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"tierra y vida"
For background and updates, visit the Ward Churchill Solidarity Network (WCSN) website at www.wardchurchill.net .
COLUMN OF THE AMERICAS
Your footprints are not always left in deserts, mountains or rivers. Like a shadow, they follow you everywhere. From Mexico and Central America, and South America too, they follow you into El Norte.
From your NAFTA-decimated fields and factories, your footprints follow you into toxic factories and pesticide-laden fields. They follow you into food-processing and manufacturing plants, construction sites, hotels and restaurants. For more than a century, wherever there has been tedious, dangerous and back-breaking work, your footprints have led you there.
Don't believe the news; here, some love you, some hate you and many exploit you. Some even look like you. You make billions for corporations and they give you back centavos. They lower wages and shutter factories and you get the blame. Still, they love your work ethic; long hours, low pay and no benefits. You pay into social security, medical and unemployment insurance, knowing you will never collect. But to many politicos and extremists, you are a criminal, drug dealer and a drain. Even a terrorist.
What many like is your silence: just work, don't complain. Don't organize or fight back, and if you must speak: "In English, damn it!" And if you ever fall ill, "go back to where you came from!"
Don't believe the hype; you pay exorbitant taxes, you enrich global corporations, employers, landlords, merchants and the nation's treasury. Without you, food prices would be sky-high, hotel prices and houses would be unaffordable, lawns would turn to weeds, homes, cars and offices would go uncleaned and the children and elders of the middle class and the well-to-do would be uncared for. Through your sweat, you make life convenient and make their dream possible, and yet they clamor for walls and to chase you down?
Those that vilify you strive for a checkpoint society because America is an idea; they believe it was created by God for Americans, and to many, Mexicans are not Americans. Not real Americans, nor a part of their dream. They hate you because like American Indians, you are a reminder that their ancestors came from afar… that they're part of a young nation, not a thousands-of-years civilization. You're a reminder that their land-theft project called Manifest Destiny failed, though many believe it is simply on hold.
Those that denigrate you, especially hate, yet covet your color. They are schizophrenic. They love your food and love to be served and cleaned-up after, preferably in silence and out of sight. They hate your language, but make it impossible for you to go to school and for your children to receive a higher education. And they especially hate that your children – not theirs – will one day become bilingual. The only two words in Spanish they approve of are: "Si señor."
That's why they insult you and call you names, beginning with immigrant. You are not an immigrant! They also accuse you of being lazy and on welfare, this while claiming you are taking their jobs. There's that schizophrenia again. Those unwanted jobs, they claim, are reserved for African-Americans and Hispanic Americans. Not surprisingly, the best jobs are not reserved for them. Oh, how they love to swing you like a political piñata. They don't blame the corporations for this exploitation, instead they blame you and brand you illegal alien – despite knowing that no human being is illegal and that your ancestors have traversed these lands for thousands of years. They ignore this and call you wetback. Yes, the same ones whose ancestors came over on boats… When you learn their language, they will call you beaner. And it's true; for millennia you've been eating frijoles, maize, calabaza, nopales and chile – a healthy Indigenous diet.
Migrante: you are entitled to be treated with dignity and respect and afforded your full human rights. Neither governments nor the United Nations dole them out. Instead, you are born with them; they simply affirm them. Always remember that. Never forget that.
Migrante: don't believe their propaganda; they've always needed and wanted you… just without rights and without a voice. Yes, even those that hate you, deep down, admire and envy you. They know of your sacrifice, your hardships and of your inspiring commitment to family. They are also aware of those footprints that never made it out of the desert. In another time, they will honor and thank you.
(c) Column of the Americas 2007
Rodriguez can be reached at XColumn@gmail.com or PO BOX 41552, Tucson, AZ 85717
Columna de las Americas
Tus huellas no siempre dejan marca en los desiertos, montañas o ríos. Como una sombra, ellas te siguen a todas partes. Desde México y Centroamérica, y Sudamérica también, ellas te siguen hacia El Norte.
Desde tus campos y fábricas diezmados por el TLC, tus huellas te siguen hacia fábricas tóxicas y campos cargados de pesticidas. Ellas te siguen hacia plantas procesadoras de alimentos y manufactureras, lugares en construcción, hoteles y restaurantes. Por más de un siglo, en cualquier lugar en donde haya habido un trabajo tedioso, peligroso y lastimoso, tus huellas te han guiado hasta ahí.
No les creas a las noticias; aquí, algunos te quieren, otros te odian y más, quieren explotarte. Algunos incluso se parecen a ti. Tú haces que grandes compañías ganen billones y a ti te dan centavos. Estas compañías bajan los salarios y cierran fábricas y te culpan a ti. Aún así, les encanta tu ética laboral: muchas horas, bajo salario y nada de prestaciones. Tu aportas al seguro social, al seguro médico y contra el desempleo sabiendo que nunca recibirás nada. Pero para demasiados políticos y extremistas tú eres un delincuente, narcotraficante y una carga. Incluso un terrorista.
Lo que a muchos les gusta es tu silencio: sólo trabaja, no te quejes. No te organices con otros o pelees, y si tienes que hablar: "In English, damn it!" Y si alguna vez caes enfermo, te dirán: "¡regresa de donde veniste!"
