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

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The US And Canada Have Blood On Their Hands In Honduras

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Members of the military police march during a parade commemorating Independence Day of Honduras. | Photo: Reuters

The international community needs to be held to account for propping up and subsidizing the murderous regime in Honduras.

Honduran military and police forces, backed by the international community and in particular millions of U.S. dollars, once again brutally attacked peaceful protesters in a week that saw more social movement blood spilt.

The march on Thursday organized by the Civic Council of Popular and Indigenous Organizations of Honduras, or COPINH, and OFRANEH, an organization which represents the Afro-Indigenous Garifuna people, converged outside the Attorney General’s office to demand justice following the assassination of two more prominant social movement leaders in the country.

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During the attack, heavily armed police and COBRA forces (Special Operations Command) indiscriminately fired tear gas canisters and water cannons and physically beat girls and boys, women and men, and the elderly.

Police and COBRA forces attacked just as OFRANEH was initiating a drumming and spiritual ceremony. COPINH was once led by globally-renowned activist Berta Caceres, who was murdered this year for opposing the construction of a dam. They are two of the most respected community organizations in Honduras since before the 2009 U.S. and Canadian-backed military coup, and particularly since then.

Eyewitness Karen Spring from the Honduras Solidarity Network reported:  “The repression was brutal and I’ve been in a lot of repressive marches since the 2009 coup.  This one was up there with the worst, especially since a COPINH member reported that one police took his gun out and fired a shot at his feet.  It all happened so fast and no one expected it; there was no time to get children and elderly out.  People were grabbing kids and running with them as they were crying and choking from the teargas.  The police chased protestors for almost 2 kilometers from the Attorney General’s office.”

COPINH and OFRANEH marched to denounce the assassinations  this week of Jose Angel Flores and Silmer Dionosio George, two leaders of MUCA, or the Unified Campesino Movement of the Aguan, and the recent attempted killing of two COPINH members. The organizations also are demanding justice for the March 3 assassination of COPINH co-founder Caceres; the establishment of an independent international commission to investigate her assassination; and to demand cancellation of the concession granted illegally to the DESA corporation to develop the Agua Zarca hydroelectric dam project in Rio Blanco, along with numerous other illegal mining and hydroelectric concessions on Lenca territories in western Honduras.

Berta Caceres’ Daughter Speaks

After the attack, Berta Caceres’ daughter – Bertita – spoke in a press conference:

“This is yet another act of repression against people demanding justice for the assassination of our compañera Berta Cáceres. How is it possible that soldiers, weapons and repression are the only way the regime deals with us, even when we have Protective Measures from the Inter-American Commission of Human Rights? … Despite all this repression, harassment and criminalization, we will not permit the construction of development projects of death in our communities.”

Do Not Write Letters of Protest to the Regime

Wondering what to do about this latest act of State repression in Honduras?

Don’t write letters of protest to the regime.

They are impervious to them.  In power since the 2009 coup, the economic, military and political elites care about two things: maintaining their mutually beneficial economic and political relations with and support from the international community (primarily: governments of U.S., Canada and the European community; the World Bank and Inter-American Development Bank; and a host of global investors and companies working in the sectors of African palm, sugar cane, bananas, garment “sweatshop” factories, mining and tourism); and, maintaining relations with and support from the U.S. military.

The repression, corruption and impunity in Honduras are not “Honduran” problems. They are problems of this so-called “international community” together with the Honduran elites. International economic and military relations are the lifeblood of the regime.  This is how power works.

Through our denunciations and activism, we have to make this “international community” take responsibility for its actions. If accountability is not brought to complicity of the military, economic and political backers of the Honduran regime, the repression, corruption and impunity will not stop.

By: Grahame Russell, teleSUR English‎, posted Oct 22, 2016

[SOURCE]

Berta Caceres’ Daughter Blasts Police Repression of Activists

Police cracked down activists in Tegucigalpa during a peaceful protest by Indigenous communities and groups. | Photo: COPINH

Police cracked down activists in Tegucigalpa during a peaceful protest by Indigenous communities and groups. | Photo: COPINH

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By teleSUR English

The protesters were asking for justice after the killing of another environmentalist in Honduras when police violently evacuated the area.

