Category Archives: Native American Struggles

Tom Goldtooth: Mother Earth Should Not Be “Owned, Privatised and Exploited”

Standard

May 9, 2012

Tom Goldtooth, an activist for social change in Native American communities and is the executive director of Indigenous Environmental Network.

For centuries, indigenous peoples and their rights, resources and lands have been exploited. Yet long overdue acknowledgment of past exploitation and dedicated efforts by indigenous peoples have done little to end or prevent violations of the present, stated indigenous leaders in the Manaus Declaration of 2011.

The declaration, part of preparations for the upcoming U.N. Conference on Sustainable Development, frequently referred to as Rio+20, in June, recounted the “active participation” of indigenous groups in the first Earth Summit in Rio de Janeiro in 1992 and similar efforts in 2002 that led to the adoption of the term “indigenous peoples” for the United Nations (U.N.) Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples.

Despite this work, “the continuing gross violations of our rights…by governments and corporations” remain major obstacles to sustainable development, the declaration continued. “Indigenous activists and leaders defending their territories still continue to be harassed, tortured, vilified as ‘terrorists’ and assassinated by powerful vested interests.”

As Rio+20 approaches, IPS interviewed Tom B.K. Goldtooth, who has been an activist for social change in Native American communities for more than three decades and is the executive director of Indigenous Environmental Network (IEN), an alliance of indigenous peoples that combats the exploitation and contamination of the earth and will participate in the Rio+20 conference.

Goldtooth called for a “new paradigm of laws that redefine humanity and its governance relationship to the sacredness of Mother Earth and the natural world”.

The activist explained that the most effective measures for reducing deforestation, protecting the environment from unsustainable mineral extraction and preserving a better world for future generations are to strengthen international, national and sub-national frameworks for collectively demarcating and titling indigenous peoples’ territories.

U.N. Correspondent Aline Jenckel spoke with Tom Goldtooth about the main threats faced by indigenous peoples and how the Rio+ 20 conference could be a success.

Q: At the Rio+20 conference in June, you will speak on behalf of indigenous peoples and their human rights, in terms of protecting their natural environment and creating sustainable development. What is the key message you hope to convey? 

A: The thematic discussion of green economy and sustainability creates differences in views between the money-centred Western views and our indigenous life-centred worldview of our relationship to the sacredness of Mother Earth.

Many of our indigenous peoples globally are deeply concerned with the current economic globalisation model that looks at Mother Earth and nature as a resource to be owned, privatised and exploited for maximised financial return through the marketplace.

With this development model, indigenous peoples continue to be displaced from their lands, cultures and spiritual relationship to Mother Earth, and destruction to the life-sustaining capacity of nature and the ecosystem that sustains us and all life continues as well.

For the sake of humanity and the world as we know her, to survive, there must be a new paradigm of laws that redefine humanity and its governance relationship to the sacredness of Mother Earth and the natural world.

This includes the integration of the human-rights based approach, ecosystem approach and culturally- sensitive and knowledge-based approaches. The world must forge a new economic system that restores harmony with nature and among human beings.

We can only achieve balance with nature if there is equity among human beings.

At Rio+20, global governments must look cautiously at any green economy agenda that supports the commodification and financialisation of nature and take concerted action to initiate the development of a new framework that begins with a recognition that nature is sacred and not for sale and that the ecosystems of our Mother Earth have jurisprudence for conservation and protection.

Full recognition of land tenure of our place-based indigenous communities are the most effective measures for protecting the rich biological and cultural diversity of the world.

Q: What are the biggest threats to Indigenous people’s livelihoods today, and how can they be addressed? 

A: Indigenous peoples from every region of the world continue to inhabit and maintain the last remaining sustainable ecosystems and biodiversity hotspots in the world.

Destructive mineral extractive industries continue to encroach on indigenous peoples’ traditional territories. Unconventional oil and extreme energy development, with the real-life effects of climate chaos, are directly affecting the wellbeing of indigenous peoples from the North to the Global South.

