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Wednesday, June 30, 2004

Another Mascot hits the dirt

From the AP Wires
Southeast Missouri drops Indians nickname

BETSY TAYLOR, Associated Press Writer
Wednesday, June 30, 2004

After more than 80 years, Southeast Missouri State University will no longer use Indians as a nickname.

Years of debate over the use of the nickname and mascot ended Wednesday when the board of regents voted unanimously to drop both for the men's teams as well as the Otahkians nickname for the women. The women's team name came from the legend of a Cherokee woman named Otahki who died near Cape Girardeau on the Trail of Tears forced march to the Oklahoma territory in the 1830s.

Supporters had argued that the nicknames showed pride in the American Indian heritage of the region. But others found them demeaning.

Glinda Ladd Seabaugh, president of the American Indian Center of the Heartland in Cape Girardeau, said she thought Southeast had not intended any harm, but that hanging onto Indian names was a type of cultural racism.

"We are human beings," she said. "We are not mascots."full article

That makes 2 this week. According to the mascot supporters, those mascots bring honor and pride back to the indigenous peoples. If this is true, then there should be dejected indians, stumbling about with heads hung low. Somehow, I doubt many(if any)indians will lose their sense of pride because a ridiculous representation, in the form of a sports team mascot, of their people is no longer subjected to ridicule by opposing sports teams.

For those "indians" that might mourn the loss of the mascot as a symbol of their "strength," all is not lost. They still have this popular image to instill a sense of pride.

Check out Ward Churchill's Let's spread the fun around

Voting in national elections-varying views

In an earlier blog entry, one of our members summarized 2 popular and opposing views that Indian people hold when it comes to particpating in State elections.

"There are those who would argue that there is a need for the Indian Nations to be involved in this process because these elections have more potential impact on them than do the tribal elections on the various reservations regarding the making available of federal funds for education, health, economic development, etc. There are also those who would argue as sovereign nations that we should not be directly involved in the internal political elections of a foreign nation (the US), but rather should respect our own sovereignty enough to remain separated from the US and state political processes."

As the U.S elections approach, we will be posting articles, essays and perspectives that reflect both of these views.

Todays' web edition of the "New London Day" carries an article entitled "American Indians Being Pushed To Polls This Year" The article reports on the potential impact that the U.S "indian vote" may have on the November elections, despite having a small population. By bringing their members to the polls, tribal votes are shaping up to be the "swing vote" in some contested states.

There was a lot of talk about native power at the polls last week during NCAI's midyear session at Mohegan Sun.

“The visibility we have is going to change America, and people have to stand up and look at us for who we are,” said Ernie Stevens, chairman of the National Indian Gaming Association. “We are noble Americans who have fought and died for this country.”

Casino tribes have become major donors to political campaigns in recent years, and the tribes are now funding the effort for greater participation at the polls. The Mohegans provided $10,000 in “key seed money” to the Four Directions Committee, a South Dakota non-profit group dedicated to registering Indian voters and ensuring they turn out on Election Day.

“It's not about getting out Democrats or Republicans, it's about educating Native Americans on how important it is to vote,” said Charles F. Bunnell, the Mohegans' chief of staff for external and governmental affairs. full article

The article presents the efforts of those who adhere to the idea that participating in the U.S electoral process is the best hope to affect change in Indian Country.

However, not all native people believe this is the best course. In fact, many native activists, organizations, educators, and scholars believe the act of voting gives legitimacy to the state. We'll also be featuring those views in the months to come. If you would like to read one such perspective, please visit this website-taiaiake.com to read a guest column by Cliff Atleo, Jr.

Taiaiake.com also featured one of Taiaiake Alfred's own columns "Why play the White man's game?" about this issue but it's not listed in the article section. I will post an excerpt from it, along with the link to another website that has a copy of his column

"It seems so clear that participating in the white man's political system goes against the basic idea that we are nations. An Indian giving a vote to a political candidate in a Canadian election is the same thing as giving an "OK" and smiling high five to the whole system that's been created to control us and take away our rights. If one chooses to validate their rule over us in this way, it becomes hypocritical to claim distinct nationhood as "First Nations," treaty Indians or Indigenous peoples. One of the strongest arguments we have against the legality of the white man's Indian Act is that we have never agreed to be subjects of that authority. Our ancestors never signed treaties of surrender, yet by participating in the white man's politics, we are caving in and surrendering and in effect giving the Canadian government the consent it so desperately needs to justify the situation it has created. By casting a vote or taking part in Canadian elections, what Indians are really saying to Canada is "I hereby agree to be part of your system, and accept the authority of your Constitution and your laws over me." full article

Articles of interest

Janklow-16 stops, no tickets

Terry Woster
Argus Leader
published: 6/30/2004

A state Highway Patrol review indicates troopers gave a break to Bill Janklow repeatedly on the road - some out of fear
PIERRE - Respect for authority - and in some cases fear - created an atmosphere in which South Dakota Highway Patrol troopers felt they should not ticket former Gov. Bill Janklow, according to a report written by the head of the patrol.

The six-page report, released this week to the Argus Leader by current Gov. Mike Rounds, shows that troopers pulled Janklow over 16 times since 1994 but did not issue a ticket or written warning. The former governor received several tickets before returning to office 10 years ago but none since his election.full article


Minnesota's very name comes from a Dakota word meaning "sky-tinted waters." Yet fewer than 30 fully fluent Dakota speakers remain in the state, according to the Dakota Ojibwe Language Revitalization Alliance.

Things are little better for speakers of the Ojibwe language. A 1995 survey of reservations in Minnesota, Wisconsin and Michigan found 418 fluent Ojibwemowin speakers, none younger than 45. Most were elders.

Alliance members want the numbers of fluent Dakota and Ojibwemowin speakers to grow.full article

Nick Coleman: Indian museum out of business
June 30, 2004

The dumbing down of Minnesota accelerates today with the closing of the only museum dedicated to understanding the most awful thing that ever happened here.

While we celebrate the "Grand Excursion," enjoying the reenactment of an 1854 historical footnote, our state's much more important story is being sold down the river.full article

Developer wants to build around bones

Staff Writer
A developer is one step closer to building his 9-single family home subdivision on Tremerton Street, where about 100 American Indian remains were recently found.

Michael Johnigean, owner of Empire Development, proposed to the City Commission this week they allow him to preserve one of his lots on Tremerton where Indian bones were found.

Johnigean said he would build his development around the lot.full article

Inquiry to check voting allegations

U.S. attorney's office gets involved
RAPID CITY - South Dakota U.S. Attorney Jim McMahon said his office will check into reports that some American Indian voters were turned away from the polls during the June 1 election.

''We are doing at least some initial inquiry to find out if anything even merits further investigation,'' McMahon said. ''One allegation was that there are some voters out there who did not have an ID and were told they couldn't vote. They were not given the option to sign an affidavit. The other was the issue of a (poll watcher) harassing some of the voters. There wasn't any more specific allegation than that. Without more, it's very difficult to even know where to start.''full article

Glenbow repatriates Blackfoot Nation artifacts

Wed, 30 Jun 2004 08:46:18 EDT
CALGARY - The repatriation of ancient artifacts is a perpetually thorny cultural issue, but one Canadian museum has shown that honouring a request to return artifacts can be beneficial for both parties.

Calgary's Glenbow Museum had hundreds of sacred and ceremonial objects in its collection from the Blackfoot First Nation. About four years ago, the band asked for some of them back.

A number of the items had been at the museum for more than 50 years, but officials consented – leading to a positive outcome.full article

Cheney booed(my title)
There were a couple of reports about Dick Cheney being booed during the 7th inning stretch of Tuesday's Yankees, Red Sox Game in New York. An article on the Espn website has a passage towards the end of the game recap.

"Cheney, who visited both clubhouses after batting practice, watched part of the game from the box of Yankees owner George Steinbrenner and part from a first-row seat next to the Yankees dugout, where he sat between New York Gov. George Pataki and former New York City Mayor Rudolph Giuliani. Cheney was booed when he was shown on the right-field videoboard during the seventh-inning stretch."full article

Tuesday, June 29, 2004

The Iraqi-al Qaeda disconnect

On June 16, the 9/11 commission released a staff report that found there was no credible evidence that there was a “collaborative relationship” between Al Qaeda and Iraq. Since then, the Bush administration, and it’s supporters, have been attempting to reconnect the 2 in the mind of the public.

Bush said, on June 17
"The reason I keep insisting that there was a relationship between Iraq and Saddam and al Qaeda, because there was a relationship between Iraq and al Qaeda."

Bush reiterated that the administration never said that "the 9/11 attacks were orchestrated" between Saddam Hussein and al Qaeda. "We did say there were numerous contacts between Saddam Hussein and al Qaeda," he said.” full article

Dick Cheney followed, on June 18
“"There clearly was a relationship. It's been testified to. The evidence is overwhelming," Cheney said in an interview with CNBC's "Capitol Report."

"It goes back to the early '90s. It involves a whole series of contacts, high-level contacts with Osama bin Laden and Iraqi intelligence officials.”

