Remembering the Wounded Knee Massacre – Dec 29, 1890

The opening of the fight at Wounded Knee illustration

The opening of the fight at Wounded Knee illustration

On December 29, 1890, the massacre of Sioux warriors, women and children along Wounded Knee Creek in southwestern South Dakota marked the final chapter in the long war between the United States and the Native American tribes indigenous to the Great Plains.

For the entirety of his 27 years, Black Elk’s somber eyes had watched as the way of life for his fellow Lakota Sioux withered on the Great Plains. The medicine man had witnessed a generation of broken treaties and shattered dreams. He had watched as the white men “came in like a river” after gold was discovered in the Dakota Territory’s Black Hills in 1874, and he had been there two years later when Custer and his men were annihilated at Little Big Horn.

He had seen the Lakota’s traditional hunting grounds evaporate as white men decimated the native buffalo population. The Lakota, who once roamed as free as the bison on the Great Plains, were now mostly confined to government reservations.

Life for the Sioux had become as bleak as the weather that gripped the snow-dusted prairies of South Dakota in the winter of 1890. A glimmer of hope, however, had begun to arise with the new Ghost Dance spiritual movement, which preached that Native Americans had been confined to reservations because they had angered the gods by abandoning their traditional customs. Leaders promised that the buffalo would return, relatives would be resurrected and the white man would be cast away if the Native Americans performed a ritual “ghost dance.”

As the movement began to spread, white settlers grew increasingly alarmed and feared it as a prelude to an armed uprising. “Indians are dancing in the snow and are wild and crazy,” telegrammed a frightened government agent stationed on South Dakota’s Pine Ridge Reservation to the commissioner of Indian affairs on November 15, 1890.

General Nelson Miles

General Nelson Miles

“We need protection and we need it now.” General Nelson Miles arrived on the prairie with 5,000 troops as part of the Seventh Cavalry, Custer’s old command, and ordered the arrest of several Sioux leaders.

When on December 15, 1890, Indian police tried to arrest Chief Sitting Bull, who was mistakenly believed to have been joining the Ghost Dancers, the noted Sioux leader was killed in the melee. On December 28, the cavalry caught up with Chief Big Foot, who was leading a band of upwards of 350 people to join Chief Red Cloud, near the banks of Wounded Knee Creek, which winds through the prairies and badlands of southwest South Dakota. The American forces arrested Big Foot—too ill with pneumonia to sit up, let alone walk—and positioned their Hotchkiss guns on a rise overlooking the Lakota camp.

As a bugle blared the following morning — December 29 — American soldiers mounted their horses and surrounded the Native American camp. A medicine man who started to perform the ghost dance cried out, “Do not fear but let your hearts be strong. Many soldiers are about us and have many bullets, but I am assured their bullets cannot penetrate us.” He implored the heavens to scatter the soldiers like the dust he threw into the air.

The cavalry, however, went teepee to teepee seizing axes, rifles and other weapons. As the soldiers attempted to confiscate a weapon they spotted under the blanket of a deaf man who could not hear their orders, a gunshot suddenly rang out. It was not clear which side shot first, but within seconds the American soldiers launched a hail of bullets from rifles, revolvers and rapid-fire Hotchkiss guns into the teepees. Outnumbered and outgunned, the Lakota offered meek resistance.

Big Foot, leader of the Sioux, lying in the snow where he was killed during the Wounded Knee Massacre.

Big Foot was shot where he lay on the ground. Boys who only moments before were playing leapfrog were mowed down. In just a matter of minutes, at least 150 Sioux (some historians put the number at twice as high) were killed along with 25 American soldiers. Nearly half the victims were women and children.

The dead were carried to the nearby Episcopal church and laid in two rows underneath festive wreaths and other Christmas decorations. Days later a burial party arrived, dug a pit and dumped in the frozen bodies. For decades, survivors of the massacre lobbied in vain for compensation, while the U.S. Army awarded 20 Medals of Honor to members of the Seventh Cavalry for their roles in the bloodbath.

When Black Elk closed his wizened eyes in 1931, he could still envision the horror. “When I look back now from this high hill of my old age,” he told writer John G. Neihardt for his 1932 book “Black Elk Speaks,” “I can still see the butchered women and children lying heaped and scattered all along the crooked gulch as plain as when I saw them with eyes still young. And I can see that something else died there in the bloody mud, and was buried in the blizzard. A people’s dream died there.”

Bodies of Lakota Sioux at Big Foot’s camp following the Wounded Knee Massacre.

It was not the last time blood flowed next to Wounded Knee Creek. In February 1973 activists with the American Indian Movement seized and occupied the site for 71 days to protest the U.S. government’s mistreatment of Native Americans. The standoff resulted in the deaths of two Native Americans.

By Christopher Klein


Police Union In Winnipeg Say Attacks On Officers Can And Have Happened In Canada

Dallas police officers stand in a line near the site of shootings in downtown Dallas early Friday. (LM Otero/Associated Press)

Dallas police officers stand in a line near the site of shootings in downtown Dallas early Friday. (LM Otero/Associated Press)

‘They know it could happen here’: Police union in Winnipeg on reaction to Dallas shootings

This article was originally published by on Jul 08, 2016

Maurice Sabourin was shocked, sad and angry when he learned five law enforcement officers were killed and seven wounded in a sniper attack in Dallas on Thursday night.

“The level of violence our colleagues face in the United States is that much greater than what we face in Canada,” said the president of the Winnipeg Police Association.

A deadly rampage like the one in the United States not only could happen in Canada, it already has.

In June 2014, Justin Bourque shot and killed three Mounties in Moncton, N.B., and wounded two others.

On July 7, 2006, two RCMP officers were killed by a gunman in Spiritwood, Sask.

On March 3, 2005, four young RCMP officers were fatally shot near the town of Mayerthorpe, Alta.

MONCTON, N.B.: JUNE 5, 2014 -- A police officer approaches a house on Mountain Rd. during a manhunt for Justin Bourque in Moncton, New Brunswick, on Wednesday, June 5, 2014. 

A police officer approaches a house on Mountain Rd. during a manhunt for Justin Bourque in Moncton, New Brunswick, on Wednesday, June 5, 2014.

