Indigenous Chileans Defend their Land against Loggers with Radical Tactics

A Mapuche gathering in Ercilla, Chile. The Mapuche are protesting the presence of agricultural firms on their land. Photograph: Rodrigo Abd/AP

Chile’s Mapuche people are resorting to increasingly extreme tactics to reclaim their ancestral land from exploitive industries

It is late autumn in southern Chile, and in the region of Araucanía, the leaves have turned copper and gold. But on the road to the mist-shrouded town of Lumaco, the hills are covered with rows of charred pines.

“We burned these forests as an act of legitimate resistance against the extractive industries that have oppressed the Mapuche people,” says Hector Llaitul. “If we make their business unprofitable they move on, allowing us to recover our devastated lands and rebuild our world.”

This year has already turned out to have been a particularly combustible one in a decade of rising attacks by indigenous Mapuche activists against the Chilean state and big business. Over several few days in April, crops were burned, roads were blocked and 16 forestry vehicles were set ablaze outside of the regional capital, Temuco.

Such actions have become more and more common. According to statistics published by a local business association, there were 43 attacks in the region in 2017, mainly arson attacks against logging firms.

“Anyone who hasn’t been in the Chilean forest doesn’t know this planet,” wrote Pablo Neruda, who grew up in the region – and whose verse was inspired by its wild landscapes, and the indomitable spirit of its native people who were only conquered after Chilean military campaigns in the late 19th century.

Today, however, much of the west of the region would be unrecognizable to Chile’s finest poet. In the last 50 years, monoculture pine and eucalyptus plantations have replaced the biodiversity of the original forests.

Meanwhile, Mapuche groups have become increasingly aggressive in their efforts to reclaim ancestral lands and gain political autonomy. Llaitul is a spokesman for the Coordinadora Arauco-Malleco (CAM), an anti-capitalist organization that uses direct action and sabotage tactics.

The group has also demanded the release of the shaman Celestino Cordova, who was convicted in February 2014 for an arson attack on a farmhouse north of Temuco that resulted in the deaths of an elderly couple, Werner Luchsinger and Vivianne Mackay.

Hector Llaitul, an indigenous activist. Photograph: Mat Youkee for the Guardian

Cordova began a hunger strike in January after officials denied his request to complete a religious ceremony outside of the prison. He temporarily suspended the strike in April to negotiate.

“The government practices and respects Catholicism but it discriminates against Mapuche spiritual beliefs,” he said from a hospital bed, guarded by police officers. “The Mapuche have been impoverished spiritually, culturally and economically by Chile. I’m willing to sacrifice my life for my people.”

But Cordova’s conviction in the high-profile Luchsinger-Mackay case has made it tougher to win public sympathy for his cause, said Nicolas Rojas Pedemonte, a professor at Alberto Hurtado University in Santiago and author of a new book on the Mapuche conflict.

“That case was an inflection point for the conflict,” he said. “It was the first fatal attack, it turned Chilean media against the Mapuche and was used by the state as a Trojan horse for a repressive response.”

Police presence has since been heavily increased in Araucanía leading to the militarization of the region and increasingly indiscriminate targeting of indigenous people, according to Rojas.

In January 2017, charges against several Mapuche – including Llaitul – were dropped after it was revealed that police had used manipulated WhatsApp messages as evidence in arson cases. “I don’t even use WhatsApp,” says Llaitul, brandishing a tiny Nokia.

The Luchsinger-Mackay case was also the first sign of a split in Mapuche activist ranks. A new more radical group – know as the Weichan Auka Mapu (the Struggle of the Rebel Territory, WAM) – emerged, adopting an explicitly anti-Chilean stance and the tactic of burning churches – most recently during the Pope’s January visit to the region.

Llaitul says the CAM rejects the targeting of individuals and that direct action against forestry projects is the first stage towards reclaiming the land for Mapuche settlements.

On a former timber reserve overlooking Lumaco, his vision is being put into action. The logging firm, Arauco, abandoned the project following repeated arson attacks and today, in a small clearing, a dozen young men and women are hammering timbers together on the construction of a house in the woods.

A Mapuche red, blue and green flag flaps from the apex.

The destructive results of a forest fire started by Mapuche radical groups. Photograph: Rodrigo Abd/AP

“When we recover lands we plant crops, breed animals and reconstruct our cultural world,” says Llaitul. “We will build houses but our first priority is a spiritual centre, the rewe.”

The rightwing government of the current president, Sebastián Piñera, has a different vistion for the future of Araucanía, the region with the worst poverty and unemployment rates in the country.

