Friday, December 24, 2010

Canada corp. invades Wixárika nation in Mexico, cultural genocide

"Fighting to Stop Mining on Mexico's Sacred Mountain, Leunar" by Paula Palmer, Director of the Global Response Program at Cultural Survival [] -- an organization that partners with Indigenous peoples to defend their lands, languages and cultures.
For more than 1,000 years, the Wixárika (we-SHA-re-ka) people have made pilgrimages from their ceremonial centers in the Sierra Madre mountains across the Chihuahua desert to Leunar, the sacred mountain where the sun first rose.  The Wixárika pilgrims traverse over 300 miles to reach Leunar, stopping to give offerings and prayers at dozens of sacred places along the way – the natural temples of a deeply spiritual people. They undertake their journey, which they call their "essence," to retrace the steps of creation, repeating the prayers of their ancestors in order to maintain the earth's equilibrium and keep their culture alive.
The Wixárika people's pilgrimage route and its destination are protected by state and federal law as well as international accords, but that hasn't stopped a Canadian mining company, First Majestic Silver Corporation [], from purchasing concessions to exploit the rich veins of silver that lie beneath the surface.
In September, Wixárika communities issued a proclamation to stop the mine from desecrating their most sacred sites and endangering the fragile semi-desert ecosystem. In the US, the human rights organization Cultural Survival has launched a letter-writing campaign to support the Wixárika people and to stop the mine. You can send an email to the president of Mexico from their website, or write your own letter.
The Environmental Impact -
Silver mining is nothing new in Real de Catorce, a colonial town perched on the side of the Wixárika people's sacred mountain, Leunar, overlooking the Chihuahua desert. During the 18th and 19th centuries, 225 million ounces of silver were dug out of this region, an unregulated enterprise that turned a forest into a desert and contaminated the scanty water supply. Now First Majestic Silver Corporation's CEO Keith Neumeyer says he expects to quadruple the plunder by using new methods (read cyanide) to extract silver from old tailings and by exploiting 12 miles of new veins.
If this huge project is allowed to move forward, its impacts will be equally huge. Whether they dig the ore out of tunnels or excavate open pits, the mine will produce enormous quantities of tailings which could leach acid into the environment for centuries and blight the landscape in a region whose primary source of income is tourism. Dust, noise, erosion, road construction, water pollution, and blasting all affect wildlife, and the region's notable diversity of bird species – including 16 that are threatened – could plummet. Of most concern to the region's peasant farmers is the mine's potential impact on the water table in this semi-desert. Mines of this size use as much water in a day as a peasant family would use in 25 years.
First Majestic claims to be "eco-friendly," but Mexico's mining regulations are notoriously lax. Another Canadian company in the same state – San Luis Potosi – has been able to keep operating for years despite court orders to cease and desist. Disastrous cyanide leaks and spills occur too frequently.
So it is essential to stop First Majestic's Real de Catorce mine before it starts.
Protecting the Wirikuta Cultural and Ecological Reserve -
Seventy percent of First Majestic's mining concessions are within the borders of the Wirikuta Cultural and Ecological Reserve, which was created to protect the Wixárika people's pilgrimage route, their sacred sites, and the fragile semi-desert ecosystem that supports the highest diversity of cactus in the world. First Majestic's richest silver vein runs within meters of the Wixárika people's most sacred site.
State, federal, and international laws and accords for Indigenous rights, cultural preservation, and environmental protection were cited as justification for creating the Wirikuta Reserve in 1994. According to the World Wildlife Fund, the Reserve protects one of the planet's three most biologically diverse desert ecosystems. UNESCO identified Wirikuta as one of only 14 potential World Heritage Sites of both cultural and ecological importance.
It is time to insist on real protection for the Wirikuta Reserve – not just words on paper. Please answer the Wixárika people's call and send letters to Mexican authorities today.
Thank you for joining in this campaign! Pamparius!

Thursday, December 23, 2010

USA to recognize Declaration of Indigenous Rights

2010-12-16 "U.S. Will Sign Declaration Recognizing Indigenous Rights" by Nancy Roberts
The United States is the only country that has not signed the U.N. Declaration of Indigenous Rights; there are signs this could change. The Declaration rejects discrimination against indigenous people, estimated at numbering 370 million in some 70 countries. The Declaration "emphasizes the rights of indigenous peoples to maintain and strengthen their own institutions, cultures and traditions and to pursue their development in keeping with their own needs and aspirations."
Hardly controversial, it is also non-legally binding.
The Declaration was signed by 145 countries in 2007, with only four countries voting against: Australia, Canada, New Zealand, and the U.S., mostly objecting around land claims and to ambiguities in the declaration. Since then, all but the U.S. have come round, with Canada signing just last month [].
The Obama administration announced in April that it is reviewing its position on the Declaration [].
Indigenous people around the world suffer disproportionately high rates of illness, poverty, crime, and other human rights abuses, according to the UN's Department of Economic and Social Affairs. In the U.S., a Native American is "600 times more likely to contract tuberculosis and 62 per cent more likely to commit suicide than the general population." [
This week marks the second White House Tribal Nations summit since Obama's took office, as representatives from the 565 federally-recognized tribes meet with the President and administration officials on December 16. While some Native American leaders are unhappy at the slow pace of change, others hail the President's actions on Native American rights and legal issues, including the recent settlement of a land trust class action suit with a $3.4 billion compensation fund. Last October the federal government settled a $760 million case with Indian farmers.
The Obama administration has made strides in Native American rights; signing the Declaration would be one more example of their good faith.
UPDATE - December 16 In a step forward for relations between Native Americans and the federal government, President Obama today announced that the U.S. will sign the U.N. Declaration of Indigenous Rights. The President made the announcement at a conference of Tribal Nations held today in Washington.  The accompanying State Department statement affirmed: "US support for the declaration goes hand in hand with the US commitment to address the consequences of a history in which, as President Obama recognized, 'few have been more marginalized and ignored by Washington for as long as Native Americans -- our first Americans.'"

