August 2020

Indigenous Peoples and Human Rights

Monday, December 10, 2012

Peaks supporters charged as US makes promise to protect sacred places

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Photo: Ongoing protests over Arizona Snowbowl

National Forest Service announces new Sacred Sites Policy, at the same time that Flagstaff Peaks activists are targeted with federal charges and arrest warrants

SacredMountain Defenders Klee, Jim and Dawn were released on their own recognizence at about three o'clock today (until the trial.)

By Indigenous Action Media
Censored News
Scroll down for French translation

Peaks Activists Vow to Fight Charges and Plan to Turn themselves Over to U.S. Marshalls

What: Peaks activist Klee Benally and others expected to be arrested
When: Tuesday, December 11, 2012 at 8:15 a.m
Where: US Marshall's Office 123 N. San Francisco St, Flagstaff, Arizona

FLAGSTAFF, Arizona -- On the same day that secretary Tom Vilsack of the US Department of Agriculture issued a final report on Sacred Sites and an inter-agency memorandum to work towards Sacred Sites protection, the Coconino Forest Service filed federal charges against four Sacred Sites advocates who were part of a protest at the Forest Service offices three months earlier.
On September 21, 2012 more than a dozen Flagstaff community members peacefully delivered letters to address the US Department of Agriculture's policy on sacred places. While community members delivered the letters, a “quarantine” was also theatrically staged in the Coconino National Forest Service lobby to protest the agency’s role in approving of an Arizona Snowbowl ski area expansion and snowmaking with treated sewage effluent on the Holy San Francisco Peaks. Several members of the theatrical staging wore white suits and held caution tape with signs that said, “Quarantine Snowbowl,” “Forest Service Kills Native Culture, Stop Snowbowl,” and “Protect the Sacred.”
The four protestors are facing multiple counts (Section 261.3a) of a misdemeanor charge for allegedly interfering with a Forest officer. The statute reads, "Threatening, resisting, intimidating, or interfering with any forest officer engaged in or on account of the performance of his official duties in the protection, improvement, or administration of the National Forest System is prohibited."
"Not only are these federal charges absurd, they are an attack on freedom of expression," stated Klee Benally, a Dine' (Navajo) activist who has been advocating for Indigenous religious freedom and protection of the holy Peaks for more than 14 years. "The fact that the USFS would bring these charges the same day they released their report on the protection of sacred sites demonstrates that they are not acting in good faith."
Klee Benally delivered two letters to acting Forest Supervisor Earl Stewart calling for an immediate halt to ski area expansion and snowmaking with treated sewage effluent on the holy San Francisco Peaks. The letters were addressed to the Obama administration and included: US Department of Agriculture (USDA) Tom Vilsack, Senior Adviser for Tribal Affairs USDA Janie Hipp, Coconino National Forest Supervisor Earl Stewart, and Counselor to the Assistant Secretary of Indian Affairs Dion Killsback. The letters called for the termination of Snowbowl’s Special Use Permit and the protection of sacred places.
The letters also focused on public health concerns due to contaminants in the treated sewage effluent that Snowbowl ski resort intends on using for snowmaking on the Holy site and demanded a moratorium on the use of treated sewage effluent, commonly called reclaimed wastewater to avoid the "ick factor", in public places.
"I entered the building with a group of people and requested to speak to Forest Supervisor Earl Stewart, we had a cordial conversation, he accepted letters regarding the sacred sites policy, we shook hands multiple times. We broke no laws. The Forest Service is the one who is violating the law of the creator." stated Benally. "Myself and others will turn ourselves over to the U.S. Marshall tomorrow at 8:15 a.m. so we can move towards ending this act of repression and political retaliation against us by the US Forest Service."
The U.S. Marshall's office is located at 123 N. San Francisco St.. Benally and others are expected to be arrested and appear before a judge for arraignment at 10:00 a.m.
According to the Forest Service complaint, the fire department and a hazmat team were called to address a potentially hazardous spill of clear liquid that had flooded the Forest Service lobby floor after protesters exited. An unknown individual allegedly tipped over a 5 gallon bucket full of what the hazmat team determined to be treated sewage effluent.
"These charges are absurd! The irony is that the USFS has authorized Snowbowl to spill more than one million five hundred thousand gallons of treated sewage effluent per day onto a rare and pristine alpine habitat. Yet they feel its appropriate to call hazmat when a pail of wastewater is allegedly poured onto their polished tile floors? I hold the USFS liable for the environmental poisoning that is set to occur on the Peaks right now," stated Flagstaff resident Evan Hawbaker.
On December 6, 2012, while addressing more than 500 Indigenous leaders at the "White House Tribal Nations Conference" Secretary Vilsack unveiled a sacred sites report stating, "This report represents a commitment by USDA and other agencies to be better partners and improve communications about Sacred Sites, better protecting those sites, access and provide government-wide training to ensure that there is a better understanding of the relationship those sites have to decisions we make." Vilsack continued, "While we have made strides in improving services to Tribes, much is left to be done. One step we are taking today is the filing of our Sacred Sites report."
"The President is insistent that these Sacred Sites be protected and preserved: treated with dignity and respect. That is also my commitment as Secretary of USDA. I know my fellow Secretaries share in this commitment. We understand the importance of these sites and will do our best to make sure they are protected and respected." Vilsack stated. (
Read the delivered letters here:
Read the sacred sites report here:
Photo by permission only, contact

