Indigenous Peoples and Human Rights 2020

Wednesday, May 30, 2007

Western Shoshone and Navajo at United Nations

Fighting for Indigenous Rights: Western Shoshone Carrie Dann with Michelle Cook, Navajo student at the University of Arizona in Tucson, at the Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues at the United Nations in New York. Courtesy photo Michelle Cook.

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."

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