Saturday, October 29, 2011

Republic of Peru - Kugapakori-Nahua Reserve

2011-10-27 "Peru fires top indigenous rights official after she blocks gas project"
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:

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
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] []

2011-05-22 "Exclusionary Collectivism and Clan Property"
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" []
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.
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
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 []. 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"
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