An indigenous community in the United States has filed a petition against the federal government, alleging that officials have repeatedly broken treaties and that the court system has failed to offer remedy. The petition was filed by the Onondaga Nation, a Native American tribe and one of more than 650 sovereign peoples recognised by the U.S. government. Onondaga representatives are calling on the Inter-American Court of Human Rights (IACHR), the human rights arm of the pan-regional Organisation of American States (OAS), to intervene. “We understand that the U.S. does not adhere to the OAS, but I don’t know where we go. We’ve exhausted our avenues.” — Onondaga leader Sid Hill In 2005, the Onondaga Nation filed a case against New York State, stating the state government had repeatedly violated treaties signed with the Onondaga, resulting in lost land and severe environmental pollution. Yet advocates for the trips say antiquated legal precedents with racist roots have allowed the courts to consistently dismiss the Onondaga’s case.
On Earth Day, April 22, ranchers and members of native communities along the proposed route of the Keystone XL Pipeline will arrive in Washington, DC to reject the pipeline and protect their land. The coalition, called the Cowboy Indian Alliance, will set up an encampment on the National Mall through April 27 to oppose the pipeline that would transport dilbit from the tar sands of Canada to the refineries of the Gulf Coast. “Reject and Protect,” as it is called, promises to be yet another major anti-Keystone XL protest. The builder of the Keystone XL, TransCanada Corp., has applied to the State Department for a cross-border permit. Final approval rests with President Obama. “We want to tell the President that this is much bigger than protecting unions or environmentalists. It’s about protecting land, water, and homes,” says Jane Kleeb of Bold Nebraska, one of the sponsoring organizations. Over a dozen tribes—including Sioux, Rosebud, Crow, and Yankton—will pitch fifteen tipis in front of the Smithsonian Museum of Natural History. A covered wagon will represent ranchers.
The decades-long standoff between Nevada cattle rancher Cliven Bundy and federal officials trying to push his cows off public, protected land came to a head last week when Bundy’s armed supporters forced the feds to back off on live TV, scoring a public relations victory. Now Bundy is a folk hero, at least to Libertarians, the Tea Party, conservative talk-show hosts and other right-wing critics of the government. Bundy, a multi-millionaire farmer who hasn’t paid for grazing rights on public lands for more than 20 years, also stands to garner substantial support from some very wealthy enemies of President Obama. Americans for Prosperity, a conservative group backed by billionaire brothers Charles and David Koch (which spent $122 million trying to defeat Obama and other Democrats in 2012), is already instigating a campaign against the Bureau of Land Management on Bundy’s behalf. It began a social media campaign, using the hashtag #BundyBattle, and is taking to the Internet to mock the time and money the bureau has wasted (some $1 million according to its poster) fighting the “little guy.”
Oyate Wahacanka (“Shield the People”), a project of the Rosebud Sioux Tribe, has erected tipi spirit camps along the northern route of Keystone XL to “stop progress along the pipeline right-of-way.” Should it need to, the tribe intends to use its “legal and moral authority” to nonviolently prevent the construction of the tar sands project. As described on their website, Lakota leaders are standing their ground against Keystone XL. . . This Earth Day, a “Cowboy Indian Alliance” from the Keystone North pipeline route will ride into the nation’s capitol on horseback and set up tipis near the White House to call on President Obama to reject a presidential permit for the tar sands project. This public event comes two and a half years after a group of “Cowboys and Indians,” joined by Daryl Hannah, first saddled up to fight Keystone XL. The 6-day Washington, DC encampment is called Reject and Protect.
This is just one echo of a litany of genocides that Indians of the Americas continue to face. Davi’s descriptions are the most detailed recorded from the victims’ side: They are a harrowing indictment of the real price of the resources stolen from tribal lands, one never paid by those who profit. Davi has visited foreign cities, which he finds inhuman, with their inequalities and overcrowding. He observes, “People constantly ask you for money . . . even to drink or urinate . . . their thought is seized with dizziness, and their eyes are always on the alert.” In the Bronx, he tells of the houses “in ruins” and recounts, “The people . . . have no food, and their clothes are dirty and torn . . . they looked at me with sad eyes . . . These white people . . . are greedy and do not take care of those . . . who have nothing . . .They do not even look at them . . .They force them to camp outside in the rain with their children . . . It scared me.”
Leaders from eight tribes in South Dakota and Minnesota pitched their flags. Participants erected nine tipis, a prayer lodge and a cook shack, surrounding their camp with a wall of 1,500-pound hay bales. Elders said they would camp out indefinitely. Speakers said they were willing to die for their cause. This spirit camp at the Sicangu Lakota Rosebud reservation was the most visible recent action in Indian Country over the proposed Keystone XL pipeline. But it was hardly the first … or the last. On the neighboring Pine Ridge Indian Reservation, Debra White Plume, an activist and community organizer involved in Oglala Lakota cultural preservation for more than 40 years, has been leading marches, civil disobedience training camps and educational forums on the Keystone XL since the pipeline was proposed in 2008. White Plume is the founder of the activists groups Owe Aku (Bring Back the Way), the International Justice Project and Moccasins on the Ground…
The heart of the battle to stop the Keystone XL Pipeline from carrying excavated tar sands from Canada through the US on its way to export lies in a small community in South Dakota. Recently members of the Lower Brule Sioux Tribe learned that their Tribal Council was working on a deal to build the power station on their tribal land that will provide electricity to the pipeline. The electricity is necessary to heat the pipeline in order to keep the thick bitumen and chemical additives flowing. In exchange, the community is to receive wind turbines and free electricity. This power station is the heart of the pipeline that will keep the fluids flowing. Without it, the pipeline will not function. That is why members of the Lower Brule community view their struggle to stop the power station as essential. But they are facing opposition not only from TransCanada but also from their own Tribal Council.
