Tuesday, June 08, 2010
Rio Rancho, NM
June 7, 2010
Arizona Senate Bill 1070 has spawned a flood of reactions from people across the country. Once again, a governor follows the historical pattern and falls back on her vested authority by taking a legal approach. To the average citizen, she is only enforcing the law. But viewed from a moral and historical perspective, could this law more accurately be interpreted as a continuing act of conquest? When a government in power wants to keep a people subjugated, it simply passes laws. But in the eyes of the people, these actions are not solutions; they only postpone justice until the electoral process, which will bring change inevitably, installs officials who will pursue a different approach.
Scantly communicated in the media, if at all, are the relevant historical contexts in which immigration and related issues have arisen. Yet they are crucial to understanding the reactions to this law and the conditions most likely to promote justice, fairness, and peace.
As the pressure to develop a comprehensive federal immigration policy intensifies, we can expect anxiety—and hopefully relief—among people most likely to be affected by the final product. How will Americans react? Will its provisions be enforceable? These are political/legal questions. Will immigrants be treated justly and fairly? Will families be forced to suffer? These are moral questions.
A society that is guided primarily and culturally (i.e., as a way of life) by moral and practical concerns is more likely to see conciliatory and healing effects in dealing with conflicts. In such a scenario, everyone together examines the issues rationally through respectful dialogue, considering also the historical and contemporary context, instead of engaging in confrontational debate where each side argues against the other. There is a flow of meaning instead emotion, and moral concerns are central.
A conciliatory approach is not new among societies residing within the territorial boundaries of the United States. Many American Indian tribes have preserved their traditional values by which they have sustained their communities for untold generations, despite many attempts by government, church-operated schools, and mainstream society to eradicate them. Tribal nations have survived, in part, because of the principle that each generation must consider the welfare of future generations when making decisions. (By the same principle, gratitude is expressed to the ancestors who made sacrifices on behalf of the current generation.)
Perhaps the greatest challenge in considering this alternative approach is creating the right climate. On the other hand, Americans may be sufficiently tired and ready to turn away from the polarized politics, emotionally charged talk shows, anger, and blogger animosity.
Indigenous perspectives on many aspects of life, including conflict resolution, differ strikingly from those of Western societies. The primary objective is to restore wholeness and balance to every individual, regardless of who is right and who is wrong. Americans could learn from their example; unfortunately, many stereotypes have blurred and distorted the true image of the Indian who, today, also suffers from historical trauma and high (50 percent) unemployment.
Some of the perspectives expressed below are probably new to most readers. They derive from a long transformative journey after discovering my own tribal heritage almost two decades ago (I do not have Mexican ancestry). I offer them with the hope of helping create conditions that nurture common understandings, address everyone's needs, and influence future planning and public discourse.
I was a Catholic as a child and later became an active conservative evangelical for more than three decades. I spent 45 years in higher education as a physicist, computer specialist, information technologist, educator and administrator. Outside the campus, the study of American and tribal histories and issues, as well as works from many disciplines and viewpoints, is a continuous and life-long commitment of mine. Also, with my wife, I am personally acquainted with life in several tribal communities, where we spend much of our time. Our friendships extend to all people and we no longer belong to any church or denomination but we are Christians (a personal commitment, not institutional loyalty or ideology) and our spirituality is genuine and deep, respecting other traditions.
Click here to read the entire article.
Friday, September 12, 2008
For Immediate Publication
Contact: Vernon Masayesva, 928/734-9255
Black Mesa Project
Environmental Impact Study Culturally Biased
FLAGSTAFF, Ariz., Sept. 10-Any Hopi, Tewa or Navajo who is knowledgeable about their traditions and worldview about humankind's relationship with nature will quickly note the conspicuous absence of that knowledge in the on-going Black Mesa Project environmental impact statement proceedings.
The Office of Surface Mining (OSM), the lead agency in the EIS process, is treating the Hopi, Tewa and Navajo worldview as if it does not exist-and even if it does, it is not science, but mythology.
