August 2020

Indigenous Peoples and Human Rights

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

The Uninvited: The White House Tribal Nations Conference

Obama met with a select group of Native American leaders
secretly before the official Native Nation Conference in
Dec. 2011. White House photo published after the meeting.

The Uninvited at the White House Tribal Nations Conference

By Brenda Norrell
Censored News
Dec. 5, 2012

Aljazeera counters the fantasy of the White House Tribal Nations Conference

Native Americans say President Obama’s meeting with Native Nations should be more than a superficial meeting for self-serving elected leaders engaged in paternalism.

Since Native American news is widely censored, distorted, ignored or romanticized, Censored News asked Native Americans what they would say to Obama today if given the opportunity.

Native Americans say the most critical issues are not just being ignored, but are systematic genocide.

In South Dakota, Lakota children are being seized by South Dakota Social Services in violation of the Indian Child Welfare Act. In North Dakota, the land, water and air is being poisoned and Native people killed by semi trucks, as tribal leaders agree to blood money for oil and gas drilling that has turned Native lands into disaster zones. In the Arctic, the fight to protect the caribou birthing grounds and Arctic Ocean continues, while the Obama and Congress push for more oil drilling in the pristine Arctic.

Grassroots Navajo and Hopi are fighting the secret water schemes underway by the US Interior and corrupt tribal leaders for the Lame Duck Congress, which was exposed in leaked e-mails. On western Navajoland, Navajos are fighting resort development and uranium mining in the Grand Canyon, which threatens sacred land and drinking water. Navajos on Black Mesa continue their decades old fight against Peabody Coal, which orchestrated the so-called Navajo-Hopi land dispute to clear Navajos from the land for coal mining. Navajos are also fighting the theft of Little Colorado River rights for the dirty coal fired power plant, the Navajo Generating Station.

On the US/Mexico border, O’odham battle every day the abuse, harassment and spying by US Border Patrol agents on O’odham land. O’odham say their own tribal government has been co-opted and is powerless to protect them. Homeland Security is now seizing land for new spy towers, and an encampment of Border Patrol agents and helicopters on O’odham land at Pisinemo.

Native Americans across Indian country are spending the little money they have to fight the Keystone XL tarsands pipeline. They are fighting the threat of the dirty crude oil poisoning their land and water, and the seizure of their land as is happening now in east Texas by the southern route of the pipeline promoted by Obama.

The Superficial White House Tribal Nations Conference

Although Obama originally announced the White House Tribal Nations Conference would be held at the White House, the location was quickly changed. It is actually held in the Interior building. While Obama initially engaged in a question and answer period with Native leaders at the first summit, last year he simply made brief remarks and left. Although initially Obama said it would be a day with tribal leadersa the White House, each year Obama has decreased his time and involvement. This year, Obama is slated to make closing remarks, prior to the conclusion at 3:30 pm EST.

Although the relationship between Native American Nations and the US is supposed to be a government-to-government relationship, the daylong summit has been held with US officials seated all in a row in front, staring down at Native leaders.

Native Americans are not happy with many of their own leaders either, pointing out that they spend their time “begging for money for jails,” trying to get Obama’s autograph, or using the day for photo ops.

Most criticisms from Native Americans center on the secret meetings Obama has with select Native American leaders before the official day begins. Native Americans have not been told how, or why, those Native leaders are selected for the secret session.

The travel, hotels, meals and rental cars are expensive. Native Americans say the estimated $1 million to $2 million in expenses could be better spent for food, clothing and housing for desperate Indian people in the US; better spent on the homeless, abused and neglected elderly, and women and children suffering from violence.
Instead of pandering at the lush Sheraton in Washington on Tuesday, Native Americans said their leaders should have been focused on those homeless, hungry and cold back home.
While some Indian Nations with casinos have benefited financially, others have not. Although the Tohono O’odham Nation has had a lucrative casino for a decade, the majority of O’odham live in desperate conditions, while millions of dollars flow in and out of the Desert Diamond Casino.

Instead of pandering and posturing, Native Americans expect their elected leaders to arise to protect the best interests of the people, and the land, air and water.

Although Bolivia President Evo Morales is leading a global movement for the protection of Mother Earth, and the defense of the Rights of Nature, most Native American leaders in the US have shunned involvement, and instead are promoting oil and gas drilling, coal mining, dirty coal fired power plants, carbon market scams, and destructive development.

