Ongoing Activities:

Environmental Activities

U.S. Activities

International Activities

ONGOING ACTIVITIES

By Steve Sachs

Environmental Activities

350.org (at: http://350.org)’s "Bill McKibben, reported from Washington’ DC’s rally, February 17, 2013, “Today was the day. Finally, powerfully, decisively -- the movement to stop climate change has come together. This was the biggest climate change rally in US history. By our count, 50,000 people gathered by the Washington Monument and then marched past the White House, demanding that President Obama block the Keystone XL pipeline and move forward toward climate action.” Global Exchange ran a “California Communities Rising Against Fracking” Tour: San Francisco to San Diego, April 15-22, 2013 (http://www.globalexchange.org/communityrights/fracking/tour). The weekend of April 20, 2012, 350.org put on a nationwide movie premiere of, Do The Math: The Movie, that tells the story of the growing climate movement in 42 minutes -- from the new fossil fuel divestment campaign to the fight against the Keystone XL. For details go to: http://act.350.org/go/2963?t=1&akid=3022.51426.k8kqaW.

Jon Queally, “Tar Sands Blockaders Take Over TransCanada Offices in Texas, Elsewhere: Actions in Texas, Massachusetts and Maine target pipeline company and its financial backers, “Common Dreams, January 7, 2013, http://www.commondreams.org/headline/2013/01/07-1, reports, “Members and supporters of the group Tar Sands Blockade staged public actions in Texas, Massachusetts, Maine and elsewhere on Monday in a series of independent protests at offices of the TransCanada Corporation—which is building the Keystone XL pipeline—and financial institutions supportive of tar sands infrastructure projects, such as TD Bank. The largest action took place in Houston, Texas... but others sprang up as the day progressed. Campaigners in Westborough, Massachusetts—reportedly students—occupied the inside the entryway at the company's offices and refused to leave. The group explained their motivations in a prepared statement, which read in part: ‘Our actions today aim to raise awareness and build momentum to halt the destruction that fossil fuel corporations knowingly cause. Science, and economics and logic provide an obvious imperative for action. However, even overwhelming factual evidence has not compelled our political leaders to stand up to these corporations. Our elected representatives have not yet found the courage to draw a clear line in the sand and prevent the construction of the Keystone XL pipeline.’ Meanwhile, citing the financial institution's investment in the Keystone XL pipeline project, several activists in Portland, Maine, blocked the entrance to a local branch of TD Bank/… A gathering was also reported in Detroit, Michigan.” Tar Sands Blockade “has been staging ongoing actions in Texas against the pipeline since last year, including an eighty-five day blockade in Winnsboro, Texas which saw a series of actions and numerous arrests surrounding a centralized encampment that resulted in a re-routing of the pipeline's route. A more a recent tree-sit protest last week that ended in the arrest of several activists in Diboll, Texas.”

In spring of 2013 there were a number of developments in tribal opposition to the Keystone Pipeline and tarsands mining in the U.S. and Canada. As Indian nations complained about not being consulted by the U.S. Department of State in its process of preparing a report on the current Keystone Pipeline proposal, the Ihanktonwan Oyate/Yankton Sioux General Council of South Dakota passed resolutions, in April, affirming their opposition to the Keystone XL Pipeline, and declaring that consultation with tribes by the State Department in regards to the pipeline project has been flawed and has not lived up to standards established in the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples. The State Department has cited 159 consultations have taken place in their Supplemental Environmental Impact Statement, which the Ihanktonwan dismiss as “gross misrepresentations” since true consultation with the Ihanktonwan would need to occur on their homelands and with their General Council, according to tribal custom. The Resolution asserts that the State Department has neglected its legal obligation to engage in Nation to Nation consultation in its review of the project, and has not properly identified cultural and historic sites on their homelands to ensure their protection if the pipeline is approved. The Council has officially denounced the approach taken by the State Department thus far and demands that proper consultation be carried out. Earlier, on January 25th, 2013. The Ihanktonwan signed an International Treaty with the Pawnee Nation and seven other Indigenous Nations in the US and Canada to protect sacred lands from tar sands development. The treaty states, "our laws define our solemn duty and responsibility to our ancestors, to ourselves and to future generations, to protect the lands and waters of our homelands, and we agree to mutually and collectively oppose tar sands projects which would impact our territories, including but not limited to the TransCanada Keystone XL pipeline.” The statement of the Indigenous Environmental Network opposing tar sands mining and the Keystone Pipeline is at: www.ienearth.org. See also: www.tarsandsaction.org. Cultural Survival’s statement of opposition to Keystone is at: http://www.culturalsurvival.org/take-action/keystone (“Campaign Update– Keystone: State Department Failing to Consult Tribes,” Cultural Survival, May 8, 2013, http://www.culturalsurvival.org/news/campaign-update-keystone-state-department-failing-consult-tribes).

