Standing Rock Sioux Tribe’s Lawyer: Judge’s Ruling Allows Dakota Access to “Desecrate” Sacred Ground | Democracy Now!

In Washington, D.C., a federal judge has ruled that construction on sacred tribal burial sites in the path of the $3.8 billion Dakota Access pipeline can continue. Yesterday, U.S. District Judge James Boasberg issued a temporary restraining order that halts construction only between Route 1806 and Lake Oahe, but still allows construction to continue west of this area. The ruling does not protect the land where, on Saturday, hundreds of Native Americans forced Dakota Access to halt construction, despite the company’s security forces attacking the crowd with dogs and pepper spray. This part of the construction site is a sacred tribal burial ground. We get an update from Stephanie Tsosie, associate attorney with Earthjustice who helps represent the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe in its lawsuit against the Army Corps of Engineers over the Dakota Access pipeline.

Read more…

Source: Standing Rock Sioux Tribe’s Lawyer: Judge’s Ruling Allows Dakota Access to “Desecrate” Sacred Ground | Democracy Now!

How do we grieve the death of a river? — Spotted Horse Press by Winona LaDuke

How do we grieve the death of a river? Written by Winona LaDuke   “Our people blocked the road. When the troops arrive, we will face them .”– Ailton Krenak, Krenaki People, Brazil  This eighteen months saw three of the largest mine tailings pond disasters in history.  Although they have occurred far from northern Minnesota’s pristine waters, we may want to take heed as we look at a dozen or more mining projects, on top of what is already there, abandoned or otherwise. These stories, like many, do not make headlines. They are in remote communities, far from the media and the din of our cars, cans and lifestyle.  Aside from public policy questions, mining safety and economic liability concerns, there is an underlying moral issue we face here:the death of a river. As I interviewed Ailton Krenak, this became apparent. The people in southeastern Brazilian call the river Waatuh or Grandfather. “We sing to the river, we baptize the children in this river, we eat from this river, the river is our life,”  That’s what Ailton Krenak, winner of the  Onassis International Prize, and a leader of the Indigenous and forest movement in Brazil, told me as I sat with him and he told me of the mine waste disaster. I wanted to cry. How do you express condolences for a river, for a life, to a man to whom the river is the center of the life of his people? That is a question we must ask ourselves. November 2015’s Brazilian collapse of two dams at a mine on the Rio Doco River sent a toxic sludge over villages, and changed the geography of a world.  The dam collapse cut off drinking water for a quarter of a million people and saturated waterways downstream with dense orange sediment. As the LA Times would report, “Nine people were killed, 19 … listed as missing and 500 people were displaced from their homes when the dams burst.” The sheer volume of water and mining sludge disgorged by the dams across nearly three hundred miles is staggering: the equivalent of 25,000 Olympic swimming pools or the volume carried by about 187 oil tankers. The Brazilians compare the damage to the BP oil disaster, and the water has moved into the ocean – right into the nesting area for endangered sea turtles, and a delicate ecosystem. The mine, owned by Australian based BHP Billiton, the largest mining company in the world, (and the one which just sold a 60-year-old coal strip mine to the Navajo Nation in 2013) is projecting some clean up. Renowned Brazilian documentary photographer Sebastiao Salgado, whose foundation has been active in efforts to protect the Doce River, toured the area and submitted a $27 billion clean-up proposal to the government.  “ Everything died. Now the river is a sterile canal filled with mud,” Salgado told reporters. When the mining company wanted to come back, Ailton Krenak told me,  “we blocked the road.” They didn’t get the memo. – Read more at: http://americanindiansandfriends.com/news/how-do-we-grieve-the-death-of-a-river-written-by-winona-laduke#sthash.oVTqm8uZ.dpuf

Source: How do we grieve the death of a river? — Spotted Horse Press by Winona LaDuke

