Thursday, December 18, 2008

Video of Hugo Blanco's Speech on Indigenous Struggles in the Western Hemisphere

Hugo Blanco Galdos, has been an activist his entire life. In the 1960s he led the Campesino movement and coined the famous chanted slogan for the movement: "Land or Death!" In his later years, he has returned to his roots as an indigenous Peruvian Indian and is championing the rights of South American Indians to remain on their lands and pursue ecologically sound development. He currently is publishing a magazine titled Lucha Indigena (Indigenous Struggle). We have included the following capsule biography from Wikipedia.

Following the capsule biography are YouTube videos of the speech he delivered last year at Simon Fraser University in Vancouver, B.C.


Hugo Blanco

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Hugo Blanco Galdos is a Peruvian political figure and leader of the Campesino Confederation of Peru.

In the early 1960s he led the Quechua peasant uprising in the Cuzco region of Peru. Captured by the military, he was sentenced to 25 years imprisonment on the island of El Frontón. During his imprionsment he wrote Land or Death: The Peasant Struggle in Peru.

Blanco was released from prison and expelled to Sweden in 1976[1] following an international solidarity campaign that included Jean-Paul Sartre, Simone de Beauvoir, and Bertrand Russell. After spending several years of exile in Sweden, Mexico and Chile he returned to Peru in 1978, was a founder of the Workers Revolutionary Party and was elected to parliament on a left-wing slate.[2]

He served in the Peruvian Senate as a representative of the Partido Unificado Mariateguista until 1992 when he fled to Mexico where he was granted asylum following[3] due to Alberto Fujimori's "self-coup" and declaration of a state of emergency.[4]

Hugo Blanco is currently Director of a Cusco-based newspaper called Lucha Indigena.


This article is also licensed under the GNU Free Documentation License. It uses material from the Wikipedia article "Hugo Blanco"

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It Is Not the Earth that Belongs to the People but the People Who Belong to the Earth

HUGO BLANCO The convert

Legendary campesino Hugo Blanco merges old-style Marxism with earth-first land reform philosophy

Now Magazine

Artículo publicado en Canadá en septiembre del 2007

The western hemisphere has a new name. On October 12, indigenous peoples from many countries met in Bolivia to celebrate the United Nations declaration on their rights, and once again rechristened (so to speak) our continents Abya Yala.

In the Kuna language, this means "land in its full maturity." Amerigo Vespucci, an Italian explorer of the late 1400s, lost his naming rights to descendants of settlers who arrived 10,000 years earlier.

The rising sense of power among the hemisphere's 50 million indigenous people is transforming politics in what used to be called South America. But few people have been changed as profoundly by this new politics of identity as Hugo Blanco, the legendary Peruvian Trotskyist revolutionary.

It was Blanco, back in the 60s, who invented the now famous chant of peasants and campesinos the world over: Land or death.

During a lecture tour of Canada last month, he showed how deftly he has wedded old-style Marxist revolutionism to his relatively recent encounter with his own indigenous heritage.
At a meeting at a Ryerson lecture theatre in September, Blanco sports the typical floppy sheepskin hat worn by the Quechua people of the frigid mountains of southern Peru. I only learn afterward that the young-looking 73-year-old wears the hat at all times on doctor's orders, for fear that his skull, which has suffered too many police beatings, can't withstand an accidental bump.

Even with his disarming appearance, Blanco's opening lines surprise me. They're nothing like what I remember from the fiery speeches that almost got him executed when he was tried for his role in a 1962 armed peasant revolt.

The reason native politics are so charged today, 500 years after Europeans invaded, he begins through a translator, is that mines and oil and gas wells are poisoning Pachamama, Mother Earth.

And the aggressive materialism of global corporations is destroying "ayllu," the indigenous sense of community that encompasses every being in a village, including hills, rivers, animals and plants, each of which is endowed with a spirit.

But he's still a socialist, he says at the end of the lecture. After all, reports of Inca civilization inspired Voltaire and Thomas More, contributing to Europe's tradition of utopian socialism.
One of Blanco's daughters, raised in Sweden during one of his many periods of exile, once led Swedish tourists through a Peruvian village and was told it looked like socialism. You have that backwards, he recalls her telling the Swedes; socialism looks like this.

But the world has changed since his youth, he says. "When I was young, I took up the struggle for equality. Now the struggle is for the survival of the species."

Blanco, educated in a radical European culture when he was a student in Argentina during the 1950s, confesses that he is still a recovering Eurocentric. It's easy to see he's struggling to make the transition from the polemical truths of his youth to something else.

South American radicals "copied our social analysis from Europe," he says, "yet socialism, social democracy and Communism have all been defeated in the South.

"I don't know how much Eurocentrism is still in me," he adds. "I am in the process of overcoming. We must initiate this revolution within ourselves."

What does this mean for future organizing? He doesn't know, "but little by little we move forward." The newspaper he edits, Lucha Indigena, follows what indigenous people are doing, not the line of a political organization such as the one he once led. Many of his statements end with a quotation from the Spanish poet Antonio Machado y Ruiz: "Walker, there is no road. The road is made by walking."

Working without a compass is something he says he learned from studying the Zapatistas of Mexico, another country he spent time in as an exile. Blanco has a totally different sense of power than the one he held during the 1960s, when the struggle for campesino and worker power was at the heart of the manifesto Land Or Death: The Peasant Struggle In Peru that he wrote on death row in prison.

"Among revolutionaries, we were negatively affected by an obsession with power," he now says. His movement has since overcome old-style illusions thanks to the experience of pseudo-revolutionary Shining Path terrorists, who once ordered him killed, he says.

Indigenous communities practised consensus, he says. "We are not about taking power, but building power," he says. He now likes to organize "peasant circles" that displace judges and corrupt government officials with self-managing groups at the municipal level.

I luck into a two-hour after-lecture dinner with Blanco, Phil Cournoyer, the translator of his memoirs, and assorted friends at a nearby Internet café serving Somali food.

When Blanco chanted "Land or death," Cournoyer tells me, the activist had "an incipient understanding" that it was different from the Hispanic tradition of "Fatherland or death," a popular cry in Cuba. It reflected a deep-seated and intuitive psychological and spiritual understanding that land, identity, meaning and life were one continuum.

It is not the earth that belongs to the people but the people who belong to the earth," Blanco clarifies.

From the leader of militant land reform during the 1960s comes a land reform philosophy for the 21st century.

[Editor's Note: For a really good article describing how Hugo Blanca's Lucha Indigena mobilized indigenous protests that repealed the Peruvian government's recent legislation (enacted in conjunction with the Free Trade Agreement with the United States) that would have opened up communally held indigenous lands to mining and oil extraction, check out Derek Wall's excellent blog, Another Green World. - Perry Chesnut, Editor, Native Rights News]


© by NOW Communications Inc.

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Wednesday, December 17, 2008

NY Governor Signs Bill to Tax Cigarettes Sold by Seneca Nation

Taxation to begin on reservations within 60 days

by Sharon Turano
The Observer: December 16, 2008

Seneca Nation of Indians officials will detail their response to Gov. David Paterson's decision to collect sales tax on cigarettes sold to non-Indians during a news conference at 11 a.m. today.

''The Seneca Nation of Indians will explore all of its options,'' report nation officials, who said the law threatens the nation's treaty rights and 1,000 retailing jobs in Western New York.

''This action is a threat to the Seneca Nation, and we have no choice but to explore all of our options,'' said Barry E. Snyder Sr., Seneca Nation president.

