Monthly Archives: August 2010

O’odham to National Guard: ‘We Do Not Want You On Our Lands’

By Ofelia Rivas, O’odham, Censored News

Ofelia Rivas, traditional O’odham living on the border, released a statement to the National Guard, who are to arrive on the US/Mexico border in Arizona on Monday.

To the United States National Guard arriving in O’odham Lands,

We are not compliant people, we are people with great dignity and confidence. We are a people of endurance and have a long survival history. We are people that have lived here for thousands of years. We have our own language, we have our own culture and traditions.

You are coming to my land, you may find me walking on my land, sitting on my land and just going about my daily life. I might be sitting on the mountain top, do not disturb me, I am praying the way my ancestors did for thousands of years. I might be out collecting what may be strange to you but it might be food to me or medicine for me.

Sometimes I am going to the city to get a burger or watch a movie or just to resupply my kitchen and refrigerator. Some of us live very much like you do and some of us live very simple lives. Some of may not have computers or scanners or televisions or a vehicle but some of us do.

The other thing is that some of us are light-skinned O’odham and some of us are darker-skinned O’odham. Some of us spend a lot of time indoors or outdoors. Sometimes my mother might be of a different Nation (refers to different tribal Nation) or sometimes our father is Spanish or we may have some European grandmother or grandfather.

If you want to question who we are, we all have learned to carry our Tohono O’odham Nation Tribal I.D. Card. It is a federally-issued card which is recognized by the federal government which is your boss. This card identifies us and by law this is the only requirement needed to prove who we are. We do not have United States passports because most of us were born at home and do not have documents, but that does not make us “undocumented people.” Your boss, the Department of Homeland Security, and the government of the Tohono O’odham Nation have negotiated an agreement which is, our tribal I.D. card is our identification card and no other document is required.

The O’odham, (the People) as we call ourselves, have been here to witness the eruption of volcanoes that formed the lands we live on. We have special places that hold our great-great-great-great-great great grandparents remains, our lands are a special and holy place to us. Some of us still make journeys to these places to pray. Some of these places hold holy objects that maintain specific parts of our beliefs. When you see us out on the land do not assume we are in the drug business or human smuggling business. Sometimes we are out on the land hunting for rabbits or deer or javalina to feed our families. We may be carrying a hunting weapon please do not harm me, my family loves me and depends on me.
When you are out on our land, be mindful that you are visitor on our lands, be respectful, be courteous and do not harm anything.

Sometimes you may see us gather all night long, dancing and sometimes we are crying loudly, do not approach us or disturb us in anyway, we are honoring a dead relative and preparing them for burial. Sometimes we are conducting a healing ceremony out on the land, do not approach us or disturb us. Sometimes we may be singing and dancing all night long, these are our ceremonies that we have conducted for thousands of years. We are not behaving in a suspicious nature, this is our way of life.

As original people of the lands we honor everything on our lands and we regard all as a part of our sacred lives, do not kill any plants and animals or people on our lands. Do not litter our lands with your trash. When we visit other peoples lands and cities and homes we do not litter or leave behind trash.

We might be driving our cars, sometimes old, sometimes very new, do not try to run us off the roads or tailgate me. I value my life and my family, I might have a newborn in my car or my grandmother or my mother and father, my brothers and sister or my aunts and uncles or my friends. These are all important people to me and I do not want to see them hurt or dead.

If I seem like I do not understand what you are saying, please call the Tohono O’odham Police and ask for an O’odham speaking officer to come and assist you. I might be laughing at you if you talk to me in English, I don’t know what you are saying and I am laughing out of nervousness and fear because you are armed. Read the rest of this entry

Reclaiming Land and Dignity on Easter Island

From Intercontinental Cry

For the past two weeks, 500 Indigenous Peoples in Rapa Nui–a place more commonly known as Easter Island–have been occupying more than two dozen buildings over a land dispute that dates back to 1888.

In 1888, the remote island, known around the world for its monumental statues, called Moai, was annexed by a naval Officer, and turned into a province of the Chilean state.

From that point on, the Indigenous population was confined to the Hanga Roa settlement and the rest of the island was used as ranch land until 1953. 13 years later, in 1966, the Rapa Nui were given formal Chilean citizenship and the island was opened to the public for the first time.

In the years that followed, much of Easter Island was protected by the Rapa Nui National Park, aUNESCO World Heritage site; and, in 2007, a constitutional reform gave the island the status of a “special territory”, which granted the Indigenous People at least a degree of internal sovereignty.

Despite the gradual–or, at least, partial–restoration of their freedoms and rights, the Rapa Nui are deeply troubled over the “uncontrollable influx of tourists and settlers” on the island; and the fact that the Chilean government appears to be taking their ancestral lands to build more and more state office buildings.

The protest itself was sparked when the newly-elected Chilean President Sebastian Pinera appointed Pedro Edmunds Paoa to be the new Governor of Easter Island. According to theGuardian, Paoa is “suspected of plotting land deals” on the island.

After the protesters made their move, Paoa Impressively offered to resign from his position; and the government, also impressively, opted for a more reasoned approach. Instead of just simply attacking them, such as when the Mapuche attempt to reclaim some their own land,the government sent in a team of negotiators to begin addressing the Rapa Nui’s concerns.

