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Indigenous Sovereignty

President Biden Can’t ‘Heal The Nation’

President Joe Biden makes me laugh. One would think at his age, he would know that you can't heal a major illness, or wound, until you start at the source. I am referring to his continually saying, "We have to heal the soul of the United States (U.S.)." That's never going to happen until the powers-that-be, including President Biden, begin to heal the original illness, or wound, as you wish, which is the mistreatment and injustice they continue to give to the Original Nations, the American Indian Nations who are us. Some call it Karma. We call it the circle. Whoa!! No one wants to think about that let alone verbalize such an idea. Yet, that is precisely what the 1894 Sioux Nation Treaty Council has been doing for the past few years through letters to President Biden. He has been given the opportunity to "heal" the U.S. What is his response? The first year, there was NO response. So another letter was sent.

After Years Of Tribal Resistance, DHS Finishes Its ‘Virtual Wall’

When I come across surveillance towers in the borderlands, I first look to see if there are any communities, towns, or houses in its view. I did this on Monday, on the Tohono O’odham Nation in the southern Arizona borderlands, when I found an “integrated fixed tower,” built by the Israeli company Elbit Systems. It took me, two other journalists, and O’odham member Raymond Daukei all day to find it. I could see that homes in Topawa—a community of 380 people backed by the verdant western side of the muscular Baboquivari mountain range—were easily in range of the tower’s sophisticated camera system, which can see up to seven and a half miles.

The Better Way To Right An Old Wrong

Imagine one day City Hall seized your home’s front and back yards, along with your driveway, front walk and back porch. Yes, you’d still have a house where you could eat, sleep and reside. But you’d no longer have your full home and what was rightly yours. Now, imagine you were given the opportunity for that land to be returned to you. All you’d have to do is promise to never change a thing. You could maybe do something benign – pruning the trees or mowing the grass – but you could not build a shed, start a garden, or add a swing set for your children. Would you take the deal? This, in essence, is the deal Indian Country is commonly offered when land conservation organizations offer to return anywhere from 10 to 10,000 acres of land to Native American tribes. Land that was wrongly taken from tribes more than 100 years ago is often only returned if the tribes agree to adhere to someone else’s interpretation of what’s best.

Onondaga Nation Regains 1,023 Acres Of Land From New York State

The Onondaga Nation will recover more than 1,000 acres of forest lands in the Tully Valley through an historic agreement with New York State and the federal government. This property, identified for restoration and preservation as part of the Onondaga Lake Natural Resource Damages and Restoration process, will now be returned to the care of the Onondaga Nation. “It is with great joy that the Onondaga Nation welcomes the return of the first substantial acreage of its ancestral homelands. The Nation can now renew its stewardship obligations to restore these lands and waters and to preserve them for the future generations yet to come.

Indigenous Leaders And Climate Groups Respond To West Virginia vs. EPA

The U.S. Supreme Court issued a rule that limits the EPA’s ability to regulate greenhouse gasses from the power sector using a specific provision of the Clean Air Act. Earlier this year, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change stated that existing and planned fossil fuel projects are more than the climate can handle, confirming that without sharp reductions in greenhouse gas emissions and fossil fuel use, we are, as UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres says, “on a fast track to climate disaster.” The report also warns investors of stranded fossil fuel assets that will amount to $4 trillion in a world where warming is limited to 2°C, and even more in a world where it is limited to 1.5°C.

‘Spirit Of The Waters’ Totem Pole Journey Begins

The 2,300-mile journey highlights the vital role of the Snake River, salmon and orca to the lifeways and identities of tribal communities in the region. The updated pole, created by House of Tears Carvers, will travel for 17 days through tribal and metropolitan communities in Washington, Oregon and Idaho to advocate for the removal of dams on the Lower Snake River and for the health of salmon and orca. Sponsored by Se’Si’Le (pronounced saw-see-lah) — an inter-tribal nonprofit aimed at reintroducing Indigenous spiritual law into the mainstream conversation about climate change and the environment — the Spirit of the Waters Totem Pole Journey informs and engages Pacific Northwest communities through inter-generational voices, ceremony, art and science, spirituality, ancestral knowledge and cross-cultural collaboration.

Cheyenne River Sioux Tribe Calls On Biden To Shut Down DAPL

Cheyenne River Sioux Tribe Chairman Harold Frazier sent a letter on Wednesday to President Joe Biden that requests the end of the Dakota Access pipeline (DAPL). Citing the Fort Laramie Treaty of 1868, Frazier tells the president that the United States agreed “that no white person or persons shall be permitted to settle upon or occupy any portion of the same; or without the consent of the Indians first had and obtained, to pass through the same.” “The Dakota Access Pipeline continues to trespass on the territory of the Great Sioux Nation and endanger the lives of our people with the possibility of polluting land and water. This Project has been operating without a permit for a very long time and is in violation of your laws and our treaties.

Tulalip Flag Soars At Every Marysville School District Campus

For the first time ever, the red, white and black colors of the Tulalip flag are soaring over every Marysville School District campus. Tulalip’s iconic orca was raised up at each elementary, middle school, high school, and even District headquarters during the week of November 17th.  In each instance, the 3 foot by 5 foot cloth signifying the Tulalip Tribes as a sovereign nation was raised by a proud student representative and young Tulalip culture bearer. “About a decade ago, my coworker Ricky Belmont and I started asking the schools we work at to fly the Tulalip Tribes flag out of recognition for the tribe being a sovereign nation and to honor the treaty lands that schools are built upon,” explained Matt Remle, Indian Education Program Coordinator for Marysville School District.

