May 31, 2007
Open letter to Tony Bender, president of the North Dakota Newspaper Association
By Andy Laverdure, Turtle Mountain Chippewa tribal member
Your most recent article decrying the banishment action taken by the Turtle Mountain Tribe against Rob Port is off mark. You state that the action “did more to discredit the tribal council than it did to discredit Port." How so?
You misconstrue the intent of the banishment action. If you actually lived on the reservation and witnessed or experienced the hurt and harm caused not only to the tribe itself, but to tribal residents (Indian and non-Indian), you would realize that the banishment action was necessary and appropriate. The action primarily served to bring the issue to the forefront and to spotlight the tribe’s disgust at the insult.
The banishment action does not restrict Rob Port’s free speech in any way whatsoever. Can you tell me how this is possible? Rob still has his blog site. He still works with Steve Cates and the Dakota Beacon. He still apparently and appallingly has the ears of the North Dakota Newspaper Association.
In your article, Mr. Bender, you state “a real opportunity to educate and refute any misconception is being squandered” and that tribal membership should “use this opportunity to tell this story from the perspective of the tribe." You let me know where the story can be told, who should tell the story, and how it should be told.
If the tribe didn’t take drastic measure, do you even think anyone in your news world would be showing any interest? Most North Dakota newspapers have always shown distaste for Indian issues. Selected news is usually negative, except for positive input from individuals like Dorreen Yellow Bird at the Grand Forks Herald.
There have been many occasions where tribal people have tried to tell their story, but no one would listen. Who makes the decisions in the state relative to what is newsworthy? Not tribal members, that’s for sure.
It may come as a surprise to you, but the US Constitution applies only sporadically to Indian tribes. Tribes have their own laws and have every right to apply those laws as they see fit. In this case, the Turtle Mountain Tribe saw fit to banish Rob Port for the terror he caused to the tribe and the tribe’s membership. The article and the ensuing battle that occurred in the sayanythingblog site caused a great deal of consternation and emotional harm to tribal membership. The harm cannot be adequately described, but it was great. No one seems to care about that aspect of this story; after all, those negatively affected are only a bunch of Indians. As I asked before, and will continue to ask, where is the outrage about the article from the non-tribal voices in our state? The article brought shame onto the whole state, not only Indian Reservations.
(Comment two) To the editor
From: Andy Laverdure
Tony Bender, president of the North Dakota Newspaper Association argues the importance of free speech and the First Amendment in his May 25, 2007 opinion article to various outlets in North Dakota.
Mr. Bender states that “debate often makes us wiser and sometimes changes hearts and minds”. I certainly hope so.
When you enter http://www.sayanythingblog.com/, you can use key words to search the site in the upper right corner of the page. If you type in “Indian Reservations” for example, you will be taken to a list of all threads that discuss Indian Reservation related issues. This is an important tool to use for tracking issues.
If you type “Manhart” into search, you will find pornography. The article, titled: “Air Force Sgt. Michelle Manhart Suspended While Military "Investigates" Playboy Spread
(With Pics)”, dated January 11, 2007 is written by Rob Port. The article has an update at the bottom of the page that states "Thanks to a helpful reader, if you want to see Sgt. Manuhurt's pictorial click here, here and here. Investigation complete". Please note the new spelling of the name Manhart. The click here references are blue and take you to the nude pictures. These pictures display full frontal nudity.
KXNET.com syndicates the sayanythingblog site. KXNET includes: KXMB, Bismarck; KXMA, Dickinson; KXMC, Minot; and KXMD, Williston. Syndication means these stations sponsor and support Rob Port and his sayanythingblog site. You need to contact these stations to see if they support nudity and pornography.
The North Dakota Republican Party also supports the sayanythingblog site and has a link calling the sayanythingblog site “Interesting”. The Dakota Beacon, an extension of the Republican Party lists the sayanythingblog site as “North Dakota’s most popular blog” and has Rob Port as one of its contributors. Steve Cates, publisher of the Dakota Beacon, is also Chairman of the North Dakota Family Alliance, an organization that espouses integrity and a Christian statement of faith. Each of these entities, the NDGOP and the Dakota Beacon support and promote the Rob Port blog site. Do they also support and promote pornography?
When you enter the sayanythingblog site, there is no notification to anyone entering that the site contains nudity and pornography. Anyone under the age of 18 can enter the site. Parental blocks? Those can only be made when parents are aware.
Now, I ask, how does pornography affect free speech at the blog site? A friend of mine has stated “people who live in glass houses…”
Tony Bender's editorial:
"Opportunity for Dialogue Squandered"
by Tony Bender
May 30, 2007
By Brenda Norrell
Human Rights Editor
U.N. OBSERVER & International Report
Independent news at the Hague
NEW YORK -- The Indigenous Border Summit of the Americas, held in San Xavier on Tohono O'odham land in Arizona, was so successful that the United Nations Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues is calling for a second Border Summit.
The Border Summit is having far-reaching global impacts.
"As the United Nations Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues VI came to an end, I am glad to inform you that it too recommended the call for another International Border Summit," said Tony Gonzales, field representative for the International Indian Treaty Council and among the moderators of the Border Summit in San Xavier.
"Migration and development, border deaths and conflict, border crossing and ID use and displacement of whole communities apparently is coming under scrutiny. It is emerging as a hot topic in the halls of the United Nations and gathering movement; and the global search for solutions."
In New York, the Permanent Forum priorities were the protection of intellectual and traditional property rights, safeguarding genetic integrity, climate change and border issues.
The Border Summit of the Americas, organized by Mike Flores, Tohono O'odham, with support from the International Indian Treaty Council, in 2006, issued a proclamation of Indigenous border rights. The proclamation called for an end to the militarization of borders and a halt to the harassment of Indigenous Peoples crossing borders. The declaration opposed the construction of a U.S. and Mexico border wall that would dissect O'odham communities and violate an O'odham ceremonial route.
The summit gathered testimony from those who are living in the border region, including victims of the military and border agents and those struggling to uphold human rights. The summit brought together in solidarity Mohawk from the north with Indigenous from the southern border.
Gonzales said the Border Summit received endorsement from the United Nations at the preparatory session in April, then again in May from the Forum.
"The preparatory meeting held in mid-April 2007 in Minneapolis in the presence of Willie Little Child, UN Permanent Forum member, endorsed the Border Summit including the San Xavier District Declaration, and recommended in their report the support of another such effort to the UN Permanent Forum."
A site has not yet been selected for the second Border Summit.
The United Nations said that Indigenous leaders wrapped up the annual session of the United Nations Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues with a series of recommendations calling on Member States to take steps to protect their rights to lands, territories and natural resources.
Participants urged countries to adopt measures to halt "land alienation" in Indigenous territories – such as by imposing a moratorium on the sale and registration of land in areas that are occupied by Indigenous Peoples, according to the U.N. news release.
They also called for the world’s estimated 370 million Indigenous Peoples to be given a central role in dispute-solving arrangements over the lands, territories and natural resources they occupy and use, as well as the right to receive information about these issues in a language they can understand.
During the two-week summit, recommendations included a call for financial and technical assistance so that Indigenous Peoples can map the boundaries of their communal lands, the imposition of penalties on those who carry out harmful activities on indigenous lands, and the payment of compensation to indigenous peoples as a result of such activities.
The recommendations are contained in the Forum’s report, to be forwarded to the Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC), which stresses that territories, lands and natural resources are the sources of Indigenous Peoples’ spiritual, cultural and social identity.
Victoria Tauli-Corpuz, Chairperson of the Permanent Forum, said that Indigenous People worldwide have long suffered discrimination over their entitlements to occupying and using lands and natural resources.
