Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Native Students Confront Racism at University of Denver

Dear Relatives,

Last month, two University of Denver Greek Life organizations hosted a piercingly offensive Cowboys and Indians theme party where students donned phony headdresses, face paint, loincloths, and all manner of stereotypical viciousness.

Photos of the festivity (some which are attached to this email) surfaced the next day on Facebook. It wasn't long before the photos made their way into the possession of the Native Student Alliance.

After weeks of correspondence with the director of student activities at DU, the school and the Greek Life organizations – Lambda Chi Alpha and Delta Delta Delta – have agreed to publicly apologize to the members of the Native Student Alliance.

Yet we, the members of NSA, believe that they should not only apologize to us, but to the American Indian community at large for their arrogance and ignorance.

Hence, we invite you to come to the University of Denver this Wednesday, March 28 at 4 p.m. at Driscoll Green, which is a open space between the Sturm College of Law and Sturm Hall, located at 2255 East Evans Avenue, Denver, CO 80210.

For more information, please email Viki Rey Eagle, co-chair of the Native Student Alliance at Viki.eagle@gmail.com.

Thank you for time and consideration. We hope to see you Wednesday at 4 p.m.


The Native Student Alliance at the University of Denver

Indians protest against Ecuador mining projects

QUITO, Ecuador (AP) 22 March 2012 — More than 1,000 indigenous protesters reached Ecuador's capital Thursday after a two-week march from the Amazon to oppose plans for large-scale mining on their lands.

The protesters were joined by thousands of anti-government protesters in Quito, and some of the demonstrators clashed with police outside the National Assembly. Police repelled rock-throwing young men using tear gas and charging at the demonstrators on horseback.

Police said at least four officers suffered minor injuries in the violence.

The indigenous protesters were joined by students, activists and government opponents who criticized President Rafael Correa for signing off on plans for mining projects including open pit mines that are to extract copper and other minerals from the traditional lands of the Shuar Indians in southern Ecuador.

Thousands of Correa's supporters gathered in parks and plazas for a counter-demonstration to show their support for the government's policies, some of them in front of the president's palace.

Correa's supporters chanted: "The coup-plotters won't pass! They'll bump into the people!"

The leftist president addressed a crowd of supporters at a park, saying the government is willing to talk with indigenous leaders despite the disagreements.

"We've told them: They want to talk, perfect, but with the good-intentioned, good people. For that, they don't need marches. We're always open to dialogue," Correa said. He called the protesters "counterrevolutionaries."

"If they want to beat us, they should do it in elections," Correa said in a radio interview.

The president said the government took measures to ensure security and the right of his opponents to protest peacefully. Hundreds of police officers stood watch at both demonstrations.

"But if there is an act of violence... clearly it will be from infiltrated opposition groups," Correa said, adding that he thought the indigenous protesters had failed to rally much of a crowd.

Correa, whose spending on social programs has helped boost his approval ratings above 70 percent, has supported large-scale mining projects saying they represent a financial boon for the country.

The march was organized by the Confederation of Indigenous Nationalities, the country's indigenous umbrella group.

Delfin Tenesaca, one of the group's leaders, said that if the president is truly willing to have a dialogue, he should receive the protesters. "He should also eliminate all mining contracts in order to respect the constitution, which prohibits all types of mining in parks, ecological reserves and water sources," Tenesaca said.

The indigenous group's president, Humberto Cholango, told reporters: "We want peace and no more insults by the president."

"We want Ecuador to know that there are people here who are willing to question and tell the president his mistakes," Cholango told the Ecuadorean television channel Ecuavisa.

The protest march began on March 8 in the Amazon town of El Pangui, about 350 kilometers (215 miles) south of Quito. The marchers took a winding route, hiking about 700 kilometers (435 miles) to reach the capital.

Near the starting point of the march, the government has authorized open pit mines. Under a contract signed by the president this month, Chinese-owned Ecuacorriente will begin stripping copper as early as next year from a hillside in Shuar country whose reserves are estimated at 2.1 billion kilograms (4.7 billion pounds).

The Indians hold title to their traditional lands, but the government maintains mining rights and isn't legally bound to obtain the communities' consent to begin mining projects.

While contracts specify that 10 percent of the royalties should benefit local communities, activists say that can't compensate for harm to Amazon forests and watersheds.

The protesters, from various indigenous groups, also express concern about plans for more oil drilling in the country and a proposed gold mining project in the Amazon that aims to tap an estimated 6.4 million ounces of recoverable gold reserves, currently worth $10.6 billion.