Saturday, August 09, 2008

UNDOING COLUMBUS FROM THE CENTRE: Italian Day of Remembrance for the Genocide of Indigenous Peoples

for the institution of the
Remembrance Day of the Genocide of Indigenous Peoples

In the age of “forced” globalization, in which we are lead to think of as inevitable the progressive and inexorable homogenization of cultures and people, it is fundamental to give voice to all the native nations which even today, despite centuries of physical and cultural genocide, keep on existing and affirming a different way to relate to Mother Earth.

The 11 October Committee, formed by Italian groups and associations fighting for a long time for the self-determination right of the indigenous people all over the world, was constituted in Genoa on April the 13th 2008 with the purpose of spreading the knowledge of a different history from that written by the winners and to promote support initiatives to all the claims that nowadays native people laboriously undertake.

Therefore we think it is necessary to start from the awareness that a gold paved road, “discovered” by the colonizers, corresponds to another, one of tears and blood, suffered by the colonized. The metaphor can appear strong but it’s a fact, given that we are remembering a genocide perpetrated upon millions of people and thousands of nations and cultures. Today there’s no point in focusing attention and analysis on what has happened in the past, and furthermore indigenous people don't want it; however to ignore history doesn't produce pacification but grudges.

The possibility to build a future founded upon a true relationship of respect and mutual meeting has to start from the recognition of what has happened, and still keeps happening today to native people all over the world, from Botswana to Tibet, from America to Oceania.

To such aims the 11 October Committee proposes to realize, on October the 11th and 12th 2008, two days of meetings and cultural events focused on native peoples resistance, meant as proud maintenance of their own dignity and cultural identity.

The intention of the Committee is to propose the continuation of this initiative in the next years, giving voice to native peoples with the intent of beginning an exchange of thoughts, traditions and values amongst the cultures.

In this first gathering, several exponents of the American native culture (writers, artists, dancers) will be the protagonists of the events and will bear witness to how much their own culture is still alive today and to how it is important to “positively” realize autonomous spaces of sovereignty and self-determination as foreseen by the ILO 169 Convention and from the Declaration of the Indigenous People Rights recently approved by the United Nations.

For these reasons, the 11 October Committee is actively promoting a campaign insisting that the Italian government adhere to and ratify the ILO 169 Convention, which is the unique binding international juridical tool upon which native and tribal peoples can rely on in order to obtain the recognition of their rights.

Finally the event will represent the occasion to launch a campaign to ask the Italian Parliament to establish a “Remembrance Day of the Genocide of Native Peoples” on October the 11th.

The choice of this date seeks to remember, in a symbolic way, the last day of freedom of the American Indigenous People, with the hope that the broken circle can be recomposed for future generations.

Adherents to the 11 October Committee:

Associazione ECOcentrici (Roma)
Associazione A SUD (Roma)
Coordinamento Ligure Donne Latino Americane (Genova)
Coordinamento per la Difesa di M. Graham (Modena)
Associazione Gaia Terra (Roma)
Associazione Huka Hey (Pordenone)
Associazione Hunkapi (Genova)
Associazione Il Cerchio (Italian indigenous people supporter network)
Associazione Kiwani-Il Risveglio (Firenze)
Associazione Soconas Incomindios (Torino)
Associazione Wambli Glesca (Ravenna)
Gruppo Heyata (Vicenza)
Associazione Sesto Sole (Bergamo)
Associazione ECO Mapuche (Como)

Supported by:

Call for Support for the Algonquin community of Barriere Lake, Quebec

Sun Aug 3, 2008


Dear friends and allies --

As you might know, in March the Algonquin community of Barriere Lake, located 400 kms north of Montreal, Quebec, had their Customary Chief and Council deposed by the Canadian government, with support from the Quebec government, in an attempt to get out of binding agreements signed with the community.

This is only the latest chapter in Barriere Lake's long struggle to wrest control over their lives and lands from governments and corporations. In 1991, Barriere Lake compelled Canada and Quebec to sign a groundbreaking land management and sustainable development agreement, after a campaign of civil disobedience that caught international attention. The Trilateral agreement set important precedents: it would give Barriere Lake decisive say in the management of 10,000 square kilometers of their traditional territory, protect Algonquin land uses, and give them a share in the resource-revenue from logging and hydro projects on their land.