When asked if he had information, proving the link, that the 9/11 commission did not possess, Cheney gave answered with a resounding, “Probably.” full article

There are really 4 main instances that the Bush administration and it’s supporters cite as proof that Iraq was working in collaboration with al Qaeda, and therefore, posed a serious threat to the United States.
1. The Sudan Connection-Osama bin Laden, while he was in the Sudan, collaborated with Iraqi intelligence officers to oppose the Saudi ruling family.
2. The Prague Connection-Mohammed Atta, the “lead hijacker,” met with an Iraqi intelligence officer in Prague on April 8, 2001.
3. The Fedayeen Connection-An officer in Saddam Hussein’s Fedayeen was also a prominent member of al Qaeda
4. Poison Gas Connection-Iraq had provided training in “poisons and deadly gases” to al Qaeda as well as offering “chemical or biological” weapons training to 2 al Qaeda members as recently as December 2000.

The Sudan Connection.

The latest “evidence” to surface was publicized in a June 25, 2004 New York Times article. As the document dates to the mid 90’s, and cites meetings in a period and place that had already been addressed by the 9/11 commission, it is inconsequential in establishing a collaboration, between Iraq & al Qaeda, that posed a current threat to the United States. The article does, however raise suspicions as to the timing and origin of the document.
Contacts between Iraqi intelligence agents and Osama bin Laden when he was in Sudan in the mid-1990's were part of a broad effort by Baghdad to work with organizations opposing the Saudi ruling family, according to a newly disclosed document obtained by the Americans in Iraq.

American officials described the document as an internal report by the Iraqi intelligence service detailing efforts to seek cooperation with several Saudi opposition groups, including Mr. bin Laden's organization, before Al Qaeda had become a full-fledged terrorist organization. He was based in Sudan from 1992 to 1996, when that country forced him to leave and he took refuge in Afghanistan.

The new document, which appears to have circulated only since April, was provided to The New York Times several weeks ago, before the commission's report was released. Since obtaining the document, The Times has interviewed several military, intelligence and United States government officials in Washington and Baghdad to determine that the government considered it authentic.

The Americans confirmed that they had obtained the document from the Iraqi National Congress, as part of a trove that the group gathered after the fall of Saddam Hussein's government last year. The Defense Intelligence Agency paid the Iraqi National Congress for documents and other information until recently, when the group and its leader, Ahmad Chalabi, fell out of favor in Washington. full article

What is of interest is that the Iraqi National Congress provided the latest document. Yes, the same Iraqi National Congress headed by Ahmed Chalabi. The article notes that the document was circulated back in April, which predates the raid on Chalabi’s house as well the decision to cut U.S payments that were being made to the Iraqi National Congress.

At any rate, the document concludes that requests for joint operations against foreign forces in Saudi Arabia went unanswered and there were no other records of further collaboration between Iraq and al Qaeda

The 9/11 staff report covered this very same period and concluded that, although an Iraqi intelligence officer met with bin Laden in 1994, no further collaboration between the 2 were reported.

The Prague Connection

On the Dec. 9, 2001, Dick Cheney stated, on Tim Russert’s Meet the Press "it's been pretty well confirmed that he [Mohammed Atta] did go to Prague and he did meet with a senior official of the Iraqi intelligence service in Czechoslovakia last April, several months before the attack."

This is probably the most cited piece of “evidence” that a collaborative relationship existed between Iraq and al Qaeda. The implication is that Atta was given support, direction and assistance by Iraqi intelligence. The problem for those that cite the ‘Prague Meeting” as proof of a collaboration is that it has never been proven. The meeting and its ostensible confirmation has its origin in a couple of New York Times articles.

In an October 26, 2001 article entitled “Czechs Confirm Iraqi Agent Met With Terror Ringleader” it was reported that
The Czech interior minister said today that an Iraqi intelligence officer met with Mohammed Atta, one of the ringleaders of the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks on the United States, just five months before the synchronized hijackings and mass killings were carried out.

The official confirmation of the meeting, the details of which remain a mystery, does not amount to proof of Iraqi involvement in the attacks full article

The only confirmation was the assurance of the Czech Minister. The Czech Minister offered nothing in the way of witnesses, photos, passport logs, videotape, or any other verifiable form of documentation that would have corroborated his “confirmation.”

7 days prior to this article, the New York Times ran an article in which Czech officials denied they had any evidence of a meeting between Mohammed Atta and an Iraqi diplomat. The Czech officials reported they had been asked by Washington officials to search their records for evidence of a meeting.
"I can only confirm one visit in the summer," said Stanislav Gross, the Czech interior minister.

Petr Necas, chairman of the parliamentary defense committee, said, "I haven't seen any direct evidence that Mr. Atta met any Iraqi agent."full article

The Czech officials stated they had only documentary evidence that Atta had passed through the airport on his way to Germany(the prior summer). They also added
Officials here said that confusion over a possible meeting resulted from reports of people coming forth saying they had seen Mr. Atta here. Some asserted they saw him with Iraqi officials.

The official said the authorities did not find the reports credible. Some came from owners of small businesses who appeared to have denounced their competitors for allegedly having done business with Mr. Atta, he said.

American intelligence services also dismissed this as well.

This is what we have. Czech officials originally dismiss American reports of a meeting between Atta and an Iraqi diplomat. Some of the reports came from competing Czech businessmen eager to denounce their competitors. Seven days later, the Czech Minister contradicts other Czech officials, without any evidence or substantive material and his “confirmation is accepted as proof that Mohammed Atta and an Iraqi diplomat in Prague, on April 8, 2001.

The Fedayeen Connection

9/11 Commissioner, John Lehman, claimed that documents tied al Qaeda to Saddam Hussein’s Fedayeen, on a June 20 Meet the Press interview.
Lehman said that, since the report was issued, new intelligence had arrived "from the interrogations in Guantanamo and Iraq and from captured documents. ... Some of these documents indicate that there is at least one officer of Saddam's Fedayeen, a lieutenant colonel, who was a very prominent member of al-Qaeda."

The claim that the Iraqi officer and al-Qaeda figure are the same first appeared in a Wall Street Journal editorial on May 27. A similar account was then published in the June 7 edition of the Weekly Standard, which reported that the link was discovered by an analyst working for a controversial Pentagon intelligence unit under Douglas Feith, undersecretary of defense for policy. full article

The “analyst” that discovered this link is actually Penn State Political Science Professor , Christopher Carney. Carney, while looking over a list of Fedayeen officers, noticed the name Lt Col. Hikmat Shakir Ahmad. He remembered that an Iraqi, employed as a “greeter” by Malaysia airlines, had driven al Qaeda members to an al Qaeda summit in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, on January 5-8, 2000. The greeter’s name was Ahmad Hikmat Shakir Azzawi. This was the smoking gun the Bush administration needed and Lt Col. Hikmat Shakir was pronounced to be the Ahmad Azzawi that greeted al Qaeda members. Never mind that a greeter is not usually considered one of the more prominent positions in an organization or that their names had to be scrambled to find an overlap, this was offered as “evidence” of an Iraqi al Qaeda collaboration.

Juan Cole, a professor of modern Middle East History, explains the differences between the 2 names.
The al-Qaeda employee in Malaysia is named Ahmad Hikmat Shakir Azzawi.
The Iraqi intelligence agent is named Lt. Col. Hikmat Shakir Ahmad.
The family name (here, nisba) of the al-Qaeda guy in Malaysia is Azzawi.
The family name of the guy in Iraqi intelligence is Ahmad.
Do you notice how they are not the same?
The personal or first name of the al-Qaeda guy is Ahmad.
The personal or first name of the Iraqi intelligence agent is Hikmat.
Do you notice how it is not the same?
So, Ahmad Azzawi is not Hikmat Ahmad. See how easy that is?
Mr. Ahmad Azzawi has a couple of middle names, to wit, Hikmat Shakir. Having a couple of middle names is common in the Arab world.
Lt. Col. Hikmat Ahmad just has one middle name, Shakir. This is the only place at which there is any overlap between them at all. They share a middle name. And, o.k., one of Azzawi's middle names is the same as Lt. Col. Ahmad's first name.
This would be like having someone named Mark Walter Paul Johnson who is a chauffeur for Holiday Inn.
And then you have a CIA agent named Walter Paul Mark.
Obviously, it is the same guy, right? Natch.
Azzawi is a nisbah, a form of last name having to do with a place or occupation or tribe. I'm not sure, but an `azzaw might be someone who specialized in consoling family members over the death of a loved one. It is being used as a family name.
Lt. Col. Ahmad's last name could also be used as a first name. It may well be his father's first name. Some Arab families use a system like that in Scandinavia. Thus, the father is Thor Odinsson and the son is Loki Thorsson. There isn't a stable family name in that case. In the old style, he might be Hikmat ibn Ahmad or the son of Ahmad, but a lot of people drop the ibn nowadays. Most families either have a nisba type family name or they don't. If a guy's last name is Azzawi, that would certainly be in the government records. Lt. Col. Ahmad did not have Azzawi as a family name.
The first name or personal name is called "ism". In this case, the first name of the al-Qaeda guy is Ahmad. This means "the most praised" and is an epithet of the Prophet Muhammad.
The ism or personal name of the intelligence officer is Hikmat. Hikmah in Arabic means "wisdom." Hikmat with a long 't' at the end shows Ottoman influence, which in turn suggests an upper class Sunni background.
There isn't actually any similarity at all between the names of chauffeur Mr. Ahmad Azzawi and intelligence official Lt. Col. Hikmat Ahmad, from an Arab point of view. (For a lot of purposes you would drop the middle names).full article

A White House administration official concedes that the allegation is likely a confusion over names. Not one to give up, Lehman claims that it is still possible that the man in Kuala Lumpur was affiliated with Hussein, even if he is not Lt Col. Hikmat Ahmad.

