Thursday, October 27, 2011

Colorado AIM members at Obama confrontation, Denver, October 26th, 2011

Colorado AIM members, Scott Jacket, Sky Morris, and Tessa McLean express their opposition to Keystone Pipeline at Obama rally. These three young Colorado AIM leaders had just been removed by the Secret Service after raising their banner during Obama's speech inside the arena. (photo: Carol Berry, Indian Country Today)

Colorado AIM and allies Confront Obama about Keystone XL

Yesterday, we had our action at the Obama speech on the Auraria campus. It was pretty awesome, as was the action on Tuesday, despite the cold and rain and snow. I want to acknowledge the leadership that was shown by Scott, Tessa and Sky, in the lead-up to today's action, and for the courage that they showed, in the face of the Secret Service and other police agencies. They stood for hours in the rain and snow with our banners and messages and bullhorns, outside of the Pepsi Center where Obama had his $5000 per person fundraiser, outside of Obama's hotel, stood in line for hours to get the tickets to get inside the Auraria event, They smuggled banners into the event, past Secret Service security, and raised the banners, and the Oglala Sioux, flag at the critical time. Also essential to the action locally were Robert Chanate (who was central to the organizing, and who held up the banner, too),Carol Berry, Jolynne Locust-Woodcock whose pictures of the event can be found on her Facebook page, and Lance Tsosie, an Indian student from DU. Several others who could not get into the event braved the snow to rally outside, including Viki Eagle and other DU students, Lizzie Kerplanek from CU-Denver and Colorado AIM, and especially to Kia Fathi, a strong and solid ally, who worked tirelessly to support this action. There were other AIM people who helped, too: Brenda Mitchell, Dave and Joylynne Woodcock, Frank who helped with security for us, Harrison Sadler, and Tessa's dad Jacob, mom Bernice, and sister Megan. Deb Freemont was in the event too, but got separated from us by the huge crowd. I also want to commend Steve Keith for creating a beautiful banner for us.

A special message of appreciation to Tom Poor Bear and his daughter, Evangeline, who drove down from Pine Ridge, and who were in there with us. Tom is a long-time AIM veteran of the Trail of Broken Treaties, Wounded Knee "73, Yellow Thunder Camp, Camp Justice, and many other AIM sponsored actions; he is now the Vice-President of the Oglala Sioux Tribe. Several other members of the OST Council said that they were going to join us, but Tom was the only one with the courage actually to show and confront Obama. He was also instrumental in shouting to Obama about honoring Indian treaties, stopping the Keystone XL pipeline, and respecting our mother the Earth. Also very important to the action was Jennifer Baker, an attorney from the Smith, Shelton and Ragona law firm, who is lead advisor to Tom on the Keystone pipeline impact on the Oglala Sioux Tribe. Jennifer hung in there with us through the actions on Tuesday night, and came into the Obama event, and help us hold up the Keystone banner.

The events above caused Obama to stammer, lose his place in his speech, pause, and then directly to respond to the messages that were shouted, and the message on the banners that were located right in front of him: "Honor Indian Treaties," and "Stop The Keystone Pipeline." Obama stopped and said that a decision had not yet been made, and he said, "I know your deep concern about it. We will address it." The Secret Service then surrounded our group and ordered us to stop shouting, and to take the banners down. When Sky told them that we weren't taking the banners down, they ordered us to leave the room, which we did, eventually.

In the news articles below, you can see that the fact Obama stopped his written speech, and responded to the Keystone issue, was a first. These stories were reported locally, nationally, and internationally -- including on Associated Press, Reuters, and in the New York Times, some links are below -- for more Google news search the terms "Obama, Denver, Keystone."

Indigenous Resistance to the Tar Sands - our local FB page:

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Show Obama: Indigenous Resistance to the Oil Sands Oct 25, Denver

Colorado AIM endorses, and will participate actively in, the rally below when Obama is in town next week.

