Sunday, October 28, 2007

Indigenous Politics: The Declaration of Indigenous Rights

~TUESDAYS from 4-5pm (EST)
WESU (88.1 FM), Middletown,

On Tuesday, October 30, join your host, Dr. J. Kehaulani Kauanui for a critical exploration of the Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples that was recently adopted by the United Nations General Assembly. The program will feature an interview with Tonya Gonnella Frichner(Onondaga Nation, Snipe Clan), founder and president of the American Indian Law Alliance. AILA is an indigenous, non-profit organization that works with Indigenous nations, communities and organizations in the struggle for sovereignty, human rights, and social justice. Topics for discussion will focus on the politics of indigenous self-determination under international law, the distinction between minorities and Indigenous peoples, and the decades-long struggle to draft and pass the Declaration,as well as the opposition by New Zealand, Australia, Canada, and the United States (the only four States that voted against it).

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Friday, October 26, 2007

Fires Hits Reservations in San Diego

Tribal volunteers tackle blaze
By Scott Gold, Los Angeles Times Staff Writer
October 26, 2007

LA JOLLA INDIAN RESERVATION, Calif. -- One by one, they returned from the fire lines and steered their clunkers into a gravel parking lot. The dust from their wheels rose into the Pauma Valley and blended into the smoke billowing from three mountaintops behind them.

One had two chain saws in the bed of a rusty pickup truck, another a portable generator and a shovel in the back of an SUV. One walked with a limp; another was covered in tattoos. Several had long, black braids swaying behind their helmets or from under the bandannas they had wrapped around their heads.

After the Poomacha fire started here Tuesday morning, the 10 members of the La Jolla Indian Reservation Volunteer Fire Department found themselves surrounded by flames and stranded without electricity or running water.

They decided to stay and fight. By Thursday, they had assembled a ragtag, 52-person army -- unpaid and, largely, untrained. It wasn't a bucket brigade, but it was close. Most, but not all, were La Jolla Indians. Some had firefighting experience, but many did not.

One worked as a chef at a nearby country club. The reservation's 65-year-old environmental officer, who typically coordinates trash pickup, among other tasks, was placed in charge of security. A young construction worker stood at a checkpoint to guard against looters.

One coordinated the maps, tracking the active fires and plotting a defense. Another ordered walkie-talkies and had them shipped overnight to her hotel room in nearby Rincon.

Someone brought sandwiches.

Someone brought bulldozers.

By Thursday evening, the Poomacha fire had destroyed 50 houses here -- about a third of the homes on the tiny, isolated reservation in northern San Diego County, southeast of Temecula. It's a forgotten pocket of the county, where it's far easier to find ostrich jerky than a latte.

Among the losses were believed to be irreplaceable artifacts, including handmade, fire-burned ceramic bowls that were used to carry water long before the reservation for the La Jolla Band of Luiseño Indians was established here by Ulysses S. Grant in 1875.

The crew members had ashes caked in their ears. Their leader had slept only nine hours from Monday through Thursday afternoon.

But even though they lost the 50th house Thursday morning after a flare-up, they were winning. No one had been hurt. No one had been killed. And unless conditions changed markedly, they were unlikely to lose any more houses, said their leader, 36-year-old Joseph Ruise, the youngest of seven siblings raised on the reservation and the acting chief of the volunteer fire department.

"Since the resources are so thin, we developed our own," he said Thursday. "A lot of us just decided to stay."

He spoke, a map unfurled on the table in front of him, inside the reservation's tribal hall. The pre-fab building, in the center of the gravel lot off California 76, is typically used for tribal government and reservation meetings -- the education committee, the water committee. It had been turned into a fire station, mess hall and, for several crew members, bunk house. A handwritten sign on the wall listed the newly appointed commanders: Wally, Bro, Tracy, Cat.

The fire erupted on the reservation at 3 a.m. Tuesday. At the time, the volunteer fire department had been summoned to fight the Witch fire and was trying to cut a fire break into a patch of woods south of the reservation. The firefighters sped toward the first call, outside a La Jolla home in the Poomacha Valley. The first firefighter to reach the scene radioed to the others: "5 acres. Rapid rate of spread."

Within 15 minutes, the fire grew to 500 acres and was spreading in every direction at once.

Tribal leaders had already evacuated many members as a precaution, and tribal firefighters, along with 40 state firefighters and sheriff's deputies, were able to roust everyone else and get them out of town. The firefighters then raced away from the flames on California 76.

The trucks were going 60 mph, and "the fire was passing us," said Calvin Rodriguez, 30, part of the initial firefighting crew. "I thought I was taking a one-way ticket to hell. The visibility went from 20 feet to the other side of the windshield."

As soon as they could, the volunteers returned to the reservation. Others soon followed. They couldn't stay away.

"It was the right thing to do," said Ryan Adams, 20, the construction worker currently deputized to staff a roadblock. "It feels good."

