Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Denver’s Ultimate Persecution of Columbus Day Resisters Begins Tomorrow
Vindictive Trial of the Elderly and Disabled Shows City’s True Colors

On Wednesday morning, May 28, at 8:30am, in Courtroom 117M in the City and County Building, 1437 Bannock Street, Denver, the City of Denver will begin its final round of prosecutions of the 83 Columbus Day protesters, who were arrested on October 6, 2007.

In the final drama of arrests and trials, that Colorado AIM estimates have cost the city over $1 million, the City will embark on its most mean-spirited and cynical prosecutions to date. Wednesday’s case involves the persecution of:
• a 67-year-old American Indian elder, who is a diabetic amputee, and was arrested in her wheelchair the day of the protest
(Irma Little)
• a 60-year-old European-American man, who was former Controller for the State of Colorado, and is a retired lawyer, professor and minister (Dan Whittemore)
• a 32-year-old, blind, Italian-American man who stood in solidarity with American Indians against the racism of the Columbus Day Parade (Nicholas Delmonico)
• a 63-year-old, European-American teacher who has protested the Columbus Day holiday, in an attempt to educate the Colorado public, for the past fifteen years. (Katherine “Kate” Goodspeed)

The prosecution of this group of social justice advocates is more evidence that the administration of Mayor John Hickenlooper, and the office of City Attorney David Fine, are not interested in the pursuit of justice, and are not interested in a principled resolution of the annual Columbus Day conflict in the streets of Denver. They are interested in the vindictive assertion of their power, through arbitrary arrests and prosecutions of peaceful dissenters. The City has admitted in these trials that it intends to set an example for future protests, including this summer’s Democratic National Convention.

The defense will be led by noted Denver attorneys Lonn Heymann of the law firm of Rosenthal and Heymann, and Qusair Mohamedbhai of the law firm of Killmer, Lane & Newman.

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Police Attack Protest of Minnesota Anti-Indian Racism

Protest Turns Violent At Sesquicentennial Event

video here
and here

Why Some Indigenous People Are Upset With Minnesota
ST. PAUL (WCCO) ― What began as a solemn ceremony celebrating Minnesota's 150th birthday turned into a raucous protest at the State Capitol on Sunday.

For some Native Americans in Minnesota, the beginning of statehood was the end of their way of life. Several dozen protested the Minnesota birthday party carrying hangmen nooses.

A protester hit a Minnesota State Trooper on the head with a plastic bottle as police tried to clear an area during the celebration. Three people were arrested.

For Dakota people, part of Minnesota's history includes the hangings at Mankato of 38 Indians for their part in the Dakota War of 1862. To this day, it remains the largest mass execution in U.S. history.

"That's all they have to do is tell the truth, and apologize, and say I am sorry for what happened to the Native people. That's all they have to do. They won't even do that," said Clyde Bellecourt of the American Indian Movement.

Dean Urdahl, a Republican State Representative from Grove City and a former history teacher, has written a book called "Uprising" about the Dakota struggles.

"They believe that they had been cheated through the treaties. Also they could make the case that by the white government not fulfilling the obligations of treaties, that their people were being starved, that their children were dying," said Urdahl.

Protesters say Minnesota hasn't done enough to acknowledge injustices done to Minnesota tribes, and they're using the state's birthday celebrations to make their point.

"I am invisible in the sense that all the Minnesotans up there on the steps of the State Capitol are willing to ignore oppression and injustice occurring right behind them," said protester Waziyatawin.

Dakota leaders said the Minnesota's Native Americans have some of the highest school dropout and unemployment rates. They also have some of the lowest life expectancy and highest poverty rates.

The Minnesota Sesquicentennial Commission has acknowledged the opinions of the Dakota leaders. Last week the city of Winona was "Capitol for a Day" and the Sesquicentennial Commission sponsored what it called a Truth and Reconciliation Circle to talk about what happened when white settlers came to Minnesota.

Thursday, May 15, 2008

Venezuela Stops Open Pit and Gold Mining

This may be a blow to Barrick, Newmont and other gold thieves of the territories of indigenous peoples.
By Ana Isabel Martinez

CARACAS, May 15 (Reuters) - Mineral-laden Venezuela on Thursday shut the door to new gold projects and threatened other mining and logging concessions in a step by President Hugo Chavez to tighten control of natural resources.

Environment Minister Yuviri Ortega said the South American country will not give permits for any open-pit mines and will not allow companies to look for gold in its vast Imataca Forest Reserve.