Indigenous Leaders Pledge To Oppose New Enbridge Developments

On November 5, the Canadian oil company Enbridge announced that it plans to increase capacity on its pipeline system that connects a crude-oil storage hub in Oklahoma to the Texas Gulf Coast, now that the Line 3 pipeline linking Alberta and Wisconsin is complete. The Carrizo Comecrudo and other Indigenous groups in the area, along with the Indigenous Environmental Network, have pledged to protect Indigenous sacred sites and oppose future pipeline developments.  Increasing capacity may include building a new pipeline linking the Houston area to the Port of Corpus Christi, more than 200 miles away. In October, Enbridge acquired the Ingleside Energy Center in Corpus Christi, Texas, the largest crude-exporting hub in the U.S. 

Gitxsan Hereditary Chiefs Evict Government Liaison Nathan Cullen

The Gitxsan have posted on Instagram: “Gitxsan Hereditary Chiefs evict MLA Nathan Cullen from Gitxsan Lax’yip [territory].” Their post continues: “The NDP has failed to uphold good relations with our peoples, and due to the violence inflicted on Wet’suwet’en and Gitxsan Wilp [house group] members, the NDP is no longer welcome on our territories.” “Someone needs to be accountable for the violent actions inflicted upon our peoples and territories by the RCMP and Coastal GasLink.” It concludes: “We do not believe these are simply renegade police actions following the rulings of a mere Provincial Court. We know that the feds and the province are guilty of trying to exterminate our way of life.” Cullen was a federal NDP Member of Parliament from June 2004 to October 2019.

52nd National Day Of Mourning To Be Observed In Plymouth

According to UAINE youth coordinator Kisha James, who is Aquinnah Wampanoag and Oglala Lakota and the granddaughter of Wamsutta Frank James, the founder of National Day of Mourning, “We Native people have no reason to celebrate the arrival of the Pilgrims. We want to educate people so that they understand the stories we all learned in school about the first Thanksgiving are nothing but lies. Wampanoag and other Indigenous people have certainly not lived happily ever after since the arrival of the Pilgrims. To us, Thanksgiving is a Day of Mourning, because we remember the millions of our ancestors who were murdered by uninvited European colonists such as the Pilgrims. Today, we and many Indigenous people around the country say, ‘No Thanks, No Giving.’"

Activist Interview: The Life Force, And The ‘Pipe Filled With Poison’

Shay Lynn Sampson is determined she won’t be telling her children what salmon used to taste like or what it was like to live close to their land. She is one of the Indigenous people preventing Coastal GasLink (CGL) from running a pipeline under Wedzin Kwa (Morice River), the pristine water source for the Wet’suwet’en and their close downstream allies, the Gitxsan. Twenty-two-year-old Sampson spoke to me on November 8 from behind a blockade inside a “Tiny House,'' purposely built with many other structures to shelter the people putting their bodies on the line to stop the project. Sampson is also the youth engagement coordinator for Indigenous Climate Action. This young Gitxsan woman is helping to ensure the Coastal GasLink pipeline never gets built.

Indigenous Leaders Speak Out Against Western Media And NGOs

Nicaragua has an election to choose their president and national assembly on November 7. According to polls, the Sandinista Front (FSLN) currently in government is expected to win the presidency and a majority of seats in the assembly.  At the same time, the Sandinista government is intensely disliked by Washington and there has been a steady stream of negative news and accusations.  One theme of accusations concerns the indigenous peoples. In October 2020, PBS Newshour broadcast an episode claiming the US is importing “conflict beef” from the indigenous regions of Nicaragua. This story relied on an Oakland Institute report which alleges rampant violence against indigenous communities and a complicit Nicaraguan government.

Empty Words And Colonialism, Or Treaty Rights And Self Determination?

On Friday, Oct. 8, 2021, United States President Joe Biden issued a first-ever Proclamation for Indigenous Peoples’ Day. The first two sentences state:  “Since time immemorial, American Indians, Alaska Natives, and Native Hawaiians have built vibrant and diverse cultures – safeguarding land, language, spirit, knowledge, and tradition across the generations. On Indigenous Peoples’ Day, our Nation celebrates the invaluable contributions and resilience of Indigenous peoples, recognizes their inherent sovereignty, and commits to honoring the Federal Government’s trust and treaty obligations to Tribal Nations.” Right off the bat, that second sentence is an insult to our Nations. We never did call ourselves “tribes”. That is a moniker put on us by the United States in the first place. It was an easy way to NOT recognize us as the NATIONS we are. It was also easier to force us to live under THEIR form of government, a Tribal Council form of government.

Nations Petition Supreme Court To Protect Indian Child Welfare Act

Cetan Sa Winyan, director of the American Indian Movement’s Indian Territory Oklahoma chapter, said all tribes -- not just the four already petitioning the U.S. Supreme Court -- should stand together against potential changes to the Indian Child Welfare Act in a case the court has been asked to review. “They closed the boarding schools and opened up CPS (Child Protective Services), but it’s the same thing -- they’re still coming in and taking our children,” Winyan said. The ICWA was enacted in 1978 to help keep Indigenous children in Indigenous homes. In ICWA cases, the first preference for placement is that the child go to an extended family member, even if the relative is non-Native. Second preference is someone within the child’s tribe; third preference is another tribe.
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