for
renewable resources (by December 1994); and
- the formulation of recommendations for the carrying out of the draft integrated
resource management plan.
For almost two years of the Agreement's implementation, the Algonquins and their team
struggled against overwhelming odds to make the trilateral process work. While the
problems were numerous, most of them stemmed from the basic question, just what kind
of management regime would prevail in the territory during the implementation of the
Agreement. Quebec viewed its resource management regime as sacrosanct, with no room
for compromise. While the provincial government acknowledged that the Agreement
was 'a process for change', it nevertheless insisted that the Agreement be implemented
within the rigid confines of existing laws and regulations. This insistence created a crisis
from the very beginning, resulted in overt non-compliance on the part of Quebec with the
terms of the Agreement, made effective protection of the territory's resources impossible,
and created a hostile climate between the Algonquins, industry and government.
The Barriere Lake Trilateral Agreement constitutes a unique and innovative project in the
field of resource management. David Nahwegahbow, legal counsel and Acting Special
Representative for the Algonquins of Barriere Lake, lists some of the features, which in
his view, make the Agreement unique:
- development of a database
- the education process
- the provision of funds
- binding decision-making power
- the overall comprehensiveness of the approach and the conservation strategy
- the size of the Agreement area, 1 million hectares.
Not infrequently, co-management regimes are embarked upon without the funds,
database, collective political will and 'vision', that are such vital ingredients to make a
regime work. This is particularly the case for some initiatives that take place outside the
claims process, and are motivated by a crisis or government policy. In contrast, the
Trilateral Agreement provides for the time, the funding and the organizational
infrastructure to create a database, a plan and a 'mindset' among all participants, to make
a future partnership in resource management work. Furthermore, the Agreement creates
an interim management regime which freezes further deterioration of the resource base.
The latter has proven to be an absolutely indispensable pre-condition for success of the
endeavour, since it not only protects the resource base but keeps the political will of the
aboriginal partners to the Agreement alive.
Is the Barriere Lake Trilateral Agreement a model for co-operative sustainable
development, which can work in other parts of Canada (or the world)? The answer may
be a tentative 'Yes, but with qualifications'.
The Algonquins and their Special Representative view the Agreement as a 'trail-blazer in
that it puts the doctrine of sustainable development into practice' and as a crucial pilot
project applicable in other parts of Canada, as 'a model of co-management and
reconciliation....and of the practical realization of self-government' (Clifford Lincoln,
ABL Submission to RCAP, Maniwaki, December 02, 1992).
Quebec's Special Representative on the other hand, feels that the project is too specific to
happen again under different circumstances, but that rather, conclusions drawn from this
process will be integrated in province-wide policies pertaining to forests and wildlife
(Andre Lafond, September 03, 1993, personal communication).
It must be emphasized that the Barriere Lake Trilateral Agreement has many inherent
characteristics that suggest its applicability under widely varying circumstances. Most
importantly, it is a well thought-out and politically non-threatening approach to cooperative
sustainable development.
And in this age of environmental crisis there can be no disputing the validity of a vision
of environmental management, which reflects respect for all elements of nature and for
all its human stakeholders.
5. Arthur Manuel’s Submission to the United Nations
APRIL 21 - MAY 2, 2008
Arthur Manuel, Spokesperson, Indigenous Network on Economies and Trade (INET)
Chairperson, Members of the Permanent Forum:
I have been asked to make this submission to the Permanent Forum and the delegates, by
Elder Harry Wawatie, who is a member of the Algonquins of Barriere Lake Elders
Elder Wawatie thanks you for giving me the opportunity to deliver his message on the
mandate of the Permanent Forum the Millenium Development Goals and the matter of
Human Rights.
• The Algonquins of Barriere Lake have a population of about 450.
• They have a 59 acre Indian Reserve that was set aside in 1962.
• The housing situation is critical, most of the 60 houses have been condemned by Health
Canada for mould infestation, yet the houses are overcrowded with 8 to 18 people living
in one house. Quebec’s Youth Protection Agency is refusing to allow infants to return to
the community from the hospitals because of the poor housing conditions.
• The unemployment rate is about 80 to 90%.
• The federal government has mismanaged the community’s education services, one
study has shown serious age-grade deficiencies under the federal administration of the
• The community is one of the last in Quebec who depend on diesel generators for
electricity. These generators are operating at full capacity so no no houses or buildings
can be added to the community grid.