Ministers visited Temuco in April to finalize plans for a major growth plan for the region, focusing on tourism, agriculture and energy investments and training programs to allow the 150,000 hectares of land turned over to Mapuche groups in recent years to return to production.

The plan, to be launched in August, is also expected to increase the purchase of private lands by the national indigenous development agency.

“People in Araucanía are calling out for peace and development. Over the years so much investment has been turned away due to security fears,” says Luis Mayol, the Santiago-appointed administrator of Araucanía. “Piñera won 63% of the vote in this region – the Mapuche people want growth like everyone else. However, there is a small number of terrorists with radical ideologies and the resources to generate fear.”

While the development plan aims to win the support of Araucanías indigenous groups, accompanying amendments to the anti-terrorism law aim to make it easier to convict arsonists under terrorism charges.

“Our current legislation is quite useless: too many violent acts are being processed as regular crimes,” says Mayol. “We need to bring our definition of terrorism in line with those of countries such as the UK and Spain. For me, the systematic burning of trucks and churches are terrorist acts.”

Back at the reclaimed timber plantation, Llaitul remains defiant as two young Mapuche lift roof rafters into place on the new construction. “When there was no Mapuche struggle, the government did nothing for us” he says. “We’re not asking for palliative measures or integration, we want territory and autonomy for the Mapuche nation.”

This article originally appeared in The Guardian

[SOURCE]

Kentucky Man Sentenced to 15 months in Federal Prison for Robbing Native American Graves

Gary Womack. WNKY.com

A Kentucky man described as a grave robber who plundered Native American burial sites will serve time in prison.

Gary Womack, 60, of Woodburn, was sentenced to 15 months in federal prison on Wednesday for violating a federal law that protects archaeological remains.

Womack pleaded guilty to three felony violations of the federal Archaeological Resources Protection Act (ARPA) in March, including trafficking in archaeological resources (Native American artifacts) from the western United States.

According to the Glasgow Daily Times, the case resulted from a three-year undercover investigation by the National Park Service, based upon allegations that Womack possessed human remains which originated from Mammoth Cave National Park.

A federal agent posed as someone interested in ancient artifact collections during meetings at Womack’s residence.

The investigation revealed Womack’s dealings in artifacts removed from the graves of Native Americans buried in caves and rock shelters in southcentral Kentucky and also burials from Ohio and Mississippi Rivers.

Mammoth Cave National Park

WKMS reports, Womack sold the undercover agent artifacts from a mound in Posey County, Indiana. Several people were prosecuted there in 1992 after digging into the mound. But prosecutors said Womack was able to purchase the artifacts as recently as 2015 in Warrick County, Indiana.

In sentencing, Judge Greg N. Stivers told Womack that he was disturbed the defendant had chosen to dig the graves of the ancestors of Native Americans for profit and had done so while being fully aware of the laws he had chosen to violate.

A letter from Ben Barnes, Second Chief of the Shawnee Tribe, of Miami, Oklahoma, was made a part of the record and read at the sentencing hearing.

The letter said, in part: “The remains that are within the soils of our original homelands contains the hallowed remains of human beings, our ancestors. We would urge the court to send a message to all those what would desecrate a grave, that ARPA violators will be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law.”

All artifacts in the case have been recovered and will be repatriated to tribes.

West of Standing Rock, the Blackfeet Win their own Fight for Sacred Land

These sculptures can be found at the entry to the reservation near East Glacier. Credit: Martina Nolte/Creative Commons CC-by-sa-3.0 de

These sculptures can be found at the entry to the reservation near East Glacier. Credit: Martina Nolte/Creative Commons CC-by-sa-3.0 de

By Graison Dangor | PRI · Dec 12, 2016

As the Standing Rock Sioux celebrate halting, for now at least, the construction of the Dakota Access Pipeline, another Native American nation is also seeing a victory regarding its holy lands.

The federal government has now canceled 15 oil and gas leases on land revered by the Blackfeet Nation. The Badger-Two Medicine area includes 168,000 acres in Montana, southwest of the Blackfeet reservation and to the south of Glacier National Park.

The government’s recent move caps two years of intense negotiations among the Blackfeet, Secretary of the Interior Sally Jewell, US Sen. Jon Tester from Montana and Devon Energy — which owned the leases but had never drilled.

Blackfeet leaders consider these oil and gas leases, spread over 30,000 acres, to have been granted illegally in 1982.

