Indigenous Peoples and Human Rights

February 28, 2010

Remembering Wounded Knee '73

Remembering Wounded Knee '73
by Carter Camp
Ponca Nation AIM
Ah-ho My Relations,
Each year with the changing of the season I post this remembrance of Wounded Knee 73. I wrote it a few years ago when some of our brave people had walked to Yellowstone to stop the slaughter of our Buffalo relations. When I did I was surprised at the response from people who were too young to remember WK'73 and I was pleased that some old WK vets wrote to me afterwards. So each year on this date I post the short story again and invite you-all to send it around or use as you will. As you do I ask you to remember that our reasons for going to Wounded Knee still exist and that means the need for struggle and resistance also still exist. Our land and sacred sites are threatened as never before even our sacred Mother herself is faced with unnatural warming caused by extreme greed.

In some areas of conflict between our people and those we signed treaties with, it is best to negotiate or "work within the system" but, because our struggle is one of survival, there are also times when a warrior must stand fast even at the risk of one's life. I believed that in 1973 when I was thirty and I believe it today in my sixties. But to me Wounded Knee 73 was really not about the fight, it was about the strong statement that our traditional way of living in this world is not about to disappear and our people are not a "vanishing race" as wasicu education would have you believe. As time has passed and I see so many of our young people taking part in a traditional way of living and believing I know our fight was worth it and those we lost for our movement died worthy deaths. Carter Camp 2010

"Remembering Wounded Knee 1973"by Carter Camp
Ah-ho My Relations,
Today is heavy with prayer and reminisces for me. Not only are those who walk for the Yellowstone Buffalo reaching their destination, today is the anniversary of the night when, at the direction of the Oglala Chiefs, I went with a special squad of warriors to liberate Wounded Knee in advance of the main AIM caravan.

For security reasons the people had been told everyone was going to a meeting/wacipi in Porcupine, the road goes through Wounded Knee. When the People arrived at the Trading Post we had already set up a perimeter, taken eleven hostages, run the B.I.A. cops out of town, cut most phone lines, and began 73 days of the best, most free time of my life. The honor of being chosen to go first still lives strong in my heart.

That night we had no idea what fate awaited us. It was a cold night with not much moonlight and I clearly remember the nervous anticipation I felt as we drove the back-way from Oglala into Wounded Knee. The Chiefs had tasked me with a mission and we were sworn to succeed, of that I was sure, but I couldn't help wondering if we were prepared. The FBI, BIA and Marshalls had fortified Pine Ridge with machine gun bunkers and A.P.C.s with M-60's. They had unleashed the goon squad on the people and a reign of terror had begun, we knew we had to fight but we could not fight on wasicu terms. We were lightly armed and dependent on the weapons and ammo inside the Wounded Knee trading post, I worried that we would not get to them before the shooting started.

As we stared silently into the darkness driving into the hamlet I tried to foresee what opposition we would encounter and how to neutralize it... We were approaching a sacred place and each of us knew it. We could feel it deep inside. As a warrior leading warriors I humbly prayed to Wakonda for the lives of all and the wisdom to do things right. Never before or since have I offered my tobacco with such a plea nor put on my feathers with such purpose. It was the birth of the Independent Oglala Nation.

Things went well for us that night, we accomplished our task without loss of life. Then, in the cold darkness as we waited for Dennis and Russ to bring in the caravan (or for the fight to start), I stood on the bank of the shallow ravine where our people had been murdered by Custers' 7th Cavalry. There I prayed for the defenseless ones, torn apart by Hotchkiss cannon and trampled under hooves of steel by drunken wasicu. I could feel the touch of their spirits as I eased quietly into the gully and stood silently... waiting for my future, touching my past.

Finally, I bent over and picked a sprig of sage - whose ancestors in 1890 had been nourished by the blood of Red babies, ripped from their mothers dying grasp and bayoneted by the evil ones. As I washed myself with that sacred herb I became cold in my determination and cleansed of fear. I looked for Big Foot and YellowBird in the darkness and I said aloud ---

"We are back my relations, we are home." Hoka-Hey

Carter Camp- Ponca Nation AIM

Seventh Generation Fund Video: Southwest Uranium Forum

Indigenous Fight Logging, Nuclear Industry, Colonization and Oppression

Underreported Struggles #35, February 2010
Full story w/ links:

In this month's Underreported Struggles: Indigenous People in Ecuador Call for a "Permanent Mobilzation”; 5,000 Dongria Kondh protest against Vedanta Resources; Bangladesh army opens fire on Indigenous Jumma; Okanagan Band launches protective blockade against logging.

Feb 28 - Indigenous People in Ecuador Call for "Permanent Mobilization” - Indigenous representatives and leaders have issued a call for a "permanent mobilization” to protest the Ecuadorian government's development policies and press demands for a pluri-national state. Lasting for more than eight weeks, a similar mobilization occurred last year in Peru.

Feb 26 - Colombia: indigenous communities targeted in war, again - Indigenous peoples are again caught in the middle as the Colombian army launches a major offensive against the FARC guerillas in the southern Andean department of Cauca.

Feb 26 - Day of Action for Rivers, March 14, 2010 - With the "day of action for rivers” set to begin on March 14, international Rivers provides an update on what will be happening. So far, they say, twenty-three actions have been scheduled in fourteen countries. Several more actions are expected.

Feb 26 - Alaska Natives restoring culture outlawed by missionaries - After years of stigma brought on by Quaker missionaries who banned traditional dancing, the remote Alaskan village of Noorvik is resurrecting the old dances and songs---re-awakening what was shamefully oppressed by religious bigotry.

Feb 26 - Yanomami fear for their lives as miners invade their land - Yanomami shaman and spokesman Davi Kopenawa has made an urgent appeal for support as the Yanomami territory in northern Brazil is being invaded by gold-miners. Davi said, 'The arrival of miners is increasing, and the Yanomami are very worried… Soon there will be conflicts between the miners and the Yanomami…'

Feb 26 - Peru: indigenous organizations demand protection for "isolated peoples” - Representatives of Peru's Amazonian indigenous alliance AIDESEP and affiliated groups are calling for the "protection of indigenous peoples in voluntary isolation and initial contact.” On Feb. 4, President Alan García introduced a bill that would allow the forcible removal of local populations from lands slated for development projects found to be in the "public interest.”

Feb 24 - Olympics can't mask country's human rights record on indigenous peoples - Ever sensitive about their reputation as a land of the fair minded, Canada's Olympic planners have gone to lengths to showcase the nation's respect for aboriginals. However, it is little more than a blanket to cover up the true state of indigenous peoples in Canada.

Feb 23 - Urge Kenya to Withdrawal Police from Samburu Land - Cultural Survival is appealing to Kenyan government authorities to halt police operations in Northern Kenya, where Indigenous Samburu villages have suffered brutal police attacks over the last year. In the most recent attack, the police invaded two Samburu villages, raped eight women, burned a house to the ground, and beat women, children and men with sticks..

Feb 23 - 5,000 indigenous Dongria Kondh protest against Vedanta - When 5,000 indigenous Dongria Kondhs trekked Sunday to Niyam Dongar hill, the abode of their presiding deity Niyam Raja, and designated it as inviolate, it meant they were stepping up their resistance to a controversial alumina refinery and bauxite mine project here.

Feb 23 - Okanagan Nation launches blockade against logging - The Okanagan Indian Band (OIB) launched a "protective blockade” this morning, February 23, at the Okanagan campsite near Bouleau Lake in southern British Colombia. A member of the greater Okanagan Nation, the OIB say they have been left with no choice but to stop the logging company Tolko Industries from endangering their water supply.

Feb 23 - Uranium Mining Begins Near Grand Canyon - In defiance of legal challenges and a U.S. Government moratorium, Canadian company Denison Mines has started mining uranium on the north rim of the Grand Canyon. According to the Arizona Daily Sun the mine has been operating since December 2009.

Feb 22 - Indigenous Jumma massacred in Bangladesh - Eight people are dead and more than two dozen have been injured after the Bangladesh military, on Feb. 20, 2010, opened fire on a group of Indigenous Jumma villagers in the Chittagong Hill Tracts (CHT) of Bangladesh. Four villages sponsored by the United Nations were also burned to the ground.

