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    Amazon Awakening: limited tourism as a means to preserve and protect Achuar land and way of life

    Achuar boysFrom The New York Times: The Achuar, for more than a decade, have been using limited tourism as a means to preserve and protect their land and way of life, a departure from the typical Amazon tourism, which tends to package wildlife viewing with a certain cultural voyeurism. Numbering around 6,000 on an ancestral territory of nearly two million acres in southeastern Ecuador, the Achuar people were among the last of the country's rain forest tribes to be contacted by outsiders. Recognizing a need for outside allies, they met with a group of Americans to form the Pachamama Alliance, which for the last 15 years has helped the Achuar and other Amazonian indigenous groups from its Quito office with land titling, skills training, economic development and policy advocacy. With proponents of oil development -- including Ecuador's president -- continuing to press for exploration on their land, the Achuar now find themselves embroiled in a classic struggle for power and resources that native people have almost always lost.
    See full article by Andy Isaacson in The New York Times [October 13, 2010].

    Why the Amazon rubber 'boom' can still be heard

    protest march in the AmazonDavid Hill, researcher and campaigner for Survival International, the international movement supporting tribal peoples worldwide, writes on the parallels between the rubber boom of the early 20th century and the current threat to indigenous peoples' way of life. Earlier this year, indigenous people blockaded an Amazon tributary so the boats from a London-based company (which was recently permitted by Peru to drill for oil in the Amazon) couldn't ply further upriver to the area where it is working. The company's response? To break through the blockade with an escort from Peruvian navy gunboats. One hundred years ago, Peruvian navy gunboats helped the British rubber company throw its weight around too.
    See full editorial in The Guardian Weekly.

    Indigenous Statement to World Parliament on Religions

    photo of delegatesAn "Indigenous Peoples' Statement to the World" was delivered to the World Parliament of Religions in Melbourne, Australia, on 10 December 2009. It criticized the "Doctrine of Christian Discovery that is still interwoven into laws and policies today," and "affirmed the right to educate our children in our earth-based education systems."
    Full text of statement.

    Mohawk Vision of Indigenous University

    photo of Joanne Shenandoah and Doug George-KanentioSteven McFadden interviews Doug George-Kanentio "about the power of great art, about our prophetic era, and about our relations with the land and each other." Kanentio "gave voice to the emerging vision of establishing an Indigenous University in America."
    Full article in Spirit of Change magazine [Winter 2009].

    Kawaiisu Nation Tribe of Tejon Sues to Stop Resort Project

    A lawsuit filed 8 November 2009 in federal court in Fresno argues that the U.S. Department of Interior failed to recognize the Kawaiisu Tribe of Tejon's legitimate claim to areas of the 270,000-acre Tejon Ranch property where the Tejon Mountain Village project is planned. It also argues that Kern County supervisors ignored the existence of historic tribal sites when they approved the project last month. David Laughing Horse Robinson, acting as his own attorney and representing the Kawaiisu Tribe of Tejon, filed the suit in federal court against the U.S. Department of the Interior, Kern County and Tejon Mountain Village, LLC.
    ABC News Story
    The Mountain Enterprise Story
    Federal Court Documents

    Indigenous Environmental Network Targets Tar Sands Mining

    logo for IEN tar sands campaignGreenpeace activists locked down and blockaded a giant dump truck and shovel at Shell's massive Albian Sands open-pit mine in northern Alberta on September 15, 2009, to send the message that the tar sands are a global climate crime that must be stopped. The technical term for the oil extracted from tar sands is crude bitumen, which is defined as a viscous (thick), heavy oil that will not flow to a well in its natural state. See ongoing calls to action and updates on the Indigenous Environmental Network's Canadian Indigenous Tar Sands Campaign.

