For a Future that Won’t Destroy Life on Earth, Look to the Global Indigenous Uprising
Idle No More is the latest incarnation of an age-old movement for life that doesn't depend on infinite extraction and growth. Now, armed with Twitter and Facebook, once-isolated groups from Canada to South America are exchanging resources and support like never before.
“When we’re at home, we feel really isolated,” says Laboucan-Massimo, who has spent her adult life defending her people’s land from an industry that has rendered it increasingly polluted and impoverished. The Lubicon are fighting a hard battle, but their story—of resource extraction, of poverty and isolation, and of enduring resistance—is one that echoes in indigenous communities around the world. Today, Laboucan-Massimo and others like her are vanguards of a network of indigenous movements that is increasingly global, relevant—and powerful.
This power manifests in movements like Idle No More, which swept Canada last December and ignited a wave of solidarity on nearly every continent. Laboucan-Massimo was amazed—and hopeful. Triggered initially by legislation that eroded treaty rights and removed protection for almost all of Canada’s rivers—clearing the way for unprecedented fossil fuel extraction—Idle No More drew thousands into the streets. In a curious blend of ancient and high-tech, images of indigenous protesters in traditional regalia popped up on news feeds all over the world.
A history of resistance
To outsiders, it might seem that Idle No More materialized spontaneously, that it sprang into being fully formed. It builds, however, on a long history of resistance to colonialism that began when Europeans first washed up on these shores. Now, armed with Twitter and Facebook, once-isolated movements from Canada to South America are exchanging knowledge, resources, and support like never before.
"When you destroy the earth, you destroy yourself,” says Melina Laboucan-Massimo. This is “the common thread in indigenous people all over the world.”
Idle No More is one of what Subcomandante Marcos, the masked prophet of the Mexican Zapatistas, called “pockets of resistance,” which are “as numerous as the forms of resistance themselves.” The Zapatistas are part of a wave of indigenous organizing that crested in South America in the 1990s, coinciding with the 500th anniversary of European conquest—most effectively in Bolivia, Ecuador, and Mexico. Certain threads connect what might otherwise be isolated uprisings: They’re largely nonviolent, structurally decentralized, they seek common cause with non-natives, and they are deeply, spiritually rooted in the land.
The connections among indigenous organizers have strengthened through both a shared colonial history and a shared threat—namely, the neoliberal economic policies of deregulation, privatization, and social spending cuts exemplified by the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) and the World Trade Organization. Indigenous organizers see these agreements as nothing more than the old colonial scramble for wealth at the expense of the natives. In a 1997 piece in Le Monde Diplomatique, Marcos called neoliberalism “the totalitarian extension of the logic of the finance markets to all aspects of life,” resulting in “the exclusion of all persons who are of no use to the new economy.” Many indigenous leaders charge that the policies implemented through organizations like the World Bank and the IMF prioritize corporations over communities and further concentrate power in the hands of a few.
Uprising in Ecuador
The mid-1990s saw a massive expansion of such policies—and with it, an expansion of resistance, particularly in countries with significant indigenous populations. In 1990, CONAIE, the Confederation of Indigenous Nationalities of Ecuador, staged a massive, nonviolent levantamiento—an uprising—flooding the streets of Quito, blocking roads and effectively shutting down the country. Entire families walked for days to reach the capital to demand land rights, fair prices for agrarian goods, and recognition of Ecuador as a plurinational state, made up of multiple, equally legitimate nations. In the end it forced renegotiation of policy and created unprecedented indigenous representation in government; many hailed CONAIE’s success as a model for organizing everywhere.
CONAIE’s slogan, “Nothing just for Indians,” invited participation from non-indigenous allies around larger questions of inequality and political representation, creating a political space that was big and inclusive enough for everyone. Dr. Maria Elena Garcia, who studies these movements at the University of Washington, says that non-indigenous support has been “crucial” for success across the board. In the case of CONAIE, she says, there came a tipping point when “most Ecuadorians … said, ‘Enough. This organization is speaking for us.’”
The Zapatista Army
Meanwhile, in Mexico, the Zapatista movement was busy building a different kind of revolution. On January 1, 1994, the Zapatista Army took its place on the international stage. It was day one of NAFTA, which Subcomandante Marcos called “a death sentence to the indigenous ethnicities of Mexico.”
