Tuesday, November 28, 2006

Podcast #6 - Sound of Indigeneity

Dear listeners, in this podcast, recorded earlier today, we sing songs that mean a great deal to us. It was Miget's idea, and like most of his ideas, inspired. We all love to sing, nervousness may have tripped us up more than usual, but you can be the judge. I will tell you that we had a good time but you can see that for yourself.

once more with feeling

singing from the heart

Miget has some Chamorro mojo that gets me and Madel to do things I suspect we would never do otherwise. Did I mention we had fun?

Soon I'll post the six minute plus bonus track of us singing at lunchtime, I think our rendition of The Beatles' Yesterday is a counter hegemonic narrative for sure!

Monday, November 27, 2006

Number 6 is on the way!

Madel, Miget and I are meeting tomorrow to record another podcast so there should be something new to listen to by late afternoon. Last time we met we sang and sounded pretty good so keep an open mind because we might just serenade you all!

Friday, November 24, 2006

Happy Indigenous Genocide Day!

Just in time for "Thanksgiving" or as I've heard it referred to over the past few years,

Thanks"taking" Day!
Indigenous Genocide Day!
Why are White People so Scared Day!

Democracy Now dedicated an entire show this week to how Indigenous peoples around the world are successfully resisting economic globalization. As I see kids walking around, coming out of school with feathers on their heads or poorly constructed construction paper Pilgrim hats, I know for those who identify as Native American here (and possibly those who resist it as well), this must be a depressing time of year. It is times like this that the theme of "playing Indian" becomes so appropriate and so crystal clear that sumen tahdong i piniti para siha ni' manindigenous.


Indigenous Peoples' Resistance to Economic Globalization:
A Celebration of Victories, Rights and Cultures

Hundreds of people from around the world recently gathered in New York for the "Indigenous Peoples' Resistance to Economic Globalization a Celebration of Victories, Rights and Cultures" teach-in put on by the International Forum on Globalization and the Tebtebba Foundation. Today, we'll play some of the speeches from the event:

* Elouise Cobell, a Blackfeet Indian and the plaintiff in the landmark lawsuit Cobell v. Kempthorne. The suit was filed on behalf of 300,000 Native Americans and is the largest class action lawsuit ever filed against the U.S. government.

* Felix Villca, an Aymara Indian and a senior advisor to the Bolivian Foreign Ministry in the government of Evo Morales, Bolivia's first indigenous president.

* Sheila Watt-Cloutier, former chair of the Inuit Circumpolar Council that represents the more than 150,000 Inuit of Canada, Greenland, Alaska, and Russia.

* Mililani Trask, a native Hawaiian attorney.

Wednesday, November 22, 2006

"Declaration" of Indigeneity

I just wanted to post here the recent invite to our podcast which I finally sent out today. It basically articulates where me, Angie and Madel are coming from when we say crazy things or why we even chose to share our conversations in the first place.


Alii, el mor kemiu el rokui,
Hafa adai, mañelu-hu yan mañainå-hu,
Hello, friends and family,

Indigenous peoples and their struggles are often diminished or dismissed today as being either racist, parochial, essentialist or just too plain particular. As the majority of the world’s population is brought together in more and more tangible ways through ”international” and “transnational” narratives, it might be expected then that indigenous peoples, most of whom exist “intra-nationally,” or as nations within nations, might be dismissed as inconsequential or kind of distracting from the big picture and more universal concerns. In the United States today, terms such as sovereignty, decolonization and self-determination, which are common in the politics of indigenous peoples, are either completely foreign, or distasteful in the way they echo broken promises of failed revolutions and the dangers of modern utopianism.

In most academic disciplines we find a difficulty in seeing the importance of reckoning with indigenous struggles or epistemologies, except as just another ethnic group to be incorporated, an anachronism to be collected and catalogued, or colorful exceptions, footnotes on modernity’s journey forward.

