Five Important Indigenous People's Issues for the Week of December 3 - 9, 2008
South America: Uncontacted Tribes Said To Face Genocide
On the day established to remember early relations between North American colonists and Native Americans, indigenous rights groups are amplifying their efforts to protect the very last tribes who remain untouched by colonial influences.
An official in the Brazilian government said late last week that rare Amazonian tribes that have evaded "civilization" thus far could soon be wiped out by illegal ranchers and loggers.
Under most immediate threat is the Piripkura, a tribe with an unknown population that lives in Brazil's northwestern Amazon. Members of the tribe are thought to survive by hunting with wooden sticks and a knife they found in the jungle.
If illegal ranching and logging in their area continues, the tribe will face "genocide," Jose Meirelles, a researcher with Brazil's Indian Affairs agency, stated in a press release put out by Survival International last week.
Survival, which is one of the oldest organizations working to support indigenous people, says loggers have intentionally blocked the Piripkura's trails to drive them off their land. Loss of land can mean death for hunter-gatherer tribes like the Piripkura, and forced contact with outsiders often leads to the spread of deadly illnesses to which they have no immunity.
Logging can also cause conflicts between tribes over scarcer resources, according to Beatriz Huertas, an official with the international indigenous rights group CIPIACI, who was quoted by Reuters last month. Read more about uncontacted indigenous tribes here....
Paraguay: Uncontacted Ayoreo Threatened By Deforestation
Large swathes of native forest have been turned into pasture land in the northern part of Paraguay’s semi-arid Chaco region, as large Brazilian cattle ranchers expand their property in this country.
The ranchers and landowning companies are encroaching on the territory of the Ayoreo-Totobiegosode Indians, and the destruction of forests is threatening the natural and cultural heritage of the nomadic indigenous group, some of whom still live in voluntary isolation in the forest.
"Our situation is very worrisome, because we still have relatives who do not want to be in contact with white society," Porai Picanerai, a leader of the Payipie Ichadie Totobiegosode Organisation (OPIT -- New Totobiegosode Thinking), told IPS.
The Totobiegosode form part of the larger Ayoreo ethnic group.
In early November, there were reports that some uncontacted members of the group had been seen in a deforested area that belongs to Brazilian landowners, on the edge of the indigenous group’s protected territory.
Until December 1986, Picanerai was living in the bush in the northern department (province) of Alto Paraguay, which is part of the Chaco region -- a vast area of dense, scrubby forest that covers western Paraguay and parts of Bolivia and Argentina. Read more about the Ayoreo here....
Nigeria: Aid Agencies Struggle To Cope After Jos Carnage
Aid workers say they are struggling to cope with the fallout of violent clashes between Christians and Muslims in Nigeria’s central city of Jos, in Plateau state, which killed and wounded hundreds of people and displaced some 10,000.
Preliminary police figures show that some 200 people died in the violence, triggered by local election results, but the number is thought to be higher.
Health workers fear infection from dead bodies still strewn about the city, and say they can barely cope with the injured.
Up to 10,000 residents of Jos North, the scene of the violence, have sought refuge in local mosques, churches, and army and police barracks, according to Nigerian Red Cross director in Jos Dan Tom.
The Red Cross is giving medical help to the injured in camps and in the three local hospitals, which, Ishaya Pam, chief medical director of Jos University Teaching Hospital, said are “seriously over-stretched.” He said: “We are short of medical supplies, and we don’t even have enough food to give patients because there are so many of them.”
The Nigerian Emergency Management Agency (NEMA) has been handing out blankets, buckets, kettles, food and water to displaced families but Francis Ayinzat, programme coordinator with the NGO Oxfam in Jos, said: “In one [army] barrack 2,000 people are sleeping on the floor with no basic facilities. Most of the shops are closed and the price of food is increasing dramatically.” Read more about Nigeria and indigenous peoples here....
Puerto Rico: Tradition Counts More Than Beauty At A Pageant
The seven girls posed, preened and smiled with all the energy of Miss Universe contestants, but this was no ordinary pageant.
The competitors, from about 6-years-old to 16, had just paraded through a downpour to a small stage surrounded by mountains, where they displayed elaborate outfits handmade from wood, plants or, in one case, jingling shells. And the judges also sought a special kind of beauty: those who most resembled Puerto Rico’s native Indian tribe, the Taíno, received higher marks.
“It’s different,” said Félix González, president of the National Indigenous Festival of Jayuya, of which the pageant is a part. “It’s not white culture and blue eyes; it says that the part of our blood that comes from indigenous culture is just as important.”
Puerto Ricans have long considered themselves a mix of African, European and Native American influences. But since the 1960s, the Taíno — a tribe wiped from the Antilles by European conquest, disease and assimilation — has come to occupy a special place in the island’s cultural hierarchy.
The streets of Old San Juan are lined with museums and research centers dedicated to unearthing Taíno artifacts and rituals. Children are taught from a young age that “hurricane” is Taíno in origin, from the word “huracán,” while no Latin pop music concert is complete without a shout out to Boricuas — those from Borinquen, the Taíno name for Puerto Rico, which means “land of the brave noble lord.” Read more about indigenous Taino in Puerto Rico here....
Australia: Dodson's Outstation Review To Exclude Aboriginal Communities
ABORIGINES who live in the most remote parts of the Northern Territory are to be excluded from an inquiry into their very existence.
Territory consultant and Aboriginal leader Patrick Dodson yesterday conceded he would spend the next two weeks conducting public hearings on the future of remote outstations -- without visiting any of them.
The Territory Government is formulating a policy on the future of about 500 outstations, following an agreement last year that it would take over responsibility for the settlements from the federal Government.
Under that agreement, the commonwealth will hand over $20million a year over three years to provide municipal and essential services such as water, electricity and sewerage, as well as infrastructure. Mr Dodson described the amount as "very minimal".
Mr Dodson began the first round of consultations in Darwin yesterday. He will visit 17 towns and communities but said it was a "clear fault in the process" that government representatives were not visiting any outstation communities and that no interpreting services in Aboriginal languages had been arranged.
There was anger yesterday from within communities.
Jackie Nguluwidi, an indigenous leader at the homeland of Mapuru, in northeast Arnhem Land adjacent to Elcho Island, said indigenous people from the homelands felt highly uncomfortable discussing the plight of their community on another community's land. Read more about Australian Aboriginals in the Northern Territory here....
Last weeks Five Key Indigenous People's Issues can be found here.
Tuesday, December 9, 2008
Five Important Indigenous People's Issues for the Week of December 3 - 9, 2008
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