August 2020

Indigenous Peoples and Human Rights

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Long Walk 3 with Houma in Louisiana

Thanks to Sophie Morel for allowing Censored News to post her photos from the Long Walk 3 reversing diabetes. The photos are from Raceland, La., and the home of Chief Brenda Dardar Robichaux of the Houma Nation. Photo two: Preparation for the fireball game, using all jean strips.
See more photos on Facebook by Sophie Morel

Brazil blocks Indigenous activist from UN Permanent Forum

Brazil has blocked an outspoken indigenous advocate from attending the United Nations Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues, where she was set to present her criticism of the controversial Bello Monte Dam hydroelectric project in Brazil at an event co-sponsored by UNPO.

Confronted on all sides by criticism and legal challenges to its Belo Monte dam project, Brazil has now blocked a human rights advocate from attending a United Nations conference on indigenous issues. It had recently come to Brazil’s attention that the indigenous activist Azelene Kaingáng would be attending the meeting and was expected to address Brazil’s legal missteps surrounding the hugely controversial hydroelectric project at a side event.
Stand in Line to Criticize
Most recently, the human rights body at the Organization of American States joined the chorus of critics when it asked Brazil to suspend its Belo Monte project until it had engaged in appropriate consultations as required by international standards, with the relevant documents translated into indigenous languages, and had taken specific steps to protect affected indigenous peoples. But similar criticisms have been coming from a variety of sources, some of them from within Brazil’s own bureaucracy.
Less than a year ago, James Anaya, UN Special Rapporteur on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, made very similar allegations in an official report. Seemingly at each step in the licensing process criticism has come from one or another of Brazil’s agencies, IBAMA (Brazil’s Institute for Environmental and Renewable Natural Resources) or FUNAI (National Indian Foundation), or in the form of a lawsuit filed by a federal prosecutor (ten such have been initiated). Two presidents of IBAMA have even resigned, citing overwhelming pressure from higher-ups to expedite Belo Monte in spite of various legal concerns.
Shutting Down a Knowledgeable Indigenous Voice
Ms. Kaingáng, a sociologist by training, has been a Brazilian civil servant for over two decades and is currently employed by Brazil’s National Indian Foundation (FUNAI). Ms. Kaintáng is also herself indigenous and is, independently, an advocate for indigenous human rights who has participated in the United Nations Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues regularly since its establishment some 10 years ago. Although she is currently employed by FUNAI, Ms. Kaingáng would have been participating in the Forum as an independent advocate.
Ms. Kaingáng co-chaired the Indigenous Caucus at OAS negotiations on its draft American Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples until quite recently, and is exceedingly knowledgeable about the protections of indigenous rights as delineated in international instruments — from the United Nations, the International Labour Organisation and the Organization of American States — and as enumerated in Brazil’s national legislation and its 1988 constitution.
The side event where Ms. Kaingáng was scheduled to speak about Brazil’s problems surrounding Belo Monte will be on mining, dams and energy and the violation of indigenous rights. It is being co-sponsored by two non-governmental organizations, the Society for Threatened Peoples International (STPI) and the Unrepresented Nations and Peoples Organization (UNPO). Perhaps Brazil feels it has had enough criticism. Perhaps it particularly dreads a critical voice that is unusually independent, outspoken, knowledgeable and is indigenous and Brazilian to boot. And so, the day before Ms. Kaingáng was to leave for New York, she was informed that she would not be allowed to go.
None of the criticisms or various legal measures have resulted in any slow-down or pause in Belo Monte’s progress. It seems not even to understand what the fuss is about. On its own website, Brazil describes its reaction to the OAS human rights commission request to suspend Belo Monte as one of astonishment. And in response to that request, say headlines in Brazil, President Dilma Rousseff has cut off relations with the commission and has recalled Brazil’s ambassador to the OAS, Ruy Casaes.
On the other hand, a growing chorus of critics of Brazil’s behavior, concerning other hydroelectric projects as well as Belo Monte — 70 large dams are planned for the Amazon basin — have been comparing today’s government to the military dictatorship from decades past. Interestingly, Brazil’s environmental legislation was initially enacted during that dictatorship, and was later included in the Democratic Constitution of 1988.
Held during the 10th Session of the United Nations Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues, this event will address contentious issues surrounding the development of energy resources in indigenous regions. photo courtesy of Rebecca Sommer
Tuesday, 17 May 2011
13:00 – 15:00
777 United Nations Plaza, 2nd Floor
New York, NY

