“We recognize that we must confront the plundering by transnational companies and the harassment of bad governments through their political parties that offer programs and money that corrupt many leaders and divide our communities,” states the declaration of the National Indigenous Congress (CNI) of the Isthmus region, which took place in March 2014. While a furious battle has been unleashed for the recognition of indigenous rights and culture in other communities in Mexico and Latin America, in Oaxaca, new legislation is being debated on this very theme while large-scale projects continue to advance.
I first met Victoria Tauli-Corpuz 11 years ago in Rome. An indigenous Filipina activist, Vicky was attending a meeting on indigenous peoples’ rights at the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD), the United Nations rural development agency where I work. In fact, it was the first time indigenous peoples’ representatives had ever been invited to IFAD’s offices on the outskirts of the Eternal City. Since then, IFAD and the UN system as a whole have made progress on bringing indigenous issues and priorities into the mainstream of our work – though we still have plenty more to do. Flash forward to New York this spring, when I heard Vicky’s name called by the chair of the UN Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues in the General Assembly hall at UN headquarters.
Today the Athabasca Chipewyan First Nation (ACFN) announced they will no longer participate in the TransCanada Grand Rapids Pipeline hearing citing impossible timelines and prejudice within the process. The First Nation is referring to the project as the “Mother of All Pipelines” feeding projects like the Energy East Pipeline and the controversial Keystone XL pipeline projects. “The AER put us in an impossible position. I am dumbfounded by this process,” stated Adam before he continued to speak about the obstacles the ACFN has faced in trying to get action from both government and industry to adequately address their concerns. Adam spoke about how TransCanada consistently showed little regard to actually addressing the concerns raised by the ACFN and were more concerned with how much it would cost to “buy us off.” Adam added, “this new [Alberta Energy Regulator] regulatory process is fundamentally flawed. It is supposed to be the test of the new regulatory regime for oil and gas and pipelines in Alberta. Yet, it has seriously undermined our efforts to address any concerns about First Nations impacts.”
Some First Nations chiefs are willing to get arrested to stop Enbridge’s proposed pipeline project. Numerous legal proceedings were filed in appeal court seeking to overturn the federal government’s decision to move forward with the plan. Grand Chief Stewart Phillip says he is prepared to go out onto the land itself to oppose activities being brought forward by Enbridge‘s contractors. “For myself personally it won’t be the first time that I have been arrested in that situation and it won’t be the last time,” he adds. Phillip says this effort is not about money. It’s about the sea, the environment and indigenous land rights. “We will stand with our brothers and sisters in the courtrooms, and if necessary we will stand with our brothers and sisters in solidarity on the land itself,” he warns.
Palestine has always been the underdog, a country slowly being wiped off the map, a society daily and methodically being dismantled by Israel. As a principally unarmed and oppressed indigenous population, Palestinians are perceived as powerless against the military supremacy of Israel’s technological death industry, persistently outmanoeuvred by Israel’s political cunning and endlessly bullied by a Western world that has made a game of diplomacy and intrigue from our miserable fate. We’ve lost so much to Israel’s boundless plunder. Over and over, we lose. Home, heritage, life, dignity, security, hope, culture, narrative, orchards and olives, history and artifacts, livelihoods, innocence, language and identity. They’ve excavated our souls, renamed our villages, poured concrete over our ancient cemeteries, made brothels of our churches and mosques, and claimed our hummus, falafel and maqlooba as the traditional food of Jewish foreigners who daily arrive to take our place.
When Germany and Argentina square off in the Word Cup Final, the whole world will be watching the culmination of what may be the most exciting FIFA World Cup Tournament ever. What most people are unaware of, however, is the brutal conditions that FIFA creates to pull off the games.
When Jana-Rae Yerxa and Damien Lee organized the first #SettlersinSolidarity teach-in in Thunder Bay this June, they expected the lightly advertised event to draw a handful of attendees. To their surprise, they found themselves in front of a roomful of more than 40 participants. “You could tell that people were just hungry to have a different conversation about racism,” says Yerxa, who is Anishinaabe from the Couchiching First Nation. What Yerxa and Lee thought would be a modest beginning has developed into a loose network of non-Indigenous Thunder Bay residents coming together to educate themselves in the wake of several months of heightened racist commentary in mainstream and social media. In Thunder Bay, Vancouver and other locations, non-Indigenous Canadians are meeting together in growing numbers to explore what it means — and doesn’t mean — to stand in solidarity with Indigenous peoples within Canada.
British Columbia First Nations are wasting no time in enforcing their claim on traditional lands in light of a landmark Supreme Court of Canada decision recognizing aboriginal land title. The hereditary chiefs of the Gitxsan First Nations served notice Thursday to CN Rail, logging companies and sport fishermen to leave their territory along the Skeena River in a dispute with the federal and provincial governments over treaty talks. And the Gitxaala First Nation, with territory on islands off the North Coast, announced plan to file a lawsuit in the Federal Court of Appeal on Friday challenging Ottawa’s recent approval of the Northern Gateway pipeline from Alberta. The Kwikwetlem First Nation also added its voice to the growing list, claiming title to all lands associated with now-closed Riverview Hospital in Metro Vancouver along with other areas of its traditional territory. They cite the recent high court ruling in Tsilhqot’in v. British Columbia.