Honduran security forces clashed with environmentalists, students and peasants on Thursday, who were protesting to demand justice following the assassination of two predominant leaders in the country.

Members of the Civic Council of Popular and Indigenous Organizations of Honduras, or COPINH, which was once led by globally-renowned activist Berta Caceres who was murdered this year for opposing the construction of a dam, were also part of the peaceful protest.

Berta Zuñiga, daughter of Caceres, now heads the organization and pointed out that although her family and COPINH have police protection they were stopped from protesting less than two hours after Thursday’s march began.

The different organizations demonstrated outside the Public Ministry in the Honduran capital of Tegucigalpa and were met with water cannon and tear gas.

“We were met with weapons and repression, even when they knew there were children and elders,” Zuñiga said during a press conference after the police crackdown.

According to Zuñiga, corporate interest and the Honduran state are responsible for the death of her mother. She says the mining companies targeted Caceres for her work defending the natural resources of the Indigenous community of Lenca while Honduran authorities failed to protect her despite clear threats to her life.

“No company or the Honduran state has the right to come to our territory, destroy our forests and sources of water, divide our communities, and kill our leaders and our voices,” said Zuñiga.

The different organizations demonstrated outside the Public Ministry in Tegucigalpa and were met with water tanks, tear gas and strong police repression.

“We will continue to demand what lawfully belongs to us, we won’t back down,” said Zuñiga. During the press conference members of COPINH chanted, “She has multiplied, Berta lives, the struggle continues!”

The organizations also rallied to ask for an unbiased and formal investigation into the murder of Jose Angel Flores, president of the Unified Peasant Movement of Aguan MUCA, who was killed Tuesday.

honduras_1-png_907202692 honduras_2-png_1624527709

“#Honduras Fragments of tear gas used in the peaceful protests called by COPINH.”

The protesters denounced Honduran authorities for declaring the killing of Flores the result of an internal conflict among peasant organizations without properly investigating the crime.

Victor Fernandez, lawyer for the Broad Movement for Dignity and Justice, said both killings were selective and follow a pattern of impunity. Since the 2009 coup against ex-President Manuel Zelaya, more than 200 activist leaders have been killed in the country.

Caceres’ associates believe that the Honduran company behind the dam project she rallied against, Desarrollos Energéticos, or DESA, and the Honduran government hired contract killers to murder activists like her.

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This project was opposed by the Lenca Indigenous people and by environmentalists in Honduras. The Lenca community was not consulted about the dam project, which would have flooded a significant tract of Indigenous land and cut off water supplies, which are required by law.

Caceres’ family and COPINH members have demanded an independent probe since day one, expressing skepticism in the justice system to carry out a reliable investigation given its track record of corruption, impunity and botched cases.

Article originally published in teleSUR English October 20, 2016

http://www.telesurtv.net/english/news/Berta-Caceres-DaughternbspBlasts-Police-Repression-of-Activists-20161020-0017.html

Quebec First Nations May Try To Block Algonquin Land Claim

An eagle feather, an Indigenous symbol, is held up on Parliament Hill. The Algonquins of Ontario are one step closer to assuming tens of thousands of acres of their ancestral territory in a historic treaty. (Adrian Wyld/Canadian Press)

An eagle feather, an Indigenous symbol, is held up on Parliament Hill. The Algonquins of Ontario are one step closer to assuming tens of thousands of acres of their ancestral territory in a historic treaty. (Adrian Wyld/Canadian Press)

Division in Algonquin nation over who should benefit from $300M treaty and who qualifies as Algonquin

By John Paul Tasker, CBC News Posted: Oct 19, 2016

The Algonquins of Ontario are one step closer to assuming tens of thousands of acres of their ancestral territory in a historic treaty, but their counterparts in Quebec are vowing legal action to stymie the agreement and delay a deal decades in the making.