No le creas a la excesiva publicidad; tú pagas impuestos exorbitantes, tú haces ricos a las compañías transnacionales, empresarios, grandes propietarios, comerciantes y a la tesorería de la nación. Sin ti, los precios de los alimentos estarían por los cielos, los precios de los hoteles y de las casas serían imposibles de pagar, los jardines se llenarían de hierbajos, las casas, coches y oficinas estarían sucias y los niños y ancianos de la clase media y de los ricos estarían sin cuidado alguno. A través de tu sudor, tú les haces la vida fácil y les haces su sueño realidad, y aún así ellos ruegan porque se construyan muros y para que te atrapen.
Esos que te infaman luchan por una sociedad de control porque América es una idea; ellos creen que fue creada por Dios para los americanos, y para muchos, los mexicanos no son americanos. No son americanos verdaderos, no son una parte de su sueño. Ellos te odian porque al igual que los pueblos Indígenas de este pais, tú eres un recuerdo vivo de que sus ancestros vinieron de lejos… de que ellos son parte de una nación joven, no de una civilización de miles de años. Tú eres el recuerdo vivo de que su proyecto de robo de tierras llamado el Destino Manifiesto falló, aunque muchos crean que solamente está en pausa.
Esos que te denigran odian especialmente, y al mismo tiempo codician, tu color. Tienen esquizofrenia. Les encanta tu comida y les encanta que les sirvan y que les limpien, preferentemente en silencio y sin que los molesten. Odian tu idioma, pero hacen que sea imposible para ti y para tus hijos ir a la escuela y recibir una educación superior. Y especialmente odian el hecho de que tus hijos –no los suyos- algún día serán bilingües. Las únicas palabras en español que permiten son: "Sí señor."
Por eso te insultan y te llaman con ciertos nombres, empezando con inmigrante. ¡Tú no eres un inmigrante! Ellos también te acusan de ser flojo y de ser mantenido por el estado, esto mientras se quejan de que les quitas sus trabajos. Ahí está otra vez esa esquizofrenia. Esos trabajos que nadie quiere, afirman, están reservados para los afroamericanos y los hispanos de Estados Unidos. No es de sorprender que los mejores trabajos no están reservados para ellos. Ah, y cómo les encanta columpiarte como una piñata política. Ellos no culpan a las grandes compañías de esta explotación, en lugar de eso ellos te culpan a ti y te etiquetan como illegal allien –aunque sepan que ningún ser humano es ilegal y que tus ancestros han atravesado estas tierras por miles de años. Ellos ignoran esto y te llaman wetback o mojado. Sí, esos mismos cuyos ancestros vinieron en barcos… Cuando aprendas su lengua, ellos te llamarán frijolero. Y es verdad; por milenios hemos estado comiendo frijoles, maíz, calabaza, nopales y chile –una dieta indígena saludable.
Migrante: tienes el derecho a ser tratado con dignidad y respeto. Ni los gobiernos o las Naciones Unidas reparten derechos humanos, más bien, los derechos nacieron contigo; ellos sólo los reafirman. Siempre recuerda eso. Nunca lo olvides.
Migrante: no le creas a su propaganda; ellos siempre te han querido y te han necesitado… sólo que sin derechos y sin voz. Sí, incluso aquellos que te odian, en el fondo te admiran y te envidian. Ellos saben de tu sacrificio, tu esfuerzo y de tu inspirador compromiso con la familia. Ellos también tienen conocimiento de esas huellas que nunca lograron salir del desierto. En otros tiempos, ellos te honrarán y te darán las gracias.
(c) Column of the Americas 2007
Para comunicarse con Rodríguez escríbale un correo electrónico a: XColumn@gmail.com o por correo a: PO BOX 41552, Tucson, AZ 85717
Indians speak forcefully on climate
April 25, 2007
Canada to pay $1bn after damning report on indigenous schooling
By Richard ReynoldsThe Canadian Government is set to pay more than $1 billion worth of compensation to members of the country's indigenous population.
A report has found that for more than 40 years the Government ignored the plight of native Indian children who were attending 'residential schools'.
Many Indian children were forced to attend the schools, often thousands of miles from their homes.
They had to speak English there; they were forbidden to speak their native tongues. Some were abused physically or sexually.
But revelations published today after a lengthy investigation by the Globe and Mail newspaper, show that the Government, even though they were warned as early as 1907, ignored the horrible health conditions at the schools, particularly widespread tuberculosis (TB).
TB and other diseases may have killed more than one-half of all the Indian students who attended the schools.
At one school inspectors placed the toll at almost 70 per cent of all students. The death toll over the century could have been more than 100,000 children.
The schools were finally shut down in the 1980s.
Read and Hear the truth of Genocide in Canada, past and present, at this website: www.hiddenfromhistory.org ... ... and on this radio program: "Hidden from History", every Monday from 1-2 pm (PST) on CFRO 102.7 FM (www.coopradio.org) (Vancouver) "When the desire for Truth and Virtue becomes the only bias in our mind, only then can we know in ourselves what is right." Peter Annett, Humanist and dissident, 1769 (jailed and persecuted by the Church of England for his questioning of the Bible and the church)
From: On Behalf Of Eagle Strong Voice
Important News Update: Victory!
Recent interview of Indigenous President of Bolivia, Evo Morales
– please listen to the interview and thank Democracy Now for finally covering issues of indigenous peoples – encourage them to cover indigenous issues in the U.S. and other countries as our struggles continue…You can contact Democracy Now at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Bolivian President Evo Morales on Democracy Now!
Al Gore dumps Barrick Gold sponsorship for Chile visit
Study says global warming threatens to create a Dust Bowl-like period. Water politics could also get heated.
By Alan Zarembo and Bettina Boxall
The driest periods of the last century — the Dust Bowl of the 1930s and the droughts of the 1950s — may become the norm in the Southwest United States within decades because of global warming, according to a study released Thursday.
