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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.”
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.
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.”
Settler colonialism has been defined as a structure, not an event, meaning that settler societies like the U.S., Canada, and Australia endure over time through racist laws and ideologies that naturalize the dispossession of Indigenous populations.1 One of the most effective strategies that settler states rely on to eliminate Indigenous peoples and their power is the idea that their knowledge is primitive and superstitious, examples of failed epistemology.2 This view is rooted in an Enlightenment-born materialism that asserts that legitimate knowledge can only be produced through narrow empirical methods, relegating the negotiations of immaterial life to the social margins.3 As the colonial project progresses, legitimate knowledge production is simultaneously tethered to race and power (reserved to the white and landed), resulting in what we have come to know as modernity.
On the show this week, Chris Hedges talks to comics journalist Joe Sacco about his new book, ‘Paying the Land’. In the book Sacco travels to the frozen Canadian Northwest Territories to reveal the Dene people in conflict over the costs and benefits of the resource extraction industry and development. The Dene have lived in the vast Mackenzie River Valley since time immemorial, by their account. To the Dene, the land owns them, not the other way around, and it is central to their livelihood and very way of being.
Recently, the Blackfeet Tribal Council, MT announced its goal of securing permanent Federal government for the Badger Two Medicine area, sacred site to them. Specifically, they are seeking a new type of federal legislation that would authorize and establish a Cultural Heritage Area, the Badger Two Medicine, 130,000 acres within the Lewis-Clark National Forest area, to be co-managed by the Tribe and USFS. “Badger Two Medicine is a heart and soul spiritual place to the Blackfeet people. It is where we still come together to help one another,” explained Earl Person. “Without it, our people will be weakened.” Old Person, now 91 a nationally recognized Tribal Leader spent more than 60 years in Tribal politics, most often serving as Tribal Chairman.
Underlying the recent unrest sweeping U.S. cities over police brutality is a fundamental inequity in wealth, land, and power that has circumscribed black lives since the end of slavery in the U.S. The “40 acres and a mule” promised to formerly enslaved Africans never came to pass. There was no redistribution of land, no reparations for the wealth extracted from stolen land by stolen labor. June 19 is celebrated by black Americans as Juneteenth, marking the date in 1865 that former slaves were informed of their freedom, albeit two years after the Emancipation Proclamation. Coming this year at a time of protest over the continued police killing of black people, it provides an opportunity to look back at how black Americans were deprived of land ownership and the economic power that it brings. An expanded concept of the “black commons” – based on shared economic, cultural and digital resources as well as land – could act as one means of redress.
On April 2, a ruling issued in Costa Rica by the Inter-American Court of Human Rights resounded strongly in the arid north of Argentina. For more than two decades, the original communities of the province of Salta had been awaiting the outcome of the case Lhaka Honhat Association (Our Land) vs. Argentina, a case sponsored by CELS since 1998. After more than twenty years of litigation, the Court ordered the government of Argentina to cede an undivided deed to 4,000 km2 of ancestral territory to the Lhaka Honhat Association of Aboriginal Communities, located in the north of the country. Furthermore, the South American country was convicted for the first time of violating the rights to a healthy environment, food, water, and cultural identity.
The Mashpee Wampanoag Tribe has cleared a major legal hurdle in its battle to maintain its reservation status. A federal judge on Friday ordered the U.S. Interior Department to reexamine its previous decision taking the tribe’s more than 300 acres in Massachusetts out of trust. “While we are pleased with the court's findings, our work is not done,” tribal Chairman Cedric Cromwell said in a statement. “The Department of Interior must now draft a positive decision for our land as instructed by Judge Friedman. We will continue to work with the Department of the Interior — and fight them if necessary — to ensure our land remains in trust.” Cromwell told Indian Country Today that the decision marked a great day for Mashpee and that U.S. District Judge Paul Friedman in Washington, D.C., stood up for justice.
The Naga tribes inhabit the hills in the northwestern corner of Myanmar and northeast India. They had long been isolated from outside culture, dwelling in independent village republics. This protected them from the land grabs that have been so prevalent in the rest of Myanmar. For centuries, tribes could sustain themselves by following their own customary tenure system, deciding who can use and manage different resources. Their traditional rules have guided them in the effective management of the properties that belong to separate or multiple households, clans, villages and whole tribes. However, their rights and culture have been recently undermined by amendments to the Myanmar’s Law on Vacant, Fallow and Virgin (VFV) Land. The essence of the dispute lies in the issue of shifting arable lands, called jhum or dengyo.