August 2020

Indigenous Peoples and Human Rights

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Longest Walk 4 Return to Alcatraz: July 15 -- Dec. 22, 2012

Top 3 photos B Norrell
Northern Route
LW 2008
with photo four:
archive photo.
Longest Walk 4: Return to Alcatraz
July 15, 2012 -- December 22, 2012
Press statement
Posted at Censored News

The Longest Walk 4: Return to Alcatraz is being initiated by those on the original, The Longest Walk in 1978. It will begin on July 15th, 2012 in Washington D.C. and travel to Alcatraz on December 22, 2012. The purpose of this Walk will be to reaffirm the heart of Traditional Tribal Sovereignty rooted in Ceremony and land based spiritual relationships. We call on all Indigenous Peoples to come and support this Walk.

We have gone to Washington D.C. many times to seek justice, the protection of treaty rights, and the continuing existence of our Peoples and Ways of Life. They have had their opportunity. The time has come to reclaim for ourselves the prayers that have gone east and bring them back full circle to Alcatraz, the symbol of the modern assertion of what has been called the Red Power Movement. We Walk to educate our own Peoples on what Tribal Sovereignty means from an Indigenous Peoples way of life. We Walk to affirm to the world that we still continue as free and sovereign Peoples as we define it. We Walk to remind those of our Peoples engaged in dealing with the nation-states that tribal sovereignty is not defined by non-Indigenous laws, rules and regulations; nor by economic development, good governance, and corporate structures. These elements may be pragmatic, but they do not define us. We Walk with the spirits of our ancestors for the present and for the future generations so that we as Peoples do not forget what makes us Indigenous.

We also Walk to remind all peoples that Leonard Peltier and his continuing incarceration is symbolic of the continuing incarceration of all Indigenous Peoples in the policies and political structures of the colonial nation-states. The time has come for the release of Leonard Peltier based on principles of reconciliation. It seems strange and one sided that nation-states seek forgiveness for horrendous crimes against our Peoples such as massacres, land confiscations, the theft of our children to abusive boarding schools and such, yet can’t find a way to release a person who has served over 30 years in prison, for what happened during a time of conflict. Leonard Peltier should be freed on this principle of reconciliation regardless of what one may think in terms of justice, innocence or guilt.

As this Walk is about the spiritual foundations of our sovereignty as talked about in The Longest Walk Manifesto of 1978, we also ask for elders and spiritual leaders to come and lend support and advice where possible. To this end we are also going to have a Spiritual Gathering at Cahokia Mounds in September, 2012.
Visit The Longest Walk 4 on Facebook

Grassy Narrows marks 50 years of mercury poison

March 28, 2012
Grassy Narrows marks 50 years of mercury poison

Grassy Narrows calls on ON to fund permanent community run environmental monitoring station; 2010 study shows mercury in fish still often above safe level
Press statement
Posted at Censored News
GRASSY NARROWS --  Fifty years ago this month, in March 1962 Dryden Chemicals began dumping an estimated 10 metric tonnes of mercury into the Wabigoon River, contaminating the fish which formed the subsistence and economy of three Indigenous communities Asubpeeschoseewagong (Grassy Narrows), Wabaseemoong (White Dog), and some members of Wabauskang who lived at Quibell.  Half a century later residents of Grassy Narrows are still grappling with the long term health, social, and economic impacts of this infamous act of environmental racism.  Mercury levels in Grassy Narrows fish have yet to return to safe levels. 

“The government has allowed the logging companies to destroy our forest and give us back only disease and sickness and death,” said Judy Da Silva, a mother and community organizer in Grassy Narrows.  “We are calling on McGuinty to help us establish a permanent Grassy Narrows run environmental monitoring station so we can inform and protect our people from the ongoing damage that pollution and logging are inflicting on our bodies and on our children.”