''Attacking tax-free commerce in our territories is short-sighted and disastrous for us and all of Western New York. The nation has a complicated and intertwined relationship with the state. Since this is the direction that the governor wants to take things, then we have no choice but revisit every aspect of our relationship with the state.''

''The issue here is not cigarettes, but the protection of the nation's treaty rights. We will do what it takes at the right time to protect those rights,'' said Snyder.''Because our Nation believes that diplomacy is always the best path when governments are in dispute, I have invited Governor Paterson to our historic territory to discuss how this problem can be resolved in a matter respectful of our treaties,'' said President Snyder.


Paterson also listed his reasons for signing the bill into law.

''Cigarettes sold by Indian retailers to non-Indians must be taxed,'' a news release from Paterson said.

Under the law, those selling cigarettes to retailers must provide the state tax department with certification the cigarettes will not be resold to untaxed retailers to resell without collecting taxes on the products. The state Department of Taxation will have 60 days to issue a certification form and prepare to receive the certifications that will be submitted.

Under the law, tax law violators are subject to revocation or cancellation of its license. A false certificate could be referred to a district attorney's office for prosecution for perjury or filing a false instrument.

''This law has not been adequately applied for far too long giving non-Indians easy access to tax-free cigarettes both on the reservations and over the internet,'' Paterson said. ''However, the signing of this bill should not be seen as anything other than enforcing the tax laws of New York in a fair and effective manner. My commitment to the sovereign powers of New York's Indian Nations has not and will not waver and I will continue to seek a comprehensive negotiated solution with all of New York's Indian nations.''

Although cigarettes sold by agents to retailers for re-sale to non-Indian purchasers must bear tax stamps, the state has, for many years, adopted a policy of non-enforcement, and unstamped cigarettes continue to be sold by agents to Indian retailers who sell them to non-Indians at discount prices, his press release states.

''Tomorrow, I will present my 2009-2010 budget proposal and while we will continue to aggressively and responsibly address New York's current budget crisis, this bill is not only about collecting revenue for the state of New York, it is also about protecting the health of our citizens. Smoking has long been a tragic public health crisis in New York and around the world,'' Paterson said.

He said cigarette taxes have been one of the state's most effective tools in addressing this crisis.

''To the extent that the tax is undermined, our efforts to fight smoking are also undermined,'' Paterson said.


Bills that state tobacco manufacturers can't sell untaxed cigarettes to retailers for resale were passed by the state Assembly and Senate over the summer and were awaiting the governor's signature to become law.

''I urge the governor and the Seneca Nation to undertake discussions to find a peaceful and productive resolution to their differences,'' said state Sen. Catharine Young, R-Olean.

''I am disappointed that Governor Paterson has signed this legislation without further negotiation with the Seneca Nation of Indians,'' said state Assemblyman Joe Giglio, R-Gowanda. ''I believe that this is a complicated issue, and negotiations among the involved parties should take place prior to the effective date of this legislation.''

Convenience store lobbies, such as the New York State Association of Convenience Stores, have requested taxes be collected.

''In the quest for tax fairness, this would be a step in the right direction,'' said James Calvin, executive director of the association about the governor signing the bill into law,'' he said.

Members of the Seneca Free Trade Association, a private-non-profit cooperative assoication of individuals and businesses licensed by the Nation to develop commerce and industry within and around Nation territories, could not be reached to comment Monday.

They previously called on the public to ask Paterson to veto the bill.

''We are both saddened and angered by the continued attacks upon our indigenous rights and sovereignty by narrow-minded New York politicians and government officials,'' they wrote in a letter seeking support for a veto. They called the legislation ''a misguided assault upon Seneca Indian sovereignty.

''Because tobacco and the trade of tobacco have long been an integral part of our Seneca culture and heritage, we view this recent effort by the New York Legislature as a direct, discriminatory attack on the Seneca people,'' they said. ''Seneca Indian business owners have no intention of helping New York's incompetent bureaucrats close their state's budget deficit, which has been created by their misspending and mismanagement of your tax dollars.''

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© 2008 The Observer

Native Rights News is making this material from The Observer available in accordance with the Fair Use Doctrine codified at Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107: This article is distributed without charge or profit to those who have expressed a prior interest in receiving the included information. Distribution of this material is for research and educational purposes that will promote social and economic justice and benefit society.

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Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Mexican Development Plans Threaten Land and People of Chiapas
December 12, 2008

Threatening the Land and People of Chiapas
by Ahni (John Schertow)

The Mexican government has announced plans to bring ‘progress’ and ‘development’ to Chiapas, under the renewed “Plan Puebla Panama” scheme, now called the “Mesoamerica Initiative.”

“A renewed push to exploit and destroy the land and people of Chiapas,” says rootforce, the plan involves the ‘four horsemen of Chiapas’: mining, infrastructure, bio-fuel, and oil.

For some time now Chiapas has been faced with major challenges surrounding minerals exploitation, particularly from Canadian mining companies, who, as we should all know well by now, “are notorious throughout Latin America [and the rest of the world] for their ruthless eviction of traditional communities and for their devastation and pollution of lands and rivers,” says Jessica Davies.

This is precisely what awaits Chiapas where “there are apparently 55 new mining applications pending… for the exploration and extraction until 2056 of gold, silver, copper, barite, lead, titanium, iron, zinc, antimony, molybdenum, and other minerals needed for the oil industry,” Davies adds.

Regarding infrastructure, the government wants to help the extractive industry and expand tourism by constructing roads, bridges, and various other developments.

For instance, in the Northern part of Chiapas, a so-called “eco-archaeological tourism” theme park is currently in the works.

Located at the pre-colonial Mayan city of Palenque, the ‘them park’ will consist of “[a highway and 3 bridges] as well as hotels, restaurants, related businesses and an expansion of the Palenque Airport,” according to the Chiapas Support Comittee. “The highway and other construction will cut through and divide the land of the living Maya while facilitating the tourist exploitation of [their ancestors].”

Plans for the final two ‘horseman’ - oil and bio-fuel - were announced by the Mexican Energy Secretary Georgina Kessel, on November 21.

Kessel said that in 2009, Pemex, Mexico’s state-owned oil company, would be allowed to start prospecting and drilling for oil in the Lacandon rain forest, among other areas.

Kessel further announced a plan to produce bio-diesel in Chiapas, using a plant called “Jatropha curcus.”

Also known as the “Black Vomit Nut” Jatropha is a very controversial plant because of its highly toxic properties. Consuming as few as three of its seeds can be fatal to humans.

Overall, this four-part scheme, which has been pledged to “save the economy” and bring “progress and development for the benefit everyone,” implies “very serious threats to the rich biodiversity of the state of Chiapas and to the rights and the lands of the indigenous peoples of the region,” states the NGO ‘Maderas del Pueblo’ in a November 23 communique.

With it, “the federal and state governments have shown that they have embarked on a ’schizophrenic demagogy’ in which, at the same time as they announce policies, programmes and ‘green’ resources to tackle climate change, there is an obvious contradiction as they are clearly demonstrating themselves in favour of a return to a savage capitalism, of a short-term and extractive character, together with the interests of grand capital, of the biotechnology and pharmaceutical sectors, of those producing bottled water and all those keen to convert wood and forest cover into ’sinks’” for the multinational carbon market; of all those hiding behind a disguise of green philanthropy and supported by cross-governmental, national and international organisations, and calling themselves ‘conservationists’, and who have been encouraging and applauding the official policy of pillaging and plundering the biodiverse indigenous territories and turning them into ‘Protected Natural Areas’ ‘for the benefit of humanity’,” Maderas del Pueblo continues.

