Underreported Struggles #22, January 2009

Underreported Struggles #22, January 2009

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January 31, 2009

In the month’s Underreported Struggles: Researchers discover Pharmaceutical dumping ground in India; 300,000 indigenous Kenyans threatened by new dam; Cusco Government Slams the Door on Biopirates; Embera warns company to leave their land; and 17 other stories that you probably didn’t hear about.

January 29Tribe forms human chain to keep British company off sacred mountain – Hundreds of members of the Dongria Kondh tribe, together with many tribal and non-tribal allies, formed a human chain (17 km long) at the base of their sacred Niyamgiri mountain on the 27th January to prevent British mining giant Vedanta from bulldozing it. Some reports put the number of people taking part in the protest at over 10,000.

Nigeria: Tires at the expense of people’s livelihoods – Did you ever imagine that the tires of your car may have been produced at the expense of Indigenous People? Well, in 2007 the Nigerian Government handed the French multinational company Michelin, 3,500 hectares of communally-held forest land without local consent. Micheline promptly bulldozed the region, effecting 9 communities…

January 28Maori Gain Rights to Traditional Fishing and Near-Shore Lands – A new deal will enable Maori to ban other New Zealanders from some coastal areas and impose fines of up to $5000 if they don’t obey. The Ngati Porou deal is the first under the contentious Foreshore and Seabed Act, and will allow some East Cape beaches to be closed to public access. The new Government is to approve the deal this month. Both National and the Maori Party opposed the 2004 foreshore law for very different reasons – but now ministers from the two parties are set to sign off the deal in affidavits to the High Court.

January 27 – India’s Waterways Used as Dumping Grounds for Big Pharma – Researchers have discovered “the highest levels of pharmaceuticals ever detected in the environment” — a veritable toxic stew of pharmaceutical ingredients used in ailments that range from heart disease to depression, gonorrhea, ulcers, and bacterial infections. If you haven’t already guessed it, it’s in the water.

Court Denies Injunction to Protect Mt. Tenabo – A federal judge has denied the Injunction sought by the Western Shoshone and four other plaintiffs to halt Barrick Gold’s construction of the largest open pit cyanide heap leach gold mine in the United States, the Cortez Hills Expansion Project on Mt. Tenabo. IN response to the Descision, the Western Shoshone Defense Project says they are planning to continue opposing the mine.

January 26 – Kenya: Lake Turkana under Threat – The largest permanent desert lake in the world, Lake Turkana, is facing depletion by the presence of a new upstream Dam, the Gibe 3. More than 300,000 indigenous people depend on the lake for their food crops, livestock grazing and watering, and fishing. Without the lake, life for them would be virtually impossible.

Oil company faces billion dollar headache in Amazon – Perenco, an Anglo-French oil company hoping to drill for oil on uncontacted tribes’ land in the Peruvian Amazon may be forced to abandon the project after the government threatened to withdraw investment in it. The jungle where Perenco hopes to drill is the ancestral home of at least two of the world’s last uncontacted tribes.

January 25Cusco Government Slams the Door on Biopirates – Indigenous people in Peru are celebrating a major victory in their long-time struggle to protect the land from outsiders hoping to exploit it. On January 14, the Regional Government of Cusco enacted a law that bans the practice of biopiracy, or “the appropriation and monopolization of traditional population’s knowledge and biological resources.” The move has been heralded “a leading example” for the rest of the world.

Canada’s Mine Tailings Secret Heads to Court – The Canadian mining industry’s failure to publicly report on the hundreds of millions of kilograms of toxic waste it generates each year, is currently being examined in Canada’s Federal Court. A great deal of that waste is situated on indigenous treaty territory.

January 21A land grab in Colombia – Backed by the military, Muriel Mining Corp. has illegally entered the Colombia’s Jiguamiandó River Basin to exploit the subsoil resources of the Cerro de Carreperro Mountains without properly consulting the Embera. In response, the Embera have warned the company to leave voluntarily, or the community will push them out.

January 20 – Leonard Peltier’s Safety Is In Jeopardy! – Leonard Peltier was severely beaten upon his arrival at the Canaan Federal Penitentiary, one week ago. It is widely felt that prison authorities orchestrated the attack at the behest of the FBI.

