News-in-Transition

14 April 2017

 - Indigenous peoples around the world tell myths which contain warning signs for natural disasters. Scientists are now listening.

Shortly before 8am on 26 December 2004, the cicadas fell silent and the ground shook in dismay. The Moken, an isolated tribe on the Andaman Islands in the Indian Ocean, knew that the Laboon, the ‘wave that eats people’, had stirred from his ocean lair. The Moken also knew what was next: a towering wall of water washing over their island, cleansing it of all that was evil and impure. To heed the Laboon’s warning signs, elders told their children, run to high ground.

The tiny Andaman and Nicobar Islands were directly in the path of the tsunami generated by the magnitude 9.1 earthquake off the coast of Sumatra. Final totals put the islands’ death toll at 1,879, with another 5,600 people missing. When relief workers finally came ashore, however, they realised that the death toll was skewed. The islanders who had heard the stories about the Laboon or similar mythological figures survived the tsunami essentially unscathed. Most of the casualties occurred in the southern Nicobar Islands. Part of the reason was the area’s geography, which generated a higher wave. But also at the root was the lack of a legacy; many residents in the city of Port Blair were outsiders, leaving them with no indigenous tsunami warning system to guide them to higher ground.

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3 April 2017

 - “For thousands of years Australia was a timeless land where things stood still and very little change took place. The Aboriginal people were cut off from the rest of the world, unaware of all the things going on around the globe. Time had passed them by, whilst in other places, great civilisations built up, and great civilisations were built up on the ruins of other civilisations.

“It was a world of good and evil. Great and wonderful things were happening as humanity strived towards greater knowledge and understanding. Scholars traveled all over the world seeking knowledge in other lands, exchange of cultures and ideas were taking place, it was an exciting world of new discoveries and inventions as mankind pressed ever forward. It was also a world of great and terrible things, as large armies clashed and wars swept continents.

“Civilisation as we have it today,  did not come easily to mankind, for there was a price to pay. The price paid, was the blood, sweat, and tears of the people of the ages. Cultures clashed with cultures, there was religious intolerance, and whole races of people became wiped out from the face of the earth.

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1 April 2017

 - Under a new bill introduced on Capitol Hill, the federal government would pay the Navajo Nation nearly $200 million for water projects, with another $8 million coming from Utah, as part of a deal to end more than a decade of contention over water rights.

Senator Orrin Hatch (R-Utah) introduced the bill on Thursday, with Representative Jason Chaffetz (R-Utah) filing companion legislation in the House. Senate Bill 664 would authorize the US government to spend up to $198.3 million for Navajo water projects like wells, pipelines and treatment plants.

It took more than 13 years for a federal negotiations team from the Bureau of Reclamation, the state of Utah and the Navajo Nation to agree to a deal, which the current Navajo Nation Council listed as a priority when it took office in 2015. Formal discussions between Utah and the Navajo Nation began after the two sides signed a memorandum of agreement in 2003.

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28 March 2017

 - Brazilian airline Gol has agreed to pay R$4m ($1.3m) to the Kayapo indigenous tribe as compensation for material and spiritual damage caused by a 2006 plane crash which left a huge tract of their land “cursed”.

Almost 11 years ago, a Gol Boeing 737 passenger plane and a private jet were involved in a mid-air collision over the Amazon that sent the Gol aircraft crashing into the middle of the Kayapo’s reserve in the state of Mato Grosso. All 154 people on board were killed and the indigenous tribe has refused to return to the area where the plane crashed down. The wreckage has remained in the woods to this day.

The Kayapo say the land is contaminated by jet fuel and cursed because of the tragic loss of lives. Publica report that the tribe no longer eat bee’s honey from that area, nor do they hunt or farm on the land. One of the tribe’s 12 villages relocated as a result.

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26 January 2017

 - The drama and injustice on display at Standing Rock have taught a new generation of observers what Native Americans already know: Even today theirs is a brutal fight to survive.

The world has been shocked by North Dakota’s violent reaction to the anti-oil pipeline resistance at Standing Rock. For the better part of a year, people have watched via social media, then increasingly on conventional media outlets, as heavily armed law enforcement officers and private contractors attacked unarmed civilians with rubber bullets, mace, tear gas, batons, and water cannons in sub-freezing temperatures. Water protectors, as the demonstrators call themselves, have been dragged from prayer ceremonies, injured, and arrested. More than 100 have been hospitalized.

The force used against unarmed civilians has been extreme, even by military wartime standards.

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22 December 2016

 - With so much attention on this year on the struggle of the Standing Rock Sioux people in their opposition to the Dakota Access Pipeline project in North Dakota, it’s worth asking the world if the concern for indigenous people, water, nature, and sacred lands is great enough to extend to the land and people of the Amazon.

In what represents the greatest and most dangerous escalation of tensions between indigenous Ecuadorians and the government approved corporate business model of resource extraction across the continent of South America, the Shuar people in the southern region of Morona Santiago Province, Ecuador are locked in a desperate struggle with the military over mining licenses granted to a Chinese corporation.

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7 December 2016

standing rock veterans - Today, hundreds of veterans from across the United States took a knee and begged for forgiveness for crimes committed toward indigenous people in the name of the U.S. military.

