August 2020

Indigenous Peoples and Human Rights

Friday, September 20, 2013

VIDEO Vicam Yaqui Highway Blockade in Defense of Water Rights 2013

Photo: Vicam Water Rights Gathering Sept 17, 2013

Yaqui maintain major highway blockade since June
Indigenous Peoples from Four Directions urged to come for Oct. 18, 2013 gathering in Vicam

By Brenda Norrell
Censored News Exclusive
Video by Ali Brooks
Sept. 16, 2013
copyright Brenda Norrell, Censored News
Watch video

VICAM PUEBLO, Sonora, Mexico -- Yoeme (Yaqui) in Vicam Pueblo maintained their highway barricade in defense of their water in the Rio Yaqui, as representatives of the National Indigenous Congress met over the weekend with directives from the Zapatistas Little School.
Ofelia Rivas/Vicam Photo Brenda Norrell
Ofelia Rivas, O'odham representative of the National Indigenous Congress, attended the gathering in Vicam on Saturday, Sept. 14, 2013.

"Vicam Yoeme are calling for international support for a meeting on October 18 in the defense of water in Vicam," Rivas said. The Northwest regional meeting of the National Indigenous Congress included the states of Sonora, Sinoloa, Chihuahua and Baja.

"Yaqui are sending a special invitation to the Mohawks to attend this important meeting on water rights on October 18," Rivas said. Earlier, Mohawks joined Subcomandante Marcos and Zapatistas commandantes in Vicam Pueblo for a gathering in 2007. It is located about seven hours southwest of Tucson on the coast of Mexico.

Vicam Water Forum/Photo Brenda Norrell
"Water is essential to our survival," said Mario Luna, spokesman for the Yoeme Traditional Authority of Vicam.

"Generations paid with their blood to maintain our homeland for future generations," Luna told the gathering this weekend.

Luna said the illegal construction is already underway on the Independence Aqueduct. It is a diversion project of Yaqui water from the Rio Yaqui to the city of Hermosillo. Luna said neither the diversion project, nor Mexico's government officials have consulted with Vicam Yaquis as required for the impact statement.

Yaquis said their around the clock, 24-hour a day, highway barricade of federal highway 15, manned by Yoeme warriors, has lasted more than 100 days and has had a major impact on produce flowing into the US. The barricade blocks traffic on the major highway between the Pacific Coast and the city of Hermosillo, a major route from the coast to the US. Yoeme lift the blockade for short periods, allowing trucks to pass after halting the trucks for hours, causing extensive delays, around the clock.

Yaqui highway blockade
Rivas said, "They have cars blocking the highway now. It is causing delays in produce like tomatoes getting to the US on time."

Traditional Authorities of Yaqui Vicam Pueblo issued a summons for this weekend's gathering, in accordance with the Zapatistas Little School.

The Traditional Authorities said the water theft of the Yaqui River Basin will destroy the natural resources of this Indian territory.

"Considering that we have inhabited this territory for 2,500 years, a place where we were born and we have developed our existence, where mother earth provides us with everything for our life and like all the world's indigenous peoples live as brothers, with plants, trees, animals, birds, insects, the air, the heat, the cold, the sun, moon, stars, earth and water, of which is our home, food and healing, and the source of our power."

"Whereas in the territory of the Yaqui tribe, our people are made of earth and water and all that comes from them. While building our culture and creating and consolidating our own institutions, in the vicinity of the river today known as Rio Yaqui, the current government perpetrated one of the most colossal robberies of living memory, stealing the waters of the basin and trying to spoil our people more."

"Whereas for more than 520 years we have suffered, in our lives and in our hearts, the war of extermination, one of the longest and bloodiest wars of living memory, brought on by the political and economic power that is in power today," Yaqui said of the current authoritarian misrule.

Yaqui said today the resistance and civil disobedience is for Yoeme Autonomy and Self-determination.

"Whereas the existence of Mother Earth and humanity is threatened by the hegemonic capitalist system for their insatiable greed and excessive economic and natural resource exploitation and death of ecosystems, carried out by large multinational corporations seeking to divest from our territories and to be strongholds of natural resources, in collusion with corrupt government institutions and the collusion of free market policies, such as NAFTA Puebla-Panama Plan, and its project northwest of the Sea of Cortez known as the Coastal Highway, along with that project, the current state government is stealing water from the Yaqui River basin through the illegal construction of the Independence Aqueduct, with the aim of more plunder, and giving an existential hit to our people."