Monday, December 10, 2012
Klee Benally

Par Indigenous Action Media
10 décembre 2012
Lundi 10 décembre 2012
CONTACT : Klee Benally
See original article in English on Indigenous Action
Traduction Christine Prat
Le Service des Forêts National annonce une nouvelle politique des Sites Sacrés au moment même où des défenseurs des Pics de Flagstaff sont mis en accusation au niveau fédéral et sous le coup de mandats d’arrêt
Les activistes décident de se défendre contre ces accusations et de se livrer d’eux-mêmes au Commissaire de la police fédérale
De quoi s’agit il : l’activiste défenseur des Pics Klee Benally et d’autres s’attendent à être arrêtés
Quand : Mardi 11 décembre à 8h15 du matin
Où : au Bureau du Commissaire de la police fédérale, 123 N. San Francisco St. Flagstaff, AZ
FLAGSTAFF, Arizona – Le jour même où le Ministre de l’Agriculture Tom Vilsack publie un rapport final sur les Sites Sacrés (final report on Sacred Sites ) et un mémorandum interministériel pour la protection des Sites Sacrés, le Service des Forêts de Coconino dépose une plainte devant les autorités fédérales contre quatre défenseurs des Sites Sacrés qui avaient participé à une action de protestation au bureau de Service des Forêts trois mois plus tôt.
Le 21 septembre 2012, plus d’une douzaine de membres de la communauté de Flagstaff ont remis pacifiquement des lettres adressées au Ministère de l’Agriculture US sur sa politique vis-à-vis des sites sacrés. Tandis que des membres de la communauté remettaient les lettres, une « quarantaine » a été théâtralement mise en scène dans le hall d’entrée du bureau du Service de la Forêt Nationale de Coconino pour protester contre le rôle de cette administration dans l’approbation de l’expansion de la station de ski Arizona Snowbowl et de la fabrication de neige artificielle à partir d’eaux usées recyclées sur les Pics Sacrés San Francisco. Plusieurs des participants à la mise en scène théâtrale portaient des costumes blancs et tenaient des rubans jaunes et des banderoles où on pouvait lire « Mettez Snowbowl en quarantaine », « Le Service des Forêts tue la Culture Autochtone, Arrêtez Snowbowl » et « Protégez le Sacré ».
Les quatre manifestants risquent d’être mis en examen pour de multiples infractions pour avoir prétendument dérangé un responsable des Forêts. Les statuts disent que « Menacer, résister, intimider ou déranger un responsable des forêts dans ou à cause de l’exercice de ses fonctions officielles de protection, amélioration ou administration du Système des Forêts National est interdit.»
« Non seulement ces accusations fédérales sont absurdes, mais elles constituent une attaque contre la liberté d’expression » dit Klee Benally, un activiste Diné (Navajo) qui a lutté pour la liberté religieuse des Autochtones et la protection des Pics sacrés depuis plus de 14 ans. « Le fait que le Service des Forêts des Etats-Unis émette ces accusations le jour même où ils publient leur rapport sur la protection des sites sacrés démontre qu’ils n’agissent pas de bonne foi. »
Klee Benally a remis deux lettres au Superviseur des Forêts en exercice Earl Stewart, demandant l’arrêt immédiat de l’expansion de la station de ski et de la fabrication de neige à partir d’eaux usées recyclées sur les San Francisco Peaks. Les lettres étaient adressées au gouvernement Obama et les destinataires étaient : le Ministre de l’Agriculture Tom Vilsack, la Conseillère Principale aux Affaires Tribales Janie Hipp, le Superviseur de la Forêt Nationale de Coconino Earl Stewart, et le Conseiller du Ministre Assistant aux Affaires Indiennes Dion Killsback. Les lettres appelaient à la révocation du Permis d’Utilisation Spéciale de Snowbowl et à la protection des lieus sacrés.