The Indigenous Environmental Network was engaged, in May 2013, in a “campaign to ’Stop California AB32 / REDD! Reduce Emissions at Home AND Save Tropical Forests,’” saying California lawmakers need to know you want them to tackle BOTH deforestation AND reduce industrial emissions at home. AB 32 will also prevent progressive Californian companies from taking advantage of the benefits of new technologies and innovations. Unfortunately, the recommendations provided by the REDD Offsets Working Group (ROW) do not include reductions in greenhouse gas emissions for Californians. Instead, their proposal is to use rain forests as an offset and not a reduction of industrial emissions. The Indigenous Environmental Network along with over two dozen national and international environmental groups have been working to prevent catastrophic climate change, and advance the protection of forests, while working toward social, environmental, and climate justice for all marginalized and under-served communities worldwide. Doing one and not the other is simply not enough! The scientific evidence is clear: Climate change is real and in order to have a fighting chance of stopping the pending catastrophic consequences, we need bold action to reduce industrial emissions and tackle deforestation at the same time.  An alternative to offsets and ones that would make a real difference would be changing policies in regard to procurement, public investment, fuels, and other issues, which, exacerbates rain forest destruction by increasing demand for petroleum, timber, soy, paper, palm oil, and other commodities. By allowing industry to buy international forest offsets, the amount of industrial emissions within the state would be greater than otherwise allowed by law, exposing people in California to greater health and environmental risks. The problem with using tropical forests for carbon offsets is that their ability to hold or maintain carbon isn't reliable or static, and is determined by climate change itself, along with degradation from pests, and commercial use. However, emissions coming from smokestacks, (end-of-pipe emissions), remain in the atmosphere for centuries. For these reasons, and more, the inclusion of sub-national forest offsets in California’s cap and trade program are likely to increase emissions relative to AB 32’s objectives. Tropical forests are the homes of Indigenous and Traditional communities. They have a deep historical connection to their homelands. These forests are where they have cultivated their unique social, economic, and cultural relationships. Independent investigations have found several cases of human rights abuses as a result of the promotion of international forest offsets. These concerns and opposition is now being voiced against the proposal by ROW from indigenous peoples and local communities in both Chiapas, Mexico and in Acre, Brazil where California would most likely obtain its initial credits. Similar concerns have arisen in Nigeria and Indonesia, which are under consideration for future inclusion in the program. The key features of the proposed REDD program, including improved forest governance, the development of relevant legal frameworks, and the rights of indigenous peoples and local communities (including their full, effective participation and free, prior, informed consent), are beyond the regulatory authority of the State of California. For more information planet visit:  http://www.mynewsletterbuilder.com/tools/refer.php?s=51853f2faf5225942c001e66&u=29352639&v=3&key=07a9&skey=be32f8c7f6&url=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.ienearth.org%2Fstop-california-redd-now%2F%3Futm_medium%3Demail%26utm_source%3DMyNewsletterBuilder%26utm_content%3D.

Students at Swarthmore College are in the vanguard of a new disinvestment movement, as they have been asking the college to remove from its endowment holdings stocks of firms contributing strongly to global warming induced climate change (Justin Gillis, “The Divestment Brigade,” The New York Times, December 5, 2012).

“Obama Asked To Stop Arctic Drilling,” EARTHJUSTICE e.BRIEF,  January 2013, http://action.earthjustice.org/site/R?i=hJZQC-hhBh0YKOX70RnRqA, states, “As President Obama embarks on his second term, tens of thousands of Earthjustice supporters are asking that he suspend plans to allow drilling in the Arctic Ocean. Furious weather forced a Shell drill ship onto the rocks, triggering a 60-day government investigation.“ “Earthjustice is fighting in court to prevent a new onslaught of reckless offshore Arctic drilling.”

Physicians for Social Responsibility (PSR) was engaged, in March 2013, in a campaign to “tell President Obama to establish stronger limits on fine particle pollution, to protect our health and save lives. (https://secure2.convio.net/psr/site/Advocacy?pagename=homepage&page=UserAction&id=889&autologin=true&AddInterest=2021&JServSessionIdr004=iiajdtseo3.app207b).

Campaign Update: Canada–Tsilhqot’in Nation Prepares for Public Hearings for Controversial New Prosperity Mine Proposal,” Cultural Survival, June 20, 2013, http://www.culturalsurvival.org/news/campaign-update-canada-tsilhqotin-nation-prepares-public-hearings-controversial-new-prosperity, reported, “The Tsilhqot’in National Government responded to today’s announcement that Federal Review Panel Hearings for the New Prosperity Mine proposal will commence in 30 days, amidst continued controversy over Taseko Mines Ltd.’s refusal to provide critical information directly requested by the Panel .Concerns raised by the Panel include whether the project would cause Teztan Biny (Fish Lake) to drain into a massive open pit mine, and the company’s refusal to use the results of a groundwater pumping test from 1994, which showed high rates of water movement in the ground between the Lake and the proposed pit. Other concerns included the amount of uncontrolled contaminated seepage draining from the tailings into Teztan Biny, as well as contamination of Tsilhqot’in food sources. ’The Tsilhqot’in Nation looks forward to welcoming the Panel into our communities’, said Chief Joe Alphonse, Tribal Chair for the Tsilhqot’in National Government. ‘However, it will be a difficult process because our communities still cannot understand why we have to go through all of this again, given that this new proposal would be just as devastating for our culture and our lands as the rejected Prosperity proposal.’“ “’Besides the threat of Teztan Biny (Fish Lake) draining away, which was raised by Natural Resources Canada, we also continue to see serious concerns being raised by federal and provincial government experts. These include environmental and cultural concerns such as contamination of our lakes and streams. We are confident that like the last Panel, this federal review will recognize the serious threat that such a mine poses in such a sacred place.”

Campaign Update– Mexico: Wixarika Highlight Human Rights Violations,” Cultural Survival, May 7, 2013, http://www.culturalsurvival.org/news/campaign-update-mexico-wixarika-highlight-human-rights-violations, reported, “The Wirikuta Defense Front released their annual report on the mining concessions in their territory and the threats they represent to their people and have presented the information to James Anaya, the UN Special Rapporteur for Indigenous Peoples on April 18th. They asked Anaya to call on the government of Mexico to carry out concrete actions to protect the territory of Wirikuta, and an end to the violations of human rights against the Wixarika people, who hold Wirikuta as a sacred site and have fought for years for its protection from Canadian mining company First Majestic Silver.”

