Economic Developments

Global Exchange, in advance of the Rio+20 Summit in Brazil next in mid-June was very concerned about the meeting and the condition of the Earth, noting, the United Nations Environment Program (UNEP) had released a 525-page report on the health of the planet (, stating, “Several critical global, regional and local thresholds are close or have been exceeded ... Abrupt and possibly irreversible changes to the life-support functions of the planet are likely to occur." Global Exchange comments, It was a very different time at the first UN Earth Summit in 1992. Global awareness that human activity was causing the destruction gave rise to the idea that nations could come together and put forward global solutions to solve the emerging crisis.  This year, inside the formal negotiations, member states are being driven towards adopting a paradigm, deceptively called the “Green Economy.” The UNEP is promoting the idea that we can only “save” nature by putting a price on what nature “does” for humans. Global Exchange doesn’t believe putting a price on nature is the path to protecting nature, and we’ll be there to confront what we’re against. While in Rio, we'll be unveiling our new report, Rights of Nature: Planting Seeds of Real Change ( which includes articles from leading activists such as former UN Ambassador to Bolivia Pablo Solón, Vandana Shiva, Maude Barlow, Alberto Acosta, and many more.” Global Exchange on going report of Rio+20 is at:

The Oglala Sioux Tribe rallied in Rapid City, SD against the Keystone XL Pipeline, February 11, 2012,  joining a number of Native Nations and environmentalists in the U.S. and Canada opposing the extremely polluting and environmentally – and human –damaging  multi-billion-dollar tar-sands crude extraction in Alberta and the moving of that dirty oil by  pipeline. Representatives of First Nations and the Navajo Nation, which is the largest U.S. Indian reservation, were on the Feb. 11 rally agenda, as organizers vowed they would keep building alliances until they get their way. (Talli Nauman, “Native Wisdom Guides Movement to Close Keystone Pipeline Route,” AmericasProgram, February 13, 2012,

Meanwhile, Canadian First Nations continue to object to of Enbridge Corp.’s proposed Northern Gateway pipeline from the Alberta oil sands to the British Columbia coast for pickup in Kitimat by mega-tankers, and in January, Aboriginal leaders from around Canada protested Prime Minister Stephen Harper and Minister of Natural Resources Joe Oliver’s statements of support for the extremely environmentally damaging project, noting the tar sands mining has been directly harmful to people (“ Aboriginal Leaders Angered by Outright Government Support of Northern Gateway Pipeline,” Indian Country Today,  January 13, 2012,

The Center for Biological Diversity, in April 2012, was engaged in a campaign because of its concern that, “ Oil-shale and tar-sands development are two of the filthiest ways to produce energy, and the Bureau of Land Management is considering converting millions of acres of public land in Colorado, Utah and Wyoming to this destructive use. if approved, this move would undermine efforts to reduce atmospheric CO2 levels to below 350 parts per million -- the level we need to return to soon to stabilize Earth's climate. ??Oil-shale and tar-sands development would also destroy species habitat, waste enormous volumes of water and pollute our land, water and air. It's so wasteful it won't even be commercially viable until 2022.?” For more information visit:

“Moapa Paiute March 50 Miles in Anti-Coal Protest,” Indian Country Today, April 27, 2012,, reports, “On Earth Day, Moapa Paiute Indians arrived in Las Vegas where they were joined by Sierra Club members and others protesting the Reid Gardner Power Plant. The Tribal members were completing a three-day, 50-mile ‘Cultural Healing Walk,’ some of which had taken place in temperatures that topped 100 degrees. The Reid Gardner facility, operated by NV Energy, is located in Moapa, Nevada, on land that abuts the Moapa River Indian Reservation. Reservation residents say the plant is ruining their health and has been for years. William Anderson, Moapa Band Chairman, summarized the problem in a statement: ‘The . That would help determine what needs to be do for our people’s health. We also need more stringent storage conditions for coal ash and a study to be conducted to show the health risks associated with breathing in coal ash.’”

Oceana (1350 Connecticut Ave. NW, 5th Floor, Washington, DC 20036,,, in April, was concerned about reports that “Dolphins in Louisiana are dying. Recent testing on dolphins near the Deepwater Horizon oil spill have shown that they’re suffering from illnesses ranging from anemia to liver disease. And an unprecedented amount of dolphins are washing up dead in the Gulf.” “The 2010 Deepwater Horizon oil spill has affected the local waters in countless ways. From sick dolphins to deformed shrimp to dying coral, the Gulf will be feeling the effects for years to come. Yet some members of Congress want to place even more drills in the Gulf, this time off the coast of Florida. The waters off of West Florida are home to bottlenose dolphins, sea turtles and manatees. All of these animals will be in severe danger if one of these proposed drills causes a spill. We’ve already seen what oil does to dolphins — how can we put even more animals at risk?” Thus Oceana is opposing a bill in Congress to allow more drilling in the Gulf.

