Indigenous to Obama: Halt Oil Sands demands and development

This was originally posted by Brenda Norrell at

Indigenous to Obama: Halt Oil Sands demands and development

The Indigenous Environmental Network and Rainforest Action Network produced this statement in response to a lobby effort in Washington DC by Treaty One Chiefs of Manitoba regarding the Enbridge Alberta Clipper and the TransCanada Keystone Project. In this communication you will find our press statement that focuses on providing an Alberta First Nations perspective on the issue, as well as the advisory that was sent out by Treaty One Chiefs of Manitoba on December 31, 2008. Please distribute this to your lists far and wide.
Clayton Thomas-Muller


Indigenous Message to Obama to Issue a Presidential Order to Halt All Processes for Approval of the Expansion of Oil Sands Pipeline Infrastructure Entering the United States and to Support Alberta First Nation Chiefs Demand to Canada for a Moratorium on all Expansion of Canadian Tar Sands Development.
Clayton Thomas-Muller, IEN Tar Sands Campaigner cell 218 760 6632
Eriel Deranger, Rainforest Action Network Tar Sands Campaigner, Member of Athabasca Chipewyan First Nation (ACFN) cell 587 785 1558
Tom Goldtooth, Executive Director, Indigenous Environmental Network cell 218 760 0442

By IEN and Rainforest Action Network

OTTAWA, Canada – First Nation Chiefs from northern Alberta Canada are not able to attend the January 8 event in Washington, D.C. The Chiefs, elders and youth representatives of Fort Chipewyan, Alberta Canada are experiencing firsthand the assault of unsustainable energy development that has destroyed their environment and subsistence lifestyle that has sustained them since time immemorial. This energy development is called the tar/oil sands development, that has been called the “Worlds’ Most Destructive Project on Earth.” A large portion of Canadian oil coming to the United States is extracted from the oil sands at a tremendous cost to the environment, water, and climate change and infringing on the aboriginal rights of First Nations people downstream of the tar sands development zone. The First Nations living in the energy sacrifice zone of the tar sands wanted to stand in solidarity with other Chiefs from Canada’s First Nations traveling to the U.S. capitol to seek the support of President Elect Obama in their fight for human rights.
It is with prayer and with strong hearts that all First Nations and American Indian and Alaska Natives are asking President Elect Obama to take action that recognizes the sovereign Indigenous nations in Canada and the USA whose inherent rights are being violated. The Canadian government continues to fail to recognize its responsibility and duty to consult with the Indigenous frontline communities that lay directly within the path of destruction involved with the extraction, processing and transportation of fossil fuels in Canada, including its exportation of dirty high carbon oil to the U.S. In February of 2008 all 43 First Nation Alberta Chiefs signed a resolution requesting a moratorium on all new tar sands permits. However, the province and the federal government continue to grant approvals for new expansions in the area.
The Canadian government is further compounding land and water rights issues with the approval and construction of expansion projects infringing into traditional territories in Northern Saskatchewan as well as Alberta. The projects for the delivering of this crude oil include major pipeline construction in traditional Indigenous territories in Alberta, Saskatchewan, Manitoba, British Columbia and much of the mid-western USA states. The bulk of these projects have been pushed forward without any adequate consultation with the Indigenous communities and without recognition of the principles of free, prior and informed consent.
There are high profile litigations by Alberta based First Nations underway on this issue, most notably Athabasca Chipewyan First Nation. ACFN is seeking a number of declarations from the Court, including asking the Court to rule that the Alberta Government has:
1. A duty to consult and accommodate ACFN prior to granting the challenged tenures;
2. Breached their duty to consult by failing to consult prior to granting the Challenged tenures; and
3. A duty to consult on the scope and extent of the ACFN’s Treaty Rights and other Aboriginal interests and concerns, prior to granting the challenged tenures.
Beaver Lake Cree Nation of Treaty 6 (BCFN) launched a massive civil lawsuit against the federal and Alberta governments, claiming unbridled oil and gas development in its traditional territory renders its treaty rights meaningless. BCFN claims the developments have forced band members out of traditional areas, degraded the environment and reduced wildlife populations, making it impossible for them to meaningfully exercise their Treaty 6 rights to hunt, trap and fish.
When considering energy production and resource extraction, the incoming administration must take into account the disproportionate impacts of climate change and energy development on the first inhabitants of this Turtle Island – North America. When considering energy and climate change policy, it is important that the White House and federal agencies consider the history of energy and mineral exploitation and Indigenous Nations, and the potential to create a dramatic change with innovative policies. Too often tribes are presented with a false choice: either develop polluting energy resources or remain in dire poverty. Economic development need not come at the cost of maintaining cultural identity and thriving ecosystems. The Indigenous Environmental Network, the First Nations of northern Alberta and all Indigenous Nations want to work with President Elect Barack Obama and his administration for catalyzing green reservation economies – not the continuation of an unsustainable fossil fuel economy.
A just nation-to-nation relationship means breaking the cycle of asking First Nations of Canada or American Indians and Alaska Natives to choose between economic development and preservation of its cultures and lands. Renewable energy and efficiency improvements provide opportunity to do both simultaneously. A green, carbon-reduced energy policy has major national and international human rights, environmental and financial consequences, and we believe that this administration can provide groundbreaking leadership on this policy. The reality is that the most efficient, green economy will need the vast wind and solar resources that lie on Indigenous lands in the U.S. and Canada. This provides the foundation of not only a green low carbon economy but also catalyzes development of tremendous human and economic potential in the poorest community in the United States and Canada – Turtle Island. –