The Poison Gas Connection

On February 05, 2002, Colin Powell went before the UN Security Council and claimed that Iraq provided bin Laden’s Afghan camps with training in document forgery, manufacturing poison gases and gave medical treatment to al Qaeda members. His principal source for this “intelligence” was captured al Qaeda commander, Ibn al-Shaykh al-Libi

Now it seems if Ibn al-Shayk al-Libi “confessions” may have not been so reliable.
A captured Qaeda commander who was a principal source for Bush administration claims that Osama bin Laden collaborated with Saddam Hussein's regime has changed his story, setting back White House efforts to shore up the credibility of its original case for the invasion of Iraq. The apparent recantation of Ibn al-Shaykh al-Libi, a onetime member of bin Laden's inner circle, has never been publicly acknowledged. But U.S. intelligence officials tell NEWSWEEK that al-Libi was a crucial source for one of the more dramatic assertions made by President George W. Bush and his top aides: that Iraq had provided training in "poisons and deadly gases" for Al Qaeda. Al-Libi, who once ran one of bin Laden's biggest training camps, was captured in Pakistan in November 2001 and soon began talking to CIA interrogators. Although he never mentioned his name, Secretary of State Colin Powell prominently referred to al-Libi's claims in his February 2003 speech to the United Nations; he recounted how a "senior terrorist operative" said Qaeda leaders were frustrated by their inability to make chemical or biological agents in Afghanistan and turned for help to Iraq. Continuing to rely on al-Libi's version, Powell then told how a bin Laden operative seeking help in acquiring poisons and gases had forged a "successful" relationship with Iraqi officials in the late 1990s and that, as recently as December 2000, Iraq had offered "chemical or biological weapons training for two Al Qaeda associates."

But more recently, sources said, U.S. interrogators went back to al-Libi with new evidence from other detainees that cast doubt on his claims. Al-Libi "subsequently recounted a different story," said one U.S. official. "It's not clear which version is correct. We are still sorting this out." Some officials now suspect that al-Libi, facing aggressive interrogation techniques, had previously said what U.S. officials wanted to hear. In any case, the cloud over his story explains why administration officials have made no mention of the "poisons and gases" claim for some time and did not more forcefully challenge the recent findings of the 9-11 Commission that Al Qaeda and Iraq had not forged a ?"collaborative relationship."full article

In January of 2004, less than a year after he went before the UN Security Council, Powell has this to say about the Iraq al Qaeda connection. "'I have not seen smoking-gun, concrete evidence about the connection,' Mr. Powell said, in response to a question at a news conference. 'But I think the possibility of such connections did exist, and it was prudent to consider them at the time that we did.'"

Powell is not the only one to now admit, after Iraq had been invaded, that they had no evidence that Iraq was involved with 9/11.

White House spokesman, Scott Mclellan on June 17, 2004” "In terms of this administration, we laid out the facts very clearly for the American people. . . . We made it very clear that there was no evidence to suggest that regime was involved in Sept. 11."

George W. Bush on Sept 17, 2003,” We've had no evidence that Saddam Hussein was involved with the September 11th”

Condoleeza Rice on Sept 16,2003” "We have never claimed that Saddam Hussein had either direction or control of 9-11."”

Donald Rumsfeld, asked about a poll in which 70% believed Saddam Hussein was personally responsible for 9/11 replied “I’ve not seen any indication that would lead me to believe that I could say that.

Paul Wolfowitz, when asked during an interview, when he first suspected Iraq was behind the 9/11 attacks responded” "I'm not sure even now that I would say Iraq had something to do with it,"

There are those that will continue to insist that Iraq was somehow responsible for 9/11 or that it collaborated with al Qaeda in committing “acts of terror.” Those assertions are not backed by any available evidence and are more a matter of faith. They are based directly on, or are variations of the “4 connection” stories examined above; the first in which the INC provides the document, the second that originates from competing businessmen, the third that hinges on scrambling the names and the last, which was offered under “interrogation” and has now been recanted. Keep that in mind the next time you hear someone pushing the al Qaeda/Iraq terrorist collaboration.

articles of interest

Shooters target pictographs
By Darren Marcy/The Daily Times
Jun 29, 2004,
DELGADITO CANYON — When Larry Baker made his last stop while leading a tour of early Navajo sites Thursday, he was excited to see the snakehead man, one of the pictographs on a wall of rock art in Delgadito Canyon.

Instead, what he found sickened him.

The site had been used as target practice with eight of 12 shots centering on the painted art on the sandstone rock wall.full article

Nelson refers Daschle concerns to authorities
June 28
By Denise Ross, Journal Staff Writer

South Dakota's U.S. attorney, Jim McMahon, will look into voting problems reported after the June 1 statewide election at the request of Secretary of State Chris Nelson.
Nelson forwarded a letter from Sen. Tom Daschle, D-S.D., and sent a letter of his own to McMahon last week.

"I said if there was intentional activity to violate state or federal law to prohibit Native Americans or anyone else from voting, it needs to be investigated and prosecuted," Nelson said.full article

Oglala Sioux Tribe files trust lawsuit
June 29
By Chet Brokaw, Associated Press Writer

PIERRE - The Oglala Sioux Tribe has filed a federal lawsuit that seeks to force the U.S. Interior Department to give a full accounting of land and money it is responsible for managing for the tribe.
The lawsuit, filed in federal court in the District of Columbia, alleges that the Interior Department and the U.S. Treasury Department have failed to account for land it holds in trust for the tribe and the money earned from leases and other uses of that land.

"Defendants have kept and continue to keep the Tribe, as the trust beneficiary, uninformed as to the trust property it owns, what income the trust property has produced, and what disposition has been made of the income," according to the lawsuit.full article

Gang life
Redwood Falls Gazette
June 29
There are, however, certain identifiers taken in concert with each other that could indicate a child is in a gang. A unique and disturbing trend among some Native American gangs is to identify gang affiliation by burning, cutting or even branding their bodies," Grant said. "Certain individuals have informed me that this behavior is part of proving you are a warrior in today's society."

Although this practice has primarily been seen in the Dakotas, Grant said it is making its way to other Indian Nations across the countryfull article

Machu Pichu called "endangered"Tuesday,
June 29, 2004

LIMA, Peru (AP) A century after American explorer Hiram Bingham hacked through jungle-shrouded mountains to reach the overgrown ruins of Machu Picchu, heavy tourism and nearby sprawl have endangered the "Lost City of the Incas."

That's the finding of U.N. evaluators, who recommended that the U.N. Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization place Machu Picchu on its endangered list.

The recommendation by the International Council on Monuments and Sites, was confirmed Monday by Peru's National Institute of Culture.full article

Monday, June 28, 2004

Is the Western Shoshone Distribution Bill "red hot" or not?

We've been reporting the developments on the "Western Shoshone Claims Distribution Bill" for the last couple of weeks as it has passed both the U.S House of Representatives and the U.S Senate. Now, all that remains for the bill to become law is the signature of George W. Bush.

In a June 21, column in Indian Country Today, Steve Newcomb reported that, according to Jennifer Farley(White House Office of Intergovernmental Affairs) the bill was considered "red hot."
Meanwhile, White House spokesperson Jennifer Farley reportedly told one Western Shoshone leader that the Western Shoshone bill is "red-hot" and that President Bush will not veto the bill if and when it reaches his desk. A source that once worked for a different White House in the late 1970’s said the term "red hot" undoubtedly means that passage of the bill is a top priority for the Bush administration. Coincidentally, Bush’s top political advisor Karl Rove, and then President Bush himself have reportedly visited Reno, Nevada in the past couple of weeks.full article

We are now getting reports that a White House representative, possibly from the Press Office, has contacted Indian Country Today to demand a retraction of Jennifer Farley's comments. The White House Rep apparently is contending that no such comments were ever spoken by Farley. Newcomb and his source are standing by their story.

The White House Rep reportedly also refused to confirm or deny whether or not the assertion, that the bill was "red hot" and will get a ready signature, was true. A more detailed version of this story should be forthcoming this week.

Conflicting stories about voting process in South Dakota

In today's web edition of Indian country today, David Melmer reports conflicting accounts of the June 01, 2004, special and primary elections, in South Dakota.
Bret Healy, executive director of the non-profit Get Out the Vote organization said that lawsuits would be filed in all three federal districts in South Dakota.
"For the legislature to do what they did in 2003 was unconscionable to make it more difficult for Native Americans to vote. The practical effect of the law was vivid on June 1," Healy said.
The voter photo ID requirement was passed by the state legislature in 2003. An argument used by opponents of the new law claim that because the American Indian vote was so instrumental in re-electing Democrat Tim Johnson, the Republican-led legislature passed the new rules.

Complaints came from across the state, many from reservations and some from Rapid City, where there is a large American Indian population.

"We have demonstrated evidence of many people turned away at the polls who had no photo ID. The big picture is that Native American voters were turned away at the polls. They [Republicans and critics] had better come up with a better argument then that to keep voters from voting," Healy said.

