Underreported Struggles #28, July 2009

Underreported Struggles #28, July 2009

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John Ahni Schertow
August 1, 2009

In this month’s Underreported Struggles: the Penan mount blockades against rainforest destruction; Brazil judge orders illegal settlers off Awa lands; Ampilatwatja elders threaten to abandon community; Tanzania Government bans water use near Barrick mine.

July 31Alaska Natives try to halt proposed Pebble Mine – A coalition of village corporations and others files suit to put an end to drilling and exploration for a copper and gold mine above Bristol Bay — a sanctuary for wild salmon.

July 31Persecution of Indigenous Leaders Continues in Peru – The UN Special Rapporteur has called for an immediate review of legal charges against all indigenous leaders, who the government is attempting to blame for last month’s violent assault in Bagua. Police are currently preparing to arrest one of those leaders, Santiago Manuin Valera. Manuin was shot 8 times as he approached Peruvian special police forces last month, attempting to negotiate a peaceful resolution to the violence. (sign a petition denouncing the persecution of Amazonian indigenous leaders)

July 30Borneo tribe mounts new blockades against rainforest destruction – Dozens of Penan tribespeople armed with blowpipes and spears have erected blockades across the roads cut by logging companies deep into their forest in Borneo. The blockaders are calling for an end to logging on their land.

July 30Grand Canyon’s ‘guardians’ press for protections – As the “guardians of the Grand Canyon,” we strenuously object to mining for uranium here. It is a threat to the health of our environment and tribe, our tourism-based economy, and our religion.

July 30 – B.C. Chiefs reject aboriginal title offer – B.C. aboriginal leaders have started working on their own proposed law to redefine their land and resource claims, having scrapped the provincial government’s offer to concede aboriginal title across the province.

July 30Vedanta to go ahead with mining sacred Orissa hill – British mining giant Vedanta said on Tuesday it is going ahead with plans to mine a bauxite-rich hillside in Orissa considered sacred land by local tribals, and urged two international NGOs to give up their protest campaign.

July 29Six Nations concerns over Edwards landfill – A delegation from the Hoskanigetah (Six Nations Men’s Fire of the Grand River) warns about the possible re-opening of the Edwards landfill, just outside of Cayuga, Ontario. Members from the Six Nations community have been working for years, alongside the non-native environmental coalition, HALT (Haldimand Against Land Transfers), to make sure no more waste is added to the dump.

July 29We are NOT A THREAT to the Oil Industry – Here, a statement by Mike Mercredi from the Athabasca Chipewyan First Nation, on the newly-released, roughshod of a report: Resource Industries and Security Issues in Northern Alberta, by the Canadian Defense Security and Foreign Affairs Institute (CDFAI). The report preposterously claims that indigenous people in Northern Alberta are one of the highest threats to Canada’s burgeoning oil industry.

July 28Brazilian judge orders illegal settlers off Awa lands – A Brazilian federal judge has ruled that ranchers and colonists illegally occupying the Awá Indian reserve must leave the territory within 180 days. This is a major victory for the tiny nomadic hunter-gatherer tribe of 300 people in Maranhão state.

July 28Boycott Denison Mines – Toronto-based Denison Mines (International Uranium Corporation) is threatening to reopen Canyon mine and drill for uranium at the south rim of the Grand Canyon. It only takes a quick look at the company to see that it has targeted Indigenous Peoples around the world with mining, poison and death.
Denison uranium mines and explorations are in White Mesa, Utah, McClean Lake in Saskatchewan, Australia, Mongolia and the Mutanga Project in Zambia.

July 26Episcopal Church repudiates Doctrine of Discovery! – In a first-of-its-kind action in the Christian world, the national Episcopal Church has passed a landmark resolution repudiating the Doctrine of Discovery and urging the U.S. government to endorse the U.N. Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples.

July 24Indigenous Communities Angered by Peru Environment Minister – Indigenous communities from the Peruvian Amazon are angry over recent comments from Peru’s environment minister that Pluspetrol’s Lote 8 on the Corrientes river, is a “shining example” of how oil projects can benefit local communities. The only thing “shining” in Lote 8, as evidenced in the attached photograph, is coming from the four major oil spills that have occurred in the region, just this year.

July 24 – Another State of Emergency in Attawapiskat, northern Ontario, Canada – Attawapiskat First Nation is facing a state of emergency after numerous homes were contaminated by sewage. Attawapiskat Deputy Chief Theresa Spence issued a news release stating a failure in the community’s primary sewage lift station left dozens of residents living in contaminated homes.