    The Grapes of Wrath revisited: The plight of Native Americans

    Tohatchi area Chris McGreal reports on the plight of poverty-stricken Native Americans as he continues his journey along Route 66 in the footsteps of the Joads, the family in John Steinbeck's Grapes of Wrath who fled the Oklahoma dustbowl for California. He includes a video interview with Rita Watson Claude, a Navajo living in Tohatchi. Guardian / Observer article (August 30, 2009)

    Reindeer Herders Battle Alcohol on Russia's Edge

    Chukchi community (Arctic Council photo) Seventy years of Soviet rule failed to subdue Russia's most isolated natives, but "perestroika" proved to be devastating. In the ensuing lawlessness, poachers decimated reindeer herds and unemployment was rife. Suddenly starved of Moscow's subsidies, the indigenous peoples of the far northeast -- the Chukchi, Eskimos and Evens -- were powerless to stop the collapse of their traditional ways of life. Hunger, poverty and alcoholism, took hold.
    The New York Times article by Reuters (August 13, 2009)

    Related Article: Remote Russian Region Builds on Billionaire's Legacy


    Kamayura bathers Deforestation and, some scientists contend, global climate change are making the Amazon region drier and hotter, decimating fish stocks in this area and imperiling the Kamayurá's very existence. Like other small indigenous cultures around the world with little money or capacity to move, they are struggling to adapt to the changes.
    The New York Times article by Elisabeth Rosenthal (July 24, 2009)


    Ashaninka personProtests are spreading among Peru's indigenous tribes. Last month, more than 100 Amazonian communities declared a permanent "state of emergency" after Peru granted a large oil concession to Brazilian and Colombian companies. The last five years have seen several high-profile kidnappings of oil and mining employees, leading the Peruvian government to establish jungle garrisons in response. And the rhetoric is escalating. "We will not allow any more concessions in the indigenous Amazon Territories," Alberto Pisango, president of National Organization of the Amazon Indigenous People of Peru. The New Republic article by Alexander Zaitchik, 24 April 2009

    CARACAS, Venezuela (The New York Times) -- Peru's Congress on Thursday overturned two decrees by President Alan García that were aimed at opening large areas of the Peruvian Amazon to logging, dams and oil drilling but set off protests by indigenous groups this month in which dozens died.
    "Today is a historic day for all indigenous people and for the nation of Peru," said Daysi Zapata, a leader of the Peruvian Jungle Inter-Ethnic Development Association, a group representing more than 300,000 people from Peru's indigenous groups.[Full article by Simon Romero, 18 June 2009]

    The government of Peruvian President Alan Garcia will "consider" recommendations by the United Nations to set up an investigative commission to find out who caused the June 5 clashes between policemen and Natives that killed at least 33 people. [article by Renzo Pipoli, Indian Country Today, 26 June 2009]


    drawing illustration by Brian HughesJosephine Mandamin set out six years ago to walk around the Great Lakes. She's made it 17,000 km so far. What Mandamin, an Anishinabe elder from Thunder Bay, wants illuminated is environmental collapse. Mandamin grew up on Manitoulin Island, eating fresh fish daily and drinking straight from Georgian Bay. During her lifetime, she has seen the Great Lakes nearly ruined - the fish killed by invasive species, the harbours poisoned, and, now, the water evaporating into the clouds of global warming. [Toronto Star article by Kevin McMahon, 4 April 2009]


    Mapuche & Chilean officials gatheringBased on sections of the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, the Mapuche School of Self Government began its first day of classes January 14, 2009, in Temuko, Chile. Faculty at the new institution include an internationally famous Chilean jurist who helped prosecute former dictator Augusto Pinochet as well as noted attorneys and Mapuche legislators. The school's general aim is to create "an institutional space for the Mapuche communities to implement Articles 3 and 4 of the declaration relative to the rights of indigenous self-determination and self-government," according to a press statement issued by the Mapuche Council of All the Lands, the organization that created the new school.


    WSF Indigenous Delegation(By Marc Becker) -The World Social Forum (WSF) returned to Brazil during the last week of January 2009. More than 100,000 people descended on the city of Belem at the mouth of the mighty Amazon river to debate proposals and plan strategies for making a new and better world. The forum first met in the southern Brazilian city of Porto Alegre in 2001 as a gathering of social movements dedicated to fighting neoliberalism and militarism. Nine years later, Latin America has shifted significantly to the left, and the forum has played an important role in that process.


    Ayoreo people in Bolivia and Paraguay(CNN) -- A small tribe of Indians in Paraguay who have had virtually no contact with the outside world won a legal battle when rights groups stopped a Brazilian company from continuing to bulldoze the forest to clear land for cattle ranches.

    The legal battle is being waged by local groups such as GAT, an acronym in Spanish for People, Environment and Territory. The activist groups have undertaken the fight without the knowledge of the Totobiegosode.

    "This sends a very significant signal," said Jonathan Mazower, campaign coordinator for Survival International. "Until now, the ranchers and the landowners have really had it all their own way. They are very politically powerful and well-funded. ... This may be a sign that the government is starting to get a grip on the situation."

