Indigenous Peoples and Human Rights 2020

Friday, April 30, 2010

Reflections on the journey to Bolivia

Reflections on the journey to Bolivia
By Brenda Norrell
Censored News

Photos: President Evo Morales, playing soccer in Colomi; Photo 2: President Morales at the traditional feast after the game in his community 0f Colomi, Bolivia. Photos by Brenda Norrell.

Now, that the World Climate Conference and journey to Bolivia is almost behind me, it is a good time to reflect on this incredible experience. I really was not prepared to nearly die in La Paz, with its altitude of 13,000 feet, or wind up in an ambulance on oxygen in Cochabamba, then on oxygen again at the airport.

Then, again, I could not have imagined that even though I could not walk or stand for more than 10 minutes at a time, that I would still be able to travel up the mountains in a press bus, and watch President Evo Morales play soccer. It was a great joy to be with the Bolivian people in Colomi and share their bounty of fresh foods, delicious fish, beans, corn and other traditional foods. The spirit in the room, with the cheering and kindness, reminded me of a Navajo basketball game. Here the homemade food was ice cream and there were firecrackers. It felt good to walk away with a Bolivian flag on a slender bamboo pole.

It was sad to see the lack of press coverage in the United States of such a powerful world event, and sadder still to see the spin articles attempting to discredit President Evo Morales. I didn't meet any US media while I was in Bolivia, but the press was well represented from Europe and South America.

The US media has been plummeting like a long-beaked bird who died in flight, straight for the earth. It seems to have smashed into the ground at this point. Sadly, now newspapers rely on the armchair journalists, who sit at home and write from written statements, or plagiarize the work of others. Because they are not present, they rely on sarcasm, rather than facts, and spend a great deal of time attempting to make themselves look clever. A look at most of the US news articles on the conference reveals that the bird smashed to the ground and the last publications still paying reporters are now cannibalizing, eating their own.

Indigenous Peoples from throughout the world made incredible sacrifices to be in Cochabamba, Bolivia, to take part in this effort to rescue the planet from the satanic force of the corporate rape of Mother Earth. They came to ensure that the forests, mountains, oceans, lakes, streams, jungles and the very air we breathe, will still be there for future generations.

For those who traveled across continents, with little or no money, it was extremely difficult to reach Bolivia. But in the end, there were not 5,000 people, or even the 10,000 people as expected, there were 35,000 people, ready to work hard for a better world and preservation of this planet. Navajos said the message of living in harmony with Mother Earth, reflects the Dine' way of Walking Beauty.

The final declaration of the World Peoples Conference on Climate Change and the Rights of Mother Earth offers a great deal to reflect on, as does the final statement from the working group of Indigenous Peoples.

Today, as I near the end of this great journey, I am reflecting on this paragraph from the final declaration of the people:

"Knowledge is universal, and should for no reason be the object of private property or private use, nor should its application in the form of technology. Developed countries have a responsibility to share their technology with developing countries, to build research centers in developing countries for the creation of technologies and innovations, and defend and promote their development and application for 'living well.' The world must recover and re-learn ancestral principles and approaches from native peoples to stop the destruction of the planet, as well as promote ancestral practices, knowledge and spirituality to recuperate the capacity for 'living well' in harmony with Mother Earth."

The Peoples Agreement (official translation of the final declaration):
Final declaration of the working group of Indigenous Peoples

Underreported Indigenous Struggles, April 2010

Underreported Struggles #37, April 2010
In this month's Underreported Struggles: Paramilitaries attack peaceful caravan in Oaxaca; Kayan People win 12-year battle against oil palm; Indigenous People issue warning of bloodshed in Brazil; Indian Police and Private militias attack indigenous protesters; Canadian company gets permission to drill on Kichwa land.
Democracy Now! Paramilitaries kill two human rights activists in Oaxaca

Arizona's Racial Cleansing Law: How Senators Voted

ARIZONA LAW: On Suspicion of Being Brown

Update: Rallies against SB 1070 in Tucson and Phoenix on May 1:
Huge crowds expected at Los Angeles protest over Arizona law on Saturday:

By Brenda Norrell

Censored News
Here is how senators voted on the final version of Arizona Senate Bill 1070, Arizona's new racial cleansing law, which allows for racial profiling. It was created by Sen. Russell Pearce, Republican senator from Mesa, Arizona.
Why did it pass? Check out the votes. Navajo Senator Albert Hale did not vote. White supremacists rely on non-voting legislators and 'no shows' to get bills like this passed.
Northern Arizona is home to Navajo, Hopi, Havasupai, Hualapai, Paiute, Apache, Yavapai and other Native Americans. From northern Arizona, Senators Sylvia Allen, Jack Harper, Steve Pierce and Ron Gould voted 'Yes' to the racial cleansing law.
The law is also being called the 'Joe Arpaio self protection act,' put in place to protect the racist Maricopa County Sheriff from lawsuits because of racial profiling.
Y = Yes/N = No/NV = Not Voting/EXC = Excused/V = Vacant Member

Paula Aboud N
Amanda Aguirre NV
Carolyn S. Allen N
Sylvia Allen Yes
Manuel V. "Manny" Alvarez N
Frank Antenori Yes
David Braswell Yes
Ed Bunch Yes
Meg Burton Cahill N
Ken Cheuvront N
Jorge Luis Garcia N
Ron Gould Yes
Chuck Gray Yes
Linda Gray Yes
Albert Hale NV
Jack W. Harper Yes
John Huppenthal Yes
Leah Landrum Taylor N
Barbara Leff Yes
Linda Lopez N
Debbie McCune Davis N
Al Melvin Yes
Richard Miranda N
John Nelson Yes
Russell Pearce Yes
Steve Pierce Yes
Rebecca Rios N
Jay Tibshraeny Yes
Thayer Verschoor Yes
Robert "Bob" Burns Yes
E-mail addresses of Senators:

The new law will mean more profits for private prison contractors. Arizona State Legislators are in collusion with the private prison profiteers GEO (formerly Wackenhut) and CCA. These corporations are already profiteering from imprisoning people of color in Arizona private prisons. For white supremacist legislators, imprisoning people of color means jobs for Arizona. CCA (Corrections Corporation of America) is Pinal County's largest non-governmental employer.
Read more:
Mexican President issues travel warning following new Arizona law, warning harassment for travelers:
Roberto Rodriguez: This is what Apartheid Looks Like
PHOENIX: Community indictment of Arizona Governor
USA TODAY: Boycotts of Arizona based on new immigration law:
UK GUARDIAN: Arizona's new immigration law encourages police abuse, says Mexican president:
Center for Constitutional Rights (CCR): Groups Condemn Arizona Bill, Warn of Dangers of ICE-Police Collaboration in Suit Challenging Government Secrecy in ICE Program
Arizona Law: On Suspicion of Being Brown
Breaking News: Pima Co. sheriff rebels against new immigration law
TUCSON (KGUN9-TV) - Pima County Sheriff Clarence Dupnik tells KGUN9 News that SB 1070, Arizona's crackdown on illegal immigration, is a "racist law," and says he has no intention of complying with it. In doing so, Dupnik becomes the first major local law enforcement official to officially rebel against the bill since Governor Jan Brewer signed it into law on Friday.

Contact: Derechos Humanos: 520.770.1373
La Gran Marcha Por Los Derechos Humanos

The Tucson May 1st Coalition and la Coalicion de Derechos Humanos invite the communities of Arizona and of this country to join forces on this historic day as we bear witness to the most serious attacks to our civil and human rights - to our own humanity. We make a call for resistance in our collective fight for liberty and justice for all.

On May Day 2010, in Tucson, Arizona, our community that has consistently fought against the federal government's use of Arizona as the laboratory for initiatives, policies, and laws, that are anti-immigrant, anti-human, will embrace the mantra that has come from hundreds of calls from across the country, TODOS SOMOS ARIZONA.

