Tag Archives: Indigenous People

The Amazon Is on Fire—Indigenous Rights Can Help Put It Out

It was an epic case of projection. Lashing out at the attacks on his Amazon-incinerating policies, Brazil’s President Jair Bolsonaro accused French President Emmanuel Macron of having a “colonial mindset.”

The not even vaguely funny joke is that it is Bolsonaro who has unleashed a wave of unmasked colonial violence inside his country. This is a politician who came to power railing against indigenous people, casting their land rights as an unacceptable barrier to development in the Amazon, where cultures intrinsically linked to the rainforest have consistently resisted mega projects and the expanding frontier of agribusiness. “If I become president there will not be a centimeter more of indigenous land,” he said, while ominously declaring that “we’re going to give a rifle and a carry permit to every farmer.”

Much as Trump’s relentless anti-immigrant rhetoric has emboldened white nationalists to commit real-world hate crimes, Christian Poirier of Amazon Watch explains that in Brazil, “Farmers and ranchers understand the president’s message as a license to commit arson with wanton impunity, in order to aggressively expand their operations into the rainforest.” According to Brazil’s National Institute for Space Research, deforestation in the Amazon this July went up by a staggering 278 percent compared to the same month last year (the institute’s director was promptly fired after sharing these and other inconvenient findings).

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Posted by on September 12, 2019 in South America


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Noorse Sami strijden voor eerherstel

Mari Boine’s ouders hebben nooit één concert van haar bijgewoond. Na haar doorbraak, eind jaren tachtig, leek iedereen getuige te willen zijn van de vrouw met die betoverende stem, de informele vertegenwoordiger van het noordelijke Sami-volk die met haar joiks, de zang van de sjamanen, het verhaal vertelde van haar mensen en hun erfgoed. Maar niet haar ouders. ‘Duivels’, noemden ze de muziek. “Mijn moeder hoorde me ooit op de radio en zei, achteraf: ‘Dat joiken van jou, dat is afschuwelijk’. Ze hebben het nooit geaccepteerd.”

Het waren kinderen van hun tijd, zegt Mari Boine (62) nu. “Ze waren getraumatiseerd, zoals zoveel van hun generatiegenoten.” Slachtoffers van de Noorse assimilatiepolitiek, die als doel had de hele Sami-bevolking te ‘vernoorsen’ en hun cultuur te degraderen tot een onbeduidende historische episode.

Die politiek liet de minderheid verzwakt, maar niet verslagen achter. Nieuwe generaties Sami maken zich nu hard voor het herstel van eer en erfgoed.

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Posted by on March 27, 2019 in Europe, Reportages


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Leave them alone: on the Sentinelese

The death of a young American man at the hands of the inhabitants of North Sentinel Island in the Andaman and Nicobar Islands has led to dangerous lines of debate. Some have called for the Sentinelese to be convicted and punished and others have urged that they be integrated into modern society. Both these demands are misguided, and can only result in the extinction of a people. John Chau’s killing was a tragedy but his attempt to make contact with the Sentinelese, who he seemed to know something about, was foolhardy and dangerous, not only to himself but to them. There is a reason why no one — whether missionary, scholar, adventurer, U.S. citizen or Indian — is allowed to venture near North Sentinel Island without permission, which is given only in the rarest of circumstances and with meticulous precautions in place to ensure that the Sentinelese are not disturbed. Having lived in isolation in an island in the Bay of Bengal for thousands of years, the Sentinelese have no immunity or resistance to even the commonest of infections. Various degrees of protection are in place for the indigenous people of A&N Islands, but it is complete in the case of the Sentinelese. The administration enforces “an ‘eyes-on and hands-off’ policy to ensure that no poachers enter the island”. A protocol of circumnavigation of the island is in place, and the buffer maintained around the island is enforced under various laws. The Sentinelese are perhaps the most reclusive community in the world today. Their language is so far understood by no other group and they have traditionally guarded their island fiercely, attacking most intruders with spears and arrows. Arrows were fired even at a government aircraft that flew over the island after the 2004 Tsunami.

Chau knowingly broke the law, as did those who took him to the waters off North Sentinel Island. Seven persons, including five fishermen, have been arrested for facilitating this misadventure. To call for an investigation on the island, however, is to fail to see its historical and administrative uniqueness. At the heart of the issue is the survival of the Sentinelese. According to the 2011 Census, their population was just 15 — though anthropologists like T.N. Pandit, who made contact with them in the 1960s, put the figure at 80-90. This degree of ignorance about the Sentinelese often sparks an Orientalist public discourse, instead of understanding the dangers of trying to physically overpower them. Chau’s death is a cautionary incident — for the danger of adventurism, and for the administration to step up oversight. But it is also an occasion for the country to embrace its human heritage in all its diversity, and to empathetically try to see the world from the eyes of its most vulnerable inhabitants.

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Posted by on December 12, 2018 in Asia


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Uncontacted People Still Being Massacred in Amazonia

Ten indigenous people – including women and children – were murdered in the Javari Valley region of the Amazon in September this year, according to reports. Their bodies were alleged to have been mutilated and dumped in a river. The attack was believed to have been carried out by gold miners, two of whom were later recorded bragging about it in a local bar.

