Tag Archives: indigenous peoples

Neglected and ignored: Ten major stories that should’ve made more headlines in 2013

By  • Dec 29, 2013 Source: Intercontinental Cry

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In our daily travels to all our favorite news websites, it’s routine to almost never come across stories about Indigenous Peoples. Some stories, of course, get tonnes of local and national coverage. For instance, here in Canada, Idle No More and the widespread struggle against the tarsands is prominently featured on every major news website.

However, if we open up the lens just a quarter inch, one can find dozens of major stories that aren’t being covered for every one that is. Unless we know exactly where to look, we would never see just how much is going on around us.

Over the course of 2013, however, we here at IC Magazine observed a handful of stories that seemed to suffer from an extraordinary amount of media isolation in the Western hemisphere. As we head in to 2014, we would like to draw your attention to some of those stories:

Human Safaris

India Courts allow the profitable Human Safaris to continue on the Andaman and Nicobar Islands

Photo: www.bonrix.net

Photo: http://www.bonrix.net
For a few short months, the Jarawa Peoples had the chance to remember what life was like before the Andaman Nicobar Trunk Road was constructed. The controversial highway, which connects Port Blair and Diglipur in the Andaman and Nicobar Islands, has been used by tourists for more than a decade to go on “human safaris” in which Jarawa men, women and children are literally treated like apes in a zoo.

After years of public outcry over the inhuman practice, India’s Supreme Court banned all tourists from traveling along the Andaman Nicobar Trunk Road. Sadly, the much-need victory was not long to last. In March 2013, the Supreme Court reversed the ban, allowing the safaris to continue unabated once more. Tour operators who had been unable to use the road were reportedly readying their vehicles within days of the decision, gearing up to resume the profitable sideshow. The total u-turn was accompanied by equally distressing news that the Supreme Court had asked the island’s authorities if they wanted to keep the Jarawa isolated or assimilate them into the mainstream.

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Filed under Actions / Protest, Climate Change, Hydroelectric dams, Illegal logging, Indigenous Peoples, Land Grabs, Latin America-Caribbean, Political Repression

Bolivia’s Indigenous future: A balance of preservation, protection and connection

Note: This article, originally posted on Climate Connections as Indigenous Roots Appreciated and Preserved in Bolivia” was incorrectly attributed.  The real author is Courtney Parker, and it was published on Intercontinental Cry under the title,  Bolivia’s Indigenous Future: A Balance of Preservation, Protection and Connection.  GJEP apologizes for the confusion.

-The GJEP Team

By Courtney Parker, December 24, 2013. Source: Intercontinental Cry

Evo Morales’s very name seems to suggest his destiny of leading Bolivia in a valiant attempt at ‘moral evolution’ with all other Nation States in tow. Tasked with the difficult role of representing his Indigenous roots at the national and international levels of government and policy, Morales continues to make great strides that by all appearances bridge the dichotomy of tradition and modernity. Recent evolutions in Bolivian national policy regarding the protection and preservation of indigenous cultures continue to gain legal traction. Simultaneously, more Bolivians than ever before are poised to claim their rightful place in the interconnected web that is the information age.

Indigenous Peoples in Bolivia recently performed rituals to ‘Pachamama’, or ‘Mother Earth’ to bless the launch of Bolivia’s first telecommunications satellite. The satellite has been officially named, ‘Tupac Katar’, after the revered Amyara indigenous hero who led a resistance to Spanish colonization in the 18th century. The new satellite has been lauded with the potential to drastically reduce the cost of television and satellite services to rural communities, according to the Associated Press.

Bolivia’s indigenous communities have claimed another victory of late. A new law is being implemented, designed to instill harsh penalties on any entity found to be endangering the livelihood and preservation of Bolivia’s numerous Indigenous Peoples. Recent coverage on Infosurhoy.com provides a rundown of the new legal development, outlining four categories of offenses that will elicit harsh penalties on guilty parties.

The first category of offense cited is: ‘cultural genocide’, which carries a punishment of 15-20 years in prison for those found to be in violation. Such designated crimes would include actions deemed to exhibit a plausible threat to the continued existence of any Indigenous Peoples in Bolivia.

The second category in the new legal framework is ‘cultural disruption’, which is defined as any activity found to negatively alter indigenous livelihood–a crime that’s punishable by anywhere between 6-10 years in prison.

The third category, ‘financing of cultural disruption’, with a nod to Bolivia’s overall movement towards resisting destructive forms of imperialism, can carry an even harsher penalty of 8-12 years.

