August 2020

Indigenous Peoples and Human Rights

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

'Green Capitalism' Bolivia's warning to Rio+20 Brazil

Mountains of Bolivia, traditional feast with
President Evo Morales April 2010.
Photos by Brenda Norrell
Rio+20 in June to carry forward Cochabamba's Rights of Nature

By Brenda Norrell
Censored News
http://bsnorrell.blogspot.com/2012/06/green-capitalism-bolivias-warning-to.html

Indigenous Peoples will gather in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, during June for Rio+20, the UN Conference on Sustainable Development, June 13 --22, 2012.

In the struggle to uphold the Rights of Mother Earth, Bolivia warns of the commercialized "green economy" that seeks to turn nature into a commodity. Further, Bolivia warns of REDD, the carbon credit scam, and calls for an international climate court of justice.

"Not all that glitters is gold. Not all that is labeled 'green' is environmentally friendly," Bolivia says in its proposal for Rio+20.

"An International Tribunal of Environmental and Climate Justice must be established to judge and sanction crimes against nature that transcend national borders, violating the rights of nature and affecting humanity," Bolivia said.

The struggle continues in Brazil during June, carrying forward the Peoples mandates from the Conference on Climate Change and the Rights of Mother Earth that was held in Cochabamba, Bolivia, in April 2010.

At Rio+20, Lakota Chief Arvol Looking Horse calls for unity and prayers for an energy shift to bring about healing on June 21.

"On June 21st I will pray with thousands of People at the United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development or Rio+20 in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil," Chief Looking Horse said, calling for numerous gatherings to bring about this energy shift.

The Indigenous Peoples Global Conference on Sustainable, Self-Determined Development will be held June 16 -- 19, 2012, 9:00 am - 6:00 pm, in Rio de Janeiro, during the session.

The complete schedule of UN Rio+20 is at: http://www.uncsd2012.org/rio20/index.html

Proposal of Bolivia to Rio+20:
The Rights of Nature
The proposals developed by the Plurinational State of Bolivia bring together and build upon the progress made in the World Charter for Nature (1982), the Rio Declaration (1992), the Earth Charter (2000), and the World People’s Conference on Climate Change and the Rights of Mother Earth (2010):

EXCERPT:

15. To reestablish harmony with nature, we must recognize and respect the intrinsic laws of nature and its vital cycles. Not only do human beings have a right to a healthy life, but so do the other components and species belonging to the system we call nature. In an interdependent and interrelated system like the planet Earth, it is not possible to recognize the rights of just the human part of the system without affecting the whole. Just as human beings have rights, the Mother Earth also has the right to exist, the right to maintain its vital cycles, the right to regeneration, the right to be free from structural alteration, and the right to relate to the other parts of the Earth system. In order to reestablish balance with nature, it is necessary to clearly establish the obligations of humans toward nature, and to recognize that nature has rights that should be respected, promoted, and defended.
16. We have to end the system of consumption, waste and luxury. Millions of people are dying of hunger in the poorest parts of the globe, while the richest spend millions of dollars are spent to combat obesity. Developed countries must change their unsustainable patterns of consumption, production, and waste through public policies, regulations, the conscious and active participation of society, This includes promoting ethics that value human beings for what they are, not what they have.

