Saturday, February 14, 2009

Tule River Native American Oral History Project

The preservation of indigenous people’s history is a critical project in today’s world of rapid cultural and linguistic disappearance. As indigenous people are forced to change their lifeways, much of their history, traditional ecological knowledge (TEK), and oral traditions are lost. In an effort to preserve this knowledge for future generations, indigenous peoples – often in collaboration with authors, activists, NGOs, and even governmental and state agencies – are in the process of working on ways to ensure that this knowledge and history is maintained. In a recent article entitled “The Tule River Tribal History Project: Evaluating a California Tribal Government’s Collaboration with Anthropology and Occupational Therapy to Preserve Indigenous History and Promote Tribal Goals,” one example of how indigenous people are working to preserve their history is lucidly articulated.

In 2004, the Tule River Tribal Council undertook an innovative project to preserve the indigenous history of the Tule River Native American Indian Tribe. The indigenous Tule River tribe is comprised of about 1,500 enrolled members. Of these, about 500 members live on the reservation in the foothills of the Sierra Nevada, in Central California, about 15 miles from the city of Porterville. The reservation is in the San Joaquin Valley, about midway between Bakersfield and Fresno. The Tule River Tribal History Project, as this project came to be called, demonstrates a way that indigenous people can begin to ensure – and control – the preservation of their indigenous history and knowledge.


Postcolonial and indigenous scholars suggest that creating alternative histories is a necessary activity for Native peoples in their recovery from the destructive emotional, behavioral, and political effects of colonial domination. The literature on history-making as a restorative process has focused on mental health, reversing negative representations of indigenous people in mainstream histories, and using Native histories to reclaim land and rights. In 2004, the Tule River Indian Tribe of Central California initiated an innovative history project to engage tribal elders in contributing historical information about themselves and their families for preservation by the Tribe. Theories and methods from postcolonial scholarship, anthropology, and occupational therapy (and its academic discipline occupational science) focused the Tule River Tribal History Project on providing meaningful and enjoyable activities – creating family trees, a tribal photo archive, interviews with elders, social gatherings and community discussions, and a website. The products were made available to participants in digital and printed formats. Copies have since been archived by the Tribal Council and also made available for tribal use at the Towanits Education Center on the Tule River Reservation. Pre-test and post-test survey data indicate: 1) the tribal elders’ high valuation of the history-making activities; and 2) the positive impact of the program on social integration and spiritual well-being.

Read more on Preservation of Indigenous People’s History: An Example From the Tule River Native American Indian Tribal History Project here.

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Friday, February 13, 2009

Native American Graves Protection And Repatriation Act: 2008 Summary

Indian Country Today

By Rob Capriccioso

WASHINGTON – 2008 may be viewed as one of the most momentous years for the Native American Graves Protection and Repatriation Act since the federal law was passed in 1990. The federal law created a legal process for federal agencies and institutions that receive federal funding to return American Indian human remains and cultural items to respective tribes or lineal descendants.

The first big fireworks occurred in April when Secretary of Homeland Security Michael Chertoff announced that NAGPRA was one of several federal laws that would be waived to speed construction of a border fence between the U.S. and Mexico. Under the waiver, more than 55 miles on the Tohono O’odham Reservation in Arizona were affected, as well as several miles on lands owned by individual Indians and on other Indian communities.

“I understood that waiving the laws would generate some controversy,” Chertoff told Indian Country Today in a July interview.

“It’s not that we want to disregard the interests of Native Americans or environmentalists. We’re perfectly open to engaging with them. And we do engage with them if there’s a practical concern, like disturbing a sacred location. ... But we need to be able to do it in a sufficient, informal way, as opposed to getting involved in years of courtroom litigation.”

Read the entire article here.

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Thursday, February 12, 2009

Application For Indigenous Domain Address: Dot Indigi URL

The Dot Indigi organization will apply to ICANN for a new gTLD <.indigi> (or other if the community suggest a different version) to represent all indigenous groups of the world, thus removing the existing indigenous representation issues of the predominantly English DNS. The ability to include non English characters will be a priority at the 2nd and subsequent Levels.