Sabourin said the recent Dallas shooting was an unfortunate reminder that some officers pay the ultimate price while trying to keep their communities safe.

“I think in the back of everybody’s mind, they know it could happen here, so there’s always that heightened sense of vigilance to make sure everybody goes home safe at the end of the day,” he said.

Sabourin added that race relations are certainly different in Canada, but there are still issues that he worries could create “hatred towards police.”

Steve Kirby, the University of Manitoba director of jazz studies, said he was thrown to the ground by officers with cocked pistols when he lived in St. Louis, but he’s never faced police violence since moving to Canada.

“Here, I have had no run-ins with the cops,” he said.

Whatever happens in the United States we see the creep … into Canada

Kirby said he can’t make sense out of what is happening in his home country. As a black man, he said there are clear issues between police and minority populations, but violence is never the answer.

“I’m just really sad. It just feels like there is a certain small section of society that just wants violence,” he said. “It just feels like they are winning. They are getting their violence.”

Sabourin said it is unfortunate, but whatever happens in the United States, “We see the creep … into Canada.”

Canada’s police forces are affected by the tragedy in Dallas because officers feel a sense of camaraderie when someone in blue is killed, Sabourin said.

“It’s affected our members,” he said. “They hear that [officers were killed] and there is a multitude of emotions — there’s sadness, there’s disbelief, there’s anger.”

Dallas police Chief David Brown said Friday that the gunman who died at the end of a standoff with police said he “wanted to kill white people, especially white police officers.”


Columbus Day Still Generates Controversy As US Holiday

Historic painting of Christopher Columbus. He and his sailors stand in triumph at least on San Salvador, the Bahamas, on Oct. 12, 1492.

Historic painting of Christopher Columbus. He and his sailors stand in triumph at least on San Salvador, the Bahamas, on Oct. 12, 1492.

In the United States, October 12 is significant as the date explorer Christopher Columbus discovered the Americas. The achievement, which is commemorated on the second Monday of October, is a source of pride, particularly within the Italian-American community because Columbus was Italian. But for some the holiday is marked by controversy.

John Viola, president of the National Italian-American Foundation, said the significance of the holiday is varied.

“It’s an opportunity and holiday that we are able to celebrate what we’ve contributed to this country, to celebrate our history of our ancestors,” he said. “I think for the rest of the country, Columbus Day is a vehicle to celebrate this nation of immigrants.”

To some, Columbus was a great explorer. But others are offended by his legacy.

Joe Genetin-Pilawa, history professor at George Mason University, said the explorer enslaved many of the natives he encountered. Hundreds of thousands more died of diseases introduced by the European visitors.

“Within 10 years in the initial of landfall in 1492, so by 1502, we estimated that the Taino, the native people who lived in the Bahamas, the population dropped from approximately a million to 500,” he said.

Robert Holden, deputy director of the National Congress of American Indians, said the history of Columbus is distorted.

“It’s always been questionable in terms of native people’s tribe communities and how we look to what was written by non-native people for a non-native audience,” he said.

David Silverman, history professor at George Washington University, said the whole story should be told.

“I don’t think you need to focus on one aspect of his past and to neglect the other. You bring them both together and so that he becomes a three dimensional figure,” he said.

Indigenous People’s Day

Some in the United States choose to celebrate Indigenous People’s Day in place of Columbus Day.

Genetin-Pilawa said the name of the holiday should be formally changed.

“I definitely think that we should question maintaining a federal holiday for Christopher Columbus. As to what day that could become, I support the creation of Indigenous People’s Day,” he said.

But Viola disagreed, saying Native Americans should find another day to celebrate their cultures.

“I think it’s a good opportunity for the indigenous community to find a day that they can rally around issues they can grab onto and an opportunity to say, ‘ok, hold on. Let’s talk about what this means to us,'” he said.


U.S. Must Return ALL Stolen Land To Native Tribes In Order To End Police Brutality And Racism


By Counter Current News

The United Nations has made a statement that is shocking to many, but comes as no surprise to those who know their history. An investigator probing discrimination against Native Americans has said that the United States government has an obligation to return much of the land stolen from Native American tribes, if they want to combat systemic racism and discrimination in the United States.

As of 2011, there were 5.1 million American Indians and Alaska Natives in the U.S. but the rate of Native Americans being killed by law enforcement far outpaces the rates of any other group, with African Americans coming in second.

From 1999 to 2013, Native Americans have been killed by police at nearly identical rates as black Americans, but at a slightly higher rate in recent years. The big difference with Native lives, however, is that the media is virtually silent on these killings and the “Native Lives Matter” movement.

Simon Moya-Smith, a journalist and editor with Indian Country Today Media Network, said, “we protest, we take to social media, we get as many stories and Native American voices as we can into news media,” but still, “we’re not entirely on [the mainstream media’s] radar – maybe for Indian mascots, but for police brutality? Barely, if at all.”

Now, James Anaya, the UN special rapporteur on the rights of indigenous peoples, has concluded that there is no way justice will ever be possible in the United States, as long as the government continues to hold illegally-seized Native American land.

Anaya said that no member of the US Congress has been willing to meet him during the course of his investigated into these stolen lands and the impact the land theft has on Native American communities today.

Anaya said that he spent nearly two weeks of visiting Indian reservations, communities and Natives living in cities. At the end of the investigation, he concluded that in all contexts, police brutality and systemic racism has been pervasive. He reported “numerous instances of outright brutality, all grounded on racial discrimination”.

“It’s a racial discrimination that they feel is both systemic and also specific instances of ongoing discrimination that is felt at the individual level,” he added.

Anaya said this does not just extend to how law enforcement treats Native Americans, but is also part of the broad relationship between federal or state governments and tribes which effects issues including law enforcement, education and poverty.

“For example, with the treatment of children in schools both by their peers and by teachers as well as the educational system itself; the way native Americans and indigenous peoples are reflected in the school curriculum and teaching,” he continued.

“And discrimination in the sense of the invisibility of Native Americans in the country overall that often is reflected in the popular media. The idea that is often projected through the mainstream media and among public figures that indigenous peoples are either gone or as a group are insignificant or that they’re out to get benefits in terms of handouts, or their communities and cultures are reduced to casinos, which are just flatly wrong.”