Feb 20 - Company activities suspended in Ajwun and Wampis sacred territory - Peru's Ministry of Energy and Mines announced this week that it is "indefinitely suspending” Minera Afrodita's exploration activities in the Cordillera del Condor region of Peru. As reported by Servindi, the announcement follows a recommendation by OSINERGIN, which recently that found that Afrodita, a subsidiary of the Vancouver-based company Dorato , has no concession rights in the Cordillera del Condor region.

Feb 19 - Honduras: authorized projects threaten wetlands and communities - Only 24 hours after Lobo took office, his administration was already granting new environmental permits for projects on wetlands which are part of the environmental richness of Honduras, threatening species and communities.

Feb 18 - Ongoing Violation of Naso and Ngobe Peoples Rights - A shadow report has been submitted to the United Nations Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination (CERD) detailing Panama's ongoing breach of obligations to the Indigenous Naso and Ngobe Peoples.

Feb 18 - International letter-writing campaign for "uncontacted Indians” - A global letter-writing campaign is underway to help protect the lives of isolated Indigenous Peoples in Paraguay. A Brazilian ranching company, Yaguarete Porá, has announced plans to clear a large part of their 78,000 hectare estate. Sign the letter here.

Feb 15 - Join the Campaign in Defense of the Xingu River - A letter-writing campaign has been launched to demand President Luiz Inacio Lula Da Silva and other Brazilian authorities put an end to the controversial Belo Monte hydro-electric dam. Once completed, the Belo Monte dam would devastate a massive portion of the Amazon rainforest, divert the flow of the Xingu River and destroy the livelihoods of more than 12,000 Indigenous people.

Feb 14 - Lusi volcano eruption blamed on mining firm - British scientists have revealed evidence that a mining company drilling for gas was responsible for unleashing a mud volcano in Indonesia which has killed 14 people and left tens of thousands homeless.

Feb 11 - Landmark Decision for Indigenous Land Rights in Africa - In a landmark decision this month, the African Union endorsed a 2009 ruling by the African Commission on Human and Peoples' Rights which ordered the Kenyan government to restore the traditional land base of the Endorois People.

Feb 4 - Court rules in favor of indigenous Papuans - The Constitutional Court in Papua has issued an important ruling to provide better representation of Indigenous Peoples in the local government. The Papuan Legislative Council must now appoint 11 new members, all indigenous.

Feb 4 - Extinct: Andaman tribe's extermination complete as last member dies - The last member of a unique tribe has died on India's Andaman Islands. Boa Sr, who died last week aged around 85, was the last speaker of 'Bo', one of the ten Great Andamanese languages. The Bo are thought to have lived in the Andaman Islands for as much as 65,000 years.

Feb 2 - People of Alice win first round against Schwabe Pharmaceuticals - The small South African community of Alice has won the first leg of their court case against German homeopathic giant Schwabe Pharmaceuticals. The company is trying to patent a remedy made from the roots of local indigenous plants.

Feb 2 - Bitter Sweet or Toxic? Indigenous people, diabetes and the burden of pollution - Diabetes is now widely regarded as the 21st century epidemic. With some 284 million people currently diagnosed with the disease, it's certainly no exaggeration---least of all for Indigenous people.


Don't mine us out of existence! - UK-based mining company Vedanta Resources threatens the human rights of indigenous communities in the Indian state of Orissa.

Nuclear Attack on the Yakama Culture - Yakama Nation cultural leader Russell Jim talks about the Hanford Nuclear Reservation in south-central Washington and the social, cultural, economic, and political issues that surround it.

Yakama Nation cultural leader Russell Jim talks about the Hanford Nuclear Reservation in south-central Washington and the social, cultural, economic, and political issues that surround it.

The talk was delivered at the University of Washington Husky Union Building in Seattle, WA, on February 23, 2001.

A board member of the Center for World Indigenous Studies (CWIS) and Director of the Nuclear Waste and Restoration Management programme for the Yakama Nation, Russell Jim has spent more than 20 years raising the Yakama Nation’s voice and demanding the US government clean up the Hanford Nuclear Reservation (HNR), one of the most contaminated places on Earth.

Built in the Yakama Nation’s “front yard,” HNR was the world’s first full-scale plutonium production reactor. It manufactured the plutonium used in thousands of nuclear bombs; including the very first one ever detonated on July 16, 1945, and in “Fat Man“, the bomb detonated over Nagasaki, Japan on August 9, 1945.

During its years of operation (1943 to 1987) HNR also produced millions of gallons of highly radioactive waste, all of which is now stored on site in 177 underground tanks. Roughly 67 of these tanks have leaked more than a million gallons of waste into the local soil.

HNR further released more than 200 different radionuclides into the air and local waters. While most of the releases are considered to be accidental or a “natural” part of operations, on December 2-3, 1949, the U.S. Air Force intentionally released between 7,000 and 12,000 curies of iodine-131 into the air as part of a secret experiment known as project “Green Run“.

As Russell Jim reveals, there also appears to have been a “human radiation experiment on the Yakama Nation” involving the radioactive isotope “phosphorus-32″.

According to documents he reviewed, Jim explains, “in 1941, prior the Hanford Reservation ever becoming a reality, phosphorus-32 was introduced into the Yakama and Colombia river.”

“We found that it goes directly through the eyes of the Salmon and to the soft bone inside the Salmon head, which is revered by the Indigenous People. We think it’s some of the greatest food.”

“But there is a consistent denial by federal agencies and by science” he continues, “that there is no proven effects of radioactivity”. The isotope itself, is often used today in scientific research and medical treatment.

Nevertheless, Jim expresses concern about the possible impacts on the Yakama in the next couple generations. Perhaps one day, he fears, Women will no longer be able to give birth.

According to the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC), phosphorus-32 is a known cause of cancer in humans and animals when it is taken internally.

Further, says the IARC, “exposure of animals to phosphorus-32 in utero led to prenatal death, reduced growth, malformations and gonadal and pituitary lesions.” It was also shown to produce “chromosomal aberrations” in humans.

Watch this video on YouTube:

February 27, 2010

Remembering the Migrants: Tucson Peace Fair 2010

By Brenda Norrell
Censored News
TUCSON -- In the half moon circle of booths before the stage, children's faces were painted and Guatemalan tapestries were on display. There was the call for peace, and the paintings of torture in China. Veterans for Peace, Amnesty, the ACLU, Derechos Humanos, Borderlinks, No More Deaths, KXCI Radio and so many others were there at the Tucson Peace Fair today. The Tucson Refuge Sewing and Crafts Circle offered handmade bags made by African women who are now refugees here. Others called for the protection of the Santa Rita Mountains from copper mining.
On one table, there were tiny mementos, precious items left behind by migrants in the Sonoran Desert. There were fragments of a child's clothing, bits of toys and beads, now made into art, so they will not be forgotten. On quilt patches there are the memories and the names of those who died in the desert.
"The Migrant Quilt Project contains the names and the unknowns (desconocidos) who have died while crossing the US/Mexico border. By driving migrants into remote regions where there is no water, food or medical care, many succumb to extreme heat or cold exposure, dehydration and heat stroke. We honor all those who died trying to find a job." --International Migrant Quilt Project.

