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Indigenous Peoples and Human Rights

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

American Indian Film Festival San Francisco Nov 4-12, 2011

On the Ice

Censored News

SAN FRANCISCO -- The American Indian Film Institute announces the 36th annual American Indian Film Festival, November 4-12, 2011. The American Indian Film Festival will premiere over 70 innovative feature films, shorts, public service, music videos and documentaries of USA American Indian and Canada First Nation communities. Founded in 1975, AIFF has established itself as the premiere Native film festival in North America. This year’s selection continues to celebrate the Festival’s tradition for excellence and diversity with powerful performances and new cinematic expression by cutting-edge media makers.

Prominent Sponsors of the 2011 American Indian Film Festival include; Ak-Chin Indian Community in Arizona; Tule River Tribe, Calif.; Jackson Rancheria, Calif.; Muckleshoot Indian Tribe, Washington; Paskenta Band of Nomlaki Indians, Calif.; Sycuan Band of Kumeyaay Nation, Calif.; CBS Television, New York; and San Francisco Grants for the Arts, Calif.

Public screenings and events will be held for nine days, from Nov. 4-9 at the Landmark Embarcadero Center Cinema, One Embarcadero Center, Promenade Level; and conclude Nov. 10-12 at the Palace of Fine Arts, 3301 Lyon St.@ Bay Street.

Opening the Festival on Nov. 4, is the feature film Every Emotion Costs dir. Darlene Naponse (90min) - starring Michelle St. John, Tantoo Cardinal, Nathaniel Arcand and Roseanne Supernault. Darlene Naponse’s second feature film explores the struggles of returning home and the challenges of facing long-buried family demons. Preceded by documentary feature Oturan Boganin Izinde (On the Trail of Sitting Bull) dir. Ece Soydam (70min), focuses on the present day Lakota. Also included will be claymation short, Neil Discovers the Moon (1min) dir. by Steven Paul Judd.

Concluding the film portion of the Festival on Nov. 11, is feature film On the Ice (96min) dir. by Andrew Okpeaha MacLean – the first feature-length fiction film made in Alaska by an Iñupiaq writer/director with an entirely Inuit cast. A suspenseful feature-length drama that follows two teenage boys on the snow-covered Arctic tundra, who are trapped by a dark and tragic secret. Director Andrew Okpeaha MacLean and producer Cara Marcous in attendance. Preceding will be five music videos from established Native artists which include I Let You Go dir. Mike Venezia (4min), Sometimes dir. Gobi M. Rahimi (3min), Stoned for Days dir. James Kinistino (4min), Who’s Gonna Save You dir. Robby Romero (10min), and The Storm dir. Steven Paul Judd (5min). The Miracle Dolls, Derek Miller, The Native, Robby Romero, and The Battiest Brothers in attendance.

Other Noteworthy Film Selections:

Nov. 5 @ 7pm: The Thick Dark Fog (60min) dir.Randy Vasquez, World Premiere – Documents the emotional journey of Walter Littlemoon, a 69 year-old Lakota man, who begins to heal himself, his community and his heritage after painful experiences at a Federal government boarding school. Director Randy Vasquez, producer Jonathan Skurnik and Walter Littlemoon in attendance.

Off the Rez (86min) dir. Jonathan Hock. A coming-of-age story that follows Shoni Schimmel, a Umatilla Indian, who is a rising basketball star that dreams of being the first from her tribe to get a college scholarship. Director Jonathan Hock in attendance.

Nov. 6 @ 7pm: Holy Man: The USA vs. Douglas White (85min) dir. Jennifer Jessum – The story of Douglas White, an 88 year-old Lakota Sioux medicine man from Pine Ridge Indian Reservation who spent 17 years in federal prison for a crime he did not commit. Narrated by Martin Sheen. Sky Dancer (75min) dir. Katja Esson – feature-length documentary about the unique challenges and gifts of being Mohawk today, and the special stresses of working on the high steel in New York City.