Danielle Black Fox, Standing Rock tribal member, said she witnessed several voters at a precinct in McLaughlin, S.D. turned away for not having photo ID, one she said did not return. Her affidavit stated that poll official Dorothy Weist, Butte Precinct, required a photo ID and did not allow affidavits.

Bruce Whalen, an Oglala Republican is quoted as having a different perspective on the voting process on June, 01.

\Whalen said he witnessed people challenging the photo ID law, but didn’t see anyone turned away. He saw a person who left the building to retrieve his photo ID from the car. A Four Directions person complained that that person was denied the right to vote - which was not the case, Whalen said.

Whalen also said there are three doors used to leave or enter the building and all were open with people coming and going the entire day. "It was more of a social event, it didn’t appear to be a purposeful vote," Whalen said. He added that from what he saw everyone was accommodated.

Whalen was watching the polls in Billy Mills hall.

Reports from Billy Mills hall, to Colorado AIM members, were that,indeed , would be voters were turned away from the booths. Those without state issued IDs were supposed to have the option of using tribal ID's and added to a provisional roll. It was reported that several people were told, by poll supervisors, that they had to have a state issued ID in order to vote. Others were told to call a Hot Springs office and speak with officials there, when they were not able to produce State issued IDs but attempted to use their Tribal IDs.

We also know of another poll watcher, in a different South Dakota County, who filed several reports about individuals who were denied the right to vote in the elections.

According to a witness at Billy Mills Hall, a Washington D.C attorney who was supposed to be monitoring the voting process in Billy Mills Hall, instead, spent most of the day sitting inside Big Bat's station across the street. Sitting in Big Bats for a whole day is quite an achievement. Big Bats has a deli, newspapers and a television, but is that really more interesting than what was happening across the street? It could be that one of the locals was able to mesmerize her with tales of personal exploits...for an entire day no less. Whatever the case, it might be a good idea to send someone else in her place this November.

First the land and now....the teeth and blood?

Indigenous Peoples are well aware of the theft of our territory and resources. It's a history we learn early on, from our own people if not the education system, and one that offers a present day context for understanding cases such as the Western Shoshone. Defending against the theft of our territories is one of the highest priorities of Tribal organizations, governments and individuals. Most indian people understand that our territories will turn a nice profit for those that manage to steal it at the point of a gun or under the ruse of "indian supported" legislation. We also understand that we possess resources, other than land, that are profitable, but did anyone ever think that our teeth would be such a hot commodity today?

This story from the Arizona Republic reports that a U.S government dentist, has been stripped of "patient privileges" for shipping extracted teeth, from Indian patients, to Europe.
A U.S. government dentist in Phoenix has been stripped of patient privileges while investigators probe allegations that he sold the extracted teeth of his Native American clients.

Sanders Steinman was put on desk duty at the Phoenix Indian Medical Center after hospital administrators say he was found shipping teeth to an unidentified European institution.

The hospital, which is run by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, is one of three Indian health centers nationwide. It serves 56,000 urban Indians and six tribes on reservations near Phoenix. It is also a regional referral center for services that can't be provided in other states
full article

The article reports that Steinman is being investigated to see if he violated employment rules and/or ethical standards. 2 tribal members are quoted in the article
"I am looking into this situation," said Gwen Bahe, council member of the Fort McDowell Yavapai tribe. "It is something that is very, very important to me and my tribe. I will not let it go

Ernie Jones Sr., president of the Yavapai-Prescott Tribe,...""To me, it was like they were trying to cover it up," he said. "Now we are just waiting for the investigation."

This is not the first time an Arizona institution has been scrutinized for using native tissue for purposes that were not consented to.

In March of 2004, The Havasupai Nation filed a $50 million dollar suit against the Arizona State University (ASU), The ASU board of regents and 3 ASU professors. The suit was in response to 400 blood samples that Havasupai Tribal members gave, under the assurances that the blood samples would be used to study diabetes, which afflicts the Havasupai in high proportions. Instead, the blood samples were used to study schizophrenia, migration patterns and were the basis of at least 23 scholarly papers.
In 2003, a tribal member approached ASU administrators and asked if the blood samples had been used for research other than that agreed to by the tribal members. An independent investigation was begun. That investigation revealed the following: Tribal members were misled. The tribal members gave blood specifically for the Diabetes Project, they were not offered nor did they give informed consent to any other research.
The independent investigation uncovered "... numerous unauthorized studies, experiments and projects by various universities and laboratories throughout the United States ..." that resulted in at least 23 scholarly papers, articles and dissertations that involved the Havasupai blood samples. Fifteen of those publications dealt with subjects that had nothing to do with diabetes -- like schizophrenia, inbreeding and theories about ancient human population migration to North America.

The tribal members did not give their "informed consent" for the use of the blood samples for any studies other than diabetes. Tribal members were also unaware of Markow's unauthorized access to more than 100 of their medical records to look for signs of schizophrenia. Professors also collected hand prints "under false pretense" to study diabetes when in fact they were studying inbreeding. full article

For a more detailed story about the Havasupai Blood sample story, read
"Indian Givers"

We also encourage people to visit the website of Indigenous People's Council on Biocolonialism."The IPCB is organized to assist indigenous peoples in the protection of their genetic resources, indigenous knowledge, cultural and human rights from the negative effects of biotechnology.
The IPCB provides educational and technical support to indigenous peoples in the protection of their biological resources, cultural integrity, knowledge and collective rights."

There you will find other examples in which genetic materials have been taken from Indigenous Peoples without their knowledge or consent.

On the one hand, the actions of the Arizona dentist may turn out to be innocous.(however, why would the dentist be stripped of "patient privileges?) On the other, Indigenous peoples need to be vigilant to the fact that our very bodies are now considered resources, in and of themselves.

Articles of interest

We had been posting articles on our website but have decided to feature them on our blog. We'll be posting the article links with brief excerpts from the articles.

Journey toward reconciliation The past flows into the present
WINONA, MINN. -- The big boats are coming back. But so are the people who were here before them. And for the first time, they will share the spotlight.
In an extraordinary confluence of troubled history and romantic myth, this city of 27,000 on the Mississippi River is preparing to welcome an anniversary flotilla of riverboats while at the same time attempting to find reconciliation with the Indian tribe that was displaced by the civilization that sent the original flotilla 150 years ago.full article

Board votes to rename Squaw Flat
Published June 27, 2004
Squaw Flat is no more.
From now on, it's Switchback Flat.

The Oregon Geographic Names Board on Saturday approved a request by the Klamath Tribes to change the name of spot found on Forest Service land about 16 miles northeast of Klamath Falls.

Cleo Atchley, an elder with the Klamath Tribes, has been pressing for the change for some time. Squaw Flat Road, which is near Squaw Flat, runs through her property.full article

Why I fought the law
June 26,
A lot of people want to know why I went all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court rather than give my name to a policeman. "What's so important about that?" they ask. "What's the big principle at stake?" And last week, when the Supreme Court ruled against me, maybe some thought I was foolish to have done it. But I still think I did the right thing and that there were some issues that had to be decided.
full article

Terrorism wears many faces
Seattle Post
But I wonder again about that definition -- and how far the rule of law extends.

Consider the debate about Muslim Uighurs from China's northwest Xinjiang region....China defines several Uighur organizations as terrorists

Amnesty International says China used terrorism as a brand for prohibiting future dissent. Amnesty says while there have been isolated incidents of violence -- and even terrorism -- most of the groups on China's list reflect only political dissent.full article

Mexican judge releases two jailed Indian antilogging activists
June 25, 2004
By Associated Press
MEXICO CITY — A judge this week released two Indian antilogging activists, jailed for more than a year in northern Mexico, after federal authorities announced that police in the case had committed abuses.

Isidro Baldenegro and Hermenegildo Rivas walked away from a prison in the border state of Chihuahua a little more than a week after Mexican Attorney General Rafael Macedo de la Concha announced that charges of illegal arms and marijuana possession would be dropped.
full article

Mexican Farmers Demand End to Imported GE Corn from US
Jun 22
Puebla, Mexico, (Prensa Latina) Mexican farm and indigenous
organizations, supported by Greenpeace, demand that US, Canadian and
Mexican ecology ministers release a report on genetically modified corn
or end imports to Mexico.

The US refusal to make the report on Corn and Biodiversity in Mexico
public is the first time that a promised report has not been presented
at the North American Environmental Cooperation Commission, now meeting
in Puebla, Mexico for its 11th session, La Jornada daily informed
Tuesday full article

Indigenous Resistance to Globalization
June 26
Tony Solo
Likewise, serious human rights abuses in Vicente Fox's Mexico also go mostly unreported. An overwhelmingly peaceful recent demonstration in Guadalajara outside the meeting between European and Latin American leaders was violently dispersed after provocations by a small number of aggressive protestors well infiltrated by government provocateurs. Hundreds of bystanders and peaceful demonstrators were rounded up, severely beaten and in many cases tortured during their subsequent detention.4

In Chiapas, indigenous leaders continue to be assassinated and indigenous communities displaced and attacked. On June 7th indigenous leader Vazquez Alvaro was murdered by gunmen believed to be in the pay of local landowners. While Mexico has denounced Cuba for its human rights abuses, Amnesty International had this to report about Mexico “In May the UN Committee against Torture published its report on a five-year investigation into torture in Mexico. The report stated that incidents of torture "are not exceptional situations or occasional violations committed by a few police officers but that, on the contrary, the police commonly use torture and resort to it systematically as another method of criminal investigation".full article

Friday, June 25, 2004


Fahrenheit 9/11 is the latest documentary from Michael Moore. The documentary covers the period from the November 2000 U.S Presedential election to April of 2004. The film documents the actions of the Bush administration as they steal the 2000 Presidentail elections, ignore the threat of Al Quaida prior to September 11, 2001, escort the Bin Laden relatives out of the U.S, pass the "patriot act," repeatedly use "terror alerts" to produce an atmosphere of fear, fabricate ties between Iraq and 9/11, push the discredited Iraqi WMD stories, and use poor people as cannon fodder as they eventually invade Iraq without provocation or justification.