My desire was to say something that hasn’t been said, including a perspective not brought to the table. Everyone wants to make this an 80-year issue, but it’s not. It’s a 522-year issue. The issues that are being talked about with the football issue actually span back to 1492. So to put into perspective an American Genocide, something any indigenous person would tell you is a real thing, and juxtaposing that with the ridiculous notion of ‘honor’ or ‘reconciliation’ through racial slurs and gross misrepresentation of indigenous people through caricatures seemed the right thing to do. Northeast D.C. has residents that are true locals of the city, and who have generations of family that have lived here. Many are fans of the football team. For me to have a piece like that in this area is provocative because of the history of the team in this part of the city. I
The founders of Idle No More joined a prestigious list this month as Foreign Policy magazine named the women to its top 100 global thinkers list. The list includes Pope Francis, 16-year-old activist Malala Yousafzai, U.S. National Security Agency whistleblower Edward Snowden, journalists Glenn Greenwald and Laura Poitras, and Canadian astronaut Chris Hadfield. Idle No More founders Jessica Gordon, Sylvia McAdam, Sheelah McLean and Nina Wilson began the now-global movement in Saskatoon last year by hosting a small teach-in at Station 20 West. The teach-in was to protest the federal government’s proposed omnibus budget bill, C-45. The bill, which was more than 400 pages long and which passed last December, was criticized by many Idle No More protestors, stating it infringed upon First Nations land and treaty rights.
In an increasingly explosive political climate in the Kitimat area over a controversial vote on the Northern Gateway pipeline, the Mayor of Kitimat was flash mobbed by a group of mostly First Nations people, donning “No Enbridge” shirts at a Haisla girls basketball championship on Sunday. “No Enbridge! No Enbridge! No Enbridge!” yelled the packed gymnasium crowd, nearly all wearing black protest shirts. “When you’re in politics for 36 years, I guess I kind of expected it,” Mayor Joanne Monaghan told the Vancouver Observer Wednesday. “You don’t mix church and state, and don’t mix recreation and politics,” she added. The Mayor was invited to the Haisla Village of Kitimaat, which neighbours her municipal district, to hand out a $2,000 prize for the victorious girls team – something she’s done annually for years.
While half of the world’s species are disappearing, while the remaining 48 hunter/gatherer societies are literally fighting for their survival, while 32 million acres of rainforest are cut down a year, and while three hundred tons of topsoil are lost a minute, we are again at war with those who would destroy the planet. There have been many wars fought on behalf of our life-giving land in North America. The overwhelming majority of those killed in defense of the land have come from peoples like the Sioux, the Cheyenne, the Nez Perce, the Sauk, and the Apache. Native Americans have long stood in the way of this destructive culture. It is time that we join with Native Americans and other dominated peoples around the world who are at war. It is time that we, the privileged in this settler culture, step off our pedestal and onto the battlefield to place our bodies in harm’s way like so many indigenous people have before us and continue to do today.
Leaders of a small native camp in central B.C. that is blocking the right-of-way of a proposed gas pipeline say they won’t be moving any time soon, even if a court orders them to. Freda Huson and her husband, Dini Ze Toghestiy, who are both Wet’suwet’en members, said they have been dug in so long on the Pacific Trail Pipeline Project route that they consider the camp their home now. In Vancouver over the weekend to attend “training workshops” for anti-pipeline protesters, Ms. Huson said she suspects an injunction may soon be brought against the camp, which is located about 60 kilometres south of Houston. “We don’t give a care about their injunction … the blockade is already in place … nobody has a right to remove me,” said Ms. Huson, who belongs to the Unis’tot’en clan of the Wet’suwet’en. “We actually live there … so basically they are trying to put an injunction on our home,” she said.
Healing Walk From Victoria To Ottawa: “Walking For the Survivors and the Family That Never Made it Home” from Barnacle Productions on Vimeo. On March.28th/2014 James Taylor set out on a 4,600km healing walk for survivors, and non-survivors, of the residential school system. His walk will take him from Victoria BC, Lekwungen Territories, all the way to Ottawa in time for the closing ceremonies of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission. He departed with a small backpack, a reusable grocery bag, a large pack of fresh socks, 3 bundles of sage, 3 sweetgrass braids, some tobacco, a huge heart, and huge mission in front of him. He is updating his Facebook page throughout his journey, so if you would like to find out more details about his adventures, or how to get involved, please follow this link: facebook.com/events/615632645191824
“Screw the company trying to take our river, and the government. If I die, I’m going to die defending life.” So said María Santos Dominguez, a member of the Indigenous Council of the Lenca community of Rio Blanco, Honduras. April 1 marks one year since the Rio Blanco community began a human barricade that has so far stopped a corporation from constructing a dam that would privatize and destroy the sacred Gualcarque River. Adults and children have successfully blocked the road to the river with their bodies, a stick-and-wire fence, and a trench. Only one of many communities fighting dams across Honduras, the families of Rio Blanco stand out for their tenacity and for the violence unleashed upon them.
Two complaints filed by the BC Civil Liberties Association (BCCLA) against the Royal Canadian Mounted Police and the Canadian Security Intelligence Service are moving to the next level of investigation, according to a news release. The complaints filed last month allege that the RCMP and CSIS acted unconstitutionally in spying on and monitoring the peaceful activities of community groups and First Nations opposed to the proposed Enbridge Northern Gateway Pipeline project. News about the spying came to light when The Vancouver Observer obtained documents via Freedom of Information showing that the RCMP and CSIS were monitoring environmental and citizen groups including Leadnow and ForestEthics, as well as Idle No More activists.