More than any other movement, they linked local issues of cultural marginalization, racism, and inequality to global economic systems and prophesied a new movement of resistance. The media-savvy revolutionaries used their most potent weapon—words—and the still-new Internet to advocate a new world built on diversity as the basis for ecological and political survival. Transnational from the beginning, the Zapatistas made common cause with “pockets of resistance” everywhere. Then, a curious change occurred: for nearly 10 years following their initial insurgency, the Zapatistas maintained a self-imposed silence. The world heard little from Marcos, but the autonomous communities in Chiapas were very much alive. They had turned inward, building independent governments, schools, and clinics. As journalist and author Naomi Klein observed, “These free spaces, born of reclaimed land, communal agriculture, resistance to privatization, will eventually create counter-powers to the state simply by existing as alternatives.” Embodying, here and now, the society they seek to create is a powerful manifesto; for those who cared to listen, their silence spoke volumes.
Victory in Bolivia
Most of these movements have used nonviolent tactics, including blockades, occupations of public space, and mass marches—combined with traditional political work—to varying degrees of success. In Bolivia these tactics yielded an extraordinary outcome: the election of Evo Morales, in 2005, as Bolivia’s first indigenous head of state. Five years later, Morales convened 30,000 international delegates for the World People’s Conference on Climate Change and the Rights of Mother Earth. A response to the repeated failure of international climate negotiations, the gathering was rooted in an indigenous worldview that recognized Mother Earth as a living being, entitled to her own inalienable rights. The resulting declaration placed blame unequivocally on the capitalist system that has “imposed on us a logic of competition, progress, and limitless growth.” This unrestrained growth, the declaration says, transforms “everything into commodities: water, earth, the human genome, ancestral cultures, biodiversity, justice, ethics, the rights of peoples, and life itself.” Significantly, the declaration also extended the analysis of colonialism to include climate change—calling for “decolonization of the atmosphere”—but it rejected market-based solutions like carbon trading. It’s a holistic analysis that links colonialism, climate change, and capital, a manifesto for what has come to be called “climate justice.”
Idle No More
Fast forward to December 2012, and two things happened: The Zapatistas staged simultaneous marches in five cities, marking a resurgence of their public activism. Anywhere from 10,000–50,000 masked marchers filled the streets in complete silence. The march was timed to coincide with the end of the Mayan calendar—and the beginning of a new, more hopeful era—and demonstrated the Zapatistas’ commitment to the indigenous cosmology of their ancestors. That same month, a continent away, Idle No More emerged on the scene. While it began as a reaction to two specific bills in Parliament, it has gained strength and momentum in opposition to the network of proposed pipelines that will crisscross North America, pumping tar sands oil from Alberta to refineries and ports in Canada and the U.S. These pipelines will cross national, tribal, state, and ethnic boundaries and raise a multitude of issues—including water quality, land rights, and climate change. The campaign to stop their construction is already unifying natives and non-natives in unprecedented ways. Dr. Garcia, whose own ancestors are indigenous, believes that indigenous movements offer something vital: hope, and what she calls “the importance of the imaginary. Of imagining a different world—imagining a different way of being in the world.” “We’re a land-based people, but it goes further than that. It’s a worldview. When you destroy the earth, you destroy yourself,” says Melina Laboucan-Massimo. This is “the common thread in indigenous people all over the world.”
The climate crisis is spinning out of control, and the gap between the rich and poor continues grow unabated. It’s time to let the radical uncertainty of this moment enlarge our sense of possibility. It is this thread that goes to the heart of our global ecological crisis. While indigenous cultures differ widely from one another, what they collectively present is an alternative relationship—to the earth, to its resources, and to each other—a relationship based not on domination but on reciprocity. Any movement that seeks to create deep, lasting social change—to address not only climate change but endemic racism and social inequality—must confront our colonial identity and, by extension, this broken relationship. Laboucan-Massimo has spent a great deal of time abroad, studying indigenous movements from Latin America to New Zealand and Australia, feeling the full weight of their shared history under colonialism. These days, though, she’s more likely to be on the road, educating, organizing, and building solidarity among natives and non-natives. It was understanding the connections between movements, she says, that gave her “all the more fervor to come back and continue to do the work here.” Recently, she traveled from Alberta to the National Mall in Washington, D.C., where she and her elders stood at the forefront of the largest climate change rally in history. And she’ll keep organizing, armed with a smartphone, supported by a growing network of allies from Idle No More and beyond, connected in every possible way to the rest of the world.
