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Showing posts with label native Americans. Show all posts
Showing posts with label native Americans. Show all posts

Monday, October 10, 2016

Indigenous American Indians in the United States

Indigenous American Indians: Discrimination, a Pipeline and Columbus Day

Article by Chaker Khazaal, Writer, Reporter, Speaker

“Few have been ignored by Washington for as long as Native Americans.” 

Almost exactly one month after mass protests spurred government intervention in the construction of the Dakota Access Pipeline (DAPL), the United States’ observance of Columbus Day is a timely reminder that there is still much work to be done to preserve and restore Indigenous American Indian culture.

Columbus Day has been observed in the U.S. every October since 1937 to celebrate the day Christopher Columbus “discovered” the new world—except that he was actually quite far from being the first person to settle in North America. And let’s not forget that his “discovery” set off a chain of events that would ultimately lead to the decimation of most of the Indigenous American people, their land and their culture.

I spoke with Western Cherokee medicine man Jason Rios, one of the thousands of Indigenous American Indians who stood in peaceful protest of the pipeline, which they say will disrupt waters and lands sacred to their people. The pipeline protest is perhaps the most significant since a 1970’s protest connected to the Wounded Knee Massacre, where hundreds of their ancestors (mostly unarmed elders, women and children) were shot 'in mass' by U.S. forces on their reservation in South Dakota over a century ago.
Columbus Day is a timely reminder that there is still much work to be done to preserve and restore Indigenous American Indian culture.
Rios, who is also a father of three and a leader of an independent branch of the Oklevueha Native American Church, told me that the pipeline and the observance of Columbus Day are just two of many ways in which the United States government continues to neglect to recognize his people’s culture.

“It reeks of a repeat of Wounded Knee almost 100 years later, and we have the FBI, National Guard, mercenaries and more all out there against peaceful and prayerful water protectors who are only engaging in non-violent direct action,” Rios said. “We still have genocide occurring today, but carried out on paper, as the pen is mightier than the sword with blood quantums.”

Rios went on to mention Leonard Peltier, an Indigenous American activist who many believe was wrongfully imprisoned on murder charges after the Wounded Knee protests over 40 years ago. While the government has yet to budge on releasing Peltier from his life sentence, the DAPL victory is a step in the right direction for Indigenous Americans hoping to use passionate but peaceful protest methods to make their voices heard.

“[The protest] was truly life-changing,” Rios told me. “It solidified, for me, all that I’ve been doing and working towards my entire life. I stood in solidarity with over 200 Indigenous nations against big corporations, big oil, and against an oppressive government.”

While President Obama’s move to block further construction of the pipeline was certainly surprising, it wasn’t the first time he’s made an effort to help rebuild relations with Rios and his people. Along with praising the president for his action regarding the pipeline, Indigenous American Indian leaders also credited him for keeping his promises while meeting at Obama’s final White House Tribal Nations Conference last week.

“Few have been ignored by Washington for as long as Native Americans—the first Americans,” Obama was quoted as saying during his 2008 candidacy.

“People talk about the genocide of the Jews—2 million people, mercilessly slaughtered. People talk about Syria and the hundreds of thousands killed there,” Rios said. “And yet nobody wants to talk about the 500 million Indigenous American Indians that were slaughtered in genocide on this land of ours.”

It’s hard to argue Rios’ point, especially if you consider the current state of Indigenous American Indian reservations. According to the Pew Research Center, the poverty rate at some reservations is nearly triple the national average. They also have higher rates of homelessness and high school dropouts.

According to the True Sioux Hope Foundation, the 29,000 Indigenous people on their reservation are living in third-world conditions. Their website states that the average home has nearly 20 people living inside of it, with over 90 percent of the reservation’s residents living unemployed and below the poverty line.

Furthermore, government healthcare provided for Indigenous American Indians has been described by one U.S. Senator as grossly underfunded and “horrifying.” Despite having little money, Rios and his church provide all of the goods and services to their patients free of charge.

“I got very sick in 2008-2009 and with the housing crisis, it resulted in me losing our home, having to file medical bankruptcy, and having my vehicle repossessed,” Rios told me. “Fast-forward to today... I’m homeless in the sense that I don’t have my own place, but we are staying at my mother’s until we get our own. Yet, I choose not to go back into the corporate world and be a slave in their system.”

Instead, Rios opts to devote his time to traveling coast-to-coast with his “elder” Carlo Hawk Walker on behalf of his church to provide free ceremonial and medicinal services to those who need it most.

“Carlo is the 6th Keeper of Sitting Bull’s Pipe,” Rios mentioned. Sitting Bull was an iconic Indigenous American chief and medicine man, so possessing a pipe associated with him carries significant honor and respect. “He is also a Sundancer, Sundance Chief, Peace Maker, and a Medicine Man,” Rios said, adding later that Carlo is also a Vietnam veteran.