    Barack Obama's Message for Tribal Nations

    In a statement on October 22, 2008, Barack Obama called for a "Nation to Nation relationship," not just "government to government." He says "we have to acknowledge the truth" of the "tragic history between the U.S. and Tribal Nations."
    Here is the You Tube video:

    Historic Milestone for Indigenous Peoples Worldwide as UN Adopts Rights Declaration
    UN graphicNew York, 13 September 2007 - Marking an historic achievement for the more than 370 million indigenous peoples worldwide, the General Assembly today adopted the Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, the result of more than two decades of consultation and dialogue among governments and indigenous peoples from all regions.
    "Today, by adopting the Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples we are making further progress to improve the situation of indigenous peoples around the world," stated General Assembly President Haya Al Khalifa.
    "We are also taking another major step forward towards the promotion and protection of human rights and fundamental freedoms for all."
    Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon warmly welcomed the adoption, calling it "a triumph for indigenous peoples around the world."
    The vote was 143 in favour, 4 against and 11 abstensions. The Declaration was adopted by an overwhelming majority of the General Assembly, with 143 countries voting in support, 4 voting against (Australia, Canada, New Zealand and the United States) and 11 abstaining (Azerbaijan, Bangladesh, Bhutan, Burundi, Colombia, Georgia, Kenya, Nigeria, Russian Federation, Samoa, Ukraine). For more information, see The UN Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues.

    photo: Louise ArbourMessage of Louise Arbour, United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights and Rodolfo Stavenhagen, Special Rapporteur, on the occasion of the International Day of the World's Indigenous Peoples

    Swaet lodge ceremony Ceremonies offer spiritual healing for inmates: Lenny Foster, second from left, a Navajo spiritual adviser, greeted each inmate as they emerged from the sweat lodge after a ceremony at the Torrance County Correctional Facility, in Estancia, N.M., May 3. The goal of the Sweatlodge ceremony is the same as the other religious services provided to inmates of various faiths. Prison wardens have even come to recognize the benefits it can have for the inmates and for keeping order on the inside. [AP Photo/Toby Jorrin] [Indian Country Today article by Susan Montoya Bryan, Associated Press (1 June 2007)]

    photo: Tonya FrichnerTonya Gonnella Frichner (Snipe Clan, Onondaga Nation), Vice Chair of the Seventh Generation Fund for Indian Development, and Founder and President of the American Indian Law Alliance, has been selected as the North American Representative of the United Nations Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues.

    Gonga Petro, Hadzabe hunterYAEDA VALLEY, Tanzania -- One of the last remaining tribes of hunter-gatherers on the planet is on the verge of vanishing into the modern world. .... [M]embers of the dwindling Hadzabe tribe, who now number fewer than 1,500, say it is being unduly hastened by a United Arab Emirates royal family, which plans to use the tribal hunting land as a personal safari playground. [Washington Post article and photo by Stephanie Mccrummen (10 June 2007)]

    Mashpee drummers Mashpee Wampanoags officially recognized: Mashpee Wampanoag youths celebrated their tribe's official recognition by the federal government, which went into effect at midnight May 25, by playing traditional drums and singing at tribal headquarters in Mashpee, Mass. The tribe, which shared the first Thanksgiving with the Pilgrims in 1621, was granted tribal status by the BIA in February after pursing it for 32 years. [AP Photo/Julia Cumes] [Indian Country Today article by Gale Courey Toensing (1 June 2007)]

    IximcheThousands gathered the last week of March 2007 at Iximche', a sacred Maya site located in the Guatemalan highlands, for the Third Continental Summit of Indigenous Peoples and Organizations of Abya Yala (the Americas). Delegates drafted a Declaration of Iximche that ratified an ancestral right to territory and common resources of the mother earth, rejected free trade pacts, condemned the construction of a wall between Mexico and the United States, and called for the legalization of coca leaves. The declaration's goals will be implemented by a newly formed Continental Coordinating body for Nationalities and Indigenous Peoples of the Americas. The body will allow exchange of ideas about quality of life and the movement against neoliberal trade policy. NativeWeb's Marc Becker reports on the summit.