Up Heartbreak Hill, Navajo, New Mexico 
Nov. 7: Young-At-Heart Program@12noon: AIFI presents a collection of films aimed at teens featuring animation, live action and the documentary feature Up Heartbreak Hill (88 min) dir. Erica Scharf -- Chronicles the lives of Thomas, Tamara and Gabby—three Native American teenagers in Navajo, New Mexico—as they navigate their senior year at a high school. Ohkwarikowa (4min) dir. Rarihwenhawi LaFrance – Ohkwarikowa, or the Great Bear, is an animated short based upon a traditional Haudenosaunee (Iroquois) legend. Run Red Walk: A Navajo Sheepdog (17min) dir. Melissa Henry – A red sheepdog’s search for his lost sheep takes him across the hills and hollows of the rez. Along the way, he meets some unexpected characters.

Nov. 7 @ 7pm Smokin’Fish (80min) dir. Luke Griswold-Tergis – tells the story of one man’s attempts to navigate the messy zone of collision between the modern world and an ancient culture. Wild Horses and; Renegades (79min) dir. James Anaquad-Kleinert – Examines the politics behind the Bureau of Land Management's (BLM) controversial policies on public lands and questions the fate of America's wild horses and burros, whose very existence is in jeopardy.

Nov. 8 @ 7pm Music is the Medicine (52min) dir. Lindsey Rusheleau – follows the journey of blues-rocker Derek Miller, as he sets out to release his next album with high hopes of achieving mainstream success. White Indians Walking (81min) dir. Andrew Genaille, U.S. Premiere – After twenty years, a mother returns home with her daughter after being ejected from her reserve, to find out why. This starts a day of remembering the past, discussion of the present and hope for the future.

Nov. 9 @ 7pm Special Spotlight Presentation of Making the River (82min) dir. Sarah Del Seronde – story of Jimi Simmons quest for freedom after him and his brother were wrongly accused of killing a prison guard. Yellow Rock (90min) dir. Nick Vallelonga – A gritty full-length Western that embarks on a group of six cowboys who must fight the elements, their greed, and uncover a grisly truth.

Nov. 10 Shouting Secrets (88min) dir. Korinna Sehringer, World Premiere – The universal story about a Native American family coming back together under the chaotic event of a parent's sudden illness. Starring Chaske Spencer, Q'orianka Kilcher, Tyler Christopher, Tonantzin Carmelo, Tantoo Cardinal, Gil Birmingham, and Rodney A. Grant. Director Korinna Sehringer, producer Ueli J. Bollag, actress Tonantzin Carmelo, and actor Tyler Christopher in attendance. Search for the World’s Best Indian Taco (10min) dir. Steven Paul Judd – A whimsical story of a Choctaw grandfather who regales his grandson with a magical story of flying cars, talking rabbits and a man named Three Shades of Black who’s on a quest to find the world’s best Indian taco.

AIFI Special Events:

Nov. 4, 12:30-3  pm @ San Francisco Public Library, Koret Auditorium – FREE EVENT

AIFI Media Forum: North American Indian Boarding School Experiences – Discussions about experiences in boarding schools, the ongoing impact of intergenerational complex post traumatic stress and cultural genocide. Panel Members: Walter Littlemoon, Jane Ridgway, Randy Vasquez, Janeen Antoine, Olivia Bearchild, Jonathan Skurnik and Others. Hosted by AIFI and Native American Public Telecommunications (NAPT).

Nov.11, 10:00am -- 2:00 pm– AIFI TRIBAL TOURING PROGRAM @ Bay Theatre, Pier 39 FREE EVENT– Indian Youth screenings from Yocha Dehe Wintun Nation, Calif.; Nisqually Indian Tribe, Washington; Puyallup Tribe of Indians, Washington; and Lummi Nation, Washington.

“The film festival and awards show are the cornerstone of what we do — provide an opportunity and national venue for emerging and established filmmakers, entertainers and performing artists to convene, renew their artistic spirit and share their gifts." - Founder/ Director Michael Smith.