“The basic question [now] is: Will the indigenous people and campesino communities, with their lands, natural resources and rights all threatened, permit this proposed plunder to take place?”


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Monday, December 15, 2008

Huge Land Rights Victory for Brazilian Indians

Indians rejoice as Supreme Court affirms land rights

Survival International
11 December 2008

Indians across Brazil are celebrating today as the majority of judges in the Supreme Court ruled to uphold indigenous land rights in a key case. Indian representatives have called the decision, made yesterday on the 60th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, a ‘great victory’.

The ruling concerns the indigenous territory Raposa-Serra do Sol (‘Land of the Fox and Mountain of the Sun’) in the Amazon state of Roraima. A small group of powerful farmers, who want the Indians’ land and are supported by local politicians, had petitioned the Supreme Court to overturn the Brazilian government’s legal recognition of the territory. President Lula signed the territory into law in 2005.

Yesterday eight out of eleven Supreme Court judges affirmed the Indians’ rights to the land, saying it had been demarcated according to the constitution. They affirmed the importance of maintaining indigenous territories as single, continuous areas and stated that territories on Brazil’s borders do not pose a risk to national sovereignty.

The five tribes of Raposa-Serra do Sol had struggled for thirty years to reclaim their ancestral land. The group of farmers refused to leave the area when it was demarcated as an indigenous territory, and since the demarcation they have been waging a campaign of violence against the Indians in order to resist being removed from the land.

Shocking footage taken in May this year shows gunmen hired by one of the farmers attacking a Makuxi Indian community, throwing homemade bombs and firing assault rifles. Ten Indians were wounded in the attack.

The judges also ruled that the farmers must leave Raposa-Serra do Sol, but did not specify when. This will be decided when the ruling is concluded during the court’s next session starting in February 2009, when the remaining three judges deliver their rulings.

Makuxi leader Jacir José de Souza of the Indigenous Council of Roraima (CIR) said today, ‘The land is our mother. We are happy that [our land] has been reclaimed and that the Supreme Court has vindicated indigenous people.’

The Indians of Raposa-Serra do Sol believe that the loss of their land would have destroyed their way of life. Indians elsewhere in Brazil also feared that if the Supreme Court had overturned the demarcation of the territory, it would have left their lands open to similar legal challenges.

Survival’s director Stephen Corry said today, ‘This is fantastic news for the people of Raposa-Serra do Sol. The Brazilian government must now make sure that the farmers leave the area and that the campaign of terror against the Indians ends. It must also ensure that Indian land rights are upheld nationwide, so that never again will we see such blatant attacks on Indians on their own land.’

For more information please contact Miriam Ross at Survival International (+44) (0)20 7687 8734 or (+44) (0)7504 543 367 or email

Act now to help the Indians of Raposa–Serra do Sol
Your support is vital if the Indians of Raposa Serra do Sol are to survive. There are many ways you can help.

Donate to the campaign for the Indians of Raposa Serra do Sol (and other Survival campaigns).

Write to your MP or MEP (UK) or Senators and members of Congress (US).
Write to your local Brazilian high commission or embassy.

If you want to get more involved, contact Survival…

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© Survival International, 2008

Native Rights News is making this material from Survival International available in accordance with the Fair Use Doctrine codified at Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107: This article is distributed without charge or profit to those who have expressed a prior interest in receiving the included information. Distribution of this material is for research and educational purposes that will promote social and economic justice and benefit society.

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Climate Proceedings Refuse Recognition of Tribal Peoples' Rights to the Forests They Live In

UN talks on climate change exclude tribal peoples

Survival International
12 December 2008

Tribal representatives at the UN conference on climate change in Poznan, Poland, have slammed the proceedings for excluding indigenous voices and refusing to recognise tribal peoples’ rights to the forests they live in and protect.

The United States, Australia, New Zealand and Canada acted together to delete all reference to tribal peoples’ rights in a draft agreement prepared for the conference. All four countries also refuse to sign the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, and none have ratified the international law for tribal peoples, known as ILO 169.

The Poznan draft agreement sets out how an international scheme to Reduce Emissions from Deforestation and Degradation (REDD) could be implemented. It had initially referred to ‘noting the rights and importance of engaging indigenous peoples’, but rights are not mentioned in the amended version.

The REDD scheme, where rich industrialised countries pay less industrialised countries to keep their forests intact, is rapidly becoming a centrepiece for global action on climate change, and is expected to form a large part of whatever agreements replace the Kyoto Protocol when it runs out in 2012.

The scheme risks seriously damaging tribal peoples’ lives and health, unless their rights to the land are recognised and respected at the outset. Research has shown that one of the best ways to protect the rainforest is to protect the rights of the people living in it. 162 million hectares of the Amazon rainforest have been recognized as indigenous territories, and are secured against deforestation.

Davi Yanomami, a Yanomami shaman from Brazil, has said ‘The forest cannot be bought; it is our life and we have always protected it. Without the forest, there is only sickness, and without us, it is dead land. Give us back our lands and our health before it’s too late for us and too late for you.’

The lands of many tribes remain unprotected, and even land which has already been recognised is under threat. The Indians of Raposa Serra do Sol are reaching the end of a battle in the Supreme Court of Brazil to maintain recognition of their land after a powerful consortium of farmers and politicians tried to overturn the demarcation.

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© Survival International, 2008

Native Rights News is making this material from Survival International available in accordance with the Fair Use Doctrine codified at Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107: This article is distributed without charge or profit to those who have expressed a prior interest in receiving the included information. Distribution of this material is for research and educational purposes that will promote social and economic justice and benefit society.

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AFN Chief Calls Canada's Record on Human Rights for First Nations Peoples Shameful

Canada's opposition to the human rights of Indigenous People at UN Conference on Climate Change is shameful says AFN National Chief
OTTAWA, Dec. 10 /CNW Telbec/

Assembly of First Nations

This International Day for Human Rights on December 10 marks the 60th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR).

"The United Nations theme for this year's anniversary is 'Dignity and
justice for all.' The Universal Declaration of Human Rights represents an
international commitment to dignity and justice for every person, for all
peoples, everywhere. Human rights are not a luxury; they belong to everyone.

Canada's denial of the rights of Indigenous people offends the core values,
principles and rights the UN Declaration of Human Rights represents," said
Assembly of First Nations National Chief Phil Fontaine.

This statement comes after Canada opposed the recognition of Indigenous
rights in a new international initiative on climate change that was advanced
this week. The climate initiative known as the Reduced Emissions from
Deforestation and Forest Degradation (REDD) at the United Nations Conferenceon Climate change is currently being held in Poznan, Poland.

The National Chief stated, "It is incomprehensible in an advanced
democratic state as Canada to choose to ignore the rights of Indigenous
people. We are physically, spiritually and culturally tied to our natural
world. We are tied to the land, water, and all aspects of the physical
environment. The denial of our rights in this important global climate change agreement violates our fundamental human rights as Indigenous peoples."

Canada, the United States and Australia expressed interest in including
reduced emissions from deforestation and forest degradation in this agreement. It aims to fight deforestation in developing economies by tapping emissions trading markets in a future climate agreement that will follow up on the first phase of the UN's Kyoto Protocol, which expires in 2012.

However, as the text was being drafted yesterday, Canada joined the
United States, Australia and New Zealand in insisting that references to
Indigenous rights and the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of
Indigenous Peoples be struck from the text.