The complete article can be viewed at:
February 15, 2007
Nevada governor facing FBI probe of classified federal contracts
By BRENDAN RILEY
CARSON CITY, Nev. (AP) - Federal authorities confirmed Thursday that Nevada Gov. Jim Gibbons is being investigated for failing to properly report gifts or payments from a software company that was awarded secret military contracts when he was in Congress.
The newly elected Republican governor denied any wrongdoing and told The Associated Press that "they can look as deeply as they need to and I encourage them to do so, but there would have been absolutely no influence."
A federal law enforcement official confirmed the FBI probe. The official, who spoke on condition of anonymity because of the ongoing investigation, said the inquiry is focusing on what role Gibbons played in awarding military contracts to eTreppid Technologies LLC in Reno and whether he received any gifts in exchange.
Gibbons said he had not been contacted by the FBI regarding his contacts with Warren Trepp, a longtime friend and owner of eTreppid who contributed nearly $100,000 to Gibbons' campaign for governor.
"They never talked to me. They never have given me any kind of hint or whatever," he said.
The governor said he's a "pretty public person" and figured that if an investigation was under way he would have been contacted.
Asked whether he had hired an attorney as a result of the reported investigation, Gibbons said friends have volunteered to help and he would look into the issue if needed.
"I've done nothing wrong though," he said.
Trepp, a former chief trader for convicted junk-bond dealer Michael Milken, also has denied any wrongdoing. He didn't immediately return calls Thursday to his Reno office.
The Wall Street Journal first reported that investigators were looking at whether federal contracting rules were violated in the case involving Gibbons, who was sworn in last month as governor after five terms in Congress, where he served on the House Intelligence and Armed Services committees.
Gibbons said he had read the news story and was "disturbed" that it "tried to connect dots where there are no dots to connect."
"I don't think that I have done anything that hasn't been done by others, which is opening doors for businesses in the state of Nevada," Gibbons said.
Gibbons had asked the House ethics committee in November for an opinion about whether he improperly reported private jet flights and a Caribbean cruise paid for by Trepp, whose company has millions of dollars worth of classified federal software contracts from the Air Force, U.S. Special Operations Command and the CIA.
The Journal reported new evidence had emerged in a federal lawsuit in Reno involving Trepp and Dennis Montgomery, his former technology chief at eTreppid. The two are involved in litigation related to the copyrights of the company's video surveillance technology, which reportedly is used with unmanned aircraft to identify terrorism suspects.
The evidence cited includes e-mails to Trepp discussing a payment or gifts to then-Rep. Gibbons. The e-mails also show Gibbons using his congressional office to help the company seek classified military and civilian contracts, the newspaper said.
"Please don't forget to bring the money you promised Jim and Dawn," Trepp's wife, Jale Trepp, said in a March 22, 2005, e-mail days before Trepp and his wife embarked on the Caribbean cruise with Jim Gibbons and his wife, Dawn, a former Nevada state assemblywoman.
According to the Journal, Trepp responded minutes later saying: "Don't you ever send this kind of message to me! Erase this message from your computer right now!"
Gibbons said he knew nothing about the e-mails.
Gibbons did not disclose the cruise and travel on Trepp's leased private jet, as required by House ethics rules. He later asked the House Ethics Committee for an exemption, but left office before any action was taken.
Trepp's attorney, Stephen Peek, told the Journal that Trepp "has had no inquires or questions from any federal officials about his relationship with Jim Gibbons."
Tom Collins, the state Democratic Party chairman who has sought access to the Reno court records because they may show "potential improper conduct," renewed his criticism of the governor.
"Gov. Gibbons already has made a mockery of his office in more ways than one, and now we learn the FBI is investigating him for political corruption," he said. "This governor has embarrassed the state, and lost most of his effectiveness and respect. And we're not even two months into his term."
Trepp has sued Collins for defamation.
EU: Climate change will transform the face of the continent
Europe, the richest and most fertile continent and the model for the modern world, will be devastated by climate change, the European Union predicts today.
The ecosystems that have underpinned all European societies from Ancient Greece and Rome to present-day Britain and France, and which helped European civilisation gain global pre-eminence, will be disabled by remorselessly rising temperatures, EU scientists forecast in a remarkable report which is as ominous as it is detailed.
Much of the continent's age-old fertility, which gave the world the vine and the olive and now produces mountains of grain and dairy products, will not survive the climate change forecast for the coming century, the scientists say, and its wildlife will be devastated.
Europe's modern lifestyles, from summer package tours to winter skiing trips, will go the same way, they say, as the Mediterranean becomes too hot for holidays and snow and ice disappear from mountain ranges such as the Alps - with enormous economic consequences. The social consequences will also be felt as heat-related deaths rise and extreme weather events, such as storms and floods, become more violent.
The report, stark and uncompromising, marks a step change in Europe's own role in pushing for international action to combat climate change, as it will be used in a bid to commit the EU to ambitious new targets for cutting emissions of greenhouse gases.
The European Commission wants to hold back the rise in global temperatures to 2C above the pre-industrial level (at present, the level is 0.6C). To do that, it wants member states to commit to cutting back emissions of carbon dioxide, the principal greenhouse gas, to 30 per cent below 1990 levels by 2020, as long as other developed countries agree to do the same.
Failing that, the EU would observe a unilateral target of a 20 per cent cut.
The Commission president, José Manuel Barroso, gave US President George Bush a preview of the new policy during a visit to the White House this week.