Indigenous peoples can contribute substantially to sustainable development, but they believe that a holistic framework for sustainable development should be promoted.

With the knowledge that development that violates human rights is by definition unsustainable, Rio+20 must affirm a human rights-based approach to sustainable development.

Particularly, the U.N. Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples must serve as a key framework which underpins all international, national and sub-national policies and programs on sustainable development with regard to indigenous peoples.

Q: Recently, some non-governmental organisations (NGOs) expressed deep concern about the reversals on agreements made by governments in 1992 and say there’s no country taking leadership of or acting as a visionary role in the conference. Do you believe there is still hope for new, binding commitments? 

A: Because of the climate chaos, financial instabilities and ecological devastation, the world doesn’t have an option to reverse the agreements made in 1992.

World leaders must remember the active participation of indigenous peoples in the Rio Earth Summit (UNCED 1992) and the parallel processes indigenous peoples organised, which resulted into the Kari- oca Indigenous Peoples’ Declaration.

Agenda 21 embraced the language of Kari-Oca that recognised the vital role of indigenous peoples in sustainable development and identified Indigenous Peoples as a Major Group. Rio+20 must reaffirm the commitments made by UNCED to indigenous peoples in 1992.

Source

Menominee seventh grader suspended for saying “I Love You” in her Native language

Standard

February 3, 2012

Miranda Washinawatok Menominee

SHAWANO, WISCONSIN – What’s love got to do with it? Not much, especially if you say the words “I love you” in the Menominee language in front of a certain Wisconsin teacher.

Seventh grader Miranda Washinawatok, Menominee, found this out.

Miranda speaks two languages: Menominee and English. She also plays on her basketball team. However, two Thursdays ago she was suspended for one basketball game because she spoke Menominee to a fellow classmate during class.

Miranda attends Sacred Heart Catholic Academy in Shawano, Wisconsin. The school body is over 60 percent American Indian. The school is approximately six miles from the south border of the Menominee Indian Tribe Reservation.

“On January 19 I was told by Miranda she was being benched from playing that night. I found out at 4:20 and we were back at school at 6:30 pm so I could get to the bottom of why she could not play,” said Tanaes Washinawatok, Miranda’s mother.

“Miranda kept saying she was only told by her assistant coach she was being benched because two teachers said she had a bad attitude. I wanted to know what she did to make them say she had a bad attitude.”

At the school, the teachers and coaching staff seemed to want to cast blame on each other, according to Miranda’s mother.

“I wanted to talk to the principal, but he was not there before the game started,” stated Tanaes Washinawatok. Being a persistent concerned parent, Washinawatok was back at the school by 7:30 the next morning to speak to the principal.

The principal told Washinawatok that the assistant coach told him she was told by two teachers to bench Miranda for attitude problems.

The alleged ‘attitude problem’ turned out to be that Miranda said the Menominee word

“posoh”
that means
“hello”

and said

“Ketapanen”

in Menominee that means “I love you.”

Miranda and a fellow classmate were talking to each other when Miranda told her how to say “Hello” and “I love you” in Menominee.

“The teacher went back to where the two were sitting and literally slammed her hand down on the desk and said, “How do I know you are not saying something bad?”

The story did not end there. In the next session, another teacher told Miranda she did not appreciate her getting the other teacher upset because “she is like a daughter to me.”

By the time, Miranda was picked up by her mother she was upset for being suspended.

“Miranda knows quite a bit of the Menominee language. We speak it. My mother, Karen Washinawatok, is the director of the Language and Culture Commission of the Menominee Tribe. She has a degree in linguistics from the University of Arizona’s College of Education-AILDI American Indian Language Development Institute. She is a former tribal chair and is strong into our culture,” states Tanaes Washinawatok.

Washinawatok has had a total of three meetings with school officials and was promised Miranda would receive a public apology, as would the Menominee Tribe, and the apologies would be publically placed.