Nov. 12 – American Indian Motion Picture Awards Show

AIFI’s American Indian Motion Picture Awards Show, honoring filmmakers and showcasing contemporary Native American talent, will be held on Saturday November 12, 2011 @ the Palace of Fine Arts beginning at 6:00pm. Award Show guest hosts include actors: Michelle Thrush, Evan Adams, Tonantzin Carmelo and Michael Spears. Fourteen awards will be presented including Best Film, Best Actor and Best Documentary. The awards show will include an array of live entertainment by established and emerging Native artists and performers. The line-up includes: Blues singer/songwriter Derek Miller, Punk/Indie band Miracle Dolls, Hip Hop/ R and ;B duo The Battiest Brothers, comedian JR Redwater, and violinist Swil Kanim.

A complete schedule is available on our website All programs are open to the general public and will require tickets for admission. Advance Tickets available thru AIFI: 415-554-0525 Visa and  Mastercard. On-site tickets available at the following theater venues (on day of show.)

Justice for Naomi NOW!

JUSTICE FOR NAOMI NOW: Photos by Glenda Sue Deer

Wednesday, Nov. 2: 11 to 3 pm

Oklahoma State Capitol - South Plaza
2300 N. Lincoln Blvd.
Oklahoma City, OK

Naomi's foster mother was found guilty in her death and only fined $5,000. This outrage has sent shockwaves across the country. Please attend and wear a white ribbon to give little Naomi a voice. For more info, contact Rosemary at: (405) 201-3143 or (405) 863-4037

By Ben Carnes
Recently, a Logan County jury found foster mother, Amy Holder, guilty of felony child abuse. The jury recommended only a $5,000 fine in the bludgeon death of two-year-old Cheyenne & Arapaho member, Naomi Whitecrow.

The sentence sparked an outrage, not just in the Native communities, but also by many parents and people throughout the world. In the social network, Facebook, Glenda Deer set up an event notification asking people to come to the Logan County Courthouse on Nov. 7th in Guthrie, OK, at Amy Holders 3PM sentencing in support of a stiffer sentence and support for "little Naomi". She wrote,
"$5,000 for killing a Indian child in 2011?!... Our Indian kids are priceless....there is NO amount of $ that can be set on ANY child...I SAY PACK THE COURTROOM NOVEMBER (7th)...!!! LET GUTHERIE FEEL THE PRESENCE OF INDIAN PEOPLE! There is no JUSTICE for indian really is "JUST US"

Rosemary Stephens, Editor-in-Chief for the Cheyenne and Arapaho Tribal Tribune, who followed and attended the trial, initiated a letter writing campaign with the support of the Cheyenne & Arapaho.
Ms. Stephens has also organized a "Campaign Justice for Naomi Rally" at the state capitol building on the South Plaza in Oklahoma City for Nov. 2nd (11AM - 3PM)
Read more:

Lakota mother speaks out for children
Yolonda Blue Horse, Lakota, whose daughter was killed by a babysitter in Texas, struggled in court for a long time to see that justice was delivered. Yolonda sent this message: "I wanted to share this with you. It is another case I have been trying to help with. A couple of weeks ago, I was contacted by an individual in Oklahoma about another 2 year old child, her name was Naomi White Crow. She was murdered by her foster mother and unfortunately the prosecutor could only charge the foster mother, at the time, with Felony Child Abuse of which the foster mother, Amy Holder, was found GUILTY of. However, the punishment that the jury handed down was only a $5000 fine. I am sure you are just as shocked as I was to hear of this sad news. With the help of the Cheyenne Arapaho newspaper, (Naomi was a member) in Oklahoma, there was a letter writing campaign going on. In addition, now there is a rally up in Oklahoma on November 2nd. I have attached the information. Please take your time to read her story. I was also asked to tell my daughter's story, it is also in the Cheyenne Arapaho Tribune newspaper. If any of you can make the rally to show your support for Justice for this little girl's heinous murder and just to be a voice for this child, please let me know. Please say a prayer for Naomi White Crow and her family. My biggest hope is that this child did not die in vain. We hope some changes or perhaps a murder charge can be brought to light. At this rally, I will also share my part of my daughter's story. I will share what I have learned....and that is, if this woman gets off again, she is only being given, yet another opportunity, to hurt or kill another child. The same situation as the monster who killed my daughter. "

Occupy Oakland shuts down Port of Oakland!

