Cultural Survival Q
Keep it in the Ground
Vol. 41, Issue 1 â€¢ March 2017 US $4.99/CAN $6.99
M ar c h 201 7 V olum e 41 , Issue 1 Board of Directors President
Sarah Fuller vice president
Duane Champagne (Turtle Mountain Band of Chippewa) Treasurer
Steven Heim Clerk
Nicole Friederichs Evelyn Arce Erickson Kaimana Barcarse (Native Hawaiian) Jason Campbell (Spokane) Joseph Goko Mutangah Laura Graham Jean Jackson Lesley Kabotie (Crow) Stephen Marks Stella Tamang (Tamang) FOUNDERS David & Pia Maybury-Lewis Cultural Survival Headquarters 2067 Massachusetts Ave. Cambridge, MA 02140 t 617.441.5400 f 617.441.5417 www.cs.org Boulder Office 2769 Iris Ave., Suite 101 Boulder, CO 80304 Asociación Sobrevivencia Cultural 6ta Avenida 5-27, Local “C” Zona 1, Sumpango, Sacatepéquez, Guatemala
Indigenous women from all across the country made their voices heard and demanded their rights at the Women's March on Washington (see page 4). Photo by Jamie Malcolm-Brown.
4 Indigenous Women Rising
View writers’ guidelines at our website (www.cs.org) or send a self-addressed, stamped envelope to: Cultural Survival, Writer’s Guidelines, PO Box 381569, Cambridge, MA 02238. Cultural Survival recognizes that Indigenous Peoples have long been exploited by photographers and publications. This publication does not pay photographers for images and makes no money from publishing them. We also make a tremendous effort to identify every Indigenous individual in the images that appear here. From time to time, however, such identification is not possible. We apologize to the subjects of those photos and to any reader offended by the omission.
On the cover Proposed pipelines in Indigenous homelands. Map by Cherokee cartographer Aaron Carapella. To see the map detail, go to www.tribalnationsmap.com.
ii • www. cs. org
Jennifer Weston A year ago, families on Standing Rock started organizing with urgency against the Dakota Access Pipeline.
PennElys Droz, Sustainable Nations The Standing Rock Sioux Tribe is building a new, culturally designed sustainable community and demonstrating a future that honors the land, water, and communities.
22 Building Sovereign Power
Agnes Portalewska In pursuing its goal of being a true sovereign Nation, the Spokane Tribe of Washington is emerging as an innovative leader in attaining selfsufficiency through renewable energy.
Alexis Celeste Bunten Standing Rock has become a symbol for the ongoing disregard of Indigenous rights.
12 Water Is Life: The Rise of the Mní WiC˘óni Movement
24 Protecting Biological Diversity
Alejandra Pero and Christina Supples Ensuring Indigenous participation at the national level is crucial to implementing the Convention on Biological Diversity.
14 Campaigning for the Planet
Clayton Thomas-Müller speaks about organizing against major oil and gas pipeline projects opposed by First Nations in Canada.
Copyright 2017 by Cultural Survival, Inc. Cultural Survival Quarterly (ISSN 0740-3291) is published quarterly by Cultural Survival, Inc. at PO Box 381569, Cambridge, MA 02238. Periodical postage paid at Boston, MA 02205 and additional mailing offices. Postmaster: Send address changes to Cultural Survival, PO Box 381569, Cambridge, MA 02238. Printed on recycled paper in the U.S.A. Please note that the views in this magazine are those of the authors and do not necessarily represent the views of Cultural Survival.
Phoebe Farris On January 21, a half million people took to the streets around the globe for the historic Women’s March. Indigenous women made their voices heard.
10 Indigenous Resistance: The Big Picture Behind Pipeline Protests
Cultural Survival Quarterly
Copy Editor: Jenn Goodman Designer: NonprofitDesign.com Contributing Arts Editor: Phoebe Farris Managing Editor: Agnes Portalewska
20 Finding Balance: The Mní WiC˘óni Sustained Native Community
F e at u r e s
16 Clean vs. Dirty Energy: The Disregard of Indigenous Peoples in East Africa
Agnes Leina Africa’s investment boom, with its heavy push for oil and gas pipelines and other energy and infrastructure projects, has left Indigenous Peoples out of the equation.
18 Power to the People . . . at What Cost?
Dev Kumar Sunuwar In February 2016, the Nepalese government endorsed the National Energy Crisis Reduction and Electricity Development Decade Plan without the Free, Prior and Informed Consent of Indigenous Peoples.
D e pa r t m e n t s 1 Executive Director’s Message 2 In the News 6 Women the World Must Hear Rosa Palomino Chahuares and the Women of UMA
8 Rights in Action Hidro Santa Cruz Terminates Dam Project in Barillas, Guatemala
26 Bazaar Artist Afra Kashmir 27 Staff Spotlight Dev Kumar Sunuwar 29 Get Involved Convention on the Rights of the Child
E xecut iv e Di rector’ S messa ge
Keep It in the Ground
tanding Rock is a highly complex intersection of environmental issues, treaty rights, Tribal sovereignty, Indigenous rights, human rights, and development interests. The camps became a space where the issues catalyzed along “Water is Life,” and Standing Rock became a new resistance, or more accurately an enduring resistance in new times. American Indian Tribes have a long history of struggle with corporate interests for natural resources on our lands, and an equally long struggle for the right to manage our own resources. Recently, I listened to one of my Tribal leaders declare that our Navajo Nation is an energy state dependent on the resources provided by energy development. Bristling at the statement, I had to step back and think about our history of dispossession and deceit resulting in broken treaties, theft of land, and externally established Tribal government designed for the purpose of signing leases with corporations. Today’s reality is that Indian Tribes are concerned with economic development and their rights to manage their resources. The decisions Tribal Nations make about economic development determine the future of our children. We know that the impact of uranium development will last thousands of years, and that coal mining, oil and gas development, and fracking pose immediate threats to our environment and health. I can only ask the most important question: are we choosing life? Our spiritual knowledge guides us as we pray to sustain life, harmony, and balance. We respect and honor our relationships with the natural world. This worldview is the antithesis to the industrial globalization paradigm of greed that has colonized Indigenous Peoples everywhere and continues as we now struggle with decisions about economic development, self-sufficiency, and self-determination. We are resilient people living today with many problems and need resources to address them. The voices in this issue of the CSQ address these complex questions. As Clayton Thomas-Müller states, “In the era of a 1.5 degree imperative, we know that none of these pipelines can be built. We have won the scientific, economic, and the justicebased arguments against new fossil fuels infrastructure, and that is why these projects
are being so vehemently opposed.” The movement rising out of Standing Rock has brought to light the struggles that Indigenous Peoples face every day in defending the sacred—water, air, life. It has spearheaded and fortified the global movement against fossil fuels and Indigenous people are very much leading the fight across the globe. The Spokane Tribe is implementing their vision of being a truly sovereign and independent Nation by switching to renewable energy and instilling these principles in their youth. As Jason Campbell says, “Working with the middle school and high school on renewable technologies, you have the implicit lessons conceptualizing self-determination. They are conceptualizing themselves as the industry leaders rather than an employee of the system, and can demand that what gets designed around them is efficient, healthy, income-generating, and reflects their cultural values.” The Native Sustained Community Project at Standing Rock uses Indigenous knowledge to guide people back to balance by making their Vision 2030 Decree a reality: “We feel it is our duty to guide the world back into balance in a manner that provides for our life needs without destroying the source—Our Mother Earth. Our story will end unless we figure out a way to live harmoniously with the natural elements of the Universe. We seek to integrate systems that support our rights as Indigenous people on the planet—water, food, shelter, energy, and a sustainable form of economy.” While the focus is on Standing Rock, we are cognizant that Indigenous Peoples around the world are resisting development on their lands and territories. Agnes Leina speaks to the challenges Indigenous Peoples face in East Africa by not being included in international and national policymaking. She reminds us that whether they involve fossil fuels or renewables, all energy projects need to obtain Indigenous Peoples’ Free, Prior and Informed Consent and incorporate true benefit sharing.
Suzanne Benally, Executive Director (Navajo and Santa Clara Tewa)
Donors like you make our work around the world possible. Thanks so much for being part of Cultural Survival. Cultural Survival Staff Suzanne Benally (Navajo and Santa Clara Tewa), Executive Director Mark Camp, Deputy Executive Director Michael Johnson (Arikara/Hidatsa/Ojibwe), Director of Development Avexnim Cojtí (Maya K’iche’), Program Manager, Community Media Grants Project Jessie Cherofsky, Production Coordinator, Indigenous Rights Radio, Bazaar Program Manager Danielle DeLuca, Program Manager, Advocacy Program and Distribution Coordinator, Indigenous Rights Radio Shaldon Ferris (Khoisan), Indigenous Rights Radio Producer Sofia Flynn, Accounting & Office Manager John Kisimir (Maasai), Senior Fellow Dev Kumar Sunuwar (Kumar/Sunuwar), Program Associate, Community Media Grants Project Melvy Lorena Medina Patzán, Development & Program Associate Maria del Rosario “Rosy” Sul González (Kaqchikel), Indigenous Rights Radio Producer Jamie Malcolm-Brown, Communications & Information Technology Manager Katharine Norris, Program Assistant Teresita Orozco Mendoza, Regional Coordinator, Community Media Program Cesar Gomez Moscut (Pocomam), Content Production & Training Coordinator, Community Media Program Agnes Portalewska, Communications Manager Angelica Rao, Executive Coordinator Miranda Vitello, Development Associate Anselmo Xunic (Kaqchikel), Community Media Program Manager
Sobreviviencia Cultural STAFF (Our Sister Organization in Guatemala) Elsa Chiquita de Pacache (Kaqchikel), Radio Producer, Community Media Program Cesar Gomez Moscut (Pocomam), Program Director Diana Pastor (Maya K’iche’), Project Coordinator Oscar Armando Xunic Rocal (Kaqchikel), Accountant
INTERNS AND VOLUNTEERS Grace Archambeault, Chantelle Bacigalupo, Ariel Barbieri-Aghib, Olivia Bradley, Don Butler, Hadley DesMeules, Meghan Hoskins, Bruna Luniere, Gabriela McBee, Laura Seelau, Ryan Seelau, Shaina Semiatin, Jeanette Wittstein.
There are so many ways to
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March 2017 • 1
i n t he new s US: Blackfeet Nation Celebrates Cancellation of Illegal Oil Leases on Their Land November
The U.S. Department of the Interior announced the cancellation of 15 of Devon Energy’s undeveloped oil leases in an area sacred to the Blackfeet Nation in Montana. The Badger-Two Medicine region, federally recognized as a traditional cultural district, was leased illegally without Tribal consultation or assessment of environmental impact 30 years ago. However, the fight continues as other lease holders refuse to retire their leases, and have even filed lawsuits.
US: Cherokee Nation Files Suit against Federal Government November
The Cherokee Nation filed a lawsuit against the federal government, claiming that the United States mismanaged the Tribe’s trust fund and failed to provide the Nation with the adequate audits required under federal law. The suit requests an accurate accounting of the Cherokee Trust Fund, which includes property, land, funds, and other resources.
Costa Rica: Supreme Court Stops Hydroelectric Project after Failure to Consult November
The 650 megawatt hydroelectric project, run by the Costa Rican Electricity Institute (ICE), was halted by the supreme court after ICE failed to meet requirements to consult with the Terraba community. The project was estimated to provide 3,500 jobs, but also threatened to flood 10 percent of the Terraba community.
Nicaragua: Indigenous Peoples Triumph in Elections November
The small Indigenous political party Yatama achieved victory in the Nicaraguan general election when Miskitu
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Indigenous political party Yatama achieved victory in the Nicaraguan general election when Brooklyn Rivera (Miskitu) won a seat in the Nicaraguan National Assembly. Photo by By Brett Spencer.
Nation member Brooklyn Rivera won a seat in the Nicaraguan National Assembly. Rivera had served as an assemblyman in 2007, but was illegally deposed during the Sandinista Revolution.
Philippines: Indigenous Lumad Killings Continue December
The Lumad people of the Southern Philippine island of Mindanao have been fighting to regain control of their ancestral territories, but their efforts have resulted in hundreds of deaths in the Lumad community. Despite President Duterte’s statements expressing an inclusion of Indigenous Peoples’ interests and agenda, the killings of the Lumad people and defenders only escalates.
Colombia: U’wa People Confront Country’s Human Rights Violations December
The U’wa Association presented a petition to the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights alleging that the Colombian state is responsible for two decades of human rights violations against them. The U’wa people have been subject to the consequences of projects such as hydrocarbon exploitation, tourism, mining, and militarization in their territories without prior consultation.
Malaysia: Dayaks Lose Right to Claim Virgin Forests as Their Communal Reserves December
The Malaysian Federal court decided that the Dayak people of Kuching cannot apply their customary rights on
land to claim virgin forests as their territorial domain and communal forest reserves. The decision has affected 100 cases pending in high courts.
Australia: South Australian Government in Peace Treaty Talks with Aboriginals December
The South Australian government has set aside AUS $4.4 million over the last five years to hold a peace treaty negotiation with Aboriginal people across the state. The Aboriginal affairs minister, Kyam Mahr, believes it is a crucial step towards reconciliation, and hopes the treaty can be signed in the next year.
Canada: Manitoba First Nations Can Now Prioritize Indigenous Language and Culture December
Manitoba First Nations were the first to sign on to the First Nations School Board Agreement and will become the first in Canada to have their own school board designed and operated by First Nations people. Participating First Nations’ school systems will administer both elementary and high school education, and the board will prioritize programming for Indigenous languages and cultures. It is set to begin operating in time for the 2017–18 school year.
US: Major Victory for Mohawk Tribe December
After five years of fighting to remove the hydroelectric dam from the St. Regis Mohawk reservation, a court recently mandated the 87-year-old dam’s removal. The area will be converted into a national park with the millions of dollars that the Mohawk Tribe previously
won from a settlement with major corporations for polluting the river.