The force of today's report lies in its setting out of the scale of the continent-wide threat to Europe's "ecosystem services".
That is a relatively new but powerful concept, which recognises essential elements of civilised life - such as food, water, wood and fuel - which may generally be taken for granted, are all ultimately dependent on the proper functioning of ecosystems in the natural world. Historians have recognised that Europe was particularly lucky in this respect from the start, compared to Africa or pre-Columbian America - and this was a major reason for Europe's rise to global pre-eminence.
"Climate change will alter the supply of European ecosystem services over the next century," the report says. "While it will result in enhancement of some ecosystem services, a large portion will be adversely impacted because of drought, reduced soil fertility, fire, and other climate change-driven factors.
"Europe can expect a decline in arable land, a decline in Mediterranean forest areas, a decline in the terrestrial carbon sink and soil fertility, and an increase in the number of basins with water scarcity. It will increase the loss of biodiversity."
The report predicts there will be some European "winners" from climate change, at least initially. In the north of the continent, agricultural yields will increase with a lengthened growing season and a longer frost-free period. Tourism may become more popular on the beaches of the North Sea and the Baltic as the Mediterranean becomes too hot, and deaths and diseases related to winter cold will fall.
But the negative effects will far outweigh the advantages. Take tourism. The report says "the zone with excellent weather conditions, currently located around the Mediterranean (in particular for beach tourism) will shift towards the north". And it spells out the consequences.
"The annual migration of northern Europeans to the countries of the Mediterranean in search of the traditional summer 'sun, sand and sea' holiday is the single largest flow of tourists across the globe, accounting for one-sixth of all tourist trips in 2000. This large group of tourists, totalling about 100 million per annum, spends an estimated €100bn (£67bn) per year. Any climate-induced change in these flows of tourists and money would have very large implications for the destinations involved."
While they are losing their tourists, the countries of the Med may also be losing their agriculture. Crop yields may drop sharply as drought conditions, exacerbated by more frequent forest fires, make farming ever more difficult. And that is not the only threat to Europe's food supplies. Some stocks of coldwater fish in areas such as the North Sea will move northwards as the water warms.
There are many more direct threats, the report says. The cost of taking action to cope with sea-level rise will run into billions of euros. Furthermore, "for the coming decades, it is predicted the magnitude and frequency of extreme weather events will increase, and floods will likely be more frequent and severe in many areas across Europe."
The number of people affected by severe flooding in the Upper Danube area is projected to increase by 242,000 in a more extreme 3C temperature rise scenario, and by 135,000 in the case of a 2.2C rise. The total cost of damage would rise from €47.5bn to €66bn in the event of a 3C increase.
Although fewer people would die of cold in the north, that would be more than offset by increased mortality in the south. Under the more extreme scenario of a 3C increase in 2071-2100 relative to 1961-1990, there would be 86,000 additional deaths.
Congress bans new drilling leases on Rocky Mountain Front
WASHINGTON (AP) A permanent ban on oil, gas and mineral exploration along Montana's Rocky Mountain Front was included in a last-minute package of tax breaks and other legislation that cleared Congress early Saturday and is headed to President Bush for his signature.
"We finally got it done, we finally protected the Rocky Mountain Front forever," said Sen. Max Baucus, D-Mont., who added the provision to the larger tax package in the final days of the Senate session.
The drilling provision would make permanent a 1997 moratorium on Rocky Mountain Front exploration and make retiring existing leases easier.
Drilling on the Front has been debated passionately in Montana , for decades. Stretching about 100 miles in a part of west-central Montana where the mountains rise dramatically from the plains, the Front is home to an array of wildlife and is known for solitude.
Montana's congressional delegation is split on the ban.
Republican Rep. Denny Rehberg, Montana's only member of the House, opposes the ban and called it "foolhardy" when the larger tax bill was introduced Thursday. Hae says drilling is needed at a time when the United States is struggling to meet its energy needs.
But on Friday, Rehberg voted for the larger bill, which includes $38 billion in tax breaks for businesses, higher education costs and school teachers, plus credits for alternative energy initiatives.
Rehberg expressed frustration after the vote that there was no opportunity for debate on the drilling ban. He said he voted for a procedural maneuver that would have sent the legislation back to committee, but then voted in favor of the final legislation because taxpayers don't deserve to be punished just because a rider was attached to a bill that puts more money in folks' pockets.?
Republican Sen. Conrad Burns, defeated by Democrat Jon Tester in November, supported the ban. Earlier this year he added to a spending bill a similar provision banning exploration, but Republicans decided not to consider any spending legislation before year's end.
The drilling ban that cleared Congress on Saturday would give oil and gas companies a tax break if they sell their Front leases to nonprofit groups. That break would be equal to 25 percent of the capital received by the seller.
According to Baucus’ office, that would apply to 60 current leases on the Front.
Two energy companies agreed earlier this year to sell and donate the Front mineral leases they hold. Supporters of the ban have said a permanent solution enacted by Congress would help make those deals final.
President Bush is expected to sign the bill into law in the next few weeks.
WARNING: Due to Presidential Executive Orders, the National Security Agency may have read this email without warning, warrant, or notice. They may do this without any judicial or legislative oversight. You have no recourse nor protection save to call for the impeachment of the current President.
"From tree to tree-from you to me...
Pentagon Releases New Report of Spying on Quakers, Peace Activists and Veterans, notes Brenda Norrell
2006-11-27 | TUCSON, Ariz. - In this age of McCarthyism and censorship, the United States Pentagon has released a new set of documents showing it spied on peace activists, Quakers and Veterans for Peace, in what is surely a modest list of the spy operations of the Pentagon.
