August 2020

Indigenous Peoples and Human Rights

Friday, November 2, 2012

Mohawk John Kane 'I Don't Vote! The Two Row is Only One Reason'

Mohawk John Kane

I Don't Vote! The Two Row Is Only One Reason

Reposted from Let's Talk Native Pride
The basic question for a Native person is: how does anyone who claims to be Sovereign; a person distinct from the American culture, a Native person tied to the land and ways of their ancestors, immune from US laws and jurisdiction, a survivor of the greatest genocide the world has ever know; vote in the elections of the government responsible for that genocide. The Native person that votes or worse yet advocates others to vote in non-native elections is not a survivor of that genocide. They are fallen victims.
Genocide is a physical crime and a psychological one as well. The era of small pox blankets, mass executions, starvation, sterilization, murder, rape and concentration camps are by and large a thing of the past. But since the time of the residential schools, the good Christian societies of the US and Canada adopted the "Kill the Indian; save the man" strategy. This turned assimilation into a whole new game. It worked hand and hand with major land reduction and major "depopulation" programs (some directly incorporated in the residential schools) but concentrated on indoctrination more so than extermination. Native languages were wiped out, often times, in one generation. Traditional names were erased from the lips and ears of children as were the stories, ceremonies, teachings and any sense of identity. Histories were rewritten and inferiority of our entire race was reinforced with alcohol and isolation. In 1924 when the US Senate "declared" all Indians born in the US to be US citizens, some viewed this as a step up from centuries of criminal mistreatment. But most at the time were as apathetic to this Citizenship Act as they were to all the other bullshit laws the state and federal governments passed. Besides, how could one nation legislate away the nationality of hundreds of distinct peoples away. Is that even legal? Where is that legal?
We have a wampum belt that has been used over and over again to symbolize a very simple concept. The Two Row Wampum, known as the Kaswentha or Tekeni Tiohate, is as simple in its meaning as it is in its design. Two rows of purple wampum each two beads wide separated and bordered by rows of white wampum, three beads wide; creating the image of two purple paths on a white background. One of those paths is ours, the Haudenosaunee. The other is for all those with whom we entered into a covenant of mutual respect. That first vow was with Creation. We acknowledged that all of creation had a path and that our path must respect the paths that Creation provided. We extended that "treaty" to other Ohnkwe Ohnwe, understanding that some of these relatives had paths distinct from ours and that overcoming man's tendency to war and violence required a symbol of mutual respect. When it came to the white man, this concept needed a new metaphor. Acknowledging paths across our "mother" couldn't work for a landless people. So when the Kaswentha was offered to them, the two rows were described as two vessels upon the river of life; the ship and the canoe. This new party and their relatives that followed had no common history and little common philosophy of all of the Creation as we knew it. So much was spelled out about how neither vessel would attempt to steer or dominate the other. The voyage of each would be respected and unencumbered by the other. Neither people would attempt to ride with a foot in each vessel although each would offer friendship and assistance as the waters got rough. Simple and beautiful when bound by trust and respect. Simple and naive when offered to deceivers.
This concept absolutely cannot justify the Act of 1924 (or any of their acts of pretend legislation) or our people voting in their elections. The myth that our vote matters cannot justify taking a willing step toward assimilation either. Let me address this bullshit.
Not only has the Native population been diminished to a point of insignificance as a percent of the American population but our people have been sliced and diced, force marched from homeland to the lands of others, separated by imaginary borders (including national, state, county, town, state districts, congressional districts and who knows what else). The Seneca Nation alone has their adult population of a few thousand separated by three counties and at least that many congressional districts and state districts (if those could even apply on Seneca land). So when you cut what some might believe could be one voice up three or more ways it gets pretty insignificant. This, of course, does not even address the fact that not all of us would vote if it were appropriate or vote for the same party or candidate anyway. so where is this "power of the vote"? Voting in a system that arguably is not ours, forces us to accept the results and and the ownership of these public servants. Of course, you gotta ask, who owns who? at that point.
Where our power is, is in our sovereignty. The very thing we jeopardize by lining up with them in their vessel. Our strength is in our autonomy; our distinction. And that distinction could not be made more clear than by erasing those lines that separate us, making clear that our lands are NOT in their districts, their towns, their counties, their states or their nation. Oh yeah, and by not voting.
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Navajo Nation seeks comments on water rights legislation and meeting with Salazar

The Navajo Nation government is seeking comments on legislation for an upcoming meeting in Washington with Interior Sec. Ken Salazar. Earlier, a leaked document showed that Salazar is planning to sneak a revised water settlement for Navajo water rights to the Little Colorado River rights through a lame duck Congress.