The <.indigi> gTLD will offer registration at the 2nd Level Domain to indigenous organizations who would then govern their own domain name space and resell/distribute 3rd Level Domain names or retain a general project type name at the 2nd Level via the official .indigi registrars. Several other 2nd Level Domains will be made public to cater to indigenous individuals or smaller such groups who cannot justify the expense and set up of their own 2nd Level Domain.

It is envisaged that an annual percentage of profits would be given back to indigenous groups to participate more in ICT projects that empower their organization and people.

Benefits of .indigi

Indigenous people will control their own Internet space thus reducing the current threats of cyber squatting, Intellectual Property rights violations, authentication of content etc.

Render many indigenous squatted domain names of no value to domineers.


The Dot Indigi organisation will apply to ICANN for a new gTLD (domain name like .com) but <.indigi>. Or other if the community suggest a different version.

The purpose it to represent all Indigenous groups of the world, thus removing the existing Indigenous representation issues of the predominantly English Internet naming system.

The ability to include non English characters will be a priority at the 2nd and subsequent Levels.

The <.indigi> domain will offer registration at the 2nd Level Domain to indigenous organizations who would then govern their own domain name space and resell/distribute 3rd Level Domain names or retain a general project type name at the 2nd Level via the official .indigi registrars.

For example: NZ Māori may apply for .māori.indigi and create a a new set of domain names to accommodate their culture. So say for Māori schools, there could be .kura.māori.indigi . Then Māori schools can have their name at the start of the address.

Several other 2nd Level Domains will be made public to cater to indigenous individuals or smaller such groups who cannot justify the expense and set up of their own 2nd Level Domain.

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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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Tuesday, February 10, 2009

ORIGINS: First Nations Theater Brings Jicarilla Apache and Sami Playwrights Together

ORIGINS: First Nations Theater From Around the World was launched at the Australian High Commission in London in 2007. The mission of ORIGINS is simple--bring the best Indigenous theater to international audiences. The Inaugural season is set for May 4-17 in London and will feature Indigenous theater companies from Australia, New Zealand, Canada and the US.

ORIGINS On The Road is part of the ORIGINS mission. ORIGINS On The Road brings Indigenous theatermakers to Indigenous and non-Indigenous theaters and communities around the world. In 2008, we toured Aboriginal Australian playwright David Milroy to the upper Midwest, including the University of Minnesota, the University of Kansas, Fort Berthold Community College (North Dakota), Sinte Gleska University, Oglala Lakota College, and Haskell Indian Nations University. Mr. Milroy founded Yirra Yaakin Noongar Theater, the first Aboriginal theater company in Australia and is known throughout Australia for his works, most notably Windmill Baby, which has been performed internationally as well as throughout Australia.

This year, ORIGINS On the Road will bring Jicarilla Apache playwright David Velarde to a Sami playwrights workshop in Norway under the auspices of the Beaivvas Sami Theatre. ORIGINS On the Road will also bring Sami playwright Harriet Nordlund to the upper Midwest. She is one of the founders of the Beaivvas Sami Theatre, the first Sami theater company in Scandinavia and is renowned for her work as a director, actor and playwright.

For more information, please contact
Dr Gordon Bronitsky
Executive Producer
ORIGINS: First Nations Theater From Around The World ORIGINS On the Road and President Bronitsky and Associates
+1 505 238 3739

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Monday, February 9, 2009

Rohingya People Forcibly Expelled from Myanmar/Burma: Amnesty International Reports

Hundreds of Myanmar's Rohingya people are missing at sea and many more are at risk of drowning after Thai authorities forcibly expelled large groups of Rohingyas seeking refuge.

Thousands of Rohingyas, a Muslim minority from Rakhine State, western Myanmar (formerly Burma), who have been subjected to years of persecution in Myanmar, have fled in recent months on boats sailing for Thailand and Malaysia.

