Category: Indigenous Peoples


If you have one child and your brother has seventeen, who is more likely to bury their children during a drought or famine?

SPOKANE, Wash. (AP) — The ancient skeleton known as Kennewick Man is related to modern Native American tribes, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers said Wednesday, opening the process for returning to tribes for burial one of the oldest and most complete set of bones ever found in North America.

The Northwestern Division of the corps said its decision was based on a review of new information, particularly recently published DNA and skeletal analyses.

The corps, which has custody of the remains, said the skeleton is now covered by the Native American Graves Protection and Repatriation Act.

The 8,500-year-old remains were discovered in 1996 in southeastern Washington near the Columbia River in Kennewick, triggering a lengthy legal fight between tribes and scientists over whether the bones should be buried immediately or studied.

The bones will remain at the Burke Museum in Seattle until the corps determines which tribe or tribes will receive them.

Source: Corps determines Kennewick Man is Native American – The Santa Fe New Mexican: Tech

In her final days, Berta Cáceres was bombarded with texts and calls warning her to give up the fight against the Agua Zarca dam, or else.

The Honduran indigenous leader told trusted friends and colleagues that some of the death threats were from a suspected sicario – or hitman – who was terrorizing community members near the dam and openly boasting of his intention to kill her.

Cáceres started making arrangements to move from her isolated bungalow on the outskirts of the city of La Esperanza to a bustling lodging house run by her organisation, the Civic Council of Popular and Indigenous Organizations of Honduras (COPINH), where she wouldn’t be alone.

The day before she was murdered, Cáceres took her youngest daughter to the airport. As they hugged goodbye, she whispered a final piece of advice. “She told me: ‘If something happens to me, don’t be scared,’” Laura Cáceres, 23, told the Guardian.

Around lunchtime the following day, Cáceres stopped to sign some cheques at COPINH’s women’s centre, where she told Lilian Esperanza, a longtime friend and the group’s financial coordinator, to plan for her not being around. “She wanted to change the rules so someone else could sign checks. She was worried about being murdered or imprisoned,” said Esperanza. “‘I keep reporting the threats, but no one pays attention,’ she told me.”

Less than 12 hours later, Cáceres was shot dead in her home. Her friend Gustavo Castro, coordinator of Friends of the Earth Mexico, was injured in the attack but survived by playing dead.

Despite the evidence that she had been targeted because of her campaign against the dam, police treated three of her closest colleagues – Castro and two members of COPINH – as the prime suspects.

“My daughter was systematically persecuted for years, but still, I didn’t believe they would actually kill her,” said Berta Flores, 83, sitting next to the candlelit altar adorned with fresh flowers and photographs.

“She worked frantically in the days before she was killed. It’s as if she knew time was running out.”

Cáceres was buried on 4 March on what would have been her 45th birthday.

Source: ‘Time was running out’: Honduran activist’s last days marked by threats | Global development | The Guardian

An activist’s undercover work to shed light the extent of illegal logging in Cambodia’s forests has been recognised by the Goldman Environmental Prize.

Leng Ouch gathered evidence to highlight how land concessions (ELCs) were being abused and forcing communities from their homes.

His outspoken criticism of the government led to fears for his safety, forcing Mr Ouch into hiding.

In 2014, the government cancelled ELCs that covered 89,000 hectares of forest.

Despite this, Mr Ouch said he felt the plight of the nation’s forests was not improving.

“The situation is getting worse year after year,” he told BBC News.

“There is no improvement, there is more destruction. There is more deforestation and more demand from overseas.

“We have lost millions of hectares of land through the land concessions.”

It is reported that Cambodia has one of the highest deforestation rates in the world, and just 20-30% of its original forest cover remains.

One of the driving forces is the demand from nations like China for high-value hardwoods, such as Siamese rosewood that can fetch US $50,000 (£35,000) for a cubic metre.

Another cause for the high deforestation rate is the introduction of Economic Land Concessions (ELCs) in 2001, which were designed to support economy-boosting large-scale agriculture, such as rubber and sugar plantations.

However, the issuing of the ELCs has affected many communities that depended on the land for their livelihoods.

Campaigners say that more than 700,000 people have been driven from their homes as a result of ELCs.

Leng Ouch’s work has taken him undercover and placed him in extreme danger as he attempted to gather evidence of the impact of the ELCs on forests and forest people.

Posing as a labourer, he was able to shed light how the land concessions were being used to provide cover for illegal operations.

Source: Global prize honours Cambodian illegal logging activist – BBC News

In the beleaguered, isolated community of the Ontario First Nation of Attawapiskat, one of the greatest dangers comes from within.

The indigenous community of around 1,500 in the far north of the Canadian province has seen a spate of suicide attempts over the past eight months. More than 100 members, young and old, have tried to take their own lives.
And now, attempts by another five young people have added to that total.
The situation came to a head last weekend, as community leaders in the tiny James Bay town were forced to declare a formal state of emergency after 11 people attempted to kill themselves in one day.
Another 13 youths were reported to have been detained last week after their suicide pact was uncovered.
“This is a tragic situation and my heart goes out to the people and families affected,” Eric Hoskins, Ontario’s minister of health said in a statement.
“Ontario is strongly committed to working together with the Attawapiskat community and with First Nations in Ontario … to address the underlying issues and health inequities facing Ontario’s First Nations and indigenous people to prevent such tragedies in the future.”
The crisis brings to light the plight of Canada’s indigenous population, a statement from the provincial government said.
Native Canadians have a shorter life expectancy, poorer health overall and, “as has been made clear over the past week, a significantly higher rate of mental health issues, addiction and suicide,” the statement adds.

Source: Spate of suicide attempts shock Canadian community – CNN.com

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