Anaya visited an Oglala Sioux reservation. There, he found that the per capita income is only around $7,000 a year, and life expectancy is about 50 years. That is no coincidence. Native American communities have been disempowered by the government’s theft of their property and thus their potential for sustenance and opportunity. The United States still holds on to a huge amount of land that was directly stolen from Native tribes, not including vast swaths of land appropriated by the United States government, which this report does not account for.

Anaya said the Rosebud Sioux community is one example where the government returning land that was clearly stolen directly from Native residents, is one way that the government could begin a “process of reconciliation” that could create ripple effects in ending police brutality and systemic racism against Native Americans.

“At Rosebud, that’s a situation where indigenous people have seen over time encroachment on to their land and they’ve lost vast territories and there have been clear instances of broken treaty promises. It’s undisputed that the Black Hills was guaranteed them by treaty and that treaty was just outright violated by the United States in the 1900s. That has been recognized by the United States supreme court,” he explained.

The Guardian reports that Anaya said he “would reserve detailed recommendations on a plan for land restoration until he presents his final report to the UN human rights council in September.”

Anaya added that he’s “talking about restoring to indigenous peoples what obviously they’re entitled to and they have a legitimate claim to in a way that is not divisive but restorative. That’s the idea behind reconciliation.”

But he notes that this is likely to be met with strong resistance in Congress, just as previous calls for the US government to pay reparations for slavery to African-American communities were also disregarded.

As noted, members of the US government have so far refused to meet with Anaya to discuss this report with him.

“I typically meet with members of the national legislature on my country visits and I don’t know the reason,” he explained.

This is huge news, so don’t expect it to be discussed much in the mainstream media. Do you agree with the report? If you do, or if you think it’s a step in the right direction, help us get the word out!

(Article by M. David; S. Wooten and Reagan Ali; image via #Op309 Media)

Source: Counter Current News, Posted September 8, 2015.

13 Issues Facing Native People Beyond Mascots And Casinos

The Huffington Post

These are the problems you’re not hearing enough about.

Most of the recent headlines about indigenous Americans have had to do with a certain D.C. football team, or a surpassingly dumb Adam Sandler movie, or casinos of the kind operated by the fictional Ugaya tribe on “House of Cards.” And we’re not saying these issues don’t matter. But beyond the slot machines, the movie sets and the football fields, there are other problems facing Native communities — insidious, systemic, life-or-death problems; the kinds of problems it takes years and votes and marches to resolve — that aren’t getting nearly as much attention.

There are 567 tribes, including 229 Alaska Native communities, currently recognized by the federal government. The Bureau of Indian Affairs — the primary federal agency in charge of relations with indigenous communities — is also considering extending federal status to Native Hawaiians.

Each of the federally recognized tribes is a nation unto itself — sovereign, self-determining and self-governing — that maintains a government-to-government relationship with the United States. In addition, the rights of all indigenous peoples, including Native Hawaiians, have been affirmed in a 2007 United Nations declaration. Each indigenous nation has a distinct history, language and culture. While many face concerns that are specific to their government, state, or region, there are certain issues that affect all Native communities throughout the United States — from Hawaii to Maine, and Alaska to Florida. Here are 13 such issues that you probably aren’t hearing enough about.

Native Americans face issues of mass incarceration and policing.

Thanks in large part to the Black Lives Matter movement, which has insisted that demands for justice and equality for the black community remain part of the national conversation, there is now growing momentum to address the issues of policing and mass incarceration. But while the brutalization of black Americans at the hands of police, and their maltreatment within the criminal justice system, have garnered national headlines, similar injustices against Native Americans have gone largely unreported.

Earlier this month, Paul Castaway, a mentally ill Rosebud Sioux tribal citizen, was shot and killed by Denver police. His death led to protests in the Denver Native community, and has shed light on the shocking rate at which police kill Native Americans — who account for less than 1 percent of the national population, but who make up nearly 2 percent of all police killings, according to data compiled by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Native peoples are also disproportionately affected by mass incarceration. In states with significant Native populations, Native Americans are wildly overrepresented in the criminal justice system. In South Dakota, for example, Native Americans make up 9 percent of the total population, but 29 percent of the prison population. In Alaska, Native people account for 15 percent of the total population and 38 percent of the prison population. And Native Hawaiians are only 10 percent of the state’s population, but 39 percent of the incarcerated population.

The issue of mass incarceration in Native communities is complicated by overlapping and unresolved conflicts between tribal, federal and state jurisdictions. If a crime is thought to have occurred on a Native reservation or within a Native community, it’s not always clear which agency is going to be in charge of prosecution. That’s determined by a complex set of factors, including the severity of the charges and the races of the victims and alleged perpetrators. The overlapping jurisdictions of federal and tribal sovereignty also mean that Indians who commit crimes on tribal lands can be punished twice for the same offense: once under federal jurisdiction and again in tribal court. Lastly, aside from cases of domestic violence, tribal courts are not allowed to try major crimes as defined under the Major Crimes Act. This means that suspects in most felony cases are prosecuted in federal courts, where sentencing tends to be more severe.

In February, building off the momentum of Black Lives Matter, the Lakota Peoples’ Law Project released its “Native Lives Matter” report, which gives an overview of the inequities faced by Native Americans in the criminal justice system. The report, like the voices of Native peoples in general, has been largely ignored in the growing national conversation about policing and criminal justice reform.

Native communities are often impoverished and jobless.

Native peoples suffer from high rates of poverty and unemployment. Seventeen percent of Native Hawaiians and Pacific Islanders and 27 percent of all self-identified Native Americans and Alaska Natives live in poverty, according to U.S. Census Bureau data.

However, the national figure distorts the prevalence of poverty on Indian reservations and in Alaska Native communities, where 22 percent of Native people live. In 2012, three of the five poorest counties in the U.S., and five of the top 10, encompassed Sioux reservations in North and South Dakota.

Last year, President Barack Obama visited the Standing Rock Sioux on the border of North and South Dakota, where the poverty rate is 43.2 percent — almost three times the national average. The unemployment rate on the Standing Rock Reservation was over 60 percent as of 2014.

The federal government is still stripping Native people of their land.

The U.S. was built on land taken from Indian nations, and indigenous peoples across the country are still living with the reality of dispossession. Right now, members of the San Carlos Apache Nation in Arizona are fighting the sale of their sacred Oak Flat site to foreign mining conglomerates.