Mexico: Pipeline Construction Continues Despite Moratorium December
The new Agua Prieta pipeline under construction in northern Mexico is routed to go straight through 90 kilometers of Yaqui Territory, which is protected by Mexican law. Despite the Yaqui Tribe winning a moratorium against the construction, Mexican authorities have announced they plan to continue forward with construction. The Yaqui community has received a consistent flow of threats for opposing the pipeline, and has filed complaints with the Mexican Commission on Human Rights and the InterAmerican Court of Human Rights.
Ecuador: Indigenous Leaders Sue Chevron for $12B January
Indigenous residents of Lago Agrio have fought a decade long struggle against multinational oil corporation Chevron for leaving behind billions of gallons of toxic waste and killing community members. Now, they have won the right to take Chevron to court in Canada for $12 billion in company assets over environmental damage.
Indonesia: President Grants Indigenous Land Rights for First Time Since Independence January
Under the Joko Widodo administration, Indonesia’s central government has removed 130 of the 82,000 square kilometers belonging to Indigenous Peoples from state control. Although Indonesia’s constitution recognizes the rights of Indigenous Peoples, this is the first time in seven decades of independence that action has been taken to operationalize them. The Indigenous Peoples Alliance of the Archipelago (AMAN), Indonesia’s main Indigenous organization, plans to push to increase the territories secured for Indigenous communities.
Cultural Survival’s advocacy program launches international campaigns in support of grassroots Indigenous movements as they put pressure on governments and corporations to respect, protect, and fulfill the rights of their communities.
Kenya: Stop Police Brutality against Samburu People Samburu Communities in Laikipia Kenya Face Eviction Threat The Samburu of Laikipia County are facing possible eviction from their grazing grounds. Despite national and international laws protecting their right to their lands, this semi-nomadic pastoralist community has frequently been attacked by state police forces and evicted from their homes and traditional grazing routes. The Samburu believe the evictions are intended to disenfranchise the population and allow the current political party to regain votes in upcoming elections. The district of Laikipia North is currently the only constituency with a Maa speaking member of parliament, the language spoken by the Maasai and Samburu of Kenya. When the community gathered in Laikipia for a rally, they were greeted with police deployment and told the community meeting was banned. Now, militarized police have been deployed all across the Laikipia district. Samburu communities locally and in diaspora have organized to raise funds to rush a court order that stopped the armed operations planning to evict thousands until a court hearing. Conflicts for the Samburu are further exacerbated by drought conditions that force cattle herders to use routes further into territories occupied by ranchers.
Bangladesh: Ban Coal Mine, Save Forests and Farms 10 Years after Deadly Clash, Protests Continue Against Illegal Business of British Mining Company Global Coal Management Resources, a British mining company planning to build a massive open cast coal mine by forcibly displacing 130,000 people in Phulbari, Bangladesh, was faced by protest resistance in London outside of its 2016 annual general shareholders meeting, which also marked the tenth anniversary of Phulbari massacre. On August 26, 2006, three people were killed and 200 injured in a demonstration of 80,000 people for opposing the company’s plans. At the shareholder meeting, activists were able to attend and directly question company directors on the status of the project and its respect for human rights. Chairman Michael Tang was unable to answer questions from the floor and ended the meeting early. Despite the company’s lack of valid operating license in Bangladesh, it continues to sell shares on the London Stock Exchange. Seven UN human rights experts have called for an immediate halt to the project due to its threat to the fundamental human rights of hundreds of thousands of people. CEO Gary Lye has responded by filing multiple arbitrary suits against frontline opponents of the project.
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March March 2017 2017 •• 33
Photo by Jamie Malcolm-Brown
Indigenous Women Rising
Women’s March on Washington Phoebe Farris
n January 21, 2017, a half million people, predominantly women, took to the streets in almost every major U.S. city, and several more around the globe, for the historic Women’s March. They came to protest the new Trump administration and its war on women’s rights, the environment, racial and ethnic minorities, freedom of religion, and freedom of speech, to name but a few. For me personally, the March on Washington centered on the Native women gathered in front of the National Museum of the American Indian as part of the Indigenous Women Rise movement. Early in the morning, Indigenous women formed a circle, praying together, getting smudged, dancing, passing out free turquoise scarves and posters, talking, sharing stories, and informing the growing crowd gathered with them about issues that are pertinent to Native American women in the United States and Native Peoples in general in all of the Americas. Several women wore silk turquoise scarves designed especially for the march by fashion designer Bethany Yellowtail (Crow/Northern Cheyenne). Many participants spoke of the sense of inspiration they felt by being able to voice their opinion in a large group that had similar viewpoints within the Indigenous women’s realm. One participant reminded us that “an attack on our lands is an attack on Indigenous women’s bodies,” referring both to historical policies and new ones being drafted by the Trump administration. Of course, the viewpoints of the marchers were as diverse as the women themselves. For D.C. marcher Ani Begay (Navajo), “I decided to march to denounce the racist rhetoric 4 • www. cs. org
that has been spewing from the lips of the person some call our President. It’s embarrassing, ignorant, and such a step back from how far we’ve progressed. I march for my rights not just as a woman, but for Indigenous rights too. It concerns me that Trump claims climate change is a hoax. It is also scary that he wants to privatize reservations when the reason is so transparent with the new head of the EPA, Scott Pruitt, saying how we have valuable resources untapped. They have no regard for sanctity of the land. It is only about dollar bills to them. I marched for our Mother Earth, for Native treaties and sovereignty and rights. I marched for my children and for seven generations out.” Chrissie Castro (Navajo) of Native Voice Network and Advance Native Political Leadership, gave her own reasons for participating: “Native American Tribes and communities are at risk of losing the gains and advances made in Native American rights over the past several decades. A short list of rights and policies at risk include the Indian Health Care Improvement Act, the Indian Child Welfare Act, the Violence Against Women Act, the Indian Religious Freedom Act, the protection of sacred sites, and the continued struggle for protection of our land, air, and water. For these reasons and more, we felt it critical that Indigenous Women’s leadership proactively address what these policies mean for ourselves, our children, and our communities. We also believed that we needed to gain visibility and counter the continued erasure and invisibility of our peoples.” The circle, organized by the Indigenous Women Rise collective, was held in partnership with Advance Native Political Leadership, Native Americans in Philanthropy, Native Voice Network, Native Voices Rising, National Indian Women’s
Left: Before the Women’s March on Washington, Indigenous women from across the country gathered in front of the National Museum of the American Indian as part of the Indigenous Women Rise movement. Photo by Jamie Malcolm-Brown. Right: In Boston, the #BosIndig contingent was vocal at the Women’s March for America.
Resource Center, Americans for Indian Opportunity, Indigenous Environmental Network, UltraViolet, Continental Network of Indigenous Women in the Americas North American Region, and organized by Castro, Jennifer Fairbanks, Sarah Eagle Heart, Deborah Parker, Kandi Mossett, Rosalee Gonzalez, and Casey Camp, among many others. Indigenous women were present in the resistance all over the country, affirming that we are still here and fighting for our rights. Many cities invited Native women to be part of the official programs. In Washington, D.C., Judith LeBlanc, director of Native Organizers Alliance, and LaDonna Harris, president of Americans for Indian Opportunity, spoke at the main rally while Jennifer Elizabeth Kreisberg of Ulali, a First Nations acapella trio, sang. In Boston, organizers invited Claudia Fox Tree (Arawak/Yurumein) to speak. Her daughter, Savannah Fox Tree McGrath, sang Amazing Grace in Cherokee. Reflecting on the experience, Castro recalls, “Indigenous Women Rise marched with hundreds of thousands of women, men, and children to stand for justice in Washington, D.C. As we made our way through the shoulder-to-shoulder crowd, we began to sing the women’s warrior song, which is about strength, determination, and love for our people. As we marched down Constitution Avenue, we were confronted by thick crowds. There were a few times when the crowd instinctively opened to make way for us, asking, ‘Are you leading the march?’ People cheered, many had tears, some sang with us. It was a rare moment of visibility from our sisters and allies; to be seen for who we are, the medicine we bring, and the ancestors that were walking with us. We marched with dignity, knowing we are protecting Mother Earth, our communities, and our peoples. We were telling the world: We exist, we resist, we rise.” We also marched to bring attention to the disparities we face. As Native people in the U.S., we experience violent crimes at rates far greater than the general population. We are three times more likely to be killed by police than white Americans. Four in five Native American women will experience violence in their lifetime, and these acts of violence are committed by non-Native men most of the time. Over 26 percent of Native people live in poverty, compared with 13 percent of the general population. Boston Indigenous contingent organizer and marcher Bree Herne (Akwesasne Mohawk), in a statement, reminded people that, “As Native women, we are canaries in the coal mine when it comes to injustices that happen here on Turtle Island. It is important to recognize that Indigenous women have been the roots of this movement since the very beginning.
The Seneca Falls Convention was the first American women’s rights convention and stated if Iroquois women could be equal partners with men, then so could white women. Suffragists in 1848 looked to Iroquois women for inspiration in seeking women’s rights. Elizabeth Cady Stanton and Matilda Joslyn Gage, both leaders in the American women’s rights movement, specifically described ‘the greater rights of Iroquois women as proof that the subordinate position of white women was neither natural nor divinely inspired.’” After the morning gathering in front of the museum, the group joined the thousands of other marchers carrying two colorful banners, “Indigenous Peoples Exist/Resist/Rise” and “Indigenous Women Rise.” The march was electrifying, and Indigenous Women Rise hosted a followup meeting the next day with more than 50 Indigenous women in Washington, D.C., to talk about what’s at stake for our communities in this new political era. We began work on an Indigenous women’s platform, talking about collective action and building more solidarity across communities. According to Castro, there is a plan “to continue to build a network of Indigenous women throughout the country to be able to organize and resist against this administration.” Other participants spoke of implementing the aims of the march by making daily calls to senators and representatives to protect civil liberties, along with voicing needs for change to the new administration in regards to Native issues like Tribal sovereignty, self-determination, representation, education, healthcare access, violence against women, violence against the Earth, solidarity with all marginalized groups, protection of Native territories, extractive industries, food sovereignty, water, and the protection of sacred sites. As Indigenous women, we rise, we resist, and we work towards the fulfillment of our inherent rights. —Phoebe Farris, Ph.D. (Powhatan-Pamunkey) is contributing arts editor for the CSQ. She is a professor emerita of Purdue University and is currently teaching at the Corcoran School of the Arts and Design at George Washington University. Stay connected with Indigenous Women Rise. Follow on Twitter and Instagram @indigwomenrise or on Facebook (facebook.com/Indigenouswomenrise).
Cultural Survival Quarterly
March 2017 • 5
women t h e wo r ld m u st hear
Making Women Proud Rosa Palomino Chahuares and the Women of UMA Angelica Rao (CS STAFF)
Rosa Palomino Chahuares.
here are few people in this world that truly light up a room with their presence. From the moment one meets Rosa Palomino Chahuares, it is clear that she is one of those people. She has a smile and a light in her eyes that energizes and inspires, and her tireless life’s work promoting Indigenous women’s rights in rural Aymara communities is a reminder of the potential to overcome adversity when you are dedicated, optimistic, and truly care about your cause. “I think what sets us apart from other groups is our optimism. We always stay positive and believe that good things will happen,” says Chahuares. Chahuares has been working as a radio broadcaster and women’s rights advocate since she was 16 years old, promoting the Aymara language and culture and questioning patriarchy in settings where men respond aggressively to the word “feminism.” In 2014 she was presented with an award of distinction by the Ministry of Culture, and she currently serves on the board of the Network of Indigenous Communicators of Peru. She is also a member of UMA (Union of Aymara Women of Abya Yala), a group well known in Peruvian Indigenous rights and community media circles, and with good reason. UMA’s women’s program, Wiñay Pankara (“always blooming”), broadcast in Aymara at Radio Pachamama in Puno, Peru, brings to light the reality for women in Aymara communities, highlighting the efforts of women who are working to improve the situation for themselves and their communities. “Communication is the backbone of society. I saw that the women of my people were excluded and marginalized, so I started working for my culture,” Chahuares said in a 2014 interview with Servindi. “Wiñay Pankara opened a space in the Aymara population. Women have lost their fear, they have strengthened themselves by participating in the media. Women now know what our rights are...[they know] our culture, the rights of women, our wisdom. Speaking on the radio makes the authorities respect us. Everyone listens to our participation and our word. Our children also listen to us, to whom we are saying what the situation on earth is like.” In order to broadcast, UMA must buy a weekly 25-minute spot at great expense. This is the only option in Peru, a country
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that does not allow access to radio bandwidth for community radio stations. The lack of access means that even communities that are able to afford radio space do not have full autonomy over what they can broadcast; they are given only small pockets of time to speak in their languages, cover topics of interest for their communities, and promote their cultures amidst an endless sea of ads, music, and government propaganda at local commercial radio stations. Access to information and community media and the freedom of expression are basic rights that make up the foundation of a well-functioning society. Yet, Indigenous communities all over the globe must continually fight for these rights to be respected and guaranteed. Aside from lack of recognition and funding, Indigenous journalists and community radio operators frequently incur physical and/or death threats and state persecution for exercising their rights in order to serve their communities. In spite of a grave lack of resources, UMA continues to do impressive work to expose rampant societal misogyny and provide opportunities for women to rise up, both on the air and in their communities. Chahuares and other members of UMA travel to communities at their request to hold workshops with groups of women on a regular basis, even when there are no resources to do so. All of the women participating contribute whatever they can, and the women of UMA travel on their own dime to facilitate workshops. In addition, Chahuares
Women of UMA on air at Radio Pachamama in Puno, Peru.
All photos by Angelica Rao and Avex Cojti.
