Saturday, April 18, 2009

Awasis 2009 Aboriginal Education Conference: Call for Papers

Awâsis 2009 Aboriginal Education Conference

April 29 - May 1
Saskatoon Inn
Saskatoon, Saskatchewan

Awâsis is the Cree term for "child." The Awâsis Aboriginal Education Conference aims to improve Aboriginal knowledge and spirituality for all people. The primary mandate of Awâsis is a holistic approach in the following four strands or themes:

Awâsis 4 strands or holistic themes include Wellness, Spirituality, Culture and Education.

Our Presenters

This year, the new council has procured a group of excellent presenters. The 2009 Conference includes keynote addresses by Dr. Craig Howe and Dr. Leroy Little Bear.

Awâsis 2009 Forms to Download:

These are the forms necessary to download, fill out and send in to participate in the Awâsis Aboriginal Education Conference. Please return the pertinent forms with payment, sessions registered for as payment received. Thank you.

Call for Presenters form to download (pdf file)

"Conference Package" form to download (pdf file)
PLEASE NOTE: This package has included in it the Online Registration Form

"Awasis Table Rental" form to download (pdf file)

Entertainment following the banquet is to be Saskatchewan's very own Aboriginal band "New Horizon." More on the award-winning band "New Horizon" can be found HERE.

Extra tickets available at the door after the banquet....$10.00 per ticket

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Friday, April 17, 2009

KBN Indigenous Economic Development Conference: Murrinbidja Trade Fair

2009 Murrinbidja Trade Fair & Business Showcase

In celebration and recognition of Reconciliation Week 2009, the Murrinbidja Trade Fair and Business Showcase is a significant component of Yulkuum-Jerrang, the second KBN Indigenous Economic Development Conference. The Trade Fair provides an excellent opportunity for corporate buyers and the public to purchase goods, services and products from Indigenous businesses.

The first day of Murrinbidja on Wednesday 27 May will be open to both the public and buyers and will remain open for the duration of the Conference. Murrinbidja will provide an opportunity for businesses to sell, network and promote their business over three days. Training and assistance for Indigenous businesses wishing to participate is available.

It is expected that there will be up to 50 businesses and agencies participating in the Trade Fair, to be held between 27 - 29 May 2009.

27 May 2009 10am - 6pm
Open to Corporate Buyers and the General Public
Official Ministerial Launch at 10am

28 & 29 May 2009
Open to Conference Delegates

Exhibition Booths
Each stand comes equipped with:

  • 2.4m high Velcro compatible back wall stepped sides
  • One corflute sign (1800mm long x 200mm high). Computer cut vinyl lettering (max. 26 characters)
  • Single general power outlet
  • Two spotlights per booth

Please note the exhibition will not include manned security. If you have valuable equipment on your display stand it is advised that it is removed when left unattended.


* Government and Corporate businesses = $1,400.00 + GST
* Indigenous businesses = $700.00 + GST
* Victorian Indigenous businesses = $200.00 + GST

Individual Display Items

Individual design, extra power and lighting, furniture and pot plants can be arranged with the exhibition booth providers at additional cost. Details will be provided on booking. Prior notice of any oversize or overweight display items should be given to ensure adequate access is available.

For cancellation the following applies:

* Two months or more prior to conference - 50% refund
* Less than two months prior to conference - no refund.

Exhibition Times

The Exhibition will be open from 10am Wednesday 27 May 2009 through 3pm Friday 29 May 2009.

Please note: All exhibitors passes exclude access to conference sessions.
Exhibition Booking Form & Floor Plan

To book an Exhibition Booth please complete the Murrinbidja Trade Fair & Business Showcase Booking Form and fax it to Conference Works on + 61 3 9870 1723.

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Thursday, April 16, 2009

5th Cowichan International Aboriginal Film Festival Begins Today

Beginning today through April 19 the Cowichan International Aboriginal Film Festival will be screening in Duncan, British Colombia.