“One of the key reason why Indigenous Peoples are being disenfranchised from their lands and territories is the existence of discriminatory laws, policies and programmes that do not recognize indigenous peoples’ land tenure systems and give more priority to claims being put by corporations – both State and private,” she said.
More than 1,500 Indigenous representatives attended the Forum’s session. Next year’s Forum will focus on the theme of climate change and there will also be sessions devoted to the Pacific region and to the protection of the thousands of threatened Indigenous languages.
Indigenous oppose Border Wall and Militarization:
To read reports on the Border Summit, please see:
Articles from the Border Summit by Brenda Norrell:
"Mohawk and Tohono O'odham solidarity at Border Summit"
"Border Summit opposes border wall"
"Tohono O'odham Bennett Patricio, Jr., ran over by Border Patrol"
"Tohono O'odham Mike Wilson: Border Patrol is occupying army"
PHOTOS: Top: Mike Flores, Tohono O'odham receives flag from Mark Maracle, Mohawk, at the Border Summit in San Xavier. Lower left: Mike Wilson, Tohono O'odham who puts out water for migrants dieing in the desert, speaks at summit. Right: Irvin and Angie Ramon, Tohono O'odham, whose 18-year-old son Bennett Patricio, Jr., was ran over and killed by the Border Patrol speak at summit. Bottom right: Treaty Council staff Tony Gonzales on Alcatraz. Photos Brenda Norrell. Bottom right: Western Shoshone Carrie Dann and Michelle Cook, Navajo and participant at the summit in San Xavier, at the Permanent Forum in May in New York. Courtesy photo.)
Gwich'in and Saami on Climate Change: The thawing Arctic
by Hanay Geiogamah
Reposted from Pechanga Net: www.pechanga.net/
In the wake of HBO' s disappointing and history-deranging adaptation of Bury My Heart At Wounded Knee, American Indian actors, writers, aspiring directors and producers arrive at the end of the trail for their decades-long struggle to gain a footing in Hollywood: our cause is lost in the American film and television industry.
It is now time for us to abandon our stake in the Hollywood camp, this distressed outpost, now time for us to gather on the open beach at Santa Monica and there bury in the sand our hopes for participation and inclusion, then head out of town with our heads held a high as we can hold them. We will be better off re-locating our work back to the reservations, to the tribal communities and scattered remnants of land allotments that were given to us in treaties with the United States government over a hundred years ago in the epic tragedy which Dee Brown described so vividly and thoroughly in his iconic history. And there, hopefully safe from the misbegotten creative and economic forces of the industry, we must knuckle down and produce our own films, our own television dramas, write our own accounts of our history, and present them in images that we create and that we will control. We have an audience of two million American Indians waiting.
With Bury My Heart At Wounded Knee, the power brokers of the industry have demonstrated that their entertainment values and demands prevail over anything we say or do, write or create, that our history is for them to tell, to fictionalize, to distort with false love stories and character portrayals, and to trivialize all that is complex and tragic. HBO did not ask for or seek the help and guidance of any of the experienced American Indian creative professionals who might have helped steer them away from this debacle. Yes, Indian actors played the Indians, but that was all.
With breathtaking arrogance, Bury My Heart's narrative forcibly inducts American Indians into the brotherhood of savagery as a way of universalizing them and making them like all other people. Genocide is dramatized as just as much the result of the mean-spirited and physically cruel behavior of American Indians, who were fighting for their very survival, as it was of the inhumanity of the American armies. The last shreds of Indian nobility are eliminated once and for all.
A feature article on the making of Bury My Heart titled "The Last Stand" in the May 27 Los Angeles Times gives a brief, perplexing account of how Hollywood came to the view that American Indians can now be justly and fairly seen as co-agents of their own destruction. As a two-hour condensation of the book, "The film didn't have time to dwell on the spiritual, Earth-friendly image of Native Americans," says the article's author, Graham Fuller. "Nor does it offer a politically correct perspective," he adds. The Sioux, we're told, were "as rapacious as their white conquerers."
This view is scaldingly laid out with the portrayal of Sitting Bull as a baby killer, as a coward who hid in his tipi at the height of the Battle of Little Bighorn, and as a greedy buffoon who lusts for the white man's money and approval. The scriptwriter, Daniel Giat, confidently tells The Times, "My primary objective was to fully dimensionalize these people. Sitting Bull was vain. He was desperate to hold onto the esteem of his people and win the esteem of the whites. But I think in depicting his desperation and the measures he took in acting on it, it makes it all the more sad and tragic, and I think we identify with him all the more for it."
To complete this grim, determined view, the film presents every Indian cliche imaginable in graphic, full-bodied images without context or explanation: brutal scalpings; stoic, saddened faces of Indian elders; sick, dying babies; herds of wild horses surging across open prairies; vast armies of Indian warriors mounted along high vistas; war ponies being ceremonially painted; desperate ghost dancers, and heartless Indian agents and schoolteachers. We've seen them all far too many times.
And to all of this, unbelievably, the article tells us, "The passel of Lakota and other Indian consultants hired for the project obviously didn't object too strenuously." No credible American Indian historians, scholars or film makers are quoted in The Times article. I was astonished to see the names of two highly respected scholars and historians listed in the film's credit crawl and was grateful that this embarrassment for them would not be seen by many.
As students in the early 1970s, members of my generation of American Indians carried paperback copies of Bury My Heart in our backpacks as talismans of hope. Thirty-seven years later, we must sadly accept that HBO, the avatar of original television programming and creative innovation, has failed to deliver a truthful, even recognizable telling of Dee Brown's history. The more cynical among us back then forecast that this would happen, and, alas....
By letting go of our Hollywood dreams, we American Indians can take control of our stories and images and establish creative sovereignty. Affordable digital cameras and production equipment and scripts written by the Indian writers whom Hollywood rejected and left blowing in the wind will help us to become free and independent tellers our our own stories. The failure of Bury My Heart At Wounded Knee urgently tells us that we must, must do this. Aho, thank you.
Hanay Geiogamah Professor of Theater
UCLA School of Theater, Film and TelevisionDirector
UCLA American Indian Studies Center
Blackfoot Confederacy moves to implement its own passport
By John McGillWednesday, May 30, 2007 10:46 AM MDT
As early as Jan. 1, 2008, U.S. citizens may be required to present a passport or other documentation to get to and from Mexico, and more importantly for residents of Blackfeet Country, Canada. The $100 fee per person, said Blackfeet Tribal Councilman Rodney "Fish" Gervais, is a particular hardship for the tribal membership, and one the U.S. based Southern Piegan band of the Blackfeet is working to change, along with their northern relatives.
Representatives of the Blood and Siksika, two of the three Canadian bands, joined with their Southern Piegan relatives Friday, May 25, to finalize plans to create a passport designed for use by members of the Blackfoot Confederacy."I kept going to the Tribal Council about border crossing and the need for a common passport," said Gervais Friday from the Glacier Peaks Casino where the delegates came for lunch. "Now that I'm on the Council, it was one of the first things I did, and now we're in the final process. Tuesday [May 29] is the final signing."Gervais said he'd met with U.S. Immigration officials already, and the American side of the deal seems to be possible because of their willingness to recognize arrangements made in the Jay Treaty of 1794. In that treaty, both governments of the United States and Canada agreed to allow free travel for Native peoples across the international border although both governments have been criticized for their failures to live up to the treaty. Gervais said the Canadians have yet to agree to honor the passport."It's been years in the making," Gervais said. "We're taking the initiative; now comes the accepting part. The idea is a border crossing of our own like the Mohawk have. The Confederacy is behind it, and it strengthens the confederacy." The Akwesasne Mohawk found themselves similarly divided between the United States and Canada and eventually gained a border crossing specifically for members of their tribe.Gervais displayed a model passport - a plastic coated card with the member's name and photo, along with a place for signatures of the chiefs of each of the four bands. An American and Canadian flag grace each corner of the card.