“On Wednesday, a letter was sent to parents and guardians. A real generic letter of apology, that really did not go into specifics as to why there was this apology,” Washinawatok told the Native News Network Thursday evening.

“I still don’t think it was enough.”

Sacred Heart Catholic Academy is operated by the Diocese of Green Bay, which ironically has an option on its answering machine for Spanish, but not Menominee. A call put in late Thursday afternoon by the Native News Network was not returned by press time.

Source

Ban Colonialism and Apartheid – Not Raza Studies!

Standard

A statement from the Raza Press and Media Association on the resent banning of number of important works by indigenous North American authors (both Chicano and Indian) by the white power government of Arizona. The RPMA is associated with the indigenous-Chiaco revolutionary nationalist organization Unión del Barrio.

Last week the Tucson Board of Education capitulated to the Superintendent of Education John Huppenthal of Arizona, in an attempt to erase, censor and alter the content and character of Tucson’s educational curriculum.

By dismantling Chicano/a Studies and banning books such Occupied America, by Rodolfo Acuña, Rethinking Columbus: The Next 500 Years, by Rethinking Schools, and Pedagogy of the Oppressed by Paulo Freire, among other books, the Tucson School Board stood on the side of apartheid white rule over the needs and interests of the majority Raza/Indigenous people of that city and of that state.

With one notable exception, the Tucson School Board voted 4‐1 in favor of pulling over 50 titles from the classroom –putting ignorance above critical thinking.

For more than 20 years the Chicano Studies curriculum taught through the Mexican American and Ethnic studies courses were successful in providing a sense of historical understanding to the present day oppression of Raza/indigenous majority of Arizona. This program was one the few set of courses in the whole of the United States that were successful in enabling students to graduate from High School and attend colleges and universities.

So it is no surprise that in the age of increased hostility towards Raza/Indigenous people‐ the racist settler governor, Jan Brewer, signed into law HB2281 in May of 2010. HB2281 was written with the explicit objective of prohibiting “ethnic solidarity” and class‐consciousness –important elements towards building unity among oppressed peoples to effect social justice.

This is why apartheid white rule has openly attacked ethnic solidarity and class‐consciousness; it wants to maintain its political power by utilizing ignorance and lies to alter history.

After more than one year of legal challenges to HB2281, the courts of Arizona in December of 2011 allowed the State Superintendent of Public Instruction to eliminate the Mexican American and Ethnic Studies programs by defunding school districts that teach these areas of study. This act clearly demonstrates that there is no democracy within the current political, judicial and educational system in the United States.

It is clear to us that these attempts to censor and silence the voices of truth and justice, are from those forces who are scared and shaking in their boots of the possibility of oppressed people learning the truth about ourselves and our ability to become subjects of our own liberation. Our task as Raza journalists is to expose the nature of the rotten colonial school system. This is why we must step up our efforts to expose the lies, defamation and dehumanizing conditions imposed on our communities by settler institutions of white power (courts, legislators, and schools).

As an organization who for more 20 years has been struggling for real free speech and raising the critical consciousness of all oppressed people, the Raza Press and Media Association stands in solidarity with the educators, students and parents of Tucson and throughout Arizona, in their struggle to defend the right to learn about our history, social and economic justice, and the right to self‐determination.

We end this brief statement by encouraging all who are in unity with building a movement for a real liberating education to attend the 6th Annual Association of Raza Educators (ARE) Conference, entitled: ¡Aqui Estamos, Educamos, Transformamos y No Nos Vamos!, to be held on April 14th, 2011, at Lincoln High School in San Diego, CA.

¡Que Viva la Raza!
¡Que Viva Chicano/Raza Studies!

Source

December 29, ‘A Day That Will Live In Infamy’ For The Lakota

Standard

By Tim Giago
December 28, 2011

Big Foot (Si Tanka)

Most white South Dakotans forget that in December of 1890 there were still violent hostilities that existed between the Lakota and the United States. To this day an all-inclusive peace treaty has never been signed between the tribes of the Great Sioux Nation and the United States government.