The media, too, is to blame, for censoring vital information, the promotion of bogus US wars and drones for targeted assassinations, and the parrot-like mimicking of distracting political rhetoric.
The People Respond

Angela Davis, Navajo, is among the Navajos is among the Native Americans whose voice will not be heard today.

"I would ask him to veto the NDAA (National Defense Authorization Act), include Indian women in the Violence Against Women Act, honor the Navajo/Hopi treaties that guarantee priority water rights, grant clemency to Leonard Peltier, and close Guantanamo Bay. I'd also like for him to lift the ban on Ethnic Studies and books in the Tuscon, Arizona, school district," Davis said.

Kristy Price said, "Instill accountablity to your government for all things. Listen to the people who know the land, for too long people of the world who are connected with the earth have been ignored and rejected with a result of chaos and damage to our natural and only home."
Native Americans are not the only ones questioning the genocide and the US lust for Native lands for mining.

Tamara' Rousseau said, “I would like to know how can the United States of America have the second poorest reservation nation in the western hemisphere after Haiti? How is that, and what is being done to improve living conditions for these people, or have they been forgotten? Except for taking the lands away after hundreds of years to mine what do "You" see happening to these American Nations ?”

Another Censored News reader, Alis, says Obama should be urged to grant clemency for Leonard Peltier, create debt forgiveness, and halt the pipelines. Along with courage, Alis says Obama should be given a back bone.

“Forgive all debt of the People, such as student loans, home loans, medical bills, all of it, let the People start fresh, and since he gave $16 trillion to the banksters, tell him to get it back. Stop all wars. Stop XL pipeline and Enbridge. Stop drones. Stop nuclear bomb building, stop uranium mining. Tell him to shred his executive order of March 16, 2012, tell him to make corporations clean up ALL corporate pollution, hell, stop REDD and stop our border killings.

 “Tell him to get politicians out of thinking they can dictate what my children learn, we can make our own curriculum. Tell him to stop all slow genocidal policies and laws. Tell him that Canada, the Crown and US government are on their last legs of corporate deals, move outta our way cuz this is La Gente's home. Tell him we won't give up our Water, Earth, Air, and Fire. Tell him, the Nations are United from north to south, east to west, and around the Sacred Hoop of Life. Tell him the time of warring and pillaging is over, Peace has no borders. And give him courage, a back bone, peace, love and good health to do what is right for the People.”

Still another reader, fighting against the secret deals targeting Navajo water rights, points out that Navajos don’t know what the Navajo president will say in Washington.

“We wanna know what T-rex is gonna say on behalf of Navajo.”

White House
On December 5, 2012, President Obama will host representatives invited from each of the 566 federally recognized American Indian tribes, and Alaska Native Villages, at the 2012 White House Tribal Nations Conference. Fulfilling a commitment to improve and expand dialog with Indian Country, the President has hosted a Tribal Nations Conference in each year of his Presidency to facilitate a lasting discussion between Tribal Leaders and Senior Administration Officials. The opening and closing sessions of the Conference will be available for live online viewing at and also at The expected agenda is as follows:
Opening Session, 9:00am – 10:30am EST
Secretary Ken Salazar, Department of the Interior
Secretary Arne Duncan, Department of Education
Deputy Secretary Neal Wolin, Department of the Treasury
Acting Secretary Rebecca Blank, Department of Commerce
Secretary Kathleen Sebelius, Department of Health and Human Services
Secretary Tom Vilsack, Department of Agriculture
Closing Session, 1:30pm – 3:30pm EST
Leaders of Each Tribal Leaders Breakout Session
Secretary Ray LaHood, Department of Transportation
Secretary Hilda Solis, Department of Labor
President Barack Obama

Check back for updates.

