Tuesday, June 3, 2008

May 28 - June 2, 2008: Five Key Indigenous Peoples Issues

Five Important Indigenous People's Issues for the Week of May 28 - June 2, 2008

Mining Firm Finds More Hospitable Host in Benguet

After facing stiff opposition in Nueva Vizcaya, the mining firm Royalco Philippines Inc. expects to have a more hospitable host in Bakun, Benguet, after its exploration permit was approved by the Mines and Geosciences Bureau and the officials in the town.

The MGB allowed RPI, formerly Oxiana Philippines Inc. (OPI), to explore possible gold deposits in a 1,000-hectare area in Barangay Gambang in Bakun. In a press conference on Saturday, Ruben Quitoriano Jr., RPI mining engineer, said the firm’s exploration permit is valid for two years until May 21, 2010.

He said the National Commission on Indigenous Peoples had issued the firm a free prior and informed consent (FPIC) certificate from the host community. Read the rest of the story here....

Miners Told to Give Indigenous Peoples Better Cut from Resources Boom

Resources companies need to funnel a proportion of their profits into indigenous communities, and indigenous leaders need to take a more "hard headed" approach to negotiating mining royalties, the Federal Government says.

An informal group has been set up by the Attorney-General, Robert McClelland, and the Minister for Indigenous Affairs, Jenny Macklin, to explore how indigenous communities can better use the funds they secure from mining companies in return for allowing them to use their land.

Ms Macklin told a mining industry meeting yesterday that "financial transfers must be structured to increase wealth and capital assets within indigenous communities" and "not be distributed as irregular windfalls to be frittered away for no long-term good". Read more about this story here....

Guyana’s Indigenous Peoples Still Languishing on the Periphery

David James is an Amerindian, an Attorney-At-Law and an informed, passionate and articulate advocate of the rights of the indigenous peoples of Guyana. In this interview with the Guyana Review the former President of the Amerindian People’s Association (APA) and the APA’s legal adviser argues that Amerindians must exert more collective “pressure” if they are to secure their full rights as Guyanese. including their right to a genuine say in the environmentally responsible management of Guyana’s mineral and timber resources.

Guyana Review:
Which are the most critical ways in which the environmentally unsound exploitation of mineral and timber resources have affected the way of life of the Amerindians and their communities?

David James
The environmentally unsound exploitation of the mineral and timber resources of Guyana have affected the way of life of the Amerindian people in various critical ways. Principally, we have witnessed environmental degradation which includes damage to the rivers, streams and lakes which are the sources of fresh water and food - in the form of fish - for most communities. There have also been a number of studies which show that Amerindian communities have been affected by mercury pollution which is a direct consequence of gold mining.

With regard to forest exploitation a number of Amerindian communities have been victims of poor agreements resulting in companies’ harvesting in an unsustainable manner. Last May we had a clear example of this in the village of Akawini where the villagers complained about very poor environmental practices, including over-harvesting that resulted in damage to the forests, the ollution of the rivers and creeks in the area through residue from the timber harvesting activity and the destruction of hunting grounds. That was a clear case of indifference to the rights of the indigenous people by a major company. The matter was made public and the company withdrew after the villagers made it clear that they wanted them to leave. Read the rest of the interview here....

One of the Last Isolated Indigenous Tribes in Amazon Visible From the Air

Aerial photographs of an isolated community of indigenous people in the Amazon basin, near the border shared by Brazil and Peru, were released this week to show that they exist but may be endangered by illegal logging.

A photo shows an indigenous Amazon people in Brazil, near the Peruvian border. The Brazilian government released photos of them because of concerns that their way of life is threatened.

One picture, taken by the Brazilian government, showed two men, painted red, brandishing bows and arrows at the camera-bearing plane flying low over the dense rain forest. In another picture, about 15 men, women and children who were not painted looked up from thatched huts. Read the rest of the story here....

Aboriginal Australian Massacre Memorial this Weekend

This Saturday’s commemoration of the Myall Creek masscare will reflect a new stage in reconciliation between indigenous and non-indigenous Australians, being the first since since the Federal Government’s apology to the Stolen Generations, according to a member of the NSW Reconciliation Council.

The commemoration service, to start at 10am, will mark the 170th anniversary of the massacre of 28 Wirrayaray people on Myall Creek Station between Delungra and Bingara, in 1838.

The guest speaker at this year’s service will be Fred Chaney, a former Liberal senator, current director of Reconciliation Australia and Chair of Desert Knowledge.
“The coming together of the settler descendants and the Aboriginal community to share their history is an outstanding example of using history to restore relationships rather than war about white or black armbands,” Mr Chaney said. Read more about this event here....

Last weeks Five Key Indigenous People's Issues can be found here.

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