The reservation has by no means been abandoned by the outside world; there were state firefighting crews on the reservation Thursday, as well as sheriff's deputies assisting on the roads. Aircraft fought one nasty patch of flames a mile or so south.

"We're getting help from the outside," Ruise said. "But it's not enough -- which is understandable considering what's going on. So we had to do more. It seemed like a pretty simple decision. You've gotta take care of your own. You've gotta do what you've gotta do."

With the Santa Ana winds that fueled the initial fires ebbing, evacuation requests were lifted in many communities, and there was a sense that the firestorm was winding to a close. But in certain areas -- particularly in this corner of San Diego County -- that's nowhere close to true.

Nearby, state firefighting crews mounted a defense to save several hundred homes atop Palomar Mountain from the Witch fire. "There seems to be this sense that it's over," said Dave Sossaman, the police chief on the nearby Los Coyotes Indian Reservation. "We're still in crisis here."

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Thursday, October 18, 2007

Alleged Maori Plot Against Whites

Alleged Maori plot against whites
BBC News, October 17, 2007

Maori activist Tame Iti remains behind bars after the police raidsProsecutors in New Zealand have accused a group of Maori activists arrested on Monday of planning a violent campaign against the country's white majority.

Prosecutors allege one of the defendants sent mobile phone text messages saying he was going to declare war and that white men would die.

The man, Jamie Lockett, said his words had been taken out of context.

Police arrested 17 people on Monday, during anti-terror raids targeting Maori and environmental activists.

The raids were carried out in a mountainous region where it has been claimed that guerrilla-style training camps were set up.

Police commissioner Howard Broad said those arrested had used firearms and other weapons at the military-style training camps.

One of the text messages from Mr Lockett, intercepted by police, said: "White men are going to die in this country".

Another reputedly read: "I'm declaring war on this country very soon."

'Reality check'

Prosecutors also said police had intercepted phone calls from Mr Lockett in which he allegedly said he was training to become a commando, that he did not want to see any white faces in his country and that he would kill if he did.

The New Zealand media has also obtained documents relating to another of the men arrested, Maori sovereignty campaigner Tame Iti.

The documents show that police had been monitoring him for 18 months, videoing his training camps and intercepting his text messages.

Again they claim he intended to wage war on New Zealand.

But police sources describe the movement as "comical" and "amateurish", saying that at one stage the group had bought military uniforms from an army surplus store.

Most of the suspects remain in custody although Mr Lockett has been given bail, despite police opposition.

Tame Iti was denied bail and has been remanded in custody until 24 October.

Police Association president Greg O'Connor said the operation was a "reality check" for New Zealanders who dismissed the threat of home-grown terrorism.

"This operation has been triggered by credible intelligence of a serious threat to New Zealand's safety and security, and the Police Association fully supports the actions taken by police yesterday," he said.

"We need to realise there are fringe elements in our society, as in all others, that draw inspiration and encouragement from extremist activities overseas that most of us would find horrifying," he added.

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Tuesday, October 02, 2007

World Indigenous Forum

We are back for the new school year! If the forum I'm posting about below materializes, then we should probably make plans to attend!


Bolivia's president proposes convening UN world indigenous forum
26 September 2007 –

The President of Bolivia today called for the United Nations to convene a world indigenous forum to foster a new approach to economic relations based on an appreciation of natural resources and not their exploitation.

Addressing the General Assembly's annual high-level debate, Evo Morales welcomed the recent approval of the Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, thanking all countries, except the four which voted against it.

“Our culture is a culture of life,” said the President, the first indigenous leader of Bolivia.

He called on the UN to convene a world indigenous forum to “understand different ways of life.”

Questioning whether it was necessary to exploit and plunder in order to live well, he suggested instead that living well is living within a community – not having an excess of material wealth.

To indigenous communities, he said, the Earth is sacred, as demonstrated by their practices. “Let us gather these experiences to defend life and to save humankind,” he said.

President Morales said natural resources should be used to benefit nations, he said, adding that while companies have a right to profit, they do not have a right to plunder.

Natural resources should be accessible to all, he argued. “Water is a human right. Energy is a human right,” he said, stressing that these should not be considered commodities to be exploited by private businesses.

He said talk of biofuels was confusing. “I don't understand how we can produce food for cars. Soil should be for life! Because there is a lack of gas we are going to divert food for automobiles?” He called for giving up luxury. “We cannot continue to accumulate garbage,” he said.

President Morales spoke out against “economic policies that have caused genocide” and denounced the arms race. “War is the industry of death,” he declared.

He decried the economic imbalance of the world, where wealth is concentrated in the hands of a few. “Collective globalization that does not respect plurality or differences is the source of the problem,” he said.

The President also spoke of his own difficulties traveling to the UN Assembly. “I don't know how all of you managed to come here to the United States but at least my delegation had a great deal of visa problems,” he said, proposing that “perhaps we should change the site of the United Nations.”

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