“The federal government didn’t consult the tribe,” said Tyson Running Wolf, secretary of the Blackfeet Tribal Council. “They didn’t follow their own process on how to involve Blackfeet people on land that we still feel is owned by the Blackfeet themselves.

“We have documented historical data that we’ve been here for 10,000 years or longer.”

Badger-Two Medicine “includes a lot of our cultural, spiritual areas for the Blackfeet people,” Running Wolf said. He said a number of rivers are vulnerable to potential malfunctions of oil or gas equipment.

But despite the recent action by the federal government, the Blackfeet’s fight against development is not over. Running Wolf said two companies — the identities of which are unknown and being investigated by the tribe — continue to hold leases to develop an additional 11,000 acres of land.

It is just as important to stop those remaining leases as it was to cancel the first 15, he said. Until that happens, the whole area is still compromised, he added.

In the longer term, the Blackfeet want to have a larger say in decisions affecting the Badger-Two Medicine area, as co-managers of the land, said Running Wolf. Right now, the land is managed by the US Forest Service as part of the Helena-Lewis and Clark National Forest.

“We want to be sitting at the table,” Running Wolf said. “We would like to put back to the two most important things on the landscape and that’s the buffalo and the Blackfeet.”

This article is based on an interview that aired on PRI’s Living on Earth with Steve Curwood.

http://www.pri.org/stories/2016-12-12/west-standing-rock-blackfeet-win-their-own-fight-sacred-land

Memo: No Native American Artifacts or Remains Found at Dakota Access Pipeline Site

File photo of protesters of the Dakota Access Pipeline looking over a fence on top of a hill on the west side of the Missouri River at pipeline construction crews as they work on the other side of the river on Aug. 16, 2016. Christopher Juhn for MPR News File

File photo of protesters of the Dakota Access Pipeline looking over a fence on top of a hill on the west side of the Missouri River at pipeline construction crews as they work on the other side of the river on Aug. 16, 2016. Christopher Juhn for MPR News File

Draft Memo: No artifacts, remains found

The Associated Press · Sep 27, 2016

BISMARCK, N.D. (AP) — A North Dakota state inspection of an oil pipeline site has found no sign of the Native American artifacts or human remains that an American Indian Tribe says are present, the state’s chief archaeologist said in a draft memo.

The Standing Rock Sioux tribe had cited the potential for burial grounds and other artifacts as a major reason to lead protests that have stymied completion of the project.

Chief Archaeologist Paul Picha said in the memo first published Monday by conservative blogger Rob Port that seven state archeologists inspected the 1.3-mile section along the route of the $3.8 billion Dakota Access pipeline in southern North Dakota. The memo said only some animal teeth and bone fragments were found during the survey last week.

Historical Society spokeswoman Kim Jondahl confirmed the contents of the memo but said it was “a first draft of an internal summary.” She declined to say how the draft differed from later versions.

In early September, Standing Rock Sioux officials said crews bulldozed several sites of “significant cultural and historic value” on private land, which Dallas-based pipeline builder Energy Transfer Partners denies. It led to a clash between protesters and private security guards hired by the pipeline company. Law enforcement officials said four security guards and two guard dogs received medical treatment, while a tribal spokesman countered that six people were bitten by guard dogs and at least 30 people were pepper-sprayed.

The Morton County Sheriff’s Department is heading up the probe of the Sept. 3 incident at the construction site near the Standing Rock Indian Reservation.

In an incident on Sunday, Morton County Sheriff Kyle Kirchmeier says about 200 people confronted about 30 security guards at a construction site. The sheriff says all but three security guards left the construction site. The sheriff says law enforcement officers witnessed one of the security guards being carried by protesters for about 100 yards. The guard was treated for minor injuries by paramedics. No arrests were made.

Picha did not return telephone calls Monday about the memo. The state Historical Society and the Morton County Sheriff’s Department declined to release the memo, saying it was part of an ongoing investigation by law enforcement.

The clash between security guards and protesters on Sept. 3 came one day after the tribe filed court papers saying it found burials, rock piles called cairns and other sites of historic significance to Native Americans along the pipeline’s path.

Tribal preservation officer Tim Mentz said in court documents that the tribe was only recently allowed to survey private land, which is now owned by the pipeline company.

Standing Rock Sioux tribal members could not immediately be reached for comment Monday.

But Standing Rock Sioux Chairman David Archambault II has said previously that construction crews removed topsoil across an area about 150 feet wide stretching for 2 miles.

“This demolition is devastating,” Archambault said. “These grounds are the resting places of our ancestors. The ancient cairns and stone prayer rings there cannot be replaced. In one day, our sacred land has been turned into hollow ground.”