"Today through unfair and illegal, bidding, construction and operation of the Independence Aqueduct, they steal Yaqui river water and divert it to the city of Hermosillo, with the evil purpose of feeding large transnational businesses, real estate developments, and to encourage the speculation of businesses, with the rampant corrupt government complicity of Guillermo Padres Elias and consent of the current Federal Government."

"The Yaqui Tribe, like most indigenous peoples and the more than 50 million poor who inhabit the country are on the border of extermination, as a result of economic policies that favor the success of the market," Yaqui said.

The Traditional Authority said Mexico wants to "turn water into a commodity, by privatizing and commodifying," water while neglecting the development, autonomy and the right to self-determination of Indigenous peoples.

The Zapatistas, in conjunction with the Mexican Indigenous National Congress, issued a statement of solidarity and support for Yaqui.

“We believe that the earth is our mother and that the water that runs through her veins is not for sale. The life it gives us is a right, not something that the bad government or the business owners have granted us."

“We demand the immediate cancellation of the arrest warrants and false accusations against members of the Yaqui Tribe, and we condemn the criminalization of their struggle. To the political party-based bad governments we say that the Yaqui River is the historical carrier of the ancestral continuity of Yaqui culture and territory, and that a slight against any of us is a slight against all of us. We will respond accordingly to any attempt to repress this dignified struggle or any other. We make a call to the international community and to our brothers and sisters of the International Sixth to be alert to the events in Yaqui territory and to join in solidarity with the Yaqui Tribe and its demands.”

Photo: Vicam Water Rights Gathering Sept 17, 2013

The Yaqui Traditional Authorities released the following statement at the beginning of the blockade in June: 