"Since 9/11 it's become much more strict at the border, and it's a hardship for the cultural and religious ties of indigenous peoples," Gervais concluded.
Petition demanding apology from Mel Gibson for Apocalypto
Gibson told to apologize to students and Mayans
To: Mel Gibson and University Administration
Mel Gibson Apologize to CSUN students and the Mayan Community!
We demand that Mel Gibson, writer and director of the film “Apocalypto” apologize to the faculty, students and members of the Mayan community present at the California State University Northridge talk where he used an abusive obscenity in response to legitimate questions about his film. Mel Gibson’s obscene and hostile remarks tarnished the safe learning environment that the university strives to foster for all students, faculty and guests. His refusal to address the questions raised by the Mayan community members and his obscene response saying “F¬ ck off lady” demonstrates a fundamental lack of respect and understanding of the issues raised by the indigenous communities he claims to depict in his film. While we cannot hold a Hollywood movie like “Apocalypto” to the standards of accuracy in its depiction of history, we must hold it and its creator accountable for its public value, impact and influence. “Apocalypto” is a movie that perpetuates a racist and violent understanding of Indigenous peoples; these representations propagate, at best, misconception, and at worst, hate toward the Indigenous communities ...
Rob Schmidt: Gibson was presenter at the First Americans in the Arts awards ceremony:
" ... The first big moment occurred when Mel Gibson presented an award to Morris Birdyellowhead for his supporting role in Apocalypto. As Gibson walked to the stage, he went right past me. He was literally a foot away.
For a split second I thought of tripping him to advance the cause of race relations. But I didn’t."
The good news at home is that Marcos and the Comandantes have been successful in setting up Zapatista camps and traveling throughout northwest Mexico to support Indigenous Peoples and their struggles to survive. The Other Campaign has continued to visit the desperate, the hungry, those forgotten by the Mexican government, and those who have lost hope. The Zapatistas are supporting their rights to fish, to organize, to farm and live without oppression, slavery and toxins and pesticides in their soil, water and air.
The Migrant march from Sasabe, Arizona, is underway and the struggle for human decency continues at the border.
Thanks to all of you for sending me your news, especially rare reports like the turn-of-the-century sovereignty report, that will be in an upcoming article.
Congratulations to the Western Shoshone Dann family whose real life struggle is starting to win awards in the film, "Our Land, Our Life."
The crosses and coffins on the beach in Santa Monica were a chilling reminder of the human cost of war for everyone; a haunting reminder of complicity, censorship and a fear-draped America.
Thanks to all of you who take the time to check in here to read the news. I look forward to hearing from you. Brenda
May 29, 2007
Oglala Commemoration 2007
Updates An Army of One:
" We must each be an army of one on the endless struggle between the goodness we are capable of and the evil that threatens us all from without as well as from within. Yes, we can be an army of one. One good man or one good woman can change the world, can push back the evil, and their work can be a beacon for millions, for billions. Are you that man or woman? If so, may the Great Spirit bless you. If not, why not? We must each of us be that person. That will transform the world overnight. That would be a miracle, yes, but a miracle within our power, our healing power. To heal will require real effort, and a change of heart, from all of us. To heal means that we will begin to look upon one another with respect and tolerance instead of prejudice, distrust, and hatred. We will have to teach our children ----as well as ourselves----to love the diversity of humanity. To heal we will have to make a conscious effort to live as the Creator intended, as sisters and others, all of one human family, caretakers of this fragile, perishable, and sacred Earth. To heal we will have come to the realization that we are all under a life sentence together...... and there's no chance for parole.We can do it - yes you and I and all of us together. Now is the time.Now is the only possible time."LET THE GREAT HEALING BEGIN
"Leonard Peltier From Prison Writings: My Life is a Sun Dance
Edited by : Harvey Arden
Please click here for a copy of Army of One flyer:
Words to start your day, something to think about, something to act upon.
May the Great healing begin with you.
Join us for the 8th Oglala Commemoration on June 26th, 2007 in Oglala, South Dakota. A day of ceremony,a day of remembrance, and day of honoring, and a evening of awareness at the youth concert. This is a free event, opened to all family, friends and supporters of Leonard Peltier.We are very pleased to announce the following performers have confirmed:Arrow Space, (rez rock)Julian B (hip-hop)Native Era (Nammy nominated hip-hop)JD Nash (Nammy nominated southern rock and M'cee)Dale Alan (folk)More to be announced soon! This is a free event and we ask that you bring a school supply for the drive, we will be collecting school supplies for this event for the annual give-away.Education is the first step of empowerment.Quick Notes:
The auction is still opened. Take a look as this is our main support to pull this event together.
We have the "2006 Live" Oglala Commemoration Youth Concert on CD.
We will have a booth next weekend at the NAICCO "Moon when the Pony Sheds" pow-wow at the Franklin County fairgrounds just outside of Columbus, Ohio, this will be our last fund raiser for this year's event,Please be sure to sponsor our annual Pendleton Blanket Raffle
For more information about the Oglala Commemoration please visit the following website address: http://www.oglalacommemoration.com/
Leonard Peltier Defense Committee LPDC WEBSITE:http://www.leonardpeltier.net/
May 26, 2007
The human cost of the war in Iraq for Americans and Iraqis
Photos by Brenda Norrell
by Brenda Norrell
By Sarah Olson
(APN) FORT STEWART – "Just because we volunteered, doesn't mean we volunteered to throw our lives away for nothing. You can only push human beings so far," Marc Train, 19, a soldier from America's heartland, stationed most recently in Fort Stewart, Georgia, says.
"Soldiers are going to Iraq multiple times. The reasons we're there are obviously lies. We're reaching a breaking point, and I believe you're going see a lot more resistance inside the military."
Train's a Private in the US Army, but the last time anyone saw him on base at Fort Stewart was March 16, 2007, just before he headed to Washington, DC, to protest the Occupation in which he is expected to fight.
Before leaving for DC, Train contacted Garett Reppenhagen, Chairman of Iraq Veterans Against the War (IVAW). Train wanted to participate in the street theater protests Reppenhagen was organizing for Iraq veterans to mark the fourth anniversary of the Invasion.
"When I learned he was coming from Fort Stewart where he was still an active duty soldier, my first thought was, Wow, the kid has guts," Reppenhagen said.
Photos show Train at an anti-war demonstration outside the Pentagon that drew over 30,000 people on March 17, 2007. He was on stage with veterans and other GIs opposing the Occupation. In one hand he held an antiwar banner; in the other, a red flag, waving in the wind, high above his head.
"We parted that evening with plans for Marc to get a ride to the Operation First Casualty [street theater] preparation the next day," Reppenhagen recalls. "Marc never showed. Something deep down inside me figured he wasn't going back to Fort Stewart."
TRAIN’S JOURNEY INTO MILITARY SERVICE
Marc Train was an Army brat. His father, Eric, was stationed in Germany, where Marc spent the first three years of his life.
Eric Train was responsible for border security between East and West Germany. "He may have seen some bad things there," his son Marc says, uncertain. "I've heard stories from people stationed with my Dad. When people tried to cross from East to West, they'd get pretty torn up. They were shot down. My Dad might have been exposed to that."
When the Berlin Wall came down, Eric moved his family back to the United States. Seeking to spare them the monotony of an active duty lifestyle, Eric transferred to the Army Reserves.
When Eric couldn't find a job, he started drinking. Spiraling into debt, Eric and Charlene were in the process of splitting up. When young Marc Train was five, his father shot himself in the head with a deer-hunting rifle.
After that, Train went through a predictable string of psychotropic medications for young people with trauma.
