Category Archives: Indigenous Peoples

Drunken trees: Dramatic signs of climate change

By Brian Clark Howard, April 17, 2014. Source: National Geographic 

According to scientists, melting ground is to blame for tilting spruce trees. Photo: Galen Rowell, Corbis

According to scientists, melting ground is to blame for tilting spruce trees.
Photo: Galen Rowell, Corbis

Sarah James, an Alaska Native elder, says global warming is radically changing her homeland. Even the forests no longer grow straight. Melting ground has caused trees to tilt or fall.

“Because permafrost melts, it causes a lot of erosion,” says James, who lives in Arctic Village, a small Native American village in northeastern Alaska. “A lot of trees can’t stand up straight. If the erosion gets worse, everything goes with it.”

Permafrost is permanently frozen ground. But climate change has caused much of that ground to melt at an unprecedented rate. The ground buckles and sinks, causing trees to list at extreme angles.

Sometimes the trees survive the stress and continue growing, uprighting themselves to vertical. Other times they collapse or drown from rising water tables as subterranean ice melts. Because such trees seem to stagger across the landscape, people often call them “drunken trees.”

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Filed under Climate Change, Forests, Forests and Climate Change, Indigenous Peoples

Gunmen in Brazil caught on video shooting at Indigenous Guarani

By Rick Kearns, April 18, 2014. Source: Indian Country Today Media Network

Photo: Aty Guasu/Survival International

Photo: Aty Guasu/Survival International

Hired gunmen firing at Guarani in Brazil were filmed recently by the indigenous people who are continuing their struggle to regain stolen territory.

According to Survival International (SI), which posted the video on their website, gunmen have been terrorizing the Guarani of Pyelito Kue since they returned to their ancestral land last month, years after the government had officially recognized their right to move back, forcing the rancher on that land to move out.

On Monday, April 7 they filmed two armed men shooting at them “in broad daylight.”


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Filed under Indigenous Peoples, Latin America-Caribbean, Political Repression, War

Corporate sponsorship of Indigenous groups: A necessity, or selling out?

By Martha Troian, April 15, 2014. Source: VICE

A drum session at a Truth and Reconciliation Commission event in Victoria. Photo via Facebook.

A drum session at a Truth and Reconciliation Commission event in Victoria. Photo via Facebook.

As the Canadian government slashes the budgets of Indigenous organizations across the nation, many are struggling to stay afloat. Increasingly, Indigenous organizations are accepting lifelines from a controversial source—namely oil & gas or resource extraction companies—sparking a debate over whether taking the badly needed money is ‘building relationships’ or ‘selling out.’

“We’re trying to rebuild our credibility,” says Hayden King, Director of the Centre for Indigenous Governance (CIG) at Ryerson University, an organization dedicated to advancing issues of Indigenous governance. The Centre launched in 2010, with financial help from Hydro One, the Nuclear Waste Management Organization and Vale Inco, a mining company. “The Indigenous community at Ryerson didn’t know this money had been accepted to launch the Centre,” says King.

Although it was the university who accepted these funds, the Indigenous community withdrew their support, effectively shuttering the Centre for about a year in 2011. King came on board after the Centre reopened, but he’s still dealing with the backlash today.”We’re trying to atone for that but maybe there’s no atoning for it,” he says.

Another group under scrutiny is Indspire (formerly the National Aboriginal Achievement Foundation), a national charity that’s helped tens of thousands of Indigenous people attain higher education. Indspire also produces an awards show that honours the achievements of Indigenous peoples. Much of the money has come from Big Oil. Continue reading

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SWN returning to New Brunswick as Mi’kmaq plan renewed resistance

By Jorge Barrera, April 15, 2014. Source: APTN News

People round dance around burning tires on the highway during demonstration last fall against SWN Resources Canada’s shale gas exploration work.  Photo: APTN/File

People round dance around burning tires on the highway during demonstration last fall against SWN Resources Canada’s shale gas exploration work. Photo: APTN/File

Another round of battles loom between the Mi’kmaq in New Brunswick and a Houston-headquartered energy firm exploring for shale gas deposits in the province.

SWN Resources Canada has submitted two proposals under the province’s environmental impact assessment process to drill exploratory wells in separate parts of New Brunswick. The projects were registered with the provincial environment department on Monday, according to an official.