July 23Ampilatwatja elders threaten to abandon community – A group of 30 indigenous elders and leaders from Ampilatwatja, in Australia’s Northern Territory, have said they will soon abandon their community unless the government starts listening to them. The group says that the intervention has brought nothing but shame and misery to their lives, leaving with no choice but to build a new community for themselves.

July 23 – Leech Lake Tribal residents file lawsuit against Enbridge – The tribal grassroots environmental justice group, “IN ZHA WEN DUN AKI” filed a civil lawsuit in a Leech Lake Tribal Court, seeking a temporary restraining order against Enbridge Energy from starting the proposed pipelines on the Leech Lake Reservation. (See www.dirtytarsands.org for more)

July 21Mexico: Nahuas win land struggle – On July 17 Michoacán governance secretary Fidel Calderón Torreblanca and the Nahuas’ legal adviser, Carlos González García, reached an agreement in which the Nahuas would receive land in compensation for grievances dating back some 45 years, when their land was taken from therm.

July 17All-of-a-sudden cleanup for the world’s Cold War waste – A bit of curious timing, 3 byproducts of the cold war are getting long-needed remediation: More than 800 million tons of uranium waste in Kyrgyzstan, a series of radar sites in Canada, and ‘some’ of the more uranium-contaminated sites on Navajoland, America.

July 16Land Grabs threaten 20 million hectares throughout Africa – A land grab, motivated by speculators, is threatening several African countries. The United Nations’ estimates that some 20 million hectares is currently – or about to be – under lease to foreign companies operating in Sudan, Tanzania, Cameroon, Ethiopia, Madagascar, Ghana, Kenya and Zambia.

July 14We will not tolerate another coup in Barriere Lake! – Please take FIVE MINUTES to DEMAND the Algonquins of Barriere Lake have their legitimate leadership recognized!!! JOIN the community and Barriere Lake Solidarity in showing the Department of Indian Affairs that we will not tolerate another coup d’etat in Barriere Lake!

July 13Loggers arrested after invading uncontacted tribes’ land – Eighteen illegal loggers have been arrested on land inhabited by uncontacted Indians in Ecuador, according to the El Comercio newspaper. The arrests were made over the last few weeks, after the loggers were found by patrols cutting valuable cedar trees.

July 1119 years later: On the Fraudulent theft of Mohawk Land – While the “Oka Crisis” has been long buried by most Canadians, the Fraudulent theft of land that led to it, remains completely unresolved.

July 9Tanzania Government bans water use near Barrick mine – The Tanzania government has banned the use of water from the Tigithe River, which may be contaminated with Sulphiric acid used by the Canadian company Barrick Gold at their North Mara Gold Mine in the Tarime discrict.

July 8Secretive Russia-Burma mine could displace thousands – A Russian-backed mining project in Burma’s war-torn Shan State will permanently destroy the homes and farmlands of 7,000 Pa-O villagers, according to a new report by the Pa-O Youth Organization (PYO).

July 8Sarawak Government ignores land rights ruling – The government of the Malaysian state of Sarawak is ignoring a recent court ruling recognizing the rights of the Penan and other tribes to their land, according to a leading Sarawak indigenous rights lawyer.

July 1 – Interview: Victory Over Mexico’s La Parota Dam – Since 2004, thousands of Mexican farmers have been fighting the construction of La Parota Dam in the state of Guerrero. They have staged blockades, protests and legal actions and have faced violent police repression in return. In May, the Mexican press reported that the government would postpone La Parota Dam until after 2018. World Rivers Review interviewed Rodolfo Chavez Galindo, a leader of the vibrant movement to stop the dams, about the battle over La Parota.

July 1 – Guatemala village blocking illegal garbage on their land – Neighbors of Pajopom Village from Esquipulas Palo Gordo don´t want trash from San Marcos anymore. From June 15th 2009 they have prevent the discharge of garbage in an illegal garbage dump in their community by having a pacific protest in front of the community saloon.


Destruction of the Abatwa (Pygmy) Culture – “The Abatwa are an example of the phenomenon feared by Subcomandante Marcos and the indigenous communities of the Chiapas region of Mexico, that of being so marginalized as a people that you just don’t matter any more.”

The Voices of the Caribou People – The Voices of the Caribou People is a video-based project that documents the knowledge of Indigenous Peoples who traditionally maintain a close relationship with Caribou.

Interview with Grandma Aggie from the 13 Indigenous Grandmothers – The eldest living member of her tribe, the Takelma Indians of southwest Oregon, Agnes Baker-Pilgrim is a world-renowned spiritual leader, spokesperson and member of the International Council of Thirteen Indigenous Grandmothers, and keeper of the Sacred Salmon Ceremony—a tradition that she revived for her people after 150 years.

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