(*) Kristin Moe wrote this article for Love and the Apocalypse, the Summer 2013 issue of YES! Magazine. Kristin is a writer, farmer, and graduate of the Salt Institute for Documentary Studies. She writes about climate justice, grassroots movements, and social change.
Naomi Klein speaks with writer, spoken-word artist, and indigenous academic Leanne Betasamosake Simpson about “extractivism,” why it’s important to talk about memories of the land, and what’s next for Idle No More.
Western society has found it necessary to create specific ‘animal rights’ as a response to its treatment of animals, while most indigenous peoples have always been aware of the fact that animals, like humans, are sentient beings which should be respected.
Many animal rights movements inherently separate animals from humans and see animals as scarce resources which need protection and management, while many indigenous people will argue that animals and humans cannot be separated and it is their treatment which affects their presence.
Such indigenous groups will argue that in the hunt, an animal will only offer you its body as a gift if the correct treatment has been given to them, while western society and animal rights groups see hunting as a purely violent, irrational and ‘primitive’ practice.
Unfortunately, many indigenous voices remain unheard or are discarded as ‘un-scientific’ and thus worthless, and this means that it is often outside policy-makers, who have little, if any, understanding of their culture that make decisions concerning hunting practices.
An Insidious Threat to Tropical Forests: Over-Hunting Endangers Tree Species in Asia and Africa
04. April 2013
Increased hunting and poaching in our world’s rainforests has decimated many mammal and bird populations. According to two new studies, the loss of these important seed-dispersers is imperiling the very nature of rainforests. Read more below.
A fruit falls to the floor in a rainforest. It waits. And waits. Inside the fruit is a seed, and like most seeds in tropical forests, this one needs an animal—a good-sized animal—to move it to a new place where it can germinate and grow. But it may be waiting in vain. Hunting and poaching has decimated many mammal and bird populations across the tropics, and according to two new studies the loss of these important seed-disperser are imperiling the very nature of rainforests.
AFRICAN UNION COMES OUT IN SUPPORT OF OGIEK LAND RIGHTS
The Ogiek, the meanwhile world-famous honey-hunters of the Mau forest in Kenya, booked another success in their struggle for survival and the rights to their forest homeland.
The African Court of Human and People’s Rights of the African Union (AU), following the line of arguments presented by the African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights, ordered the Government of the Republic of Kenya to immediately halt any eviction of Ogiek from their ancestral forests, which the Ogiek had protected since times immemorial. It were the Ogiek who preserved the old growth forest of indigenous trees, resisted against the colonial plantations of non-indigenous species and thereby maintained the capacity of the Mau Forest Range as one of the five major water towers of Kenya until today.
In their struggle for recognition, natural forest- and watershed-protection and the rights to their territory ECOTERRA Intl. stood since 1992 besides the Ogiek, one of the five aboriginal peoples of Kenya (see https://www.ogiek.org).
The Ogiek had received their recognition as a people of Kenya only during the recent process leading to the new constitution. The subsequently established Mau Task Force, implemented by the Office of the Prime Minister, had clearly reported not only on the injustices against the Ogiek from the times when the colonial government – imposed by Britain – had robbed and transformed the Ogiek’s forests into governmental estates, but also listed the land grabbing by outsiders – including former state president Daniel arap Moi – and other issues of indigenous peoples’ rights, which had been so far unresolved.
Baltimore - For the eighth straight year, Venezuela's state oil company is donating free heating oil to hundreds of thousands of needy Americans.