Welcome to the 5th Cowichan International Aboriginal Film Festival, taking place from April 16-19,2009 in Duncan, British Columbia. This annual event is organized by the Cowichan Intercultural Festival of Film & Arts Society. Many of the festival events take place on the traditional lands of the Cowichan people, in the Cowichan Region of southern Vancouver Island. It is with the generous support and partnership of Cowichan Tribes that we enter into this celebration of indigenous film and art, featuring an international slate of films, art, and dance.

5th Cowichan International Aboriginal Film Festival
April 16 - 19, 2009
Cowichan Theatre
Duncan BC
Cowichan International Indigenous Aboriginal Film Festival

We are pleased to be screening the following films at the 5th annual Cowichan International Aboriginal Festival of Film & Art.

April 15th 7:00 pm
Wed. Sneak Preview
Showing at The Duncan Garage Showroom
- Zwei Indianer Auf Winnepeg
-The Box of Wisdom Totem Pole
- Chance
- Triptych

April 16th 7:00 pm
Thur. Opening Ceremonies
Showing at Cowichan Theatre
- Karla
- Ancestor Eyes
- Sikumi "On The Ice"

April 17th 7:00 pm
Fri. Film Screenings
Showing at Cowichan Theatre
- Killer Whale & Crocodile
- A Future Past Voice

April 18 1:30 pm
Sat. Afternoon Film Screenings
-Lady Raven
-Two Crossed Masks
-Asveq, The Walrus Hunt
-Eyes Wide Open
-2009 youth award winning films

April 18th 7:00 pm
Sat. Film Screenings
Showing at Cowichan Theatre
- Escape Over the Himalayas
- Making it to the River

April 19th 7:00 pm
Sun. Film Screenings
Showing at Cowichan Theatre
- Out In The Cold
- El Regalo de la Pachamama

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Wednesday, April 15, 2009

April 8-14, 2009: Five Key Indigenous Peoples Issues

Five Key Indigenous Peoples Issues for the Week of April 8-14, 2009

Russia: Moscow’s Heavy-Handedness Pushing a Well-Armed Siberian People toward Violence

Moscow’s push for the construction of a hydro-electric dam on the Lower Tunguska in Siberia is having an unexpected and very much unwanted consequence: the transformation of the land of the Evenk nationality into “a hot spot” far from any other, according to a leading Siberian analyst.

In an article posted online on Friday, Dmitry Verkhoturov says that “the struggle around the project of the Evenk Hydroelectric Station on the Lower Tunguska has entered a new stage,” one in which Moscow’s heavy-handedness is pushing the members of the numerically small but well-armed Evenk nation to consider violence (

As it has elsewhere, Russian officials have tended to assume that they can either ignore the protests of local people against projects that will destroy their homelands or successfully use a much-practiced “political technology” to divide the locals and thus allow Moscow to rule. But in the case of the Evenks, Verkhoturov says, the center has miscalculated.

On the one hand, the 35,000 Evenks have joined forces with other minorities and with environmental protection groups to call attention to the ways in which Moscow’s planned dam will flood their lands, destroy their traditional way of life, and leave them with little or no hope for the future.

And on the other, Moscow’s usual approach in such circumstances has not worked. Typically, agents of the center adopt the following strategy. They try to “split local residents into two parties: those who favor the project and those who oppose it, allowing the central government to claim that most local people support whatever Moscow wants. Read more about the Evenks indigenous people here....

Bolivia: Declaring Autonomy in Bolivia

One indigenous community in Bolivia is moving closer to the autonomy promised in the country’s new constitution.

Representatives of the Mojeño, Yuracare and Chiman peoples formally declared their indigenous territory, the Indigenous Territory and National Isiboro Secure Park (Tipnis), to be autonomous Feb. 9, making it the first indigenous region to declare autonomy based on provisions of the new Bolivian Constitution.

Indigenous leaders presented the formal statute of autonomy at an assembly in Beni where it will be submitted to a vote by communities in that region. The new constitution, ratified in January, recognizes “indigenous autonomy” as “self-government as the free determination of the original peoples and nations.”

In their resolution, the Mojeño, Yuracare and Chiman peoples cited articles 289, 290, 291, 292, 293, 294, 296 and 385 of the constitution as the legal basis for their application; “…with all the established rights, duties and powers.”