This dramatic show of unity and support opens the opportunity to understand that SB1070 was not born overnight, but rather the direct and intended result of mid-90's border enforcement strategies, known as Operation Gatekeeper, Operation Hold the Line, Operation Rio Grande, and here in Arizona, Operation Safeguard. Building an unprecedented military-type enforcement infrastructure, these strategies have intentionally funneled most migrants through Arizona's southern border. By diverting more than half of all migrants that had traditionally crossed through California and Texas into a very conservative state where the federal and local governments own most of the border land (thereby avoiding the community fight-back that occurred along the border in Texas), the stage was set for the eventual passing of SB1070.

This "surge" in crossings caused division and chaos in the border towns, allowed for the influx of hate and other anti-immigrant groups, opened the political space to racist and intolerant voices, with mainstream media feeding the climate of fear, eventually resulting in the election of openly anti-immigrant politicians like Maricopa Sheriff Joe Arpaio, County Attorney Andrew Thomas, and State legislator Russell Pearce. The Minutemen and other anti-immigrant groups proceeded to poison attitudes across the country, resulting in the spread of fear, racism, hate, ignorance and anti-human policies that other states have or are in process of replicating.

SB1070 is the most racist law in recent history, allowing for the legalization and institutionalization of racism, their version of "ethnic cleansing." We know that migration is not a law enforcement or national security issue, that we have encouraged migrants to come to our country to build it, that we have helped to destroy jobs in Mexico and elsewhere only to blame the very victims/survivors who migrate to work and provide for their families, that we have created and enriched smuggling organizations who we then use as the reason for the unprecedented buildup of policing and military-type enforcement along the border and in the interior of our country. With this law, the stage is set again for even more dramatic calls for more "security." Our laws and policies have brought only INSECURITY - deaths, division, intolerance and ignorance, environmental destruction, and abuse of Indigenous communities.

We call on for an end to SB 1070, an end to the enforcement strategies on the border and in our communities, and an end to criminalization of the immigrant. We call for a real dialogue based on truth, addressing the root causes of migration, and promoting justice for all. We call for a commitment of noncompliance of SB 1070, and ask for the commitment from all allies and people of conscience to boycott Arizona in all fashions. ¡Todos Somos Arizona!

Arpaio self protection act:

Thursday, April 29, 2010


Tom Goldtooth, director of the Indigenous Environmental Network, describes the work carried out by the working group on Forests at the World Peoples Conference on Climate Change and the Rights of Mother Earth. Recorded live in Bolivia, Goldtooth said all peoples must reevaluate their relationship with the sacredness of Mother Earth.


Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Walking for Sacred Wild Salmon

Nimpkish to Sayward, Day2-Day4 of the Wild Migration from Alexandra Morton on Vimeo.

BC: A Mission Statement from Alex Morton: The Get Out Migration is a call to action to make government aware that we want wild salmon to take higher priority than farm salmon. Farms belong on land. We will start walking from Sointula, at the north end of Vancouver Island, on April 23 and arrive in Victoria May 8. Hundreds of people have pledged to walk portions of the trip, there are events under planning every night, Itinerary, now Frazer River to Victoria:

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Protest Barrick Gold, Toronto, Wed., April 28, 2010

Protest Barrick Gold!
Rally outside Barrick's Annual Shareholder's Meeting, Wed. April 28
Once a year, the board of directors for the world's most powerful gold miner converge in downtown Toronto. Be there to Confront Barrick Gold!
WHEN: 11am Wednesday, April 28, 2010
WHAT: Barrick Gold's annual shareholders meeting
WHERE: Metro Convention Center, 255 Front St. Downtown Toronto
WHO is Barrick Gold?Barrick is the world's largest gold mining company, founded and chaired by Peter Munk. Barrick is one of the biggest forces pushing Corporate Social Responsibility as an alternative to government oversight. With a former executive on the board of the Canadian Pension Fund, and a former Prime Minister on their board of directors, Barrick enjoys public funding and diplomative support.
WHY Protest Barrick?Barrick takes advantage of inadequate and poorly enforced regulatory controls to rob indigenous people of their lands, destroy sensitive ecosystems and agricultural land, support brutal military and security operations, and sue anyone who tries to report on it. Impacted communities are coming to Toronto to share their undeniable perspectives and shed light on this criminal mining giant. Come out and support them!

Bolivia: Voices of the Raven and Caribou Peoples

Bolivia: Life lessons from Alaskan Native Women

Alaskan Native Women describe what is happening to Alaska and what must be done for the future Seven Generations

By Brenda Norrell/Censored News

COCHABAMBA, Bolivia – When the ducks first saw the vapors rising from the highway, the ducks that could not distinguish between the heat waves rising from the pavement, and the heat waves rising from the rivers and ponds, perished.

In a similar way, it is unknown what lies within each of us that someday may result in our own survival. As with the ducks, being able to distinguish between the rising vapors of the man-made world and the world of natural creation, ensures survival of the fittest.

This is one of the stories shared by Kay Wallis, Athabascan and Gwich’in elder, during the World Peoples Conference on Climate Change and the Rights of Mother Earth. During an interview recorded live by Earthcycles, Wallis shares the beauty and majesty of her Yukon homeland.

Wallis said she appreciated being given the opportunity to speak for the animals and Mother Earth. She said her name “Arrow Carrier,” means, “I carry messages between people.” Her father is from Fort Yukon in Alaska and her mother from across the border in Canada at Old Crow.

Wallis described how the ground shakes and vibrates when the caribou arrive at the calving grounds in Alaska. She tells how the ocean breezes greet them across the plains. In the mountains, too, the wolves, their predators, are giving birth, in the cycle of life.

“We love the land, and the land loves us, otherwise it would not give us our nutrients." But, she said, things are changing.

“When the ducks used to come in my grandpa's day, they would block out the sun, there would be so many of them.”

Other creatures have vanished altogether. “We don’t hear swallows anymore.”

Glacier water moves fast in her homeland, where the people hunt and fish, living off the moose, caribou, birds, fish and salmon. In this land where a frozen chicken can cost $50 in a store, the people are taught to hunt, hunting in a manner where the animals give themselves to them.

It is life on a grand scale, and life that is a harbinger of things to come. “Some parts of the Yukon River you can’t see across. It is one of the largest rivers in North America.”

It is in this land, of the far north, that the people see what is coming. As temperatures rise, the salmon can not survive in high temperatures without sufficient oxygen.

“The world is going through change. We can’t go back. We are going to be called upon to make great sacrifices and great changes.”

Wallis said people have a natural tendency to go into denial mode, but humanity must act now to ensure the gifts of Mother Earth for Seven Generations.

Mary Ann Mills, Kenaitze Indian Nation, said the world needs to understand that the Arctic must remain frozen because it acts as an air conditioner for the earth. The Arctic cools the earth’s temperature. Climate change goes beyond all racial boundaries, she said, asking: "What happens to the spirit of the people when the foods they have been eating are no longer available."

What most people do not know is that 75 to 80 percent of the population of Native Alaskans was lost after first contact with those who came to their land, Mills said during the interviews.

Mills warned that 31 villages face immediate threats and 200 villages are impacted by floods and erosion. Ice is coming down the rivers.

Ice is melting now that has never melted before.

“We are the first people to be effected,” she said. The sensitive areas of the north are being compromised by emissions and oil drilling. Alaskan Native villages will have to be relocated because of the melting ice, or the people will perish, she said.

Mills said in the prophecy, it is told that there will be those who will attempt to destroy the land.
It is the Raven People who will protect the land. If others destroy the land, then the Creator will destroy these people, according to the prophecy.

“We have a chance, but we have to show respect.”