Earth Justice ( was concerned, in June, and involved in a counter campaign, because “The Canadian government actually is trying to rollback the country's major environmental protections. What's worse, the executive branch is out in front, leading the anti-environment charge. Ultimately, with the blessings of Big Oil, they plan to quash citizen participation in environmental decisions, attack the status of environmental groups, and clear any impediment to wholesale exploitation of Canada's dirty energy resources.”

Members of the Confederated Salish and Kootenai Tribes of Montana have been working to block a silver and cooper mining being developed by Revett Minerals, Inc, beneath their sacred mountain, Chicago Peak, in Cabinet Mountain Wilderness. The nations have been working to have the site recognized under the historical preservation act as a traditional cultural property (“Tribes aim to stop mine beneath Montana Wilderness,” News From Indian Country, April 2012).

Alfredo Acedo, “Mexican Farmers Block New Law to Privatize Plants,” Americas Updater, May 22, 2012,, reports, “Progressive small farmer organizations in Mexico scored a victory over transnational corporations that seek to monopolize seed and food patents. When the corporations pushed their bill to modify the Federal Law on Plant Varieties through the Committee on Agriculture and Livestock of the Mexican Chamber of Deputies on March 14, organizations of farmers from across the country sounded the alarm. By organizing quickly, they joined together to pressure legislators and achieved an agreement with the legislative committee to remove the bill from the floor.”

U.S. Activities

The National Congress of American Indians (NCAI) has revamped its website. “ aims to provide the rich base of information, resources, and history that have defined NCAI online, along with improved navigation, dynamically updated content, and expanded new media capabilities.” NCAI issued its initial analysis of the FY 2013 Budget as proposed by the Obama Administration, February 15, 2012. The report details proposed investments and reductions in Indian Country priorities and programs. “The inclusion of a number of tribal priorities reflects – in part – increased tribal consultation to identify Indian Country’s top priorities. The analysis also indicates the budget proposal is a good step toward meeting bipartisan goals for Indian Country - government efficiency, more program flexibility for tribes, and no-cost solutions for strengthening tribal and rural economies. The report underscores the fact that these are important steps on a long journey and sustained investments are necessary to ensure tribes fully contribute to a robust recovery.“ Jefferson Keel, President of NCAI, stated, “Indian Country understands the federal government is constrained, that’s why we’ve called for increased flexibility for tribal programs and have identified no-cost provisions that strengthen tribal economies. We know what will work for our nations and we call on Congress to include Indian Country in finalizing a budget plan that grows tribal economies and meets the federal government’s trust responsibility.” ??”Many tribal programs fall into the category of discretionary domestic funding. In preparation for the President’s budget, some agencies have consulted with tribes about programs in the budget. NCAI produced a report in January 2012 that outlined the consultation efforts of all federal agencies. ??In the budget analysis, NCAI highlights the no-cost solution included in the budget proposal for restoring lands to tribal governments impacted by the Carcieri Supreme Court decision.  NCAI’s review also emphasizes the importance of sustained funding for tribal self-determination, critical to the economic foundation of Indian Country and the benefits tribes offer to surrounding rural and regional economies. Recommendations from Indian Country that were included in the FY 2013 proposal include increases for contract support costs, some natural resource and environmental protection programs, public safety initiatives, and contract health services. While the Administration’s budget proposal maintains support for critical programs, there were some cuts that represent major setbacks to progress in Indian Country. One example is in funding for Bureau of Indian Education construction, where proposed cuts reduce funding to $52.8 million, down from $140.5 million in FY 2011 and $70.8 million in FY 2012. These cuts would directly impact economic growth and job creation in communities hit hardest by the economic downturn.” The full analysis is available at:

The National Congress of the American Indian (NCAI), March 23, 2012, released the report, Moving Indian Country Forward: Health Care Reform One Year Later, highlighting improved coordination of health care services such as cancer screenings and dialysis treatment, increased resources for tribal, urban, and Indian Health Service (IHS) facilities, authorized development of long term care programs, and expanded workforce initiatives in tribal communities. The report, co-authored by NCAI, the National Indian Health Board, and the National Council of Urban Indian Health, reviews implementation of both pieces of legislation, ongoing tribal consultation, outreach and education efforts, and FY 2012 budget requests related to health. Cathy Abramson, Chairwoman of the National Indian Health Board, said "The journey to bring improved health care to tribal nations has only just begun, and now tribes are able to reach our people that need it most: young adults previously without health insurance, children with pre-existing conditions, and elders seeking more efficient prescription solutions. Vital provisions in these bills reach tribal communities where it counts, no matter where tribal citizens live, whether in villages, tribal lands, or in off-reservation communities," said Dr. Patrick Rock, President of the National Council of Urban Indian Health. The full report is available at:

Jefferson Keel, president of the National Congress of American Indians (NCAI) presented the 2012 State of Indian Nations address held January 26, 2012 at the Museum in Washington, DC, saying the state of Indian nations is “strong,” but in order to be stronger, they need the federal government to be flexible. “Tribal nations have proven our capacity. We don’t need the government involved in all our business decisions, we need flexibility. And by creating it, we will remove the barriers that cost us jobs and opportunity. This is a goal I think we can all agree on, across the political spectrum, and it is something we can achieve with a change in policy, not an increase in spending.” Keel said a flexible federal government would “put decision-making power back in the hands of the people who live in Indian country – the people who know best because these are our homelands, these are our people.” “That is the kind of solution Washington is crying out for, and we in Indian country are eager to answer the call,” Keel stated. “This message comes directly from tribal leaders,” the NCAI leader added. “We need freedom at the local level to best use our limited resources. We know what’s best because we live in Indian country. We know where the needs are, and we know what works for our people. No one understands Indian life better than the Indian nations themselves. Give us flexibility.” Keel gave the example of the Reno-Sparks Indian Colony, which opened a 65,000 square foot health facility in 2007 and was able to utilize the bond financing incentives offered under the Recovery Act in 2009. “Tribes were denied full access to this source of financing until the Recovery Act created a limited bond offering,” Keel explained. “Based on that experience, the Treasury released a report in December recommending they have the same access to bond financing available to our governmental peers. This will bring huge economic benefits to tribes and surrounding regional economies.” Moving to other issues, Keel made several calls for action to Obama and the U.S. Congress, urging Obama to send a special message to Congress on the importance of the nation-to-nation relationship and calling on the President to fully implement the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (UNDRIP), which the president signaled support for in 2010. Keel asserted, “We specifically call for a review of all existing federal law to ensure they are in alignment with the Declaration” Keel next called for an annual nation-to-nation summit between tribes and the federal government, as well as ongoing high-level meetings, saying “This would institutionalize the current [White House] Tribal Nations Summit, a meaningful commitment to our nation-to-nation relationship that must be upheld by all future presidents.” In addition, Keel asked that Native people be elevated in the federal government, including appointments to the federal bench, as well as for the creation of an office for Native American programs at Office of Management Budget. In this way, a federal commitment to Indian affairs would be institutionalized. Keel also addressed the individuals currently running for President of the United States, inviting each candidate to visit Indian country to outline their policy positions, adding, “We also urge the campaigns to make sure tribal nations are part of the discussion at the presidential debates.” Keel pointed to opportunities for immediate congressional action on Native affairs, specifically on a Carcieri fix, the HEARTH Act, the Native CLASS Act, public safety legislation, and the Violence Against Women Act reauthorization, as well as the SAVE Native Women Act. Keel then highlighted NCAI’s suggested budget for Indian country. “It will create reliable, safe domestic energy; it will build a 21st century education system; it will modernize our infrastructure; and, it will fund implementation of critical legislation like the Tribal Law & Order Act and the Indian Health Care Improvement Act,” he summarized. Keel noted the importance of the Indian budget in context of the current Budget Control Act, which requires Congress to cap discretionary spending for the next 10 years. “Much of the funding that fulfills the federal trust responsibility is categorized – wrongly, in our view – as domestic discretionary spending,” Keel reflected. “The trust responsibility is not a discretionary choice. It is not a line item. It is a solemn agreement that has been sustained over hundreds of years. He pointed out that, “Unless Congress acts to hold tribal programs harmless, then starting in 2013 we are facing 10% to 15% cuts across the board for the next decade – cuts that will threaten essential services and affect millions of Native citizens throughout vast regions of rural America.” Concerning consultation, Keel said the federal government must advance, “legally enforceable consultation.” “Without the power of legislation and accountability, ‘free, prior, and informed consent,’ are just some nice words on a page,” he said in referencing the UNDRIP and the commitment called for therein to Indigenous Peoples. “Enforceable consultation means we must talk about another idea – tribal consent,” Keel added. “There would be a public outcry if the federal government tried to impose policy on a state without its consent. But the concerns of tribal nations are routinely overlooked, even when more than a dozen tribes are larger than some northeastern states. This must not stand.” In return for the action Keel requested from the president and Congress, he said that Indians will do their part to be good American citizens, noting that Native get-out-the-vote programs are gearing up for this year’s elections. “Our America is a place where all candidates know that we matter, and America sees it at the ballot box,” he said. “It’s a place where each and every president honors our unique nation-to-nation relationship, where Indian country is always at the table – not just because it’s the right thing to do, but because it’s the smart thing to do. Our America is home to a Congress that works across party lines to free our economies. Our America is a place where governments keep their promises.” Jacqueline Pata, executive director of the NCAI, said in a question-and-answer session following the speech, commented, “With a little added flexibility, our programs will be more efficient”. She said that NCAI officials have already shared thoughts with the Obama administration on specific areas that could be fine-tuned. Whether the current Congress and the Obama administration can rearrange the formula to the liking of 566 federally recognized tribes remains to be seen, especially in a political climate that has stalled many bipartisan compromises on non-Indian issues. a political climate that has stalled many bipartisan compromises on non-Indian issues.  Tribal leaders assembled for the speech, and watching and listening to it on the radio and online throughout the country, have long said that the federal government needs to do a better job at focusing its resources on Indian country. Some see ways that current programs could be adjusted to better serve tribes, such as bonding authority first granted under the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act in 2009. Tribal leaders are also well aware of the current budget crunch in Washington, so they hope that instead of cutting Indian-focused programs, legislators will look at ways to spend the money more effectively (Rob Capriccioso, “NCAI’s State of Indian Nations: Looking for Federal ‘Flexibility’,” Indian Country Today, January 26, 2012, target="_blank">