Lakotas: South Dakota Social Services violates Indian Child Welfare Act

South Dakota Indian Child Welfare Act Coalition affirms NPR Story - Alleges Systematic State ICWA violations in report to Congress

By Lakota Peoples Law Project
Censored News

On Thursday, November 29, the South Dakota Indian Child Welfare Act (ICWA) Directors Coalition voted 6-0 to submit a report to Congress asserting that the South Dakota Department of Social Services has for over a decade "systematically violated the spirit and the letter of the Indian Child Welfare Act."
ICWA directors are federal employees tasked with enforcing the Indian Child Welfare Act, a law that says that state agencies must place Indian foster children with family and tribal members whenever possible.
RAPID CITY, S.D. -- December 04, 2012 -- The South Dakota Indian Child Welfare Act directors' congressional report, yet to be published, is titled "Reviewing the Facts: An Assessment of the Accuracy of NPR's 'Native Foster Care: Lost Children, Shattered Families.'" The study was written with assistance from the Lakota People's Law Project, a nonprofit law firm and public policy advocacy organization based in Rapid City, SD and Santa Cruz, CA.
The Standing Rock Sioux Tribe of South Dakota is sending the ICWA Directors' Coalition report to all nine SD Sioux tribal councils for their endorsement, along with a companion report on the possible over-prescribing of mental health drugs to Native children in foster care. All of the signers will then forward the reports to Congress.
The ICWA directors' study was prepared in response to letters sent to the Department of the Interior by six congressmen after a Peabody Award-winning NPR series that aired in late October 2011. The NPR exposé criticized South Dakota's Department of Social Services for violating ICWA, partly as a way to bring federal money into the state.
The congressional letters demanded to know if NPR's reporting was accurate. The congressmen also wanted to know, if the reporting was accurate, if South Dakota was merely misreading ICWA or intentionally disregarding it. Finally, the congressmen asked how the Bureau of Indian Affairs planned to remedy the damage and make certain that systematic violations of ICWA did not continue, if the system was broken. The Bureau of Indian Affairs wrote back to the congressmen, pledging to host a summit on Lakota foster care in early 2012. The summit never happened.
Due to this inaction, the ICWA directors announced their own response: "To date, the promised summit has not occurred. Furthermore, the House members' request that the Department of the Interior confirm or refute the claims made by NPR has not been honored. In light of this, the ICWA directors from South Dakota's nine reservations have met to respond to the congressional inquiry."
Six of the South Dakota's nine ICWA directors participated in the meeting on Thursday and voted unanimously to approve the reports and forward them to the nine tribal councils. The six voting directors were: Terry Yellow Fat (Standing Rock), Juanita Scherick (Pine Ridge), Raymond Cournoyer (Yankton), Dianne Garreau (Cheyenne River), Evelyn Pilcher (Sisseton), and Celeste Honomichl (Flandreau). The ICWA directors' meeting was reported on by NPR the following day, Friday December 1, on "All Things Considered" and by the Associated Press.
During the meeting, ICWA director and host Raymond Cournoyer said, "We fight against the state every day. They have the money, power, and attorneys. Our ICWA directors have a small staff but we never give up."
The meeting was also attended by Yankton Sioux Tribal Council Vice Ida Ashes. Ms. Ashes said to the ICWA directors, "Represent the tribe. Get in there. Don't let attorneys or judges tell you what ICWA is about because you're the ones who know. Those are your children. Stand up for them."
A Lakota grandmother from Standing Rock named Ilene Brown attended the meeting as well. She had two grandchildren taken and kept by the D.S.S. despite her efforts to gain custody of them. Ms. Brown read aloud a letter of support for the congressional reports written by Standing Rock Tribal Council Chairman Charles Murphy: "Compared to non-Indian agencies that have operated child welfare programs in Indian communities for decades, current literature clearly indicates that tribes are best equipped to develop solutions and provide culturally responsive services to their families.
"The Standing Rock Sioux Tribe supports change in the administration of the child welfare system that will allow the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe to build the adequate institutional, governmental, and community infrastructure needed for a comprehensive tribal welfare system."
In addition to voting to submit the assessment of NPR's reporting to Congress, the ICWA directors decided to send to Congress a supplementary report (also unpublished) about the possibility of over-prescribing by D.S.S. of pharmaceutical medications to Lakota children inside the foster care system. This supplemental report was also prepared with the assistance of the Lakota People's Law Project. Mr. Yellow Fat, the current chair of the ICWA director’s coalition, said "The Standing Rock Health, Education, and Welfare Committee wants the supplement to go out immediately."
The Lakota People’s Law Project has been partnering with tribes and leaders in South Dakota since 2005 from its office in Rapid City to challenge more than 150 years of injustice against Native American families. These activities have included funding and supporting Native experts to provide technical assistance to the tribes on family and child welfare issues. The Lakota People’s Law project combines public interest law, research, education, and organizing in a unique model for advocacy and social reform.
The Lakota People's Law Project is sponsored by the non-profit Romero Institute based in Santa Cruz, California. The Institute is named after slain human rights advocate Archbishop Oscar Romero of El Salvador. The Institute seeks to identify and dismantle the structural sources of injustice and threats to the survival of our human family.

