Tag Archives: indigenous rights

Sweden’s Indigenous Sami in Fight Against Miners

4 Sep

by Malin Rising and David Mac Dougall / The Detroit News

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Per Mikael Utsi, standing, member of the Sami Parliament, takes part in the opening session of the parliament in Jokkmokk, northern Sweden (Carl-Johan Utsi / AP)

Jokkmokk, Sweden — On a dirt road passing through sparkling lakes and spruce woods in the wilds of northern Sweden, a woman belonging to Europe’s only indigenous people — the Sami — chants a traditional, high-pitched tune.

Since the end of the last Ice Age, the Sami have wandered the vast landscapes of northern Europe, herding reindeer and nurturing a philosophy of harmony with nature. This time, however, the woman’s Joik — a Sami chant that involves gliding over notes without lyrics — has a desperate tone to it: Her voice trembles and grows into a scream as four policemen remove her from the road. She had been protesting a British mining company’s plans for an open pit mine on ancient lands.

The woman is one of dozens of Sami and environmental activists who gathered recently on the site, setting up road blocks, burning bonfires and flying the Sami flag, with the aim to block the company from conducting test blasts near the town of Jokkmokk on the Arctic Circle.

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Indigenous Resistors to Wind Farm Project in Mexico Facing Violent Threats

4 Sep

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The Gobixha Committee for the Integral Defense of Human Rights (CODIGO DH) would like to express concern for the lack of institutional attention to the conflict generated by the construction of the wind farm Strength and Energy Bií Hioxo, owned by the Gas Natural Fenosa (GNF) Company. This situation has generated a wave of violence against supporters of the Popular Assembly of the People of Juchitán (APPJ). We are concerned about the indifference of the authorities and their lack of action during the last eight months.

The last act of violence against members of the APPJ took place on Sunday, August 25, when they where attacked by gunshots at the summit of the place named Chigueeze, inside the area of the Bií Hioxo park. These actions took place approximately at noon when APPJ members were walking on communal lands to document the effects of the wind farm project. At this time they were stopped by armed men in a white suburban who threatened them with death, took their pictures, and shot at them. The men briefly held Sara Lopez prisoner and tried to stab her, but she was defended by the people who were with her, and was able to escape. The armed men also tried to run over another person with their vehicle.

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Our Last Best Hope to Save our Water, Air and Earth

30 May

by Clayton Thomas-Muller /Canadian Dimension

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Clayton Thomas-Muller is a member of the Mathias Colomb Cree Nation also known as Pukatawagan in Northern Manitoba, Canada. Based out of Ottawa, Ontario, Canada, Clayton is the co-director of the Indigenous Tar Sands (ITS) Campaign of the Polaris Institute as well as a volunteer organizer with the Defenders of the Land-Idle No More national campaign known as Sovereignty Summer.

The Rise of the Native Rights-Based Strategic Framework

Years ago I was working for a well-known Indigenous environmental and economic justice organization known as the Indigenous Environmental Network (IEN). During my time with this organization I had the privilege of working with hundreds of Indigenous communities across the planet who had seen a sharp increase in the targeting of Native lands for mega-extractive and other toxic industries. The largest of these conflicts, of course, was the over-representation by big oil who work— often in cahoots with state, provincial First Nations, Tribal and federal governments both in the USA and Canada—to gain access to the valuable resources located in our territories. IEN hired me to work in a very abstract setting, under impossible conditions, with little or no resources to support Grassroots peoples fighting oil companies, who had become, in the era of free market economics, the most powerful and well-resourced entities of our time. My mission was to fight and protect the sacredness of Mother Earth from toxic contamination and corporate exploration, to support our Peoples to build sustainable local economies rooted in the sacred fire of our traditions. Continue reading

TransCanada Reps Kicked Out of Cheyenne River Sioux Reservation

16 May

Cross Posted From Tar Sands Blockade

“You’re not welcome here… We’ve said no from day one.”

And with these firm words the TransCanada representatives were kicked out of Cheyenne River Sioux Reservation last week. The seemingly aloof TransCanada officials showed up at the Tribal Office in Eagle Butte, South Dakota in an attempt to win the tribe over to the pipeline, but were met with a swift, firm response. Robin LeBeau, Cheyenne River Sioux Councilwoman for District 5, saw them in the parking lot and promptly told them off.

The encounter was caught on video:

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Peru Spares Amazon Rainforest From Oil And Gas Push

16 May

Ashanika warriors occupy oil boat in the Peruvian Amazon, May 2009

Cross Posted From Root Force

This article from the Guardian shows why indigenous movements have fought so hard for Peru’s new law requiring extractive industry to consult with affected indigenous communities, why industrial interests have so consistently opposed, and why mining companies pushed so hard for the recent decision that excluded millions of indigenous Peruvians from that law’s protection. Note, of course, that the oil company is making it clear that they will still go ahead with exploiting indigenous lands whether the affected communities like it or not. We’ll see what the communities have to say about that.