“With that determination,” stated an official Bolivian government press release about the resolution, “the process towards self-government is begun. …”

What is not clear, however, is what else exactly would be needed to formally acquire autonomy. The constitution states that, “…the law establishes minimum requirements in terms of population and other factors for the creation of indigenous autonomy. …” It also notes that Bolivia has 36 indigenous peoples, characterized by the sharing of “territory, culture, history, languages and organization and their own juridical, political, social and economic institutions.” Read more about the Mojeño, Yuracare and Chiman peoples here....

Africa: U.S. Ambassador Threatens More Sanctions Against Zimbabwe

United States and British attacks on Zimbabwe’s independence are escalating. On April 9, the U.S. ambassador to Zimbabwe, James McGee, warned that U.S. economic sanctions would be increased unless President Mugabe and the ZANU-PF implemented all imperialist-imposed economic measures.

The United States and Britain imposed economic sanctions against Zimbabwe in 2003. The sanctions have the stated goal of overthrowing the government of Zimbabwe. The six-year-long blockade has devastated the country, resulting in the deaths of thousands of people.

The sanctions were imposed when the country’s land reform movement, supported by the ZANU-PF and Mugabe’s government, began rightfully expropriating white-owned farmland that had been stolen from the people through a century of racist colonial domination and violence.

Zimbabwe is currently governed by a unity government, which is made up of the ZANU-PF and the imperialist-favored Movement for Democratic Change, led by U.S.-supported Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai. On March 27, Tsvangirai, appearing on BBC World News report, defended the right of the white settlers to hold onto the majority of the country’s rich agricultural land:

"This government is aware that most of the ongoing disruptions of agricultural production, which are being done in the name of the land reform process, are actually acts of theft. … Those continuing to undertake these activities will be arrested and face justice in the courts. … I have asked the minister of home affairs to ensure that all crimes are acted upon and the perpetrators arrested and charged." Read more about the land reforms here....

Colombia: Colombian Indians Seek Security

Colombia's indigenous peoples have traditionally opposed attempts by any side to involve them in the country's long-running conflict between left-wing rebels, government forces and paramilitary gangs.

But Colombian President Alvaro Uribe has recently managed to recruit one tribe, albeit with difficulty, into his campaign against Marxist guerrillas.

Just out of sight of the Caribbean Coast, the mountains of the Sierra Nevada climb to snow-capped peaks of 5,800m (19,000ft).

This part of the country has long been fought over by guerrillas, right-wing paramilitaries and drugs cartels, who all want control over its drug crops and the routes that roll down to the sea and across to the US.

Some 1,000 metres above sea level lies the heart of the reservation of the Arhuaco people, one of the more traditional indigenous tribes, whose members wear white robes and speak a language that greeted the Spanish Conquistadors when they landed here some five centuries ago. Read more about the security concerns here....

Bolivia: Bolivian President Announces Hunger Strike

President Evo Morales announced he was starting a hunger strike on Thursday to pressure Bolivia's congress to set a firm date for general elections that are likely to return him to power.

Bolivia's opposition-led Senate has failed to approve a law to handle the elections, which are mandated by a Morales-backed constitutional reform approved by voters in January.

The socialist president, who took office in 2006, has suggested opposition leaders are trying to block the planned December elections with delaying tactics.

He told reporters Thursday he was starting the strike "to defend the vote of the people."

Fourteen leaders of labor and social groups said they were joining the president on the hunger strike.

They did not say how rigorous it would be, but such protests in Bolivia usually involve taking water and chewing coca leaves, which help ward off hunger pangs. Morales rose to prominence as leader of a coca-growers' union. Read more about Morales' hunger strike here....

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

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Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Two Statements on Desecration of Indigenous Native Hawaiian Burial Sites

Two Statements on Desecration of Indigenous Native Hawaiian Burial Sites

September 12, 2008 Statement on Naue by Kanaka Maoli Scholars Against Desecration (First Statement)

As Kanaka Maoli professors and scholars we write to publicly condemn the state-sponsored desecration of a Native Hawaiian burial site at Wainiha, Kaua`i resulting from the construction of a new home at Naue Point by California businessman Joseph Brescia. For years Brescia has been tryingto build a home on top of our ancestral graves despite a litany of environmental, legal and community challenges to his construction. In 2007 Brescia unearthed and then covered over the bones of our ancestors when he began clearing the area. The illegal and immoral disturbance and desecration of our ancestors’ remains must stop now.