Praised by the Royal Commission on Aboriginal Peoples, the agreement was an alternative to the Comprehensive Land Claims process, which Barriere Lake rejected because it would force them to extinguish their Aboriginal title and rights, among other reasons.

The federal and provincial governments never liked the agreement, and have tried everything to undermine it – including the unilateral leadership change in March. It's the third time in the past 12 years that the government has refused to recognize the legitimate community leadership. Today, the agreement remains unimplemented.

For background and information on Barriere Lake:

Though a small community with few resources, Barriere Lake has demonstrated remarkable tenacity in their struggle for self-determination and the protection of their culture and land. But it is a struggle that can only succeed with broad support and solidarity from non-native people.

The Barriere Lake Solidarity collective in Montreal, taking direction from Barriere Lake, is looking for groups and organizations to ENDORSE THE COMMUNITY'S LIST OF DEMANDS in order to build pressure on the federal and provincial government.

Email us if you can:

Barriere Lake's List of Demands

1. That the Government of Canada agree to respect the outcome of a new leadership re-selection process, with outside observers, recognize the resulting Customary Chief and Council, and cease all interference in the internal governance of Barriere Lake.

2. That the Government of Canada agree to the immediate incorporation of an Algonquin language and culture program into the primary school curriculum.

3. That the Government of Canada honour signed agreements with Barriere Lake, including the Trilateral, the Memorandum of Mutual Intent, and the Special Provisions, all of which it has illegally terminated.

4. That the Government of Canada revoke Third Party Management, which was imposed unjustly on Barriere Lake.

5. That the Province of Quebec honour signed agreements with Barriere Lake, including the 1991 Trilateral and 1998 Bilateral agreements, and adopt for implementation the Lincoln-Ciaccia joint recommendations, including $1.5 million in resource-revenue sharing.

6. That the Government of Canada and the Province of Quebec initiate a judicial inquiry into the Quebec Regional Office of the Department of Indian Affairs' treatment of Barriere Lake and other First Nations who may request to be included.

7. That the Government of Quebec, in consultation with First Nations, conduct a review of the recommendations of the Ontario Ipperwash Commission for guidance towards improving Quebec-First Nation relations and the SQ's procedures during policing of First Nation communities.

Apart from ENDORSEMENTS, we are seeking other forms of support:

**Consider getting INVOLVED in our campaign – as a group, or as an individual – during the upcoming months.

**Consider making a DONATION, to support Barriere Lake's needs and to help with our mobilization efforts. Contact us by e-mail to make a donation, or donate directly to Barriere Lake through our website.

**If you want UPDATES, we can add you to an email list to notify you about upcoming events and actions. Just email

-- the Barriere Lake Solidarity collective

Archaeological Find in Boriken/Puerto Rico Held Hostage

Puerto Rico archeological find mired in politics


U.S. archaeologist Nathan Mountjoy sits next to stones etched with ancient petroglyphs and graves that reveal unusual burial methods in Ponce, Puerto Rico. The archaeological find, one of the best-preserved pre-Columbian sites found in the Caribbean, form a large plaza measuring some 130 feet by 160 feet that could have been used for ball games or ceremonial rites, officials said.

SAN JUAN -- The lady carved on the ancient rock is squatting, with frog-like legs sticking out to each side. Her decapitated head is dangling to the right.

That's how she had been, perfectly preserved, for up to 800 years, until the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers came upon her last year while building a $375 million dam to control flooding in southern Puerto Rico.

She was buried again last week with the hope that some day specialists will study her and Puerto Rican children will visit and learn about the lives of the Taino Indians who created her. But archaeologists and government officals first had to settle a raging debate about who should have control over her and other artifacts sent to Georgia for analysis.

The ancient petroglyph of the woman was found on a five-acre site in Jácana, a spot along the Portugues River in the city of Ponce, on Puerto Rico's southern coast. Among the largest and most significant ever unearthed in the Caribbean, archaeologists said, the site includes plazas used for ceremony or sport, a burial ground, residences and a midden mound -- a pile of ritual trash.

The finding sheds new light on the lifestyle and activities of a people extinct for nearly 500 years.