Andy Warhol's Tucson

Article and photos by Brenda Norrell
Censored News
It was unexpected, but there it was. Andy Warhol photographs, even his cowboy boots, three rooms of them, with Go-Go Sixties dancers. And out back, Sonoran hot dogs and a mechanical bull. All you had to do was lean back on a hay bale and drink it all in, beneath the stars, with one of the ropers. Out back, the hot dogs had grilled onions, raw onions, jalapenos, bacon and some other stuff that I've forgotten. Inside, the world of art was unglued, all unhinged, Andy Warhol was there, jumping in between the chasms of time, leaping back and forth, enjoying it all one more time.
Bob Broder, who once shot for Arizona Republic and other ole news rags (like the ones that I sometimes wrote for) was standing there, in front of the photos of Andy Warhol. There was a surreal quality to it all, Broder standing there in front of a wall of photos that he shot of Warhol in Tucson, with a Navajo blanket and cowboy hats and all. And as the Go Go dancers were doing their thing, Broder was giving me a few pointers on using my cheap point and shoot camera ($100 at boring stores everywhere.) So, he remembered shooting Andy Warhol here in Tucson, as the video of Warhol in Tucson was showing.
There were a lot of great people there, but I don't know any of them. The thing is, people in Tucson don't have to try and dress or act like Andy Warhol, they just are.
Warhol: Dylan to Duchamp
Eric Firestone Gallery, 403 N 6th Ave., Tucson downtown.
Eric Kroll, a TASCHEN photo book editor, and gallery owner Eric Firestone, curated the exhibition. The show combines 28 of the greatest photographers of our time – – Dennis Hopper, Helmut Newton, Nat Finkelstein, Cecil Beaton, Annie Leibovitz, Robert Mapplethorpe, Billy Name, Bob Broder, Bob Adelman, Gerard Malanga, Anton Perich, Michael Tighe, Patrick McMullan and others. This inside look into the wonderful Age of Warhol showcases a rare assemblage of color, and black-and-white original prints, including a prestigious body of work on loan from the Beth Rudin DeWoody Collection.

Black Mesa Indigenous Support: Regional Coordinators

BMIS Regional Coordinator Proposal
By Black Mesa Indigenous Support
Photo: Black Mesa Support Caravan
Black Mesa Indigenous Support (BMIS) is seeking year-round regional coordinators! We are looking for excited, committed people to join us in support of the traditional resistance communities at Big Mountain/Black Mesa. We are seeking individuals and groups from all over the country and encourage people who are new to organizing projects to join us, as well as supporters who have long-term involvement in the struggle. Please pass along this email to people in your community who might be interested, and get in touch with us if you have any questions at:
BMIS strives to have our organizing grounded in the needs and input from people on the land at Big Mountain Black Mesa, which necessitates lots of communication, translation, and trips to the land. In addition, we serve as a bridge between outside supporters and the resistance community. We envision a regional coordinator structure that will help us strengthen our ties to outside supporter communities, and build capacity and connection to the land and elders. We are a small, all-volunteer collective and are unfortunately unable to accomplish all that we would like to see in support for traditional resistance communities on the land. Regional coordinators will help us in regards to capacity, as well as aid BMIS in staying accountable by providing input and suggestions from supporter communities nationwide. Most importantly, we hope that regional coordinators will help us build a national network that can support Big Mountain/Black Mesa, as well as regional indigenous resistance struggles, and social movements for the liberation of all peoples and the planet.
We envision regional coordinators as a bridge between national BMIS work and local supporter communities. Regional coordinators will be responsible for facilitating trips out to the land for supporters from their area. This will involve talking to new supporters ahead of time to review the Cultural Sensitivity Guide and preparedness information, as well as communicating with BMIS about any problems or issues that arise. In addition to helping ease the capacity issues of BMIS nationally, these direct meetings between regional coordinators and supporters will help build solidarity networks and encourage accountable relationship building. Regional coordinators will also assist in organizing the annual Fall Wood Run caravan and building a local network of supporters for indigenous sovereignty struggles. We hope to develop a stronger national network of people that can respond to Elders calls for support, and envision the regional coordinators as a key part of this goal. In addition, regional coordinators will be asked to do fundraising in their area for BMIS and direct on-the-land support. If you've never done fundraising before, dont worry! We have lots of information about grassroots fundraising to share with you and see this as a part of our education and organizing campaign.
In addition to organizing directly around Big Mountain Black Mesa support efforts, we also hope that a regional coordinating structure can become a vehicle for BMIS to help promote a national network of indigenous solidarity organizing and movement building. To this end, we are excited about the role regional coordinators can play in building political analysis among supporters. We want to contribute to sustainable movements that prioritize the leadership of those most impacted by oppression, relocation, and environmental degradation. We hope regional coordinators and local supporters will be able to build connections to and support for local indigenous struggles in their area, and make connections to the anti-colonial resistance at Big Mountain Black Mesa.
This proposal and call-out for regional coordinators is a work in progress. The work we do together will be defined by the energy, creativity, and commitment that we share, and we are looking for input from people who would like to get involved in our work. Please let us know if you have suggestions for BMIS in regards to regional organizing, caravans, and our support work generally. Below we've listed some of the ideas that we have brainstormed as projects that regional coordinators could contribute to. Let us know what you think!
-year round outreach and initial conversations with folks interested in doing on land support
-connect to local climate justice, anti-racism, and decolonization projects
-organize the local caravan well in advance- outreach to participants, donations, ride coordinating, etc. to avoid last-minute craziness
-set up sheepherder send-off parties which can double as political education and fundraising events
-put on screenings of Broken Rainbow, as well as speaking engagements, report backs and other educational events to spread word about the struggle
-set up discussions around the Cultural Sensitivity Guide and other related readings to facilitate political development of supporters
-organize joint fundraisers in support of local indigenous struggles
-organize local responses to calls to action from the land
-looking into and spreading information about local corporate and political connections to Peabody Coal
-tabling and information distribution at local events to build networks and share information
-build local capacity to fight racism and participate in multiracial movements for justice
We are inspired by what it could mean for people to be able to commit in sustainable long-term ways to supporting the struggle at Big Mountain Black Mesa as well as the other struggles that must be won to make justice a reality for all people and on all lands. We are looking for people to join us in this project! If you are interested in becoming a regional coordinator, please send us an email telling us where you are located, why you are interested in the work, and any ideas you might have for solidarity work in your region. Thank you sincerely and we look forward to hearing from and working with you!

February 26, 2010

Facing the KKK: Migrant Youth Walkers

Censored News
Brave students are walking from Miami to Washington, D.C. to demand our nation’s leaders fix our failed immigration system. They have just entered the Deep South and have encountered extreme anti-immigrant sentiment — including the Ku Klux Klan. Now more than ever they need our support so they know they’re not alone.
Along the "Trail of Dreams,” their 1,500 mile walk, they will call on our nation’s leaders to ensure that young people like themselves, and all immigrants, have the chance to realize their potential and fully participate in society.
These students are taking a courageous stand on behalf of millions of others who suffer under our failed immigration system. Please stand with them as they walk through hostile territory and take their message to Washington.

February 25, 2010

O'odham Ofelia Rivas Imprisoned in Mexico

O'odham Ofelia Rivas imprisoned for four days in southern Chiapas while supporting Zapatistas

By Brenda Norrell
Human Rights Editor
UN OBSERVER and International Report
Photo: Tapachula prison in Chiapas near Guatemalan border.

TUCSON -- O'odham human rights activist Ofelia Rivas was imprisoned in southern Chiapas for four days and crossed safely onto O'odham lands Wednesday night.
"There are inhumane border policies all across the world. My personal experience at home dealing with the Border Patrol helped me deal with confinement in the prison cell," Rivas said after crossing the border to her home.
Rivas was imprisoned in the Tapachula Immigration Prison in southern Chiapas near the Guatemalan border on false charges of crossing the border of Guatemala without documents. Rivas, however, had not crossed into Guatemala.
"Throughout our travel, by plane and bus, federal authorities reviewed my documents and allowed me to pass without problems. The federal police in Tapachula saw that an American was traveling with an Indigenous woman and arrested us.
"They wouldn't talk to me directly because I don't speak Spanish," said Rivas, who speaks O'odham and English.
Rivas was not provided with a translator when charged or during the four days she was imprisoned. "I signed papers without a translator when I was released. I still don't know what I was charged with."
"I was not read any rights," Rivas said. "When they were doing the paperwork, they said we were not being arrested. When we got to the detention center, they said 'You're not being arrested, you're not in handcuffs.'"
However, she had been arrested. She was taken to her cell, which she shared with a family from Colombia, which included a four-month-old baby and nine-month-old baby. They had been there for two months.
"What struck me was the powerful Somalian women that had walked across Central America and were in prison for two months in Panama. They have been waiting in Chiapas for two months for refugee status to be released to the United States. One Somalian woman said, 'I lost all my family, my mother, my father, my brothers, my sisters, all killed in front of me. I only know of one uncle who survived.'"
"The strength of those women, everyday they sat together and sang their songs and told their stories, and it kept us all together. We were a community. We all took care of the babies and watched out for the rest of the children to make sure they ate when it was time to eat."
Rivas became ill from the chemicals used for cleaning the prison, which was done at night when she was locked in her cell. One morning, she felt too ill to get out of bed.
"I couldn't get up, but the women insisted that I get up and go eat."
The women's and men's cells were separated only by partitions and the noise was loud throughout the night.
At night, she could hear a man screaming in English and rattling his cell gate, "Get me out of here! Get me out of here!" he would scream, yelling for a bathroom.
"It was the jungle by the sea, so it was hot and sticky and there were mosquitoes."
"Everyone is sitting there waiting for papers. Someone somewhere is delaying those everyday."
After four days of imprisonment, and the intervention of the American Embassy in Mexico City and family members in the United States, Rivas and her traveling companion were released.
"We cancelled the rest of our trip and came directly home, since we don't know what we signed." "This severe enforcement of borders is because of the militarization of the Zapatista communities which continue to face threats."
"My entire trip was to build solidarity with the Zapatistas and to tell the story of the O'odham on the border. We were received with great respect and were honored to be invited to the communities to share our story. They made a statement to acknowledge our story and that our struggles are the same. They said they were honored to hear from the traditional O'odham people."
Ofelia Rivas is founder of O'odham Voice Against the Wall. She lives on Tohono O'odham land on the US/Mexico border and exposes the human rights abuses of the US Border Patrol and ongoing militarization of the border and O'odham land. She exposed the digging up of O'odham ancestors' graves by Boeing during construction of the border wall in Arizona. She has been held at gunpoint, harassed, threatened and detained by the US Border Patrol on O'odham land in Arizona.
Read more at Censored News