Peru spares Amazon rainforest from oil and gas push

New hydrocarbon sites will all be offshore, but campaigners fear contentious oil and gas development in Amazon will still go ahead

Peru has announced a bidding round for new oil and gas concessions but, contrary to what was initially expected, none of them are in the Amazon rainforest.

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Indigenous Peoples Stop Dam Construction With New Occupation at Belo Monte Site

2 May

Cross Posted from Amazon Watch:

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Altamira, Brazil – Some 200 indigenous people affected by the construction of large hydroelectric dams in the Amazon launched an occupation today on one of the main construction sites of the Belo Monte dam complex on the Xingu River in the Brazilian Amazon. The group demands that the Brazilian government adopt effective legislation on prior consultations with indigenous peoples regarding projects that affect their lands and livelihoods. As this has not happened, they are demanding the immediate suspension of construction, technical studies and police operations related to dams along the Xingu, Tapajos and Teles Pires rivers. Shock troops of the military police were awaiting indigenous protestors when they arrived at the Belo Monte dam site, but they were unable to impede the occupation.

The indigenous protestors include members of the Juruna, Kayapó, Xipaya, Kuruaya, Asurini, Parakanã, Arara tribes from the Xingu River, as well as warriors of the Munduruku, a large tribe from the neighboring Tapajós river basin. The indigenous peoples are joined by fishermen and local riverine communities from the Xingu region. Initial reports indicate that approximately 6,000 workers at one of the main Belo Monte construction sites, Pimental, have ceased operations as a result of the protest. The occupation, according to the indigenous communities, will continue indefinitely or until the federal government meets their demands.

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Ban Upheld: Avatar Tribe ‘To Decide’ Future of Vedanta Mine

2 May

Cross Posted from Survival International:

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In a landmark ruling, the Indian Supreme Court today rejected an appeal to allow Vedanta Resources to mine the Niyamgiri hills. In a complex judgement, the court decreed that those most affected by the proposed mine should have a decisive say in whether it goes ahead.

The court recognized that the Dongria Kondh’s right to worship their sacred mountain must be ‘protected and preserved’, and that those with religious and cultural rights must be heard in the decision-making process. The tribe now has three months to decide whether to allow mining of their sacred hills, but there are serious concerns over the pressures that might be heaped on the community during this crucial time.

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In Arizona and Peru: Why Reform Won’t Work

1 May

Cross Posted from Root Force:

Indigneous Quechua-speakers in Peru have been at the forefront of the battle against Newmont Mining Corp's Minas Conga gold mine.

Indigneous Quechua-speakers in Peru have been at the forefront of the battle against Newmont Mining Corp’s Minas Conga gold mine.

Two recent news stories highlight the fundamental problem with directing reformist efforts at a global economic system that is founded on colonialism, genocide and extinction. While of course it’s important to use a diversity of tactics to achieve our goals, and while it’s important to recognize and celebrate even partial victories, these stories remind us how the system reacts when we achieve victories that actually threaten its ongoing profits:

• Despite a 2012 ban on hard-rock mining in a one million acre area surrounding the Grand Canyon, the uranium mining firm Energy Fuels Resources has been given federal approval to reopen its Canyon Mine. The rationale? The company’s “rights” to extract a poisonous fuel by destroying the Grand Canyon, the surrounding watershed, and indigenous territory predate the ban.

• In Peru, the government is rolling back a landmark indigenous rights law at the behest of mining companies. Under the new policy, mining companies no longer need to even consult with the vast majority of Peru’s indigenous peoples before proceeding with plans to destroy their land.

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Ecuador to Sell A Third Of Its Amazon Rainforest to Chinese Oil Companies

3 Apr

Ecuador is planning to auction off three million of the country’s 8.1 million hectares of pristine Amazonian rainforest to Chinese oil companies, Jonathan Kaiman of The Guardian reports.

The report comes as oil pollution forced neighboring Peru to declare an environmental state of emergency in its northern Amazon rainforest.

Ecuador owed China more than $7 billion — more than a tenth of its GDP — as of last summer. Continue reading

Russian Indigenous Victory: RAIPON Reopens

25 Mar

Re-posted from Survival International

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An Evenk boy with reindeer in Siberia.
© Raipon/Survival

RAIPON, the organization representing Russia’s indigenous peoples, has been given permission by the Russian authorities to reopen. It was forced to close by Russia’s Ministry of Justice in November last year.

The official reason given for the shutdown was that the organization’s statutes were not in line with federal law. However, many believed the closure was an attempt to quell opposition to the exploitation of Russia’s natural resources in Siberia, and was part of a crackdown on organizations with foreign links.

RAIPON was formed in 1990 and represents more than 270,000 indigenous people. It has given a voice to tribal people in some of the most remote and inhospitable places on earth. Continue reading