Anti-Loop 202 Awareness Concert Held In Santan

Anti-Loop 202 Awareness Concert Held In Santan 
By Gila River Against 202
Censored News
SANTAN, Ariz. -- Gila River Indian Community (GRIC) members enjoyed a night of music, information and resistance against the Loop 202 freeway on December 1st, where a No Build awareness concert was held at the Santan ballfield. Musicians from Gila River, Salt River, Tohono O'odham Nation, Navajo Nation, and Phoenix came together to support GRIC members organizing against the freeway. Speakers at the concert who oppose the freeway advocated for the Pangea Corporation, the Maricopa Association of Governments (MAG) and the Arizona Department of Transportation (ADOT) to respect last February's community-wide No Build victory in a vote about the proposed freeway.
Throughout the concert, the sounds of ska, hip hop and punk were performed to a crowd of over 60 people. The show featured Alex Soto of Shining Soul (Phoenix/Tohono O'odham), MC Optimal (Salt River), Lo Cash Ninjas (Navajo Nation), Criss Cross Salad Toss (Phoenix), Travis James (Phoenix) and finished with the sounds of Gila River's own Requiem.
Speakers from the community spoke about the potential negative environmental, health and cultural impacts the Loop 202 would bring, and encouraged the mostly younger crowd to take action against the freeway in the months and years to come. Councilman Barney Enos Jr., from Santan/District Four, was in attendance and spoke at the event in support of No Build. Enos said of the event, “It is good to see so many gathered and involved with this event. It is our responsibility to do what is right and be diligent in our efforts to preserve our Community and our land. I share your responsibility. It is reassuring to know that what we are all speaking up for is not for our immediate benefit, but for the benefit for our grandchildren and theirs…a project such as this has minimal reward or satisfaction and we can do better. No matter how much you want to look at it or see it for something it isn’t, no means no.”
Despite the event's focus towards the Gila River youth, elders and community members of all ages were in attendance, along with tribal members from nearby Salt River Pima-Maricopa Indian Community and the Tohono O'odham Nation. No Build shirts were available for a suggested donation throughout the event, with all funds going towards future No Build organizing efforts.
“The main objective of the show was to bring awareness to the community about the freeway. The older generation is more aware of it, but youth in Gila River have little to no idea of what is going on. In a sense, the concert was about getting youth to learn about issues in their community,” said Andrew Pedro from Sacaton. Pedro is the drummer for the band Requiem, and is one of the youth who organized the benefit.
“A multi-genre concert seemed like the best way to bring the younger generation together, to listen to music and hear the speakers talk about why it is important to stop this freeway. They also found ways they can stay updated and how to help out. It also gave non-O'odham, such as some of the bands, a chance to support our fight to protect sacred land and to show O’odham there is resistance to the freeway in the city as well.”
Also in attendance were many non-O'odham supporters who oppose the Loop 202. The No South Mountain Freeway group from Phoenix set up an information booth with pamphlets against the freeway. In addition to the many negative impacts expressed by GRIC members, non-O'odham No Build supporters also oppose the urban sprawl of Phoenix upon GRIC lands, as well as unsustainable regional growth. The Sun Corridor was one example given of that, which is a transportation and trade route centered on a “megacity” covering the area between Phoenix and Tucson, with little or no input from the O’odham people whose land is in that area.
The Sun Corridor is one part of the CANAMEX trade corridor, a massive superhighway spanning from Canada to Mexico. The CANAMEX Corridor is largely backed by transportation officials and politicians, while most of the public has not been informed of the environmental impacts of such a large construction project. These were some of the reasons why non-O’odham No Build supporters are against the the freeway.
No Build organizers and community members expressed their gratitude to the youth who put on the awareness concert, and were happy to see young people take action against the 202.
“In the end I saw youth picking up zines, buying No Build shirts, donating to our efforts, signing up for e-mail alerts, and just having a good time,” Pedro went on to say. “Everyone there seemed to have a positive reaction to the show. I’ve had a lot of great feedback and many people hope that there will be another awareness show soon.”
For more information regarding the Loop 202 opposition, please check the following websites:
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Bolivia continues the fight against carbon markets, and the bias that prevents the voice of developing countries from being heard
By Plurinational State of Bolivia
Censored News
DOHA, Qatar -- 4 December 2012 -- During the plenary of Cooperation Actions of Long Term (ACL), or table of financing that summarizes the prospect of this working group, the text of conclusions has been proposed, which supposedly reflect the positions and proposals of countries forming part of the working group.
However the Vice-Chancellor of the Plurinational State of Bolivia, Juan Carlos Alurralde said, "The text was imbalanced and did not include the position and proposals of developing countries, since it was not adaptation, transfer of technology, attention to disaster, or financing that were the fundamental agreements in Bali," said Alurralde.
"Ironically in the document are the mechanisms based on the carbon market, and exclude the proposal uploaded for Bolivia, the mechanism of no market within financing, a topic of great concern for those who support this proposal, countries such as China, Cuba, Egypt, Dominican Republic, El Salvador, India, Iraq, Iran, Malaysia, Mali, Sudan, Venezuela and others," said the Vice Chancellor.
 "These had not considered the proposal to not market, by the Facilitator, who is Chilean. This concerned the Vice-Chancellor, since no one wants to think that there is some sort of discrimination or bilateral rematch, to an issue such as the sea that is bilateral."
"However it is very evident that the facilitator of the ACL has overlooked entirely the proposals to not market, that’s why Bolivia with a very strong position going to trace the theme and raise the formation of working groups that raise profound decisions, and does listen to the voices of the world" pointed out Alurralde.
Regarding the actions to be taken by Bolivia, the Vice Chancellor noted that: "Bolivia has a very strong visible voice and together with the countries that worked on the proposals to not market, will hear criticisms to the head of the ACL group and the respective claim to the facilitator, to organize in working groups that make listening to the voice of our countries to the world and this Conference negotiators, urged the Vice-Chancellor.