The Hawai`i revised statute 711-1107 on Desecration specifically states that no one may commit the offense of desecrating "a place of worship or burial," and the statute defines "desecrate" as "defacing, damaging, polluting, or otherwise physically mistreating in a way that the defendant knows will outrage the sensibilities of persons likely to observe or discover the defendant's action." In complete contradiction to their own law, the State Historic Preservation Division of the Department of Land and Natural Resources approved a "burial treatment plan" for Brescia that undermines both the very concept of historic preservation and the reason for the founding of the Hawai`i Burials Council: to protect burials, not "treat" them. This "burial treatment plan" enabled Brescia to secure permits to build as long as the graves remain "in place," which in this case means the burials have been capped with concrete already poured for the footings of his house. Read the rest of the first statement here....

Kānaka Maoli Scholars Against Desecration - Second Statement on Naue, March 24, 2009 (First Statement)

(for more information, questions or letters of support, please contact J. Kehaulani Kauanui, Ph.D. at This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it )

As Kānaka Maoli scholars we write to follow-up on our statement from September 13, 2008 publicly condemning the state-sponsored desecration of a Native Hawaiian burial site at Wainiha, Kaua`i resulting from the construction of a new home at Naue Point by California real estate developer Joseph Brescia. Both the state abuse of power and the desecration continue unabated and must come to a halt.

In the late 1980s, in response to a massive burial site disturbance at Honokahua, Maui, Kanaka Maoli came together to challenge the laws that allowed this type of sacrilege. As a result of this history, five Island Burial Councils were created and are administratively attached to the State Historic Preservation Division (SHPD) of the Department of Land and Natural Resources to address concerns relating to Native Hawaiian burial sites. By Hawai`i state statute, the composition of each island Burial Council must consist of a majority of Kānaka Maoli. The preservation criteria established by state law favor the “preservation in place” of burial sites that contain a “concentration of skeletal remains,” or are “pre-contact” or “historic period” burial sites associated with important individuals and events.

At Naue, there are 30 known burial remains within less than half of an acre, with a high likelihood that more remains are present. Naue is a significant historical site that is frequently acknowledged in hula, oli, mele, and other Hawaiian knowledge sources. Accordingly, the Kaua`i-Ni`ihau Island Burial Council appropriately voted to preserve in place the burial site on the property claimed by Brescia. Read the rest of the second statement here....

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Monday, April 13, 2009

U.S. Funded Military Mapping Project in Oaxaca: Fallout Continues

The fallout from the U.S. funded military mapping project continues. Several new articles have been posted on the subject:

U.S. Military Funded Mapping Project in Oaxaca: Geographers used to gather intelligence?

War was God's way of teaching Americans geography," once wrote Ambrose Bierce, an American journalist and social critic. Today, a University of Kansas (KU) professor may be using geography to teach Americans war.

Dr. Jerome Dobson, a geography professor and president of the American Geographical Society (AGS), sent out a one-and-a-half page white paper sometime in late 2004-early 2005 to the Department of Defense and civilian agencies looking for funding to promote a $125 million "academic" project that would send geographers to countries all over the globe to conduct fieldwork.

"The greatest shortfall in foreign intelligence facing the nation is precisely the kind of understanding that geographers gain through field experience, and there's no reason that it has to be classified information," wrote Dobson. "The best and cheapest way the government could get most of this intelligence would be to fund AGS to run a foreign fieldwork grant program covering every nation on earth."