"Venezuela will deny environmental permits for the open-pit mine exploitation," Ortega told Reuters in an interview. "Neither private or public companies will for now explore Imataca's gold."

Citing ecological damage, Ortega said the government was also revising all its mining and timber concessions.

OPEC member Venezuela is one of the world's top oil exporters. With its coffers bulging from record crude prices, it feels it does not need to risk further harming its environment with more mining and logging.

"For the moment we do not need to exploit these minerals; as the president says, we don't need diamonds or gold, or coal," she said, but did not give further details.

Much of the Caribbean state remains largely unpopulated and it houses diverse eco-systems including a significant chunk of the Amazon rain forest.

The ban on mining in the 9 million acre (3.8 million hectare) Imataca reserve and the end to permits for open pits was a blow to Crystallex (KRY.TO: Quote, Profile, Research) and Gold Reserve (GRZ.A: Quote, Profile, Research). The Canadian companies have long been seeking environmental permits to exploit their concessions in the reserve.

Chavez last year launched a nationalization drive, increasing state control over the country's oil industry. The U.S critic has since taken over key sectors of the economy including electricity, telecoms, cement and steel companies.

He has been especially tough on foreign companies but typically pays a fair price for nationalized assets.

The Imataca reserve, which includes a town called El Dorado in remote southeastern Venezuela, sits on what is believed to be one of Latin America's largest gold deposits.

Several large and mainly state-run companies dig iron ore, coal and bauxite in Venezuela. Workers last week halted operations at Venezuela's Isodora gold mine owned by Hecla (HL.N: Quote, Profile, Research), demanding it be nationalized.

Resisters From Dakota Nation Confront Minnesota Anti-Indian Racism

Allan Henderson, from the Dakota Nation, held a sign at Fort Snelling,MN, site of a protest where several demonstrators were arrested.

St. Paul, MN, May 10, 2008 — The sesquicentennial wagon train winding towards the state capital for tomorrow’s celebration of Minnesota statehood, came to an unexpected standstill this morning entering Fort Snelling when a group of Dakota people gathered in the road to dispel a few of their cherished myths. “This is a place of genocide, our ancestors were force marched here in 1862 and interned in the concentration camp for an entire winter. So many of our people died here, women and children, so much of our history is ignored and suppressed. We are here to tell the truth about this history and challenge the Sesquicentennial celebration,” said Chris Mato Nunpa, Ph.D.. “All we’re asking is to be heard,” said Ben Yahola, amidst protestors holding signs with “We are not invisible,” “1862,” “Site of Dakota Genocide,” and “My grandmother died here.”

The travelers looked on or away as Dakota speakers addressed them and a gathering group of other protestors, onlookers, and, soon, many police officers from the city of Minneapolis. They stood by, some perched atop horses, for about fifteen minutes before the tensions increased.

Two skittish horses were steered by their mounted officers through the protestors, endangering everyone in their path, including several small children. Unsure of what to do, one officer radioed for backup. As reinforcements arrived, one officer said, “I thought we came down to do some thumping.” A sheriff’s SUV tried to force its way through the crowd of protestors to clear a path for the wagon train. Then, two kids and two women laid down in front of the SUV. For twenty minutes while protestors smudged, prayer drums sounded, and speakers addressed their message about the past’s atrocities, officers conferred, debating how best to remove the blockade. Dakota protestors cried the history of the atrocities committed, including land theft, ethnic cleansing, bounties placed on Dakota scalps (up to $200 dollars), the largest mass hanging in US history, the horrors of the concentration camp at Fort Snelling, and the brutalities of the war of 1862.

Then the arrests began.

“You are benefiting from the same colonial practices which justified the genocide of the Dakota people,” Waziyatawin stated as she was pressed against the hood of a patrol car before being led away. “This wagon train is a fantasy of manifest destiny, as some sort of righteous thing.” Next to go were her two minor children, Talon and Autumn Cavender-Wilson. Anita Rae, Chris Mato Nunpa, Jim Anderson and Diane Elliot followed, before the officers ceased making arrests.

By use of truncheon, officers pushed the protest aside, finally clearing the way for the wagon train to enter the camp. Imprisoned protestors were then released under charges of disorderly conduct. At least some of the wagon riders began conversing with protestors, agreeing to the need for truth telling. One young man softened his position and even apologized for his participation in the wagon train.

The protestors will also be present tomorrow at the state capital, where the kick-off celebration for the Minnesota Sesquiscentennial will begin.