At one point, he was spent a month at Charter Mental Hospital in Wichita, Kansas.
"I'm kind of a mamma's boy," Train says, laughing a little. "For 13 years, I put her through a lot... I never went to class and the school would call her job all the time. We'd get really frustrated and yell at each other. The cops would come and I'd get taken away to jail. My Mom always came to pick me up later, though."
Marc and his mother ended up in Salina, Kansas, a city that promised boom-time economic growth. Marc Train bounced from school to school just the same: Salina High School South, an alternative school, and finally the Job Corps. He graduated from the Job Corps with a GED.
Marc and his mother weren't hungry, but they still struggled to make ends meet. The family wasn't homeless, but they occasionally went to stay with his grandparents. Mostly, they just kept moving from place to place. Looking around, Train didn't see much in the way of a future ahead of him.
"I was in an economic trap," he says. "I just wanted to find some stability in my life. The Army seemed like just the thing. Going through school, they teach you implicitly, if you're [unsuccessful] here, you're gonna be [unsuccessful] forever. I needed a way out of that."
Train signed up for the Army under the delayed-entry program in the summer of 2005.
TRAIN’S JOURNEY OUT OF MILITARY SERVICE
On September 1, 2005, Marc Train was picked up at his house by a recruiter and delivered to the military entrance-processing station (MEPS) in Kansas City. Nine days later, Train ended up at Fort Leonard Wood, Missouri, where he began a new life on September 9, 2005.
"That was zero day," Train says, talking about the Army process of breaking down and rebuilding new recruits. "They tried to shatter everybody."
As Train's boyhood was being smashed out of him by Army drill instructors, he watched Hurricanes Katrina and Rita rip through the Gulf Coast of the US. As drill instructors tried to remake him into a US Army soldier, Train grew more and more critical of the government's callous response to the death and economic devastation in the region.
He knew the National Guard should have been around to assist with the disaster, but the troops were deployed in Iraq instead.
After Basic Training, Train spent 16 weeks at Fort Huachuca, Arizona, learning to be an intelligence analyst. He was given an interim top-secret security clearance, and after an initial investigation, would have access to highly sensitive compartmentalized intelligence.
"The really spooky, CIA stuff," Train explains, without going into further detail.
In April 2006, he arrived at his first duty station at Fort Stewart, Georgia.
The problems began when Train started a blog critical of the US government's financial decisions. How could the Administration disburse funding to its pals at Halliburton's KBR and Bechtel, but allocate nothing for the people in the Gulf Coast, he asked. Along the way, Train says he may have been a bit disrespectful to those responsible.
Seeing as how his writings were posted anonymously, it shouldn't have mattered.
But when Train's commanders saw his blog, they hit the roof. On the grounds he was a threat to national security, his clearance was suspended. A months-long investigation resulted in the revocation of his top-secret security status and other disciplinary action. He could no longer do the only job he knew how to do.
"No one ever asked me if I intended to overthrow the government, or even if I would have supported that. If they had asked, I would have said no, because I wanted to support my unit," Train says. "I'd seen movies like Iraq for Sale, and I had heard about the scandal at Abu Ghraib. I wanted to use my knowledge to support our mission and help the people in Iraq. But no one asked me.”
Train says his commanders told him they “thought I was an infiltration and espionage threat."
In November 2006, Train's security clearance was formally revoked and his commanding officer started to talk seriously about Train leaving the Army. Train agreed he and the Army weren't such a good fit anymore. He filled out a separation packet, and was pulled off the deployment roster in January 2007. His paperwork made its way through the chain of command.
By every indication, Train was on his way to getting out of the Army.
By this time, Train had signed the Appeal for Redress, an online petition for active duty members of the military. He joined IVAW and was developing a political critique of the policies that supported the Invasion of Iraq.
In February 2007, Train began hearing rumors his discharge had been rejected and he would be sent to Iraq anyway. His Rear Detachment Commander eventually confirmed the rumors, saying Train would deploy as an 11Bravo infantryman, with generic assignments and combat responsibilities.
"Everyone in the Army gets a few combat skills. But infantry? It's not what I was trained for," Marc says. "It would have been a suicide mission."
Train knew the threats were serious when he was sent to the rapid fielding initiative (RFI) and equipped for deployment.
Because he wasn't reclassified with more useful duties or properly prepared for the ones to which he was now assigned, Train became convinced going AWOL was his best option.
He left for the March 17, 2007, protests in Washington, DC, knowing he wouldn't return to Fort Stewart. Train arranged to meet other GIs in DC.
Jonathan Hutto, Cofounder of the Appeal for Redress, didn't know about Train's plans, but no soldier makes the decision to go AWOL lightly, he says.
"I support any and everyone who has been driven to go AWOL," says Hutto, himself an active duty member of the Navy. "It's not his fault he went AWOL. It's the government's fault for committing this war and creating such an untenable situation."
Like Hutto, IVAW’s Garett Reppenhagen says Train going AWOL was an understandable choice given the circumstances. "I also would have supported him if he had gone back and continued service," Reppenhagen said.
"I have a huge pain in my heart, like it's literally breaking," Train said after leaving Washington, DC.
SOLDIER QUESTIONS RECRUITMENT IN SCHOOLS
"The recruiters are coming into these inner-city schools, full of kids who are already going to have a hard life, harder than most people. When the same kids come back with post-traumatic stress disorder, the military denies them benefits. It sickens me because I wore that uniform. I represented a system of treating people like garbage."
The militarization of America's schools is shocking, Train says. "They're creating a culture of conformity. They're teaching kids to lash out at anything different." Train notes the metal detectors, the security guards on every floor, and students wearing uniform-like clothes.
"I want to counter the whole idea that just because you think you might have messed up one area of your life, your life is ruined forever," Train says.
He doesn't know specifics, but in the long run knows his future work will have something to do with giving young people hope. "I want to build support networks for troubled kids so they don't have to join the military."
"Regardless of what the mainstream media says about troops supporting the war, a lot of people around me disagreed with the policies," Train says.
"Recruiting is down. The length and number of tours is up. GIs are exhausted, and we're angry. When a bunch of uniformed soldiers say the war is [messed] up, the anger begins to spill over. There's going to be a breaking point soon. The Army already has a situation on its hands."
About the author:
Sarah Olson is an independent journalist and radio producer based in Oakland, CA. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Olson was previously featured in Atlanta Progressive News for objecting to testifying against another Iraq objector who she interviewed, Lt. Ehren Watada, in his recent tribunel.
This article may be reprinted in full at no cost where Atlanta Progressive News is credited.
May 24, 2007
Navajos fight the 'Lords and puppets' of corporations and spin doctors
By Brenda Norrell
SHIPROCK, N.M. -- The BIA's cozy relationship with Navajo politicians and the corporation Sithe Global was obvious in the BIA's recommendation to build the Desert Rock power plant, the third power plant in the Four Corners area.
Navajos said the draft environmental impact statement is no more than another alien document, another BIA-issued death certificate for the Navajo people.
"This BIA EIS is hogwash" said the founding Doodá Desert Rock Committee president, Sarah Jane White.
"They already made their decision to approve the project and this DEIS is just going to justify their decision," said the Navajo from Sanostee.
"But not if I can help it, our elders and our youth are ready to stand with us against the Sithe Lords and their puppet DPA (Dine' Power Authority)."
The Four Corners area has long been considered a sacrifice zone, attracting death machines such as the uranium industry during the Cold War and more recently power plants and oil and gas industries. This region is also Dinetah, the sacred place of Dine' origin.
For energy companies, the way has been paved by Navajo politicians. Navajo politicians receive the bulk of their salaries from energy industries and approve the tribal leases. The bulk of the Navajo Nation Council delegates' salaries and travel expenses come from taxes and royalties from the polluting industries of power plants, coal mines and oil and gas wells.