Sixty-nine graves of O’odham ancestors destroyed for border wall – Homeland Security destroyed 69 graves of Tohono O’odham ancestors in one location alone while constructing the US/Mexico border wall south of Tucson, in violation of all federal laws created to protect American Indian remains.

January 19Federal Court Motion Won by Elders Council of Barriere Lake – Earlier this month, a Federal Court Judge ruled in favour of the Barriere Lake Algonquins, calling into question Indian and Northern Affairs (INAC) 2008 decision to replace the First Nation’s traditionally-elected Chief and Council with a ‘minority faction.’ The leadership dispute is still far from over, however the ruling outlines a set of points that affirm Barriere Lake’s standing list of Demands.

January 18Thousands of Hawaiian rights activists March in Waikiki – Bearing signs emblazoned with “Impeach Lingle,” “Ceded = Stolen” and “Ku I Ka Pono: Justice for Hawaiians,” thousands of Hawaiian rights activists and supporters marched through Waikiki yesterday in a massive protest against the state’s attempt to overturn a Hawai’i Supreme Court ruling on ceded lands.

January 15Mexican Company Denies Suffering Caused by Mines – The Mexican mining company Autlán claims there is no evidence to prove that manganese causes harm to human health. However, local community life says otherwise. Adults in a group of towns near the company’s manganese extraction operations live their daily lives trembling as if they have Parkinson’s disease, and the mental development of children has been found to be noticeably lesser than normal. These are symptoms of manganese toxicity.

January 13Groups Denouce ExxonMobil in the Philippines – Kalikasan People’s Network for the Environment (Kalikasan PNE) has denounced the Arroyo government for permitting oil and gas exploration activities by ExxonMobil in the Philippines. Those activities will most likely damage the fragile marine ecosystem, on which millions of fisher folk depend.

January 9Tsihlqot’in Vow to Protect Teztan Biny (Fish Lake) – The Tsilhqot’in Nation headed to court on Tuesday, seeking to prevent Taseko Mines from going ahead with its multibillion-dollar “prosperity” gold and copper mine in southern British Columbia. The claim, if successful, would stop Taseko from converting Teztan Biny (Fish Lake) into a mining waste dump site.

January 8New Gov’t Commits to Peace with Bangladesh Tribes – The new government of Bangladesh, elected roughly a week ago after two years of emergency military rule, has committed to honoring a peace accord with the indigenous Jumma people, who have long suffered at the hands of the military.

Mushkegowuk Council Bans Mining on Traditional Lands – Mushkegowuk Council First Nations in northern Ontario recently passed a resolution that bans mining and exploration projects on their traditional lands. “The chiefs have made it clear. They are tired of their homelands being invaded,” said Grand Chief Stan Louttit of Mushkegowuk Council. “The government needs to recognize that First Nations have the legal and constitutional right to be consulted and now we demand that consent be part of the equation.”

Narragansett Tribe trying to protect sacred site – The Narragansett are trying to discuss the future of a sacred site with the Federal Aviation Administration. The Tribe is worried about the expansion of an airport in Turner Falls, Massachusetts which will impact a collection of sacred stones used by tribes in New England. The FAA contends the stones lack significance and were abandoned in the 19th century.

January 5 – Mexican Indigenous Communities at odds with Tourism – A small indigenous community in Mexico’s northern Chihuahua state finds little glitter in the “magic town” planned for their ancestral lands. Instead of good fortune, leaders of the Raramuri [Tarahumara] community of Bacajipare allege they’ve been the target of death threats and bullets because of an escalating land conflict related to the planned Divisadero-Barrancas Adventure Park.


Apples and Indians – An independent short about racism in Canada, and one man’s journey to come to terms with true identity.

Women’s Power: Mother-Right Cultures – a short clip from Women’s Power, a DVD that looks at Women’s history among the world’s cultures and Nations.

How the Province of British Columbia got its name – Jack Woodward, of the Victoria-based law firm Woodward & Company, talks about something you probably didn’t learn in school… how Canada’s most western province came to be known as “British Columbia.”

Photo by AP Photo/Gleison Miranda, FUNAI.

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