INDIGENOUS NEWS: South African Government Charged With Ignoring Indigenous Needs.
A United Nations expert on Human Rights for Indigenous Peoples, Rodolfo Stavenhagen, has called for the South African government to improve efforts to meet the needs of Indigenous peoples. During a 12 day visit, Stavenhagen met with government officials and representatives of Indigenous groups. Leaders from the five main Khoi-San groups condemned delays in the government's delivery of public services. However, the UN representative reportedly acknowledged the South African government's "tremendous efforts" to end inequalities. Among the Indigenous leaders' criticisms were charges that the government was ignoring issues such as language, culture, health and economic transformation and land rights. Petrus Vaalbooi from the Kumani-San tribe said "Our letters (rock art) are seen as a national treasure, but we do not benefit. The museums are full of Bushmen but to what benefit of our people?"
Venezuela Grants Indigenous Land Rights
In Venezuela, President Hugo Chavez formally recognized six Indigenous communities as the original "owners" of their ancestral lands by granting land titles in a ceremony last Tuesday. The territory covers more than 300,000 acres. One Indigenous woman from the Kari'na community said of Chavez, "He has been the first president who has kept his word to a people who have been stripped of their lands." However, Chavez warned that national unity must ultimately take precedence over Indigenous land claims. Chavez urged other Indigenous groups not to ask for "infinite lands of territory." An estimated 300,000 Venezuelans belong to 28 Indigenous groups, many living in the country's sparsely populated southeast.
Bush's Energy Bill: A Strike Against Native Communities
In the United States, it looks like Native Americans will be significantly impacted by the massive energy bill President Bush signed this week. Native activists are denouncing the new legislation, citing the major benefits for energy companies and the revival of the nuclear power industry. Title V section of the bill deals directly with energy development on Indian lands, including Alaska. The provision releases the federal government of its traditional "trust responsibility" to tribes in the negotiation and enforcement of energy development agreements. Some tribal activists fear unfair deals will be made between powerful energy corporations and tribal governments.
NCAA Bans 18 Racist Mascots
The National Collegiate Athletic Association launched a storm of controversy when it announced last Friday that it is banning the use of 18 Indian mascots and nicknames during NCAA-sanctioned events beginning next February. Among those banned are the Florida State Seminoles, sparking criticism from Florida Governor Jeb Bush. Governor Bush said the decision insulted the Florida State University and the Seminole Tribe of Florida. Bush said, "It's ridiculous. How politically correct can we get? The folks that make these decisions need to get out more often." Florida State University is planning an appeal and Attorney Barry Richard, who represented George W. Bush during the 2000 presidential recount, has agreed to represent FSU if needed. The Native community has been working for more than 50 years to ban images and names like Cleveland's chief wahoo, the Washington Redskins, the Kansas city chiefs and the Atlanta Braves.
A Spokesperson from the National Coalition on Racism in Sports and Media said: "The American public has been conditioned by the sports industry, educational institutions and the media to trivialize Indigenous culture as common and harmless entertainment. On high school and college campuses Native American students do not feel welcome if the school uses as its mascot a Chief, the highest political position you can attain in our society. Using our names, likeness and religious symbols to excite the crowd does not feel like honor or respect, it is hurtful and confusing to our young people."
Colleges and universities subject to the new policy:
* Alcorn State University (Braves) * Central Michigan University (Chippewas) * Catawba College (Indians) * Florida State University (Seminoles) * Midwestern State University (Indians) * University of Utah (Utes) * Indiana University-Pennsylvania (Indians) * Carthage College (Redmen) * Bradley University (Braves) * Arkansas State University (Indians) * Chowan College (Braves) * University of Illinois-Champaign (Illini) * University of Louisiana-Monroe (Indians) * McMurry University (Indians) * Mississippi College (Choctaws) * Newberry College (Indians) * University of North Dakota (Fighting Sioux) * Southeastern Oklahoma State University (Savages)
Hawai'i: Occupied Territory Past and Present
* Noenoe Silva, Associate Professor of Political Science and Hawaiian Language at the University of Hawai'i's Manoa. She is the author of "Aloha Betrayed: Native Hawaiian Resistance to American Colonialism." * Keala Kelly, Native Hawaiian journalist and filmmaker.
Our two guests explain that Hawai'i is more than a vacation paradise - Hawai'i is an illegally and militarily occupied country. Noenoe Silva describes how histories of Hawai'i have been based exclusively on English-language sources, failing to take into account the thousands of pages of newspapers, books, and letters written in the mother tongue of Native Hawaiians. Silva refutes the long-held idea that native Hawaiians passively accepted the erosion of their culture and loss of their nation. While Silva describes a history, Keala Kelly gives voice to today's ongoing resistance to political and cultural domination.
Last Saturday, 15,000 Native Hawaiians marched down the streets of Honolulu in opposition to a 9th Circuit Court Ruling that invalidates the Hawaiian-only admissions policy of a school established in 1887, prior to the US-backed overthrow of the Hawaiian Kingdom. It was established as part of the will of a Hawaiian princess. Keala Kelly protested the decision because she says it infringes on Hawaiian self-determination. Keala Kelly and Noenoe Silva also speak about what the Akaka bill could bring to Hawai'i and the impending threat of military expansion on Hawaiian lands. The Akaka bill, if passed, will open up more land to the seizure of the US government, which Kelly argues will be used for military expansion. She made a film that can be accessed at www.nohohewa.com.