JAMES MacPHERSON

[SOURCE]

History: Oka Crisis Ends

When police were forced back in a firefight on July 11, 1990 which left one officer dead, Mohawk used a construction vehicle to crush and pile up the abandoned police vehicles into a formidable barrier blocking highway 344 through their community. Photo Credit: Paul Chiasson/Canadian Press

When police were forced back in a firefight on July 11, 1990 which left one officer dead, Mohawk used a construction vehicle to crush and pile up the abandoned police vehicles into a formidable barrier blocking highway 344 through their community. Photo Credit: Paul Chiasson/Canadian Press

Radio Canada International | By Marc Montgomery, Sep 26, 2016

It began with argument over land between a Mohawk reserve and the small town of Oka, about 60 kilometres north-west of Montreal.

The small area of land claimed by the Mohawk reserve of Kahnestake had been in dispute for centuries. The original land grant of 1717 by the governor of New France, granted the Catholic church trustee rights to the land for the Mohawk, but the church later modified the agreement giving itself ownership of the land.

In 1868, the Mohawk demanded the land back and when that was refused, they attacked the local Catholic seminary but were forced back by military intervention.

The church sold the land to developers in 1936 and closed the seminary. Later a members-only golf course was built on a portion of the land in spite of Mohawk protests.

In 1986, a Mohawk lawsuit laying claim to the land, a wooded area known as the Pines, and burial ground was rejected by the government on technical grounds.

The situation flared however in 1989, when the mayor of the town announced permission had been given to expand the golf course and develop a residential area on the land.  It should be noted that many Oka residents were opposed to this for environmental reasons, because as it was “member-only” golf club not benefitting townspeople, and because some felt it was indeed Mohawk land and knew the plan would cause tension.

The crisis began on July 11, 1990 when Mohawk in Kahnestake erected barriars blocking the highway north and access to the forest on the edge of Oka. Mohawk in Kahnawake blocked a bridge and highways in sympathy. The crisis ended on Sept 26, unresolved © google-mm

The crisis began on July 11, 1990 when Mohawk in Kahnestake erected barriars blocking the highway north and access to the forest on the edge of Oka. Mohawk in Kahnawake blocked a bridge and highways in sympathy. The crisis ended on Sept 26, unresolved

In any case, the mayor did not feel it necessary to discuss with the Mohawk about the plan. In protest some Mohawk blocked road access to the area.

The tensions blew up on July 11, 1990 when the Oka mayor asked the provincial police to intervene.   The Surete de Quebec (SQ) showed up with a tactical response unit, and dozens of officers. They attempted to break the blockade with tear gas and light explosive noise devices known as “flash-bangs”.

It became a confused fiasco, and instead of chasing the Mohawk away, a shooting battle broke out between police and about 30 armed Mohawk.

To this day no-one knows who fired the first shot, but a 15 minute gunbattle ensued. The shooting left police officer Cpl Marcel Lemay dead of a gunshot wound, although it has never been made clear which side the shot came from or who the shooter was.

Immediately after the fatal first shooting battle, police set up their own barrier down the hill from the Mohawk barrier where the two sides remained in a tense months-long standoff.

Immediately after the fatal first shooting battle, police set up their own barrier down the hill from the Mohawk barrier where the two sides remained in a tense months-long standoff.

The police retreated leaving several police cars and a large front end loader all of which the Mohawk used to reinforce the barricade. The police set up their own barricade near town, about a kilometre away.

As a result of the attack, the group of armed Mohawk swelled quickly to about 100, and then as the standoff continued, grew to several hundred as other aboriginal members arrived from elsewhere in the country and even from the US.

Sept 1, 1990: A Mohawk ’warrior* Ronald *lasagna* Cross, is involved in a stare-down with a Canadian solider of the Royal 22e Regiment. The incident lasted only several seconds, Cross later telling reporters, *I just wanna look at their faces before I kill ’em.*

Sept 1, 1990: A Mohawk ’warrior* Ronald *lasagna* Cross, is involved in a stare-down with a Canadian solider of the Royal 22e Regiment. The incident lasted only several seconds, Cross later telling reporters, *I just wanna look at their faces before I kill ’em.

In sympathy, other armed Mohawk from the Kawnewake reserve just across the river to the south of Montreal immediately blocked Montreal’s Mercier Bridge and two highways which serve many communities to the south east of Montreal such as Chateauguay. This caused huge traffic congestion and further inflamed the situation and caused bitter resentment among area non-natives. The RCMP federal force was called in but were ordered not to use force and ended up involved in riots as angry area residents demanded action to open the roads. Ten officers were injured.