For additional information, Contact:

Chris Mato Nupa, Ph.D.
Oceti Sakowin Omniciya
Tel: (320) 981-0206

Jim Anderson
Mendota Mdewakanton Dakota Community
(763) 753-2833

Waziyatawin Angela Wilson, Ph.D.
Oceti Sakowin Omniciya
Tel: (320) 564-4241

Sunday, May 11, 2008

Brazil Sends Troops to Indian Territory - Brazilian Government Rejects Indigenous Self-Determination

By Rodrigo Viga Gaier

RIO DE JANEIRO, May 8 (Reuters) - Brazil will permanently station troops in Indian reservations along its borders in response to growing concerns that its territorial sovereignty is at risk, Defense Minister Nelson Jobim said on Thursday.

Indian lands account for roughly 12 percent of Brazil's vast territory and border on nearly all of its nine neighbors.

"We want to be clear on something fundamental -- Indian lands are Brazilian lands," Jobim said.

"There are no nations or Indian peoples, there are Brazilians who are Indians," he told reporters following a ceremony to commemorate the end of World War Two in Europe.

The government will decide how many troops to deploy and where to station them in the next three months, he said.

A land conflict between Indians and farmers in northern Roraima state has fueled concerns by the military and conservative politicians that foreigners including Colombian rebels could penetrate Brazil through unprotected reserves.

At least one former Venezuelan army official entered the Roraima reservation to train gunmen, and a Venezuelan flag was raised on one farm, Indian leaders and media reported.

Brazilian President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva dismissed such concerns on Thursday and praised the Indians for their loyalty.

"Much of the Brazilian army is made up of Indians ... . How often have the Indians defended our borders?" Lula said at a ceremony to outline government development policies in the Amazon.

"An Indian in the middle of the Amazon who as a Brazilian citizen and voter doesn't receive any benefits of the state will be just as rebellious as a man living in a Rio de Janeiro shantytown without water, school or anything to do," he said.

The government sent police reinforcements to the Roraima reservation on Tuesday and arrested a local farm leader after gunmen shot and wounded 10 Indians.

The dispute began last month when police tried to evict rice farmers from the reservation created by the government in 2005. But farmers who claim the same land have resisted by blocking roads, blowing up bridges and hiring gunmen.

Farmers and forestry and mining companies in several parts of Brazil are concerned with growing demands for land by Brazil's estimated 750,000 Indians.

Ninety-two Indians were killed last year in conflicts related to land disputes. (Additional reporting by Raymond Colitt) (Writing by Raymond Colitt; Editing by Xavier Briand)

Saturday, May 10, 2008

Evo Morales Defends Indigenous Leadership

Defending Bolivia
Morales and the Red Ponchos

The Bolivian oligarchy has initiated its plan to balkanize the country. Traditionally, the oligarchy controlled the oil, natural gas, and the best farmland in Bolivia; and, for the most part, it has never indicated a desire to share the wealth with the nation’s indigenous majority. That majority, 60 percent of the population, lives primarily in the Andean highlands of western Bolivia, although in recent decades, the Indians of those areas have begun moving down to the cities in search of jobs.

With their diseases, their firepower, and their greed, the Euro-Americans have enjoyed their country’s wealth since the founding of Bolivia, and the Indians think it’s about time for a more-equitable division of the proceeds. They’ve been waiting half a millennium, and their patience has begun to drift off somewhere over the Andes, from whence it is unlikely to return.

Evo Morales is an Aymara Indian. In 2005, he became the first indigenous president in Bolivia’s history, collecting 54 percent of the vote. He inherited a land-locked and underdeveloped country, the poorest in South America. But the provinces of the eastern lowlands are blessed with large reserves of oil and natural gas. They also possess good farmland, although much of it lies unused by its wealthy owners.

The richest province of the lowlands is Santa Cruz. The light-skinned elite of Santa Cruz has benefited from the prosperity generated by the sale of oil and natural gas to foreign petroleum companies, and it fears any real or imagined threat to that prosperity. Bolivia has a population of over 9.2 million people, and about 2 million of them live in Santa Cruz, where the Euro-Americans greatly outnumber the Indians.

Since his election in 2005, President Morales has begun implementing a plan that he thinks will improve the lives of the poor while ensuring the well-being of everyone. In 2006, he nationalized Bolivia’s oil and natural gas reserves.
for remainder of article and this analysis of the U.S. role in attempts to destabilize Bolivia.