February 24, 2010

Coal Plant Fails in Penn., Navajos Hope Desert Rock is Next

Health Risks and Controversy Remain At Sites on Navajo Nation And Nevada

Press statement
KARTHAUS, Penn. – An international energy developer financed by Wall Street equity firm The Blackstone Group has abandoned plans for a proposed 300-megawatt waste-coal power plant in rural Pennsylvania.

Sithe Global, which is also behind the proposed Toquop coal plant in Nevada and the Desert Rock plant on the Navajo reservation in New Mexico, announced Tuesday it was canceling its proposed $600 million River Hill plant near Karthaus, Penn. due to financing difficulties.

Progress on Sithe’s other two coal projects has also stalled as a result of permitting and financing difficulties and intense opposition from local communities who say the potential harm to their air, water and health far outweighs any economic benefits from the plants.

“We have suspected for a long time that the River Hill project was very tenuous at best,” said Randy Francisco, of the Sierra Club in Pennsylvania. “It says a lot about the viability of these dirty coal plant proposals when they can’t get taxpayer bailouts and they can’t make them pencil out even with the backing of a company with pockets as deep as Blackstone’s.”

Anna Frazier, coordinator of the Navajo group Diné CARE, said that Sithe’s proposed Desert Rock plant is also on equally shaky ground after suffering one setback after another over the past year. Desert Rock’s pollution permit was withdrawn by the EPA in Septermber, a permit for the transmission right-of-way needed to get the power to Southwest markets was overturned earlier in 2009, and the Department of Energy denied Sithe a request for $450 million in federal stimulus dollars late last year.

“The Navajo communities of Northwest New Mexico have always been opposed to Desert Rock, so we are encouraged by the cancellation of the River Hill project,” said Frazier. “In an area that is already under siege by pollution from fossil-fuel development, Desert Rock has been a six-year black hole that has wasted millions of dollars that could have been used to bring clean-energy projects to the Four Corners region.”

Sithe’s proposed Toquop plant near Mesquite, Nev., originally proposed as a natural gas-fired plant, also has been on the drawing board for years but still does not have a pollution permit or an approved BLM environmental impact analysis, and last year the project lost rights to water it needs for to operate.

“We’ve been trying to persuade Sithe for years to focus on developing Nevada’s vast solar and wind resources instead of outdated and dirty coal,” said Mesquite Mayor Susan Holecheck. “Hopefully, Sithe’s decision to abandon the Pennsylvania plant is a signal that we can soon put the nail in Toquop’s coffin, too, and get it out of the way for clean-energy jobs and economic development in Nevada.”
Tim Wagner
Program Director
Resource Media
150 S. 600 E. Suite 2B
Salt Lake City, UT 84105

Office: 801-364-1668
Mobile: 801-502-5450

Indigenous Peoples: Pollution and Diabetes

Bitter Sweet or Toxic?
Indigenous people, diabetes and the burden of pollution

Contamination of First Nations, Mohawk and O'odham lands linked to diabetes
By John Schertow
The Dominion
WINNIPEG—Diabetes is now widely regarded as the 21st century epidemic. With some 284 million people currently diagnosed with the disease, it’s certainly no exaggeration—least of all for Indigenous people.
... There is growing evidence that diabetes is closely linked with our environment. More than a dozen studies have been published that show a connection between Persistent Organic Pollutants (POPs) including polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs); carcinogenic hydrocarbons known as Dioxins; and the “violently deadly” synthetic pesticide, DDT and higher rates of the disease.
O'odham and Diabetes
The Tohono O’odham Nation’s experience bears a close resemblance to Grassy Narrows: the world’s highest rate of diabetes can be found in the southwest Arizona nation. According to Tribal health officials, nearly 70 per cent of the population of 28,000 has been diagnosed with the illness. The O’odham People make up the second largest Indigenous Nation in the United States.
Lori Riddle is a member of Aquimel O’odham Community and founder of the Gila River Alliance for a Clean Environment (GRACE).
GRACE was instrumental in the 10 year struggle against a hazardous waste recycling plant that operated without full permits on O’odham land for decades. Owned by Romic Environmental Technologies Corporation, the plant continuously spewed effluents into the air until it was finally shut down in 2007.
The Romic plant was not the first contributor to the O’odham’s toxic burden, explained Riddle. Looking back to her childhood, she recalled: “For nearly a year, [when] a plane would go over our heads, you could see the mist. We never thought to cover our water. The chemicals just took over and they became a part of us.”
From the early 1950s until the late 60s, cotton farmers in the Gila River watershed routinely sprayed DDT onto their crops to protect them from bollworms. According to the Agency of Toxic Substances and Disease Registry (ATSDR), each and every year, the farmers used roughly Twenty-three pounds of DDT per acre.
In 1969, the State of Arizona banned the use of DDT; by this time the river was gravely contaminated. According to the ATSDR, farmers then switched to Toxaphene, a substitute for DDT—until it was banned by the US government in 1990.
Because of these chemicals, Riddle explains, the O’odham were forced to abandon their traditional foods and adopt a western diet. Farms also went into a recession, forcing many families to leave their communities. Companies, such as Romic, began moving on to their territory, exasperating the situation. “It’s taken a toll on our quality of life,” she says. “I’ve cried myself to sleep.”
The O’odham are dealing with what Riddle terms “cluster symptoms” including miscarriages, arthritis in the spine, breathing problems, unexplainable skin rashes, and problems regenerating blood cells. This in addition to diabetes, which frequently leads to renal failure, blindness, heart disease, and amputations.
Read article ...