19. Without water, there is no life. Humans and all living things have the right to water, but water also has rights. All States and peoples worldwide should work together in solidarity to ensure that loss of vegetation, deforestation, the pollution of the atmosphere and contamination are prevented from continuing to alter the hydrological cycle. These cause desertification, lack of food, temperature increase, sea level rise, migrations, acid rain, and physical-chemical changes that could provoke the loss of genetic and species diversity, damaging the health of ecosystems.
20. Forests are essential to the balance and integrity of planet Earth and a key element in the proper functioning of its ecosystems and the broader system of which we are a part. Thus we cannot consider them as simple providers of goods and services for human beings. The protection, preservation and recuperation of forests is necessary in order to reestablish the balance of the Earth system. Plantations that are planted for profit and promoted as carbon sinks and providers of environmental services are not forests. Forests are not plantations that can be reduced to their capacity to capture carbon and provide environmental services. Native forests and woodlands are essential for the water cycle, the atmosphere, biodiversity, the prevention of flooding, and the preservation of ecosystems. Forests are also home to indigenous peoples and communities. The preservation of forests should be pursued through integral and participatory management plans that should be financed with public funding from developed countries or specific taxes on the sectors with the greatest consumption.
21. It is essential to guarantee a real and effective reduction of greenhouse gases, particularly on the part of the developed countries historically responsible for climate change, in order to stabilize the increase in temperature to 1°C during this century. We must therefore strengthen the Kyoto Protocol with a second period of commitments by developed countries, instead of replacing it with a more flexible voluntary agreement. It is necessary to eliminate carbon market mechanisms and offsets so that real domestic reductions are made within the countries with said obligations. South Africa should not be another Cancun, delaying once again the central issue of substantive reductions in greenhouse gas emissions.
22. All forms of violence against women are incompatible with sustainable development. Violence done to women in militarily occupied territories, domestic or sexual violence, and discrimination in the workplace and in public spheres are problems we must solve. We must link the issue of the economic role of women to the protection of nature.
23. In order for sustainable development to exist, it is essential to guarantee the full application of the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples.
24. Under the framework of common but differentiated responsibilities established in the 1992 Rio Declaration, the so-called developed countries must assume and pay their historical ecological debt for having contributed the most to the deterioration of the Earth system. The payment of this ecological debt by developed countries to developing countries and the sectors most affected among their own populations should replace to the greatest possible degree the ecological damage provoked. Developed countries should transfer financial resources from public sources and also the effective transfer of socially and ecologically appropriate technologies required by sovereign developing countries.
25. The enormous resources dedicated to defense, security and war budgets by developed countries should be reduced. These resources should instead be used to address the effects of climate change and the imbalance with nature. It is inexcusable that 1.5 trillion dollars in public funding are used on these budgets, while, to address the impacts of climate change in developing countries, they want to dedicate just 100 billion dollars from public and private funds as well as market sources.
26. A financial transaction tax should be created to help build a Sustainable Development Fund to attend to the sustainable development challenges faced by developing countries. This financing mechanism should generate new, stable and additional resources for developing countries. A tax of 0.05% applied on a global level has the potential to capture $661 billion per year according to ECLAC.[1] The mechanism of the international financial transaction tax can be built in a voluntary and gradual manner with the participation of those developed and developing countries that wish to participate.
27. The Rio+20 Conference should not create market mechanisms with regard to nature, biodiversity and the so called environmental services: a) The logic of the market and monetary valuation applied to environmental services and biodiversity will generate greater inequality in the distribution of those resources, which are essential for humanity and Mother Earth; b) The establishment of these market mechanisms will deepen the imbalance with nature because they are driven by the search for maximum profits and not harmony with nature; c) It will affect the sovereignty of our States and peoples by generating new forms of property rights over the functions of nature that will be in the hands of investors. These mechanisms are uncertain, volatile and the source of financial speculation given that the bulk of the money they mobilize will remain in the hands of intermediary actors.
28. Sustainable development requires a new international financial architecture to replace the World Bank and the IMF with entities that are democratic and transparent, that respect national priorities and national independence in the application of development strategies. These new institutions should have a majority representation by developing countries and should act according to the principles of solidarity and cooperation, rather than commercialization and privatization.
29. It is essential to create an effective Technology Transfer Mechanism that stems from the demand and needs of the countries of the South for technologies that are socially, culturally, and environmentally appropriate. Said mechanism should not be a “show room” for the sale of technologies by rich countries. In order to promote the exchange of scientific and technical knowledge, it is essential to remove intellectual property barriers so that there might exist a true transfer of environmentally friendly technologies from developed countries to developing countries.
30. Intellectual property rights over genes, microorganisms and other forms of life are a threat to food sovereignty, biodiversity, access to medicine and other elements that are essential for the survival of low-income populations. All forms of intellectual property over life should be abolished.
31. Gross Domestic Product is not an adequate means of measuring the development and wellbeing of a society. Thus it is necessary to create indicators for measuring the environmental destruction caused by certain economic activities in order to advance toward sustainable development in harmony with nature, integrating social and environmental aspects that are not aimed at the commercialization of nature and its functions.
32. Respect for the sovereignty of States is essential in the management and protection of nature under the framework of cooperation among States.