Pointing out that counter-terrorism resources are being used to spy on regular Americans, the American Civil Liberties Union called on Congress to investigate the surveillance of political and religious groups by the Defense Department, FBI and Department of Homeland Security.
Recent targets of the Pentagon's Threat and Local Observation Notice (TALON) were peace activists, Quakers and Veterans for Peace. The information comes from e-mails and sources.
Peace activists were spied on in Sacramento, New Orleans, Las Cruces, N.M., Fayetteville, N.C., Atlanta, Akron, Ohio, Springfield, Illinois, and elsewhere. They were spied on at a prayer service in New York.
However, the increase in spy surveillance has not dampened the efforts of peace activists and human rights activists across the nation.
In Tucson, Ariz., and elsewhere, activists are as busy, if not busier, than ever.
Isabel Garcia, co-chair of Derechos Humanos Coalition, was awarded Mexico's highest honor for human rights in November. Mexico's Human Rights Commission will present the Human Rights Award 2006 to Garcia in Mexico City in December.
Garcia, longtime advocate for border rights, has been in the forefront of the border struggle as she urged, "respect for the humanity of each individual". Garcia, an attorney, has also been a target of opposition by hate groups, including Border Guardians.
Also in southern Arizona, two Roman Catholic priests were arrested as they protested military intelligence training that fosters torture at Fort Huachuca on Nov. 19.
Franciscan Fr. Louie Vitale and Jesuit Fr. Steve Kelly were arrested as they attempted to talk to Major General Barbara Fast, the highest-ranking officer linked to the tortures in Abu Ghraib. Fast has not been punished for her involvement. Two other officers with links to Fort Huachuca were implicated for beating deaths in Afghanistan in 2002. As the priests prayed, they were arrested and charged with trespass and released.
The Fort Huachuca protest was carried out as 20,000 others protested the infamous School of the Americas in Georgia, now called the Western Hemisphere Institute for Security Cooperation. Known for training torture techniques for militaries around the world, the school trained Latin leaders who were later convicted of murder, disappearances and heinous crimes.
While Tucson is absent from the Pentagon's recently released spy reports, activists conclude that their names are not yet available because the spy operations are ongoing.
Amnesty International activists in Tucson are releasing the names and details of secret prisons, including flights from North Carolina to secret prisons, and the seizure and torture of innocent persons.
Meanwhile, the International Indian Treaty Council hosted the Border Summit of the Americas in San Xavier on the Tohono O'odham Nation, bordering Tucson, and opposed the U.S. and Mexico border wall and militarization of Indigenous homelands.
Tohono O'odham also opposed a secret hazardous waste dump planned by Mexico, with the U.S. EPA's knowledge, 40 miles south of the border in Quitovac, Sonora, Mexico. O'odham from the U.S. and Mexico have annual ceremonies in Quitovac. The international border dissects their homelands and a border wall will further impede ceremonies and traditional routes.
Since the United States is gripped in fear and censorship, the mainstream media, for the most part, has failed to report these stories in the United States.
On Alcatraz Island, the International Indian Treaty Council brought together Pomo Indian, Palestinian and Aztec dancers, and speakers representing some of the most revolutionary and progressive thinkers, on Nov. 23. IITC said the event was not meant to cater to the Thanksgiving concept that celebrates "pitiful alien pilgrims".
Western Shoshone gathered to launch a new effort to protect the land from gold mines in November. Since the Bureau of Land Management seized the horses of Carrie and May Dann near Crescent Valley, Nev., gold mines, including operations of Barrick Gold, have rapidly spread across the Western Shoshone's sacred land of Mount Tenabo.
While Al Jazeera recently provided coverage, few, if any, newspapers in the United States have covered the U.S. government operation of seizing horses, including wild horses, to clear the way for gold mining operations in Nevada.
Meanwhile, Pentagon spy operations focus on peace activists.
The Quakers, whose philosophy is based on peace, have recently been a focus of federal spy operations, according to Pentagon documents.
American Indians and their peaceful protests, especially in Denver, have also been a focus of local police spy operations.
Earlier, the ACLU revealed that Denver police maintained secret spy files on American Indians and peace activists spanning 30 years. In a case that resulted in new regulations for the Denver Police Intelligence Bureau, the ACLU exposed secret police spy files maintained on attorneys at the Native American Rights Fund, a U.S. senator, Indian tribal leaders and the American Indian Movement.
Denver police spied on peaceful organizations working for Indigenous rights, including organizations to help Indigenous in Chiapas and Navajos resisting relocation on Black Mesa in Arizona. Eighty-year-old grandmothers, whose only offense was to have a "Free Leonard Peltier" bumper sticker on their car bumper were under surveillance by Denver police.
With so many people spied on, activists are asking one question: "How does the Pentagon get any work done?"
The ACLU said that Congress has failed to investigate how the Pentagon collected the information on innocent Americans and to examine which other agencies received these reports. In addition, Congress has yet to act on the hundreds of FBI documents previously obtained by the ACLU that show widespread surveillance by Joint Terrorism Task Forces of peace activists, religious groups, environmental groups and animal rights activists.
"There is increasing evidence that the Pentagon improperly targeted innocent Americans for surveillance", said Ben Wizner, an ACLU staff attorney. "These documents send a chilling message that if you oppose the war, the military is watching you. That is simply un-American."
One of the reports, on April 8, 2005 report lists planned protests by Veterans for Peace at nine different universities across the country. The source of the information, described as an active duty Army officer, states that "Veterans for Peace is a peaceful organization, but there is potential future protest could become violent."