WHEN: Tuesday, October 25, assemble @ 1:45pm
WHERE: Tivoli Commons on Auraria Campus (900 Auraria Pkwy, Denver, 80204)
WHY: TransCanada has proposed a pipeline, the Keystone XL pipeline to come down from the Alberta Tar Sands (the largest industrial project on earth) to Texas, passing many states, at least five reservations and the Ogallala Aquifer which serves water to eight states. The State Department and Obama are sitting on the pipeline proposal right now and will be approving/denying it in November. We will remind Obama of his 2008 campaign promises, we will remind him that We, the People, are concerned over the oil sands and the pipeline, over our land and water that our next generations must depend on, too. Thomas Poor Bear, the Vice President from the Oglala Sioux Tribe will be bringing a delegation from the Pine Ridge Reservation to join in this struggle, and we hope you will join, too.

Monday, October 17, 2011

Outstanding Column by Professor Richard Falk on Duplicity of U.S. in Invoking the "Rule of Law"

Missing the Point Twice: International Law as Empire’s Sunday Suit by Richard Falk click here for original blog

In a recent speech at the Harvard Law School, John Brennan, President Obama’s chief advisor on counterterrorism and homeland security, boldly declared: “I’ve developed a profound appreciation for the role that our values, especially the rule of law, play in keeping our country safe.” The most notable feature of the remarks that followed was the legal rationalization put forth for targeting killing of civilian terrorist suspects distant from ‘the hot battlefield’ even if not engaged in activities that could be reasonably viewed as posing an imminent threat to security of the United States.

In effect, post-9/11 American ideas of self-defense incorporate by stealth the Bush Doctrine of preemptive war used to justify aggression against Iraq in 2003, which had seemed discredited in international until quietly revived by the Obama presidency. The entire world is treated as part of the operational battlefield in the so-called ‘long war,’ and civilians, such as the religious ideologue Anwar al-Awlaki, killed on September 30, 2011 in a remote region of Yemen as if he was a soldier at war. This purported legalization of drone attacks carried out in foreign countries represents a unilateral extension of international law, as well as establishes a precedent that would not be tolerated if claimed by any country hostile to the United States. Involved here is the de facto amendment of the right of self-defense in a manner inconsistent with both the understanding embedded in Articles 2(4) and 51 of the UN Charter and of contemporary international law as interpreted by a majority in the International Court of Justice in the Nicaragua case decided in 1986. The United States now sets the new rules that override the old rules, and then limits their availability to others by restrictions based on geopolitical criteria of ‘friend’ and ‘enemy.’

All that Brennan offered in support of such an imperial claim was the assurance that the United States is careful in the execution of these attacks, seeking to minimize the risk of mistaken identity and taking steps to ensure that the attacks take place in situations where the risks of unintended ‘collateral damage’ are reduced to the minimum. The credibility of this reassurance is insulated from inquiry by secrecy, a total lack of transparency that is supposedly justified by the need to protect intelligence sources. There is also no independent post-attack independent inquiry as to whether the targeted individual might have captured rather than executed, whether there existed a sufficient threat of involvement in dangerous activities to warrant such at attack, whether the government of the country involved gave its consent voluntarily, and whether there is or should be accountability for errors. Such a procedure can only be understood as an effort to establish a system of imperial global governance in relation to the use of force. If this constitutes the way American ‘values’ deploy ‘the rule of law’ it would seem to reflect the most cynical reliance on ‘law’ as propaganda, while at the same time discarding the proper role of law as a constraint on violence. It is also relevant that the unusual amount of attention given to the al-Awlaki execution results from his American citizenship, which implies the regressive understanding of law that there are no grounds for a serious American concern if the target is non-American regardless of the innocence of the person or the fact that he or she are being killed in their homeland and citizenship. Such a world we are making for ourselves and others.

In March of 2011, in a spirited address to the American Society of International Law, Harold Koh, Legal Advisor to the Secretary of State, also spoke glowingly about the commitment of the United States during the Obama presidency of “living our values by respecting the role of law.” He went on to explain that this mean “following universal standards, not double standards.”