"Canada's position at the United Nations Conference on Climate change is
the latest in a series of hostile decisions against Indigenous rights which
continue to affect Canada's international reputation as a defender and
promoter of human rights," said AFN National Chief Phil Fontaine.

The National Chief added that the refusal of the Canadian government to
sign the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples
despite a motion passed in the House of Commons on April 8, 2008 which called on Parliament to implement and adopt the principles in the declaration offends Canadian law.

"Moreover the rights of our children are also compromised in this
country. The federal government has refused to address discrimination against First Nations children in the Child Welfare system and education. First Nations Child and Family Services agencies receive, on average, 22% less funding than provincial agencies, a point the Auditor General remarked upon in her May 2008 report," said National Chief Phil Fontaine.

The Auditor General criticized the program indicating that shortfalls in
funding mean the federal government is not providing First Nations Child and Family Services agencies with adequate funding requirements to meet the number or the needs of children in state care.

In October, the Canadian Human Rights Commission decided to put the case before the Canada Human Rights Tribunal. However, the federal government
recently filed for a judicial review on technical issues that will delay the
hearing and stall justice for thousands of First Nations children who are
living under state care.

"This is a complete contradiction of the Government's position, which in
the last Parliamentary session insisted that the Canadian Human Rights Act apply to First Nations citizens on reserve. However, this inconsistent
standard of human rights promotion and protection by the Canadian Government for First Nations children violates the principles of equality, fairness and universality of human rights. The rights of our children or any children should not be suspended on technicalities," the National Chief remarked.

Similar to the Child Welfare issue, other core programs for First Nations
children, such as education, have been capped at 2% a year, which does not
keep pace with inflation or the growing First Nations population.

"The deepening gap in the quality of life and well-being for First
Nations compared to Canadians continues to widen and this is not acceptable for any person or child, including First Nations," Fontaine noted.

Currently, First Nations students receive $2,000 less per child annually
for educational support than students in provincial schools. In 2007, INAC
identified a need for 69 new schools while another 95 schools needed major repairs. Approximately 40 First Nations communities do not have schools at all. INAC's current plan addresses only 27 of those sites, but the funding is on hold.

"On this day which celebrates human rights, I call on the Government of
Canada to do the right thing and uphold and promote the human rights of
Indigenous people and the human rights of our children".

The Assembly of First Nations is the national political organization
representing First Nations citizens in Canada.

For further information: Karyn Pugliese, Communications Officer, Cell:
(613) 292-1877; Gina Cosentino, Government Relations and International
Affairs, National Chief"s Office, Cell: (613) 314-2661,


© 2005 Groupe CNW Ltée

Native Rights News is making this material from CNW TELBEC - Assembly of First Nations available in accordance with the Fair Use Doctrine codified at Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107: This article is distributed without charge or profit to those who have expressed a prior interest in receiving the included information. Distribution of this material is for research and educational purposes that will promote social and economic justice and benefit society.

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Thursday, December 11, 2008

Maori Leader Addresses Global Forum for Bioethics in Research

Sharples: Global Forum for Bioethics in Research

Thursday, 4 December 2008, 9:17 am
Speech: The Maori Party

Ninth Global Forum for Bioethics in Research
Orakei Marae; Auckland;
Wednesday 3 December 2008; 7pm
Hon Dr Pita Sharples, Co-leader of the Maori Party

[NRN Editor's Note: Following is the text of the speech Dr. Pita Sharples, Co-leader of the Maori Party gave on December 3, 2008 to the Ninth Global Forum for Bioethics in Research held in Auckland, New Zealand.]

This is a fantastic time to be holding this ninth global forum on bioethics in research.

The last three months, in particular, have been unprecedented in terms of the acts of resistance and celebration initiated by indigenous peoples and members of vulnerable populations.

On 23 September in New York, Bolivia’s first indigenous president, Evo Morales called a press conference at the United Nations, telling the General Assembly it was meeting at a time of rebellion against poverty, misery and the effects of climate change and privatization policies throughout the world.

He spoke about the uprisings of indigenous peoples and farmers questioning the effects of economic systems such as those of the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund - and he went further and suggested it was those privatization policies that had caused the current financial crisis.

Just over a week later, this time in Geneva, a statement from the Aotearoa Indigenous Rights Trust; the International Alliance of Indigenous and Tribal Peoples of the Tropical Forest and Te Runanga o Nga Kaimahi Maori o Aotearoa Te Kauae Kaimahi was presented, calling for a transparent process to support the Expert Mechanism on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples.

The collective intervention, called for guidelines to be created about how research would be carried out, to ensure a legitimate body for indigenous people was built, and its research reports acted upon by the United Nations and States.

The third turning point came just over a month later, at a time when Kenya declared a national day of celebration; a public holiday to celebrate the election of Barack Obama to the US presidency.

And Nelson Mandela, South Africa's first black president, sent a letter of congratulations, stating:

"Your victory has demonstrated that no person anywhere in the world should not dare to dream of wanting to change the world for a better place”.
Finally, here in Aotearoa, the Māori Party, the independent voice of Māori in Parliament, succeeded in bringing a fifth MP into the Beehive after our recent election; and just a fortnight ago, signed a relationship agreement with the National Party, which symbolized our willingness to be part of Government, in our efforts to do all that we can to uphold the aspirations of our people.

These acts of resistance, these opportunities for celebration, create a brilliant foundation in which to discuss respectful research.

They represent uprisings of indigeneity; of the first nations people across the world daring to dream we can change the world for a better place. And here we are tonight, daring to dream that the research world will continue to inspire us to do so.

The developments that have occurred over these last months on the global stage provide a rich environment to discuss the next stages of our development - the ways in which our traditional beliefs and values, our cultural norms - are upheld in ethical research.

But there is one more context that I want to draw to your attention, in my capacity as the Member of Parliament for Tamaki Makaurau.
And I turn to mihi to the mana whenua of this land, Ngāti Whatua o Orakei.

Half a century ago, the hapū lived peacefully on their papakainga land in Okahu Bay, in the haven of their whare tūpuna - Te Puru o Tamaki. That was, until the Government of the day decided to evict the people from their homes, burn their marae, homes and buildings to the ground, and relocate the people to an allotment of state houses. They were left virtually landless.
In 1976, the Crown moved to make its final nail in the coffin, to dispose of the last sixty acres of uncommitted land at Orakei. And then came the uprising. For 506 days, Ngāti Whatua, under the leadership of Joe Hawke, occupied the point, Takaparawhau - or Bastion Point.

On 25 May 1978, the largest mobilization of Police and army forces in New Zealand’s history was directed to Bastion Point, to evict the people for trespassing on their own land. 222 people were arrested, the photographs and memories of that time still linger on as we recall the kuia and kaumatua, the elderly of the tribe, dragged off their land, crying and digging their heels in with all their force.

In time, Ngāti Whatua took a claim to the Waitangi Tribunal, standing up for the return of the 700 acre Orakei Block. In 1991, the Orakei Act was passed, returning the marae, the papakinga lands, the church and the urupa to Ngāti Whatua o Orakei - but also importantly, the Government put on record, it had failed to keep its part of the Treaty of Waitangi, the promise to protect the rights and property of the indigenous peoples.

This year, we marked thirty years since that police raids on Orakei, and we celebrated the resistance of Ngāti Whatua in protecting and preserving their land, their language, their customs, their cultural heritage.