This fieldwork program, named the Bowman Expeditions, was enthusiastically received by Dr. Geoffrey Demarest, a former Lieutenant Colonel and current Latin America specialist at the U.S. Army's Foreign Military Studies Office (FMSO). The FMSO is a research center housed at Fort Leavenworth, about 50 miles down the road from KU. According to its website, FMSO "conducts analytical programs focused on emerging and asymmetric threats, regional military and security developments, and other issues that define evolving operational environments around the world." Demarest, a School of the Americas graduate who served multiple assignments in Latin America during his 23-year military career, has written extensively about counterinsurgency and believes mapping and property rights are necessary tools to advance U.S. security strategies, such as with Plan Colombia. He helped secure a $500,000 grant to partially fund México Indígena, the first Bowman Expedition, which until recently has been quietly mapping indigenous lands in Oaxaca, Mexico. Read the rest of the article here....

Mapping Controversy in Oaxaca: Interview with Aldo Gonzalez, Indigenous Rights Officer of UNOSJO

Zapotec leader calls for withdrawal of US military funded mapping project from rural Oaxaca communities, accusing geographers of counter-insurgency activities.

When the Union of Social Organizations of the Sierra Juarez of Oaxaca (UNOSJO) released a press statement last January denouncing the Mexico Indigena / Bowman Expeditions extensive geographical project to produce maps of the “digital human terrain” of Zapotec communities, they had little idea the storm it would create across the globe. Charging the US geographers with lack of full disclosure with regard to the funding received from the US Military Foreign Military Studies Office (FMSO), UNOSJO claimed that the Zapotec participants felt like “they had been the victims of an act of geo-piracy”.

Following sensational headlines in local Oaxaca newspapers, the story was taken up at a national and international level, from Mexico to Moscow to Seoul. Although hardly meriting a mention in the US media, the controversy did however ignite fury in the blogsphere, and on English language listservs and websites. While raising significant questions regarding research ethics and academic collaboration with the military in the US, the crucial issue at hand in Mexico remains US interference in the region, by conducting an intelligence-driven mapping project focusing on both counterinsurgency and bio-piracy. Taking into account the 2006 Uprising in Oaxaca that almost overthrew its incumbent governor as well as the existence of armed insurgent groups in the state, Oaxaca does lend itself as a staging ground for focusing on what the US Foreign Military Studies Office calls “emerging and asymmetric threats”. Read more of the interview here....

The Demarest Factor: The Ethics of U.S. Department of Defense Funding for Academic Research in Mexico

On October 23, 2006 the Lawrence Journal World or LJ World published an article which silently uncovered a funding scandal within Kansas University, in Lawrence, Kansas. In 2005, the university’s department of geography received at least $500,000 in Department of Defense funds to map communally held indigenous land in the states of San Luis Potosi, and in Oaxaca, Mexico.

As a result of this original story, on November 26th, of 2007 published a feature follow up story on the funding scandal titled “The Road to Hell”, which elaborates on the the potential dangers of this type of militarily funded mapping project. Since the publication of this 2007 article, myself and a growing number of community members and students from both sides of the U.S. Mexico border, have engaged in several extensive investigations into the details of this particular research project. Our growing concern has revolved around, academic ethics violations due to improper transparency with communities about the research funding, and serious U.S. Army violations of Mexican sovereignty, and of indigenous autonomy. Our collective research over the last year has resulted in several key pieces of irrefutable evidence, demonstrating both academic ethics violations, and serious violations of Mexican sovereignty and indigenous autonomy.

The Scandal:

Kansas University Geography professors, Peter Herlihy and Jerome Dobson received the funding for their mapping project, named the Bowman Expeditions, from the Foreign Military Studies Office (FMSO) located at the Fort Leavenworth U.S. Army base in Leavenworth, Kansas. The Mexican incarnation of the project is named “Mexico Indigena” and began mapping in 2005 in an indigenous region known as “La Husteca”, which is partially located in the state of San Luis Potosi, and then moved their operation to the state of Oaxaca amidst the statewide popular uprising of the APPO - Oaxacan Peoples’ Popular Assembly, in 2006.

