Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Colorado AIM Applauds Decision Against Racist "R-Skins"


American Indian Movement of Colorado
Denver, Colorado
Wednesday, June 18, 2014

The American Indian Movement (AIM) of Colorado commends and supports the decision of the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO), which has cancelled the federal trademark of the Washington Redskins on grounds that the team name is racist and disparaging to American Indians.  It is time for Dan Snyder, owner of the Washington, D.C. professional football franchise, to recognize the harmful, racist character of the mascot and to join the rest of us in the 21st century.

Colorado AIM also calls on other private and public sports teams to abandon the use of American Indians, and other indigenous peoples, as their sports team mascots – this includes the Cleveland Indians, the Kansas City Chiefs, and the Atlanta Braves. We further call on the Colorado Department of Education to prohibit the use of American Indian as mascots in public elementary and secondary educational programs. We specifically call for an immediate ban on the use of the Lamar High School “Savages,” and the Eaton High School “Reds.”

“If people are genuinely interested in honoring American Indians, then get your government to live up to the more than 400 treaties it has signed, and broken, with our indigenous nations. Try respecting our religious freedom  - which has been repeatedly denied in federal courts. Try stopping the ongoing theft of Indian water and other natural resources. Reverse your colonial process that relegates us to the most impoverished, polluted, and marginalized conditions in this country. Stop the rape and violence against American Indian women and children by non-Native men – a phenomenon that is higher among American Indians that of any other group in the US. Understand that the mascot issue is only the tip of a very huge problem of continuing racism against American Indians. Then maybe your "honors" will mean something. Until then, your "honors" are just so much superficial, hypocritical puffery. People should remember that the measure of an honor isn't born when it parts the honorer's lips, it is born when it is accepted in the honoree's ear.” 

Glenn Morris, American Indian Movement of Colorado

Saturday, February 22, 2014

Manifest Destiny and Zionism Compared

"Manifest Destiny” was clearly a racial doctrine of white supremacy that granted no native American or nonwhite claims to any permanent possession of the lands on the North American continent, and justified white American expropriation of Indian lands. “Manifest Destiny” was also a key slogan deployed in the United States’ imperial ventures in the 1890s and early years of the twentieth century that led to U.S. possession or control of [Alaska], Hawaii, Cuba, Guam, Samoa, the Virgin Islands and the Philippine Islands. - Donald M. Scott, Professor of History, Queens College and the Graduate Center of the City University of New York

"Zionism is a form of racism and racial discrimination." "[I]nternational co-operation and peace require the achievement of national liberation and independence, the elimination of colonialism and neo-colonialism, foreign occupation, zionism, apartheid and racial discrimination in all its forms, as well as the recognition of the dignity of peoples and their right to self-determination." UN General Assembly Resolution 3379 (1975). Through pressure by the U.S. and Israel, this resolution was revoked by the General Assembly in 1991 -- though liberation movements, and most Arab countries, continue to subscribe to the perspectives in GAR 3379.

We must give the land back: America’s brutality toward Native Americans continues today

by Steven Salaita
I write often about liberating Palestine from Israeli occupation, a habit that evokes passionate response. I have yet to encounter a response that persuades me to abandon the commitment to Palestinian liberation.
I have, however, encountered responses that I consider worthy of close assessment, particularly those that transport questions of colonization to the North American continent. You see, there is a particular defense of Zionism that precedes the existence of Israel by hundreds of years.
Here is a rough sketch of that defense: Allowing a Palestinian right of return or redressing the ethnic cleansing of Palestinians in 1947-49 is ludicrous. Look what happened to the Native Americans. Is the United States supposed to return the country to them?
Israeli historian Benny Morris puts it this way: “Even the great American democracy couldn’t come to be without the forced extinction of Native Americans. There are times the overall, final good justifies terrible, cruel deeds.”
This reasoning suggests a finality to the past, an affirmation of tragedy trapped in the immutability of linear time. Its logic is terribly cliché, a peculiar form of common sense always taken up, everywhere, by the beneficiaries of colonial power.
The problems with invoking Native American genocide to rationalize Palestinian dispossession are legion. The most noteworthy problem speaks to the unresolved detritus of American history: Natives aren’t objects of the past; they are living communities whose numbers are growing.
It’s rarely a good idea to ask rhetorical questions that have literal answers. Yes, the United States absolutely should return stolen land to the Indians. That’s precisely what its treaty obligations require it to do.
The United States is a settler state, but its history hasn’t been settled. Yet most people invoke Natives as if they lost a contest that entrapped them in the past — and this only if Natives are considered at all. As a result, most analyses of both domestic and foreign policies are inadequate, lacking a necessary context of continued colonization and resistance.
For Natives, political aspirations aren’t focused on accessing the mythologies of a multicultural America, but on the practices of sovereignty and self-determination, consecrated in treaty agreements (and, of course, in their actual histories). Treaties aren’t guidelines or suggestions; they are nation-to-nation agreements whose stipulations exist in perpetuity. That the federal government still ignores so many of those agreements indicates that colonization is not simply an American memory. To read complete column click on title, above. 