Alaska is the land of the Native people, but today there are few jobs and fuel sells from $10 to $14 a gallon. While trillions of dollars in resources have been taken out of Alaska, little has been returned to help Alaskan Natives.

While the United States and corporations have been taking with little given back, it was President Hugo Chavez and the country of Venezuela that brought heating oil to help Alaskan Natives.

Meanwhile, she said the result of the US Congress deceptively making Alaskan Natives into corporations has brought division, as it was designed to do, in this method of divide and conquer.

“The intent was to take our land,” she said of the Alaska Native Claims Settlement Act. “It was to get the land for the big corporations.”

She said the United States does not own the land in Alaska, Alaskan Natives do.

“In my heart I am not a corporation. The truth is so powerful. Our people would like to have their freedom and like to have their land,” she said, adding that no one knows the land better than the Native people of Alaska.

Wallis and Mills thanked the people of Bolivia for their kindness during the World Climate Conference, President Evo Morales for calling for the conference and President Chavez for bringing heating oil to Alaskan Natives.

Watch the video interviews, recorded live by Earthcycles in Bolivia:
More information: Gwich'in Steering Committee

Navajo Horseback Riders arrive as Council negotiates with Peabody Coal

While Indigenous Peoples gathered in Cochabamba, Bolivia, for the protection of Mother Earth, the Navajo Nation Council continued to negotiate with Peabody Coal to dig out the liver of Mother Earth

Photo: Riders on horseback following a three-day, 100-mile horseback ride from Black Mesa to Window Rock. The ride was intended to send a message to the Navajo Nation Spring Council session that the voice of tribal members and the future of Black Mesa should be fully considered in current coal royalty negotiations with Peabody Coal Co. Courtesy photo.
By Wahelah Johns
Navajo Hopi Observer

BLACK MESA, Ariz. - Residents from Black Mesa arrived last Saturday evening in St. Michaels following a three-day, 100-mile horseback ride from Black Mesa en route to Window Rock. The ride was intended to send a message to the Navajo Nation Spring Council session, which began April 19, that the voice of all tribal members and the future of Black Mesa should be fully considered in current coal royalty negotiations with Peabody Coal. Riders and supporters rode and marched to the Navajo Nation Council Chambers on Monday and conducted a press conference at the Window Rock Tribal Park.

Many residents have expressed increased concern over the exclusion of community input in current coal royalty negotiations (aka "The lease Re-Opener") between the Navajo Nation and Peabody Coal Company. In the past month, Black Mesa residents have hosted a series of community meetings to discuss the health of Black Mesa and the need to address the leadership of the Navajo Nation. The ride is the next step to bring those concerns to the Council.

"This horseback ride reflects a long tradition of how leaders use to travel to carry important messages from the communities that they represent to gatherings like the Navajo Nation Council meetings," stated Marshall Johnson of the Tonizhoni Ani (Beautiful Water Speaks). "If the leaders who are negotiating on behalf of our water and homelands cannot come to our communities to explain to us what they are deciding, then we will [go] to them."

According to the lease agreement, "the 1987 Amendments provide for a Re-Opener to negotiate increased royalty rates and royalty-tax caps for each successive ten-year period after 1987." The Navajo Nation coal royalty rate is currently 12.5 percent under the 8580 Lease (which covers a portion of Peabody's Kayenta Mine Operation on the Navajo Nation), and 6.25 percent under the 9910 Lease (which covers both a portion of Peabody's Kayenta Mine and the now-closed Black Mesa Mining Operation with shared ownership of coal reserves between Navajo Nation and Hopi Tribe).

In 1993, the Navajo Nation initiated a lawsuit against the Federal Government for $600 million in damages from decades of below-market royalty rates. In April 2009, after years of conflicting decisions and appeals, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled against the Navajo Nation.

"For 14 years, the official position of the Navajo Nation was that it deserved at least a 20.5 percent royalty rate. Now, Navajo Nation leaders are trying to ram through another 10-year agreement with Peabody at the 12.5 percent rates. If the Navajo Nation is really concerned about economic prosperity, why are they negotiating at rock bottom rates?" asked Nicole Horseherder of Tonizhoni Ani.

On April 1, the Navajo Nation Council held a work session on the Peabody coal lease Re-Opener. Presenters included representatives from Peabody Coal Company, United Mine Workers, Division of Natural Resources and Black Mesa United.

"It's unfortunate that the Re-Opener work session only had one group representing the views of some Black Mesa residents, but excluded hundreds of voices of community members who are concerned about Peabody's coal mining operations and how it has impacted them," said Marie Gladue of Voices of the People. "We need to be at the table because we are the ones who have to live with these consequences."

An Environmental Education Forum was held at St. Michaels Catholic Church grounds all day on Sunday. The Environmental Education Forum aimed to educate Navajo citizens and tribal leaders about the Peabody Re-Opener, alternative energy and green jobs.

Testimonials from community members from Black Mesa and other parts of the Navajo Nation struggling with environmental issues were given.

Navajo Times: Protestors air complaints about Peabody
Black Mesa riders, supporters pepper delegate with hard questions.

By Marley Shebala
Navajo protesters met informally with delegates including George Arthur (Nenahnezad/San Juan/T'iistsoh Sikaad), the sponsor of a resolution to renew Peabody's lease.
Arthur chairs the council's Resources Committee, which is supporting the lease renewal.

"During a 30-minute talk with Arthur, Nicole Horseherder, founder of Tó Nizhóní Ání (beautiful springs speak), said elders and children are suffering from asthma and respiratory diseases related to living near the area being strip-mined by Peabody. She asked how Arthur and his committee could justify sacrificing the health of elders and children for coal royalties and mining jobs."

Monday, April 26, 2010


Official English translation of final declaration:

World People’s Conference on Climate Change and the Rights of Mother Earth
April 22nd, Cochabamba, Bolivia
Photo: Michelle Cook, Bolivia

Today, our Mother Earth is wounded and the future of humanity is in danger.

If global warming increases by more than 2 degrees Celsius, a situation that the “Copenhagen Accord” could lead to, there is a 50% probability that the damages caused to our Mother Earth will be completely irreversible. Between 20% and 30% of species would be in danger of disappearing. Large extensions of forest would be affected, droughts and floods would affect different regions of the planet, deserts would expand, and the melting of the polar ice caps and the glaciers in the Andes and Himalayas would worsen. Many island states would disappear, and Africa would suffer an increase in temperature of more than 3 degrees Celsius. Likewise, the production of food would diminish in the world, causing catastrophic impact on the survival of inhabitants from vast regions in the planet, and the number of people in the world suffering from hunger would increase dramatically, a figure that already exceeds 1.02 billion people.

The corporations and governments of the so-called “developed” countries, in complicity with a segment of the scientific community, have led us to discuss climate change as a problem limited to the rise in temperature without questioning the cause, which is the capitalist system.

We confront the terminal crisis of a civilizing model that is patriarchal and based on the submission and destruction of human beings and nature that accelerated since the industrial revolution.

The capitalist system has imposed on us a logic of competition, progress and limitless growth. This regime of production and consumption seeks profit without limits, separating human beings from nature and imposing a logic of domination upon nature, transforming everything into commodities: water, earth, the human genome, ancestral cultures, biodiversity, justice, ethics, the rights of peoples, and life itself.

Under capitalism, Mother Earth is converted into a source of raw materials, and human beings into consumers and a means of production, into people that are seen as valuable only for what they own, and not for what they are.

Capitalism requires a powerful military industry for its processes of accumulation and imposition of control over territories and natural resources, suppressing the resistance of the peoples. It is an imperialist system of colonization of the planet.

Humanity confronts a great dilemma: to continue on the path of capitalism, depredation, and death, or to choose the path of harmony with nature and respect for life.

