August 2020

Indigenous Peoples and Human Rights

Thursday, May 17, 2012

Oklahoma Capitol: Indian Territory Revival May 20, 2012


SUNDAY, MAY 20, 2012

By Society to Preserve Indigenous Rights and Indigenous Treaties SPIRIT
Censored News

The Society to Preserve Indigenous Rights and Indigenous Treaties (S.P.I.R.I.T.) presents the first ever celebration of native history in the State of Oklahoma.  Every year American Indians sit by and watch as state citizens and governments celebrate 89er Days, Land Runs and Pioneer Pride.  These celebrations typically occur during the months of April and May.  In keeping with the goals of the grassroots group, S.P.I.R.I.T. is hosting a statewide celebration of Native American History.
On Sunday, May 20th, a score of talented and world famous Native American performers, entertainers and speakers are coming together to do something that has never before been done in the State of Oklahoma.  An innovative lineup is planned to perform at the Oklahoma State Capitol South Lawn to counter the 89er Day and Land Run Celebrations in Oklahoma.  The headliner act is Culture Shock Camp, featuring Shock “B” and Quese IMC, Oklahoma City natives who travel the United States presenting an educational perspective on American Indian culture through music.  Joining them are Little Mike & Funny Bone, Pawnee brothers who are well known in the music industry as “Mike Bone” for their youthful and inspiring message.
Comedian and Singer, Chad Tahchawwickah also joins the line-up, along with other well-known performers Terry Tsotigh and Cecil Gray both from the group “Indian Soul Men”.  The crowd will hear from traditional storytellers Gordon Yellowman and Stella Dyer Long.  Sapphire Satepauhoodle and C.A.S.T. Productions both are presenting historical skits.  Drum Groups of Wild Band of Comanches and Woodson Creek will take part in the festivities that also includes hand games and stick ball exhibitions.  The amazing artist, Steven Paul Judd, created the colorful and eye-catching flyer for this event.  S.P.I.R.I.T. expects attendance to reach at least 200 people. Tables and booths will be set up to showcase and sell Native American arts, crafts, music, t-shirts, and foods.
S.P.I.R.I.T. hopes to counter the 89er Day and Land Run Celebrations in a fun, positive, educational way that will increase awareness of our true history and promote pride in Native American youth.  All participants are renowned in the entertainment industry as positive role models for healthy living and healthy lifestyles.  
This is a free event that is open to the public of all ages, races, national origins or sexual orientation.
For more information contact Brenda Golden at 405-471-7610, Marilyn Grammar at 405-203-8349 or Lewis Tall Bear at 405-201-0259.  Find us on Facebook at the event at!/events/357974900914953/.

Society to Preserve Indigenous Rights and Indigenous Treaties
May 17, 2012

Contact: Brenda Golden, spokesperson     

Wet'suwet'en: Pipelines will not be allowed to cross our territories

Letter: Proposed Gas Pipelines will not be Allowed to be Constructed on Unceded Wet'suwet'en Territories

"We will stop them at our traditional boundary lines and prevent them from proceeding with plans on our territories"

Camp in the right of way of the proposed PTP natural gas line // Dawn Paley
Camp in the right of way of the proposed PTP natural gas line // Dawn Paley
This is in response to Gordon Hamilton's article in the Vancouver Sun, which was published on May 15, 2012. We feel it is important to let you know that the proposed Pacific Trails Pipeline (PTP) project will not be allowed to be constructed on unceded Wet'suwet'en territories. We will stop them at our traditional boundary lines and prevent them from proceeding with plans on our territories.
Read letter at Vancouver Media Co-op:

Indigenous launch campaign against Shell for dirty energy projects


Shell under fire from Indigenous Peoples over human rights abuses and environmental destruction in Canada, Alaska and Nigeria
Update May 22, 2012: Indigenous delegation confronts Shell at annual meeting at The Hague, protests in London, following release of new report: Shell Risking Ruin:

Press statement
Posted at Censored News

LONDON – This Friday 18th May the Indigenous Environmental Network in partnership with Athabasca Chipewyan First Nation are launching an Indigenous-led campaign against Shell and its harmful projects. A delegation of four Indigenous peoples [1] from North America will participate in the public launch of a report profiling the British-Dutch company’s increasing involvement in the world’s dirtiest and riskiest energy projects.
The launch event, ‘Get the Shell Out’ [2], is taking place at 7.30pm at Toynbee Hall, East London, with opportunities from 6.30pm for media interviews. It is co-hosted by a coalition of organizations which also includes UK Tar Sands Network, Women of Africa, Platform, Rising Tide UK, FairPensions, Greenpeace, Shell to Sea, Climate Rush, Art Not Oil and the Rossport Solidarity Camp.
The new report, entitled “Risking Ruin: Shell’s dangerous developments in the Tar Sands, Arctic and Nigeria” [3] profiles Indigenous communities impacted by Shell’s operations in Canada’s Alberta Tar Sands, Aamjiwnaang First Nation’s territory in Ontario, Alaska’s Arctic Ocean and Africa’s Niger Delta. It argues that the impacts of Shell’s destructive activities outweigh the benefits and expose the company to both reputational damage and political risk, including litigation.
The delegation will then attend Shell’s Annual General Meeting in The Hague, Netherlands, on 22nd May, where they will confront the Chairman and Board over the massive human and ecological rights violations and economic devastation that the company’s operations have brought to local communities. There will also be a simultaneous creative protest by UK activist groups, including UK Tar Sands Network and London Rising Tide, at Shell’s satellite AGM in the Barbican Centre on May 22nd.
Eriel Deranger, community member and spokesperson for the Athabasca Chipewyan First Nation (ACFN), Alberta – an Indigenous community residing downstream from tar sands operations and who are currently suing Shell for violating past agreements [4], states:
“Tar sands extraction projects on our traditional lands are being approved at a pace that is both irresponsible and irreparably destructive. People in the community of Fort Chipewyan
 are genuinely afraid. Our food and water sources are contaminated, resulting in a fear of eating traditional foods and eroding the continuation of our cultural and subsistence lifestyles. Yet Shell plans to aggressively expand its activities, doubling production. The Athabasca Chipewyan First Nation is calling on Shell to meet its past agreements and halt expansion until our broader concerns about the cumulative impacts of tar sands operations are addressed.”
Ron Plain, from Aamjiwnaang First Nation, Ontario – which has been called ‘the most polluted place in North America’ by the National Geographic Society, and the ‘the most contaminated airshed in Canada’ by the World Health Organization due to its proximity to ‘Chemical Valley’ where Shell’s and other tar sands operators’ refineries are causing serious health and reproductive impacts – said:
“Aamjiwnaang is the first community in the world to experience birth ratios of 2 girls to 1 boy due to endocrine disruption from the pollution. This is the first step towards extinction. Shell have admitted that their current facility, which is located at the fenceline of Aamjiwnaang, ‘could not meet today’s environmental regulations or standards.’ But Shell’s proposal for a new facility within Aamjiwnaang territory was recently denied by Canada for a whole host of environmental, social and other reasons. The corporate response to that set-back was to build onto the antiquated facility the equipment needed to process more tar sands bitumen.”
Robert Thompson, Chairman of REDOIL and 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, said:
“Shell plans to drill in the Arctic this summer without the proven technology or infrastructure to deal with inevitable spills. They have not demonstrated the ability to clean up spills within or from under the ice or during storms. Our culture depends on a clean ocean, and we have subsisted in this region for 12,000 years. We oppose Shell’s plans that have the potential to destroy the culture of our people and will further push the planet into irreversible climate change.”
Ben Powless, a Mohawk from Six Nations in Ontario, representing the Indigenous Environmental Network [5], said:
“Not only have Shell reveled in being a climate criminal, they have also been exposed as fighting the European Union’s proposed Fuel Quality Directive, in collusion with the Canadian government. Their continued environmental destruction and violation of Indigenous rights across Canada, Alaska and Nigeria show that Shell needs to change their operations or face increasing protest and opposition across the world. Our organization is supporting an Indigenous-led campaign against Shell’s extreme energy projects to bring together frontline impacted communities.”
For UK interviews contact: Suzanne Dhaliwal, UK Tar Sands Network, +44 7807095669
For North America contact: Clayton Thomas-Muller, IEN Tar Sands Campaign Director,, +1 613 297 7515
1. The delegation consists of:
Eriel Tchekwie Deranger, Athabasca Chipewyan First Nation Tar Sands Communications Coordinator, Robert Thompson, Chairman of REDOIL & Inupiat resident of Kaktovik, Alaska, Ben Powless, Indigenous Environmental Network, Ron Plain, Aamjiwnaang First Nation.
2. For more information about the event, see: As well as the delegation there will be speakers from Nigeria and the Rossport Solidarity Campaign. Media representatives are invited to arrive from 6.30 for interviews with the speakers.
3. Email if you would like to receive an advance copy of the report. It includes contributions from:
Nnimmo Bassey, Environmental Rights Action (ERA)/Friends of the Earth, Nigeria; Faith Gemmill, REDOIL (Resisting Environmental Destruction on Indigenous Lands), Alaska; Eriel Deranger, Athabasca Chipewyan First Nation; Ron Plain, Aamjiwnaang First Nation; and Ben Amunwa, Platform London
It will go online at on Friday morning.
4. For more information see:
5. To find out more about the Canadian Indigenous Tar Sands Campaign, see:

Debra White Plume: Speak Truth to Power: The meat is spoiled and that is not OK with us

Speak Truth to Power: The Meat is Spoiled and That is Not OK With Us

Pine Ridge Lakotas say the name
of the shopping center should be
'Screw' the Nation
Speak Truth to Power: The Meat is Spoiled and That is Not OK With Us
by Debra White Plume

The Oglala Band of the Lakota Nation faces a pivotal point in time. Can we act collectively for the best interest of our Band or will we allow ourselves to be divided when we know that is what makes us weak and ineffective? The question concerns a corporation that has embedded itself among our people.

The Sioux Nation Shopping Center is in Pine Ridge Village, the central location for government services of Bureau of Indian Affairs, Indian Health Service, Job Service, Oglala Sioux Tribe, Veteran’s Office, so there is much traffic through Pine Ridge Village. It is prime location to establish a business, which has been done by franchises that enjoy a steady flow of customers.

The Sioux Nation Shopping Center has been here for about 40 years. It is located on land and in a building owned by the Oglala Sioux Tribe, who leases the land and the building to the Hi-way 20 Investment, Inc. of San Diego, CA, and has signed a contract allowing the corporation to operate a store. The lease is renewable every five years. The contract runs on a 25-year basis. According to OST documents, Aaron Cohn is the Corporation President. Cohn must have a tribal business license to operate, which is issued by the OST Revenue Dept, directed by tribal member Bob Palmier.

Around May 3, 2012, someone purchased hamburger there that had a bad smell. She returned it, and was given a different package. She took that home and it too smelled spoiled. She contacted Pine Ridge Village Tribal Council Representative Ella John Carlow, who I am told, accompanied her to the store. While there, they noticed meat packages with past expiration dates. Representative Carlow contacted the Indian Health Service Environmental Health Supervisor Joe Amiotte, who conducted an inspection of the store’s meat department. He documented 14 violations of the OST Food Services Code, 11 of which are considered “critical”, including selling raw meat two months beyond the “sell by” date, no thermometers in the freezers and coolers that store potentially hazardous food (meat), displaying for sale bologna (cooked meat) beyond the expiration date, mixing raw spoiled hamburger that had a sell by date of four months ago with fresh hamburger, then labeling it with a ‘fresh date’ that reflected the fresh meat date, surfaces were covered with dried blood and old meat (where meat is packaged), boxes of meat stored on the floor, several packages of meat were not labeled according to federal and tribal regulations, and no certified meat manager or food handler personnel. Employees pulled from the shelves meat that filled 6 or 7 shopping carts. And 200 pounds of outdated hamburger.

On May 4, the Health and Human Services committee of tribal council revoked the corporation’s tribal license to sell meat. The store emptied the meat coolers until it could come into compliance by taking the action of installing and monitoring meat locker thermometers, removing outdated, spoiled, and improperly labeled meat products, stopping the practice of mixing bad meat with fresh meat prior to packing it for sale, and storing meat in a clean dry location. The committee fined the corporation $50.

On May 7, Joe Amiotte conducted a follow-up inspection of the store’s meat department and found it in compliance with federal and tribal law. On May 8, a quorum of the HHS committee decided to issue a Temporary Business License for 30 days to allow the corporation to reopen the meat department. On May 9 the Revenue Director Bob Palmier complied with the HHS Committee action and issued the store a 30-day temporary license.

While this was happening in the tribal committees and offices, people were in and out of the Emergency Room at the Pine Ridge I.H.S. Hospital and off reservation hospitals, with severe diarrhea, stomach pains, vomiting, fever, all symptoms of food poisoning. Were tests done for e-coli, salmonella, food poisoning? Or were people treated for the flu and released? I know that one patient, my six year-old granddaughter, had eaten supper and within minutes was doubled over in pain, screaming and crying. Rushed 40 miles to the emergency room, she had a blood test and radioactive CT Scan for possible appendicitis, which was ruled out, and hours later she was sent home with antibiotics but no diagnosis. She had to be taken back to the hospital for follow up, as she could not eat and was in pain, and had to be monitored for blood pressure and kidney function. After four days, a pediatrician tested her for e-coli and said that if she did have it earlier, it may not show up on tests as she had already taken antibiotics, which would have gotten rid of it. He said he wished he had known about the bad meat when she was first brought in. I wish we would have known, too.

Alerted by the media about the store selling bad meat, tribal members experiencing health symptoms so severe they had gone to on and off reservation hospital emergency rooms, began delivering medical test results to a designated individual, so this data is in safe hands.