Then Quebec premier Robert Bourassa requested military assistance and over 2,000 Quebec-based military personnel moved into the area.

They pushed the authorities barricade from 1.5 km from the Mohawk barricade, up to within metres. Eventually they pushed through all Mohawk barriers and surrounded the last holdout on Mohawk land.

Although there were several very tense moments and some scuffles during the weeks and months of standoff, no further gunfire was exchanged after the initial battle.

160926_js9xw_rci-m-clutier_sn635

The most famous photo of the crisis, a Saskatchewan native, Brad Larocque, and Pte Patrick Cloutier. (the *warrior* is often mis-identified as Ronald *Lasagna* Cross, who later was charged and spent time in jail for his part in the crisis. Shaney Komulainen/Canadian Press

On August 29, negotiations between the army and the Mohawk on the Mercier bridge ended that blockade and thereby ending a major bargaining chip in negotiations at Oka for the group occupying “the Pines” at Oka..

On September 26, after a very tense summer standoff , the last of the Mohawk “warriors”  surrendered, apparently burning some of their weapons.

The police took 26 men, and 22 women and children into custody.

In the following years, the federal government spent millions of dollars to buy land from non-natives to give a contiguous area to the Mohawk and years later bought another parcel of land so the Mohawk could expand their cemetery.

In one sense, the Mohawk did prevent development on their land.    However, the members-only golf course and “Pines” are still owned by Oka, although the current mayor says no development will take place there as long as he is mayor. The forest and golf course however is still part of an ongoing land-claims negotiation involving 673 sq.km.

The 78-day Oka crisis resulted in several books written by politicians, journalists, Mohawk, and others, as well as a number of documentary films.

Additional information- sources

http://www.rcinet.ca/en/2016/09/26/history-oka-crisis-ends/

North Dakota Pipeline Protest Turns Violent After Tribe’s Sacred Sites Destroyed

A Native American protester holds up his arms as he and other protesters are threatened by private security guards and guard dogs, at a work site for the Dakota Access Pipeline (DAPL) oil pipeline, near Cannonball, North Dakota, September 3, 2016. Hundreds of Native American protestors and their supporters, who fear the Dakota Access Pipeline will polluted their water, forced construction workers and security forces to retreat and work to stop. / AFP PHOTO / Robyn BECKROBYN BECK/AFP/Getty Images ROBYN BECK / AFP - Getty Images

A Native American protester holds up his arms as he and other protesters are threatened by private security guards and guard dogs, at a work site for the Dakota Access Pipeline (DAPL) oil pipeline, near Cannonball, North Dakota, September 3, 2016. / AFP PHOTO / Robyn BECKROBYN BECK/AFP/Getty Images ROBYN BECK / AFP – Getty Images

The Associated Press, Sept. 4, 2016

Standing Rock protesters confronted construction crews working on the Dakota Access pipeline on Saturday, after the demolition of American Indian burial and cultural sites.

BISMARCK, N.D. — A protest of a four-state, $3.8 billion oil pipeline turned violent after tribal officials say construction crews destroyed American Indian burial and cultural sites on private land in southern North Dakota.

Morton County Sheriff’s Office spokeswoman Donnell Preskey said four private security guards and two guard dogs were injured after several hundred protesters confronted construction crews Saturday afternoon at the site just outside the Standing Rock Sioux reservation. One of the security officers was taken to a Bismarck hospital for undisclosed injuries. The two guard dogs were taken to a Bismarck veterinary clinic, Preskey said.

Tribe spokesman Steve Sitting Bear said protesters reported that six people had been bitten by security dogs, including a young child. At least 30 people were pepper-sprayed, he said. Preskey said law enforcement authorities had no reports of protesters being injured.

There were no law enforcement personnel at the site when the incident occurred, Preskey said. The crowd dispersed when officers arrived and no one was arrested, she said.

The incident occurred within half a mile of an encampment where hundreds of people have gathered to join the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe’s protest of the oil pipeline that is slated to cross the Missouri River nearby.

The tribe is challenging the Army Corps of Engineers’ decision to grant permits for Dallas-based Energy Transfer Partners’ Dakota Access pipeline, which crosses the Dakotas and Iowa to Illinois, including near the reservation in southern North Dakota. A federal judge will rule before Sept. 9 whether construction can be halted on the Dakota Access pipeline.

Energy Transfer Partners did not return phone calls and emails from The Associated Press on Saturday seeking comment.