The Sacramento Bee is one of the few newspapers in America covering the latest Pentagon spy files.
Bee staff reporters Crystal Carreon and Dorothy Korber write of the Sacramento peace activists targeted. "It is the latest in a series of cases that includes the California National Guard's spying on anti-war grandmothers and secret wiretapping by the National Security Agency."
"Area activists spied on"
Carrie Dann has been fighting for land rights for 30 years
For more than 30 years, Carrie Dann, a native Shoshone American, has been fighting the US government for her people's rights to their ancestral land.
Dann accuses the US government of ignoring her case in favour of multi-national corporations whose interests she says lie in their bottom lines and not in the environment.
Since the dispute began 30 years ago, US armed federal agents have seized hundreds of horses from Dann's Crescent Valley ranch in Nevada, leaving her with only a few cows.
The US government's actions were a response to Dann's refusal to pay cattle fees.
She says that it is her right as a native American to live off her ancestral land.
Speaking to Al Jazeera English, Dann said: "I can't believe that this is happening supposedly in America where everybody talks about democracy, and how good democracy is. As far as the indigenous people go, we have not seen that democracy."
Dann is actively challenging the legality of the US government's claim of ownership to millions of acres of traditional Shoshone territory. But the US bureau of land management insists that Dann has broken the law by not applying for a grazing licence and refusal to pay fees. Al Jazeera made repeated requests to interview US officials about the case, but they refused to appear on camera and sent an email in response to journalists' questions.
Dann said she also received a short email saying that removing and impounding livestock was "an action of last resort" and the bureau had made "hundreds of attempts over the years" to work with Dann, but that she "had chosen not to" resolve her issues with the government agency. Although Dann is worried that one day the government will seize her ranch, she has no intention of paying the outstanding fees. The ranch sits atop some of the most valuable real estate in the world. It is the second-largest gold producing region on earth.
Julie Fishel, a lawyer and an activist who has volunteered to help Dann, considers this case one of the biggest "land swindles" in modern history.
Fishel, of the Western Shoshone defence project, told Al Jazeera: "They are offering the Shoshone people approximately 15 cents an acre. And at the same time they then turned around and were waiting to open up the same land for privatisation for multinational corporate interest."
Dann says multi-national corporations are profiting at the cost of the environment But it is estimated that the land may be worth a far greater fortune. Mount Tenabo is estimated to be worth $8 billion to the Gold Mining industries - but to the Western Shoshone, it is one of their most revered spiritual sites.
Ruby Valley is the site where the US government and the Western Shoshone signed a treaty of peace and friendship in 1863. It was the last agreement between the two. Since then, the land has been developed without the agreement of the Shoshone.
Everywhere you look, corporate activity is growing in Nevada. Examples of this development are water and geothermal projects and an open-pit gold-mine. Such projects could cause damage to the environment.
The US government is now offering every Western Shoshone $20,000 as a final settlement. But many, like Raymond Yowell, one of the elders and a cousin of Carrie Dann, have refused to take the offer.
Yowell, chief of the Western Shoshone national council, told Al Jazeera: "The mother earth is not for sale and that's what I stand on. I will not accept it if it's a million dollars. If it's 20 million I will not accept it."
Not all the Western Shoshone agree. Some just want to take the money and move on. Diana Bukcner, chairwoman of Ely Shoshone Tribe, said: "This has been a dream. The Indian money they called it so many years ago. We're not going to get the land back. That's not going to happen."
However, some members of the next generation do not agree with Bukner and see accepting compensation from the government as turning their back on history and their roots.
Yowell said: "We're giving up a lot more than just 20 grand. You know that's just a payout."
Robert Hager, a lawyer for the Western Shoshone, said that the US government has been awarding contracts in this area to major corporations He said: "Barrick, Newmont and Halliburton are major corporations that have ties to elected officials in terms of campaign contributions and, in terms of contracts, are major players in Western Shoshone territories."
The Shoshone have taken their protest to Bechtel's offices. A Bechtel spokesman dismissed the complaints of the Western Shoshone and called them misplaced. Jonathan Marshall, media relations manager at Bechtel, told Al Jazeera: "The real issues are land claims against the federal government. "Instead of taking their claims to Washington, they think it might be more politically opportune to make a demonstration outside of Bechtel."
After the US supreme court threw out Dann's case, she took her fight to the United Nations in Geneva where she won a moral victory. The UN told the US to stop all actions against the Western Shoshone people and uphold their rights. It may not change anything. But Dann's faith is still strong.
"I'm willing to stand up for the future generations of our people," she said.
On Alcatraz, American Indians and Palestinians Offer Thanks
Thursday, before the first light of dawn, Indigenous Peoples from the Americas, in solidarity with Palestinians, African Americans and others struggling against oppression, climbed the hill once again to offer prayers at sunrise on Alcatraz Island.
With the first streaks of dawn, the Dry Creek Pomo Traditional Dancers greeted the day, as about 3,000 people gathered to remember those who have passed on in the struggle for Indigenous rights and called for solidarity in resistance against colonialism and injustice.
"The strongest prayers are given to the morning star at this time of day", said Bill Means, co-founder of the International Indian Treaty Council. IITC and American Indian Contemporary Arts hosted the 32nd annual Alcatraz island Sunrise Gathering.
Means asked for prayers for the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, which is now being considered by the United Nations. Pointing out that the Declaration is the result of 22 years of efforts, Means said there are 400 million Indigenous Peoples around the world and 100 million live in this hemisphere.