The final category, ‘environmental damage’ can also carry an 8-12 year sentence, perhaps highlightinganother recent evolution in national jurisprudence that gave distinctive rights to Pachamama herself.

The new legal move towards preserving indigenous culture will also give birth to a new government agency known as DISEPIO. Translated to English as “The General Directorate of Indigenous Nations and Peoples at Risk of Extinction, in Voluntary Isolation or Without Contact”, DISEPIO, according to Deputy Minister for Native Indigenous Justice, Isabel Ortega, will be in charge of developing specific plans and programs that protect Indigenous Peoples under the new regulations.

In a recent interview, Guarayo indigenous leader, Bienvenido Zacu, lamented on the challenges ahead in bridging the gap between establishing such regulations and assuring their broad and continued implementation:

In order to protect the indigenous peoples of Bolivia, we need more than just regulations. We need to raise the level of awareness and we particularly need to provide ongoing health care, instead of responding to emergencies, such as the threat of extinction.

Zacu went on to suggest that broad public awareness campaigns might also play a role in these focused efforts at preventing cultural extinction. “We’re about to become extinct. We can’t stand back and let this happen. We need to get back in touch with our roots,” he commented.

According to the most recent Bolivian census, between 15 and 36 indigenous populations are hovering on the edge of cultural extinction. This new law will seek to preserve these important lines of heritage while the new technology services will aim to supplement the overall standard of living in rural areas. The Machineri Peoples, with a count of just 38 men, women and children, is the most vulnerable of all. Others, such as the Guarasugwe and the Tapieté remain intact, though with populations that are dipping below 100. The relatively large Amyara and Quechua Peoples are stable and strong, each having populations well over a million according to the same census count. It is thought that all of the headcounts may prove to be much higher once more advanced methods of obtaining and reporting familial heritage become available.

Bolvia’s forward strides in indigenous rights at home will most likely continue to pave the way internationally as a model for, and harbinger of, a more evolved standard of indigenous jurisprudence around the world. Landmark paradigm shifts, such as Bolivia’s official declaration of ‘plurinationalism’ in 2009, continue to reinforce Bolivia’s status as a global leader in the movement to recognize indigenous sovereignty as protected by international law. In return, increased international awareness may be expanded and reflected back to Bolivia’s Indigenous Peoples from the international stage, as more and more Bolivians gain access to information technology and thus claim their rightful power to represent themselves directly to the global community.



Filed under Indigenous Peoples, Latin America-Caribbean

Idle No More & Defenders of the Land Support the Actions of Indigenous Peoples of Canada to Protect Their Waters, Lands & Forests

(Turtle Island/December 16, 2013) - Idle No More and Defenders of the Land networks call on Indigenous Peoples and Canadians to support Indigenous Nations currently engaged in protecting their lands and waters against the corporate-sponsored agendas of the federal and provincial governments. 

In the past month, the Mi’kmaq of Elsipogtog, the Algonquins of Barriere Lake and the Cree of Lubicon Lake Nation have been involved in land protection struggles to defend against invasive extractive natural resource development (natural gas exploration, drilling for oil & natural gas/fracking and clear cut logging) taking place on their territories without their Free, Prior and Informed Consent (FPIC).

In each of these land struggles, there are people camping and protecting lands outside in extreme winter weather conditions before the holidays to keep industry activity at bay. Despite weather dipping to -30º C on some days, men, women, children and Elders continue to protect the land to ensure their grandchildren and future generations have something left for their sustenance and livelihood.

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Statement from IEN on the Outcomes of the Bali WTO Meeting for Indigenous Peoples

Statement by Tom B.K. Goldtooth, Executive Director, Indigenous Environmental Network On the Outcome of the World Trade Organization 9th Ministerial Conference that ended Saturday, December 07, 2013

Turtle Island, December 09, 2013 - Even though the WTO and its 159 member countries resurrected itself in its first multilateral trade pact in the WTO’s history, I feel it was a desperate fight by rich developed countries such as the United States to revive an economic and trading system that is all about capitalism.

The WTO is all about free trade for the corporations that are destroying our Mother Earth.

The Indigenous Environmental Network (IEN) historically participated in WTO conferences, mostly in outside strategies rather than inside strategies. IEN took part in the “Battle in Seattle” at the 3rd Ministerial conference in Seattle, Washington in December 1999 and in Cancun, in the 5th Ministerial conference in September 2003.