Negotiations appeared to be going well. As reported by the Santiago Times. “The government on Friday [August 6]… issued a proposal to resolve the land issues. The proposal, signed by Interior Minister Rodrigo Hinzpeter, was given personally to Rapa Nui representatives by Celis. It proposes creating a committee to resolve the land issues, the protestors’ request for special status for the island, and their request for immigration regulation. The group would be made up of representatives from government ministries and the Rapa Nui community.”

But then, just one day after the government offered its proposal, Celis, who is the Valparaiso Regional Governor [Easter Island falls with the Valparaiso Region of Chile] callously sent a team of police officers to the Island, according to the Times-Herald Record, with authorization to use force against the peaceful, unarmed indigenous protesters.

So far, the police have acted strictly as observers; however there is a grave risk–and an even greater concern among the Rapa Nui–that the police will make a move if the protesters don’t leave the buildings by Monday, August 16. And in any case, the negotiations have been completely stalled.

With the deadline fast approaching, on Friday, August 13, the Rapa Nui parliament took things down an unexpected path. Representing almost half of the island’s indigenous population of 5,000, the Parliament issued a letter to the Pacific Island Forum and President Pinera, requesting the Rapa Nui’s right to secede from Chile.

The letter proposes that the island, situated on the southeastern point of the Polynesian triangle, would be better off if it was an official part of Oceania.

The government is attempting to downplay the request; nevertheless it is timely, given the fact that so many Rapa Nui may be brutally assaulted just two days from now, because they decided to occupy a handful of buildings on their ancestral land which is, as the same time, being inundated by settlers and tourists who went to get a glimpse into the history of the not-so-extinct Rapa Nui.

Enbridge Representatives are Issued a Final Trespass Notice by the Likhts’amsiyu Clan of the Wet’suwet’en Nation

“There will NO PIPELINES like Enbridge, the KSL Looping Project, Kinder Morgan, or Pembina pipelines going through our territories!”

by HEREDITARY CHIEFS OF THE LIKHTS’AMISYU CLAN

Smithers, BC, August 24, 2010: The Enbridge Pipeline Gateway representatives Michelle Perret and Kevin Brown came into Smithers Town Council to provide an update on the Michigan Rupture, as well as an update on the progress for their plans to construct the proposed Enbridge Gateway Pipeline. The pair was was forced a quick exit from the public meeting following their presentation.

As they made their way to the presenter’s area, they were greeted with members of a Wet’suwet’en group singing a Wet’suwet’en  War Song. Despite opposition from the Mayor, the singers continued until the Enbridge presenters were seated. The Enbridge representatives began their presentation by minimizing the recent Michigan pipeline spill and explained their plans regarding mitigation measures Enbridge will be employing for their proposed Gateway Pipeline project. Many people in the crowd of about 70 people sat and stood in disbelief and disgust as Enbridge’s numbers did not match the numbers which were widely publicized on national news coverages on the recent spill. The floor was then open for questions. Two questions from town council came forward related to the measures Enbridge is taking in their new plans for their Gateway project, which were answered with standardizedand rehearsed replies with absolutely no substance.

As the Enbridge representatives were being thanked by the Mayor for coming, the Likhts’amisyu hereditary chiefs Hagwilakw and Toghestiy stood up and took the floor. They began to explain the Likhts’amisyu opposition to the proposed project and the Wet’suwet’en Jurisdiction and Authority over their unceded lands.

Toghestiy made the following statement: “We cannot be clearer about our position, there will NO PIPELINES like Enbridge, the KSL Looping Project, Kinder Morgan, or Pembina pipelines going through our territories! Enbridge ignored our last statement at the Hudson’s Bay Lodge (on December 9, 2009) where they were warned not to trespass onto Wet’suwet’en territories ever again. Because of your return, we are issuing each of you an eagle feather for trespass. This is the last warning that you will receive. If you are caught trespassing with plans to come onto our territories again, you will be dealt with according to Likhts’amisyu Law. Municipalities, Provincial Governments, and Federal Governments have no jurisdiction or authority over our unceded lands. The jurisdiction and authority belong to the title holders of the Wet’suwet’en House Groups and Clan Groups and nobody else.”. A crowd of 30 Wet’suwet’en people holding banners and signs and about 20 supporters (some dressed in hazmat suits) applauded.

When questioned by media after the presentation about what Likhts’amisyu Law will be evoked, Toghestiy answered, “Our Likhts’amisyu elders and hereditary chiefs will convene and decide how we will deal with this if it is ignored again. For now, Enbridge had just better abide to Wet’suwet’en Law.”

Hagwilakw stated, “We as humans on this earth are fragile and the environment that we know and love is fragile. We cannot risk the destruction and contamination of this eco-system. When I stated that ‘We cannot be bought,’ I truly feel that people should unite, and not be bought out by these industry giants. We are truly blessed with the environment that we have. It must not be looked at as a resource. The bottom line is, consultation is not about ‘telling’ us your plans. Say NO to Enbridge and other forces who threaten our ecosystems.”