The tribe fears the project will disturb sacred sites and impact drinking water for thousands of tribal members on the Standing Rock Sioux Reservation and millions farther downstream.

The protest Saturday came one day after the tribe filed court papers saying it found several sites of “significant cultural and historic value” along the path of the proposed pipeline.

Tribal preservation officer Tim Mentz said in court documents that the tribe was only recently allowed to survey private land north of the Standing Rock Sioux reservation. Mentz said researchers found burials rock piles called cairns and other sites of historic significance to Native Americans.

Standing Rock Sioux chairman David Archambault II said in a statement that construction crews removed topsoil across an area about 150 feet wide stretching for 2 miles.

Image: US-ENVIRONMENT-PROTEST

Protesters march toward private security guards and works as they retreat, on a work site for the Dakota Access Pipeline (DAPL) oil pipeline, near Cannonball, North Dakota, September 3, 2016. ROBYN BECK / AFP – Getty Images

“This demolition is devastating,” Archambault said. “These grounds are the resting places of our ancestors. The ancient cairns and stone prayer rings there cannot be replaced. In one day, our sacred land has been turned into hollow ground.”

Preskey said the company filmed the confrontation by helicopter and turned the video over to authorities. Protesters also have posted some of the confrontation on social media.

Morton County Sheriff Kyle Kirchmeier said in a statement that “individuals crossed onto private property and accosted private security officers with wooden posts and flag poles.”

“Any suggestion that today’s event was a peaceful protest, is false,” his statement said.

[SOURCE]

Tribe: Cultural Sites Found In Path Of Proposed Oil Pipeline

Standing Rock Sioux Tribe and their allies protest construction of the Dakota Access Pipeline.

Standing Rock Sioux Tribe and their allies protest construction of the Dakota Access Pipeline.

Associated Press, Sep 2, 2016

The Standing Rock Sioux Tribe says it has found several sites of “significant cultural and historic value” along the path of a proposed oil pipeline.

The tribe is challenging the Army Corps of Engineers‘ decision to grant permits for Dallas-based Energy Transfer Partners’ $3.8 billion Dakota Access pipeline, which crosses the Dakotas and Iowa to Illinois, including near the reservation in southern North Dakota.

A federal judge will rule before Sept. 9 whether construction can be halted on the Dakota Access pipeline.

Tribal preservation officer Tim Mentz says in court documents filed Friday that the tribe was only recently allowed to survey private land north of the Standing Rock Sioux reservation.

Mentz says researches found cairns, burials and other sites of historic significance to Native Americans.

http://abcnews.go.com/US/wireStory/tribe-cultural-sites-found-path-proposed-oil-pipeline-41833582

Pokemon No Go? Indigenous Woman Wants Burial Ground Pokestop Gone

Prince George Pokemon Go players gather at the entrance to the Lheidli T'enneh burial ground, a designated Pokestop. (Facebook/Kym Gouchie)

Prince George Pokemon Go players gather at the entrance to the Lheidli T’enneh burial ground, a designated Pokestop. (Facebook/Kym Gouchie)

‘This is sacred ground. There should not be any Pokemon Go inside a burial site’

By Betsy Trumpener, CBC News: Jul 25, 2016

A traditional burial ground should be a No Go for Pokemon Go — so says a Lheidli T’enneh woman who wants to shut down a poke stop in an Indigenous graveyard in Prince George, B.C.

Kym Gouchie was visiting her father’s grave Sunday, when she encountered dozens of Pokemon players traipsing through her First Nation’s burial ground.

“To have a poke stop there and to have people searching around in the burial grounds is absolutely absurd … and very disrespectful– Kym Gouchie, Lheidli T’enneh 

Sacred burial ground is Pokestop

“It’s sacred there,”said Gouchie. “This land was once my ancestral land. This is the only little piece of land inside Prince George that is ours, and you are disrespecting it.”

“My dad, my uncles, my cousin, my great grandmother are all buried there,” she said.

The traditional graveyard  is located in a popular riverside park, where the Lheidli T’enneh once lived, before their village was burned to the ground in 1913 and their community forcibly relocated to reserve land.

Kym Gouchie spoke to dozens of people who came to a Pokestop in the Lheidli T'enneh Indigenous burial grounds as she was visiting her father's grave. (Facebook/Kym Gouchie )

Kym Gouchie spoke to dozens of people who came to a Pokestop in the Lheidli T’enneh Indigenous burial grounds as she was visiting her father’s grave. (Facebook/Kym Gouchie )

The traditional Lheidli burial ground is now open to the public, but it’s gated and enclosed by hedges within the Lheidli T’enneh Memorial Park.