We, the three “voices” of the Voicing Indigeneity podcast and blog are all graduate students in the Ethnic Studies department at the University of California, San Diego, and in different ways, both in and outside of our department often find ourselves entangled in the limits and resistances mentioned above. Over the past year, the three of us have had intense, inspiring and occasionally productive conversations about the difficulties and possibilities for articulating concepts such as sovereignty or decolonization in an Ethnic Studies framework.

Our decision to start to record and disseminate these conversations stems from our belief that indigenous studies and epistemological work, far from being racist, limited or essentialist, is in fact very global and holds important potential for reshaping academic disciplines such as Ethnic Studies. In our short time here at UCSD, we have already begun to see important of shifts of vision, and so we voice our critiques, precisely because we believe in the critical potential for the Ethnic Studies project. We feel that it is unfortunate that most potential indigenous scholars today do not see our Ethnic Studies department or the larger discipline as places where they can produce work which is relevant to issues of decolonization and sovereignty, and want to change this perception.

We therefore invite you to visit our website http://voicingindigeneity.blogspot.com, and download our podcasts, which range from serious to silly, frustrating to therapeutic. We also welcome you to leave comments, or join our conversation by emailing us with critiques, questions, suggestions and support at mlbasquiat@hotmail.com.

Struggles for sovereignty and acts of decolonization are taking place all the time, at multiple levels attached to different dreams and nightmares. Both with these conversations and within these conversations you will find a number of ours.

Ko meral mesulang
Si Yu’us Ma’ase para i tiempon-miyu
Thank you

Madelsar Tmetuchl Ngiraingas (Belauan – Beliliou, Orreor, Irrai)
Angela Morrill (Modoc-Klamath)
Michael Lujan Bevacqua (Chamorro, familian Kabesa/Bittot)

Friday, November 17, 2006

Native FAQS

I will be heading out of San Diego tomorrow morning for a week of work and family fun.

On Saturday, me and my cousin Alfred Peredo Flores Jr. (familian Robot/Kabesa) and our favorite palao'an Palauan Madelsar Tmetuchl Ngiraingas will be running two counseling/networking sessions at the National Pacific Islander Education Network conference. Our sessions will cover first questions about appyling for college and getting financial (non-military) support for Pacific Islanders, and second how to network, organize and meet other Pacific Islanders in higher education or in the community.

This is the fourth year that I've done this conference, if you are in the area and would like to attend please click on the link above. For the first two years I participated on these panels Michael Perez who is in Socioogy at CSU Fullerton was in charge. Last year however since i kayu-hu couldn't make it, I took over and brought on Madel and Alfred. Here's a photo of us from last year.

A conference like this is especially important given the education statistics and report released recently by Asian American Studies Center at UCLA. For those of you who check out the report and press release, I'll warn you ahead of time, while it is informative and insightful for thinking about the economic and educational position of Pacific Islanders today, it does take the typical social science position of not just comparing numbers of groups, but by making clear the gravity of a situation by comparing Pacific Islanders to some eternally poor performing and pathological group. For example, "these numbers reach almost African American proportions."

The day after this, Sunday the 19th I'll be participating in the Famoksaiyan Southern California meeting to be held at The Guam Communications Network office in Long Beach. If you are interested in attending or knowing more here's the tentative schedule. Although this meeting will be primarily for Chamorros, any and all Pacific Islanders are welcome to attend as allies as are other groups from Guam or interested in progressive politics related to Chamorros and Guam.

If you would like to know more about the group Famoksaiyan you can check out the archives for our listerv (famoksaiyan@lists.riseup.net) through this link. Or we also have a myspace account which has profiles of members and articles and more info. We are basically a progressive Chamorro organization working on different forms of decolonization both in Guam and in the diaspora. Here's a photo from the conference in April.

After the weekend I'll be driving up north to visit my mom and family for Thanksgiving. Although I have made some weak promises to work on my prospectus and other projects, I will most likely end up throwing away most of the weekend playing the new Nintendo Wii with my brother Jack and sister Alina.