The moccasin telegraph began flowing with people sharing experiences of how often they had to return bad meat and get their money back, or had gotten sick from eating meat purchased there. Many people became outraged upon learning that these stories go back many years; it soon became apparent this was not a new thing or a one-time occasion. Former employees began to make statements. Discussion emerged about the store pulling in $10 million annual profit, the tribe receiving about $110,000. Anyone who shops there can guess huge profit is gained from extraordinarily high prices combined with keeping operation costs low by paying minimum wage and withholding worker benefits. Through such deliberate business practices, and their contract clause of no competition within a three mile radius of the store, Cohn’s corporation has seized the reins of profit-making to the maximum, and is enjoying the millions of dollars pried from our hands in the poorest county of the United States. Seeking exclusion of the store and meat managers from our Homelands is still an option, they will have to leave the Pine Ridge.

This is a lesson we all can learn from. A corporation will seek out a needy community as the place to do business, knowing that the people will feel grateful that FINALLY, they have a service they never had before. The corporation will enter into business utilizing contract law to their full benefit, which means the other end of the contract, in this case, the Oglala Sioux Tribe, gets the short end of the stick. But for-profit corporations are ok with that; it is how capitalism and oppression work. Once a corporation embeds itself in a community, it gradually assumes power and authority that it does not really have, but convinces the community it does have.

On May 11, President Steele requested a Temporary Restraining Order from Attorney General Rae Ann Red Owl citing his concern that a serious breach of the peace may occur if the Sioux Nation Shopping Center was open, as people had lost trust and confidence in the store. His action stemmed from tribal members who were discussing holding an Education Rally at the store to provide facts to the community regarding the store’s business practices. At that time, President Steele was made aware by the AG that the people planning to attend the Educational Rally outnumbered the police department and that the jail was not large enough to hold everyone the AG intended to arrest at the Rally if they crossed a line. This further prompted President Steele to seek a TRO to close the store to keep the peace on the reservation. Judge Cedar Face signed the TRO, and at 5pm on May 11, the police department served it, witnessed by Director Bob Palmier and several Oglala’s who were there to begin the Educational Rally.

A hearing on the TRO was set for 9am on May 15 at the Pine Ridge Courthouse. AG Red Owl moved the hearing to the Kyle Courthouse due to a bad smell at the Pine Ridge Courthouse. At 8am on May 15, Red Owl cancelled the hearing as she planned to dismiss the TRO. Later that day, she notified the tribe she cancelled the hearing and instead met with the corporation’s attorney, Terry Pechota. Red Owl notified the tribe she would call in the feds to make arrests if people at a Rally crossed a boundary that she would have the police mark off, to protect the corporation’s right to conduct business. She assigned four police units to defend the line, so on our Homeland, four units parked there for hours, although no Education Rally was announced. By the end of the day, the police units were gone and the crime tape marking the arrest lines were taken down. Media from all over South Dakota were present and the story went every where, including photos of the crime tape and police cars. The Education Rally organizers did not call the media as no rally was planned for that day. Perhaps Red Owl did? The corporation?

On May 15, President Steele met with Chief Oliver Red Cloud and a group of people who requested an update from his office. Steele advised that he requested another TRO, but that Red Owl had not responded, and she said the store can open. Pechota said maybe on May 17. A TV news crew arrived, and interviewed people at the meeting. The Associated Press put the story out nationally, and newspapers from everywhere were calling his office. Donna Solomon is his newly hired Public Relations Officer, so now tribal members will know what is going on with this growing concern about the corporation’s practices.

There are strong feelings about this corporation’s deliberate decision to package bad meat and sell it to our people under a label many consider fraudulent. Trust and confidence has been destroyed. Tribal members who work there participated in this deception along with the store and meat dept managers. How sad, our own people took part in risking the poisoning of our children, elders, their own relatives. Maybe they will come forth and speak truth to power. Maybe they won’t. Maybe the corporation thinks it will be here forever, getting ever richer, taking the fat from the poorest county in America. Maybe they won’t.

Time will tell if President Steele can stop this corporation, as the tribal council chose to render itself impotent when several council members walked out on council last week to break the quorum. They paralyzed the Executive Committee, which cannot act when council is in recess, as Steele has not yet declared council adjourned. Chief Red Cloud wants the store closed and run off the Pine Ridge. Many people support President Steele’s action.

Families now share stories on the moccasin telegraph about relatives recovering their health. Meantime, we are giving our six year-old granddaughter a lot of liquids, feeding her fresh food, and she is gaining weight and laughing again with her twin brother. For that, we are thankful.