33. No identical solutions exist for all peoples. Human beings are diverse. Our peoples have their own unique cultures and identities. To destroy a culture is to threaten the identity of an entire people. Capitalism attempts to homogenize us all to convert us into consumers. There has not been, nor will there ever be, a single model for life that can save the world. We live and act in a pluralistic world, and a pluralistic world should respect diversity, which is itself synonymous with life. Respect for peaceful and harmonious complementarity among the diverse cultures and economies, without exploitation or discrimination against any single one, is essential for saving the planet, humanity, and life.
34. Peace is essential for sustainable development. There is no worse aggression against humanity and Mother Earth than war and violence. War destroys life, and it has a particularly strong impact on the poorest and most vulnerable. Nobody and nothing is safe from war. Those that fight suffer, as do those that are forced to go without bread in order to feed the war. Wars squander life and natural resources.
35. An International Tribunal of Environmental and Climate Justice must be established to judge and sanction crimes against nature that transcend national borders, violating the rights of nature and affecting humanity.
36. To achieve sustainable development, it is necessary to promote public associations, public-public associations among actors in different States, public-social associations among different social sectors, and public-private associations.
37. The problems affecting humanity and nature require the exercise of global democracy through the development of mechanisms of consultation and decision-making such as referendums, plebiscites, or popular consultations so that the citizens of the world as a whole may speak.
38. Sustainable development is incompatible with all forms of imperialism and neocolonialism. In order to stop imperialism and neocolonialism, it is essential to end the imposition of conditionalities, military interventions, coups and blackmail.
39. The collective global response that is needed to confront the crisis we face requires structural changes. We must change the system – not the climate or the Earth system. In the hands of capitalism, everything is converted into merchandise: water, earth genomes, ancestral cultures, justice, ethics and life. It is essential to develop a pluralistic system based on the culture of life and harmony among human beings and with nature; a system that promotes sustainable development in the framework of solidarity, complementarity, equity, social and economic justice, social participation, respect for diversity, and peace.
IV. THE GREEN ECONOMY AND ITS DANGEROUS AND FALSE SOLUTIONS
40. At a global scale, the supposed objective of the Green Economy of disassociating economic growth from environmental deterioration is not viable. Those that promote the Green Economy promote a three-dimensional capitalism that includes physical capital, human capital, and natural capital (rivers, wetlands, forests, coral reefs, biological diversity and other elements). For the Green Economy, the food crisis, the climate crisis and the energy crisis share a common characteristic: the failed allocation of capital. As a result, they try to treat nature as capital – “natural capital.”
41. The Green Economy considers it essential to put a price on the free services that plants, animals and ecosystems offer to humanity in the struggle for the conservation of biodiversity, water purification, pollination of plants, the protection of coral reefs and regulation of the climate. For the Green Economy, it is necessary to identify the specific functions of ecosystems and biodiversity and assign them a monetary value, evaluate their current status, set a limit after which they will cease to provide services, and concretize in economic terms the cost of their conservation in order to develop a market for each particular environmental service. For the Green Economy, the instruments of the market are powerful tools for managing the “economic invisibility of nature.”
42. One of the examples most cited by the Green Economy is the initiative known as REDD (Reducing Emissions through Deforestation and Forest Degradation), which consists of isolating and measuring the capacity of the forest to capture and store carbon dioxide in order to issue certificates for greenhouse gas emissions reductions that can be commercialized and acquired by companies in developed countries that cannot meet their mitigation commitments. In this way, the developing countries will end up financing the developed countries.
43. It is wrong to attempt to fragment nature into “environmental services” with a monetary value for market exchange. We should not put a price on the capacity of forests to act as carbon sinks, nor promote their commercialization as does REDD. The market for carbon credits based on forests will lead to: a) noncompliance with effective emission reduction commitments by developed countries; b) the bulk of resources being appropriated by intermediaries and financial entities and rarely benefitting countries, indigenous peoples and forests themselves; c) the generation of speculative bubbles based on the sale and purchase of said certificates; and d) the establishment of new property rights over the capacity of forests to capture carbon dioxide, which will clash with the sovereign rights of States and the indigenous peoples that live in forests. The promotion of market mechanisms based on the economic needs of developing countries is a new form of neocolonialism.
44. The postulates promoted under the Green Economy are wrong. The current environmental and climate crisis is not a simple market failure. The solution is not to put a price on nature. Nature is not a form of capital. It is wrong to say that we only value that which has a price, an owner, and brings profits. The market mechanisms that permit exchange among human beings and nations have proven incapable of contributing to an equitable distribution of wealth. The Green Economy should not distort the fundamental principles of sustainable development.
45. Not all that glitters is gold. Not all that is labeled “green” is environmentally friendly. We must use the precautionary principle and deeply analyze the different “green” alternatives that are presented before proceeding with their experimentation and implementation.
46. Nature cannot be subject to manipulation by new technologies without consequences in the future. History shows us that many dangerous technologies have been released in the market before their environmental or health impacts are known, or before their social and economic impacts on poor people and developing countries are understood. This is currently the case with genetically modified organisms, agrochemicals, biofuels, nanotechnology, and synthetic biology. These technologies should be avoided.
47. Geoengineering and all forms of artificial manipulation of the climate should be prohibited, for they bring the enormous risk of further destabilizing the climate, biodiversity and nature.
48. It is necessary to create public and multilateral mechanisms within the United Nations to evaluate in an independent manner and without conflict of interest the potential environmental, health, social, and economic impacts of new technologies before they are spread. This mechanism must involve transparency and social participation by potentially affected groups.
49. “Green” capitalism will bring about natural resource grabbing, displacing humanity and nature from the essential elements needed for their survival. The drive for profit, instead of reestablishing harmony within the system, will provoke even greater imbalances, concentrations of wealth, and speculative processes.
READ MORE:
http://pwccc.wordpress.com/2011/12/19/proposal-of-bolivia-to-rio20/#more-2819