On December 15, 1890 Tatanka Iyotanka (Sitting Bull) was shot to death by tribal police officers Red Tomahawk and Bull Head. Many of his followers fled to seek refuge with his half-brother, Si Tanka (Big Foot). Because Big Foot had been affiliated with the new religious formation known as the Ghost Dance, and fearing arrest and reprisals, Big Foot set out for Pine Ridge after an invitation from Chief Red Cloud to join him there and assist him in finding a path to peace.

Big Foot’s followers numbered around 300 and fled to Pine Ridge under a white flag of peace. They had no intention of fighting and in fact their intentions were just the opposite; all they wanted was to find a place of peace.

On December 28 they were intercepted by the 7th Cavalry, the same branch of the U. S. Army that was headed by George Armstrong Custer in 1876 at the Little Bighorn. Big Foot’s band was pushed to make an encampment at Wounded Knee creek. They were stripped of their weapons.

The next morning, December 29, while forced to line up for further searches a weapon discharged and the massacre at Wounded Knee began. Without weapons, the Lakota warriors shouted to the women and children to flee and they fought the soldiers with their bare hands.

Big Foot was shot to death while lying in his tent suffering from pneumonia.

Two weeks before the massacre after hearing of the death of Sitting Bull, a newspaperman named L. Frank Baum, the same man who wrote The Wonderful Wizard of Oz a few years later, editorialized in the Aberdeen (S.D.) Saturday Review, “Sitting Bull, most renowned Sioux of modern history, is dead. He was an Indian with a white man’s spirit of hatred and revenge for those who wronged him and his. With this fall the nobility of the Redskin is extinguished and what few are left are a pack of whining curs who lick the hand that smites them. The Whites, by law of conquest, by justice of civilization, are masters of the American continent, and the best safety of the frontier settlers will be secured by the total annihilation of the few remaining Indians.”

My grandmother Sophie was an employee at the Holy Rosary Indian Mission, just a few miles from Wounded Knee, and told of the soldiers that rode on to the mission grounds on that freezing day in December, some with blood still on their gloves, and about how she and several of the students had to feed and water their horses.

American Horse, a prominent Lakota leader said, “There was a woman with an infant in her arms who was killed as she almost touched the flag of truce . . . A mother was shot down with her infant; the child not knowing its mother was dead, was still nursing. The women as they were fleeing with their babies were killed together, shot right through and after most all of them had been killed a cry was made that all those who were not killed or wounded should come forth and they would be safe. Little boys came out of their places of refuge, and as soon as they came in sight a number of soldiers surrounded them and butchered them.”

More than 20 Medals of Honor were given to the soldiers involved in this pitiless massacre. To the Lakota people, even to this day, December 29, 1890 is a “Day that will live in infamy.”

To the Lakota it will never be ancient history, but a day they will tell their children about and their children will tell it to their children. My grandmother was there and remembered that day and as a Lakota woman, she and all of our relatives were marked for annihilation by the newspaper man L. Frank Baum. He called for the genocide of the Lakota people and no one, except the Lakota people, saw any wrong in this.

I heard a television newsman say just last week that the shooting at Virginia Tech where 33 students were killed, was the largest mass shooting in American history. Numbers vary on the Massacre at Wounded Knee, but nearly 300 would not be far from reality. And then there were the massacres at Sand Creek and Washita, to name a few more where American Indian men, women and children were shot to death.

America has never made reparations nor apologized for this Day of Infamy.

Source

The Wampanoag Side of the First Thanksgiving Story

Standard

By Michelle Tirado
November 22, 2011

"The First Thanksgiving at Plymouth," by Jennie A. Brownscombe, 1850-1936. (Courtesy Pilgrim Hall Museum)

Too often the story of the 1621 Thanksgiving is told from the Pilgrims’ point of view, and when the Wampanoag, who partook in this feast too, are included, it is usually in a brief or distorted way. In search of the Native American perspective, we looked to Plymouth, where the official first Thanksgiving took place and where today the Wampanoag side of the story can be found.