Call Congress Thursday: No Loans for Nuclear Reactors

February 24, 2010
Dear Friends:
A quick reminder that tomorrow, Thursday, February 25, is the National Call-Congress Day to stop the Obama Administration's proposed $54 Billion loan program for new nuclear reactor construction--otherwise known as a giant taxpayer giveaway to wealthy nuclear corporations.
You can reach every member of Congress through the Congressional Switchboard: 202-224-3121.
We ask that your call your House Representative and both of your Senators, if at all possible.
Our asks are these:
*we want them to publicly oppose the President's request for a tripling of the Department of Energy loan "guarantee" program to $54 Billion.
*we want them to vote against this program in committee if possible and on the floor if it comes to the floor.
We are supplementing the Call-Congress Day with your letters.
*If you haven't written to your Representative yet this week, please do so here.
*If you haven't written to your Senators yet this week, please do so here.
Please drop us a quick e-mail (to and let us know that you called, and any response you receive.
This is a National Call-Congress Day, being sponsored by several groups, including NIRS, Public Citizen, Physicians for Social Responsibility, Beyond Nuclear, Southern Alliance for Clean Energy and others.
Let's keep those phones ringing all day long! Help us spread the word! Make sure everyone has the opportunity to participate. Your actions matter!
Thanks for all you do,
Michael Mariotte Nuclear Information and Resource Service

VIDEO LONDON: Tar Sands OILympics

From London Tar Sands OILympics

St. Regis Mohawks Receiving CITGO Heating Fuel

Citgo will once again donate heating fuel to tribal residents

HOGANSBURG — Though spring fever is setting in, heating help is still on the way to the St. Regis Mohawk tribe. For the third year in a row, the tribe will receive funds from Venezuelan government-owned Citgo. Qualified applicants will receive approximately 100 gallons of free home heating fuel to help get them through the winter, according to the tribe.Other than the five boroughs of New York City, the tribe is the only community in the state to receive help, according to Citgo officials."It's for tribes in the north for whom heating becomes a survival issue," said David T. Staddon, director of public information for the tribe. "We are the northernmost tribe in the state."

Canadian Denison Uranium Mining at Grand Canyon

Canadian-based Denison Mines is mining uranium at the north rim of the Grand Canyon, continuing its disregard for Native Americans

By Brenda Norrell
Photo: Native American children at Red Butte, at the Havasupai Gathering to Halt Uranium Mining in the Grand Canyon in July. Photo Brenda Norrell.

Denison Mines is now mining uranium at the north rim of the Grand Canyon, threatening the water supply and health of the region.

President Obama's new focus on nuclear energy, with funding for nuclear power plants, is creating a new demand for uranium. Obama's new nuclear focus comes as a slap in the face to Native people who supported him and are now fighting new uranium mining on their lands.

Exploitative corporations targeting Native people, including Denison Mines, are continuing their disregard for the health and wellbeing of Native people and future generations. In the Southwest, Native people have long been the victims of uranium mining and were the victims of Cold War uranium mining. Still today, the Navajo Nation is strewn with radioactive uranium mill tailings.

Klee Benally, Navajo at Indigenous Action Media, said the new onslaught of uranium mining in the Grand Canyon comes in defiance of legal challenges and a US moratorium. Havasupai hosted a gathering in July to halt Denison's uranium mining at their sacred Red Butte at the south rim, pointing out the risk to the drinking water of the people of the Southwest and desecration of sacred lands.

However, Denison started uranium mining at the north rim of the Grand Canyon in December and plans to extract 335 tons of uranium per day out of the Arizona 1 Mine. Denison, based in Toronto, Canada, has already targeted Indigenous Peoples with uranium mining and ore processing in Utah and Saskatchewan. Further, Denison has uranium exploration underway in Mongolia and Zambia, targeting more of the worlds Indigenous Peoples with poisoned land and waterways.

Denison is just one of the Canadian companies targeting Native lands in the US. Navajos and Lakotas are in court fighting new uranium mining in the Southwest and Plains.

From the Grand Canyon, Denison is transporting hazardous ore by truck more than 300 miles through towns and communities to the company's White Mesa mill located near Blanding, Utah. The mining, transport and processing will put at risk Native Americans -- Paiute, Havasupai, Hualapai, Navajo and Ute -- along with tourists, other residents and those living along the Colorado River.

Benally said, "After being pressured by environmental groups, U.S. Secretary of Interior Ken Salazar initially called for a two-year moratorium on new mining claims in a buffer zone of 1 million acres around Grand Canyon National Park, but the moratorium doesn't include existing claims such as Denison's. The moratorium also doesn't address mining claims outside of the buffer zone.

"The Grand Canyon is ancestral homeland to the Havasupai and Hualapai Nations. Although both Indigenous Nations have banned uranium mining on their reservations the U.S. Forest Service and Bureau of Land Management may permit thousands of mining claims on surrounding lands, he said.

Due to recent increases in the price of uranium and the push for nuclear power nearly 8,000 new mining claims now threaten Northern Arizona. Uranium mined from the Southwestern U.S. is predominately purchased by countries such as France and Korea for nuclear energy, he said.

"Under an anachronistic 1872 mining law, created when pick axes and shovels were used, mining companies freely file claims on public lands. The law permits mining regardless of cultural impacts," Benally said.

"Currently there are 104 nuclear reactors in the United States which supply 20% of the U.S.'s electricity. In January the Obama administration approved a $54 billion dollar taxpayer loan in a guarantee program for new nuclear reactor construction, three times what Bush previously promised in 2005."

Read more of Benally's article at:

February 23, 2010

Uranium Mining Begins at Grand Canyon

Uranium Mining Begins at Grand Canyon
Thousands of Claims Threaten Public Health and Sacred Lands

By Klee Benally

Indigenous Action Media

Photo (R): Havasupai gathered near Red Butte at the south rim of the Grand Canyon in July to oppose Denison Mines new uranium mining. Photo Brenda Norrell.

GRAND CANYON, Ariz. -- In defiance of legal challenges and a U.S. Government moratorium, Canadian company Denison Mines has started mining uranium on the north rim of the Grand Canyon. According to the Arizona Daily Sun the mine has been operating since December 2009.

Denison plans on extracting 335 tons of uranium per day out of the "Arizona 1 Mine", which is set to operate four days per week. The hazardous ore will be hauled by truck more than 300 miles through towns and communities to the company's White Mesa mill located near Blanding, Utah.
After being pressured by environmental groups, U.S. Secretary of Interior Ken Salazar initially called for a two-year moratorium on new mining claims in a buffer zone of 1 million acres around Grand Canyon National Park, but the moratorium doesn't include existing claims such as Denison's. The moratorium also doesn't address mining claims outside of the buffer zone.

The Grand Canyon is ancestral homeland to the Havasupai and Hualapai Nations. Although both Indigenous Nations have banned uranium mining on their reservations the U.S. Forest Service and Bureau of Land Management may permit thousands of mining claims on surrounding lands.

Due to recent increases in the price of uranium and the push for nuclear power nearly 8,000 new mining claims now threaten Northern Arizona. Uranium mined from the Southwestern U.S. is predominately purchased by countries such as France (Areva) & Korea for nuclear energy.

In July of 2009 members of the Havasupai Nation and their allies gathered for four days on the South Rim of the Grand Canyon at their sacred site Red Butte to address the renewed threat. Red Butte has long been endangered by the on-going threat of uranium mining.

Under an anachronistic 1872 mining law, created when pick axes and shovels were used, mining companies freely file claims on public lands. The law permits mining regardless of cultural impacts.


Currently there are 104 nuclear reactors in the United States which supply 20% of the U.S.'s electricity. In January the Obama administration approved a $54 billion dollar taxpayer loan in a guarantee program for new nuclear reactor construction, three times what Bush previously promised in 2005.
Since 2007, seventeen companies have now sought government approval for 26 more reactors with plans to complete four by 2018 and up to eight by 2020. New reactors are estimated to cost more than $12 billion each.
Although nuclear energy is hailed by some as a solution to the current U.S. energy crisis and global warming, those more closely impacted by uranium mining and transportation recognize the severity of the threat.


Uranium is a known cause of cancers, organ damage, miscarriages & birth defects.
Drilling for the radioactive material has been found to contaminate underground aquifers that drain into the Colorado River, and sacred springs that have sustained Indigenous Peoples in the region. In addition, surface water can flow into drill holes and mine shafts which can also poison underground water sources.

Emerging in the Rocky Mountains in North Central Colorado and winding 1,450 miles to the Gulf of California, the Colorado River is held sacred by more than 34 Indigenous Nations. The Colorado also provides drinking water for up to 27 million people in seven states throughout the Southwest.
The river that carves the Grand Canyon has been extensively used by the agricultural industry and cities that are dependent for drinking water, so much so that it now ceases to flow to the Gulf of California, forcing members of the Cocopah Nation (The People of the River) in Northern Mexico to abandon their homelands and relocate elsewhere.
Today there are more than 2,000 abandoned uranium mines in the Southwest. U.S. government agencies have done little or nothing to clean up contaminated sites and abandoned mines. At Rare Metals near Tuba City on the Diné (Navajo) Nation a layer of soil and rock is the only covering over 2.3 million tons of hazardous waste. A rock dam surrounds the radioactive waste to control runoff water that flows into nearby Moenkopi Wash. Throughout the Diné Nation, Diné families have been subject to decades of radioactive contamination ranging from unsafe mining conditions to living in houses built from uranium tailings. Well water is documented by the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) as undrinkable in at least 22 communities such as Black Falls on the Dine’ Nation. According to the EPA, "Approximately 30 percent of the Navajo population does not have access to a public drinking water system and may be using unregulated water sources with uranium contamination." Flocks of sheep and other livestock still graze among radioactive tailing piles and ingest radioactive water.