It is not my place to tell the stories of Ngāti Whatua - but there will be many others here who can take you on that journey back through time, and I would encourage you to take that time to also share your stories, the stories from Africa, Asia, Canada, America, Australia, Europe and the Pacific.

Our histories, our stories, our aspirations, our troubles are unique to us as indigenous peoples and members of vulnerable populations.
My hope for this conference is that we leave no-one in any doubt, that the context for any research involving us, must be set by us.

I read a statement the other day from Luther Standing Bear, Chief of the Oglala Sioux. He said, and I quote:

“Only to the white man was nature a ‘wilderness’ and only to him was the land ‘infested’ with ‘wild’ animals and ‘savage’ people. To us it was tame”.
Never again will we return to the days when the people of the land are suppressed; their stories obliterated; their cultures denigrated.

Never again, will we permit anyone to call us savage; not one more acre will be stolen from us; we will not be defined as ‘other’; marginalized as minorities; alienated from our territories.

We have come too far, and we are not going back.

We must have courage, and not fear the backlash from standing out in the crowd, from speaking out.

This is where forums like this are so vital, to keep our spirits high, to uplift us, to inspire us, to consolidate in solidarity.

bell hooks reminds us it will not be easy. She said:

“the space of radical openness is a margin - a profound edge. Locating oneself there is difficult yet necessary. It is not a safe place. One is always at risk. One needs a community of resistance”

This forum is a mark in the sand, a profound edge - to encourage the world research communities, to develop practical measures to promote research which is more ethical.

We need to have the strategic strength to face the risks, to move forward.
Just as Evo Morales acted on the calling of his people to issue his challenge in New York, we must all be bold enough to act with integrity in setting and upholding policy on research ethics.

Just as Ngāti Whatua o Orakei prepared and researched claims and invested in the legislative process; research practitioners and professionals must uphold and adhere to guidelines involving consent, access and participation for indigenous and vulnerable groups.

Having strategic strength is knowing what procedures and protocols we can call on, to provide guidance on the involvement of indigenous peoples in research, intellectual property and traditional knowledge.

74 years ago, Te Rangihiroa (Sir Peter Buck) wrote to Sir Apirana Ngata, saying

“I have come to the conclusion that the Pākehā attitude towards native races is on the whole saturated with the deepest hypocrisy…..even in ethnology, I doubt whether a native people is really regarded as other than a project to give the white writer a job and a chance for fame”. [Sorrenson Vol 3, 1982:126]

This is no doubt a reoccurring theme in the tribal narratives across the globe, that many indigenous peoples would share in common.

But what we know now, is that we are at a turning point where the nature of knowledge and knowing is in our hands. We must invest in strategies which affirm our own whānau, hapū and iwi self-determination; our rangatiratanga.

We must be vigilant to ensure that the theories, methods and research tools are those that extend indigenous knowledge, that serve the interests of the people being researched.

We must draw on our creativity as the means of building resilience within our whānau. We must embrace our indigenous resources - our songs, our poetry, our arts and crafts, our tribal histories, our archives - as a way of distinguishing our research as our own.

And we must insist that the highest form of knowledge and knowing is ultimately used to liberate ourselves, to set ourselves free.



Native Rights News is making this material from Scoop Independent News available in accordance with the Fair Use Doctrine codified at Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107: This article is distributed without charge or profit to those who have expressed a prior interest in receiving the included information. Distribution of this material is for research and educational purposes that will promote social and economic justice and benefit society.

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Wednesday, December 10, 2008

First Nations Chiefs to Seek Help from Obama on Canadian Oil Exploitation

Canadian Indigenous Community to Deliver Message of Oil and Human Rights to President-Elect Obama

WINNIPEG, Manitoba, Dec. 8 /PRNewswire/

In the tradition of delegations of American Indians traveling in the late 1800s to Washington, DC to meet the "Great White Father," Chiefs from Canada's First Nations will be traveling to the U.S. capital to seek the support of President Elect Obama in their fight for Human Rights. A First Nations delegation of Chiefs from across Canada will be in Washington D.C. on January 8th 2009, 12 days before the Inauguration of President-Elect Obama.

Chiefs from the seven First Nations of Treaty One announced a decision to assemble the delegation of Chiefs to deliver a message of oil and human rights to President-Elect Obama. Chief Glenn Hudson of Peguis First Nation, a spokesman for Treaty One stated "We are hopeful that President-Elect Obama will embrace the attitude of respect, compassion and support by engaging in the accountability of equitable and fair trade between the United States, the Indian Nations and the Canadian Government."

During the election campaign President-Elect Barack Obama talked of his concerns with "dirty oil" from Canada and made a lot of positive statements on a new relationship with Native Americans. "Canada is the largest foreign supplier of oil to the United States," added Chief Hudson. "America needs to purchase 14 million barrels of foreign oil every day, and maintaining a steady supply of oil is a national security issue for the U.S. So far, Canada pays little or no royalties to indigenous people for resources."

According to the U.S. Energy Information Administration, over eighty percent of all Canadian exports flow to the U.S. Canada remained the largest exporter to the U.S. of total petroleum in September, exporting 2.364 million barrels per day. The second largest petroleum exporter to the U.S. was Saudi Arabia with 1.431 million barrels per day.

Two major pipelines, the Enbridge Alberta Clipper and the TransCanada Keystone Project, being constructed through three provinces will, by 2012, carry an additional 1.9 million barrels of oil per day to the U.S. The two pipelines are of grave importance to American energy needs given the increasing instability of other foreign sources of oil. Canada supplies the United States with 65% more oil per day than Saudi Arabia, yet the stability of oil supply from Canada has never been of concern to Americans.

In September, two blockades by First Nations in the Province of Saskatchewan sent shockwaves through the industry as construction was halted for four and six days at two sites. Chief Barry Kennedy of Carry the Kettle First Nation (Treaty Four) and Chief Sheldon Wuttunee of Red Pheasant First Nation (Treaty Six) in Saskatchewan organized the blockades. The First Nations are currently in negotiations with the pipelines.

Treaty One will send invitations to Chiefs from all three prairie provinces, Alberta, Saskatchewan, and Manitoba. Invitations will also go to British Columbia where First Nations are fighting the proposed Gateway Pipeline. Gateway will pipe oil to the Pacific to be sent on Ocean Tankers to China and western United States. On the American side, invitations to speak in Washington will go to four tribes from North and South Dakota. The Sisseton-Wahpeton Oyate, the Rosebud Sioux, Santee Sioux and Yankton Sioux Tribes recently launched a U.S. lawsuit to stop the TransCanada pipeline.

The First Nations delegation of Chiefs seeks President-Elect Obama to apply international pressure on Canada - the largest supplier of crude oil to the U.S. - to share resource wealth with the indigenous people of Canada, the original and rightful owners of the resources. An emergency resolution at the national Assembly of First Nations in the December 2008 Summit in Ottawa will debate the proposed Declaration on Oil. The AFN is the national political representative of 633 First Nations in Canada.

While the United States recognizes property in its Bill of Rights and recognizes Treaties as the "law of the land" in its constitution, Canada omits the Right to Property in its Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms. The United States and Canada both voted against the United Nations Declaration on Indigenous Rights, an issue that will surely confront the newly elected President of the United States.

About Treaty One First Nations in Manitoba.

Treaty One territory is 16,700 square miles, (10 million acres) directly in the path of both Enbridge and TransCanada pipelines. The pipelines are currently being constructed through Treaty One territory without any prior approval by the indigenous people.