However, the Thai military forcibly expelled around 1,000 Rohingyas arriving in southwest Thailand by boat, while the Indian and Indonesian authorities have rescued hundreds of them. Hundreds of Rohingyas are missing or have died after the Thai security forces set them adrift in unseaworthy boats with little or no food and water.
Myanmar Burma Map
"The Rohingya's situation has reached a critical stage over the last two months. The Thai government must stop forcibly expelling Rohingyas and provide them with immediate humanitarian assistance and cease any plans to proceed with more expulsions," said Sam Zarifi, Amnesty International's Asia-Pacific Director.

Indonesia announced on Thursday that it was still determining the fate of almost 200 Rohingyas and Bangladeshis who had landed in Weh Island, Aceh province on 7 January. The Indian navy have rescued hundreds of Rohingyas on or near the Andaman Islands.

In light of the plight of the Rohingyas, Amnesty International has urged Myanmar to stop the systematic persecution of the group. Amnesty International has also urged Myanmar's neighbours to provide the UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR) immediate access to all Rohingyas in their territory and to ratify the UN Convention relating to the Status of Refugees, its 1967 Protocol, and the UN Convention relating to the Status of Stateless Persons.

"The governments of Bangladesh, Malaysia, Indonesia, India, Myanmar, Thailand and India must also fulfil their obligation to provide assistance to those in distress at sea, regardless of nationality, status or circumstances, and to provide a search and rescue service."

"We welcome Thai Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva's stated commitment to convene a regional forum on the Rohingyas. It is only through a regional initiative, involving Bangladesh, India, Indonesia, Malaysia, Myanmar and Thailand, and with the participation of UNHCR, that a durable solution can be found to the plight of the Rohingyas," said Sam Zarifi.

"Any regional solution must ensure that those Rohingyas who have a well-founded fear of persecution in Myanmar are not returned there."

For the last three decades, hundreds of thousands of Rohingyas have fled systematic persecution to neighbouring countries in Asia, the vast majority to Bangladesh. Within Myanmar, the Rohingyas suffer from specific deeply discriminatory policies targeting them. They are denied citizenship and are thus effectively stateless.

Rohingyas who are returned to Myanmar continue to be at serious risk of human rights violations, including forced labour, forced eviction, land confiscation, and severe restrictions on freedom of movement.

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Sunday, February 8, 2009

Impacts to Indigenous People's Lands from Development Projects

Barbara Adam’s book Timescapes of Modernity: The Environment and Invisible Hazardsargues that many of the most fundamental problems modern (often understood as Western) society faces are due to government decisions that are often made based on short-term and spatially narrow impact decisions. As she argues in her book, these decisions are being made when long-term and spatially wide impacts are involved. These long-term and spatially wide impacts, it is further argued, disrupt the timescapes of the human and natural environment. Timescapes, as Adams defines them are the timings and tempos – the changes and contingencies – of the human and natural environment (Adam, 1998: 11). Timescapes, in essence, are the physical and cultural embodiment of practiced approaches to time in space; they are the traditional lifeways of indigenous peoples.

In a recent article entitled “Timescapes in Conflict: Cumulative Impacts on a Solar Calendar,” anthropologists, researchers, and Native Americans discuss how the timescapes of a solar calendar, along with traditional lands in which it is located, have been impacted over the last 200 years, with a special focus on recent gas and electric developments. Their article and case study prove to be a valuable example of how governments, agencies, and others should look at impact assessments and other methodologies used in modern development projects, as it clearly demonstrates the consequences of multiple impacts over time.

The headwaters of the Tunakwint River, known today as the Santa Clara River, begin in the upper reaches of the western flanks of the Pine Valley Mountain range in southern Utah. This watershed is the focus of hundreds of special Native American Indian places, especially of the Paiute, including ceremonial, religious, and cultural sites and resources. It is also an area full of water and puha (a kind of creation energy), deriving from the tall volcanic mountains and small lava flows that constitute the headwaters, the boundaries, and the topography of the Tunakwint River basin.

Read more on the Long-Term Impacts to Indigenous People’s Lands from Electric, Gas, and Energy Corridors and Projects: A Case From Native North America here.

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