Hunger Strike for San Francisco Peaks Protection

Destruction of San Francisco
Peaks/Photo John Running/
Indienous Action Media

Flagstaff community members begin Hunger Strike for Protection of the San Francisco Peaks

Also: Resistance Trial for Klee Benally on June 12, 2012

By Joseph Sanders
Jessica Beasley
Posted at Censored News
http://bsnorrell.blogspot.com/2012/06/hunger-strike-for-san-francisco-peaks.html
FRENCH TRANSLATION:

FLAGSTAFF, Ariz. – Two young Flagstaffians announced the beginning of a hunger strike to call attention to human rights violations sanctioned by the US Forest Service and perpetrated by Arizona Snowbowl and the City of Flagstaff on Tuesday, June 5, 2012 at a Flagstaff City Council meeting.  The announcement was made to current council members and mayor as well as incoming council members.
 
“We will begin our hunger strike today and continue until we have justice,” stated Jessica Beasley. “We are calling for community members to join us in our struggle for freedom and equality. We will be attending Flagstaff City Council meetings and encourage others to attend as well, until our voices are meaningfully heard.  We hope that other concerned individuals will also join us on the lawn at Flagstaff City Hall to publicly protest the aforementioned human rights violations.”
 
The hunger strikers are also urging everyone who cares about the desecration and destruction of the San Francisco Peaks to call or write Flagstaff City Officials and the US Forest Service to make their complaints known.
 
The statement read at the city council meeting is presented below in its entirety:
 
Until Snowbowl and the City of Flagstaff put the red-hot iron into our sides we were normal people leading normal lives.  The aforementioned parties either do not know, or do not care how much misery, strife and terror they are causing for a significant portion of the community.
As there has been a massive, decades-long outpouring of opposition, from a remarkably diverse cross-section of the community, to the expansion of Snowbowl and their plans to make artificial snow, it seems absurd that the aforementioned parties could actually be unaware of the devastating effects their decisions have had on certain members of our community’s ability to pursue life, liberty and happiness.  This is what causes us to believe that they do not care.
There are signs on the side of the roads as you enter Flagstaff stating, “We are building an inclusive community."
There are signs downtown urging us to use every drop of water “wisely”. There is nothing “wise” about using our already perilously limited water supply to pollute a pristine ecosystem in honor of lining Eric Borowsky’spockets.
There is nothing inclusive about defiling a place held sacred by the indigenous peoples of this area to make more room for a European leisure activity.  The cultural callousness of Snowbowl’s plans,and your allowance of their continuation is appalling.  We believe this to be a dereliction of your responsibility to serve the community as a whole.
We are sick and tired of elected officials the world over acting as though profiteering psychopaths like Eric Borowsky have some sovereign right to destroy what others cherish; to terrorize others simply because they control vast amounts of money and desire more.  There is no question in our minds about whether or not those who hoard money should be allowed to dominate the culture of a place or people.  We are fighting for equality and freedom.  Eric Borowskyis fighting against us.  What does this tell you about Eric Borowsky?
In closing, we are here to announce the beginning of a hunger strike for the San Francisco Peaks, the cessation of which is dependent upon the appeasement of three requests:
1.    The cancellation of the wastewater contract withSnowbowl.
2.    Snowbowl’s removal of the pipeline and remediation of areas damaged by their expansion.
3.    The creation of an agreement with the city of Flagstaff that there will be no further destruction of the San Francisco Peaks by Arizona Snowbowl, or any others.
Contact:
Joseph Sanders
jsanders4477@yahoo.com
Jessica Beasley
jrbeasley23@yahoo.com
Resistance: Trial for Klee Benally on June 12, 2012
Ya'at'eeh,
Trial has been set for Klee Benally's case in resistance to Forest Service sanctioned desecration of Holy San Francisco Peaks.
A bench trial will be held on June 12, 2012 at 3:30pm at Flagstaff Justice Court (located at the corner of Birch & San Francisco St.).
Please help us pack the courtroom!
This trial will be addressing charges from the August 13, 2011 action. Read more here: http://www.indigenousaction.org/direct-action-to-protect-holy-peaks-continues/
Additionally, you can contribute funds to support actions to protect the Holy San Francisco Peaks at www.indigenousaction.org.
Visit: www.truesnow.org or www.indigenousaction.org for more info.
Protect the Peaks! The Struggle Continues!
--
Klee Benally
indigenousaction@gmail.com | www.twitter.com/eelk
www.indigenousaction.org - Independent Indigenous Media
New: www.etsy.com/shop/Benally
Check out my jewelry and other items for sale on Etsy!
www.oybm.org - Indigenous Youth Empowerment!
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=F2F85d7iGX8
www.taalahooghan.org - Flagstaff Infoshop

