Category Archives: Indigenous Peoples

Brazilian Indigenous Peoples group under attack

While they do not typically use violence as a medium for their message, the organizations that shine a light on corporate agendas and corrupted governments often get those kinds of threats in return. Over the last few weeks the Brazilian organization Indigenous Missionary Council (CIMI) has come to know these tactics all too well.

CIMI ransacked office. Photo: World Rainforest Movement

CIMI ransacked office. Photo: World Rainforest Movement

Their office in Acre, Brazil, has been ransacked and equipment stolen. A letter from the World Rainforest Movement, signed by more than 50 groups, including Climate Connections’s own Global Justice Ecology Project, appeals to the Brazilian government, asking them to step in and demand an end to the violence.

Threats of violence against Indigenous Missionary Council (CIMI) in Acre, Brazil
by Chris Lang, REDD-Monitor, 17 October 2014

Over the past few weeks, staff at the Indigenous Missionary Council (CIMI) in the state of Acre have faced a series of threats and intimidation. The office has been broken into twice, the room ransacked, a computer taken, files burned, and internet wiring destroyed.

CIMI is one of the key organisations in Brazil demanding the respect of indigenous peoples’ rights. In Acre, CIMI works to support indigenous peoples who are faced with ranching and logging companies taking their land and destroying the forests.

In an attempt to publicise and to stop the violence and threats, CIMI is holding a public gathering outside its office in Rio Branco today.

Since 2012, the state of Acre has received funding from the German government, through its “REDD Early Movers” programme. On its website the Kreditanstalt für Wiederaufbau (KfW), which is managing the REDD Early Movers programme, describes Acre as one of the “pioneers” in forest protection, “not just in Brazil but also beyond”.

Read the full article here.

 

Leave a Comment

Filed under Indigenous Peoples, Political Repression

Pacific Island land reform seeks to protect indigenous rights to land

Credit: Catherine Wilson/IPS

Credit: Catherine Wilson/IPS

Catherine Wilson of the IPS News Agency provides this really interesting account of indigenous land reforms on the island of Vanatu in the South Pacific. It seems like a heady mix of tourism and tax evasion has led to a global rush on lands owned collectively by those indigenous to the island. New laws seek to secure indigenous ownership and access to the land, which, as Wilson writes in the caption for the picture above, “remains a vital source of food security, cash incomes and social wellbeing.”

Vanuatu Puts Indigenous Rights First in Land Reform
By Catherine Wilson, Inter Press News Service, October 14, 2014.

PORT VILA, Oct 14 2014 (IPS) - Stemming widespread corruption in the leasing of customary land to investors is the aim of bold land reform, introduced this year in the Southwest Pacific Island state of Vanuatu, which puts the rights of traditional landowners above the discretionary powers of politicians.

Less than one hour from the capital, Port Vila, is the village of Mangaliliu, one of many across this sprawling nation of 82 islands and more than 247,000 people where livelihoods centre on agriculture and fishing.

Read the whole article here.

 

Leave a Comment

Filed under Commodification of Life, Food Sovereignty, Indigenous Peoples, Land Grabs, Rights, Resilience, and Restoration

Rachel Smolker on IEN’s Indigenous Peoples’ Action Camp to Stop GE Trees

Frank Billie of the Seminole Tribe from Florida. Photo by Photolangelle.

Frank Billie of the Seminole Tribe from Florida. Photo by Photolangelle.

As we reported yesterday, the Indigenous Environmental Network and Eastern Band of Cherokee community members organized a gathering of Indigenous Peoples from across the Southeastern US last week for an historic Indigenous Peoples’ action camp against genetically engineered trees (GE trees).

Participants condemned GE trees as a form of colonization of the forest.

Rachel Smolker, co-director of Biofuelwatch, participated in the action camp as a member of the steering committee of the Campaign to STOP Genetically Engineered Trees.

In her blog for the Huffington Post, Smolker provides a compelling account of the purpose for the action camp and the ideas coming out of it.

Rachel SmolkerColumbus Day and the Colonization of Land, Trees and Genes

By Rachel Smolker, Huffington Post Tech Blog, October 13, 2014.

I spent the past several days participating in the Indigenous Environmental Network Campaign to Stop GE Trees Action Camp in the Qualla Boundary, homelands of the Eastern Band Cherokee in North Carolina. Participants included members of tribes across the Southeast, who came to learn about plans for growing genetically engineered trees on and/or adjacent to their territories.

On Columbus Day we can sadly reflect on the brutal history of colonization that American Indians faced when Europeans “discovered” and then claimed their lands. Now, centuries later, the ongoing colonization process threatens to colonize not only their lands, but even the genetics of the trees in their forests that are central to their history and livelihoods.

Read the whole essay here.

