Wednesday, June 23, 2010
Contact: IEN NPR (Native People Reporting) Media Team Cell: (507) 210-4679 firstname.lastname@example.org
North American Indigenous Peoples Developing Solutions at USSF
By Indigenous Environmental Network
Photo by Orin Langelle
DETROIT – A multi-generational delegation of Indigenous Peoples from North America have arrived in Detroit, Michigan this week to join other social justice movements at the United States Social Forum (USSF), a large gathering of diverse leaders developing powerful solutions to the economic and ecological crises we face. The delegation is comprised of Native American, Alaskan Native, and First Nation activists and leaders from the communities most affected by climate change and fossil fuel development in North America. They represent many Nations including Cree, Mandan, Hidatsa, Arikara, Ojibwe, Kachiquel Mayan, Pasqua, Dakota, Navajo, Yup’ik, Swinomish, Mohawk, Oneida, Spokane, Colville, Couer d’Alene, Zuni, and Athabasca Chipewyan First Nation
The delegation, co-coordinated by the Indigenous Peoples’ Working Group of the USSF, Indigenous Environmental Network (IEN), Black Mesa Water Coalition, Alaska Big Village Network, and others, is attending the United States Social Forum to network and strengthen the various U.S. movements working on energy and climate change, immigration, poverty, treaty rights, sacred sites, cultural preservation, and de-militarization issues.
Yesterday, Indigenous leaders led the opening march and ceremony for the USSF, which had over ten thousand people in attendance. Hosted by the local Detroit native community, the Indigenous delegation has already established a strong presence at the forum. Sharon George, Onieda, local leader said, “The Detroit Indian community is proud to host the United States Social Forum and also the visiting Native representatives from throughout Indian Country. This event provides us the opportunity to get our issues as Indigenous people heard on a much larger national level. As an urban Indian community, our local issues are often swept underneath the table, and with the increasing pollution of our great lakes region, now is the time to make ourselves heard.”
Throughout these five days Indigenous Peoples will host a variety of workshops, participate in a series of assemblies geared towards developing resolutions for action, and ensuring an Indigenous voice is included in the USSF’s concluding vision of a just and sustainable United States. And later this week, while the USSF is developing solutions to address the destructive policies of the US political system, thousands including an indigenous delegation will be converging four hours away in Toronto, Canada to protest the G20 summit, a gathering of the worlds industrial powers.
“The USSF movement provides an alternative vision for the people, one that is counter to the destructive neo-liberal agenda being discussed by the world’s so-called leaders at the G20 summit in Toronto, who are talking about the destruction and commodification of every aspect of life. But another world is possible, one that is about the proliferation and health of this land we call Mother Earth, and we are manifesting that here, in the birthplace of the automobile. Detroit, US.” says Clayton Thomas-Muller, Tar Sands Campaigner for the Indigenous Environmental Network.
INDIGENOUS EVENTS: Wednesday through Saturday:
DETRIOT NATIVE COMMUNITY MEETS INDIGENOUS PARTICIPANTS
Dinner at the American Indian Health & Family Services (AIHFS) 6-9pm: Wednesday at 4880 Lawndale St in Detroit.
INDIGENOUS PEOPLES ASSEMBLY
Thursday, June 24, 2010; 1:00 – 5:30 p.m. at Cobo Hall: DO-03C.
INDIGENOUS NATIONS POW-WOW – Public Invited, 6-9 pm, Thursday – Children’s Art Village (next to Cobo Center, outdoors.)
E-BLAST DANCE PARTY – FUN-draiser Indigenous Environmental Network/East Michigan Environmental Action Council – E-Blast Party Celebrate IEN’s 20th Year Anniversary – Hip Hop, DJ’s, Live Performances: John Trudell, Bill Riley, Anna Humphrey and Detroit’s own Monica Blair, Jessica Care Moore, DJ Pirana Head, & MORE! 9 pm – 2 am, Thursday at 4120-4140 Woodward Ave in Detroit
DETROIT HEALING WALK, 9:30-4:00, Saturday. Meet at Cobo Hall lower level. Rides provided to Fort Wayne, a burial site of Indigenous Peoples. Ceremony and 5-mile walk for healing and sharing. Refreshments provided along walk. Closing ceremony back at Fort Wayne at 4pm. Transportation provided back to Cobo Hall.