The agreement-in-principle, signed Tuesday in Ottawa, encompasses roughly 36,000 square kilometres of land stretching from Parliament Hill to parts of Algonquin Park and up to North Bay, an area that Algonquins in Quebec also say is their territory.

“If it’s Algonquin territory, then every registered Algonquin should become a beneficiary to any treaty that’s happening on our territory,” Lance Haymond, the chief of Kebaowek First Nation, said in an interview with CBC News.

“We didn’t divide up the Algonquin territory. That was governments many, many years ago, that physically created separation.”

Preliminary estimates pegged the number of Algonquin beneficiaries at roughly 8,000, a figure he said should be much higher given their numbers in Quebec.

The cash payment associated with the treaty is currently set at $300 million, although Indigenous leaders are pushing for more.

‘Ten thousand legitimate Algonquins are going to be excluded from ever benefiting from a final treaty.’– Lance Haymond

Haymond said about one million hectares of the land that will be surrendered — when the treaty is finally ratified — actually belongs to the Kebaowek, Timiskaming and Wolf Lake First Nations over the provincial border, and the Algonquins of Ontario alone cannot extinguish that title.

He said he is meeting with his legal team to discuss whether they will file an injunction to try and stop the process altogether or file an Aboriginal title case for the same lands.

The Quebec chief also wants a sit-down with Indigenous Affairs Minister Carolyn Bennett, something he says he was promised in February but so far to no avail. He wants to impress upon her his serious concerns about the territorial overlap, and who her department considers “Algonquin” for the purposes of this treaty process.

“I can’t just legitimately sit back and watch that 6,000 non-Aboriginal peoples have voted yes for a land claim, but 10,000 legitimate Algonquins are going to be excluded from ever benefiting from a final treaty.”

The agreement-in-principle, signed Tuesday in Ottawa, stretches from Parliament Hill to parts of Algonquin Park and up to North Bay, an area that Algonquins in Quebec say is also their territory. (Algonquins of Ontario)

The agreement-in-principle, signed Tuesday in Ottawa, stretches from Parliament Hill to parts of Algonquin Park and up to North Bay, an area that Algonquins in Quebec say is also their territory. (Algonquins of Ontario)

Algonquin claimants questioned

Haymond’s community commissioned a study of the list of eligible voters who voted to ratify the agreement-in-principle with the federal government in March, and found that some had tenuous ancestral connections to the Algonquin nation.

Even Prime Minister Justin Trudeau would qualify under these rules, the chief said.

“At least 60 to 70 per cent of these individuals cannot qualify as being Algonquin,” Haymond said. “In fact most of those families have been removed from our nation for 200, 300 years.”

The figures are based on genealogical studies by researchers at the Algonquin Nation Secretariat.

The chief said the federal government has created two different standards: first, the rigid process a person has to follow to obtain Indian status — which requires you to show at least three generations of your family have had continual intermarriage with the Algonquin nation — and second, the one set-up for this land claim.

“Someone just has to self-identify, and be able to attach their genealogy to one of the 12 root ancestors part of the process.”

Robert Potts, the senior negotiator for the Algonquin claim, pushed back against such criticism Tuesday saying they have followed a rigorous vetting process of their own to determine eligible claimants. He has strenuously denied Haymond’s claims.

“I can assure you a tremendous amount of effort and thought is going into this,” he said, noting they are consulting with their own genealogical experts and it is being overseen by a judge.

‘Willing to take anything’

Kirby Whiteduck, the chief of the Algonquins of Pikwakanagan, the only First Nations band part of the Ontario treaty, said that simply claiming ancestry will not be enough.

“You can’t just be of descent,” he said in an interview with CBC News.

“If you don’t exercise your Aboriginal rights and belong to a collective, you don’t necessarily have Aboriginal rights, according to the law, but there are cases of extenuating circumstances that we have to consider.”