Experts say the site -- parts of it unearthed from six feet of soil -- had been used at least twice, the first time by pre-Taino peoples as far back as 600 AD, then again by the Tainos sometime between 1200 and 1500 AD.

''It was thrilling, a once-in-a-lifetime thing,'' said David McCullough, an Army Corps archaeologist. "Just amazing.''

But like all things on this politically charged island, the discovery got caught up in a sovereignty debate: If an archaeological site rich in historic and cultural value is discovered in a federal construction site in Puerto Rico, a commonwealth of the United States, who should be in charge of it?

After months of finger-pointing and accusations of officially sanctioned plundering, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers poured $2 million into preserving the site. Plans to put a rock dump over it were changed, and the unearthed discovery was reburied with the aspiration that archaeologists will eventually return to dedicate the 10 or 20 years needed to thoroughly study the finding.

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers promises the collection sent to Georgia will be returned to Puerto Rico. Some 75 boxes of skeletons, ceramics, small petroglyphs and rocks were sent via Federal Express in two double-boxed shipments for analysis.

''The site is a significant contribution to our understanding of what Indians were doing,'' McCullough said. ``The thing that makes it unique is that the petroglyphs are so finely done. We originally were supposed to be there six weeks. It wound up taking four months.''

McCullough said the corps had an inkling that the site was there since the mid 1980s but had never done much testing. They started digging in earnest last year while building a dam and lake to protect the region from floods, and realized the site had significant value.

The corps found a ball court with four walls lined by tall stones, where they believe the Tainos either danced or played games. Three were covered in petroglyphs, among the best experts had ever seen. Some of the figures were carved upside down, which none of the archaeologists had ever seen before. Discoveries included a jade-colored amulet and the remains of a guinea pig, likely the feast of a tribal chief.

''The size of the ball court is bigger than just about anything else in the Caribbean,'' McCullough said.

Archaeologists believe as many as 400 people are buried there.

But in its quest to build the dam and use the location as a dumping ground for rocks, critics say the corps quickly hired a private archaeological firm to mitigate -- a hurried process of saving what can be conserved so a project can go forward. The company sent 125 cubic feet of artifacts in two shipments to its facility in Georgia for analysis, a move allegedly made without consulting Puerto Rican authorities, which locals felt violated the law.

But the question became: Whose law applied? U.S. law says such artifacts found by the corps must be warehoused in a federally approved curating facility. No such place exists in Puerto Rico. And Puerto Rican law says historical artifacts belong to the people of Puerto Rico.

''In Puerto Rico, everything that has to do with our past is sentimental, and Puerto Ricans take it to heart,'' said Marisol Rodríguez, an archaeologist at the Institute of Puerto Rican Culture. "There's a feeling that you're taking something that's mine. It's about our national identity, regardless of the island's political status.''

Rodríguez is pleased that the site has been preserved but acknowledges she was furious at how it was originally excavated with heavy machinery.

''I was so angry. I was indignant,'' she said. "I could not believe that a place of such importance was being treated with such disrespect.''

New South Associates, the firm hired to do the digging, says it excavated about 5 percent of the site for study.

''It was in the newspaper that we raped and pillaged the site, because it all got caught up in local politics,'' said archaeologist Chris Espenshade, New South's lead investigator on the project. "We are required to take the artifacts to a federally approved curating facility. That played into the idea that we were stealing Puerto Rican cultural patrimony away and never bringing it back. There's no question these things should be available for Puerto Rican scholars without them having to travel to go see it.

"It's a bad situation.''

What's left of the site will remain beside a five-year dam construction project, which will continue as planned. It may be vulnerable to floods, archaeologists acknowledged, but they note that it lasted that way underground for hundreds of years.

''It's not the best way to preserve it, but it's better than the alternative: to destroy it,'' Espenshade said. "The Corps could have destroyed it, but they took the highly unusual step to preserve it.''

Puerto Rican authorities say they are committed to opening a facility needed to properly store and exhibit the artifacts.

The Institute of Puerto Rican Culture is scouting locations and trying to secure the approximately $570,000 a year needed to operate such a warehouse. Officials hope it will open as early as mid-2009, but some experts still worry.