Sunday, February 16, 2014

Genocide, Patriarchy and the State in Guatemala

Gladys Tzul is a direct descendant of Atanasio Tzul. Together with hundreds of others, she belongs to the sixth generation of this lineage that lives in the Paquí canton, in Totonicapán. She experienced a different sense of politics, “a collective and community one, not a liberal one in which an individual citizen exists, represented and protected by the State.” She is one of the few Latin American academics to specialize in analyzing Indigenous governance systems in Guatemala, their power relations, and the struggle that occurs between local forms of government and State authority.

“The State generally wants to govern individual subjects. And the response given by the community is always collective. The liberal State, and its forms of government, does not know how to react to this, because it has never wanted to recognize or respect and include other ways of conducting politics. At least to admit that they have always been there,” says Tzul.
Among her influences are people like Silvia FedericiFrancesca GargalloRita SegatoAndrés Guerrero, Edgar Esquit, and Aura Cumes. All of them, she says, have been useful to sort out life experiences and bring them into the field of critical politics. Gladys Elizabeth Tzul Tzul has published essays about community organization in the face of the State in academic journals in Chile, Mexico and Germany.
With a Masters in Latin American Social and Political Studies from the Alberto Hurtado University in Chile, Tzul has followed Michel Foucault’s footsteps to arrive at a critical approach to power dynamics, the negation of the latter, or the development of a subtle microscopic power that is nothing like the political power of State apparatuses or of a privileged class, but instead the combination of small powers and institutions at another level.
No single power exists, according to Foucault. Instead, he wrote, multiple relations of authority exist in society at different levels, mutually supporting each other and manifesting in subtle ways.
Gladys Tzul brought these concepts home in her thesis, Political Configuration and Community Power in Maya Kich’e Societies, published in Chile. In directly challenging the male chauvinist configuration of community traditions, she has become critical and controversial. Although they are defended by some academics, she considers Marxist concepts of class to be out of date. Regardless, as a PhD candidate in sociology at the Benemérita Autonomous University of Puebla, in Mexico, her interests have focused on shedding light on historical and current systems of domination.
In order to understand these systems of domination and power, Tzul emphasizes, it’s fundamental to first recognize territory as a social relation:
The driving force of the history of Indigenous peoples in Latin America is the struggle for territory. This is something that has been difficult for the traditional academy to comprehend. If we examine peoples’ uprisings throughout history – in the colonial era, the liberal moment, currently – they have always been for the defense of territory. For its defense, but also for the drive for territorial sovereignty and self-government.
Oswaldo J. Hernández: Is this the same struggle as that of people deciding for themselves? Is it possible with the way in which the State of Guatemala is constituted?
Gladys Tzul: That’s a question that merits a historical answer, one that looks at how territorial jurisdictions were fragmented over time. In the end, we are part of the territorial form of a republican State that established municipalities and departments, and that deconstructed territories prior to the colonial era. Despite this, people didn’t automatically move; something, a powerful memory, was immutable. Social relations weren’t going to disappear just because the State demarcated territories in a different way.
OJH: This natural self-determination that doesn’t fit into the modern State – is that what also doesn’t fit in the academy?
GT: There’s an academic trend, almost hegemonic since the ‘60s and ‘70s, of interpreting how Indigenous people have their own forms of governance over a territory: it’s seen from the perspective of the peasantry. So there was an attempt to locate Indigenous peoples within a framework of uses, customs and traditions. This was done with a real lack of respect, since it implies an inability to imagine that it’s possible to conduct politics from an Indigenous perspective. Communal work, the exercise of authority – they aren’t customs or traditions. From Michel Foucault’s viewpoint, it would follow that, in practice, these forms of community work and service are outside of paid, commodity production. But it was studied from several angles. On the one hand, the theoretical trend that thinks of the peasantry. The theoretical-political-legal trend that thinks of Indigenous peoples as communities working from a basis of traditions, uses and customs. And also that other trend that thinks of Indigenous societies as utopian, perfect and balanced. Of course, that’s not the case. Right here in Totonicapán, the political configuration of the local government isn’t free of tensions. All of those views prevent seeing the complexity of local power. Silvia Federici notes that this kind of work isn’t natural or pre-political; it’s the result of a broad strategic development of thinking about how things are done. How to survive collectively.
OJH: This view, then, has been established solely in light of class struggle…
GT: The academy constitutes a power. It constructs a reality and constructs a meaning. In practice, from a community perspective, there’s a direct critique of work from a class struggle perspective as being abstract and producing value. Community work days aren’t remunerated and don’t produce value. Instead, they underpin collectivity. This complexity still isn’t considered because we haven’t been able to separate ourselves from the notion of liberal politics. Liberal politics converts everything into a sector. Nor is it resolved by introducing an ethnic variable. But I think our politics is a struggle that isn’t necessarily State-centric. At some point it concerns itself with the State, but it doesn’t mean that the State is the focal point of our concerns. At the end of the day, the concern of a communal government system is the safeguarding of its territory. The establishment of this work.
Confronting the narrative
Gladys Tzul recalls that in the Paquí canton, in Totonicapán, Guatemalan independence is celebrated each September in a different way than the traditional festivities of most of the country. “There isn’t a celebration to commemorate the declaration of independence of September 15th here. No. The celebration focuses on remembering the 12th, the rebellion, the disobedience of grandfather Atanasio Tzul in the face of the payment of taxes to the Spanish crown, and his struggle for the expulsion of the creoles who arrogated independence.”
The struggle between local governments and the liberal State, according to Tzul, is also debated in the narrative, in history, in memory. The realm of action that stimulates the collective imagination. “It’s a confrontation because there’s opposition to the imperative of historical patriotism. It has become something more than festive; it has become political. A political and strategic space. In the canton, the school is the clearest representation of the modern State. In that same location, there’s a statue of Atanasio Tzul that’s much taller than the school building.”
OJH: Has the community taken on the responsibility for this process of historical memory?
GT: It hasn’t been in a deliberate or conditioned way. It’s our memory. State models have a premeditated goal of making people forget what struggles for territory have meant. There’s a hegemonic project that is forced, and it’s natural that there be resistance. If that weren’t the case, hegemony would have no reason to exist. Imposing it wouldn’t make sense.
OJH: Did Indigenous governance systems survive history, the internal armed conflict, the peace process?
GT: I think they established a survival strategy when faced with war, as when faced with any historical turning point that came to pass. When going over what happened, for example when war broke out, when the actors that fought drew closer, the first thing to take place was community discussions. To decide what to do collectively. In the end, for both sides, Indigenous people were worthless. In Totonicapán, there were serious discussions about our not siding with the right or with the left, but we evaluated that the army was the one with the power to come and kill us. There was a strategic utilization of the army by the community, for protection. It was a way to cope with liberal politics in the midst of a war.