The CITGO-Venezuela Heating Oil Program has helped more than 1.7 million Americans in 25 states and the District of Columbia keep warm since it was launched back in 2005. The program is a partnership between the Venezuelan state oil company Petróleos de Venezuela, S.A. (PDVSA), its subsidiary CITGO and Citizens Energy Corporation, a nonprofit organization founded by former US Rep. Joseph P. Kennedy II that provides discounted and free home heating services and supplies to needy households in the United States and abroad. It has been supported from the beginning by Venezuelan President Hugo Chávez.
In 2005, a pair of devastating hurricanes, Katrina and Rita, led to dwindling oil supplies and skyrocketing fuel costs. Some of the poorest and most vulnerable Americans, including many elderly people on fixed incomes, found themselves having to choose between heating their homes or providing food, clothing or medicine for themselves and their families.
"The shaping of the will of Congress and the choosing of the American president has become a privilege reserved to the country's equestrian classes, a.k.a. the 20 percent of the population that holds 93 percent of the wealth, the happy few who run the corporations and the banks, own and operate the news and entertainment media, compose the laws and govern the universities, control the philanthropic foundations, the policy institutes, the casinos, and the sports arenas." -- Journalist Lewis Lapham
The pomp and circumstance of the presidential inauguration has died down. Members of Congress have taken their seats on Capitol Hill, and Barack Obama has reclaimed his seat in the White House. The circus of the presidential election has become a faint memory. The long months of debates, rallies, and political advertisements have slipped from our consciousness. Now we are left with the feeling that nothing has really changed, nor will it.
This is not by accident. The media circus leading up to the elections, the name calling in the halls of Congress, the vitriol and barbs traded back and forth among people who are supposed to be working together to improve the country, are all components of the game set up by those who run the show. The movers and shakers behind these engaging, but ultimately trite, political exercises are the elite, the so-called upper class, who benefit from the status quo.
Take the only tree that’s left,
Stuff it up the hole in your culture.
Retreat to the desert, and fight.
—D. H. Lawrence
THE HANDLE, which varies in length according to the height of its user, and in some cases is made by that user to his or her specifications, is like most of the other parts of the tool in that it has a name and thus a character of its own. I call it the snath, as do most of us in the UK, though variations include the snathe, the snaithe, the snead, and the sned. Onto the snath are attached two hand grips, adjusted for the height of the user. On the bottom of the snath is a small hole, a rubberized protector, and a metal D-ring with two hex sockets. Into this little assemblage slides the tang of the blade.
In todays world, the physical demand on this earth has become a potential environmental hazard. Deforestation, one of these physical demands, has been a growing problem for over the last several decades, especially in the Amazon rainforest. In the Amazon, trees are being cleared for numerous reasons: some get turned into toilet paper, timber for houses, as a fuel supply, the list of what we use wood for goes on and on. But although wood is essential for many of our human needs in todays world, it serves a far greater purpose than to be used as means to an anthropogenic end. The Amazon sequesters, or traps, 2 billions tons of carbon each year. All trees are important in this absorption process, most notably the temperate and tropical rain forests around the world.
If any human condition or domain of human activity, any potential “crisis,” or any particle or parcel of the Earth, sea, or sky has been overlooked by the UN, one can be sure the omission will soon be corrected, and that a new UN commission, agency, and/or treaty will soon be initiated to claim responsibility and jurisdiction over it.
U.S. drug giant Pfizer (NYSE: PFE) hired investigators to dig up dirt on Nigeria’s former attorney general in order to stop an investigation over a controversial drug trial the company conducted which led to the deaths of eleven children, according to cables released by WikiLeaks.
The cable's content was reported by the British newspaper The Guardian.
Pfizer was sued by the Nigerian state and federal authorities, who claimed that children were harmed by a new antibiotic, Trovan, used during the trial, which took place in the middle of a meningitis epidemic in Kano, a state in the north of Nigeria in 1996.
In May 2009, Pfizer and Kano agreed to a $75 million settlement over the meningitis drug study which also led to some Nigerian children allegedly suffering paralysis or slurred speech.
However, a cable from the U.S. embassy from April 2009 suggests that Pfizer did not want to pay more to settle charges brought by the federal government of Nigeria. Apparently, Pfizer's country manager in Nigeria, Enrico Liggeri, met with U.S. officials in embassy in Abuja on Apr. 9 2009 and stated that the company hired investigators to uncover “corruption links” to federal attorney general Michael Aondoakaa in order to pressure him to drop further legal action against the company.