One thing which Angie requested I do though over the Thanksgiving break is come up with a sort of either written or recorded Frequently Asked Questions piece for those of you who may not be very familiar with the concepts or discussions we are discussing in our podcasts or posts.

If you have any particular questions that you would like answered or would like to see me try and answer please email them to me at mlbasquiat@hotmail.com

Thursday, November 16, 2006

Indigeneity in the 21st Century

I just came across this conference, I really wish I had known about it and attended.

Here's the conference link and you can even buy DVDs of the presentations.

As we begin the 21st century, political recognition – within the context of great population displacements and current globalization processes – has been and continues to be a primary locus of struggle for Indigenous nations, international confederations, national, regional, and local organizations, and Indigenous persons at large. In striving for recognition, Indigenous peoples have made a critique of the terms of recognition a critical part of the political struggle. Recognizing legal and racial identities as legacies of imperialism, Indigenous activists and scholars are probing the ways that individual-centered western concepts embody gender- and culture-specific norms of citizenship. Indigenous groups are reimagining, challenging, and inventing new modes of political activism that are reshaping the contours of political recognition. Equally importantly, these re/memberings and reimaginings are taking a multiplicity of paths and forms: legal, cultural, artistic, academic, socio-political, and economic.

The purpose of this conference is to provide a forum for Indigenous scholars from a broad range of disciplines both from within California and from other parts of the United States, including Hawai’i as well as the Solomon Islands, Mexico, Peru, Bolivia, Canada and New Zealand to address and reflect upon the most recent forms of “Indigeneity” and its politics of re/membering Indigenous identity in a global and local context. The conference will be organized around panels addressing specific sites in which Indigeneity is being played out. The panels are tied together by several interwoven themes: alternative meanings of sovereignty; the politics of inclusion and exclusion; critical traditions of Indigenous local knowledge; and the essentialism-anti-essentialism dialectic.

Tuesday, November 14, 2006

No. 5 - East of Indigenous

To listen to podcast number five just move your mouse over the title of this post and click. In this short 21 minute episode Madel, Miget and I discuss our influences close to home. Feedback is always welcome!

I bought a new computer this week (not with real money, I charged it to my student account) and so we had fun with the Photo Booth program on my MacBook. Check it out:


Madel smiling through.

essentially madel & miget

Madel & Miget want world peace.

Erin M.

Our lovely tech support and friend Erin Malone.

double vision

Miget x two.


I don't know if we are Trekkies or Trekkers.

We were in the International Relations/Pacific Studies library this week, it was a central location for a busy eighth week but I missed Madel's kitchen table.

I edited this post to add that we did record a sixth podcast. We invited Professor Ross Frank to be our guest and all went well until I copied the track onto my computer. I thought it copied and it did not. By the time I realized it the original track was erased from the flash where we recorded it. I regret my mistake. Professor Frank agreed to be our guest again in the near future.

Professor Ross Frank

Monday, November 13, 2006

Google Guam Indigenous

Whenever my brain doesn't seem to be working, I do a silly intentionally egotistical exercise about my blog, where I google random combinations of words in hopes of finding my blog high up on the list of results. Click here to check out my most recent adventure with google.

This blog is relatively new right now, we haven't even sent out the official call inviting people to check it out, so I wouldn't expect it to be placing high on google searches. So for today I'll use my other blog No Rest for the Awake - Minagahet Chamorro.

indigenous and Guam = #10

indigenous and Chamorro = #38

indigenous and Chamoru = #15

sovereignty and Guam = #4

decolonization and Guam = #9

colonization and Guam = #20

indigenous myspace and Guam = #9

native Guam Chamorro = #16

Guam islander Chamorro = #5

Guahan = #15

indigenous indian Guam = #59

"indigenous epistemology" = #122

Thursday, November 09, 2006

Indigenous Indians

Yesterday a question was posed to me about "hayi indigenous siha?" for which I did have an answer, but not a real convincing answer. The question was who in India counts as the "indigenous people" there.