On the 14th of January, 2009, UNOSJO, the Union of Organizations of the Sierra Juárez of Oaxaca, released a communique in which the organization expresses concerns of BioPiracy in the Mexico Indigena mapping project, and claims that communities were deceived, having no idea that a primary funder of the project was the FMSO. UNOSJO cites a clear lack of transparency and additional suspicions of implications related to the US Army’s controversial Human Terrain Mapping System. Indeed there is very compelling evidence that the FMSO is engaging in what they themselves define as “Civil Information Management in Support of Counterinsurgency Operations.” Read more on the scandal here....


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Sunday, April 12, 2009

Indigenous Siraya People of Taiwan: Protest Status by Government

On May 2nd, 2009, the Siraya people, one of several low-land Indigenous Peoples in Taiwan, will be gathering in Taipei for a peaceful protest to demand the formal redress of their status by the government.

The Siraya are currently on record as being “ripe (savage)”, an undeniably racist label that became official in the early 1900s.

What’s more, the Siraya are widely regarded in mainstream society as being an extinct people. But that’s just not the case, as the Siraya themselves have been proving over the past ten years.

Indeed, the Siraya’s language, identity and culture was just laying dormant—and now it is ready to flourish once again.

For this end, the Tainan Pingpu Siraya Culture Association, who’s organizing the upcoming protest, has put together a petition to support the Siraya’s effort to reclaim their identities.
Map of Indigenous Peoples Territories in Taiwan
Please take a moment to sign the petition:

Our Statement: Please give us back our names

For us Pingpu peoples in Taiwan, it is too long a time that we have been forgotten in the modern history of Taiwan. Structural violence in the government’s policy has emptied the phrase “life of Pingpu” and made it a historical term that only awaits condolence. Such policy and history ignore the fact that we are still living strong. For generations, we reside on this beautiful island of Formosa, surviving and reproducing, but we remain unrecognized and our names lost. Today, the Pingpu peoples have become orphans in our own country. We are absent, with blank names.

Based on (1) the acknowledgment of self-determination as one of indigenous peoples’ basic human rights, (2) the recognition of Siraya people’s own claim to indigenous identity and justice in history, (3) and reassuring the collective will of the indigenous peoples, since the beginning of 2009 Tainan County Government has responded to the Siraya individuals, whose families were registered as “ripe (savage)” during the Japanese occupation of Taiwan, by re-registering them officially as “indigenes.” Such an act has its legal basis: Taiwan Government’s Province Regulation, Item 128663 (1/22/1957), and Civil Regulation, Item 01957 (3/11/1957), clearly state that the individuals registered as “ripe” under Japanese rule should be recognized and re-registered as low-land indigenes.

Unfortunately, the Council for Indigenous Peoples under Taiwan’s central government has still not yet responded to the Pingpu peoples’ claim and request. Therefore, Tainan Pingpu Siraya Culture Association has taken the initiative to start this petition. Also, on May 2nd, 2009, the Siraya people and our friends will gather on Katagalan Blvd. in Taipei for a street protest in front of the central government, to express our voices and seek support from all sectors of the society and governmental institutions. For our children, for the Pingpu group, for the basic human rights, and for justice in the history, we demand the government return the accurate identity and deserved dignity to the Pingpu peoples, who have never disappeared.

Our request

1. Council for Indigenous Peoples (CIP) should admit that it is the government’s mistake and its improper laws that have deprived the indigenous identity of the Pingpu peoples. We request CIP redress such mistakes by directing the local governments on the city and county levels, via official administrative orders, that they recognize and return the “indigenous” identity to the Pingpu individuals whose families were formerly registered as “ripe (savage)” under the Japanese rule.

2. CIP should also recognize that there are Pingpu individuals who and/or whose families were not able to be registered as “ripe” under the former governments. Hence, we demand CIP re-examine Item #8 of the Regulation Concerning Indigenous Identity and adhere to the two principles in common legal practice, “analogy” and “applicability,” to provide these individuals a proper legal basis for attaining the official indigenous identity.

3. It is a simple fact that the Pingpu peoples’ concern with attaining official indigenous status is completely constitutional, legal, rational, and humane. Hence, CIP should also seek consensual resolutions for the related issues such as human rights, policies, and their implementations, by having honest conversations with the Pingpu peoples. CIP should never put inadequate political considerations above the basic rights of the Pingpu peoples.

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