Canadian Indigenous Community to Deliver Message of Oil and Human Rights to President-Elect Obama
Delegation follows in centuries-long tradition of delegations of American Indians traveling to Washington, DC to meet the “Great White Father.” Read article at:



Oakland police execution of black youth video-taped

This was originally posted by Brenda Norrell at

Oakland police execution of black youth video-taped


By Quanah Parker Brightman
United Native Americans

OAKLAND — On Wednesday, January 7, 2009 thousands of people from Oakland and throughout the San Francisco Bay Area came to express their anger and pain at the execution of Oscar Grant, 22, of Hayward, by a BART police officer during the New Year holiday.
Several BART passengers video-taped BART cops holding Grant handcuffed and laying prone on his stomach on the platform at the Fruitvale BART station located in East Oakland. Each video clearly shows BART officer Johannes Mehserle removing his service pistol from his holster and shooting the young African-American male in his back. Immediately Grant’s body went limp. BART Officer Johannes Mehserle then places the pistol back in his holster.
By midday of the protest, the video had been viewed by a half-million people on the Internet. Over 3,000 people attended the rally at the Fruitvale station from 3 pm to 7 pm. Numerous Civil and Human Rights frontline action groups such as United Native Americans, Inc., were present to show Community support and solidarity with the Grant family’s untimely loss of their son Oscar. Oscar Grant was also lain to rest today with family and friends present at his funeral service.
In closing, our prayers from United Native Americans goes out to the Grant family and friends.
Community cries out for justice – 1 07 09
United Native Americans Inc. 2434 Faria Ave Pinole, California 94564
(510)758-8160 or (510)672-7187
Since 1968. Join us at

Archaeology : Archaeologists find 277 bronze artifacts in Peru

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An archaeological research has led to the discovery of 277 bronze artifacts at the Archaeological Park of Sacsayhuaman located on the outskirts of Cusco in Peru.

According to the news agency agencia peruana de noticias, the artifacts were found by skilled workers and professional staff of Peru’s National Institute of Culture in Cusco (INC).

An archaeological No. 06 of the archaeological site of Inkacarcel that,
according to preliminary investigations, was a warehouse or “qolqa”.

The Thunderbird and Thunder Beings

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... you have noticed that truth comes into this world with two faces. One is sad with suffering, and the other laughs; but it is the same face, laughing or weeping… as lightning illuminates the dark, for it is the power of lightning that heyokas have.
—Black Elk, quoted in Neihardt (1959), p160

It started as a sighting that only later took on a great deal of spiritual significance for me.When I saw the Great Bird, I was sure that it was as real as anything I had ever seen. But thinking back on it, I am not sure now if it was a vision in which I entered another space/time dimension or if it really was a part of our own natural world. I don’t know if another person standing next to me on that day would have seen the Great Bird as I saw it.

Several years ago, I was working as a counselor in a family mental health clinic in downtown Toledo. I was taking a break, eating my lunch in the car when I noticed a beautiful storm was forming. I love storms and I got out of my car to enjoy the cloud formation and the thunder and lightening. As I was looking off to the west, I noticed a giant bird flying maybe 500 feet above the downtown buildings. I was stunned since this bird was larger than anything I had ever seen in my life. At the time I lived along the banks of the Maumee River, west of Toledo, and I had a few times seen bald eagles. I was always amazed at their massive size. But this bird was so much bigger.

Ancient carvings offer insight into past cultures

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Suburbia is on one side of the street, traces of an ancient people on the other.But it’s easy to forget the 21st century within Petroglyph National Monument, which is home to more than 20,000 images pecked into dark boulders by the ancient ancestors of today’s American Indians, Spanish settlers and later visitors.

Trails wind through desert scrub and the remnants of massive lava flows. And seemingly every few feet, there are remarkable images and symbols chiseled into dark basalt boulders.

Activists oppose coal plant in northern Michigan

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LANSING, Mich. (AP) — Environmentalists and an American Indian tribe are voicing opposition to a proposed coal-fired power plant in northern Michigan.

Local officials and state lawmakers, meanwhile, are telling regulators to allow the project in Rogers City.

Both sides testified on the 600-megawatt power plant Tuesday afternoon at a Michigan Department of Environmental Quality public hearing in Lansing.

Salmon Recovery panel distributes $19.8 million

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The grants to the Cowlitz Tribe were among more than $19.8 million in grants the Salmon Recovery Funding Board announced recently.

They ranged from $10,000 to nearly $900,000. Grants in Cowlitz County totaled $826,639, with another $663,790 allocated to projects in Wahkiakum County.

• The Lower Columbia Fish Recovery Board received $115,528 to begin design work for improving habitat on Eagle Island in the North Fork Lewis River.