While the air, land and water are polluted, many Navajo elderly live without running water and electricity, while the nearly all of the power that is produced is transported to non-Indians.
Navajos are speaking out against the environmental destruction and the environmental racism that has made Navajo people the target. However, each time they speak out, highly-paid spin doctors known as press officers try to silence them, claiming that building another power plant is the only way the Navajo government can provide jobs.
Bradley Angel of Greenaction sent a message to Navajo President Joe, Shirley, Jr.
"Why are you so pleased to push a coal-fired power plant that would contribute to global warming, contaminate the air with asthma-inducing pollutants and cause the eviction of Navajo elders from their homes … and of course, disturb the burials and cultural sites in the immediate vicinity of Desert Rock.
While pushing for the Desert Rock power plant, at the same time President Shirley said he opposes new uranium mining and the desecration of Navajo sacred sites.
Meanwhile, the Bush administration pushes for more power plants nationwide, as part of the overall scheme to enrich profits for a small circle of corporations. At the same time, Navajos continue to be sacrificed in Bush's bogus war in Iraq. In Iraq, the same corporate scenario plays out. Bush's corporate friends with US contracts are not only making the profits, but are finding it easy to pocket billions without any justification, a fact recently exposed by Congress.
Dine' Citizens Against Ruining the Environment points out the death trap of still another power plant here.
"The BIA's recommended approval of the proposed Desert Rock Energy Project is a step backward from even minimal environmental protection because the planned power plant will only worsen the air pollution problem in the already over polluted San Juan Basin air shed.
"Combined with deadly air contaminants from the nearby Four Corners and San Juan power plants, Desert Rock will literally create a triangle of death in the northern Navajo Nation where Navajo people have long suffered epidemic levels of asthma, black lung disease, and other respiratory diseases caused by the decades of chronic exposure to persistent and accumulative airborne pollutants emitted by the existing industrial death factories on and near the affected reservation," Dine CARE said in a written statement.
The draft environmental impact statement process is also fatally flawed. The project proponents paid for the two-year study.
"So not surprisingly, the pre-biased or prejudiced environmental analysis (or draft EIS) supported the controversial project. Under the guise of impartial environmental review, the governmental and corporate agents of genocide produced a pre-decisional document designed to justify a bad project and one that is opposed by the very people who live in the shadow of its 580-acre 'footprint.'
"That document, written in the technical language of the alien invaders, is nothing less than a BIA-issued death certificate for those brave indigenous Diné who hold the sacred ground at Ram Springs."
Dine CARE said the BIA is engaged in a campaign built on deceit and treachery.
"It completed its draft EIS making it accessible only on the Internet.
"How many of our people have Internet access? How many of them even have electricity? Adding to its deliberate misinformation, the Bureau also announced that it will publish the draft’s 'Notice of Availability' in the Federal Register in early June. How many of our people read the Federal Register? How many of them even read the legal notices section in the Navajo Times?
"The federal Indian agency then announced that it will hold public hearings on the 'available' draft EIS beginning in mid-June. It took them over two years to produce the DEIS and it is atrocious that they expect the Navajo public to review and present oral comments on the voluminous technical document in less than a week or two," Dine' CARE said.
But don't expect to read much of that in the newspapers.
Whenever editors do publish the statements of Dine' CARE, the spin doctors come out like starving dogs with gnashing teeth, attacking anyone who publishes the words of Dine' CARE and anyone who champions the voices of the grassroots Navajo people.
Editors of publications that pander to tribal politicians won't publish these words. Others won't even care.
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June 11–16 2007, Dine College
FORT DEFIANCE, Ariz. - Jay Begay Jr., The Sheep is Life conference coordinator said the Diné be’ iiná, Inc. (The Navajo Lifeway) presents a two-part event series scheduled for June 11th through 16th. All events will be located at the Dine College campus near Tsaile AZ. Accommodations and services are located nearby in Chinle, AZ.
Sheep is Life celebrates sheep, wool, and weaving with two days of free public events on June 15 and 16, Friday and Saturday, at Diné College in Tsaile, Arizona. There will be hands-on activities, sheep and wool demonstrations, workshops, and storytelling events are scheduled daily at 10:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. Organized by Diné be’ iiná, Inc. (The Navajo Lifeway), the eleventh annual Celebration honors the central role that sheep play in the philosophy and daily life of diverse traditional and indigenous cultures. All are invited to bring spindles, spinning wheels, wool, yarn, and weavings. Sharing and learning are at the heart of the Celebration.
"Sheep is Life" in every essence is an important part of our culture and traditions, to celebrate our sheep traditions and our lifeways once a year," said Roy Kady, Dibé be Iina, Inc president. "The event re-centers us in the cosmos of our universe; it is our blessingway ceremony for our continuance here on earth, and for the next generations to come."
Highlights of the celebration include:
• Workshops in wool processing, weaving, and other fiber arts, Monday – Friday
• Evening spinning and storytelling with Navajo elders during the week
• Two days of free events, vendors, and hands-on demonstrations, Friday and Saturday
• Herd Health care and management of sheep, goats, and other livestock
• Benefit Awards, Dinner, Friday, 6:00 p.m.
• Navajo-Churro Sheep and Wool Show, open to all, Saturday, beginning at 10:00 a.m.
• Navajo Rug Auction, Saturday, 6:00 p.m.
• Navajo Sheep Project 30th Anniversary special events
• Navajo-Churro Sheep Camp Tours
• “Weaving World” film
Complete information, schedules, registrations, and brochures are available. For information, call 928-729-2037 or e-mail email@example.com
To review the conference information, visit http://www.navajolifeway.org/ for a complete schedule which will be posted soon.
May 23, 2007
While protesting, Indians in Brazil said they weren't silently yearning to become Catholics and weren't purified by the church as Pope Benedict said:
"... Wera Djekaupe, a Guaraní, arrived back at the museum. He repeated what he had just broadcast on a Brazilian television programme, as part of his activism in the press, media, academic circles and schools. 'The indigenous people of Brazil, long before the arrival of the Portuguese and other colonialists, already knew who had created the Earth. The great creator of all nature, of the sea, of the moon, of everything, was Ñanderú,' he said. 'The pope said that the Church purified the Indians. I refute that. Indigenous people were already pure; we were purified by the great Ñanderú,' Djekaupe said."
"As First Nations leaders at an aboriginal summit in Quebec planned Wednesday for a national day of action, a Manitoba chief said they should instead hold a day of rail blockades.
Manitoba Chief Terry Nelson said blocking trains would send a stronger message about the poverty that aboriginal communities face and the numerous land claims that are still being disputed."
Read the story:
Mohawk Nation News
May 21, 2007
Canadian Prime Minister, Stephen Harper, or whoever really runs the Canadian dictatorship, has wiped out any pretension that Canada ever was a democratic country. He did this by obstructing democratic parliamentary debate on the use of Canadian taxes. If Canadian cops were on their toes as true defenders of law and order, he could be charged under the Criminal Code of Canada, Section 129.1. He intentionally, with malice aforethought, obstructed parliamentarians who were engaged in enforcing the laws concerning “revenues, customs, excise, trade or navigation”.
Harper outlined his methods in a 200-page manual showing his party members how to obstruct justice and democratic due process. This is a major constitutional crisis that can’t be swept under the carpet. Right now he’s hiding out in Afghanistan . He might end up in the next cave over from Bin Laden.
The public is getting so confused they don’t know what the rules are anymore. Big business and big government want to keep them in a trance. If someone sees a baby being killed, they’re afraid to help because they might be arrested for intruding on someone else’s rights.