"It is now before the United Nations. This is the minimal standard for human rights", Means said. "Some of the purest resources and water are on our land."
Means began by remembering the nineteen Moqui Hopi who were taken from their homes on the mesas of Arizona and imprisoned at Alcatraz in 1895 for refusing to send their children to government boarding schools.
"We thank each and every one of you for helping turn a prison into a sacred site", he told those gathered.
Stressing the importance of human rights for the original peoples living along the world's borders, Means pointed out that Indigenous Peoples and Palestinians both live with imposed borders.
Means introduced the Palestinian performers, Al-Juthoor (The Roots) Arabic Folkloric Dancers.
"We are here to show solidarity with our Indigenous Peoples", said Wael, Palestinian member of the group.
Munyiga Lumumba of the All-African Peoples Revolutionary Party attracted high praise from the crowd when he said, "We are fighting against the common devil - George Bush."
Lumumba thanked Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez for his recent words.
"He said it so elegantly, 'Bush is the Devil!"
"Bush is not our president," Lumumba told the crowd.
Welcoming Chavez to return, Lumumba said New York does not belong to George Bush; New York belongs to the Iroquois and other Indigenous Peoples.
Lumumba said Chavez, too, has Indigenous blood, while Bush represents the colonialism of the system oppressing the people for the past 500 years.
People around the world are now marching in solidarity with Indian people, he said. Praising the inspiration of the virtue of patience shown by Indian people, Lumumba said, "Patience is a virtue of a revolution.
"We want to express our gratitude for all Indigenous Peoples."
Means, remembering those who have given their lives in the struggle for Indian rights, said, "This struggle does not come without a cost."
Among the speakers was one from Ireland who called for justice for Leonard Peltier. Another urged prayer and support for the ongoing struggle for human rights in Oaxaca, Mexico. In Spanish and English, the song,
"Walking Toward the Sun", was offered for the resistance movement in Oaxaca, Chiapas and throughout the Americas. The Traditional Azteca Danzantes offered a powerful dance tribute.
Means remembered Richard Oakes, leader of the occupation of Alcatraz in November of 1969; Ingrid Washinawatok, IITC member killed in Colombia and Mickey Gimmell, of the Pit River and Wintu Nations and IITC board member, and a long list of others, beginning with Mad Bear Anderson, who spent their lives in service and sacrifice.
Jimbo Simmons, Choctaw, member of the staff of the International Indian Treaty Council in San Francisco, said the sunrise prayer service on Alcatraz Island was revived in 1974, after the Lakota stand at Wounded Knee, S.D., and is now held annually.
Simmons said the National Park Service on Alcatraz Island has recognized the stand taken here by Indians of All Tribes and the outcome. On the National Park Service website, there is a tribute to "We hold the Rock."
"The success or failure of the occupation should not be judged by whether the demands of the occupiers were realized. The underlying goals of the Indians on Alcatraz were to awaken the American public to the reality of the plight of the first Americans and to assert the need for Indian self-determination. As a result of the occupation, either directly or indirectly, the official government policy of termination of Indian tribes was ended and a policy of Indian self-determination became the official U.S. government policy.
"During the period the occupiers were on Alcatraz Island, President Nixon returned Blue Lake and 48,000 acres of land to the Taos Indians. Occupied lands near Davis, California, would become home to a Native American university. The occupation of Bureau of Indian Affairs offices in Washington, D.C. would lead to the hiring of Native American's to work in the federal agency that had such a great effect on their lives.
"Alcatraz may have been lost, but the occupation gave birth to a political movement which continues to today."
On this day, while Americans were celebrating Thanksgiving, American Indians and those in solidarity with them, rose at 2 or 3 a.m., and crossed the bay on ferryboats beginning at 4:30 a.m. The thousands who came received the gift of blessings and the beauty of the sunrise, joined by a chorus of seagulls. Following the ceremony, the Oakland Intertribal Indian Center served turkey and all the trimmings.
The International Indian Treaty Council said Alcatraz, "The ROCK," is a symbol of resistance and self-determination for Indigenous Peoples of North America since the take-over of Alcatraz Island in November 1969 by Indian youths and students, led by San Francisco State University activist Richard Oakes. Mickey Gemmill, John White Fox, Lenny Foster and many others were with Oakes.
"Alcatraz continues to call us back for spiritual and revolutionary inspiration and to pray for unity and strength among Native American communities, our friends and supporters", IITC said.
"This year is a special commemoration and tribute to our good friend, brother in struggle, land and fishing rights leader, member of Pitt River and Wintu Nations of Northern California, IITC Board of Directors member and former Tribal Chairman Mickey Gimmell.
"He will be missed but not forgotten. A more recent passing is that of John White Fox, a student, activist, photographer, and veteran of Wounded Knee, Alcatraz and the Longest Walk. His spirit and courage will be long remembered."
The International Indian Treaty Council said this day, the last Thursday in November, was a day to remember truth, but not pitiful alien pilgrims.
"The 2006 gathering at Alcatraz Island brings us all back to what America talks about during this time each year when immigrant, undocumented, pitiful, illegal alien pilgrims and Indians sat down together in peace to praise another season of Thanksgiving. Nothing can be further from the truth."
Brenda Norrell U.N. OBSERVER & International Report
Please also see:
Thanksgiving Day 2006 http://www.unobserver.com/index.php?pagina=layout5.php&id=2851&blz=1
International Indian Treaty Council and American Indian Contemporary
Presents the 32nd Annual Alcatraz Island Sunrise Gathering
"American Indian Thanksgiving Day" November 23rd, 2006
Good news - spiritual areas gaining ground.