The company plans to drill one well in Chipman, which is in central New Brunswick, and a second well near Richibucto, which is in an area that saw intense demonstrations against shale gas exploration last autumn.

The Mi’kmaq community of Elsipogtog is only about 17 kilometres west of Richibucto and its War Chief John Levi said SWN should again expect resistance.

“We are just getting ready to go back out there and stop them. It’s going to be rough,” said Levi. “It ain’t no game. This is our livelihood that is at stake. We are not going to allow it. It’s like they are trying to kill us slowly.” Continue reading

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Filed under Actions / Protest, Climate Justice, Corporate Globalization, Ending the Era of Extreme Energy, Fracking, Indigenous Peoples, Water

Take action to stop the Energy East pipeline!

April 15, 2014. Source: Idle No More

TransCanada President and CEO Russ Girling (2nd L) announces the new Energy East Pipeline during a news conference in Calgary, Alberta, August 1, 2013. (TODD KOROL/REUTERS)

TransCanada President and CEO Russ Girling (2nd L) announces the new Energy East Pipeline during a news conference in Calgary, Alberta, August 1, 2013.
(TODD KOROL/REUTERS)

Last year, TransCanada announced their intention to build a 4,500 km pipeline from the tar sands in Alberta, already devastating many Indigenous communities, to New Brunswick, where communities like Elsipogtog had to fight to stop dangerous fracking last year.

A group of concerned Indigenous activists recently met in Winnipeg to discuss how Indigenous Peoples across Canada could work together to stop this pipeline (watch them on APTN here).

This pipeline passes through major cities including Winnipeg, Ottawa, and Montreal, but also through the territory of over 150 Indigenous communities.Mi’qmaq women took action against the #EnergyEast pipeline proposal and shut down the Maritime Energy Association meeting in Halifax, Nova Scotia on March 31, with the support of hundreds of young peoples who were converging for the  PowerShift Atlantic conference. Check out the photos here and read their press release here. Continue reading

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Filed under Actions / Protest, Climate Change, Climate Justice, Ending the Era of Extreme Energy, Idle No More, Indigenous Peoples, Tar Sands

BC preparing injunction against Unist’ot’en pipeline resistance camp

By John Ahni Schertow, April 14, 2014. Source: Intercontinental Cry

Leaders of the Unist’ot’en resistance camp held a press conference in Vancouver on April 7, 2014 in response to leaked information that the Provincial government is preparing an injunction against the camp. The camp is in Wet’suwet’en territory in northern BC on the route of the Pacific Trail fracked gas pipeline.

Premier Christie Clark has staked her political future on liquefied natural gas (LNG) exports, more accurately called liquefied fracked gas or LFG. But pipelines from the fracking fields in the province’s north-east must pass through unceded Indigenous territory on the way to the coast. They therefore require the free, prior and informed consent of the people of those lands; consent they do not have and will not receive from the Unist’ot’en and the other Wet’suwet’en hereditary clans.

“While the elected leadership of some Indian bands have signed agreements regarding the Pacific Trail Pipeline, Wet’suwet’en hereditary clans have jurisdiction over their territories” says Freda Huson “The Unist’ot’en are standing up for our territory, and protecting Mother Earth on a global scale by keeping fracked gas in the ground.” Continue reading

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Filed under Actions / Protest, Climate Change, Corporate Globalization, Ending the Era of Extreme Energy, Fracking, Indigenous Peoples, Land Grabs

Ethiopian military opens fire on resettled communities

April 4, 2014. Source: Ethiopian Satellite Television

A squad of the Ethiopian National Defense Forces (ENDF) that has travelled to the Southern Omo region of Ethiopia to quell the month long fights between the Bodi and Konso communities has on April 2, 2014 fired heavy weapons on the Bodi people wounding many. Among the wounded, at least 17 elderly women, children and youth are attending medical treatment in Hana Health Centre in Jinka, Southern Ethiopia, the Omo Peoples Democratic Unity (OPDU) office told ESAT.

The Administrator and the Deputy Administrator of Selamago Woreda are in a row with the Head of the Security Head of the area following the actions taken by the ENDF.