OJH: In that sense, Indigenous peoples were another active part of the war, not a population caught in the crossfire.
GT: Again, a response requires a historical outlook. One can review all the riots and uprisings that have happened, and the tactic has never been to take sides. What happens in times of war is that the presence of two enemies is accentuated. So, everyday dynamics were constructed with both sides. More than a clash between two sides, conflicts develop against the two sides, not permanently, and they take shape over the course of the war.
It’s impossible to see Indigenous governance systems as victims. Guatemalan historiography has made the mistake of considering Indigenous people to be subjects only if they joined the guerrilla or not, or the army. At the heart of this kind of historiography is the idea of conscience. Of course there was an awareness of the struggle, but there was a gap because the struggles being proposed were thought of from an urban perspective, out of the needs of the middle class in the capital. Not from an Indigenous perspective. It’s also a historiography that doesn’t take into account a reality faced by communities, of children dying from malnutrition and illness. It ends up being a disrespectful way of thinking of history, as though things can change only through ideology.
OJH: If I understand correctly, the thesis is that Indigenous governance systems, in essence, in their struggle, don’t have an ideology.
GT: I don’t think there’s an ideological project as such. I think that what have occurred are collective wills for concrete struggles. There’s a political metabolism that isn’t bound by ideology. The problem with ideology is that the struggle gets lost in the promise, in the utopia. And the struggle is lost to reach or achieve the ideology’s promise. We’re subjects of history even if the struggle is fought differently.
OJH: The peace accords, however, were signed by two actors.
GT: The peace accords are liberal, in the strictest meaning of the word. In that they conceive of two forces: the left and the right. And they’re liberal given that it appears that it’s just an agreement orchestrated by the World Bank.
It is paramount to understand the trap the Peace Accords laid for territories. The issue of land was presented in market terms. It was determined that the land problem would be resolved by way of trusts. In other words, the purchase and sale of lands, without coming to an understanding of communal territories. All of the local political and social processes, for example, went unacknowledged, and in their place, liberal thought gave the green light for establishing co-operatives, NGOs, the technical-monetary framework established by the only mechanism for access to land. That’s how, with the signing of the Peace Accords, the expropriation of the commons was sealed. And the door was left open for evictions. It was also established that land is for productivity, not for sustenance.
OJH: What are your thoughts on the certain level of participation opened up by entities such as the Community Development Committees [Codedes] and Municipal Development Committees [Comudes]? And on the tolerance, to some degree, stemming from the Guatemalan Indigenous Development Fund (Fodigua), the Office for the Defense of Indigenous Women (DEMI), and the Presidential Commission against Discrimination and Racism (Codisra)?
GT: The modernization of the State, the decentralization of the State, is quite a malicious concession. If we don’t analyze it from [the standpoint of] government systems, and we believe the fiction that the State organizes us, this system of development councils appears to be a democratic concession, a great achievement. But if we read the situation from the standpoint of Indigenous governance systems, the Codedes and Comudes are a direct negation of local authority.
With regards to the other [institutions], they’re a result of multicultural policies, a trend that appeared in the ‘90s. The State continues at the center, trying – again, just as during the colony – to manage cultures.
Limits to the State
Gladys Tzul defines herself as a deconstructionist, post-structuralist, Foucauldian, feminist of Abya Yala, critic of State configurations. Because of this, is she also a threat to tradition, to community?
On Saturday, October 26, 2013, just a week before Tzul was to give a seminar in her community, the rumor that she had been murdered, and that her body would soon arrive, spread throughout Paquí. It was a rumor first of all, but also a threat, intimidation.
OJH: To whom might your positions represent a threat?
GT: What they don’t want is for people to speak about communal land, for the promotion of a critical understanding of communal territory to continue. It might be a threat for those who continue to see Totonicapán as a part of the colonialencomienda system, for those who want to continue to govern from an individualistic liberal system.
OJH: So what can be done in the face of the liberal State?
GT: Beyond a social contract, the State is leviathanic. Its work is to control, monitor, and punish. To provide security. The State is like god, and we’re not going to say we can’t criticize it. But our political struggle, as Indigenous governance systems, should be aimed at placing limits on the State. The State wants to regulate life, from a market framework, from the negation of other ways of conducting politics. That’s why, in the State’s ambition of a single nation, Indigenous peoples are only played up for the value of their identity. Governance systems function to place limits on the State. Just as women have also been able to establish limits – limits on representation, in a collective way. I come from a theoretical trend that’s currently under construction. It’s called “webs of community and political forms.” In terms of community, it establishes that nothing works in isolation. Instead, it is all dependent on separate local, global and international story lines. Within them, one has the opportunity to decide what gets negotiated and what doesn’t. On the other hand, political forms refer to a release from the liberal idea of politics.
OJH: Is it possible to free Indigenous governance systems from the structural male chauvinism with which they have functioned?
GT: These challenges of the symbolic masculine order operate, function and are permanently denying not only participation and representation. It’s a symbolic order founded on work, on the symbolic work of women, which is used by men. Women are the ones who take care of planting, children, and much of the communal work. This work is what creates a climate of stability for everyone in the household. That’s how all women in all families in all communities work. The Indigenous system of government exists because of women’s work. The challenge for both men and women is to understand this process. When half of those involved are oppressed, it’s impossible to sustain a system of government, a struggle for change. It’s impossible to conceive. Silvia Federici calls it affective work, because it isn’t recognized as work, and yet it sustains the entire fabric of community.
OJH: Is yours a feminist perspective on community?
GT: Liberal feminism doesn’t resolve the issue either. There’s a lot of discussion on this subject. Many Indigenous women don’t want to call themselves feminists because they say it’s a western label, and I completely respect that. Prior to feminism, what happens in communities is a “doing among women.” According to Raquel Gutiérrez, it’s a women’s politics that concerns itself with the organization of intimate and collective life. Of the reproduction of labour that is understood as community survival. All of this goes beyond the use of women’s identity by the State. There’s currently a political process to see the world from the perspective of women – Mam, Ixil, Kakchiquel, Kiche’ women – that counters the cultural expropriation, for example, of huipils. Along with many other powerful sectors, the State presents the Indigenous woman as its face, using her, romanticizing her, taking her political value away from her, and even criminalizing her. Feminism as a “doing among women” refutes these conditions.