Yaqui Vicam Pueblo Water Forum/Photo Brenda Norrell

YAQUI Territory, México. June 2013
In defense of water from our rivers, the Yaqui People have now blocked federal highway 15 for 21 days. Mario Luna, secretary for the Traditional Authorities of Vicam, describes how disinformation of the legal strategy in defense of Yaqui territory reminds us that only dignity and strength have made it possible for the Yaqui People to defeat the long series of invasions and attempts to rob the land and its natural resources. This time the call is to alert all of the threat from public law enforcement authorities to dismantle Yaqui blockade of federal highway 15.
From federal highway 15, by Vicam Pueblo -- first headquarters of the 8 Pueblos of the Yaqui tribe -- with 45 centigrade degrees in the shade -- Traditional Authorities are gathered and through me, express the following:
The defense of our territory, land and water goes back hundreds of years since the arrival of a culture of ambition and theft. With wars that have manifested heroic and glorious defense and others have been inhuman actions and total disregard to life, ethnocide and inhumanity.
The Yaqui faces of men, women, elders, youth and children demonstrate determination and endurance yet does not express how they have survived for past generations to sustain many armed incursions in addition to mass deportations - driven to the southernmost part of Mexico to be sold as slaves -in the best of cases- if they were not killed by those who tried to take over their land based on Terra Nullius.
Such attitude of dignity and endurance has allowed the Yaqui People to drive back colonizers during the history of Mexico through warfare. Successful in their battles against historical invasions from foreign nations or bad governments during the independence wars as well as Mexican Revolution- including the takeover of the National Palace in Mexico City along with the Revolutionaries-and the bloody Yaqui War.
As Indian People, the Yaqui demand and exercise an autonomy recognized and formalized in several peace treaties and accords for economic, social, and cultural development.
During the last few years of total disregard for the San Andrés Larrainzar (document/treaty elevating indigenous rights to constitutional level) the robbery and extermination campaign against indigenous Peoples that have recovered and conserved their autonomous lands in Chiapas, Guerrero, Oaxaca, Michoacán and many more in the country have continued. In our case the governmental apparatus has turned against us in order to carry out the last great robbery, called “Acueducto Independencia”, by pretending to reroute the waters from the Río Yaqui to the Rio Sonora basin to satisfy the urgent water needs of the Hermosillo industrial zone -high use water zone for the Ford assembly plant, Coca-Cola, Pepsi, Big Cola and beer plants for Tecate and Heineken. In this same action, industry CEO's expect huge profits to cover large and extensive land grabs which now have no commercial value, yet when they acquire adequate water supply, their property value will increase 2 thousand percent.
The Yaqui tribe was not formally consulted but discovered about this megaproject through various sources and is thus tired of living in a state of low intensity warfare since the last peace treaty in 1927. Therefore, the Traditional Authorities from Vícam Pueblo, decided to legally confront this situation with the new battlefront strategy of using a judicial and institutional process. It began with a water restitution lawsuit in the Agrarian Tribunal Tribunal Unitario Agrario número 35, based in Ciudad Obregón, August 2010. Through this measure, we were able to obtain a cautionary recourse that should have blocked this Megraproject. It commits or limits actions or rights on volume water extrations related to “El Novillo” dam. In 2011 we requested a legal waver from the federal justice system in opposition to an environmental impact statement provided by Department of Environment and Natural Resources (SEMARNAT) to “Sonora Operations Fund” “Fondo de Operaciones Sonora SÍ” for the construction of Acueducto Independencia. After this waver was denied in several courts, it was finally approved on behalf of the Yaqui tribe in Culiacán, Sinaloa District Court and later formalized and published in the Tenth District Court Hermosillo, Sonora.
SEMARNAT then requested to review the waiver and motivated by a series of irregularities denounced by National Human Rights Commission and the Plural Commission (federal Chambers of Senate and Deputies from various political parties) in a historic decision, the National Supreme Court applied their right to summon and resolve to ratify the waiver to the Tribe by recognizing their legal character as Indian Peoples and constitutional and international rights as Yaqui People, to freely seek and be informed with respect to internal protocols, representation as well as by their customs and traditions.
This May 8, 2013 the Supreme Court ruling nullifies the environmental impact statement for the Acueducto Independencia. This also ratifies the status of construction and operation of the aqueduct as illegal to this day.
With the experience lived during hundreds of years of Yaqui Peoples' struggle and today in confronting impunity from Guillermo Padres Elias, Governor of Sonora to take significant volumes of water from “El Novillo” dam, the Traditional Authorities have decided to strengthen civil resistance actions along with the Citizens Movement for Water Movimiento Ciudadano por el Agua – made up of agricultural producers, micro-farmers and civil society from the seven municipalities in southern Sonora who will be impacted by the loss of water being rerouted by the Aqueduct reservoirs.
On May 28, after an enormous march in Ciudad Obregón (over 30 thousand participants, according to organizers), it was decided to take the highways that same afternoon by blocking the entries of both south and north part of the city. Other protesters later joined the blockade from Bacum and Esperanza. As the government continues to show no intention to stop the pumps that illegally take the water stored in the dam, the Traditional Authorities along with the Yaqui troops from Potam and Belem, the protesters took over the highway at Vicam.
On June 11, after several days of continual blockade at several points on the highway (Cajeme, Bacum and Vícam), the delegate of the Department of Communications and Transportation Secretaría de Comunicaciones y Transportes (SCT) in Sonora announced that they had filed a complaint with the Attorney General’s office of Procuraduría General de la República (PGR) against several leaders of Movimiento Ciudadano por el Agua and Yaqui Tribe.
The Sonora Attorney General, Carlos Navarro Sugich, announced this as a successful measure by the State Government and has undertaken a media campaign against those responsible within the Commission for defense of tribal water rights.
By seeking approval of the Traditional Authorities of other members in the Yaqui Nation, the State Government was unanimously rejected of its intention to orchestrate the use of public force against the road blockade. The main conflict is that protesters demand that Sonoran rule of law be applied- presently in violation by the Governor of the State - and an end to illegal water extraction of El Novillo dam - covered under the resolution granted by the National Supreme Court Justice to the Yaqui People.
In a climate of tension and rebellion that we live these days, we share these concerns with all Mexican and international people. We have the support and solidarity from the Indian community’s network of Congreso Nacional Indígena National Indigenous Congress, as well as solidarity from teachers of the national coordinator of education workers (CNTE) and public representatives of most local legislators in southern Sonora districts. There is also a political agreement for a joint call to Governor Guillermo Padrés by these local legislators and seven municipal Presidents of southern Sonora (who were present in the traditional guard event at Vicam on June 15) to stop the theft of our water and the rule of law in Sonora.
In the face of constant threats and rumors as to the use of public force against the demonstrations, our call is to be on the alert and avoid the selective use of prompt and expeditious justice against those of us who defend our right to life to use and benefits of our waters. Let us all avoid the impunity and intolerance of a State Government that with their actions promotes divisiveness between southern Sonora with the northern part of our State.

