Indigenous Peoples and Human Rights

December 15, 2012

Russia plans meeting with Native American and First Nation leaders

Russia's Indigenous Peoples
Russia announces meeting of US and Canadian Native leaders in Russia in January, and another meeting with 'Sioux chiefs' this week

By Brenda Norrell
Censored News

Russia will meet with Native American and First Nation leaders in Russia in mid-January, in the first ever gathering of Indigenous from the three countries. Russia also announced that one of its officials will meet with "Sioux chiefs" this week.

The announcement comes as Russia's Indigenous in Siberia, fighting oil and gas drilling in the Arctic and mineral mining in their homelands, face harsh repression as they seek to defend nature. Last month, the government of Russia shut down Russia's leading Indigenous organization, RAIPON, for six months. Natives defending the land, water and air in the US and Canada are questioning who Russia will meet with, and whether they are the Natives on this continent struggling to defend the land, water and air.

Meanwhile, Russia said the meeting of Native American chiefs from the US and Canada will begin in Moscow in mid January, according to Russia's government radio station Voice of Russia.

It will be the first time that Indigenous Peoples of Russia will meet with Native leaders from the US and Canada, said Pavel Sulyandziga, chairman of the working group for the development of the North, Siberia and the Far East at Russia Public Chamber.

Sulyandziga said, "I am currently working on the visit to Russia of a number of Native American chiefs from the USA and Canada, as well as the leaders of indigenous people from other countries."

"Willie Littlechild, the Honorary Chief of the Crees from the Canadian Province of Alberta, Aali Kirskitaua, vice president of the Sami parliament, Henry Harrison, chief of the Thabas tribe from Alaska have already confirmed their visit. They will come to Russia in mid-January and meet with the indigenous peoples for a joint discussion of the problems and cooperation. We are planning a press conference in Moscow and then will go to Lake Baikal," Sulyandziga told Voice of Russia.

Mohawks respond concerning meeting in Russia

In Canada, Mohawks are among those questioning who the Native leaders are in Canada and the US that Russia will be meeting with, and whether or not  those Native leaders are fighting mining and drilling.

Mohawks said, "Canada and the US are sending 'their corporate Indians' there to sign deals on our behalf. They know we won't do it. The band councils, AFN and Iroquois caucus are scared of the backlash from us. Harper is in Russia signing a deal with China! Willie Littlechild is a lawyer who pushes Canadian laws on us.  He represents his masters, that's for sure. The deal being signed between Canada and China in Russia is a 'secret' deal."'

Russia's meeting with 'Sioux chiefs' this week

In Russia's radio interview, Sulandziga said he will speak with "Sioux chiefs" this week.

"Yes, we are talking about the annual meeting of the Sioux tribe chiefs, which is one of the largest Native American tribes in the USA. Our association of the indigenous people of the North, Siberia and the Far East has been seeking contacts with them for a long time in order to work jointly. And now, for the first time ever, they have invited an outsider to their Council of the chiefs to take place on December 21-22."
"I plan to speak on two issues: first of all, on establishing our cooperation and joint activity. The thing is I am currently the chairman of the working group on the international cooperation between the indigenous peoples of Russia and other countries of the Public Chamber of the Russian Federation. There are a number of directions that our group works in that are related with the development of the indigenous peoples. This includes the issues of education, the issues of the youth, the issues of self-government, the issues of the development of the culture and other issues. That is why I would like to raise these issues in a joint discussion."

So far, Censored News does not have more information on the Sioux chiefs meeting that Russia is planning to attend. Censored News has been unable to identify the 'Thabas' tribe in Russia's announcement.
Greenpeace supports RAIPON

Meanwhile, Greenpeace has joined in the support of Russia's Indigenous in the defense of nature. Greenpeace said, "One day before the opening of the Arctic Council meeting in Sweden, Russian authorities moved to suspend the activities of RAIPON, the country’s main organisation representing the Indigenous Peoples of the Russian North. Basing their decision on an interpretation of inconsistencies in the organisation’s bylaws, this seems to be a thinly veiled attempt by the Russian government to silence the voices of Indigenous Peoples who are speaking out against the dangers of drilling for oil in the Russian Arctic."

The Nunatsiaq News reports The Nunatsiaq News reports, "The Arctic Council’s senior Arctic officials and permanent indigenous participants have criticized a move by Russia’s ministry of justice to suspend the operations of the Russian Association of Indigenous Peoples of the North, Siberia and Far East."Known as RAIPON, the association represents 41 indigenous groups and more than 250,000 indigenous people across the Russian Arctic and sits as a permanent indigenous participant in the Arctic Council, along with the Inuit Circumpolar Council, the Saami Council, the Arctic Athabaskan Council and the Gwich’in Council International.
The Arctic Council has called for the reinstatement of RAIPON.

Alaska Dispatch reports on the harsh repression of Indigenous in Russia

Alaska Dispatch reports on the harsh repression that continues of the Indigenous Peoples of Russia's Arctic region. The way of life, which includes reindeer herding, is now faced with oil and gas drilling, the mining of minerals and continuation of the fur trade.
An article from Novaya Gazeta quoted Rodion Sulyandziga, Vice President of RAIPON, as saying, "There is a new round of extensive industrialization of the northern territories. RAIPON is one of the last barriers to companies and states to the extraction of these resources, and [it is] easier to use of force, using selective justice, so as not to distract the extra energy, time and resources to negotiate with some indigenous [peoples]."

Russia recognizes Bolivia President Evo Morales' defense of Mother Earth

In the announcement of the meetings, the Voice of Russia also recognized the ongoing efforts of Bolivia to defend Mother Earth. "In the light of all the noise raised by the international and Russian mass media in relation to the notorious end of the world scheduled for December 21, Pavel Sulyandziga’s assessment of the upcoming international conference entitled 'The beginning of the era of harmony and becoming one with nature' to take place in Bolivia appears to be quite valuable: 'In the last few years Bolivia has become one of the main initiators of the process to defend Mother Earth, which in spirit is very close to what the indigenous people of the world believe in – becoming one with nature, the ties that bind with the environment.'"

Support Russia's Indigenous at RAIPON with letters

Nunatsiaq News said the Russian Association of Indigenous Peoples of the North is asking concerned people and organizations around the world to send letters of support to Russia’s president, prime minister and justice minister.

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