This is not the story of some conquistadors or rubber tappers in the colonial era. This happened in 2017 – just weeks ago – in the present-day Republic of Brazil. Despite all of the apparent “progress” that humanity has made over the past few centuries, whole populations of indigenous peoples are still being systematically annihilated by land invaders and colonists.

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Posted by on November 23, 2017 in South America


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Bruce Parry | Tawai

Perhaps best known for the BBC series Tribe and Amazon, Bruce Parry has built upon those previous experiences and encounters to a create a powerful and visually stunning film titled ‘Tawai’ – a word used by the nomadic hunter-gatherers of Borneo to describe their inner feeling of connection to nature. Tawai will go on general release in September 2017, and ahead of its launch Bruce sat down with Lush’s Charlie Moores and Matt Shaw to discuss the film and how making it has deeply affected and changed him.

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Posted by on November 15, 2017 in Uncategorized



Rough road ahead for powder keg Papua

As much as it will spark development in one of Indonesia’s most remote regions, Papuan leaders are growing increasingly concerned over the social impact of the new Trans-Papua Highway that will open highland tribal areas for the first time.

Papua Peace Network coordinator Neles Terbay says nothing has prepared the tribes for the expected influx of migrants from other islands, who he claims now outnumber indigenous Papuans by as much as 60-40 across the once-roadless territory.

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Posted by on October 13, 2017 in Asia


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The Drug Runners

It was a half hour after midnight and Silvino Cubesare Quimare was approaching the ghost town of Separ, in southwest New Mexico. Tall and lithe, his skin browned from years of laboring under the desert sun, he strode through the darkness. Strapped to his back were two homespun burlap packs, one filled with 45 pounds of marijuana bricks and the other with enough burritos and gallon jugs of water to survive another week in the wilderness. With him were five cousins and a nephew, each shouldering a similar load. They trudged silently past the scars of an old copper mining trail, long-gone railroad tracks and trading posts that once upon a time exchanged men, minerals, and equipment across the border to Chihuahua. Up ahead, they saw the lights of a highway and knew they were within a dozen miles of their drop-off. They’d reach it before daybreak.It was April 2, 2010, and over five days they had traveled roughly five hundred miles from their village of Huisuchi, in the remote Sierra Madre mountains of northern Mexico. For months, Huisuchi had been cursed with drought. Though clouds had gathered off and on over the villagers’ homes—dark, billowing masses that overshadowed their huts among the fields of corn—it had not rained. The villagers had danced, and their children had tossed handfuls of water toward the sky, asking their god Onorúame for help, but relief had not come. By early spring their corn was burned on the stalk. Rather than face starvation, Silvino’s cousins had approached him with an idea: they could go on a drug-running mission across the border. It was a quick-paying job, and it would help their village. “You’re strong and you know the way,” they pleaded. “You’ve done this before.”

Source: The Drug Runners – Texas Monthly – Featured

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Posted by on August 10, 2017 in North America, Reportages


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The Genocide of Brazil’s Indians 

On April 30, a group of ranchers armed with rifles and machetes attacked a settlement of about 400 families from the Gamela tribe, in the state of Maranhão, in northeastern Brazil. According to the Indigenous Missionary Council, an advocacy group, 22 Indians were wounded, including three children. Many were shot in the back or had their wrists chopped.Soon after the attack, the Ministry of Justice announced on its website that it would investigate “the incident between small farmers and alleged indigenous people.” (Minutes later, the word “alleged” was removed.)

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Posted by on June 10, 2017 in South America


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The Lesson from Standing Rock: Organizing and Resistance Can Win 

“I’ve never been so happy doing dishes,” Ivy Longie says, and then she starts laughing. Then crying. And then there is hugging. Then more hugging.

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Posted by on December 10, 2016 in North America


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What’s Happening in Standing Rock? 

Last week, the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe in North Dakota emerged as climate change heroes when, with little political clout or media spotlight, they halted construction of the $3.7 billion Dakota Access oil pipeline. After tribal chairman David Archambault II and others were arrested for pushing past barricades to block excavating machinery, Leonardo DiCaprio tweeted that he was inspired, and Bill McKibben touted Native Americans as the “the vanguard of the movement.” As the tribe sued the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to stop crews from burrowing beneath the Missouri River immediately upstream from their land, the homely, unpronounceable hashtag #NoDAPL surged—short for No Dakota Access Pipeline.
Meanwhile, the defiance evoked America’s ugly racial past—and present. “It feels like 1875 because Natives are still fighting for our land,” tweeted Native American writer Sherman Alexie. Archambault could have been describing Ferguson or Baltimore when, in the New York Times, he decried racial profiling and claimed that “the state has militarized my reservation.” In a touch of epic derp that would be funny if it didn’t actually reveal how people of color are assumed to be violent, when the Lakota invited relatives to pack their peace pipes and gather with them in solidarity, the (white) county sheriff thought they meant pipe bombs.

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Posted by on September 26, 2016 in North America, Reportages


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