It is imperative that we forge a new system that restores harmony with nature and among human beings. And in order for there to be balance with nature, there must first be equity among human beings. We propose to the peoples of the world the recovery, revalorization, and strengthening of the knowledge, wisdom, and ancestral practices of Indigenous Peoples, which are affirmed in the thought and practices of “Living Well,” recognizing Mother Earth as a living being with which we have an indivisible, interdependent, complementary and spiritual relationship. To face climate change, we must recognize Mother Earth as the source of life and forge a new system based on the principles of:

•harmony and balance among all and with all things;
•complementarity, solidarity, and equality;
•collective well-being and the satisfaction of the basic necessities of all;
•people in harmony with nature;
•recognition of human beings for what they are, not what they own;
•elimination of all forms of colonialism, imperialism and interventionism;
•peace among the peoples and with Mother Earth;
The model we support is not a model of limitless and destructive development. All countries need to produce the goods and services necessary to satisfy the fundamental needs of their populations, but by no means can they continue to follow the path of development that has led the richest countries to have an ecological footprint five times bigger than what the planet is able to support. Currently, the regenerative capacity of the planet has been already exceeded by more than 30 percent. If this pace of over-exploitation of our Mother Earth continues, we will need two planets by the year 2030. In an interdependent system in which human beings are only one component, it is not possible to recognize rights only to the human part without provoking an imbalance in the system as a whole. To guarantee human rights and to restore harmony with nature, it is necessary to effectively recognize and apply the rights of Mother Earth. For this purpose, we propose the attached project for the Universal Declaration on the Rights of Mother Earth, in which it’s recorded that:

•The right to live and to exist;
•The right to be respected;
•The right to regenerate its bio-capacity and to continue it’s vital cycles and processes free of human alteration;
•The right to maintain their identity and integrity as differentiated beings, self-regulated and interrelated;
•The right to water as the source of life;
•The right to clean air;
•The right to comprehensive health;
•The right to be free of contamination and pollution, free of toxic and radioactive waste;
•The right to be free of alterations or modifications of it’s genetic structure in a manner that threatens it’s integrity or vital and healthy functioning;
•The right to prompt and full restoration for violations to the rights acknowledged in this Declaration caused by human activities.
The “shared vision” seeks to stabilize the concentrations of greenhouse gases to make effective the Article 2 of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, which states that “the stabilization of greenhouse gases concentrations in the atmosphere to a level that prevents dangerous anthropogenic inferences for the climate system.” Our vision is based on the principle of historical common but differentiated responsibilities, to demand the developed countries to commit with quantifiable goals of emission reduction that will allow to return the concentrations of greenhouse gases to 300 ppm, therefore the increase in the average world temperature to a maximum of one degree Celsius.

Emphasizing the need for urgent action to achieve this vision, and with the support of peoples, movements and countries, developed countries should commit to ambitious targets for reducing emissions that permit the achievement of short-term objectives, while maintaining our vision in favor of balance in the Earth’s climate system, in agreement with the ultimate objective of the Convention.

The “shared vision for long-term cooperative action” in climate change negotiations should not be reduced to defining the limit on temperature increases and the concentration of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere, but must also incorporate in a balanced and integral manner measures regarding capacity building, production and consumption patterns, and other essential factors such as the acknowledging of the Rights of Mother Earth to establish harmony with nature.

Developed countries, as the main cause of climate change, in assuming their historical responsibility, must recognize and honor their climate debt in all of its dimensions as the basis for a just, effective, and scientific solution to climate change. In this context, we demand that developed countries:

• Restore to developing countries the atmospheric space that is occupied by their greenhouse gas emissions. This implies the decolonization of the atmosphere through the reduction and absorption of their emissions;

• Assume the costs and technology transfer needs of developing countries arising from the loss of development opportunities due to living in a restricted atmospheric space;

• Assume responsibility for the hundreds of millions of people that will be forced to migrate due to the climate change caused by these countries, and eliminate their restrictive immigration policies, offering migrants a decent life with full human rights guarantees in their countries;

• Assume adaptation debt related to the impacts of climate change on developing countries by providing the means to prevent, minimize, and deal with damages arising from their excessive emissions;

• Honor these debts as part of a broader debt to Mother Earth by adopting and implementing the United Nations Universal Declaration on the Rights of Mother Earth.

The focus must not be only on financial compensation, but also on restorative justice, understood as the restitution of integrity to our Mother Earth and all its beings.

We deplore attempts by countries to annul the Kyoto Protocol, which is the sole legally binding instrument specific to the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions by developed countries.

We inform the world that, despite their obligation to reduce emissions, developed countries have increased their emissions by 11.2% in the period from 1990 to 2007.

During that same period, due to unbridled consumption, the United States of America has increased its greenhouse gas emissions by 16.8%, reaching an average of 20 to 23 tons of CO2 per-person. This represents 9 times more than that of the average inhabitant of the “Third World,” and 20 times more than that of the average inhabitant of Sub-Saharan Africa.

We categorically reject the illegitimate “Copenhagen Accord” that allows developed countries to offer insufficient reductions in greenhouse gases based in voluntary and individual commitments, violating the environmental integrity of Mother Earth and leading us toward an increase in global temperatures of around 4°C.

The next Conference on Climate Change to be held at the end of 2010 in Mexico should approve an amendment to the Kyoto Protocol for the second commitment period from 2013 to 2017 under which developed countries must agree to significant domestic emissions reductions of at least 50% based on 1990 levels, excluding carbon markets or other offset mechanisms that mask the failure of actual reductions in greenhouse gas emissions.

We require first of all the establishment of a goal for the group of developed countries to achieve the assignment of individual commitments for each developed country under the framework of complementary efforts among each one, maintaining in this way Kyoto Protocol as the route to emissions reductions.

The United States, as the only Annex 1 country on Earth that did not ratify the Kyoto Protocol, has a significant responsibility toward all peoples of the world to ratify this document and commit itself to respecting and complying with emissions reduction targets on a scale appropriate to the total size of its economy.

We the peoples have the equal right to be protected from the adverse effects of climate change and reject the notion of adaptation to climate change as understood as a resignation to impacts provoked by the historical emissions of developed countries, which themselves must adapt their modes of life and consumption in the face of this global emergency. We see it as imperative to confront the adverse effects of climate change, and consider adaptation to be a process rather than an imposition, as well as a tool that can serve to help offset those effects, demonstrating that it is possible to achieve harmony with nature under a different model for living.

It is necessary to construct an Adaptation Fund exclusively for addressing climate change as part of a financial mechanism that is managed in a sovereign, transparent, and equitable manner for all States. This Fund should assess the impacts and costs of climate change in developing countries and needs deriving from these impacts, and monitor support on the part of developed countries. It should also include a mechanism for compensation for current and future damages, loss of opportunities due to extreme and gradual climactic events, and additional costs that could present themselves if our planet surpasses ecological thresholds, such as those impacts that present obstacles to “Living Well.”

The “Copenhagen Accord” imposed on developing countries by a few States, beyond simply offering insufficient resources, attempts as well to divide and create confrontation between peoples and to extort developing countries by placing conditions on access to adaptation and mitigation resources. We also assert as unacceptable the attempt in processes of international negotiation to classify developing countries for their vulnerability to climate change, generating disputes, inequalities and segregation among them.

The immense challenge humanity faces of stopping global warming and cooling the planet can only be achieved through a profound shift in agricultural practices toward the sustainable model of production used by indigenous and rural farming peoples, as well as other ancestral models and practices that contribute to solving the problem of agriculture and food sovereignty. This is understood as the right of peoples to control their own seeds, lands, water, and food production, thereby guaranteeing, through forms of production that are in harmony with Mother Earth and appropriate to local cultural contexts, access to sufficient, varied and nutritious foods in complementarity with Mother Earth and deepening the autonomous (participatory, communal and shared) production of every nation and people.