Despite the poor social and economic conditions, the Algonquins of Barriere Lake have
maintained their language, culture and customary system of government.
Over the last 12 years the government of Canada has interfered in the internal affairs of
the Algonquins of Barriere Lake three times.
In 1996-97 the Canadian government imposed an outside group as the Chief and Council.
The federal government had to reverse its decision and recognize the legitimate
customary Chief and Council on April 17, 1997.
In 2006, the federal government refused to recognize the legitimate Chief and Council
during a new leadership selection process.
It took the intervention of a Quebec Superior Court Judge, Rejean Paul, who issued a
mediation report in May 2007, confirming the legitimacy of the Customary Chief and
Council, the Canadian government subsequently had to respect the community’s
leadership selection.
However, on March 10, 2008, the government of Canada once again recognized a Chief
and Council who according to the Barriere Lake Elders were not selected by the
community in accordance with the community’s customs.
The Barriere Lake Elders’ Council has launched a court action against the federal
Minister of Indian Affairs, Chuck Strahl, to have the Minister’s decision to change the
Chief and Council overturned. The Department of Indian Affairs even refuses to release
the information they based their decision on, to the Barriere Lake Elders. Even though the
Barriere Lake Elders are responsible for overseeing leadership selection under their
Not only is there a flagrant disregard for Indigenous customs regarding leadership
selection, but the federal government is using the Quebec police force to install the
federally imposed Chief and Council, even though the majority of the people do not agree
to recognize the federally imposed group as their leaders.
The result of the federal imposition of an unaccepted Chief and Council has led to
problems with the delivery of programs and services and confusion around who is the
legitimate leadership.
The federal government is trying to replace the legitimate customary Chief and Council
just as negotiations were to start on implementing three major precedent setting
agreements the Algonquins of Barriere Lake had entered into with the governments of
Canada and Quebec.
In 1991, the Algonquins of Barriere Lake convinced the governments of Canada and
Quebec to sign a Trilateral Agreement establishing a pioneering land management
planning process based upon the Brundtland Report’s concepts of sustainable
development, conservation strategies and that Indigenous Peoples have a ‘decisive voice’
over land use decisions that affect them.
Further agreements were signed with the governments of Canada and Quebec but the
governments have continued to try and to get out of their obligations and liabilities under
these agreements.
Now, the Canadian government has breached Barriere Lake’s governance customs and
replaced their Customary Chief and Council with a federally imposed Chief and Council,
in yet another effort to get out of the signed agreements,, because of the precedent setting
nature of these agreements.
In contravention of the Declaration on the Rights on Indigenous Peoples and the signed
agreements with the community, the federal and provincial governments are
collaborating on promoting infighting within the community while refusing to honour
signed agreements, which contributes to the poor social and economic conditions in the
From this case and other like KI, it appears there is a pattern in Canada to remove the
Indigenous Peoples from their traditional lands to allow for unfettered corporate resource
access and exploitation of forests, minerals, oil & gas and hydro projects.
In conclusion, we recognize that the mandate of the Permanent Forum does not extend to
mediating complaints. However, it is our submission the Permanent Forum can examine
cases, such as the Barriere Lake situation.
We recommend that the Permanent Forum accelerate the timing of a meeting to
determine their role in facilitating the implementation of the UNDRIP, as well as the
Millenium Development goals, otherwise the human rights of Indigenous Peoples will
continue to be violated by state governments hostile to the norms set out in the UNDRIP.
We also recommend that the Permanent Forum consider ways and means to look into
cases like the Algonquins of Barriere Lake, where state governments violate Indigenous
cutoms and break signed agreements.
6. Assembly of First Nation’s Briefing Note
1. To come to an agreement with Min. Strahl on a process to resolve the legal dispute
between ABL and DIA regarding DIA's decision to place ABL in third party
management (TPM).
2. To fix relations between ABL and DIA to enable cooperation in addressing dire social
conditions recently documented film-maker Richard Desjardin in The Invisible NationlLe
peuple invisible.
3. To find an urgent solution to re-open the ABL School, that has been closed by ABL
parents due to opposition to the TPM.
Summary of Dispute
DIA made a decision to put ABL into TPM in July 2006 based on an alleged financial
deficit. The ABL Elders Council challenged this decision in Federal Court in August
2006. The Elders argue that DIA acted unfairly, without proper consultation and contrary
to its own policies by moving ABL from co-management to TPM.