Western science operates by taking things apart and analyzing the pieces. It has produced enormously important technological and medical advances. Because of this worldview, Western societies are generally able to control their environments and provide greater human comfort.
Traditional science operates by seeing the whole and studying the interaction of the parts. It has sustained Native peoples and cultures for millennia against near overwhelming odds. But, because of this worldview, traditional peoples often find themselves ill-prepared to protect their own best interests.
Western science looks at the world in which we live, separates the human from the environment, and then studies the parts-the air, the water, the land, the animals-as if they had little to do with one another. The world is one in which the human is separate from the rest of the nature. The world is mechanistic and the human runs it.
Traditional science looks at the world in which we live, recognizes the essential connection of all of the parts-the air, the water, the land, the other animals, and the human-and from it develops culture and a way of being. The world is sacred and the human is its steward.
In recognition of the disadvantage under which Native America operates in this regard, the federal government recognizes a special trust responsibility with regard to the indigenous peoples of the United States. It has promised to take special care, to be sure the peoples are not cheated or taken advantage of in their dealings with the dominant culture they find so foreign. More often than not, however, the government of the United States has failed to meet even the most fundamental fiduciary and social responsibilities one legitimately expects of a trustee.
Regrettably, this is now happening on Black Mesa in Northern Arizona, sacred homeland of the members of the Hopi Tribe and the Navajo Nation.
OSM, the Bureau of Indian Affairs, and all the cooperating agencies involved in processing the Peabody application for Black Mesa Project life-of-mine permit have failed and are failing to analyze the Peabody mine plan from a trustee's point of view. Instead, they are focused on technicalities, as regulators should be.
This cultural imperialism has many negative implications. It violates Hopi and Navajo religious freedom, the first Amendment of the U.S. Constitution, the American Indian Religious Freedom Act, and human rights in general.
For this reason alone the Black Mesa Project EIS is fundamentally flawed and must be disapproved.
Such violation must not continue. The U.S. Office of Surface Mining, the Environmental Protection Agency, and the Secretary of the Interior must be called to account, must be required to enforce the spirit and the letter of law intended to protect not only our natural resources but also our religious sites, our identity and authenticity as discrete peoples within a pluralistic state, and our inalienable right to self-preservation as unique individuals and cultures.
For more information visit Black Mesa Trust.
By Evon Peter
My name is Evon Peter; I am a former Chief of the Neetsaii Gwich'in tribe from Arctic Village, Alaska and the current Executive Director of Native Movement. My organization provides culturally based leadership development through offices in Alaska and Arizona. My wife, who is Navajo, and I have been based out of Flagstaff, Arizona for the past few years, although I travel home to Alaska in support of our initiatives there as well. It is interesting to me that my wife and I find ourselves as Indigenous people from the two states where McCain and Palin originate in their leadership.
Governor Palin maintains that tribes were federally recognized but that they do not have the same rights as the tribes in the continental United States to sovereignty and self-governance, even to the extent of legally challenging our Tribes rights pursuant to the Indian Child Welfare Act. What good are governments that can't make decisions concerning their own land and people?
Friday, May 02, 2008
|What A Real Apology Looks Like|
Grand Chief Phil Fontaine - The Star News
May 2, 2008
In the Oct. 16, 2007, Throne Speech, your government promised to apologize for residential schooling for First Nations, Métis and Inuit children which led to profound harms. Every expression and word of the apology will be of great importance to our peoples and will be carefully studied, as will its timing and place. After 150 years of waiting, nothing less than a complete, unencumbered and honest apology for this dark period in our shared history will do.
An apology acceptable to survivors must be offered in the House of Commons where the Prime Minister will address Parliament, the nation and the world. It must be an event as significant and meaningful as the apology to our brothers and sisters of the Stolen Generations of Australia, and our fellow Japanese Canadians. It must incorporate the ceremony and dignity that such a symbolic and historic occasion requires. The galleries must be filled with survivors, their families, as well as church and government representatives who will bear witness.
