Five Key Indigenous Peoples Issues Every Week - News

Five Key Indigenous Peoples Issues For The Week Of January 15 - 21, 2012: United States, Argentina, Australia, Africa, India

 

United States: Native Americans Applaud President Obama’s Decision Rejecting The Keystone XL Pipeline

 

Obama acknowledges his commitment to Native Americans to listen to their concerns

 

Tribal leaders and Native organizations from the United States and Canada are standing together today pleased that President Barack Obama is acknowledging his pledge to listen to the voices of this countries’ original people, by rejecting the Transcanada Keystone XL pipeline. Recent months have brought tribal leaders to Washington DC requesting Obama to reject the pipeline. “Tribal governmental leaders from the Rosebud Sioux Tribe, the Oglala Sioux Tribe, and the Sac and Fox Nation met with President Obama and his administration in Washington DC in early December to deliver a message to reject the Keystone XL pipeline in defense of Mother Earth,“ says Tom B.K. Goldtooth, executive director of the Indigenous Environmental Network.

 

“I say miigwetch, thank you, to the Creator for giving President Obama and the U.S. Department of State the courage, strength and wisdom to deny the presidential permit for the Keystone XL Pipeline. Lifting up this issue as a Native rights issue bringing our tribal grassroots and governmental leaders together with environmentalist and private land owners of the prairie lands sent a message loud and clear that this was the right thing to do,” said Marty Cobenais, lead pipeline organizer with IEN.

 

Debra White Plume, a grandmother of the Oglala Lakota Oyate who was arrested in the Washington DC protest of the pipeline says, “Rejection of the Keystone XL oil pipeline is a reason to celebrate! At least that source of contamination that was a threat of our drinking water sources, the Missouri River, and the Ogallala Aquifer has been removed. Now we just have to stop the uranium mining that is poisoning the aquifer every day.” Read more about the rejection of the Keystone XL pipeline here....

 

Argentina: Oil Drilling Threatens Mapuche

 

While new techniques of hydrocarbon drilling, such as hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, in new areas are lauded by some as a solution to Argentina’s energy imports, the indigenous communities who live in areas where these resources can be found argue the activity is a threat to their communities.

 

Members of the Mapuche community say the Argentine government’s aggressive push to increase energy supplies by allowing oil companies to explore in their lands will cause irreversible environmental and social damage.

 

According to Argentina's Energy Secretariat, close to 87 percent of Argentina’s energy is generated from fossil fuels. The government agency said that in 1988 Argentina had enough gas supplies for 36 years. But by 2009, this outlook was slashed to seven years. Oil supplies fell from 14 to nine in the same period.

 

Additionally, starting in 2003, when the economy was stabilizing after its financial collapse two years earlier, consumption of fossil fuels increased sharply. A report of the US Energy Information Administration said that the use of oil and oil products increased more than 37 percent between 2003 and 2010 in Argentina, while gas consumption increased 23 percent in the same period. To cover its energy needs, Argentina’s fuel imports, mainly of liquefied natural gas, gasoil and fuel oil, increased more than seven times, from US$549 million to US$4.5 billion, according to Argentina’s Economy Ministry. Read more about oil drilling and Mapuche land rights in Argentina here....

 

Australia: Recognising Aboriginal And Torres Strait Islander Peoples In The Constitution: Report Of The Expert Panel

 

Current multiparty support has created a historic opportunity to recognise Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples as the first peoples of Australia, to affirm their full and equal citizenship, and to remove the last vestiges of racial discrimination from the Constitution.

 

The Expert Panel was tasked to report to the Government on possible options for constitutional change to give effect to indigenous constitutional recognition, including advice as to the level of support from indigenous people and the broader community for these options. This executive summary sets out the Panel's conclusions and recommendations.

 

The introduction sets out the background to the Panel's work and its methodology.

 

In formulating its recommendations, the Panel adopted four principles to guide its assessment of proposals for constitutional recognition of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples, namely that each proposal must:

  • contribute to a more unified and reconciled nation;
  • be of benefit to and accord with the wishes of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples;
  • be capable of being supported by an overwhelming majority of Australians from across the political and social spectrums; and be technically and legally sound.

Between May and October 2011, the Panel conducted a broad national consultation and community engagement program to raise awareness about the question of constitutional recognition of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples. The program included public consultation meetings, individual discussions with high-level stakeholders, presentations at festivals and other events, a website, and a formal public submissions process. To ascertain the views of a wider spectrum of the community, and to help build an understanding of the likely levels of support within the community for different options for constitutional recognition, the Panel commissioned Newspoll to undertake quantitative and qualitative research between February and November 2011.

 

The Panel placed a strong emphasis upon ensuring that its consultation program enabled it to capture the views of as many Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people and communities as possible within the available timeframes. It also sought legal advice from leading practitioners of constitutional law on options for, and issues arising in relation to, constitutional recognition to ensure that its proposals were technically and legally sound. Read the report on constitutional recognition of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders here....

 

Africa: From The Ngok Dinka People Of Abyei Area Concerning Current Situation And Denial Of Self-Determination

 

With great regret we the Ngok Dinka of Abyei Area mark the one-year anniversary of our lost referendum - a referendum guaranteed by the Comprehensive Peace Agreement but never delivered by the Government of Sudan (GoS) because of the obstacles it continuously placed in its way. Instead the Government of Sudan brutally attacked us, killed some of us, injured us, displaced us, occupied our lands, looted our properties and has continued to try to steal our resources and settle others in our homeland.

 

In light of the Government’s refusal to admit its violations to date, remedy the situation in cooperation with the Government of the Republic of South Sudan, and withdraw its troops from our traditional lands, we the Ngok Dinka of Abyei Area filed formal complaints today before the United Nations (UN) Committee on the Elimination of All Forms of Racism and to six (6) UN Special Rapporteurs. It is expected that the Committee will review our request for assistance in their 80th period of sessions starting February 13 and that the UN Rapporteurs will pay immediate attention to the gravity of our situation, including by requesting an on site visit.

 

Indeed, as all know, in May of 2011 the Government of Sudan (GoS) unleashed the Sudan Armed Forces and its armed militias on the Ngok Dinka People, once again resulting in the forced displacement of over 100,00 persons, the death and injury of community members, the burning, destruction and looting of our homes and belongings, the orphaning of children, the deprivation of full access to our traditional lands and natural resources, and a humanitarian crisis which denies us access to food, shelter and medical attention. Today, the suffering of our people goes unaddressed by the Government of Sudan. Moreover, the denial of the Ngok Dinka people’s referendum to decide their political status has violated our rights to self-determination. Read more about the situation of the Ngok Dinka of Abyei region here....

 

India: Stop The Kalu Dam And Protect Adivasi Rights To Their Land

 

The Kalu Dam currently getting constructed near Murbad in Maharashtra state in India will submerge land in several hamlets belonging to the original forest dwelling communities, the adivasis. This is the very land they won legal recognition in 2006 as rightful owners after decades of struggle.

 

Adivasis depend entirely on the forest land and resources for their bona fide livelihood needs and practice. They have rich tradition of community conservation, like maintaining sacred groves, temple fish sanctuaries and an innate sense of fairness and justice with the environment around them.

 

The dam is being constructed in a global biodiversity hotspot in an ecologically sensitive area of India. However, no Environment Impact Assessment (EIA), no Social Impact Assessment (SIA), no wildlife assessment and no public hearings with affected stakeholders were held before starting work on this project. Read more about the Kalu Dam and violation of adivasi rights here....

 

Last Weeks Five Key Indigenous Peoples Issues can be found here.




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