Plimoth Plantation is one of Plymouth’s top attractions and probably the place to go for the first Thanksgiving story. It is a living museum, with its replica 17th century Wampanoag Homesite, a representation of the homesite used by Hobbamock, who served as emissary between the Wampanoag and Pilgrims, and staffed by 23 Native Americans, mostly Wampanoag; 17th century English Village; and the Mayflower II, a replica of the ship that brought the Pilgrims to Plymouth.

According to a Plimoth Plantation timeline, the Mayflower arrived at Plymouth Harbor on December 16, 1620. The Pilgrims settled in an area that was once Patuxet, a Wampanoag village abandoned four years prior after a deadly outbreak of a plague, brought by European traders who first appeared in the area in 1616. The museum’s literature tells that before 1616, the Wampanoag numbered 50,000 to 100,000, occupying 69 villages scattered throughout southeastern Massachusetts and eastern Rhode Island. The plague, however, killed thousands, up to two-thirds, of them. Many also had been captured and sold as slaves.

This statue of Wampanoag leader Massasoit is in Plymouth, Massachusetts. (Courtesy Native Plymouth Tours)

And yet, when the Wampanoag watched the Mayflower’s passengers come ashore at Patuxet, they did not see them as a threat. “The Wampanoag had seen many ships before,” explained Tim Turner, Cherokee, manager of Plimoth Plantation’s Wampanoag Homesite and co-owner of Native Plymouth Tours. “They had seen traders and fishermen, but they had not seen women and children before. In the Wampanoag ways, they never would have brought their women and children into harm. So, they saw them as a peaceful people for that reason.”

But they did not greet them right away either. The English, in fact, did not see the Wampanoag that first winter at all, according to Turner. “They saw shadows,” he said. Samoset, a Monhegan from Maine, came to the village on March 16, 1621. The next day, he returned with Tisquantum (Squanto), a Wampanoag who befriended and helped the English that spring, showing them how to plant corn, fish and gather berries and nuts. That March, the Pilgrims entered into a treaty of mutual protection with Ousamequin (Massasoit), the Pokanoket Wampanoag leader.

Turner said what most people do not know about the first Thanksgiving is that the Wampanoag and Pilgrims did not sit down for a big turkey dinner and it was not an event that the Wampanoag knew about or were invited to in advance. In September/October 1621, the Pilgrims had just harvested their first crops, and they had a good yield. They “sent four men on fowling,” which comes from the one paragraph account by Pilgrim Edward Winslow, one of only two historical sources of this famous harvest feast. Winslow also stated, “we exercised our arms.” “Most historians believe what happened was Massasoit got word that there was a tremendous amount of gun fire coming from the Pilgrim village,” Turner said. “So he thought they were being attacked and he was going to bear aid.”

When the Wampanoag showed up, they were invited to join the Pilgrims in their feast, but there was not enough food to feed the chief and his 90 warriors. “He [Massasoit] sends his men out, and they bring back five deer, which they present to the chief of the English town [William Bradford]. So, there is this whole ceremonial gift-giving, as well. When you give it as a gift, it is more than just food,” said Kathleen Wall, a Colonial Foodways Culinarian at Plimoth Plantation.

The harvest feast lasted for three days. What did they eat? Venison, of course, and Wall said, “Not just a lovely roasted joint of venison, but all the parts of the deer were on the table in who knows how many sorts of ways.” Was there turkey? “Fowl” is mentioned in Winslow’s account, which puts turkey on Wall’s list of possibilities. She also said there probably would have been a variety of seafood and water fowl along with maize bread, pumpkin and other squashes. “It was nothing at all like a modern Thanksgiving,” she said.

While today Thanksgiving is one of our nation’s favorite holidays, it has a far different meaning for many Wampanoag, who now number between 4,000 and 5,000. Turner said, “For the most part, Thanksgiving itself is a day of mourning for Native people, not just Wampanoag people.”

