Tuesday, August 12, 2008

August 5 -12, 2008: Five Key Indigenous Peoples Issues

Five Important Indigenous People's Issues for the Weeks of August 5 - August 12, 2008

Kaka-Does New Era of Indigenous Tourism

Kakadu traditional owner Freddy Hunter has the most wondrous stories to tell, if only tourists could drop their obsession with crocs.

"Of course we see them, but I tell people, it's not always about looking for crocodiles," he says.

"When we get out there we see birds, the creation mother – it's beautiful out there in the pitch black with millions of stars."

The 39-year-old, who started working in the park at 15, set up the Kakadu Cultural Camp three years ago with his sister.

Together they run camps and night cruises while sharing the history of their ancestors, the Bolmo Dedjrungi.

"We get out there and talk about our country and our culture, whereas before there was nothing," Freddy says from the southern border of the iconic national park, at the head water of the East Alligator.

"We wanted to talk about the country we were born and bred in, and about our culture as well.

"So people could come here to share our stories, get a little bit of our culture and hopefully they take a little bit back with them."

The 20,000 sqkm national park – home to Aboriginal people for 50,000 years – is undergoing a quiet tourism revolution. Read more about Kakadu Aboriginal story here....

Forrest's Plan to Create 50,000 Jobs for Aborigines

AUSTRALIA'S richest man will attempt to create 50,000 jobs for indigenous people under an ambitious scheme that will shift the emphasis of Aboriginal job creation from government to business.

Mining magnate Andrew Forrest, chief executive of Fortescue Metals Group, has announced that the Australian Employment Covenant will sign up hundreds of companies to employ a total of 50,000 indigenous people within the next two years.

- 50,000 jobs for indigenous people
- Hundreds of companies to be signed up
- Government to fund training

Prime Minister Kevin Rudd has thrown his support behind Mr Forrest's plan committing to fund training for the workers throughout industry - including in mining, agriculture, hospitality and finance. Read more about Forrests' Plan for Aboriginal Jobs here....

Cofán Indians Help Map Rain Forest, Produce DVDs on Disappearing Tribal Traditions

An amused smile spread across the face of Martín Criollo as the 30-year-old Cofán Indian from a remote South American reserve looked over a collection of artifacts in the anthropological storage area of the Field Museum.

He had spotted one of his own shirts, a loose-fitting traditional garment called a cushma.

"I literally took it off his back when we were in Ecuador last year," sociologist Daniel Brinkmeier said. "It was a good example of typical but traditional clothing, so I asked Martín if we could buy it."

The Cofán are a rain forest tribe that barely had contact with the outside world until an American company struck oil on their land in 1966. Since then, members have struggled to hang on to their lands, traditions and culture in the face of the invading 20th and 21st Centuries.

Tribal leaders have enlisted the Field Museum in their effort, inviting Brinkmeier and two other museum scientists to Ecuador last year to gather and preserve about 100 Cofán artifacts, including beadwork, feathered shamanic headdresses, wooden flutes, ceramic griddles, blowguns, darts and spears.

"We were looking for handicrafts that the Cofán might not make in the future, everyday things that might go out of use and disappear," Brinkmeier said. Read more about Cofan Indigenous Peoples here....

Permanent Peoples’ Tribunal in Colombia: Corporations with a License to Kill

July 23 marked the end of a two and a half year process carried out by the Permanent Peoples’ Tribunal (TPP) in Bogotá, Colombia. A panel of international judges, including a Supreme Court justice from Italy, a handful of university professors, a Nobel Laureate, and authorities from the Guambiano and Mapuche nations presided over the final session of the TPP.

The Leon de Greiff auditorium at Colombia’s National University was packed to the rafters for the occasion, with participants and supporters of the process spilling out into the Plaza del Ché, the well known gathering place in the centre of the campus.

Before beginning the session, TPP general secretary Gianni Tognoni invoked the memory of Eduardo Umaña Mendoza, a Colombian member of the TPP jury who was assassinated during a previous session of the Tribunal in Colombia.