Climate change is now producing profound impacts on agriculture and the ways of life of indigenous peoples and farmers throughout the world, and these impacts will worsen in the future.

Agribusiness, through its social, economic, and cultural model of global capitalist production and its logic of producing food for the market and not to fulfill the right to proper nutrition, is one of the principal causes of climate change. Its technological, commercial, and political approach only serves to deepen the climate change crisis and increase hunger in the world. For this reason, we reject Free Trade Agreements and Association Agreements and all forms of the application of Intellectual Property Rights to life, current technological packages (agrochemicals, genetic modification) and those that offer false solutions (biofuels, geo-engineering, nanotechnology, etc.) that only exacerbate the current crisis.

We similarly denounce the way in which the capitalist model imposes mega-infrastructure projects and invades territories with extractive projects, water privatization, and militarized territories, expelling indigenous peoples from their lands, inhibiting food sovereignty and deepening socio-environmental crisis.

We demand recognition of the right of all peoples, living beings, and Mother Earth to have access to water, and we support the proposal of the Government of Bolivia to recognize water as a Fundamental Human Right.

The definition of forests used in the negotiations of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, which includes plantations, is unacceptable. Monoculture plantations are not forests. Therefore, we require a definition for negotiation purposes that recognizes the native forests, jungles and the diverse ecosystems on Earth.

The United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples must be fully recognized, implemented and integrated in climate change negotiations. The best strategy and action to avoid deforestation and degradation and protect native forests and jungles is to recognize and guarantee collective rights to lands and territories, especially considering that most of the forests are located within the territories of indigenous peoples and nations and other traditional communities.

We condemn market mechanisms such as REDD (Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation) and its versions + and + +, which are violating the sovereignty of peoples and their right to prior free and informed consent as well as the sovereignty of national States, the customs of Peoples, and the Rights of Nature.

Polluting countries have an obligation to carry out direct transfers of the economic and technological resources needed to pay for the restoration and maintenance of forests in favor of the peoples and indigenous ancestral organic structures. Compensation must be direct and in addition to the sources of funding promised by developed countries outside of the carbon market, and never serve as carbon offsets. We demand that countries stop actions on local forests based on market mechanisms and propose non-existent and conditional results. We call on governments to create a global program to restore native forests and jungles, managed and administered by the peoples, implementing forest seeds, fruit trees, and native flora. Governments should eliminate forest concessions and support the conservation of petroleum deposits in the ground and urgently stop the exploitation of hydrocarbons in forestlands.

We call upon States to recognize, respect and guarantee the effective implementation of international human rights standards and the rights of indigenous peoples, including the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples under ILO Convention 169, among other relevant instruments in the negotiations, policies and measures used to meet the challenges posed by climate change. In particular, we call upon States to give legal recognition to claims over territories, lands and natural resources to enable and strengthen our traditional ways of life and contribute effectively to solving climate change.

We demand the full and effective implementation of the right to consultation, participation and prior, free and informed consent of indigenous peoples in all negotiation processes, and in the design and implementation of measures related to climate change.

Environmental degradation and climate change are currently reaching critical levels, and one of the main consequences of this is domestic and international migration. According to projections, there were already about 25 million climate migrants by 1995. Current estimates are around 50 million, and projections suggest that between 200 million and 1 billion people will become displaced by situations resulting from climate change by the year 2050.

Developed countries should assume responsibility for climate migrants, welcoming them into their territories and recognizing their fundamental rights through the signing of international conventions that provide for the definition of climate migrant and require all States to abide by abide by determinations.

Establish an International Tribunal of Conscience to denounce, make visible, document, judge and punish violations of the rights of migrants, refugees and displaced persons within countries of origin, transit and destination, clearly identifying the responsibilities of States, companies and other agents.

Current funding directed toward developing countries for climate change and the proposal of the Copenhagen Accord are insignificant. In addition to Official Development Assistance and public sources, developed countries must commit to a new annual funding of at least 6% of GDP to tackle climate change in developing countries. This is viable considering that a similar amount is spent on national defense, and that 5 times more have been put forth to rescue failing banks and speculators, which raises serious questions about global priorities and political will. This funding should be direct and free of conditions, and should not interfere with the national sovereignty or self-determination of the most affected communities and groups.

In view of the inefficiency of the current mechanism, a new funding mechanism should be established at the 2010 Climate Change Conference in Mexico, functioning under the authority of the Conference of the Parties (COP) under the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change and held accountable to it, with significant representation of developing countries, to ensure compliance with the funding commitments of Annex 1 countries.

It has been stated that developed countries significantly increased their emissions in the period from 1990 to 2007, despite having stated that the reduction would be substantially supported by market mechanisms.

The carbon market has become a lucrative business, commodifying our Mother Earth. It is therefore not an alternative for tackle climate change, as it loots and ravages the land, water, and even life itself.

The recent financial crisis has demonstrated that the market is incapable of regulating the financial system, which is fragile and uncertain due to speculation and the emergence of intermediary brokers. Therefore, it would be totally irresponsible to leave in their hands the care and protection of human existence and of our Mother Earth.

We consider inadmissible that current negotiations propose the creation of new mechanisms that extend and promote the carbon market, for existing mechanisms have not resolved the problem of climate change nor led to real and direct actions to reduce greenhouse gases. It is necessary to demand fulfillment of the commitments assumed by developed countries under the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change regarding development and technology transfer, and to reject the “technology showcase” proposed by developed countries that only markets technology. It is essential to establish guidelines in order to create a multilateral and multidisciplinary mechanism for participatory control, management, and evaluation of the exchange of technologies. These technologies must be useful, clean and socially sound. Likewise, it is fundamental to establish a fund for the financing and inventory of technologies that are appropriate and free of intellectual property rights. Patents, in particular, should move from the hands of private monopolies to the public domain in order to promote accessibility and low costs.

Knowledge is universal, and should for no reason be the object of private property or private use, nor should its application in the form of technology. Developed countries have a responsibility to share their technology with developing countries, to build research centers in developing countries for the creation of technologies and innovations, and defend and promote their development and application for “living well.” The world must recover and re-learn ancestral principles and approaches from native peoples to stop the destruction of the planet, as well as promote ancestral practices, knowledge and spirituality to recuperate the capacity for “living well” in harmony with Mother Earth.

Considering the lack of political will on the part of developed countries to effectively comply with commitments and obligations assumed under the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change and the Kyoto Protocol, and given the lack of a legal international organism to guard against and sanction climate and environmental crimes that violate the Rights of Mother Earth and humanity, we demand the creation of an International Climate and Environmental Justice Tribunal that has the legal capacity to prevent, judge and penalize States, industries and people that by commission or omission contaminate and provoke climate change.

Supporting States that present claims at the International Climate and Environmental Justice Tribunal against developed countries that fail to comply with commitments under the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change and the Kyoto Protocol including commitments to reduce greenhouse gases.

We urge peoples to propose and promote deep reform within the United Nations, so that all member States comply with the decisions of the International Climate and Environmental Justice Tribunal.

The future of humanity is in danger, and we cannot allow a group of leaders from developed countries to decide for all countries as they tried unsuccessfully to do at the Conference of the Parties in Copenhagen. This decision concerns us all. Thus, it is essential to carry out a global referendum or popular consultation on climate change in which all are consulted regarding the following issues; the level of emission reductions on the part of developed countries and transnational corporations, financing to be offered by developed countries, the creation of an International Climate Justice Tribunal, the need for a Universal Declaration of the Rights of Mother Earth, and the need to change the current capitalist system. The process of a global referendum or popular consultation will depend on process of preparation that ensures the successful development of the same.