A massive awakening is being realized, and it’s stemming from the Standing Rock protest camps located near Cannon Ball, North Dakota. Since April, “water protectors” have been protesting the development of a four-state Dakota Access Pipeline.

Individuals in support of the Standing Rock Sioux tribe, who believe the land is rightfully theirs due to an 1851 treaty, have been maced, tased, beaten with batons, shot with rubber bullets, and even sprayed down with water canons in freezing temperatures because they believe the DAPL’s construction will uproot burial ground and potentially contaminate the Missouri river.

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29 November 2016

 - Although world attention is now focused on the Standing Rock Sioux’s struggle to protect their water supply against an oppressive corporate machine that puts profits over people, many indigenous people from across the globe have also been fighting similar battles.

The protests against the Dakota Access Pipeline (DAPL) have galvanized the Native communities of the U.S. and abroad, in a way that hasn’t been seen since the American Indian Movement of the 1970’s — with hundreds of tribes from across the U.S. coming to Standing Rock.

In a show of solidarity with the Standing Rock Sioux, Maya representatives from the Mam and Ixil peoples of Guatemala came to the Oceti Sakowin Camp to sit down with the members of the Standing Rock Tribal Council to share the pain of their own experiences.

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24 November 2016

Native Americans' Trail of Tears - Dear Native Americans,

Although we are of different color, religion, culture and place, I have learned, as I read about the protests at Standing Rock, that we have much more in common than differences. When I read your history, I can see myself and my people reflected in yours. I feel in my core that your fight is my fight, and that I am not alone in the battle against injustice.

My ancestors were not the only ones who lived in Palestine. Jews, Christians and Arabs all lived side by side in my country. But my ancestors—including my grandparents and great-grandparents—were the indigenous people, just like you. And they suffered the same fate as your people. America's policy of occupation and displacement through forced marches like the Trail of Tears, and the gradual transfer of so many of your people to massive, impoverished reservations, hurts me deeply because it is so similar to the ethnic cleansing of my ancestors by the Israeli military occupation in what we call “al-Nakba” (the catastrophe). We know what you know: that our land is sacred.

In 1948, my ancestors—along with nearly a million other Palestinians—were frightened away or forced off their lands, in some cases at gunpoint. More than 10,000 others were massacred. Hundreds of our villages and cities were completely destroyed in a systemic plan to erase our identity—just as yours has been under continuing assault.

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1 November 2016

 - A United Nations investigator says the United States government has an obligation to return much of the land stolen from Native American tribes, if they want to combat systemic racism and discrimination in the United States.

As of 2011, there were 5.1 million American Indians and Alaska Natives in the U.S. but the rate of Native Americans being killed by law enforcement far outpaces the rates of any other group, with African Americans coming in second.

From 1999 to 2013, Native Americans have been killed by police at nearly identical rates as black Americans, but at a slightly higher rate in recent years. The big difference with Native lives, however, is that the media is virtually silent on these killings and the “Native Lives Matter” movement.

Now, James Anaya, the UN special rapporteur on the rights of indigenous peoples, has concluded that there is no way justice will ever be possible in the United States, as long as the government continues to hold illegally-seized Native American land.

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10 October 2016

 - The production and consumption of natural Andean and Amazonian ancestral products in Peru is threatened by the “biopiracy” of foreign companies who have filed over 11,690 patents for the domestic produce of the region, effectively poaching the natural heritage of the country. The resources are said to be rich in nutrients and vitamins and range from those with anti-aging properties to those that act as natural aphrodisiacs.

Small farmers could be among those worst affected if foreign companies obtain the patents. “Campesinos have been guardians of seeds and diversity generation after generation, from our ancestors to our fathers we have inherited the seeds,” said Director of the National Association of Ecological Products of Peru Moises Quispe.

“We campesinos are very conscious about it. These seeds are part of our lives, and if there’s a new owner who patents them for their own economic interests, it’s a very worrying situation.”

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1 October 2016

 - There is a Lakota prophecy that says there will be a great black snake that will run through the land and bring destruction to the people and to the earth. And as I write this, there are thousands of Native people from all across the United States gathering peacefully to protect the earth and water from the Dakota Access Pipeline, also known as the black snake.

This pipeline, once constructed, is supposed to run a half-million gallons of crude oil a day from the North Dakota oil fields to Illinois, and cross the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe’s traditional lands, just a mile away from their reservation, and sacred water source of the Missouri River. The tribe has asked a judge to halt the 1,200-mile pipeline from being constructed by Energy Transfer Partners, claiming that the Army Corps of Engineers failed to fully and validly consult the tribe in its approval of the pipeline. There is a temporary stay on construction until a judge can make a decision scheduled for this Friday.

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24 September 2016

first nations indigenous - Indigenous nations from Canada and the United States have signed a treaty agreeing to oppose future proposals for pipeline, rail, and tanker projects that attempt to carry crude oil from Alberta’s oil sands.

On Thursday, tribes from Canada and the northern United States signed a treating declaring their opposition to future proposals for pipelines that would carry crude oil from Alberta to other locations across Canada and the United States. The tribal nations are opposed to the pipelines based on potential threats to the environment.

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