The Kanaka Maoli in Hawaii are fighting to protect their sacred mountain Mauna Kea from the construction of a 30-meter, $1.4 billion telescope. Many Hawaiians are now questioning the legality of the state’s annexation, which took place after a group of business interests, most of them American, overthrew of the Kingdom of Hawaii in 1893.

And in the heartland, the Great Sioux Nation has refused a $1.3 billion settlement as payment for the government’s illegal seizure of their sacred Black Hills in South Dakota in 1877. The faces of George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, Abraham Lincoln and Theodore Roosevelt are etched into the Black Hills at Mount Rushmore.

Exploitation of natural resources threatens Native communities.

Throughout the history of North American settlement, the territorial dispossession of indigenous peoples has gone hand in hand with natural resource exploitation. In the 1800s, Indian nations in the West clashed with miners pouring into their territories in search of gold.

Today, from the Bakken formation in North Dakota to the Tar Sands in northeastern Alberta, Canada, Indian nations often stand on the front lines of opposition to hydraulic fracturing and pipelines that pump oil out of indigenous communities — violating treaty rights, threatening the environment and contributing to climate change in the process.

Other groups, however, such as the Ute Tribe in Utah and the Mandan, Hidatsa and Arikara Nation in North Dakota, have tried to make the most out of the economic opportunities presented by oil and natural gas extraction. For the Mandan, Hidatsa and Arikara Nation, the rush to cash in on oil has resulted in a mess of inadequate regulation and corruption — including allegations of murder for hire.

Violence against women and children is especially prevalent in Native communities.

Native American communities — and particularly Native women and children — suffer from an epidemic of violence. Native women are 3.5 times more likely to be raped or sexually assaultedin their life than women of other races. Twenty-two percent of Native children suffer from post-traumatic stress disorder — a rate of PTSD equal to that found among Iraq and Afghanistan veterans.

Often, this violence comes from outside the community. The nonprofit Mending the Sacred Hoop, citing 1990s data from the CDC and the Department of Justice, reports that “over 80% of violence experienced by Native Americans is committed by persons not of the same race,” a rate “substantially higher than for whites or blacks.”

However, some progress has been made. This year, despite staunch GOP opposition, tribes won the right to prosecute non-Native men who commit crimes of domestic violence or dating violence or who violate orders of protection against Native women on Indian reservations. Tribes have continued to push for control over justice systems on sovereign Indian land, in spite of resistance from state, local and federal lawmakers and law enforcement authorities.

The education system is failing Native students.

Only 51 percent of Native Americans in the class of 2010 graduated high school. Native Hawaiians fare better, but still underperform compared to their peers — as best we can tell from the limited data, anyway. In the mid-’00s, about 70 percent of Native Hawaiiansattending Hawaiian public schools graduated in four years, as compared to 78 percent of students statewide.

For Native Americans, at least, these disparities are in large part the result of inadequate federal funding, to the point where some schools on Indian reservations are deteriorated and structurally dangerous.

Native families live in overcrowded, poor-quality housing.

Forty percent of Native Americans who live on reservations are in substandard housing. One-third of homes are overcrowded, and less than 16 percent have indoor plumbing. Housing on reservations is funded by the Department of Housing and Urban Development and administered and augmented by tribes, and has been historically underfunded, despite treaties and the trust responsibility of the federal government.

Native patients receive inadequate health care.

Native Americans, Alaska Natives and Native Hawaiians face massive disparities in health as compared to the general population, suffering from high rates of diabetes, obesity, substance abuse and HIV and other sexually transmitted diseases.

Although Native Americans and Alaska Natives are eligible to receive health care through Indian Health Services, nearly one in three are uninsured. Like many other federal agencies that serve Native people, IHS has historically been underfunded. Local IHS facilities often lack basic services like emergency contraception, in some cases forcing Native patients to travelhundreds of miles for treatment elsewhere.

There’s a dearth of capital and financial institutions in Native communities.

Indian nations do not own their reservation lands. Rather, the lands are held in trust by the federal government. This prevents Native Americans who live on reservations from leveraging their assets for loans, making it difficult for them to start businesses or promote economic growth in the area.

Compounding this problem, 14.5 percent of Native Americans are unbanked, and therefore lack the basic financial resources needed for economic prosperity.

Native Americans have the right to vote… but that’s not always enough.

Native Americans and Alaska Natives are often unable to vote because there are no polling places anywhere near them. Some communities, such as the Duck Valley Reservation in Nevada and the Goshute Reservation in Utah, are located more than 100 miles from the nearest polling place.

These problems are compounded by high rates of illiteracy in some rural Native communities, such as the Yup’ik in Alaska, who primarily speak and read their native language because public education was not available in their region until the 1980s.

There is an epidemic of youth suicide in Native communities.

Suicide is the second most common cause of death for Native youth ages 15 to 24 — two and a half times the national rate for that age group. In February, following a rash of suicides, the Oglala Lakota Nation in South Dakota declared a state of emergency.

Native languages are dying, and the U.S. government is doing little to help.

Native languages are struggling to survive in the United States, with 130 “at risk,” according to UNESCO, and another 74 “critically endangered.” While some communities, such as the Native Hawaiians, the Anishinaabe and the Navajo, have had success preserving and revitalizing their languages, Native communities face obstacles from the testing and curriculum requirements ofNo Child Left Behind. And educators who want to teach young people about Native languages and cultures have to contend with a general lack of funding and resources.

Many Native communities do not have their rights recognized by the federal government.

Native Hawaiians, and members of many other Native communities throughout the U.S., have never received federal recognition of their rights as Native peoples. This deprives them of basic services, and even of the limited rights of self-governance available to other Native communities. Many tribes spend decades wading through Bureau of Indian Affairs paperwork, only to lose their petitions for recognition.

Recently, however, the Obama administration announced that it would be streamlining the federal recognition process, making it easier for unrecognized Indian nations to secure their rights under the law.

Need help? In the U.S., call 1-800-273-8255 for the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline.