But this weekend, said Gouchie, she confronted a young man in the graveyard who pointed at the outdoor altar and Indigenous clan carvings and he told her it was a Pokestop.

‘Absolutely absurd and very disrespectful’

“To have a Pokestop there and to have people searching around in the burial grounds is absolutely absurd in my mind and very disrespectful,” said Gouchie.

A Pokestop is an in-game checkpoint, a location where players enter and click on their device to collect prizes and items available at that stop

A Lheidli T’enneh singer and artist, Gouchie said her adult children gamers who enjoy Pokemon Go.

But she is angry.

“I was being sort of a defender of the land. I was thinking, I need our K’san [traditional] drummers out here so we can block both these gates and … stop this,” she said.

Defender of the land

“This has to stop,” said Gouchie. “This game has only been live in Canada for one week. It’s only a matter of time before that burial site is filled with Pokemon Go people.”

Gouchie says she spoke with many players on Sunday and tried to educate them about the place they were entering.

She said many agreed a graveyard Pokestop was “creepy” and preferred to stay outside the burial ground’s gate while they played.

‘It should not happen’

But she said others told her they weren’t hurting anything by playing in the burial ground.

She doesn’t blame the players, but Niantic, the game’s creator, said Gouchie .

Gouchie has submitted an automated request to have the Pokestop removed.

She’s also reported it to her chief and council.

“It should not happen. It should not be on their map,” she said. “They didn’t consult us. They didn’t ask permission,” said Gouchie.

http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/british-columbia/poke-stop-in-indigenous-burial-ground-angers-lheidli-t-enneh-woman-1.3694224?cmp=abfb

Tsilhqot’in First Nation To Use Blockades If Needed To Protect Ancient Burial Site

Cecil Grinder, puts purification smoke over Chief Joe Alphonse, Tribal Chairman Tsilhqot'in Nation prior to the start of a ceremony to commemorate the 150th anniversary of six first nation chiefs being hung to death in Quesnel, B.C., on Sunday, Oct. 26, 2014. (THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward)

Cecil Grinder, puts purification smoke over Chief Joe Alphonse, Tribal Chairman Tsilhqot’in Nation prior to the start of a ceremony to commemorate the 150th anniversary of six first nation chiefs being hung to death in Quesnel, B.C., on Sunday, Oct. 26, 2014. (THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward)

By The Canadian Press, July 18, 2016

VANCOUVER — Members of a British Columbia First Nation are remembering a warrior chief who was wrongfully hanged 151 years ago and say they won’t allow another injustice to be done to their ancestor.

The First Nation says a service was held Monday at the site of a high school in New Westminster, B.C., which was built atop a former cemetery where the remains of Tsilhqot’in war Chief Ahan may have been buried after he was executed on July 18, 1865.

Joe Alphonse, tribal chairman of the Tsilhqot’in national government, said four of six chiefs attended the ceremony and that members smudged the grounds, made a tobacco offering and drummed songs to pay tribute to Ahan.

Alphonse said there are no records to indicate that the warrior’s remains were taken to the cemetery after originally being buried at a courthouse square in the city.

However, he said the First Nation will fight to preserve Ahan’s remains even if there is “a one-per cent chance” that they’re at the school site.

Construction to replace the run-down school built in 1949 is slated to begin next year elsewhere on the same property, and the Education Ministry said an archeologist will ensure that any artifacts are appropriately recorded.

Education Minister Mike Bernier has said the school was built “in the wrong place” and that constructing a new school will fix that problem.

Alphonse wants protocols in place about the proper handling of any bones that could be found and warned the First Nation would mount blockades or file a court challenge to stop construction if necessary.

“All we’ve ever asked for from the New Westminster School Board is, in the event that you run into some bones do the honourable thing. Do a DNA sample and let us know if that’s him. They refused to do that so we’re not going to run that risk. So we’ll shut it down. We’ll use every means we can.”

The board couldn’t be reached for comment, but says on its website that it plans to use non-intrusive means, such as ground penetrating radar, to find out more about the school property before soil investigations that are scheduled for next month.

“Those activities are important for proper project planning and respecting the heritage of the site,” it says.

Premier Christy Clark apologized nearly two years ago for the hanging of Ahan and five other chiefs in Quesnel in 1864 during a bloody dispute known as the Chilcotin War.

The chiefs were hanged after 19 people were killed in a dispute over the construction of a road through Tsilhqot’in territory. The government militia couldn’t capture the chiefs, but they were lured out of hiding when they received overtures to speak with the government.

