This week there are two groups in Washington, DC protesting colonialist policies being imposed on them by the US government. Apache Stronghold traveled across the country from Oak Flat in Arizona because there was a provision in the most recent version of the National Defense Authorization Act to give land including the sacred site of Oak Flat to Resolution Copper Company – Rio Tinto – BHP for a billion dollar mining operation. The land was protected since 1955, but the mining companies have been trying to get a license to mine it since 2005. We speak with San Carlos Apache Tribal Councilman Wendsler Nosie and Naelyn Pike, a leader in the Apache Stronghold movement. The International People’s Tribunal held events over the past week in New York and Washington, DC to bring attention to the collaboration between the US and Philippines in the “war on terror” which is resulting in the disappearances, torture and murder of hundreds of people and the displacement of tens of thousands. We speak with Ka Paeng (Rafael Mariano) who is a former member of Congress and is current co-chair of the Peasant Movement of the Philippines, KMP.
Relevant articles and websites:
Apache Stronghold Caravan Saving Sacred Site From Mining Giant by Albert Bender
Tribunal Demonstrates US War Crimes in Philippines by Bernadette Ellorin
Wendsler Nosie was born on July 10, 1959 on the San Carlos Apache Indian Reservation, in Gila County, in San Carlos, Arizona and was raised in a traditional Apache way of life. He graduated from the Globe High School in May 1978 and attended Merritt College in Oakland, California, attended Phoenix College in Phoenix, Arizona, and graduated from the State of Arizona Banking Academy.
Following college, Councilman Nosie returned to the San Carlos Apache Indian Reservation and began his employment with the San Carlos Apache Tribe as the Tribal Work Experience Program Director in 1982 and in 1988, he was elected to a four-year term to serve through 1992 as the Tribal Council Representative of the Peridot District for the San Carlos Apache Tribal Council, which governs the San Carlos Apache Tribe through its Amended Constitution and By-Laws, being federally recognized in 1934 through the U.S. Indian Reorganization Act.
Councilman Nosie then founded the Rural Opportunity of Arizona (ROA) in 1990, an individually owned business owned and operated by a tribal member, which provided opportunities for tribal members to become skilled in trade and trained for jobs throughout Arizona.
Councilman Nosie was re-elected as the Tribal Council Representative for the Peridot District in 2004 to serve a four-year term through 2008, was then inspired to run for the Tribal Chairman Seat and was elected by the San Carlos Apache People as their Tribal Chairman in 2006 to serve a four-year term ending in 2010, shortly after being elected to office, he resigned as the Director of ROA in 2006.
Wendsler Nosie, Sr., served as the Tribal Chairman for the San Carlos Apache Tribe, which is comprised of nearly 15,000 tribal members on the San Carlos Apache Indian Reservation, in San Carlos, Arizona, ranging within the Gila, Graham and Pinal Counties, totaling 1.8 million acres, situated in the southeastern portion of the State of Arizona.
Councilman Nosie was recognized in 2006 and given an Honorable Mention by the Wake Forest University of Winston-Salem, North Carolina for his coordination of bringing students from Wake Forest University to the San Carlos Apache Indian Reservation for a cultural integration program and was also recognized and honored in 2007 by the National Council of Churches from New York City for his accomplishments in Indian Country as a leader of spirituality among youth and organizing many events for over twenty-five years, which includes having worldwide participation of sacred runs in protection of the Native American Indian culture, tradition and heritage. The National Council of Churches comprises of over 30 million membership throughout the nation.
The people of Peridot District formed a movement to place Wendsler Nosie Sr. on the 2010 Peridot District Council election ballot as a write-in candidate and were successful. Wendsler Nosie Sr. is the current Peridot District Councilman, proudly serving his third term representing the largest San Carlos District.
“I contribute these accomplishments first to the creator who is known throughout the world by many names, to my mother and all my siblings, who have had a part of my up-bringing, and to my wonderful family who has stood by me through this roller coaster of life, to bring change to our Peoples’ lives.
Not to forget all my relatives, friends, and all those who have joined by path, and especially those who are no longer with us, who have played a very important part in sharing their history and visions for a better life for our people.
Our work is not done. We are now called on to work harder at understanding, believing, and committing to holding on to our spiritual beliefs, whether it is ancient Apache, or Christianity, for the world is changing quick and fast. Land, air, water and the environment we live in, is at risk, so for our unborn children to enjoy what God has created and instructed us on caring for, we must now dig deep to secure the future. “
Mariano is a native of Quezon, Nueva Ecija and is the eldest among the five children of peasant couple Narciso Mariano and Herminigilda Vitriolo. At an early age, he helped his parents and family tend their two-hectare farmland owned by a landlord in their area.
Mariano studied agriculture and agri-cooperatives in Wesleyan University and Liwag Colleges in Cabanatuan City. However, he failed in finishing his college degree to become a full-time farmer due to his father’s illness and increasing family debt.
At the age of 20, Mariano experienced activism first-hand by joining the local youth organization Bisig ng Kabataan (Youth Arm), which advocated the rights and welfare of local farmers. In 1981, the young Mariano was elected as councilor in his hometown.
His leadership in the peasant movement blossomed in the 1980s and in 1984, Mariano became a part in the formation of the Alyansa ng Magbubukid ng Gitnang Luzon (Central Luzon Peasant Alliance) where he served as second regional vice-chairperson in 1984.
In 1985, Mariano was elected as the founding general secretary of the Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas (Peasant Movement of the Philippines or KMP), a major peasant center in the Philippines. He was then elected as national vice chair of the organization in 1990 and as national chair in 1993.
During his stint with KMP, Mariano also served in the international left movement with the International League of People’s Struggle, International Alliance Against Agro-chemical Transnational Corporations, Pesticide Action Network-Asia and the Pacific Task Force on Food Sovereignty, and Philippines-Korea Committee for Peace and Reunification in the Korean Peninsula.
From 1998 to 2004, Mariano served as national chair of the Bagong Alyansang Makabayan (New Patriotic Alliance or BAYAN), the political center of the mainstream national democratic movement.
In 2004, Mariano, together with the late labor leader Crispin Beltran, was elected as representative of the Anakpawis (Toiling Masses) party-list in the House of Representatives. In 21 May 2008, he replaced Beltran in the 14th Congress after the latter’s death.
Anakpawis was re-elected in 2010 with Mariano as its number one nominee.
During his term in congress, Mariano has been part of the national democratic minority bloc in Congress together with representatives from Bayan Muna, Gabriela, Kabataan Party-list, and the Alliance of Concerned Teachers party-list. He has been an active oppositionist against the Arroyo administration and an advocate of pro-labor bills, such as the Genuine Agrarian Reform Bill and the P125 Wage Increase Bill. To date, he has authored and co-authored 111 House measures.
In May 2006, Mariano, together with four congressmen from the national democratic bloc were detained inside the Batasang Pambansa on charges of rebellion filed by the Department of Justice. They were famously called the “Batasan 5.”
Mariano has openly rejected the Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Program Extension with Reforms (CARPER), a law that seeks to amend and extend the Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Program by five years, saying that it still has pro-landlord provisions.