Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Indigenous Peoples Re-Take Bolivia - Officially

Aymara Indian women vote to ratify new pro-indigenous Constitution in Bolivia

On Sunday, voters in Bolivia backed a new constitution recognising indigenous peoples' rights and expanding public control over natural resources.The proposed Bolivian constitution grants rights to children, the disabled, migrants, and universally extends the rights to water, food, health and education.

The country's indigenous majority did not receive voting or property rights until the 1950s, and still have less than half the labour income and 40 per cent less schooling than the country's "white" population, often a mix of European and native descent. Some indigenous people live in slave-like conditions.

Key elements of the new Bolivian constitution :

RE-ELECTION — Presidents can serve two consecutive five-year terms. Current constitution permits two terms, but not consecutive. Morales could thus remain in office through 2014.

INDIGENOUS RIGHTS — Recognizes self-determination of 36 distinct Indian nations. Sets aside seats in Congress for minority indigenous groups but not for the Aymara and Quechua, who together represent the majority in Bolivia's western highlands.

LAND — Voters decide in the referendum whether future land ownership should be capped at 12,000 or 24,000 acres (5,000 or 10,000 hectares). Current holdings are grandfathered in. The state can seize land that doesn't perform a "social function" or was fraudulently obtained.

JUSTICE — Judges on Bolivia's highest court are elected rather than appointed by the president as current law provides. The state recognizes indigenous groups' practice of "community justice" based on traditional customs.

LOCAL AUTONOMY — Eastern lowland provinces are allowed to create state assemblies that control local issues, but not land reform or natural gas revenues. Indigenous groups are granted self-rule on traditional lands inside existing states. All autonomies have "equal rank."

NATURAL RESOURCES — The state controls all mineral and oil and gas reserves. Indigenous groups get control of all renewable resources on their land. Water is a fundamental human right that may not be controlled by private companies.

RELIGION — Both the Christian God and Pachamama, the Andean earth deity, are honored. Church and state are separate. Freedom of religion is guaranteed, and no mention is made of The Roman Catholic Church, a departure from the current constitution.

PRESS FREEDOM — Is guaranteed, though news media must "respect the principles of truth and responsibility."

HOMOSEXUALITY — Prohibits discrimination based on sexual orientation but refers to marriage as "between a man and a woman."

U.S. Courts Screw Indians, Again.

Judge refuses to halt huge gold mine in Western Shoshone territory
By SCOTT SONNER, Associated Press Writer

Monday, January 26, 2009
(01-26) 17:10 PST Reno, Nev. (AP) --

A federal judge ruled Monday a massive gold mine project could proceed in northeast Nevada despite a bid by a Western tribe and conservationists to block it on religious and environmental grounds.

U.S. District Judge Larry Hicks ruled there's not enough evidence to force Barrick Gold Corp. to postpone digging a 2,000-foot deep open pit at the Cortez Hills mine on Mount Tenabo 250 miles east of Reno until a trial is held on the merits of the project.

The Great Basin Resource Watch and the Western Shoshone claimed the U.S. Bureau of Land Management's review of the Toronto-based company's proposed mine ignores some of the environmental effects and disregards tribal leaders' concerns it will destroy a sacred landmark.

Hicks, who took more than a half hour to explain his ruling from the bench, said a preliminary injunction like the one the plaintiffs wanted is an "extraordinary remedy" taken only when there is a likelihood they will prevail at trial.

He said that while he might change his mind, so far mine opponents had failed to prove construction of the mine would violate the tribe's religious freedoms or that the BLM violated any federal environmental laws in approving the mine under the Mining Act of 1872.

"The effect of the proposed mining project is on the plaintiffs' subjective, emotional experience. It is offensive to their sensibilities and in the mind of some will desecrate a sacred mountain," Hicks said.

"Nevertheless, the diminishment of that spirituality — as serious as it may be — under the Supreme Court's holdings it is not a substantial burden on religious freedom," he said.

Hicks said he also disagreed with the opponents' claims that the BLM violated the National Environmental Policy Act and Federal Land Management Policy Act by failing to adequately consider effects on groundwater and scenic values of the area.