By Ed Becenti
Dine' Water Rights Committee Liaison
Censored News

The new legislation 0468-12 is 83 pages long. It is regarding the November 14 Water Rights meeting with Salazar in Washington DC. It is kind of complex for the common grassroots folks to comprehend. PLEASE READ CAREFULLY. I already caught some language errors, if you need help and/or guidance in submitting your comments, please email or call me. We need to make sure our comments are clear and understood. We have a 5-day comment period that started 4:30 pm today Friday. Also PLEASE FORWARD to all your contacts. Thank you!
Ed Becenti 480-313-8070

THE NAVAJO NATION LEGISLATIVE BRANCH INTERNET PUBLIC REVIEW PUBLICATION LEGISLATION NO: _0468-12_____ SPONSOR: Johnny Naize TITLE: An Action Relating to Naa’bik’iyati’ Committee: Accepting the Invitation of the Secretary of the United States Department of the Interior to Discuss Key Issues Impacting the Navajo Nation With Respect To Federal Legislation S.2109 and H.R. 4067 Regarding Proposed Water Rights Settlements of the Navajo Nation Date posted: November 2, 2012 at 4:35pm

Please note: This digital copy is bein provided for the benefit of the Navajo Nation chapters and public use. Any political use is prohibited. All written comments received become the property of the Navajo Nation and will be forwarded to the assigned Navajo Nation Council standing committee(s) and/or the Navajo Nation Council for review. Any tampering with public records are punishable by Navajo Nation law pursuant to 17 N.N.C. §374 et. seq.
Digital comments may be e-mailed to


Navajo Water Task Force: Fighting Interior's lame duck Congress water theft plan

Navajo Advisory Group
Photo by Eric Descheenie, Speaker’s staff

NEW Navajo Nation proposed water settlement legislation posted Nov. 2, 2012
open for comments

Water Rights Task Force Meeting Notes Oct. 29, 2012
Interior Secretary Salazar plans to attempt to push a revised Navajo Hopi water settlement for Little Colorado River rights through a lame duck Congress, according to a leaked document.
Here are the notes from the Navajo Water Rights Task Force, Oct. 29, 2012.
Please see attached image, by Eric Descheenie, Speaker’s staff. In the photo, Nicole and I are behind Dwight Witherspoon.Rita was unable to attend due to continuing confusion among her superiors on her administrative leave issues. However, she called us and gave us her proxie, so we spoke for her at the meeting as well
This Friday, 11/2/12, a "position paper legislation" for the 14 Nov. mtg between Navajo Nation govt. officials and Interior Secretary Salazar will be “dropped” at legislative offices in Window Rock. It should be available on the Net (Legislation 0468) after 5:00 PM 11/2/12. It is Nabi Committee legislation and is to contain all the issues discussed at the 29 Oct. meeting as important. (See the details below.) There will then be a five day period for the people and the Task Force/Advisory Group to consider the position paper and all the issues raised by the delegates and the grassroots representatives on 29 Oct. and before. There is a Task Force mtg next wed., 7 Nov., to consider any edits/amendments for the position paper legislation.
The Speaker has made plain this is an issue-raising meeting, not a meeting to push an amended S. 2109 through Congress in the lame duck session. However, it seems that is still what Salazar, and those influencing him from Hopi, Navajo, and Kyl's office, want to do.
Every substantive issue we, in the grassroots movement, have ever raised before was raised at Task Force mtgs.We will see how well DOJ (Bidtah Becker) compiles the issues for the proposed position paper. Nabi is to vote on next Friday.The final editing work is not with DOJ but the Task Force, with the people's input. We'll need it right away. The legislation/position paper should be out, again, on Friday 11/2/12. Ed will keep and eye out for it.
There is a lot of background in the notes below, if you want to wade through it.I took the best (but still rough) notes I could while also participating periodically in the discussion.The delegates, especially Mr. Bates, very strongly insisted that the grassroots issues be raised in this meeting before any action follows it.
Nicole and I were given fair opportunities to speak.She was our lead Speaker and set a good tone and substance for me to follow.I could tell the delegates appreciated her thoughtful and heartfelt commentary.
Also, Nicole made clear, in my mind, the People are very concerned about both S. 2109 and the Agreement it was meant to ratify. Both were bad, in other words, and unacceptable.
 This is full of detail, to show how things progressed.

