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Land Rights

Apaches Get Rehearing In Fight To Preserve Oak Flat

Arizona - A federal appeals court will rehear Apache Stronghold’s case against the United States to save the sacred site of Oak Flat, a 6.7-square-mile stretch of land east of Phoenix that a private venture is seeking to turn into an underground copper mine. The 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals announced Thursday (Nov. 17) that it will rehear the case in front of a full 11-judge court instead of the original three-judge panel. Earlier this summer, the divided federal appeals court, in a 2-1 ruling, held that the government could proceed with the transfer of Oak Flat to Resolution Copper, a company owned by the British-Australian mining giant Rio Tinto. It ruled that Apache Stronghold, a nonprofit working to protect Oak Flat, failed to show a substantial burden on its religious exercise.

Canadian Land Defenders Continue Struggle Against Illegal Developments

Ontario, Canada - On September 12-13, Indigenous land defenders were once again in courts after over 20 months of fighting land grabbing in Ontario, Canada. The case is between Foxgate, a real estate development company in Ontario, and 1492 Land Back Lane, a land reclamation started by land defenders from Six Nations established on the land Foxgate seeks to develop on. Foxgate points to the agreements between themselves and the “official” government of Six Nations, the Six Nations Elected Council (SNEC), obtained after acquiring rights to the land from Haldimand County, as proof that they obtained “free, prior and informed consent” for the rights to the land. Whatever technical and legal trickery Foxgate may use to defend their development, the clear and easily provable facts are that this land is and remains unceded, and the Haudenosaunee have not been meaningfully consulted.

A Land Deal Benefiting A Billionaire’s Soccer Team Is Muscled Through

Chicago, Illinois - Citing years of broken promises to build affordable homes, a Chicago City Council committee rejected a plan to lease public housing land to a professional soccer team owned by a billionaire ally of Mayor Lori Lightfoot. That was on Tuesday. Less than a day later, allies of the mayor called a do-over and reversed the vote. The full City Council then voted Wednesday to approve a zoning change needed to let the Chicago Fire soccer team build a practice facility on the 26-acre site. A June story by ProPublica detailed how the land was once part of the ABLA Homes, a public housing development on the Near West Side where 3,600 families lived. After demolishing most of the ABLA buildings and displacing thousands of people, the Chicago Housing Authority promised to build more than 2,400 new homes in the area. So far, it has finished fewer than a third of them.

Movement To ‘Re-Indigenize’ Yellowstone Gains Steam

Old Faithful, Wyoming - Tom Wadsworth read straight from the 154-year-old treaty that displaced his ancestors from their land as he made a case that Shoshone and Bannock tribal members should be allowed to hunt, fish and gather inside Yellowstone National Park. Signed at Fort Bridger on July 3, 1868 in what’s now southern Wyoming, the treaty granted the Shoshone and Bannock native people the right to “hunt on the unoccupied lands of the United States” in perpetuity, so long as game was found and peace with white people maintained. Yet, today, with a few exceptions, hunting isn’t allowed by tribal members or anyone else in Yellowstone or the rest of the National Park Service’s 400-plus units in the Lower 48. Wadsworth, the captain game warden for the Shoshone-Bannock tribes, suggested the federal government didn’t uphold its end of the deal.

Why Baltimore Kept Cutting Deals With A Developer Who Didn’t Deliver

Sweat trickled down Dan Bythewood’s forehead under the hot July sun. He promised the West Baltimore crowd he would keep his comments short so the 100 or so people who watched—activists, press, residents, and political leaders—could quickly retreat from the heatwave gripping the city. The developer, who is Black, stood behind a podium placed in front of the technicolor homes on Sarah Ann Street, a narrow stretch of concrete not wide enough for two cars to travel in opposite directions. Bythewood, president of the New York development firm La Cité (“the city” in French), trained his sight on the historic Sarah Ann Street homes almost two decades ago, with plans to redevelop the houses and the surrounding Poppleton neighborhood.

Community Prepares To Fight Old Growth Logging Project

This morning, community members organizing with Cascadia Forest Defenders hung a 30 foot-wide banner across Highway 126 in the Willamette National forest in opposition to the proposed Flat Country old growth timber sale. The organizers are calling on the Willamette National Forest and the Biden Administration to drop the proposed timber sale in light of the significant impacts that it would have on the climate, drinking water, and community safety. The action comes less than six months after President Biden signed Executive Order 14072 on Strengthening the Nation’s Forests, Communities, and Local Economies, which directs his administration to create stronger protections for public forests in an effort to mitigate the climate crisis, and only weeks after environmental groups sent the Forest Service an ultimatum to reconsider the sale.

Mining Giant Rio Tinto Hit By Legal Battle Over Sacred Apache Site

The serene Oak Flat upland lies in the heart of Arizona. With its beautiful peaks and forest, it is a beloved spot for campers, hikers and rock climbers. Above all, it is the center of the San Carlos Apache tribe's religion, a place of devotion where their gods dwell and they still perform traditional ceremonies. But it is now at the center of a dispute between the tribe and FTSE 100 giant Rio Tinto. It is also shaping up to be an acid test of the mining group's claims that it is determined to respect sacred sites. Wendsler Nosie Sr of the Apache Stronghold – a coalition of Apaches and non-Apache supporters that is bringing the case – describes it as the 'most sacred site where we connect with our creator, our faith, our families and our land'. He says: 'It is a place of healing that has been sacred to us since long before Europeans arrived on this continent.'