6 landmark rulings on native rights – Canada – CBC News

Tuesday’s Federal Court decision recognizing Métis and non-status Indians as Indians under Section 91(24) of the Constitution Act is just one of several landmark court decisions over the years that have helped define and shape aboriginal rights in Canada.Below is a selection of some key court rulings.Calder et al. v. B.C. attorney general (1973) — The split Supreme Court of Canada decision in this case opened the door to negotiations between the government and First Nations to establish rights to land and resources and launched the land claims process that continues to this day. B.C. cabinet minister and Nisga’a chief Frank Arthur Calder, the first status Indian to be elected to a Canadian legislature, and the Nisga’a tribal council took the B.C. government to court, arguing that the aboriginal title to about 2,600 square kilometres of Nisga’a land in and around the Nass River Valley in northwestern B.C. had never been extinguished.Although the court ultimately ruled against the Nisga’a, the decision was the first time the courts acknowledged that aboriginal title to land existed prior to colonization and the Royal Proclamation of 1763. The judges could not agree, however, on whether that title extended to the modern day, with three of them saying it did and three arguing the title was extinguished when the laws of the B.C. colonial government took effect. A seventh judge ruled against the Nisga’a on a technicality, but the case laid the groundwork for the adoption of the groundbreaking Nisga’a Treaty in 2000, the first contemporary land claims agreement in B.C., and other land agreements.R. v. Sparrow (1990) — This case is considered the first Supreme Court test of the scope of Section 35(1) of the Constitution Act, 1982, which recognizes and affirms the “existing aboriginal and treaty rights” of the aboriginal people of Canada and has been at the centre of many court battles over land and resource rights. In its decision, the court for the first time set out criteria for determining whether a right can be considered to be an “existing” right and whether the government is justified in curtailing such a right.The case stems from the 1984 arrest of Ronald Edward Sparrow, a member of the Musqueam band in B.C., who was charged with violating fisheries regulations when he used a net that was longer than his fishing licence allowed. Sparrow argued that his right to fish with the net was an existing aboriginal right protected by Sec. 35 (1) of the Constitution Act. The court agreed but stipulated that the right is not absolute and can be, in certain circumstances, infringed upon.Delgamuukw v. British Columbia (1997) — Although the Supreme Court of Canada never ruled on the question at the heart of this case, the statements it made about aboriginal land title were precedent setting for future land rights cases and the land claims process. The court confirmed that aboriginal title entails rights to the land itself, not just the right to extract resources from it. The court also ruled that the government has a duty to consult with First Nations on issues concerning Crown land and in some instances may have to compensate them for infringing on their rights to that land. The case was launched by Chief Earl Muldoe, known as Delgamuukw, and other hereditary chiefs of the Gitxsan and Wet’suwet’en First Nations in B.C., who took the provincial government to court in an effort to establish ownership and jurisdiction over 58,000 square kilometres of territory in the Skeena watershed in northwestern B.C. The Supreme Court did not rule on the question of ownership, saying the issue had to be decided at a new trial, but gave a detailed interpretation of what constitutes aboriginal title, laying out guidelines for how the issue should be approached in future disputes.R. v. Marshall (1999) —  This court battle over fishing rights in Nova Scotia inflamed tensions between aboriginal and non-native fishermen in the Maritimes and Quebec. Donald Marshall Jr., a Mi’kmaq man from Nova Scotia who decades earlier had been wrongfully convicted — and ultimately acquitted — in a high-profile murder case, had been charged with fishing eels out of season, fishing without a licence and fishing with an illegal net but argued that aboriginal rights stemming from 18th-century treaties with the British Crown exempted him from fisheries regulations.After the Supreme Court ruled in his favour, upholding the Mi’kmaq and Maliseet people’s rights to earn a “moderate livelihood” from commercial fishing and hunting, native lobster fishermen interpreted the ruling as granting them rights to catch lobster out of season and clashed with their non-native counterparts, who feared lobster stocks would be jeopardized. After a particularly heated showdown in Burnt Church, N.B., the court was forced to issue a clarification of its ruling, which underlined that the ruling applied to fisheries only and not to all natural resources and that the government could rest

Source: 6 landmark rulings on native rights – Canada – CBC News

Little Buffalo Cree Naton goes Solar. writer, Michelle Strutzenberger

published on Social Enterprise Canada,

On another brilliantly sunny day in the northern Alberta hamlet of Little Buffalo, history was being made earlier this week. The home to about 500 people was abuzz with a kind of activity not seen there before – the installation of a brand-new 20.8-kilowatt solar panel system.

