Vive Le Canada

Genocide, backlash yield new peoples' movement in the Americas
Date: Tuesday, July 25 2006
Topic:


genocide, backlash yield new peoples' movement in the Americas
Indian Country Today July 24, 2006. All Rights Reserved
Posted: July 24, 2006
by: Brenda Norrell / Indian Country Today
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Photo courtesy Simone Senogles -- Renee Gurneau, president of Red Lake Nation College; Josephine Mandamin, Ojibwe water knowledge keeper; and Tara Chadwick, of the Indigenous Peoples Task Force, offered an Anishinaabe water ceremony during the Indigenous Environmental Network's Protecting Mother Earth conference on Leech Lake tribal land in Minnesota.

CASS LAKE, Minn. - The longtime exploitation of indigenous peoples' land and water resources in the Americas by governments and corporations has resulted in ''energy genocide'' for indigenous peoples; now, this energy genocide is unleashing an environmental movement, with Native people taking on governments and holding corporations accountable, according to the Indigenous Environmental Network.

Tom Goldtooth, executive director of IEN, said the seizure of land, mineral and water rights, particularly in Central and South America, has resulted in the rape, torture and murder of indigenous peoples.

Goldtooth said globalization, pushed by countries like the United States, has allowed U.S. corporations to come into the territories of indigenous communities of Central and South America in need of minerals, oil, gas, water, trees and the medicinal knowledge of indigenous peoples.

''This market-based system has created privatization of land and competition of natural resources, causing our indigenous brothers and sisters of the Latin American countries to organize and resist. Indigenous peoples are mobilizing against mining companies in Venezuela, Brazil, Colombia, Guatemala, Peru and Panama.

''There are wars fueled by mining companies such as Denver-based Newmont that cause mine workers to fight local communities, of which many are indigenous peoples,'' Goldtooth told Indian Country Today.

Where there is mining within remote rural communities in Latin American countries, he said, there are rapes and abuses of indigenous women.

''Racism is alive and well in many of these countries where tribal people are discriminated.''

Gemmill said indigenous peoples are organizing from the grass-roots level to resist a U.S./Canadian energy policy that is too expensive and environmentally destructive. The binational energy policy is the main cause of climate change and global warming, and violates traditional laws of indigenous teachings and beliefs, she added.

Resisting oil and gas expansion in Alaska, REDOIL is working with Alaska Natives to defend pristine regions and documenting the health problems from drilling on that state's North Slope.

''From the proposed nuclear waste dump in Skull Valley Goshute lands in Utah, to the proposed geothermal energy development by Calpine within the sacred Medicine Lake in northern California, to the road of destruction of oil and gas coming from Alaska, through the McKenzie River of the Dene Indians in Northwest Territories, down through the oil and tar sands of Alberta of Cree territories, bringing that crude oil right into a proposed oil refinery to be built at the Fort Berthold Three Affiliated Tribal lands in North Dakota, to the proposed Desert Rock coal fired power plant on the Navajo reservation, it adds up to a new form of energy genocide.''

In Alberta, Lisa Deskelni King, Athabascane Chipewyan First Nation and an environmental specialist with the Industry Relations Corporation in Fort McMurray, described Dene lands throughout Alberta and the Northwest Territories of Canada.

Like their Athabascan relatives, the Dine' or Navajos in the Southwest, the Dene in Canada have been devastated by energy development. The Dene lands are fragmented and destroyed by the tar sands development, one of the most energy-intensive oil extraction processes. It leaves behind environmental devastation. In the process, sand is mined and oil separated from the sand using fresh water from rivers and lakes.

King said the waste ponds created by this toxic process cover vast tracks of land in the heart of the Dene territory and can even be seen from outer space. Most of the oil taken from Dene lands is sold directly to the U.S. market.

Rose Desjarlais, Dene elder from Fort McMurray, Alberta, said the fossil fuel dependency of Canada and the United States is destructive to her people. The tar and oil sands development in Alberta uses great quantities of water, some from rivers, in the extraction of bitumen from the oil sands.

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