The extraction of global resources has grown more or less steadily over the past 25 years. The expanding population, expected to reach 9 billion by 2050, is increasing demand for food, water, energy and land. The effect of the increasing use of these resources on the earth’s climate and environment is a frequent topic of discussion in spaces ranging from the centers of international power to popular media outlets. However, the affect of the development and extraction of valuable resources on the lives of indigenous peoples in many regions of the world is frequently absent from such conversations.
In the context of indigenous populations’ “systemic exclusion from political and economic power,” (State of the World’s Indigenous Peoples 2010) how can indigenous people assert their rights? This event will highlight some of the major issues facing indigenous populations attempting to assert their rights in the natural resource development process. It will explore the reasons why these actions are so frequently unsuccessful, and attempt to outline what can be done to ensure that governments and corporations meet their obligation to obtain the free, prior and informed consent of indigenous peoples.
Jill K. Carino, Cordillera Peoples Alliance Vice-Chairperson for External Affairs, will speak on the experience of the indigenous Ibaloi and Kankanaey people of Benguet province, Cordillera Region Philippines with mining and dam projects, which have had serious impacts on the land and water of the people.
Karim Abdian, Executive Director of the Ahwaz Human Rights Organization will be discussing the exploitation of the vast oil resources of Al-Ahwaz (Khuzestan) province by the Iranian regime. While Ahwazi ancestral lands produce over 4.5 million barrels of oil daily- 90% of total Iranian oil production- indigenous Ahwazi-Arabs live in abject poverty and receive no part of the billions of dollars in annual revenue generated by this resource.
Hector Huertas of the National Union of Indigenous Lawyers of Panama (Kuna Yala), will discuss international complaint procedures with a particular focus on the Organization of American States (OAS) and the UN system. Mr. Huertas is also President of the OAS Indigenous Caucus.
Ms. Azelene Kaingang was also scheduled to take part in the event, presenting the case of indigenous resistance to Brazil’s Belo Monte Dam. However, Brazil has now blocked this prominent human rights advocate from attending the UNPFII. Ms. Kaingang was "expected to address Brazil’s legal missteps surrounding the hugely controversial hydroelectric project" (Earth Peoples “Brazil Bars a Critic from UN Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues”).

"The Right to Water and Indigenous Peoples" Photo Exhibit at UN
Photo by Wayne Quilliam, Australian Aboriginal photographer
An exhibition entitled “The Right to Water and Indigenous Peoples” will open with a cultural event and reception on Tuesday, 17 May, at 6:30 p.m. in the Main Gallery of the Visitors Lobby, at United Nations Headquarters, marking the tenth session of the Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues.