Melina Laboucan-Massimo, who is from Little Buffalo, described the scene at one point. “We have the (solar) panels on the ground; we’re just going to be putting them up with the racking system today. We’re really excited about it,” she said.

The Piitapan Solar Project installation in process this week in Little Buffalo, Alberta.

The new solar-panel system is a pole-mount model, meaning the panels sit atop a pole looming about 15 feet into the air.

Electricians, solar contractors and community members are on-hand all week to complete the installation and/or train, learn and observe.

The goal is to have the system, called the Piitapan (Cree for Sunrise) Solar Project, installed by Aug. 21.

This will be followed by a Solar Feast this weekend, in which all generations of the hamlet will have an opportunity both learn more about what this new feature to their place means, as well as celebrate its installation as a truly historic moment.

For Melina, a member of the Lubicon Cree First Nation, seeing the solar-panel system take shape has special meaning.

She was born in Little Buffalo, which is encircled by oil and gas development and large scale industry. Little Buffalo is part of the Lubicon Lake Nation.

via Newsroom – Social Enterprise Canada.

Indigenous when he’s winning | Overland literary journal

By Morgan Godfery

…The myth of the Australian dream is that those who play by the rules, who observe the norms of mainstream society, will be treated and respected as members of that society. But this rule is only ever half-enforced when it comes to Indigenous people. They were never meant to be part of the Australian story. What Nicky Winmar knew in 1993 and Adam Goodes knows today is that sporting success is perfectly compatible with inequality and discrimination. The right to participate does not inevitably change the power relationship between (Indigenous) players, (white) fans and Australian society.

Colin Tatz coined the phrase that Indigenous players are ‘Australians when they’re winning and Aborigines at other times.’ Goodes is saying that he is Indigenous when he’s winning and Indigenous no matter what.

via Indigenous when he’s winning | Overland literary journal.

13,800-year-old Haida site found underwater in Canada | Ancient Origins

Estimates of people’s presence in the Americas have ranged from about 12,000 to 50,000 years. A new study by a team of archaeologists that has been researching the subject, has found a site dating back 13,800 years, now underwater in the Juan Perez Sound off British Columbia in Canada.

The underwater area they examined was once dry land, inhabited by the Haida people. The Haida have an old flood tale on Frederick Island that tells of how the peoples became dispersed in the New World.  Frederick Island is a different site than the one recently studied.

The team, led by archaeologist Quentin Mackie of the University of Victoria, found the site this past September near the Haida Gwaii Archipelago. They found a fishing weir, a stone channel structure that was probably used to catch salmon, the CBC reports.

via 13,800-year-old Haida site found underwater in Canada | Ancient Origins.

73% of Australians want Indigenous recognition in constitution – study | Australia news | The Guardian

Reposted from the Guardian:

The vast majority of Australians believe that the constitution should be changed to recognise Indigenous people, and remove clauses that discriminate on the basis of race, a study by the Australian National University found.

The telephone survey of more than 1,200 people aimed to record public opinion on injustice and social disadvantage faced by Aboriginal and Torres Strait islanders.

It found that 82% of Australians supported the removal of clauses in the constitution that discriminate on race.

And 73%, or nearly three out of four Australians believe that Indigenous Australians deserve special reference in the preamble of the founding document.

Tanya Hosch, the campaign director of Recognise, which advocates on the recognition of Indigenous Australians, said that “the strong levels of support from Australians reflect what we have heard in our own extensive community engagement across the country in the past few years.

“Australians want to fix this lack of recognition and want to fix the race discrimination in our highest legal document.”

The prime minister, Tony Abbott, has indicated that he would hold a referendum on the issue in 2017, to coincide with the 50th anniversary of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders being counted in the census.

“It’s important to get this right. Yes, we want to do it. But we want to get it right and it’s more important to get it right than to rush it,” Abbott told reporters on Friday.

“We’ve got the joint parliamentary committee, chaired by Ken Wyatt, deputy chaired by Nova Peris and that committee will be reporting in the next couple of months and that will give us a strong foundation on which to build.”

Constitutional recognition has strong bipartisan support.

via 73% of Australians want Indigenous recognition in constitution – study | Australia news | The Guardian.