By Julian Brave NoiseCat, The Huffington Post, Posted: 07/30/2015

Repeal The Deal


Tucson Weekly, Issue Jul 2-8, 2015

The San Carlos Apache tribe and supporters take on corporate backroom politics in a fight for the sacred lands of Oak Flats

If this were a title fight in the ring, it would be a mismatch—lightweight versus heavyweight: the San Carlos Apache tribe, (reservation population of 10,000) versus the United States Congress and its tag-team partners, Australian-British mining conglomerate Resolution Copper (parent company Rio Tinto) and BHP Copper (BHP Billiton subsidiary).

There’s a lot more than a title belt and bragging rights involved here. Apache tribal members (called Ndeh, The People, whose heritage is tied to Mother Earth) are fighting to save a big chunk of land they have long considered sacred. Resolution Copper just wants what’s under that land and they’re willing to destroy it to get to the prized metals below.

“We’re fighting a multi-billion dollar company as well as our own Congress, so we’re facing power and money and influence,” says Wendsler Nosie, Sr., former tribal chairman and coordinator of the Apache Stronghold protest. “This action constitutes a holy war where tribes must stand in unity and fight to the end.” To which current tribal chairman Terry Rambler adds: “What was once a struggle to protect our most sacred site is now a full-on battle.”

While an immediate reversal of this potential environmental disaster is akin to snowballs in either Hell or Arizona, opposition support is increasing. This is a David versus Goliath clash that Native Americans around the world are watching as momentum gathers for the cause.

In the fall of 2014, Arizona Sens. John McCain and Jeff Flake (along with U.S. Reps. Ann Kirkpatrick and Congressman Paul Gosar) teamed up in subterfuge to underhandedly attach a land swap measure, the Southeast Arizona Land Exchange and Conservation Act, to a must-pass National Defense Authorization Act bill in which 2,400 acres of Apache holy land in and around Oak Flat Campground near Superior was covertly exchanged for 5,300 acres already owned by Resolution Copper.

It was a big-time sneak attack that Nosie called “the greatest sin of the world” and the New York Times termed “a sacrilegious and craven sell-off … an impressive new low in congressional corruption.” From the East Coast to the West Coast, dissention began to fester. The Los Angeles Times reported “the long fight over access to the federally-protected land has ignited a feud that has split families and ended lifelong friendships.”

A group called the Arizona Mining Reform Coalition also publicized: “This is the first and only act of Congress that gives a Native American sacred site to a foreign corporation.”

It might be pertinent to note here that McCain and Flake have both received campaign contributions from the multi-national mining operation. McCain points out that Arizona is the largest copper-producing state in the nation and insists that support for the controversial legislation is strong in his home state—depends on who you ask.

McCain further cites that over a six decade life of the proposed mine (reported to involve the largest undeveloped copper resource in the world), it would represent a $60-plus billion project offering employment to 3,700 workers with a payroll in excess of $100 million annually as well as increased local, state and federal tax revenues.

What he neglects to spend a lot of time in explaining is the fact that in the process of extracting this ore, the massive machine maws clawing at an ore body 7,000 feet below ground level would essentially destroy the natural state of hallowed land just east of the tribe’s reservation, land that has been home to indigenous peoples since pre-historic times where acorns and medicinal herbs are gathered and coming-of-age ceremonies are held.

Rambler acknowledged the Oak Flat issue as one of many challenges the Apache people were facing in trying to protect their way of life. “At the heart of this is freedom of religion, the ability to pray within an environment created for the Apache. Not in a man-made church, but like our ancestors have believed since time immemorial, praying in an environment that our creator God gave us. This is where Apaches go to pray and the best way for that to continue to happen is to keep this place from becoming private land. We’re against this specific project because it’s going to desecrate and destroy this whole area and the Apache way of life. We must stand together and fight—and we’re drawing a line in the sand on this one.”

“It’s atrocious the way this has been handled,” says tribal elder Sandra Rambler. “I came to Chich’il Bildagotell for my coming of age ceremony and that of my granddaughter’s. This is ancestral land used for ceremonies, graduations, funeral gatherings’—my great-great grandmother is buried here. It’s my turn to fight for it to be passed on to my children and the unborn yet to come.”

Back in February, protestors marched the 44-miles from San Carlos tribal headquarters to the campgrounds where 300 of them held a weekend-long Gathering of Nations Holy Ground Ceremony. It was a weekend of solidarity epitomized by preacher John Mendez who said, “This is a protracted struggle, but what the system doesn’t know, what Resolution Copper doesn’t know, is there is nothing that can break our spirit and keep us from moving forward to victory.”

Attendees expressed a common consensus. “This isn’t an Apache issue nor even a Native issue, it’s a human issue,” says Navajo Earl Tulley of CARE (Citizens Against Ruining Our Environment). He was joined by Sylvia Barrett, representing Concerned Citizens and Retired Miners, who graphically noted that “Resolution Copper has blatantly thrown the finger in our direction.” Retired miner Orlando Perea, who spent 40 years underground, says “They’ll create an environmental catastrophe here. As far as I’m concerned, Senator McCain can go to Hades for his underhanded dealings.” Standing nearby, Gila River tribal resident Bernadette Thomas chimed in: “Big money and politics want to destroy this sacred place and that’s just wrong.”

At the campground, after most had shown their support and departed, a core group set up an encampment digging in for the long haul. “We are organized as a spiritual mission with Apache Indigenous roots and intend to maintain occupation here,” according to Stronghold spokesperson Laura Medina.

“Living at this site is like coming home,” Nosie added. “The whole environment of this place brings spirituality and turns doubters into supporters. Call it an ‘occupation’ if you will, but the right words are ‘we are coming home’. We’ve created a fire that cannot be extinguished, and while it becomes a bit scary not knowing what tomorrow will be like, we are not going to vacate this area. The system and Resolution Copper may not know it, but this is a protracted struggle, and if we stay true to task, we will win.”

The Apache cause got a big boost two weeks ago when Congressman Raul Grijalva, ranking member of the Natural Resources Committee, introduced a “Save Oak Flat” bill seeking to repeal “the congressional giveaway of sacred Native American land.”

In his press release, Grijalva noted: “What this unpopular corporate giveaway was doing in the national security bill is anyone’s guess, but we shouldn’t wait any longer to repeal it. Congress shouldn’t be in the business of helping big corporations at others’ expense—and it certainly shouldn’t break faith with Native American communities. I’m proud to lead a three Republican, 12 Democrat bipartisan team in saying we should repeal this giveaway.”