Three obvious points come to mind:

1. India has only existed for a few hundred years, and the term indigenous of India cannot be adequately conceived of at the national level, only at the local level in different regions. As far as I know, India has not produced a strong ethnic category to contain, fix or homogenize the figure of the native, like the United States has been able to do.

2. Postcolonialism which has derived much of its genesis and flavor from the Indian example, is not really associated with the question of indigenous people in India. It seems more focused on the gestures, the innovations and the exclusions of the nationalist and independence movements. Postcolonial studies as a whole bears an interesting resistance to indigenous issues because of the wariness to "nativist" sentiments. The language of revolutionary nationalism always has an indigenous edge to it, meaning that it posits itself as the source or the origin of an order. The problem with this of course is that this "original" declaration of a nation, is always an independence against the being and possibility of those who remain as the "indigenous people" of this newly asserted nation.

3. The term indigenous today refers to not just attachment to land, but also an ambiguous or antagonistic relation to the state, which is often visible as an abject or tragic position. Indigenous people are those who are too attached to their land and their way of life, so that they can never break with it to enjoy the comforts and advances of modern life. The definition of indigenous people in India lies at this connection, between people who are tied to a "previous" way of life and live in poverty because of it.

I am on a listserv for information about indigenous people resisting militarization and recently I received this email from India, which makes the issues of indigenous people in India, far from merely an academic exercise.


Prajnalankar Bhikkhu


The term “empowerment” is used in various contexts. Generally it refers to increasing the political, social and economic strength of individuals. It involves the empowered developing confidence in their own capacities.

Sociological empowerment addresses social discrimination processes that exclude members of groups or a particular group in society from decision-making processes through -- for example -- discrimination based on race, ethnicity, religion and gender.

In economic development, the empowerment approach focuses on mobilizing the self-help efforts of the poor rather than providing them with social welfare services.

Political empowerment means giving lawful rights or authority to a body or a community so that it can freely make decisions on certain matters and execute those decisions for development and welfare of the people. Decision execution requires administrative staff and fund. Therefore, administrative staff and fund are also essential elements of empowerment.

The CHT Accord of 1997:

The government of Bangladesh and the Parbatya Chattagram Jana Samhati Samiti [(PCJSS= People’s United Party, the political organization representing the 11 indigenous peoples/communities of the Chittagong Hill Tracts (CHT) collectively known as “Jumma” and resisting Bangladeshi integrationist and ethnic-cleansing policy locally known as “Islamization policy”)] reached an agreement popularly known as the “CHT Accord” in 1997. The CHT Accord officially put an end to the decades-old conflict between the indigenous peoples and the Bangladesh authorities and opened a new phase in the history of the very lesser known part of the world. It empowers the indigenous peoples with the decision-making authority on certain local affairs.

How CHT Accord empowers Jumma indigenous people:

The CHT Accord introduces a unique local government system in the CHT within the framework of a Regional Council (RC) and three Hill District Councils (HDCs) -- both consisting of indigenous people and “non-indigenous permanent residents”. The system provides a federal state-like structure to the CHT region. The RC is the chief policy-and-decision-making body, the nucleolus of the local government in the region. It is formed with the members elected by the members of the HDCs[1], while the HDCs are formed with the members directly elected by the people (indigenous people and “non-indigenous permanent residents”) of the CHT.[2] The RC supervises and coordinates the functions of the HDCs, general administration, law and order and all developmental activities including that of the CHT Development Board (CHTDB) and NGOs.

The RC and HDCs work like the legislative body of the CHT local government. They are accountable to the people for their functions.

The CHT Accord empowers the HDCs to undertake, design, implement, monitor and evaluate all kinds of development projects on the 33 subjects such as land, local police, development etc.