Rosa Palomino participating in an Aymara radio program, “Programa Voces de los Andes y la Amazonía” at Radio Aymara in Puno, Peru.
travels to different communities every week to conduct interviews so that she is always prepared to broadcast new, relevant material on their program. One of the younger members of UMA, Elisa Condori Cari, explains what UMA has done for her, “Since I became a member, I feel proud to be an Aymara woman, proud of my roots and my customs, of the respect that my people have for nature, and of the importance and the necessity that exists to find value in our culture.” Chahuares and her fellow women’s rights activists face deeply entrenched misogyny every day. In a neighboring town where a group of young men buy airtime at another commercial station to hold their Aymara cultural program, Chahuares kept her cool as the men explained how bothered they were by feminists. Unphased by the discourse, Palomino maintained a smile and total composure as the men argued that women were the real machistas, that it was mothers who raised their sons to be the way that they are, and that women were the ones least likely to support other women. This was clearly not the first time that she had heard talk like this. She waited for her moment to meet these men where they might find some common ground. When she spoke, she referred to the Aymara words chacha warmi, which represent the symbiotic and complementary relationship between men and women as it has been understood historically in Aymara communities. It is this talent of communicating controversial messages to dissenting groups with ease that makes Chahuares such a great community broadcaster and a significant figure for women’s rights initiatives in Peru. As of December 2016, the women of UMA no longer have any funding to continue their radio program. They had been searching for funding sources to continue their program, but with no success. Their greater goal is to have their own radio station where they would have full autonomy over their programming; where they would provide a space for different sectors to participate; and where women would be given the opportunity to find confidence and grow as community broadcasters.
In January, Cultural Survival’s Community Media Grants Project selected UMA as one of its grantees. The Community Media Grants Project provides opportunities for international Indigenous community radio stations to apply for funding through a nontraditional, culturally appropriate, and dynamic grants process designed to meet the needs of these flourishing community broadcast systems. Grants are available to provide equipment, training in production and journalism, legal support, and content production, as well as specific trainings to ensure sustainable and impactful communication platforms and regional networks that support and advance Indigenous communities’ rights and ability to engage in relevant issues affecting their wellbeing. This one-year project with UMA will allow them to double their airtime on the radio and provide opportunities for more local women to be trained to become community broadcasters with the support of UMA mentors. The women of UMA will be holding workshops with Aymara women in surrounding communities that aim to bring to light the value of Aymara women in their communities, to help these women to find and believe in their own self-worth. This will be the foundation on which the rest of the learning will be built. After completing the empowerment training, the women will learn to produce and record radio programs on their rights and the rights of their communities. The women of UMA understand that their power is built on their solidarity. The more women that are educated, that believe in themselves and their sisters, and that are motivated to make a change, the more likely these women are to achieve the equality that they have so long been pursuing. At 65 years old, Palomino’s dream continues to be for the women of UMA to have their own community radio station. Even if she doesn’t see it in her lifetime, she hopes that her two daughters who have been involved with UMA since they were children will continue the fight that she began: “I can leave this world happy knowing that my daughters and the other women of UMA will continue the fight that I began so many years ago.” Cultural Survival Quarterly
March 2017 • 7
r i ght s i n a ct io n
Hidro Santa Cruz Terminates Dam Project in Barillas, Guatemala
The Q’anjob’al Maya community of Santa Cruz Barillas, has been voicing their opposition to a proposed hydroelectric dam on their sacred river for close to a decade. Photo by Danielle DeLuca.
Danielle DeLuca (CS STAFF)
fter almost a decade of resistance, a cautious victory has been declared for a Maya community in Santa Cruz Barillas, Guatemala in their fight against a Spanish hydroelectric company attempting to install a dam on their sacred river. In December 2016, Hidro Santa Cruz, a subsidiary of Spanish infrastructure companies owned by brothers Luis and David Valdivia, announced it would be pulling out of its project in Huehuetenango, Guatemala, after years of consistent and powerful resistance from Q’anjob’al communities prevented them from constructing the dams. The company announced the termination of the project in a press release, saying that it no longer considers the project viable: “For various reasons, [the project] has not gained the acceptance of a significant part of the inhabitants of the territory in which it was planned for installation...The decision was adopted months earlier, after careful analysis that considered the fundamental social impact, as well as the petitions received from different non-governmental organizations. It has been officially communicated to the State of Guatemala.” The release does not mention that the company’s financial backers pulled their multi-million dollar investment in Hidro Santa Cruz in November of 2015 after complaints were filed to the World Bank. In July of 2015, representatives of the community in Santa Cruz Barillas, Guatemala, submitted an official complaint
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regarding a proposed hydroelectric dam on the Q’am B’alam River in their small town in the department of Huehuetenango. Cecilia Mérida, the partner of an environmental defender who was arrested, falsely charged, and imprisoned in Guatemala, testified at the World Bank in Washington, D.C. She spoke of the damage being inflicted by the Bank’s financing of the project and the strategies of criminalization being employed by the Guatemalan government and Hidro Santa Cruz in an attempt to silence local opposition, giving firsthand testimony about the impacts on families and communities when leaders are illegally detained and imprisoned for months, or even years, on end. Since 2009, Hidro Santa Cruz has been planning a series of dams on the Q’am B’alam river that surrounds the town of Santa Cruz Barillas. The river and its three waterfalls are considered sacred by the Q’anjob’al community, whose ancestors named the river “yellow tiger” in the Q’anjob’al language after the animal that was said to drink from its waters. The project was to be installed in an area used by the community for ceremonial, recreational, and agricultural purposes, and in an ecosystem that is of highest priority for conservation, according to the International Commission on Tropical Biology and Natural Resources. The community has twice held referenda and both times voted unequivocally to reject the exploitation of its natural resources by transnational corporations. Nevertheless, the government approved the Cambalam I Dam with neither the Free, Prior and Informed Consent of the community, nor
any legitimate social or environmental impact assessments. Dozens of community organizers and leaders have been arbitrarily detained and arrested after speaking out against the dam, including Mérida’s partner, Ruben Herrera. Some were imprisoned for over two years. All were eventually released due to lack of evidence of having committed a crime. Two men have been killed; one, Andres Francisco Miguel, was shot at by security guards of the company in 2012, and another, teacher Daniel Pedro Mateo, was kidnapped while on his way to a community meeting training environmental defenders in 2013. His body was later found with signs of torture.
Following the Money
The World Bank continues to be a major funder of resource extraction companies around the world, lending hundreds of millions of dollars each year to companies working in the global South who are unable to guarantee that these investments are not contributing to human rights violations. The Hidro Santa Cruz project, proposed by Spanish-owned Ecoener/Hidralia Energia, through its subsidiary Hidro Santa Cruz, was financed by a private equity fund, Corporación Interamericana para el Financiamiento de Infraestructura (CIFI), which is supported by the International Finance Corporation (IFC). The IFC, part of the World Bank Group, had committed to a $10 million equity and $20 million loan investment to Hidro Santa Cruz via the CIFI, with an additional $48.5 million syndicated loan. CAO, the Compliance Advisor/Ombudsman, is the group tasked with investigating the complaint from the community. As an independent recourse mechanism for the private sector lending arms of the World Bank Group, CAO’s mission is to address complaints by people affected by these projects and to enhance the social and environmental accountability of both the World Bank and its private sector lending institutions. CAO’s findings agreed that the accusations in the community’s complaint were serious and substantial in nature. The CAO is now investigating whether IFC performed its due diligence in reviewing the Environmental and Social Impact Assessments carried out by Hidro Santa Cruz. Results of that investigation are expected in June 2017. All evidence points to the fact that the IFC should never have invested in Hidro Santa Cruz. The project violated the rights of Indigenous Peoples by ignoring the community referendum of 2009, ignoring the community’s right to Free, Prior and Informed Consent, and turning a blind eye to the use of violence, excessive force, intimidation, rape, and false imprisonment as methods to further their business interests. The traditional authorities of the Maya Nations in Huehuetenango, known as Payxail Yajaw Konob’, released a statement regarding the announcement of the termination of Hidro Santa Cruz in Guatemala. Rather than celebrating the announcement of the company’s exit, leaders who are all too familiar with the deceptive strategies of foreign companies are concerned that the license for the project may have simply changed hands, allowing another future company to move forward. They also point out that Hidro Santa Cruz is just one of various subsidiary companies of Ecoener and Hidralia Energia. In fact, as the Hidro Santa Cruz project in Barillas has quieted down in recent years, neighboring community San
Mateo Ixtatan has faced increased aggression from hydroelectric project Promoción y Desarrollos Hídricos (PDH), which also has ties to the Valdivia brothers: Hidralia Energia, Hidro Santa Cruz’s parent company, was awarded a contract to design the series of two dams in 2011. As the community has organized in opposition to the project, the same patterns of community unrest and repressive violence are being used against them. On January 17, 2017, 72-year-old Sebastián Alonzo Juan was killed during a demonstration in the Maya Chuj community of Yich K’isis, San Mateo Ixtatán, Huehuetenango, when National Police and armed private security opened fire on demonstrators outside of the facilities of PDH during a skirmish between community members for and against the dam. He is the third person to be killed as a result of conflict relating to the plans for that dam, in a community of just 39,000. PDH has also received funding from international development banks, specifically the Inter-American Investment Corporation (ICC), a branch of the Inter-American Development Bank, which has provided more than $13 million in financing for the project in San Mateo Ixtatán. There are 13 other licenses in various stages of development for hydroelectric projects in Huehuetenango. In the United States, the battle against oil and gas pipelines has been characterized as a fight against a medusa, a monster with many heads; it’s the same monster, activists say, with different names in different places. Meanwhile, Guatemala fights a similar monster in its conglomeration of hydroelectric projects. Less than a week after the ancestral government released a public statement warning that the fight against Hidro Santa Cruz is not over, they released another statement following the death of the Maya Chuj elder. “We demand, once again, the immediate cancellation of all the licenses authorized on Q’anjob’al territory and the immediate removal of all extractive industry and security forces. . . . Our Nations have inhabited this territory for thousands of years.”
Free, Prior and Informed Consent (FPIC) UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (Article 32) states: 1. Indigenous Peoples have the right to determine and develop priorities and strategies for the development or use of their lands or territories and other resources. 2. States shall consult and cooperate in good faith with the Indigenous Peoples concerned through their own representative institutions in order to obtain their free and informed consent prior to the approval of any project affecting their lands or territories and other resources, particularly in connection with the development, utilization or exploitation of mineral, water or other resources.
Cultural Survival Quarterly
March 2017 • 9
Indigenous Resistance The Big Picture behind Pipeline Protests
Where Are Liquids Pipelines Located? Source: American Energy Mapping.
Alexis Celeste Bunten
ast fall, Indigenous Peoples from around the world came to stand with Standing Rock on the banks of the Cannonball River in North Dakota to protect water through the power of prayer, occupation, and protest. Standing Rock has become a much bigger symbol for the ongoing disregard of Indigenous rights to traditional territories and ways of life. Tara Houska (Couchiching First Nation), national campaign director for Honor the Earth, described what happened at Standing Rock at the October 2016 Indigenous Forum, hosted by Bioneers: “The stories are the same no matter where you go around the world with Indigenous people. It’s always this extractive project contaminated our drinking water; this industry is preventing us from exercising our rights to hunt and fish; our traditional foods are dying; our children are sick; our elders are sick; we have cancer clusters. Standing Rock has become for Indigenous people this moment where they’re all standing together because they all know what happens when something like this is allowed to happen to them and to their communities.” Tears of joy after the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers pulled the project permit in December were replaced with tears of anguish in January when President Trump issued an executive action to steamroll ahead with the pipeline as part of the administration’s aggressive pursuit of a fossil fuel-based national
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economy. As of February 2017, water protectors are still fighting for the health and safety of all Americans, including those yet to be born, who will suffer ill-effects of this pipeline. Across North America, pipelines have resulted in massive disruptions to ecosystems. Contamination from extraction practices have resulted in increased health problems, including birth defects and cancers among people and animals. Indigenous women have been beaten, raped, and killed by transient construction workers and black economy criminals that surround the extraction industry. CEOs give orders to deliberately demolish burial grounds and sacred sites, and those who resist are met with rubber bullets, tear gas, attack dogs, bright lights, and cold waterboarding. In any other context these flagrant displays of human rights violations would be tried as domestic terrorism. It is easy to blame construction workers, corporate CEOs, public servants, and our elected officials for greenlighting pipelines. But focusing on individuals obfuscates the bigger issue: that North American political and legal systems are organized to benefit settler colonial interests. As Eriel Deranger (Athabasca Chipewyan First Nation), founder of Indigenous Climate Action, explained in a recent keynote speech, “Indigenous communities have faced centuries of systemic oppression that has robbed us our ability to easily enter local, national, and international forums where policies and decisions are being made that ultimately affect our rights and our cultural survival.” Tribal sovereignty is always under threat. Treaties continue to be violated. The obligation to consult with Tribes to obtain Free, Prior and Informed Consent for extractive projects is easily circumvented by steak dinners and sellouts. Without an understanding of colonization driven by the insatiable consumption of natural resources, the public can’t make critical connections between the environmental and human rights abuses on Indigenous ancestral territories and their own lives. Until Standing Rock captured the international spotlight, Indigenous environmental battles represented a largely underground movement. In recent years, Indigenous communities have been organizing and resisting environmental threats more effectively than ever before, amassing an arsenal of indirect and direct action strategies that came together at Standing Rock. These include place-based prayer, blockades, and occupation of lands under threat combined with outside legal action. As Deranger said in her speech, “Because of our unique relationship with our lands, Indigenous people have been utilizing a platform created by our ancestors, the foundations of our culture, to safeguard our river systems, our food systems, our culture, our identity, and our land base.” These cultural platforms—the traditions, knowledge, and worldviews that guide our battles as Indigenous Peoples—are intimately tied to the land and water.