On June 24, 2014, 7 Toj in the Mayan calendar, Indigenous groups from all over Guatemala took part in national protests and roadblocks to bring attention to the continued discrimination and injustice faced by the Indigenous Peoples of Guatemala. Among the main priorities on the list of grievances were the discriminatory telecommunications laws and the mining and hydroelectric companies exploiting Indigenous territories. Our team took part in the march in the city of Quetzaltenango (Xela), in the department of Quetzaltenango. The march in Xela began at 8 am from three different entry points into the city center. The three groups would all meet for a larger demonstration in the Central Park of the city later that morning. Our team met with friends from Radio La Doble Vía and Asociación Mujb’ ab’l yol close to the terminal at the north west side of the city. Arriving there, it was shocking to imagine that this crowd represented only a third of the number of people that would be in the Central Park for the demonstration later on. An enormous crowd of mostly Maya Mam and Maya Kiche Indigenous groups were standing in front of Minerva Temple, with signs in hand, cheering along to chants like “Un pueblo unido jamás será vencido!” or in English, “United, we will never be defeated!”
Imagine the government taking away your two children in a hearing that lasts less than 60 seconds. Madonna Pappan and her husband, members of the Oglala Sioux Tribe in South Dakota, don’t have to imagine it, because it happened to them. And they’re not alone: An American Indian child in South Dakota is 11 times more likely to be sent to foster care than a non-Indian child. Imagine receiving a life sentence without the possibility of parole for serving as a go-between in the sale of two small $5 bags of marijuana. That’s exactly what happened to Fate Vincent Winslow, an African American homeless man who says that he accepted the offer of an undercover police officer for a $5 commission in order to earn some money to get something to eat. Mr. Winslow is now serving a life sentence, without the possibility of parole, in Louisiana for this and his other prior non-violent crimes. In that state, African Americans are serving life without parole sentences for nonviolent crimes at approximately 23 times the rate of whites. Nationwide, an estimated 65.4 percent of the prisoners serving such sentences are African American.
In this episode of Acronym TV, Derek Poppert of Global Exchange talks with Dennis about his Re-Think The Cup series. In a recent piece from the series, FIFA: Return The Beauty To The Beautiful Game, Derek writes: “So who wins the World Cup? While it may seem that decision is still getting played out in stadiums across Brazil, FIFA president Sepp Blatter is surely laughing from his luxury suite. The winner had already been decided well before the first match even began. FIFA’s 4 billion dollars in untaxed revenue from the event is the trophy. It appears to be of little interest to Mr. Blatter or other FIFA execs that this trophy has come on the backs of 200,000 low-income people being forcefully evicted from their homes to make room for the event, 8 construction workers dying in the frenzied rush to erect stadiums on time, or 14 billion dollars in Brazilian taxpayer money being spent on the tournament in the face of poverty, inequality, and widespread social issues within Brazil.”
Imagine the impact if a player from one of the remaining FIFA semifinal World Cup teams (Germany, Brazil, The Netherlands, or Argentina) were to engage in an act of protest against FIFA for it’s Imperial practices that have literarily displaced at least 250,000 Brazilians? Imagine if Lionel Messi, Thomas Muller,Arjen Robben, or even the injured Neymar were to pull a John Carlos sometime during the semifinals or finals of the World Cup? If any sports organization deserves to be protested, FIFA is it. As Dave Ziron correctly pointed out, Luis Suárez May Bite, but FIFA Sucks Blood.
In the winter of 2012-2013, round dances erupted in malls, universities, airports, major intersections in cities and First Nations communities. Hundreds, and sometimes thousands, of Indigenous people and non-Indigenous allies joined hands to dance. That was part of the phenomenon that was called Idle No More (INM). On April 4, a book that documents and celebrates the INM movement in writing, poetry, photographs, paintings and posters, was launched at Toronto’s Ryerson University. About 40 people attended the Canadian launch of the book entitled The Winter We Danced. Monica McKay, director of Ryerson’s Aboriginal Initiatives and a member of the Nisga’a Nation, performed a traditional opening ceremony. The Winter We Danced has 74 contributors. The book was the brainchild of a group called the Kino-nda-niimi Collective. Among its members are Hayden King, assistant professor of Politics and director of the Centre for Indigenous Governance at Ryerson. King is Pottawatomi and Ojibwe from Beausoleil First Nation in Ontario. Among other things, King selected the photographic images contained in the book. Niigaanwewidam James Sinclair, who is Anishinabe from St. Peter’s Little Settlement in Manitoba, acted as the lead editor for the book. Sinclair teaches courses in Indigenous literatures, cultures and histories at the University of Manitoba.
The Department of Interior is now going to steal protected land on Pine Ridge in South Dakota. The Oglala Sioux and Lakota Sioux of the reservation have been told by the Federal Government that the National Parks Service will take over land in the South Unit of the Badlands National Park. Interior claims it will be a “Tribal National Park” in an effort to camouflage the theft. They will hold the land in “trust” for the Indians. Thousands of Indians will be affected, losing their residence and their income from grazing allotments. The remaining independent ranchers will go out of business.