Nearly Naked: Media parasites and profiteers

At the Comca'ac (Seri) sea
Photo Brenda Norrell

The media frauds have lost their clothes

By Brenda Norrell
Censored News

TUCSON -- The good news is that with the Internet more of the truth gets out now. We no longer have to depend on the good old boys in the status quo press to tell us what to believe.

We don't have to listen to the spin of newspapers cowering to the tribal governments or media controlled by their non-Indian handlers at casinos. We can recognize spineless and lazy editors and publishers.

We can now ignore the media duped by white and grey Congressmen and US politicians, whose press releases were once considered immortal and holy documents of the gods.

We can now recognize the profiteers and 'reporters' who manufacture news. We can recognize the copy and paste armchair journalists who do it for their egos, paychecks, or college dissertations. We can analyze a rewrite by a news parasite who preys on the hard work of others, and tries to cover it up with a quick phone call interview.

With a search engine, we can even find out who is posing as a news reporter, while being paid for public relations, in violation of the ethics of journalism. We can also ask journalists about their fellow reporters who haven't been seen out on a news story in the past 30 years. We now know how to investigate the frauds.

We know when a radio station begins with a commercial for an oil and gas corporation, that it is not to be trusted. We can also recognize the self-glory embedded in the columns of the academics as we grow weary of their rhetoric.

We know how to recognize any attempt to silence the traditional Indian people who live close to the earth and are living in defense of the earth.

Censored News celebrates writers of truth today, and especially the grassroots activists and writers who make Censored News happen. Today, we are sharing from the north land of the First Nations to the south, on Dine' land, Navajoland. Censored News also shares an original series from the Indigenous Reunion of Spiritual Guides in Sonora, Mexico, with interviews at the Comca'ac (Seri) sea.

Censored News is now in its 7th year, and more censored than ever.

Thanks to all of you for reading, and living your truth. Brenda Norrell, publisher, Censored News

Brenda Norrell has been a news reporter in Indian country for 30 years. During the 18 years that she lived on the Navajo Nation, she served as a reporter for Navajo Times, and stringer for AP and USA Today. After serving as a longtime staff reporter for Indian Country Today in the southwest, she was censored, and terminated. She began Censored News as a result.

Dine' Haswood and Bluehouse: 'Foreigners' Control Us

'Foreigners' Control Us

By Tulley Haswood, Dine'                               
Milton Bluehouse, Dine'
Censored News