VIDEO: Native American Dancers Open US Social Forum
Video by Free Speech TV
Photo by Jerry Fisher
Tom Goldtooth, executive director of the Indigenous Environmental Network, describes the gathering of Indigenous Peoples at the US Social Forum in Detroit.
“The US Social Forum is a vehicle for movement building,” Goldtooth said, during an interview with Dallas Goldtooth, live on Earthcycles http://www.earthcycles.net/ , following a Water Ceremony held by local Indian Nations on Wednesday morning. Goldtooth describes the struggle to remove the boundaries that prevent coalitions from uniting and succeeding.
Working in the “belly of the beast,” in the US, Goldtooth said IEN is involved in building sustainable communities. “Change is not for the light hearted,” Goldtooth said, referring to the tragedy in the Gulf.
In Bolivia, Goldtooth said IEN merged with movements around the world at the World Climate Conference and examined the causes of the global social and economic problems. The result was the Peoples Accord and the Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples.
“We are looking for systematic change,” Goldtooth said.
At the Social Forum, Indigenous youths and elders are calling for justice, from the Tar Sands in Canada, to protecting Treaty rights and protecting Indigenous territories from mining around the world.
Photo: US Social Forum March Detroit by Brita Brookes
Today, we celebrate truth telling, from the villages of Afghanistan to the streets of Detroit.
With the arrest of a soldier and the US hunt for the Wikileaks founder, a new reality surfaced in the United States: Obama's new problem is honesty in the military. For all of us, the new problem is the crackdown on US whistleblowers. After Wikileaks exposed the US military's murder of Iraqi civilians and journalists, more recently, the top commander in Afghanistan embarrassed Obama with his honesty.
So this is the challenge. Rather than US soldiers committing suicide, let's embrace a new era of truth telling. Rather than ignoring the US military's recruitment of people of color, to water the economy and the agenda of politicians with their blood, let's expose all the facts.
Let the US military whistleblowers come forward and tell of the rape of US women soldiers by US soldiers, the rape of Afghan children and the real story of the US involvement in drug running. Let US soldiers tell about the US torture that continues in Afghanistan prisons and Blackwater's new contract for Afghan Border Patrol.
In Detroit, another war is being exposed at the US Social Forum. It is the war on the poor, the disenfranchised and people of color. It is the war on Indigenous Peoples, with the elected governments working in collusion with corporations to rip out and exploit the natural resources of Mother Earth.
US federal courts are far more interested in protecting the rights of US corporations than the right to life of Navajos opposing uranium mining. By drilling in checkerboard land areas, alongside Indian land, corporations can poison the water supply of Navajos in New Mexico.
Barrick Gold, among the mining and killing corporations based in Canada, ignores federal and international law and continues to violate the rights of the Western Shoshone and their struggle to protect sacred Mount Tenabo.
Around the world, Indigenous Peoples are being assassinated by mining companies, and imprisoned by their governments, for refusing to allow mining, dams, coal mining, power plants, oil and gas wells, toxic dumping and uranium mining on their lands.
In Bolivia, Indigenous Peoples produced the Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, among the declarations of 17 working groups which ultimately produced the Peoples Agreement at the World People's Conference on Climate Change and the Rights of Mother Earth.
The world tried to ignore the admonitions of Indigenous Peoples in Bolivia to protect Mother Earth and uphold the harmony and balance of the world. As the world turned away, the Gulf erupted in a dark oil plume of greed, proof that ignoring these warnings would result in total destruction.
Arizona erupted with a dark stain of racism, exposing a festering pool of darkness in the underbelly of the Arizona's Capitol, where the governor and legislators came together with private prison profiteers, corporate interests and hate groups, all targeting people of color on the US/Mexico border. It was another signal that the world can not ignore the right to justice and the right to life of all humanity.
So today, celebrate truth telling, from the villages of Afghanistan to the streets of Detroit, from the red rocks of Church Rock, N.M., to the clear view from the top of Mount Tenabo.
Because truth is inevitable.