Despite President Obama’s signature on the measure, even the White House had initially expressed displeasure as to how the legislation flew under the radar and into passage. “I am profoundly disappointed with the provision of the bill that has no regard for lands considered sacred by nearby Indian tribes,” said Interior Secretary Sally Jewel.

While Resolution wants the copper and Native Americans want their holy lands left untouched, the company’s Project Director, Andrew Taplin, thinks there is still room for some compromise. “This is often framed as an ‘either/or, one or the other’ issue, but my view is, with some constructive dialogue and understanding of the issues getting talked through, we could actually have both. This can be a wonderful project of benefit to many, done in a manner respectful of tribes that have traditionally used this land. I believe you can have respect for development of a project like this one and still have careful consideration of the religious and cultural concerns the San Carlos Apache tribe has.”

In fact, the company’s Frequently Asked Questions page answers “What are you doing to address the concerns of Native Americans” by stating, “We are doing our best to respect their sovereignty and be sensitive to the needs of all Native American tribes.”

“I’m confident we can respectfully and responsibly develop this project and do it in collaboration with tribal leadership. I consider my role to be that of a relationship builder, not just somebody who wants to dig a big hole in the ground.”

Resolution will do that, however, if things move forward as now planned in what will become the largest producer of copper in North America, an estimated billion pounds of copper per year, with production scheduled to get underway by mid-2020.

The former Magma #9 mine site (adjacent to the on-going installation of the Resolution #10 shaft) used a method called cut-and-fill to mine high grade veins of copper that played out at about 4,200 feet. They extracted and backfilled, not so with the Resolution Copper plan of attack. They’ve been transparent, albeit unapologetic, in acknowledging that their 2,400-page Mine Plan of Operation calls for block-and-caving protocol to get to the 7,000-foot level where they are confident a large deposit of 1.5 percent grade ore lies. Although the plan subtly alludes to the fact that “the area might be subject to adverse effects from project activities,” their actions will leave something resembling a giant meteor crater.

“Our planned method of mining is the only commercially viable option with the least environmental impact,” Taplin says, noting that other mines in nearby Miami and San Manuel have used the same method. “This particular method is not unusual in Arizona, it’s not new to the state. Because there isn’t enough strength in the rocks to support the material we’ve removed, it will result in a surface depression. Based on our modeling, we anticipate surface subsidence could be as much as 2 miles in diameter and crater-like in nature—up to 1,000 feet at its deepest point.”

Tailing dumps of up to 500 feet high could occupy as many as 10 square miles that would storm drain into nearby Queen Creek. “What people see in older mine tailings is not representative of what regulators will allow us to construct here,” Taplin adds. “We have an obligation for progressive reclamation, so there will be no impact on ground or surface water supplies.”

Reference the economic enthusiasm for the multi-billion-dollar project, company publicity calls it “a major job creator. We’re confident the headcount estimates are accurate and represent the number of people we will have on each shift, each day, to undertake the work needed,” Taplin says.

Later this year, one of the key components of the project, a NEPA environmental survey, will commence, expected to take a number of years to complete with numerous opportunities for public consultation. As far as the Oak Flat Campground occupied by protestors—”We listened carefully to the concerns of the San Carlos Apache tribe prior to the passage of the land exchange bill and addressed those concerns to the fullest extent possible. On going access to the campground will continue as long as it is safe to do so, and we expect access will continue for a number of decades. Another concern was for adequate protection of Apache Leap, so 800 acres have been put into permanent protection status and we’ve foregone any mineral rights in that area,” Taplin says.

Chairman Nosie remains unconvinced. “This project won’t benefit anyone, except Resolution Copper and its stakeholders,” he says. “The fight’s on, and from this point going forward, wherever it takes us, that’s where we’ll be.”

Repeal options now exist, but only ime will tell.

People Hunt Endangered Animals, So This Woman Hunts Poachers

Credit: ViralBru

Credit: ViralBru

by Amanda Froelich | True Activist, Posted April 8, 2015

A group of retired US vets have just landed in Africa, and their mission is to deter poaching before it contributes to the elimination of endangered species.

The effects of poaching are not to be taken lightly. According to the African Wildlife Foundation, rhinos, elephants, and other types of African wildlife may go extinct in our lifetime. Take, for example, the Black Rhino: populations of this magnificent animal have decreased by 97.6% since 1960. It’s very clear that unless some heavy force and invested interest is given to help reduce rates of poaching, the entire planet will suffer from loss of biodiversity and the greed that is causing it.

One way activists in the United States are supporting an end to poaching is by enlisting retired vets to take part in an organization that puts their years of combat training to work overseas. The non-profit VETPAW (Veterans Empowered To Protect African Wildlife) is focused on protecting African wildlife from illegally being hunted and captured.

And a recent addition to that group is Kinessa Johnson, a US Army veteran who served for 4 years in Afghanistan. At the end of March, she and a team arrived in Africa to take on a new mission: According to her, “We’re going over there to do some anti-poaching, kill some bad guys, and do some good.”

Credit: @KinessaJohnson

Credit: @KinessaJohnson

Johnson and her team of fellow Vets arrived in Tanzania on March 26th, quickly getting down to work. She has already noticed a decrease in poaching activity in her team’s immediate area because their presence is known.

…And if you take a minute to look at the build and confidence just Johnson exudes from years in dangerous territory, you likely can understand why. Her team’s primary focus at the moment will be to train park rangers and patrol with them to provide support.

Credit: @KinessaJohnson

African park rangers are in serious need of assistance, as she mentions, “they lost about 187 guys last year over trying to save rhinos and elephants.” The training they will provide includes marksmanship, field medicine, and counter-intelligence.

Kinessa joined VETPAW because she loves animals, and because protecting endangered species is a cause that speaks to her heart. Because Africa experiences the highest rates of poaching in the world, it made sense for her to volunteer her strength and skill to help protect some of the wildlife who are too easy of a target for poachers. Another incentive is because revenue made from selling parts from slaughtered endangered species usually goes to fund war and terrorism in Africa. So helping to combat the first act of violence will hopefully help to reduce other aspects of conflict elsewhere.