At noon on every Thanksgiving Day, hundreds of Native people from around the country gather at Cole’s Hill, which overlooks Plymouth Rock, for the National Day of Mourning. It is an annual tradition started in 1970, when Wampanoag Wamsutta (Frank) James was invited by the Commonwealth of Massachusetts to give a speech at an event celebrating the 350th anniversary of the Pilgrims’ arrival and then disinvited after the event organizers discovered his speech was one of outrage over the “atrocities” and “broken promises” his people endured.

On the Wampanoag welcoming and having friendly relations with the Pilgrims, James wrote in his undelivered speech: “This action by Massasoit was perhaps our biggest mistake. We, the Wampanoag, welcomed you, the white man, with open arms, little knowing that it was the beginning of the end.”

Source

South Dakota Profits When Native Kids Get Thrown Into Foster Care

Standard

By Jorge Rivas
October 27, 2011

(Illustration captured from NPR’s Disproportionately index.)

A year-long NPR News investigation has found that nearly 700 Native American children in South Dakota are being removed from their homes every year.

Sometimes the removals happen under very questionable circumstances. And the problem isn’t isolated to just one state; Native children are overrepresented in the foster care systems of dozens of others — including Washington, Idaho, Nebraska, Iowa and Minnesota.

In 1978, Congress passed the Indian Child Welfare Act. The law made clear that — except in only rare circumstances —Native American children whose homes are deemed unfit must be placed with their relatives or tribes.

But 32 states are failing to abide by the act in one way or another, and, the NPR investigation has found, nowhere is that more apparent than in South Dakota.

In South Dakota, Native American children make up less than 15 percent of the child population, yet they make up more than half of the children in foster care. Nearly 90 percent of them are in non-native homes or group homes, according to analysis of state records.

State officials say they’re doing what’s in the best interest of the children, but the NPR investigation found the state does have a financial incentive to remove kids form their home. Here’s why:

The state receives thousands of dollars from the federal government for every child it takes from a family, and in some cases the state gets even more money if the child is Native American. The result is that South Dakota is now removing children at a rate higher than the vast majority of other states in the country. …

Critics say foster care in South Dakota has become a powerhouse for private group home providers who bring in millions of dollars in state contracts to care for kids. Among them is Children’s Home Society, the state’s largest foster care provider, which has close ties with top government officials. It used to be run by South Dakota’s Gov. Dennis Daugard. An NPR investigation has found that Daugard was on the group’s payroll while he was lieutenant governor — and while the group received tens of millions of dollars in no-bid state contracts. It’s an unusual relationship highlighting the powerful role money and politics play in South Dakota’s foster care system.

Less than 12 percent of Native American children in South Dakota foster care had been physically or sexually abused in their homes, below the national average. The state says parents have “neglected” their children, but that’s a subjective term.

All this sound eerily familiar?

Congress passed the Indian Child Welfare Act because Native American children were being taken and sent to boarding schools in a deliberate effort to wash away their indigenous heritage.

Read the complete first part of NPR’s year-long investigation on NPR.org.

Source

AIM leads march to stop the tar sands Keystone XL Pipeline

Standard

October 27, 2011

Clyde Bellecourt of the American Indian Movement (AIM) speaking in front of the Canadian Consulate. (Fight Back! News/Staff)

Minneapolis, MN – About 150 people joined the American Indian Movement, the Indigenous Environmental Network and OccupyMN for a rally and march to stop the Keystone XL Pipeline, Oct. 27. Speaking in front of the Canadian Consulate, Clyde Bellecourt, of the American Indian Movement expressed solidarity with OccupyMN, denounced the oppression of native peoples and urged support for the movement to block the pipeline.

The planned pipeline would transport synthetic crude oil from the Tar Sands of Alberta, Canada, to refineries in the Midwest, and southward to the Gulf of Mexico. Chief Terrence Nelson, of the Roseau River Anishinabe First Nation Tribe in Manitoba, Canada, traveled to Minneapolis to speak and participate in the rally and march.