Worldwide protests to stop Amazon gas project expansion,” Survival International, April 19, 2013, http://www.survivalinternational.org/news/9157, reported, that Survival International supporters protested outside Peruvian embassies and consulates around the world, April 23, 2013, calling for an end to the deadly expansion of the Camisea gas project in Peru’s Amazon rainforest, which puts the lives of uncontacted Indians at risk. Protesters carried placards and gas masks symbolizing the lethal effects of the Camisea project on uncontacted tribes in the area, and handed petitions to Peruvian embassies and consulates in London, San Francisco, Berlin, Madrid and Paris. The urgent petition asks Peru’s President to stop outsiders and companies from invading uncontacted tribes’ land, and has been signed by over 120,000 people around the world. Uncontacted Indians are extremely vulnerable to diseases brought in by outsiders – initial exploration in the Camisea block in the 1980s led to the deaths of half the Nahua tribe. Camisea lies in the heart of the Nahua-Nanti Reserve for several uncontacted and isolated tribes, and is the buffer zone to the Manu National Park, considered by UNESCO to be ‘the most biodiverse place on earth’. It is Peru’s largest gas project, and is run by Argentina’s Pluspetrol, US’s Hunt Oil and Spain’s Repsol. In April, Peru’s Ministry of Energy was set to approve a massive expansion of the project, despite a UN call for the ‘immediate suspension’ of the work, that is likely to prove devastating for the tribes. Apart from the risks of diseases from first contact, the gas work also threatens to destroy the forest and scare away the game on which the uncontacted Indians depend for survival.

“Brazilian Indians occupy Congress in land protest,” Survival International, April 19, 2013, http://www.survivalinternational.org/news/9172, reports, On Brazil’s annual ‘Day of the Indian’ today, hundreds of Brazilian Indians of various tribes invaded and occupied part of the country’s Congress, to protest at attempts to change the law regarding their land rights. The Indians are outraged about a proposed constitutional amendment that would weaken their hold on their territories. They fear that ‘PEC 215’, by giving Congress power in the demarcation process, will cause further delays and obstacles to the recognition and protection of their ancestral land. The Indians say they will not stop protesting until the planned amendment is scrapped. Alongside Directive 303, amendment 215 is a result of pressure by Brazil’s powerful rural lobby group which includes many politicians who own ranches on indigenous land. It could spell disaster for thousands of indigenous peoples who are waiting for the government to fulfill its legal duty to map out their lands. Whilst Brazil’s sugar-cane industry booms, benefitting from plantations on indigenous land, the Guarani Indians of Mato Grosso do Sul suffer from malnutrition, violence, murder and one of the highest suicide rates in the world. Guarani spokesman Tonico Benites explains, ‘Guarani suicide is happening and increasing as a result of the delay in identifying and demarcating our ancestral land’. Elsewhere in the country, indigenous peoples are fighting for their land to be protected from waves of invasions at the hands of loggers, ranchers, miners and settlers. The Awá Indians in the north-eastern Amazon are now Earth’s most threatened tribe. The uncontacted Awá will not survive unless action is taken now to protect their forest. The day before “Indian Day”, the Yanomami association Hutukara organized a demonstration of about 400 Yanomami in Ajarani, in the eastern part of their territory. This area has been occupied by cattle ranchers for decades. Despite a court order to leave, they have refused to do so. Hutukara’s vice-president Maurício Ye’kuana said, ‘The presence of the ranchers in the region has caused huge harm to the indigenous people and to the environment, such as deforestation and burning of the forest. We want an end to this.’ Meanwhile Munduruku Indians have been protesting for months against the proposal to build a series of hydro-electric dams along the Tapajós, a large tributary of the Amazon. In March, 2013, the military and police launched ‘Operation Tapajós’ in an attempt to stamp out the Indians’ protests against the arrival of technical teams surveying the area for the first dam, São Luis do Tapajós. On April 16 a federal judge ordered that this operation be suspended, and that the Indians and other affected communities be consulted before technical studies are carried out. The judge also ruled that an environmental impact assessment should be carried out on the cumulative impact of all the dams planned for the Tapajós.