Les lettre attiraient aussi l’attention sur les problèmes de santé publique dus aux contaminants trouvés dans les eaux usées recyclées que Snowbowl a l’intention d’utiliser pour faire de la neige sur le lieu Sacré et demandaient un moratoire sur l’utilisation d’eaux usées traitées, appelées communément eau d’égout recyclée, pour éviter la méfiance, dans les lieus publics.
« Je suis entré dans le bâtiment avec un groupe de gens et j’ai demandé à parler au Superviseur des Forêts Earl Stewart, nous avons eu une conversation cordiale, il a accepté les lettres concernant la politique des sites sacrés, nous nous sommes serré la main à plusieurs reprises. Nous n’avons violé aucune loi. C’est le Service des Forêts qui viole la Loi du Créateur. » dit Benally. « Avec les autres, je me livrerai moi-même au Commissaire de la police fédérale demain matin à 8h15, afin que nous puissions agir pour mettre un terme à cet acte de répression et de vengeance politique contre nous par le Service des Forêts des Etats-Unis. »
Le bureau du Commissaire de police fédérale est situé au 123 N. San Francisco St. Benally et les autres seront probablement arrêtés et présenté à un juge pour être mis en examen à 10h du matin.
D’après la plainte du Service des Forêts les pompiers et l’équipe d’intervention spécialisée dans les substances dangereuses ont été appelés à cause d’un liquide clair répandu sur le sol du hall d’entrée après le départ des manifestants. Un individu non identifié aurait renversé un seau de 20 litres de ce que l’équipe d’intervention a déterminé comme étant de l’eau d’égout traitée.
« Ces accusations sont absurdes ! L’ironie veut que le Service des Forêts a autorisé Snowbowl à déverser plus de 5 500 000 litres par jour d’eau d’égout recyclée sur une faune sauvage alpine rare. Cependant, ils jugent bon d’appeler l’équipe d’intervention quand un seau d’eau d’égout est renversé sur leur carrelage ? Je tiens le Service des Forêts pour responsable de l’empoisonnement environnemental prêt à se produire sur les Pics maintenant » dit un résident de Flagstaff, Evan Hawbaker.
Le 6 décembre 2012, s’adressant à plus de 500 leaders Autochtones à la « Conférence des Nations Tribales à la Maison Blanche », le Ministre Vilsack a rendu public un rapport sur les sites sacrés (sacred sites report ) déclarant, « Ce rapport représente l’assurance du Service des Forêts US et des autres administrations d’être de meilleurs partenaires et d’améliorer la communication au sujet des Sites Sacrés, de mieux protéger ces sites, de fournir une formation à tout le gouvernement pour assurer une meilleure compréhension des relations entre ces sites et les décisions que nous prenons. » Vilsack a ajouté « Bien que nous ayons fait de grands pas pour améliorer les services aux Tribus, il y a encore beaucoup à faire. Le pas que nous faisons aujourd’hui est d’enregistrer officiellement notre rapport sur les Sites Sacrés. »
« Le Président insiste pour que ces Sites Sacrés soient protégés et préservés : traités avec dignité et respect. C’est aussi ce à quoi je m’engage en tant que Ministre de l’Agriculture. Je sais que mes collègues Ministres partagent cet engagement. Nous comprenons l’importance de ces sites et ferons de notre mieux pour assurer qu’ils soient protégés et respectés » dit Vilsack. (Voir, en anglais