Court Rules New York Illegally Took Mohawk Land In 1800s

Akwesasne Territory – The Saint Regis Mohawk Tribal Council is pleased to report that the decades-long dispute over the reservation boundary has been decided upon by the United States District Court for the Northern District of New York. In a summary judgment ruling issued by U.S. District Judge Lawrence Kahn on Enniskó:wa/March 14, 2022, the court ruled that New York State’s purchase of reservation lands in the 1800s violated the federal Non-Intercourse Act. “To say that we are pleased is an understatement,” shared Tribal Chief Beverly Cook. Chief Cook added, “We should all be proud of the perseverance that our recent and ancient ancestors displayed, who stood fast in their determination to protect our lands. We stand in the footprints of our parents and grandparents who fought relentlessly to reclaim our land that was illegally taken.

Israeli Officials Barring Palestinian Farmers From Their Land

In response to the outbreak of the Second Intifada (the Palestinian uprising against Israeli occupation), Israel decided to erect a wall separating the Occupied West Bank from the rest of Palestine in 2002. The government justified the move as a way to block so-called terrorists from crossing the Green Line (1949 armistice line serving as the de facto border between the state of Israel and its occupied territories). However, most of the apartheid wall wasn’t constructed along the Green Line, instead, it was built inside the West Bank — essentially fragmenting the region. The space between the wall and the Green Line is known as the Seam Zone and makes up 9.4% of the West Bank. Israel designated the Seam Zone as a closed military area, meaning Palestinians need special permission to access their land there. This is where Amarneh’s farmland is situated.

Conservationists See Rare Nature Sanctuaries

The loss of Black-owned land in this community exposes a cruel irony. Pembroke has been one of the few places Black landowners could gain a foothold in Illinois, in part because this land was passed over by white settlers who presumed its sandy soils were worthless. And now, after generations without large-scale development or landscape-destroying corporate farming, this land has become sought after by outside conservationists because Pembroke’s savannas remain largely untouched.

Black Families Passed Their Homes From One Generation To The Next

Margaret Alston doesn’t remember the night that Hurricane Matthew hit, but she remembers how afraid she was of the flooding that followed. The biggest hurricane to hit South Carolina  since 1999, the storm caused massive inland flooding across large swaths of the south-east. In Bucksport, the small, unincorporated town where Alston grew up, the Wacamaw River overflowed, inundating the street Alston’s house is on and making it impassable. “The water was everywhere,” she says. “And when I say everywhere, I mean everywhere.” She found refuge at a nearby community center, before moving in temporarily with her sister in Conway, 14 miles away. Six years later, she is still in Conway, her house sits abandoned and in disrepair, and the funding allocated to Hurricane Matthew victims has dried up.

Judge Blocks Sale Of Historic African Cemetery

A Montgomery County Circuit Court ruled Wednesday, September 1st, 2021, that Montgomery County may not sell the land that includes the historic Moses African Cemetery in Bethesda, Maryland. Judge Karla Smith issued a temporary restraining order (TRO) forbidding the sale of the cemetery, currently owned by the Montgomery County Housing Opportunities Commission (HOC.) This ruling is seen as historic because of the rarity of communities prevailing in court over multi-million-dollar corporations and government agencies. The sale of the cemetery took place without a hearing or public notice, essentially under the cover of darkness. The next step is a hearing on a preliminary injunction which will be held Sept. 27th, 2021.

New Indigenous Land Dispute Brewing In Norfolk

According to Detlor, the Norfolk property is one of at least eight the HDI has purchased in Norfolk, Brant and Haldimand counties. The Confederacy is not looking to add these parcels of land to the Six Nations reserve — which Detlor dismissed as “a colonial construct” — but to “hold them as we held them prior to the arrival of settlers.”

Tribes Mount Organized Responses To COVID-19

As the months roll by, the pandemic continues to hit Indigenous nations hard. But this phenomenon is not new. Epidemics have been part of colonialism since settlers arrived. Health inequities tell us that illnesses have different outcomes on different populations; however, leading medical professionals warn the general public of the dangers of oversimplifying health data. They don’t tell the whole story. And, in the case of Indigenous nations, the story of inequity is imbued with dispossession of lands and is met with organizing from the inside: two crucial points for untangling and responding to COVID-19.

Land Defenders Rebuild Camp Despite New Injunction

After several arrests last week and a new court order, land defenders are digging in their heels and rebuilding 1492 Land Back Lane, a name they’ve given McKenzie Meadows, a disputed site of a proposed housing development in Caledonia, Ont. that borders Six Nations of the Grand River’s eastern border. “We are under constant threat of OPP invasion of our unceded Haudenosaunee territory,” said community member Skyler Williams in a Facebook post on Sunday. “Despite all of this, we continue to work on and build our community here at Land Back Lane.”
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