Friday, December 30, 2011

2011-12-30 "Klamath River: Whale's death blamed on infection" from "Associated Press" newswire
[http://articles.sfgate.com/2011-12-30/bay-area/30571725_1_whale-fungal-infection-freshwater-river]
Klamath, Del Norte County — Klamath, Del Norte County -- The wayward gray whale that died last summer after swimming from the sea into the Klamath River and attracting hundreds of well-wishers along the way suffered from a fungal skin infection caused by the river's freshwater, scientists said.
Sarah Wilkin of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration told the Times-Standard of Eureka that the mother whale's skin was weakened by her lengthy stay in the freshwater river, which allowed the fungus to get into her body.
The whale, called MaMa by locals, garnered national media attention when she entered the river with her calf on June 24. The pair were migrating north with other gray whales when they made their unexpected foray upriver.
Three weeks later, the calf made it back to the Pacific Ocean, but the mother whale stayed behind.
It was the end of a story that captivated many of the 800 people who live in the small coastal town. People crowded on a highway bridge over the river to see and photograph the whale. Some even waded into the river to serenade the creature.
MaMa died before dawn on Aug. 16 after beaching itself on a sandbar in the river. The whale was buried by members of the Yurok Tribe along the riverbank.

A baby gray whale swims with its mother in the Klamath River in July.
Credit: Ashala Tylor
2011-12-30 "Zapotec Indians recreate village fiesta in California" by GOSIA WOZNIACKA from "Associated Press" newswire
[http://www.mercurynews.com/news/ci_19645078]
MADERA, Calif.—A group of Zapotec Indian women dug a hole with their hands, building an oven out of mud to roast hot peppers, garlic and onions in the backyard of their home in Central California.
At dawn, they cooked enough thick, chocolaty sauce—called mole negro—to feed hundreds of farmworkers who would stream in from across California and as far as Washington and Oregon to celebrate St. John the Evangelist, the patron saint of a Mexican village more than 2,000 miles away.
Zapotecs who worked in California once travelled back home to Coatecas Altas and other villages in Oaxaca to attend these fiestas. But as border security tightened and illegal crossings turned expensive and dangerous, many of them found a way to honor their saint stateside, in the small farmworker town of Madera.
For the third year in a row, Zapotecs gathered in Madera in the days after Christmas, cooking and eating mole, building an altar, parading giant paper-mache dolls and dancing into the night to brass bands belching out traditional chilenas. The fiesta takes place over several days, simultaneously with that in Oaxaca.
"This is about community service, about coming together to help and support each other," said Alfredo Hernandez, a volunteer from Madera who helped organize the celebration. "It's important for us not to lose our culture. And since we can't go back, we do it here."
Zapotec is one of the two largest linguistic Indian groups in Oaxaca, and its people are among the newest wave of U.S. migrant workers. In California, an estimated 30 percent of farmworkers are now indigenous, according to the U.S. Labor Department.
In Oaxaca, the Zapotecs lived for more than 2,000 years cultivating corn and beans, adhering to a practice of mandatory community service and specializing in crafts. Tucked in the mountains, Coatecas Altas known for intricate baskets and mats hand-woven out of wild palm leaves.
But over the past few decades, their way of life collapsed. Facing an economic crisis in their country, a flood of cheap American corn brought about by the free trade agreement and declining government support for small farmers, Zapotecs began to migrate for better opportunities, said Sara Lara Flores, a sociologist at the National Autonomous University of Mexico who has studied Zapotec migration.
Those who moved north of the border prior to the 1980s settled mainly in Los Angeles, but the past decade saw Zapotecs streaming into rural Central California to work in the fields.
Juan Santiago, a student at California State University in Fresno, started the fiesta in Madera to help organize his community. Santiago, 23, came to the United States with his mother when he was 11, joining his farmworker father and four brothers in Madera. He is the first member of his family to graduate from high school and go to college.
Life in California poses tremendous challenges to his people, Santiago said.
In Madera, where 77 percent of the 61,000 residents are Hispanic, the Zapotecs have faced a double language barrier with English and Spanish, and experienced a double culture shock.
Many of area's 5,000 Zapotecs are young people who lack basic education and live in poverty, having few job options without legal immigration documents, Santiago said. In the fields, Indians often get paid less than other Latinos.
Three years ago, Santiago organized the Zapotecs' first community assembly in Madera and was elected its president.
One of his first orders of business was to transplant the practice of community service. That volunteer work, he said, gives young people something productive and positive to do and encourages leadership.
Community work is key to the survival of the migrants, Flores said.
"This celebration allows for the ties of solidarity and mutual help that characterize indigenous people to be reinforced," she said. "It helps them face the atmosphere of hostility and intolerance that many encounter."
The fiesta, which included a run from Fresno to Madera and a basketball tournament, also promotes the Zapotec culture and language among the youngest generations, which are quickly becoming Americanized, Santiago said.
On the day of the fiesta, after attending mass, more than 1,000 Zapotecs crammed into a rental hall at the Madera Fairgrounds. They prayed, lit candles and placed bouquets of flowers before a mobile altar of St. John the Evangelist, made to look just like the one in Coatecas Altas.
Giant paper mache dolls danced under a ceiling filled with papel picado, colorful wafer-thin paper banners hand-cut into elaborate designs. Platefuls of mole and cups of tepache, a fermented pineapple drink, were handed out to the crowd.
At the end, in a special ceremony, Santiago and fellow committee members passed four ceremonial staffs to newly elected committee members and volunteers, who will continue the tradition of community service for the next three years.

In this photo taken Tuesday, Dec. 27, 2011, Zapotec Indians from the village of Coatecas Altas in Oaxaca, Mexico dance with giant paper mache dolls in front of a church in Madera, Calif. The dance of the dolls celebrates the patron saint of the Mexican village where a pre-Hispanic language and culture still thrive. (AP Photo/Gosia Wozniacka)

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Non-Human Nations: Beluga Whales

2011-12-15 "Breaking News: 100 Beluga Whales Trapped In Bering Sea" by Sharon Seltzer
[http://www.care2.com/causes/100-beluga-whales-trapped-in-bering-sea.html]
Russian authorities have launched a massive rescue to save more than 100 Beluga whales that are trapped by giant pieces of floating ice in the Bering Sea. Fear is rising that they will soon die of exhaustion or starvation.
Local hunters discovered the whales on Wednesday in the Sinyavinsky channel, in the Chukotka region. They are trapped by a “wide belt of 10- to 15- centimeter- thick ice,” (33 feet to 50 feet) [http://www.themoscowtimes.com/news/article/ministries-scramble-to-rescue-whales/449990.html].
Fishermen say the whales have two areas where they can surface for air, but have little access to food and are so boxed in, they cannot swim to open waters.
Local residents reported the crisis to Russia’s Transport Minister and Emergencies Minister asking them to send an icebreaker as soon as possible. Advancing ice and extreme frigid waters are increasing the size of the icebergs, which will eventually reduce the amount of space the whales have to swim.
A rescue tug called the Ruby was dispatched to the area [http://www.cnn.com/2011/12/14/world/europe/russia-trapped-whales/index.html]. It was in the Bering Sea helping a Korean cargo ship that ran aground, but it is being hampered by a “high wind and a heavy swell.” It cannot break through the ice until the weather gets better.
Beluga whales are listed as “near-threatened” on the International Union for Conservation of Nature’s red list. Unfortunately it is a relatively common phenomenon for them to get trapped by icebergs in the Bering Sea, but most of the time people are not nearby to notice the tragedy or call for help.
Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin is a fan of Beluga whales [http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2011/12/15/whales-trapped-bering-sea-_n_1150986.html], and heads Russia’s program to protect them.
2011-12-15 "The Day They Saved a Whale"
[http://www.care2.com/causes/the-day-they-saved-a-whale.html]
Saving the life of a young Humpback Whale – all captured on tape.
If you haven’t seen this – watch.  Actually, even if you have.
2011-12-15 "Nearly Extinct Bird Blown Out of Nest During Storm: Rescuers Lend a Hand" by the Saint Francis of Assisi Foundation of Zarzal, Colombia
[http://www.care2.com/causes/nearly-extinct-bird-blown-out-of-nest-during-storm-rescuers-lend-a-hand.html]
During a windstorm, a very rare Coclí pigeon fell out of his nest perched at the top of a tall palm tree. We made him comfortable in a special cage, and because his beak was slightly injured, we hand-fed him carefully with small worms for the next week.
When he was able to eat on his own, we at the Foundation made contact with the firemen who came with their very long ladders and were able to put him right back up in his nest, where his parents and sibling were anxiously awaiting his return.
We were very pleased to have been able to do this successfully, because this bird which is indigenous to our area has been hunted almost to extinction — in fact, it has already been placed on the extinct list. To our knowledge, in the last seven years only 38 baby birds have been born and we are hoping that they will re-populate other rural areas as well as ours.  More photos of the rescued Coclí pigeon [http://animalrescuechase.com/rescue_showcase/story.php?id=610].