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Support Peltier Event - Feb. 6, Boulder


Leonard Peltier : 33 Years Behind Bars, 33 Years Searching for American Justice

"America,when will you live up to your own principles?" (Leonard Peltier)

Boulder, Colorado -- The Leonard Peltier Defense Offense Committee (Colorado Support Groups), Indigenous Support Network and 180-11 will be presenting an educational event on the University of Colorado campus on February 6th, 2009 to commemorate the 33rd anniversary of the arrest and imprisonment of American Indian Movement political prisoner, Leonard Peltier.

The event will feature talks by Chief Leonard Crow Dog(world recognized spiritual leader), as well as David Hill and Ben Carnes, of the LPDOC. There will also be performances from local Lakota drum group, the Plenty Wolf Singers and Aztec dancers, Grupo Tlaloc, from Denver. The event will begin at 7:00pm in room 100 of the Mathematics building.

(The LPDOC will also be staging a rally followed by a march outside the Boulder City Courthouse on Pearl Street starting at noon on Feb.6th 2009 - same day)

Wednesday, January 21, 2009


More info: www.whoisleonardpeltier.info/

21 January 2009
Dear LP Supporters

I am so OUTRAGED! My brother Leonard was severely beaten upon his arrival
at the Canaan Federal Penitentiary. When he went into population after
his transfer, some inmates assaulted him.

The severity of his injuries is that he suffered numerous blows to his
head and body, receiving a large bump on his head, possibly a concussion,
and numerous bruises. Also, one of his fingers is swollen and discolored
and he has pain in his chest and ribcage. There was blood everywhere from
his injuries.

We feel that prison authorities at the prompting of the FBI orchestrated
this attack and thus, we are greatly concerned about his safety. It may
be that the attackers, whom Leonard did not even know, were offered
reduced sentences for carrying out this heinous assault. Since Leonard is
up for parole soon, this could be a conspiracy to discredit a model

He was placed in solitary confinement and only given one meal, this is
generally done when you won't name your attackers; incidentally being only
given one meal seriously jeopardizes his health because of his diabetes.
Prison officials refuse to release any info to the family, but they need
to hear from his supporters to protect his safety, as does President
Obama. His attorneys are trying to get calls into him now.

This attack on Leonard comes on the heels of the FBI's recent letter,
prompting this attack by FBI supporters as an attempt to discredit Leonard
as a model prisoner. Anyone who has been in the prison system knows well
that if you refuse to name your attackers or file charges against them,
then you lose your status as a victim and/or given points against your
possible parole and labeled as a perpetrator.

It is not uncommon, in fact is quite common for the government to use
Indian against Indian and they still operate under the old adage "it takes
an Indian to catch an Indian". In 1978, they made an attempt to
assassinate him through another Indian man who was also at Marion prison
with Leonard. But Standing Deer chose to reveal the plot to him instead of
taking his life in exchange FOR A CHANCE AT FREEDOM.

When Standing Deer was released in 2001, he joined the former Leonard
Peltier Defense Committee as a board member. He also began to speak on
Leonard's behalf until his murder six years ago today. Prior to his
murder, Standing Deer confided with close friends and associates that the
same man who visited him in Marion to assassinate Peltier, had came to
Houston, TX and told him that he had better stay away from Peltier and
anything to do with him.

We are aware that currently, the FBI is actively seeking support for the
continued imprisonment of Leonard Peltier and also seeking support from
Native People. So please be aware, and keep Leonard in your prayers.

The FBI is apparently afraid of the impact we are having. If they will set
him up to blemish his record just before a parole hearing, what will they
do when it looks like his freedom will become a reality? We need to make
sure that nothing happens to him again!

Please write the President, send it priority or registered mail. Email to
Change.gov or email President Obama. Call your congressional
representatives and write letters, not email, to them. Do what you can to
get the word out to insure that Leonard is receiving adequate medical
attention for his injuries.

I am asking you, supporters of Leonard and advocates of justice at this
time to help. I don't know what else to do. Please Help!

Thank you
Betty Peltier-Solano
Executive Coordinator
Leonard Peltier Defense Offense Committee

Also call and request Leonard be treated with dignity and respect.
Canaan Federal Prison

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Russell Means: Palestinians and American Indians

January 12, 2009

Palestinians and American Indians
Russell Means Breaks the Silence on Obama

American Indian activist Russell Means said President-elect Obama was selected by the colonial powers as president to improve the US image globally in the aftermath of George Bush. Further, Means said Obama’s appointments show that he is a Zionist controlled by Israel. Speaking on Red Town Radio today, Means said what is happening now to Palestinians is what happened to American Indians.