From: Yaqui Territory, June, 2013
Mario Luna Romero
General Traditional Secretary for Vicam Pueblo
Main Headquarters for the eight Yaqui Pueblos
Published: June 2013
 For permission to repost this article, contact:
Copyright Brenda Norrell, Censored News

Peltier Tribunal on Indigenous Rights announces judges and witnesses

Planning session: Dorothy Ninham, Bill Means and Clyde Bellecourt
By Brenda Norrell
Censored News
The Leonard Peltier International Tribunal on the Abuse of Indigenous Human Rights has announced the judges and the preliminary list of witnesses. The Tribunal will be held at the Radisson Hotel in Green Bay, Wisconsin, on Oneida land, Oct. 2, 3 and 4, 2013. It is open to the public and will be webcast by Earthcycles, with news coverage by Censored News.

Peltier said, "The goal of our Tribunal is to document our many struggles with the U.S. government. The government was involved in outlawing every freedom we valued, from the way we talked to the Creator with our ceremonies to the way we parented our children. Don’t ever forget the spiritual, emotional, physical and mental damage that came from ripping  Native children as young as 3 and 4 years old from the arms of their parents and putting them into the hands of cold, hard matrons in the boarding schools.  Men who normally provided for their families by fishing and hunting found themselves on the wrong side of the law and hunger became common. Acres and acres of beautiful gardens in Native homelands were destroyed for the harvest of uranium flowing through the veins of our Sacred mother earth."

Witness testimony at the Tribunal will include fishing rights, the sterilization of Indigenous women, extreme poverty, theft of tribes' natural resources, environmental issues, the horrific rate of suicides among Native children, and the wrongful conviction of Leonard Peltier. 

The agenda, witness list, and judges list has been updated:
Live Stream
Earthcycles and Censored News have been asked to provide live coverage of the Tribunal.  
Wind Chases the Sun, Inc., a 501(c)3, N5679 Skylark Drive, DePere, WI  54115
02-04 October 2013
Radisson Hotel and Conference Center
2040 Airport Drive
Green Bay, Wisconsin  54313
Book a Room
Tribunal attendees may reserve rooms at the Radisson Hotel and Conference Center at 1-800-967-9033 (toll free) or 920-494-7300 (local). 
Other close-by facilities (within blocks or shuttle distance):
  • Extended Stay at the Airport, 920-499-3600
  • Wingate by Wyndham by the Airport, 920-617-2000

Tahltan First Nation coal protesters prepare for arrests

Rhoda Quock hugging 9-year son, Caden with Tahltan Elder Bertha Louie at protest camp againt coal mining project in the Pacific coast province of British Columbia.
Photo Credit: Skeena Watershed Conservation Coalition

Tahltan First Nation protesters of coal mine project prepare for arrests

Terrance Nelson 'Economic Terrorism to be Legalized Again'

Terrance Nelson
Economic Terrorism to be Legalized Again

By Terrance Nelson
Roseau River Anishinabe
As Canadian Press reports Tuesday, it is a battle between the good guys and "illegal" supposedly criminals, operating outside the laws of Canada and the Province of Manitoba. The reality is that the immigrants who have come into our lands legislated their own laws to legalize their right to use economic terrorism against the sovereign indigenous nations in Canada and United States. 

The Canadian media label First Nation sovereignty as "illegal," the courts which are financed, mandated and follow the laws legislated by the immigrant governments cannot recognize the rightful assertions of the first sovereigns of these lands. The question asked by the Dakota, "how did you get our lands" and "show me a treaty or any documents where we agreed to live under your laws" will not be answered by the judge. The charges of contempt of court however will be dealt with. We can expect the Dakota to be harshly dealt with by the white court. The question will then be, how do the Dakota react to the jailing of their leadership?
     First Nations defend illegal Manitoba smoke shop in provincial court
     By The Canadian Press September 17, 2013