According to Johnson, “After the first obvious priority of enforcing existing poaching laws, educating the locals on protecting their country’s natural resources is most important overall.”

Taking to social media, Ms. Johnson is helping to raise money and awareness for the cause. She now has over 44,000 followers on Facebook and Instagram. And if you take time to check out her profiles, you’ll discover amazing photos of exotic African animals and updates on what her team is accomplishing.

Credit: CDN

Credit: @KinessaJohnson

You can also support Johnson and her team by donating to VETPAW and sharing their mission. Soon you’ll be able to watch Johnson and her team on a new show, as their efforts are being captured by the Discovery Channel!

When asked if her or her team had killed any poachers yet in a Q & A forum on Reddit, she stated, “We don’t operate with the intent to kill anyone.” The African poachers would be well advised not to test this All-American bad-ass on that though.

Source: True Activist

Detained Mothers Launch Hunger Strike



About 40 mothers being held at an immigration detention camp in Karnes, Texas, have launched a hunger strike to protest the detainment of their children as the families await immigration and asylum hearings, according to detainees and advocates working on their behalf.

Kenia Galeano, a 26-year-old mother from Honduras, said in a phone interview that the mothers will not eat, work or send their children to school at the detention center until each of the detainees is released. She said the mothers came to the United States seeking shelter, but are being treated as prisoners.

“We’re many mothers, not just me,” she said. “We want freedom for our children. It’s not right to continue to detain us.”

U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement officials said they were unaware of any residents who actually agreed to participate in a hunger strike. They said ICE is closely monitoring the situation for any potential heath and safety issues. ICE is also investigating claims from residents at the Karnes facility who allege a member of a non-profit group encouraged residents to stop eating at the facility to protest their detention.

“U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) fully respects the rights of all people to voice their opinion without interference, and all detainees, including those in family residential facilities such as Karnes, are permitted to do so,” Nina Pruneda, an ICE spokeswoman, said in a statement.

More than 80 women had initially signed a petition to take part in the strike, but many dropped out after at least two women were placed into isolation with their children in the detention center’s clinic, according to the Refugee and Immigrant Center for Education and Legal Services, an advocacy and legal services group working with in Texas. Johana De Leon, a legal assistant with the group said other mothers were warned they could lose custody of their children as a result of participating in the strike.

Since July, more than 2,500 immigrants, mostly women and children, have been detained at family detention centers.

The Karnes detention camp is one of three facilities set up to house mothers and children in the United States. The U.S. Department of Homeland Security is boosting its efforts to house mothers and children who have arrived in the country illegally. Advocates say it’s inappropriate to house women and children who have legitimate asylum claims. But the government says it’s important to send a message back to their home countries that those who cross the border illegally will be captured held and returned.

ICE officials said family residential centers are an effective and humane way to maintain family unity as families go through immigration proceedings.

In a phone interview with a reporter, Galeano said no one outside the facility encouraged the mothers from participating in the strike. She said she’d been held for five months, but that some women in the facility had been there with their children for 10 months.

She shares a small room with three other mothers and their children. She said the detention center has had a dramatic impact on her 2-year-old son, whose moods have taken emotional swings. She said he’s become depressed and has lost weight because he’s not eating. She said the food is not culturally appropriate.

“The children don’t eat,” she said. “The conditions here are not right. They’re not good for children.”

Anti-oilsands activists in the U.S. are getting visits from the FBI

Megan Jeffs, 19, watches the controversial megaload move through Marsing, Idaho, on Dec. 28, 2013. Unexpected visitors have been dropping in on anti-oil activists in the United States ??? knocking on doors, calling, texting, contacting family members. The visitors are federal agents. THE CANADIAN PRESS/AP, The Idaho Statesman - Darin Oswald

Megan Jeffs, 19, watches the controversial megaload move through Marsing, Idaho, on Dec. 28, 2013. Unexpected visitors have been dropping in on anti-oil activists in the United States ??? knocking on doors, calling, texting, contacting family members. The visitors are federal agents. THE CANADIAN PRESS/AP, The Idaho Statesman – Darin Oswald

By: Alexander Panetta, The Canadian Press

WASHINGTON – Unexpected visitors have been dropping in on anti-oil activists in the United States — knocking on doors, calling, texting, contacting family members.

The visitors are federal agents.

Opponents of Canadian oil say they’ve been contacted by FBI investigators in several states following their involvement in protests that delayed northbound shipments of equipment to Canada’s oilsands.

A lawyer working with the protesters says he’s personally aware of a dozen people having been contacted in the northwestern U.S. and says the actual number is probably higher.

Larry Hildes says it’s been happening the last few months in Washington State, Oregon and Idaho. He says one person got a visit at work, after having already refused to answer questions.

“They appear to be interested in actions around the tarsands and the Keystone XL pipeline,” Hildes said in an interview.

“It’s always the same line: ‘We’re not doing criminal investigations, you’re not accused of any crime. But we’re trying to learn more about the movement.'”

He’s advised activists not to talk — and they mostly haven’t. That lack of communication has made it a little complicated to figure out what, exactly, the FBI is looking for.

The bureau hasn’t offered too many clues.

One agent left his name, number, and the following message in a voicemail for Helen Yost of the group Wild Idaho Rising Tide: “I work with the FBI. Could you give me a call back — I would appreciate it.”

Is anti-oilsands activity an actual focus of the FBI investigation, or is it merely incidental? The bureau won’t say.

What it will say is that it only investigates potential crimes, not political movements.

“The FBI has the authority to conduct an investigation when it has reasonable grounds to believe that an individual has engaged in criminal activity or is planning to do so,” said FBI spokeswoman Ayn Dietrich.

“This authority is based on the illegal activity, not on the individual’s political views.”

But activists say oilsands opposition appears to be the common thread among people being contacted. Police have been in touch with people from different groups, who in some cases don’t agree on much, but one thing they share is mutual participation in the so-called megaload protests.

Those are the intermittent highway blockades set up the last few years to complicate the enormous, football-field-sized shipments of processing equipment up to the oilsands.

Yost said only two people from her group participated in that anti-oilsands action — and those are the people who’ve been contacted by the FBI. She has refused to co-operate.

