Indigenous Peoples and Human Rights

September 26, 2019

Best of Censored News: Provocative and Relentless Voices from the Ground

Robert Free with delegation in Venezuela.

By Brenda Norrell
Censored News

As we begin our 14th year at Censored News, we share with you some of the most extraordinary news that has come our way. It is good to go through these old stories, because not only are the details often forgotten, but so is the perspective, a way of seeing the world. Here are a few highlights from Censored News.

In our best of censored news highlights, we share how Robert Free and Hugo Chavez brought heating oil to Indian lands in the U.S. The photo above is from one of Robert's trips to Venezuela, and yes, many of you know him, as the one with the teepee at Alactraz, or riding on the horse in the photo of Wounded Knee 1973, or welcoming the Wixáritari (Huicholes) to Seattle. Others know Robert for his work with traditional healers and AIDS victims. We share with you the story on how Chavez came to bring heating oil to Native homes in the U.S. It is among our most censored stories. Also read Robert's Part II. Thank you Robert.

Vicam Yaqui Water Gathering, Sonora, Mexico. Photo Brenda Norrell

The Vicam Yaqui Highway Barricade for Water
Celebrating as we begin our 14th year of coverage at Censored News, we honor the traditional Yaqui of Vicam in Sonora, Mexico, who maintained a highway blockade for two years to protect their water, and their water rights. Although their two Yaqui press spokesmen were kidnapped and imprisoned by Mexico, they continued. Before this, Vicam Yaqui welcomed the Zapatistas, Marcos and the Comandantes, who gathered with Mohawks and others from the far north. We were happy to provide live coverage of the highway blockade, which brought trucks headed to the U.S. to a crawl.

American Indian Delegation to Libya
This might be our most censored story of all time: The American Indian delegation to Libya. The post includes a video of Vernon Bellecourt discussing Gaddafi's Human Rights Award to American Indians in 1991, with Stokely Carmichael and others. Then in 2005: "An American Indian delegation was among the first to arrive in Libya to secure goodwill trade negotiations with the country following the lifting of U.S. travel restrictions and trade sanctions in 2005. The delegation initiated efforts to establish an arts and cultural exchange and open dialogue for international AIDS awareness and treatment." And of course, the American Indian Movement's friendship with Libya did not go unnoticed. One of the most secretive spy operations, Operation Chaos, tracked Russell Means and his supporters in other countries.

Kahentinetha and her daughter.

Listen to Kahentinetha
Anyone who knows, or wants to know, Kahentinetha Horn, publisher of Mohawk Nation News, will love listening to this one, as Kahentinetha shares with her daughter, actress Kaniehtiio Horn, her memories of her trip to Cuba in 1959 to take a look around. Listen to 'Coffee with My Ma.' You will  also want to listen to Kahentinetha remembering her evening with Marlon Brando. Marlon 'the Gentleman'.

Ofelia Rivas.

O'odham Ofelia Rivas: Spy towers
As we celebrate beginning our 14th year of publishing at Censored News, we thank our writers, including Ofelia Rivas, Tohono O'odham, who exposed the Israeli spy towers since the beginning. She also exposed the unearthing of O'odham remains for the construction of the vehicle barrier. Although many others use Ofelia's work, they seldom credit her years of human rights work, from her home on the border on the Tohono O'odham Nation.

Ofelia, O'odham living on the border and founder of O'odham VOICE Against the Wall, led the resistance which halted a toxic dump on sacred O'odham land, and now stands in opposition to the US Mexico border wall. She describes the him'dag, way of life here. "The O’odham way of life is based on the land that has held the remains of our ancestors since the creation of this world. The O’odham did not migrate from anywhere according to our oral history. Our creation tellings record our history and teach the O’odham principles of life. The survival of O’odham today is based in our him’dag."

U.S. Border Patrol agents stalking and spying into a traditional O'odham woman's
home on the Tohono O'odham Nation.

The Border and Censorship 
One of the most censored issues in the U.S. continues to be the drug-running by US Border Patrol agents and their arrests. Five years ago we wrote this, and nothing has changed. The US Border Patrol agents continue to run drugs, and also continue to get away with murder, on the border. "During the U.S. Congressional hearing on border agent crime last year, the US admitted that since 2004, over 130 agents of the U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) have been arrested, charged, or otherwise prosecuted on corruption charges. The convictions include alien and drug smuggling, money laundering, and conspiracy." A large number of Border Patrol and ICE agents were "spotters" for the cartels, guiding the cartels and drug shipments into the U.S. The abuses of the U.S. Border Patrol on the Tohono O'odham Nation include the human rights violation shown in this photo: U.S. Border Patrol parked in front of a traditional O'odham woman's house on the Tohono O'odham Nation, spying and attempting to intimidate on a daily basis. The harassment includes pulling guns on traditional O'odham elderly.