Campaign Update- Bangladesh: Santa Claus Delivered Coal to GCM Headquarters,” Cultural Survival, January 7, 2013, http://www.culturalsurvival.org/news/campaign-update-bangladesh-santa-claus-delivered-coal-gcm-headquarters, reported, “On December 20th, activists protesting an open-pit coal mine in Phulbari, Bangladesh dumped coal at the entrance to mining company GCM Resources in London. The company was holding their Annual General Meeting. One activist dressed as Santa Claus gave company chairman Gerard Howell a present of a stocking full of coal. Two activists dressed as GCM Resources executives kicked over a makeshift hut and covered a woman in coal as part of a street theatre outside the door. Police arrested them for breach of the peace but released them shortly after the demonstration. At the same time, inside the meeting, an activist dressed as Santa from Climate Justice Collective gave a stocking full of coal to the company chairman saying, "Ho, ho, ho, have you been naughty or nice this year? This year you threatened to evict 220,000 people so you could profit from polluting the climate. St Nick always knows - yours stocking's full of coal!” The meeting was quickly broken up following the intervention from Santa. Meanwhile, activists from the Bangladeshi community and other organizations including World Development Movement and London Mining Network asking numerous questions about the highly contentious Phulbari project and its massive human rights impacts. Stock prices had already been affected by the time the meeting took place, on word of the protest published a day earlier by the UK's Daily Mail. In 2006 three people were killed and over 200 injured when paramilitary troops fired on a protest of some 80,000 demonstrators in Phulbari. If completed, it has been estimated that the project would destroy the homes, lands, and water sources of as many as 220,000 people, and forcibly evict an estimated 130,000 people. Seven Special Rapporteurs of the United Nations issued a joint UN press release on 28 February, 2012, calling for an immediate halt to the project on the grounds that it threatens the fundamental human rights of hundreds of thousands of people, including entire villages of indigenous people, and poses "an immediate threat to safety and standards of living. "GCM Resources, a UK-based multinational company, is moving to implement the project despite the human rights and environmental concerns that have been raised. “Good News– Bangladesh: UK Accepts Complaint over Coal Mine,” Cultural Survival, June 14, 2013, http://www.culturalsurvival.org/news/good-news-bangladesh-uk-accepts-complaint-over-coal-mine, reported, “British company GCM Resources was dealt a serious blow today as the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) agreed to consider complaints regarding severe human rights violations associated with the company’s planned coal mine in Bangladesh.“

The Pew Charitable Trusts was involved in a campaign, in June 2013, to protect sharks, saying, “The latest scientific research estimates that approximately 100 million sharks are killed annually. Because sharks grow slowly, mature late, and produce few young, this level of fishing is unsustainable.  The United States has taken steps to reduce the overfishing of sharks both domestically and internationally, which is commendable. The Shark Conservation Act of 2010 closed loopholes that allowed shark finning to continue, and should, if implemented as intended, be a step forward in U.S. shark conservation. However, the proposed rule to implement the act, if approved as written, could overturn state laws that are more restrictive than the federal law. Bans on shark fin trade in California, Delaware, Hawaii, Illinois, Maryland, Oregon, Washington state, American Samoa, Guam, and the Northern Mariana Islands were enacted after considerable public input, in an effort to enhance existing U.S. shark protections. In most jurisdictions, these laws ban the possession, sale and trade of shark fins, thus preventing fins from finned or unsustainably caught sharks from being sold in their territory. Exemptions were made to meet the unique needs of each jurisdiction.  The intent of the Shark Conservation Act was to protect sharks. Any rules to implement the federal law that result in overturning more restrictive state or territorial laws could put already stressed shark populations at additional risk (https://secure3.convio.net/pew/site/Advocacy?cmd=display&page=UserAction&id=1748&JServSessionIdr004=zr09kf6643.app338a).

Physicians for Social Responsibility (PSR) has begun a series of webinars on the health effects of climate change via: http://action.psr.org/site/R?i=d1niQFBxlmww4yj7k0ba-g.

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U.S. Activities

The National Congress of American Indians (NCAI) filed an amicus curiae brief supporting the claims of unequal access to the ballot box by Montana Natives, March 26, 2013, in Wandering Medicine v. McCulloch before the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals. The Department of Justice is also supporting the Montana Indians (Stephanie Woodward, “NCAI, DOJ Weigh in on Behalf of Native Voting-Rights Plaintiffs,” ICTMN, April 4, 2013, http://indiancountrytodaymedianetwork.com/2013/04/04/ncai-doj-weigh-behalf-native-voting-rights-plaintiffs-148576). NCAI is operating the Native Financial Education Initiative, providing information for tribes and their citizens to enhance financial capabilities in Indian Country, including the work of the Native Financial Education Coalition, Financial Literacy Month (April), and NCAI's Protect Native Money Campaign and Tribal Exchange Stock Market Game. NCAI stated May 23, 2013, that it supports fixes in the Native American Vets' Memorial Act of 2013 introduced by Senator Schatz of Hawaii to clarify the Native American Veterans’ Memorial Establishment Act of 1994, amending the bill to allow for the completion of the long standing project. The project has encountered a number of obstacles since the legislation’s passage, including limitations placed on the involvement of the National Museum of the American Indians (NMAI). The new language removes a number of technical barriers that have hindered completion and allows for the memorial to be built adjacent to NMAI, not inside the Museum as originally proposed. Additionally, NMAI would be able to participate in raising funds for the effort. On May 2, 2013, NCAI Released its public comments on the State Departments XL Pipeline Report, saying the State Department’s Draft Environmental Impact Statement, saying it does not address potential impact to tribal water resources, sacred places, and lacks plans for emergency response coordination with tribes. NCAI joined Indian Country in converging on Washington, DC during the week of April 22, 2013 “to engage the federal government in a constructive dialogue about the federal government's trust responsibility and federal budget obligations to tribal nations. The message was clear and firm - "Honor the Promises to Tribal Nations in the Federal Budget." In making the unified call, NCAI released a new paper” (see Federal Indian Budgets, below) “outlining how deep sequestration cuts and proposed cuts to the FY 2014 budget would impact Indian Country.” On April 22, NCAI and seven regional tribal organizations hosted a Joint Tribal Budget Briefing on Capitol Hill, and tribal representatives and Indian organizations testified at House and Senate budget hearings, April 22. NCAI’s proposed 2014 Federal Indian Budget, developed in collaboration with tribal leaders, is available at: http://www.ncai.org/resources/ncai-publications/indian-country-budget-request/fy2014/fy14-indian-country-budget-request. Also in April, NCAI announced the expansion of its Native Financial Education Initiative, including support of the Native Financial Education Coalition (NFEC) and targeting education activities with tribes across Indian Country. NCAI’s expanded financial education efforts are focused on strengthening financial education in Indian Country. The NFEC, originally started in 2000 through a Treasury Department initiative, is now being re-established initially as part of NCAI’s Financial Education Initiative and with support and participation from partners. The NFEC is a working group of partners recognizing, expanding and enhancing the financial capability in Native communities. Partner organizations include tribes, tribal organizations, national, regional, local Native and non-Native organizations, financial institutions, federal agencies, and others interested in Native financial education.  The Initiative provides information for tribes and their citizens to enhance financial capabilities in Indian Country - including the work of the Native Financial Education Coalition, Financial Literacy Month (April), and NCAI's Protect Native Money Campaign and Tribal Exchange Stock Market Game. NCAI launched the “Protect Native Money” campaign in September 2012 following a number of large financial settlements in Indian Country to increase consumer financial protection in Indian Country. More about NFEC and NCAI’s Native Financial Education initiative can be found at: http://www.ncai.org/initiatives/nativefinancial-ed. For more information on NCAI, visit: http://www.ncai.org.