Along the way, Moore details family and business ties between the Saudis and the Bush family, captures the media's willingness to march behind the Bushies, shows the horror of "humane, precision bombings" on Iraqi civilians(women and children), interviews returning soldiers who are either maimed or vow never to return, lists the Bush administrations attempts to cut benefits for veterans(in one case, docking the pay of a soldier because he was Killed in Action) explains the business connections/relationships between the Bush administration & corporations(Carlyle, Halliburton etc), and travels to Washington D.C with the mother of a soldier killed in Iraq.

Moore also engages in his trademark rabble rousing when he circles Congress, in an ice cream truck, reading the Patriot Act from a megaphone. He also engages Congressmen on the street and attempts to have them sign their own children up for military service in Iraq. He fails to get any committments.

A lot of people are familar with many, if not most of the ground covered by "FAHRENHEIT 9/11." However, Moore has compiled all of it into a single documentary in a way that is more powerful than any previous documentary or text. The Bush administration has stayed afloat because they rely on the short attention span of American citizens to minimize the constant scandals and lies they are embroiled in. FAHRENHEIT 9/11 returns to 2000 and neatly arranges the narrative in a way that any FOX news addict would be hard pressed to forget.

FAHRENHEIT 9/11 also incorporates some historical footage, some of it quite recent, that may have slipped from memory. There is footage of Donald Rumsfeld shaking hands with Saddam Hussein in 1983. There is a Taliban representative visiting the Unocal Corporation in Houston Texas. There is the Congressional Black Caucus, at the Janauary 2001 Presidential Confirmation, desperately trying to voice their objections to the Florida Vote, and being overruled by Al Gore because not a single U.S Senator will support them. There is George W. Bush, seconds away from announcing the invasion of Iraq, clowning in front of a "dead" camera by making silly eye movements and affecting ridiculous grins.

The most powerful images and segments of FAHRENHEIT 9/11 are related to the War on Iraq. Innocent Iraqi children are shown after bombing runs. Distraught and frightened families cower as U.S armed forces raid their homes in the dead of night. An Iraqi man vows revenge as he loads the bodies of Iraqi civilians into the back of a truck. In an eerie reminder Abu Ghraib, U.S military men mock and ridicule Iraqi men that are either lying dead, or are standing, handcuffed with their heads covered by black hoods. An Iraqi woman, who's uncle's house has just been bombed, screams at the cameramen, asking "where is God" and why is he "letting this happen to innocent people?" These scenes are more disturbing when one views them with the awareness that the U.S is currently conducting "precision" airstrikes on the city of Fallujah.

In the U.S, Moore meets a mother from Flint, Michigan, who proudly recounts her families service in the U.S military. Her son is deployed in Iraq and she flies the flag in support of him. She tells Moore that her son was afraid to go but she gave him a pep talk, reminding him of his duty to his country. Later, the woman's son is killed in Iraq. His last letter home, which she reads aloud surrounded by her family, is a letter of frustration and disillusionment.

FAHRENHEIT 9/11 doesn't pretend to be objective. It doesn't attempt to give George W. Bush's side of the story. It takes a skeptical look at the Bush administration and encourages the audience to do the same. It questions the motives, agenda and opportunism of Bush and his administration. It does what the Media and all concerned citizens should have done years ago and does so without apology. FAHRENHEIT 9/11. Go see it.

Western Shoshone "Distribution Bill" passes the Senate

On Thursday, June 24, the U.S Senate passed the "Western Shoshone Claims Distribution Act" by unanimous consent.(article) The bill now goes before George Bush who has the option of either signing it into law or vetoing it. Steve Newcomb reports that Bush is ready to sign the bill into law.
Meanwhile, White House spokesperson Jennifer Farley reportedly told one Western Shoshone leader that the Western Shoshone bill is "red-hot" and that President Bush will not veto the bill if and when it reaches his desk. A source that once worked for a different White House in the late 1970’s said the term "red hot" undoubtedly means that passage of the bill is a top priority for the Bush administration. Coincidentally, Bush’s top political advisor Karl Rove, and then President Bush himself have reportedly visited Reno, Nevada in the past couple of weeks.

The U.S House of Represetatives passed the Bill on Monday, June 21, in a voice vote. That same day, The National Congress of American Indians passed "Resolution #MOH-04-010
Title: Regarding the Western Shoshone Claims Distribution, Act, S. 618 and H.R. 884"

The resolution urged that the U.S Congress not "not impose a claims distribution on an Indian tribe that has not consented to the settlement of its land claims; and urges the United States Congress to enter into good faith negotiations on a nation-to-nation basis to resolve the long-standing land dispute between the Western Shoshone Nation and the U.S. Government and arrive at a mutually acceptable solution concerning the land in the 1863 Ruby Valley Treaty area before any final legislation is passed by the Congress." NCAI Resolution

The Senate disregarded the NCAI resolution and passed the bill. This M.O of passing "distribution award bills" to extinguish title to indian territories will likely become the standard for the future. We will keep you informed of any new developments.

Thursday, June 24, 2004

Rigoberta Menchu Tum in Denver

Rigoberta Menchu Tum will be in Denver today, speaking at the University of Denver Campus and receiving a Champion of Change Award from the Escuela Tlatelolco. The University of Denver talk will be at 1 p.m at Lindsay Auditorium. The Champions of Change Award Presentations will be at the Denver Botanic Gardens, beginning at 5 p.m.

Rigoberta Menchu Tum is a Quiche Mayan who won the 1992 Nobel Peace Prize on the strength of her advocacy for indigenous rights. She is also renowned for her book, "I, Rigoberta" which details the Guatemalan State repression and murder that was inflicted upon the Mayan communities. Rigoberta personifies the strength of indigenous peoples and their resiliency in withstanding State violence and we encourage people in the Denver area to come hear her speak.

Wednesday, June 23, 2004

An open letter to the U.S president from the Western Shoshone Nation

Today, Hugh Stevens, Chairman of the Te-Moak Tribe of the Western Shoshone Nation, issued an Open letter to George W. Bush, the U.S congress and the American people. In it he raised several points and addresses some of the lies being peddled by supporters of the "Western Shoshone Claims Distribution Bill"(H.R 884/S.618)

Here are some of the points that Stevens raises.

1. Congress is being told that the Western Shoshones want distribution of funds from the 1979 Indian Claims Commission(ICC), when in fact, 7 Western Shoshone Tribal Governments are opposed to a payout because it will extinguish their title and ownership to land the Western Shoshone never ceded to the U.S.

2. In order for the 1979 ICC to have made a final judgement, 2 actions were required. First, the ICC had to determine the amount of the monetary judgement and, second, a final report had to be filed with Congress that defined the basis for the monetary judgement in the case. The Final Report for the Western Shoshone was never filed, thus one of the 2 requirements was never fulfilled. The Western Shoshone case was one of 20 claims that were never completed, due to a lack of a final report, before the ICC was abolished in 1979. As the ICC no longer exists, no final report can be filed.

3. The Secretary of Interior, not the Western Shoshone, accepted the 1979 payment on behalf of the Western Shoshone.

4. The ICC also claimed that the Western Shoshone lost their lands to "Gradual Encroachment" when that was not the case. According to U.S Law, Free Consent is the only way the Western Shoshone could have ceded their land and this is something they have never done. "Gradual Encroachment" is not a legally permissible way for the Western Shoshone to have lost their land. No documentation or even a date has ever been offered that would pinpoint when the Western Shoshone Homeland was "taken."

Stevens Concludes,"We are prepared to enter into good faith negotiations, and we sincerely believe that a fair and just resolution of this matter can be achieved.

We appeal to the President of the United States to issue an Executive Order to the U. S. Department of Interior to direct the Secretary of Interior to enter into good faith negotiations, on a nation-to-nation basis, with the Western Shoshone Nation in an attempt to a reach fair and just resolution of the land dispute related to the 1863 Ruby Valley Treaty between the Western Shoshone Nation and the U.S. Government.

And we appeal to the U.S. Senate, please do not approve H.R.884/S.618 without at least giving the Western Shoshone Nation a hearing on the bill so that our voices may be heard."
full letter

The Western Shoshone Lands are one of the richest gold producing regions in the world. An estimated 25 billion in gold has already been extracted from Western Shoshone land. In addition, Mt Tenabo is estimated to contain 7-8 billion dollars in potential gold revenue. This is the Mountain that House Representative and Bill sponsor, Jim Gibbons is attempting to privatize to the Placer Dorm corporation. Gibbons was the 2nd leading Congressional recepient of mining contributions in the 2004 cycle.