Colorado AIM & Idle No More Confront Racist R-Skins

Colorado activists confrontedWashington fans and players with signs, handouts and slogans as they protested the name “Redskin” at the Denver Washington NFL football game yesterday. The activists blasted the Washington team’s name as racist and outdated as they marched outside Sports Authority Field at Mile High.
“We are here today to tell Washington owner Dan Snyder that his brand of racism might fly in D.C., but when the team comes to Denver, it is going to get push-back from Native people and our allies,” said Glenn Morris, leader of the American Indian Movement.'
Glenn Morris, AIM leader, rallies marchers during yesterday's protest at the Bronco Redskin NFL game (Carol Berry)
Glenn Morris, AIM leader, rallies marchers during yesterday's protest at the Bronco Redskin NFL game (Carol Berry)
The AIM, Idle No More and Denver activists protested against the team’s mascot with loud chants, “Hey, Dan Snyder, you can’t hide, you are on the racist side.”  
Dozens of red signs calling on the Washington team to “Change the Mascot” were held aloft for the players to see as they walked by an area outside the stadium that was packed with police.
Although the Denver activists shouted at the teams’ buses as they sped through the entrance to Sports Authority Field at Mile High, they were not acknowledged. Denver Broncos officials made no comment despite requests about the name controversy. And the name “Redskin” remained in the Sunday sports pages ofThe Denver Post, despite the activists’ efforts to discourage the media’s use of the name.
A radio announcement by the Oneida Indian Nation began running on102.3 ESPNthe day before the game. It noted that the Washington team was the last team to permit racial integration and that it kept to its underlying philosophy when it chose a “racial slur as the team’s name.”
In the ad, called “Legacy,” Ray Halbritter, Oneida Indian Nation representative and CEO, said the Nation is a proud sponsor of the NFL and that they understand Washington fans don’t intend to offend Native Americans. “We just want to be treated as what we all are—Americans,” he said in the ad.
Interested bystanders at the game were told that “Redskin” (as described by the National Congress of American Indians and other major groups) originated at a time when Natives were hunted and killed for bounty and when their “red” skins were used as proof of a kill.  
AIM and others disagree with Native and non-Native people who suggest that this is a trivial issue, or that there are more important issues for Native people to address. “The fact that those in the dominating culture try to dismiss this as trivial quibbling exposes the power behind the national privilege to treat indigenous peoples as pets, mascots, or ‘conquered peoples,’” Morris said.
Jolynne Woodcock, Oglala Lakota, and an INM leader echoed that sentiment during a rally after the game. “Why don’t you focus on one thing—focus on something that’s really important. We’re going to focus on the racism our children have to fight every day.” 