Mark Trahant, “State of the Union, Part 2: A Call for Votes and Resources From America’s First Nations,” Indian Country Today, January 27, 2012,’s-first-nations, commented, “The National Congress of American Indians every year releases its ‘State of Indian Nations,’ an alternative prospect for the Congress reported during the week of the State of the Union. This has become an important exercise for many reasons. As NCAI President Jefferson Keel says, ‘Tribal nations are its first governments—one of three sovereigns recognized in the United States Constitution. And our America is a place where each member of the American family of governments contributes to a prosperous future.’” One of Keels ideas in the address “is lofty: Turn out Native American voters in record-breaking numbers. ‘We know it can be done,’ Keel said. ‘For instance, on the Fort Belknap Reservation in Montana, turnout rates are regularly over 80%. A survey of seniors at UCLA showed that Native young people participate at rates higher than any other group of students. This is especially important because almost half a million Native youth will be eligible to vote for the first time in the next four years.’ There is a record of success to build on here. The upset election of Sen. Lisa Murkowski in Alaska was because of Alaska Native organization, money—and votes. Keel also called on Congress to make it easier for tribal governments to be successful, removing obstacles to success. This is a message that ought to make sense to all. Indeed, NCAI’s top legislative priority is fixing the confusing Carcieri decision by the Supreme Court. But the broader issue is what Keel described as ‘the old way of doing things.’ He said, “the Swinomish Tribe, in Washington state, saw this first hand. The tribe had worked out a deal with Wal-Mart for a big new store on the reservation. This was a great deal—a million dollars a year in lease revenue for the Tribe, and new jobs for tribal members and people throughout the community. As with every lease on Indian lands, the federal government needed to approve it. The process took more than a year and by the time it was approved economic conditions had changed and Wal-Mart had made other plans.” On the critical budget issues, “Keel said, ‘the Budget Control Act poses great risks. The act requires Congress to cap discretionary spending for the next 10 years. Much of the funding that fulfills the federal trust responsibility is categorized—wrongly, in our view—as domestic discretionary spending. The trust responsibility is not a discretionary choice. It is not a line item. It is a solemn agreement that has been sustained over hundreds of years.’” “It seems to me there ought to ways to move some revenue designed for American Indians and Alaska Natives off of regular budget lines and into larger programs such as Medicaid. One way to do this is to treat Indian Country as a 51st state. Medicaid is expensive because of the complexity of managing 50 different systems (it’s a state-federal partnership), but Indian health programs are paid for by the federal government, but the benefit rules are set by states. That makes no sense. The federal budget may dominate the discourse from Washington these days, but constraints do not need to limit creativity.”