Harper and the two major political parties see the people as the enemy, particularly us, the Indigenous people. He needs a personalized target. It looks like hysteria is being created deliberately to set us up as the threat or scapegoat. In the 911 model, the threat is more terrifying than the action. He steers the public to vent their anger and hatred on us. That’s how he was able to push through the anti-terrorism legislation. He got rid of habeas corpus and usurped peoples’ right to the sanctity of their home.
Harper obviously has no rules for himself. It looks like he thinks democratic institutions won’t work. They certainly have never treated us humanely or respected our sovereign rights to the land and resources of Turtle Island .
Harper wants severe rules and regulations over everybody, especially the media. He does not want to be judged. He doesn’t even want us to have our minds in gear. Through propaganda and brute force, people are losing their freedom to sociopaths and control-freak demagogues.
How does one know when the government is corrupt? When the public leaders lie. When the public doesn’t object. Then nobody can tell what’s true anymore. Harper has hamstrung the Parliamentary committees so there is no free open discussion. The cabinet decrees laws, sets the agenda and cancels hearings at will. Once lies have become the status quo there can be no real communication. All words become meaningless babble or catch phrases.
Canada and the U.S. have turned into oligarchies controlled by a small elite who act on behalf of multinational corporations controlled from afar. They are fronts for international investors to get the leases to run the assets and drain the resources on Turtle Island .
Starting in the 1960s the middle-class was meticulously destroyed. They were attacked as being materialistic, decadent, bourgeois, degenerate, imperialistic, war mongers, brutal and corrupt. This is true in the way they ran the Indian Affairs bureaucracies where colonial control of the lands and resources reside. This is a kind of rot and disease spreading through the colonial constitutional trees on Turtle Island controlled by the oligarchy.
Indian Affairs Minister Jim “Jonestown” Prentice announced fundamental changes to the way Indigenous land claims are to be settled. We wouldn’t be surprised if the next thing he announces is his plan to lease out the settling of land claims to private corporate structures on some kind of profit-sharing basis. We demand that the land claims be mediated by a neutral and mutually agreed upon third party. The “other” party cannot be anyone from the federal, provincial, territorial or local “Indian” entities set up by Canada . Nor can they be any of the corporations that act as the puppet masters for Canada ’s pseudo government.
Are they working on privatizing Indian Affairs? Don’t laugh! This has already been tried in Kanehsatake and on many other communities by placing its management under the control of private companies. It was a catastrophe for Indigenous people and a bonanza for the well connected accounting, management and legal firms. All the money went to the companies, the lawyers and a few cooperative band councilors. Services were stopped. The Indigenous People got less than before.
Indian Affairs could be planning to lease us out to multinational investors who want to get their paws on our land, hydro electric power, resources and diamonds that can be extracted from our land in the north. This happened before when they leased out our education to church run residential schools, whose staff got their paws and other parts on our young children, molesting and killing them with impunity.
The Crown would love to get out of its legal responsibility to us by handing us over to corporations who have no obligations. Their only agenda is profit! Not service for the people. Not living up to the treaties. They have to cut costs, services, streamline everything and put their friends in big jobs with fat salaries.
The big pie in the sky is “leasing”. It is really the “confiscation” of all lands, resources, public assets and programs by international investors. The plan is already operational. Assets have already been confiscated such as highways, cable, television, electricity, internet, water, prisons, schools, health care, private police forces, airports, parking garages, social services, welfare, pensions, housing, drug and alcohol treatment programs, adoptions, programs for the elderly, road maintenance, garbage collection, fire departments, environmental protection, job training and placement, child support enforcement, child care, child protection – get the picture? Even the management of all these assets and programs are being privatized and leased out.
So what happens when you have a complaint? You can’t go to your member of parliament. The lease holder might be in Singapore or Zurich Switzerland , 5,000 miles away! They’re probably run by numbered companies.
Does this mean that people don’t have to pay taxes anymore? The Treasury Board will give Indian Affairs $9 billion who turn it over to an offshore multinational corporation which is the leaseholder that is headquartered in Paris France . It's international colonialism!
The private sector can raise costs and authority on the assets they lease. The government doesn’t have to answer to the public. It’s all international. The head office might be in Germany or wherever. They don’t understand what you’re talking about. Your call will go to a call center in India . You’ll be put on hold and then passed around to five others whose job is to give you a nervous breakdown. Don’t think you’re going to get an answer about the plumbing leak in your rental apartment, or the 200% increase in the road tolls you have to pay just to get home.
Would this be considered high treason? It is when the government is consorting with foreign entities that destroy the economy and rob them of those things they stole from us.
The local brokers of these leases/confiscations are making out like bandits.
Rudy Giuliani of 911 fame is the exclusive lawyer for Cintra of Spain, which is headed by Prince Juan Carlos. Cintra is now the proud owner of what was once the “ Chicago Skyway”. They are working on getting the Midway Airport too. The leases are for 75 to 99 years. Once leased they are exempt from taxation. Upstate New York recently signed the same sort of lease with National Express Group of London UK which specializes in rail and bus transport.
Some U.S. municipalities are trying to get their water systems back. But they keep getting outbid by Illinois American Water which is owned by a German investor that is also functioning in 29 U.S. states.
These international corporations are gaining control of the cities. Today one can’t get into some cities without paying tolls and the infra structures are falling apart. Canadians will soon be trapped in just like Indigenous People.
Were going back to the middle ages, man! Prisons have been privatized to save money. Correction Corporation of America runs half the private prisons and expects to double their investment in 5 years. Costs must be minimized. Jails must be kept full. Less is spent on prisoner care and training of guards. To maximize profits jail time must be maximized. In some prisons the inmates work for 17 cents an hour making clothes, car parts, computer components, shoes and furniture. It’s not just license plates anymore. This is going on even though it’s a violation of international law.
The “three strikes you’re out” law in California is coming soon to Canada , your home on native land. So Congress is being heavily lobbied to increase sentences. Correction Corporation and corrections officers are some of the largest campaign contributors in California . Ten years ago there were ten private prisons and 2,000 inmates. Today there are 140 with 70,000 inmates. They are aiming to increase this slave labor by 500% in the next ten years.
If people don’t wake up soon, by the time Harper’s out of office, Canada will be dismantled and sold off to foreign corporations. Let’s see what happens on June 29th when Indigenous people demonstrate everywhere against injustice and mistreatment. We think that the “war room” in the “ Tower of Power ” at Indian affairs is working round the clock to speed up privatization. Minister “Jonestown” Prentice wants to drag us into the colonial courts for doing what we’re supposed to do, protect our possessions. Then we’ll be heavily fined for this “crime”. “Jonestown” threatened we are “liable” and funds owing to our communities will be cut.
In exchange for our freedom, the oligarchy wants Turtle Island – our land, resources and no Indigenous title. That’s the big prize! With no venues for democratic debate, we’’ll all be divided into two camps, the prisoners and the guards. That’s the game.
MNN Mohawk Nation News
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http://www.mohawknationnews.com/ Please sign the Women Title Holders petition. BOOKS available, “Rebuilding the Iroquois Confederacy” & “Warriors Hand Book” ($10 USD each including shipping).
May 22, 2007
"Stop blogging Rob Port, until you have some facts.
"The 15 hours Port spent on the Turtle Mountain reservation gave him a lopsided view of the Turtle Mountain Chippewa. Port gathered a whole group of people into one bundle, tied a dirty, lazy knot around them and tossed them into the national spotlight," Yellow Bird writes.
Yellow Bird says Port needs to rethink his "backhanded bigotry."
read the story:
May 21, 2007
Photo Alyssa Macy/Indigenius Media
NEW YORK -- Indigenous Peoples spoke out in defense of the sacredness of water, the women who carry it and humanity's right to pure water, during the United Nations Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues.