They were arrested and tried for murder. The road was never built.

Clark also signed an agreement with the Tsilhqot’in to work together on social and economic initiatives.

Last June, the First Nation, whose members live in the Cariboo-Chilcoton plateau area west of Williams Lake, won a historic Supreme Court of Canada land rights case that gave them title to 1,700 square kilometres of land in the remote Nemiah Valley. The landmark ruling meant they became the first aboriginal band in Canada to win title to their territory.

The cemetery at the school site was also the final resting place for Chinese pioneers, and members of the Chinese community in New Westminster joined First Nations groups against the construction of a new school on the same spot.

[SOURCE]

Ex Parks Service Official Sentenced For Stealing Ancient Remains Of Native Americans

Effigy Mounds National Monument Harpers Ferry Iowa. Photo: russmanspot.blogspot.com

Effigy Mounds National Monument Harpers Ferry Iowa. Photo: russmanspot.blogspot.com

Associated Press, July 8, 2016

Cedar Rapids, Ia. —  A retired National Park Service official was sentenced Friday to one year of home detention and 10 weekends in jail for stealing the ancient remains of Native Americans in 1990 and stashing them in his garage for years.

U.S. Magistrate Judge Jon Scoles scolded Thomas Munson, former superintendent of Effigy Mounds National Monument in northeast Iowa, for removing bones tied to more than 40 individuals from the monument’s collection and lying about it for two decades. Scoles said Native American leaders who were denied the ability to rebury their ancestors were “understandably outraged” by the disregard with which Munson handled their bones, which were significantly damaged by the time they were recovered in 2012.

“This is clearly an outrageous criminal act,” Scoles told the 76-year-old, frail Munson in a federal courtroom in Cedar Rapids as representatives from several tribes looked on. “There can be no explanation for what he did.”

The sentence ends a painful case for the National Park Service, which is tasked with preserving the picturesque monument site along the Mississippi River that many tribes consider sacred. The monument includes hundreds of earthen burial and ceremonial mounds, many in the shape of animals, that were built by Native Americans between 700 and 2,500 years ago.

During excavations from the 1950s to the 1970s, scientists dug up bones and skeleton fragments of dozens of individuals who lived and died there. The remains were kept at the monument and considered historically significant.

Munson ordered a subordinate to pack the bones into two cardboard boxes in July 1990, then drove them to his home across the river in Prairie du Chien, Wisconsin. They stayed there for more than two decades but decayed due to inappropriate storage conditions.

Munson told investigators he was concerned about a federal law that took effect in November 1990 requiring museums to transfer remains and any associated burial objects to affiliated tribes. The purpose of the law — the Native American Graves Protection and Repatriation Act — was to allow for reburials consistent with tribal traditions.

But Munson believed the law would allow tribes to make suspect claims that would decimate the monument’s collection of burial objects, which he saw as more valuable than the remains. Once the bones disappeared, tribes could not make claims on the burial objects.

The National Park Service learned soon after Munson’s retirement in 1994 that the remains had vanished. Questioned over the years, Munson denied responsibility and floated several other possibilities for where they went. The monument opened another investigation in 2011 under new superintendent Jim Nepstad, and Munson returned one of the boxes. The next year, a federal agent recovered the second box in Munson’s garage.

“This is absolutely the worst case of racist, bigoted and callous behavior I have ever encountered,” said Patt Murphy, of the Iowa tribe of Kansas and Nebraska, whose inquiry seeking an inventory of the monument’s remains prompted the investigation. He said he spent years working to get his ancestors’ remains from museums and properly reburied, but Munson denied them that opportunity.

Sandra Massey, historic preservation officer for the Sac and Fox Tribe in Oklahoma, said Munson handled the remains like “trash.”

“Those are my people,” she said. “What kind of sick mind does this kind of thing?”

Munson issued a written apology but showed no remorse in court. In a rambling statement, he said “nobody knew what to do with” remains at the time.

“A lot of it was not intentional,” Munson said. His attorney Leon Spies then cut him off, telling Scoles his client has been “experiencing some cognitive difficulties.” Spies said Munson’s theft was an “uncharacteristic act” for a man who worked with tribes for 30 years.

Scoles ordered Munson to pay $108,000 in restitution, the cost of repairing the collection. Once restored, the remains are expected to be returned to tribes.

— Associated Press

http://www.desmoinesregister.com/story/news/2016/07/08/ex-park-official-gets-home-detention-jail-theft-bones/86868086/