Big Mountain stands in solidarity with resisters at Mauna Kea and all those defending the sacred. Photo by Ethan Sing.
Big Mountain: Uncensoring Louise's Voice
Resisting 40 years of relocation, Dine' at Big Mountain stood in solidarity with those protecting Mauna Kea in Hawai'i in August. Louise Benally of Big Mountain was among the voices censored by Indian Country Today. As the bombs fell on Bagdad, Louise compared the U.S. military tyranny to the oppression and genocide of the U.S. military on the Longest Walk.  Read Louise's words on protecting the land, water and air.

Debra White Plume, Lakota. Photo by Brenda Norrell
Symbolic smallpox blanket for Lewis and Clark Pretenders
It's difficult to come up with a favorite photo from 37 years of journalism in Indian country, but this one tops my list. Debra White Plume, Lakota, giving the Lewis and Clark re-enactors a symbolic blanket of smallpox as she demanded they leave the banks of the Missouri River. Alex White Plume said, "I remember how he jumped when Debra gave him the blanket. she said we don't want your disease and bad oppressive laws that keep us in prisons called reservations." 

Carl Bad Bear Sampson

Western Shoshone Photojournalist Carl Bad Bear Sampson
It's difficult to find a favorite photo from all the Long Walks across this land. There are so many reader favorites by Western Shoshone Photojournalist Carl Sampson. Bad Bear sent Censored News thousands of photos as he walked coast to coast on those Long Walks since 2008. Thank you from all of us!

Nauaya Gras Res AX: Secret toxic site on Navajo Nation

Going through the Censored News archives, it is amazing how much there is. This is probably the most mysterious, or most hidden government secret, that I stumbled across on the web: A mysterious toxic site on or near the western boundary of the Navajo Nation, that no records exist of. I found it in old records of toxic sites. All the other sites that I could find had information about the pollution or dangers there, and cause, but not this one.
John Redhouse, Dine' environmental icon, said the region was part of the Manhattan Project, and speaks of the uranium mining and the atom bomb materials production on the Navajo Nation, where radioactive material is still strewn. Although most of the records on the Manhattan Project and deadly uranium mining on western Navajoland are declassified now, the records on Nauaya Gras Res AX were purged.
The United States Manhattan Project mined uranium in the western region of the Navajo Nation in Cameron, Monument Valley and Kayenta, Arizona. The Manhattan Project, which created the atom bomb, was top secret at the time. (See link in comments below.) The following quote is from my article, 'A Slow and Toxic Genocide.' ''Nauaya Gra Res AX is listed without information, on or near the Navajo Nation, with impacts unknown. The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) DERP-FUDS files consist of a one-page document that states that no records are available for the site.'' The National Archives and Records Administration, Pacific Region, also reported there are no records available, stated the report of the Department of Defense NAETS."

Casey Camp Horinek, Ofelia Rivas, Leoyla Cowboy, Michelle Cook
Photos by Brenda Norrell in Jamaica

Giving a Voice for the Voiceless in Jamaica
In May, it was an honor to cover the testimony before the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights in Jamaica. Testifying on the abuse by the U.S. government and militarized police were Casey Camp Horinek, Ponca, Leoyla Cowboy, Dine', and Michelle Cook, Dine.' Testifying on the abuse by the U.S. government's Border Patrol was Ofelia Rivas, Tohono O'odham.
Michelle, the organizer of the delegation, spoke on the militarization and criminalization in Indian country.
Recently, the United States and its oil companies engineered new 'riot boosting' laws to halt protests, including those of the Keystone XL pipeline, and silence free speech.
When a federal judge blocked the unconstitutional 'riot boosting' laws in South Dakota in September, he said that "Martin Luther King Jr. would have been liable for 'riot boosting' under South Dakota's law for writing his 'Letter from Birmingham Jail," the ACLU of South Dakota said.
Martin Luther King called for non-violent direct action in this letter. "The purpose of our direct-action program is to create a situation so crisis packed that it will inevitably open the door to negotiation," Martin Luther King wrote.
Caging and abusing migrant children: Prosecute them

As we look to the future, we hope for justice for those who are stealing, caging and murdering migrant children.

It seems putting masses of stolen migrant children in concentration camps, starving and sexually abusing them, is not an impeachable offense in the U.S. In the Nuremberg trials, "just following orders," was no excuse. The prosecutions included "participating in war crimes; and crimes against humanity."

In some cases, it took a long time, but people were eventually prosecuted for Nazi war crimes -- those who did not commit suicide. The others no doubt spent their lives in hiding, dread and fear. Hopefully this will be the future for the operators of private child migrant prisons, and those who give the orders for these.

Everyone at Censored News works without pay.

All of the writers, photographers and broadcasters at Censored News work without pay. For those who donate to great causes, please support these incredible frontline voices and protectors, especially those who live on their homelands and keep the fires of resistance burning each day.
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Article copyright Brenda Norrell, Censored News. All photos copyrighted by each photographer.

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