Thursday, December 8, 2011

2011-12-08 "Nightclub-Loud Noise Threatens Marine Mammals" by Kristina Chew
[http://www.care2.com/causes/nightclub-loud-noise-threatens-marine-mammals.html]
Life under the sea is wetter but it’s not exactly getting any better for marine animals and especially for cetaceans, large aquatic mammals like whales and dolphins. Octopuses and squids are also affected [http://blogs.scientificamerican.com/observations/2011/04/12/octopuses-and-squids-are-damaged-by-noise-pollution/]. Human activity has raised the noise level of the ocean by 20 decibels over the last 50 years [http://www.rawstory.com/rs/2011/12/07/ocean-cacophony-a-torment-for-sea-mammals/] and it’s likely to get ever noisier. While we might imagine the deeps of the ocean to be silent, the reality is that military testing, freighter propellers and seismic oil and gas exploration — which uses air cannons to create tremors in the sea bed — have combined to create an “acoustic fog” that scientists compare to living in a nightclub where you have to shout to be heard.
We’re not only polluting the ocean with plastic bags, syringes and all manner of refuse. We’re creating so much din in the ocean that the very survival of many animals is in question, as cetaceans depend on their hearing to travel long distances to find food and shelter.
Mark Simmonds, the international director of science at the Whale and Dolphin Conservation Society (WDCS), says that, for cetaceans, “hearing is as important as vision is for us,” so all the ruckus we’re creating is most likely affecting their communication with each other, as well as their sense of direction. Just basic small boat traffic at low speeds in shallow waters can lessen the reach of sounds by 26 percent for bottle nose dolphins and by 58 percent for pilot whales. 15 beaked whales in the Canaries died in 2002 after a NATO exercise using anti-submarine sonars [http://www.nrdc.org/wildlife/marine/sonar.asp]. A number of whale strandings have also been linked to military sonar use [http://www.nrdc.org/wildlife/marine/sonar.asp].
In particular, animals whose long-time habitat is in the arctic are finding their way of life threatened as humans venture north drilling for oil and gas:
[begin excerpt]
“Narwals for example have a narrowly defined habitat,” explains Simmonds. “They are very adapted to that cold environment. If it gets too noisy, where will they go?”
The same problem applies to the highly sound-sensitive beluga, or white whale, that migrates to Canada’s northern shores.
These mammals, which are capable of detecting ships 30 kilometers (18.7 miles) away, will struggle to maintain their migration route through the narrow straits circling Baffin Island as shipping in the area risks increasing sharply to accommodate a new large-scale mining project.
[end excerpt]
Offshore wind farms are environmentally-friendly, but building them means using a hydraulic hammer to drill the sea bed, so a monopod can be affixed to it:
[begin excerpt]
This so-called pile-driving can emit noise levels up to 250 decibels, which is a deadly dose for nearby marine mammals, though experts say it’s easy to diminish the threat by creating a curtain of air bubbles surrounding the drill site.
But on top of pile-driving, ship traffic linked to maintenance, cable-laying and the expansion of port infrastructure are also shrinking sea mammals’ habitats.
[end excerpt]
Michel Andre, a French researcher at the Laboratory of Applied Bioacoustics at Barcelona University, says that we actually know how to reduce the sounds made by boats. The European Commission is financing an initiative, Ships-Oriented Innovative Solutions to Reduce Noise and Vibrations, or SILENV [http://www.acciona.com/sustainability/environment/highlights/silenv-project-quieter-vessels-for-cleaner-oceans], to create an “acoustic green label” for ships. The European Union itself has undertaken a directive to reduce noise levels in its waters.
The adverse effects of offshore oil and gas development on the ocean’s marine life providesmore evidence for why we need to protect arctic waters from industrial development. While such efforts can provide new economic opportunities, they also bring new problems in the form of “stresses to local indigenous communities and .. pressure on a fragile ecosystem that is adapting to profound environmental changes,” including noise in places that once never knew of such a thing.

Friday, December 2, 2011

Maya [Republic of Belize]

2011-11-23 "Belize Government Defies Supreme Court Ruling; Grants Oil Company Permit to Maya Lands" by Intercontinental Cry    
[http://upsidedownworld.org/main/news-briefs-archives-68/3321-belize-government-defies-supreme-court-ruling-grants-oil-company-permit-to-maya-lands]
The government of Belize has quietly granted an American oil company drilling rights to protected Maya lands inside the Sarstoon Temash National Park (STNP) in the Toledo District of southern Belize. The surreptitious move is in defiance of an historic Supreme Court ruling that confirmed Belize's obligation to adhere to the international standard of informed consent, says the Sarstoon Temash Institute for Indigenous Management (SATIIM).
SATIIM, a community-based indigenous environmental organization that co-manages the STNP, found out that Belize had granted a permit to US Capital Energy only after it learned that the company had suddenly returned to the protected lands.
The company isn't wasting any time, says SATIIM. "A truck equipped for seismic drilling has already arrived along with a drill-ready tractor. Trees were cut for two seismic lines in Sunday Wood village, with rumors of plans to cut more in the village of Crique Sarco."
SATIIM points out with great concern that the government failed to inform them--or anyone else--that a drilling permit had been issued, adding:
[begin excerpt]
This is merely the latest 'surprise' in a shameful history of secrecy that began one morning in 1997. Five Indigenous communities in Southern Belize woke up to learn that the government had declared their ancestral land a national park in 1994. Ever since, these communities have struggled to defend their land at every turn.
Notably, in 2006 they won a temporary injunction against seismic testing in this protected area, where an entirely new ecosystem was recently discovered. Another ruling from the Supreme Court confirmed Maya rights to land and resources and Belize’s obligation to conform to international standards of informed consent established when it signed the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (UNDRIP) in 2007.
Nonetheless, the government has kept all dealings with US Capital Energy secret. SATIIM asked for information in several letters to the Prime Minister, Deputy Prime Minister and Chief Forest Officer. The government has ignored each one.
[end excerpt]
SATIIM is now demanding that the government respect: 1) the rule of law; 2) environmental justice; 3) economic equality; and 4) its obligations under UNDRIP and legal rulings by Belize's highest courts.
Most of all, SATIIM is demanding an end to the government secrecy surrounding US Capital Energy's new operations in southern Belize.
SATIIM and the Indigenous communities have also agreed to use "any means necessary" to make the government and the oil company comply with national and international law.
For updates on the situation, keep an eye on [www.satiim.blogspot.com]

Sunday, November 27, 2011

2011-11-27 "California Indians could regain ancestral lands" by Brian F. Codding, Ron W. Goode from "San Francisco Chronicle"
[http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?f=/c/a/2011/11/27/IN4S1M1GGL.DTL]
 Brian F. Codding is a Ph.D. candidate in the Department of Anthropology and a researcher at the Bill Lane Center for the American West at Stanford University. Ron W. Goode is a soapstone artist, storyteller and tribal chairman of the North Fork Mono Tribe.
---
Some California Indian tribes have the potential to regain their ancestral lands and restore age-old relationships between people and the environment in the Golden State.
 An unlikely turn of events has opened up this historic opportunity. PG&E's 2001 bankruptcy resulted in the formation of the Pacific Forest and Watershed Lands Stewardship Council, a nonprofit organization designed to distribute lands PG&E agreed to donate as part of its settlement agreement. Now, after years of being denied rights to their traditional lands, tribes have the opportunity to recover some of what was previously theirs.
However, tribal entities are not the only parties interested in these properties. Federal and state agencies, county governments and other interested organizations are submitting competing bids.
 The council's board of directors met this month to decide who will receive the latest round of divested lands - unfortunately, none of the board's recommendations side with traditional tribal owners this time. Hopefully, the council will do better for the tribes in our state in the future.
At the heart of this issue is the question of who will better manage and care for these lands. While rival organizations suggest they are more stable and better suited to take stewardship, many of these agencies don't have good track records of management themselves. Many of California's open spaces are choked with overgrowth leading to systemic ecological problems and the perpetual threat of wildfires. Arguably, the present condition would never have come into being if it weren't for over 100 years of fire suppression policies that prohibited California Indians from burning their ancestral lands.
Because California's plant and animal communities evolved alongside California Indian burning strategies for millennia, California's ecosystems require burning at a scope and scale consistent with these practices. As such, the health of California's native vegetation is tied to the vitality of native burning. Many land managers including the U.S. Forest Service have begun to understand this insight and are working with tribes to redesign and re-implement burning regimes consistent with the goals of traditional burning practices.
While traditional burning is generally designed to improve the quality and quantity of culturally important resources, burning to encourage the growth and use of cultural resources also provides unintended results that can restore California's ecosystems. Burning in the right place and season will encourage the regrowth of materials used to make baskets - but these well-timed, well-placed fires may also drive out invasive grasses, encouraging the return of other native grasses that are too rare in California. Burning oak understory to reduce acorn pests makes harvesting acorns more efficient - but may also encourage the health of oak stands themselves by reducing parasites and lowering incidences of sudden oak death. Because these resources are actively gathered for subsistence, trade, sale in markets, and the production, use and sale of traditional arts and crafts like iconic California Indian baskets, allowing tribal entities to restore more of California's lands could benefit tribal livelihoods as well as California's ecosystems.
Past misunderstandings and disregard for California's diverse ecosystems and indigenous practices allowed land to be taken away and fire suppression to become law. By returning land to California Indian tribes, the council has a historic opportunity to right past wrongs against native people and ecosystems. In the process, we might learn to be able to worry a little bit less about the threat of wildfires and enjoy an open and healthy working wilderness that few have seen in over 100 years. While no recommendations favor tribes in this latest round, in future decisions, we hope the Stewardship Council will consider returning land to those who are best positioned to care for it - the traditional tribal owners.