Monday, February 10, 2014

Remembering and Honoring Russell Means

As we approach the 41st anniversary of the liberation of the community of Wounded Knee, Lakota Nation, we remember the example and the courage of our brother, father, grandfather, husband, kola, Russell Means. May we always be inspired by your life and by your leadership.
Hoka Hey!

In November, 2013, Colorado AIM joined with Pearl Means an hundreds of others to honor the life and legacy of Russell Means in Denver, Colorado. Spiritual Leader Leonard CrowDog; Julia Jones with Pearl Means; Shannon Rivers, Glenn Morris and Bill Means; Kimimila Irving-Means and Troylynn Yellow Wood

Indigenous Peoples Vow To Stop Keystone XL Pipeline Across Indian Country alliance/

By Jorge Barrera
APTN National News
A Native American alliance is forming to block construction of TransCanada’s proposed Keystone XL pipeline which still needs final approval from U.S. President Barack Obama after the State Department released an environmental report indicating the project wouldn’t have a significant impact Alberta tar sands production.
Members from the seven tribes of the Lakota Nation, along with tribal members and tribes in Idaho, Oklahoma, Montana, Nebraska and Oregon, have been preparing to stop construction of the 1,400 kilometre pipeline which is slated to run, on the U.S. side, from Morgan, Mon., to Steel City, Neb., and pump 830,000 barrels per day from Alberta’s tar sands. The pipeline would originate in Hardisty, Alta.
“It poses a threat to our sacred water and the product is coming from the tar sands and our tribes oppose the tar sands mining,” said Deborah White Plume, of the Oglala Sioux Tribe, which is part of the Lakota Nation in South Dakota. “All of our tribes have taken action to oppose the Keystone XL pipeline.”
The U.S. State Department released its long awaited environmental report on TransCanada’s proposed pipeline Friday. The report found that the pipeline’s operation would not have a major impact on Alberta tar sands production which is also at the mercy of market forces.
“Approval or denial of any one crude oil transport project, including the proposed project, is unlikely to significantly impact the rate of extraction in the oil sands or the continued demand for heavy crude oil at refineries in the United States based on expected oil prices, oil sand supply costs, transport costs and supply-demand scenarios,” said the report.
The project will now go into a final phase which focuses on whether Keystone XL “serves the national interest.” Pipeline’s environmental, cultural and economic impacts will be weighed in this phase and at least eight agencies will have input on the outcome, including the Department Defence, Justice, Interior, Commerce, Transportation, Energy, Homeland Security and the Environmental Protection Agency.
A 30-day public comment period will also be initiated on Feb. 5.
The State Department is also in the midst of probing conflict-of-interest allegations levelled against contractors who both worked on the report and for TransCanada.
The Lakota Nation is preparing for the eventuality the pipeline receives approval. The nation has led the formation of a project called “Shielding the People” to stop the pipeline. The Lakota also launched a “moccasins on the ground” program to train people in Indigenous communities to oppose the pipeline.
There are also plans to set up spiritual camps along the pipeline’s route. But when and where those camps will spring up remains a closely guarded secret.
“It will band all Lakota to live together and you can’t cross a living area if it’s occupied,” said Greg Grey Cloud, of the Rosebud Sioux Tribe. “If it does get approved we aim to stop it.”
Gary Dorr, from the Nez Perce Tribe in Idaho, was in Rosebud Friday for a meeting to discuss opposition to Keystone.
The Nez Perce tribe has already used its treaty rights to block the transport of so-called megaloads of mining equipment headed to Alberta’s tar sands through its territory. The tribe launched blockades and won a court battle to stop the shipments from traversing its lands.
“It will be obvious, it will be concrete, and I think once it starts and they start building you will start to see the momentum and the force of the tribal people…it is an epic project, it will have an epic response from the tribal people,” said Dorr. “The tar sands is already affecting the people (for Fort Chipewyan in Alberta), climate change is already obvious. To facilitate that is not something the Native people of the U.S. are going to do. We are not going to sit idly by and let it happen.”
The pipeline has been called the ‘black snake’ in reference to prophecies that had previously been linked to construction of highways and railways. In recent ceremonies, however, discussions sifting through the prophecies noted that the black snake goes under ground.
“That would be a referral to the pipeline,” said Dorr.
Paula Antoine, who works for the Rosebud Tribe’s land office, said while the pipeline does not cross any Lakota reservation lands, it comes close, sometimes metres away. Antoine said the pipeline, however, cuts through their treaty territory, sacred sites and waterways.
“They aren’t recognizing our treaties, they are violating our treaty rights and our boundaries by going through there,” said Antoine. “Any ground disturbance around that proposed line will affect us.”
The battle lines have already been drawn in tribal council chambers. The Oglala Sioux Tribe passed a resolution Friday banning TransCanada and former AFN national chief Phil Fontaine, who has been hired by the energy firm to deal with First Nations opposition to its Energy East project in Canada, from entering its territory.
The resolution received unanimous consent,said White Plume.
The Lakota, Dakota and Nakota make up the Lakota Nation. The nation includes the tribes of Rosebud, Oglala and the Cheyenne Indian reservation, the Yankton Sioux Tribe, Standing Rock, Flandreau Sioux Tribe and the Crow Creek Sioux Tribe.