Historic apology over sacred site
PG&E will remove a treatment plant on desert land Indians see as a path to the afterlife.
By Marc Lifsher
November 10, 2006
SACRAMENTO - The top executive of California's biggest utility Thursday apologized to an Arizona Indian tribe, promising to atone for the company's desecration of a sacred site the tribe considers a portal to the afterlife.
Chief Executive Thomas King said Pacific Gas & Electric Co. "regrets the spiritual consequences to the tribe" when it built a $15-million water treatment plant in the Mojave Desert, west of the California-Arizona border.
The site known as Topock Maze once covered more than 50 acres of sage-dotted desert. There on a bluff above the Colorado River, an ancient pattern of lines inscribed on the desert floor marks the pathway to heaven for Indians who live nearby.
On Thursday, at a historic gathering, tribal members, other Native Americans, state officials and utility executives announced they had reached an unprecedented agreement.
The Indians dropped their lawsuit against the utility, and PG&E apologized and said it should have paid closer attention to the Indians' spiritual beliefs before building the plant. It promised to be more sensitive and to relocate the plant eventually away from the maze.
Protecting the maze is crucial to the survival of the 1,100-person Fort Mojave Indian tribe, tribal Chairwoman Nora McDowell told the crowd. "We have a responsibility not only to the past and present but to the future," she said. "It wasn't easy getting a corporation to understand, to recognize and to accept this."
Attorneys for the tribe, guests at the ceremony and even PG&E called the agreement and the utility's apology a first. Company spokesman Jon Tremayne said he could not recall PG&E ever making an apology of "that magnitude."
Alison Harvey, director of the California Tribal Business Alliance, said she was struck by "the incredibly touching display on both sides" and "the fact that the PG&E executive officer was prepared to come forward and participate in that way."
A clash of beliefs
The tribe, whose reservation covers parts of Arizona and Nevada near Needles, Calif., considers the ancient pattern of lines as the destination of a soul's lifetime journey.
But that belief clashed with PG&E and state environmental regulators in the last decade as they moved to address problems in the area caused by a massive plume of polluted groundwater under a natural gas compressor station.
Fearing the plume could contaminate the Colorado River and endanger drinking water supplies for 22 million people in Southern California and Arizona, the state and utility pressed ahead with plans despite the Indians' concern.
In early 2004, the state and the company began installing test wells and pollution control equipment in the area of the maze without consulting the tribe. Work on the plant began in late 2004, and it began operating in July 2005.
The tribe sued in Sacramento County Superior Court, claiming San Francisco-based PG&E and the California Department of Toxic Substances Control violated state environmental laws by not exploring alternatives to building a 7,000-square-foot treatment plant.
The legal battle ended Thursday with apologies from PG&E and tears of joy from tribal leaders. CEO King and the Schwarzenegger administration's top toxics regulator joined Chairwoman McDowell to announce a settlement.
More than a dozen women in full skirts and colorful shawls danced and chanted as an Indian elder purified the event with smoke from burning sage and an eagle feather.
The agreement calls for no payment of damages. It commits PG&E to remove the treatment plant as part of a final plan to clean up groundwater tainted by hexavalent chromium - the same toxin found under a similar PG&E facility in Hinkley, Calif., made famous by the film "Erin Brockovich."
The legal settlement also deeds ownership of the maze to the tribe and pledges that the Indians will be consulted before doing any new engineering work.
The existing plant will remain in operation, treating polluted water, until a replacement can be built away from the maze.
The accord - signed by the tribe, PG&E and the state - required the utility to make a "public statement" that it "regrets our failure to sufficiently understand the tribe's belief, and apologizes."
The comments by PG&E's King at the ceremony, however, were "truly from the heart" and were "deeper than just a press conference," company spokesman Tremayne said.
The words of state Toxic Substances Control Director Maureen Gorsen also went far beyond the legal boilerplate spelled out in the settlement agreement.
"This is a change in the way we do business," Gorsen said in an interview. "It's the left brain and right brain and the heart working together instead of just being an engineering decision."
< Gorsen called the agreement a model for other states and the federal government in "learning how to cooperate with the tribes." The agreement allows the two sides to collaborate to protect the river from potential contamination without doing harm to the Fort Mojave's culture and spiritual well-being.
The project, which PG&E said had cost "tens of millions of dollars" since 1998, is needed to treat at least 198 million gallons of water laced with hexavalent chromium that the utility dumped into the ground from 1951 to 1969.
The chemical compound, a known carcinogen, was used to prevent corrosion and retard the growth of mold in a cooling tower at a compressor station that pushes natural gas through a major pipeline to Southern California.
At least one monitoring well has found concentrations of hexavalent chromium only 60 feet from the Colorado River. Both the state and PG&E, however, stressed that the treatment plant was pulling the plume back from the river and that no toxins had been detected in the Colorado.
< Tribal attorneys were pleased with Thursday's announcement. "This is a recognition that these places are worthy of respect and protection," said Courtney Coyle, who specializes in cases involving Native American sacred sites.
Coyle noted that the settlement of the Fort Mojave lawsuit was the latest in a series of legal victories for Indians.
Years battling in courts and in the media are starting to pay off for the tribes, said Christopher McLeod, a Santa Cruz County filmmaker and an activist for protecting sacred sites.
"The portal to the afterlife is a very serious place and has been that way for thousands of years," he said.
"It's historic that PG&E would acknowledge that and do the right thing."
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