John Mink / Center for Multicultural Coopera
Ron W. Goode, North Fork Mono Tribal chairman, leads an educational field trip teaching children about California Indians and the land near one of the tribe's restoration sites at Lost Lake in Fresno County in 2010.


Thursday, November 24, 2011

Attawapiskat First Nation [Canada - Province of Ontario]

2011-11-21 "What if They Declared an Emergency and No One Came?" by Charlie Angus
[http://www.huffingtonpost.ca/charlie-angus/attawapiskat-emergency_b_1104370.html#undefined]
 Charlie Angus is the member of Parliament for Timmins-James Bay.
---
It's been three weeks since Attawapiskat First Nation took the extraordinary step of declaring a state of emergency [http://www.ottawacitizen.com/news/Lives+risk+Ontario+Attawapiskat+reserve+chief+says/5735930/story.html]. Since then, not a single federal or provincial official has even bothered to visit the community.
No aid agencies have stepped forward. No disaster management teams have offered help.
Meanwhile temperatures have dropped 20 degrees and will likely drop another 20 or 25 degrees further in the coming weeks. For families living in uninsulated tents, makeshift cabins and sheds, the worsening weather poses serious risk.
Two weeks ago I travelled to this community on the James Bay coast to see why conditions had become so extreme that local leaders felt compelled to declare a state of emergency. It was like stepping into a fourth world.
I spoke with one family of six who had been living in a tiny tent for two years. I visited elderly people living in sheds without water or electricity. I met children whose idea of a toilet was a plastic bucket that was dumped into the ditch in front of their shack.
Dr. John Waddell from the Weeneebayko Health Authority was in the community during this tour. He was emphatic that conditions had deteriorated to the point that an emergency situation was unfolding. Families are facing "immediate risk" of infection, disease and possible fire from their increasingly precarious conditions. Dr. Elizabeth Blackmore repeated this message of immediate risk just this past Friday at a press conference at Queen's Park.
You'd think that a medical warning from a provincial health authority would move government into action. Think again. When it comes to the misery, suffering and even the death of First Nations people, the federal and provincial governments have developed a staggering capacity for indifference.
Try to imagine this situation happening in anywhere else in this country. We all remember how the army was sent into Toronto when the mayor felt that citizens were being discomforted by a snowstorm. Compare that massive mobilization of resources with the disregard being shown for the families in Attawapiskat.
The indifference speaks volumes about the underlying reasons for this crisis. Such a state of affairs doesn't just happen. The collapse in Attawapiskat can't be blamed on bad local leadership, misplaced monies or the possibility that such communities are simply unsustainable. Attawapiskat is a community that has done its best to work with the meagre resources provided by Aboriginal Affairs.
What we are witnessing is the inevitable result of chronic under-funding, poor bureaucratic planning and a discriminatory black hole that has allowed First Nations people to be left behind as the rest of the country moves forward.
Take education for example. Not only are First Nations children systemically denied access to comparable levels of funding and resources available to non-Aboriginal students but, in the case of Attawapiskat, they don't even have access to a school. It's been 12 years since the community's grade school was shut down because children were being exposed to dangerous levels of benzene from the badly contaminated ground. Frustrated grade school children finally took matters into their own hands. They were led by 13-year-old Shannen Koostachin who launched a national campaign to shame the government into action. This fight for equal education has gone all the way to the United Nations. What other Canadian kid has to fight, organize and beg for access to clean and equitable schools?
The province of Ontario has the responsibility to ensure equitable standards for education, as well as water, fire safety and building codes citizens in Ontario. And yet, when the families of Attawapiskat look to the province for help, they are continually told that they are a federal "responsibility."
Ironically, the province doesn't take the same attitude when it comes to the immense wealth coming out of Attawapiskat's back yard. The De Beers Victor Mine is the richest diamond mine in the Western world. Just recently, the province upped the royalty tax at the mine from nine per cent to 11 per cent to ensure an even higher return for the provincial coffers. Not a dime of provincial royalty money comes back to help the community with infrastructure or development.
As for the mine itself, De Beers has signed an IBA (Impact Benefit Agreement) providing for training and job opportunities. Thanks to the provisions of the Indian Act, workers who may want to build their own house in Attawapiskat are unable to do so because they can't get a mortgage on a reserve. Even if there was a possibility of new housing for the densely overcrowded shantytown, the province hasn't bothered to turn over any land for new development. No wonder that people with jobs are leaving and heading south -- they can't stay in their home communities.
And then there's the federal government; over the last number of years, they have consistently turned a blind eye to the growing infrastructure crisis. In fairness to the new Minister John Duncan, he has committed $500,000 as an emergency measure. But given the scope of the problem, this is little more than a Band-Aid.
Presently there are five families living in tents; 19 families living in sheds without running water; 35 families living in houses needing serious repair; 128 families living in houses condemned from black mould and failing infrastructure; 118 families living with relatives (often 20 people in a small home); there are 90 people living in a construction trailer. There's a need for 268 houses just to deal with the immediate backlog of homelessness.
The $500,000 commitment from the federal government will, at most, help repair three or four abandoned and derelict buildings that would otherwise be torn down.
Fortunately, average Canadians don't share this level of bureaucratic indifference. Since the state of emergency was declared, my office has been inundated with people wanting to help. I have been contacted by school kids trying to raise money for supplies; trades people who want to come north to help in a rebuilding project; average Canadians who simply ask -- what can I do?
As inspiring as this is, it's clear that nothing will really change until there is action from the officials whose job it is to ensure that these citizens of Ontario and Canada are treated with a basic level of respect and dignity. The cold winter winds are hitting James Bay. People may die if nothing is done. In a country as rich and as just as Canada this is simple unacceptable.

UPDATE: Pressure is growing on the federal and Ontario governments to intervene in the northern Ontario reserve of Attawapiskat, sparked by what one MP is calling a "digital storm" from concerned Canadians.
 But even as corporate and other organizations rallied to the cause, Ottawa quickly denied a report Thursday that it had committed $2.5-million for housing on the troubled reserve, frustrating NDP MP Charlie Angus, who has led the charge to raise awareness about the James Bay community.

2011-11-24 "Pressure Grows On Governments To Help Attawapiskat Reserve"
[http://www.huffingtonpost.ca/2011/11/24/attawapiskat-reserve-housing-funding_n_1112145.html#undefined]
Pressure is growing on the federal and Ontario governments to intervene in the northern Ontario reserve of Attawapiskat, sparked by what one MP is calling a “digital storm” from concerned Canadians.
But even as corporate and other organizations rallied to the cause, Ottawa quickly denied a report Thursday that it had committed $2.5-million for housing on the troubled reserve, frustrating NDP MP Charlie Angus, who has led the charge to raise awareness about the James Bay community.
Earlier this week, Angus wrote a blog post on the Huffington Post Canada [http://www.huffingtonpost.ca/charlie-angus/attawapiskat-emergency_b_1104370.html] that documented his visit to the reserve, which had declared a state of emergency last month.
"I spoke with one family of six who had been living in a tiny tent for two years. I visited elderly people living in sheds without water or electricity. I met children whose idea of a toilet was a plastic bucket that was dumped into the ditch in front of their shack," the MP representing the reserve wrote in the blog post, which has been shared on Facebook more than 60,000 times [http://www.huffingtonpost.ca/charlie-angus/attawapiskat-emergency_b_1104370.html].
The chief of the Attawapiskat reserve, Theresa Spence, told the CBC that $2.5-million in federal funding was on its way [http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/sudbury/story/2011/11/24/attawapiskat-housing.html]. But Ottawa denied the report.
"We are in ongoing discussions with Attawapiskat First Nation, however we have not received a proposal for new funding to date," Michelle Yao, spokeswoman for Aboriginal Affairs and Northern Development Minister John Duncan, wrote in an e-mail to HuffPost.
"The Government recently invested approximately $500,000 to Attawapiskat First Nation so that work to renovate five vacant units could be completed as soon as possible," added Geneviève Guibert, another spokeswoman with Aboriginal Affairs and Northern Development.
 "Attawapiskat First Nation is aware of the requirements to move forward and we will continue to work directly with the Chief and Council," she added.
Angus, who had celebrated the funding earlier on Twitter, responded angrily:
[begin excerpt]
@CharlieAngusMP
#attawapiskat Feds now say they don't know anything about 2 million commitment. Stop playing games. Where is the action from feds and prov?
November 24, 2011 8:26 pm via Twitter for BlackBerry®
[end excerpt]
Angus said Thursday the fight is far from over, adding that the response has been 'unprecedented.'
"We're dealing with thousands of people calling us, people wanting to raise money, people wanting to do something," he said, pointing to calls and e-mails from across Canada, the U.S. and Europe.
Meanwhile non-profits and private companies have stepped forward to offer help.  On Thursday, The Canadian Red Cross announced that it would be sending emergency aid [http://www.thestar.com/news/canada/politics/article/1092057--canadian-red-cross-steps-in-to-help-attawapiskat-as-queen-s-park-and-ottawa-bicker].
"With the Red Cross stepping in now, we hope to start co-ordinating a short-term response, while the larger, medium to long term response will take place once we bring the other parties (Ottawa and Ontario) to the table," Angus told APTN news [http://aptn.ca/pages/news/2011/11/24/red-cross-stepping-into-attawapiskat-crisis/].
The Registered Nurses Association of Ontario issued a statement about the situation [http://www.newswire.ca/en/story/883603/people-of-attawapiskat-and-other-first-nations-communities-deserve-better-nurses-ask-prime-minister-and-ontario-premier-to-intervene-in-housing-crisis].
"These conditions are deplorable and life-threatening. A lack of proper water and sanitation is an invitation for disease and sickness. People need warm, safe shelter to be healthy and First Nations people deserve better," says RNAO president David McNeil, adding that "elected leaders need to address immediately the emergency in Attawapiskat and other First Nation communities."
GE Canada also reached out to Angus to see how they could help.
"In a country filled with so many opportunities why do the appalling conditions being experienced by the Attawapiskat First Nations continue to exist? Surely as a nation that is admired around the world for our many attributes including financial expertise, compassion, and knowledge we can solve this critical challenge?," the company wrote on its corporate blog [http://canada.geblogs.com/en/what-can-we-do-to-change-this/].
The community declared a state of emergency in October [http://www.ottawacitizen.com/news/Lives+risk+Ontario+Attawapiskat+reserve+chief+says/5735930/story.html].