Tara Houska, Kandi Mossett, and Dallas Goldtooth present an update on the situation at Standing Rock at the October 2016 Bioneers Conference. Photo by Jan Mangan.
Throughout 500 years of colonization, North American Indigenous Peoples have asserted their rights over ancestral territories through occupation of the threatened cultural landscape. Seven years before the Oceti Sakowin camp was established on the banks of the Cannonball River, the Unist’ot’en Clan of the Wetsu’wet’en Nation founded a homestead on their unceded territories to prevent several proposed pipelines. Inspired by what has happened at Standing Rock, Indigenous Peoples have now organized to fight against the Trans-Pecos Pipeline in Texas and the Trans Mountain pipeline in Canada. Dallas Goldtooth (Dakota/Diné) of the Indigenous Environmental Network (IEN) describes the broader mobilization against extractive development under the Indigenous Rising campaign: “It’s a project of IEN, but it’s also just a general concept that’s out there that resonates across the diaspora of Indigenous Peoples . . . this is a critical moment we find ourselves on this planet, not just in the sense for addressing climate change, but also a sense for social justice, a sense of just overall justice for all species. Indigenous Peoples tend to be, and rightfully are, on the frontline of those fights and those struggles. And that’s encapsulated by this idea of us rising together.” Indigenous occupation movements have successfully collaborated with non-Indigenous environmental groups to stop several proposed pipelines across North America. But building broad public support around this issue as the world witnessed at Standing Rock has proven challenging. Penobscot environmental scholar and chair of Native American Programs at the University of Maine, Darren Ranco, explains, “Because our cultures are so always tied to specific places, the names of our places, and the sacred elements of our places, the challenge is always to articulate our view not as a specific claim of a small group of people, but as a broad claim about the rights of all of us.” Similarly, Deranger pointed out that, “it’s imperative that we work together to find ways to address the roots of oppression and not get lost in surface issues like simply protecting a piece of land, as was commonly done by early inceptions of the environmental movement. It’s become imperative that we work together to address colonialism, racism, sexism, and the continued marginalization of those that have been deemed less worthy.” According to Ranco, “These ways of articulating across the intersectional quality of the movement is why people are paying attention to [Standing Rock] in this moment.” To this end, water protectors have successfully communicated the issues at stake in two ways. Through the “water is life”
Eriel Deranger speaks at the 2015 Bioneers Conference. Photo by Josué Rivas.
campaign, they helped the public make the connection between a pipeline threatening water in their little corner of the world in North Dakota, the potential impacts for millions downriver of a spill, and the need for local vigilance over environmental threats to water in other parts of the world. And through social and other media outlets, they told a story of Standing Rock that is not just about climate justice, but also about the integrity of the First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution through freedom of the press. By being able to see events unfold at Standing Rock via social media, people who care about a multitude of issues were able to intimately connect to the water protectors on the front lines. “It wasn’t until people saw us on Facebook live and Instagram and Twitter and Native social media—people getting arrested just for standing there—that people started noticing,” said Kandi Mossett (Mandan, Hidatsa, Arikara), Native Energy & Climate Campaign organizer with Indigenous Environmental Network, at the 2016 Bioneers Indigenous Forum. Standing Rock has endured in the public consciousness as many other “news items” have come and gone. People from all walks of life have come to care deeply for what Standing Rock means to them, from protecting sacred water to women’s rights, Native American sovereignty, environmental racism, climate change, free speech and more. Charles Menzies, professor of anthropology at the University of British Columbia and member of the Gitxaala Nation, suggests that to continue to show their solidarity with Standing Rock, “Someone can start from the most radical action of going and offering support in the camps. There’s also the whole idea of trying to learn and to really understand the issues. That in itself is an act of solidarity. So instead of building upon misconceptions that people already carry, they can actually build their solidarity with knowledge. Paying attention to the local struggles in one’s own community is really important. People can build solidarity with larger actions further afield by actually starting at home and build from connective points to larger issues. By having conversations about what’s happening in your local communities, people can begin to engage at the wider level. And if people have cash, they can support legal defense funds. Oftentimes, these political actions require legal defense. These things always cost money.” —Alexis Celeste Bunten, Ph.D., is an Alaska Native applied anthropologist who manages the Bioneers Indigeneity Program. She has written about the aftermath of Indigenous land claims and Indigenous economic development through cultural tourism. Cultural Survival Quarterly
March 2017 • 11
Water is Life The Rise of the Mní Wičóni Movement Jennifer Weston
ne year ago in February, our families on Standing Rock started organizing with urgency and a new community action collective, Chante Tin’sa Kinanzi Po (People, Stand with a Strong Heart), emerged. The Dakota Access Pipeline was coming, despite more than two years of objections raised directly to the company, Energy Transfer Partners, and years of successive Standing Rock Sioux Tribal Council resolutions passed in opposition to pipeline construction within the boundaries of our treaty lands. For millennia, innumerable generations of our ancestors have been born along our rivers and the delicate network of watersheds veining the vast prairie expanses of our homelands. Standing Rock spans the North and South Dakota border, and is bounded by rivers—the Cannonball on the north, the Missouri on the east, and is bisected by the Grand River, the birth and resting place of Sitting Bull. In the midst of last winter’s subzero temperatures, young people throughout Standing Rock’s eight districts arrived at the realization that the federal and Tribal bureaucracies and court systems would likely do nothing to stop pipeline construction from occurring directly underneath Standing Rock’s primary drinking water source, Mni Sose, the Missouri River. This once swirling and unpredictable presence, is now swollen into a sprawling reservoir called Lake Oahe, spanning hundreds of miles between the capital cities of Pierre and Bismarck. A movement grounded in direct action, prayer, and ceremony was born. The young people of Standing Rock, Cheyenne River, and our sister Tribes among the Oceti Sakowin (Seven Council Fires), or Great Sioux Nation, began raising awareness in March 2016 about the imminent threat to so many
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communities’ drinking water. They were mentored by a group of young parents and community leaders like Honorata Defender, Jonathan Edwards, Waniya Locke, and others, resulting in “Run for Your Life,” Standing Rock’s first public anti-pipeline prayer event. Later, the Four Directions Walk, Run, March, and Ride was organized when the Army Corps of Engineers scheduled listening sessions on Standing Rock and a Tribal radio station volunteer showed up with his new drone to capture footage as the participants converged on the Grand River Casino at the confluence of the Grand and Missouri Rivers. “Never again,” they vowed. “Water is life. Mní Wičóni. This is all we have left—our river, and the lands you didn’t take last time.” Certain that the Army Corps would continue to ignore their pleas to protect the drinking water needed for all the Sioux reservations’ communities (and agricultural production by Native and non-Native farmers and ranchers alike), Tribal youth, grassroots, and elected leaders launched a community horseback ride from the Standing Rock Tribal headquarters in Fort Yates, ND, on April 1, to the tiny community of Cannon Ball, ND, which overlooks a beautiful meandering floodplain. Following the long ride, a few Cheyenne River citizens fresh out of the Keystone XL pipeline prayer camp pitched their tipis and never left. The encampment was named Sacred Stone, after the original Dakota name of the Cannonball River, where its whirling confluence with the Missouri tumbled boulders into perfect spheres revered in ceremonies for millennia by a half dozen Tribes of the northern plains who utilized portions of the area for village encampments, ceremonial spaces, and burial grounds. Driven to do still more to bring the region’s attention to the prospective pipeline’s potential for destruction, a handful
During the winter months it has been intense and emotional, as the militarized police force aggressively moved into encampments at Standing Rock.
All photos by Robby Romero.
media platforms. Suddenly #standingrock was trending. Indigenous Peoples and Tribal delegations from across North and South America flocked to the encampments, which swelled into three main areas along the Cannonball and Missouri Rivers: Sacred Stone, Oceti Sakowin, and Rosebud. Everyone had a story to share of struggles to protect precious homelands and waters from aggressive extractive industries. Songs and stories in dozens of languages hummed late into the summer, then fall, nights. Winter loomed, and the camps were abuzz in cold-weather preparations, all while the movement evolved into dramatic daily direct actions with unarmed prayer marchers facing down an increasingly militarized police presence alongside armed pipeline security forces. Mass arrest events mounted, drawing hundreds into a thicket of legal charges that quickly escalated from misdemeanors to felonies. More than 700 now face criminal penalties and jail time in North Dakota’s well-funded petro-state justice system, awash in oil and fracking industry lobbying contributions and tax revenues. The Standing Rock youth’s RezpectOurWater Change.org petition has since garnered 730,000 signatures. Not a single arrestee has yet been charged with possession of a weapon. As the Dakota Access pipeline has returned to drilling, the prayer camps are on the move uphill out of the Cannonball and Missouri River spring flood zones. Spirits are unbroken, but tempered with grief and rage at the ongoing injustice of $33 million in state law enforcement costs arrayed against families and teens who only want to ensure clean water for present and future generations. Spring is coming soon, but unusually, the Wakinyan (Thunder Beings) have kept watch all winter, appearing during the throes of the worst of the December blizzards. Along the frozen rivers, under the everbrighter lights of construction crews, military veterans are arriving. Together with the youth and allies of Standing Rock and Cheyenne River, they keep vigil and remind one another: Chante Tin’sa Kinanzi Po! —Jennifer Weston (Standing Rock Sioux) is a former Cultural Survival employee and current director of the Mashpee Wampanoag Tribal Language Department. Cultural Survival Quarterly
March 2017 • 13
Photo courtesy of Jennifer Weston.
of youth found allies in some of Standing Rock’s local district governments and were soon successful in lobbying the Tribal Council to earmark funds to help them share their story online through video diaries and a new website, RezpectOurWater.com, to house their Change.org petition to the Army Corps. The young people got to work recording their love letters to the river, sharing them via social media, and decided a few weeks later to set out on foot to deliver their petition signatures directly to the Army Corps Region 8 Headquarters in Omaha, NE. Though every community event to that point had begun in prayer and had been led by family eagle staffs belonging to traditional headsmen and spiritual leaders, not all in the Sacred Stone Camp and the local districts were uniformly in support of such an ambitious youth effort that would take attention and resources away from the new prayer encampment. But the 22-year-old mother, Bobbi Jean Three Legs from Wakpala, who organized the “Run for Your Life” in March, found unqualified support from Defender, Edwards, and Locke. An uncle from the Taken Alive family held a blanket dance at a small local powwow, yielding a couple hundred dollars for the 700-mile journey south. “Just go. Let the people know what’s happening, and they’ll join you. They’ll come to support us,” she recalls Edwards reassuring her. Just before they reached McLaughlin in Standing Rock’s Bear Soldier District, Three Legs recalls three horses galloping across a field to the fence line to jog along side them. She heard the sudden deafening crash of thunder, and “I knew the ancestors were with us. I knew we could do it.” In late July, the youth set off for Washington, D.C. armed with tens of thousands more signatures to rally at the national Army Corps Headquarters and the White House. When they returned home to Standing Rock in late August, they joined a movement transformed: a standoff along ND Highway 1806 as dozens of armed state and county law enforcement officers protected Dakota Access pipeline survey crews who had begun their destructive work. But the runners and citizens of Standing Rock were supported by hundreds, then thousands, of campers who had overfilled the space available in Sacred Stone and taken up residence north of the Cannonball River on treaty land claimed by the Army Corps of Engineers. The seemingly impossible odds of teens and families on foot and horseback facing down a billion dollar industry with nothing more than prayer flags and sacred pipes also caught the attention of young Hollywood, and stars like Shailene Woodley and the cast of The Avengers amplified daily #rezpectourwater, #nodapl, and #mniwiconi #waterislife posts across social
Thousands of allies and hundreds of Indigenous Nations from around the country and the globe have come to Standing Rock in solidarity.
Campaigning for the Planet
Clayton Thomas-Müller getting arrested while protesting Kinder Morgan’s Trans-Mountain pipeline at Canada’s Parliament in late 2016 at 350’s Climate101 action.