Leave a Comment

Filed under Bioenergy / Agrofuels, Biofuelwatch, Events, Forests, GE Trees, Genetic Engineering, Indigenous Peoples

This should be the last Columbus Day

When Howard Zinn wrote A People’s History of the United States, the first chapter was called “Columbus, the Indians, and Human Progress.”  After he passed away in 2010, The Zinn Education Project was begun in order to promote and support the use of the book. Two non-profit organizations, Rethinking Schools and Teaching for Change, coordinate the project.

The project publishes the If We Knew Our History Series, featuring articles by teachers, journalists, and scholars “that highlight inadequacies in the history textbooks published by giant corporations.”

An article published last week by the project was written by Bill Bigelow, author and teacher. We are  pleased to excerpt it and provide the full link below.

Native American and Chicano students protest the 500th anniversary of Columbus landing in the Americas, 10/12/1992 at UW-Madison

Native American and Chicano students protest the 500th anniversary of Columbus landing in the Americas, 10/12/1992 at UW-Madison

It’s Columbus Day…Time to Break the Silence

By Bill Bigelow, Zinn Education Project. October 3, 2014

This past January, almost exactly 20 years after its publication, Tucson schools banned the book I co-edited with Bob Peterson, Rethinking Columbus. It was one of a number of books adopted by Tucson’s celebrated Mexican American Studies program—a program long targeted by conservative Arizona politicians.

The school district sought to crush the Mexican American Studies program; our book itself was not the target, it just got caught in the crushing. Nonetheless, Tucson’s—and Arizona’s—attack on Mexican American Studies and Rethinking Columbus shares a common root: the attempt to silence stories that unsettle today’s unequal power arrangements.

 Read the full article here.

Leave a Comment

Filed under Indigenous Peoples, Political Repression, Racism

Indigenous Peoples unite to stop genetically engineered trees, calling them another form of colonization

0_w650_h230_s1Qualla Boundary, North Carolina–In the shadow of Columbus Day and the legacy of colonization in the Americas, the Indigenous Environmental Network and Eastern Band of Cherokee community members organized a gathering of Indigenous Peoples from across the Southeastern US for an historic Indigenous Peoples’ action camp against genetically engineered trees (GE trees). Participants condemned GE trees as a form of colonization of the forest.

The Indigenous Environmental Network Campaign to STOP GE Trees Action Camp focused on building an information-sharing and mobilization network of tribal representatives and community members to address the unique threats posed by GE trees to Indigenous Peoples, their culture, traditions and lifeways. Steering Committee members of the Campaign to STOP GE Trees were invited to present concerns about the social and ecological dangers of GE trees.

“All trees and the variety of life that depend on forest biodiversity have historically and will in the future continue to be a necessary part of Indigenous culture and survival, which GE trees directly threaten,” stated BJ McManama, an organizer with the Indigenous Environmental Network.

The action camp, which took place in the mountains of North Carolina, detailed threats of genetically engineering forms of native trees traditionally used by eastern Indigenous Peoples, specifically the American chestnut.

Cherokee participants expressed fears that American chestnuts, genetically engineered with DNA from unrelated species, would negatively impact their traditional lifeways, saying that GE trees are dead trees with no soul.

Lisa Montelongo, a Cherokee community member, mother of four and grandmother of two speaks of her concerns that Ge trees would impact future generations. Photo by Photolangelle.org.

Lisa Montelongo, a Cherokee community member, mother of four and grandmother of two speaks of her concerns that Ge trees would impact future generations. Photo by Photolangelle.org.

“I’m very concerned that GE trees would impact our future generations and their traditional uses of trees. Our basket makers, people that use wood for the natural colors of our clay work–there would be no natural life, no cycle of life in GE tree plantations,” said Lisa Montelongo of the Eastern Band of the Cherokee.

Genetically engineered eucalyptus trees also threaten Indigenous lands in the US South. GE eucalyptus plantations, proposed by GE tree company ArborGen, are planned from South Carolina to Florida to Texas. The future development of millions of acres of non-native and invasive GE eucalyptus trees would threaten Indigenous lands throughout the region with devastating impacts including depletion of water, contamination with toxic herbicides and pesticides and loss of biodiversity.

Danny Billie of the Independent Traditional Seminole Nation, based in Florida points out how real forests "mean life to The People, but Ge trees mean death." PhotoLangelle.org

Frank Billie of the Seminole Nation, based in Florida points out how real forests “mean life to The People, but Ge trees mean death.” PhotoLangelle.org.

“This needs to be stopped immediately. This is not how the forest was meant to be used.  The forest gives life to The People, but these GE trees mean death.They are not for The People, they are only to make money for a few rich people,” said Frank Billie of the Seminole Nation, based in Florida.

100% of participants at the camp oppose the release of GE trees.

More photos below:

Frank Billie of the Independent Traditional Seminole Nation from Florida. Photo by Photolangelle.

Frank Billie of the Independent Traditional Seminole Nation from Florida. Photo by Photolangelle.org.