National Congress of American Indians, President Jefferson Keel, in the annual state of Indian Nations address, February 2013, outlined a course for securing tribal communities, nations, and the future prosperity of both tribes and America. Keel called for increased efforts to work together to address violence against women, the federal budget sequestration, immigration, land and energy issues, and economic development. With the House still considering the later passed Violence Against Women Act, Keel stated, "Congress must allow tribes, like all governments, to protect their own people and surrounding communities, from brutality. So if we believe that a Native woman's life is worth the same as every other woman's, if we believe that justice should not stop at the border of a reservation, if we believe that tribes are truly sovereign, then it's time for the House of Representatives to step up, put partisan politics aside, and reauthorize the Violence Against Women Act with expanded protections for all victims of violence." He announced the release of NCAI's new report Securing Our Futures, highlighting ways in which tribe are exercising and strengthening their sovereignty today. “It shows areas where tribes are exercising their sovereignty right now, diversifying their revenue base, and bringing economic success to their nations and surrounding communities. The path to securing our future-from education to food security, climate change to workforce development-is illuminated by the proven success of tribal nations. While the circumstances of each tribal nation are unique, the promising practices contained in the report offer a way forward to secure tribal economies and sustain prosperity for future generations." The report is available at: http://www.ncai.org/Securing_Our_Futures_Final.pdf. Keel concluded the speech by highlighting the foundation for the trust relationship between tribal nations and the federal government, specifically referring to the constitutional place of tribal nations as members of the American family of governments. He said, "These are the same principles that formed our treaties, and why our Constitution acknowledges tribes as equal, sovereign governments. Today, you can see that sovereignty in action in tribal courts, in the classrooms of tribal colleges, and in tribal businesses all over the world. This is the task at hand, to move together toward a more perfect union. To strengthen our trust relationship with the United States. From Washington to Kennedy, Reagan to Obama, tribal nations have worked with the United States to uphold this promise. That trust, ultimately, is the principle that must guide us-all of us-as we go forward and do right by all of our children and grandchildren. And when we do, we'll always be able to say, that the State of Indian Nations is strong, and the future prosperity of America is secure." The full text of the address is available at: http://www.ncai.org/resources/testimony/securing-our-futures-2013-state-of-indian-nations-address The Congressional Response was delivered by Washington Senator Maria Cantwell, who was recently appointed the new Chairwoman for the Senate Committee on Indian Affairs and represents 29 tribes and almost 165,000 Native people, which is available as a video at: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=otCATVq6-HU&feature=youtu.be&t=32m8s (“NCAI President Outlines Course for Securing the Future of Tribal Nations and America,” NCAI, February 14, 2013, http://www.ncai.org/news/articles/2013/02/14/ncai-president-outlines-course-for-securing-the-future-of-tribal-nations-and-america).

First Nations Development Institute publicly launched a new web site, April 15, 2013, http://org2.democracyinaction.org/dia/track.jsp?v=2&c=bNoarBp0fuOx5YmpbAeAd3FY6EjXSSGD “that aims to be a valuable online resource for Native American tribes, organizations and individuals who are  involved in food systems and agricultural efforts, and/or who are aiming for better health and nutrition for their families and communities.” “For more than 32 years, First Nations has been working to restore Native American control and culturally-compatible stewardship of the assets they own – be they land, human potential, cultural heritage or natural resources – and to establish new assets for ensuring the long-term vitality of Native American communities. Part of this effort centers on food, through First Nations’ Native Agriculture and Food System Initiative, or NAFSI. Under NAFSI, First Nations also provides grants to numerous food and agricultural efforts by tribes and nonprofit organizations, and recently announced the awarding of 10 such grants totaling $375,000. First Nations, in partnership with the Taos County Economic Development Corporation in Taos, New Mexico, is also working to create the Native American Food Sovereignty Alliance, which is intended to become a sustainable and organized movement that is Native American driven and controlled, nationally active and dedicated to addressing food security, hunger and nutrition in Native American communities at the national, tribal and local levels. ‘"We believe that our work in the food sector has many benefits, all of which are critically important,’ noted Michael E. Roberts, president of First Nations.  ‘These include improved Native health and nutrition, of course, but also a reconnection with traditional foods and a reinforcement of our cultural practices and customs.  Further, regaining control of food systems can provide a huge and much-needed boost to the development of Native economies.’ The new www.NativeFoodSystems.org website features a diverse variety of resources and information, ranging from tribal gardens, farms and markets, to youth programs and farm-to-school efforts, to seed saving, to traditional plants and medicine, to food marketing and handling, to home gardening, canning and healthy family eating.  For more than 30 years, using a three-pronged strategy of educating grassroots practitioners, advocating for systemic change, and capitalizing Indian communities, First Nations has been working to restore Native American control and culturally-compatible stewardship of the assets they own. First Nations serves Native American communities throughout the U.S.” For more information contact, Randy Blauvelt, First Nations Senior Communications Officer, (303) 774-7836, rblauvelt@firstnations.org, or at their new address, 2432 Main St., Longmont, CO 80501 (303)774-7836, http://www.firstnations.org/.