A child with a facial rash from lack of clean water and sanitation.
A young mother stands in front of the tent she has shared with her husband and four children for two years.

Monday, November 21, 2011

2011-11-21 "American Indians get permanent exhibit at Alcatraz" by Meredith May from "San Francisco Chronicle" newspaper
One of the demands during the American Indian occupation of Alcatraz was to create a cultural center.
 Forty years later, the former band practice room in the cellblock basement has been transformed into a multimedia exhibit of that 19-month occupation that many consider the birth of American Indian activism.
"Some said the occupation was a failure, but look, we did get our cultural center after all. It just takes time," said Eloy Martinez, 71, one of the original protesters who attended a special preview of "We Are Still Here" on Sunday.
The photos, videos and sound recordings were compiled by faculty and students at San Francisco State University and California State University East Bay and will become part of Alcatraz's permanent exhibit. One wall of photos, taken by former San Francisco State graduate student Salvador Sanchez Strawbridge, depicts sacred fires and Aztec dancers at this year's 40-year celebration of the Alcatraz takeover. Curators spent a year interviewing descendants of the late occupation leader Richard Oakes as well as those who followed him on a boat to occupy Alcatraz.
"He would really like this," said his son Leonard Oakes, 45, who lived on the island as a small child. At the exhibit, he watched archival KPIX news footage of the occupation, which included scenes of one of his sisters running on some concrete steps.
"Living here was the most defining moment of my life," he said. "It gave me my sense of identity and taught me everything I know about the nation."
 In 1969, Oakes, a member of the Mohawk tribe who lived in San Francisco, led a group of 14 Indians to the island on a chartered boat to claim it for a new group they called Indians of All Tribes.
The island had been abandoned as a prison in 1963 and declared surplus by the government. At one time it was offered for sale for $2 million, and later a developer proposed high-end residences and a casino.
A fledging Red Power movement saw the Rock as a perfect place to stage a protest against historical occupation of American Indian land and a legacy of broken government treaties and promises to the tribes.
Soon the group grew to 800, and it issued a proclamation that has been reproduced for the exhibit, offering to pay $24 in glass beads and red cloth for Alcatraz.
"A precedent set by the white man's purchase of a similar island about 300 years ago," the document reads. "We know that $24 in trade goods for these sixteen acres is more than was paid when Manhattan island was sold, but we know that land values have risen over the years."
The movement faltered in January 1970, when Oakes' 12-year-old stepdaughter, Yvonne, died after a fall on the island. He left with a broken heart, his followers began infighting, and the government saw its chance to cut off electricity and remove a water barge that pumped fresh water into a tank on the island. A fire broke out in June and destroyed a couple of buildings, and U.S. marshals finally came in and cleared the remaining 15 activists.
The American Indians didn't get their island, their cultural center or the university they had demanded. But they had earned a new respect. Within five years, Congress passed the Indian Self-Determination and Education Assistance Act.
Until now, the Alcatraz exhibits about the American Indian history of the island have been somewhat limited, said Phil Klasky, who teaches American Indian Studies at San Francisco State.
"For tourists who come here to see Al Capone's cell, this exhibit gives a perspective told in the words of the American Indians who lived through this part of history," he said.
"So many people don't know about this part of San Francisco history," agreed Kris Road Traveler Longoria, who lived on Alcatraz with her activist parents and two sisters when she was 8. She narrated the audio portion of "We Are Still Here" and plans to return frequently to act as a docent for any tourists who wish to speak to someone who participated in the movement. Sunday was the first time in 42 years that she and her siblings returned together to the island.
"Alcatraz will always be my urban reservation," she said.

Jean Whitehorse of New Mexico, a veteran of the 1969-71 occupation, speaks at the event at Alcatraz.
Credit: Photos by Sarah Rice / Special to The Chronicle

Friday, November 18, 2011

Gitga'at [Pacific Ocean coast of Canada - British Colombia]

2011-11-18 "Tar Sands Fight Goes Beyond Keystone: A Little-Known Pipeline Plan Could Prove Disastrous for British Columbia; An award-winning documentary offers a glimpse of a little-known pipeline plan -- and the paradise it threatens" by Eric Johnson
[http://www.alternet.org/environment/153122/tar_sands_fight_goes_beyond_keystone%3A_a_little-known_pipeline_plan_could_prove_disastrous_for_british_columbia?page=entire]
Environmentalists from DC to California are praising last week's State Department decision to delay approval of the controversial Keystone XL Pipeline -- a move that could kill the project once and for all. But in Western Canada, where activists have been battling the massive tar sands development at the head of the pipeline for decades, the fight is nowhere near over.
In fact, at an impromptu sideline meetup at the APEC Summit in Hawaii this past weekend, Canadian Finance Minister Jim Flaherty scolded Pres. Barack Obama for delaying the Keystone project, and reminded him that the US is not the only oil-buyer in the world market.
The delay, Flaherty said, "may mean we may have to move quickly to ensure we can sell our oil to Asia through British Columbia." He was referring to a pipeline proposal that is extremely controversial in Canada but virtually unknown here -- the Enbridge oil company's Northern Gateway, which would pump tar sands bitumen 731 miles to the coast of northwestern British Columbia, where it would be put on supertankers destined for China.
A week earlier, on Sunday Nov. 5, while 10,000 people encircled the White House to protest the Keystone XL, judges at the prestigious Banff Mountain Film Festival were on stage giving an award to a powerful documentary about the Northern Gateway and Alberta's oil-sands strip-mines, 520 miles to the northeast.
The film, Spoil, takes place in the Great Bear Rainforest, one of the wildest pieces of land on earth. The Northern Gateway's proposed path takes it through a sensitive section of the Great Bear, and, according to the film, threatens the livelihoods of the people of the Gitga'at First Nation. It also could destroy the habitat of the Kermode bear -- an extremely rare, all-white creature also known as the spirit bear.
Trip Jennings, who directed and edited the film, says the existence of the spirit bear was a secret that the Gitga'at rarely spoke of, even among themselves. "They knew what the trappers had done for centuries," Jennings said in an interview last week. "So it became a taboo passed down from the elders--if they happened to see a spirit bear they kept it to themselves."
The Giga'at were at first reluctant to make the spirit bear the symbol of their quest to protect its (and their) home. But as Giga'at leader and guide Marvin Robinson explains in Spoil, the prospect of supertankers plying their narrow intercoastal waterways moved his community to allow the mysterious, charismatic animal to become "the icon for the whole pipeline issue."
Ian McCallister, who lives on an island in the Great Bear and heads the BC-based environmental group Pacific Wild, has worked with the Gitga'at for more than 20 years--when he first arrived, the place was officially known as the Midcoast Timber Supply Area--and it's largely through his and his wife Karen's efforts that it has won protection from logging and open-net fish-farms.
"This place is being viewed in a much different light than it was 20 years ago," McCallister says. "It was a place to extract [British Columbia's] raw resources; today it's a place to celebrate its natural beauty, its ecology, its First Nations culture. So right when we're at this turning point, making good on this promise to protect the place, we're sideswiped by this proposal to put big oil here. Living in fear of a catastrophic oil spill has become very real."
McCallister felt that the place's unparalleled wildness and beauty -- and the spirit bear -- offered a unique opportunity to attract national and attention to its plight. So he contacted Cristina Mittermeier, director of the International League of Conservation Photographers. Spoil follows an innovative artistic/political intervention developed by that organization -- a Rapid Assessment Visual Expedition (RAVE).
The brainchild of photographer Patricio Robles Gil, a RAVE involves deploying a dozen or so of the League's members -- all top-shelf wildlife shooters -- to quickly assemble a visual chronicle of a special place that is in peril. Invented in 2007, RAVEs have been staged in a dozen locales form Patagonia to the Chesapeake Bay.
The ultimate photographic target of the Great Bear RAVE was, of course, the charismatic spirit bear. And the hunt for the elusive creature creates a narrative that culminates with a riveting bit of screen magic involving Marvin Robinson and the Canadian photographer Paul Nicklen.