Rios and Carlo work with other independent church branches and members to raise goods, as well as utilizing tax-deductible donations to ensure everything is cost-free for their patients. Unfortunately, their work is often impeded by outsiders that are either ignorant of or unwilling to accept native customs and traditions.
[We must] keep the widespread discrimination against Indigenous American culture in the spotlight as we continue to approach the day commemorating the genocide of their people.
As registered native medicine men, Rios and Carlo almost always travel with a sacred medicine bag containing natural herbs, medicines, and various other items used for native religious ceremonies—some of which are not legal for an ‘ordinary citizen’ to carry. While all Indigenous American Indians are legally exempt from laws prohibiting the possession of things like eagle feathers, only registered churches such as Rios’ can utilize the religious exemption from laws banning the transport of plants like peyote or marijuana. Rios must carry nearly 100 documents with him in his healing bag at all times to prove the authenticity of his medicines, his church’s practices, and his various other cultural belongings.

“When I travel, I travel as a medicine man at large, and through our organizations, I should be considered an Ambassador,” he explained. “Even outside of U.S. Law, there are international laws for Indigenous People. So in dealing with me, all agencies have a different set of rules that they have to abide by.”

It seems clear that all parties would benefit from a universal standard for safe travel of Indigenous religious leaders, or a pre-screening program such as NEXUS to expedite the travel of Indigenous American holy men and cultural practitioners. Without this, Rios and other native holy representatives are often held up, subjected to lengthy and humiliating searches, or denied access completely—even when they have the appropriate paperwork.

Rios recalls a recent instance when a member of their church asked him and his associate Aleka Bassett to visit and treat the church member’s wife at an ICU in Michigan.

Rios said that he and Bassett made the trip to Michigan to treat a fellow church member’s wife, who they were told might not have much time left. After arriving in their patient’s room and confirming with its shared occupant that she was comfortable with them practicing their medicines (there is no smoke, drugs or singing involved) and rituals, they began to go to work healing their patient. Before long, however, their work was disrupted by hospital staff unsure of what was taking place.

“We were ultimately escorted out of the hospital by the acting director and a three-team security detail,” Rios said. “They were on the phone with their legal department and still trying to figure everything out. The patient’s husband had to leave, too.”

“If it were a Christian patient in the hospital bed, the hospital would not only have welcomed but encouraged a priest to come in,” Rios continued. “But as Indigenous People, our spiritual leaders are kicked out with three-team security details.”

Rios’ experience is not an isolated one. Another medicine man, Chief Arlen Dumas, recently filed a formal complaint against an aggressive security guard who harassed and accused him of smuggling drugs through an airport earlier this year. Dumas had been traveling home with his 16-year-old son who was born with cystic fibrosis and was on his way to receive a medical check up for a recent double-lung transplant.

It’s important that we keep the widespread discrimination against Indigenous American culture in the spotlight as we continue to approach the day commemorating the genocide of their people. Rios and other activists know they must continue to fight for change. The Hill reported on Monday that five of the biggest labor unions in the country representing over 3 million workers are asking the government to once again allow construction on the DAPL to resume.

“I can go on forever about what is transpiring and how deep this goes,” Rios said of the pipeline. “It’s a shame.”

“But there is no greater cause nor any greater honor than to make this stand, as it is for all life and all future generations to come. It is for the preservation of our way of life, culture, heritage, as well as for our ancestors.”

This article is a "re-post" from the Huffington Post, written by Chaker Khazaal the views and content presented are based on the author's original research and are not necessarily those of Globcal International.

Editors Commentary: 

When people defy "common knowledge and understanding" with ignorance in the light of the truth they are considered either rebels, corrupt or perhaps are just downright uneducated! This may be the case when it comes to a majority of the United States House of Representatives, the United States Senate and the President of the United States, Barack Obama through their continued recognition of Columbus Day during our contemporary era of human rights and social justice.

Leaders are supposed to serve the population democratically through the representation of the people's collective will and majority vote, anytime this balance gets out of line through state-sponsored propaganda by considering the will of one group that is lesser than another corruption is taking place, it is plain and simple.

They believe they are somehow excused from perpetuating falsehoods because they see 'good works' funding (100s of millions of dollars) from some of the oldest and most respected religious organizations in the United States to ignore the academic reality of history, even notable historians and the same people's social justice movement they instigated. It is a total sham and a huge embarrassment to be involved or support their so-called misguided innocence which is translated to justified ignorance considering the preponderance of information to the contrary from the most respected universities and institutions in the world.