The annual observance and ceremonies to protect sacred sites in the Unites States took place June 16-24 at numerous sacred places in the U.S. including, Antelope Hills, Apache Leap, Badger Two Medicine, Badlands, Bear Butte, Bear Lake, Bear Medicine Lodge, Black Hills, Black Mesa, Blue Lake, Boboquivari Mountain, Bunchgrass Mountain, Cave Rock, Chief Cliff, Coastal Chumash Sacred Lands in the Gaviota Coast, Cocopah Burial and Ceremonial Grounds, Coldwater Springs, Colorado River, Columbia River, Deer Medicine Rocks, Dzil Nchaa Si An (Mount Graham), Eagle Rock, Everglades, Fajada Butte, Ganondagan, Great Mound (Mound Bottom), Gulf of Mexico, Haleakala Crater, Hatchet Mountain, Hickory Ground, Holy Mountain, Hualapai Nation landforms in Truxton and Crozier Canyons, Indian Pass, Kaho’olawe, Kasha-Katuwe, Katuktu, Kituwah, Klamath River, Kumeyaay Bands Burial and Ceremonial Grounds, Lake Superior, Luiseno Ancestral Origin Landscape, Mauna Kea, Maze, Medicine Bluff, Medicine Hole, Medicine Lake Highlands, Medicine Wheels, Migi zii wa sin (Eagle Rock), Mokuhinia, Moku’ula, Mount Shasta, Mount Taylor, Mount Tenabo, Nine Mile Canyon, Ocmulgee Old Fields and National Monument, Onondaga Lake, Palo Duro Canyon, Petroglyphs National Monument, Pipestone National Monument, Puget Sound, Puvungna, Pyramid Lake Stone Mother, Quechan Burial and Ceremonial Grounds, Rainbow Bridge, Rattlesnake Island, Rio Grande River, San Francisco Peaks, Serpent Mound, Snoqualmie Falls, Sweetgrass Hills, Sutter Buttes, Tse Whit Zen Village, Tsi-litch Semiahmah Village, Valley of Chiefs, Valmont Butte, Wakarusa Wetlands, Walking Woman Place, Woodruff Butte, Wolf River, Yucca Mountain, Zuni Salt Lake, Sacred places of all removed Native Nations, all waters and wetlands (“National Sacred Places Prayer Days Starts June 16,” Indian Country Today, June 15, 2012,

A small group of Indians and allies held their annual protest against the Cleveland Indians baseball team’s nickname and mascot, Chief Wahoo, outside Progressive Field in Cleveland, April 5, 2012. a protest that has been taking place for the past three decades (“Rite of Spring: The Annual Protest Against the Cleveland Indians’ Shameful Mascot, Chief Wahoo,” Indian Country Today,” April 7, 2012,

Americans for Indian Opportunity (AIO) convened a group of network weavers, in October 2011, to collaborate with AIO in building a network of Native American organizations to create positive change for Native working families, beginning by creating a website to increase interorganizational communication. Participating in the first meeting with AIO were the Hopi Foundation, the Indian Pueblo Cultural Center, Tewa Women United, and the National Urban Indian Family Coalition. AIO continued providing Indian 101 sessions: at the Reservation Economic Summit Conference, in March, for representative of major U.S. corporations seeking to do business wit Indian nations; and for New Mexico new TFA teachers, helping them prepare to teach Indian students around the state in two meetings, the second employing the participatory Indigenous Leaders Interactive System (ILIS) to assist the teachers to identify a collective vision of how best to meet th needs of Indigenous students. AIO has been continuing its partnership (since 2006) with Native American Community Academy (NACA), a charter school, which has adapted the model of AIO’s Ambassadors Program leadership model for students, including the design of annual 8th grade trips to Washington, DC, and in 2012 a student journey to New Zealand to meet with students at Nga Taiatea Wharekura, a Maori language immersion school. During AIO’s second annual participation in the American Indian Day program, November 2, 2011, at California University of Pennsylvania, Cal U. announced the launching of the LaDonna Harris Indigenous Peoples Institute to promote scholarly exploration and dialogue about international Indigenous topics. AIO sent a public statement of support, in January 2012, as the Ainu formed their own political party—a historic moment for the Indigenous peoples in Japan. (“AIO Notebook,” The Ambassador, Winter 2011; and

