Archive for the ‘Indigenous people’ Category

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Thursday’s Native News Update with host Paul DeMain is a great recap of this week’s Tribal Nations Conference. If you missed the coverage throughout the summit, this is a great rundown of the happenings there.

DeMain first updates viewers on the announcement that the U.S. will consent to the U.N. Declaration of Rights of Indigenous People, the big news story coming out of the conference.

Then, For the majority of the session, DeMain is joined by Native writer and blogger Mark Trahant.

Trahant has been in D.C. for the summit. Although many working group sessions were closed to the press, Trahant says that the number of cabinet officials in attendance was significant.

“There is no precedent” for that type of well-attended gathering, Trahant said.

James Cameron may have raked in the dough with his movie “Avatar,” depicting a fictional paradise called Pandora – but he took it in the shorts from indigenous people, who found his Na’vi characters a caricature – and a simple-minded one that that – of Native people. (See previous Buffalo Post entry.)

Instead of getting defensive, Cameron got busy. He’s announced that his next film – in 3-D, of course – will focus on the fight by indigenous people (real ones) against Brazil’s giant Belo Monte dam project, which would destroy much of their lands.

In the video above, titled “A Message from Pandora,” Cameron talks about the project.

“It was heartbreaking,” he says, “Here were people whose lives were going to be altered irrevocably. … For these people, it’s the end of their world as they know it.”

Gwen Florio

Swift Sanchez, a sergeant with the Suquamish Tribal Police, returns to her vehicle while on patrol on the Suquamish Reservation in Washington state. Across the country, police, prosecutors and judges have been wrestling with the vexing question for decades. (AP photo)

Swift Sanchez, a sergeant with the Suquamish Tribal Police, returns to her vehicle while on patrol on the Suquamish Reservation in Washington state. Across the country, police, prosecutors and judges have been wrestling with the vexing question for decades. (AP photo)

Question of race complicates crime-fighting on Indian reservations
Today, the Associated Press examines what it calls “the complex legal system used to mete out justice on American Indian reservations – a system that relies largely on race to determine jurisdiction, and then charges police and prosecutors with the sometimes delicate task of determining a person’s race.” As BJ Jones, director of the Tribal Judicial Institute at The University of North Dakota law school, tells the AP’s Sudhin Thanawala, “The whole flaw in the system is that it’s premised upon being an Indian defendant or Indian victim, and yet we have no clear-cut definition of who an Indian is.”

Art through American – and Native American – eyes
The title of a show at the Montclair Art Museum in New Jersey, “Engaging With Nature: American and Native American Artists (A.D. 1200-2004),” says it all. The show features works by, among others, Tewa-Hopi artist Dan Namingha and Kay WalkingStick, who is Cherokee-Winnebago and, says the New York Times, suggests “a different set of possibilities” when it comes to looking at the natural world.


Nick Claxton (left) taught a paddle making course at the University of Victoria. (Photo for Indian Country Today by Hans Tammemagi)

Nick Claxton (left) taught a paddle making course at the University of Victoria. (Photo for Indian Country Today by Hans Tammemagi)

Victoria University sees huge growth in indigenous programs
On the good-news front, there’s a story from Indian Country Today on the growth of Native programs, student enrollment and staff at Victoria University. Hans Tammemagi writes that “By about 2000, a critical mass was reached, and that has grown so today there are 17 full-time Native staff and about 30 part-time or sessional staff. The enrollment of Native students is a good measure of the University of Victoria’s success. A decade ago, there were 72 indigenous students. Today, there are approximately 750, of which 100 are in post-graduate programs.” Emblematic of that growth is the First Peoples House, an architecturally stunning replica of a longhouse that is home to many of the programs.

Saving Canada’s indigenous languages should be campaign priority
Andrea Bear Nicholas, who chairs Native Studies at St. Thomas University in New Brunswick, Canada, has a piece published on the CBC website about the importance of saving Native languages, something she considers “essential to our survival as First Nations.” And Bear Nicholas, who is Maliseet, suggests that New Brunswick follow the lead of the Yukon and Northwest territories by passing legislation that protects indigenous languages


Whew! Shiprock Navajo Fair is still on

The Navajo Times brings the news that despite controversy over a lack of transparency concerning financial data, the Shiprock Navajo Fair will go on as planned the first weekend of October. The fair draws as many as 120,000 people. “Nobody can stop it,” fair board vice president Charley P. Joe tells the Times’ Erny Zah.