Friday, May 09, 2008

Klamath River Nations Confront Warren Buffet Over Salmon Destruction

Warren Buffett Refuses To Meet With Klamath River Tribes And Fishermen

By: Dan Bacher
May 22, 2007

The Yurok, Karuk and Hoopa Valley Tribes and fishermen capped off their historic cross country pilgrimage to Omaha, Nebraska on May 5 with a protest outside the shareholders meeting of Warren Buffett’s Berkshire-Hathaway Corporation. They demanded the removal of four Klamath Dams owned by Berkshire subsidiary PacifiCorp that they contend are largely responsible for the decades-long decline of salmon, steelhead and other species on the Klamath River.

Although Buffett, [the second richest man in the U.S.] never met with the tribes as they had requested, two members of the broad-based coalition were able to ask questions directly to Buffett and his partner Charles Munger before a crowd of 27,000 shareholders. They made the shareholders aware, many for the first time, of the depth and gravity of problems posed to the Klamath’s fisheries and people by the salmon-killing dams.

The pilgrimage to the stakeholders meeting, the “Woodstock of Capitalism,” included press conferences along the way in San Francisco, Sacramento and Salt Lake City, a salmon bake in Omaha on May 3, a traditional brush dance on May 4 and then the protest on May 5.

In a solidarity action with dam removal advocates gathered in Omaha, Karuk, Yurok, Hoopa, and Klamath Tribal members rallied with other Klamath River residents and PacifiCorp ratepayers at the company’s headquarters in Portland on May 4 Ronnie Pellegrini, wife of a commercial salmon fisherman, traveled to Omaha with her two teenage daughters to join in the protest and other events. Her husband, Paul, was salmon trolling off the California coast to take to advantage of a limited salmon season that started May 1.

The PacifiCorp dams – and a change in water policy in 2001 by the Bush administration that favored irrigators in the Klamath Basin over fish that resulted in the adult and juvenile fish kills of 2002 - are key factors in the dramatic decline of salmon fisheries.

Wendy George, council member of the Hoopa Valley Tribe, then told Buffett, "My people are river people. Our entire culture, religion and subsistence is based on the river.”

George appealed to Buffett to meet with the Tribes in order to find a solution to the problem. “In response the normally polished Buffett fumbled through papers to read a written response,” observed Craig Tucker, Klamath Campaign Coordinator for the Karuk Tribe. “Instead of taking responsibility for his company’s actions, Buffett stated that regulators such as the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission would decide the issue.”

Buffett also declined to acknowledge that the Tribes are seeking a negotiated settlement with the company as is common in dam relicensing proceedings.

“I am overwhelmed with disappointment,” emphasized Leaf Hillman of the Karuk Tribe. “Although Mr. Buffett stressed over and over to young investors the importance of researching your investments, he clearly has a poor understanding of Klamath issues.”

U.S. Court Attacks Indian Religious Freedom

In a case being watched closely across Indian Country, the 10th Circuit Court of Appeals reinstated misdemeanor charges against a member of the Northern Arapaho Tribe who shot a bald eagle for use in the Sun Dance. Winslow Friday never obtained a permit to take the sacred bird, which is protected under federal law. For full text of opinion here Case #06-8093, U.S. V. Friday.

Friday argued that the permitting process infringed on his religious rights. In the history of the Bald Eagle and Golden Eagle Protection Act, which was first passed in 1940, only four permits to take eagles for tribal ceremonies have been processed.

Tribal spiritual leaders also testified about the burdens they face in trying to obtain eagle feathers and parts under an exemption in federal law aimed at protecting Indian rights. The National Eagle Repository has a several-year backlog and doesn't always provide birds in suitable condition for ceremonies like the Sun Dance.

Despite the flaws, the 10th Circuit ruled that the scheme complies with the Religious Freedom Restoration Act. The law bars federal agencies from taking actions that "substantially" burden a person's exercise of religion without a "compelling governmental interest."

Agencies must also demonstrate that they are taking such action by the "least restrictive means" possible.

In Friday's case, the appeals court said he conceded that the government has a compelling interest in protecting eagles. So even though the permitting process is not well publicized and even though the repository moves slowly, the system does not infringe on tribal religious rights, Judge Michael W. McConnell wrote for the majority.

"By enacting a law banning the taking of eagles and then permitting religious exceptions, the government has tried to accommodate Native American religions while still achieving its compelling interests," the 44-page decision stated. "That accommodation may be more burdensome than the Northern Arapaho would prefer, and may sometimes subordinate their interests to other policies not of their choosing."

