Tuesday, January 13, 2009

January 7-13, 2009: Five Key Indigenous Peoples Issues

Five Important Indigenous People's Issues for the Week of January 7, - 13, 2009

Nigeria: Nicab - Empowering Indigenous Communities

The United States President's Emergency Plan for AIDs Relief (PEPFAR) through USAID awarded a grant to the Christian Health Association of Nigeria CHAN and US based Management Sciences for Health MSH.

It is part of the US government's support to civil society organisations CSOs and faith based organisations FBOs and networks to provide HIV and AIDS prevention, care and treatment services.

The project being implemented with the grant is known as the Nigeria Indigenous Capacity Building Project NICAB. During the bidding process for the grant, the Federation of Muslim Women's Associations of Nigeria FOMWAN was one of numerous CSOs that applied and when CHAN won the bid, the stakeholders decided to work with other network CSOs that applied to ensure that the project reaches the underserved communities in Nigeria. The NICAB project is a joint partnership with Management Sciences for Health and also collaborates with CHAN member institutions and three umbrella organizations to provide high quality HIV/AIDS services to hard to reach People Living with HIV/AIDS PLWHA and their families.

The project aims at strengthening NGOs' ability to respond to HIV/AIDS in their communities by providing quality HIV/AIDS services; and integrating TB and HIV diagnosis and treatment. It hopes to achieve this through three strategic approaches which are; strengthening the capacity of CHAN, developing the capacity of selected NGOs. The NGOs are Civil Society HIV/AIDS Network, CiSHAN, Network of People Living with HIV/AIDS, NEPHWAN, the Federation of Muslim Women's Associations In Nigeria FOMWAN, and other FBOs mainly CHAN Member Institutions or hospitals. The third approach is building the skills of care providers, volunteers, and community leaders. Read more about Nigerian indigenous communities here....

Australia: Calls For Change To Native Title

FIFTEEN years after the introduction of native title, Aboriginal Social Justice Commissioner Tom Calma has warned it is a tough and often cruel system in need of urgent reform.

Mr Calma said native title sat at the bottom of the hierarchy of property rights, cases dragged on for years and communities most affected by colonisation were least likely to have their title recognised.

"The result is that the (Native Title) Act today creates a system which offers extremely limited and delayed recognition of native title — it is far from the original intent of the law," Mr Calma said.

While the passing of the Native Title Act in 1993 was a momentous occasion, there was a need for better outcomes, he said. "There is a pressing need for an overarching, system-wide look at reforming the native title system."

Reconciliation Australia co-chairman Fred Chaney said the Act had fundamentally shifted the balance between indigenous and non-indigenous Australians for the first time since colonisation. But governments had taken a narrow and legalistic approach in the great majority of cases, he said.

Native title has been found to exist in about 872,000 square kilometres, about 11 per cent of the total Australian land mass. In Victoria only 1725 square kilometres, or 0.75 per cent of the state, has been declared native title. Read more about Australian Native title change here....

Colombia: Indians Face Down Violence

After word spread across this Indian reservation that seven people had been kidnapped by leftist rebels, the community's unarmed "indigenous guard" sprang into action.

Within minutes, hundreds of men, women and children were out on roads and pathways searching for the hostages, communicating by radio, cellphone and shouts. Many held lanterns that, as the search continued after nightfall, made the rescue party seem an eerily glowing centipede snaking up and down hillsides.

Soon, the guards had found the hostages. The rebels were holding them in a school, which was quickly surrounded by hundreds of Indians, who, lanterns held high, kept a silent vigil. A guerrilla leader threatened violence and fired his weapon into the air, but no one budged.

After a brief standoff, the unarmed Indians secured the hostages' release.

The incident in November was a dramatic example of how many of Colombia's 92 indigenous communities use a common front and an almost Gandhian stance of nonviolence to coexist with, and sometimes prevail over, the rebels, drug traffickers, paramilitary fighters and government soldiers who for decades have battled one another in the country.

"We forbid violence. All we have is the power to convene," Rodrigo Dagua, leader of the Jambalo tribe, said as he held the so-called staff of command, a ceremonial rod that confers authority on its holder. "It's what keeps us alive." Read more about indigenous Colombian struggles here....

International: Draft American Declaration On The Rights Of Indigenous Peoples Moves Forward

An international human rights declaration geared specifically toward meeting the legal needs of the indigenous peoples of the Americas took a step forward last month when the Organization of American States’ working group in charge of preparing the Draft American Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples held a special session in Washington.

Around 50 indigenous representatives from the Americas attended the special session Dec. 9-12 at OAS headquarters in the Simón Bolívar Room. The OAS is an international body comparable to the United Nations that consists of 35 nations in the Americas. It is the region’s principal multilateral forum for strengthening democracy, promoting human rights, and dealing with shared problems such as poverty, terrorism, illegal drugs and corruption, and carries out mandates established by the hemisphere’s leaders. Visit the group’s Web site at www.oas.org.

The working group is involved in final revisions of the text, working out issues related to the process of negotiation, and pinpointing the particular issues unique to the hemisphere’s indigenous peoples that should be reflected in the declaration.

December’s special session was not a negotiating session, but nevertheless presented challenges, said Leonardo Crippa, a Kolla member from Argentina, and staff attorney at the Indian Law Resource Center, which has been participating in the process of developing the American Declaration since its beginning in 1989. The center’s Web site can be viewed at www.indianlaw.org. Read more about the Draft American Declaration here....

Botswana: Talking Musika

The arts, even as government has refused to believe it in the past 42 years, is one of the areas in which the country enjoys a good level of the 'comparative advantage' that the establishment economists speak about with careless conviction.

The arts is an area in which the country boasts the authentic indigenous culture of the Basarwa - and for my adopted wife's sake - the Bakgalagadi, Bakalaka, and several others who will sink into oblivion because they do not enjoy the favour of the Kings of the super tribes.

Culture policy, and everything that has anything to do with the arts, is addressed as an afterthought. Art is treated in the same manner as athletes treat 'rubbing stuff'. It is treated in the same manner as Domkrag regards the Botswana National Front.

Art is treated in the same way as Phakalane housewives treat tea, coffee or Chibuku, only as something to accompany more serious things such as making a fire for the president, passing stupid media laws and posing to the world as if the country functions as something of a democracy. Read more about Botswana indigenous music here....

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

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