BRANDON, Man. - Arriving on horseback — some wearing headdresses and carrying ceremonial staffs — members of a Manitoba First Nation appeared in court Tuesday to defend their right to operate an illegal smoke shop which sold half-price cigarettes.
The Dakota Chundee smoke shop south of Virden, Man., opened in 2011 and has been raided several times by police. It has since shut down, but the battle goes well beyond the sale of Mohawk tobacco from Quebec for $40 a carton.
The Dakota Chiefs in court in Brandon Manitoba are in danger of going to jail. Amongst the many charges they face is contempt of court. If Frank Brown and the Dakota leadership are thrown in jail, what will be the reaction of the Dakota people and other indigenous people in the Three Western Prairie Provinces.
Is it time meet economic terrorism with economic terrorism? The Dakota sit on the oil pipelines that send millions of barrels of oil every day to the United States. Six years ago, the National Day of Action set for June 29, 2007 wasn't taken seriously until the Chief of Birdtail Sioux First Nation joined in. The Canadian National Railway company stole land from the Birdtail Sioux in 1905 and built a rail line through the stolen land. It is still an unresolved issue today. 
Will the Dakota shut down that railway line if the Dakota leaders are jailed. Most of the Dakota Nations involved in the cigarettes have between 80 and 90% unemployment in their communities. There is more than enough anger to do blockades if the leaders are jailed. CN has picked up body parts on that railway line on Birdtail Sioux First Nation as youth, women and men committed suicide over the years by allowing the train to run over them.
Economic terrorism reversed
How would white people react to being stopped from doing business. The Judge in the Dakota court case may make his decision by Friday September 20, 2013. The reaction to the decision will be swift if it goes badly for the Dakota. Maybe it is time that the immigrant white people to know how it feels to deal with artificially imposed 60 to 95% unemployment.
Sixty million buffalo were killed in the 1800s to ensure that the Dakota could not feed their people. The United States Seventh Calvary slaughtered 300 men, women and children at Wounded Knee South Dakota in December 1890. From 1860 to 1890, hundreds of thousands of indigenous people were slaughtered or died from deliberately induced biological warfare as the United States expanded into Dakota territory. The Dakota in Canada lost all their lands in the United States, the Treaty of Fort Laramie never fulfilled. The real terrorists have never faced justice, economic terrorism in North America continues unabated. Whether it will be reversed or even recognized as a deliberate Genocide remains to be seen.
Terrance Nelson, Vice Chair American Indian Movement

Winnemem Wintu to protest Shasta Dam raising on Sat., Sept 21, 2013


Caleen Sisk, Chief of the Winnemem Wintu Tribe, speaks against the raising of Shasta Dam as Jessica Abbe, writer for the On Sacred Ground series, listens at the premiere showing of Episode 1: Pilgrims and Tourists, at the Cascade Theatre in Redding on Saturday, September 14. The film was superb with stunning coverage of the common struggles of indigenous people against big government/corporate projects in the Altai Republic of Russia and northern California. 

by Dan Bacher 

The Bureau of Reclamation will be holding a 75th anniversary celebration of Shasta Dam on Saturday, September 21 -- and the Winnemem Wintu Tribe and their allies will be there to protest plans by the federal agency to raise the huge dam on the Sacramento River. 

Tribal leaders say the dam raise will inundate many of the sacred cultural sites not already covered by the waters of Shasta Lake. They also oppose the dam raise because it is designed in conjunction with Governor Jerry Brown's Bay Delta Conservation Plan to build the peripheral tunnels. 

The construction of the twin tunnels would hasten the extinction of Central Valley Chinook salmon and steelhead, Delta and longfin smelt, green sturgeon and other species, as well as threaten salmon and steelhead runs on the Trinity and Klamath rivers. 

Tribal members and their allies, including members of other Indian Tribes, fishermen and grassroots environmentalists, will meet at the Shasta Dam during the "celebration" at 10 a.m. 

"We want them to know we're not going to be idle no more and that they need to deal with us as real people," said Winnemem Wintu Chief Caleen Sisk. "There's nowhere else we can go in the world to be Winnemem. If they raise the dam, they will be taking away our future as a people." 

"We can't go to Hoopa or Navajo land to learn to be Winnemem," Sisk said. "This is our Mother Country. We want our salmon back and we want access to participation in the process as a viable community. In their environmental impact report, they list everything we have as archeological sites. However, that's where we dance - that's where we bring our girls across the river in the puberty ceremony." 

Sisk is urging people to bring a sign, bring a boat or just come and support the bring the salmon home and No Dam Raise option. 