In order to coordinate our international action and implement the results of this “Accord of the Peoples,” we call for the building of a Global People’s Movement for Mother Earth, which should be based on the principles of complementarity and respect for the diversity of origin and visions among its members, constituting a broad and democratic space for coordination and joint worldwide actions.

To this end, we adopt the attached global plan of action so that in Mexico, the developed countries listed in Annex 1 respect the existing legal framework and reduce their greenhouse gases emissions by 50%, and that the different proposals contained in this Agreement are adopted.

Finally, we agree to undertake a Second World People’s Conference on Climate Change and the Rights of Mother Earth in 2011 as part of this process of building the Global People’s Movement for Mother Earth and reacting to the outcomes of the Climate Change Conference to be held at the end of this year in Cancun, Mexico.

Sunday, April 25, 2010

BOLIVIA: Indigenous Peoples' Declaration

Bolivia: Working Group #7, Indigenous Peoples:



Photos by Michelle Cook, Navajo

Mother Earth can live without us, but we can’t live without her.
We, the Indigenous Peoples, nations and organizations from all over the world, gathered at the World Peoples’ Conference on Climate Change and the Rights of Earth, from April 19th to 22nd, 2010 in Tiquipaya, Cochabamba, Bolivia, after extensive discussions, express the following:

We Indigenous Peoples are sons and daughters of Mother Earth, or “Pachamama” in Quechua. Mother Earth is a living being in the universe that concentrates energy and life, while giving shelter and life to all without asking anything in return, she is the past, present and future; this is our relationship with Mother Earth. We have lived in coexistence with her for thousands of years, with our wisdom and cosmic spirituality linked to nature. However, the economic models promoted and forced by industrialized countries that promote exploitation and wealth accumulation have radically transformed our relationship with Mother Earth. We must assert that climate change is one of the consequences of this irrational logic of life that we must change.
The aggression towards Mother Earth and the repeated assaults and violations against our soils, air, forests, rivers, lakes, biodiversity, and the cosmos are assaults against us.
Before, we used to ask for permission for everything. Now, coming from developed countries, it is presumed that Mother Earth must ask us for permission. Our territories are not respected, particularly those of peoples in voluntary isolation or initial contact, and we suffer the most terrible aggression since colonization only to facilitate the entry of markets and extractive industries.
We recognize that Indigenous Peoples and the rest of the world live in a general age of
crises: environmental, energy, food, financial, ethical, among others, as a consequence of policies and attitudes from racist and exclusionary states.
We want to convey that at the Copenhagen Climate Conference, the peoples of the world demanded fair treatment, but were repressed. Meanwhile the states responsible for the climate crisis were able to weaken even more any possible outcome of negotiations and evade signing onto any binding agreement. They limited themselves to
simply supporting the Copenhagen Accord, an accord that proposes unacceptable and insufficient goals as far as climate change action and financing to the most affected countries and peoples.
We affirm that international negotiation spaces have systematically excluded the participation of Indigenous Peoples. As a result, we as Indigenous Peoples are making ourselves visible in these spaces, because as Mother Earth has been hurt and plundered, with negative activities taking place on our lands, territories and natural resources, we have also been hurt. This is why as Indigenous Peoples we will not keep silent, but instead we propose to mobilize all our peoples to arrive at COP16 in Mexico and other spaces well prepared and united to defend our proposals, particularly the “living well” and plurinational state proposals. We, Indigenous Peoples, do not want to live “better”, but instead we believe that everyone must live well. This is a proposal to
achieve balance and start to construct a new society.
The search for common objectives, as history shows us, will only be completed with the union of Indigenous Peoples of the World. The ancestral and indigenous roots shared by the whole world must be one of the bonds that unite us to achieve one unique objective.
Therefore we propose, require and demand:
1. The recovery, revalidation and strengthening of our civilizations, identities, cultures
and cosmovisions based on ancient and ancestral Indigenous knowledge and
wisdom for the construction of alternative ways of life to the current "development
model", as a way to confront climate change.
2. To rescue and strengthen the Indigenous proposal of “living well”, while also
recognizing Mother Earth as a living being with whom we have an indivisible and
interdependent relationship, based on principles and mechanisms that assure the
respect, harmony, and balance between people and nature, and supporting a
society based on social and environmental justice, which sees life as its purpose.
All this must be done to confront the plundering capitalist model and guarantee the
protection of life as a whole, through the search for inclusive global agreements.
3. We demand States to recognize, respect and guarantee the application of
international standards of human rights and Indigenous Peoples’ rights (i.e., The
UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, ILO Convention 169) in the
framework of negotiations, policies, and measures to confront climate change.
4. We demand States to legally recognize the preexistence of our right to the lands,
territories, and natural resources that we have traditionally held as Indigenous
Peoples and Nations, as well as restitution and restoration of natural goods, water,
forests and jungles, lakes, oceans, sacred places, lands, and territories that have
been dispossessed and seized. This is needed to strengthen and make possible
our traditional way of living while contributing effectively to climate change solutions.
Inasmuch, we call for the consolidation of indigenous territories in exercise of our
self-determination and autonomy, in conformity with systems of rules and
At the same time we demand that states respect the territorial rights of Indigenous
Peoples in voluntary isolation or in initial contact, as an effective way to preserve
their integrity and combat the adverse effects of climate change towards those
5. We call on States not to promote commercial monoculture practices, nor to
introduce or promote genetically-modified and exotic crops, because according to
our people’s wisdom, these species aggravate the degradation of jungles, forests
and soils, contributing to the increase in global warming. Likewise, megaprojects
under the search for alternative energy sources that affect Indigenous Peoples’
lands, territories, and natural habitats should not be implemented, including nuclear,
bio-engineering, hydroelectric, wind-power and others.
6. We demand changes to forestry and environmental laws, as well as the application
of pertinent international instruments to effectively protect forests and jungles, as
well as their biological and cultural diversity, guaranteeing Indigenous Peoples’
rights, including their participation and their Free, Prior, and Informed Consent.
7. We propose that, in the framework of climate change mitigation and adaptation
measures, states establish a policy that Protected Natural Areas must be managed,
administered and controlled directly by Indigenous Peoples, taking into account the
demonstrated traditional experience and knowledge towards the sustainable
management of the biodiversity in our forests and jungles.
8. We demand a review, or if the case warrants, a moratorium, to every polluting
activity that affects Mother Earth, and the withdrawal of multinational corporations
and megaprojects from Indigenous territories.
9. We urge that states recognize water as a fundamental human right, avoiding its
privatization and commodification.
10. We demand the application of consultations, participation, and the Free, Prior and
Informed Consent of Indigenous Peoples and affected populations in the design
and implementation of climate change adaptation and mitigation measures and any
other intervening actions on Indigenous territories.
11. States must promote mechanisms to guarantee that funding for climate change
action arrives directly and effectively to Indigenous Peoples, as part of the
compensation for the historical and ecological debt owed. This funding must
support and strengthen our own visions and cosmovisions towards “living well”.
12. We call for the recovery, revalidation and strengthening of Indigenous Peoples’
technologies and knowledge, and for their incorporation into the research, design
and implementation of climate change policies. This should compliment Western
knowledge and technology, ensuring that technology transfer processes do not
weaken indigenous knowledge and technologies.
13. We propose the recovery, development and diffusion of indigenous knowledge and
technology through the implementation of educational policies and programs,
including the modification and incorporation of such knowledge and ancestral
wisdom in curricula and teaching methods.
14. We urge States and international bodies that are making decisions about climate
change, especially the UNFCCC, to establish formal structures and mechanisms
that include the full and effective participation of Indigenous Peoples. They must
also include local communities and vulnerable groups, including women, without
discrimination, as a key element to obtain a fair and equitable result from climate
change negotiations.
15. We join in the demand to create a Climate Justice Tribunal that would be able to
pass judgement and establish penalties for non-compliance of agreements, and
other environmental crimes by developed countries, which are primarily responsible
for climate change. This institution must consider the full and effective participation
of Indigenous Peoples, and their principles of justice.
16. We propose the organization and coordination of Indigenous Peoples worldwide,
through our local, national, regional, and international governments, organizations,
and other mechanisms of legitimate representation, in order to participate in all
climate change related processes. With that in mind, we call for an organizational
space to be created that will contribute to the global search for effective solutions to
climate change, with the special participation of Elders.
17. We propose to fight in all spaces available to defend life and Mother Earth,
particularly in COP16, and so we propose a 2nd Peoples’ Conference to strengthen
the process of reflection and action.
18. The ratification of the global campaign to organize the World March in defense of
Mother Earth and her peoples, against the commodification of life, pollution, and the
criminalization of Indigenous and social movements.
Created in unity in Tiquipaya, Cochabamba, Bolivia, the 21st day of April, 2010