The content of the apology must end denial of truth and history. It must raise the awareness about the residential school policy and its disastrous consequences, admit that it was wrong, accept responsibility and provide us with solemn assurances that it will never happen again.
At minimum, the apology will acknowledge that a succession of governments systematically attempted to "kill the Indian in the child" by enforcing policies which separated children from families, prohibited the use of our languages and cultures, and indoctrinated us to believe that who we were and where we came from was not good enough for Canadian citizenship. It must acknowledge that the policies caused profound harm, loss and grief to individuals, families, communities and subsequent generations and recognize the need for reconciliation and healing.
It should specify that several generations of children were deprived of day-to-day parental love and support; that mothers, fathers, grandparents, extended family members and communities were equally deprived of their children; that health care, nutrition and emotional needs of the children were neglected; that many lost the ability to speak our languages, practise our cultures; that thousands were scarred for life from deliberate physical, sexual and psychological abuse; and that some never returned home leaving their families to mourn their passing not even knowing where they were buried.
Canada must apologize for ignoring our treaty rights and our ancestors' pleas for a good education for their children, acknowledging they were provided inferior education which detrimentally affected employment opportunities and livelihoods for generations.
There must also be a clear and unequivocal recognition in the apology that the primary objective of the residential school policy was assimilation founded on racist premises – premises of inferiority, disrespect, discrimination and inequality – premises which were used to justify the attempted destruction of our very identity and that this was profoundly wrong.
Finally, the survivors will need assurances that the Government of Canada will never again try to denigrate or destroy our identity as distinct peoples, compromise our languages and cultures or undermine our families and communities. We will look for assurances that Canada respects our rights as peoples, now and in the future, while recognizing and appreciating our differences.
As National Chief and a residential school survivor, I sincerely hope that by Canada saying sorry for all of these wrongs, my residential school brothers and sisters will be able to move on with their lives. I hope they will be able to accept the apology and find it in their hearts to forgive. I hope that as a result of the apology, the residential school era may eventually be remembered by all of us without bitterness.
To achieve the reconciliatory goals of the apology and ensure it will have a lasting and beneficial effect, it will be necessary for us all – survivors, government and church representatives alike – to embrace attitudes of honesty, generosity, humility, commitment and courage.
The power of a sincere apology is in its satisfaction of a basic human need. It can heal wounds of those who have been hurt. It can help establish trust. It can restore human dignity and self-respect. It can take the first step toward reconciliation. A sincere and honest apology given can add to the sum of justice in the world.
I truly hope, Prime Minister, that your long awaited apology will meet these goals.
Assembly of First Nations
Sunday, April 20, 2008
"At a public ceremony and press conference held today outside the colonial 'Indian Affairs' building in downtown Vancouver, the Friends and Relatives of the Disappeared (FRD) released a list of twenty eight mass graves across Canada holding the remains of untold numbers of aboriginal children who died in Indian Residential Schools. The list was distributed today to the world media and to United Nations agencies, as the first act of the newly-formed International Human Rights Tribunal into Genocide in Canada (IHRTGC), a non-governmental body established by indigenous elders."
Read this and other stories at http://bsnorrell.blogspot.com/2008/04/mass-graves-revealed-at-indian-schools.html.
Monday, July 09, 2007
Indian Country Today
July 6, 2007
Five years after approximately 70,000 chinook and coho salmon washed up dead on the banks of the Klamath River, the Natural Resources Committee in the House of Representatives will explore the role of Vice President Dick Cheney in a controversial diversion of water to Oregon irrigation farmers. The diversion preceded by only months, ''the largest fish kill ... ever seen'' in the Western states, according to a series of Washington Post articles that spurred committee Chairman Rep. Nick Rahall, D-W.Va.
