Indigenous Peoples and Human Rights

May 22, 2012

Native Americans create authentic websites to counter collapsed media

Save the Peaks Youths/Indigenous Action Media
By Brenda Norrell
Censored News

Native Americans and First Nations -- Mohawk, Navajo, Hopi, O’odham and Lakota -- have created their own news websites, with authentic Native voices and their own photos, videos and articles, to counter the plague of collapsed media.
While most news reporters in the US and Canada were sleeping today, Tuesday, May 22, a delegation of First Nations and Inupiat confronted Shell at their annual general meeting at The Hague, with simultaneous protests at the Shell general meeting in London.

Meanwhile, media coverage of Native American issues has degenerated into plagiarism and rewrites by armchair journalists. Further, the media routinely publishes press releases promoting corrupt politicians and profiteering corporations, which counter human rights efforts and the struggle to protect the earth.
While the plagiarizers and online aggregators collect paychecks, reporters on the streets, are too often the ones providing information and photos without pay.
Still the mainstream media in Indian country censors most of the vital news.
At Mohawk Nation News, published by Mohawk Kahentinetha Horn, the breaking news article today is: “Mohawk Air Space Violated.”
“At 6:00 pm May 21, twelve fighter jets flew in threatening formations, crisscrossing closely over the Mohawks of Kahnawake. Twelve flights for 20 minutes were videotaped. Canada violated the Notice on Navigation and Travel Restriction issued on August 17, 2007 by the Longhouse Peoples of the Mohawk Nation.”

Navajo and Hopi youths have created their own media, Indigenous Action Media, to tell their own stories. They share breaking news as it happens, on issues usually censored in the ordinary Native and Arizona media. At Indigenous Action Media, their breaking news coverage includes protests over attempts to steal Navajo and Hopi water rights by corrupt Navajo officials and Arizona Congressmen.
With video, photos and articles, Outta Your Backpack reporters, have covered the ALEC and border militarization protests in Arizona. Their articles have exposed corrupt corporations, including Peabody Coal on Black Mesa, and the three coal-fired power plants on the Navajo Nation in Arizona and New Mexico, destroying the air, water and land of Navajos, Hopis and residents of the Southwest.
Countering the heavily censored and anti-American Indian media in Flagstaff and the rest of Arizona, they covered the lockdown to heavy equipment by Native Americans protecting sacred San Francisco Peaks from the destruction and pollution of the Arizona Snowbowl ski resort (photo on right.)
“The fight for Diné and Hopi water rights continues as several indigenous struggles persist across Arizona to protect sacred sites, stop cultural genocide, and prevent further destruction of the earth and its people for corporate profit,” writes reporter Drew Sully at Indigenous Action Media.

On the Arizona border, few, if any, news reporters actually go out and speak to traditional O’odham who are constantly harassed and abused by US Border Patrol agents in their homeland. Ofelia Rivas, founder of the O’odham VOICE against the Wall, created a website with the authentic voices of O’odham struggling to uphold their sacred way of life. Rivas has exposed the abuse by agents and police, and the desecration of O’odham ancestors remains by Boeing at the border. Recently, she exposed the involvement of the University of Arizona in the creation of spyware targeting Native peoples on the border.

On Sicangu land at Rosebud, South Dakota, Lakota reporter Vi Waln created Sicangu Lakota Times. Waln recently published testimony to the UN Rapporteur on Indigenous Peoples James Anaya at Rosebud, sharing her photos and articles with others.
Lakota testimony included some of the most censored issues in Indian country media: The correlation between Native Americans, Guantanamo and Palestinians, and the genocide of Indian boarding schools.
“The treatment of prisoners at Guantanamo Bay is based on how American Indians were treated,” Oglala Lakota Russell Means said.
“The perpetual war they have against us is the same as Israeli treatment of Palestinians.”
Cheyenne River elder Marcella Lebeau described the abuse in boarding school.
"We were psychologically traumatized at boarding school, I cried for days after they cut my braids. We worked four hours a day and went to school four hours a day. This got us a fourth grade education instead of an eighth grade education like we were supposed to get.”
Photo by Occupy Oil
While most news reporters in the US and Canada were sleeping today, a delegation of First Nations and Inupiat confronted Shell at their annual general meeting at The Hague, with simultaneous protests at the Shell general meeting in London (Grim Reaper protest photo on left.)
The delegation (top photo) includes Robert Thompson, chairman of REDOIL, an Inupiat from Kaktovik, a village on the edge of the Arctic Ocean in Alaska, where Shell plans to drill offshore in Arctic waters this summer.
Eriel Deranger is the spokesperson for Athabasca Chipewyan First Nation, in Alberta, Canada, an Indigenous community residing downstream from tar sands operations and who are currently suing Shell for violating past agreements.
Ron Plain is from Aamjiwnaang First Nation, in Ontario, Canada. It has been called “the most polluted place in North America,” due to its proximity to “Chemical Valley” where Shell’s and other tar sands operators’ refineries are causing serious health and reproductive impacts.
The Indigenous Environmental Network has launched a campaign to halt Shell’s destruction.
Today, Deranger addressed Shell executives and shareholders at Shell’s Annual General Meeting in The Hague, highlighting the communities grievances with Shell’s current and proposed tar sands projects in their traditional territory in northern Alberta, Canada.
“Shell has failed to address our concerns in Canada’s tar sands by not meeting environmental standards, past agreements and refusing to address their impacts to our constitutionally protected treaty rights,” Deranger said.
“Shell’s current projects are contributing to the destruction of our traditional territory including vital watersheds and eco-systems. Now they propose to expand projects further degrading our lands and impairing our ability to practice our constitutionally protected rights to hunt, fish, trap and gather in the region.”
Shell’s chairman was provided with a copy of the report “Risking Ruin: Shell’s dangerous developments in the Tar Sands, Arctic and Nigeria” launched last week by ACFN in partnership with the Indigenous Environmental Network.
The report profiles Indigenous communities impacted by Shell’s operations in Canada’s Alberta Tar Sands, Alaska’s Arctic Ocean, Ontario’s Aamjiwnaang First Nation and Africa’s Niger Delta arguing that the impacts of Shell’s destructive activities outweigh the benefits and exposes the company to both reputational damage and political risk, including litigation.
ACFN traveled with an Indigenous delegation from Canada and Alaska, coordinated by the UK Tar Sands Network and IEN, to attend Shell’s AGM. Indigenous representative presented to Shell’s Chairman and Board about the human and ecological rights violations the company’s operations have brought to their respective communities.
Read more at the Indigenous Environmental Network:

Western Shoshone Carrie Dann: Civil Disobedience one way to protect Mother Earth from gold mining:
Winnemem Wintu statement: War Dance to be held this weekend to protect ceremony in Calif:
Pine Ridge, SD: Lakota Debra White Plume: Speak truth to power: The meat is spoiled and that is not OK with us:

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