Tag Archives: Tribe

Uncontacted Amazon Tribe Members Allegedly Killed By Gold Miners In Brazil

Members of an uncontacted tribe in Brazil’s Amazon Basin were photographed by air in 2008. (Ho New / Reuters)

At least 10 members of an uncontacted tribe in Brazil’s Amazon Basin were allegedly killed last month by illegal gold miners, according to Survival International.

The organization, which advocates for indigenous rights, said the massacre included women and children and may have wiped out one-fifth of the tribe.

Members of the tribe were gathering eggs along a river in the Javari Valley, in the country’s remote west, when they came across the miners, The New York Times reported. The miners later boasted about the slaughter at a bar in the nearest town, and even showed off a hand-carved paddle they claimed to have stolen as a trophy.

“It was crude bar talk,” Leila Silvia Burger Sotto-Maior, Funai’s coordinator for uncontacted and recently contacted tribes, told the Times. “They even bragged about cutting up the bodies and throwing them in the river.”

Funai is Brazil’s agency for indigenous affairs and its budget was recently cut under President Michel Temer. Survival International described Temer’s government as “fiercely anti-Indian, and has close ties to the country’s powerful and anti-indigenous agribusiness lobby.”

Survival International called the attack “genocidal” and said Temer and his government bore “heavy responsibility” for it. According to Stephen Corry, Survival International’s director:

“The slashing of Funai’s funds has left dozens of uncontacted tribes defenseless against thousands of invaders ― gold miners, ranchers and loggers ― who are desperate to steal and ransack their lands. All these tribes should have had their lands properly recognized and protected years ago ― the government’s open support for those who want to open up indigenous territories is utterly shameful, and is setting indigenous rights in Brazil back decades.”

At least two other tribes in the region have seen their land invaded and are now surrounded by ranchers and others, Survival International reported.

Adelson Kora Kanamari, leader of the Warikama Djapar tribe, told the Amazon Real portal that the situation for indigenous people in the region was “very critical” and that between 18 and 21 people have been killed in attacks, AFP reported.

The invaders are landowners, hunters, miners,” Kanamari said. “Many (indigenous) are being killed in isolation, but we don’t know the exact dates or number of deaths.”

HuffPost, Sept 11, 2017


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.


Occupy Oak Flat Refuses to Back Down in Protest Against Resolution Copper

Wendsler Nosie, leader of the Oak Flat Occupation, says he's "not scared." Miriam Wasser

Wendsler Nosie, leader of the Oak Flat Occupation, says he’s “not scared.” Miriam Wasser

By Miriam Wasser | Phoenix New Times

Leaders of Occupy Oak Flat say they won’t give up until the U.S. government repeals the Southeast Arizona Land Exchange.

The San Carlos Apache Tribe, leading a three-week protest at the Oak Flat Campground, vows to remain there until the federal government bends.

The controversial exchange gave Australian-British mining company Resolution Copper (a subsidiary of the largest mining company in the world, Rio Tinto) access to a vast underground copper reserve under Oak Flat. The deal trades 2,400 acres of previously federally protected land for 5,300 acres of company property. The land exchange was attached to the 2015 United States National Defense Authorization Actas a midnight rider after it failed to pass as a stand-alone bill multiple times during the last decade.

“There was never any transparency in how the bill passed, and now people are outraged,” says Wendsler Nosie, San Carlos Apache district councilman and leader of the protest. He calls the land exchange a violation of human rights and religious freedom.

“People don’t seem to realize how this will affect Indians all across the United States,” he says. If the government can give away this land, what’s to stop them from doing it again in the future? “It sets precedence.”

Miriam Wasser

Miriam Wasser

Oak Flat, part of Tonto National Forest, is a well-known rock-climbing and camping spot, and a sacred area for many Native American tribes. The rich body of copper ore sits 1.25 miles below ground, very close to historically significant land — including the site of the Apache Leap.

Vernelda Grant, Tribal Historic Preservation Officer for the San Carlos Apache, explains that she and other members of her tribe pray, forage for wild edibles, and collect medicinal plants there. “This feels like an affront on religious freedom,” she tells New Times.

Dave Richins of Resolution Copper says his company has tried on many occasions to reach out to the tribes, maintaining that they haven’t responded. “We really want the benefit of this project to be felt throughout the region,” he says.

According to the company, Resolution Copper will do a thorough Environmental Impact Statement before official exchange of the title to the land, provide extraordinary protections for the historic Apache Leap, and guarantee safe access to the Oak Flat Campground for as long as possible.

Members of the tribe and environmentalists around the world are skeptical of any promised benefits, especially when the ecological risks are so great.

Of particular controversy is the mining method Resolution Coppers plans to use. It’s called block caving and involves digging deep underground and blasting the ore body into pieces from the bottom before removing the copper. Environmentalists across the world oppose the method, and Sandy Bahr, executive director of the Grand Canyon chapter of the Sierra Club, says it will result in land subsidence and could damage much of the surrounding eco-system.