Clayton Thomas-Müller is one of the most well known faces of Indigenous resistance to extractive industries and climate change both in Canada and across the world. Many know him from his pointed vlogs on social media, his participation at direct actions, frequent speaking engagements across Canada and the U.S., or his participation and leadership of Indigenous delegations to lobby United Nations bodies for Indigenous rights and environmental and economic justice. A member of the Mathias Colomb Cree Nation (Pukatawagan) in Northern Manitoba, Thomas-Müller is currently a campaigner for 350.org and has been involved in numerous initiatives to build an inclusive global movement for energy and climate justice. He serves on the board of the Bioneers, Global Justice Ecology Project, and Navajo Nation-based Black Mesa Water Coalition. Cultural Survival recently spoke with Thomas-Müller about his work. Cultural Survival: Tell us about the major oil and gas pipeline projects First Nations are opposing in Canada. Clayton Thomas-Müller: Canada’s extractivism-centered economy continues to be one of the primary issues that Canada’s Indigenous Peoples face in asserting our territorial jurisdiction and self-determination and acting as sovereign Nations economically, socially, politically, and spiritually. Most prevalent is the Canadian Tar Sands in Alberta and its ongoing expansion in Cree, Dené, and Métis Peoples’ territory in the Athabasca Peace River and Cold Lake regions. Equally problematic are the half a dozen or so proposed mega pipelines 14 • www. cs. org
coming out of the Tar Sands trying to get to international tidewaters so that Canada can sell them to the highest bidder on international markets. Right now, the most controversial are the Kinder Morgan Trans Mountain pipeline and the TransCanada Corporation’s three proposed projects. Kinder Morgan Trans Mountain would link the inlet Vancouver, British Columbia, Coast Salish territory to the Tar Sands. It is being resisted by TsleilWaututh Nation, who live half a mile across the inlet from the export terminal. They are very concerned about the massive increase in mega oil tankers that the existing Trans Mountain pipeline (from 300,000 to 800,000 barrels per day) will bring. They have worked very hard for the last 30 years to reclaim their fragile ocean ecosystem that they depend on for their food source, and they don’t want the threat of oil spills from tankers to ruin that sacred relationship they have with the ocean. Many other Indigenous Nations in the Coastal Salish Sea are supportive of Tsleil-Waututh and their efforts to resist Kinder Morgan. The TransCanada Corporation has three controversial pipeline proposals. One of them is the Grand Rapids pipeline, which is the mother pipeline to both the proposed Keystone XL as well as the Trans Mountain in Alberta. The Athabasca Chipewyan First Nation has a lawsuit against that pipeline, which would produce 900,000 barrels per day. The other project is the Atlantic Link pipeline. They want to convert 50-year-old existing gas pipeline over 2,000 kilometers, along with adding another 1,500 kilometers of new pipeline, to make one of the longest pipelines in Canada known as the Energy East. But that project has been riddled with problems and has been forced back to the drawing board because of all kinds of conflict and resistance. In addition, President Trump has brought back the Keystone XL pipeline after it was defeated under the Obama administration in the name of climate change through grassroots organizing and civil disobedience at a scale the U.S. had never seen. On top of that you have the recently approved Enbridge pipeline line 3, another Tar Sands pipeline that runs through where I live here in the province of Manitoba and down into Minnesota; it is being resisted on both sides of the border. In Minnesota, resistance is led by Honor the Earth, Winona LaDuke’s organization, and Minnesota 350. In Manitoba there is a litigation by the Assembly of Manitoba Chiefs over the lack of consultation and consent of that project, along with emerging grassroots resistance, both Native and non-Native, along the proposed right of way. Enbridge took a massive hit recently and had their Northern Gateway in northern British Columbia, known as the Tar Sands to Asia Link pipeline, killed by the Trudeau administration over the fact that it went through the heart of the Great Bear Rainforest. You also have other lesser known pipelines that have yet to gain traction, along with a number of
gas pipelines, including the Mackenzie Valley gas pipeline, which are being revived. And there are a lot of natural gas, fracking, and pipeline projects. The Unis’tot’en resistance camp in Smithers, BC continues to exist. That camp is resisting the Pacific Trails natural gas project and some other LNG projects meant to be feedstock pipelines bringing fracked gas from northeastern British Columbia to the controversial Lelu Island LNG export super terminal. In the era of a 1.5 degree imperative, we know that none of these pipelines can be built. We have won the scientific, economic, and the justice-based arguments against new fossil fuels infrastructure, and that is why these projects are being so vehemently opposed. CS: What can you tell us about the Indigenous-led resistance movement against climate change and fossil fuels? CTM: The international Tar Sands campaign started with three women representing three generations of one Dené family from the Athabasca region of Alberta. They rang the alarm bell, they worked with the Indigenous Environmental Network and organized a fact finding mission of Indigenous campaigners to the Tar Sands, hosted by the community of Fort Chipewyan, which is downstream from the Tar Sands. Later, the biggest environmental organizations and foundation leads were hosted by the affected First Nations, and the rest is history. Their massive investment was in not just stopping the Tar Sands in Alberta but in following the foreign direct investment, targeting them in their own backyards at shareholders meetings in Europe and in the United States. There has also been a very effective pipeline campaign on both sides of the border that has resulted in the termination of two massive pipeline proposals: the Keystone XL and the Northern Gateway. All of that came from the very sophisticated, multi-pronged strategy designed and implemented by Indigenous people within a Native rights-based framework. Corporations operating in Canada continue to benefit from an unfair trade subsidy by not recognizing the very real risk of intervention and territorial jurisdictional assertion of Indigenous Peoples through the courts, through civil disobedience, and through other social movement strategies and tactics. Both investors and financial managers of some of the biggest pension funds in the world have begun to take note of the financial risk of investing in extractive projects in Canada because of the fact that First Nations have been winning two
of every three lawsuits against bad projects. A lot of lessons have been learned by campaigners across Canada, the U.S., and the world because of the visibility of the Tar Sands campaign. UN Special Rapporteur James Anaya’s visit to Canada in 2013 and numerous interventions at the UN have all resulted in a massive downgrading of Canada’s international image and the dethroning of former Prime Minister Harper. CS: What does renewable energy look like in Canada? CMT: It’s a far cry from where it needs to be. It doesn’t really matter if you are a Native or a non-Native corporation or community; the very real human cost of continuing fossil fuel development applies. And it’s not just First Nation communities that have a serious gap when it comes to the emergence of geothermal, solar, wind power, or small scale hydro emerging in their communities. There has been a lot of lifting up of mega-hydro as green energy. We know that it is in no way a climate friendly energy source. Dams are the largest source of renegade methane emission in Canada, a greenhouse gas 20 times more potent than CO2. The same can be said about nuclear. Canada is one of the world’s leading uranium exporters and the nuclear lobby has considerable influence on the federal government. It continues to be an issue, in particular the long term nuclear waste repository that the federal government is trying to place on First Nations either in the Great Lakes or in Northern Saskatchewan. The nuclear issue and the hydro issue disproportionately impact Indigenous people, just like climate change. And they continue to be lifted up as false solutions to climate change. Science tells us we have 10 years to get off of fossil fuels until we get locked into to a commitment to climate change that, quite frankly, has no end in sight. But, there is also great hope. Haida Nation has invested in renewable energy. There is talk of offshore wind power development, and there is talk of title energy development in Mi’kmaq regions of Atlantic Canada, although there needs to be more grid scale energy developments owned by First Nations. There is some talk in the Louis Bull First Nation in Alberta of wind power and solar development. The Lubicon Cree in the heart of the Tar Sands region implemented a community scale project of 20 kilowatt solar installation that powers their health center. And in communities like the Tsleil-Waututh, BC, who are fighting Kinder Morgan, they have installed solar to power their daycare and their Tribal government administration building. We need to see more renewable energy infrastructure placed in the pathway of pipelines and shipping lanes. Social movements will not stop until our leaders demonstrate the political will to separate oil and state. The world is waking up to the fact that we cannot drink oil. Photo by Chris Yakimov/Flickr.
Cultural Survival Quarterly
March 2017 • 15
Clean vs. Dirty Energy The Disregard of Indigenous Peoples in East Africa Agnes Leina
ver the past few years there has been a major investment boom in Africa, with a heavy push for oil and gas pipelines and other energy and infrastructure projects. In the rush for economic development, however, there has been little consideration of the negative environmental and human impacts of these large scale projects. African leaders support the recommended scaling up of infrastructure development and have called for the creation of the Programme for Infrastructure Development in Africa (PIDA) as the blueprint for the continent. Since development policies and plans like Kenya Vision 2030, Tanzania Vision 2025, and African Union’s Agenda 2063 have gone into effect, the growth of public-private partnership has skyrocketed. Africa has been opened up for mega projects and businesses, leading to a “neo-scramble” for natural resources. Large deals between multinational corporations and national governments are being made and Indigenous Peoples are being left out of the conversation. In order for this investment boom to be sustainable and inclusive, it needs to take into account human rights and environmental issues as well as customary land use and Indigenous Peoples’ rights, which to a large extent has not been done. The expansion of oil and gas pipelines across the region is having detrimental impacts on Indigenous communities. Projects like the Lamu Port-South Sudan-Ethiopia-Transport Corridor Project (LAPSSET), the Lake Turkana Wind Power Project, the KenGen geothermal project in Naivasha, and the Gibe Dams in Ethiopia put Indigenous Peoples at risk for a number of reasons, and the Indigenous Peoples’ voices and rights are not being respected as these projects progress. In most cases, the land where such projects are slated to take place has traditionally belonged to Indigenous Peoples who are now being forced off their lands and suffering from diminished or destroyed resources, reduced access to grazing pastures, lack of access to clean water and culturally sacred areas, and other rights violations. Indigenous people continue to lack meaningful compensation, and the companies behind these projects do not share the benefits equally with the Indigenous people they displace. The Lamu Port Project is an East African flagship project, intended to provide transportation and logistics infrastructure and oil transport between the East African countries of Kenya, Ethiopia, and South Sudan, connecting a population of 160 million. Two pipelines will carry both crude and refined oil throughout the region. This mega development will cut across countless Indigenous communities, not only forcing Indigenous Peoples off their lands without compensation or their Free, Prior and Informed Consent (FPIC), but pushing them further into marginalized areas. Indigenous voices have not been heard, and the efforts the Kenyan government has made to address concerns pertaining to land 16 • www. cs. org
The Samburu of Kenya show solidarity with #NODAPL while facing a massive development project across their lands. LAPSSET contemplates the construction of two oil pipelines, a highway and railway, a dam, three international airports, three resort cities, and a seaport. Photo by Julia Cumes/Samburu Watch.
tenure and conflict management are disrupted by corruption and policies that disfavor Indigenous rights and interests. Lamu County in Kenya, an area crucial to the project, is home to the Bajun, Sanye, Orma, Awer, Mji Kenda, Pokomo, Somali, and Kikuyu Peoples, among others. Peoples such as the Awer have inhabited these areas for centuries, and are now being pushed off their homelands without FPIC processes and without sharing any of the benefits. The project also threatens the Tana River and Garissa counties that are home to the Orma, Wardei, Munyoyaya, and Somali pastoralist communities of Sanye and Awer hunter-gatherers, while Isiolo county is inhabited by the Borana, Samburu, Turkana, Somali, and Meru Peoples. Other concerns include a lack of environmental impact assessment, lack of available information on the project, threats to traditional livelihoods, a threat to the World Heritage Site of Lamu Island, lack of clear benefit sharing mechanisms, and failure to recognize individual and community land rights. Although the Kenyan government has formed a central coordinating committee mandated to ensure that the concerns being raised by impacted communities will be addressed, including land tenure issues, no meetings so far have been at the community level.
One of the projects that worry many is the construction of a megadam in Laikipia along the Ewuaso Ngiro River. The dam will supply water to one of the proposed resort cities along the Lamu corridor in Isiolo County. The government has not disclosed how many people will be displaced by the dam and the proposed city, nor has it engaged anyone about relocation and land compensation. Damming of the river, which is the only source of water for thousands of pastoralists in the semi-arid region, will have far reaching repercussions on livelihoods of many, including wildlife. With support of the World Bank, Kenya has also been engaging in extensive geothermal extraction on Maasai territory in Kenya. The projects that have been implemented have raised major concerns of lack of proper protocols for community involvement, irregular and skewed compensation for communities, and forceful evictions of local communities that live within project sites. These issues have been confirmed through an initial investigative report by the World Bank Inspection Panel, which visited the general area to validate complaints that were lodged by the Maasai community. According to one community leader in Longonot, Kenya, “This company has been a threat to our existence. We have experienced evictions, threats, loss of land, and other human rights violations. Now, their activities have turned to destroy our livelihood. This follows a continuous flow of sludge into a valley which is the only source of water for both human and livestock.’’ The community has tested their water, which has turned into a smelly black sludge, and found that the levels of suspended Biochemical Oxygen Demand are above the National Environmental Management standards for effluent discharge to the particular environment. The contaminated water has been associated with the death of several livestock, which are the main source of livelihoods for the local Maasai community. In Naivasha, a Maasai child drowned in one of the industrial wastewater disposal ponds that was left unprotected. The Maasai are requesting that safeguard protocols are observed before any funding of such projects is done. They are equally appealing that authentic participation is undertaken with approaches that will ensure sustainable livelihoods of the affected people. Geothermal energy is clean energy, but the reality is the pipes are bursting, hot water is spilling in the villages, and children play around the hot pipes and are getting injured. Communities have been chased away with little or no compensation. Kenya’s largest private investment to date, the Lake Turkana Wind Power project, consists of 365 wind turbines covering 40,000 acres of land in northern Kenya, which was given away without public consultation and without obtaining FPIC of the Indigenous Peoples in the area. In 2006, a consortium made up of four private companies and three state-run development funds arranged a lease of an additional 150,000 acres of land and resettled a small village. According to the
The investment boom in Africa is funding mega energy projects like oil and gas pipelines and dams that are largely disregarding Indigenous Peoples’ rights.
consortium, the only Indigenous Peoples in the project area are the El Molo. The three other local Tribes, Rendille, Samburu, and Turkana, are not recognized by the consortium as Indigenous, even though they are recognized by the African Commission on Human and Peoples Rights. There is a pending court case over illegal land acquisition, but construction has occurred despite local opposition. Several organizations, entrepreneurs, wildlife conservancies, and land owners in the Samburu region such as IMPACT, Samburu Women’s Trust, and Pastoralist Development Network Kenya, Save Lamu, and Friends of Lake Turkana are mobilizing to counter the impact of the Lamu project on their communities. Turkana County has protested the initial testing of Tullow Petrol and is demanding benefit sharing and compensation. In Sarima, protests have also taken place regarding the Lake Turkana Wind Project. In a court case in process in Meru, an injunction was issued over the construction of the last six turbines. Armed with knowledge about environmental impact assessments and Free, Prior and Informed Consent, Indigenous people are demanding their rights. —Agnes Leina (Maasai) is executive director of Illaramatak Community Concerns in Kenya, and regional women’s coordinator of Indigenous Peoples of Africa Coordinating Committee.