The exhibit showcases photographs, films and a full-sized watercraft, which convey indigenous peoples’ relationship with waters, lands and resources for their cultural vitality and resilience, as well as their social and economic well-being. It includes contributions from indigenous artists worldwide, as well as indigenous individuals and organizations actively involved in promoting indigenous rights at the national and international levels.
The Secretariat of the Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues reached out to the indigenous community to submit photographs on the theme of indigenous peoples’ right to water, to give indigenous photographers and artists an opportunity to exhibit their work during the Permanent Forum’s session. Out of the 140 photographs received, a total of 56 from 25 indigenous individuals and four indigenous organizations were selected for display in the exhibition.
Wayne Quilliam, one of Australia’s most respected indigenous photographic artists, is featured in the exhibit. Other artists whose works will be on display include Brian Adamd ( United States), Ina Hume ( Bangladesh), Troy Donovan Hunter ( Canada) and David Hernandez Palmar ( Venezuela).
Also featured in the exhibit are two short films from the National Geographic “All Roads Film Project” and a full-sized seal-skin boat called an “umiak”, which is on loan from the University of Pennsylvania Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology.
The exhibition and cultural event are organized by the Secretariat of the Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues, in collaboration with the United Nations Department of Public Information, and the NGO Committee on the United Nations International Decade of the World’s Indigenous Peoples.
For more information about the Permanent Forum, please see contact Broddi Sigurdarson, tel.: 917 367 2106, e-mail:; or Sonia Smallacombe, tel.: 917 367 5066, e-mail:
For more information on United Nations exhibits, please contact Jan Arnesen, tel.: 212 963 8531, e-mail:; or Liza Wichmann, tel.: 212 963 0089, e-mail:
All are invited to participate in this event which includes the presentation of three short films, dialogue on the condition of sacred water, earth and health, and presentations by Indigenous activists and our allies regarding environmental impacts caused by mining corporations to the Lakota Oyate and all human beings, water, air, land, and sacred life.
This is not an INDIGENOUS issue - it's everyone's issue. We need your voice, your energy, your thoughts.
Thursday May 19th, 2011 @ 7:00 p.m., Bluestockings Book Store, 172 Allen Street, 212-777-6028
They are 1 block south of the F train’s 2nd Avenue stop and just 5 blocks from the JMZ-line’s Essex / Delancey Street stop. From the United Nations walk to 50th Street & 2nd Avenue. Take the M15 Bus and get off at East Houston & Allen Street. Ask the Bus Driver to say "when." It's about a 20 minute ride through the East side and a very good way to see that part of the City.
Owe Aku International Justice Project
Kent Lebsock or Debra White Plume

Cochiti Pueblo: Jir Project Band wins image award

The Jir Project Band Wins the North American Indigenous Image Award (NAIIA) for Outstanding Blues/Jazz Album

Press release date: May 17th 2011
Sometimes music can shed some light on our roots. With “Sun Child,” the debut album of The Jir Project Band, songwriter and guitarist Dennis “Jir” Anderson, Jr. (Cochiti Pueblo, NM) juxtaposes blistering guitar leads with heartfelt lyrics inspired by his family and by positive values growing up on an Indian reservation. “Sun Child” was recently awarded the NAIIA for Outstanding Blues/Jazz Album.
Held on Friday April 29th at the Hard Rock Hotel & Casino in Isleta, NM, The NAIIA Show drew guests, including nominees, sponsors, tribal leaders, community members, Native American advocates, performers and fans, from across North America. The event catered to entertainment celebrities, young professionals, managers, actors, musicians, models, filmmakers, comedians, media and designers.
Jir & his band feels honored to have won the award, especially considering the competing nominees, Gary Farmer & The Troublemakers and Gabriel Ayala. The trio has supported the release of the Sun Child album with performances spanning the US, with plans to continue recording and touring. As Jir explains, “The award is an honor and a blessing, but we’re not ready to get comfortable just yet. We hope the national recognition will help propel us to bigger and better.”
With youthful exuberance and exhilaration, the native brother continues, “We have a passion for playing music and entertaining our audiences. These urban moccasins are leading us on an awesome journey. Come join the ride!”
Contact: Jir Anderson 505-710-5494

Photos Long Walk 3 Wisconsin

Long Walk 3 northern route in HoChunk, photo 1, and Lac Du Flambeau, Wisconsin, photos 2--4. Photos, thanks to LW3.

Roberto Rodriguez: Recall Arizona ... from the 19th Century

Recall Arizona … from the 19th Century.