    AMNH at night Members of the scientific staff of the American Museum of Natural History have issued a statement of concern about publication of "On the Trail of the Anasazi" by Craig Childs, the cover article in the March 2007 issue of Natural History magazine: "We question the judgment of the editorial staff of Natural History magazine in publishing an article that denigrates American Indian peoples, seriously misrepresents the work, ideas, and practices of professional anthropologists actively working in the American Southwest and encourages unethical, disrespectful, and possibly illegal behavior." View full text of the statement.

    Cammetah Patricia Turner Weeden at celebration "The U.S. government ... declared the Mashpee Wampanoag survivors worthy of recognition as a sovereign Indian nation after four centuries of confronting colonization, criticism and assimilation, and then being slowly squeezed off a rapidly developing corner of Cape Cod." "The tribe's sovereign-nation status will become permanent 90 days after the decision is published in the Federal Register. Once that happens the Mashpee Wampanoag will be the 564th federally recognized tribe in the country, the second tribe to be granted sovereign-nation status in the state, and the first to be recognized under the Bush administration. BIA officials said last year the Mashpee petition was one of the strongest the agency had ever seen...."
    Full story from Cape Cod Times 16 February 2007.

    scene from filmIn MOHAWK GIRLS, filmmaker Tracey Deer intimately captures the lives of three exuberant and insightful Mohawk teenagers as they face their future. Like Amy, Lauren and Felicia, Deer grew up on the Kahnawake Native Reserve, but she left to attend school. Now, she returns to document two critical years in the lives of these teens who are contending with the unwritten rules of their close-knit community. Interspersed with home videos from Deer's own adolescence, MOHAWK GIRLS is a deeply emotional yet unsentimental look into what it means to grow up Native at the beginning of the 21st century.

    John MohawkIndian country lost a major luminary with the recent passing of Sotsisowah, the Seneca author and traditionalist known in the broader society as John Mohawk, Ph.D. A longtime professor at the State University of New York at Buffalo, the highly talented and engaging scholar was a motivating force in the Indian traditionalist movement and the national and international indigenous initiative of self-sufficiency and self-assertion of the contemporary era. Mohawk's essays and speeches from the early 1970s, through his genial direction of the national Indian newspaper, Akwesasne Notes, from 1976 to 1984, were pivotal contributions to the development of intellectual capacity in the Indian movement. From his academic perch, Mohawk developed enlightening university courses while sustaining a wide-ranging program of writing and community educational and oratorical forays. In recent years, he had been an opinion columnist for Indian Country Today.

    Bushmen celebrateBBC NEWS: Bushmen from the Kalahari desert have won a court case in which they accused Botswana's government of illegally moving them from their land. The court said the bushmen - or San people - were wrongly evicted from their ancestral homeland in 2002. The bushmen are the oldest people in Sub-Saharan Africa. Crowds of them had trekked overland to the court in the town of Lobatse to wait for the verdict, which was translated for them. There were scenes of jubilation as the result became clear.

    Chief Arvol Looking Horse Message from Chief Arvol Looking Horse, 12 October 2006: "Mitakuye (my relative), I, Chief Arvol Looking Horse, of the Lakota, Dakota, and Nakota Nation, ask you to understand an Indigenous perspective on what has happened in America, what we call 'Turtle Island.' My words seek to unite the global community through a message from our sacred ceremonies to unite spiritually, each in our own ways of beliefs in the Creator. We have been warned from Ancient Prophecies of these times we live in today, but have also been given a very important message about a solution to turn these terrible times around."
    FULL TEXT of Arvol's message at Manataka American Indian Council

    movie poster"Mad Mel and the Maya" - a review of Apocalypto by Earl Shorris, in The Nation magazine, sharply criticizes the film for its racism: "To grasp what a racist act Gibson has committed in the making of his new film, it is necessary to understand the world of the Maya as it exists today. ... Gibson ... may have shattered much of what has been built by indigenous people, historians and linguists in recent years. ... Mel Gibson cast no Maya to work on his project, except in the most minor roles. In casting and producing the film Gibson reinforced a colonialist concept of indigenous people that has long existed in Mexico." READ THE FULL REVIEW in The Nation magazine

    "The Sober Racism of Mel Gibson's Apocalypto", by Liza Grandia, published in CommonDreams.org, is also very critical: "As a cultural anthropologist who has worked for thirteen years among different Maya peoples of Mesoamerica and who speaks the Q'eqchi' Maya language fluently, I found Apocalypto to be deeply racist. ... Gibson's slanderous film reinforces the same stereotypes that have facilitated the genocide of Maya peoples and the plunder of their lands starting with the Spanish invasion of 1492 and continuing through the Guatemalan civil war to the present." READ THE FULL REVIEW at CommonDreams.org