ALSO: Follow Occupy Movements on Al Jazeera Live Blog:

Freedom Waves Flotilla enroute to break siege of Gaza

Photo copyright Lina Attalah

First story from boat by Lina Attalah
Click here:

Israel and the U.S. outsourced the siege of Gaza to Athens last summer by preventing 8 boats in the Freedom Flotilla 2-Stay Human from sailing from Greek ports to Gaza. Despite this we were able to bring world-wide attention to the blockade of the Gaza Strip. Our efforts in Greece only fueled our determination to challenge the imprisonment of the people of Gaza. We said we would continue to sail and so we are!!!

At this moment, two boats are in international waters in the Mediterranean heading to Gaza.  One boat, the Saoirse from Ireland, includes parliamentarians among its passengers.  The other, the Tahrir, carries representatives from Canada, the U.S., Australia, and Palestine.  The U.S. Representative on the Tahrir, Kit Kittredge, was a passenger on the U.S. Boat to Gaza, The Audacity of Hope mission in Athens in July.  A journalist from Democracy Now is on the Tahrir also. Civil society organizations in Gaza await their arrival, and look forward to the delivery of letters collected from thousands of U.S. supporters in the To Gaza With Love campaign.

We need your help to make this mission a success. Please take these actions immediately.

1. Check these websites for updates:  U.S. to Gaza, Irish Ship to Gaza and Canadian Boat to Gaza,  watch or listen to Democracy Now for live coverage from the Tahrir. Look for twitter hashtag #Freedomwaves.

2. Spread the word far and wide - send this alert to your contacts.

3. Call the State Department  and the White House- demand that they take immediate action to ensure the safe passage of these boats and to put an end to the siege of Gaza.

Call the State Department: 

Here are some talking points or suggested messaging: 

Gaza has been under siege since mid-2006, depriving 1.6 million people of their liberty and basic human rights.  Although the siege has been condemned by the United Nations, the Red Cross, and many national governments, nothing has been done to ease the plight of these civilians.  Civil society has had to act where governments would not.  Two ships with 27 passengers from 5 countries are sailing to Gaza to confront the Israeli naval blockade, and to bring medical supplies and letters of support.

As Americans we insist that our government (which sends Israel $3 billion in military aid every year), demands that Israel insures the ships' safe passage and ends its illegal blockade of Gaza. There is absolutely no excuse to subject 1.6 million people to collective punishment. Ask your local press to cover this story.  Up-to-date information will be available at and
Palestinian youth join boats set to
challenge Israel's siege of Gaza

Two civilian boats, the Canadian Tahrir (Liberation), and the Irish Saoirse (Freedom), carrying 27 people from nine countries, are currently in international waters making their way to the beleaguered Gaza Strip to challenge Israel’s ongoing criminal blockade of the territory. A Palestinian youth activist from Haifa has joined this renewed international mission to challenge Israel's unrelenting stranglehold on Gaza via the sea. The message they carry is one of unity, defiance, and hope, in spite of Israel's policies that have physically separated Palestinians from each other. The "Freedom Waves to Gaza" organizers chose not to publicize the effort in advance given Israel's efforts to block and sabotage Freedom Flotilla II last July. The boats, which set sail from Fethiye, Turkey, are expected to arrive in Gaza on Friday afternoon, sailing from international waters straight into Gaza's territorial waters without entering Israel's waters. The boats carry symbolic cargo - $30,000 in medicines, along with a diverse group of passengers, all committed to nonviolent defense of the flotilla and Palestinian human rights.

"Israel has caged Palestinians in Gaza and the West Bank, prohibiting physical contact between us. We want to break the siege Israel has imposed on our people," said Majd Kayyal, a Palestinian philosophy student from Haifa on board the Tahrir. Kayyal added, "The fact that we're in international waters is already a victory for the movement. Israel's siege of Gaza is untenable and it's a moral responsibility to put an end to this injustice.”

Meanwhile, a statement signed by Palestinian youth urged the international community and the U.N. in particular "to take urgent action to protect this mission as well as to end its compliance with Israel’s criminal blockade of Gaza.” They condemned the U.N. Secretary General's previous declarations calling for aid to Gaza to go through "legitimate crossings and established channels," despite the U.N.'s own admission that Israel's failure to own up to its responsibilities has created an unprecedented crisis of human dignity.