"We are not going to fall silent for this BOR organized celebration priming the pump for a further raise which will drown the rest of our sacred places, which will reduce the chance for introducing salmon above the dam, which will put a big ol' gravel pit in our neighbors' neighborhood and hugely and negatively impact the houseboater's businesses and campgrounds," said Sisk. "It's not just our issue!" 

This year, the Bureau has been “celebrating” the 75th anniversary of Shasta Dam with a series of events starting on September 15 and ending on September 21. A Bureau press release describes the dam as "an engineering marvel responsible for water distribution to over 38 million Californians." 

The Tribe and its allies this week held a series of film showings to show the other side of the anniversary, starting with the premiere of the wonderful film, Toby McLeod's "Pilgrims and Tourists," showing the commonality of struggles between the Winnemem in California and the indigenous people of the Altai Republic of Russia, at the Cascade Theatre in Redding on Saturday, September 14. They also held screenings of Restore the Delta's "Over Troubled Waters" and Will Doolittle's "Dancing Salmon Home."

"To make room for the reservoir, the BOR stole our lands, destroyed our salmon run, and submerged our burial grounds and sacred sites," according to Sisk. "Many Winnemem were left homeless, and we still have yet to receive to the 'like lands' that were promised to use in the 1941 Indian Lands Acquisition Act, which authorized the stealing of our land." 

Sisk added, "When will there be justice for the Winnemem Wintu? Is it right for the BOR to be celebrating the stealing our lands, our burials, our wild Chinook Salmon, our way of life - leaving us with nothing and then calling us an "unrecognized tribe!" 

"It is time to Idle No More for the Lenda Nur! (winter chinook salmon). The McCloud River, a world class fishing river, should have the wild Chinook back. The same ones that were sent to New Zealand are ready to come back," Sisk said. 

"There is nothing more powerful than a belief that has come of time. Our time has come!" she concluded. 

For more information on the impact of Shasta Dam upon the Winnemem Wintu, you can read Marc Dadigan's superb article at: 

Reminder: The 90-day comment period on Draft Environmental Impact Statement for the Shasta Lake Water Resources Investigation began on Monday, July 1, and all comments must be received by midnight Monday, September 30. The Draft EIS documents the evaluation of potential effects of six alternative plans to modify the existing Shasta Dam and Shasta Reservoir Project, located approximately 10 miles northwest of Redding, Calif. 

Written comments may be mailed or faxed to Katrina Chow, Project Manager, Bureau of Reclamation, Planning Division, 2800 Cottage Way, Sacramento, CA 95825-1893, fax: 916-978-5094 or email BOR-MPR-SLWRI [at]

You can learn more at: 

According to the film project’s website, “Russian shamans and a northern California tribe both confront massive government projects—and find common ground. Around the world, indigenous communities stand in the way of government megaprojects. In the Russian Republic of Altai, a pristine mountain region in southern Siberia, traditional native people create their own mountain parks to rein in tourism, and resist state-run energy giant Gazprom’s plans to run a pipeline to China through a UNESCO World Heritage Site. In California, Winnemem Wintu girls grind herbs on a medicine rock as elders protest U.S. government plans to enlarge Shasta Dam, which would forever submerge this touchstone of the tribe. Winona LaDuke (Anishinaabe), Oren Lyons (Onondaga), Satish Kumar and Barry Lopez provide insights on a growing global indigenous movement for human rights and environmental protection. Narrated by Graham Greene (Oneida), with storyteller Tantoo Cardinal (Métis).” 

Mohawk John Kane 'Rule of Law or Rule of Lawyers?'

Rule of Law or Rule of Lawyers?