“Every policy the Palestinians are now enduring was practiced on the American Indian,” Means said on the Blog Talk Radio show, hosted by Brenda Golden, Muskoke Creek. “What the American Indian Movement says is that the American Indians are the Palestinians of the United States, and the Palestinians are the American Indians of the Middle East,” Means said. Further, he points out that the Zionists who control Israel now control the United States. “The power of the US in world politics diminishes every day.”

“Now they have found a house servant by the name of Obama.” Means said Obama was selected as a “man in charge to take the heat,” because of the “bad cop” image that Bush put forth in the world. “Now, all of a sudden, it is, ‘We’re so great. We elected a black man to be president.’”

Means added that Obama is a black man who was raised by his white grandmother and has appointed Zionists to key positions and that the US is headed for a new era of menial jobs. On Indian lands, Means reminds us, the only people who get ahead are those who sell out to the colonial system. Now, there is massive and sophisticated propaganda by the Zionists and the U.S. Both countries, he said, are liars. In the US, American Indians have been shut out of history, philosophy and the arts, in a “total blackout.” The United States does not want to be reminded of the smallpox blankets, theft, colonialism and mistreatment of the American Indian, he said.

Means said most Americans do not realize that the financial collapse of this country is only beginning: “Americans cannot continue the lifestyles of consumers when there is no production. Low income jobs and menial jobs are the only ones left.” “Health care in the US reveals how the policies used in experimentations on American Indians became US policies. The US health care system is now stringent and calloused, with constant refusals of treatment. This has always been the case with the Indian Health Service. Now it is the policy of the HMOs. Family ranchers and family farmers are now in the way of progress, the same way the American Indian was once viewed. Now, family farmers and family ranchers are being gutted, because they function on massive credit. They are trying to pay back debts, which is not possible with manipulated agriculture prices. The family farmer and family rancher are now going to be extinct.”

Means points out that the federal government has also taken over and polluted the educational system; “Americans don’t even know their own history. Along with this federal control, came the passage of English-only laws in many states. However, for Indigenous Peoples it is positive to know many languages. If you speak two languages, you are speaking with two brains. That is the way it is to us. That’s how we look at life. In the mid-Twentieth Century, US schools listened to the communities and local governing boards.” for the entire interview: http://www.counterpunch.org/norrell01122009.html

ACTION ALERT: Support Western Shoshone Treaty Rights - January 20

Spend Inauguration Day Supporting the Western Shoshone and the Freedom of Native Religions and Human Rights
Western Shsohone Defense Project www.wsdp.org

With the approach of the Martin Luther King human rights weekend and the Inauguration Day of President Barrick Obama,the Western Shoshone Defense Project requests the support of everyone in opposing the ongoing human rights violations of the Western Shoshone Nation and their territories.

Just two months ago, the U.S. Bureau of Land Management approved the construction of a massive open pit cyanide heap leach gold mine on the face of well-known spiritual area, Mt. Tenabo. Western Shoshone communities, the Western Shoshone Defense Project and Great Basin Resource Watch are seeking an injunction to stop further destruction of Mt. Tenabo by Barrick Gold Corporation. The Federal Court in Reno has scheduled a hearing on Jan. 20th and 21st.

We need supporters at both of the following locations:
1. Attend the Public Demonstration to Protect Native Spiritual Areas and Human Rights in front of the Courthouse on S. Virginia Street beginning at 8 am on both Jan. 20th and 21st.
2. Attend the Mt. Tenabo encampment and Arbor Vigil beginning tomorrow, Thursday Jan. 15th and lasting through the following week of hearings at the gathering area on the southeast flank facing Grass Valley, Nevada. (Contact wsdp@igc.org for directions and supplies needed).
3. We also need people to write requests to President-elect Barrack Obama and his transition team. This destruction of Indigenous spiritual areas must stop now and a commitment to good faith talks with the Western Shoshone must be made.
4. Make a donation to support our work. Make checks payable to : SGF/WSDP. Send to: PO Box 211308, Crescent Valley, NV 89812.