VANCOUVER – In January of this year, the Canadian Association of Petroleum Producers made a presentation to high-ranking officials in British Columbia’s Environment Ministry, outlining changes they wanted to environmental review rules for natural gas projects. Those changes became law on April 14, but they didn’t stay that way for long. An outcry from First Nations organizations forced an about-face from Environment Minister Mary Polak, who rescinded the revisions two days after they were passed by order-in-council. “Industry prefers shorter regulatory timelines and less regulatory burden to reduce costs,” said internal documents obtained by The Canadian Press through a Freedom of Information request.
In the wake of federal hearings about reopening uranium mines and milling in Black Hills treaty territory, members of the Washington, D.C.-based Atomic Safety and Licensing Board (ASLB) must decide if Native American sacred sites would be adequately preserved under the hotly contested license for the proposal. The proponent, Powertech Uranium Corp., which is changing its name to Azarga Uranium Corp. and the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) staff, argued at August hearings that a Programmatic Agreement for phased-in surveys of cultural resources is sufficient to justify granting the license to operate in the 10,500-acre Dewey-Burdock mining area of southwestern South Dakota. “The complete evaluation of the historic and cultural resources adequately satisfies NRC requirements,” Powertech Azarga Counsel Christopher Pugsley said, in arguing for dismissal of contentions.
A First Nations group protesting a copper and gold mining site in the heart of the Sacred Headwaters of northwest B.C. was responded to by RCMP officers with rifles on Friday afternoon, according to several eyewitness accounts. Members of the “Klabona Keepers” have occupied a drill site in Tahltan territory, near Iskut B.C. for several days. The drill is operated by Firesteel Resources of Vancouver. Tahltan band member Peter Jakesta helps run the protest camp, and said four RCMP members came in unannounced, took their radios, and told them to leave or risk being charged with theft.
What a Dasiqox Tribal Park would help to protect: (1) Would connect five surrounding parks: Ts’yl?os, Big Creek, Nunsti, Big Creek, and Southern Chilcotin Mountains. (2) More than 10,000 hectares of threatened white bark pine forest, perhaps the largest and healthiest such stands remaining in Western Canada, not decimated by white pine blister rust, the mountain pine beetle, and wildfires driven by climate change. (3) The last viable refuge for the dryland grizzly bear, which historically occurred down the western mountains of North America in the lee of the coast ranges. The diet of these grizzlies ranges from white bark pine nuts to salmon. (4) Important spawning habitat for chinook, sockeye, and coho salmon, having made lengthy journeys via the Fraser and Chilcotin rivers; the low sockeye run in Yohetta Creek is considered a unique genetic stock that is endangered. (5) Migratory routes for mule deer as well as ancient Tsilhqot’in trails, both local and long-distance, some of them thought to date back thousands of years.
This September, Leonard Peltier will spend his 70th birthday in pain and isolation. Prisoner # 89637-132 is exactly where the FBI wants him: locked up in one of America’s largest federal supermaximum prisons in Coleman, Florida. One of America’s longest-suffering political prisoners, Peltier is an Anishinabe-Lakota Native American who has wrongfully spent nearly 40 years in prison for the alleged murder of two, armed FBI agents in a shoot-out on the impoverished Pine Ridge Indian Reservation in 1975. Peltier was brought up on murder charges on the word of a young Indian woman whom he had never met. That woman, Myrtle Poor Bear, retracted her testimony in 2000, issuing a public statement to explain that her testimony was forced after months of abuse and intimidation at the hands of FBI agents. Despite international outcry and an abundance of evidence that the FBI coerced, harassed, and manipulated testimony as well as ballistics evidence at Peltier’s trial in 1977—and the FBI’s subsequent admission that they have no idea who was actually responsible for the deaths–Peltier has been denied parole repeatedly.