    IP caucus meetingThe Indigenous Peoples' Caucus at the UN held an emergency meeting 13 November 2006 due to a report that a few States will take procedural actions to derail the adoption of the Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples. The Indigenous Peoples' Caucus hereby affirms their global and unanimous support for the Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples as adopted by the UN Human Rights Council on June 29, 2006. The Indigenous Peoples' Caucus hereby repeats its request that the UN General Assembly immediately adopt the Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, which constitutes the minimum standards for the survival, well-being and dignity of Indigenous Peoples worldwide. Such action should take place before the end of 2006.

    Representatives from Andean nations In a historic effort to unite the Andean peoples, representatives from indigenous organizations in Colombia, Ecuador, Peru, Bolivia, Chile, Argentina and Guatemala met in Cusco July 15 - 17 in the first Congress of the Andean Coordinator of Indigenous Organizations. The meeting brought together 500 delegates from the Quechua, Kichwa, Aymara, Mapuche and other nations. It was organized by five different indigenous organizations: CONACAMI of Peru, CONAMAQ of Bolivia, ECUARUNARI of Ecuador, ONIC of Colombia and CITEM of the Mapuche Nation of Chile. The event began with a steep climb through the streets of Cusco to the Incan site of Saqsayhuaman, where spiritual authorities from several nations conducted a despacho, or offering to the Earth. Cusco Declaration / Declaración del Cusco
    Indian Country Today article and photo by Lisa Garrigues (07 August 2006)

    indigenous people at UN FIFTH SESSION OF THE UNITED NATIONS PERMANENT FORUM ON INDIGENOUS ISSUES: "The Millennium Development Goals and Indigenous Peoples: Re-defining the Millennium Development Goals" -- United Nations Headquarters, New York -- 15 to 26 May 2006. This year's Session began with the launching of the Programme of Action for the Second International Decade of the World's Indigenous People. There were over 50 side events scheduled for the two weeks while the Forum was in session.

    World Social Forum march The annual meeting of the World Social Forum (WSF) has grown into the world's largest gathering of civil society. Stretching for several kilometers along the open spaces of Porto Alegre's Guaiba riverfront, from January 26-31, 2005, 155,000 participants from 135 countries joined together under the southern hemisphere's summer sun, with the slogan "another world is possible." Marc Becker reports on the events and issues, including the "Puxirum of Indigenous Arts and Knowledge."

    NMAI celebration participants The historic opening of the Smithsonian National Museum of the American Indian, on the National Mall in Washington, D.C., September 21, 2004, celebrated the Native cultures of North, South, and Central America, featuring more than 300 singers, dancers, and storytellers representing Native communities from throughout the Western Hemisphere.

    banner -II Cumbre Continental de Pueblos Indígenas de Abya Yala

    Cumbre participantsKito Declaration from the 2nd Continental Summit of Indigenous Peoples and Nationalities of the Americas (Quito, Ecuador, July 21 - 25, 2004). Read a report on the Summit and related Americas Social Forum.

    delegates at UN ForumDocuments from the Third Session of the United Nations Permanent Forum on Indigenous Peoples (10 - 21 May 2004) have been released. These include Secretariat documents, NGO consultations, government statements and other materials.

    delegates at UN Over 1,000 indigenous people from around the world came to the United Nations to attend the Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues, 10 - 21 May 2004. Secretary-General Kofi Annan made an opening statement.

    Kofi Annan in Peru Secretary-General Hails Contributions Of Indigenous Peoples To Human Civilization In Remarks In Machu Picchu, Peru

    people and banners Marc Becker Report: World Social Forum in Mumbai, India, January 2004

    sheep Black Mesa Weavers for Life and Land business partnership with the Navajo Churro wool-buying co-op held its second Navajo Churro wool buy for Black Mesa Diné outside the Hardrock Chapter House.

    Vieques Marc Becker report: U.S. Navy ceases their exercises and practice bombing on Vieques.

    Lori Piestewa Memorial Day, May 26, 2003: Native American Women in the U.S. Armed Forces Washington Memorial to Honor Military Service of Native American Woman, Private Lori Piestewa

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