Nature, Art and Politics -
Most of the debate that preceded last week's State Department decision on the Keystone XL Pipeline focussed on the dangers it posed to the domestic environment: the likelihood of a spill somewhere along the pipeline's 1,700-mile US route, and specifically the threat to Nebraska's Sandhills preserve and the huge aquifer that flows beneath it. That political focus was perfectly reasonable given the goal, but it left the bigger part of the tar sands story untold.
Over the course of its 44 minutes, Spoil provides a compelling introduction to the larger issue and places it in cultural context. The film includes footage of the enormous tar-sands strip mines located in the outback of northeastern Alberta and the refineries that turn its slurry into the very crudest of crude oil--a complex frequently described as the most destructive industrial project on earth. This is contrasted with footage and images of the Great Bear Rainforest -- salmon leaping up waterfalls; moose wandering through 1,000-year-old red cedar forests; time-lapse footage of subarctic starfields set to a soundtrack of a howling wolfpack. The film also documents the efforts of the Gitga'at and their environmentalist allies, including the RAVE photographers.
Jennings gives most of the credit for the film to the Gitga'at and the ILCP shooters, joking that he and his partner, cinematographer Andy Maser, are "the ultimate paratrooping filmmakers."
"We don't do the planning or any of the hard work," he says. "We just show up at the end and point our cameras at the people who did."
While the RAVE provides a big piece of the narrative, the stars of the film are definitely Robinson and the spirit bear he has known since it was a cub--an animal he describes as a "friend." The dramatic climax comes when (spoiler alert) Robinson essentially brings Nicklen to meet the bear in its riparian hunting grounds.
Cinematographer and co-producer Andy Maser was there to capture the moment.
"It was stressful," he recalls. "We'd been there shooting for 15 days and hadn't seen one spirit bear. It was our second-to-last day. Then the planets aligned--we got a hold of Marvin, Paul was on the scene, and the spirit bear showed up."
Spoil is only the third film produced by Jennings, 29, and Maser, 26, and is definitely a breakout effort. But the two are well known in the adventure-sports world as extreme kayakers and world explorers; a Google search of either turns up eye-popping photos and videos of the paddlers plummeting off huge waterfalls or making first descents of remote rivers.
The two men began their filmmaking careers making straightforward kayaking videos. But following a 2007 journey to Papua New Guinea, documented in the 19-minute documentary "The Final Frontier," the young filmmakers pursued a new direction.
"Kayaking has taken me to a lot of pristine places," Maser says. "But to get to them you go through a lot of destruction -- places that have been ruined by bad mining or logging practices. At some point I gained an appreciation for the rivers and the ecosystems, beyond just kayaking them. We decided that it's important to protect the places we love to play."

A New Economy -
While the Gitga'at and their allies see the Keystone XL delay as a victory, they also fear that it could mean more pressure to approve the Northern Gateway project. Art Sterritt, executive director of Coastal First Nations, which has been leading the fight against the pipeline, told Canada's Globe and Mail that his coalition will redouble its efforts.
"I would expect [the US State Department decision] would increase the resolve for the oil companies to try to come west, as opposed to south. It will also increase the resolve of the federal government," Sterritt said last week. Meanwhile, Brian Topp, a writer and leading member of the progressive New Democratic Party, criticized Finance Minister Flaherty for "threatening Uncle Sam with a tighter embrace of Mao's heirs," and suggested that his country "invest in a new Western Canadian economy that is not dependent on the mining of raw bitumen. "One way or another, the world will soon act to dramatically reduce carbon emissions, and so will Canada. If the best hockey players play where the puck is going to be, then the Western Canadian energy industry -- and our economy as a whole -- need to do the same."


Spirit bear, photographed by Paul Nicklen

Monday, November 14, 2011

2011-11-14 "Forest elephant populations cut in half in protected area" by Jeremy Hance from "mongabay.com"
[http://news.mongabay.com/2011/1114-hance_forestelephants.html]
CITATION: Beyers RL, Hart JA, Sinclair ARE, Grossmann F, Klinkenberg B, et al. (2011) Resource Wars and Conflict Ivory: The Impact of Civil Conflict on Elephants in the Democratic Republic of Congo - The Case of the Okapi Reserve. PLoS ONE 6(11): e27129. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0027129
---
Warfare and poaching have decimated forest elephant populations across their range with even elephants in remote protected areas cut down finds a new study in PLoS ONE. Surveying forest elephant populations in the Okapi Faunal Reserve in the Democratic Republic of Congo, researchers have found that the population has fallen by half—from 6,439 to 3,288—over the past decade in the park.
 "Having protected areas is not enough to save elephants in times of conflict," says lead author Rene Beyers, a postdoctoral fellow at UBC's Department of Zoology. "The war in the Democratic Republic of Congo had a large impact on elephant populations, including those in parks and reserves."
 The study found that forest elephant faced the steepest declines on the park's edges and in areas where human infiltrated, and "after the war, elephant densities were relatively higher in the center of the park where they were better protected, suggesting that this area may have acted as a refuge," the authors write.
 Even though the civil was has passed, conflict persists in some places. In addition, forest elephants are still targeted for the black market ivory trade and bushmeat.
 "We've found that two factors in conservation efforts were particularly effective: a continued presence by a highly committed government field staff and continued support by international organizations—such as the Wildlife Conservation Society, Gilman International Conservation and UNESCO—made a difference for their survival," explains Beyers. The authors estimate that forest elephant populations in eastern Congo have fallen from 22,000 prior to the civil war in the mid-90s to around just 6,000 today.
 Forest elephants (Loxodonta cyclotis), those inhabiting the Congo basin, have long been considered a subspecies of Africa's more well-known savannah elephant, however a number of recent studies have argued that forest elephants are in fact a distinct species. A recent DNA study found that forest elephants were as distinct from savannah elephants as Asian elephants are from the extinct mammoth.
 "The divergence of the two species took place around the time of the divergence of the Asian elephant and woolly mammoths. The split between African savanna and forest elephants is almost as old as the split between humans and chimpanzees. This result amazed us all," co-author Michi Hofreiter, who specializes in the study of ancient DNA in the Department of Biology at York, said at the time.
 Forest elephants are generally smaller than their savannah cousins, and possess straighter tusks. Research has found that these species are vital seed dispersers for the forests of the Congo, playing an ecological role in the forest that no other species may be able to fill.

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

2011-11-01 "Investing in Indian Country — Navajo Nation to issue $120 million in A rated non-Gaming Bonds"
[http://nativeinvestment.com/2011/11/01/investing-in-indian-country-navajo-nation-to-issue-120-million-in-a-rated-non-gaming-bonds/]
The Navajo Nation will soon be issuing $120 million in non-gaming bonds.  This is big news from a Native economic development perspective for a number of reasons:
1.  The $120 million bond issuance will be the largest non-gaming issuance in years.  This underscores the fact that Indian Country is a burgeoning development force outside of the gaming space.  Bloomberg reports that the proceeds will be used for a variety of business projects, including convenience stores, shopping centers, hotels and other enterprises.
2.  The bonds will carry an A rating from Standard & Poors, which will result in an attractive rate for the Navajo Nation and security for investors.  It’s important to note that the Navajo’s A rating is higher than California.  This speaks volumes about the stability and credit-worthiness of Indian Country.
3.  The Navajo Nation intends to utilize its tribal courts in settling disputes relating to the bonds.  This is a significant milestone and confirms the predictability and legitimacy of tribal courts.  It’s an important step in affirming the sovereignty of Indian nations and our credibility in entering financial transactions with third parties.
The increased tapping of public finance markets by Indian nations in a non-gaming context, particularly with top S&P ratings, highlights the developing economic opportunities in Indian Country.  It’s fertile ground that can be leveraged for both Indian nations and outside capital providers.  In a challenging economic climate where federal and state government bond ratings are on the decline, and good deals are hard to find, Indian Country is quickly developing as a bright investment opportunity.

Saturday, October 29, 2011

Republic of Peru - Kugapakori-Nahua Reserve

2011-10-27 "Peru fires top indigenous rights official after she blocks gas project"
[http://www.firstperspective.ca/releases/3259-peru-fires-top-indigenous-rights-official-after-she-blocks-gas-project.html]
Peru has fired its top indigenous affairs official after she reversed an 'illegal' decision to allow Argentine gas giant Pluspetrol to enter land inhabited by uncontacted tribes.
Raquel Yrigoyen Fajardo has been replaced as head of Peru's government indigenous affairs unit INDEPA by a former lawyer who specializes in 'business ethics.'
Previous management at INDEPA had approved expansion plans for Pluspetrol's project, known as Camisea, and sent them directly to Peru's Ministry of Energy.
Ms Yrigoyen Fajardo posted details on Facebook about her 'abrupt departure' from INDEPA. She said there was 'no empirical basis' why proper consultation had not been sought, stressing, 'the worst thing is that this approval did not take into account the UN standards for the protection of indigenous peoples in isolation.'
Shortly after Yrigoyen was sacked, documents she submitted to INDEPA about the project's cancellation were removed from the organization's website.
Yrigoyen said her team left 'with our heads held high', and would redouble their efforts to uphold the rights of indigenous peoples.
Arturo Zambrano Gustavo Chavez will now lead INDEPA. His background is in law and business ethics. Yrigoyen urged her successors to adhere to international laws that protect tribal peoples' rights, especially ILO 169.
 Survival's Director Stephen Corry said today, 'This speaks volumes about the government's dismaying attitude to tribal peoples. It looks like it could be just another ploy to muffle the tribal voice. Yrigoyen looked set to be the most pro-Indian INDEPA head for many years. We must hope her successor will be as supportive of Indian rights.'
Around 15 tribes resist contact in the Peruvian Amazon, and several are inside the Kugapakori-Nahua Reserve where the Camisea project is based.
It had been hoped that President Ollanta Humala's recent approval of an historic law recognizing tribal peoples' right to be consulted about projects that affect them would mark a shift in the government's attitude to its indigenous peoples, especially those living in isolation.
To read this story online: http://www.survivalinternational.org/news/7834