The other person, Herb Goodwin, was visited at home by an FBI agent and a veteran detective from the local police force in Bellingham, Wash. He said the federal agent told him: “We’re here to ask whether you’ll answer some questions for us about Deep Green Resistance.”

That group, DGR, calls itself a radical environmental movement that believes the biggest problem with the planet is human civilization itself. It proposes a shift back from agriculture to a hunter-gatherer horticultural lifestyle.

It also proposes a four-step program called decisive ecological warfare, a long-term plan calling for the sabotage and dismantling of planet-harming infrastructure.

The group has repeatedly stated that it wouldn’t participate itself in any such actions. But Lierre Keith, one of its founders, laid out the plan in a speech last year at an environmental conference at the University of Oregon.

“I would vastly prefer to wage this struggle non-violently,” Keith said. “But my blogging will not bring forth the necessary numbers. So given a realistic assessment of what we actually have, the only viable strategy left that I can see is direct attacks against infrastructure. In the plainest terms, we need to stop them.”

There was some controversy about inviting her to the conference. Other groups wanted her event cancelled because of her views on transgender people — Keith dismisses the notion that a sex change can undo someone’s gender perspective.

Hildes said the FBI tried asking people about that Oregon speech. Since Yost’s group was among those voicing opposition to DGR, she believes the FBI might be trying to sow division in the movement.

The Canadian government said it wasn’t involved in any U.S. law-enforcement effort. A spokesman said it was aware of the megaload protests, but hadn’t discussed them with any American agency.

Goodwin said he won’t stop protesting. He’s among the nearly 100,000 people who have signed a pledge to engage in civil disobedience, should the Obama administration approve the Keystone XL pipeline.

He called it a life mission to help thwart the development of the oilsands in Canada and the Bakken fields in the U.S. “If we don’t stop that stuff we’re never going to convert to alternative energies that don’t pollute the atmosphere,” he said.

5 Ways The Government Keeps Native Americans In Poverty

Indian Reservation

Native American Reservation

By Shawn Regan | Forbes

Imagine if the government were responsible for looking after your best interests. All of your assets must be managed by bureaucrats on your behalf. A special bureau is even set up to oversee your affairs. Every important decision you make requires approval, and every approval comes with a mountain of regulations.

How well would this work? Just ask Native Americans.

The federal government is responsible for managing Indian affairs for the benefit of all Indians. But by all accounts the government has failed to live up to this responsibility. As a result, Native American reservations are among the poorest communities in the United States. Here’s how the government keeps Native Americans in poverty.

Indian lands are owned and managed by the federal government.


Chief Justice John Marshall set Native Americans on the path to poverty in 1831 when he characterized the relationship between Indians and the government as “resembling that of a ward to his guardian.” With these words, Marshall established the federal trust doctrine, which assigns the government as the trustee of Indian affairs. That trusteeship continues today, but it has not served Indians well.

Underlying this doctrine is the notion that tribes are not capable of owning or managing their lands. The government is the legal owner of all land and assets in Indian Country and is required to manage them for the benefit of Indians.

But because Indians do not generally own their land or homes on reservations, they cannot mortgage their assets for loans like other Americans. This makes it incredibly difficult to start a business in Indian Country. Even tribes with valuable natural resources remain locked in poverty. Their resources amount to “dead capital”—unable to generate growth for tribal communities.

Nearly every aspect of economic development is controlled by federal agencies.

All development projects on Indian land must be reviewed and authorized by the government, a process that is notoriously slow and burdensome. On Indian lands, companies must go through at least four federal agencies and 49 steps to acquire a permit for energy development. Off reservation, it takes only four steps. This bureaucracy prevents tribes from capitalizing on their resources.

It’s not uncommon for years to pass before the necessary approvals are acquired to begin energy development on Indian lands—a process that takes only a few months on private lands. At any time, an agency may demand more information or shut down development. Simply completing a title search can cause delays. Indians have waited six years to receive title search reports that other Americans can get in just a few days.

The result is that many investors avoid Indian lands altogether. When development does occur, federal agencies are involved in every detail, even collecting payments on behalf of tribes. The royalties are then distributed back to Indians—that is, if the government doesn’t lose the money in the process.

Reservations have a complex legal framework that hinders economic growth.


Thanks to the legacy of federal control, reservations have complicated legal and property systems that are detrimental to economic growth. Jurisdiction and land ownership can vary widely on reservations as a result of the government’s allotment policies of the nineteenth century. Navigating this complex system makes development and growth difficult on Indian lands.

One such difficulty isfractionated land ownership. Federal inheritance laws required many Indian lands to be passed in equal shares to multiple heirs. After several generations, these lands have become sofractionated that there are often hundreds of owners per parcel. Managing thesefractionated lands is nearly impossible, and much of the land remains idle.Energy regulations make it difficult for tribes to develop their resources.Darrin Old Coyote, chairman of the Crow Tribe in Montana, puts it plainly: “The war on coal is a war on our families and our children.” Coal provides the greatest economic opportunity for the impoverished tribe, but regulations are making it hard for the tribe to capitalize on their natural resources. Some are even trying to prevent the tribe from exporting coal to Asia.The federal government has repeatedly mismanaged Indian assets.

Screen-Shot-2014-03-13-at-3.03.58-AMTribes historically had little or no control over their energy resources. Royalties were set by the Bureau of Indian Affairs, but the agency consistently undervalued Indian resources. A federal commission concluded in 1977 that leases negotiated on behalf of Indians were “among the poorest agreements ever made.”

Unfortunately, it hasn’t gotten much better. A recent class action suit alleged that the government mismanaged billions of dollars in Indian assets. The case settled in 2009 for $3.4 billion—far less than what was lost by the feds.

Reservations contain valuable natural resources worth nearly $1.5 trillion, according to a recent estimate. But the vast majority of these resources remain undeveloped because the federal government gets in the way. Ron Crossguns of the Blackfeet Tribe recently put it this way: “It’s our right. We say yes or no. I don’t think the outside world should come out here and dictate to us what we should do with our properties.”

As long as tribes are denied the right to control their own resources, they will remain locked in poverty and dependence. But if tribes are given the dignity they deserve, they will have the opportunity to unleash the tremendous wealth of Indian nations.

Originally curated by Forbes 3/13/2014