Tia Oros, delivering a collective statement said, "Although we do not always know when we will walk into the prayers of our ancestors, here we have done just that.
"Many thousands of our ancestors have prayed for peace and rain. And, for many decades our relatives throughout the world have dreamed, worked and bled for the creation of this Forum, to have our voices and concerns heard by the world community in this House of Mica, this place recognized by our Hopi brother, the late Thomas Banyaca, at the opening of the International Year of the World’s Indigenous Peoples in 1993.
"For all of them, and for the generations yet to come, we support the immediate adoption of the Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples as adopted by the UN Human Rights Council last year, and we offer these recommendations."
Intervention to the Sixth Session of the
United Nations Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues
Submitted by the Seventh Generation Fund for Indian Development
May 17, 2007
Protection of Water: WATER IS A HUMAN RIGHT
Thank you, Madame Chair, for the opportunity of addressing the United Nations Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues. My name is Tia Oros and I am of the A:shiwi People/Zuni Nation. The Seventh Generation Fund for Indian Development, an Indigenous Peoples’ organization working directly with grassroots Native communities to design and implement ecologically harmonious strategies for sovereignty, human rights, environmental justice, cultural revitalization, and sacred sites protection for Indigenous Nations, submits this intervention on Agenda Item 4b, under the mandated area of Environment, with the following signatories: The Zuni Tribe of the Zuni Indian Reservation, American Indian Law Alliance, Laguna Acoma Coalition for a Safe Environment, Tonatierra, Native Youth Coalition, Indigenous Network on Economies and Trade, Tatanka Oyate, Andes Chinchasuyo, Maya Vision, Western Shoshone Defense Project, Buffalo River Dene Nation, Mainyoto Pastoralist Integrated Development Organization, Bangsa Adat Alifuru from Maluku, Indigenous Peoples’ Council on Biocolonialism, Te Runanga Kaimahi, Kaimahi Maori o Aotearoa of the New Zealand Council of Trade Unions, Indigenous Environmental Network, Resisting Environment Destruction on Indigenous Land (RedOil), Winnemem Wintu Tribe, Te Hau Takitini o Aotearoa, Nihiyaw Cree Society, Council of Grandmothers, and Indigenous Peace Action.
For the last two years our organization has addressed the UN Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues regarding the Protection of Water, and it is an honor to do so again. At this time, I urgently reiterate the critical significance of protecting Indigenous Peoples’ full, unencumbered access to clean Water on our territories. This is crucial for all aspects of our health: physical, cultural, and spiritual. Water is boundless. Water is Life.
Although we do not always know when we will walk into the prayers of our ancestors, here we have done just that. Many thousands of our ancestors have prayed for peace and rain. And, for many decades our relatives throughout the world have dreamed, worked and bled for the creation of this Forum, to have our voices and concerns heard by the world community in this House of Mica, this place recognized by our Hopi brother, the late Thomas Banyaca, at the opening of the International Year of the World’s Indigenous Peoples in 1993. For all of them, and for the generations yet to come, we support the immediate adoption of the Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples as adopted by the UN Human Rights Council last year, and we offer these recommendations.
1. We again urgently appeal to the Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues to request the immediate appointment of a United Nations Special Rapporteur for the Protection of Water and Water Catchment Areas in order to gather testimony directly from Indigenous Nations of the world targeted for or impacted by Water privatization, diversion, toxic contamination, dams, pollution, commodification, non-sustainable energy development and other environmental injustices that damage natural, potable and accessible Water supplies on which Indigenous Peoples rely for spiritual and nutritional sustenance. We recall that this recommendation was carried forth by the Permanent Forum to the Economic and Social Development Council when we first requested this in 2005, and we respectfully request that this compelling concern is recognized and advanced once again.
2. We ask that the Special Rapporteur for the Protection of Water and Catchment Areas critically review and assess Water allocation, access policies and regulations that affect the rights of Indigenous Nations, the health of our Peoples and that of future generations. This should be done to identify protective and preventive and restorative mechanisms to restore our Waters and assure that Water is accessible to our Peoples, as well as to repair our diverse ecosystems that rely on the health of natural Water flows where they have been damaged.
3. Our Peoples have a right to say no to any development project on our territories. We call upon the Permanent Forum to strongly advocate for the free, prior and informed consent of Indigenous Peoples in regard to any development on our territories by any outside entities, including the World Bank and States, whose actions may impact or abrogate our aboriginal and/or treaty rights including right of access to clean, potable Water for all aspects of our life.
4. Further, we ask that Nation-States’ reports to the United Nations contain a focus on Water and also that they include direct participation by Indigenous Peoples in the development of those reports.
5. We recommend that the Permanent Forum take immediate steps in the Commission on Sustainable Development to protect Water from privatization, and from bi-lateral and multi-lateral governmental agreements and other incursions onto our territories that affect the integrity of our Waters, impoverish our Nations and impose additional hardships on Indigenous Peoples, particularly on Indigenous women.
6. We fully support the Indigenous Women’s Caucus statement and its recommendations in light of the unique and essential relationship between women and Water.
Indigenous Peoples know Water as the sacred source and essence of all Life imbued with a spirit and a consciousness. The vitality of Water to our communities is expressed in a rainbow of songs, stories, and ceremonies, holding a special place in our cultures for the continuation of an Indigenous worldview that affirms the vital link of Water to life everlasting. And yet, springs from which our ancestors emerged from within the womb of Mother Earth, precious watersheds that feed our lakes and enable life, and rivers that carry our prayers to the forever after, are being destroyed. Privatization of Water and our other resources places them in the control of multi-national corporations, shortsighted governmental development policies, and the unrelenting encroachment by non-indigenous settlements, forcing us into poverty and pushing us further to the edge of existence, where we are already barely holding on by our fingertips for survival.
Environmental injustice including the ongoing invasions onto Indigenous territories, and the attendant wrongful taking of our natural resources, particularly the nearly unhindered exploitation and commodification of Water, obstruct critically needed access to our Waterways and threaten the survival of Indigenous Peoples and of our distinct cultures. These assaults have direct and tremendously destructive impacts and further impoverish our already vulnerable, besieged Peoples. Although North America is widely assumed to be a region of universal affluence, there are many thousands of Indigenous Peoples and communities, throughout the continent, who have no meaningful system of protection against the wrongful diversion, privatization, and oppression of our Water resources. In fact, many of us are dying of thirst.
Madame Chair, and esteemed members of this Forum, Indigenous women throughout the world who often have the primary responsibility of locating and carrying water for their families, and may risk their lives to do so now find only dust instead of water. In too many places, a polluted stream is our only source of Water. We hunger and can no longer plant our gardens, not because we have forgotten how to nurture life from a seed, but because without access to Water, our crops cannot flourish, and we cannot thrive without them. A child dies every eight seconds for lack of access to clean Water and many victims are our own, Indigenous children. The unquenchable greed of States, corporations, settlers, and other invaders, whose unrelenting actions on our lands constitute a Water war against Indigenous Peoples, are killing us all – violating our ecosystems, condemning our peoples, obliterating our futures.
What were once rich landscapes awake with forests and gardens, rivers and cornfields, alive with animals and birds, and a harmonious diversity of Indigenous cultures, are quickly becoming parched lands that only our tears can soften today. Let us dry our eyes and take action on the recommendations as offered. Water is a human right. Our children, those generations yet to be born, and all of our relations, are the ultimate casualties of this conflict. I urge you all to take immediate action on this most urgent matter. Thank you for your kind attention. Elahkwa.
(Photo above/California coast/Brenda Norrell)
Hopi and Japanese Say Water Has Intelligence
by Brenda Norrell
News from Indian Country, January, 2004
KYKOTSMOVI, Ariz. -- Hopi members of Black Mesa Trust said water carries intelligence. Hopi and Japanese are discovering what Hopi and other Indigenous peoples have always known, "Water is alive."