First Nations signatories of one of Canada’s founding treaties are set to start a landmark court action Tuesday against the federal and provincial governments on what they say is a failure to live up to terms of a deal made more than 150 years ago. Nearly two dozen First Nations fall under the Robinson Huron Treaty of 1850, a vast territory encompassing 92,463 square kilometres in the middle of Ontario stretching from Sudbury to the shores of Lakes Superior and Huron and points north. In exchange for use of those lands by the crown, indigenous people were told they would be paid $2 a year with regular increases as profits from the land grew, said Mike Restoule, chairperson of the Robinson Huron Treaty Trust Fund. But there has been only one annuity increase of $2 in 1874 and nothing since, even though the area contains vast mining, forestry and land resources that corporations and the government have profited from for decades, said Restoule. Currently, the 24,000 to 30,000 descendants of the Ojibway Indians covered under the treaty receive $4 a year each. Failure to make regular annuity increases means the First Nations are seeking restitution and a clearer understanding of future payments. While a figure between $500 million and $1 billion is not out of the question concerning how much is owed, Roger Jones, a member of the Robinson Huron legal team, said they want a full accounting of profits made from the lands before arriving at a firm number.
IMA, Peru — An outspoken Peruvian opponent of illegal logging and three other native Ashaninka community leaders were shot and killed in the remote region bordering Brazil where they live, villagers and authorities said Monday. The activist, Edwin Chota, had received frequent death threats from illegal loggers, who he had tried for years to expel from the lands for which his community was seeking title. Illegal loggers were suspected in the killings, said Ashaninka regional leader Reyder Sebastian. Pervasive corruption lets the loggers operate with impunity, stripping the Amazon region’s river basins of prized hardwoods, especially mahogany and tropical cedar. “He threatened to upset the status quo,” said David Salisbury, a professor at the University of Richmond who was advising Chota on the title quest and had known him for a decade. “The illegal loggers are on record for wanting Edwin dead.” Chota and the others were apparently killed on Sept. 1, the day they left Saweto, the village he led on the Upper Tamaya river, to hike to a sister Brazilian Ashaninka community, said the village schoolteacher, Maria Elena Paredes. When the men did not show at the Brazilian village, worried comrades who had traveled ahead of them returned and found the bodies — apparently killed by shotgun blasts — near some shacks on the Putaya river, Paredes said.
Monday, September 8, 2014, the Attikamek nation declared independence of Quebec. The Attimakets are protesting against the exploitation of natural resources in their traditional territory. Unlike many other indigenous nations, Attikamek never signed treaties with the French colonists, British or the Canadian government, and thus did not give up their land. In June the Supreme Court of Canada made one of the most important decisions on Aboriginal rights by granting the demands of the Tsilhqot’in Nation, who had not signed a treaty with British Columbia. The court recognized the Tsilhqot’in territory, giving them the power to decide which economic activities can take place there. The Declaration of Independence of the Attikameks involves 80 000 km2 of land in Quebec.
In October this year, 30 Pacific Climate Warriors from 12 different islands will arrive on Australian shores to stand up to the coal and gas industry. They will use the canoes they have built to paddle out into the harbour of the world’s largest coal port – Newcastle – to stop coal exports for a day. The port of Newcastle is exporting destruction upon the Pacific Islands at an unprecedented scale, and plans for expansion are underfoot. If the port were a country, it would be ranked 9th in the world in terms of emissions. If nothing is done to transition away from the fossil fuel industry, many of the Pacific Islands stand to lose everything. Pacific Islanders have spent over 20 years negotiating and pleading with countries like Australia to cut their emissions and to stop digging up fossil fuels – to save their homelands and their cultures from the consequences of climate change, such as rising sea levels. But still, the coal and gas industry is doing the opposite of that. They’re ramping up extraction at an unprecedented rate, while continuing to attack the renewable energy industry. It is a radical attack on our Islands and our cultures. For the future of their cultures and Islands, the Pacific Climate Warriors cannot sit by and watch this happen. That’s why Islanders from across the Pacific have been preparing for this journey to Australia and building traditional canoes. For most, this has been a first – warriors have been reconnecting with their cultures in order to take up the fight they need to save them.
After pledging to ramp up efforts to address the problem of murdered and missing aboriginal women, the RCMP plans to unveil a revised national policy that will include greater emphasis on information-sharing across jurisdictions, a standardized missing-persons intake form and a requirement that investigators set up a communications schedule with the victim’s family. The policy, which is part of the force’s soon-to-be revealed missing-persons strategy, is in the final stages of review and is expected to be released next week. Already, the force has moved ahead with several initiatives since publishing its unprecedented report on murdered and missing women in May – for example, updating its homicide paperwork to identify whether a victim is aboriginal and selecting 10 communities in which to focus violence prevention efforts. In an interview with The Globe and Mail, the director of the RCMP National Aboriginal Policing Services discussed the developments, which come in the wake of the slaying of an aboriginal girl in Winnipeg and amid renewed calls for a national inquiry. “Our policies have always dictated that missing-persons investigations are priority investigations that need to be followed through with haste and urgency,” said Superintendent Tyler Bates. “That said, I think the additional investigative tools that are being provided … reinforce the gravity of these instances and the investigational avenues that need to be pursued.”