At the Seattle WTO 14 years ago, IEN and Indigenous groups came together, (to name a few), such as the Seventh Generation Fund, Indigenous Peoples Council on Biocolonialism, Eyak Alaska Preservation Council, Interior Alliance of First Nations in Canada and internationally, Tebtebba of the Philippines and Movimiento de la Juventad Kuna of Panama to analyze and articulate our position on the WTO. The Indigenous Peoples’ Seattle Declaration was the outcome document of 1999. The Indigenous Statement from the WTO 5th Ministerial Conference in Cancún, Mexico, in September 2003 was not any different in its listing of all the negative effects of the WTO neoliberal trade agreements on Indigenous peoples.

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Filed under Actions / Protest, Carbon Trading, Climate Change, Commodification of Life, Corporate Globalization, Indigenous Peoples, Political Repression, REDD, WTO

The Warsaw, Poland Exhibit at the UN Climate Conference

On 21 November 2013 various non-governmental organizations walked out of the Warsaw climate talks.  I am glad I have not attended for the last two years as I feel corporate interests have taken over the UN Climate Conference.

At this point I have no idea after the walk out if my photo exhibit was seized by UN security.  I hope the photo exhibit was up long enough for the the High Level Ministers to view and see the reality of neoliberalism and climate chaos. They may have glanced, but unfortunately those with power did not really see or care. – Orin Langelle

The photos in the exhibit were on display at the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change in Warsaw, Poland at the IBON International booth.  The name of the exhibit was titled Neoiberal Globalization and Climate Chaos.  This exhibit took  place during the High Level Sessions of the UNFCCC meetings 18 – 23 November 2013. The conference was held at the National Stadium in Warsaw, Poland.*1 UNFCCC Gag, Indonesia(This photo was scheduled for the exhibit, but because of increased UN pressure on criticism of the UNFCCC, the photo was not shown.)

The exhibit included thirty photographs documenting Indigenous Peoples, organizations and social movements working for climate justice.  The photographs were taken at events on six continents–from Bali, Indonesia to Espirito Santo, Brazil – Durban, South Africa and Chiapas, Mexico, to name a few.

All photographs by Orin Langelle.  Courtesy Global Justice Ecology ProjectGlobal Forest Coalition, and Langelle Photography.

Above: An Indigenous man with his mouth covered by a UNFCCC (United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change) gag during a protest at the UN climate talks in Bali, Indonesia.  The gag symbolized their systematic and forceful exclusion from a UN meeting with the UNFCCC Executive Secretary they were invited to the day before.  It also symbolized and their exclusion from the official negotiations even though it is their lands that were being targeted for climate mitigation schemes.

You can view the entire photo exhibit here

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Filed under Actions / Protest, Climate Change, Climate Justice, Indigenous Peoples, Photo Essays by Orin Langelle, Political Repression, Warsaw/COP-19

Aboriginal blockade in British Columbia targeted

Makeshift bomb explodes on Aboriginal blockade, Hereditary Likhts’amisyu chief Toghestiy says

By Krystle Alarcon, Oct 30th, 2013. Source: Vancouver Observer

Trail of the accelerator that was set off last night that burnt the sign set up by the Unist’ot’en Camp. Photo from Unist’ot’en Facebook page.

A warning sign set up by Unist’ot’en leaders on their land, near Houston, a forestry and mining town in the northern interior of B.C., has apparently been torched by a makeshift bomb. The sign, which reads  “Stop: No access without consent,” lit up around 10:20 p.m. last night.

Hereditary Likhts’amisyu chief Toghestiy, together with his wife, Freda Huson, the spokesperson for the Unist’ot’en Clan, set up a roadblock against the proposed Northern Gateway’s Pacific Trail Pipeline.

Their clans, together with the Git’dum’den, are three out of five Wet’suwet’en First Nation clans that built cabins last year as a permanent defense camp against the pipeline and mining projects. The $1-billion pipeline project would deliver natural gas from northern B.C. and Alberta to Kitimat for shipment overseas. The pipeline is slated to pass through Wet’suwet’en land. Continue reading

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

Tribal nations are early climate adaptation planners

By , Oct 29, 2013.  Source: Intercontinental Cry Magazine

Much has been made of the need to develop climate-change-adaptation plans, especially in light of increasingly alarming findings about how swiftly the environment that sustains life as we know it is deteriorating, and how the changes compound one another to quicken the pace overall. Studies, and numerous climate models, and the re-analysis of said studies and climate models, all point to humankind as the main driver of these changes. In all these dire pronouncements and warnings there is one bright spot: It may not be too late to turn the tide and pull Mother Earth back from the brink.