Dispute Connected with DIA's Failure to Fulfill Agreements with ABL
The Elders also claim DIA's failure to fulfill the following agreements breach the honour
of the Crown, breach fiduciary obligations and have adversely affected ABL's financial
position, which disentitles DIA from appointing a TPM:
1. Special Provisions -In this agreement, signed originally in 1997, DIA acknowledged
that ABL's financial situation was adversely affected by DIA's decision in 1996 to impose
an Interim Band Council and a TPM on the First Nation. Furthermore DIA committed to
engage in a process with ABL to address these financial issues and clarify its financial
2. Memorandum ofMutual Intent (MOM/) --In this agreement, signed in October 1997,
DIA committed to a new relationship with ABL based on mutual respect; and it
committed to working with ABL on a Global Proposal to Rebuild the Community.
3. TrilateralAgreement-This agreement signed with Canada and Quebec in 1991 basically
establishes a consultation and accommodation framework to address the rights and
interests of ABL in its traditional territory.
ABL acknowledges it lacks the capacity for financial management and is therefore
willing to accept some co-management arrangement on a without prejudice basis, until
the issues related to the above three agreements are resolved.
Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR) Efforts to Date
Around the National Day of Action on June 29
, DM Michael Wen1ick started
discussions with ABL on an ADR process. ABL was looking for a process to negotiate
all outstanding issues, including DIA's failure to honour the above agreements. The
discussions concluded in September with the appointment of Marc Perron, as Special
Ministerial Representative. His mandate was fuzzy: it was to fact-find, enter into
discussions and report back to the Minister on further negotiations. Despite reservations,
ABL tried to make the process work. The Federal Court proceedings were suspended by
agreement between ABL and DIA in October 2, 2007, to allow ADR. Unfortunately, the
process with Mr. Perron has not worked-out. The community is fed-up with the TPM
overall, but is particularly frustrated with the TPM's unilateral manner in running the
ABL School. As a result, a majority of the parents forced the closure of the School
around the end of November. ABL sent a letter to Min. Strahl on November 26
to find
an alternative.
Simplest Option: Keeping the same mandate, find a suitable replacement for Mr. Perron,
with the input of ABL and AFN.
ABL Preferred Option: Appoint a new Ministerial Rep with a full mandate to negotiate
all issues outstanding in Federal Court. Consider using a Federal Court Judge to mediate
or facilitate negotiations.
ABL Customs
ABL's governance is according to custom. Its Council is, and has always been, selected
under custom and not the Indian Act. There are divisions in the community as in most
other communities, which have been exacerbated by ABL's extremely poor social
Social Conditions
Despite the fact that ABL has unsurrendered Aboriginal title to its traditional territory,
the First Nation has been squeezed on to a 59 acre reserve at Rapid Lake, where its
people live in run-down, mould-laden and over-crowded houses. Unemployment rates
run to 80%. Construction of new homes is not possible because the reserve is too small
and the community is not connected to the hydro grid. These conditions are leading to
removal of children by Youth Protection Services. ABL's territory has generated wealth
and jobs for the regional economy through forestry, tourism and hydro development; but
ABL has received nothing of these benefits. The marginalization of ABL and other
Algonquin First Nations in Quebec was recently documented by noted Quebec filmmaker
Richard Desjardin, in an NFB film entitled The Invisible Nation/Le peuple invisible. The
NFB called the film an "alarming indictn1ent".
Trilateral Agreement
ABL signed a Trilateral Agreement with Canada and Quebec in 1991 in an effort to gain
some benefit as well as control in the management and development ofresources within
its territory. The federal government unilaterally withdrew from that agreement in 2001.
The Quebec Cabinet is currently considering a series of recommendations made jointly
by ABL's Negotiator, Clifford Lincoln, and Quebec's Negotiator, John Ciaccia, for comanagement
of the territory, resource revenue sharing, expansion of the reserve and
connection to the hydro grid. The Quebec Cabinet has delayed in approving the
recommendations, which has caused ABL to suspend forestry operations in its territory in
October. The Trilateral Agreement is the key to moving forward. Canada's absence at this
table impedes progress and undermines ABL's position.
