Wednesday, February 11, 2009

February 4-10, 2009: Five Key Indigenous Peoples Issues

Five Important Indigenous People's Issues for the Week of February 4-10, 2009

Russia: Siberian Deer Herders Press Putin To Stop Dam

An indigenous tribe who herd deer in Russia's frozen tundra petitioned Prime Minister Vladimir Putin on Tuesday to scrap plans to build a giant hydro-electric dam on their land, their representatives said.

The Evenki say the project, which may cost about $13 billion, would flood an area more than ten times the size of New York City and drive about 2,000 Evenki -- out of 28,000 in Russia -- from their traditional villages and pasture lands.

They have enlisted the help of environment campaigners including WWF and Greenpeace and a host of local groups who have collected 8,000 signatures asking Putin to bin the plans. The signatures were submitted to Putin's office on Tuesday.

"The Evenki are categorically opposed to this hydro-plant and we believe that if the indigenous people are against it then it should be scrapped," said Dmitry Berezhkov, vice president of the Russian Association of the Indigenous Peoples of the North.

"We believe the whole project will have very serious damage on their culture and whole way of life," he said. Read more about Siberian herders here....

Mexico: Paths Of Struggle In A Raging Mexico

A companera of the movement in Huajuapan de León, in the state of Oaxaca, says that they are "Mixtercos" - that is stubborn, stubborn, stubborn...That they fight for everything. But being stubborn has also allowed them to survive more than 500 years of attempts to extinguish them at the hands of colonizers that pushed their way through the Mixteca in different forms – the Spanish, cruel and despotic governments, neo-liberals and foreign investors. The constitution of 1917 never included the first peoples of this territory as it supposedly opened the doors of freedom for the Mexican population. Neither was this freedom realized through the San Andres Accords of 1996 between the Mexican government and the Zapatista Army of National Liberation (EZLN) – a further attempt to reclaim that liberty which had been quashed for hundreds of years – and once again denied with the failure of government to honor its word.

But the Mixtecos, like so many of their Indigenous sisters and brothers across this territory known as Mexico, are not waiting patiently on the other side of the door for a miracle to happen. The knowledge that the State does not act benevolently in a way that destroys its own hegemonic and capitalist entity, has been part of the conscience of many of these first peoples since the time that the beast of colonialism has stalked them in these lands. It is a knowledge that is sometimes so difficult to assimilate for those of us who still hold on to the little or many privileges that the State gives us specifically so that this stubborn nature doesn't propagate like a virus of rebelious spirit.

In the Triqui community of Laguna Guadalupe, in the Oaxacan Mixteca, a schoolteacher who is also one of the community authorities and a member of the community radio committee, shares that although many members of the community have never placed a foot outside its limits, "they know which path we need to take". Read more about the struggle in Oaxaca here....

Philippines: Mamanwa Tribe Now On Their 2nd Week Of "Human Barricade" vs Mining Firms In Taganito

Some 400 members of the Mamanwa tribe are now on their second week of staging a “human barricade” along the highway of Taganito in Claver, Surigao del Norte, demanding their right to one percent royalty from the gross output of the operations of four mining firms there.

Mamanwa members earlier sent notice of termination to the mining firms, informing them they will no longer allow mining in their ancestral lands, claiming the firms failed to pay their one percent royalty fees since 1997.

The barricade started on January 29.

The four firms, Taganito Mining Corporation (TMC), Oriental Synergy Mining Corporation (OSMC), Case Mining Company (CMC) and Platinum Group Mining Company (PGMC), are operating on the Lumads’ 48,678 hectare ancestral land in barangays Taganito and Urbiztondo. The land is covered by a Certificate of Ancestral Domain Title (CADT). Read more about the Mamanwa barricade here....

Nigeria: Jos Crisis... Go Back To Past

Of course, the last is not heard on the recent Jos crisis until genuine effort is seen to be made to tackle the root cause of the calamity. Last week, Governor Jonah Jang raised an alarm that his life was being threatened. However, THISDAY investigation has revealed that some fundamental questions need to be put into perspective in order to achieve a lasting peace on the Plateau. Roland Ogbonnaya writes

Jos, the Plateau State capital with its diverse groups and population has always been a happy city until the recent flare-up of communal crisis of November 28. Though it happened after the state local government election, many have come to establish that the crisis was not politically motivated as many would want to argue. For many, it was a communal/ethnic clash that has been waiting to happen. Unfortunately the local government election provided the mastermind of the crisis the window to vent their bottled-up plan.

According to THISDAY investigations in Jos, peace in the city was shattered when “the Hausa/Fulani ethnic group and its subservient sub-group of very small ethno-religious assemblage, under the so-called Jasawa, most of whom members ran away from the theocratic Northern feudal oppression started to entertain similar territorial and imperial ambitions in their new abode, abusing the hospitality of the natives in the process. Since then communal peace has been largely maintained through sheer tolerance by the natives and other ethnic groups equally irked at the temerity of the Hausa Fulanis, so-called Jasawas.” Read more about the Jos crisis here....

United States: Hawai‘i Delegation Supports Reintroduced Akaka Bill

The four members of Hawai‘i’s congressional delegation this week spoke out in support of The Native Hawaiian Government Reorganization Act of 2009, introduced by Sen. Daniel K. Akaka (D-Hawai‘i) on Wednesday, according to a press release.

Sen. Daniel K. Inouye (D-Hawai‘i) served as an original cosponsor, while Congressman Neil Abercrombie (D-Hawai‘i) introduced a companion bill in the U.S. House of Representatives with Congresswoman Mazie Hirono (D-Hawai‘i) cosponsoring.

The bill, identical to the bill passed by the House in 2000, would begin a process to form a Native Hawaiian government that could negotiate with the state and federal government on behalf of Hawai‘i’s indigenous people.

In his floor statement, Akaka said: “Building on the constitutionally sound and deliberate efforts of Congress and the State of Hawai‘i, it is necessary that Native Hawaiians be able to reorganize a government and enter into discussions with the federal and state governments. My bill would ensure there is a structured process by which Native Hawaiians and the people of Hawai‘i can come together, resolve such complicated issues, and move forward together as a state.” Read more about the Akaka bill here....

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

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