"Law accommodates religion; it cannot wholly exempt religion from the reach of the law," McConnell, a Bush nominee, continued.

The decision reverses one made by a federal judge in Wyoming, who had dismissed the charges against Friday. In a sometimes scathing critique, Judge William F. Downes blasted the Interior Department for failing to truly accommodate the rights of Indian people.

"Although the government professes respect and accommodation of the religious practices of Native Americans, its actions show callous indifference to such practices," Downes wrote in an October 2006 decision that won praise in Indian Country. "It is clear to this court that the government has no intention of accommodating the religious beliefs of Native Americans except on its own terms and in its own good time."

The 10th Circuit, however, left open the possibility for future challenges. Since Friday never actually applied for a permit to take an eagle, the court wasn't able to determine whether the process is "improperly restrictive, burdensome, unresponsive or slow," McConnell noted.

In an earlier case, Saenz v. DOI, the 10th Circuit dismissed charges against Joseluis Saenz, a Chiricahua Apache man who was carrying eagle feathers without a permit. But since the Chiricahua Apaches were terminated in the late 1800s, the court said Saenz wouldn't have able to apply for a permit since permits are restricted to members of federally recognized tribes.

Rally in Support Of Navajo Opposition to Uranium Mining - Monday, May 12

WHO: Eastern Navajo Dine Against Uranium Mining (ENDAUM), New Mexico Environmental Law Center,and Southwest Research and Information Center (SRIC) oppose the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) and Hydro Resources, Inc.
WHAT: Oral arguments regarding the protection of Navajo communities from contamination by uranium of air and water supplies. The New Mexico Environmental Law Center represents ENDAUM and SRIC in their fight against proposed in-situ leach (ISL) uranium mines in the Crownpoint and Church Rock areas. If allowed to proceed, these mines would contaminate the sole source of drinking water for nearly 15,000 people--almost all of whom are Navajo.
WHERE: U.S. Tenth Circuit Court of Appeals, The Byron White U.S. Courthouse, 1823 Stout St., Denver, Colorado.
The territorial jurisdiction of the Tenth Circuit includes the six states of Oklahoma, Kansas, New Mexico, Colorado, Wyoming, and Utah, plus those portions of the Yellowstone National Park extending into Montana and Idaho.
WHEN: Monday, May 12, 1p.m.
Santa Fe, New Mexico—For the first time in United States history, the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) will be challenged in Federal appeals court for its approval of a source materials license for an in situ leach uranium mine.
The Navajo communities of Crownpoint and Church Rock, New Mexico, with the assistance of the New Mexico Environmental Law Center (NMELC), Eastern Navajo Dine against Uranium Mining (ENDAUM) and Southwest Research and Information Center (SRIC) will fight the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) and Hydro Resources, Inc., demanding that they stay off of Navajo lands in New Mexico. NMELC will present oral arguments on May 12 to a panel of Federal judges in Denver asking that the NRC decision to allow mining be set aside.
“The importance of our hearing on May 12 cannot be overstated,” states Eric Jantz, New Mexico Environmental Law Center attorney. “We are talking about the land, water, air and health of two whole communities. There are people on this land grazing their cattle and hauling their daily drinking water.”
ENDAUM is the first community group ever to fight the Nuclear Regulatory Commission on a source materials permit for an in situ leach uranium mine. This fight is becoming even more significant, as the price of uranium has increased tremendously during the past seven years, rising from $7/lb to $68/lb. Subsequently, the state of New Mexico has seen a dramatic rise in the number of exploratory permits requested by mining companies during the past year, with a dozen applications currently under review.

Hydro Resources, Inc. has four proposed mines in the Church Rock-Crownpoint region. In 2006, the NRC approved the license for all four sites. The New Mexico Environmental Law Center filed a lawsuit in 2007 against the NRC to overturn the license. The NMELC argues that the NRC has violated the Atomic Energy Act, the National Environmental Policy Act, and its own regulations when it issued decisions on numerous issues. The NMELC’s clients are appealing the following points:
 Hydro Resources failed to prove that it will protect groundwater from contamination by uranium and other toxic heavy metals
 The company failed to ensure that the health of residents near the mines would be protected from damaging radioactive air emissions
 Hydro Resources’ proposed financial bond for the site is inadequate to ensure that the site(s) would be cleaned up in the event that the company is unable to undertake reclamation of the land and/or water impacted by the mining
Because of the NRC's bias in favor of industry, a victory for NMELC’s Navajo clients would set a major precedent in New Mexico.