SOURCE Desert Runner LLC

Copyright © 2008 PR Newswire. All rights reserved

Native Rights News is making this material from The Earth Times available in accordance with the Fair Use Doctrine codified at Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107: This article is distributed without charge or profit to those who have expressed a prior interest in receiving the included information. Distribution of this material is for research and educational purposes that will promote social and economic justice and benefit society.

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Australia Intends to Sign UN Indigenous Rights Declaration

Govt still intends to sign indigenous rights declaration
9th December 2008, 15:30 WST

The federal government has indicated it still intends to endorse a United Nations declaration on the rights of indigenous people, after failing to fulfil the election promise in its first year.

Australia was one of just four countries to vote against the non-binding UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples when the General Assembly adopted it in September 2007.

The Howard government refused to support the declaration, which sets out the rights of the world’s estimated 370 million indigenous people, claiming it would elevate customary law above national law.

At the time, Labor said it would endorse the declaration, but has failed to do so in its first 12 months in office.

Attorney-General Robert McClelland on Tuesday said the government still supported the underlying principles of the declaration.

“We are consulting with indigenous organisations and other key stakeholders on an appropriate statement to reflect this,” Mr McClelland said in the inaugural Evatt Annual Lecture in Sydney.

“Without a doubt, the biggest and most pressing human rights challenge we face is the past failures in the treatment of indigenous Australians.”


‘The West Australian’ is a trademark of West Australian Newspapers Limited 2008. All Rights Reserved

Native Rights News is making this material from The West Australian ( available in accordance with the Fair Use Doctrine codified at Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107: This article is distributed without charge or profit to those who have expressed a prior interest in receiving the included information. Distribution of this material is for research and educational purposes that will promote social and economic justice and benefit society.

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Catholic Bishops Call on New Zealand Govt to Sign UN DRIP

Bishops calls on Govt to sign human rights declaration
NZPA Monday December 8 2008 - 04:48pm

Catholic bishops have called on the Government to support the Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, adopted by the United Nations General Assembly in September last year.

While 143 nations voted in favour of the declaration, New Zealand remained one of only three continuing to oppose it, along with the United States and Canada.

Australia voted against the original resolution, but has since indicated its support.

The New Zealand Catholic bishops conference said New Zealand must "better recognise and respect the human rights of the 370 million members of the human family who are indigenous peoples.

"These first inhabitants of nations have been subject to centuries of dispossession and violence....Our own nation of Aotearoa New Zealand of course shares that history and we must be part of the work of reconciliation and restoration."

The bishops said the declaration applied universally recognised human rights to the particular situations of indigenous peoples.
"By opposing it, New Zealand representatives allowed domestic politics to override our country's usually principled stand on human rights issues," they said.

"We call on the Government to enhance our country's proud record of leadership in human rights by supporting the declaration," they said, noting Wednesday was Human Rights Day.

Native Rights News is making this NZPA article published in The National Business Review material available in accordance with the Fair Use Doctrine codified at Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107: This article is distributed without charge or profit to those who have expressed a prior interest in receiving the included information. Distribution of this material is for research and educational purposes that will promote social and economic justice and benefit society.

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Tuesday, December 9, 2008

The Black Mesa Nightmare Returns

Why Raul Grijalva matters at Interior
The Black Mesa nightmare returns
Posted by Jeff Biggers (Guest Contributor) at 10:42 PM on 07 Dec 2008

For the sake of a deliberate and balanced approached to mining, indigenous rights, and environmental concerns, let's hope U.S. Representative Raul Grijalva takes the reins at the Department of the Interior in Obama's administration.

Take this week's startling announcement that the George W. Bush administration might quietly give the green light to reopening the scandalous Black Mesa Strip Mine on the ancestral lands of the Dine (Navajo) and Hopi.

Within a few days, the U.S. Office of Surface Mining will release a "Record of Decision" on the "Black Mesa Project" Final Environmental Impact Statement, which could ultimately grant the Peabody Coal Company a "Life-of-Mine" permit to re-open and expand one of the nation's largest coal strip mines.

Like a voice in the wilderness, Grijalva recently wrote the current Secretary of the Interior Dirk Kempthorne to request a suspension in the OSM's "hurriedly conducting a deeply flawed environmental review."

Despite a Hopi tribal government in disarray and a deeply divided Dine-Navajo community, the George W. Bush administration's 11th hour move to unleash Big Coal in the tribal lands will not only jeopardize the Navajo Aquifer -- the main source of drinking water for the area residents and farmers -- but will re-open one of the bitter wounds in contemporary tribal conflict.

Like mountaintop removal in Appalachia, the decades-long battle over Black Mesa and the ensuing Hopi-Navajo Settlement sybolizes shameless disregard of human rights and environmental protection for the sake of extraction industry profits.

It's an old story, of course, dating back to the discovery of one of the largest coal deposits in the country on Black Mesa over a century ago.

Over a decade ago, documents emerged that proved that the main lawyer hired to represent the divided Hopi was also on the payroll of the Peabody Coal Company and might have actually helped gerrymander the massive land deal and subsequent settlement acts. This not only resulted in unfair royalty payments and virtually no environmental safeguards, but bitterly divided tribal interests and relations.

In the process, one report estimated that over 12,000 natives were forced to relocate while one of the largest strip mines in the nation swept across the northern Arizona desert.

As investigative reporter Judith Nies wrote:

In Los Angeles, air conditioners hummed. Las Vegas embarked on an enormous building spree to make gambling a family vacation. Phoenix and Tucson metastasized out into the desert-building golf courses and vast retirement developments with swimming pools and fountains. Few realize that much of the energy that makes the desert "bloom" comes from the Black Mesa strip mines on an Indian reservation. Even fewer know the true costs of such development.

And water, in this upland desert, was pumped away. As part of a 273-mile slurry line, billions of gallons of water were siphoned from the Navajo aquifer for decades. Not only the main water source for the native farmers and ranchers in the area, this caused wells and springs to dry up, groundwater levels to plummet and native vegetation to vanish.

According to native Black Mesa advocates today, the rammed through OSM report has numerous flaws, legal or otherwise:

• The Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) does not address the pumping of the Navajo Aquifer for the last thirty years. These amounts exceed the aquifer's ability to replace water annually, and have adversely impacted the natural springs and seeps all over Black Mesa. Springs no longer can produce the water needed for Navajo families to survive daily. Instead families must abandon local water resources and use community wells 20-30 miles over unimproved roads. Peabody has not included in its application the impact on the people of Black Mesa and how long they can expect to survive with continued use and contamination of the only source of drinking water the people have. Nor are measures in place to insure an alternate source of water in quality and quantity for local residents will be delivered if there is irreversible damage to the N-Aquifer;

• local Black Mesa residents have been inadequately informed of the proposed changes; • due to changes in the original alternatives, the Draft Environmental Impact Statement (DEIS) is outdated and has irrelevant information; • the DEIS mentions lung problems and only proposes mitigation for mine workers, not residents. The EIS must look at mitigation measures for local residents to avoid health problems associated with black lung, asthma and other lung ailments;

• the DEIS does not consider how the OSM will comply with the Religious Freedom and Restoration Act, and prevent substantial burden on the tribes' ability to practice their religion; • the DEIS does not compare the economics of additional coal mining vs. transitional renewable energy development on the mine site and reclaimed areas to prevent long-term cumulative impacts by additional coal mining; • the DEIS does not recognize the impact of the potential relocation of native families;

• the DEIS does not address the current U.S. federal laws that make CO2 a pollutant, and uncalculated CO2 emissions that will contribute to global warming until 2026, if more mining by Peabody coal company continues.
Last month, Rep. Grijalva asked for delay until the OSM "can determine the actual purpose and need of this project."