Saturday, April 24, 2010

US Shuns 'Rights of Mother Earth'

By Brenda Norrell
Photo by Michelle Cook
COCHABAMBA, Bolivia -- At the close of the World Climate Conference, the Hall of Shame award goes to the mainstream US media, which usually pretends to be covering world events. In the case of the World Climate Conference, the mainstream US media was not only noticeably absent, but the armchair journalists pumped out spin articles to discredit Bolivian President Evo Morales. Take note of who wrote the 'chicken' articles and other negative articles, and follow their writing. Whether it is CIA-inspired, or just journalists attempting to make themselves look clever, the intent is to distract from the real purpose of the climate conference.

The real purpose is to rescue this planet from destruction by corporations and personal indulgence. President Evo Morales had the vision to bring people from all over the world here, people ready to rely on the wisdom of Indigenous Peoples to guarantee the protection of the Rights of Mother Earth.

So when you read articles about the World Peoples Conference for Climate Change and the Rights of Mother Earth, contact the writers and ask them if they were actually here and know what they are writing about. Ask them for the direct quotes they are referring to in their spin articles.

The final declaration of the conference holds governments responsible for their climate debt and calls for an International Climate Court to prosecute offenders.

The fact that the United States government, its agencies and its press were not here, is revealing. There is nothing the US wants less than to lose its grip on the resources of the world and its perceived ability to vanquish Indigenous Peoples from their homelands. Corporations will fight what happened here in Cochabamba. They will not easily let go of their ability to coop politicians, murder Indigenous activists and steal the resources of the earth.

On the media bus to watch the soccer game at the new gymnasium in Colomi, I asked the international journalists and filmmakers where they were from. Maori were here from New Zealand and reporters primarily from South America and Europe: Argentina, Colombia, Denmark, Italy and a few more countries.

UK Guardian writer Joseph Huff-Hannon should be recognized, first for coming to Bolivia to cover the World Climate Conference and then for getting it right. Read his article today, with interviews with grassroots members of the Indigenous delegations from North America, Faith Gemmill, Gwich'in, Carrie Dann, Western Shoshone, Jihan Gearon, Navajo, Michelle Cook, Navajo, and Tom Goldtooth, Dakota/Navajo and director of the Indigenous Environmental Network.

It was an honor to be here with people ready to galvanize the struggles and protect the Rights of Mother Earth.
Atlantic Free Press: US Shuns the 'Rights of Mother Earth'
UK Guardian: On the Front Lines of Climate Change
Interviews with Native Americans in Bolivia:

Guardian Features Grassroots Native Americans in Bolivia

On the frontline of climate change

For many of North America's indigenous activists at the Bolivia summit, the fight against climate change is rooted in local issues
Article by Joseph Huff-Hannon
(Photo of Tom Goldtooth in Bolivia by Michelle Cook)
This week's massive climate conference in Bolivia played host to a geographically diverse group of diplomats from the US, well-versed in advancing tough negotiating postures, and working within a framework of international treaties often not worth the paper they're printed on. The US delegation didn't come from the state department, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) or the department of energy. Yet one delegate was given central billing in the inaugural event that kicked off the conference earlier in the week.

"We remain firm in our inalienable, sovereign rights," Faith Gemmill told a crowd of thousands that filled up Tiquipaya Coliseum on a sun-scorched morning, to a loud round of applause. "We the indigenous people of the north have survived colonial policies intended to terminate us, assimilate us, and displace us from our land. Despite this, we are still here! Indigenous people of Alaska and North America have given me voice to transmit this message to you."

Faith Gemmill is executive director of Redoil (Resisting Environmental Destruction on Indigenous Lands), an Alaska Native grassroots alliance formed in 2002 that organises around the impacts of oil and gas development on or near native land in Alaska. She was one of more than 20 indigenous representatives from North America who travelled to the Cochabamba, Bolivia this week for the World People's Conference on Climate Change and the Rights of Mother Earth, which ended on Thursday with a host of concrete proposals heavily informed by indigenous thinking on "living well" versus "living better", and influenced by the long and fraught histories of the impact of resource extraction on their traditional lands. The US government politely declined to send as much as a low-level observer to the historic summit, which drew more than 31,000 people from all over the world, and representatives from almost 50 governments.

"People have to make a choice, whether they want the Earth to continue to be here, or if life will disappear. It's a hard choice, and we're all involved in it," Carrie Dann tells me, a 75-year-old woman who travelled to Cochabamba from the Great Basin ("What non-indigenous people call Nevada," Carrie tells me), representing the Western Shoshone Defence Project. Carrie came to meet with other indigenous activists whose advocacy and activism against climate change is rooted in very local struggles. For Carrie, it's the Barrick Gold Corporation, a Canadian mining giant that is looking to mine a rich store of gold in Mt Tenabo – a sacred site for the Shoshone. The tribe has sued the US Bureau of Land Management, which approved the lease to Barrick, in an attempt to block the project.

"They were given the right to mine, but nobody knows what it's going to look like. It's a horrible destruction, it looks like a cancer on the earth. They keep extracting more and more for their people, eventually there won't be anything left."

One consistent premise that seemed to unite many indigenous activists from North America who travelled here was a desire to debunk many of the much-touted technocratic solutions to combat climate change – such as carbon offsetting.

"Including forests in the carbon market, it's a terrible idea. They want to offset emissions by planting or protecting trees," Jihan Gearon told me, an organiser with the Indigenous Environment Network, from Navajo country in the Southwest. "So corporations say, 'Great! we'll expand our emissions, but offset it by planting trees in the Amazon'. But in our network, which encompasses North and South America, we are seeing indigenous people displaced from their homes to 'protect' the land."

Another theme that came out of my many conversations with these North American diplomats was a deep historical analysis about who bears the brunt of extraction and energy development – including the resurgence of a nuclear industry that has successfully branded itself as form of "clean energy" that will be a key component in mitigating climate change.

"My homeland has one of the largest deposits of uranium in the world," Navajo activist and scholar Michelle Cook tells me. Although the Navajo nation, and the smaller Havasupai tribe whose ancestral lands run through the Grand Canyon, have long banned uranium mining, there is a encroaching on tribal lands. "People often don't realise how destructive nuclear energy is and how it impacts indigenous communities specifically. There is nothing clean about an energy source that gives people cancer, and causes irreparable harm to the land, water, and future generations."

If the raison d'être of the meetings here in Cochabamba was to advance the kind of genuinely ambitious solutions to combating climate change that many world governments failed to deliver on in the UN sponsored talks last winter, it also appears to have been a place for a diplomatic corps on the frontlines of the struggle against climate change to meet each other, compare notes, and fortify each other for what will likely be a long slog ahead.