“Fight Predatory Lending in Native American Communities,” Care2, January 21, 2012, http://www.thepetitionsite.com/takeaction/749/953/038/, Care2 was involved in January 2013 Sponsored by First Nations Development Institute, “According to U.S. Census data, 28.4% of American Indians and Alaska Natives live in poverty, which is the HIGHEST rate of poverty among any race or ethnic group in the United States, and is nearly twice the national average. In some areas of the country, Native Americans have an unemployment rate as high as 80%. These economic conditions make Native American communities especially vulnerable to predatory lending. Tell your legislators to support tighter federal regulation of predatory lenders who target Native American communities. For Native Americans, the impact of predatory lending is devastating because it destroys the potential for asset building that is needed to bring economic security to Indian families and communities. Predatory lending strips money from low-income tribal citizens and robs financially unstable families of the little collateral they have.“

Whiteclay Awareness, a student group at Creighton University, was engaged in a campaign, in January 2013, to petition the Obama administration to “Replace Pine Ridge Reservation's buffer zone via executive order, making alcohol sales illegal in Whiteclay, Nebraska, sayingThe infamous town of Whiteclay, Nebraska has a population of less than 15 people and exists to sell alcohol to the neighboring Pine Ridge Indian Reservation, where alcohol is banned and whose population is afflicted by third-world living conditions. Replacing the 50 square-mile buffer zone removed by Theodore Roosevelt in 1904 would put the tribe in control of Whiteclay and render alcohol sales illegal.” For more information go to: http://bit.ly/X2DPnQ or http://bit.ly/WixNCZ.

The Oglala Sioux Tribe's Trail of Hope for Indian Housing traveled from the Pine Ridge Reservation in South Dakota, to Washington, DC, in April bringing a dilapidated 1961 house with them to raise awareness of the dire housing situation on reservations like Pine Ridge, and a rally was held at Union Square near the U.S. Capitol Building y to call Congress's attention to the plight of so many Indian people (“Trail of Hope for Indian Housing Rallies D.C., Asks Congress to Act,” ICTMN, April 19, 2013, http://indiancountrytodaymedianetwork.com/2013/04/19/trail-hope-indian-housing-rallies-dc-asks-congress-act-148921).

A sacred lands rally took place outside the Phoenix Convention Center on March 26 while the National Indian Gaming Association held its 28th Annual Tradeshow and Convention. Sacred land activists from the O’odham, Navajo, and Havasupai nations helped organize and participated in the rally. Among the concerns were calls for the Poarch Band of Creek Indians cease constructing a $246 million casino expansion on Hickory Ground in Wetumpka, Alabama. The Poarch Band has already excavated 57 sets of Muscogee Creek ancestors’ remains as the project has developed (Gale Corey Tensing, “Activists Rally for Sacred Sites During INGA Convention,” ICTMN, April 2, 2013, http://indiancountrytodaymedianetwork.com/gallery/photo/activists-rally-sacred-sites-during-niga-convention-148493).

The Hawai’i People’s Fund (www.hawaiipeoplesfund.org) continues to give grants to many organizations in the Islands, including: Mai Poina (Don’t Forget): The Trial of Quen Lilluokalani, a living history trilogy organized by the Biographical Research Center and Hawai’i Poina Coalition (http://www.facebook.com/CBRHawaii); and Movement Building for Ea: The Movement for Aloha no ka Aina focusing on Hawaiian independence and justice (Manainfo.com/).