Diálogo Chino | Brazil blocks State Grid plans to employ 11,000 Chinese on mega dam project

The Brazilian government is refusing to sanction a proposal by Chinese state-owned power company State Grid to send 11,000 of its employees to Brazil to work on the construction of a 2,100-kilometer power transmission line beginning at the Belo Monte hydroelectric plant. Local labor laws forbid companies from hiring foreign workers as long as qualified Brazilians are available.

The dispute is the latest episode in the ongoing drama of the controversial megaproject that has been implicated in an unprecedented corruption scandal and is expected to force the displacement of over 20,000 indigenous people.

Belo Monte‘s so-called linhão or “big line”, one of the longest in the country, will require the installation of 4,500 towers and 25,000 kilometers of cabling, requiring investment of around US$1.6 billion. But work cannot begin until the Brazilian Institute of the Environment and Renewable Natural Resources (IBAMA) has issued an environmental permit.

With Brazil in the throes of a record-breaking drought, stagnant growth and potential energy crisis, job creation and energy capacity are sensitive issues but this chapter is expected to be a short one for State Grid as the first step in the process for beginning work is already underway – IBAMA has authorized public consultations on the additional line.

“This industrial policy was designed to create jobs in Brazil,” Professor Nivalde de Castro, coordinator of the Electric Sector Study Group at the Federal University of Rio de Janeiro told Diálogo Chino. But China’s entry into Brazil’s energy sector  is not necessarily a threat.

According to Castro there is still a lot of room for new companies – especially Chinese ones – to participate in Brazil’s energy market, as long as they do so indirectly: “Chinese companies are strongly encouraged to open subsidiaries” Castro added, explaining that by doing so, China can provide finance for the sector without harming local industry and Brazil can keep imports down.

The new transmission line tenders scheduled for this year alone will offer opportunities for almost US$7 billion in investments.

But according to Castro, the question is whether China will remain interested in investing if it has to comply with Brazil’s industrial and financial policy and operate through subsidiaries.

Brazil’s Minister of Mines and Energy, Eduardo Braga, has discussed plans to speed up overdue energy infrastructure projects – including power plants and transmission lines. While the specific projects under consideration are still unknown, it is likely that the linhão will be a priority given the centrality of Belo Monte to Brazil’s energy expansion plans.

At 11,233 MW of installed capacity, Belo Monte will be the second largest hydropower plant in Brazil, and a considerable part of its output will be transmitted to Brazil’s industrial Southeast, which accounts for almost 70% of the country’s energy consumption.

Ultra High Voltage technology will deliver 800 kilovolts (kV) of direct current to a system that interconnects almost the entire country and extends for almost 117,000 kilometers, according to data from the National Electric System Operator (ONS).

State Grid paid US$1bn to purchase seven transmission lines from Plena Transmissoras (a joint venture of Spanish and Brazilian companies), and also bid successfully for the main transmission system through a partnership with Eletrobras, the largest energy company in Brazil – which, like its Chinese peer, is controlled by the federal government.

The IE Belo Monte consortium is composed of State Grid (51%) and two Eletrobras subsidiaries: Furnas (24.5%) and Eletronorte (24.5%). At the bidding, the consortium asked for annual revenues of around US$140 million. Under the rules of transmission line bids in Brazil, bids compete against each other to offer the lowest cost to the national grid.

State Grid’s chairman of the board, Liu Zhenya, had stated that Brazil and China have some similarities in their interconnected energy systems with power supply sometimes extending more than 2,000 kilometers away from the country’s load centers. This, he said at the bidding event, can generate demand for the construction of long-distance distribution channels with high capacity and low levels of energy loss.

State Grid has already faced problems in Brazil with the construction of the transmission line that will connect to Teles Pires, a 1,820 MW hydroelectric plant whose construction is nearing completion. The plant, located in the Amazon rainforest, will not be operational until a 1,005-kilometer transmission line connecting it to the national grid is finished. But the line has been delayed because of problems acquiring an environmental permit as it would interfere with important indigenous and archaeological sites, according to the daily newspaper O Estado de São Paulo.

via Diálogo Chino | Brazil blocks State Grid plans to employ 11,000 Chinese on mega dam project.