August 2020

Indigenous Peoples and Human Rights

Thursday, January 17, 2013

Video 'Idle No More' Hawaii

Terrance Nelson 'We can stop all trains in Canada'

Rail Blockade Jan. 16, 2013
'Not one Toothpick'
By Terrance Nelson
First Nation Roseau River Ojibway
Chief Fox,
Yesterday, our small group of fifty delivered a notice to Business Canada. CN had obtained an injunction on Monday, the day previous to the railway blockade. CN only delivered that notice to us later on yesterday. I got a copy only after a CN Cop picked up a copy from the ground and handed it to me. We had already started to leave the area. Although the injunction is not legal, we left the blockade after we made our point. The point is clear, we can shut down the economy.
In 2007, I won a decision against an injunction that was sought by CN. This time their lawyers did not provide notice to us and went to court obtaining the injunction without giving us notice of the injunction or a chance to appear. CN's title comes from the government but the government gets their title from the treaty. When Harper passed the Bill C45 legislation, he nullified the title of CN. Only the treaty guarantees immigrants rights in our lands. In 2007, I went to court and asked Judge Kennedy, how can you give CN an injunctiion against us being on our own land, Kennedy said, CN has title, I asked where did they get title, Kennedy said from Government, so I asked, where did the Government get their title. He went silent and asked, do you have documentation. Of course we did. We gave him a huge amount of documentation.
The doctrine of discovery cannot be upheld in court. We are batting nearly 100% of the land court cases. We win because all the immigrant rights come from Treaty. If the treaties are nullified by Harper legislation, CN, CPR, Enbridge, TransCanada and all immigrant right to access in our lands are endangered.
We can stop all trains in Canada if we had to. If we are forced to do this, our slogan will be Not one toothpick. Jody Wilson Raybould is quoted in the Globe and Mail against blockades. The British Columbia First Nations want Treaty Negotiations and lumber is 50% of the economy of British Columbia but if bloodshed occurs in Canada, Not One Toothpick will be sold to the Americans. There is 2 billion dollars worth of trade a day between Canada and United States. We do not want to be on blockades, we are forced to be there by the Harper legislation.
We need to contact the Americans. They are not our enemy, they can dictate to Harper. The economy of Canada is tied to the United States.
On Tuesday January 22nd and Wednesday 23rd, you will be in Winnipeg with the Assembly of Manitoba Chiefs summit. We want a resolution authorizing action on the Treaties. If the immigrants who get all their rights from Treaty are jeopardized by the legislation by Harper, we will be in legal position to take action to stop all railway lines.
The three prairie provinces are the most powerful areas for protest by First Nations. The Biggest Railway Lines and Pipelines are all in Alberta, Saskatchewan and Manitoba. We have the ability to bring down the Canadian economy and Americans need to wake up to Harper and his dangerous policies.
We delivered the notice yesterday by blocking CN. IF CN tries to sue us or continue to confront us, they will lose all rights to cross our lands. We can stop them if we had to. We don't want to but we maybe forced into this. A resolution at the Summit by AMC next week is needed to legalize a response by the Treaty Nations.
We are there if the Chiefs want action. According to the attached documentation. CN probably lost ten million dollars yesterday. They will need a few days to catch up to the delays from yesterday. IF they sue us, they should also sue Harper because it is the Harper legislation that caused this. I will abide by the injunction for now but I will appeal the injuction. The Judge never allowed us to appear and we will take him to task for his decision. He has no clue about his legal obligations to the treaty rights of immigrants in our lands. We will revoke those immigrants access rights if we have to and as the judge did, we will do so without notice to the immigrants. We do need to be reasonable but Harper is stupid if he thinks that this is over.
The immigrant court already put their injunction in place without our input. Next week, the Chiefs have a chance to put in place a resolution authorizing blockades if Harper continues to unilaterally change the conditions of treaty without our input. The hell with providing them notice, if they feel they have the right to impose their laws upon us without our input. IF CN didn't get that message yesterday, they will if they continue to ignore the conditions of treaty.