Friday, January 24, 2014

U.N. Special Rapporteur Visits Leonard Peltier in Prison

Media Advisory/Press Release
Immediate Release:  01/24/14
Contact: Peter Clark, (505)301-5423,

 "… new consideration should be given to clemency for Leonard Peltier.”  Professor James Anaya
  On Friday January 24, 2014, United Nations Special Rapporteur, Professor James Anaya visited United States Penitentiary Coleman 1 in Florida, to meet with American Indian political prisoner Leonard Peltier.  Professor Anaya was accompanied by Leonard "Lenny " Foster, member of the Board of Directors of the International Indian Treaty Council (IITC), Supervisor of the Navajo Nations Correction Project, and Spiritual Advisor to Mr. Peltier for nearly 30 years. The historic, nearly four hour meeting began around 9 am. While the discussion Friday morning was meant to focus on executive clemency for Leonard Peltier, the conversation touched on many subjects, as Mr. Peltier was eager to hear the Special Rapporteur’s perspective on the worldwide condition of indigenous peoples.
 In a trial that is widely recognized as a miscarriage of justice, Leonard Peltier was convicted in 1977, in connection with a shootout with US Government forces, where two Federal Bureau of Investigation agents and one young Indian man lost their lives. Every piece of evidence to convict Mr. Peltier has been since proven false.
 Professor Anaya is currently serving his second term as the United Nations Special Rapporteur on the Rights of Indigenous People. In September 2012, following a series of consultation sessions with Indigenous Peoples throughout the United States, the Special Rapporteur produced  a  “ Country Report  on the Situation of Indigenous Peoples In the United States of America" (A/HRC/21/47/Ad)]. In the report, Professor Anaya called for freedom for Leonard Peltier, and stated:
"Pleas for presidential consideration of clemency…have not borne fruit. This further depletes the already diminished faith in the criminal justice system felt by many indigenous peoples…”
  The effort to engage the United Nations Special Rapporteur in the struggle to address justice for Mr. Peltier began in 2008, during a discussion between Lenny Foster and Alberto Salomando, former attorney for the IITC. Following the visit Lenny Foster stated:
‘The visit today by U.N. Special Rapporteur James Anaya to Leonard Peltier in prison is very significant and historic for us.  We thank him for make this possible. This will support efforts for Executive Clemency for Leonard Peltier and promote reconciliation and justice in this case"
   Leonard Peltier said Friday “if the Constitutional violations that took place in my trial are allowed to stand, it will set precedence for future trials, and jeopardize the freedom and constitutional rights of all Americans."
  Also in attendance of the meeting Friday were:  David Hill, Director of the International Leonard Peltier Defense Committee (ILPDC), Peter Clark, ILPDC Chapter Coordinator and member.
 David Hill stated “that Americans can no longer afford to tolerate this miscarriage of justice and we shall make every effort to bring these judicial violations to the attention of all Americans, as well as internationally"

David Hill is the Director of the newly formed International Leonard Peltier Defense Committee and recently opened ILPDC Head Quarters near USP Coleman, at 255 Primera Blvd., Suite 160, Lake Mary, FL 32746.

Monday, October 21, 2013

Colorado AIM and Idle No More-Denver
Call for Protest of Washington Football Team at Washington-Broncos game
October 27, 2013
Sports Authority Field at Mile High, Denver
(check back for more details)
Change the Racist Mascot

"If people are genuinely interested in honoring Indians, try getting your government to live up to the more than 400 treaties it signed with our nations. ... Try stopping the ongoing theft of Indian water and other natural resources. Try reversing your colonial process that relegates us to the most impoverished, polluted and desperate conditions in this country. ... Try understanding that the mascot issue is only the tip of a very huge problem of continuing racism against American Indians. Then maybe your 'honors' will mean something. Until then, it's just so much superficial, hypocritical puffery. People should remember that an honor isn't born when it parts the honorer's lips, it is born when it is accepted by the honoree's ear and in the honoree's heart."
Glenn T. Morris, American Indian Movement of Colorado, 1992