Gwen Florio

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School can’t oust Lipan Apache boy over braids
The 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals has ruled that the Needville (Texas) Independent School District can’t punish a Lipan Apache boy for wearing his hair in braids. Kenney Arocha and Michelle Betenbaugh had argued that their son’s hair, which has never been cut, conforms to their Native American religious beliefs, according to the Houston Chronicle, here.

Federal disaster declaration for Rocky Boy’s Reservation
President Barack Obama yesterday declared the Rocky Boy’s Reservation a disaster area, making it eligible for federal money for repairs. Flooding on the reservation broke water lines, leaving hundreds of members of the Chippewa Cree tribe without water for two weeks and causing millions of dollars in damage, according to this Associated Press story.

Navajo Nation Supreme Court says no third term for president

The Navajo Supreme Court has denied President Joe Shirley Jr.’s quest for a third consecutive term, the AP reports here. “I respect the decision of our Supreme Court justices,” Shirley said. “They had the final say. They decided and now I know that this is the end of it.”

Report details abuse of indigenous people in Peru

A report by the Missionary Indigenous Council takes a look at the treatment of indigenous people in Brazil. The report shows they are dealt abuse by police and landowners, lack proper nutrition and health care, and crowded out of their homelands by vast public works such as the Belo Monte hydroelectric dam in the state of Para. Read more in this Agence France-Presse story.

New Nez Perce National Historic Trail map released
A new map of the Nez Perce (Nee-Me-Poo) National Historic Trail is now available at Forest Service and National Park Service offices and online through Discover Your Northwest, the National Forest Store and the USGS Store, according to the Char-Koosta News, here. The map details locations along the 1,170 mile trail. Or, you can see it online here.

Aboriginal warrior’s remains, once displayed in museum, are reburied
A 19th century Aboriginal warrior named Yagan whose severed head once was displayed in British museum, has been reburied with proper ceremony in western Australia. The Associated Press reports here that the private ceremony was held yesterday by the Noongar Tribe, and coincides with the opening of the Yagan Memorial Park outside of Perth.

Gwen Florio

Tatanka Means’ inviting looks captured in the 21st Century Skins Native American Men’s Calendar might be the best Christmas gift under the tree. Means will make an appearance on the ABC show "Scoundrels." (Photos courtesy of Mihio Manus/Viewfinder Photography)

Oglala Lakota actor Tatanka Means to star in ‘Scoundrels’ episode

Rapid City native Tatanka Means (photo above, courtesy of Mihio Manus/Viewfinder Photography) will guest star in the second episode of the new ABC show “Scoundrels,” set to air tonight. Means, an Oglala Lakota tribal member, is the son American Indian Movement activist and actor Russell Means. The Rapid City (S.D.) Journal has the story here.

Seneca Nation – ‘We Are Not a Piggy Bank’

The Seneca Nation isn’t alone in protesting New York’s law, passed last week, that will tax cigarette purchases by non-Natives in Native-owned smoke shops. The Jamestown Post-Journal chronicles the opposition here. Tribal leader J.C. Senca says that “We are not a piggy bank the state can break open to grab extra cash.” Some New York assemblymen also object, saying the new law will drive business from their area.

Navajo Nation awaits decision on whether president can seek third term

Ballots won’t be printed for Navajo Nation elections until there’s a decision as to whether President Joe Shirley Jr. can seek a third term, the Navajo Times reports here. The Navajo Board of Election Commissioners had ruled Shirley’s run invalid, but Shirley has appealed.

Left-wing South American leaders back indigenous rights

The presidents of Ecuador, Venezuela and Bolivia have signed a declaration to promote indigenous rights. But even as the leaders met, Ecuador’s main indigenous organization protested, saying it had not been consulted, according to the BBC, here. The group, Conaie – the Confederation of Indigenous Nationalities of Ecuador – represents about 40 percent of Ecuador’s population.

Australian indigenous group wants stripper deported

Desecration of sites sacred to indigenous people appears to be a problem the world over. According to ABC News, here, a powerful indigenous group in Australia is seeking the deportation of a French woman who was filmed stripping down to a bikini atop the sacred rock of Uluru. The woman described her actions as a “tribute” to aboriginal culture.

