Indigenous Peoples and Human Rights

July 10, 2011

Wixaritari seek alliances to halt Canada's mining on sacred land in Mexico

Wixaritari support in Northwest
Efforts of Indian community to Indian community temporarily halt silver mining on sacred land
By Franks Landing Indian Community.
Censored News
Photo copyrights: Photo 1 Wixaritari meets with Franks Landing and Puyallup Indian communities in Washington State by Robert Free. Photo 2 by Brenda Norrell Cancun Climate Summit, Wixarika with Robert Free, O'odham Ofelia Rivas and Gwich'in Sarah James.

The Franks Landing Indian Community, located in Washington State near the Nisqually River, has long struggled to retain and exercise Indigenous sovereignty. The community makes alliances and supports other Indigenous peoples’ efforts to excise sovereignty and protect their territories and the resources within.

Recently Franks Landing Indian Community met with the Wixaritari of Mexico, responding to their request for help to stop a Canadian mining company from mining on their sacred mountains.

This was an Indian community to Indian community effort; Indian to Indian, with great results. Below is a link to a PowerPoint of our recent efforts to support the Wixaritari. It will update you on recent efforts of the anti-mining movement of the Wixaritari

These efforts -- of Indian to Indian communities -- forced Real Majestic Silver Mine to declare a one year moratorium and not do any mining on the sacred mountain in Winakuta!

We reach out to all to join us in the ongoing efforts to stop mining companies on Indigenous lands. We are aware of the good work many do in public awareness with other NGOs in the global community. Several international NGOs are standing in solidarity with the Wixaritari and focusing on mining on Indigenous lands. We ask you to help focus and spotlight the role of Canada's mining companies.

Canada's companies are the largest extractors of mineral wealth on the planet. The devastation on Indigenous lands and peoples requires a strong alliance focusing on their role. We ask that a spotlighting campaign on mining on Indigenous lands in general be conducted.

1. Franks Landing Indian Community organized these recent events:
--A delegation of Wixaritari people to Washington State and to Canada for the month of May, at their request, to confront the global headquarters of the Real Majestic Silver Mining companies annual share holders meeting held in Vancouver BC.
--Provided meetings between tribal leaders and councils here to build solidarity and to educate and explore options. The delegates and talking sticks were received according to tribal protocols, with permission to speak in the territories of Coast Salish lands.
--Conducted three protest marches in Seattle and Vancouver, at Majestic World Headquarters and the Canadian and Mexican consulates.
--Wixaritari delegate Jesus Lara Chivarra was taken to northern Saskatchewan where he was adopted, given a name and presented with a Pipe made for the occasion with a butterfly noting the transformation of alliance between the north and south.
--The  Native American Church of Canada invited the Wixaritari. They were invited by Native American Church of Canada President Kelly Daniels and Floyd Favel of the University of Saskatchewan. Terry Daniels and other respected elders headed the elders reception that adopted Jesus and presented the Pipe of friendship and alliance.
Also, the mining resistance alliance of Canada fighting Goldcorp, joined with Native anti-mining efforts, and formed an alliance to support the Wixaritari struggle.
--Conducted two conferences in Vancouver, composed of several tribes and anti-mining alliances; held press conferences with the Union of BC Chiefs, national television interviews, including a special with the ATPN Aboriginal Peoples Television Network.
--What is needed are more Indigenous organizations from the north stepping forward in the front line with the Wixarika people, who are facing the blatant destruction by these companies. The home of the Wixaritari, numbering 50,000 to 70,000 in Mexico, also known as Huicholes, is the place of the origin of the Hikuri (peyote) ceremonies, with over 1 million Indigenous practices here in the US and Canada.
2. We propose to groups, communities, NGOs and schools the following:
Wixaritari representatives, such as Jesus Lara Chivarra, who are designated by his community and an elected representative of the Wixaritari Defense front, address the conferences and present first hand the experiences they are facing and the strategies being planned. It is an opportunity for all to be part of these efforts and make mining a spotlighted issue facing Indigenous Peoples.
--We are asking for help to sponsor their trip to conferences, allow the delegate, (or delegates) time on agendas and for groups and communities to receive them and build alliance and solidarity.
3. Upcoming events:
---In the fall of 2011: The Wixaritari is preparing to confront the Canadian parliament, when new rules of conduct for Canadian mining companies will be debated.
4. Major concerns of the Wixaritari:
Many NGOs are speaking and writing articles on websites, raising money and resources on the Wixaritari's behalf without asking for their presence to speak for themselves.
Most NGOs are paternalistic to the Wixaritari, talking down to them and keeping them in the dark as to the NGO activities.
More transparency is needed regarding their resources and funding. So far, none of the NGOs have shown a financial report to them.
5. We are hoping to have an Indigenous organization that could be the role model for other organizations to follow. To that end, maybe your boards and its staff could be that model by:
--Working directly with the Wixarkari, to help in the fight against Canadian mining in Mexico.
--Using your web/media site in consultation with the Wixaritari to articulate their battle.
--Help raise funds on websites and link to their NGO in Mexico, via PayPal, to support them and list their needs.
--Develop a mutual relationship at the same level possible, with global travel to have them speak on the issues themselves.
--The Wixaritari have taken on the Mexican and Canadian governments and companies. The issues of NAFTA, environment destruction, and sacred sites all are some of the relevant issues. These same efforts of grassroots peoples and organizations are occurring on the Wixaritari territories. Their sacred site, where the sun was born and the annual prayers for the earth are conducted, is paramount to the Wixarkari. The siphoning off of the water by the mining is crucial to the valleys where 90 percent of their sacred medicine Hikuri comes from.
--The recent efforts in May show the sophistication of strategy being implemented between grassroots peoples and communities and their allies. A huge rally in Mexico City involved thousands of marchers and demanded a moratorium on mining. There, a letter was delivered to the President of Mexico in May. Two delegates were sent to address the UN Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues in New York and to create alliances and awareness. Three demonstrations occurred on the same day at the Vancouver mining headquarters, Canadian and Mexican consulates in Seattle and Los Angeles. Alliances were made with local tribes, as well as with the international Indigenous spiritual gathering in Lillooett, BC, where they stayed and spoke.
--Most of all their videos and publications are in Spanish. They need websites that have the English versions to help educate the NGOs and others not yet aware of this effort.
--Lets discuss how to make this alliance between northern communities, NGOs and the Wixaritari a reality. The Frank's Landing community provided months of support and organizing towards the effort and look forward to expanding support for the Wixaritari.
--If they were to be invited by your community or group to speak and participate, a letter is needed to get a visa. We would need your group to support them with a plane ticket and other accommodations.
--Frank's Landing provided the financial resources to the Wixaritari’s northern tour and can no long continue at this time. The Wixaritari feel that it is paramount to prepare for the talks in Canada on mining regulation and create more alliances with groups and ask for their participation and support. Influencing the upcoming laws will have a profound and long time impact on Indigenous lands, in the north and south and globally.
We hope the PowerPoint gives you a sense of the leaders we are working with and the efforts underway.
To put it simply, we are trying to get NGOs to stand with the Wixaritari, or behind them, but not in front of them.
We look forward to working and collaborating together to protect our Mother Earth.
In solidarity,
Suzette Bridges
Sid Mills
Franks Landing Indian Community
Please follow up with Robert Free, FLIC Community Liaison:

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