Tuesday, September 23, 2008

September 17-23, 2008: Five Key Indigenous Peoples Issues

Five Important Indigenous People's Issues for the Week of September 17 - 23, 2008

Alaska: An Alaska Native speaks out on Palin, Oil, and Alaska

My name is Evon Peter; I am a former Chief of the Neetsaii Gwich’in tribe from Arctic Village, Alaska and the current Executive Director of Native Movement. My organization provides culturally based leadership development through offices in Alaska and Arizona. My wife, who is Navajo, and I have been based out of Flagstaff, Arizona for the past few years, although I travel home to Alaska in support of our initiatives there as well. It is interesting to me that my wife and I find ourselves as Indigenous people from the two states where McCain and Palin originate in their leadership.

I am writing this letter to raise awareness about the ongoing colonization and violation of human rights being carried out against Alaska Native peoples in the name of unsustainable progress, with a particular emphasis on the role of Sarah Palin and the Republican leadership. My hope is that it helps to elevate truth about the nature of Alaskan politics in relation to Alaska Native peoples and that it lays a framework for our path to justice.

Ever since the Russian claim to Alaska and the subsequent sale to the United States through the Treaty of Cession in 1867, the attitude and treatment towards Alaska Native peoples has been fairly consistent. We were initially referred to as less than human “uncivilized tribes”, so we were excluded from any dialogues and decisions regarding our lands, lives, and status. The dominating attitude within the Unites States at the time was called Manifest Destiny; that God had given Americans this great land to take from the Indians because they were non-Christian and incapable of self-government. Over the years since that time, this framework for relating to Alaska Native peoples has become entrenched in the United States legislative and legal systems in an ongoing direct violation of our human rights. Read more about Alaska Native perspective on Palin here....

Venezuela: The Arangues Festival: Cultural Resistance in Rural Venezuela

Dry heat fills the lungs of thousands of cultural workers from distant and dispersed nooks of Venezuela. For the 27th consecutive year, they have gathered in the rural village of Arangues in the state of Lara, Venezuela to create a vibrant and diverse space of cultural resistance by filling the streets with fervent dancing, singing, artisan foods and crafts, and time-worn rituals for one long weekend.

"In this town, cultures from outside were always imposed on the native traditions. This festival is a resistance to this, to make it so these traditions never die and are vindicated by the community, despite the policies of cultural alienation and transculturalization that the Empire has imposed for many years," the local Mayor, Julio Chávez, tells Venezuelanalysis.

Upon arrival, our group of participants and visitors is invited to sit in a welcoming circle on dusty brown, soft ground that begs to be danced on. Some people sit on wooden stumps, others lounge in brightly colored but worn, traditionally woven hammocks, and many rest in lawn chairs of molded plastic, which would seem out of place if the heart of Venezuela's petroleum-based chemical industry were not just a few hundred kilometers to the West. Read more about the Arangues Festival here....

Australia: Zimbabweans in Australia Should Return Home

The Australian affairs editor at Mathaba has stated that Zimbabweans in Australia should head home to build up the country, since now there is a permanent peace and agreement between the ruling democratically elected government and the opposition which has been given power sharing in the country.

He pointed out that no other nations allow the opposition party to come into the government after losing elections, and that this was done in the national interest given that the Anglo-Saxon historical and ongoing enemies of Zimbabwe and Africa in general have been attempting to divide the country beyond a mere party political schism.

The editor said that there is no reason for any Zimbabwean to remain behind in countries such as Australia, given that the reasons for asylum or intake are no longer valid, and that in the case of Australia in particular, has peculiar circumstances.

Those circumstances include that the original inhabitants of the land, themselves facing gross human rights violations and lacking freedom and democracy on their own soil, did not invite the Africans to stay there and compete with the limited water and social security resources of the black nation. Read more about Zimbabweans in Australia here....

Bolivia: A Brewing Civil War in Bolivia?

Despite the frantic efforts of Latin American diplomats to broker a truce, many Bolivians see the political violence that has shaken their country over the past week as the opening salvos of a civil war. "There isn't a bone in her body that's not broken," says Narda Baqueros, a mother of three who traveled 15 hours to the town of Cobija to retrieve the body of her niece Belki Paz Baqueros on Monday. In her mid-20s and three months pregnant, Belki was beaten to death early Friday morning by opponents of Bolivia's leftist President Evo Morales. "Everyone is armed and everyone is saying this is war," Baqueros says. "I saw patches of blood-stained grass everywhere, like there have been massacres."

At least 30 supporters of President Morales, and possibly a lot more, have been killed over the past week as an opposition campaign to obtain autonomy for the resource-rich eastern regions they control turned violent. The opposition Prefects are demanding greater control over policies ranging from land reform to the allocation of the earnings of Bolivia's natural gas exports, which originate in their regions. Earlier this year, the departments of Tarija, Santa Cruz, Pando and Beni voted overwhelmingly in favor of opposition-drafted autonomy statutes, but since those referenda were not sanctioned by the national electoral court, the central government refuses to recognize the results.

The confrontations escalated a few weeks ago when President Morales, having won last month's election with a resounding 67% majority, scheduled a vote on a new constitution drafted by his government. The opposition cried foul, demanding that the new constitution incorporate the autonomy statutes, and their supporters in the outlying regions began violently seizing control over state buildings. For weeks, TV images showed outnumbered policemen cowering from armed mobs of opposition supporters ransacking government buildings and randomly attacking indigenous people. (Morales is Bolivia's first indigenous president, and the indigenous people remain his strongest support base.) Read more on Bolivia here....

North America: The Native Media and IIN: Not Cut from the Same Cloth

Occasionally readers take offense to something I write here in IIN and readers are of course entitled to their opinions, but I take issue with the suggestion that I did not comprehend the obvious “satire” within a recent article by Kevin Abourezk entitled “OK Sarah, We Need to Talk”. I read his work regularly and I clearly see things differently than the reader who thinks I just don’t get it.

First, before readers write something like this to me, take into consideration the stated editorial perspective of this newsblog as opposed to the “mainstream” Indian news agencies that publish Mr. Abourezk. The task of the Inteligentaindigena Novajoservo newsblog is to inform activist Aboriginal peoples and our supporters around the world on the issues and causes that effect our communities and our lives. We reject the colonial states that claim ownership over us and our ancestral territories and we struggle in various ethical ways to maintain our survival with the clear intention of regaining our human right to cultural and territorial independence.

If the publications Mr. Abourezk pens for are of a similar political bent, I am unaware of it. Unlike this site, they seem to be working towards a goal of inclusion within the very same socio-political system that oppresses Indigenous people here in the U.S. as well as our brothers and sisters across the planet.

This is not an attack on Mr. Abourezk personally in spite of the harsh tone of the title. I am merely pointing out that Mr. Abourezk is no different than most other “accepted” Native journalists in that they persist in pretending that they have a seat at the White man’s table or at least, his press office. Obviously I take issue with that view and strongly so. We were never meant to be a part of the colonial system and I find it embarrassing that those who are chosen to represent us do not have the courage to speak about this in real, coherent and tangible terms. Instead, we talk of what it like for Indians to be a part of the DNC and RNC conventions and who got to speak before large crowds and which “tribe” will adopt a candidate who in the end will do absolutely nothing for our people but keep us in our respective place at the bottom of the U.S. totem pole. And we ask ourselves why we get so little respect. Read more about Native media here....

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

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