Cultural Survival Quarterly
March 2017 • 17
Power to the people . . . Dev Kumar Sunuwar (CS STAFF)
estled among the glaciers and plentiful freshwater systems of the Himalayas, Nepal is a rich source of alternative energy. Recently, the government of Nepal has introduced a host of ambitious projects to tap its vast hydropower potential. In February 2016, the government endorsed the National Energy Crisis Reduction and Electricity Development Decade Plan, which aims to produce 10,000 megawatts of energy. Currently, as many as 70 hydroelectricity generating plants (ranging in capacity from 6 to 750 megawatts) are in operation across the country. The government’s plan to tap hydropower potential is beneficial for the country’s economic development. However, such plans and programs, along with those undertaken by multilateral development banks such as the World Bank and private sector investors, are creating suffering among Indigenous Peoples of Nepal. Frequently they are resulting in widespread human rights violations, including escalating conflicts, forced displacements, and irreversible loss of traditional livelihoods and massive environmental degradation. The areas destined for energy development are typically inhabited by Indigenous Peoples, who are often entirely dependent upon rivers for their livelihood. The implementation of such development projects on or near Indigenous Peoples’ territories without their Free, Prior and Informed Consent (FPIC) has become the most pervasive source of human rights violations and one of the greatest challenges to exercising their full and internationally recognized human rights. Communities that stand against and obstruct the works are often detained, tortured, or seriously injured and left without justice. The government, which always protects the interests of international financial institutions, freely deploys the army to silence the voices of the disgruntled and displaced Indigenous communities. Indigenous communities who decry the attacks on their land are often portrayed as the State’s enemies and anti-development. To deploy the army against its own people, the government often declares these megaprojects as “projects of national pride.” In fact, this terminology is a calculated move to use the army against the people if they fight for justice. Construction site for the Middle-Marsyangdi Transmission Line Project in Bhulbhule, Lamjung district, Nepal.
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Advocate Shankar Limbu, who is also secretary of the Lawyers’ Association of Human Rights of Indigenous Peoples (LAHURNIP), says the government has violated human rights of Indigenous Peoples by clinging to a principle of eminent domain, a theory that the state can utilize natural resources whenever it requires them. According to Limbu, LAHURNIP has collected complaints from as many as 35 districts. “From these districts, not only Indigenous Peoples but also local communities belonging to other caste groups like Chhetri and Bahun, have complained that they were not consulted or involved in any phase of development projects being run in their villages. The State often accuses them of obstructing the development process. But they are not anti-development people. Their perspective of development is different. They want just and sustainable development.” International laws, conventions, and treaties ratified by Nepal have guaranteed Indigenous Peoples’ rights over natural resources that Indigenous Peoples have been using for ages. As per ILO Convention 169 and the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, the government is legally bound to seek FPIC from Indigenous communities before formulating any law or policy, or designing programs and projects on their ancestral lands. The government is also bound to involve Indigenous communities in such projects and entitle them to benefits. If the lives or livelihood of local ethnic communities are affected by these programs, they must be compensated and their grievances must be addressed in a just way. But, advocate Kiran Mukhiya-Sunuwar says, “The government has never sought FPIC from local Indigenous communities. Nor has it ensured their meaningful participation in development projects and distribution of benefits.” Sunuwar has been involved in documenting human rights violations in relation to the 90-kilometer, 259-tower Kabeli Corridor Transmission line. Local Indigenous communities have obstructed the construction for last year, demanding compensation and a public hearing addressing the Environment and Social Impact Assessments, and to obtain consent from the communities living in areas where 95 percent of the population is Tamang and Magar Indigenous communities. “Indigenous Peoples are not aware of their rights,” Sunuwar says. “Without addressing their justified demands, no devel-
at What Cost? opment project can be completed. If they are ignored, they are not going to stay just as mute spectators.” The government, multinational enterprises, and private investors have not followed international treaties and conventions in any of the megaprojects in Nepal. With a total cost of $84 million, the Khimti-Dhalkebar Transmission Line was first approved in 2003, restructured thrice in 2008, 2009, and 2012, and was to be completed by the end of 2013. The 73-kilometer high-voltage transmission line runs through 5 districts. Despite many uninhabited forest regions in the area, the chosen project route passes directly over private homes, cultivated land, schools, temples, and other historical sites. The affected communities in the Sindhuli district area are largely poor Indigenous communities. Since 2011, the affected communities have repeatedly raised their concerns with the World Bank as well as the government, requesting that the project be re-routed through the uninhabited forest rather than through their settlements. The communities formed a struggle committee and began peaceful protest activities, including sit-ins and lockouts at the offices of local authorities and prohibiting entry of project personnel onto the construction site. Rather than holding formal consultations with affected communities to hear their demands, project officials first attempted to force construction activities by bringing in armed security forces to prevent the communities from blocking their progress. The communities often had clashes with the police and were persistently detained, tortured, and injured from security forces. The project finally completed in January 2017. “Many of us were detained in custody for several days and tortured to sign a paper saying that we would not obstruct the construction,” said Manoj Pradhan, a member of the struggle committee. The locals were up in arms against the Khimti-Dhalkebar project because it was set up over their houses in direct violation of Electricity Regulation-1993. The project office had hidden this fact, but the locals knew about it and launched the protests. “We were never consulted when this project was designed. When technical teams visited our villages, they lied to us saying they were doing a survey to set up telephone poles. We knew much later that their survey was to set up electricity poles,” Pradhan said. For the past decade, LAHURNIP, together with the USbased Accountability Counsel to help secure the rights of Indigenous Peoples, filed cases in the Supreme Court of Nepal and complaints at the World Bank’s Inspection Panel. In response, both institutions expressed commitments to visit the locals and consult with them to solve the problems of affected communities. But officials resumed the projects without addressing the issues while the government fiercely oppressed peaceful protests of locals. International conventions relating to Indigenous Peoples require governments and corporations to seek their informed consent before launching any development projects in their territories. The new constitution of Nepal (2015) also states All photos by Dev Kumar Sunuwar.
Local communities staging a protest against the KhimtiDhalkebar Transmission Line Project in Sindhuli, Nepal.
the same. In response, a new, bottom-up approach of development is emerging. In this approach, the development process begins from a ward committee, the lowest body in the local government system, and then has to go through the village development committee area and district. The center should be the last to decide. While promising, however, this approach currently exists only in policy papers. Chaitanya Subba, an Indigenous rights activist who is also a former member of the National Planning Commission, says, “This approach has to be really adopted. Before beginning any development project, its every aspect must be explained to Indigenous communities in whichever language they are comfortable with. If development projects affect the livelihood of Indigenous Peoples, they must be compensated.” He underscored, “It is not illegal [for] Indigenous communities to protest any development project that affects their lives and livelihood.” The relationship between Indigenous Peoples and natural resources is like that between water and fish. Not only do Indigenous Peoples have a historic and emotional attachment with their land, but it is also their livelihood. If they are driven off their land, they will die. Cultural Survival Quarterly
March 2017 • 19
finding balance Generating clean solar power is a key component of the Sustained Native Community Project.
Dr. PennElys Droz, Sustainable Nations
he land of the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe is a place of power; rolling hills juxtaposed with the wide open sky, revealing the quiet and beautiful strength of both. Through this land flows the Missouri River, the longest river in the northern part of Turtle Island, whose waters provide drinking water and life to the Tribe in a region with little other surface or groundwater available. Both the Tribe and the River have a long history of colonial impact. As recently as 1960 the Army Corps of Engineers, with the force of the Pick-Sloan Act, constructed the Oahe Dam along the Missouri River, just north of Pierre, South Dakota. This project was devastating, flooding over 55,000 acres of the Tribe’s land, submerging forests, towns, burial grounds, and the most fertile farmland, leaving the Tribe impoverished. In spite of this history, the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe has remained strong in their determination to protect their homelands and build a resilient future, a strength they clearly demonstrated in 2016 when faced with a new threat—the Dakota Access Pipeline. This immense pipeline was slated to run directly through Tribal treaty lands, including underneath the Missouri River, threatening the health and integrity of the lands and waters. Fossil fuel transportation pipelines have a leak incidence rate of approximately 300 per year in the U.S., contaminating groundwater and surrounding soil. The Tribe immediately sued Energy Transfer Partners, the company building the Dakota Access Pipeline, for violating their right to Free, Prior and Informed Consent, and have continued to fight a powerful legal battle. Standing Rock youth also took matters into their own hands, organizing spiritual runs to protect their lands and waters. In August 2016, they ran all the way from their homeland to Washington, D.C., 2,000 miles away, to deliver their message, beginning the Mní Wičóni (Water is Life) movement that has galvanized the nation. This profoundly historic movement has gathered thousands of interTribal supporters and allies together to protect the water and reject further fossil fuel development. The Water Protectors, conducting nonviolent direct action centered in prayer, have been faced with militaristic, violent reactions from North Dakota law enforce20 • ww w. cs. org
The Mní WiCˇóni Sustained Native Community at Standing rock
ment, which catapulted the story of the Water Protectors and the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe into the national and international spotlight. Thanks to the incredible sacrifices and hard work of the Tribe and their allies, the Mní Wičóni movement achieved a first small victory on December 4 when the Obama Administration denied the permit for the pipeline to drill under Lake Oahe. The Tribe knows that the denial of the permit is not the end of the struggle; there are many ways that the pipeline could still be pushed through, particularly given the incoming Trump administration. They have been working with their allies to plan the next steps, including legal preparations, partnership building, and international outreach and education, as well as sustaining an on the ground small camp presence. In addition to this vital work of defense, the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe is carrying the fire lit by this movement into the creation of the Mní Wičóni Sustained Native Community, a new, culturally designed sustainable community. They know that it is critical to lead by example, demonstrating a future that honors the land, water, and our communities. The Mní Wičóni Sustained Native Community is designed to be a strong, just transition away from fossil fuels and to a way of life that is grounded in Native traditions and the needs of our collective future. The vision for Mní Wičóni community initially began with the need to provide a safe winter camp for the Water Protectors on Tribal lands. Beginning in September, the Tribe reached out to the Indigenous Environmental Network and Blue Star Integrative Studio, a Native-owned architecture firm out of Oklahoma, to quickly design and build a model sustainable winter camp. This effort quickly gathered organizational partners and contributors who collaborated with the Tribe to produce an initial design by early December, preparing to begin construction in time to ensure safe shelter for the Water Protectors. The subsequent permit denial on December 4 and the onset of winter weather opened a window of opportunity that is allowing the Tribe more time to develop and expand the vision of the project. The winter camp design has grown and adapted into the Mní Wičóni Sustained Native Community. This community will be a sacred place to recognize the history being made at Standing Rock, in honor of Standing Rock All photos courtesy of sustainable nations.
youth and the unification of Indigenous Nations around the world and those who support them; a place where the re-awakening of culture, language, and protocols can continue. It will also be a heritage site that will educate visitors on the pipeline and fossil fuel industry, along with culturally and spiritually responsible alternatives to fossil fuel. The Tribe have set aside 52 acres of Tribally owned trust lands for the community development, and have completed the geological, cultural, and hydrological surveys. The design of the Mní Wičóni community utilizes traditional architectural techniques perfectly climate-adapted to the Great Plains, as well as contemporary natural buildings, featuring three Earth Lodges, two straw bale buildings, renewable energy systems, and ecological wastewater treatment systems. Construction support has been pouring in from partners and individual donors across the Nations that recognize the power of creating a beautiful model community on these historic lands. Energy and wastewater systems have been donated along with labor, time, love, and financial resources, including the support of neighboring Native Peoples who are sharing traditional construction knowledge. The Standing Rock Sioux Tribe stated in their Vision 2030 Decree, “As Original Peoples of the Earth, we feel it is our duty to guide the world back into balance in a manner that provides for our life needs without destroying the source— Our Mother Earth. Our story will end unless we figure out a way to live harmoniously with the natural elements of the
Universe. We seek to integrate systems that support our rights as Indigenous people on the planet—water, food, shelter, energy, and a sustainable form of economy.” This sustainable community project is an incredible example of the next generation of community building that cares for culture, land, water, and the climate: an example that can provide inspiration to other Tribes and intercultural communities across the country. The Tribe is now working with their design team and partners through the winter to finalize design and engineering details, and continuing to raise funds to match the remarkable donations they have already received. Construction of phase one begins as soon as the ground thaws in the spring! —Dr. PennElys Droz (Anishinaabe) is the director of Sustainable Nations, a Native-led and staffed organization providing culturally based training, development, and consulting in renewable energy, natural/traditional building, and ecological wastewater treatment. She has worked in the Indigenous environmental field for 19 years and is also an author of works on Indigenous engineering methodologies for resilient, culturally powerful nation-building. To learn more, visit www.buildwithstanding rock.today. Follow the project on Twitter at #buildwithstandingrock or Facebook: facebook.com/buildwithstandingrock.
A gathering place honoring the wisdom of Lakota/ Dakota/Nakota lifeways, maintaining a balance of water, food, shelter, energy, and economy.
Cultural Survival Quarterly
March 2017 • 21
Building Sovereign Power
How One Tribal Nation is Becoming Energy Independent Agnes Portalewska (CS STAFF)
“We will preserve and enhance our traditional values by living and teaching the inherent principles of respect, honor and integrity as embodied in our language and life-ways.” — Spokane Tribe mission statement
ow that renewable energies are cost competitive with fossil fuels in many markets around the world, they are starting to be implemented as mainstream sources of energy in countries like Sweden and Costa Rica. More locally, many communities and Tribal Nations are also working on achieving energy independence through renewables. In pursuing its goal of being a true sovereign Nation, the Spokane Tribe of Indians of Washington is emerging as an innovative leader in attaining self-sufficiency. The Spokane Indian Reservation is based in Wellpinit, Washington, encompassing approximately 250 square miles
Using hog fuel wood chips from the surrounding area, the boiler is providing heat to several community buildings on one district energy hot water loop. Photo courtesy of Oregon of Forestry/Marcus Kauffman. 22 • ww w. cs. Department org
with a population of over 2,800. Over the past several years the Tribe has been engaging its community members in vision and strategic planning processes. They have refocused their efforts from basic survival mode as a Tribal Nation and community into proactively creating and implementing inclusive policy and economic development in alignment with their mission statement. Guided by their core values, the Tribe evaluated their business dealings, supply chains, and partners; this involved looking into how companies treat other Indigenous Peoples globally, along with their human rights and environmental records. To turn their grocery store into a source of health and vitality, for example, the Tribe worked with the CEO of Spokane Tribal Enterprises to identify companies that reflected their cultural values, and now has a strategic partnership with Whole Foods, working towards achieving food sovereignty. They decided to do the same on the construction and energy fronts and only work with partners that reflect their values as a community, focusing on sustainability, efficiency, equity, and cultural relevance.