What we are seeing, by supporters of the Bill, is greed, thievery and exploitation disguised as altruism. The payout of 145 million is a pittance when compared against the billions of dollars to be made by mining, energy and nuclear companies that will benefit from extinguishing the claims of the Western Shoshone.

Based on the language of the Indian Claims Commission Act of 1946, if the "award" money is paid out, the U.S can then claim that they paid the Western Shoshone, fairly, for their homeland. According to Section 32(a) of the Indian Claims Commission Act, once a monetary "award" is distributed no further claims against the U.S. are permissible pursuant to U.S. law.(Newcomb)

This is, undoubtedly, the goal of the congressmen and corporations. It's been said that if they were so concerned about the "impoverished Western Shoshone," then they could remedy those conditions by simply recognizing Western Shoshone title to the land, thereby giving them greater economic opportunities than the $20,000-$30,000 they will receive from the distribution bill.

Please contact the following and urge them to oppose this legislative land swindle.

Democratic National Committee - 202-863-8000 (Why

Republican National Committee - 202-863-8500

Contact your Senator

Colorado Senators
Wayne Allard (202) 224-5941
Ben Campbell (202) 224-5852

The BIA walks on coals-literally

A June 22, AP article, reports that 14 BIA executives attended a Tony Robbins leadership seminar last month. Among the highlights of the seminar was a midnight walk across hot coals. Another session sought to teach the participants how to lose weight, increase their energy on less sleep and reignite the passion in their physical relationships.

Said the BIA participants
(Debbie)Clark said the seminar was valuable in teaching her ``to go the extra mile'' to accomplish her goals, especially when ``you feel you don't have another ounce to give.''

``The BIA can be a negative environment because there are so many things that need to be done,'' she said. ``You go away feeling you're beating your head against the wall.''

The course, she said, taught her to stay focused -- the reason, she added, that she was able to walk on the hot coals.

(Ed) Parisian, the educator, said government officials ``tend to be fearful of stepping outside the box and making changes.'' The seminar, he said, taught him ``not to be afraid to take that step.'' full article

The costs for the seminar, hotel and travel expenses came to $28,000.

As the article points out, $28,000 could have paid the annual salary of a fifth grade teacher on a reservation. The BIA has never been known for efficient, productive use of funds set aside for Ndns,but $28,000 to walk on hot coals? The BIA could have given any third rate "plastic medicine men" 500 dollars and received the same qualatative "wisdom" that they received from Tony Robbins.

Perhaps the BIA should attend a Tom Vu seminar. You know Tom Vu. He's the Vietnamese gentleman who appears on late night informercials, sitting on his yacht, just waiting to tell people how to acquire real esate, with no money down and get rich in the process. He only charges $1000 dollars a day, he'll tell the BIA how to get our land back and he won't make them walk on hot coals.

Tuesday, June 22, 2004

Update on Newe Sogobia(Western Shoshone)

On Monday, June 21, the United States House of Representatives passed the "Western Shoshone Claims Distribution Act"(H.R.884)The Bill now goes to the Senate, and if approved, goes before the President to be signed into law.

The House Bill was sponsored by Rep, Jim Gibbon, R-Nev. An identical companion Bill was also pushed in the Senate by Sen, Harry Reid, D-Nev. The bill, if it becomes a law, would divide $145 million between the roughly 6000 members of the Western Shoshone Nation. The estimates of individual per capita payments range from $20,000 to $30,000.

The $145 million is the amount that has accrued from the original $27 million that the Indian Claims Commission judged to be fair compensation for 24 million acres of land stolen from the Western Shoshone. The $27 million was the value of the land in 1872.

Many Western Shoshones have fought the passage of the bill because the forced distribution would extinguish the title claims to their stolen land based on the 1863 Treaty of Ruby Valley.
One has to wonder why Senator Harry Reid is so dead set on forcing a monetary payment on the traditional Western Shoshones, despite opposition to HR 884 from the Western Shoshone National Council, and from many Western Shoshone IRA governments, such as the Te-Moak Tribal Council? What is the relationship between Senator Reid (and Congressman Gibbons) and the mining corporations, and other kinds of corporations that have so much to gain from passage of HR 884?

Reid’s "Dear Colleague" letter is similar to one of those Catholic Mission "begging letters" that solicit money on behalf of "poor little Indian children." However, the senator’s letter says nothing about making certain that the Western Shoshones receive a percentage of some $26 billion dollars in gold taken out of Western Shoshone lands over the past forty years. Nor does his letter explain that the Western Shoshone Claims Distribution bill would pay the Western Shoshone Nation a mere average of 15 cents an acre for lands Reid and Gibbons have slated for huge development projects.

Reid’s letter also doesn’t explain that the United States has no documentation to demonstrate that Western Shoshone lands were ever actually "taken" from the Western Shoshone people by the United States. Nor does Reid’s letter explain how his office helped then Te-Moak Chairman Felix Ike to create "a ballot process," which created the false perception that the majority of Western Shoshones are willing to accept the money being offered by the United States, without dealing with land. Reid’s letter fails to mention that the so-called straw poll ballot process was never authorized by the Te-Moak Tribal Council, and never independently verified and documented by anyone. No one, other than Ike and his most immediate associates, was ever allowed to count the "ballots," or knows where the "ballots" are now.

Reid’s letter also does not say that for over a year now the Bush Administration’s Interior Department has stonewalled Congressman Tom Udall’s very simple request for documentation regarding its June 2004 testimony about the so-called Western Shoshone vote. complete essay

All indications are that, if this Bill passes the Senate, President Bush is ready to sign it into law. We'll be keeping our readers informed of the developments as well as providing a more comprehensive analysis into the struggle for New Sogobia.

Anna Mae laid to rest

On Monday, June 21, Anna Mae Pictou-Aquash was buried in her home of Indian Brook, Novia Scotia.

She was remembered by her family and friends.
Elders and relatives spoke of her as a warrior for the political and cultural rights of Aboriginal peoples.

"I remember her strength and her dignity, and how she always stood and spoke truth," said her daughter, Denise Pictou-Maloney.

Said Jim Maloney, Anna Mae's first husband,"
``We have done our grieving. Today is a celebration day. She can rest in her own ground among her own people.''

Anna Mae's body was exhumed from Oglala, South Dakota, on April 22, 2004. A ceremony was held and Denise Maloney stated her mother,"began her journey home this morning ... to the warmth and security of her family and people - to be near their hearts, for inside their hearts is where her spirit has always been."

Anna Mae's reburial was threatened with delay when attorneys for accused triggerman, John Graham, obtained a temporary restraining order for the purposes of a third autopsy, the attorneys claimed.

A Molecular World of Thunder Bay scientist, along with 4 other experts concluded ""it is impossible to identify any male DNA from material from the pelvic area" because that part of the body "is completely void of soft tissue," Graham's attorney's then dropped the TRO and Anna Mae's family was allowed to lay her to rest.

To read more, look at these articles.
CBC article
AP article
CBC News
Rapid City Journal

Saturday, June 12, 2004

Paternalism Trumps Debate North of the Border

Here in the US, there is much debate within Indigenous Nations about what role, if any, they should take in the election of persons to Federal and State governments. There are those who would argue that there is a need for the Indian Nations to be involved in this process because these elections have more potential impact on them than do the tribal elections on the various reservations regarding the making available of federal funds for education, health, economic development, etc. There are also those who would argue as sovereign nations that we should not be directly involved in the internal political elections of a foreign nation (the US), but rather should respect our own sovereignty enough to remain separated from the US and state political processes.

Whichever way we as individual Indians and Indian Nations lean on this particular issue, it should remain a debate between and among Indians and not an imposed decision by an occupying power. In a show of rampant paternalism, the Canadian government has taken that decision out of the hands of the First Nations by disallowing political contributions by them.

According to the CBC:

First Nations barred from political donations
Friday, June 11, 2004

First Nations have been prohibited from making political donations by Elections Canada. Some of the donations came from federal dollars, CBC News reports.

First Nations gave nearly $50,000 to the Liberal Party and its candidates from 2000 to 2002, according to CBC News. The largest donations came from the Norway House Cree Nation, which gave more than $10,000 during that time.

Norway House Chief Ron Evans says the donations helped the band gain access to top officials. But council member Marcel Balfour says the money could have gone to better use on a reserve with high unemployment and other problems.

story here

This article serves to remind us that our first and most important fight is not with each other over issues, but against the occupying force of the US government for the freedom to decide. The imposition of these rules from without is far more damaging than any wrong decision that we as Indian Nations could potentially make.

Tuesday, June 08, 2004

website updates

We've added more content to our history and photos section. check out the history section here

The photos section can be found here

Monday, June 07, 2004

Water is sacred-Fighting Peabody Coal.

Indigenous Peoples understand one of the essential elements of life is water. That awareness is reflected in the Indigenous stories, rituals and ceremonies that affirm the life sustaining force of water. Indigenous Peoples give thanks for the rains and the renewal of life it brings. Native traditions teach that water is a sacred gift and one that should not be taken for granted. This is a basic understanding but one that is lost on those too "advanced" for notions of the sacred.

Living in an urban area can erase the understanding of what water means in providing us with life. The convenience of producing water at the turn of a tap diminishes the fear of water scarcity that our ancestors had to face at times. In the city, the majority of people share a common fear during a drought. Their fear is that their front lawn will not be as lush or green as it had been the year before. When the rains do come, people rush outside, not to give a silent acknowledgement of thanks for the rain but, instead, to turn on their lawn sprinklers so that their lawns will be more thoroughly saturated.