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

2011-10-25 "Judge allows Wappos to continue quest to regain tribal status" by STEVE HART from "THE PRESS DEMOCRAT" newspaper of the San Pablo Bay in the State of California
[http://www.pressdemocrat.com/article/20111025/ARTICLES/111029706/1033/NEWS?Title=Judge-allows-Wappos-to-continue-quest-to-regain-tribal-status]
Alexander Valley’s Wappo Indians have won a victory in federal court, where a judge ruled Sonoma County can’t stop their bid to regain tribal status.
The county fears the Wappos want to build a casino, but the tribe’s leader said they won’t make a decision until they win federal recognition.
“It’s an option for the tribe,” said Wappo chairman Scott Gabaldon. “I’m not sure what the future will hold.”
The Wappos sued U.S. Interior Secretary Ken Salazar in 2009, charging the federal government acted unlawfully when it disbanded the tribe in 1959. The Wappos are asking the government to restore their tribal status, benefits and historic land rights.
The Wappos would get rights to casino gambling on restored land if their lawsuit is successful.
Sonoma and Napa counties intervened in the case last year, arguing the tribe shouldn’t remove land from their jurisdictions without local approval.
They asked the federal court to dismiss the Wappos’ case, alleging the group waited too long to file their complaint. The counties also questioned the group’s connections to the historic Wappo tribe and argued the Interior Department has no authority to recognize the tribe.
On Monday, U.S. District Court Judge Edward J. Davila denied the counties’ motion, ruling the Wappos can go forward with their claim.
The group is in settlement talks with attorneys for the Interior Department, according to court records.
It’s too soon to say whether Sonoma County will appeal the judge’s decision, said Jeffrey Brax, an attorney for the county. “We are obviously disappointed,” he said Tuesday.
But Sonoma and Napa still are parties in the dispute, and they’ll push to be included in any proposed settlement, Brax said.
“We would oppose any effort to grant official recognition without our participation,” he said.
The Wappos once occupied Napa County, eastern Sonoma County and southern Lake County, according to anthropologists. There were 8,000 Wappos in 1851, but just 340 today, the tribe said.
In 1908, the U.S. Bureau of Indian Affairs established Alexander Valley Rancheria, a 54-acre reservation for the Wappos on the Russian River northeast of Healdsburg. The federal government’s 1917 census found 10 families and 37 individuals living there. Many left in later years because of poor living conditions, Gabaldon said.
The tribe lost its federal status in 1959, after Congress passed a law aimed at privatizing California’s small Indian communities.
The Wappos’ lawsuit in U.S. District Court in San Jose alleges the former reservation land was improperly distributed and the government didn’t keep promises to improve water, roads and sanitation.

Friday, October 21, 2011

Osage Tribe [USA]

2011-10-21 "Native American tribe gets $380 million to end lawsuit" from "AFP" newswire
The United States reached a final settlement of $380 million Friday with a Native American tribe to resolve allegations of mismanagement of trust assets in a long-standing lawsuit.
The agreement with the Osage Tribe capped a 12-year dispute over the Interior Department's accounting and management of trust funds and non-monetary trust assets belonging to the Oklahoma tribe, including its mineral estate.
"This historic settlement resolves with finality long-standing trust accounting and trust management claims by the Osage Tribe," Assistant Attorney General Ignacia Moreno said after tribal officials celebrated the settlement during a ceremony at the Interior Department's Washington headquarters.
"Today, we come together in the spirit of partnership and mutual respect to recognize an important milestone on a path to a future marked by a stronger government-to-government and trust relationship."
The agreement, which was executed on October 14, came a year after the Department of Agriculture reached a separate, landmark $760 million settlement with Native American farmers and ranchers to resolve claims of discrimination in a government-administered farm loan program.
Under the latest agreement, litigation will end between the Osage Tribe and the Interior Department and the US government will disburse the monies to compensate the tribe for its claims of historical losses to its trust funds and interest income.
Both sides also plan to implement measures to better manage the tribe's trust assets, improve communications with the Interior Department and set dispute resolution provisions to avoid future lawsuits.
Interior Deputy Secretary David Hayes said the settlement "demonstrates President (Barack) Obama's commitment to reconciliation and empowerment for American Indian nations."
"This agreement marks a new beginning -- one of just reconciliation, better communication and strengthened management of tribal trust assets," he added.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Tlingit [USA - State of Alaska]

Traditional Tlingit Country map

The Traditional Tlingit Map & Tribal List is a project of the Sealaska Heritage Foundation, the Sitka Tribe of Alaska, and the Alaska Federation of Natives with grant funding provided by the National Science Foundation. For information on obtaining a copy of the map, contact:  Andy Hope, Southeast Regional Coordinator [Box 21681, Juneau, AK 99801] [907-586-1690] [andy@ankn.uaf.edu]


2011-05-22 "Exclusionary Collectivism and Clan Property"
[http://lingitlatseen.wordpress.com/2011/05/21/exclusionary-collectivism/]
A recent article in The Economist highlights what happens when two social concepts, alien to one another, compete in the political realm.
[begin excerpt]
"Group rights vs individual rights – Me, myself and them" [http://www.economist.com/node/18681796?story_id=18681796]
WHEN one category of citizens is singled out for privileged treatment, are the rights of others infringed? Phil Eidsvik, a Canadian salmon-fisher, thinks the answer is yes. He hopes his country’s newly re-elected prime minister, Stephen Harper, recalls a pledge he made five years ago: to oppose “racially divided fisheries programmes”, in other words, giving special fishing rights to indigenous groups.
But given the storm that Mr Harper’s comment provoked—he was accused of stoking white nativism—he is likely to proceed cautiously. And legal moves are now afoot to broaden the rights of indigenous fishermen. At present Canada upholds the rights of aboriginal groups to engage in traditional, subsistence fishing; hence regulators often open a fishery to a particular indigenous group for a limited time before a commercial catch begins.
[end excerpt]
The management of Pacific Northwest, British Columbia and Alaskan Fisheries is a complex one, for obvious reasons. Wild salmon represent a resource that is not easily managed by western notions of private property rights, so they are managed as public property of states and nation states. The Economist article casts the issue of Native subsistence and fishing rights as one of affirmative action, “correcting past wrongs by allocating a disproportionate share of jobs or educational places to groups that apparently need a leg up.”
Among the world’s liberal democracies, Canada stands out for the entitlements it grants to one group of citizens and for its open acknowledgment that there are hard trade-offs between individual rights and group rights. From South Africa to India, many countries have “affirmative action” policies, with the aim of correcting past wrongs by allocating a disproportionate share of jobs or educational places to groups that apparently need a leg up. But critics of the Canadian system say it goes further; it creates two levels of citizen by excluding indigenous people from conservation rules, and by exempting tribes from the accountability rules that other groups must follow. It is one thing to offer benefits to citizens who are felt to need them, another to water down the principle of equal citizenship.
We Alaskan Natives, First Nations and American Indians should view it not as affirmative action or even an issue of subsistence versus commercial resource use. Instead it should be viewed as an issue of territorial tribe and clan sovereignty. That is, as a clash of two fundamentally different concepts of rights, our clan collectivism and clan property rights versus the western notion of nation states and public property.
Under our old clan system, the right to gather resources in a particular area was one that an individual was born with. Fishery management was a localized, decentralized affair that required the development of a complex culture, notions of clan property rights, and an intricate web of inter and intra-tribal social interaction and customs. For an example of what I’m talking about, check out the interactive map below, which shows the inter-tribal divisions of traditional Tlingit Country along with the territorial boundaries of the Haida, Tsimshian, and Eyak. You can see that the entire Tlingit Nation is divided into sub-tribal territories, themselves further subdivided into clan and sub clan territories.
This system of clearly defined sub-clan, clan and tribe based property rights represents a system of natural resource management that was elegant and well suited to the regions most productive resource; salmon. Overfishing your own clan’s territorial waters meant feast this year, and famine next year. The better solution was to maintain a self imposed catch limit to ensure the prosperity of your clan. Overfishing also meant angering neighboring clans, as their prosperity was tied to how many salmon your clan takes before the run makes it to their territory. Hence the tribe at the mouth of a river may find their fish traps destroyed by logs sent down river by the tribe from the headwaters of the river if they didn’t allow enough salmon upstream. The complex web of common cultural ties that defines tribes of the Pacific Northwest encouraged cooperation and peace brokering between clans rather than war, though war certainly did break out from time to time.
It should be noted here that such a system of territorial clan resource management is not peculiar to Native Americans. The white lobsterment of Maine developed a similar “clan” system in Maine.
[begin excerpt]
Lobstering History From the Gulf of Maine Research Institute.
[http://www.gma.org/lobsters/allaboutlobsters/lobsterhistory.html]
Lobstering territories -
Maine lobstermen have traditionally protected their share of the resource through lobstering territories. In any port, they have an informal, often unspoken agreement about where each member of the fishing community may lay his traps. All the members of one community even lay their strings of traps in one direction, such as north to south, so they don’t tangle their lines in someone else’s gear.
Youngsters who want to enter the fishery may start with a few traps or work as a “sternman,” baiting traps and carting gear, for one of the established fishermen. Eventually he or she will be allowed to take over his or her own territory after a suitable apprenticeship. Should an interloper “from away” try to enter the game, he may at first find his gear has been moved or a half-hitch knot tied into his buoy line. If he doesn’t get the hint, his traps may be severed from the line. (One string may easily link 10 traps costing $55 each.)