We have to appreciate our youths of today. They have developed analytical, technological, and other skills equal to and sometimes surpassing the dominant society of America. Our old methods of operation in our Navajo government appear to be slowly changing to what will be a better, fairer, and more democratic way for our Navajo society.
When Arizona Senator Kyl presented the Senate Bill 2109 to congress in February 14, 2012, the Navajo people stood up and shouted NO!!! It was at this time the Navajo college youth took notice, came forward with advice and state-of-the-art communications, and spread the word back and forth, with our generation about the fraud against us and unfair dealings.
The older and younger generations thus came together and caused the Navajo Nation Council to understand our concepts of SB-2109 and vote the Bill down. What a victory for the Navajo people. It wasn’t just these Navajo generations coming together; the grassroots Hopi-Tewa people were also included.
Something came to mind via what some of the youths were saying; what our Navajo government terms “Intergovernmental Relations” the youth refer to as “Foreign Affairs.” This comes from teaching about tribal sovereignty in their Native American Studies courses. When a Sovereign deals with outside governments through treaties, agreements, settlements, etc., it is called “foreign affairs.” So, when Indian Tribes do the same thing, this too is foreign affairs. We, for example, have had foreign affairs with other tribes over many centuries, and we have also had treaties (foreign affairs”) with Spain, Mexico, and the United States since European arrival in the Southwest.
With this we ask, why do we have “foreigners” running three of the most important programs in our tribal government? Our water rights program in the Department of Justice (DOJ), the Department of Water Resources (DWR), and the Minerals Department (Minerals) are managed by “foreigners”.
In DOJ our chief water attorney describes himself as Anglo/Jewish. He is Stanley Pollack, from Michigan, and he has been the water attorney for 25 years. He has notoriously betrayed Navajo with the infamous SB-2109, the Little Colorado River Water Rights Settlement. He has also betrayed us and allottees in the San Juan Settlement in New Mexico. There is little doubt he has done it, as well, in the Utah San Juan Settlement, and that he is working on it with our Colorado River Settlements.
Pollack schemed with Senators Kyl and McCain to plan a major loss for Navajo by allowing the two Senators to take away Navajo surface water rights worth billions of dollars. Many rights and protections were waived “forever.” He and they also put in SB-2109 a lease extension for Navajo Generating Station. And Peabody Coal was getting unfettered groundwater use as well as pollution cleanup waivers for their retention ponds. In Pollack’s and Kyl’s SB-2109 Navajo was to continue to hold the losing end of the stick, not just for a few years but forever.
Although Council voted down SB-2109; Kyl, with help from Pollack, is right now trying to revive it. Two other Anglo attorneys, Katherine Hoover, from Georgia, and Dana Bobroff, from Arizona, have also been part of Pollack’s backdoor dealings with Kyl. These are part of interior Secretary Salazar’s invitation to Navajo and Hopi to meet with him for 4 hours on November 14, 2012 to quickly work out some SB-2109 issues and get it passed in Congress’s “lame duck” session after the election. And again President Ben Shelly is already sucked into the idea and standing by with a pen in hand ready to sign. All this is against the wishes of the Navajo people.
              Pollack and the two lady lawyers have a Navajo figurehead, Harrison Tsosie, who listens and goes along with Pollack and the other two. Pollack’s water rights deceptions, with the help of the two lady lawyers, are destroying our future by causing the Nation to lose billions of dollars in water, land, and resources revenues.
For the DWR; it is managed by a naturalized Pakistani immigrant, Najam Tariq, who is another turncoat against Navajo, working with Pollack. Tariq has also been employed with Navajo for 25 years. He too has a Navajo figurehead, alleged “Department Director” Ray Benally, also a collaborator with Pollack and his two lady lawyers.
After 25 years of operations with the Navajo Nation, Tariq feels settled in his position and abuses, bribes with treatment, and intimidates his Navajo employees. He has even taken over the jobs of Navajo managers, against the Navajo Preference in Employment Act. He has also made veiled threats, to use against those who might push him, his professed connections with the Las Vegas underworld. We see in a local paper the huge headline “Court Upholds Navajo Preference in Peabody Case”. Why can’t that Navajo law be implemented in our own back yard in dealing with people, as Tariq who is abusive to our Navajo employees?
Then there is Aktar Zaman, another naturalized Pakistani, who also has been employed with the Navajo Nation for 25 years, and is Director of the Minerals Department. His Navajo figurehead is Fred White, Director for Division of Natural Resources. Aktar has worked against the people’s best interest in endorsing giveaways to Navajo Generating Station (NGS) and Peabody.
NGS could be paying hundreds of millions of dollars annually to Navajo with all the free water Navajo is giving to NGS, not to mention free rights-of-way for power lines and the coal railroad. Likewise with Peabody who only pays Navajo a mere 12.5% royalties when Peabody could be paying 50% worth over $150 million annually.
Again the same people come into play with Aktar, and Tariq; Pollack, Hoover, and Bobroff. We have asked the Council members “When are you going to see through these people and get rid of them”. These “foreigners” mentioned above are costing the Navajo people Billions of dollars by the manner they operate, which is in support of the outside interest.
Now, again, we ask why are we allowing these people to continue operating as they do while paying them high dollars and while they add to their nice pension that’s coming out of Navajo pockets. This baffles us and bothers us to no end. And, again, we say get rid of them, for crying out loud!
            Our youths, we mentioned earlier, are just as confused about this preference against us and for foreigners as we are. They are ones to take the helm of leadership in the not too far future. They are questioning our past and present leadership, to say; “Have our Navajo leaders lost their minds, and don’t they realize what our Navajo people, especially the elders, are denied, how much they could’ve had with lost revenues; simple things as water, electricity, and good roads to their homes?”
But we have to appreciate our present council leadership; as they have begun to listen to those of us grass roots activists, and have begun to take charge of Pollack and others who have cheated Navajo for so long. The people are raising their voices to say; get rid of these people before we lose everything.