''Nobody could believe that in the 21st century, a federal agency would hire a private agency to dig up a site and take things,'' said Miguel Rodríguez, an archaeologist who sat on Puerto Rico's government archaeological council for a total of eight years.

He quit in January following a heart attack, which he blamed on stress over the Jácana site.

''Those are the things that happened in the 18th and 19th century, not now,'' Rodríguez said. "Nobody dares go to Mexico, do an excavation and just take the stuff. That's officially sanctioned looting.''

While officials debate where they will find the funds for a museum, storage facility and lab, the Department of Natural Resources has hired 24-hour security to watch over the archaeological site, just to be sure no artifacts wind up for sale on the Internet.

''With the artifacts in Georgia,'' Department of Natural Resources Secretary Javier Vélez said, "at least they are not on eBay.''

"Celebration of Spirit" Conference, Aug. 20-23, 2008

August 7, 2008

Tinton Falls, NJ - for immediate release

Tansi, osiyo ,hua kola, hau halito, istonko, Yá'át'ééh, kwai, kahe, dagot ee, Haaah, epivah-wuh-ennah, Pave-ésheeva, halito, auka, maruawe haitsi, kwaay, waciye, hau koda, han, dosha, um waynuma, asujutidli, aksunai, uma, aho, kiana, Kwe kwe, wa tkwanowera:ton, hacika no, haawka, onkwaho, aquai, estonko, hesci,aniin,boozhoo,he ha, way, sekoli, mike-tu-cubin,manahoo,tan kahk, saygo, nich-che-coogh, mique-wush-taagoven

Meaning Hello in Several Native American Languages

From the COS Committee

Well Friends, we are now in the countdown phase for the Celebration of Spirit Conference, which is only 13 days away. A lot has happened since the last release, and I am sure that you will be as excited as we are about the following:

The Dates are August 20th thru August 23rd 2008, at the Disney World Resort in Orlando Florida.

This Event has and is continuing to create quite a buzz throughout Indian Country, but since it has been some time, let me just recap on some of the people that will be participating this year and are attending so far:

Award winning Actress and one of our finest Ms. Tonantzin Carmelo, known for her work as Thunder Heart Woman from Into the West, which for this role Tonantzin received various awards as well as a prestigious nomination for a Screen Actors Guild Award for Outstanding Performance by a Leading Actress in a TV Movie, Tonantzin is also part of a brand new documentary PBS Mini-series which will air in 2009 called, "We Shall Remain", will bring her knowledge and profoundly visionary voice, to some of the COS keynote events, and panel discussions.

Ms. Irene Bedard Native American Actress and definitely one of our Pioneers, known thru Films such as Smoke Signals, and also as her role as Margaret Light Shines in Stephen Spielbergs "Into the West", her role as Pocahontas, will share her experiences, and her thoughts, about our Native American Women, people and struggles, adding her profound knowledge of the Media Industry, and bringing a true role model to any of the young American Indian Women that will be present throughout the event.

Dr. Joseph Kalt Head of the Indian Studies Department at Harvard University will be a Keynote speaker about American Indian Studies, Education and the furthering of the American Indian etc.

Russell & Pearl Means Co-Founders of AIM, Actor with numerous powerful roles such as Chingachgook,in Last of the Mohicans, also part of the new PBS Mini-series "We Shall Remain, Educator and Visionaries, will add their experiences, visions, hopes and voices in several of the events, Joanne Shenandoah Musician and Visionary, will be performing as will The Aztec Fire Dancers astound you with their unique ancient methods of Indigenous dancing with fire.

Red Feather Woman (Rose Red Elk), our 2006 Native American Music Award Winner and also traditional story teller, Kevin Locke Famous Flutist and Visionary Hoop Dancer, also will add to the wonderful Entertainment line-up, which Kevin will come directly from his Tour in Europe just to participate in the Celebration of Spirit.

John Tow Hawks Award Winning Flutist will be performing, adding a spiritual experience through his music.