Let's hope the OSM heeds his sound advice.

Native Rights News is making this Gristmill material available in accordance with the Fair Use Doctrine codified at Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107: This article is distributed without charge or profit to those who have expressed a prior interest in receiving the included information. Distribution of this material is for research and educational purposes that will promote social and economic justice and benefit society.

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Monday, December 8, 2008

Video: Wilma Mankiller on the Challenges Facing Indigenous People

Blogspot: Friends of Leonard Peltier
Saturday, December 6, 2008

Wilma Mankiller: Challenges Facing Indigenous People

On October 2, 2008, Former Chief of the Cherokee Nation and Indigenous rights activist, Wilma Mankiller, was in Phoenix, AZ, to give a presentation on the “Challenges Facing 21st Century Indigenous People.”

A part of the Simon Ortiz and Labriola Center Lecture series on Indigenous Land, Culture, and Community, Mankiller, talked about the diversity and uniqueness of the world’s indigenous population, as well as the common, shared sense of duty to conserve and protect the natural world.

It’s a duty that we all share, not just indigenous people, states Mankiller. It’s just that many people have forgotten that duty because their culture holds no memory of their origins or of their place in the natural world.

Discussing several other issues, Mankiller also talked briefly about the common struggle of indigenous people. This shared experience, while indicating a point of unity, also shows a need for something ‘more’ than confrontation and a verbal demand that governments and corporations respect indigenous rights.

Mankiller points to that void of knowledge, and the need to show the world who we really are. Today, as i the distant past, indigenous people are often identified with “…nonsensical stereotypes [that] either vilify indigenous people as troubled descendants of savage[s]… or romanticize them as innocent children of nature - spiritual, but incapable of higher thought,” said Mankiller. Shifting this opinion to reflect our true identity — that we are not more or less, but different — will go further toward bringing the changes we need.

Another challenge Mankiller discusses, perhaps the greatest of all, is our need “to develop practical models to capture, maintain, and pass on traditional knowledge systems and values to future generations.”

If we cannot do this, then we too will one day forget.

Mankiller’s presentation, follows some opening remarks by Frank Goodyear and Wayne Mitchell, and an introduction by Dr. Simon Ortiz.

Wilma Mankiller: Challenges Facing 21st Century Indigenous People from ASU Libraries on Vimeo.


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Indigenous Peoples Ignored at Global Climate Talks

ENVIRONMENT: Native Peoples Out in Cold at Warming Meet
By Haider Rizvi

UNITED NATIONS, Dec 3 (IPS) - Global efforts to combat climate change will lead nowhere as long as the indigenous peoples' representatives have no say in discussions to lay out future plans, say activists who are attending the international conference on climate change being held in the Polish city of Poznan this week.

"Indigenous peoples have for centuries adapted to changing environments and would be able to contribute substantially to adaptation strategies the U.N. is trying to include in a new climate change treaty," said Mark Lattimer of the London-based Minority Rights Group International (MRG).

Ahead of the conference on climate change, which started Monday, MRG researchers released a new study concluding that a new climate change deal would be "seriously compromised" if governments continued to shut out the voices of those most affected by global warming.

According to the U.N., about 8,000 delegates from around the world are participating in the Poznan conference, which will last until Dec. 12. The meeting is likely to decide what more could be done to fight climate change and how to fund it. Last week, officials at the U.N. described the meeting as "a milestone on the road to success", for the negotiation process launched at the past conferences.

"The U.N. process is flawed as communities that have first-hand experience of dealing with climate change are not allowed to participate," said Lattimer. "It is incomprehensible how governments agree targets without the input of those who face the impacts of climate change."

But indigenous rights activists seem highly sceptical about such claims. "The U.N. process is flawed as communities that have first-hand experience of dealing with climate change are not allowed to participate," said Lattimer. "It is incomprehensible how governments agree targets without the input of those who face the impacts of climate change."

The Poznan conference is expected to set targets on carbon emissions from deforestation, but leaders of the indigenous communities that live in the forests complain they are not being genuinely consulted in discussions on future plans and strategies.

"We are suffering the worst impacts of climate change without having contributed to its creation," Ben Powless, an indigenous rights activist from Canada, told IPS in an email from Poland, where he is watching the proceeding from the sidelines of the conference.

In his view, the official strategies and schemes for mitigation are nothing but "false solutions to the problem".

"They threaten our rights and our very existence," he said, noting that numerous mitigation and land conversion projects for agro-fuel implemented by governments and the private sector are carried out "without the free, prior, and informed consent of indigenous peoples."

Activists like Lattimer and Powless note that most development projects in the forests are actually aimed at stealing the resources of indigenous peoples for commercial gains rather than helping them sustain their resources and environmental preservation. In recent years, numerous studies have shown that most of the world's 370 million indigenous peoples live in ecologically diverse areas and that they rely heavily on natural resources.

But due to climate change, they are losing their sources of livelihood. "There has been a lot of attention paid to the damage climate change is doing to the environment and the loss of certain plant or animal species, but we aren't sufficiently recognising the impact on people," said Farah Mihlar, who wrote the MRG report.

The indigenous representatives say the so-called "'scientific' mitigation and adaptation solutions, methodologies and technologies being discussed by the policymakers do not reflect their vision and ancestral knowledge."

"[They] violate or threaten our human rights," said Ben Powless. "We may also need to discuss at some point of time the ecological debt that especially industrialised countries have with [us]. Consultations with us often only take the form of simply informing our communities."

The MRG research shows that indigenous peoples throughout the world are often among the poorest and most marginalised communities and are most likely to face discrimination when climate-driven disasters occur.

"There are entire communities that could be lost," Mihlar added in a statement. "Cultures, traditions, and languages could be wiped off the Earth."

At the climate change conference held in Bali, Indonesia last December, indigenous rights activists held a series of demonstrations against their exclusion from the official talks.

Among them, many had come from the communities living in the tropical forests of the world. At the conference, they expressed grave concerns about plans by governments and international financial institutions to control forest degradation. At the conference, they particularly expressed their worries about the World Bank's Carbon Partnership Facility, which is likely to provide large-scale incentives for reducing emissions from deforestation and forest degradation.

The tropical and subtropical forest, the subject of the Facility, is home to 160 million indigenous people who are seen by many scientists as custodians and managers of forest biodiversity.

"While the Facility can be a good thing, we are very apprehensive of how this will work," said Victoria Tauli-Corpuz, chairperson of the U.N. Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues, "because of our negative historical and present experiences with similar initiatives."

The U.N. Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples recognises native groups' right to control their lands and resources, including forests, but many governments and corporations continue to abuse the rights of forest communities.

"We remain in a very vulnerable situation," said Tauli-Corpuz, "because most states do not recognise our rights to these forests and resources found therein."

Last year, a report released by an international advocacy group raised similar concerns about the role of governments and corporations. In its report, London-based Survival International named and shamed countries where the violations of tribal peoples' rights are most egregious, including Botswana, Brazil, New Zealand, Malaysia, Paraguay, Peru, and the United States.

In contrast to the U.N. negotiation process on climate change issues, indigenous communities enjoy a relatively greater role in discussions on preserving biodiversity. The secretariat of the U.N. treaty on biodiversity has established a working group to ensure this. MRG said it gathered a series of testimonies from the world's indigenous leaders in which they express "deep frustration" at their exclusion from the negotiations on climate change.