Special Provisions and Memorandum of Mutual Intent The other two agreements in
issue, the Special Provisions and Memorandum of Mutual Intent, date back to the dispute
with DIA in 1996. In 1996, contrary to its own policies and the law, DIA interfered in
ABL's customary governance and installed an Interim Band Council (IBC) made-up ofa
dissident faction within the community. In recognizing the IBC, DIA claimed to be acting
on a petition and in accordance with an alleged "modem custom of leadership selection
by petition". At the same time, DIA appointed a third party manager, in a manner which
was also contrary to their policy at the time. The dispute caused hardship in the
community including the closure of the school and suspension of federal funding and
programs and services for one and a half years. Many of these issues remain outstanding.
The dispute was the subject of two Federal Court proceedings, which were not
determined on the merits. Instead, the dispute was resolved outside of court through
mediation and facilitation.
The mediation was undertaken by Justice Rejean Paul of the Quebec Superior Court -his
findings in January 1997 confirm that ABL did not select its leaders by petition and
therefore that DIA wrongly interfered in ABL's customary governance. Two Facilitators
were appointed by DIA and ABL, Andre Maltais and Michel Gratton, to resolve the
leadership issue and to address outstanding issues based on Judge Paul's Report. The
Facilitators resolved the leadership issue in 1997, by overseeing the codification of ABL's
customs and reaffirming ABL's Customary Council. DIA recognized the ABL Customary
Council in April 1997.
Messrs Maltais and Gratton were also mandated to address outstanding issues -issues
caused by DIA's improper intervention in 1996. They facilitated a resumption of DIA
funded services to the reserve and the signing of a Contribution Agreement in 1997,
which contained a Special Provision. This Special Provision has been in every
Contribution Agreement signed since 1997 and commits DIA to engage in a process with
ABL to address the financial issues related to DIA's interference with ABL's governance
in 1996-97. DIA also signed a Memorandum of Mutual Intent with ABL, which had
attached to it a Global Proposal to Rebuild the Community. DIA has fulfilled some
aspects of the MOMI~ however, it has totally refused to honour the Special Provisions.
7. Ottawa Citizen Op-ed by Boyce Richardson, Order of Canada recipient
Boyce Richardson, Citizen Special
July 15, 2008
I first came in contact with the Algonquins of Barrière Lake soon after the Brundtland
Report on the global environment was published by the United Nations in 1987.
That report had been endorsed by prime minister Brian Mulroney, and it recommended
that indigenous people should have "a decisive voice" in all development decisions about
their traditional lands.
There was no doubt that the greater part of the so-called La Vérendrye Wildlife Reserve,
north of Maniwaki, formed the traditional lands of this impoverished community.
Or that they had never signed any instrument of surrender covering these lands.
Or that these lands were being remorselessly clear-cut from under them, without taking
into account their interests.
Their approach to the prime minister that he "put up or shut up" in relation to their
traditional lands got them nowhere. The clear-cutting continued, and the community
decided to block access of the loggers to the forest, so far as they could with their limited
What I saw when I arrived there with a National Film Board crew was an impressive
challenge mounted by one of the poorest communities in Canada, to the combined might
of industry and government.
The outcome was an agreement - known as the Trilateral Agreement - with the federal
and Quebec governments, to make a detailed survey of the lands in question that would
establish the areas of central interest to the continuation of Algonquin life, and work out a
cutting plan that would take into account everyone's interest.
To say that the governments have been reluctant to implement this agreement would be
an understatement.
First the Quebec, then the federal government withdrew and then, under pressure from
outside mediators such as Clifford Lincoln, the respected federal MP and former Quebec
environment minister, and judge Réjean Paul, they rejoined, and then quit again, while,
ironically enough, the logging companies became the ones who were willing to
I always knew there was dissension among the people in Barrière Lake.
Opposition was centred around the family of a wonderful old lady, Lena Nottaway, who
had established a large camp for her family north of the reserve. Her family were
traditionalists, adhering to the old ways.
There were volatile people on both sides of this argument, but their relationships were not
improved when the Indian Affairs department decided in 1996 to depose the leadership
elected under traditional procedures, and recognized an alternative band council from
members who were by this time living in Maniwaki.
Of course, this extremely provocative act didn't succeed, but who could have been
surprised by it when it was totally in line with the federal department's traditional "divide
and rule" tactics that they have been using for two centuries? Recently, the feds have
tried to repeat their dreadful maneuver.