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Response to Jay Taber's column on the North American Indigenous Peoples' Caucus 
by Glenn Morris, Leadership Council , Colorado AIM
This column is in response to the condescending, paternalistic and colonialist column by Jay Taber, entitled, “Report From Sycuan”, that Intercontinental Cry published on March 23, 2013. I cannot recall reading such an incredible spew of ignorant, settler-privileged drivel in several years – and from an author who curiously describes himself as an ally to indigenous peoples.
It was quite auspicious that I was reviewing some writings on white, male privilege at the time that Taber’s column was forwarded to me. This passage from an open letter from a person of color to white progressives, seemed particularly appropriate:
White privilege has trained you white [men] since the spoon that you are an authority, THE authority. You know what’s best and right, whether you say it openly or not, because you’re white….You have been educated and given messages, oh nice white progressive/radical, your entire life that people of color don’t know our history and experiences and can’t possibly have the tools to critically understand the world around us or your behavior. You practice the teaching every day that we people of color are here for your use. (
And this passage from anti-colonial scholar Denise Breton: Settler privilege contains all the mental, emotional, and material habits associated with taken for granted white privilege….[T]he decolonizing work begins here with naming these dynamics, so that [settler society] can engage in the lifelong work of breaking their hold.”
The quotes above are spot on with Taber’s “analysis,” given that his pontifications about the meeting of the North American Indigenous Peoples’ Caucus (NAIPC) at Sycuan, Kumeyaay Territory emerge entirely from a position of male, settler privilege. Never mind that he did not even attend the meeting (I participated as a delegate); never mind that he is acquainted with only a few of the NAIPC participants; never mind that he does not even know the actual purpose of the NAIPC gathering. Don’t bother him with any of the genuine facts – he, in his infinite wisdom, “knows” who are the “bad Indians,” what our motives are, and he believes that he has the right to lecture and chastise us. Sorry, Jay, those days are over. I noticed that Taber revised his initial, even more offensive, column trying to seek cover through inserting a few short quotes from Kenneth Deer. It didn’t work.
Typical of Taber’s paternalistic braying was his implied criticism of a respected indigenous leader, Debra Harry, who has been selected multiple times to coordinate numerous gatherings and meetings, including NAIPC. Ms. Harry was fighting, on the ground, to defend her own indigenous peoples’ territories, and all of our rights to self-determination, while Taber was still learning how to spell “indigenous.” Taber implied that somehow Ms. Harry was overlord of “the shambles” at NAIPC, which somehow prevented his friends from accomplishing their “important” work. Incidentally, by what right does Taber criticize indigenous women at all, and Debra Harry in particular? I’ll tell you by what right – by no right. Who does he think he is? After centuries of murder, abuse and marginalization of indigenous women by settler men – the days of disrespecting indigenous women are REALLY over.
While we’re on the subject, Mr. Know-It-All mentioned Debra Harry by name, but did he know that she had a NAIPC co-facilitator of the meeting? He might have heard of that co-facilitator, since one of Taber’s claims to fame is association with the Center for World Indigenous Studies (CWIS), which has a library that is dedicated to the work of the late Chief George Manual. As it happens, Debra Harry’s co-facilitator was George Manual’s SON, Arthur. Didn’t know that, did you, Jay? Or, perhaps you simply forgot to mention that in your self-serving tirade. In addition to the co-facilitators, there were four rapporteurs, recording the proceedings, and every delegate was free to speak at the microphone from the floor, at any time.
Another convenient fact that Taber omits from his ad hominem rant is that Debra Harry was selected, by consensus of the group, to serve as the representative to the Global Coordinating Group for the North American region, south of the Medicine Line (U.S./Canada border) for the 2013-2014 session. This was after the candidate that was advanced by Taber’s friends was forced to withdraw her nomination because of her past work with the CENTRAL INTELLIGENCE AGENCY (CIA)!,-fawn-sharp,-receives-highest-award-from-gonzaga-alums-145004. Really, we were supposed to support the candidacy of an admitted former CIA agent (but, hey, she’s a member of NCAI, and the president of an “indigenous government”) to represent indigenous peoples from the U.S. at the international meeting in Alta, Norway in June of this year? I don’t think so. Taber didn’t see fit to mention that little point of tension at the NAIPC meeting.
Now, let’s correct a few more of Taber’s other ridiculous assertions. He states, “the whole purpose of the [NAIPC] meeting was to prepare for the world conference.” Honk! Wrong. The purpose of the NAIPC meeting is, in large part, to discuss and coordinate the work of indigenous peoples at various international fora, including the UN Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues (UNPFII), and the Expert Mechanism. The high level plenary meeting (to which he erroneously refers as a World Conference) was only one of several issues for discussion on the NAIPC meeting agenda.
A salient point that Taber’s informant(s) from Sycuan failed to mention to him is that NAIPC, which, incidentally, is open to all indigenous people, and which has been meeting for several years prior to the annual UNPFII meeting at the UN in New York, had not yet decided to participate in the UN high level plenary meeting (the so-called World Conference). Last year, at the NAIPC meeting in Six Nations Territory (Niagara Falls), a decision whether or not to participate in the high plenary was tabled, awaiting the completion of the Modalities Resolution (a document outlining whether or not indigenous peoples were going to be allowed to participate in the meeting). Consequently, Taber’s friends from National Congress of American Indians (NCAI), Native American Rights Fund (NARF), and CWIS arrived at Sycuan with the fallacious assumption that NAIPC had already decided to participate in the UN high level plenary, when no consensus decision on that point had ever been reached.