None of this is new to the Indigenous Peoples of Turtle Island. Besides already understanding much about environmental issues via millennia of historical perspective, Natives are at the forefront of these changes and have been forced to adapt. Combining their preexisting knowledge with their still-keen ability to read environmental signs, these tribes are way ahead of the curve, with climate-change plans either in the making or already in effect.

Swinomish Tribe: From Proclamation to Action

On the southeastern peninsula of Fidalgo Island in Washington State, the Swinomish were the first tribal nation to pass aClimate Change proclamation, which they did in 2007. Since then they have implemented a concrete action plan.

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Filed under Climate Change, Climate Justice, Forests and Climate Change, Indigenous Peoples, Natural Disasters

Indigenous Guatemalans bring Canadian mining company to court

By Arij Riahi, 20 October 2013. Source: The Dominion

Guatemalan fist(Image: Guatemalan fist via Shutterstock)

Montreal - For the first time, a Canadian mining company will appear in a Canadian court for actions committed overseas. Hudbay Minerals, Inc, will be standing trial for murder, rapes and attacks committed against Indigenous Guatemalans by security personnel working for Hudbay’s subsidiary, Compañía Guatemalteca de Níquel (CGN). The court case is proceeding thanks to a precedent-setting decision from the Ontario Superior Court of Justice, which ruled this past July in favour of the Mayan Q’eqchi’ people of Lote Ocho, near El Estor, Guatemala.

“It is a massive victory for our clients and for human rights,” Cory Wanless, an attorney with the Toronto-based Klippensteins law firm, told The Dominion. “Before this decision, no claim brought by individuals that had been harmed by Canadian mining abroad had ever gotten into Canadian courts at all. They didn’t even have the ability to forward their claims.”

Wanless represents the Q’eqchi’ plaintiffs in a lawsuit accusing the company of negligence in its ground management of the Fenix open-pit nickel mine project. They allege that security personnel—under the control of Hudbay—gang-raped 11 women, shot dead an Indigenous leader and outspoken critic of mining practices and left another man paralyzed from the chest down after sustaining a gunshot wound.

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Filed under Actions / Protest, Climate Change, Indigenous Peoples, Latin America-Caribbean, Mining, Political Repression, Pollution

Indigenous Peoples fight for the future of Lake Kennady, the caribou and Gahcho Kue

By , Sep 13, 2013.  Source: Intercontinental Cry

Gahcho Kue

Some 288 kilometres South of the Arctic Circle an area known as Gahcho Kue–‘Place of the Big Rabbit’ in the Dene Suline language–sits in the barren grounds tundra surrounding Lake Kennady. This stark and beautiful landscape of shallow lakes and rolling ridges in Canada’s North West Territories has been significant to Indigenous Peoples for centuries. However, since 1995–when geological surveys were first conducted around the lake–uncertainty has been mounting over the area’s future.

The discovery of kimberlite deposits or ‘pipes’ (a rock well known for containing diamonds) beneath the earth attracted mining giant De Beers and Mountain Province Diamonds Inc. to launch a bid to mine at Gahcho Kue.

Despite numerous delays–and over a decade of complications–the fears of local Indigenous Peoples’ were realized after the Canadian Government and Aboriginal Review Board gave the go ahead for extraction at the diamond mine.

This decision came after the government authorities considered a new Environmental Impact Review (EIR) submitted by De Beers and Mountain Province via the Mackenzie Valley Environmental Review Board (MVEIRB). Although the project was found “Likely to cause significant adverse environmental impacts” it was decided that the economic gains would outweigh any losses.  Continue reading


Filed under Actions / Protest, Climate Change, Indigenous Peoples, Land Grabs, Mining

4 things You Can Do to Honor Indigenous Peoples Today

22 November, 2012.  From Cultural Survival

November is National Native American Heritage Month. November 23 is Native American Heritage Day.

“As the first people to live on the land we all cherish, American Indians and Alaska Natives have profoundly shaped our country’s character and our cultural heritage. Today, Native Americans are leaders in every aspect of our society — from the classroom, to the boardroom, to the battlefield. This month, we celebrate and honor the many ways American Indians and Alaska Natives have enriched our Nation, and we renew our commitment to respecting each tribe’s identity while ensuring equal opportunity to pursue the American dream.”  — Presidential Proclamation

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Filed under Climate Change, Indigenous Peoples, Rights, Resilience, and Restoration