These legalist sentiments were deemed by Koh to be so central to his argument as to be printed in bold lettering for emphasis.
What should strike any reasonably objective person is the crude hypocrisy of an American government official rejecting double standards while simultaneously engaging in political gymnastics to avoid acknowledging the unlawfulness of Israel’s behavior: the United States stands practically alone in the world in refusing to condemn Israeli settlements in occupied Palestine, in denying Palestinian statehood at the UN, in endorsing the collective punishment inflicted on the civilian population of Gaza for more than four years; in repudiating the recommendations of the Goldstone Report. Indeed, U.S. foreign policy toward Israel is the most glaring and punitive instance of double standards with respect to international law that exists in the world today. But it far from the only example. Other prominent instances exist in many crucial domains of global policy: as with the nuclear weapons states that maintain arsenals of weapons without accepting restrictions on their use and non-nuclear pariah states that under the geopolitically managed NPT regime are threatened with military attack for supposedly seeking such weapons; as with the identity of those political leaders and military commanders who are prosecuted for international crimes and those who enjoy a condition of de facto impunity; and as to states that could be invaded by reliance on the norm of ‘responsibility to protect’ and those against which such action is inconceivable however much the territorial population is confronted by dire threats to its wellbeing and survival.

I am less shocked by the behavior of the United States, which reflects its grand strategy, than by this insistence on stretching the meaning of the most fundamental legal rules and principles to satisfy foreign policy priorities. For esteemed international law figures such as Harold Koh, formerly a distinguished human rights scholar and dean of the Yale Law School, to make such bold assertions about the post-9/11 law, validating drone warfare, without even bothering to acknowledge doubts as to the wisdom and acceptability of such a course is to embrace jurisprudential nihilism in two senses—first, by undermining the authority of international law by showing that it can always be extended unilaterally to serve the interests of the powerful, and operates otherwise to discipline weak states; and secondly, by creating a precedent that will not be honored as ‘law’ if invoked by others- witness the hysterical reaction to the shaky claim that Iran was plotting the assassination of the Saudi Arabian ambassador to the United States. What is sauce for the geopolitical goose seems to be poison for the pariah gander!

There are respectable reasons to suggest that international law of war and peace that has evolved over the centuries to deal with conflict among states, and as such needs to be revised to take account of non-state actors and networks, as well as in response to the global horizoning of many interactions in the world of the 21st century. But there are no respectable reasons to contend that dominant states can exercise a military option wherever they choose, and then have the temerity to call this behavior ‘lawful.’

Michael Rosen, an ideological apologist for the executions of Osama Bin Laden and Al-Awlaki, writing in The American, the magazine published by the American Enterprise Institute (the right-wing think tank) put his support for drone military activity this way: “But in the civilized world..increasingly.. targeted by Islamist terror, we must continue to return fire by robustly targeting the terror masters.” At least such an assertion

does not pretend to provide an international law justification, although it does stretch the U.S. Congress’s 2001 Authorization of the Use of Military Force, designed to reach those involved in the 9/11 attacks, to validate the execution Al-Awlaki who has never been accused of having any relationship to 9/11. It also most unacceptably sets up this long repudiated moral contrast between ‘the civilized world’ and the rest that has so often in modern times been used to justify violence by the West against the non-West. I had hoped that the collapse of colonialism would have at least discouraged the use of such a tasteless rhetoric of comparison.

There is a final point. Living in a region that is subject to drone attacks as in the tribal areas of Waziristan is terrifying for the population as a whole. This ill-defined vulnerability helps explain the severe hostility to the United States that exists among the Pakistani people and led to a unanimous resolution adopted on May 14, 2011 by the Pakistan parliament demanding that the executive branch uphold Pakistan’s sovereignty by disallowing any future drone strikes on its territory, and if they continue to cut off NATO supplies destined for the Afghanistan War. Supporters of the resolution have sought implementation through the courts, and a Lahore judge has ordered Pakistan foreign minister to submit detailed responses to issues raised. It is one thing to assess the reasonableness and proportionality of a targeted killing, including by reference to collateral damage by reference to the person(s) targeted, but such an appraisal fails to take any account of the more pervasive and inevitable collateral damage caused by producing intense insecurity on the part of an utterly defenseless civilian population as a whole. As far as I have seen this latter dimension of state terror associated with these new modalities of surveillance, intelligence operations, and robotic militarism never considers the psychological harm being done to the people of the targeted country. This raises issues bearing on the right to life as a fundamental right of all persons under international human rights law.