The Deputy Commissioner (DC), Thana Nirbahi Officers (TNO) and all the subordinate officers under them including police are administrative components of the CHT local government. They are called civil servants, popularly bureaucrats. They are, by rules, accountable to the CHT local government (RC and HDCs) for their functions. They are permanent part of the local government. RC and HDCs members could be changed, but these bureaucrats are not -- they continue to work at their offices until their age-limit for service is over. However, on recommendation of the RC, Dhaka (the government) could transfer, suspend, and dismiss the DCs and TNOs from their posts, if (1) they differ with the RC and HDCs on certain policy and administrative matters; (2) they fail to discharge their duties properly; (3) they do not follow the directives of the CHT local government no matter which authority appoints them; (4) they are charged with criminal offences.

The CHT Accord says that all the officers/bureaucrats of the CHT administration will be appointed from amongst the “permanent residents” of the CHT giving “priority” to the indigenous candidates.[3]

As said above, fund is an essential part of empowerment. No body can work for development without fund. The CHT local government raises its fund from the government[4] and other resources like tax and contribution.[5] It formulates and approves its budget according to the manner laid down by rules for this purpose.[6]

The Ministry of CHT Affairs headed by a Minister from amongst the Jumma indigenous people looks after the overall development and welfare of the people of the CHT.[7]

In a given functional democracy, this is what the CHT Accord says about the CHT local government system, empowerment of the Jumma indigenous peoples and “non-indigenous permanent residents” and decentralization of power.


The CHT local government system as stated above will be in effect if Dhaka respects democracy and rule of law and Acts concerning the CHT. But Dhaka does not.

Presently there is no proper system of governance in the CHT. The Ministry of CHT Affairs is under the Prime Minister of Bangladesh Ms. Begum Khaleda Zia. Dhaka has formed the HDCs with the ruling Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP) workers and Islamic fundamentalist leaders rather than with the members directly elected by the people of the CHT. The HDCs do not listen to the RC predominantly formed with PCJSS members. They are implementing Dhaka’s “Islamization policy” and programs in the CHT. The three DCs appointed from amongst the majority ethnic Bengalis in violation of the CHT Accord[8] are like the kings of the three hill districts. They work as Dhaka’s special agents in the CHT. So they are accountable to Dhaka rather than to the CHT local government (RC and HDCs) for their functions. Like the HDCs, they are also implementing Dhaka’s “Islamization policy” and programs in the region. Dhaka has appointed a ruling party MP and an influential Islamic fundamentalist leader Mohammad Abdul Wadud Bhuiyan as the head of the CHTDB. The CHTDB has been “communalized”, as said by the PCJSS, for exclusive development and welfare of the ethnic Bengali settlers or exclusion of the indigenous peoples from development opportunities. As a result, the Jumma indigenous peoples are yet to realize the CHT Accord in practice. They continue to be excluded from empowerment in the real sense of the term. Its reason is one -- only one, and that is Dhaka’s “Islamization policy” and programs in the CHT.

Since the very beginning Dhaka has been showing no political commitment and sincerity for implementation of the CHT Accord. Rather, it has violated or manipulated most of the fundamental terms of the Accord for continuation of its “Islamization policy” and programs in the region. This policy thought out by the first Prime Minister of Bangladesh Sheikh Mujibur Rahman in the early 1970s and consistently executed by his two successive military regimes respectively headed by Major General Ziaur Rahman (1975-1981) and Lt. General Hussein Mohammad Ershad (1982-1990) seeks to integrate the indigenous peoples and their lands and resources with the mono-cultural Islamic State[9], Bangladesh, with force and other illegal means, such as forcible land confiscation and settlement of ethnic Bengali settlers from plain districts in the CHT, militarization and atrocities like rape, murder and religious persecution, and imposition of Islam and Bengali cultural values on the indigenous peoples. Under this policy the successive governments of Bangladesh sponsored settlement of more than 400,000 ethnic Bengali settlers from various plain districts of Bangladesh in the three Hill districts in the CHT in the late 1970s and early 1980s. It resulted in an alarming increase in the ethnic Bengali population from nearly 2% in 1947 to more than 60% in 2001 in the CHT. The state-sponsored settlement of ethnic Bengali settlers has accelerated smoothly in the “post-conflict” CHT in the absence of armed resistance from the indigenous peoples. It is now a continuous process threatening the identity and culture of the indigenous peoples. In fact, it has converted the home of the indigenous peoples into a virtual colony of ethnic Bengali settlers surrounded by hundreds of Bangladeshi military camps, mosques and madrassas (Islamic schools). All the successive governments including the present one have been using its military and police forces and bureaucratic establishments as a tool to put this policy into practice. Needless to say, this policy does not respect the ideals and principles of human rights and democracy. Its impacts on the indigenous people have been terrible and shocking.