By John Kane, Mohawk

We often hear from the righteous voices of the U.S. and Canada when looking at countries and peoples they view as inferior, that “rule of law” must prevail in these “developing” nations. “Developing”…? Excuse me! Forget the fact the U.S. and Canada have no culture or even a language of their own and barely a history, for that matter, compared to other peoples of the world.
But what does “rule of law” even mean?
When the upstart British colonists became dissatisfied with their “mother country,” they set about trying to create something new and distinct from European monarchies — new to them anyway. There is much talk of democracy these days but male dominant aristocracies is a habit hard to break especially when it is all you've known for several centuries. In the view of the “founding fathers,” democracy would empower the ignorant and the uninformed. They believed everyone should have rights. However, there was an important caveat: that “power” needed to be in the hands of the “capable.”
The U.S. did not form a democracy. It was a republic. The distinction between the two comes down to two concepts. The first is where sovereignty is vested. In a republic sovereignty is a birthright. It is vested in the individual; and the sovereignty of a nation comes from the people collectively. In a democracy it is the state that is the sovereign although it is an authority held by the collective of the people. The second thing that separates a democracy from a republic is the notion that the foundation of law or a constitution for a republic is natural law. That is to say that certain rights are inherent and unalienable. In a true democracy all laws are subject to majority (mob) rule. Both these ideas incorporated in the concept of a republic came from the Haudenosaunee. Sovereignty as a birthright, the understanding that creation is the ultimate power, and that any and all constructs of man are bound to that power, is the essence of our opening address, the Ohentonkariwatehkwa.
So when the words, “rule of law” are uttered, I say: hell yeah, agreed, no problem — as long as we are talking laws of nature and not the laws of men imposed on others without consent.
Seemingly, the entire world has forgotten the distinction of natural law from man’s law. Laws do not solve conflict. Even nature’s laws don’t do this — ask the next dinosaur you see how that worked out for them. Law, by court or certainly by lawyers, cannot resolve conflict. No one has ever successfully challenged nature in court. They have used courts to defy it but nature, like us, does not recognize that jurisdiction. Man’s law, on the other hand, is supposed to be based on the establishment of legitimate authority at the foundation of every piece of legislation and should lay out everything from jurisdiction to the legislative intent to constitutionality and basic rightness. It fails on much of this.
Now the biggest problem with this concept of “rule of (man’s) law” is that, unlike nature, we abandon diplomacy and negotiation and basic harmony for court rulings — i.e. winners and losers. And again, unlike in nature, there are flaws in much of the foundation of man’s law.
As I sit here today striking these computer keys and pondering all of this, I insist that there still does not exist any proper legal foundation for the subjugation of Native people to U.S. or Canadian law. And I would imagine the same could be said for many other peoples oppressed by colonial powers. The reality is there was no transfer of our sovereignty, no surrender agreement, no “treaty” asking to join the “club,” no referendum, and certainly no consent to genocide or assimilation. The U.S. and Canada cannot legislate our sovereignty away and their courts and judges cannot just rule it away. By definition the sovereignty of one people is outside the jurisdiction of another.
While I do believe the United Nations should do more than approve a “Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples,” I don’t believe the U.N. should be the final arbitrator of any justice. No individual or no organization should have this role — or this right.
We must return to an era of diplomacy and statesmanship. A civilized society needs to have honest and meaningful dialogue to resolve conflicts. It should not be based on might makes right but, rather, on right makes right. Statesmanship and compromise need to be held higher than court precedents and religious dogma. Lawyers and lobbyists playing word games with man-made laws to screw the less fortunate, the environment and future generations need to be thrown off the table and conflicts need to be looked at as things to resolve — not as contests to win.

Published previously in the Two Row Times and posted on the Native Pride blog.

Longest Walk 4: Walking into Lawrence, Kansas


Photos by Carl 'Bad Bear Sampson, Western Shoshone
Censored News

LAWRENCE, Kansas -- The Longest Walk 4 Return to Alcatraz walked into Lawrence, Kansas, on Friday, Sept. 20, 2013
Photos by Carl 'Bad Bear' Sampson, thank you from Censored News! Bad Bear said today, "All the walkers left looking for other walkers to go all the way with us."
Bad Bear said at Haskell Indian University, "We circled up and said a prayer, then sang the AIM song. We have 26 miles to do each day until next Saturday, 170 miles to Wichita!"
Wednesday's photos, walking west from Kansas City:
More photos: Long walkers with students in Kansas:
Long walkers harassed by Kansas police:

If you can host the walkers in your area, or provide meals, please contact the walk at: or at their cell: 202-436-6576.

Return to Alcatraz website with route and donation tab:

September 19 – 26 - Topeka to Wichita, KS 161 miles

September 27 – 30 - Gathering/ support tar sands and pipeline resistance


October 1 – 17 - Wichita to Pueblo, CO 418 miles

October 18 – 19 - Gathering

October 20 – 31 - Pueblo to Grand Junction, CO 284 miles

Route continues through Utah and Nevada to California, more at:

Ceremony on Alcatraz: Dec. 22, 2013

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