In a statement, the group called for the U.N. to establish a mechanism, similar to that of the treaty on biological diversity, so that indigenous communities can have their voices heard at the international level. The indigenous representatives attending the Poznan conference say they want the U.N. to engage all the indigenous communities affected by climate change in the negotiation process to advance an agenda on mitigation efforts.

"We are rights-holders in the discussions, not stakeholders," said Powless. "We demand full participation in the implementation of all areas of work concerning climate change and forests."

Native Rights News is making this International Press Service material available in accordance with the Fair Use Doctrine codified at Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107: This article is distributed without charge or profit to those who have expressed a prior interest in receiving the included information. Distribution of this material is for research and educational purposes that will promote social and economic justice and benefit society.

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Indigenous Peoples Fight for Participation in Global Climate Talks

Encouraged by limited progress achieved, support of some parties

International Indigenous Peoples Forum on Climate Change
Press Statement
05 December 2008

Poznan, Poland – After years of lobbying, the International Indigenous Peoples Forum on Climate Change (IIPFCC) are moving towards the establishment of an Expert Group on Indigenous Peoples within the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) as a small but growing number of Party Delegations have expressed interest in developing the recommendation in support and solidarity with the 350 million Indigenous Peoples throughout the world.

“While we are very happy that governments are seemingly supportive of our rights, we are dismayed at the slow progress of adopting a mechanism that ensures our participation at the UNFCCC,” said Pashuram Tamang, chairperson of IIPFCC. “This is especially in view of the developments related to Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Degradation (REDD).”

The issue of REDD remains problematic for Indigenous Peoples. While some governments have expressed support to the idea of recognizing indigenous rights as part of the preconditions prior to the implementation of REDD, many of the Indigenous Peoples’ delegates remain adamant in saying that “life is not for sale” and reject outright market-based mechanisms as ways to resolve the climate change problem.

More specifically, Indigenous Peoples see the current lack of a formal consultative process for Indigenous Peoples within the climate change negotiations as evidence that REDD will be contrary to the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (UN-DRIP), which was adopted by the UN General Assembly (GA) in 2007.

“We are especially amazed that these Parties who now do not want us to participate in the UNFCCC are the same Parties that have adopted a document that clearly recognizes the rights of Indigenous Peoples,” said Adam Kulet Ole Mwarabu, a delegate from Tanzania.

Until the rights of Indigenous Peoples are guaranteed, IIPFCC has also called for the suspension of REDD and redd projects.

Indigenous delegates are going to use the remaining days to lobby for the draft decision calling for the establishment of the expert group.

The International Indigenous Peoples Forum on Climate Change (IIPFCC) is composed of 75 delegates from indigenous nations and communities from different regions. It was established in 2000 in Lyon, France to provide a platform for indigenous peoples to share knowledge, discuss issues and contributing the indigenous voice to global discussions on climate change.

For more information, please contact IIPFCC Secretary Ben Powless ( / +48 798012282)

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Thursday, December 4, 2008

Indigenous Native American Prophecy (Elders Speak part 5)

The final video of this 5 part series features a woman elder whose name we currently do not know. If you know this woman, please email us so that we can give her proper credit. It also features Chief Joagquisho (Oren Lyons), Faithkeeper of the Turtle Clan of the Onondaga Nation, and a Chief of the Onondaga Nation Council of Chiefs of the Six Nations of the Iroquois Confederacy, the Haudenosaunee or "People of the Long House."

In this segment a woman elder and Chief Oren Lyons talk about how the Earth and all life on it is interrelated in a system of “give and take.” If we wish to survive, we must respect this fact and restore the ecosystems we have disrupted to their original state of balance and harmony.

“Peace is an everyday fight. It’s something that goes on all the time. We believe that we are ourselves one half the negative and one half the positive, and it’s the balance that’s important – all the time to keep the balance.” – Chief Oren Lyons, Onondaga

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Indigenous Native American Prophecy (Elders Speak part 4)

Part 4 of this 5 part series features a woman elder whose name we currently do not know. If you know this woman, please email us so that we can give her proper credit. It also features Chief Joagquisho (Oren Lyons), Faithkeeper of the Turtle Clan of the Onondaga Nation, and a Chief of the Onondaga Nation Council of Chiefs of the Six Nations of the Iroquois Confederacy, the Haudenosaunee or "People of the Long House."

In this video a woman elder and Chief Oren Lyons tell the story of the “Peacemaker,” an avatar who, at least a thousand years ago, at a time of constant war, called together all the chiefs of the six tribes of the Haudenosaunee at Onondaga Lake. There he delivered the message of peace - instructions about how to live by following the path of peace and law and by using their minds and reason in the “Council of Good Minds.” These laws and teachings brought not only peace to the six tribes, but also resulted in the Iroquois Confederacy that has successfully bound the six nations together ever since. Benjamin Franklin drew upon this Confederacy as source material for drafting the United States Constitution in 1789.

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Indigenous Native American Prophecy (Elders Speak part 3)

Part 3 of this 5 part series features Chief Joagquisho (Oren Lyons), Faithkeeper of the Turtle Clan of the Onondaga Nation, and a Chief of the Onondaga Nation Council of Chiefs of the Six Nations of the Iroquois Confederacy, the Haudenosaunee or "People of the Long House."

In this video Chief Oren Lyons talks about the need for moral leadership in the world of business.

“When you say resources, you’re talking about our relatives, talking about our family. Fish are our family, it’s not a resource – it’s a family. It requires all the respect. The structure of the world itself is such [that] it functions on natural law, and the natural law is a powerful regenerative process. There’s a process of regeneration that continues and grows and is endless. It’s absolutely endless if everyone agrees to the law and follows the law. But if you challenge the law, and you think you’re going to change the law, then you’re bound to failure, and in that failure will be a lot of pain because the natural law has no mercy. It is only the law.” - Chief Oren Lyons

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Indigenous Native American Prophecy (Elders Speak part 2)

Part 2 of this 5 part series features Chief Joagquisho (Oren Lyons), Faithkeeper of the Turtle Clan of the Onondaga Nation, and a Chief of the Onondaga Nation Council of Chiefs of the Six Nations of the Iroquois Confederacy, the Haudenosaunee or "People of the Long House."

In this video Chief Oren Lyons talks about the responsibility each generation bears to pass on a healthy planet to the “seventh generation” to come.

“No tree grows by itself. A tree is a community. Certain plants will gather around certain trees and certain medicines will gather around those certain plants, so that if you kill all the trees, if you cut all the trees, then you’re destroying a community. You’re not just destroying a tree, you’re destroying a whole community that surrounds it and thrives on it and that may be very important medicine for people or for animals. … If you replant the tree, you don’t replant the community - you replant the tree. So you’ve lost a community. And if you clear cut, which is what is happening in America and Canada a great deal these days, and I guess around the world, then you are really a destructive force.” - Chief Oren Lyons

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Indigenous Native American Prophecy (Elders Speak part 1)

Part 1 of this 5 part series features Floyd Red Crow Westerman (b. 1936, d. 2007), well-known Dakota activist, musician and actor.

"We were told we would see America come and go. In a sense, America is dying from within, because they forgot the instructions on how to live on Earth. … It’s the Hopi belief … If you’re not spiritually connected to the Earth and understand the spiritual reality of how to live on Earth, it’s likely you will not make it. … The Spirit world is more real than most of us believe, the Spirit world is everything." - Floyd Red Crow Westerman

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