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International Activities

Idle No Moore (INM), launched in late 2012, has expanded from a Canadian first Nation movement resisting the Canadian governments moves to pass legislation restricting Indian rights and making it easier to take aboriginal land to being a worldwide Indigenous movement active in the United States, Latin America, the Ukraine and Oater (New Zealand) (See: Fauna Coven, “Being Idle No More: The Women The Women Behind the Movement,” Cultural Survival, Quarterly, March 2013, and Idle No More: http://www.idlenomore.ca/. Tally Neumann, “Canada’s Idle No More Indigenous Movement Sets Stage for Latin American Involvement,” Americas Program, March 9m 2013, http://www.cipamericas.org/archives/9126, reports “The IN mobilization began as a response to the efforts of Canadian Prime Minister Steven Harper and his Conservative Party to pass omnibus legislation – or a wide-reaching law — repealing protections afforded to First Nations and natural resources, among other things. On Nov. 10, the movement launched with an event in Saskatchewan Province prepared by Indian rights advocates Jessica Gordon, Sheelah McLean, Sylvia McAdams and Nina Wilsonfeld. Today Idle No More has gone viral, largely due to publicity shared on the digital moccasin telegraph.” Soon Idle No More was involved in demonstrations across Canada, following Chief Theresa Spence of the Attawapiskat First Nation community in Ontario supporting to the movement by going on a hunger strike Dec. 10, during the National Day of Action called to celebrate the end of the first month of protest. Action was largely focused on Canadian parliamentary Bill C-45, omnibus legislation containing amendments to the Indian Act facilitating the surrender of indigenous reserves. The amendments called for removing a requirement that all members of First Nations be involved in referendums about land proposals. A provision funding changes of the Navigable Waters Protection Act entailed giving 99% of lake and river water to industry. Changes to the Fisheries Act were intended to eliminate critical environmental safeguards and review processes for natural resource exploitation. “The entire set of proposals stemmed from a political climate of increasing government restrictions on access to environmental information and public participation in Canada’s decision-making processes.” Bill C-45 passed into law as part of the 2012 Jobs and Growth Act in late December. It was a budget implementation measure. Like the June 2012 Jobs Act, it enlarged on an amalgam of legal instruments to destroy the environment. Each bill contained some 450 pages, prompting critics’ assertions that lawmakers neither read nor understood the wording. In the face of a broad number of issues and concerns (see Dialoguing, below) IN organizers called on “all nations to drum and sing across Turtle Island on the solstice Dec. 21, 2012 for a global synchronized spiritual awakening.” Meanwhile, although Prime Minister Harper “agreed to end the hunger strike by meeting with Spence and the officially recognized Assembly of First Nations on Jan. 11, all INM’s activity failed to achieve a simultaneous audience with the Crown’s representative, Gov. Gen. David Johnston, who holds sway over land rights decisions. So Spence and fellow fasters continued their vigil for a total of six weeks until Jan. 24, when the Assembly of First Nations, together with the Liberal and New Democrat Party caucuses, committed to actively support the demands of the action.” A variety of actions have since been taken by IN and its supporters and associates.  During the weekend of Jan. 5-6, protestors slowed traffic to make their points at the international boundary crossings between Canada and the United States. They held a January 28 Idle No More World Day of Action with Canadian IN events in First Nations from Aamjiwnaang to the Yukon, as well as in the urban centers of Calgary, Halifax, Hamilton, Kelowna, Kingston, Manitoba, Montreal, Nelson, Ottawa, Edmonton, Regina, Saskatoon, Toronto, Victoria, Windsor, Winnipeg, Yorkton and others. Soon, “demonstrators organized solidarity actions in the U.S. states of Alaska, Arizona, California, Colorado, Hawaii, Iowa, Maine, Michigan, Minnesota, Nevada, New Mexico, New York, North Carolina, Oregon, Oklahoma, South Dakota, Texas, and Wisconsin, among others. Activists in European, African, and Asian nations also took part. While Idle No More rallies were scarce in the Americas south of the U.S. border, the many Latin Americans of indigenous descent who find themselves in the United States and Canada jumped on board.” Latino events in solidarity with IN have included the Mexica Movement holding a rally in East Los Angeles rally Jan. 19, 2013; Latin American Researchers of Ontario organizing Latino/as in Solidarity with Idle No More, attracting the support of the Canadian Hispanic Congress, Toronto’s Casa Maíz, Edmonton’s Latin American Community Engagement Network, Memoria Viva and The Community Networks Group; the Canadian Revista Latinoamericana Refundación; Arizona’s One Voice Radio, and Massachusetts’ Latino Rebels. Meanwhile, IMM’s initial demands for indigenous autonomy, tribal sovereignty and self-determination have broadened, even as its reach has crossed racial and ethnic boundaries, encompassing “opposition to fracking and horizontal drilling for oil and tar-sands oil pipeline proposals, which are among the top U.S. Native American environmental concerns incorporated in the movement platform. Human rights issues addressed include migrants’ and Australian aboriginals’ concerns. Still gaining momentum five months after inception, Idle No More participants are set to celebrate the “native spring” with a Global Day of Ceremony and Resurgence on March 20, Vancouver’s Annual Community March Against Racism March 23, and Buffy Sainte Marie’s Indigenous ‘No Tar-Sands; Concert in Oklahoma March 24, as well as teach-ins in various cities throughout the month.”

Search for Common Ground (SFCG), Common Ground Newsletter, Winter 2012-2013, http://salsa.wiredforchange.com/dia/track.jsp?v=2&c=Ba%2FPtGmeV59E%2FIMcCEgquLuUKCE4YFkk, reported it  has a team of Peace Commandos  that intervenes in local conflicts.  In 2010 and 2011, in the Republic of Congo, UNHCR and the National Endowment for Democracy (NED) requested SFCG go into Dongo, a remote region where a tribal dispute had led to one million refugees and hundreds dead. After months of painstaking mediation and facilitation, Rigobert’s team negotiated a peace agreement. Most recently, Rigobert led a mission to the Ango region where violence was raging between villagers and pastoral animal herders. The team held trainings for local leaders and peacemaking events for 10,000 participants. Now, the pastoralists are able to circulate freely, and the killing has stopped. 

Q'eqchi Maya Communities Meet Across Borders,” Cultural Survival, January 24, 2013, http://www.culturalsurvival.org/news/qeqchi-maya-communities-meet-across-borders, reported, “On January 26-27, 2013, Cultural Survival held an exchange between Q'eqchi Maya communities in Belize and Guatemala to talk about strategies for implementing the right to Free, Prior and Informed Consent, and how community radio can be used as a tool for doing so. Members of community radio stations in Guatemala teamed up with the Defensoria Q’eqchi, an Indigenous rights law organization based in El Estor, Isabal, Guatemala and the Indigenous environmental management organization SATIIM to visit four communities outside the Sarstoon Temash National Park in Southern Belize. In the towns of Midway, Conejo, Crique Sarco, and Blue Creek, participants traded stories about how each counterpart has used the right to Free, Prior and Informed Consent to implement their self-determination as Indigenous Peoples, and discuss ways in which community radio can be a tool to help inform about these strategies.”