An Indian on Colorado River 'Obama's Broken Promises'

Open Letter to Obama: When will you meet with the tribal governments along the Colorado River?

"Many Native Americans felt that your tenure would be different, that things could really change for Indian Peoples in America. I was one of them. Now, these specific promises are broken, and these energy projects are being placed on sacred sites—these patterns and practices have destroyed much of that hope."

By Indigenous Reflections
Posted with permission at Censored News
http://indigenousreflections.wordpress.com/2012/05/30/open-letter-to-obama-when-will-you-meet-with-the-tribal-governments-along-the-colorado-river/

Dear President Obama,

I hope this message finds you and your family well. Unfortunately, I write to you with heavy heart about an important issue that I seek your assistance on. As I type this letter, an important part of the spiritual ancestry of some of the Tribal Governments in Southern California is being desecrated with heavy machinery, all in the name of renewable energy. These same Tribal Governments have sought counsel with your administration. Unfortunately, these efforts did not produce any meetings or dialogues between your staff in Washington and the elected representatives of these Indian Nations. I write to see if you would come to the table and meet with these Native officials.
The ironic aspect to this current situation, regarding renewable energy projects, is that renewable energy is based upon some of the same fundamental principles that are essential to many traditional Indigenous spiritual ways—specifically, maintaining a healthy and sustainable relationship with Mother Earth. The modern exploitation of the earth— specifically ripping up the land for fossil fuels, only to extract its carbon and pollute the atmosphere—is a practice that many of our collective ancestors have warned the world about its perils centuries ago. Global warming, the product in part of unsustainable energy practices, is now being validated by Western scientists and climate change has become a worldwide concern.
I understand that domestic energy, and in particular the development of renewable energy, is an important part of your re-election campaign. On the surface, that appears to be a healthy initiative—having the American Nation be more accountable about how it produces energy and how it may help slow or reduce its carbon footprint. But the many renewable energy projects born out of this initiative have bombarded the undisturbed traditional lands of many Indian Nations. What was once a tool of improving this shared world of ours for future generations has turned into a machine that is destroying the history of our Peoples, written into the land by our past generations.
What is alarming is the “fast-track” process these projects have forced upon. These projects are placed in areas that are, culturally and archaeologically, unsuited for utility scale energy production. The environmental review process has been arbitrarily fast, often lacking the necessary studies and documents. Requests for more time or more review were rejected outright. Even your own Secretary of Interior has described this process of promoting these renewable energy projects as being “on steroids”. In short, these projects have taken priority over the process.
These fast-track projects, such as Genesis Solar and the recently approved Ocotillo Wind, have blitzed through the concerns of Tribal Governments. The Native Americans told the BLM that Ford Dry Lake held cultural materials—and soon after grading began, bunches and bunches of manos and metates, previously left intact by our ancestors many generations ago, were dug up by belly scrapers. In fact, post cultural destruction, the BLM and NextEra, the developer, admitted that they all knew there was cultural materials there—and yet, both felt secure in developing over these sites. Secretary Salazar approved the Ocotillo Wind Project in an area that, arguably, is even archaeologically richer area than Genesis Solar—where an archaeological site is so big and saturated, that it is referred to as the “mega site” by archaeologists—and slowly and surely, more cremation sites there are being “discovered” as this project progresses. This is besides the fact that in the federal government’s own land planning initiative in 1980, the California Desert Conservation Act, the federal government recognized both these areas as culturally sensitive areas and made maps demonstrating these concerns. Yet, the Department of Interior turned a blind eye to that existing information they held in their hands.
Yes, there were meetings between the BLM and Tribal Governments. But what did those meetings produce? There weren’t any meetings with Tribal Governments and the final decision maker, Secretary Salazar or yourself, despite the repeated requests by Tribal Governments for a simple audience. Almost all the Tribal Governments flatly said, “These places should not be disturbed. When will ‘NO’ be enough?!” Instead, the developers all got green lights to construct. These meetings were not a “consultation”, in any meaning of the word. Instead, they were a mere formality, a box to check for the BLM to say, “Yes, we met with the Indians.” There were meetings, but our voices weren’t heard and our cultural resources received no protections.
When will our heritage, spirituality, ancestry, and culture be protected and respected?
Along those lines, I have written to ask you: Why haven’t you spoken with these Tribal Governments? Why hasn’t Secretary Salazar met with these elected officials? Where is the meaningful “government-to-government” consultation? Can the Tribal Governments along the Colorado River expect you to keep your promises to them? What happened to the promises you made to these Tribal Governments?
We know that you and your administration have had plenty of opportunities to respond to the Tribal Governments’ specific requests. I know of three Tribal Governments (Colorado River Indian Tribe, Quechan Indian Tribe, and Viejas Band of the Kumeyaay Nation) that have specifically written to you on these matters, but with no response from your office. Secretary Salazar has been all over the country, touting the jobs and energy the Department of Interior has produced—and yet, he does not have the time to come to the Colorado Desert. Secretary Salazar visited Gila Bend, but he wasn’t able to go a little further west to meet with the Tribal Governments of Quechan or Cocopah; Secretary Salazar paid a visit to the San Diego zoo, and yet there was no time to meet with the Kumeyaay Tribal Governments 30 minutes away.