According to the Navajo Nation up to 2.5 million gallons of uranium contaminated water is leaching out of the Shiprock Uranium Mill near Shiprock, New Mexico into the San Juan River every year. At the Church Rock Mine in New Mexico, which is now attempting to re-open, up to 875,000 cubic yards of radioactive waste continue to contaminate the land.
In July 1979 a dirt dam breached on the Navajo Nation at a uranium processing plant releasing more than 1,100 tons of radioactive waste and nearly 100 million gallons of contaminated fluid into the Rio Puerco (which ultimately flows into the Colorado River) near Church Rock, NM. This was the single largest nuclear accident in US history. Thousands of Diné families that live in the region, including those forced to relocate from the Joint Use Area due to coal mining, continue to suffer health impacts resulting from the spill.

In 2005 the Diné Nation government banned uranium mining and processing within its borders due to uranium's harmful legacy of severe health impacts and poisoning of the environment. And yet, high cancer rates, birth defects and other health impacts still bear out the uranium industry's dangerous legacy.


Today the US has nearly 60,000 tons of highly radioactive spent nuclear waste stored in concrete dams at nuclear power plants throughout the country. The waste increases at a rate of 2,000 tons per year. Depleted Uranium (DU) is a byproduct of uranium enrichment and reprocessing which has controversial military uses including armor piercing projectiles. DU has been found to cause long-term health effects ranging from harming organs to causing miscarriages and birth defects.
In 1987 Congress initiated a controversial project to transport and store almost all of the U.S.'s toxic waste at Yucca Mountain located about 100 miles northwest of Las Vegas, Nevada. Yucca Mountain has been held holy to the Paiute and Western Shoshone Nations since time immemorial.

In February 2009 Obama met a campaign promise to cut funding for the multibillion dollar Yucca Mountain Nuclear Waste Repository project. The controversial project was initially proposed in 1987 with radioactive waste to be shipped from all over the U.S. via rails and highways. Currently a new proposal for an experimental method of extracting additional fuel from nuclear waste called "reprocessing" renews the threat to desecrate the sacred mountain on Western Shoshone lands.

Western Shoshone lands, which have never been ceeded to the U.S. government, have long been under attack by the military and nuclear industry. Between 1951 and 1992 more than 1,000 nuclear bombs have been detonated above and below the surface at an area called the Nevada Test Site on Western Shoshone lands which make it one of the most bombed nations on earth. Communities in areas around the test site faced exposure to radioactive fallout which has caused cancers, leukemia & other illnesses. Western Shoshone spiritual practitioner Corbin Harney, who has since passed on, helped initiate a grassroots effort to shutdown the test site and abolish nuclear weapons.

Indigenous Peoples in the Marshall Islands have also faced serious impacts due to U.S. nuclear testing. In her book, Conquest: Sexual Violence & American Indian Genocide, Andrea Smith reports that some Indigenous Peoples in the islands have all together stopped reproducing due to the severity of cancer and birth defects they have faced.


In March 1988 more than 8,000 people converged for massive 10 day direct action to "reclaim" the test site, nearly 3,000 people were arrested. Groups such as the Nevada Desert Experience (NDE) and Shundahai Network continue their work to shut down the test site and resist the corporate and military nuclear industry.

Throughout the 1980's a fierce movement of grassroots resistance and direct action against uranium mining near the Grand Canyon had taken shape, galvanized by the Havasupai, Hopi, Diné (Navajo), Hualapai tribes and a Flagstaff group, Canyon Under Siege. Prayerful and strategic meetings were held once a year throughout the 80s. In 1989 a group known as the 'Arizona 5' were charged for eco-actions including cutting power-lines to the Canyon Uranium Mine. Attributable in some part to the resistance and but mainly to a sharp drop in the price of uranium, companies like Dennison were forced to shut their mines down.

Mt. Taylor, located on Forest Service managed lands in New Mexico between Albuquerque and Gallup, has also faced the threat of uranium mining. The mountain sits upon one of the richest reservers of uranium ore in the country, it is held holy by the Diné, Acoma, Laguna, Zuni & Hopi Nations. In June 2009 Indigenous Nations and environmental groups unified to protect the holy Mountain and through their efforts Mt. Taylor was given temporary protection as a Traditional Cultural Property.

For 7 years Indigenous People from throughout the world have gathered to organize against the nuclear industry at the Southwest Indigenous Uranium Forum on the Acoma Nation.

At the 2006 Indigenous World Uranium Summit on the Diné Nation, community organizations such as Eastern Navajo Diné Against Uranium Mining (ENDAUM) joined participants from Australia, India, Africa, Pacific Islands, and throughout North America in issuing a declaration demanding "a worldwide ban on uranium mining, processing, enrichment, fuel use, and weapons testing and deployment, and nuclear waste dumping on native lands."

Klee Benally (Diné) is a collective member of Indigenous Action Media, on the Board of Directors of the Shundahai Network, and is a musician with the group Blackfire.
Author Mary Sojourner assisted editing this article. For further information and action:

Southwest Research and Information Center

Shundahai Network

The Center for Biological Diversity

Uranium Watch
World Information Service on Energy: Uranium Project

Western Mining Action Network

Network Sortir du Nucléaire

Addressing Uranium Contamination in the Navajo Nation - Map of contaminated wells
Tuba City Mill Site
EPA summit addresses uranium cleanup
Conservation groups challenge uranium mining threat to Colorado River

A peril that dwelt among the Navajos - L.A. TImes - November 19, 2006
Uranium Mining & Milling
Colorado River Facts
Nuclear power inches back into energy spotlight
AREVA: France’s nuke power poster child has a money melt-down
Environmental Working Group - January 2008 - Report: Grand Canyon Threatened by Approval of Uranium Mining Activities
Shiprock Mill Site
Grand Canyon Trust
The Center for Biological Diversity
Southwest Research and Information Center

Nuclear Free Future

Klee Benally - Independent Indigenous Media - Indigenous Youth Empowerment! - Protect Sacred Places - Flagstaff Infoshop

CENSORED NEWS: This uranium mining, transport and processing threatens the water supply and health of Paiute, Havasupai, Hualapai, Navajo and Ute in this immediate region, as well as visitors, other residents and those living along the Colorado River.
GRAND CANYON TRUST: "Denison Mines, a Canadian company, recently revived operations at the Arizona 1 uranium mine on the Arizona Strip adjacent to Grand Canyon. This industrial activity threatens not only the visitor experience at Grand Canyon National Park, but the water supply for twenty-five million people in Nevada, southern California, and Arizona, as well as seeps and springs in the park. Worse yet is the fact that much of the uranium will be shipped to Korea."

Uranium Mining in Region Resumes


Arizona Daily Sun

Driven by a rebound in prices, uranium mining has resumed in northern Arizona after a hiatus of about 20 years.
Employees working for Denison Mines began removing high-grade ore at the Arizona 1 mine north of the Grand Canyon in late December, according to the company’s president, and trucking it to a mill near Blanding, Utah.
The mine is about 45 miles southwest of Fredonia in Mohave County, and about 10 miles from the boundary for Grand Canyon National Park. Read more ...


