Tuesday, October 7, 2008

October 1-7, 2008: Five Key Indigenous People's Issues

Five Important Indigenous People's Issues for the Week of October 1 - 7, 2008

Bolivia: This Is A Fight Between Rich And Poor

Speaking from within the belly of the beast, Bolivia’s indigenous President Evo Morales announced at the 63rd United Nations General Assembly that the world today is paying witness to a “fight between rich and poor, between socialism and capitalism”.

“There is an uprising against an economic model, a capitalistic system that is the worst enemy of humanity”, Morales said.

With his confidence boosted following the recent rolling back of a right-wing offensive whose objective was a “civil coup” against his government, Morales used his intervention at the UN summit to do what he had done last year: denounce capitalism.

Morales also used the opportunity to refer to recent events in his own country. Following his crushing victory in the August 10 recall referendum — in which close to seven out of 10 voters demonstrated their support for him and the process of change he is leading — the right-wing pro-autonomy opposition based in the east of Bolivia unleashed a desperate wave of violence and terrorism aimed at toppling his government.

In response, Morales expelled the US ambassador due to his role in leading the coup conspiracy and decreed marshal law in the department (state) of Pando — site of the most intense violence. Pando’s opposition-aligned prefect Leopoldo Fernandez ordered the September 11 massacre of pro-government peasants. With the official death toll reaching almost 20, and more than 100 people still missing, the military successfully hunted down the fugitive prefect, who is now facing trial for charges of genocide. Read more about indigenous Bolivian struggles here....

Fiji: In Search of God

People of many different religious beliefs accept the existence of God as a matter of faith. Faith, however, in the absence of tangible evidence is currently regarded as an irrational belief.

While the leap through faith to justify the existence of God may have some merit, in this article, an effort is made to analyse miracles which many religions use to justify the existence of the Creator.

In the Bible, for example, walking on water and the resurrection of Lord Jesus from the dead is used to establish the supernatural status of Lord Jesus.

Miracle is defined in Oxford Dictionary as a good act that cannot be explained by the known laws of nature and therefore considered to be caused by supernatural power.
In this context, fire walking could be considered a miracle.

It has elements of goodness and cannot be reasonably explained by the current laws of nature.

Aside from fire walking, other unusual practices include walking on nails, piercing the skins and the like.

In the ancient Peruvian society, snakes and tigers were used instead of fires to empower fears.

Of the four elements of nature, fire has been central to the evolution of man. Read more about indigenous peoples in Fiji here....

North America: Native Leaders Band Together To Broker Direct Investment Deals With China

When a group of more than 100 Canadian native leaders arrives in China six weeks from now, they will carry a message that is both historic and disarmingly straightforward: China has vast wealth to invest, and Canada's native communities, with their access to timber, coal and minerals, want to do business.

The China-Canada Aboriginal Business Opportunity will be the largest international native business initiative ever undertaken, according to Calvin Helin, a native lawyer and businessman organizing the trip.

"The opportunity to bring investment into Canada on a scale like this is enormous for the whole nation," Mr. Helin said.

"The problem in the aboriginal community historically is that we have resources and we have assets but we don't have any capital or expertise to develop them."

Native leaders have traditionally been cast by opponents as obstacles to investment, insisting on environmental protections or lengthy consultations that slow the pace of development.

But Mr. Helin argues a tide has turned. A new generation of native leaders is seeking investment in their territory on their own terms. By negotiating nation to nation, offering themselves as business partners to Chinese investors, aboriginal leaders can use their leverage over traditional territories in exchange for an equity stake in the business, he said. Read more about Native Americans and China here....

North America: New Jersey American Indian Tribes Get Recognition

Citing years of neglect and a need for the state to properly recognize three New Jersey American Indian tribes, Gov. Jon S. Corzine signed an executive order Tuesday aimed at promoting equality and granting certain rights and privileges previously unaccessible.

"It is long since time for all of us to move forward in making sure that an important part of New Jersey's cultural, both history and present, is properly addressed," Corzine said.

The order comes nine months after the New Jersey Committee on Native American Community Affairs issued a report recommending the state recognize the rights of the three New Jersey tribes — the Nanticoke Lenni-Lenape, the Powhatan Renape and the Ramapough Lenape — and take steps to improve the lives of their members through fair housing and environmental regulation.

Granting the tribes state-only recognition would give them, along with the state, access to federal funds that can go toward their communities to help with environment, education and health issues. Read more about N.J. American Indian's recognition here....

Canada: Aboriginal Issues Take Centre Stage

Social issues were front and centre at a candidates' forum hosted by the Dene Nation on Monday evening.

More than 120 citizens and party supporters turned out for the event, which was broadcast across the NWT on CKLB Radio. The forum, which was translated into two Dene languages, lasted three hours, with questions ranging from foster family problems, housing shortages, how to get youth involved in the political process and preserving Dene languages.

Noeline Villebrun, the recently announced candidate for the First Peoples National Party of Canada (FPNPC), said she would work to get the government to dutifully implement the treaties it has signed.

Candidates kept civil throughout the debate, rarely attacking each others' policies, choosing more often to speak of their own.

Villebrun, however, let her feelings be known about her fellow candidate's parties, linking the Liberals with past corruption, while stating the NDP had been inactive during their time in the North and then accusing the Conservatives of trying to "do away with treaties."

Aboriginal people make up 51 per cent of the population of the NWT, according to the 2006 Census.

Only Villebrun and Liberal candidate Gabrielle Mackenzie-Scott, the Liberal candidate, addressed the gathering in Dene languages - during their opening statements. Read more about First Nation's issues here....

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

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