My later reading convinced me that since Europeans first arrived among them, the
Barrière Lake people have known nothing but hardship, promises and betrayals.
They are used to this kind of manipulation.
The decision to rob Barrière Lake of its traditional hunting grounds; the decision to jam
the people into the 59 acres of Rapid Lake; the handing over to outside hunters of the
animals they depended on; the many failed programs, programmed to fail, as far as I
could judge; the manifest bad faith of the federal government in its negotiations over the
Trilateral Agreement: all of these were inexcusable. So the later decision to intervene in
the governance of Barrière Lake seems to be simply a continuation of the neglect,
misunderstanding and arrogance that the feds have always shown toward this community.
I knew, liked, and admired people on both sides of the community argument. I have
found them to be a down-to-earth people with a real attachment to the land, which has
continued even against the extraordinary interference and provocations of these
I have found many of them to be repositories of the ancient bush wisdom of aboriginal
Through every possible discouragement they have clung to their language and way of
But -- is this the best that these people can expect in the way of governance? Is this the
best they can hope for in the way of financial and moral support from the federal
government, which is constitutionally responsible for their care?
Barrière Lake suffers from being remote from the cities; it is difficult for its people to get
a real hearing in the cities. And the fact that they are poor, in addition, puts them into the
category of voiceless people occupying the bottom rung of Canadian society.
And yet, the people of Barrière Lake are battling on in their effort to get the governments
involved to fulfill the many promises that have been made to them over recent decades.
They deserve the active support of everyone who cares about how Canada is governed.
Boyce Richardson is an Ottawa writer and filmmaker. His 1990 film, Blockade,
Algonquins Defend the Forest, will be screened along with a panel discussion as part of
an event at Arts Court tomorrow evening.
8. Algonquin Nation Secretariat Grand Chief Norman Young’s letter to Minister of
Indian Affairs Chuck Strahl and Laurier Riel report

9. Message from the Community
"We, the Barriere Lake traditional people have always lived under our customary laws,
which we have codified as our Mitchikanibikok Anishinabe Onakinakewin (the Barriere
Lake Customary Governance Code). This is what our great grandparents left for us, our
children and grandchildren, and the coming generations. Our responsibility is to make
sure that our customary laws will always be respected and protected.
Our Feast is where we give thanks for what we feed our families, the foods that come
from our lands and waters. The Three String Wampum is a symbol for shaking hands
with our Brothers and Sisters, their children and all living things. This is where our
teachings come from. We have a big responsibility: To Protect Our Land, To Protect Our
Animals, Fish and Birds. To defend our hunting way of life so our teachings and our feast
will continue to exist for our children, grandchildren and the coming generations, along
with our Language and Beliefs.
Today, as the traditional people of our community, we are fighting to defend our
customary laws from being violated by individuals who no longer respect them, including
how we govern ourselves. We will honor what our great grandparents left us. No one will
take our customary laws and side with the federal government to gain money by
compromising our rights and interests.
Our customary laws are meant to help us live in harmony on our Lands and with each
other. It is only when individuals living in our community violate and disrespect our
customs, that the harmony is broken. Despite repeated warnings to stop, a dissident
faction has continued to violate and disrespect our customs and have broken our
community's harmony. Therefore, on March 4, 2008, the majority of our eligible
community members of Mitchikanibikok confirmed that we will not accept these
dissidents living in our community. Now the federal government is trying to impose them
on us by using the Surete du Quebec to bring them into our community.
The Government of Canada and the Government of Quebec want to replace our
Customary Chief and Council because our leaders are demanding that they honour the
agreements they entered into with our First Nation.
For the federal government, that is:
The 1991 Trilateral Agreement.
The 1997 Memorandum of Mutual Intent & Global Proposal to Rebuild our Community.
The Special Provisions inserted into our Contribution Agreements until the Third Party
Manager took over our administrative affairs.
For the Government of Quebec, that is:
1998 Bilateral Agreement and the implementation of the Joint Recommendations adopted
by the Quebec negotiator, John Ciaccia, and our negotiator, Clifford Lincoln, particularly
paying our First Nation $1.5 million annually in Revenue Sharing.
The federal government is trying to impose a minority dissident group over our First
Nation in order to try and get out of their obligations under the signed agreements with
our First Nation. This is a repeat of what they tried to do to us in 1996-97."

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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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