Denison Mines is mining uranium on the lands of the Havasupai, Hualapai and Paiute at the Grand Canyon; Ute and Navajo in Utah and First Nations in Saskatchewan. TELL THEM TO HALT: Denison Mines Corp. Atrium on Bay 595 Bay Street, Suite 402 Toronto, ON, Canada M5G 2C2 Telephone: 416-979-1991 Fax: 416-979-5893

February 22, 2010

Indigenous Radio: Vermont's proposed apology for sterilization of Native women


Radio Program on WESU, Middletown, CT
Tuesdays 4-5 PM EST
Listen Online While the Show Airs:

On Tuesday, February 23, 2010, join your host, J. Kehaulani Kauanui, for an episode of "Indigenous Politics" that will focus on a proposal being considered by the Vermont legislature to apologize for its 1931 Sterilization Act, which was part of a eugenics campaign that targeted persons of French Canadian and Abenaki ancestry, as well as other non-Anglos and individuals deemed mentally disabled.

Our guests on the program include Nancy Gallagher, author of Breeding Better Vermonters: The Eugenics Project in the Green Mountain State, and Judy Dow (Abenaki) who sits on the Vermont Commission on Native American Affairs.
This show is syndicated on select Pacifica-affiliate stations: WPKN in Bridgeport, CT and Montauk, NY; WNJR, in Washington, PA, WETX-LP, "The independent Voice of Appalachia," which broadcasts throughout the Tri-Cities region of East Tennessee, southwest Virginia, and northwest North Carolina; WBCR-lp in Great Barrington, MA nd WORT in Madison, WI.
All past programs of "Indigenous Politics" are archived online:
The show's producer and host, Dr. J. Kehaulani Kauanui is an associate professor of American Studies and Anthropology at Wesleyan University. She is the author of Hawaiian Blood: Colonialism and the Politics of Sovereignty and Indigeneity
(Duke University Press, 2008).

Okanagan Indian Band Blockades Logging

Okanagan Indian Band’s fight for watershed providing an alternate image of B.C.

Chief Fabian Alexis, band member Dan Wilson, and Grand Chief Stewart Phillip have set up a blockade at Browns Creek near Vernon.
By Kathy Michaels
Only a day has passed since the Okanagan Indian Band blockaded Tolko’s entrance to the Browns Creek watershed and it’s already become fodder for international news coverage.

A German film crew was at the blockade near Vernon yesterday morning, said Chief Fabian Alexis, from the roadside check-point set up in front of the band’s public works office on Westside Road.

And with hoardes of Olympic media close at hand, it’s suspected more will follow to chronicle the breakdown of negotiations that in some form have taken the better part of the decade.

Concerns over Brown’s Creek are long-standing. Since 2003 the band has been before the courts dealing with it in some form and contending further logging in that area would threaten the viability of the surrounding community’s water supply while damaging archeological sites. In recent years they’ve taken on Tolko Industries. Talks over the chunk of land have consistently been peaceful, but this Saturday they reached a boiling point.

Of the belief Tolko Industries would soon start moving equipment and crews into the watershed band elders called an emergency meeting.

Once there, the 100 in attendance voted unanimously to blockade and by Monday 60 band members were at the site this morning when Tolko representatives came by to assess the situation, said Grand Chief Stewart Phillip.

“Tolko arrived at 9:45 a.m. and their senior officials approached us and singled out Chief Fabian Alexis and myself and asked us if we would allow equipment and crews passage,” he explained. “We said ‘no.’”

The exchange was cordial, said Phillip, adding that it was repeated twice and seemingly scripted. He added it is likely Tolko will be invoking an injunction order sometime this week.

While the Okanagan band insists Tolko Industries doesn’t have a right to log while land claims remain unresolved, a B.C. court ruled Feb. 11 that the Vernon-based logging company could go ahead with cutting in the Browns Creek area following an archeological consultation.

That consultation was less than genuine and the decision was ultimately flawed, contend both Stewart and Alexis —who have gained the support of the Union of British Columbian Indian Chiefs —and that’s why they’ve taken this course of action.

Stewart pointed out that it would be impossible to conduct an archeological investigation with four feet of snow on the ground, but Tolko did it anyway. When they went to bring their new evidence back to the judge, they were told she was on vacation and they’d have to go another route. Blockading, ultimately, is what was chosen.

“The provincial government has made it clear that the financial interests of Tolko are of greater concern to them than the health and safety of the people who derive their drinking and irrigation water from the Browns Creek watershed,” said Chief Alexis.

“When it comes to protecting the watersheds that supply Vernon with its water, government agencies would not hesitate to act, but suddenly when it involves our community, our concerns are discounted.”

It’s an issue that has an impact beyond First Nation people as well, he said, pointing out that here are many non-natives in the region who would be impacted.

Perhaps that’s why those who are set up at a check-point are receiving a fairly warm reception.

As they drove by signs bearing messages like, “Save our water, say no to Tolko” drivers of all races waved, honked and gave thumbs up to those who were taking on check-stop duty.

“There’s been some good suggestions and support from our neighbours who don’t just reside on the reserve,” said Alexis.

Throughout the process, Tolko representatives have said the area of dispute, which has been heavily impacted by the mountain pine beetle epidemic, is a vital timber supply for the company’s sawmill in Armstrong.

At deadline, Tolko and government officials could not be reached.
B.C. band fights logging on site of land claim
CBC News
The Union of British Columbia Indian Chiefs is backing efforts by the Okanagan Indian Band to stop logging in its land claims area while the band resolves land title issues.
Grand Chief Stewart Phillip said he is concerned Tolko Industries will attempt to move equipment and crews into the Brown's Creek watershed on Monday, and said the union will take all steps necessary to protect land rights in the area.
The Okanagan band insists Tolko Industries doesn't have a right to log while land claims remain unresolved, but a B.C. court ruled earlier in February that the Vernon-based logging company can begin cutting in the Browns Creek area, near Vernon.
That prompted elders and band members to pass a motion during an emergency meeting on Saturday night to establish checkpoints to monitor and regulate traffic through the community. The band is concerned that logging in the Browns Creek watershed will threaten their water supply and archeological sites.
Tolko maintains it has developed an appropriate logging plan for the area that includes protecting significant archelogical sites.
'All options on the table'
Chief Fabian Alexis of the Okanagan Indian Band said on Friday that “all options were on the table” in order to protect his community’s water.
"The provincial government has made it clear that the financial interests of Tolko are of greater concern to them than the health and safety of the people who derive their drinking and irrigation water from the Browns Creek watershed,” he said.
“When it comes to protecting the watersheds that supply Vernon with its water, government agencies would not hesitate to act, but suddenly when it involves our community, our concerns are discounted. This systemic racism will not stand,” said Alexis.
"Title over these forest lands is something that is before the courts, therefore for the provincial government to allow as much clear-cut logging as possible around our reserve before title reverts to us is not only utterly cynical, it is in this instance thoroughly irresponsible,” he said.
With files from The Canadian Press Read more:

Vernon Morning Star: Band launches Browns Creek Blockade:
Urgent Media Advisory: Okanagan Indian Band Blockades Tolko's logging operation to protect their watershed!

February 22, 2010
Okanagan Indian Band began blockade at 7:00 am

Okanagan Nation Territory, Vernon – Please be advised that in response to threats from Tolko to commence logging of the watershed that supplies the majority of the 1,800 residents of the Okanagan Indian Band with their drinking water, the band membership will be commencing a protective blockade of the watershed starting at 7:00 a.m. Monday, February 22nd at the Okanagan campsite located near Bouleau Lake.

The media are welcome to attend however due to the icy winter road conditions a 4x4 vehicle is required to reach the camp. Media needing a ride can arrange one by contacting the Okanagan Indian Band Territorial Stewardship Office at (250) 542-7132.

Anyone attending the camp is advised to dress warmly with proper winter attire as temperatures will likely be below freezing even during the day.

Under the authority of the Okanagan Nation, a parking area will be designated. Parking will be free to the media, OKIB members and supporters but all forestry vehicles (both corporate and ministry) will be charged a parking fee of $10 per day.