Throughout the week Palestinian activists in the West Bank and inside Israel are organizing solidarity actions with the Freedom Waves mission, including a presence outside the UN compound (Tokyo Street, Ramallah) and rallies across West Bank towns.

This is the 11th attempt to break the siege of Gaza via the sea, with five missions arriving safely in Gaza between August and December 2008 and the remaining violently intercepted by Israel. On May 2010, Israel attacked passengers of the Freedom Flotilla in international waters, killing nine civilians and injuring over 50. Israel's actions were widely condemned and led to protests around the world. Efforts to bring a second flotilla to Gaza were foiled by the government of Greece last July following pressure by Israel and Western governments, as well as by acts of Israeli sabotage.

Israel has intensified in the past days its aerial bombardments on Gaza, underlining the need for international initiatives of deterrence similar to this one.


‘Freedom Waves to Gaza’ flotilla leaves Turkey headed to Gaza; Organizers: ‘It is time to lift the siege of Gaza which deprives 1.6 million civilians of their rights to travel, work, study, develop their economy and be free.’


For immediate release, November 2, 2011
In New York: Felice Gelman, 917-912-2597, 917 679 8343
At sea: phone numbers will be released when you call the above press contact


Organizers say: "It is time to lift the siege of Gaza which deprives 1.6 million civilians of their rights to travel, work, study, develop their economy and be free."

The Canadian ship Tahrir and the Irish ship Saoirse have successfully reached international waters, initiating the "Freedom Wave to Gaza." The boats have embarked from Turkey and are on the Mediterranean Sea.  In all, the 2 boats carry 27 passengers  from  Canada, Ireland, U.S., Palestine, and Australia.

Kit Kittredge on board the Tahrir was previously a passenger on the American ship, The Audacity of Hope, which attempted passage to Gaza last July.  Kittredge says, " The only obstacles in our way are Israel's military and the complicity of the Obama administration but in our sails is the wind of worldwide public opinion which has turned against the illegal blockade." 

Ann Wright retired US army Colonel and former US Diplomat says, "We carry inspiration from the Arab Spring and the worldwide "Occupy" movements that are demanding freedom and justice. Where governments fail, civil society must act. As Americans we are fed up with our government's unquestioning support of Israel no matter how violent, illegal and  oppressive its actions.  We will not stand by and watch $30 billion of our tax money committed to buying Israel weaponry used to carry out this illegal occupation of Palestine including the blockade of Gaza."

Jane Hirschmann added, "Our sailing coincides with UN agency UNESCO's recognition of Palestine as a member state, defying US threats to cut off $80 million of US funding in retaliation. This shows the growing strength of opposition by the international community to U.S. and Israeli policies in Palestine. We call on the international community to go further and take effective action to lift the siege of Gaza. Hirschmann was one of the organizers this past summer of the U.S. Boat to Gaza, The Audacity of Hope which is still captive in Greece.





Thank you for your support

Please distribute widely

by Ben Lorber on November 2, 2011
On Wednesday, November 2, two international ships left the Turkish harbor to carry humanitarian aid through the Israeli blockade of Gaza.
The event, called ‘Freedom Waves for Gaza’,  unites 27 activists from 9 countries, including America, Canada, Denmark, Belgium, Germany and Australia, alongside Palestinians from Bethlehem and Haifa, in a broad-based international movement to break Israel’s illegal and immoral suffocation of the 1.6 million inhabitants of the Gaza Strip. The Irish yacht Saoirse (Freedom), which carries 15 activists, and the Canadian boat Tahrir (Liberation), which holds 12, will attempt to carry $30,000 in medical supplies beyond the Israeli blockade later this week. ‘Freedom Waves for Gaza’ is the 11th attempt by international activists to deliver humanitarian aid through the Israeli blockade of Gaza since 2008.
As the boats navigate international waters, Palestinian youth activists will parade a large wooden effigy of the aid boats through the streets of Ramallah, while distributing white armbands and ribbons emblazoned ‘Freedom Waves for Gaza’. In addition, they will hold a demonstration outside of the UN office in Ramallah on Thursday, demanding that the UN end its compliance with the Israeli blockade and protect the humanitarian mission.