Fred Synder, Director of the International Native American Co-Operative, which Fred will actually be traveling 2300 miles from Tucson AZ, Fred and his family will have unique hand-made crafts from over 300 Tribal Nations of North America. An information desk with maps, brochures, Indian Events, will be available free for those who want to know more about the 556 Tribal Nations in America; The NATIVE AMERICAN DIRECTORY an 886 page book [The Indian Red Pages ] will be given away each hour in a drawing, the largest collection of antique seed beads from 1860-1910 will be on display and available to repair you treasured grandmothers beadwork, a collection of Indian old pawn turquoise jewelry will be a highlight of the 4 day exposition for the most serious collector. Some items that the Information & Trade Center will bring are baskets, bead-work, fetishes, kachinas, Alaska ivory / bone carvings, Southwest turquoise jewelry, miniatures for doll collectors, Indian music including flute, powwow, peyote, storytelling, and Native American Church, drums, and pottery of the Southwest.

On day two of the Event, Native American business owners are encouraged to join the Indian Talking Stick Supplier Diversity Forum to learn how to become a supplier to participate in the billions of dollars of revenue The Federal Government/Department of Defense and corporations such as IBM, Marathon Oil, Northrup Grumman and others spend annually procuring products and services from Native American owned businesses. During lunch, you'll enjoy a panel discussion with well known Native American women CEOs such as, Dr.Freda Porter - CEO & President, Porter Scientific Valerie Red-Horse - Senior Managing Director, Tribal Finance, Western International Securities, Monica Simeon - CEO, Sister Sky, Andrea Rush - CEO, Rush Trucking

Moderator: Marilyn Johnson, Vice President, Market Development, IBM who will speak about their experiences and success as business leaders/owners.

The new additions to the COS line-up and program are Dr.Will Morreau Goins Renowned Native American Author of Native American Literature, Cultural Speaker, Story Teller and Advocate, Pat Spears Co- Founder & President of the Intertribal Council on Utility Policy also on the Executive Board of Native Energy, and some surprises for later.

We have also at this time at least 200 plus Native American tribal leaders registered to join the COS, which will proof to be powerful and emotional with regards to the different events as they will unfold.

Now next imagine the wind in your hair as you ride. What comes to mind? The next best thing to being on a horse. A Bike Run. Yes friends you have heard correctly. And here is a little on that:

The Native American Chamber of Commerce, The Biker Guide Magazine, Image Makers Advertising Agency, The Main Street Merchants Association and the Full Moon Saloon join together in commemoration of the first annual Celebration of Spirit Native American Charity Motorcycle Ride. This inaugural ride will take place on August 23, 2008 and all riders are welcome.

The event will kick off at 11:00am with registration and an unveiling of the Celebration of Spirit custom motorcycle built by a well known Native American bike builder (Danny Sanchez, Cut Throat Customs Fabrication, from Houston, TX. There will be raffles and other prizes, along with entertainment and food. Attendees can register to win a 3 day /2 night weekend getaway a Full Moon Saloon Jacket and a unique piece of Native American Art. The first 250 riders participating in the Celebration of Spirit Ride will receive Welcome Bags upon their arrival. The riders will leave Historic Main Street at 2:00pm, after shopping and touring Main Street shops. They will ride to Van's Skate Park, located at the Festival Bay Mall on International Drive where the second annual Native Skate Jam will be in full swing. The motorcyclist will have a welcome reception, the opportunity to attend the skateboarding events and tour the many shops at Festival Bay Mall. Funds donated in lieu of registration fees will go directly to the Achievement Centers created by the Native American Chamber of Commerce ( on reservations.

As an added FYI, has our committee invited all of this year's presidential candidates!

If you would like to participate, attend and be part of this groundbreaking Celebration, then please contact us as soon as possible to register, and secure your rooms.

Also would we like to add, that the proceeds of this event are paying for the event, and all remaining funds will go directly back into the establishing of more Native American Achievement Centers throughout Indian Country.

We will keep the memento going, as we do expect many different surprises to still come our way with regards to Sponsors, Media Coverage, and especially participants. We will keep you informed as these things happen, and rest assured that The Indian Proverb goes; we all will be remembered by the tracks that we leave!

Please reach out to us with any question, to register and / or any sponsoring thoughts.

Cherrie Richardson Collazo Carroll Coccia
Acting Media Chair Chair of the AICC, Houston TX
Main: 732-747-7518 Mobile: 713-614-1272