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.”
Tag Archives: Indigenous People
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.)
“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.
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.
Cowboys and Indians are at it again.
Americans who don’t live in the West may think that the historic clash of Native Americans and pioneering settlers is long past because the Indians were, after all, defeated and now drive cars, watch television, and shop at Walmart. Not so. That classic American narrative is back big time, only the Indians are now the good guys and the cowboys — well, their rightwing representatives, anyway — are on the warpath, trying to grab 640 million acres of public lands that they can plunder as if it were yesteryear. Meanwhile, in the Dakotas, America’s Manifest Destiny, that historic push across the Great Plains to the Pacific (murdering and pillaging along the way), seems to be making a return trip to Sioux country in a form that could have planetary consequences.
Energy Transfer Partners is now building the Dakota Access Pipeline, a $3.7 billion oil slick of a project. It’s slated to go from the Bakken gas and oil fracking fields in northern North Dakota across 1,100 miles of the rest of the Dakotas and Iowa to a pipeline hub in Illinois. From there, the oil will head for refineries on the Gulf Coast and ultimately, as the emissions from fossil fuels, into the atmosphere to help create future summers so hot no one will forget them. Keep in mind that, according to global warming’s terrible new math, there’s enough carbon in those Bakken fields to roast the planet — if, that is, the Sioux and tribes allied with them don’t stop the pipeline.
This time, in other words, if the cavalry does ride to the rescue, the heroes on horseback will be speaking Lakota.
A pioneer monument and a lot of state troopers with batons and riot helmets stood between the mostly young native activists and the North Dakota state capitol on Friday afternoon. Many of the activists arriving at the capitol’s vast green lawn hadn’t heard that the Washington DC judge had decided against the Standing Rock reservation Sioux lawsuit. That was the lawsuit asserting that the Dakota Access Pipeline (DAPL) had gone forward without adequate tribal consultation. There was a sign of anguish when the news was delivered by megaphone, and then, a few minutes later, shouts of joy as a young woman with a long black braid standing in the pouring rain announced the victory chasing the heels of that defeat.
This week, thousands of Native Americans, from more than a hundred tribes, have camped out on the Standing Rock Sioux reservation, which straddles the border between the Dakotas, along the Missouri River. What began as a slow trickle of people a month ago is now an increasingly angry flood. They’re there to protest plans for a proposed oil pipeline that they say would contaminate the reservation’s water; in fact, they’re calling themselves protectors, not protesters.
Their foe, most directly, is the federal government, in particular the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, which has approved a path for the pipeline across the Missouri under a “fast track” option called Permit 12. That’s one reason the Dakota Access Pipeline, as it’s known, hasn’t received the attention that, say, the Keystone XL Pipeline did, even though the pipe is about the same length. Originally, the pipeline was supposed to cross the Missouri near Bismarck, but authorities worried that an oil spill there would have wrecked the state capital’s drinking water. So they moved the crossing to half a mile from the reservation, across land that was taken from the tribe in 1958, without their consent. The tribe says the government hasn’t done the required consultation with them—if it had, it would have learned that building the pipeline there would require digging up sacred spots and old burial grounds.
The center of the fight for our planet’s future shifts. But this week it’s on the Standing Rock Sioux Reservation straddling the border between North Dakota and South Dakota. There, tribal members have been, well, standing like a rock in the way of the planned Dakota Access Pipeline, a huge hose for collecting oil out of the Bakken shale and carrying it off to the Midwest and the Gulf where it can be made into gasoline.
I puntini sulla mappa hanno nomi come Nueva Esperanza, Nuevo Destino, Nueva Patria. Oppure El Porvenir (“l’avvenire”), o ancora nomi di santi, perfino un ottimista Nuevo Paris. Sono villaggi sparsi intorno alla cittadina di Pucallpa, nell’Amazzonia peruviana, tra canali e lagune formati dal fiume Ucayali – che poi è il Rio delle Amazzoni, che per una buona metà scorre in Perù. Qui però è indicato con altri nomi: Urubamba quando scende dalle Ande sotto a Cuzco, Ucayali quando ha raggiunto la pianura, infine Amazonas ma solo centinaia di chilometri più a valle, dopo la fusione con il fiume Marañon.
Before Nicolás (Shaco) Flores was killed, deep in the Peruvian rain forest, he had spent decades reaching out to the mysterious people called the Mashco Piro. Flores lived in the Madre de Dios region—a vast jungle surrounded by an even vaster wilderness, frequented mostly by illegal loggers, miners, narco-traffickers, and a few adventurers. For more than a hundred years, the Mashco had lived in almost complete isolation; there were rare sightings, but they were often indistinguishable from backwoods folklore.
Flores, a farmer and a river guide, was a self-appointed conduit between the Mashco and the region’s other indigenous people, who lived mostly in riverside villages. He provided them with food and machetes, and tried to lure them out of the forest. But in 2011, for unclear reasons, the relationship broke down; one afternoon, when the Mashco appeared on the riverbank and beckoned to Shaco, he ignored them. A week later, as he tended his vegetable patch, a bamboo arrow flew out of the forest, piercing his heart. In Peru’s urban centers, the incident generated lurid news stories about savage natives attacking peaceable settlers. After a few days, though, the attention subsided, and life in the Amazonian backwater returned to its usual obscurity.
In the following years, small groups of Mashco began to venture out of the forest, making fleeting appearances to travellers on the Madre de Dios River. A video of one such encounter, which circulated on the Internet, shows a naked Mashco man brandishing a bow and arrow at a boatload of tourists. In another, the same man carries a plastic bottle of soda that he has just been given. Mostly, the Mashco approach outsiders with friendly, if skittish, curiosity, but at times they have raided local settlements to steal food. A few times, they have attacked.