Heating with Industry Waste
The Spokane Tribe’s major industry is sustainable logging, so they have devised a way to reuse the waste material generated by this industry to heat their largest community on the reservation. “There are two components of being energy independent: one is through energy production and the other is distribution of energy through the formation of a utility, in this case a Tribal utility authority, which the Spokane Tribe is establishing,” explains Jason Campbell, a Spokane Tribal member, Sovereign Power CEO, and Cultural Survival board member. Campbell has been tasked with planning and implementing energy independence through renewables. In order to heat the district, the Tribe will build a high efficiency, direct combustion biomass boiler system that uses wood chips, tree limbs, and waste from the Tribal logging industry to heat the water, which is then distributed throughout the district to heat the neighborhood. The Tribe partnered with Sovereign Power, an energy marketer that provides Tribal Nations with clean, renewable energy and works to leverage Tribal Nation wealth preservation through job creation in installation, servicing, and manufacturing; lower utility bills; and risk mitigation. “Not only does this process create and distribute energy, but it is also creating jobs for those services to the community. We are very much at the front end of this initiative,” Campbell says. In a 41 percent unemployment labor market, six to eight full-time jobs in installation and servicing of renewable energy technology make an impact on the community. “We are now in the position to showcase biomass technology as one of many sustainable models in the energy sector,” Campbell says.
Above: Logging industry waste is used as fuel to generate energy. Photo courtesy of Oregon Department of Forestry/Marcus Kauffman.
Left: Sovereign Power members stand proudly in front of solar panels installed at the Spokane Indian Reservation in Wellpinit, Washington. Photo courtesy of Jason Campbell.
Generating Power from the Sun
Since 2015, the Tribe has also partnered with a large scale solar power provider, GRID Alternatives, an Oakland, California-based nonprofit organization that provides solar power and energy efficiency to low income communities. Together, GRID Alternatives, Sovereign Power, and the Spokane Indian Housing Authority are deploying solar photovoltaic cells (PVs) on the reservation for low income families. “Some folks were paying over $600 a month in utility bills to off-reservation, non-Native utility companies. This type of independence protects us from rate increases by utility companies. As a Nation, we have to look out over the next 20 years and beyond and mitigate so we are not at the whim of utility companies. Building energy independence minimizes rate increase risk, environmental risk posed by natural disasters and climate change, and political risk at the local and regional level,” Campbell says. Due to climate change and the reduction of snowpack levels in the region year after year, hydropower production levels are projected to fall and costs are expected to rise. With the expertise of GRID Alternatives and Sovereign Power, another community solar project is in the works to serve elders, the Spokane Indian Housing Authority, Tribal government facilities, and the Wellpinit School District. According to Campbell, the impetus for creating this project was the ever-present risk of wildfires. Recent wildfires have caused havoc, leaving residents without power, which was especially dangerous for elders who rely on refrigerated medication or oxygen tanks. Many had to be moved to the school for access to electricity. The project will provide power for senior housing, the housing authority campus, the elder center, and the long house, and will serve as a backup for the school district. “The vital part of the equation is to have efficiency in delivery, design, and construction. Buildings cannot leak,” Campbell says. Hence the Tribe’s effort in increasing efficiency in existing structures and building new construction with the latest Leadership in Energy & Environmental Design (LEED) standards. “Our goal is to have our own energy
plan for the reservation that is inclusive of the government, private, school, and residential sector,” he says.
To many, the financial burden of switching to renewable energy seems high in the short term as it requires significant upfront investments. “Most audiences only focus on five to seven years ahead. As a Tribal Nation we will exist in perpetuity, and we have to take into consideration the long term risks. This is a model for sovereignty. We have to take control of our own energy needs. Investment in the long term is in our best interest by building infrastructure for power generation, distribution, and service,” says Campbell. Campbell says the Tribe has been taking advantage of state and federal incentives through the Department of Energy, U.S. Forest Service and the Department of Interior, which offer grants, rebates, tax credits, and other incentives for switching to renewables; design and construction of new structures; retrofitting for energy efficiency; and labor training on Tribal lands. There are also tax credits available for using Washington State-produced solar panels, and the Tribe is researching possibilities for the creation of manufacturing jobs related to renewable energy equipment on Tribal lands. These programs, along with private matching investments, are allowing the switch to renewables to become a reality and will increase local capacity by creating employment for Tribal members, thereby putting the Tribe on a path to energy self-sufficiency. Within these programs, crucially, Campbell says the Tribe is proactively seeking opportunities to include their youth. “Working with the middle school and high school on renewable technologies, you have the implicit lessons conceptualizing self-determination. They are conceptualizing themselves as the industry leaders rather than an employee of the system, and can demand that what gets designed around them is efficient, healthy, income-generating, and reflects their cultural values. This is such a fundamental shift. The net goal is that we create and embed in our community, in our youth, the pathway and roadmap based on our vision and mission of sovereignty and sustainability.”
Cultural Survival Quarterly
March 2017 • 23
protecting biological diversity
Ensuring Indigenous Participation at the National Level Alejandra Pero and Christina Supples
“National Biodiversity Strategies and Action Plans should be developed by incorporating the different trends, proposals, ideas, and thoughts of Indigenous Peoples.” — Bribri elder Alejandro Swaby
he Convention on Biological Diversity is an international, multilateral environmental treaty whose three main objectives are to conserve biological diversity, promote the sustainable use of its components, and ensure the fair and equitable sharing of benefits arising from the use of genetic resources. It opened for signature at the Rio Earth Summit in 1992 and entered into force in December 1993. It has been ratified by 193 governments, which in doing so, are legally bound to implement it. The Convention is the first international law to recognize biodiversity conservation as a “common concern of humankind.” It distinguishes the fundamental importance of ecosystems, species, and genetic resources to human development, and the substantial economic values and social benefits of using these resources sustainably. The governments of countries that have ratified the Convention, along with regional economic integration organizations, comprise the Conference of the Parties (COP) and function as its governing body. They advance its implementation at a bi-annual meeting and through working groups and national actions. The Convention is managed by the CBD Secretariat, who operates under United Nations Environment, and is overseen by an executive secretary that is appointed by the United Nations Secretary General. In 2010, the COP adopted “The Strategic Plan for Biodiversity 2011–2020.” It sets a challenging and ambitious vision
Margarita Lázaro, a Boruca artisan, spinning cotton.
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Térraba leader at a NBSAP workshop in Costa Rica.
that biodiversity is fully valued and integrated into national decision-making, and that concrete actions are taken to reverse biodiversity losses by 2020. This decision also urges governments to more closely align their national biodiversity planning processes with the strategic plan by revising their National Biodiversity Strategies and Action Plans (NBSAPs) and developing national and regional biodiversity targets following the Aichi Biodiversity Targets (ABTs) framework. National Biodiversity Strategies and Action Plans are the key conduit for implementing the Strategic Plan and achieving the Aichi Biodiversity Targets at a national level; they are a central policy-making tool for national biodiversity management. The Convention requires countries to prepare a national biodiversity strategy or equivalent instrument, and to ensure that it incorporates the principles of conservation and sustainable use, and it is integrated into the planning and activities
of those sectors whose activities can have an impact on biodiversity. Each NBSAP sets a long-term national biodiversity strategy, identifies a suite of national targets and actions to achieve it, and distinguishes responsible actors, timeframes, and resources. There are generally strategies and actions to incorporate protection of biodiversity into development plans, poverty reduction, natural resource management plans, and climate change plans; to increase and/or improve protection; to protect genetic diversity; to avoid extinctions; and to safeguard, restore, and increase the resilience of critical ecosystem services. An action plan that fully addresses the Aichi Biodiversity Targets and fulfills the aims of the Convention should include an analysis of biodiversity and ecosystem services and their contribution to human well-being, as well as the causes and consequences of their loss. It will address lessons learned from the development and implementation of previous NBSAPs; national, legal, and institutional frameworks; and opportunities and timelines for connecting the current NBSAP to other sectoral plans and policies. The land area under sustainable management, levels of sustainable production and consumption, protected area extent and effectiveness, and critical restoration needs are also assessed. The National Biodiversity Strategies and Action Plans Forum (nbsapforum.net), launched in 2014, is a global, webbased, knowledge management and technical support platform that supports countries’ efforts to find the information they need to develop and implement effective national strategies. Moderated by the UN Development Programme and co-hosted with the secretariat of the Convention on Biological Diversity and UN Environment, the website connects over 2,000 policy makers and practitioners from 195 countries in 122 languages who are responsible for developing, implementing, and monitoring national plans. Members and stakeholders are further engaged through regular newsletters, webinars, online learning courses, and in-person trainings. This platform ensures greater participation, engagement, and ultimately ownership by multiple groups. The NBSAP revision process should involve NGOs, academics, local and Indigenous Peoples, research institutes, and other relevant stakeholders. Such stakeholders may include specialists in the subjects and issues addressed by the NBSAP; national and local government representatives, including representation from ministries other than the environment; focal points of other biodiversity-related conventions; and private sector representatives. Countries are encouraged to ensure Indigenous Peoples participate in their national biodiversity planning processes and to share their experiences for greater learning across borders. In Costa Rica, for example, the NBSAP planning process incorporated the perspectives of Indigenous Peoples, following a request from Mesa Nacional Indígena de Costa Rica, the Indigenous representative body. In late 2015 and early 2016, the government of Costa Rica established an Indigenous coordinating team to prepare an analysis of the existing national biodiversity planning processes and provide recommendations for incorporating Indigenous Peoples’ perspectives and priorities into the new NBSAP national plan. This led to the facilitation of a participatory process that allowed Indigenous Peoples to directly contribute to the development All photos by Alejandra Loria.
of the NABSP’s guidelines, actions and projects. The process involved engaging representatives of Indigenous Peoples’ organizations through 13 community workshops, two regional workshops, and two national forums to create consensus and provide recommendations. A total of 445 people participated in the process, representing 150 organizations from Costa Rica’s 21 Indigenous territories. During the consultation process, Indigenous representatives raised the fundamental importance of co-management of the conservation areas used by Indigenous Peoples. Recommendations included promoting Indigenous Peoples’ participation as key actors in decision-making and their involvement in government conservation planning processes. Proposed actions to meet these recommendations included holding dialogues, developing agreements to ensure the equitable distribution of benefits, and officially recognizing Indigenous Peoples’ role as co-managers. Other recommendations included supporting and respecting the protection and collection of Indigenous knowledge, and innovations and practices associated with Indigenous Peoples’ use of biodiversity; recognizing the contributions Indigenous Peoples and local communities make toward conservation goals; and recognizing the role of Indigenous Peoples’ systems of governance in the use and management of the environment. The need to support Indigenous economic initiatives involving biodiversity, such as tourism, also emerged. Representatives prioritized programs and project pro- posals ranging from updating protected areas that overlap or interact with Indigenous territories, to creating an Indigenous office in the Ministry of Environment and Energy. Other actions included strengthening ranger programs in Indigenous territories, developing a program for Indigenous food sovereignty, and supporting Indigenous Peoples in establishing a system to protect Indigenous seeds. The Indigenous proposals developed during this stakeholder engagement process greatly enriched the Costa Rica National Biodiversity Strategies and Action Plan, which now includes three national goals for 2020 and 2025 (goals 71–73) that are responsive to these requirements. The revised plan also identifies the Indigenous Biodiversity and Indigenous Peoples Program Profile, which involves three projects focusing on biodiversity restoration through Indigenous knowledge, building capacity of communities and public officials and sustainable tourism, as top funding priorities. In light of the positive experiences and impacts that resulted from this stakeholder engagement process, Costa Rica’s National Wetland Policy developed a similar participatory process to engage Indigenous Peoples to develop recommendations on the cultural uses of wetland ecosystems. —Alejandra Pero is the global network coordinator for the Equator Initiative, UN Development Programme. Christina Supples is the manager of the Global NBSAP Support Project and NBSAP Forum moderator, UN Development Programme. For more information, contact firstname.lastname@example.org at UNDP Costa Rica, and email@example.com, Article 8j Focal Point for CONAGEBIO, Costa Rica.
Cultural Survival Quarterly
March 2017 • 25
B az aar art i st: Ex press Cashmere to the World
Afra Kashmir Akhtar Mir
am an artisan from Kashmir Valley, situated in northern India. Located mostly in the Himalayan Mountains, Kashmir Valley is famous for its beautiful mountainous landscape, lakes, rivers, and gardens. I belong to Kashmir and Kashmir art is in my blood. Historically, Kashmir became known worldwide when its cashmere shawls were exported to other regions and nations. Kashmir’s economy was only centered around agriculture before the 14th century, until Mir Syed Ali Hamadani travelled from Persia to Kashmir and played a major role in spreading and teaching arts and crafts skills to the people of Kashmir. With the passage of time, the crafts industry spread in the whole valley. Sources consider that Ladakh is the homeland of goats with different kinds of wools; among them is the most popular Pashmina wool goat. Hamadani founded and started this industry in the valley. Pashmina means woolen in Persian, and it is considered among the softest fibers in the world. Cashmere and pashmina are two names of the same fabric. Making a single shawl goes through many processes with many families. Families are involved in Pashmina goat farming, fiber collection and spinning, weaving, dyeing, design stamping, hand embroidery, and washing. There are different kinds of embroideries like needlework, hook work, and kani work. Shawl embroidery takes months to years to finish a single piece depending on the intricacy of the design and craftsmanship. There is a kind of embroidery which we call durukha (reversible), which makes a shawl usable on either side. This is considered the best craftsmanship. Artisans carry shawls along with them when they travel. This is the only Kashmir craft that one can make anywhere, in any corner of the house. The spinning of cashmere is only done by women, while hand embroidery can be done by both men and women. The rest of the process of shawl making is done by men. Afra Kashmir is the brand name of our work and our whole family is involved, along with hundreds of other families associated with us. When we receive bulk orders for handiwork we are able to distribute the commission to artisans all over the region, even in remote areas. Our aim is to reach out to the maximum number of artisans across the valley. We are really happy to express that Afra Kashmir has master craftswomen who are doing intricate embroidery on shawls with very beautiful designs and colors. We have master craftsmen associated with us who are able to complete any requirements and customized orders. While we are very successful, we still face many challenges like poor marketing and advertising, lack of awareness among buyers, online stores selling fake and machine made imitation products, and inauthentic events/exhibitions worldwide in the name of Kashmir handmade products. Furthermore, there is a lack of social security among artisans and their families, no good health care policy for artisans, and no implementation of wage laws in the country. We artisans believe that if we get a proper channel to sell our products and educate buyers, this art will last long and we can continue to give the best luxurious products to the world. We believe if we sell directly to the buyers, we can educate them too. We think buyers should have a proper knowledge of the product so that they can buy a genuine product, and this will discourage imitations. We are trying our best to get the proper marketing and selling channels with our own efforts, and will surely take this industry ahead.