Vernon Masayesva, executive director of Black Mesa Trust, recently visited Japan and met with Shinto priests and researcher Dr. Masaru Emoto, chief of the Hado Institute in Tokyo and author of Message from Water.
During the Hisot Navoti (knowledge of ancestors) water conference at the Hopi Veterans Center, Hopi revealed knowledge of water shared by Hopi and Japanese.
Masayesva showed amazing film footage, revealing startling transformations in water crystals when exposed to music and written words. Emoto's photographs reveal water crystals, under high magnification, have drastically different forms from different water sources. Further, Emoto shows that water changes its expression as a result of human actions.
When water is exposed to the music of Mozart and Beethoven, crystals expand and become more beautiful. These crystals resemble diamonds, with flower buds blossoming on their points, as the music plays.
Emoto explains that water carries and responds to the vibrations of music. He reveals even more amazing research, showing water responds to the written word.
When clear tubes of water are placed over positive and negative words, the structure of water crystals change. Water crystals increase in beauty when placed over the word "peace," but are transformed to dark and ugly crystals when placed over the word "war."
When water is placed over the word "let's," the crystals expand and increase in beauty. However, when water is placed over the word "must," the crystals become ugly with a dark green center. Emoto says water is letting us realize the hidden power of words.
During the gathering for the defense of pure water, Jerry Honawa, Hopi elder, said, "Water has intelligence."
Speaking of water, Masayesva said, "If you are happy, you will have happy crystals; if you are angry, you will have angry crystals." Masayesva also shared the history of the Hopi people, revealing their destiny intertwined with the earth and its mysteries.
"According to Hopi, long ago there was nothing but water from the beginning of time. This is what we call the First World of Hopi. "Life was created from water, from the land, from the sun."
When life was first created, it was beautiful, a perfect circle. On Hopiland today there are areas of perfect seashells, proof that this land was once underwater as Hopi are told. There are perfect fossils here, he said.
"Where does coal come from? It comes from plants. Everywhere you go, you see dinosaur tracks. This must have been a beautiful place at one time."
In the First World, there was balance, harmony and peace. This balance and harmony, however, was destroyed in the Third World because of man and his greed. The ancestors began searching for a safe place to begin a new life. Bird was sent out and returned with news of this place.
"Through the bamboo, they entered the new land,” Masayesva said. "It is a metaphor, we don't really know, but we came from somewhere where there was bamboo." When the people arrived in this new land, they thought they had left evil behind them. But after a child died, they realized that evil had come with them. Those with the two hearts had come. "Evil is necessary to understand what good truly is," Masayesva said.
The people knew they had to learn from the destruction of the Third World and not return to those ways. They wanted to create a new way of life. The Hopi people were not led by politicians, they were led by priests, often the poorest man in the village who denied himself everything for the benefit of his children.
In this new place they found a man who grew beautiful corn. It was Ma'sau, guardian of the land. Ma'sau said it is a harsh land, but if the people were willing to live Ma'sau's way of life, they could stay here.
Ma'sau told the people, "If you follow this way of life, you can stay here forever." Ma'sau showed the people corn, a gourd of water and planting stick. "He said if you decide to stay here you must help me take care of this land, then you can stay."
Ma'sau told them that others are coming. "They will claim everything when they come, even the oceans, the air and the stars." Ma'sau told the Hopi people to migrate to the four corners of the world, then return here to Black Mesa. The gourd to carry water was also a revelation, showing that water here is not infinite, it is limited.
Masayesva said the colors of the corn represent the colors of all mankind, yellow, purple, red and white. The sweet corn also represents the ancestors and the purple the heavens. Corn, too, gave Hopi a new way of life, and meant that the people no longer had to search for food every day, leaving them free for other things.
The planting stick represents tools or technology, which can be used for good or for destruction. There was a time when smallpox nearly eliminated the Hopi people, with only 300 Hopi surviving, Masayesva said technology can prevent and cure illness today, but it threatens to end humankind with the production of nuclear bombs. Nuclear power and travel to distant planets have resulted in dangerous "god-like powers."
The waters--aquifers, springs, lakes, rivers, oceans and glaciers-- work in harmony to sustain life. Hopi believe the aquifers breathe, breathe in rain and snow and breathe it out. The springs are the breathing holes. Humankind is a participant in water-life; mankind's thoughts influence whether the rain and snow comes.
Of the world's water today, Masayesva said 97 percent is seawater and 2 percent is bound in glaciers. Only1 percent is available for drinking.
However, America is a nation of waste. "We are a throwaway society. We think we are never going to run out of anything."
Masayesva said the people must honor their trust as guardians of the water and land.
"If we don't, we will break the circle."
©News From Indian Country January 12, 2004.
"Indigenous leaders bring eco-sense to UN"
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May 20, 2007
After Rob Port was banned by the Turtle Mountain Band of Chippewa in North Dakota, it was interesting to see the support Port received from some editors of North Dakota newspapers.
It had a familiar smell.
Racism was common in newspaper rooms in New Mexico and Arizona in the 1990s.
During the early 1990s, I worked as a staff reporter for the Farmington Daily Times in New Mexico. I was based in Shiprock, N.M., on the Navajo Nation.
A group of Navajo teens at a convenience store were attacked and beaten with baseball bats by a group of white Farmington teenagers.
The Daily Times editors knowingly published articles which distorted the facts and made it appear that the victims were responsible for those beatings.
The Navajo teens had broken bones. This was neither the first time, nor the last, that American Indians were beaten by Farmington teenagers. It was what Navajo Genevieve Jackson called "a rite of passage" for white Farmington teenagers. Three of the torture murders of Navajos in Farmington in the 1970s are described in the book, "The Broken Circle," by Rodney Barker. The beatings and murders continue.
When I made a formal complaint to the editors of Farmington Daily Times, about the facts being distorted and the teen victims being blamed, I was fired.
I reported the situation to the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights in Denver. The Civil Rights Commission was holding hearings at the time on bordertown racism; it became part of the submitted testimony.
The institutionalized racism was intense.
The Farmington Police Department was monitored by the U.S. Civil Rights Commission for decades. Like in the Dakotas, Indians were stopped by police far more often than non-Indians. But even non-Indians who came to the defense of Indians were targeted by police. One non-Indian Farmington resident testified to the Civil Rights Commission that Farmington police stopped him dozens of times, for the purpose of harassment, after he reported police for beating an Indian man. (I've included a link below to the most recent Commission report on Farmington.)
Eventually, the Daily Times was sold and gained new management.
However, the racism and distortion of the facts concerning the beating of the Navajo teens by white teens with baseball bats was not just a singular incident at the newspaper.
The Daily Times staff meetings were often plagued with racist insults toward American Indians, derogatory racial slurs voiced by some of the staff reporters and editors.
Hopefully, things in Southwest newsrooms have changed for the better.
North Dakota is now in the spotlight, with exposure that the sayanything blog, which Port moderates, is a forum for racism and hatred.
It is interesting to follow the press coverage on this issue, since editors and wire reporters don't seem to have read the tribe's resolution or sought out Chippewa tribal members for their responses, which is normally done in news stories.
UPI's current wire story doesn't include a single comment from a Chippewa tribal member or a quote from the tribe's resolution. At least in this case, it appears that UPI doesn't believe it is important to get the Indians' side of the story.
The sad part is that violence begins with thoughts. The good part is that things usually change when people speak out for truth and justice.
UPI's one-sided story:
"The Farmington Report, Civil Rights for Native Americans 30 Years Later"
US Commission on Civil Rights
Original post: "Chippewa insulted by banned author"
Turtle Mountain Chippewa resolution posted at:
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