Not all urban areas supply their own water and energy from resources in their region. Instead, the resources that drive the city come from distant, impoverished, areas that receive money in exchange for the draining of their resources. Such is the case with Black Mesa.

"Chasing the Clouds", an LA Times article, traces the struggle of Black Mesa Dine and Hopi as they fight to keep Peabody Coal from draining the water of Black Mesa, to meet the consumer needs of Southern California.
"Somewhere far away from us, people have no understanding that their demand for cheap electricity, air conditioning and lights 24 hours a day have contributed to the imbalance of this very delicate place." — Nicole Horseherder, Navajo, Black Mesa

Nicole Horseherder belongs to an organization called, "To Nizhoni Ani" which means "Beautiful Spring Speaks. Her organization is one of many that have been fighting Peabody Coal's tapping of the Navajo Aquifer, which lies below Black Mesa.
Tapping the water from the Navajo aquifer, as deep as 3,000 feet beneath Black Mesa, the mine pumps water aboveground, where it propels crushed coal as a slurry mixture 273 miles through a pipeline to Southern California Edison's Mohave Generating Station in Laughlin, Nev. There the aquifer water is drained and the coal is dried and burned, producing 3% of Southern California's electricity, or enough to power 1.5 million homes. On an average day, Peabody draws 3.3 million gallons of water from below Black Mesa.

Peabody, which pays the tribes $4.3 million annually for the water, argues that the water sources above and below ground are not related. The company has commissioned studies, hired consultants and created a computer model simulating the effects of water taken from the aquifer.

Black Mesa also is home to rich coal deposits. With Southern California's voracious appetite for energy, the U.S. Department of the Interior in the mid-1960s brokered a deal with the Navajo Nation and the Hopi tribe to open the mine. Because Black Mesa was so remote, with no access to rail or traditional shipping, the only way to move the coal profitably was to build a slurry pipeline. Black Mesa is the only mine in the world to use a water-propelled pipeline for coal delivery, yet it does so from one of the most arid regions in the U.S., where two Native American cultures consider water a centerpiece of their existence. The plan, approved by unsophisticated tribal governments at the time, was a recipe for controversy.

One of the most resilient opponents of Peabody Coal is Black Mesa Trust founder, Vernon Masayesva. Before founding Black Mesa Trust, Masayesva served on the Hopi Tribal Council as a rep, vice-chair and Chairman. He used his position to try and bring "official opposition" but decided he could be more effective by organizing a grassroots opposition.
He did not campaign for reelection as chairman in 1994 because he felt the tribal government system had been too compromised. "I decided instead I needed to work with the grass-roots people who had not been represented, ever," Masayesva says. "I decided to put all my energy to fighting the fight from outside the government."

To that end,Black Mesa Trust was created. The vision of Black Mesa Trust is to
work toward creating a region where generations of Hopi and Dineh people can live and thrive in harmony with all of nature. Our vision for Black Mesa one hundred years from now is a comunity characterized by:

vast open spaces with a healthy ecosystem and habitat for all living things;
respectful relationships between human communities and the natural environment; and
people serving as responsible stewards of land and water.

The core values of Black Mesa Trust are stated as follows
Black Mesa Trust is an organization born out of concern for the depleting water supply and its long range implications for the health and viability of the Black Mesa ecosystem and Native people.We are dedicated to bringing back the traditional water ethics that have sustained our people for millenia and creating new ways of caring for and healing the water...the lifeblood of all living things.

To create a permanent homeland for generations of children yet to come we hope to apply the lessons of traditional knowledge with the techniques of western science and technology. It is our hope that our families will always enjoy the wide open spaces, deep canyons, majestic mesas, clear air and waters that characterize our sacred homeland.

Masayesva continued to organize the people and was ready when an opportunity arose in 2001.
But in 2001, Peabody again was forced to apply for the mine's permanent permit because of terms in the renewal of its coal supply agreement with Edison's Mohave station. Its application ignored the growing opposition to the water-based delivery from the mine. In fact, the company asked permission to mine more coal, using even more water.

"The timing of their permit application was perfect for us," Masayesva says. "That process allowed the opportunity for public comment on the mine plan."

During June of that same year, several organization attended a water meeting hosted by Nicole Horseherder and her cousin.
Inspired by the water meeting, Horseherder and her husband, Marshall Johnson, attended the 2002 spring session of the Navajo Nation Council in Window Rock, Ariz., where water rights was a centerpiece topic. With the new Peabody application, "our great fear was that the Navajo council would just renegotiate all of it without holding hearings and without all our people's approval," Horseherder says.

What happened instead was that there was little comment on the Navajo aquifer or the Peabody application in the council session. The water talks instead focused on matters with the Colorado River and the Little Colorado River Basin. No one was representing the Navajo side of the water controversies on Black Mesa as Masayesva was doing for the Hopi. "It opened our eyes to how our leaders were just letting the situation on Black Mesa happen," Horseherder says. "They were allowing representatives from groups to get up and talk, and I pushed my husband up there."

Unrehearsed, Johnson addressed the Navajo Nation Council.

What they did next was to use the resources they had to get their message out.
Energized by their reception in Window Rock, and seeing the need for representation of the Navajo water issues on Black Mesa, Horseherder and Johnson dedicated themselves to mobilizing the local people. While Peabody built a $2-million computer model to fulfill its legal obligation to assess the effect of its mining on the aquifer, Horseherder and Johnson drew poster boards showing how an aquifer could be depleted and depressurized. While they met with their traditional elders and medicine people to ensure they kept balance with the Navajo's spiritual meaning of water, they drafted a resolution asking current Secretary of the Interior Gale Norton to stop Navajo aquifer pumping and to find non-water-based transportation for Black Mesa coal.

Horseherder and Johnson began "pounding dirt roads for hours at a time," from one community to another, meeting with groups of 25 to 80 people, traveling hundreds of miles until they had reached the residents of 11 of the 14 Navajo chapter houses in and around Black Mesa. (A chapter represents the most local form of Navajo government, and a resolution from a chapter is the "official voice of the people of that community," Horseherder says.) The work took them away from their children at night and left them exhausted at the start of each day.

After months of work, Horseherder and Johnson got those 11 chapter houses to oppose Navajo aquifer pumping.

Marshall Johnson and Nicole Horseherder tied the resolutions to the saddle of Johnsons horse. Nicole and their baby then followed Johnson, in their truck, as he made a 2 day ride to deliver the resolutions to the Tribal Council.
They then asked the Navajo Council to adopt the resolution on behalf of the Navajo Nation as a whole. What happened then surprised them.

"When we approached Window Rock, they told us to come back next week, then come back next month, and pretty soon they didn't even have us on the agenda," Johnson says. "You hear them talk in Window Rock that people are the power of the government. They were trying to [stress] local empowerment. Yet we had a resolution from all the communities directly impacted by Black Mesa mine—and it turned out our government didn't want to hear us."

In addition to grassroots opposition, Peabody also faced another dilemma.
Southern California Edison's Mohave Generating Station belches 40,000 tons of sulfur dioxide into the air each year, according to the federal Environmental Protection Agency, making it one of the largest sources of that pollutant in the West. The white haze that Mohave pushed over the Grand Canyon made it the target of a late-1990s lawsuit by the Grand Canyon Trust, the Sierra Club and the National Parks Conservation Assn. A federal consent decree resulting from the lawsuit required Edison to retrofit Mohave with pollution control equipment by Dec. 31, 2005—the same date Edison's coal supply agreement with the Black Mesa mine expires.

Before committing an estimated $1.1 billion to retrofit the Mohave plant, replace the aging slurry pipeline and build a proposed new water transport pipeline, and considering the growing challenge to the mine operations on Black Mesa, Edison demanded that Peabody obtain its permanent mining permit as a condition to starting the retrofit. Edison wanted to make sure that if it made the investment, Mohave's coal supply would be secure for decades. Showing little concern for the water issues on Black Mesa, Edison also asked for a daily increase in coal volume and that the coal be "washed" before it is slurried so that it would burn cleaner—processes that called for a 34% increase in the mine's water draw.

As Peabody initiated the permanent permit process, Masayesva began spreading the word using a thoroughly modern tool—the Internet. Where Peabody's applications in the past had received scant notice by the local people, this time, due to the awareness created by the Black Mesa Trust, the Natural Resources Defense Council and others, the Office of Surface Mining received 7,000 comments on the permit application in a short time, all objecting to the mine's continued use of the aquifer. The outcry from the Navajo and Hopi people was so unified that, at least initially, both Joe Shirley Jr., the elected president of the Navajo Nation, and Wayne Taylor Jr., the elected chairman of the Hopi tribe, demanded that Black Mesa mine disconnect from the Navajo aquifer by what now became everyone's deadline—the end of 2005.

Peabody, along with the Navajo and Hopi Presidents, sought to extend the deadline. However, the efforts of the Black Mesa residents brought an unexpected decision from the Navajo Council.
Navajo President Shirley and Hopi Chairman Taylor were the first to call for a deadline extension that would allow the mine to continue using its traditional water source—a concession offer that Masayesva, Marshall Johnson and Horseherder say was predictable given the tribal governments' long history of cooperation with the mine company. But while they were backpedaling, Horseherder had been persisting with the resolution to the Navajo council. On Friday, July 25, 2003, against the wishes of Shirley, the Navajo Nation Council voted 48-12 to adopt Horseherder's resolution asking the Secretary of the Interior to intervene and force Peabody off the Navajo aquifer by the 2005 date.