Hadza - one of the oldest humanities and cultures in East Africa
14. September 2012
The Hadza are a unique population of hunter-gatherers living in the Lake Eyasi region of northern Tanzania. Their way of life dates back millennia, living off of the land by hunting wild game, collecting wild plants and honey, and sleeping in simple grass huts in the dry African savannah.
The Hadza are familiar with the outside world of towns and technology, but while they are gracious neighbors most have chosen to follow the life ways of their parents and grandparents, keeping their vibrant and fascinating own culture alive.
The Hadza are a culturally, linguistically, and genetically distinct population of approximately 1000-1500 individuals, living around Lake Eyasi, in northern Tanzania.
The art of propaganda has been nothing less than brilliant. The deceit is so thick – you need a knife to cut through it. The corruption and greed so deep you need wings to stay above it and thigh high boots to wade through it. An alluring tapestry of luminous lies, interwoven with finely textured deception and silk-like corruption – as smooth and seductive as freshly churned butter.
The pursuit of man’s mind by way of domination has been the greatest and most successful experiment – the manipulation of man’s mind has resulted in a massive erosion of empathy, which has allowed status quo “business as usual” to continue uninterrupted with little resistance. Capitalism effectively bred a contempt for our Earth that multiplied like a virus. The pollution of mind mutated into narcissism with inflicted self-hatred to form a suicidal Molotov cocktail. Those who have succumbed now hold hands in a circle and taunt the very planet that gives us life.
Our goal in this article is to remind readers what is unsettling about decolonization. Decolonization brings about the repatriation of Indigenous land and life; it is not a metaphor for other things we want to do to improve our societies and schools.
The easy adoption of decolonizing discourse by educational advocacy and scholarship, evidenced by the increasing number of calls to “decolonize our schools,” or use “decolonizing methods,” or, “decolonize student thinking”, turns decolonization into a metaphor.
As important as their goals may be, social justice, critical methodologies, or approaches that decenter settler perspectives have objectives that may be incommensurable with decolonization.
Because settler colonialism is built upon an entangled triad structure of settler-native-slave, the decolonial desires of white, non-white, immigrant, postcolonial, and oppressed people, can similarly be entangled in resettlement, reoccupation, and reinhabitation that actually further settler colonialism.
THERE’S a term biologists and economists use these days — ecosystem services — which refers to the many ways nature supports the human endeavor. Forests filter the water we drink, for example, and birds and bees pollinate crops, both of which have substantial economic as well as biological value.
If we fail to understand and take care of the natural world, it can cause a breakdown of these systems and come back to haunt us in ways we know little about. A critical example is a developing model of infectious disease that shows that most epidemics — AIDS, Ebola, West Nile, SARS, Lyme disease and hundreds more that have occurred over the last several decades — don’t just happen. They are a result of things people do to nature.
Disease, it turns out, is largely an environmental issue. Sixty percent of emerging infectious diseases that affect humans are zoonotic — they originate in animals. And more than two-thirds of those originate in wildlife.
An Important Forensic Concept for the 21st Century
By Paul Babiak, M.S., Ph.D.; Jorge Folino, M.D., Ph.D.; Jeffrey Hancock, Ph.D.; Robert D. Hare, Ph.D.; Matthew Logan, Ph.D., M.Ed.; Elizabeth Leon Mayer, Ph.D.; J. Reid Meloy, Ph.D.; Helinä Häkkänen-Nyholm, Ph.D.; Mary Ellen O’Toole, Ph.D.; Anthony Pinizzotto, Ph.D.; Stephen Porter, Ph.D.; Sharon Smith, Ph.D.; and Michael Woodworth, Ph.D. - 01. July 2012
Over the years, Hollywood has provided many examples of psychopaths. As a result, psychopaths often are identified as scary people who look frightening or have other off-putting characteristics. In reality, a psychopath can be anyone—a neighbor, coworker, or homeless person. Each of these seemingly harmless people may prey continually on others around them.
In the Censored News pick for the Best of the Best in 2011, Wikileaks claims first prize. Wikileaks exposed the US corporate schemes, espionage, promotion of mining and efforts globally to halt passage of the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples.
