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Tuesday, August 24, 2004

articles-august 24

 500 Tragic Years of Mayan Life, Shown in an Exhibition of Outreach and Hope

GUATEMALA CITY, Aug. 22 - Guatemala is known by most of the world for the soaring pyramids of the ancient Maya and the colorful weavings of their contemporary descendants. Folkloric images of the Maya Indians have been used to help attract tourism to a nation that was until eight years ago ravaged by a three-decade civil war. But within Guatemala, the Maya are often treated with no such respect.

Many Mayan leaders say they are disappointed with the scarce improvements in opportunities for the Maya, who make up roughly half of Guatemala's population and who most keenly suffered the war's wrath.

But now a traveling exhibition titled "Why Are We the Way We Are?," which opened in Guatemala's capital last week and will continue until June of next year, is trying to prompt a long-overdue national dialogue between the country's dominant nonindigenous population and the Maya. Created by the Guatemala-based Center for Mesoamerican Research with the collaboration of some top American museologists, the show has rallied support from business groups, media and government itself, elevating it to nothing less than a national event. At the exhibition's inauguration, Vice President Eduardo Stein of Guatemala hailed it as a "watershed in history. full article

Genocide in Texas

Posted: August 24, 2004 - 10:41am EST
by: Brenda Norrell / Southwest Staff Reporter / Indian Country Today

REDLAND, Texas - It is a history that the United States buried, along with the Indian women and children. But there is an invoice for the smallpox blankets given to Indians to eradicate them and a printed record of the scalp laws with payments of 10 pounds of silver for the scalp of an Indian child.

Steve Melendez, Pyramid Lake Paiute and president of the American Indian Genocide Museum in Houston, said the genocide of American Indians is a fact of history that must be recorded accurately in history so Indian nations can heal and racism in America can be countered.

Melendez said the invaders of this continent carried out systematic genocide to eradicate Indians and it continues today, with the recent theft of Western Shoshone land in Nevada by the United States government.
Melendez spoke on genocide at the commemoration of the massacre at Neches, near Tyler in northeast Texas, where the Texas militia murdered 800 Indian men, women, children and elderly on July 16, 1839. full article

Chile: Mapuches Convicted of “Terrorism”

(Washington D.C., August 23, 2004)
The recent sentencing of four Mapuche Indians and a supporter on terrorism charges is a grossly exaggerated response to unrest in southern Chile, Human Rights Watch and the Indigenous Rights Program at the University of the Frontier’s Institute of Indigenous Studies said today.

By using the harshest possible legal regime against the Mapuches, the Chilean government is unfairly lumping them together with those responsible for the worst crimes, like mass murder. It is deeply unfortunate that the authorities have made prosecutions for terrorism the main plank of their strategy for containing violence in the South." full article

COLUMNIST DORREEN YELLOW BIRD: Politicians show a sad ignorance about Indians

President Bush may be charismatic, as I said in my previous column . But he doesn't seems to know much about American Indians. That seems short-sighted of the president of the United States.

Bush was, after all, speaking at a conference for Journalists of Color (UNITY) in Washington, D.C., a few weeks ago. He should have had good answers for questions that he knew were likely to be asked of him by a panel of Native Americans, Hispanics, blacks and Asians. He has, after all, unlimited staff to write and research for him.

Mark Trahant, editorial page editor of the Seattle Post-Intelligencer and a member of the Native American Journalists Association, asked the president, "What do you think tribal sovereignty means in the 21st century, and how do we resolve conflicts between tribes and the federal and the state governments?" The president's response was, "Tribal sovereignty means that, it's sovereign. You're a you've been given sovereignty, and you're viewed as a sovereign entity." His response was short and he changed the subject from sovereignty to information about Indian schools. "We've spent $1.l billion in reconstruction of Native American schools," he said.

Perhaps politicians' lack of knowledge about American Indians isn't unusual. full article

Wilkins: Indigenous voices and American politics
David E. Wilkins / Professor of American Indian Studies / University of Minnesota

As a polarized American electorate uneasily traverses the time between the recently concluded Democratic National Convention and the pending Republican bash, one small yet extremely diversified segment of the American electorate - the 562 federally-recognized American Indian and Alaskan Native nations - find that their governments and their citizens may play an important, if minor, role in the 2004 presidential election.

This despite the fact that Native nations are not an integral part of the U.S. constitutional order since that document only addresses the federal and state governments and mentions Indian tribes only tangentially. Interestingly, since tribes were not involved in the U.S. Constitution’s creation, they are generally exempt from its major provisions and also are denied the protections that states enjoy. Stranger still, individual tribal citizens were unilaterally enfranchised by federal law in 1924 and, like other Americans, enjoy basic constitutional rights and privileges. full article

Lands struggle ends with park handover

AS the sun descended over the sprawling campsite in the Unnamed Conservation Park, the sense of excitement and celebration was overwhelming.
For more than 300 Maralinga Tjarutja and Pila Nguru Aboriginal people, last night's ceremony among the red dust, mulga and spinifex marked the end of a 50-year struggle for land rights.

Forced more than 1000km from their land as atomic bomb tests scarred Maralinga in the 1950s and 60s, the indigenous people never lost sight of their goal to return to their home.

Last night, their tenacity and determination was rewarded as the State Government officially handed back 21,000 sq/km of land – a strangely named park the size of Sicily. full article

Black and Indian Power

The Meaning of Hugo Chávez


To the sputtering fury of a Bush administration who has repeatedly conspired with Venezuela's elite to drive Hugo Chavez from power, the Black Indian President of this oil-rich nation has scored a decisive 59% victory over a recall effort. Chavez now sits more comfortably than ever atop a fourth of the world oil supplies -- equal to that of Iraq -- and he supplies a fifth of US oil needs. In addition, he is current leader of the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries, or OPEC. George W. Bush would prefer his friends in Saudi Arabia rather than Chavez set global oil prices. US attacks on Chavez caricature him as a tyrant in the class of Saddam Hussein, or a Marxist, or a ferociously anti-American clone of Castro. Actually, his populist uprising springs from multicultural grass roots that pre-date the foreign invasion of the Americas that began in 1492. full article

Anti-Terrorism Tip: Quit Spying on Nonviolent Activists
by Jeff Cohen
They're at it again.

FBI agents in recent weeks have been visiting and interrogating dozens of young activists believed to be planning or considering protests at the Democrat and Republican conventions. The New York Times exposed the FBI's home visits and intimidating interviews last week in a report headlined "FBI Goes Knocking for Political Troublemakers" -- those last two words tell us more about Times bias than about the activists in question.

With Al Qaeda and similar terrorists bent on murdering as many ordinary Americans as possible, why would the FBI divert resources and personnel to protesters and nonviolent civil disobedients?

It's the ultimate question. But it's not a new one: In the fall of 2001, with Al Qaeda on the verge of attacking us, why was the FBI so passive about leads that might have thwarted the attack -- yet so aggressive in hounding prostitutes in New Orleans and medical marijuana suppliers in California? full article


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