Marc Dadigan, “Grassroots River Closure, Coordinated Boater Harassment Highlight Winnemem Wintu’s War Dance,” Indian Country Today, May 31, 2012,, reports, “Spangled with duct-tape lettering and weighed down by milk jugs filled with water, the banner reading “River Closed” was strung across the McCloud River on May 26 far higher than any boat and cast against mountains that were veiled in cloud shadow.” “Since 2005, the Winnemem Wintu, a deeply traditional tribe of 125, have struggled with the U.S. Forest Service to implement a mandatory closure of 400 yards of the McCloud Arm of Shasta Lake, a tiny corner of nearly 370 miles of shoreline for their young women’s Coming of Age ceremonies. The Forest Service can only close the river for a federally recognized tribe, according to federal law, and the Winnemem lost their recognition due to a bureaucratic error in led the mid-1980s.” Attempts at ‘Voluntary closures’ in ceremonies of 2006 and 2010 resulted by the participants being harassed by recreational boaters. Deciding they had run out of options to get the river closure, the Winnemem Wintu held a War Dance May 24 – 27, 2012 at the Coming of Age Ceremony site where tribal activists, environmental justice activists and Occupy movement members helped the tribe enforce their own closure. However, just as the tribe was about to complete their final dance of the ceremony, a fleet of seven motor boats and three jet skies motored back and forth through the ceremony site at speeds greater than the 5 mph speed limit, flipped off tribal members, stared down young women holding infants and did doughnuts near the tribe’s sacred sites. Tribal member, Doug Scholfield had previous talked to the boaters about avoiding the ceremony area, so he, like the rest of the tribe, believed it was clearly an organized, pre-meditated act, he said. It was reported that about 10 Forest Service law enforcement officers and a leashed K-9 were quick to descend on the ceremony when they raised the banner, but were nowhere to be found when the boaters aggressively invaded their ceremony space. A volunteer crew aboard a Coast Guard auxiliary boat also instructed recreational boaters to ignore the closure and proceed through the ceremony, tribal members said. This was this sort of aggression the tribe has long sought to avoid as seen by the tribe’s picketed efforts at the local U.S. Forest Services office in Vallejo, California on April 16. Due to the lack of a response from that day, the tribe decided to hold it’s first War Dance since 2004 – that dance protested the proposal to raise the Shasta Dam, bringing the rising lake to flood the traditional Women’s Coming of Age ceremonial site. According to John Heil, Pacific Southwest Region Press Officer for the U.S. Forest Services, Regional Forester Randy Moore’s office is looking into possible solutions, but would not venture into detail of any of them, stating the tribe would be contacted once Moore made a decision.

Cry of the Native Refugee web site,, is dedicated to “The True Native American History.” “Our goals are to the let world know, the Native American people have not forgotten the pain and suffering of their ancestors.  We welcome people to share their own real life stories as refugees from their homelands. Numerous men and women are filled with passion and a dream of restoring the peace and lost freedom of the Native American people. Cry of the Native Refugee is dedicated to such endeavors, and if you are interested in participating in assisting with any area legal assistance, information, donations, or other form of support, you are certainly welcomed.”

The Miahewal Wappo Indians of California, whose federal recognition was terminated in the termination era, are seeking to regain recognition and a reservation in their traditional territory along river Banks and in valleys of Napa and Sonoma County. County officials and local grape growers are opposing the tribal effort (Peter Fimrite, “Tribe fights to reclaim recognition, territory,” San Francisco Chronicle, May 18, 2012).

The Hawai’i People’s Fund is celebrating its 40th year building the capacity for social change in the islands. For more information go to:

International Activities

Canadian aboriginal groups, in February, were lobbying Chinese authorities, ahead of Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s visit to Beijing,  seeking to halt a project under discussion for a pipeline that would carry tar sands oil from the province of Alberta west to the British Columbian port of Kitimat. Tribal leaders sent an open letter to President Hu Jintao of China, a major investor in the project, warning that they could seek to block the deal if their views were ignored. Tribal leaders say they are aware that China has serious problems in its own minority areas. One reason for their activities, they say, is that they do not want Chinese companies to bring over their own workers — as they have in many other projects around the world and in China’s own minority regions — leaving little economic benefit for locals (Ian Johnson and Michael Wines, “As Canadians Talk Business, China’s Longtime Stance of Noninterference Is Tested,” The New York Times,  February 10, 2012,