Weengushk Film Institute: Click to support Native filmmakers!

Weengushk Film Institute seeks votes, funding to keep inspiring Native filmmakers

Here's the link for the Aviva Fund! Your click of support will help secure a chance at funding for the future:
Voting for Round 2 ends on Wednesday, November 9, 2011 at 12PM ET.
Voting for the Semi-Finals begins on Monday, December 5 at 12PM ET
Weengushk Film Institute is a non-profit organization that has been created to not just make films, but to make filmmakers. This charitable organization is an artist-focused film and television training center, dedicated to unlocking the creative potential of peoples of diversity and at-risk-youth.

Shirley Cheechoo was inspired to create Weengushk Film Institute in response to the absence of training opportunities for Aboriginals and people of diversity in Northern Ontario. When shooting her first feature film “Bearwalker” on Manitoulin Island, local youth were invited to be a part of various departments in the production. The response was staggering: every department had an interested youth on hand. After the completion of the feature film many of these people have went on to create commercially viable media projects and launch a career of their own in the industry. It was then that Shirley became aware of the great opportunity that a film institute could provide for our youth in order to clear the path to learning, expression and self-esteem.

Weengushk Film Institute incorporates all subjects into the language of film. Whether you are into math, science, english…etc, all of our programs embody the fundamentals of these subjects and their applicable significance into the industry.

Within our program and through our unique instructors we not only teach our participants to make films but to help them develop sustainability through their art-form.

While we steer our at-risk-youth in the right direction and make positive life choices about themselves and their professional career, we also provide them with the necessary tools to take their artistic potential to the next level, allowing them to enter the world with a creative and viable calling card.

The web-series, “Towne House” is unique because we are searching out all of our crew through action and unemployment programs, targeting at-risk-youth and providing them with the chance to be a part of something amazing and commercially successful.

Your votes will help us take our project to the next level and provide an experience for our youth they’ll never forget!

Update: Who Shot Scott Olsen in Oakland?

The video below shows this officer moving down the police line where Marine Scott Olsen was shot. The unidentified officer is holding a riot shotgun that could shoot rubber bullets or bean bags. In the video below, Veterans for Peace Navy seaman Joshua Shepherd stands before police with Veterans for Peace flag and Constitution. Video shows numerous officers on the far end firing projectiles from riot shotguns in area where Olsen was just shot with a projectile.
The majority of the officers in that area were from San Francisco Sheriff ESU.

UPDATE FEB 24, 2012:
Police video reveals Oakland police officer R. Roche firing shot at Scott Olsen:

By Brenda Norrell
Censored News

OAKLAND -- As Sheriff's Departments continue to deny their involvement in the wounding of Scott Olsen in Oakland, more photos and videos show the San Francisco Sheriff's ESU officers, San Francisco Sheriff SWAT and Santa Clara Sheriff's officers in the area where Olsen suffered a skull fracture.
In the above video, officers can be seen firing riot shotguns, near Navy seaman Joshua Shepherd, who is holding the Veterans for Peace flag and Constitution. In this video, Olsen has already been carried away.
In the photo below, both Santa Clara Sheriff officers and San Francisco Sheriff officers are shown in the police line near where Olsen was hit. The majority of the officers standing in front of Scott Olsen at the time he was hit were from the San Francisco Sheriff ESU, Emergency Services Unit.
So far, the San Francisco Sheriff's Dept. has denied using non-lethal force when Olsen was shot. Alameda Sheriff's Dept has said their officers brought lots of tear gas that night.
The Oakland Tribune asks all police departments present whether they used non-lethal force. All responding denied it. Solano County and Santa Clara County have not yet responded.

Moments before Olsen was shot with a projectile, officers in green uniforms appeared, as shown below.

Officer in center, above, has pepperball gun. Officers on left are from Los Angeles Sheriff's Dept
and are standing near where Olsen was hit.
San Francisco Sheriff's SWAT on left, with San Francisco Sheriff's ESU officer Scott Bergstresser on right, shortly before Olsen was shot with projectile in this area. Either Bergstresser, or an officer standing near him, has been
identified, by way of videos, throwing a flash grenade at Olsen after he was hit and being rescued.

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