Navajo Robyn Jackson 'Coal Mine Produces Poison, Not Sovereignty'

Ash ponds close to Chaco Wash

Coal Mine Produces Poison, Not Sovereignty
By Robyn Jackson
Censored News

While considering the proposed transfer of ownership of BHP’s Navajo Mine, we should start by asking ourselves why BHP is offering to sell at this time. If we were to thoroughly examine, we would see that coal mines all over the country are being phased out. In 2012, Alpha Natural Resources closed 8 mines. Coal is in fact, in decline. California and other state and city governments are working towards transitioning to renewable energy sources.
Considering all this, you might think that BHP’s executives are trying to relieve themselves of a no longer profitable mine, which also involves numerous egregious liabilities that will certainly lead to billions of dollars in remediation and reclamation. For instance, there is the matter of coal ash. After power plants have burned coal, they are left with the ash that is often disposed of in dry landfills or mixed with water and contained in holding ponds. Some might say, “Isn’t this just harmless ash?”  The truth is, coal ash often contains seventeen toxins, if not more, including heavy metals and radioactive elements like radon, thorium and uranium. A report by the Physicians for Social Responsibility has found that ingesting these toxicants, whether through eating, drinking or inhaling, can cause cancer and affect the nervous system creating cognitive deficits, developmental delays and behavioral problems. Data by the EPA has also found that living next to a coal ash disposal site can increase your risk of cancer and other diseases.
So what does Four Corners Power Plant (FCPP) do with their coal ash? We know that from 1971 to 2008, generated coal ash was dumped in unlined mine pits, covered only by topsoil at Navajo Mine. Yes, for nearly 40 years BHP was accepting toxic waste as backfill. In 2008, BHP stopped accepting coal ash and FCPP now has holding ponds, west of the facility to store the ash. Given the height and width of these ponds, the term pond seems inadequate. As of 2009, one of these embankments had a height of 170 feet. That’s the same height as a 17 story building and this is just one part of the holding site for wet coal ash. An operation of 50 years of burning coal should amount to a great deal of waste. In fact, FCPP has generated over 100 million tons of coal ash and most of it is on the Navajo Mine site. 
As mentioned, the coal ash dumped at Navajo Mine is unlined. This makes the toxins in the ash much more susceptible to leaching into above and underground waterways, rivers, aquifers and drinking wells. Additionally, these toxins can travel in the environment from erosion and runoff and as fine particles or dust. There are examples of communities who have been adversely affected by coal ash and its contamination of their water supply.  Coal ash disposal sites have been quarantined as no longer safe for people due to high levels of toxins. The most famous incident of a coal ash catastrophe was the 2008 TVA Kingston, Tennessee, coal ash spill. A holding pond containing 40 acres of coal ash failed, spilling into a river valley that included homes. Now that area has two contaminated rivers and homes that residents were forced to sell to the Tennessee Valley Authority, who owned the plant. As of 2011, the TVA has estimated the total cost of cleanup at Kingston to be 1.2 billion dollars. Interestingly, the TVA is largely able to make this payment through higher electric bills to their ratepayers. Such a great example of how responsible these companies are.
Then again, as Pat Risner, President of BHP NM Coal stated in a December 2012 letter to the Durango Herald, “There are different views on what corporate responsibility entails.”  Exactly what BHP considers their responsibility needs to be clarified. Currently a reclamation or remediation plan for CCW by BHP is nonexistent. Which means, who exactly is liable for paying for clean-up? What if the unlined coal ash on Navajo Mine site leached out? Is BHP thinking that the Navajo Nation should clean that up itself? After 50 years of Navajos providing cheap electricity for others and allowing BHP to make huge profits, is that really all they can say to us? Think about it. In 2011, they made a profit of 15 billion on total revenues of 70 billion. They are, after all, the biggest mining company in the world.
The Navajo government can ill afford to take on clean-up costs that amount to over a billion dollars.  As it is, a 2010 report has found levels of boron and selenium downstream from the FCPP coal ash ponds are higher than upstream levels. These downstream levels are two times over what is safe for aquatic life. There is more evidence that coal ash has saturated the ground in Area I of Navajo Mine, parallel to the San Juan River. Another study determined that coal ash constituents, including selenium are making their way into the San Juan River ecosystem. The evidence is undeniable and frightening.
Of course, BHP wants nothing more than to leave behind this mess. Have we forgotten that BHP is a business, with the sole purpose of making a profit? But for our communities and our nation, this is more than just some area to make money off of. We have a relationship and long history to this place. This is our home. This is our land, our air and our water.
As our stories explain, we were put here by the Holy People. We were told that this would be our home to take care of. Most are aware that we have sacred mountains that designate our boundaries, but the major rivers that surround our territory are also sacred and act as boundaries: like the San Juan, which represents the male water that is said to protect and look after our people. In the traditional Navajo view, rivers serve as energy sources which our ceremonies, prayers and chants are tied to. Included in these ceremonies, prayers and chants are the many plants and animals that make up the southwest landscape and the Navajo universe. We are taught that the well-being of all these creatures and the ecosystems that support them, including our mother (earth) and father (sky), is linked to our overall well-being and spiritual health as Diné.
Exactly how does 50 years of water, air, and soil contamination fit into our traditional view? Is it really okay that coal mining and coal combustion has disrupted so many lives? I would like to know how this translates into tribal sovereignty, as the Shelly administration stated in a Farmington Daily Times article last month. What precisely is the long-term plan of the Shelly administration and the council delegates? Power plants are closing down all over the country. Four Corners is one of the oldest. Its engineers will tell you that they have to continually jump start the thing because it’s constantly falling apart. If the tribal government is really thinking that they will turn around and sell Navajo Mine coal to the operators of the Four Corners Power Plant, that is without a doubt very limited planning. APS recently announced that they are shutting down three units, which means a direct reduction in coal demand for that facility.
What’s more, is this really all our tribal government can come up with? Why lock ourselves down this path that has ill served our people as a whole? There are other alternatives, like solar and wind. There is potential, as a 2008 report: Energy and Economic Alternatives to Desert Rock spelled out. Don’t we owe it to ourselves to take a path that is much more in line with our traditional beliefs of sustainability, respect and reciprocity? Or are we going to continue down a path of increased pollution and social and environmental injustice?