If we dig deeper we discover that some of the universities themselves are being quiet as well because they also receive charitable funding to keep quiet about Christopher Columbus and his genocidal campaign against the Indigenous peoples almost 525 years ago when he actually fed his dogs 'live' indigenous people. 

Sunday, July 31, 2016

Amish Bishop asks Native Americans for Reconciliation

Reconciliation among Peaceful Nations

Amish ask for forgiveness from Native Americans

An Amish bishop recently met with representatives of a twelve American Indian tribes (13 parties). He and other Amish apologized for the way their ancestors treated Native Americans and their land in early America. In an emotional session, both groups shed tears.

Native American Longhouse located in Lancaster County, Pennsylvania
“Please forgive us for the wrong we did,” the bishop asked Native Americans gathered at a meeting place in Witmer, Pennsylvania. “We ask forgiveness, and we’ll forgive you, and God bless your land and your people.

One of the Amish men there said, “If this would have been done years ago, how much more healing would have been brought. But here we are. There’s no time too late.”

The Amish apology follows a series of reconciliation meetings in Lancaster County, Pennsylvania between various Christian groups and American Indians. A group of Lancaster Mennonites began the process more than a decade ago.

Melvin Lapp, of New Holland, Pennsylvania organized the event. MaryAnn Robins, president of Circle Legacy, a Native American advocacy group in Lancaster, helped with planning. Lapp was raised in an Amish family. Robins is a member of the Onondaga tribe.

As pacifists, the Amish did not fight American Indians, but they did take their land for their farms. They asked forgiveness for that passivity in the face of Native American deprivation.

“The Lord told me to honor the Native Americans because they’re the gatekeepers of the land,” Lapp said following the ceremony in Witmer. Lapp and Ron Burhoff, an Ohioan (from Ohio) who works with American Indians throughout the country, helped to facilitate the meeting of the two groups.
Creating Unity

“There are a lot of similarities between the cultures,” Lapp said. “Living on the land, caring for the land.”

“Respect of elders, caring for children,” added Robins. “Like the Amish,” she said, “we cling to our own people.”

Robins said American Indians plan to hold another meeting with the Amish this autumn to acknowledge their apology and to bless and honor them.

Shelia Hansen, a Shawnee from Virginia, formally accepted the Amish bishop’s apology during the ceremony.

Native American Meeting House (Longhouse) Photo: Facebook

“You raised the bar for this country, for all humanity, for forgiveness,” she told the Amish. She referred to those Amish who immediately forgave the shooter and supported his family following the massacre at Nickel Mines Amish school in Bart Township nearly a decade ago.

“As we came in here, the wind blew really hard, and it came through the trees,” Hansen said. “And I believe that the spirits of our old ones came by the wind, and they spoke, and this is a good day.”

The American Indians and the Amish exchanged gifts at the reunion.

In addition to the Amish reconciliation effort, some Native Americans apologized to other tribes for mistreating them. This effort was as significant to meeting participants as the Amish apology.

Anne Richardson, chief of the Rappahannock Tribe in Virginia, told Barbara Andrews Christy, a Seneca Indian who lives in Lancaster, that she forgives the Seneca for coming to Virginia and seizing a Rappahannock fort. She called for reconciliation between the tribes.

In turn, Christy asked for forgiveness for fighting over land.

Richardson also asked Tina Marks, a representative of Lancaster County’s Conoy tribe, to forgive her people for fighting.

Several Native Americans expressed concern that the U.S. government has never apologized for seizing American Indian land. But Richardson said, “We are prisoners of hope. We never give up. Atrocity after atrocity, we’re still here. This is the hour of restoration of our people.”

Mennonites held the first reconciliation meeting with American Indians here in 2003. In 2010, regional Presbyterians, Mennonites and Quakers apologized for the 1763 massacre of Conestoga Indians. And last month, Eastern Pennsylvania Conference Methodists acknowledged their church’s role in oppressing American Indians during a repentance ceremony held in Lancaster.

Authored by Jack Brubaker, Jack writes "The Scribbler'' a local column for Lancaster Online in Southeastern Pennsylvania, USA. Any editions made are developed for international perspective and to provide supplemental links to our members. See the original article here.
The Amish and the twelve Native American tribes will be surprised to learn that they are being recognized for a peace and reconciliation award from Globcal International and the International Indigenous Unity Flag from our new offices in Vienna, Austria this fall as a result of the following action described in this article. The Amish may be humble, but we learned they will be glad to be acknowledged together with the Native Americans in their great effort as God's people and people of peace in this jubilation year to make an example for others to do the same. The award will be delivered this year on Indigenous People's Day formerly known as Columbus Day during the revolutionary and industrial age. We should all hold great respect for all the parties involved they are today's ambassadors of peace and goodwill.