According to OPDU, the Konso elders have complained to the officials “When you resettled us here, you told us that you have talked with the people and that everything was alright. However, after we have come here we faced several clashes. Despite our progresses in resolving our conflicts via peaceful and traditional methods, you have taken such a reckless measure which could dim our hope of living together after now. ”

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Filed under Africa, Indigenous Peoples, Land Grabs, Political Repression, War

Ngäbe-Buglé challenge constitutionality of land seizures, protest camps targeted by high-powered lamps

By Robin Llewellyn, April 9, 2014. Source: Intercontinental Cry

ngabe1

All photos by Robin Llewellyn

The controversial Barro Blanco dam project will face another challenge today when the Cacica Silvia Carrera presents a demand of unconstitutionality before Panama’s Supreme Court of Justice regarding Law 18, passed on March 26, 2013.

With Article 127 of the Panamanian Constitution protecting collective ownership of lands and prohibiting private ownership of indigenous territories, Law 18 was rushed into place by President Ricardo Martinelli to allow the legal appropriation of collective lands, particularly lands held by the Ngäbe communities of Nuevo Palomar, Kiad, and Quebrada Caña. All three communities face land seizures as a result of the dam’s construction.

Genisa, the Panamanian company developing Barro Blanco, initially argued that no land within the Ngäbe-Buglé Comarca would be affected by the 28.85 MW dam project; but then claimed that the indigenous communities had consented to the dispossession of their territories. The project has been approved by the UN’s Clean Development Mechanism, and is supported by the Inter-American Development Bank, the Dutch state development bank FMO, and the German development bank DEG.

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Filed under Actions / Protest, Climate Change, Ending the Era of Extreme Energy, False Solutions to Climate Change, Hydroelectric dams, Indigenous Peoples, UNFCCC, World Bank

How Indigenous communities in Honduras are resisting US-backed multinationals

By Beverly Bell, April 2, 2014. Source: The Nation

Members of a Lenca indigenous community protest against the planned construction of a dam in Honduras. Photo: AP Photo/Edgard Garrido

Members of a Lenca indigenous community protest against the planned construction of a dam in Honduras. Photo: AP Photo/Edgard Garrido

“Screw the company trying to take our river, and the government. If I die, I’m going to die defending life.” So said María Santos Dominguez, a member of the Indigenous Council of the Lenca community of Rio Blanco, Honduras.

April 1 marks one year since the Rio Blanco community began a human barricade that has so far stopped a corporation from constructing a dam that would privatize and destroy the sacred Gualcarque River. Adults and children have successfully blocked the road to the river with their bodies, a stick-and-wire fence and a trench. Only one of many communities fighting dams across Honduras, the families of Rio Blanco stand out for their tenacity and for the violence unleashed upon them.

The Honduran-owned, internationally backed DESA Corporation has teamed up with US-funded Honduran soldiers and police, private guards and paid assassins to try to break the opposition. Throughout the past year, they have killed, shot, maimed, kidnapped and threatened the residents of Rio Blanco. The head of DESA, David Castillo, is a West Point graduate. He also served as former assistant to the director of military intelligence and maintains close ties with the Honduran Armed Forces.
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Filed under Actions / Protest, Corporate Globalization, Ending the Era of Extreme Energy, Hydroelectric dams, Indigenous Peoples, Political Repression

Women’s roles, rights and responsibility in natural resources: Some reflections from Mekong Region

By Premrudee Daoroung, March 2014. Source: TERRA

Photo: WRM

Photo: WRM

In Thailand, Laos, Cambodia, Vietnam and Myanmar it remains common until today that the wife will be the one who ‘owns’ the land of the paddy or upland rice fields. . Women therefore can be the ones fully responsible for maintaining those resources for the next generations.

To explain the rights and role in natural resources of women in Southeast Asia can be complex. In Thailand, Laos, Cambodia, Vietnam and Myanmar – where groups identified as ‘Tai’ ethnic and also other many ethnics live closely with natural resources in their subsistence agriculture livelihood – we often learn that women are playing key roles in owning land, for example. It is part of a culture where men move in to a woman’s family after they married, and help in the rice field of their in-laws, before the woman’s family gives some land to them. It remains common until today that the wife will be the one who ‘owns’ the land of the paddy or upland rice fields, whether the land is with formal land certification or not. The husband or men in the family in many communities accept the fact that the women are the ones who own the property of the family. Women therefore can be the ones fully responsible for maintaining those resources for the next generations. Continue reading

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Filed under Biodiversity, Commodification of Life, Corporate Globalization, Food Sovereignty, Forests, Indigenous Peoples, Water, Women