Provocateurs target Strong Heart Warrior Society of the Lakota People

2010-12-22 "PROTEST GROWS AGAINST PINE RIDGE DRUG DEALERS, BOOTLEGGERS, & COMPLICIT TRIBAL GOVT / POLICE; Sunday Night Police Raid on Strong Heart Activist and White Clay Blockade Leader Duane Martin Sr. Ignites Firestorm Press Conference and Protest Planned for Friday"
Cante Tenza: Strong Heart Warrior Society of the Lakota People, December 22, 2010, Sharp's Corner, Pine Ridge Reservation, SD, Lakota Nation
PINE RIDGE, South Dakota - The Strong Heart Warrior Society continues to ask both Native and non-native supporters to call, fax and email Oglala Sioux Tribal Government officials and Police Chief Everett Little Whiteman to get accountability for the Sunday night police raid on activist Duane Martin Sr.'s home in Sharp's Corner following a "set-up" false call from an area drug dealer.
On Sunday night December 19, nine Oglala Tribal Police officers raided Duane Martin's house in Sharps Corner following a tip call alleging a "house party" where drugs and alcohol were present.
Duane, 22 years sober, is a well known activist and is widely recognized for leading Strong Heart and the Lakota people in stands against drug dealing, bootlegging, and the scourge of alcohol sales in White Clay, Nebraska. Police officials have since admitted they did not follow up on the false call and did not have plans to investigate.
This raid is one insult in a larger series of actions that has targeted Duane and Strong Heart for their stand against drugs and alcohol. Officials in the Oglala Tribal Government and Tribal Police with ties to these illegal activities have made a concerted effort to intimidate, discredit, and deny the efforts of Duane and Strong Heart to protect the Lakota People.
In November, Duane led Strong Heart in a show-down with Tribal Police when thirteen traditional Grandmothers were arrested for "inciting a riot" because they protested then Tribal Council President Theresa Two Bulls. Following a threatened take-over of the Tribal Government offices by Strong Heart, the Grandmothers were released without charges. Within the last two weeks, Duane's use of his residence in Sharp's Corner has been threatened by Oglala Tribal Housing and custody of his son was awarded to a known drug dealer and sex-offender by a retiring Oglala Court Judge Patrick Lee.
Strong Heart is planning a protest in the Sharp's Corner community on Pine Ridge, Friday December 24. A press conference kicks-off at 10:00am. Protest march begins at 1pm. For more information or news interviews, contact Duane Martin Sr. at 605) 517-1547 or (605) 454-5552.
Cante Tenza Okolakiciye is the Strong Heart Warrior Society of the Lakota Nation, an ancient warrior society as well as a grassroots civil rights movement that works to protect, enforce and restore treaty rights, civil rights, and sovereignty of Native people and their communities across Turtle Island. In addition to activist efforts such as the annual Blockade of White Clay Nebraska, each year Cante Tenza collects and freely distributes shoes, winter coats, school supplies, food, and other support to Oglala Lakota elders, children and families.

Tribal Sovereignty in the United States

"In a mirror, darkly: Survival vs. casinos"
In an article written in 1995, I predicted the demise of self-governing sovereign American Indian tribes to be completed by 2075. I have now reduced my estimate by 25 years.
The future does not look too good for tribal governments, and sadly, they will have had a part in their own destruction.  It all started in 1988 when Congress proposed legislation that would give federally recognized tribes the right to conduct gambling on their reservations.
Most tribal leaders were elated. They counted dollar signs in their dreams, even though a few straight thinkers warned them of trouble to come.  The legislation was gently-worded, but the devil was in the details.
It was pointed out to tribal leaders that the legislation required that if a tribe wanted to operate games of chance, they would have to give up part of their sovereignty to the state wherein the gambling would take place. "No worries," said the tribal leaders.
Another innocently-worded clause required them to negotiate a "compact," or a contract, that would control how they operated their "gaming," with that same state.  Again, "No worries," they said, as dollar signs flooded their minds. "We can take care of ourselves."
Yeah, sure you can.

Republic of Lakotah establishes National Bank

2010-12-23 "Opening of Indigenous Bank (I Bank) as the National Bank of the Republic of Lakotah" 
Contact Russell Means, Chief facilitator for the Republic of Lakotah: 605-867-1025 
December 21, 2010 
The Republic of Lakotah announces the opening of the Indigenous Bank or I Bank as the first National Bank of the Republic. 
The I Bank has operated for over seven years as an independent sovereign American Indian Bank and now comes under the protection of the Republic of Lakotah. 
The Chairman/President and CEO of the I Bank is Mr. Ben Cummings. 
The I Bank assets are in silver and gold bullion and are valued at just under $100,000.00 USD. 
The bank presently has over two hundred depositors. 
For further information, please contact Mr. Ben Cummings at 605-867-2036 or cell 605-381-2028