Underreported Struggles #80 November 2013

Underreported Struggles #80 November 2013

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December 5, 2013

In this month’s Underreported Struggles: Australia high court affirms primacy of Indigenous right to fish; two Indigenous communities dropped from nuclear waste dump shortlist; Bushmen lands in Botswana opened up for fracking.

A series of ongoing attacks on the Q’eqchi community of Saquimo Setaña, Cobán, Guatemala, were reported by The Guatemala Solidarity Project. The criminal acts–including arson, physical attacks on community members and the arrest of community leaders under false charges–were allegedly ordered by a person who claims to be the rightful heir of Saquimo Setaña’s land. The woman in question was also able to get an eviction order issued against the community.

In Alberta, Canada, the Lubicon Lake Nation peacefully occupied an access road leading to Penn West Petroleum’s oil lease site on the Lubicon’s traditional unceded territory. The Lubicon Nation explained in a press statement that Penn West began working in the area without consulting them. Initially, Penn West agreed to halt the work and attend a meeting; however, the company turned around–after some early posturing–and presented a hardline position: They would not engage with the Lubicon Lake Nation government nor would they cease their operations. Lubicon citizens and representatives have said they will remain at the location until Penn West ceases operations and takes their requests seriously.

Two Indigenous communities from northern Saskatchewan were finally dropped from the Nuclear Waste Management Organization’s nuclear waste dump shortlist. After several years of grassroots resistance spearheaded by the Committee for Future Generations and supported by other organizations, it was announced on Nov. 21 that both communities were unsuitable for further study.

Vast areas of Botswana’s Central Kalahari Game Reserve (CKGR) have been opened up to international companies for fracking, creating yet another dangerous point of conflict for Indigenous Peoples in region. The San or Bushmen said they had no idea their land had been earmarked for drilling until they were shown a map during the making of a new documentary film, The High Cost Of Cheap Gas, revealing that half the game reserve was allocated to multinationals.

Raglan Maori began asserting their rights over their customary fishing waters, as Texas-based oil company Anadarko began drilling off the west coast of New Zealand. According to a prominent Maori political rights campaigner, the Maori weren’t informed of Anadarko’s ultra-deep sea oil drilling plans; the first drift of news came through an article in the Waikato Times. The project is an environmental disaster waiting to happen.

Arrests and injuries have continued in New Brunswick as anti-shale gas rallies have pressed on in opposition to shale gas exploration on Mi’kmaq lands. The Mi’kmaq-led anti-fracking effort is aimed at stopping Texas-based oil company SWN Resources from carrying out exploration activities in breach of Canada’s firmly established obligation to consult First Nations–an obligation that extends to SWN Resources. Despite physical violence on part of the RCMP and legal attacks on part of SWN, the Mi’kmaq and there allies are showing no signs of backing down.

Mapuche communities living around the town of Temuco mobilized against the construction of the new Araucania airport in central Chile. Erecting barricades, the Mapuche protesters said that the construction of the airport has led to the excavation of a cemetery and sacred lands have been violated in order to build the landing strip. The Chilean Government argues that the construction of the new airport is necessary because the existing airport is just too small.

Indigenous peoples of the Upper Siang district in Arunachal Pradesh, India, stepped forward to oppose 3 mega power projects that would submierge their land and threaten their existence. According to India Times, the Indigenous peoples, joined under the banner of Siang Indigenous Farmers’ Forum (SIFF), have threatened to launch an agitation if the state government fails to meet its demands, stating that no amount of compensation or mitigation measures could replace the ancestral land of the Indigenous Peoples of the area.

A bittersweet victory, the Musqueam finally managed to bring a certain end to the months-long struggle to stop a condominium development atop the ancient village of cusnaum. The Musqueam recently worked out a deal to buy and preserve the site, also known as Marpole Midden, in Vancouver, British Columbia. After 18 months of talks, community members announced plans to place permanent educational signage on the archaeological site, and likely commission several carved poles to honor the more than 4,000-year-old village.