Solution to the challenges of empowering the Jumma indigenous peoples and “non-indigenous permanent residents” within the framework the CHT Accord lies in Dhaka’s policy on the CHT. Dhaka must change its integrationist and ethnic-cleansing policy on the indigenous people. It must respect its obligation to the Acts passed on the CHT Accord. It must comply with its obligation to the International Human Rights Treaties it has ratified.[10]

There can be no sustainable peace and development in the CHT without healing the wounds inflicted on the indigenous people over decades. To heal the wounds of the indigenous people Dhaka needs to rehabilitate ethnic Bengali settlers outside the CHT in compliance with the “Unwritten Part of the CHT Accord”.[11] It is a complicated, although not an impossible task. There are around 100,000 ethnic Bengali settler families in the CHT. They could easily be rehabilitated outside the CHT, if one or so family is rehabilitated in each of the 68,000 villages in Bangladesh. It may be noted that some years ago the European Union expressed its readiness to provide necessary funds to the government of Bangladesh for this purpose. So the rehabilitation of the settlers outside the CHT is possible, and the government can have necessary funds for that purpose. The only thing the government needs to have is political commitment, wisdom and courage.

Notes & References:

[1] Part C, Article 5 of the CHT Accord
[2] Part B, Article 4 (b) (2) of the CHT Accord
[3] Part D, Article 18 of the CHT Accord
[4] Part B, Article 19 of the CHT Accord
[5] Part B, Article 35 of the CHT Accord
[6] Part B, Article 18 of the CHT Accord
[7] Part D, Article 19 of the CHT Accord
[8] Part D, Article 18 of the CHT Accord
[9] Bangladesh is a mono-cultural Islamic state in the sense of recognition of Islam as the only “state-religion” (Part 1, Article 2A, Bangladesh Constitution) and Bangla as the only “state-language” (Part 1, Article 3, Bangladesh Constitution)
[10] International Human Rights Treaties Ratified by Bangladesh as on 7 July 2003

Peace Campaign Group (PCG) RZ-I-91/211, West Sagarpur, New Delhi-110046,
IndiaTel: + 91-11-2 539 8383 Telefax: + 91-11-2 539 4277
E-mail: pcgoffice@yahoo.co.in, pcgonline@gmail.com

Friday, November 03, 2006

Episode #4 such as it is

This is where we really missed Erin's skills, did I mention she'll be back next podcast? Yes she will. And I am glad because we talk for about thirty minutes and then the podcast stops abruptly because I did not know how to use the equipment. We end with Miget talking about Micronesia. I am sorry for the abrupt ending and I hope you still enjoy the podcast. We'll be doing another in about ten days.

Here is Erin, she'll be bringing her skills back next time!

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Podcast #3 is live!

Today Madel, Miget and I met at Madel's kitchen table once again, unfortunately without the help of Erin Malone, our friend and graduate student in Communications. I was at the technological wheel and it was a bumpier ride but to compensate, we decided to get personal and tell our listeners why we chose Ethnic Studies and what we are doing here. Hope you enjoy it, please feel free to give feedback. Here are a few photos of us today:

This is the one where Madel looks cute, I think she shines!

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This is the one where I look cute:

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And Miget always looks cute.

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