Wikileaks revealed extensive espionage of Indigenous Peoples, including the Mapuche and Mohawks, and Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez and Bolivian President Evo Morales, who ushered in a new Indigenous global rights campaign.
The release of the US diplomatic cables of the US State Department confirmed that the US feared the power of Indigenous Peoples, specifically their claims to their traditional territories, a right stated in the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples. Further, the Declaration states the right of free, prior and informed consent before development proceeds and protects intellectual and cultural property rights.
Here's the top six ways that the United States and Canada, as revealed by Wikileaks, worked against the rights of Indigenous Peoples, by engaging in espionage and the promotion of mining, while violating Indigenous autonomy, self determination and dignity.
1. The United States worked behind the scenes to fight the adoption of the Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples. In Ecuador, the US established a program to dissuade Ecuador from supporting the Declaration. In Iceland, the US Embassy said Iceland's support was an "impediment" to US/Iceland relations at the UN. In Canada, the US said the US and Canada agreed the Declaration was headed for a "train wreck."
2. The United States targeted and tracked Indigenous Peoples, community activists and leaders, especially in Chile, Peru and Ecuador. A cable reveals the US Embassy in Lima, Peru, identified Indigenous activists and tracked the involvement of Bolivian President Evo Morales, Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez, Bolivia Ambassador Pablo Solon, prominent Mapuche and Quechua activists and community leaders. President Chavez and President Morales were consistently watched, and their actions analyzed. Indigenous activists opposing the dirty Tar Sands were spied on, and other Indigenous activists in Vancouver, prior to the Olympics.
3. The United States was part of a coalition to promote mining and fight against Indigenous activists in Peru. A core group of diplomats from U.S., Canada, U.K., Australia, Switzerland and South Africa formed an alliance with mining companies to promote and protect mining interests globally. In other illegal corporate profiteering, Peru’s government secretly admitted that 70-90 percent of its mahogany exports were illegally felled, according to a US embassy cable revealed by Wikileaks. Lowe's and Home Depot sell the lumber.
4. Canada spied on Mohawk using illegal wiretaps. Before Wikileaks hit the headlines, it exposed in 2010 that Canada used unauthorized wiretaps on Mohawk.
Wikileaks: "During the preliminary inquiry to Shawn Brant's trial, it came out that the Ontario Provincial Police, headed by Commissioner Julian Fantino, had been using wiretaps on more than a dozen different Mohawks without a judge's authorization, an action almost unheard of recent history in Canada."
4. The United States and Canada tracked Mohawks. In one of the largest collections of cables released so far that targeted Native people and named names, the US Embassies in Montreal and Toronto detailed Mohawk activities at the border and in their communities.
5. The arrogant and insulting tone of the US Embassies and disrespect for Indigenous leaders is pervasive in US diplomatic cables. The US Embassy in Guatemala stated that President of Guatemala, Álvaro Colom, called Rigoberta Menchu a "fabrication" of an anthropologist and made other accusations. Menchu responded on a local radio station that Colom was a "liar."
6. The collection of DNA and other data, makes it clear that US Ambassadors are spies abroad. US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton states that the Intelligence Community relies on biographical information from US diplomats. In cables to Africa and Paraguay, Clinton asked US Embassy personnel to collect address books, e-mail passwords, fingerprints, iris scans and DNA.
“The intelligence community relies on State reporting officers for much of the biographical information collected worldwide," Clinton said in a cable on April 16, 2009. Clinton said the biographical data should be sent to the INR (Bureau of Intelligence and Research) for dissemination to the Intelligence Community.
Meanwhile, the USA was part of a five country team that supported mining as Indigenous Peoples were dying to protect their homeland.
The arrogance of the US and its cheerleading for corporate copper mining in Peru is obvious in two cables just released from Wikileaks. The diplomatic cables reveal the US promoting multi-national corporations, while targeting Indigenous activists and their supporters.
The cables reveal that a core group of diplomats formed an alliance with mining companies to promote and protect mining interests globally. The diplomats were from the U.S., Canada, U.K., Australia, Switzerland and South Africa.