The Maori are being called on to oppose the impending Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP/TPPA), a treaty that would affect indigenous free-hold land, push the Maori further into poverty and give multinationals the right to exploit the ecosystem . A recent Wikileaks release further confirmed that the TPP would further aid companies in trademarking and copyrighting indigenous intellectual property and cultural/traditional knowledge. Despite these significant threats, Maori leadership has widely remained silent.

In western Ontario, the Oshkimaadiziig Unity Camp entered its 19th month of occupying Awenda Provincial Park, an action that began, says camp spokesperson Kai Kai Kons,”as a result of the illegal surrenders of our inherent rights and traditional territories along with the policies and laws enforced upon our people where the Chippewa Tri Council and Canada are in breach of the 1764 Niagara Covenant Chain Belt.” The group, part of a growing movement called ACTION — Anishinabek Confederacy To Invoke Our Nationhood, says that Awenda Provincial Park is situated on one of five traditional embassies known as Council Rock which is interwoven in the inter-tribal treaty between the Anishinabek and Haudenosaunee.

Some 1,000 people representing 26 Bukar villages staged a peaceful demonstration to protest the encroachment of their sacred ancestral home of Mount Sadong in Sarawak, Malaysia. Shouting their battle-cry ‘Hidup Bibukar’ (‘Long Live The Bukar People’), they carried placards and banners expressing their concern and worry, and called on relevant authorities to revoke a license issued to extract timber from the mountain.

Australia’s high court confirmed Indigenous Peoples’ inherent right to fish for traditional purposes from waterways and oceans, stating unequivocally in its ruling that native title takes precedent over state fishery laws. The court case began in 2009, when a Narrunga father and son caught 24 undersized abalone at Cape Elizabeth on the Yorke Peninsula, becoming embroiled in a legal fight with South Australia’s Labor government.

A group of Amazigh rebels blocked one of Libya’s largest gas and crude oil plants, issuing an ultimatum, “Oil tankers won´t get crude from this port until Tripoli finally meets our demands.” Organized in shifts of 30 men, the Amazigh are concerned about the committee in charge of writing the Libya’s post-Gaddafi constitution. Most importantly, the Amazigh want their language to be co-official, and they want all Amazigh to be able to decide on key issues concerning the country. One Amazigh rebel had this to say: “All this started as a move to get language recognition, but today we also want to tell all those interested in setting foot on Amazigh soil that they will have to take us into account from now on.”

A Northern Territory Indigenous leader called on Aboriginal communities to reject bids by Australia to secure 99-year leases over parts of their land. Reverend Doctor Djiniyini Gondarra issued a statement saying there is no evidence of general consultation with the communities concerned. “A lease that takes control of the land means we are giving away our law and our identity,” the statement said. “We will have nothing to live for. We will become fringe dwellers. Our land can never simply be exchanged for monetary gain.”

The Diaguita are taking new legal action against Goldcorp’s El Morro copper and gold mine in northern Chile. According to Reuters, “the $3.9 billion mine was given the green light again last month, after Chile’s Supreme Court froze its environmental permit last year until the company fully consulted the local Diaguita community”. The Diaguita, however, say that the consultation wasn’t properly conducted. The Diaguita involved in the case are deeply concerned that the mine would be stationed on sacred lands and fear the mine could pollute a local river.

Grassy Narrows Chief and Council rejected Ontario’s plan for another decade of clear-cut logging on Grassy Narrows Territory, stating that it will “further erode the Aboriginal, Treaty Rights and the ability of the community to sustain their families and to practice their culture through fishing, hunting, trapping, medicine harvesting, ceremony and healing for all generations.” If approved, the plan would schedule to clear-cut much of what little mature forest remains on Grassy Narrows Territory after decades of large scale industrial logging.

Videos of the Month

Restoring Nationhood: Leanne Betasamosake Simpson delivers a heartfelt talk about restoring Indigenous nationhood and addressing land dispossession in Canada.

Transcanada leave Lakota Territory – On November 13, 2013, tribal members of the Cheyenne River Sioux Tribe, acting as agents for Transcanada in order to sell-out the homeland to the Keystone XL Pipeline, brought Keystone representatives to the reservation. Here’s what happened.

Disputed Territory – The green economy versus community-based economies–A story of the peoples of the Atlantic Forest in southern Brazil.

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