"When they passed the resolution, I was actually numb," Horseherder says. "It took me a couple of weeks to realize we won, that our biggest goal had been achieved."

"In light of the issues surrounding the plant, we have concluded it is probable that Mohave will be shut down at the end of 2005," says Alan J. Fohrer, Southern California Edison's chief executive officer. "If it comes back, it would most likely be after an extended shutdown sometime [until] 2009, assuming these issues can be resolved."

Says Horseherder,
"Taking on the issues of Black Mesa have taken a huge toll on our family. You have to understand we have no money to pay anyone to do anything for us when we meet these agencies and corporations," Horseherder says. "We don't have money to pay ourselves. We have long gone through our savings. But when you have small children looking up at you, you have to imagine and envision what life is going to be for them in 20 years and 50 years, even when you are not here anymore. You have to imagine what you are going to leave for them. full article

Peabody may not have plans to quit, but neither do the people of Black Mesa. “Peabody has resources,” said President(Black Mesa Trust) Leonard Selestewa, “but they don’t have spirit. Spirit can beat money.”

The People of Black Mesa. Fighting for the sacred.

For more information, please visit the following sites.
Black Mesa Trust
Black Mesa Water Coalition
July 15-18 All Peoples Power Summit

Sunday, June 06, 2004

1988 Letter to Ronald Reagan

In 1988, Colorado AIM sent a letter to Ronald Reagan in response to these comments.

"Let me tell you just a little something about the American Indian in our land. We have provided millions of acres of land for what are called preservations - or reservations, I should say. They, from the beginning, announced that they wanted to maintain their way of life, as they had always lived there in the desert and the plains and so forth. And we set up these reservations so they could, and have a Bureau of Indian Affairs to help take care of them. At the same time, we provide education for them - schools on the reservations. And they’re free also to leave the reservations and be American citizens among the rest of us, and many do. Some still prefer, however, that way - that early way of life. And we’ve done everything we can to meet their demands as to how they want to live. Maybe we made a mistake. Maybe we should not have humored them in that wanting to stay in that kind of primitive lifestyle. Maybe we should have said, no, come join us; be citizens along with the rest of us."

Colorado AIM letter

Saturday, June 05, 2004

Is reality invading Bush's realm?

By most accounts, George W. Bush exists in a secluded realm, in which the events of the world are granted (or denied) permission on an ideological basis. All the Kings Men (and women) have erected a barrier that has, so far, proven to be impenetrable to domestic and international realities that might upset the Bush Kingdom. By his own admission, Bush relies solely on his advisors to interpret the world around him. One can imagine Bush as he swaggers to the window to get a look at the political landscape.

Looking within the walls of his realm, Bush notices RECORD UNEMPLOYMENT abusing his subjects. What is RECORD UNEMPLOYMENT doing in my castle, abusing my subjects Bush asks? Karl Rove is quick to inform Bush that RECORD UNEMPLOYMENT is actually ROBUST ECONOMY. ROBUST ECONOMY is here and the people are very happy. The subjects are yelling, not because they are being abused by RECORD UNEMPLOYMENT. No, they are yelling because they are celebrating with ROBUST ECONOMY. Not to worry. Everything is fine.

Bush swaggers to another window and notices that GUERILLA WAR IN IRAQ has set up camp just outside the walls of his kingdom. Why has GUERILLA WAR IN IRAQ come to the walls of my castle, Bush asks? That's not GUERILLA WAR IN IRAQ, yells Rumsfeld, that's actually AL QUAIDA TERRORISTS or SADDAM LOYALISTS or FOREIGN FIGHTERS. They will be gone on June 30. Just ignore them and they will disappear.

Scanning futher, Bush is at a loss because he can't see WEAPONS OF MASS DESTRUCTION or SADDAM AND BIN LADEN CONNECTION. Where are they, he asks? They were supposed to have been here already and I'm getting worried. I was told they were out there somewhere and now they seem to have disappeared. Not to worry, Cheney whispers. They are scheduled to arrive with our new friend OCTOBER SUPRISE. If any of the subjects get out of hand, then OCTOBER SUPRISE will deliver the necessary jolt to whip them back into line.

And so it went until the summer of 2004, when Bush was forced to venture outside of his protected zone. His advisors, knowing that Bush's worldview was about to crash into the wall of reality,have sought to protect him by encasing him in the armor of history. Bush is going forth as the War President. The catch is, he's not going forth as the Iraq War President, he is journeying out as the World War II President. This passage from Tom dispatch's Robert Manoff.
As could have been predicted long ago, the President and his administration, increasingly desperate, are being driven by a distant, ragtag insurgency toward potential disaster at the polls in November. The desperation is such that his advisors are praying the ongoing remembrances of "the Good War," six decades past, might now somehow rescue the President from the bad one at hand. His speech at Arlington like the upcoming ceremonies at Normandy might, it is hoped by those close to him, "launch a turnaround in his battered public image." Saving Private Bush?

However, invoking World War II has not given the Bush the appropriate protection.

A recent Tomdispatch noted that Bush's Army War College speech about Iraq seemed to have been "fedexed in from la-la land" in a "state of denial" and that for Bush -- in the words of Slate's William Saletan -- the "unpleasant facts" about Iraq "aren't even facts, they're illusions." Indeed, Bush's confusion on this point, says Saletan, is nothing less than psychopathology. full article

Sensing that World War II was not enough, World War III has now become a part of the efforts to protect Bush.

IN HIS commencement speech Wednesday to the Air Force Academy, President Bush all but declared Iraq to be World War III. He talked of Midway, Iwo Jima, Normandy, D-Day, Eisenhower, and the recent dedication of the World War II Memorial. He told the crowd that his war on terror "resembles the great clashes of the last century."

He said, "Like the Second World War, our present conflict began with a ruthless surprise attack on the United States." He said: "This is the great challenge of our time, the storm in which we fly."

Never mind that it was not Iraq or Saddam Hussein that attacked us on 9/11, nor did it have, by Bush's own grudging admission a few months back, any connection to 9/11. Never mind that Saddam had no weapons of mass destruction to make him an imminent threat to his neighbors let alone to us. Never mind that his military remained in sorry shape after it was creamed by the United States in 1991.full article

This job is getting especially difficult for his handlers. Bush's speeches are given to a handpicked audience of Bushites and his press conferences are merely a platform to mouth RNC talking points. But, what will happen as Bush's public appearances increase in relation to the approaching Presidential elections? When Bush is finally forced into an arena, the presidential debates, that are not orchestrated by Karl Rove and Karen Hughes, one wonders what will happen.

Today, in France, Bush tried to go "off message" in answer to a question posed by a French Journalist. Here is the witticism by Bush

Q Thank you, sir. I would have a question for Mr. Bush. Once, President Kennedy said, "Everyone has two countries, their own, and France." And why is it that your policy tends to be pushing your country and France to divorce?

PRESIDENT BUSH: To paraphrase President Kennedy, there's America, and then there's Texas.

What that answer is supposed to mean is a mystery. Its reminiscent of another quote Bush had about Texas.
There's an old saying in Tennessee -- I know it's in Texas, probably in Tennessee...that says, fool me once, shame on...shame on you. Fool me...you can't get fooled again. [9/17/2002]

There are signs that reality has been ambushing Bush. If this report from capitol hill blue is accurate about the mood inside the White House, then it would seem to point to a man who is having problems trying to contort reality to fit his fantasies. This captures Bush in full meltdown mode.

President George W. Bush’s increasingly erratic behavior and wide mood swings has the halls of the West Wing buzzing lately as aides privately express growing concern over their leader’s state of mind.
In meetings with top aides and administration officials, the President goes from quoting the Bible in one breath to obscene tantrums against the media, Democrats and others that he classifies as “enemies of the state.”

Worried White House aides paint a portrait of a man on the edge, increasingly wary of those who disagree with him and paranoid of a public that no longer trusts his policies in Iraq or at home.

“It reminds me of the Nixon days,” says a longtime GOP political consultant with contacts in the White House. “Everybody is an enemy; everybody is out to get him. That’s the mood over there.”

In interviews with a number of White House staffers who were willing to talk off the record, a picture of an administration under siege has emerged, led by a man who declares his decisions to be “God’s will” and then tells aides to “fuck over” anyone they consider to be an opponent of the administration.

“We’re at war, there’s no doubt about it. What I don’t know anymore is just who the enemy might be,” says one troubled White House aide. “We seem to spend more time trying to destroy John Kerry than al Qaeda and our enemies list just keeps growing and growing.”

Aides say the President gets “hung up on minor details,” micromanaging to the extreme while ignoring the bigger picture. He will spend hours personally reviewing and approving every attack ad against his Democratic opponent and then kiss off a meeting on economic issues. full article

Bush, according to these articles, is engaged in 4 wars; World War II, World War III, with John Kerry and the realties of the world that he has been secluded from. GUERILLA WAR IN IRAQ is still being ignored but it may be the rider to topple him from his horse. Will OCTOBER SUPRISE be able to rescue his "kingdom"?