Navajo President meeting with Israeli Apartheid government

Grassroots Navajos outraged, call Navajo president 'war machine puppet'

By Brenda Norrell
Censored News
Dec. 10, 2012
Navajo President Ben Shelly
Navajos reacted swiftly today to the news that Navajo President Ben Shelly is meeting with the Apartheid government of Israel today. The news comes the same day that Native American musician and poet Joy Harjo rejected a petition from Native Americans and Palestinians to cancel her performance in Israel.

Outraged grassroots Navajos called Shelly a "war machine puppet."

Louise Benally, Dine' resisting relocation at Big Mountain, Arizona, said, "Ben should stay in Israel, to learn how to farm, they are only puppets for the war machines."
"Is he learning how to farm food, or weapons of mass destruction?" said Benally, among those on Black Mesa who say the Navajo Nation government is a puppet government of the US, which abandoned them for coal mining and power plant dollars.

Reacting to Shelly being in Israel, grassroots Navajos quoted Russell Means.

Means said, “Every policy the Palestinians are now enduring was practiced on the American Indian. What the American Indian Movement says is that the American Indians are the Palestinians of the United States, and the Palestinians are the American Indians of the Middle East,” Means said in 2009 before he became ill with cancer. Further, Means pointed out that the Zionists who control Israel now control the United States. “The power of the US in world politics diminishes every day.”

Shelly said in a statement that he is meeting with Israeli leaders to improve agriculture.

Agriculture, however, is already a controversial issue for the Navajo Nation government.
The Navajo farm, Navajo Agricultural Products Industry, near Farmington, N.M. has promoted Monsanto's genetically modified seeds for years, while other Indigenous Peoples around the world were burning those seeds. By now, those genetically modified seeds would have cross pollinated with traditional nearby Dine' crops.
Indian Country Today censored exposure of another fact about NAPI: Raytheon Missiles has a factory on NAPI farm land where commercial crops are grown for potato chips and other food products. Indian Country Today censored this fact during trade negotiations between the Navajo Nation and Cuba in 2006. Raytheon Missiles continues today to have the factory where the Navajo Nation grows corn, wheat, barley and other crops.

Shelly said he will be learning about Israel's new technology.

Tohono O'odham, on their homeland on the US/Mexico border in southern Arizona, say Israel's Apartheid technology is already being used against them. Israel's defense contractor, Elbit Systems, was subcontracted by Boeing for the border wall and spy technology on the Arizona border, using similar technology Elbit used on the Apartheid border of Palestine.

Shelly will meet with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu December 12, 2012. Navajo radio station KTNN reported that Shelly will meet with the Prime Minister and "begin dialogue on nation to nation relations and invite him to the Navajo Nation for future talks." Shelly arrived Saturday in Tel Aviv and plans to leave on Friday.

Shelly and First Lady Mrs. Shelly are in Israel for a week to meet with dignitaries of the Knesset, Israel’s legislative body, and the Ministry of Agriculture, according to a press statement. Shelly will meet with the Christian Allies Caucus of the Israeli Knesset, which includes members from six of 13 political parties in Israel. The caucus is chaired by David Rotem, who also serves as chair of the Knesset Committee for Law and Justice.
Shelly press statement

Also see:
Louise Benally, censored by Indian Country Today, when she compared the war in Iraq with the Long Walk and imprisonment to war in Iraq

Brenda Norrell has been a news reporter in Indian country for 30 years, beginning with Navajo Times. After serving as a longtime staff reporter for Indian Country Today, she was censored, then terminated. She began Censored News as a result, now in its seventh year.


Joy Harjo rejects calls for boycott, entertains in Israel

Dutch translation

Palestine Chronicle: Joy Harjo 'didn't know'
By Richard Lightbown

I didn’t know about Joy Harjo until she had crossed the picket line.

I didn’t know that a “human rights supporter” (her words) would dare to write “I didn’t know about the boycott [of Israel]”.

I didn’t think anyone associated with the struggle for universal human rights would be able to ignore a military assault on an urban area where 1.6 million people are trapped and unable to flee to safety when advanced technology weapons are targeted at them.

I didn’t think there were people so hypocritical that they could continue with a concert for the nation which has just killed more than 30 children in Gaza in “self-defence” and then write “I have always stood in support of human rights, and the Palestinian cause has always been close to my heart.”

“I didn’t know”. History has heard that excuse before. From the Germans who didn’t know what the Nazis were doing. Or the English that didn’t know that four million Irish were dying of starvation even as food was still being exported from the Emerald Isle. But it sounds particularly lame in the 21st century world of instant communication when the last Israeli full scale assault on Gaza was only a couple of weeks ago.

Read more at Palestine Chronicle


Harjo's statement from Tel Aviv

I sit in a hotel room in Tel Aviv. I am far from my tribal home in Oklahoma. In eternal time, each is a room in the same heart.

I was invited to perform and speak here at Tel Aviv University several months ago. I was a guest here nearly twenty years ago and remembered this place with a great fondness. I recalled the open discussions and the cultural mix of students. I accepted the invitation.

I am aware of the nearly unbearable political strife here. These lands are in the heart area of this Earth. The Jewish people consider these lands their homelands. They have survived countless persecutions and suffered as they made their way home. The Palestinian people are captive in their own homes. There are checkpoints to enter and leave. They do not own title to a country. They are not free. This situation is much like that of my people. We were force-marched from our homelands. Then our lands of resettlement were stolen again.

I am not so naïve as to think art is beyond politics. The arts are and have been used in the regeneration of the spirit of the people. They carry blood, memory and cultures. The arts can also be co-opted for political gain or loss. I am in the service of the source of the poetry and music. With that spirit there is no bargaining with governments, religions or ideologies.