The final verdict, read to the large crowd, summarized much of Colombia’s recent history, condemning the Colombian government, 43 multinational corporations, and the U.S. government for their role in the violence that has long dominated the lives of Colombians. The audience was made up of people from a broad spectrum of social movements and organizations from around the country, and listened rapt during the reading of the sentence. Read more about Columbian Indigenous Peoples struggle here....

Indigenous People in CHT Become Victim of Land Grabbing, Displacement

Indigenous people in the Chittagong Hill Tracts (CHT) are now under threat from large-scale displacement due to land grabbing, setting up of parks and social forestation, Bangladesh Indigenous Peoples Forum (BIPF) leaders said yesterday.

The situation might worsen further due to the absence of constitutional recognition of indigenous people's identity and rights, lack of effective policy, non-implementation of the CHT Treaty and non-functioning of the CHT Land Commission, BIPF leaders said at a press conference at the National Press Club in the capital on the occasion of the International Day of the World's Indigenous People to be observed on Saturday with the theme "Indigenous People's Economic and Social Rights".

"The indigenous people are in a bad condition as they are increasingly falling victims to land grabbing," said BIPF President Jyotirindra Bodhipriya Larma, popularly known as Santu Larma.

The United Nations (UN) General Assembly decided to celebrate the day on August 9 every year adopting a resolution on December 23, 1994.

The BIPF has taken elaborate programmes including discussion, seminar, rally, fair, film show, photography exhibition and traditional dance programmes to observe the day. Read more about Indigenous Peoples in the Chittagong Hill Tracts here....

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

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Koya said...

Dear Friend,

I belong to the Gond tribe of India and you must be aware that in India tribal are being systematically
displaced and killed in the name of development by the Indian Government policies and USA expansion
policies in India.

We have registered a political party by the name "Prithak Bastar Rajya Party" where we will be demanding
a seperate Bastar State to safe gaurd the interest of the tribal.Evo Morales is an inspiration for us.

Below is also a video link which might give you some insight to our plight.

I would be grateful if you can mobilize some support for us in your country.



Peter N. Jones said...


Thank you for sending along this important information. A post on the Gond indigenous peoples is up - let us hope that this gets disseminated around so that more people become aware of what is happening.


Anonymous said...

Several things contributed to the Chittagong Hill Tribes's problems:
(1) The prominant one is about Kaptai dam, built during Pakistan period. In reacting to this the tribals legitimately showed histaria but enthusiast foreign inspiration especially from Juric Univesity helped the Chakma tribal leadership to hijak the issue by the more marxist elements of the Chakma groups.
The Chakma leadership romantacized the problem and took the issue as a matter of class struggle and recommended to its tribal followers (a)to fight for the independence of Chittagong Hill Tracts (b)lived by 50% tribals and 45%Bengalis. On top of this lack of reality check, written records show (c)all these tribes took shelter in Chittagong Hill Tracts to escape Burmease invasion of Arakan. The last one, the Rakhines took shelter in 1784. (d)The total Tribal population is even less than a million.
(2)Rmanticizing with the independence idea created fear among Bangladeshi people.
Further romanticizing continues today by almost every tribal groups, even small tribes as the Tanchangyas (2000 families) to change their name to Tanga (Burmese), and adapt Burmese script as their written language.
(3)India took advantage of the alienation and helped arming the tribals.
(4) To its effect now there is the loss of trust between Bengalis and the Tribals.

Tribals instead of romancing with the wrong idea of Marxism, should learn the majority language and compete with Bengalis and enjoy the freedom given to everybody as being Bangladeshi. Such freedom is missing in the military ruled Burma and in the so-called secular Indian north East where groups like Mizoos, Asamese demanding independence are being massacred by droping bombs from the shy.
It is too bad that the Chakma marxist leadership made more steps backward for all the tribes to now make the tribals in general suffer.

See my detail article:
Abid Bahar, Issues of Dispute and Contemporary Problems in Chittagong Hill Tracts,http://groups.yahoo.com/group/mukto-mona/message/49338?l=1

Peter N. Jones said...

Thanks for the contribution Abid. I've hotlinked it because it is really very informative.

Issues of Dispute and Contemporary Problems in Chittagong Hill District.

As it points out, the issues are much more complicated then many realize, and the biggest problem has been the lack of inclusion of indigenous concerns and voices.

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