Monday, October 10, 2011

"Occupy Wall Street" to Receive Indigenous Proposal Modeled After Colorado AIM's

Attached is a proposal for presentation to the New York City "Occupy Wall Street" General Assembly regarding endorsement of Indigneous rights and a set of principles guiding their interaction with Indigenous peoples, communities and nations. As you may already know, by consensus Occupy Denver endorsed the initiative by the American Indian Movement of Colorado on the rights of indigenous peoples Owe Aku International Justice Project, in making this presentation, has borrowed liberally from the AIM Colorado proposal. Over the past week we have had important discussions on the language and, after review, this seems to be the most consensual document to date. It also covers nearly all the suggestions we have been collecting for inclusion in our presentation. We will do our best to make a concise, honorable and respectful presentation this evening at the "occupy wall street" event and hope that their General Assembly, too, will accept the proposal by consensus.

Wopila to everyone who has provided support and input over this past week. Wopila too, to all of the leaders who went to Washington to ensure that Indigenous opposition was once again voiced to the XL Pipeline. We are always spread thin, yet, with the help and prayers of our people and allies we seem to be able to make a small difference in our work for Mother Earth and future generations.

Kent Lebsock

Owe Aku International Justice Project
on the web at

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Sunday, October 09, 2011

"Occupy Denver" Adopts Colorado AIM initiative on indigenous peoples' rights!

In unanimous consensus, Occupy Denver endorsed the initiative by the American Indian Movement of Colorado on the rights of indigenous peoples (see entire document below). After an hour of discussion, Occupy Denver wholeheartedly supported the proposal at its evening General Assembly. The document was adopted just hours after Boston had accepted a similar, but much less detailed and less specific, proposal.

Proposal from Colorado AIM to "Occupy Denver"

An Indigenous Platform Proposal for “Occupy Denver”
"Now we put our minds together to see what kind of world we can create for
the seventh generation yet to come."
- John Mohawk (1944-2006), Seneca Nation

As indigenous peoples, we welcome the awakening of those who are relatively new to our homeland. We are thankful, and rejoice, for the emergence of a movement that is mindful of its place in the environment, that seeks economic and social justice, that strives for an end to oppression in all its forms, that demands an adequate standard of food, employment, shelter and health care for all, and that calls for envisioning a new, respectful and honorable society. We have been waiting for 519 years for such a movement, ever since that fateful day in October, 1492 when a different worldview arrived – one of greed, hierarchy, destruction and genocide.

In observing the “Occupy Together” expansion, we are reminded that the territories of our indigenous nations have been “under occupation” for decades, if not centuries. We remind the occupants of this encampment in Denver that they are on the territories of the Cheyenne, Arapaho and Ute peoples. In the U.S., indigenous nations were the first targets of corporate/government oppression. The landmark case of Johnson v. McIntosh (1823), which institutionalized the “doctrine of discovery” in U.S. law, and which justified the theft of 2 billion acres of indigenous territory, established a framework of corrupt political/legal/corporate collusion that continues throughout indigenous America, to the present.

If this movement is serious about confronting the foundational assumptions of the current U.S. system, then it must begin by addressing the original crimes of the U.S. colonizing system against indigenous nations. Without addressing justice for indigenous peoples, there can never be a genuine movement for justice and equality in the United States. Toward that end, we challenge Occupy Denver to take the lead, and to be the first “Occupy” city to integrate into its philosophy, a set of values that respects the rights of indigenous peoples, and that recognizes the importance of employing indigenous visions and models in restoring environmental, social, cultural, economic and political health to our homeland.

We call on Occupy Denver to endorse, as a starting point, the following:

1. To repudiate the Doctrine of Christian Discovery, to endorse the repeal of the papal bull Inter Caetera (1493) to work for the reversal of the U.S. Supreme Court case of Johnson v. M’Intosh 1823), and call for a repeal of the Columbus Day holiday as a Colorado and United States holiday.

2. To endorse the right of all indigenous peoples to the international right of self-determination, by virtue of which they freely determine their political status, and freely pursue their economic, social and cultural futures.

3. To demand the recognition, observance and enforcement of all treaties and agreements freely entered into `between indigenous nations and the United States. Treaties should be recognized as binding international instruments. Disputes should be recognized as a proper concern of international law, and should be arbitrated by impartial international bodies.

4. To insist that Indigenous people shall never be forcibly relocated from their lands or territories.

5. To acknowledge that Indigenous peoples have the right to practice and teach their spiritual and religious traditions customs and ceremonies, including in institutions of the State, e.g. prisons, jails and hospitals,, and to have access in privacy their religious and cultural sites, and the right to the repatriation of their human remains and funeral objects.