Kirby Whiteduck Algonquins of Ontario Land Claim

Kirby Whiteduck, chief of the Algonquins of Pikwakanagan, said he hopes to negotiate improvements to the agreement in principle signed this week. (CBC)

His own community, populated by status Indians, voted against the deal 327 to 256, but the negotiators moved ahead with signing the agreement despite his First Nations’ narrow opposition.

“We’ve had our internal agreements, and our spats, and disagreements with the other negotiating teams, and governments, and it’s not as easy at it looks,” Whiteduck said.

Ontario, the federal government and the Algonquins of Ontario have been negotiating for 24 years, but the Algonquins have laid claim to the land for more than 250 years — and they say the Crown never extinguished their title to the land.

“Look, they’ve waited 24 years for a deal, and at this point, you know, they were willing to take anything,” Haymond said.

http://www.cbc.ca/news/politics/quebec-algonquins-legal-action-1.3811602

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.

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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/

Give First Nations Power To Call In Military When Rights Are Threatened, Chief Tells Defence Minister

A Mohawk Warrior in a golf cart watches approaching Canadian army armoured vehicles during the 1990 Oka crisis.

A Mohawk Warrior in a golf cart watches approaching Canadian army armoured vehicles during the 1990 Oka crisis.

By Steve Lambert | The Canadian Press

WINNIPEG — Defence Minister Harjit Sajjan is considering a request to give First Nations the power to directly call in the military when their treaty, environmental and other rights are threatened.

Ron Swain, vice-chief with the Congress of Aboriginal Peoples, told Sajjan during consultations with indigenous groups Wednesday that aboriginal communities deserve the same rights as provincial governments, which have the authority under the National Defence Act to call in the military to fight civil unrest and during other crises.

“We believe, in protecting our sovereign territory and our issues around environmental concerns, we should be able to trigger the same response and have our Armed Forces defending our treaties and our territories,” Swain said during a break in the closed-door meeting in Winnipeg that included about a dozen aboriginal leaders and academics.

Daniel Leal-Olivas/AFP/Getty Images

Daniel Leal-Olivas/AFP/Getty ImagesDefence Minister Harjit Sajjan

The meeting, which focused on indigenous issues, was one of several discussions Sajjan is holding around the country as part of a broad review of Canada’s defence policies.

Swain, whose group represents First Nations and Metis who do not live on reserve, pointed to the Oka crisis of 1990, when the Quebec government called in the military to try to restore order after repeated clashes between police and Mohawk protesters.

He said indigenous communities should be able to call in the military to come to their defence in such cases, or in the event that development that could pose a risk to the environment is taking place without First Nations consent. Swain cited the current standoff involving the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe in North Dakota over construction of an oil pipeline.

“Our people and our communities are very concerned about water and this whole issue about pipelines.”

Even municipalities appear to have an easier time getting military intervention, said Swain, who pointed to the 1999 snowstorm in Toronto that had then-mayor Mel Lastman pleading successfully for army aid.

A spokesman for Sajjan was noncommittal on the idea.

“We thank vice-chief Swain … for bringing this idea to our attention; it is certainly something we will consider as we move forward in the policy review process,” Jordan Owens, Sajjan’s press secretary, wrote in an email.

Earlier in the day, Sajjan said the meeting would look at a wide variety of topics — everything from the Canadian Rangers, a largely indigenous group of army reserves that helps patrol the North, to job opportunities for indigenous youth in the military.

“There are countless stories out there within the military that we do need to share, that we can inspire the younger generation to be able to look at, potentially, the military as a career, but also to look at it as an opportunity for learning and apply it to other careers as well,” Sajjan said.

Canada’s revamped defence policy is expected early next year and is expected to address everything from overseas military missions to cyber terrorism.

This article originally appeared in the National Post on September 14, 2016

[SOURCE]

 

RCMP ‘Neutral’ As Mi’kmaq Set Up Camp On Island Near AltaGas Construction Site

Protesters say a small group of Mi'kmaq used the land to place a fishing trap and the aboriginal participants were within their treaty rights to use the area for fishing.