The debate about whether indigenous peoples should allow themselves to be used as window-dressing by the United Nations for its high level plenary meeting is worthy of additional debate (and another column, in and of itself). Even a cursory look at the Modalities Resolution that was finalized by the UN General Assembly on December 17, 2012, indicates that the high level plenary meeting is a sham.
And, please Jay, stop calling the UN meeting a world conference – it is not a world conference; a world conference is infinitely more comprehensive, extensive and participatory by the peoples involved in the outcomes. The fact that the state powers pushing the high level plenary meeting are using the term “world conference” as a smokescreen, should be a tip-off of what is coming. The high level plenary meeting will not discuss the right to indigenous peoples’ self-determination, and it will allow a MAXIMUM of 200 indigenous peoples from around the world to even be in the UN building — less than a dozen of those will be allowed to speak, and those will be confined to short, informal (UN code for not officially part of the final report) breakout panel discussions. The entire high level plenary meeting will be a day and a half – nine total hours – compared to the actual UN World Conference on Racism that was held in Durban, South Africa in 2001, which was nine days (not nine hours), with active, vital participation from thousands of people from around the world, who participated in producing the outcome document, The Durban Declaration and Plan of Action.
Most importantly, the outcome document for the high level plenary meeting will be drafted and adopted SOLELY by UN state members, without the free, prior and informed consent of indigenous peoples – a violation of one of the foundational principles of the past forty years of struggle by indigenous peoples in the international arena.
The purposes of the United States, Canada, and other settler states is clear – it is to subordinate the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples to the domestic laws of their invader states, and to further domesticate indigenous peoples through what they call “best practices,” into settler state legal regimes. If indigenous peoples lend even their tacit consent to such a lopsided and racist process, it will provide a rationale for states to report that indigenous peoples have acquiesced to the settler state design of further assimilation and destruction of indigenous peoples.
One reason that there was so much tension at Sycuan was that the international revolution for the rights of indigenous peoples was not begun by NCAI or NARF – both of which, incidentally, are NGOs, a term that Taber consistently uses as a pejorative. It was begun by militants, and by those Taber so derisively and racistly labeled “juveniles, unaccustomed to diplomacy,” and “those who were frustrated by the policies of governing authorities,” indigenous resisters such as the American Indian Movement at Wounded Knee, and leaders like Russell Means, who began the International Indian Treaty Council, the first indigenous presence at the UN, beginning in 1974, the Six Nations and other traditional indigenous nations who were there from the beginning, and who demanded recognition of their passports and their leaders.
It was those malcontents who penned the Declaration of Continuing Independence, who advanced the creation of the Working Group on Indigenous Peoples, the UN Study on Treaties and Constructive Agreements, and the toughest language, e.g., Article 3 on Self-Determination, Article 37 on treaties, and Article 19 on free, prior and informed consent in the UNDRIP. What the rebels did not include in the UNDRIP, and would never have accepted, was Article 46, on protecting the territorial integrity of invader states. Those indigenous delegates who acquiesced to that article betrayed the original principles of the work.
This leads us to Taber’s ridiculous notion that only indigenous governments can legitimately act to implement the UNDRIP. Mr. Taber, it is a DECLARATION – anyone can decide to endorse and implement it: states, indigenous governments, NGOs, your county government, the local Unitarian Church, your corner grocer down the street – anyone. Taber’s suggestion that everyone needs to clear the decks, so that indigenous governments can implement the UNDRIP is patently absurd – nothing is stopping them from doing so at anytime, but I doubt that more than a couple of dozen have even bothered to read the document seriously.
It was not NCAI or NARF who fought for the victories above; they stood on the sidelines until the heavy lifting was completed, and regularly ridiculed and criticized those of us who were doing the international work. If some of those indigenous/tribal governments now are ready to raise the standard of indigenous liberation and genuine, international freedom and self-determination, that’s great. It’s about time – but they are not going to push aside those of us who have fought continuously for the past forty years to achieve what few victories have been won. I am not suggesting that most of those indigenous governments that were at NAIPC wanted to do so, they seemed genuinely interested in future, inclusive collaboration. If that is the case, then let’s roll up our sleeves, have the tough ideological debates, and continue the difficult work of building a more free and liberated future for all indigenous peoples.
So, Mr. Taber, you would be well-served to check your own contributions to perpetuating the settler state mentality, get a little history lesson, get your facts straight before you ignorantly spout off, stop lecturing indigenous peoples about the correct course of action for us or our peoples, and stop trying to decide for us who should be included at the table, and who should be excluded.