The news reports you being able to meet with your family at the Crow Nation. Maintaining family relationships is important, and I am happy you have been able to keep good relationships with your Crow brothers and sisters. But, what about your other families in Southern California and along the Colorado River? You seem, personally, like a nice person, and I’m sure many of the Indian Nations around the Colorado Desert would welcome you into their homes. But, until you can meet with these Peoples, and their Governments—and possibly talk about the difficult matters that need to be discussed—these relationships cannot be fostered.
What is sad about this predicament is that, for better or worse, I viewed you as a man of your word. I am neither a Democrat nor Republican—I am not registered with any party; I vote for whom I think will help our peoples and this land. However, I was completely impressed with your platform on Native Americans. I read your 2008 campaign website, and I was moved. I don’t remember any presidential campaign that included a (positive) Native American platform. You had issued a document, “Barack Obama’s Principles for Stronger Tribal Communities”, which included many positive hallmarks, such as not neglecting the federal responsibility to Tribal Governments and treating these governments as sovereign entities. For myself and other Native Americans, there was hope in your campaign.
I also remember the many progressive promises you made to Tribal Governments, specifically on the government-to-government relationships you wanted to promote between the federal government and Tribal Governments. Many Indian elected officials were pleased to hear that you indicated that Tribal Governments have “been ignored by Washington too long”, and that the “President of the United States [needs to be] meeting on a regular basis with the Native American leadership and ensuring relationships of dignity and respect.” And at a forum for Tribal Governments, in November of 2009, you made promises about meeting with Tribal Governments, that “[t]his conference will serve as part of the ongoing and important consultation process that I value, and further strengthen the nation-to-nation relationship,” and ensure that Native Americans have a “strong voice” in your administration.
Unfortunately, starting in 2011 and now in 2012, several renewable energy projects have begun destroying the spiritual landscape of some Indian Nations. Where is the dignity and respect in that? Tribal Governments have pleaded at every level of the federal government, including with your office, for help, assistance, or even for just an ear to listen—all with no meaningful response. Where is the strong voice in that? Indian elders have shown the federal government that certain lands are sacred, that they contain strong spiritual materials, that they are not appropriate for any type of renewable energy project—and yet those elders were ignored and the projects keep coming. Where is the hope in that?
Most Native Americans understand that you are a politician and that you have tough decisions to make. We recognize that almost all of your decisions will upset some of the people some of the time. And, certainly, you didn’t campaign on a full Native American platform. In the end, we know that there are issues that we may not see eye-to-eye on. We are savvy enough to comprehend that. Nonetheless, you did make specific promises to Native Americans. We were hopeful that your promises did not ring hallow, as has been the reputation of promises made by the federal government and by several past presidents. But, as you hopefully may have learned from your Crow family, communication and trust are very important in the Indian community. Without having the former, you cannot in good faith expect the latter.
At this point, much hope is lost: tears have been shed, hearts have been hurt, and souls hang low. You made specific promises to all Tribal Governments. Many Native Americans felt that your tenure would be different, that things could really change for Indian Peoples in America. I was one of them. Now, these specific promises are broken, and these energy projects are being placed on sacred sites—these patterns and practices have destroyed much of that hope.
One of my friends in the Democratic Party told me, “Just wait for next year. He’ll come around to help the Native Americans.” For better or worse, my Western-inclined thinking was already aware of that possibility. Maybe the Native Americans can deal with these renewable energy projects for just this year. But next year! That’ll be different! All the president needs are these projects, as part of his re-election campaign, and once he’s elected, he’ll come help the Indians!
As tempting a scenario as that is, it is a dream, to be honest, that is tainted in blood. The sacred sites and funerary remains that are being sacrificed for someone else’s solar panels are not worth any amount of promises. The damage being done this year, now as I write, is invaluable and irreplaceable. If you were to ask a non-Indian, “Can I dig up the graves of your grandfathers and grandmothers for a certain sum of cash, or for promises next year?” Would anyone in their right mind agree to that?
I don’t know how Mr. Romney feels about these developments. Tribal Government will have to consult with him separately. At this point, these issues are extra-political—they don’t relate to political parties, re-election/election campaigns, or campaign platforms. These are spiritual issues. They are about cremation sites where ancestors have been put to rest thousands of years ago, only to be uprooted in a matter of seconds by a bulldozer. They are about spiritual landscapes of sacred mountains that have existed since time immemorial, mentioned in Creation Stories, only to be obstructed by wind turbines that will help a couple of generations of people, but will scar the desert land forever.
Mr. Obama, I want to write to you in a good way; I want to keep hope alive; and I want to reach out to you with an open heart. So, with humility, I would like to ask you again: Will you meet with the Tribal Governments along the Colorado River? If you say yes, regardless of the destruction that has already happened, these Peoples will welcome you to the table—that is their way. All you have to say is yes you can.
Sincerely,
An Indian along the Colorado River