“Colombian Indian exhibition showcases most endangered tribes,” Survival International, February 7, 2013, http://www.survivalinternational.org/news/8968, reported, in February 2013, Colombian Indian organization ONIC has launched an international photography exhibition to highlight the desperate plight of Colombia’s indigenous peoples. The exhibition, entitled ‘Dignity’, showcases those of the country’s tribal peoples that are at risk of extinction. ONIC now estimates that 36 tribes in Colombia are at imminent risk of becoming extinct, and many more could be wiped out in the violence that has engulfed their territories. Colombian Indians have been some of the worst affected people in the country’s more than 50-year civil conflict that has left thousands dead and displaced many more from their lands. Targeted by guerrilla groups, paramilitaries and government forces, many indigenous people are confronted daily with extreme violence that makes their continued survival as peoples impossible.” “Survival is supporting ONIC’s campaign to halt the extinction of indigenous peoples and is lobbying the Colombian government to bring an end to the violence that plagues Indian land.”

Raúl Zibechi, “Uruguay: Birth of a Movement Against Mining and Extractivism,” Americas Program, March 24, 2013, http://www.cipamericas.org/archives/9439, comments, “On March 7 one of Uruguay’s strongest myths was broken: trust in state enterprises. That day those who turned on their faucets were met with a foul smell and those who were drinking coffee or maté found a strange taste. The company in charge of the water supply, the State Sanitary Works (OSE), had to confess that there was “an episode” of algae contamination in the Santa Lucia River Basin, which supplies six out of ten Uruguayans. Despite this, the state company said that the water was potable.” “The authorities closed ranks and denied emphatically the contamination of water sources, which had always been of high quality. However, much of the population did not believe the State’s arguments, buying bottled water and depleting stocks. This event wouldn’t have had much significance if it were not for a movement that has grown in recent years against the installation of an Indian owned, open pit, iron mine called Aratirí. The movement has also been protesting the extensive use of pesticides and fertilizers that have polluted the soy crop and recently re-forested areas. In fact, environmental consciousness has grown widely due to a debate following the installation of a massive pulp mill on the Uruguay River.” “Now things have changed. The rural population (only 5% of the total) began to feel the harmful effects of agricultural development and small-scale traditional farmers (including livestock herders) began to mobilize.”

“Survival launches tourism boycott of India’s Andaman Islands,” Survival International, April 30, 2013, http://www.survivalinternational.org/news/9199, reports that Survival International launched a tourism boycott of India’s Andaman Islands, April 30, 2013, “until the degrading practice of ‘human safaris’ to the 400-strong Jarawa tribe is stopped. The tribal rights organization is calling on the 200,000 tourists visiting the islands every year to stay away – until tourists are banned from the road through the Jarawa’s forest and an alternative sea route is put in place. Survival has written to over 200 travel companies and websites in eleven countries urging them to stop their tours to the Andaman Islands, and will place ads targeted at tourists to discourage them from visiting the popular travel destination. Survival is also asking members of the public to pledge not to travel to the islands until the demands are met. Hundreds of tourists from India and around the world travel along the illegal Andaman Trunk Road every day to ogle at members of the Jarawa tribe – treating them like animals in a safari park.” Earlier in 2013 India’s Supreme Court banned tourists from the road for seven weeks, reducing the traffic along the Andaman Trunk Road by two thirds. But the ban was lifted after the Islands’ authorities changed their own regulations in order to let the ‘human safaris’ continue. “The tours have been widely condemned both in India and around the world. India’s Minister for Tribal Affairs called them ‘disgraceful’ and ‘an embarrassment’, and last year, in response to a submission by Survival, the United Nations expressed their ‘deep concern’ about the ‘human safaris’ and called for the illegal road to be closed.”

First Peoples Worldwide focuses “on funding local development projects in Indigenous communities all over the world while creating bridges between our communities and corporations, governments, academics, NGOs and investors in their regions. We facilitate the use of traditional Indigenous knowledge in solving today’s challenges, including climate change, food security, medicine, governance and sustainable development.” For more informaion visit: http://firstpeoples.org.

The Latin American Studies Association section on Ethnicity, Race, and Indigenous Peoples is committed to scholarly collaboration and exchange of ideas with respect to the study of ethnicity, race, Indigenous peoples, Afro-descendants and related issues in Latin America and the Caribbean. It also seeks to promote greater participation of Indigenous and Afro-descendant scholars and intellectuals in the activities of the Latin American Studies Association and, more generally, in scholarly and academic communities. The section has more than 300 members representing diverse academic disciplines, including anthropology, history, sociology, political science, linguistics, Spanish and Portuguese, geography, literature, and the law. Membership is open to all members of LASA.

Schools for Chiapas is running a number of summer tour: Education, Mayan Corn and Organic Agriculture Travel Program ~ Sunday, July 28 to Saturday, August 3, 2013; and Zapatista Governments, Education and Health Travel Program ~ Sunday, Aug. 4 to Saturday, August 10, 2013. For details go to: http://www.schoolsforchiapas.org/english.html.

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