A 2010 study by Grassy Narrows for the First Nations Environmental Contaminants Program found that 100% of fish flesh samples from the English-Wabigoon river area had mercury levels above the level at which Health Canada recommends against consumption by people who consume a lot of fish (0.2mg/kg).  25% of samples were above the legal limit for commercially sold fish (0.5 mg/kg).   (Sellers, 2010)  An earlier study found levels as high as 140% over the legal limit in a Grassy Narrows fish (Sellers, 2005).  A wild foods study conducted by Hollow Water First Nation in nearby Manitoba found that concentrations of mercury in pickerel flesh there was far lower, and ranged from 0.12 – 0.30 mg/kg (Sellers and Scott, 2006).

“Grassy Narrows requires control over our land resources for our people to recover from the devastating impacts of mercury pollution on our health, culture, and economy,” said Grassy Narrows Chief Fobister.  “Our people have suffered far too long from harmful decisions imposed on our people against our will.”

An independent report by world renowned Japanese mercury expert Dr. Harada found that 79% of Grassy Narrows residents tested in 2002 and 2004 had Minamata Disease (MD), MD with complications, or possible MD (Harada et. Al, 2005).  Minamata Disease, a term for mercury poisoning, is named after the Japanese town of Minamata where Dr. Harada first exposed industrial mercury poisoning in the 1960’s.

This conflicts with Health Canada’s assertion from the 1990’s that 0% of Grassy Narrows patients examined were at risk due to the levels of mercury in their system, leading them to stop testing Grassy Narrows residents for mercury.  A report funded by Health Canada wrote that “there should be minimal concern for Hg in these two communities… the communities are encouraged to promote the use [of] local fish resources.”  (Chan, 2003)

And yet, in 2007 an independent Grassy Narrows fisherman was charged and pled guilty in a Kenora court to one count of unlawfully selling fish tainted by mercury contamination, contrary to the Ontario Fish Inspection Act.  MNR conservation officers from the Kenora District discovered the nets set in Grassy Narrows Lake, near the community, on Sept. 4, 2005.  Forensic tests on the fish, done at the Canadian Food Inspection Agency in Winnipeg, revealed mercury levels of 1.0 parts per million, twice the acceptable level of 0.5 parts per million (Kenora Daily Miner, 2007).  320 pounds of fish from Grassy Narrows Lake were seized in the incident and the retailer was ordered to dispose of the fish, which was later dumped at the Kenora waste transfer station.

“We know too well the tragic consequences of failing to listen when the people of Grassy Narrows say no to destructive industry on their lands,” said David Sone of the environmental group Earthroots.  “It is time for Ontario to stop repeating the mistakes of the past and to respect Grassy Narrows’ vision for the the land they always have used and cared for.  We cannot allow the Province to be complicit in the poisoning of even one more Grassy Narrow child.”

Starting in March 1962 Dryden Chemicals Limited, a subsidiary of Reed Paper limited, operated a cathode chlor-alkali plant that produced chlorine and sodium hydroxide for the bleaching of paper (Shkynik, 1985).  The mercury chlor-alkali plant was demolished in 1971 (EBR Registry Number:   011-3797, 2011).

Judy Da Silva:  807 925 2201 or cell 807 407 2109
Chief Simon Fobister: 807 407 0170
David Sone:  416-599-0152 x.13

Link to Website Containing Two of the Studies Mentioned in this Press Release:

Email Contact Re: this Press Release:

Human Rights Rally and March Flagstaff April 28, 2012

STEP OUT WITH US: Sponsor the Northern Arizona March for Human Rights!
If you value environmental and cultural justice, please join us on Saturday April 28, 2012 in a march for Human Rights and environmental protection in Flagstaff, Arizona.
As the struggle to protect sacred sites and migrant rights escalates throughout Arizona we are calling on friends, neighbors, families, students, young, & old, to march together for justice & healthy communities.
The Arizona state legislature continues to strip our communities of our right to learn and immerse ourselves in our cultures, have control over our own bodies, and provide healthcare and housing for everyone.
Indigenous Peoples' religious freedom and cultural survival is threatened by desecration of Holy places such as the San Francisco Peaks, Mount Graham, Red Butte, & South Mountain. Forced Relocation and Coal Mining continues to destroy families on Black Mesa and further Global Warming. Greedy politicians & corporations continue to pollute our neighborhoods and steal precious water.
We invite organizations, Tribal governments, community based groups, and institutions of faith who support this work to add their name to the growing list of sponsors and supporters of this march.
Sponsorship is simply saying that you endorse the March for Human Rights and would like to be listed as a sponsor online, on flyers and in the media.
You can add your name as a sponsor here:
If you would like to get more involved with the event you can also:
1) Become active with local outreach - download flyers at:
2) Spread the message about the march online via social networks.
3) Contribute financially - contact: to find out how.
4) Organize a caravan from your community to the march.
5) Write letters to your local news papers calling on people in your community to join the march and stand up for Human Rights.
6) Organize a solidarity event! If you can't make it to Flagstaff, organize a solidarity event in your community.

Thanks for helping to build the movement to protect mother earth and human rights!
For more information:

Black Hills Treaty Council Meeting March 29, 2012

O'odham Ofelia Rivas: Rights violators Border Patrol and Univ. of Ariz.

Native Nations Water Rights Symposium

O'odham Ofelia Rivas: Human rights violators Border Patrol and University of Arizona

By Brenda Norrell
Censored News

TUCSON – At the Native Nations Rights Symposium, Ofelia Rivas, O’odham shared a blessing and a welcome, then described how the US Border Patrol and the University of Arizona are violating the rights of the O’odham people to live in their way of life.
During her welcome, Rivas offered a water song for the forum which focused on health of water and protection of water.
Rivas, founder of the O'odham VOICE against the Wall, O'odham Rights Human Rights, described how O’odham have lived here since the beginning of the world.
“Take care how you walk because we consider our lands very sacred,” Rivas said during the rights symposium sponsored by Red Ink. She joined Debra White Plume, Lakota, Simon Ortiz, Acoma Pueblo, Dr. Karletta Chief, Dine’ and other Native American speakers at the community event held at the University of Arizona.
Rivas said, “I have been boycotting this university for 10 years because it develops technology that is used against our people.”
She described how the University of Arizona is advancing spyware technology used against the O’odham people while illegally occupying O’odham lands in what is known to others as the US and Mexico.
“Our lands are absolutely in a state of crisis,” she said of the devastation caused by the US Border Patrol and US security forces.
Rivas said all the technology that Homeland Security is developing here at this university goes against the humanity of O’odham.
“This is what this university does.”
Rivas also responded to the upcoming session of the United Nations Rapporteur for Indigenous Peoples to be held at the University of Tucson.
“I have no voice here as a grassroots person and non-academic.”
Speaking on the violence carried out the by the US Border Patrol agents, she described how the Border Patrol agents ran over and killed Bennett Patricio, Jr., an 18-year-old O’odham walking on O’odham land.
“These foreign people invaded my lands and they got away with Bennetts' death."
Rivas described how Patricio’s mother took the case against the Border Patrol all the way to the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals and justice was never delivered against the Border Patrol agents. When she could not find funding to fight the case any longer, she had to move away from Arizona to build a life for her children who are survivors.
When O’odham cross the so-called border in their O’odham homelands, they have to cross four checkpoints, she said.
“It dehumanizes you.
“There has been physical damage to a lot of people.”
The University of Arizona is part of the militarization and ongoing human rights violations on O’odham lands.
“I boycott this university. I don’t’ step foot on this university.” 
"My presence is to Honor Debra White Plume for her courageous work."
She said besides the damage done to the O’odham by spyware and other technology developed at the university, it is not a healthy place.
“It is all concrete. It is not healthy for anyone.”
Rivas read the following statement to the water symposium:

O’odham Declaration of Allegiance to Mother Earth

In protest we write these foreign words as this is not our natural language, our O’odham language is not a written language which has existed in its oral form since the beginning of the world;

We declare our allegiance to Mother Earth and the Natural World. We are natural people of this world and original people of these lands now known as southern Arizona, United States and northern Sonora, Mexico.