Read the rest of the article at http://www.indiancountry.com/content.cfm?id=1096415374
Sunday, February 18, 2007
Date: Sun, 11 Feb 2007 18:39:28 +0000 From: andre cramblit
Published on Friday, February 9, 2007 by the _Independent_ (http://www.independent.co.uk/) / UK Inuit Accuse US of Destroying Their Way of Life with Global Warming
by Andrew Buncombe
A delegation of Inuit is to travel to Washington DC to provide first-hand testimony of how global warming is destroying their way of life and to accuse the Bush administration of undermining their human rights. The delegation, representing Inuit peoples from the US, Canada, Russia and Greenland, will argue that the US's energy policies and its position as the world's biggest emitter of greenhouse gases is having a devastating effect on their communities. Melting sea ice, rising seas and the impact on the animals they rely on for food threatens their existence.
The Inuit's efforts to force the US to act are part of an unprecedented attempt to link climate change to international human rights laws. They will argue before the InterAmerican Commission on Human Rights (ICHR) that the US's behaviour puts it in breach of its obligations. "The impacts of climate change, caused by acts and omissions by the US, violate the Inuit's fundamental human rights protected by the American Declaration of the Rights and Duties of Man and other international instruments," the Inuit argued in a letter to the ICHR. "Because Inuit culture is inseparable from the condition of their physical surroundings, the widespread environmental upheaval resulting from climate change violates the Inuit's right to practice and enjoy the benefits of their culture."
Indigenous peoples from the Arctic have long argued that global warming was having a dramatic effect on their environment. In 2002, villagers in
the remote Alaskan island community of Shishmaref voted to relocate to the mainland because rising sea levels threatened to overwhelm their community. Data has been gathered to support their claims and scientists
have recorded how polar regions are the most vulnerable to climate change. The most recent international Arctic Climate Impact Assessment suggested global warming would see temperatures in the Arctic rise by 4-7C over the next 100 years - about twice the previous average estimated increase.
The delegation to Washington will be led by Sheila Watt-Cloutier, the former chair of the Inuit Circumpolar Conference who was last week nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize. Speaking yesterday from Iqaluit in Nunavut, Canada, she said: "For us in the Arctic our entire culture depends on the cold. The problem of climate change is what this is all about. At the same time we will be bringing in lawyers to talk about the
link between climate change and human rights."
The invitation for the Inuit to give testimony before the ICHR next month comes just days after the most recent report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change provided a dire assessment about the threat of climate change. In the Arctic, scientists have estimated that summer sea ice could completely disappear by 2040. Martin
Wagner, of the California-based Earthjustice, said: "There can be no question that global warming is a serious threat to human rights in the Arctic and around the world. The ICHR plays an important role in interpreting and defending human rights, and we are encouraged that it has decided to consider the question of global warming."
The ICHR, an arm of the Organisation of American States, can issue findings, recommendations and rulings. It can also refer cases to the Inter-American Court of Human Rights in Costa Rica, though the US has always made clear it does not consider itself bound by the court's rulings.
End of IndigenousNewsNetwork@topica.com digest, issue 894
Thursday, December 28, 2006
Print news - IPS Inter Press Service
Discussion about the rights of the original peoples of the earth, which has continued for over a decade, was supposed to lead to the adoption of a universal Declaration that would mark a major step toward eliminating the widespread human rights violations suffered by over 370 million indigenous people worldwide. These are the bedrock nations of the world from whom all people of the earth have sprung.
The attitude toward Native peoples that underlies the U.N. decision is not only shameful; it displays a great deal of ignorance. Will it ever change? I read a large amount of material from scholarly authors, including those in physics and other areas of science. Whenever they want to emphasize wrong human behavior, they seem to always refer to "tribalism." They depict Native peoples as primitive, savage, ignorant, and spiritually destitute.
One of my passions in life is to raise awareness of this issue. My latest article in the January 2007 issue of World Futures Journal, titled "On the Cosmic Order of Modern Physics and the Conceptual World of the American Indian," published by Taylor & Francis, represents an effort to shift the public consciousness toward reality.
The best of Creator's blessings to you, dear Reader.
phillip h. duran