Aviva Chomsky, “Demanding Free, Prior and Informed Consent Across Borders: Making Rights Real in Colombia,” CSQ Issue: 36-1 (Spring 2012) Sacred Places, Sacred Lifeways, reported, “In the summer of 2011, another group of [Witness for Peace] (WfP) delegates to La Guajira [Columbia] were shocked and distressed to see an enormous regional push to expand mining operations, including the diversion of 26.5 miles of the Ranchería River, the main water source in the arid peninsula. Dozens of Indigenous, Afro-Colombian, and campesino communities stand in the path of these increased operations. Colombia is a signatory to ILO 169, so the mining companies have been carrying out their own consultations. According to community activists, ‘The company has been carrying out what it calls ‘consultation’ but this is really just informing the communities, showing them the pretty face of mining and never telling them about its negative consequences. These kind of consultations only gather together some of the community authorities. They do not take into account the rest of the community. If the cabildos [councils] do not accept or sign the document that the mining officials have prepared, they are subject to pressure, and even threats. The mining company then takes the document to the Ministry of the Interior, and presents it as a prior consultation with the communities.’ Several organizations that have worked in solidarity in both Guatemala and Colombia were angry to see the exploitation of the process of FPIC. Not being experts on the process ourselves, we spoke with our Guatemalan and Colombian allies and came up with the idea of organizing a workshop to bring two Guatemalans active in the Consejo de Pueblos de Oriente, which has been a driving force behind the community consultation process, to share their experiences with the Colombians who had thus far only seen these consultations as a company tactic. The workshop was held on November 18–20, 2011, in the Indigenous reserve of Provincial in La Guajira, with fundraising efforts organized by U.S. based organizations and thanks to a grant from the Social Justice Fund of the Public Service Alliance of Canada. The Guatemalans were impressed with the Colombians’ ability to bring people together— more than 100 delegates from 41 different Wayúu communities attended, as well as youth and children. “Initially the representatives who participated did not want to discuss consultations, because the mining company is carrying out a campaign to manipulate the consultation process in order to continue its expansion,” the Guatemalans reported. “We had to explain that community consultation is something different, it is a process completely in the hands of the communities, it is a democratic and legitimate process recognized by international actors.” The Guatemalan delegates emphasized two issues in the workshops that they led: the concept of defense of territory, and the need for communities to take ownership of the concept of FPIC and to arrange their own community consultations, rather than allowing the mining companies to “consult” them. Both of these resonated strongly with the Wayúu participants. A formal document signed by all of the attendees concluded: ‘During these three days, as pueblos and communities, we listened and analyzed from different positions the social, environmental, cultural, and economic impacts that the mine has had in our territories. We also recalled how we lived in our territories before the mine arrived, and we examined the rights and guarantees that we are due and the extent to which these have been violated or protected by the companies and by the state during all of these years.’ A three-day series of events centered on the defense of territory emerged from the meeting. Members of the Wayúu communities reported, “This mobilization was held in the municipality of Barrancas and was a big success. After marching, we held a press conference in the municipal government offices in Barrancas with the media of La Guajira attending. We also made presentations of our traditional foods as a strategy to defend the right to food sovereignty, emphasizing the need for arable lands. We held traditional dances in each community to strengthen our culture.’” “The workshop’s final declaration called upon the Colombian government to nullify the results of the manipulative “consultations” carried out thus far. Participants vowed to carry out a massive education process to lay the groundwork for true community consultations, and to refuse to participate in any more company-organized ‘consultations.’ The final declaration stated: ‘We have the right to give, or withhold, Free, Prior and Informed consent. This consent cannot be obtained under pressure from the companies. Representatives of these companies are contacting our Indigenous brothers and have arbitrarily entered our Indigenous and Afro-descendant communities. They are dividing families, ignoring our customs, traditions, community authorities, and ways of life, and the autonomy of small-holders. They are They are holding meetings, signing agreements with individuals, ignoring the fact that the land belongs to all of the members of the communities, and that 100% of the members should participate. Thus we declare, based on ILO 169, ratified by Law 21 of 1991, the Colombian Constitution and national and international law, that the companies should not be promoting consultations nor going into our territories without our consent and the permission of our community assemblies which are the highest level of governance in our communities.’”

Colin Firth helped Survival International to launch a major new campaign to save the uncontacted Awá in Brazil, April 25, 2012, with the opening of a new Survival Film as part of a campaign to get Brazil's Minister of Justice: to send in the federal police to catch illegal loggers and settlers, and keep them out for good. To see the film and for more information go to:, or contact Survival International USA, 2325 3rd Street, Suite 413, San Francisco, CA 94107 (415)503-1254, or Survival International, 6 Charterhouse Buildings, LONDON, UK, EC1M 7ET, T +44(0)20 7687 8700,

Survival International, in February, was urging the UN to bring an end to human safaris in the lands of the Jarawa tribe in the Andaman Islands, by speaking out for a second time, five years after the UN first called on India to close the Andaman Trunk Road (ATR), that the Indian Supreme Court ordered the government to close in 2002. Survival’s actions follows a series of articles by a British newspaper putting the issue under international scrutiny, and bringing international and national pressure on Indian and Andaman officials. The open road into Jarawa territory threatens the tribal members with disease, which can be fatal, especially from the tourist safaris, that also have been causing tribal members to suffer demeaning actions by tour leaders (for more see International Developments, below) (“Survival urges UN to end Andamans scandal,” February 16, 2012,

 “Clampdown on sacred ritual as Vedanta mine appeal approaches,” Survival International, February, 24 2012,, reports that local police attempted to repress a Dongria religious festival, in February, on their sacred mountain, in opposition to the UK company Vedanta Resources imminent attempt to have the decision reversed blocking its proposed massive mining project on the mountain, which would have made the Dongria homeland unlivable. Survival received reports of arrests and beatings, with police shutting down six Dongria meetings where food supplies were being organized for the festival, during the week preceding it. Giridhari Patra from the Niyamgiri Protection Committee said, “Intimidating and threatening the Dongria before one of their most important festivals is unforgivable. The mountain is the seat of their god and the basis of their identity. We will never give it up to Vedanta.” India’s highest court was to hear arguments, April 9,, 2012, of an appeal by the mining company of the court’s 2010 decision to block the open pit mining project. On April 9, 2012, Dongria Kondh and Niyamgiri supporters held their own ‘public hearing’ in Orissa state, where they restated their resolve not to allow mining on their sacred mountain, coinciding with the Supreme Court appeal in Delhi. However, the appeal was adjourned before it began, without India’s Supreme Court announcing a new date for the hearing (Indian tribe stands firm as Vedanta mine appeal adjourned,” Survival International, April 9, 2012,