Protesters say a small group of Mi’kmaq used the land to place a fishing trap and the aboriginal participants were within their treaty rights to use the area for fishing.

The Canadian Press , Sept 12, 2016

STEWIACKE, N.S. — The RCMP says it is staying “neutral” as AltaGas Ltd. and Mi’kmaq protesters are at odds over aboriginal presence on a tiny island near the energy company’s proposed underground natural gas storage caverns.

Opponents of the Alton storage project briefly went out Sunday to the small island that formed where the tidal Shubenacadie River meets a channel in which briny water is to be discharged.

The Mounties said they’ve been contacted by the company and are aware of the incident that drew police cruisers to the scene, but the police force was not being definitive about what officers will do if similar incidents continue.

“The RCMP position on people entering the area behind the construction zone is … we are committed to remaining neutral on all matters. With this, our role in such matters is to keep the peace and to protect property,” said RCMP spokesman Cpl. Dal Hutchinson in a telephone interview.

Cheryl Maloney, the president of the Nova Scotia Native Women’s Association, said she was confident the Mi’kmaq have a right to be on the island for fishing purposes granted by treaty.

“We moved over to the island, but they (company security guards) couldn’t reach us because there was a channel in between,” she said.

The police were called to the site by Alton representatives and a number of RCMP cruisers waited near the scene, as a group of private security workers observed an encampment created by Mi’kmaq and other opponents of the storage project, which was approved earlier this year by the province.

Hutchinson said six or seven RCMP cruisers were at the scene on Sunday.

Maloney says she expects to hear from Alton (TSX:ALA) about the incident, but doesn’t believe the Mi’kmaq protesters broke any laws.

“I think the police were a little hesitant to arrest us for exercising our aboriginal treaty rights,” she said. As she spoke, the tentpoles and the Mi’kmaq flags were still flying at the site of the tiny island along the banks of the tidal river.

“Let them explain that to the courts if they feel we don’t have the right to be there. We do have the right to be there. We will be there,” she said.

The company says it respects the right of individuals to express their views, but adds the project has been approved by the Environment Department, and access to the work site is restricted for safety reasons.

Lori Maclean of AltaGas confirmed that law enforcement agencies were contacted on Monday about the Mi’kmaq presence on the island.

“We will continue to engage with the government, the Mi’kmaq of Nova Scotia, local residents and other stakeholders to answer questions about Alton and to address concerns. Since 2006, Alton has been meeting with stakeholders including landowners, community members, government and the Mi’kmaq to share information and exchange viewpoints in a respectful manner,” she wrote.

The company notes the project has received all needed environmental and industrial approvals for the storage project, following over eight years of scientific monitoring of the tidal river.

“Brining is the process to be used at Alton to dissolve an underground salt formation and create the natural gas storage caverns. The water used to dissolve the salt will come from the tidal Shubenacadie River. The brine created by this process, a mixture of tidal water and the dissolved salt, will be released back into the river at a salinity level within the range of normal salinity for the river,” Maclean wrote.

Maloney said Mi’kmaq and local residents remain concerned that increasing salinity in the river poses a risk to some fish species.

The group has erected signs at the site declaring it is a conservation zone operated by the Sipekne’katik district of the Mi’kmaq people.

She said she and other volunteers plan to create a weir this week to catch fish and create some baseline data so that the Mi’kmaq can carry out their own scientific research to see what impact the project could have.

Maloney also said the Mi’kmaq protesters aren’t looking for confrontation, but are prepared to exercise aboriginal rights to use the river.

“We’re not budging. If Canada … doesn’t want to protect and defend us, we’re still going to stay here,” she said.

Maclean said construction is ongoing at Alton and a date for the start of brining has not been finalized. She notes that a court decision released in July affirms brining can take place.

http://www.ctvnews.ca/business/rcmp-neutral-as-altagas-and-mi-kmaq-protesters-spar-over-island-1.3068621

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