The rally opened with the chant, “O Canada! You must know! The GK pipeline has to go!” Later, AIM drummers led the march through the streets of downtown Minneapolis.

A statement from protest organizers states, “The pipeline will destroy wetlands, continue to feed our addiction to global climate change – inducing fossil fuels, create enormous amounts of global warming and toxic pollution and hurt indigenous people’s lands.”

Source

Venezuela Celebrates Indigenous Resistance Day, Ancestral Lands Granted to Indigenous Communities

Standard

By EWAN ROBERTSON – VENEZUELANALYSIS.COM

Indigenous groups marched across the country to mark the Day of Indigenous Resistance (RNV)

Mérida, October 13th 2011 (Venezuelanalysis.com) – This past Wednesday, the Venezuelan government returned over 15,800 hectares of ancestral lands to the indigenous Yukpa people, as the country celebrated “Indigenous Resistance Day” with public events and marches across the country.

Designated by Franklin D Roosevelt as “Columbus Day” in 1937, the 12th of October is the date that Christopher Columbus first “discovered” the Americas. The anniversary was re-named “Day of Indigenous Resistance” by Venezuelan president Hugo Chavez in 2002 to commemorate the beginning of the indigenous struggle against European invasion and colonisation.

The ancestral lands were officially returned to the Yukpa people in a great assembly in the Sierra de Perijá in the North-Western state of Zulia. Venezuelan Vice-president Elias Jaua led the ceremony, declaring it to be “an act of social justice attached to our constitution” which repaid what is owed to those who “for years maintained control over these lands”.

“Five hundred years ago there was forced displacement of indigenous communities; there were five hundred years of humiliation by the violence of the colonizers,” continued the Vice-president.

Nicia Maldonado, Venezuelan Minister for Indigenous Peoples, also highlighted the connection between Venezuela’s constitution and the policy of returning the lands, stating: “today we are making justice and revolution. The concepts of our constitution are being made reality.” Maldonado also added that the recovered lands “should be converted into productive space…to reconstruct the form of living of the ancestral communes of the indigenous peoples”.

In 2008, president Chávez intervened in a violent land dispute between the owners of the large-landed estates in the area and the Yukpa people, who claimed that the landlords had illegally acquired historical Yukpa territory. As a result of the intervention, over 40,000 hectares were granted to the indigenous community.

“There should be no doubt: Between the large estate owners and the Indians, this government is with the Indians” said Chávez at the time.

Despite this, some Yukpa, Barí and Japrenía peoples opposed the move, claiming that it left much of the estates intact. According to comments made by Vice-president Jaua yesterday, the latest land grants should contain everything required for the Yupka to maintain their culture and traditions.

As well as land granted to the Yukpa, the government also confirmed that indigenous groups in Zulia, Anzoátegui and Monagas will also receive land titles on December 15th this year. A further set of land-titles will also be granted to indigenous groups in April 2012.

 National Day of Celebration

In other celebrations, Venezuelan indigenous groups, activists and government representatives held public events and marches throughout the country. In the city of Bolivar, over 400 representatives of the Pemón, Kariña and Warao peoples marched to highlight the continued struggle for the preservation of indigenous culture and to celebrate the gains for indigenous rights obtained under the Bolivarian Revolution.

Cecilio Pérez, regional coordinator of the Chief Guaicaipuro Indigenous Front, stated “the indigenous people thank the indigenous rights consecrated in the constitution. We want to thank the Organic Law of Indigenous Peoples and Communities (LOPCI), the communal councils, and the Law of Land and Habitat for the Demarcation of Indigenous Territory”.

Bernardo Aray of the Kariña people also highlighted that there is still much to be done in the area of indigenous cultural preservation and land rights.

“The struggle for the demarcation of ancestral land continues” he stated.

In Caracas, the National Assembly passed an accord which recognizes the historic heroism of indigenous leaders and celebrates indigenous constitutional rights. The accord also calls for the universal adoption of October 12th as a Day of “Global Indigenous Resistance”.