T-shirt of the Cherokee woman responsible for feeding those in attendance at the Indigenous Environmental Network Campaign to STOP GE Trees Action Camp. Photo by Photolangelle.org

T-shirt of the Cherokee woman responsible for feeding those in attendance at the Indigenous Environmental Network Campaign to STOP GE Trees Action Camp. Photo by Photolangelle.org.

 

 

 

Leave a Comment

Filed under Events, False Solutions to Climate Change, GE Trees, Genetic Engineering, Indigenous Peoples, The Greed Economy and the Future of Forests

Latin America farmers face harshest climate change challenges

Latin America and the Caribbean house a third of the world’s fresh water and a quarter of its medium to high potential farm land, according to the Inter-American Development Bank and the Global Harvest Initiative. However, a quarter of these farmers live on less than two U.S. dollars a day. In addition to that staggering poverty rate, the region is often at the center of hurricanes, earthquakes and other natural disasters.

Photo: Upside Down World

Photo: Upside Down World

Clearly, as an article on Upside Down World points out, Latin American is positioned perfectly to fall hard due to rising temperatures, worker exploitation, land grabbing and other issues related to climate change. Without access to real, long-term system change that harmoniously intermixes with their indigenous way of life, the people in these areas will feel the full wrath of climate change.

Latin America on a Dangerous Precipice 
by Diana Cariboni, Upside Down World, 03 October 2014

(IPS) – “We could be the last Latin American and Caribbean generation living together with hunger.”

The assertion, made by Raúl Benítez, a regional officer for the Food and Agriculture Organisation of the United Nations (FAO), shows one side of the coin: only 4.6 percent of the region’s population is undernourished, according to the latest figures.

By 2030, however, most of the countries in the region will face a serious risk situation due to climate change. With almost 600 million inhabitants, Latin America and the Caribbean has a third of the world’s fresh water and more than a quarter of its medium to high potential farmland, points out a book published this year by the Inter-American Development Bank in partnership with Global Harvest Initiative, a private-sector think-tank.

It is the largest net food-exporting region, while it uses just a fraction of its agricultural potential for both consuming and exporting.

Read the full article here.

 

 

Leave a Comment

Filed under Climate Change, Indigenous Peoples, Latin America-Caribbean

Indigenous Organizers Lead Climate Critiques in NYC

Here’s a set of articles and videos highlighting the key role played by Indigenous organizers, many good friends of GJEP’s, in critiques leading up to and coming out of the Climate events of last week.

First, Indigenous Rising posted a video of Kandi Mossett, Climate Campaign organizer for Indigenous Environmental Network, describing her experience within the UN Climate Summit and her frustration at the lack of urgency in world leaders and at how even the few members of civil society allowed in were sidelined. “The planet is going to go on with or without us. It’s up to us to decide if we’re going to be here or not.”

Continue reading

Leave a Comment

Filed under Actions / Protest, Climate Justice, Fracking, Idle No More, Indigenous Peoples, Tar Sands

U.S. government to pay Navajo Nation $554 million

In reparation for mismanaging 14 million acres of their lands, United States government will pay the Navajo Nation more than $500 million. According to an article by Reuters reporter Steve Gorman, this record settlement is the result of the U.S. government using “land held in trust for the tribe and leased for such purposes as farming, energy development, logging and mining.”

Photo: www.salon.com

Photo: www.salon.com

Even though Navajo Nation President Ben Shelly hails the outcome victorious, I’m curious to know how much the government made by prostituting out these Navajo lands. How much does their profit compare to their payout? The article doesn’t give specifics and some late night Internet research revealed no answer, either. This record settlement is the highest paid out ever, which is an obvious achievement for native and indigenous peoples, but in return the Navajo Nation promised to “forego further litigation over previous U.S. management of Navajo funds and resources.” What’s being hidden here?

U.S. To Pay Navajo Tribe $554 Million In Landmark Settlement

by Steve Gorman, Reuters/Huffington Post, September 24, 2014

The Obama administration has agreed to pay the Navajo Nation a record $554 million to settle longstanding claims by America’s largest Indian tribe that its funds and natural resources were mishandled for decades by the U.S. government.

The accord, resolving claims that date back as far as 50 years and marking the biggest U.S. legal settlement with a single tribe, will be formally signed at a ceremony on Friday in Window Rock, Arizona, the capital of the sprawling Navajo reservation.

The deal stems from litigation accusing the government of mismanaging Navajo trust accounts and resources on more than 14 million acres (5.7 million hectares) of land held in trust for the tribe and leased for such purposes as farming, energy development, logging and mining.

In return for $554 million, the Navajo agreed to dismiss its lawsuit and forego further litigation over previous U.S. management of Navajo funds and resources held in trust by the federal government.

The deal does not preclude the tribe from pursuing future trust claims, or any separate claims over water and uranium pollution on its reservation, Navajo Attorney General Harrison Tsosie said.

Read the full article here.

Leave a Comment

Filed under Greenwashing, Indigenous Peoples, Political Repression, Politics