Lobster gangs -
James Acheson, an anthropologist at the University of Maine, has studied Maine’s closely-knit fishing communities for many years.He has found there is a hierarchy of fishermen, based on an individual’s skill and family ties, which he calls “lobster gangs.” The gangs claim and defend fishing territory which not only ensures a continued livelihood for its members, but conserves the limited resources from overexploitation. (For more information, read Lobster Gangs of Maine, by James Acheson, 1988: University Press of New England, Hanover, NH.)
[end excerpt]
The territorial clan system of Pacific Northwest Tribes and the harbor gang system of white lobstermen in Maine represent a form of exclusionary collectivism. Those who are a part of a clan or gang are granted the right to harvest clan and gang common resources. The clan or gang protects its resources, its rights and the rights of its members at a very low and decentralized level through customs, repeated social interaction and war when necessary. The system of resource management used by nation states is completely at odds with exclusionary collectivism, clan property and, as a result, subsistence. It usurps localized management and control and brings it to a state and federal level. It treats these resources as public goods of the nation state and controls access from a very high, centralized level. From this level, the local fishermen is imposed upon with a myriad of catch limits, size limits, limits on tackle, gear and method, seasons and permitting that inflates the cost of fishing and mandates high levels of capital investment. We also get a completely different process for deciding who gets access to which resources, as exemplified in The Economist article.
When we speak of tribal sovereignty, we should think of what exactly that means. Collective clan ownership of resources has been our way for centuries. It is a proven method of resource management, and it is one that we can and should pursue if we are serious about defending our fishing rights in our own lands. Do our rights to fish our territorial clan waters come from a state or federal government? Or have those rights always been there for us, ever since our ancestors first dipped a net in the Chilkat, Shtax’héen and T’aaku rivers centuries ago?

Mishewal-Wappo Tribe [USA - California]

2011-10-19 "Justin-Siena unveils new Braves logo" by Isabelle Dills from "Napa Valley Register" newspaper
[http://napavalleyregister.com/news/local/justin-siena-unveils-new-braves-logo/article_028ceef6-fa13-11e0-8e34-001cc4c03286.html]
Students at Justin-Siena High School, home of the Braves, got the first glimpse of their new American Indian mascot during a special assembly Tuesday in the school gym.
Student leaders and members of the local native Wappo tribe helped unveil the  school logo, which features an illustration of the Brave in a cross-armed stance. The costumed mascot will make its first appearance during this week’s homecoming festivities — the exact date is being kept a surprise for students.
“Intimidating” is how several students described the mascot, which reportedly bears an authentic likeness of a Wappo.
“I love the design,” 15-year-old Payton Orr said.
Orr and other students said they liked that their mascot was a person rather than an animal.  
“A ‘Brave’ is harder to define,” 14-year-old Sophie Miyasaki said. “It makes us unique.”
Justin-Siena has been without a mascot since the mid 1990s when administrators — worried that the image was offensive — did away with the private Catholic school’s original Native American mascot. 
Mishewal-Wappo Tribal Chairman Scott Gabaldon attended Tuesday’s assembly to give his support of the new mascot.
“I always felt if it was done in a respectful way; it can be honorable,” Gabaldon said to the students.
He also helped educate students on how to be respectful of the Wappo tribe during school events.
The tribe did not hold pow-wows that involved drinking or drugs, nor did they use tomahawks, he said. Gabaldon also advised students not to do the type of chanting that involves hitting their mouths, creating a “wah-wah-wah” sound.
“It’s really derogatory and we ask that you refrain from that at school functions,” Gabaldon said. “If you see someone doing it, I hope you will correct them. Consider it your duty to correct them out of respect to the school and the tribe.” 
During Tuesday’s assembly, students Lupe Padilla-Aguayo, 17, and Garrett Adair, 18, presented pictures and historical information about the Wappo in terms of customs, traditions and dress.
Padilla-Aguayo and Adair were among the student leaders who researched the traditions and customs of the Wappo tribe to help create the mascot. The students later presented their research to designthis!, a local print and web graphic design studio that created the logo.
One of the biggest design challenges was the Wappo’s “unique” style of headdress, known as a flicker, said Eileen Mize, Justin-Siena’s director of communications. The flicker has small feathers that border the piece as well as a distinctive feathered quill, she said. In the logo, the headdress has six feathers that stick out from the sides, closely resembling the traditional Wappo flicker.
Many different poses for the mascot were considered before deciding on the cross-armed stance, said Kris Yumul of designthis!. One of those poses included the mascot holding a spear, he said. 
“We realized we didn’t need to be so literal,” Yumul said. “We liked the cross-armed stance the most because of its quiet confidence.”

Sunday, October 9, 2011

2011-10-09 "14 Shamans Murdered in Peru" by Nancy R.
Fourteen traditional healers have been brutally murdered in Peru in the past 20 months, allegedly at the urging of a local mayor. The Peruvian government has sent a team of investigators to look into the incidents. While 14 shaman have disappeared, the bodies of only seven have been retrieved so far; the indigenous healers were shot, stabbed or hacked to death by machete.

Protestant Sect Members Suspected -
The prosecutor’s office of Alto Amazonas province stated that the alleged murders were carried out by a man known locally at the “witch hunter,” at the behest of his brother, the mayor of the town of Balsa Puerto. A Peruvian government adviser and expert on Amazon cultures alleges that both are members of a Protestant sect that claims shamans are possessed by demons and must be eliminated [http://www.peruviantimes.com/05/report-14-shamans-killed-in-loreto-region/13843/]. The Peruvian Times reports that the shamans had been planning to form an association to share their knowledge.

Irrecoverable Loss -
The shamans’ deaths go beyond a brutal crime to represent a loss of unrecoverable knowledge. NGO Amazon Watch’s Peru program director Gregor MacLennan is quoted in the Guardian: “The death of these shamans represents not just a tragic loss of life, but the loss of a huge body of knowledge about rainforest plants and the crucial role shamans play in traditional medicine and spiritual guidance in indigenous communities.”
As the U.S. government marks Columbus Day on October 10, it is disheartening that the oppression of indigenous people that began with the conquerors’ arrival back in 1492 continues to this day.

Monday, October 3, 2011

Tataria in Central Eurasia

2011-10-03 "Tatar Nationalist Leader Warned Over 'Extremist' Views"
[http://www.rferl.org/content/tatar_nationalist_leader_warned_over_extremist_views/24347935.html]
CHALLY, Russia -- A prominent Tatar nationalist leader has been taken to the local prosecutor's office and warned against propagating "extremism," RFE/RL's Tatar-Bashkir Service reports.
Fauziya Bayramova is the chairwoman of the self-proclaimed pan-Tatar Milli Madjlis (National Assembly), which positions itself as a parliament uniting all Tatars living in Russia and other countries around the world.
The Milli Madjlis press service told journalists that Federal Security Service (FSB) personnel went on October 3 to Bayramova's apartment in Chally, Tatarstan's second-largest city, while she was preparing for a working trip to Kazakhstan.
The press service said Bayramova was forced into a car and taken to the Chally city prosecutor's office, where the prosecutor's aide, Ilshat Farkhetdinov, warned her about the possible consequences of spreading extremism.
The local prosecutor considers "extremist" views Bayramova expressed in recent articles posted to the internet entitled "We are Tatars, not Russians" and "The Heritage of the Tatar People."
Bayramova said she told Farkhetdinov she does not think her articles contain any calls for extremism. She said she simply expressed her views regarding "my nation's rights that were taken away by the empire." Bayramova also said she will continue to defend the rights of the Tatar nation, and "if you think my death will shut my mouth, just know that my books will continue doing what I have been doing, and what I will always be doing."
Bayramova has been warned before by police and security officials about her statements and articles calling for the preservation of Tatar culture, language, and identity.