Gwen Florio

Here‘s an expanded report, by Angela Brandt of the Helena (Mont.) Independent Record, on news we posted yesterday:

'It's a wonderful recognition for the center,' says Indian Law Resource Center executive director Robert T. Coulter. (Eliza Wiley/Helena Indpendent Record)

'It's a wonderful recognition for the center,' says Indian Law Resource Center executive director Robert T. Coulter. (Eliza Wiley/Helena Indpendent Record)

The Indian Law Resource Center is one of three recipients sharing the 2010 Justice Prize from the Peter and Patricia Gruber Foundation.

“It’s a wonderful recognition for the center,” said Robert T. Coulter, executive director of the ILRC, which has its headquarters in Helena. “It was a gift – a wonderful gift.”

The $500,000 prize honors organizations and individuals for championing the rights of historically oppressed groups through advocacy, legal reform and the development of international law.

Among other issues, the ILRC was a leading participant in the effort to promote the United Nations’ adoption of its Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples.

“We’ll use (the award) to carry on the work. We have so much still to do,” Coulter said.

Read the rest of this entry »

Actress Q’orianka Kilcher, who played the part of Pocahontas in “The New World,” was arrested Tuesday (see earlier post, here) as she protested the pending visit of Peruvian President Alan Garcia. Specifically, Kilcher – whose father is a Peruvian India – objects to the Peruvian government’s people of its indigenous people. Thanks to Derek Wall for the alert on this update.

Gwen Florio

Q'orianka Kilcher as Pocahontas in "The New World"

Actress Q’orianka Kilcher, who played the part of Pocahontas in “The New World,” was arrested at the White House Tuesday after tying herself to the fence in a protest over the pending visit of Peruvian President Alan Garcia.

Kilcher’s father is a Peruvian Indian, the Los Angeles Times reports here. Her mother, Saskia, was arrested along with her. The Times writes:

    The actress was charged with disorderly conduct, her mother with defacing government property; both women are due in Washington, D.C., Superior Court on June 9.

    The star is no stranger to activism — reports say just last week Kilcher visited the Peruvian capital of Lima to support Alberto Pizango, an indigenous leader. She also sat with Bolivian president Evo Morales at an April political rally on climate change.


Gwen Florio

The Native American and Indigenous Studies Association began its international meeting in Tucson last night, despite calls to boycott conventions in Arizona as a means of protesting that state’s new anti-immigration law and ethnic studies ban.

But as Tohono O’odham Nation activist Mike Wilson tells KVOA, here, “If we had boycotted this conference, once again the Native voice would have been silenced.”

Robert Warrior, association president, says members of the group, most of whom are educators, are most concerned about the ethnic studies law:

    Robert Valencia, vice chairman of the Pascua Yaqui tribe, says, “Under ethnic studies is Native American studies. And we need to be able to support the intent of Native American studies for our children.” Valencia says about 1,000 Pascua Yaqui students attend schools in the Tucson Unified School District.

    Participants also believe what’s happening in Arizona has worldwide implications. Alice Te Punga Somerville came to the conference from New Zealand. She says, “We can see there are connections between the issue here and what might happen in our domestic politics or in other places around the world.”

Tomorrow, U.S. Rep. Paul Grijalva of Arizona, who backs a boycott, is to address the conference.

Gwen Florio

The notice for the Indigenous Peoples Protest Against SB 1070 and HB 2281 is up on the Censored News indigenous peoples’ blog, here.

Those are the new Arizona laws regarding immigration and ethnic studies.

(WonkRoom photo)

(WonkRoom photo)

As the notice for the protest reads:

    This securing [of the U.S. border] includes and is not limited to a physical wall to be made on Indigenous land (Tohono O’odham/Lipan Apache to name a few.) The state’s power to waive pre-existing laws (such as NEPA, NAGPRA) in the name of security, directly attacks Indigenous autonomy/sovereignty. The “political” solution will bring forced removal and relocation of the many Indigenous nations that span “their” borders by means of a reinforced physical barrier. In addition, the peoples who will be primarily targeted for racial profiling will be Indigenous peoples on both sides of the U.S/Mexico border.

The protest is set for 11 a.m.- 1 p.m. at U.S. Immigration Court in Tucson.

The post on Censored News has more more details and contact information.

Gwen Florio