Tuesday, September 01, 2015

World's Indigenous become part of the Post-2015 Agenda

Making the World’s Indigenous Visible in the SDGs

The First Globcal Citizens

- As the International Day of the World’s Indigenous Peoples approaches on Sunday, Aug. 9, concerns are growing that they will not fully benefit from the newly drafted Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).
In a policy brief on the SDGs and the Post-2015 Agenda, the Indigenous Peoples Major Group said that there was a failure to recognise indigenous peoples as distinct groups under the expiring Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), which resulted in the absence of targeted measures to address their specific situations related to poverty and severely limited favorable outcomes.
"Disadvantages faced by indigenous peoples are related to dispossession and exacerbated by powerlessness and poverty." -- Roberto Mukaro Borrero
They added that there was also culturally-blind implementation of the MDGs resulting in “inappropriate development programmes for indigenous peoples including discriminatory actions related to education, health and basic services.”
Any project not including the participation of Indigenous Peoples is making their needs invisible. The lack of dialogue with Indigenous Peoples and their participation in any process constitutes the main barrier,” Sandra del Pino, Regional Advisor on Cultural Diversity at the World Health Organization (WHO) for The Americas, told IPS.
There are an estimated 370 million indigenous peoples living in more than 70 countries. They continue to be among the world’s most marginalised population groups, according to the WHO. The need for more participation and inclusion of Indigenous communities and their perspectives is one of the main purposes of the international day.
The health status of indigenous communities varies significantly from that of non-indigenous population groups in countries all over the world, which is one reason why health is the main theme of this year’s International Day of the World’s Indigenous Peoples.
“The focus of this international day is to analyse how indigenous people have access to health services, what are the causes of exclusion, and how we can contribute to reduce those gaps existing in child and maternal health, nutrition, communicable diseases, etc.,” says del Pino.
“Children born into indigenous families often live in remote areas where governments do not invest in basic social services such as health care, quality education, justice and participation, and indigenous peoples are at particular risk of not being registered at birth and of being denied identity documents.”
Health is defined in WHO’s Constitution as “a state of complete physical, mental and social well-being and not merely the absence of disease or infirmity”, which is similar to the values behind traditional healing systems in Indigenous communities. According to WHO estimates, at least 80 percent of the population in developing countries relies on these traditional healing systems as their primary source of care.
“Many factors have an impact on indigenous populations’ health, including geographic barriers, language, and lack of education,” Del Pino told IPS.
“However, of all the barriers faced by indigenous peoples, it is perhaps the cultural barriers that present the most complicated challenge. This is because there is little understanding of the social and cultural factors deriving from the knowledge, attitudes, and practices in health of the indigenous peoples.”
Roberto Mukaro Borrero, an indigenous Taino leader and representative of the International Indian Treaty Council and the United Confederation of Taino People, told IPS that in order  to create more understanding, there needs to be an increased focus on cooperative and informed partnership building among traditional healers, non-traditional health professionals, health service agencies, organisations, and communities. 
“These partnerships should recognise the clear relationship between the social disadvantages experienced by Indigenous Peoples and their current status of health,” Borrero said. “Disadvantages faced by indigenous peoples are related to dispossession and exacerbated by powerlessness and poverty.”
“Governments must implement the commitments made to indigenous peoples within international agreements such as the Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples and the World Conference on Indigenous Peoples, among others,” said Borrero.
“These agreements were developed to improve the well-being of indigenous peoples around the world; however, political will including adequate resource allocation is a pre-requisite to success.”
Climate change and environmental hazards also have a disproportionate impact on the health of indigenous peoples.
“In many cases indigenous communities are more exposed to these disasters because they live in most vulnerable and isolated areas,” Del Pino said.
“Another cause of Indigenous peoples being among the first to face the direct consequences of climate change is their dependence upon and close relationship with the environment and its resources. For example, in the Amazon, the effects of climate change include deforestation and forest fragmentation, and consequently, more carbon released into the atmosphere, exacerbating and creating further changes.”
She added, “Droughts in 2005 resulted in fires in the western Amazon region. This is likely to occur again as rainforest is replaced by savannas, thus having a huge effect on the livelihoods of the Indigenous peoples in the region. Climate change exacerbates the difficulties already faced by vulnerable indigenous communities.”
“The inclusion of target 17.18 of the SDGs –  to improve the quality, coverage and availability of disaggregated data –  is in response to one of the lessons commonly drawn from the MDGs: the need for the SDGs to make visible the most vulnerable populations,” Del Pino said.
It is an essential component to meet the objective of “no one should be left behind” and “no target should be met, unless met for all groups” in the new post-2015 agenda, she said.
Edited by Kitty Stapp