"Our indigenous people are the third world of the north," said Tom Goldtooth, director of the Indigenous Environmental Network (IEN), sitting with me outside on the last day of the conference during one of the closing plenaries, echoes of Venezuelan president Hugo Chávez's long-winded oratory in the background. "We're working hard to break down the borders placed between our communities."

Friday, April 23, 2010

LISTEN: Alaskan Native at Bolivia Climate Conference

By Brenda Norrell
Censored News
Photo: Brad Garness with Ofelia Rivas, O'odham, by Michelle Cook

Listen to Brad Garness, Samish and executive director of the Alaska Inter-Tribal Council, as he describes what is happening to his homeland, animals and fish in the north. Garness tells why he answered the call of Bolivian President Evo Morales to come to the world climate conference in Cochabamba. Live from Cochabamba, Bolivia.

Alaskan Native Communities support World Climate Conference in Bolivia
Resolutions of support: Lime Village Council Support for Climate Conference; Hooper Bay Support for Climate Conference; Brevig Mission Climate Conference Resolution; Diomede Support for Climate Conference; Buckland Support for Climate Conference; Kongiganak Traditional Council Support for Climate Conference; Chignik Lake Village Council Support for Climate Conference; Newtok Resolution 10_07 Support for Climate Conference; White Mountain Tribal Council Support for Conference; Kiana Tribal Council Support for Conference; Shaktoolik Resolution Supporting Climate Conference; Nulato Resolution Supporting Climate Conference
See resolutions at:

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Bolivia: Final Agreement of Peoples upholds rights of Indigenous Peoples

Final Declaration relies on wisdom of Indigenous Peoples, while upholding their inherent rights
Photos by Michelle Cook, Navajo

Photo: Indigenous delegation at opening ceremony includes Ofelia Rivas, O'odham, Manny Pino, Acomo Pueblo and Tom Goldtooth, Dakota/Navajo director IEN. Photo by Michelle Cook, Navajo.
By Brenda Norrell
Censored News
UPDATE: Also see Peoples' Agreement, official English translation:

COCHABAMBA, Bolivia -- The World Peoples Conference on Climate Change and the Rights of Mother Earth culminated Thursday and released the final declaration, the Agreement of the Peoples, calling for the establishment of an International Climate Court to prosecute polluters, condemning REDD and holding polluters responsible for their climate debt.

With the release of the final declaration, Indigenous Peoples proclaimed the outcome as, "The Cochabamba Protocols."

Describing the damage to Mother Earth and the catastrophic effects of global temperature increases, the Agreement of Peoples states that the so-called developed nations are seizing the bounties of Mother Earth for profit without regard to the consequences for the people or the earth.

The Agreement, released in Spanish Thursday night, states that capitalism requires a strong military industry for the process of accumulation and the control of territories and natural resources, which suppresses peoples' resistance. It is described as "an imperialist system of colonization of the planet."

The Agreement of the Peoples proposes a draft Universal Declaration of Mother Earth. Further, it states that the people deplore the attempt by a group of countries to cancel the Kyoto Protocol, the only specific binding instrument for reducing emissions of greenhouse gases in developed countries.

The UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples must be fully recognized, implemented and integrated in the climate change negotiations. The best strategy and action is to avoid deforestation and degradation and protect native forests, while recognizing the rights of Indigenous Peoples, it states.

The market mechanism of REDD (Reduced Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation) is condemned, which violates the sovereignty of peoples and their right to free, prior and informed consent and the sovereignty of nation states. REDD violates the rights and customs of Peoples and the Rights of Nature.

The carbon market is described as a lucrative business of commercializing our Mother Earth. Instead of tackling climate change, it is an act of looting and ravaging the land, water and even life itself.

The Agreement of Peoples states the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples must be fully recognized, implemented and integrated in the climate change negotiations, with forests protected from degradation, especially considering most of the forests are in Indigenous territories.

The final declaration calls for leading industrial nations to cut emissions by 50 percent.

With the release of the final declaration, Bolivian President Evo Morales said the human race can benefit from the wisdom of the world's indigenous peoples, who understand that humanity must live in harmony with nature.

"The peoples of the Andes believe in the concept of 'living well' instead of wanting to 'live better' by consuming more regardless of the cost to our neighbors and our environment. It is with these ancient teachings in mind that, exactly one year ago, the United Nations General Assembly accepted Bolivia's proposal to celebrate International Mother Earth Day on April 22, which coincides with the final day of our conference.

"We now propose to go one step further and begin collectively drafting a Universal Declaration of the Rights of Mother Earth. This will establish a legal framework for protecting our increasingly threatened natural environment and raising the global consciousness about Mother Earth, on which we all depend for life," Morales said.

Indigenous Peoples came from throughout the world to speak out for the Rights of Mother Earth. Western Shoshone grandmother Carrie Dann, 75, fighting new gold mining on sacred Mount Tenabo, and Timbisha Shoshone Chairman Joe Kennedy were among the grassroots American Indians attending. Maori from New Zealand, Navajo, Gwich'in, Lakota, Acoma Pueblo, O'odham, Dakota, Mohawk, Yaqui and Oneida joined First Nations and an Alaskan delegation to uphold the rights of Mother Earth and Indigenous Peoples in Bolivia. Indigenous delegations from the north and south joined President Morales to open the conference with a blessing ceremony.

The Indigenous Environmental Network exposed the deception of REDD.

“REDD is a predatory program that pretends to save forests and the climate, while backhandedly selling out forests out from under our Indigenous People,” said Tom Goldtooth, director of the Indigenous Environmental Network (IEN), based in Bemidji, Minn. “REDD will encourage continuing pollution and global warming, while displacing those of us least responsible for the crisis, who have been stewards of the forests since time immemorial.”

The declarations forged by the working groups in Cochabamba will be taken to the Cancún summit by President Morales as a counter-proposal to the widely criticized Copenhagen Accord. Movements of Indigenous Peoples, trade unions, farmers and environmentalists are also building momentum out of Cochabamba with plans for mass demonstrations in Cancún.

The Bolivian government said the protection and rational use of natural resources was the main proposal of the conference this week, which also advocated the penalization of nations harming the environment. The creation of an International Court for Climate Justice to judge violators of environmental agreements was presented by Bolivian President Evo Morales.

Morales said the new structure should be validated by the United Nations.

Although the alternative media was present, the mainstream US media was noticeably absent from the conference in Tiquipaya, which began Monday. However, the Summit had a significant international impact, according to experts interviewed by Telesur. They assured that it has been fully justified and had an international scope with views to the Mexico climate summit slated for the end of the year and after the Copenhagen fiasco.
"The final 10-page declaration adopted at the Conference calls on developed countries to: commit to quantified emission reductions that will limit the global temperature increase to a maximum of 1°C; bear the costs and ensure technology transfer necessary to compensate developing countries for their lost development opportunities due to a compromised atmosphere; and take responsibility for climate change migrants, through the conclusion of an international agreement.

The final declaration also urges the approval of a second commitment period under the Kyoto Protocol in which developed countries commit to reduce domestic emissions by at least 50% against 1990 levels without resorting to market-based mechanisms. It further calls for the recognition and integration of the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples in the climate change negotiations. The final declaration also rejects a definition of forests that includes plantations and condemns market-based mechanisms such as reducing emissions from deforestation and forest degradation in developing countries (REDD), conservation, sustainable management of forests, and stock enhancement in addition to REDD (REDD+), and all terrestrial carbon in addition to REDD+ (REDD++), as violating the right to the prior informed consent of indigenous peoples and national sovereignty.

The final declaration foresees that a second People's World Conference on Climate Change and the Rights of Mother Earth will be held in 2011 to discuss the results of COP 16."
The Agreement of the Peoples in Spanish:
Conferencia Mundial de los Pueblos sobre el Cambio Climático y los Derechos de la Madre Tierra
22 de Abril Cochabamba, Bolivia

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