Tulley Haswood                               
Rock Springs, NM     
Milton Bluehouse
Ganado, Ariz.                       


Dine': Non-Indian attorneys and Kyl waiving Navajo water rights

Navajos say that the Hopi claim to senior water rights is due to the Navajo Nation's own non-Indian attorneys failing to secure those rights

Dine’ Hada' Isidi'
Dine' Water Rights Committee
Ed Becenti, Liaison
Censored News

Frech translation, thank you Christine Prat
When it comes to surface water of the main stem of the Little Colorado River, here’s what’s really going on, in relation to Hopi's claim for senior rights, which they call “time immemorial;” or rights going back to the beginning of time.
The joke here is on us, and our enemy is not Hopi but our own lawyers. Hopi have not gone after anything in the main stem Little Colorado River that our lawyers have claimed for us. Navajos, the way our lawyers have presented it, have no "senior rights" claims at risk on the main stem LCR. In S. 2109, Arizona Sen. Jon Kyl and our own lawyers waived all senior Navajo water rights in main stem LCR surface water.
There's not even one cup of senior surface water rights left for us to actually own in the main stem surface water if S. 2109 language stays the same. Our lawyers (and the water rights commission and staff) gave those senior rights away to the non-Indians upstream and downstream on the LCR. Those upstream and downstream non-Indian water rights are rights our lawyers and Kyl protected real well in S. 2109.
So, when it comes to main stem LCR surface water, those non-Indian rights are what the Hopis have been interested in getting. They would also want the water from the major washes we share and the groundwater. Therefore, Navajo Nation lawyers are now spending lots of time and many thousands of dollars to NOT protect our LCR main stem surface water rights. The lawyers already gave our main stem surface water rights away in the S. 2109 language, and they will do it again if we don’t stop them. So, our lawyers are contesting Hopi's senior claims that apply to main stem LCR surface water not for Navajo -- but for the non-Indians; the ones our lawyers and Kyl waived our senior rights for. (Groundwater is a more complicated issue.)
According to the state of Arizona’s ADWR website, the LCR dumps about 340,000 acre feet per year into the Colorado River, where it's used downstream for free in Arizona, Nevada, and California. That’s the same as 340,000 football fields of water 1 foot deep.
The joke is we are paying to protect the non-Indians surface rights from Hopi, since our lawyers already got rid of our main stem LCR rights to the non-Indians. Can we get our rights back? YES. We just have to get rid of the lawyers, and get new ones who are loyal, not working for Jon Kyl or his replacement, and who will claim our rights. The lawyers we absolutely have to get rid of are Pollack, Hoover, McElroy, and Bobroff. We have paid these people many $millions to minimize our rights and give them away. They are, actually, traitors. We also need to get rid of the Attorney General, Harrison Tsosie.
All this makes us Navajos feel like those Indians who took $26 in beads for Manhattan Island. Are we and our leaders still that foolish?? We know Harrison Tsosie and those who support our enemy lawyers seem to be. We believe our leaders can see the truth if they will look for it, because it’s staring them and us in the face.
Dine’ Hada' Isidi'
Dine' Water Rights Committee
Ed Becenti, Liaison

Video Moose River Crossing 2012 trailer: Residential Schools

Voices from residential schools on the train, when the doors were slammed shut and
the children were banging on the windows and trying to get out.
"Everyone was crying, and we could see our mothers crying and running forward."
"We all fell asleep from that day forward."

Shirley Cheechoo, writer, director and producer

Shirley Cheechoo was born in Eastmain, Quebec in 1952. Shirley is a member of the Cree Tribe and her early childhood was spent in Moose Factory along the James Bay coast. Shirley also experienced part of her young life in various Indian Residential schools until her family later moved to Hearst, Ontario. She is married to artist Blake Debassige and they have one child, Nanoshkasheese.

Memories of growing up within a warm family group have become the focal point for her expression through the medium of acrylic. She recalls here childhood days where she and her brother would create and perform plays to entertain local community. Her paintings represent the personal documentation of the many experiences she shared with her large family in the north as well as those of other Cree families lived by trapping and fishing. She provided the illustrations for Basil H. Johnston's book "Tales the Elders Told”.