Akhtar Mir demonstrating his craft at the Cultural Survival Bazaar in Cambridge, MA, in December. M i ddl e a n d bottom: Mir’s community is proud of their detailed embroidered cashmere scarves.
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To learn more about Afra Kashmir, send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org. Come to our upcoming Cultural Survival Bazaars: July 22–23 in Plymouth, MA; July 29–30 in Tiverton, RI. Visit bazaar.cs.org for more information.
All photos by Jess Cherofsky.
s t af f s pot lig h t
Amplifying Indigenous Voices Dev Kumar Sunuwar, Community Media Grants Project Assistant
ev Kumar Sunuwar was born and raised in a KoĩtsSunuwar Indigenous community in the remote village of Kubu-Kasthali in Ramechhap, Nepal, where there is still no access by roads, no internet or phone, and no government services, quality education, or health facilities. “My childhood was spent in hardship. I had no opportunity for good schooling. My desire to study brought me to Kathmandu, where I worked as a house servant, taxi driver, and then a teacher, and now a journalist,” he says. Today Sunuwar holds masters degrees in journalism and mass communication, political science, and law, specializing in international law and human rights from Tribhuvan University in Nepal. “My people are among the most marginalized and vulnerable groups within the Indigenous community. They have no access to or participation in media. I have been the only person to study journalism and practice journalism among all 55,722 Koĩts-Sunuwar in Nepal. Seeing the hardship in my community and the lack of access to communication led me to pursue my studies and work in media,” Sunuwar says. Sunuwar first worked as an intern reporter at The Kathmandu Post, Nepal’s largest selling English language newspaper, and was successively promoted to reporter, senior reporter, and assistant editor. Later he trained and worked as an investigative reporter for the Centre for Investigative Journalism-Nepal, producing investigative stories on health issues. In 2010, Sunuwar was accepted for an Indigenous fellowship at the Office of the High Commissioner on Human Rights, which inspired him to begin to research his own Koĩts-Sunuwar community as well as Indigenous issues in Nepal. He began writing a column on Indigenous Peoples and minority groups, and in 2012 he quit the mainstream media and went back to his isolated village to help the community set up and run two community radio stations: Radio Kairan and Radio Likhu. With the goal of reaching the larger Indigenous community, in 2011 Sunuwar cofounded the Indigenous Media Foundation, which now runs Indigenous Television, Nepal’s first and only national Indigenous community television network. Launched in 2016, Indigenous Television now reaches across Nepal and the world through mobile apps, internet, and social media, serving Indigenous communities with 24-hour news as well as educational, entertainment, and informative programs in their own languages. Additionally, the foundation has created a network of 21 Indigenous community radio stations. “We now have online, radio, TV, and print; a complete media house specifically focused on Indigenous Peoples in the languages they understand,” he says. “The popular saying, ‘necessity is mother of invention,’ is very much true in our work. The product, services, and solutions that I, together with my colleagues, have achieved so far, were the result of necessity of our community. We
Dev Kumar Sunuwar interviewing a participant at the Indigenous Terra Madre conference held in November 2015 in Meghalaya, India.
wanted to enable our community to access, produce, and share information using modern means of communication for their empowerment. We dared to set up different media such as community radio, television, online, and print, because we believe it is through communication the community members are able to understand their rights and issues, express their voice, and participate in a dialogue and influence decisions that affect their lives.” On his newest role of Cultural Survival Community Media Grants Project Assistant, Sunuwar says, “The role of Cultural Survival is to create networks of Indigenous communities and support communication efforts to help strengthen the capacity of Indigenous Peoples to establish or improve community media as well as help them access information. My role is to help communities enhance their voice and communication by strengthening the capacity of radio, which is the most useful communication platform in the grassroots level. Moreover, I am the key person on the Cultural Survival team to reach to the communities most in need, to enhance their inclusion and access to information and effective communication channels, so that Indigenous Peoples in Nepal can amplify their voice and participation in media and any decision-making affecting them.” Contact Dev Kumar Sunuwar at email@example.com.
Cultural Survival Quarterly
March 2017 • 27
get i nvo lve d
Convention on the Rights of the Child Joshua Cooper Human rights are measured through United Nations covenants and conventions. Regular State reviews monitor how the rights enshrined in these treaties are being implemented. The review of every nation offers a chance to educate citizens and demand realization of the rights enshrined in the treaties ratified by their governments. Indigenous Peoples’ involvement is essential to seek justice through the review process. In this series we aim to break down the core treaties.
dopted on November 20, 1989 by UN General Assembly Resolution 44/25, the Convention on the Rights of the Child is the first treaty created for and about children. A bill of rights for children, it blends international human rights and humanitarian law and is the first legally binding international human rights instrument to include all fundamental freedoms— civil, cultural, economic, political, and social—including Indigenous Peoples. Articles 17, 29, and 30 recognize Indigenous children’s rights. The first two protocols of the Convention are the Optional Protocol on the Involvement of Children in Armed Conflict and the Optional Protocol on the Sale of Children, Child Prostitution and Child Pornography. The third is the Optional Protocol on a Communications Procedure, which allows for children to testify to the State regarding violations of rights and seek remedy through the committee decision review process. The specific recognition of Indigenous children is a testimony to the growing influence of Indigenous Peoples in international human rights law.
The Convention contains four general principles: non- discrimination; best interest of the child; right to life, survival and development; and participation and inclusion of the child. The document’s 54 articles can be divided into 3 parts: Survival Rights, Participation Rights, and Development Rights. These are further subdivided for the State reporting process to ensure proper review of all children’s rights enshrined in the Convention. These include General Measures of Implementation; Definition of the Child, Civil Rights and Freedoms; Violence Against Children; Family Environment and Alternative Care; Disability, Basic Health and Welfare; Education, Leisure and Cultural Activities; and Special Protection Measures.
An 18-member committee of experts reviews States as duty bearers. Since October 1991, the committee members have received and reviewed reports prepared by States as the basis for generating recommendations to share with governments. This culminates in the multiple review sessions of the State, which take place predominantly in the pre-session portion.
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Q’eqchi Maya children of El Estor, Guatemala, are claiming their right to their language by participating at their community radio station, Radio Xyaab’ Tzuul Taq’a.
When a country ratifies the Convention, an initial report is due two years after acceding to the convention. Periodic reports are due every five years. The first and second optional protocol follow a similar pattern. The Committee on the Rights of the Child meets three times a year in January, May, and September for three weeks at a time, followed immediately by a one-week Pre-Sessional Working Group to prepare a list of issues and questions for the States under review at the subsequent Committee session. As with all human rights treaty bodies, the committee meetings all take place in Geneva, predominantly at the Palais Wilson. After the State submits its report, there is a period of six months to two years before NGOs submit their alternative (shadow) reports. When submitted at least three months in advance, these reports ensure inclusion in the background documents prepared for the Committee. Civil society should review what the government has submitted and respond directly to what the government claims. It is important to distribute the previous concluding observations as well as the new State report widely at the national and community levels. The shadow reports identify gaps in government reports and offer objective analyses of concluding observation implementation and oversight challenges of children’s rights in the country since the previous review. Successful supplementary reports don’t follow an articleby-article approach. Instead, they should be based on the nine clusters of the official guidelines for governments. They should offer systematic analysis and incorporate direct input from children along with data to create a list of issues, and ultimately recommendations. The report should offer concrete evidence based on specific cases and should be a maximum
of 20,000 words. Children can also submit information through supplementary reports, such as a video or any other creative means, to share their stories with Committee members so they can participate in the interactive dialogue with the State under review. More than 80 grassroots and global NGOs continue to serve children and their allies through Child Rights Connect. This network has partnered with the committee experts since the Convention’s establishment. It is important to contact Child Rights Connect to partner in the review process in all phases, especially as the committee does more work in earlier sessions than other human rights treaty bodies to ensure maximum engagement for children’s rights.
Five Phase Cycle: Preparation
In the 18–24 months prior to the State review, the preparation phase centers around community engagement. The heart of the action is a thorough examination of the human rights record of the government with a focus on education and explanation of human rights and how they can be a framework for fundamental freedoms and equality. Supplementary reports are prepared by civil society and presented to the UN Committee on the Rights of the Child. Children can also submit information through alternative reports, such as drawings or videos, to share their stories. The alternative report should be an assessment of the progress made since the previous review.
The interaction phase initiates participation with the secretariat of the UN Committee on the Rights of the Child, committee experts, and Child Rights Connect to ensure that the relevant issues and specific recommendations are understood and considered by the committee in every phase of the State review. This phase especially prepares the country rapporteur(s) and task force to be able to read through the government rhetoric and raise specific questions about current practices. It transforms the shadow reports into short, detailed summaries with specific language, and also prepares the Committee to be able to better discuss the facts and make specific recommendations for change. The core of the interaction is in the Pre-Session. The Pre-Sessional Working Group in Geneva allows for direct interaction with the Committee members. Invitations to participate are based on the alternative reports submitted. Interaction starts with a two-hour confidential meeting with the Committee, civil society, and UN agencies, and continues through the creation of the List of Issues and the written replies of the State. Even NGOs that don’t submit an alternative report or participate in the Pre-Session can submit additional analysis and insightful information to the Committee.
The consideration phase revolves around information raised in the reviews by the Committee experts based on the shadow reports. The coordination of civil society should result in national recommendations to realize children’s rights. It is possible for informal involvement during breakfast or lunch breaks. The consideration is at least six hours of constructive conversation consisting of two, three-hour sessions between
the State delegation and the Committee experts led by the country rapporteur(s) or country task force. The interactive dialogue in this phase results in the deeper understanding of the interests of Indigenous Peoples to influence the direction of the national discussion of children’s rights at the UN Committee, resulting in recommendations cited in the Concluding Observations. NGOs should submit their responses to the State and the Committee one to two months prior to the actual consideration at the Plenary Session. Then, NGOs should ensure their badges with Child Rights Connect and the Child Rights Connect secretariat. Indigenous voices should be heard through social media at every phase of the consideration, especially around the six-hour review of the State. The relationship begun at the Pre-Session Working Group should be nurtured by being available for conversations in the Palais Wilson cafeteria and in hallways during breakfast and lunchtime during the week of the review. The consideration phase is also where civil society realizes if their questions and concerns are raised to the State under review. Coordination must be maintained at home but also with global partners. Child Rights Connect assists throughout the entire process, and it is important to issue a press release with highlights of the review. The consideration phase is an opportunity to meet with the state delegation to begin to plan how to ensure the children’s rights recommendations, released during the Adoption phase in the concluding observations, can be realized at home.
Adoption: Mobilization and Connection
The adoption phase is where recommendations are issued to the State based on the responses to the original report; the NGO and UNICEF alternative reports in the Pre-Session; the responses to the List of Issues by the State and NGOs; and the review. The priorities of Indigenous Peoples regarding specific children’s rights enshrined in the Convention and the List of Issues should be featured in the Committee’s concluding observations, if one’s concerns were well presented during the three previous phases. On the final day of the UN Committee on the Rights of the Child, there is an open meeting where the concluding observations are shared with the public. The adoption of the Concluding Observations outlines recommendations on how to address the challenges to realize children’s rights. The Committee also issues a deadline for the submission of the next State report.
Implementation: Dedication and Realization
The implementation phase requires dedicated followup for realization of the fundamental rights and freedoms cited in the Concluding Observations recommendations. This closes the cycle. The Committee has not yet adopted any formal followup procedures. The Concluding Observations highlight areas of concern that require dedicated resources and attention by the national administration and agencies. States are expected to submit their next report based on deadline the set in the Concluding Observations. — Joshua Cooper is a professor at the University of Hawai’i, West Oahu, Kapolei and director of the Hawai’i Institute for Human Rights. Cultural Survival Quarterly
March 2017 • 29
The time to act is now “As Indigenous Peoples, we have always had to fight for our lands, territories, cultures, languages—for our rights. We continue to stand strong and move forward with the strength of our friends and allies.” — Suzanne Benally, Cultural Survival executive director
Cultural Survival believes in the movements that unite us, and those that champion the rights of Indigenous Peoples and most vulnerable among us. For 45 years, our programs have been amplifying Indigenous voices, promoting cultural understanding and respect, and strengthening Indigenous self-determination and revitalization. With your support, Cultural Survival will continue to work toward full implementation of the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, for self-determination, for the inclusion of Indigenous Peoples in global policymaking, for the rights of women and children, and for the protection of our life-sustaining environment. Get involved today and make a contribution to amplify Indigenous voices.
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