We denounce the physical manipulation and destruction and alteration of the natural lands and people.

We denounce the contamination of the lands, water and air,

We denounce the destruction of mountains, waterways and natural habitats of people, animals and plants,

We denounce the alteration of human life, animal and plant life as well as all mountains and waterways and natural habitats,

We denounce the illegal bisection of our lands and illegal occupation by two foreign countries, the United States and Mexico,

We denounce the militarization of our lands, every day of the year, every hour of the day there is presence of armed military in helicopters, jets and airplanes and unmanned airplanes, on jeeps, high profile trucks and pick-up trucks, on all-terrain vehicles and dirt bikes, and on horseback,

We denounce the United States government aided and staged drug wars on our lands,

We denounce the United States enforcement of Immigration policies on the O’odham the original people of the lands,

We denounce the criminalization and de-humanizing of the O’odham, the original people of the lands;

·        by three military check points existing the present Tohono O’odham Nation Indian Reservation,

·        by monitoring and the surveillance of O’odham communities,

·        by demanding of proof of citizenship of O’odham in our communities,

·        by unwarranted illegal home invasions in O’odham communities,

·        by illegal searches and detainments and deportation of O’odham,

·        by physical and mental abuse and de-humanizing of the O’odham in our communities,

·        by restriction of access to original O’odham lands.

We denounce the ongoing alteration of our people through forced indoctrination through religions, forced assimilation and acculturation.

We are the original people of these lands and we hereby demand you to stop the destruction, contamination and alteration of our home, the Natural World.

We are the O’odham, the original people of these lands, demand the restoration of our Human Rights and Right to Exist and Live by own sovereign government on our Original Ancestral lands.                                                            October 10, 2011

O’odham VOICE Against the WALL
O’odham Rights Human Rights

Ofelia Rivas

P.O. Box 1835

Sells, Arizona 85634

Support O'odham human rights:

Amnesty International: Human rights violations US Southwest

Amnesty International
USA: In Hostile Terrain: Human rights violations in immigration enforcement in the US Southwest

Special report on Indigenous Peoples, with US violations of rights of Tohono O'odham and Yaqui

"The architecture of international human rights law is built on the premise that all persons, by virtue of their essential humanity, should enjoy all human rights."
-- David Weissbrodt, U.N. Special Rapporteur on Non-Citizens
Amnesty International’s report, In Hostile Terrain: Human rights violations in immigration enforcement in the US Southwest, examines the human rights violations associated with immigration enforcement at the border and in the interior of the United States. While the development and implementation of immigration policies are a matter for individual governments, such policies must be compatible with international human rights law and standards. All immigrants, irrespective of their legal status, have human rights. This report shows that the USA is failing in its obligations under international law to ensure these rights. Among its findings are:
  • Recent immigration policy in certain border areas has pushed undocumented immigrants into using dangerous routes through the US desert; hundreds of people die each year as a result.
  • Immigration enforcement in the USA is a federal responsibility. Federal immigration officials are increasingly working in collaboration with state and local law enforcement agencies but improper oversight of state and local law enforcement has led to increased racial profiling.
  • Increasingly, state laws and local policies are creating barriers to immigrants accessing their basic human rights, including rights to education and essential health care services. While these laws are targeting non-citizens, these policies are also impacting US citizen children.
  • Recent legislation enacted or proposed in several states targets immigrant communities and places them, Indigenous communities and other minority communities at risk of discrimination.
  • Immigrant communities also face a range of barriers to justice when they are victims of crime such as human trafficking, domestic violence or bias crimes.
The implementation of immigration enforcement measures along the border has also impacted the rights of Indigenous communities, whose traditional lands lie on both sides of the US-Mexico border.

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