Column of the Americas
May 17, 2011
By Roberto Dr. Cintli Rodriguez
Published at Censored News

The dictionary definition of insanity should be changed to spell A-R-I-Z-O-N-A and its state capitol building should be designated as a home for the criminally insane. But lest we kid ourselves, this Arizona insanity has now spread nationwide. Let’s take a tour of the [police] state.
On the educational front, Tucson Unified School Superintendent, John Pedicone, has managed to militarize school board meetings. He has done this because several weeks ago, the high school group UNIDOS, tired of having their Mexican American Studies program targeted for elimination, chained themselves to the school board members chairs, prompting the board to cancel its meeting. For this, the students and others have received death threats. At the subsequent May 3rd meeting, officially, some 100 police officers were deployed to the TUSD headquarters. However, on top of TUSD security guards, including those staffing metal detectors, along with bomb squad officers, helicopters, plus riot squad officers deployed inside and around the building and neighborhood, it is likely that the officers totaled closer to 200.
At this meeting, seven people were arrested for the criminal act of attempting to speak to the board. One elderly and disabled professor, Lupe Castillo, 69, was arrested by some 20 helmeted and shielded officers for attempting to read ”A Letter from the Birmingham Jail” by Martin Luther King Jr. The others arrestees were [secretly] sent to two jails before they were booked and released. In the action inside, dozens of riot squad police physically threw other people out the building, including elders, this while hundreds of MAS supporters outside stood their ground. Then later, the violence, caught on videotape, started behind the building. Police officers in full riot gear began throwing young students, parents and other community members around like rag dolls. Officially, the officers did a great job, commended by the chief of police.
All this is the calm before the storm, precipitated by a 2010 law (HB 2281), purportedly inspired by Martin Luther King Jr, that has declared the teaching of Ethnic Studies illegal. This week, an audit ordered by the state schools superintendent, John Huppenthal, who ran on the campaign to “eliminate La Raza” (the Mexican people) – is scheduled to be released, with expected pre-ordained findings that will declare Tucson’s highly successful MAS program to be out of compliance.
That’s from the sane part of the state. Now, from the insane sector:
This past week, the governor signed SB 1404, a law that attempts to wall the state from the rest of society. Not satisfied with the federal walls that line the U.S./Mexico border, Arizona will soon be embarking upon creating its own wall along the Arizona/Sonora border, financed through online donations and built by prison labor. Being that imprisoning migrants is a growing multi-billion dollar industry, look for the state to employ incarcerated migrants to attempt to build it.
Beyond the state’s 2010 (SB 1070) racial profiling law, this year, state legislators attempted to pass nearly two dozen even more stringent laws, including one that would overturn birthright citizenship as guaranteed by the 14th Amendment. Legislators also attempted to pass two other laws that can only be construed as attempts to secede from humanity; SB 1443 and SCR 1010 were attempts to exempt the state from federal and international laws, respectively.
Most of this legislation is designed to incarcerate migrants and to enrich the private prison industry. The mastermind of most of this legislation is state senate president, Russell Pearce, who in addition to facing a recall, is also embroiled in the Fiesta Bowl “gift” scandal that threatens to bring down he and many of his associates.
And then there’s Maricopa County’s unindicted Sheriff Joe Arpaio, who continues to thumb his nose at the feds with his ongoing racially motivated mass dragnet raids. Recent investigations have found that in eight years, his department has misspent close to $100 million, and that his top commanders targeted “enemies,” confirming he is the most corrupt Sheriff in America. Federal investigations into his activities continue.
Outside of the state, the governor of Georgia recently signed HB 87, joining Arizona, Utah and Indiana in implementing anti-immigrant racial profiling laws. Twenty other states are pursuing a similar return to the 19th century. The good news is that Utah’s HB 497 anti-immigrant law, was recently blocked by a Utah judge, and the DREAM ACT has again been introduced in Congress.
Given recent dramatic events on the international front, it is generally thought that the president can now restore sanity and actually bring about actual immigration reform. Regarding Ethnic Studies, not sure he can do anything about those intent on “eliminating La Raza.”
Rodriguez, a professor at the University of Arizona, can be reached at:
(c) Column of the Americas 2011

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