DOHA, Qatar -- December 4th

The day of the COP inauguration, a conference about CARBON TRADE took place facilitated by Nicholas Stern. The event had the presence of ministers and other authorities of different countries. Surprisingly the center of the discussion was how to allow developed countries that are not going to be part of the second commitment period of KP to have access to market mechanisms of the same KP that they deny to be applicable to them.
Another central issue was how to solve the crisis of the carbon market. Half of the 100 billion dollars to be provided for climate change by 2020 would come from carbon credits, commented Mr. Stern. The collapse of prices in carbon market is a menace to financial provision for climate change, expressed Stern. A dynamic debate took place in the event in order to bring solutions to the carbon crisis.
This debate is beginning to dominate the agenda of discussion in COP18, pushed by developed countries. Are we going to allow this COP about climate change to become a COP of carbon trade?
That was a question raised by Juan Carlos Alurralde the Vice Chancellor of Bolivia, who was present in the conference. When he took the floor he expressed the following words: "… Carbon markets are not a solution to the climate change crisis… Instead of discussing one of the instruments for supporting mitigation actions, which is carbon markets.; I repeat: ONE of the instruments which effectiveness is still pending of analysis, but from our view is a complete mistake, instead of that, we should discuss the structural elements of a comprehensive response to Climate Change Crisis.
 It's seems that developed countries are more interested in the carbon markets business that in the ultimate goal of this conference which is the structural solutions for this planet and future generations Carbon markets are just business for some but a bad solution for Mother Earth, facilitating developed countries not to make real domestic reductions.
We have to say that at least four realistic predictable risks are linked to the application and generalization of carbon markets: 1. Double counting implying an additional 1,6 Gigatones (GT) to the atmosphere. 2. Non aditionalities with an increase of 0,4 GT Gigatones 3. The use of the carry over which implies 11 GT 4.
The opening of opportunities for creating bilateral trading carbon agreements without accounting for the rules, monitoring and regulation. We came from very far to try to find solutions and alternatives to bring the opportunity to future generations to live with dignity in this planet, and definitely the Carbon market mechanisms are not the solution…"

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