Watch an explanation of how Resolution Copper Plans to Mine Oak Flat

While in the past Resolution Copper has said its plan won’t create subsidence, Richins tellsNew Times that “there will be an impact to the surface: it will subside. But the extent of that we’re not sure.” He explains that they’re “still doing a lot of geological studies to understand everything that’s there,” and that it will be at least 10 years before any ore is removed — five years for the permit process, and five to build the mine. “We are looking for a win-win situation,” he adds.

Miriam Wasser

Miriam Wasser

The company has started drilling for samples, and according to Anna Jeffrey — who lives in Superior and follows the issue closely — it’s also pumping out an incredible amount of ground water. She tells New Times that she’s seen how this “hot water” laden with minerals is pumped and then dumped on the ground, saying it’s wasteful and poses a toxic threat to the environment. Copper Resolution says it’s testing the water flow in the area.

According to a recent press release from the protesters, the Forest Service will “work with the Apache people to protect the sacredness of Oak Flat and begin a meaningful dialogue.” The Forest Service’s Carrie Templin says only that “determining whether land is sacred will be considered during an environmental impact statement.”

The protest began on February 6 with a 44-mile march from San Carlos to Oak Flat, and occupiers have rotated in and out of the encampment since. In the last three weeks, people from all over the county, and as far away Peru and Brazil, have visited to express solidarity. Last weekend, more than 400 supporters came, and this past Saturday, there were more than 50 people partaking in prayer, sweat lodges, dancing, and speeches.

“We’re going to stay here and continue to occupy. We’re going to continue camping here until they repeal it,” Councilman Noise told a crowd of cheering supporters. “We’re going to live, we’re going to stay, and they’re not going to chase us off!”

Miriam Wasser

Miriam Wasser

S.D. tribe with Redskins ties accused of misusing funds

A crescent moon rises between lodges during the Kul Wicasa Pow Wow in Lower Brule, S.D., on Aug. 13, 2010. Between 2007 and 2013, $25 million in aid to the tribe is unaccounted for, according to Human Rights Watch. (Photo: (Sioux Falls, S.D.) Argus Leader)

A crescent moon rises between lodges during the Kul Wicasa Pow Wow in Lower Brule, S.D., on Aug. 13, 2010. Between 2007 and 2013, $25 million in aid to the tribe is unaccounted for, according to Human Rights Watch.
(Photo: (Sioux Falls, S.D.) Argus Leader)

By: Jonathan Ellis | USA TODAY

SIOUX FALLS, S.D. — The leaders of a South Dakota Indian reservation that supplied the Washington Redskins football team with popcorn at FedEx Field last season have been accused of misappropriating millions of dollars in a report released Monday by an international non-profit.

Between 2007 and 2013, an estimated $25 million that was intended for essential services, economic development and the alleviation of poverty on the Lower Brule Sioux Tribe was unaccounted for. Millions of dollars meant for specific programs were instead diverted to the tribe’s general fund and spent on “unexplained expenditures.”

Taxpayers, meanwhile, are on the hook for an additional $22.5 million in the form of a loan guarantee that the Bureau of Indian Affairs extended to a tribal company. Money from the loan guarantee, which was sold to an insurance company, was used for a tribal-owned Wall Street brokerage firm that went bankrupt amid mismanagement and fraud, according to the report.

The report, issued by Human Rights Watch, an international organization that investigates abuse, follows a two-year investigation by the group that included interviews with dozens of tribal members, the review of federal audits and other federal, state and tribal documents.

The report blames longtime Lower Brule Chairman Michael Jandreau and his political allies for diverting money and withholding basic government documents from the public to hide their activities.

Arvind Ganesan, the director of business and human rights for Human Rights Watch and the report’s author, called the situation at Lower Brule a “tragic example” of that happens when governments operate without transparency.

“For tribal governments, it’s an example of why it’s critically important that they have transparency and oversight,” said Ganesan.

Last year, the Washington Redskins made a deal with the tribe to sell the popcorn of a Lower Brule tribal company during games, part of owner Dan Snyder’s efforts to reach out to Native Americans amid controversy over the team name. Team spokesman Tony Wyllie confirmed that the popcorn was sold at FedEx Field, although he did not disclose the terms of the partnership.

The release of the Human Rights Watch report coincides with a power struggle between Jandreau, who has been tribal chairman 36 years, and reformers. Three reformers were elected to the six-member council in September, but Jandreau and the old council members have asked the tribal court to remove the new members.

Kevin Wright, one of the new council members, said the Human Rights Watch report raises serious questions about the tribe’s longtime leadership.

“It just reinforces why we need to get rid of the old council,” said Wright. “Mismanagement of funds — federal tax dollars — is a serious accusation.”

Jandreau did not return phone messages left for him last week. Tara Adamski, a lawyer in Pierre, S.D., who represents the tribal government as its general counsel, declined to comment.

“In speaking to my client, I’m not authorized to have any comment,” Adamski said.