All proceeds from the parking fee will go to the Okanagan Indian Band’s save the watershed fund. Please note that title to the area is a matter that is presently before the courts and that the Crown has been unable to produce any documentation showing acquisition of title from the Okanagan Nation.
For more information please contact:
Chief Fabian Alexis cell (250) 306-2838, phone (250) 542-4328
Sherry Louis
Executive Assistant
Okanagan Indian Band
12420 Westside Road,
Vernon, BC, V1H 2A4
250.542.4328 (t)
250.542.4990 (f)
Articles Google News
BC band fights logging on site of land claim - ‎5 hours ago‎
The Union of British Columbia Indian Chiefs is backing efforts by the Okanagan Indian Band to stop logging in its land claims area while the band resolves ...
Blockade to remain, Tolko to go to court - Elisha Dacey - ‎2 hours ago‎
Chief Fabian Alexis of the Okanagan Indian Band says the current blockade near the Brown's Creek Watershed will remain while ...
WEB FIRST: Band launches Browns Creek blockade
Vernon Morning Star - Vernon Morning Star - ‎4 hours ago‎
Okanagan Indian Band members have taken action against logging on the west side of Okanagan Lake. As of 7 am Monday, a blockade was established near Bouleau ...
OKIB Blockade Up Monday Morning
CKFR - ‎5 hours ago‎
The Okanagan Indian Band is following up on a threat to make it difficult for Tolko to begin logging in the Browns Creek Watershed. ...
Blockade goes up over Brown's Creek - ‎7 hours ago‎
by Castanet Staff - Story: 52874 The Okanagan Indian Band has followed through with its threat to blockade the Okanagan campsite near Bouleau Lake. ...
British Columbia: Okanagan Nation Warns "All Options on Table" in Looming ...
Pacific Free Press - ‎Feb 21, 2010‎
by Okanagan Nation In response to the imminent threat of logging within the watershed that supplies the Okanagan Indian Band with much of its drinking water ...
UBCIC Supports Okanagan Indian Band in Browns Creek Faceoff
Market Wire (press release) - ‎Feb 21, 2010‎
VANCOUVER, BC, PRESS RELEASE--(Marketwire - Feb. 21, 2010) - Grand Chief Stewart Phillip, President of the Union of British Columbia Indian Chiefs stated ...
Letter of Support: Browns Creek Watershed Protection (press release) - Chief Alexis - ‎Feb 21, 2010‎
I am writing in support of the courageous stand you, your council and your community are taking in defense of your water supply. ...
Band considers forestry blockade
Vernon Morning Star - Richard Rolke, Vernon Morning Star - ‎Feb 20, 2010‎
Members of the Okanagan Indian Band held a checkpoint on Westside Road Saturday to look for Tolko vehicles, ...

February 21, 2010

OLYMPICS: Coast Salish blockade bridge where ancestors were desecrated

Blockade Golden Ears Bridge
Anti-2010 Olympics Convergence, Coast Salish Territories, (Vancouver, B.C.)


As part of the Anti-Olympics Convergence in Vancouver B.C., members of Coast Salish Katzie First Nation and supporters blocked the Golden Ears Bridge.

The Bridge spans the Frazer River between Pitt Meadows and Langley, and is adjacent to Katzie 1 and Katzie 2 Reserves. It is about a half hour drive outside of Vancouver.

The bridge opened on June 16, 2009. It is owned by Translink, who say, “It will have major long-term impacts on the region, improving travel times and promoting economic activity.” It is clearly disregarding the negative impacts on Indigenous people.

Construction of the bridge desecrated a 3,000 year old burial ground. Its massive pilings in the river disrupt currents, and the ability of local Katzie fishers to fish. Situated at the mouth of the Frazer River, the bridge effects already threatened habitat for Salmon and Indigenous fishing communities all up the Fraser River.

Statement by a participant in the action:

“My people have been told when to fish and how big our net can be since our book of rules (Indian act) in 1896. My family has been arrested for fishing when they were not allowed.”

“The bridge affects my family in many ways. For thousands of years my family has been fishing on the Fraser River. The exact same spot where they built the Golden Ears Bridge is where my father, my grandfather and so on, is where we were taught to fish. The exact same spot we have been fishing is where there is a 6 lane bridge.”

“That bridge has caused hurt and pain with me and my family. The bridge is built on my peoples sacred burial grounds. That bridge has destroyed the river far beyond Katzie’s boundaries. Because of the bridge I’m forced to change my teachings and ways of fishing. That bridge has destroyed the natural path for the salmon to continue up the river for indigenous people to eat to survive. Dredging gravel out of the river to build bridges and highways for the Olympics is destroying the delicate ecosystem and putting declining fish stocks at further risk.”

These people worked on the site where the bridge is now built. They asked to be anonymous because they would lose their jobs:

“We dug up history of our ancestors - human remains, arrow heads and beads. They gave us a choice: Either we dig up our peoples history or they were going to send non-native people to do it. We were forced and no options from our community!”

~Anonymous hired archaeologist worker.

After the remains were found, members of Katzie First Nations people were paid to build tiny coffins and bury the bones where they were found. Many of the workers thought this meant they wouldn’t build the bridge at that spot.

“So many bones were found, in fetal position, and scattered bones were found These are my people; these bones are my grandfathers and grandmothers. After we had a ceremony to bury the bones in small coffins we made, they went ahead and built the bridge anyway right over top of our sacred burial ground.”

~Anonymous Katzie First Nations worker.

For more info on Anti-2010 Olympics see:
"My heart goes out to the Coast Salish Katzie First Nation who has to endure this outrageous act of man. I know how hurt you feel to have to rebury your ancestors because my people (Sinixt Arrow Lakes Nation) have been doing this since the mid-1980s in British Columbia. I pray the Creator blesses you generously."

Bolivia's People Summit to challenge rich nations on climate

Bolivia: ‘People’s Summit’ to challenge rich nations on climate
Raul Connolly
Green Left
20 February 2010

Bolivia’s foreign minister David Choquehuanca said on February 8 that Bolivia is very concerned about the inadequacy of the greenhouse gas reduction commitments made by developed countries in the Copenhagen Accord at the United Nations climate summit in December, said.
Speaking alongside representatives from campesino (peasant) and indigenous organisations, Choquehuanca said: “The commitments, of the developed states, related to greenhouse gas emission reductions will result in more than three degrees increase in temperature above pre-industrial levels.
“Some experts even say that the temperature could rise as high as four degrees above pre-industrial levels. The situation is serious. “An increase of temperature of more than one degree above pre-industrial levels would result in the disappearance of our glaciers in the Andes, and the flooding of various islands and coastal zones.”
Choquehuanca said Bolivia’s demand at the Copenhagen conference was that the greenhouse gas emissions must be reduced by 40% or more below 1990 levels by 2020. But the emissions reduction targets in the Copenhagen Accord of the countries that have been historically responsible for global warming only amount to 12% to 18 % by 2020.
He said what happened at Copenhagen reinforced the need for the People’s World Conference on Climate Change and Mother Earth Rights, which is being organised by the Bolivian government in Cochabamba over April 19-22.
“This conference will be a transparent and inclusive event, in which no one will be marginalised. The conference will be attended by citizens, social movements, scientists. “We have also been inviting all the governments and the organisations within the United Nations to participate as delegates and experts to discuss along with the peoples how to address the crisis that affects us all.”
Announcing the objectives of the summit, Bolivian President Evo Morales, the first president from Bolivia’s indigenous majority, said it was clear the so-called developed countries of the world have usurped the bounties of Mother Earth at the expense of the world’s poorest people, a February article on Bolivia Rising reported.
Morales said: “Those most affected by climate change will be the poorest in the world who will see their homes and their sources of survival destroyed, and who will be forced to migrate and seek refuge.”
He pointed out that 75% of historic emissions of greenhouse gases came from “the countries of the North that followed a path of irrational industrialisation”.
He said the Copenhagen conference showed the failure of the industrialised countries to recognise their climate debt.
Morales said: "Climate change is a product of the capitalist system."
The aims of the People’s Conference include: to discuss and agree on the Universal Declaration of Mother Earth Rights; develop proposals for new international agreements; to develop a plan for the holding of an international Climate Justice Tribunal; and define strategies and plans for action and mobilisations for action on climate change.
Bolivia Rising said parliamentarians from the European United Left and the Nordic United Left proposed a resolution in European parliament that “welcomes the initiative” taken by Morales in calling the conference.
It urged "the Commission, the Member states, the European Parliament and the ACP-EU Joint Parliamentary Assembly to send representatives to this important event”.
The Bolivian government expects around 5000 people from around the world to go to Cochabamba and take part in the conference, Associated Press said on February 8.