Survival International began a new international campaign, in March 2012, against the racist depiction of tribal people on TV, beginning by targeting an Australian TV report which branded an Amazon tribe as child murderers; a ‘suicide cult’ from the ‘Stone Age’; and the ‘worst human rights violators in the world’. Survival’s ‘Freakshow TV’ campaign aims to challenge the depiction of tribal people on TV as primitive, backward savages. The broadcast on Australia's Channel 7 Sunday Night show featured ‘adventurer’ Paul Raffaele and reporter Tim Noonan visiting Brazil’s Suruwaha tribe. The Suruwaha have already been targeted by fundamentalist missionaries, who falsely say they regularly kill newborn babies. The missionaries have lobbied Brazil’s Congress to pass a law allowing Indian children to be removed from their families. The Indians allowed the Channel 7 team into their territory after Mr. Raffaele said he wanted to film a ‘positive report’. But their report has generated a firestorm of protests, with Survival International’s Director denouncing it as ‘one of the most biased, misleading and disgusting reports we’ve ever seen’. The report portrays the Suruwaha as a true suicide cult'; a 'Stone Age' people; and 'lost in time'. The tribe is said to 'encourage the murder of disabled children…in the most gruesome way possible'; take 'poor little innocent babes into the jungle to be eaten alive by wild beasts'; and to be responsible for 'one of the worst human rights violations in the world'. The report’s website is also openly fundraising for an evangelical organization associated with the anti-Indian campaign. Survival wrote to Channel 7 outlining the many errors and distortions in the report, but the Channel has rejected all the accusations. Australia’s broadcasting regulator ACMA has now opened a formal investigation. Survival reports that Raffaele, previously a writer for Smithsonian Magazine, has been in trouble before – for a very similar Channel 9 report in 2006, in which he claimed a Papuan boy was in danger of being eaten by his tribe, who Raffaele described as ‘Stone Age cannibals’. The broadcast was widely attacked by experts, with Mr. Raffaele reportedly admitting later that he had even misidentified the boy’s tribe. In addition, Survival has written to Yahoo! urging them to remove the report from their website, but had received no reply as of March 7. Survival International’s Director Stephen Corry said, March 7, 2012, ‘It’s freakshow TV at its very worst. The Indians are made out to be cruel and inhuman monsters, in the spirit of 19th century colonialist scorn for ‘primitive savages’. It’s clearly designed to have the same effect – to suggest that they don’t deserve any rights. The idea that such nonsense is supposed to help tribal children is breathtaking.’ Survival International has written a set of ethical guidelines to help filmmakers work responsibly with tribal peoples. It is also using its Stamp it Out campaign to challenge racist depictions, however unwitting, in the media (“Outrage at ‘Freakshow TV’ as reporter brands Amazon tribe child murderers,” Survival International, March 7, 2012,   

Tribes from four continents, in May, were urging Britain to ratify ILO 169, the only legally binding international law designed to protect tribal peoples’ rights, in the first instance of a group of tribal representatives making such a direct appeal, in Survival’s view, reflecting the urgent need for the law’s global endorsement.  Currently 22 nations have signed the Convention, that gives tribal peoples the right to own the land they live on, make decisions about projects that affect them, and ensures their freedom and equality. Ratifying the law was official policy of the Liberal Democrat party, part of the governing coalition (“Tribes urge UK to sign law to ‘guarantee’ their survival,“ Survival International, May 29, 2012,

In Australia, January 25, 27, 2012, aboriginal protestors held a protest for Indigenous rights in the capital, including more than 200 of them marching on the Nation’s Parliament House and proceeded to burn the Australian flag. The day before the marchers surrounded a Canberra restaurant where Prime Minister Julia Gillard was dining, creating a situation where Gillard had to be led away by her bodyguards. Among aboriginal activists, the view on the protests have been split. Some leaders disagree with the protests, such as Mick Gooda, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander social justice commissioner, and former ALP national president Warren Mundine, as some aborigine leaders felt the protests have jeopardized the efforts to reconcile indigenous Australians in the broader society. On the other side of the debate, and in support of the protests is Paul Coe, an activist leader who felt the concerns were nothing and said Australians should recognize the place of indigenous people in Australia (“Aboriginal Protesters Burn Flag at Australian Parliament,” Indian Country Today, January 28, 2012,