To roll back these perilous misdeeds we need a vibrant movement that stirs our hearts, stokes our spirits, compels us to take meaningful action to protect what we love and reminds us of our responsibility to fight for the world our children deserve. An immensely important aspect of the work is to honor, highlight, and support the leadership exemplified by those who have been careful stewards to this beautiful land for centuries before the exploitation and extraction of it ensued. Backbone strategically designed our 6th annual Localize This! action camp to practice and model the good approach to alliance building that Backbone Campaign and our collaborators have been engaged in. At this year’s Localize This! we went to school on how to be good allies with Natives.
Thanks to the courageous and indefatigable efforts of pipeline fighters everywhere, the tide has finally turned on Keystone XL. As it becomes increasingly clear that Keystone XL’s northern leg is not going through, it is time to set our sights on ending all tar sands exploitation. The Obama administration’s latest election year delay on Keystone North is not a victory, but the dominoes continue to fall. Earlier this year, a citizen lawsuit denied TransCanada a route through Nebraska. Last month, it lost its permit through South Dakota. Now it faces a gauntlet of “Cowboys & Indians” vowing to stop it in its tracks. . . .We need to heed the indictment of the tar sands industry issued by Ponca Nation matriarch and grandmother Casey Camp-Horinek of Oklahoma: “We’re suffering from environmental genocide from this extractive industry.”
Australia could end the disadvantage endured by its Indigenous population by opening up traditional lands as dumping sites for nuclear waste from around the world, a former prime minister, Bob Hawke, has said. Hawke said he was confident that the answer to long-standing indigenous socioeconomic problems was to allow radioactive waste to be stored on Aboriginal land, and use the revenue to improve living standards. Speaking at the Indigenous Garma festival in the Northern Territory, Hawke said he had met Adam Giles, the territory’s chief minister, to discuss the idea and had got a favourable response. “We need to do something substantial to finally eliminate these disgraceful gaps in well-being and lifetime opportunities,” Hawke said. “I have no hesitation whatsoever in putting the situation in very specific terms because I believe I have the answer. “I’ve discussed this proposal with Adam Giles, who tells me he’s been approached by a number of elders who, like himself, are keenly supportive of the proposal.” Despite having some of the largest deposits of uranium in the world, Australia has maintained a long-standing opposition to nuclear power and storing radioactive waste from overseas.
Winona LaDuke, executive director of Native environmental group Honor the Earth, launched the “Love Water Not Oil” horse ride this week to draw attention to the group’s continued opposition to the Enbridge Sandpiper pipeline. It would carry fracked oil from North Dakota’s Bakken shale oil fields through the Sandy Lake and Rice Lake watersheds in northern Minnesota. The area is not only rich in recreational fishing facilities but it is also home to vast fields of wild rice or manoomim, a Native American staple. The ride began at Rice Lake on Aug. 18 and concludes at Big Bear Landing on the White Lake Reservation on Rice Lake on Aug. 27, where there will be a powwow and gathering. During the ride, which anyone is free to join, the group plans to raise awareness of the pipeline and its impact on both surrounding Native communities and local landowners. The group says: This is the only land that the Anishinaabe know, and we know that this land is good land, and this water is our lifeblood.
A gathering in Kenora this weekend will mark the 40th anniversary of the Anicinabe Park occupation. Dozens of young First Nations people from across the continent, including members of the American Indian Movement, joined the protest in 1974. They were demanding better living conditions, education and access to land. One of the original protestors, Lorraine Major, said the people who were there with her should be remembered and honoured. “I’d like to remember the people that have passed,” she said. “They had the guts to stand up for their rights. They had the guts to speak out against leadership.” Events are planned in Kenora throughout the weekend, to mark the anniversary.