Hidden Camera: Border Patrol removes migrant blankets, food, during freezing temps

Border Patrol Agents Remove Blankets, Humanitarian Supplies from Desert Amid Record Low Temperatures in Southern Arizona

 By No More Deaths
January 17, 2013
Censored News
French translation by Christine Prat

Tucson, AZ- A hidden camera video released by Tucson-based humanitarian organization No More Deaths shows an agent of the U.S. Border Patrol removing clean blankets and food intended for migrants in distress.  The January 8 video captures a Border Patrol agent on a desert trail near the town of Arivaca, Arizona, about 12 miles north of the international border.  The agent stops, opens a plastic bag surrounding dry blankets and canned food, inspects the contents, and then leaves, removing the life-saving provisions.  Between January 9 and 15 temperatures in southern Arizona dropped to historic lows, and the blankets and food are provided by humanitarian organizations to prevent death and illness due to these extreme temperatures.  The January 8 video can be viewed at:

Says No More Deaths Medical Advisor, Dr. Norma Price: “We know that hypothermia can be equally dangerous as dying from heat stroke in the summer.  This month has been one of the most severe that Arizona has ever had.  There is no question, people are crossing in the desert and their lives could be saved if they were given blankets and warm clothing.” During Fiscal Year 2012 the remains of 178 people were recovered from the southern Arizona desert.

In May 2012 another hidden camera video caught Border Patrol agents vandalizing caches of life-saving water.  Video of this incident aired on July 20, 2012 on PBS’ Need to Know program, as part of a series highlighting abuses committed by agents against migrants in their custody (the May 2012 can be seen at:  In response to this incident, then-Sector Chief Rick Barlow sent a memo to all agents instructing them to respect humanitarian workers and provisions.  Despite this memo, volunteers have seen consistent and widespread vandalism and removal of life-saving water, food and blankets (photos of recent vandalism, from January 15, 2013, can be seen at:

In an effort to prevent the cruel deaths and suffering commonplace in the U.S./Mexico borderlands, No More Deaths and other humanitarian aid organizations provide food, water and emergency medical aid to individuals in distress.  It is shocking to see Border Patrol agents sabotaging these efforts, instead of helping to respond to the humanitarian catastrophe that U.S. border enforcement strategy has itself unleashed.

Contact: Sarah Launius
Cell Phone: (520) 240-1641

No More Deaths is a grassroots, all-volunteer organization that provides direct humanitarian assistance to women, men and children lost, injured or ill while crossing through the Arizona desert.  More than 6,000 people have died along the border since 1998.  In October 2011 No More Deaths published A Culture of Cruelty, which documented thousands of abuses, including assault, humiliation and medical neglect committed by Border Patrol agents against individuals in their custody.  The report also includes recommendations for clear, enforceable custody standards with community oversight to ensure compliance.  Read more at

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