Cheechoo gathered like-minded artists and founded Debajehmujig Theatre Company in 1984. This touring company has become one of the foremost and respected independent Native theatre companies in the world, and is located on Manitoulin Island. She first gained national attention in the theatre in 1992 with her play, "Path With No Moccasins". Shirley began directing films in 1998, after working as a playwright, actor and director of notable plays.

Realizing she can ease a pain or raise an issue with her film work, she threw herself headlong into the medium. She enrolled in writing classes, director's labs, acting workshops and film schools. As one of a select group of promising filmmakers, Shirley was invited to attend the prestigious Sundance Institute lead by Robert Redford, where she worked and filmed scenes of her script, “Backroads”. She became the first, First Nation person to write, produce, direct, and act in a dramatic, feature length film from Canada. She has also appeared on several Canadian film and television series and programs, including “The Rez”.

Her film directorial debut is the acclaimed short film, “Silent Tears”, which won several film festival awards for Best Short Film. It was screened at the 1998 Sundance Film Festival and was also awarded the Telefilm Canada and Northern Canada Award for Best Canadian Aboriginal Language Program. Her many achievements have earned numerous prizes over her career over 21 to be exact, including the National Aboriginal Achievement Award, CTV Fellowship Award and the Eagle Spirit Award. Her films have been selected for screenings at the prestigious Sundance Film Festival, Reel World, Imaginative and Montreal International Film and Vancouver Film Festival. She has won first prize awards for various works at film festivals including: Montreal's First Peoples Festival, Santa Fe Film Festival, and American Indian Film Festival of San Francisco. In 2002 Shirley was named Independent Filmmaker of the Year at the Arizona International Film Festival. Her most recent award is the Best Public Service for her latest project Sweet Blood. Shirley is gearing up for her second feature film Kelly's Bar, starring Adam Beech.

Her patronage to the arts does not stop there however. She is co-owner of Kasheese Studios Art Gallery, along with her husband Blake Debassige, which promotes native, visual artists from around the world. Both of their works have been recognized and critically acclaimed internationally. Shirley is also the President of her own business and independent film company - Spoken Song Film Productions. Shirley is most recently Founder and Artistic Director of Weengushk Film Institute (WFI) located on Manitoulin Island. WFI is an artist-focused, film and television training centre, dedicated to unlocking the creative potential of Aboriginal Youth and persons of diversity.

Events at this year's American Indian Film Festival in San Francisco

Terrance Nelson: Iran's invitation to Indigenous women

First Nation Terrance Nelson exposes Canada's abuse of First Nations, floods and mouldy housing
By Terrance Nelson
First Nation Roseau River Ojibwe
Censored News
Nazanin Afshin-Jam made a big deal of my going to Iran and slammed my trip as covering up the Iranian Human Rights record. She has asked for an invitation to Manitoba to talk to the Chiefs who support me. She wants to tell the Chiefs about Iranian Human Rights record.
I invite Nazanin to Manitoba. Come and see for yourself Canada's human rights violations and by the way bring your husband Conservative Minister of Defence Peter McKay with you. You can visit Dakota Plains, one of the poorest First Nations in Manitoba and you can visit Lake St. Martin. Both communities are flooded. You can see for yourself the mouldly housing that people are forced to live in and the evacuees who are living on allowances of around $200 a month.
Talk about covering up human rights records. Is Nazanin really a champion of human rights or is she just a pawn who only cares to beat up on Iranians? Will she actually tackle Canada's human rights record on Indigenous peoples.
I will be speaking at the protest organized by the Lake St. Martin evacuees today at 1 p.m. at the Manitoba Legislature. I will inform them that the Ministry of Human Rights in Iran has a open invitation to indigenous women from Canada to visit Iran. The trip can be paid for by NGOs and the three powerful women in the Ministry of Human Rights in Iran have promised to take indigenous women from Canada to the United Nations to present a joint statement on the six hundred murdered and missing indigenous women in Canada. The Iranian Human Rights Ministry has also been very open on the Human Rights record on women in Iran and invites indigenous women in Canada to visit Iran and see for themselves, how Iranian women are treated, don't just rely on the western media to tell you about Iran.

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