Photograph showing Tatar nationalist leader Fauziya Bayramova

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Shuar [Wampis] people of Central Andes mountains in Abya Yala [South America]

2011-09-21 "Indigenous people blockade river against 'murderous' oil company" by Jeremy Hance from "mongabay.com"
[http://news.mongabay.com/2011/0921-hance_talisman_blockade.html]
Over the weekend more than 100 Shuar indigenous people, also known as Wampis, blockaded the Morona River in Peru in an effort to stop exploratory oil drilling by Canadian-owned Talisman Energy. The blockade in meant to prevent oil drilling in an area of the Peruvian Amazon known as Block 64, home to four indigenous tribes in total and the Pastaza River Wetland Complex, a Ramsar wetland site.
 "We do not consider the oil company as a creator of jobs but instead as murderous, criminal and abusive. We do not want Talisman in the Wampis territory," a statement from the Shuar reads pointing to Talisman Energy's track record in Peru as well as alleged human rights abuses in Sudan during the nation's civil war. The company sold off its Sudan holdings in 2003 after international criticism, while a lawsuit in the US against Talisman was thrown out due to sufficient admissible evidence. The US Supreme Court refused to hear the case.
The Shuar blockade comes at a time when the new Peruvian administration is working to repair battered relations with indigenous groups. Earlier this month, Peru's new president Ollanta Humala signed into law a measure requiring that industry consult indigenous groups prior to any activities on their land, including oil drilling. Although the law does not go so far as to give indigenous groups a 'veto' over industrial activities on their land.
 "What we want to do with this law is have the voice of indigenous people be heard, and have them treated like citizens, not little children who are not consulted about anything," Humala said at the signing.
 The Shuar indigenous people contend that Talisman Energy had "not completed the prior process of consultation" before drilling on their land. Talisman drilling in Block 64 began in 2004.
 Despite this, the CEO of Talisman, John Manzoni, has said the company will "only operate in areas where it has consent and support from local communities."
 According to the World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF) the Pastaza River Wetland Complex—also located in Block 64—is the world's largest Ramsar wetland site in the Amazon, exceeding 3.8 million hectares. Local people depend on the area for fishing and water.
 "Talisman must respect the decision of the indigenous people living in and around Block 64 and halt oil exploration," said Gregor MacLennan, Peru Program Coordinator with indigenous rights NGO Amazon Watch, in a press release. "The Shuar, together with the Achuar and other indigenous groups, are sending a clear message that they do not want to risk contaminating important watersheds and their ancestral hunting and fishing grounds by allowing oil development to go ahead.
 Around 70 percent of the Peruvian Amazon has been opened for oil and gas exploration and drilling under an aggressive industrialization of the Amazon by previous Peruvian president Alan Garcia. The opening up of so much of the Amazon to exploitative activities has led to numerous conflicts between large companies and indigenous people. The situation came to a head in 2009. A standoff between indigenous protestors and government police ended with 23 police officers and at least 10 protesters dead, though indigenous people say that bodies of protesters were dumped in rivers to hide the numbers killed.

Oil and gas blocks in the western Amazon. Solid yellow indicates blocks already leased out to companies. Hashed yellow indicates proposed blocks or blocks still in the negotiation phase. Protected areas shown are those considered strictly protected by the IUCN (categories I to III). Image modified from Finer M, Jenkins CN, Pimm SL, Keane B, Ross C, 2008 Oil and Gas Projects in the Western Amazon: Threats to Wilderness, Biodiversity, and Indigenous Peoples. PLoS ONE 3(8): e2932. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0002932

Thursday, September 15, 2011

2011-09-15 "Scientists shocked by behavior of rare gray whale" by DAN JOLING - Associated Press
ANCHORAGE, Alaska (AP) — Scientists tracking a rare western Pacific gray whale were shocked last winter when the endangered animal left the Asian coast, crossed the Bering Sea and swam south along Alaska, British Columbia and the Pacific Northwest coasts.
Researchers are back in Russia to see whether the feat will be repeated by other Pacific gray whales.
A science team coordinated by the International Whaling Commission has attached satellite tags to five more of the highly endangered whales, according to an announcement by Oregon State University, which is taking part in the study. Researchers hope to tag 10 more whales before field work concludes.
Only about 130 western Pacific gray whales remain and little is known of their winter habits. They spend summers near Russia's Sahkalin Island. They face threats from offshore petroleum development, according to environmental groups.
Researchers last October were limited by foul weather to placing a cigar-size satellite tag on just one whale on the last day of field work. The 13-year-old male was dubbed "Flex." It spent more than two months feeding near Sakhalin Island before moving across the Sea of Okhotsk to the west coast of the Kamchatka Peninsula.
On Jan. 3, to the surprise of researchers, it began swimming steadily east across the Bering Sea. Eighty miles north of Alaska's Pribilof Islands, the whale turned south, and swam between Aleutian Islands into the Gulf of Alaska. It continued southeast to shallow coastal waters off Washington and Oregon. Its last confirmed location was Feb. 4 off Siletz Bay, Ore., where researchers believe the satellite tag fell off. The whale had traveled 5,335 miles over 124 days.
Bruce Mate, director of the Marine Mammal Institute at Oregon State University, told The Associated Press in January that little was known about the winter habits of western Pacific gray whales. One hypothesis was that they swam south down the Asian coast to the southeast China Sea. Tracking one to North America waters was "surprising everybody," he said in January.
Marine researchers later determined that Flex had crossed the Pacific at least once before. Researchers sent a photo of Flex to Cascadia Research Collective, a scientific and education organization based in Olympia, Wash., which matched the photo to a whale photographed in 2008 off Canada's Vancouver Island.
Mate is again part of the research team and is leading the tagging portion. He said by e-mail Wednesday that weather will again be a factor in how many whales are tagged.
"We are having weather issues for sure (one day on the water in the last 8 days)," he wrote. "It will probably get worse as we continue, just because it is September, but we will not stay more than another 9 days."
The effort also includes scientists from the A.N. Severtsov Institute of Ecology and Evolution of the Russian Academy of Sciences and the U.S. National Marine Fisheries Service.
Like last year, the public will be able to track tagged whales through weekly updates posted in English at http://mmi.oregonstate.edu/Sakhalin2011 and in Russian at http://kit.sevin-expedition.ru/news/news_69.html . A tag on one whale was not completely attached, according to the Oregon State website, and may have fallen off.

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Elem Pomo Tribe of the Pomo Nation [USA - State of California]

2011-09-14 "Final Decision on Rattlesnake Island Development by Lake County Board of Supervisors Violates California Environmental Quality Act; Elem Pomo Call for Boycott of Nady Electronics" by Batsulwin Brown
LAKEPORT, CA –The Lake County Board of Supervisors issued a long-awaited final decision at the County Planning Commission hearing held last Tuesday, September 6th. The BOS voted 3-2 not to complete an Environmental Impact Report (EIR), which would have called for a focused study of the archaeological and cultural resources located on Rattlesnake Island.
During the hearing, the board permitted the attorneys and hired anthropologist of wealthy businessman John Nady to respond for four hours to testimony provided two weeks ago. Closing statements by Nady’s attorneys followed, with little time for any response by representatives of the Elem Pomo tribe, who seek to protect their sacred site from becoming Nady’s vacation home.
Evidence presented during the hearing clarified that Nady’s archaeologist had not 'consulted' with the Elem, as was previously claimed, nor had he been asked 'not to remove artifacts'.  According to California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA) requirements, consultation must take place if there is a possibility of the presence of human remains. “When a significant resource is involved, CEQA requires that the permitting agency first consider project alternatives, which will allow the "resources to be preserved in place and left in an undisturbed state" (CEQA sec. 21083.2 [b]).”
Dr. John Parker, Archeologist noted, “In this case, the county has decided to approve the project without proper mitigation measures. By approving the project with only "monitoring" they are saying that they will not formulate mitigation measures until something "significant" is discovered during construction…Monitoring is a way of "deferring" mitigation to some later date, which is not allowed by law”.
Supervisor Comstock, the Lake County Board Supervisor who cast the deciding vote, commented, “I'm a huge proponent of private property rights.” He added. “My family's been living in Lake County for 150 years- you can't get more native than that”.
Statements made by Nady’s party included character assassinations of Elem Tribal member Jim Brown, who was portrayed as 'unreliable’. Jim Brown responded, “I don’t need three attorneys to manipulate what I want to say.”  In his closing statement, Brown continued, “This [vote] is an embarrassment to your own planning department who made the recommendation; so it’s saying to them they’re not anybody. We need to stay together and make sure our laws are there for all of us, not just those that have the attorneys and money to manipulate.”
A request by Supervisor Rushing to follow up with an ethnographic report was ignored. The final vote was 3-2 in favor of the appeal to allow Nady's egregious development plans, which can begin within 45 days of the September 6th hearing. Nady can receive the building permit as early as November.
Nady’s development endeavor directly upon the village site and ceremonial grounds of the Elem Pomo, documented to be between 6-14,000 years, is not his first effort to desecrate sacred grounds. Nady’s company headquarters are located atop the Emeryville Shell mound, the largest Ohlone Shell mound in the bay area. In 2000, local bay area Native community members and allies attempted to block Nady’s development of the Emeryville Shell mound site, documented to be over 3,500 years old. Despite major community opposition at Emeryville City Council meetings, Nady was successful in his attempts to coerce council members to vote in his favor.
Due to his flagrant disrespect for local Indigenous communities, musicians & others of an electronic ilk are being asked to boycott NADY electronics http://www.nady.com/.
Help to protect the Environmental & Cultural Integrity of Rattlesnake Island. For more information and updates about efforts to Save the Island visit:
http://www.elemmodun.org
Stay tuned for further details about an upcoming protest at Nady Electronics.

###

The Headquarters of Nady Electronics is located at 6701 Shellmound Street
Emeryville, CA 94608-1023. www.nady.com

Urge the Lake County Board of Supervisors to reverse its decision against an EIR for Rattlesnake Island

E-mail:   rbrown@co.lake.ca.us, anthonyf@co.lake.ca.us, deniser@co.lake.ca.us,  jeff_s@co.lake.ca.us, jcomstock@co.lake.ca.us
Fax: (707) 263-2207
Telephone:  (707) 263-2368
Mail:  255 N Forbes St # 109 Lakeport, CA 95453-4759