6. To recognize that Indigenous peoples and nations are entitled to the permanent control and enjoyment of their aboriginal-ancestral territories. This includes surface and subsurface rights, inland and coastal waters, renewable and non-renewable resources, and the economies based on these resources. In advancement of this position, to stand in solidarity with the Cree nations, whose territories are located in occupied northern Alberta, Canada, in their opposition to the Tar Sands development, the largest industrial project on earth. Further, to demand that President Barack Obama deny the permit for the Keystone XL Pipeline, proposed to run from the tar sands in Canada into the United States, and that the United States prohibit the use or transportation of Tar Sands oil in the United States.

7. To assert that Indigenous peoples have the right to maintain, control, protect and develop their cultural heritage, traditional knowledge and traditional cultural expressions. They have the right to maintain, control, protect and develop their intellectual property over such cultural heritage, traditional knowledge, and traditional cultural expressions. Further, indigenous peoples have the right to the ownership and protection of their human biological and genetic materials, samples, and stewardship of non-human biological and genetic materials found in indigenous territories.

8. To recognize that the settler state boundaries in the Americas are colonial fabrications that should not limit or restrict the ability of indigenous peoples to travel freely, without inhibition or restriction, throughout the Americas. This is especially true for indigenous nations whose people and territories have been separated by the acts of settler states that established international borders without the free, prior and informed consent of the indigenous peoples affected.

9. To demand that the United States shall take no adverse action regarding the territories, lands, resources or people of indigenous nations without the free, prior and informed consent of the indigenous peoples affected.

10. To demand the immediate release of American Indian political prisoner, Leonard Peltier, U.S. Prisoner #89637-132, from U.S. federal custody.

Finally, we also remind Occupy Denver that indigenous histories, political, cultural, environmental, medical, spiritual and economic traditions provide rich examples for frameworks that can offer concrete models of alternatives to the current crises facing the United States. We request that Occupy Denver actively utilize and integrate indigenous perspectives, teachers, and voices in its deliberations and decision-making processes. Submitted 8 October 2011
American Indian Movement of Colorado
P.O. Box 292, Sedalia, CO 80135 ; email:

Columbus Day resistance - Denver, October 8, 2011

Led by spiritual elder, Robert Cross (Oglala Lakota), and the sacred pipe, carried by Shiela Cross, the Colorado AIM eagle staff and drum, inspire our relatives and our allies to march and resist the Columbus Day racism in the streets of Denver.

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Thursday, October 06, 2011

Columbuscide Parade Protest -Denver -Saturday, October 8, 2011, 9am. Be there.

Tuesday, October 04, 2011

Protest Columbus Day in Its Birthplace
Columbus Day Parade Protest
Saturday, October 8, 2011
Assemble @ 9am
bet. Lincoln and Broadway/ Colfax & 14th Ave.

Themes: “Transform Columbus Day – Create a Respectful Future”
“No Parades for Indian-Killers,” “No Celebrations of Genocide,”

The Transform Columbus Day Alliance is based upon mutual respect, sharing the perspective that Columbus Day is a racist statement of cultural domination, especially against indigenous peoples of the Americas and Africa. Columbus committed genocide against American Indians, and was an African slave trader. Celebrations honoring Columbus reinforce historical racism, theft, lies, murder, slavery and the destruction of the environment. We reject Columbus as a heroic person, and we reject holidays, celebrations or other honors for Columbus.

This Alliance opposes Columbus Day, Columbus celebrations and the Columbus legacy. Noting that the Columbus Day holiday began in Colorado in 1907, this Alliance acknowledges its unique responsibility to challenge the Columbus holiday and Columbus celebrations, in Denver, and in Colorado.

This Alliance is dedicated to the transformation of the Columbus holiday from a hateful, racist holiday that celebrates conquest and domination to a respectful celebration that calls for a future for the Americas without racism, exploitation, or state/corporate domination.We repudiate the concept of "discovery," which is not merely a rhetorical description of Columbus' endeavor, but has been extended into specific legal and political doctrines that have been, and continue to be, used for the destruction of indigenous peoples. Columbus is the source of the discovery doctrine, and must be rejected. Join us this Saturday to help put an end to this racist, anti-Indian holiday, and to build a new future for our next seven generations.

Transform Columbus Day Alliance & American Indian Movement of Colorado