The morning after I left on my journey I received an email from a friend and colleague. He asked me to reconsider my trip. This was the first I learned of the US Campaign for the Academic and Cultural Boycott of Israel. I was puzzled at this request at such a late hour because this colleague had known of my plans to go to Tel Aviv for while.

I came here for the opportunity to speak with and hear the voices of the people, especially the young. I came to be in support of justice and compassion. I don’t believe that the majority of the people in these lands or anywhere in the world are in support of the killings. Now my social media pages and message boxes are filled with a campaign to force a boycott, with messages of polarization, as if there is one way to poetry, resistance or empowerment. There are also messages of support.

I will never forget being on stage the opening night of a large poetry festival in Durban, South Africa. Then U.S. President George Bush was bombing the Gulf and everyone hated the Americans. Each participating poet was given an elaborate introduction, except for me. I was introduced: “This is Joy Harjo. She is an American.” The heavy silence that followed was filled with hate. I was an object of contempt no matter what I sang or what I said for the rest of the conference. I was not in support of the killings on my behalf by the U.S. government. I had actively opposed them, but in the collective audience mind, I was implicated.

I feel that same atmosphere of censure now in the ultimatum that I am being given to boycott. I admire and respect the scholars and artists who have backed the boycott. I stand with their principles, but they will not see it that way.

I refused an invitation to the White House because I disagreed with George W. Bush and his politics. I stepped down from a tenured university position with security and benefits to register my disapproval of unethical practices involving a colleague and students and the persecution of other faculty members who objected. I have always stood in support of human rights, and the Palestinian cause has always been close to my heart.

I will perform at the university as I promised, to an audience that will include Palestinian students. The students have written in support of me being here. I will let the words and music speak for that place beyond those who would hurt and destroy for retribution, or to be right. It is my hope that my choice will generate discussion and understanding for many paths to justice.

Joy Harjo
December 10, 2012 Tel Aviv


Rejecting Palestinian calls, Native American poet Joy Harjo entertains apartheid at Tel Aviv University

Despite appeals from thousands of people all over the world, Native American peers, and Palestinian civil society, poet and musician Joy Harjo has rejected pleas to cancel her performance at Tel Aviv University and respect a Palestinian call for boycott. Read more

Acclaimed feminist author, musician Joy Harjo lands in Tel Aviv to find boycott calls from Native American peers

News article excerpt
Joy Harjo posted early this morning on her Facebook page that she was boarding a flight to Tel Aviv, which alerted activists and colleagues about her trip.
“Joy is a valued friend and colleague, but I disagree with her decision to go to Tel Aviv to perform. I regret not reaching out to her sooner in this regard, which might have changed her mind,” Robert Warrior, Director of American Indian Studies at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, told The Electronic Intifada.
Warrior, who is founding president of the Native American and Indigenous Studies Association, has himself signed on to the call for academic and cultural boycott of Israel.
“I speak out publicly opposing the occupation whenever I get the chance,” Warrior said, “I have been to Palestine twice, and I was a student of Edward Said. Opposing the occupation is among my most important causes.”
Born in Tulsa, Oklahoma, a member of the Mvskoke Nation (also known as Muskogee Creek), Joy Harjo has been nationally and internationally acclaimed for her cultural and political contributions, especially her feminist writing, dating back to the 1970s. She has received numerous awards for her work.
In the video above, Harjo performs, “I Give It Back: A Poem to Get Rid of Fear.”
Harjo unaware of boycott
Given that she was en route to Tel Aviv, Harjo had not responded to an email asking for comment, but soon after landing she posted this message on her Facebook page:
I didn’t know about the boycott until it was too late. My trip was posted here for a month. A person made it their campaign to question my integrity and notify others without speaking with me. I am a Mvskoke person living on occupied lands. I am in support of human rights. My music and poetry take me into the world to speak and sing a compassion that is still beyond me. I am learning yet. Mvto cehacares.
Read more


Joy Harjo: Cancel your show, don't perform for Israeli Apartheid!
Petition by
Thank you for signing the petition "Joy Harjo: Cancel your show, don't perform for Israeli Apartheid!

Native American poet and musician Joy Harjo is scheduled to perform at Tel Aviv University on Monday, December 10. SIGN HERE TO ASK THAT SHE HONOR THE INTERNATIONAL ACADEMIC AND CULTURAL BOYCOTT OF ISRAEL.
It's time to take a principled stance in support of Palestinian human rights being violated by the Israeli state's colonial occupation and apartheid regime. Palestinian civil society has called for the international academic and cultural boycott of Israel. This is an institutional boycott responding to the call to join the Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions (BDS) movement.

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