Colville rally over US $193 million settlement



Colville members rally to discuss the $193 million settlement

By Yvonne Swan yvonneswan1@gmail.com
Connie McCraigie, Omak, Wash.

Posted at Censored News
http://www.bsnorrell.blogspot.com/2012/06/colville-rally-over-us-193-million.html
NESPELEM, Wash. -- Colville tribal members will rally at an outdoor encampment on the baseball field at the Colville Indian agency campus at Nespelem, Washington to share valid concerns and strong opinions regarding the recent $193 Million settlement between the United States government and the Colville Business Council over federal mismanagement of land and resources on the Colville Reservation. Discussion will begin at noon Saturday, June 9th in preparation for a future meeting with the Colville Business Council (Council). This rally will continue throughout the day and into Sunday, June 10th.

Tribal elders from across the Reservation and outlying areas mandated this gathering out of concern that members are being disrespected and misrepresented by elected tribal leaders. Members were put at a disadvantage because vital information was given out at hastily-called district meetings following the February announcement of the historic settlement agreement.

Rumors and piece-meal information is not acceptable regarding this and other important matters pertaining to the Colville tribal membership.

The 14-member Council elect was well within its duties and obligations when it filed a claim on behalf of the 9,000-plus tribal members against the United States for violation of federal trust responsibility in 2005, and for seeing it through to final settlement; however, the Council should have stopped there and allowed for en masse consultation with the people as to what was to be done with the monetary settlement rather than go to the press and announce it was giving the membership 20% of the claim.

Members are encouraged to bring camping equipment and extra chairs, and food to share with those who are experiencing financial hardship.