Since coming to power in 1999, the Venezuelan government has made significant attempts to empower indigenous citizens and to promote indigenous culture through various missions and legislation. A series of indigenous rights are also set out in the 1999 Venezuelan constitution, which guarantees the country’s indigenous population three representatives in the National Assembly.

Earlier this year, the Venezuelan government announced the construction of new socialist communes for inhabitation by indigenous communities and other measures relating to Venezuela’s indigenous population, such as efforts to integrate indigenous groups into the Great Venezuelan Housing Mission launched in May.

Source

Indigenous People’s Day at OccupyMN

Standard

October 11, 2011

Indigenous People’s Day at Occupy MN, October 10, 2011 (Fight Back! News/Staff)

Minneapolis, MN – Clyde Bellecourt of the American Indian Movement (AIM) organized a rich and moving Indigenous People’s day ceremony of speakers, dancing and drumming for OccupyMN at the People’s Plaza, Oct 10.

“This is a day of mourning for the 120 million indigenous people of the western hemisphere erased from the face of the earth after the pirate Columbus landed,” said Bellecourt.

The Meshika and the Ketzal Coatlicue dance groups energized and electrified the crowd and opened their circle for all to dance.

The General Assembly, a mass meeting where the occupation is organized, cut short their daily meeting to see Jackie Star, who came from South Dakota perform the beautiful and difficult hoop dance. As hundreds gathered around, she and the spirited AIM drummers sang. The evening ended with everyone greeting each other by walking in 2 facing lines.

Source

Christopher Go Home!

Standard

By Enaemaehkiw Túpac Keshena
October 9, 2011

On October 12, 1492 the real war against terror, waged by the indigenous people of the continent now called the Americas, began. It has not ended in the 519 years since.

On that day some European named Christopher Columbus washed up on the shores of our Taíno brothers and sisters in the Bahamas. However, unlike the European of today who go there for sun, sand and liquored beverages served by colonially enslaved Africans, this European was one seriously fucking lost guy (he was so lost that we are not even sure where he was from)! If you can believe it this guy was actually on his way to China!

Much to the fortune of the Chinese Christopher ran into us first. It was of course anything but a fortunate encounter for us.

He brought with him the weird Trinitarian god of his people (apparently I am told that it is three people but one person but three!?) and the hatred of women and two-spirited people that this god commands. He also brought with him the strange European lust for a shiny yellow coloured metal called gold.

It was all down hill from there.

Christopher opened the way for more and more lost Europeans to wash up on our shores. This process was directly responsible for the murder of millions and millions of our people. I am told that these Europeans have a love of liberty and religious and cultural freedom. I guess they forgot to apply this love to residential schools and reservations.

Christopher was also a slavetrader in Africa before he washed up over on this side of the Great Lake. He began the slave trade in the “Americas” (so named after another lost European) because so many of people were worked death in the name of their bizzare loving god (why do people worship this three-but-one guy again?) or died from the diseases they brought (these people were filthy) that they needed to steel Africa’s babies in order to replace us.

Oddly enough though these supposedly freedom loving Europeans have created a holiday to celebrate Christopher’s fateful journey. We, the indigenous people, however think that he deserves no holiday, no parades, no statues.

Christopher’s Day celebrates the doctrine of discovery – the legal process that stole Indian people’s territories, and that continues today.

Christopher brought a philosophy of domination to the Americas that persists today – domination of other peoples, domination of the environment, domination of other belief systems, domination of women by men.

Put Simply, the legacy of Christopher is one steeped in blood, violence, and death.

The day celebrating him was created in 1907. 104 years later its time to remove this day celebrating violence, bloodshed and the dispossession and extermination of indigenous peoples from our calender. We must actively rejects the celebration of Christopher and his legacy. We must also reject historical misconceptions regarding Christopher and his “discovery” of the Americas.

As my small contribution to the fight against colonialism and one of the key holidays that celebrates it, here are some links to a selection of resources for anti-Christopher and anti-Christopher Day activists and warriors: