Pope says indigenous people must have final say about their land Francis echoes growing body of international law and standards on the right to ‘prior and informed consent’, Guardian, David Hill, 21 Feb 17, In the 15th century papal bulls promoted and provided legal justification for the conquest and theft of indigenous peoples’ lands and resources worldwide – the consequences of which are still being felt today. The right to conquest in one such bull, the Romanus Pontifex, issued in the 1450s when Nicholas V was the Pope, was granted in perpetuity.
How times have changed. Last week, over 560 years later, Francis, the first Pope from Latin America, struck a rather different note – for indigenous peoples around the world, for land rights, for better environmental stewardship. He said publicly that indigenous peoples have the right to “prior and informed consent.” In other words, nothing should happen on – or impact – their land, territories and resources unless they agree to it.
“I believe that the central issue is how to reconcile the right to development, both social and cultural, with the protection of the particular characteristics of indigenous peoples and their territories,” said Francis, according to an English version of his speech released by the Vatican’s press office.
“This is especially clear when planning economic activities which may interfere with indigenous cultures and their ancestral relationship to the earth,” Francis went on. “In this regard, the right to prior and informed consent should always prevail, as foreseen in Article 32 of the [UN] Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples. Only then is it possible to guarantee peaceful cooperation between governing authorities and indigenous peoples, overcoming confrontation and conflict.”
Francis was speaking to numerous indigenous representatives in Rome at the conclusion of the third Indigenous Peoples’ Forum held by the UN’s International Fund for Agricultural Development…….. https://www.theguardian.com/environment/andes-to-the-amazon/2017/feb/20/pope-indigenous-people-final-say-land
U.S. officials on Tuesday announced the cancellation of the final two oil and gas leases in a wilderness area bordering Glacier National Park that’s sacred to the Blackfoot tribes of Montana and Canada. Christian Science Monitor, Matthew Brown Associated Press JANUARY 10, 2017 BILLINGS, MONT. —U.S. officials on Tuesday announced the cancellation of the final two oil and gas leases in a wilderness area bordering Glacier National Park that’s sacred to the Blackfoot tribes of Montana and Canada, more than three decades after the tribes said the leases were illegally sold…….http://www.csmonitor.com/Environment/2017/0110/Thirty-years-later-Blackfoot-tribes-see-environmental-win-on-sacred-grounds
Indigenous leaders shocked, again, by repeated exclusion from Trudeau’s climate talks, National Observer December 16th 2016 After excluding them from a critical discussion on indigenous people and climate change earlier this year, both the Native Women’s Association of Canada (NWAC) and the Congress of Aboriginal Peoples (CAP) hoped it was a mistake Prime Minister Justin Trudeau would not repeat.
How a high school student helped block Quebec’s uranium industry Financial Post, Damon van der Linde, Dec. 15, 2016, MISTISSINI, Que. — Hunting grouse on a snowy road that cuts through the forest north of his home in the Cree community of Mistissini, Justice Debassige reflects on why, as a 17-year-old high school student in 2012, he started a petition against a uranium exploration project 215 kilometres away.
“I read research on how it damages the land and the water, so that was what drew me in,” he said, while searching for birds down the road towards the now-shuttered site owned by Boucherville, Que.-based Strateco Resources Inc. “It’s something to really think about when we’re out here.”
Debassige said he couldn’t have imagined at the time that his petition would be the catalyst for a complete moratorium against exploration of the radioactive mineral across Quebec, result in a $200-million lawsuit by Strateco Resources against the government and pit the federal nuclear safety agency against a provincial environmental commission.
But it did, and The Matoush Project — named after the Cree family that traditionally use the land for hunting, fishing and trapping — in northern Quebec’s Otish Mountains has lost its glow…….
Debassige and two other classmates collected about 200 signatures from students and staff in opposition to the project, which caught the attention of Shawn Iserhoff, Mistissini’s youth chief at the time. He raised the concerns with the Mistissini Band Council and in the spring of 2012, Strateco arranged two days of hearings in the community………
“The traditional Cree way of life is based on the land,” said Thomas Coon, former president of the Cree Trapper’s Association, in an office that has a map showing how the entire vast territory is covered by family trap lines that are passed down through generations.
“As much as possible we try to avoid any dangerous, damaging project. With uranium, it’s damage that can never be repaired.”…….
As Strateco’s stock plummeted, anti-uranium activism grew in both the Cree and environment organizations. A group of Cree youth garnered media attention in late 2014 by walking 850 kilometres from Mistissini to Montreal and the movement also drew support from the global anti-nuclear activists. ……. the MiningWatch Canada advocacy group argues uranium’s current lack of social acceptability is based on the long-term risks of storing millions of tonnes of the radioactive mining waste.
“If the industry can show that they can handle the waste with a risk factor that is acceptable, maybe the social acceptability will change in the future, but at the moment it’s not there,” said Ugo Lapointe, spokesperson for MiningWatch in Quebec………
Debassige, now 22, won a Nuclear-Free Future Award in 2015 on behalf of the Mistissini youth for his efforts against uranium development on Cree land. Today, bringing home two birds he shot for his family’s dinner, he still doesn’t think the potential economic benefits of uranium mining are worth risking what he and his community already have.
“There’s vast open space where I can possibly one day teach my children what my father taught me: how to survive out on the land,” he said. “We’re connected to the land spiritually, physically, mentally and emotionally.”
Anti-racist solidarities are changing before our eyes at the #NODAPL Standing Rock protest camp. Race formations are morphing into global Indigenous resistance networks.
the resistance by those first and worst impacted – Indigenous peoples – has placed them on the front line, from where we must credit them as leading this struggle on behalf of the living.
We owe them, yet again.
The Climate Movement Is Indigenous-led https://newmatilda.com/2016/12/02/the-climate-movement-is-indigenous-led/By Liz Conor on December 2, 2016 Dr Liz Conor pays tribute to the resistance against the Dakota Access Pipeline, and Indigenous people the world over who are leading the fight for climate action.
In 1923, Iroquois chief Deskaheh travelled to Geneva to present the grievances of his Six Nations people. Although he was officially ignored, he brought about two seismic shifts on the world stage: He appealed to them as the representative of a sovereign domestic state, and in doing so he forged a shared global identification for all native peoples – Indigenous.
In the decades that followed, growing recognition of shared regimes of oppression in located struggles under the same structure of settler-colonialism (rather than unrelated events) deepened the transnational ties around Indigenous and First Nation as global identifications.
It galvanised around ‘loss of land and subsistence, abrogation of treaties, and the imposition of psychologically and socially destructive assimilation policies’. These classical presentations of what Patrick Wolfe famously called settler colonialism’s ‘logic of elimination’ are presently being enfolded into the resource conflicts that beset the extraction of fossil fuels.
In far-flung but linked sites, Indigenous peoples are fighting, yet again, for their very lives and the land that sustains them. Demands for collective rights to self-determination in international law are being led by increasingly forceful appeals to international bodies to act urgently on their particular exposure – climate change, from rising seas in the Pacific to coastal erosion and flooding in Alaskan villages.
In Australia we’ve seen antagonism between Indigenous ‘stakeholders’ and environmental campaigners, most bitterly over the Queensland Wild River legislation (2005, since repealed). Yet barnstorming alliances have also been formed through the perhaps indelicately named ‘Lock the Gate’ campaign opposing fracking in Gippsland and NSW, between farmers, environmentalists and Indigenous custodians. Lock the Gate is presently advising an Indigenous coalition in the NT on CSG campaigning.
Anti-racist solidarities are increasingly expressed around resource protection and climate change. Very different sovereignties – some summarily seized, others defended, both over centuries – are trying to find common ground under entirely new configurations of anti-racist solidarity.
For those of you who haven’t facebook-checked into the Standing Rock protest camp (with the million who did), the Dakota Access Pipeline is at the moment the foremost instance of alliances against incursion and misappropriation or destruction of Indigenous resources. Over 300 Native American Nations have now converged at the site near Sioux lands at Standing Rock Indian Reservation.
The camp is arguably distinct from the blockades of the environment movement, such as the Franklin River blockade in 1982 and the more recent sustained blockades at the Leard State Forest against the Maules Ck Coal mine. Standing Rock doesn’t identify as part of Naomi Klein’s climate Blockadia, nor do the activists wish to be identified as climate activists first and foremost. Rather their struggle is for water.
The Oceti Sakowin leading the obstruction of boring under the Missouri River and on their sacred land identify as Water Protectors moreso than climate protestors, but the links are drawn in Indigenous media bannered ‘CO2LONIALISM’. In their calls to action against this $3.8 billion, 1,200-mile pipeline which will transfer oil across several states and under America’s largest (Ogallala) Aquifier, they have asked global grassroots climate organizations to respect the protest at Standing Rock as Indigenous-led, and to take directives from them.
The resistance by the Oceti Sakowin and other Native American nations is primarily about heritage, water and sovereignty. So far this is largely respected by organisations as diverse as 350.org, Greenpeace, the Sierra Club and Friends of the Earth.
The erasure of Indigenous presence and agency in environmental struggles has been significantly challenged over the last decade. In amongst today’s coverage, historical continuities are being drawn, the genealogy of treaty perfidies are increasingly written in. The struggle is presented as a continuum of settler-colonial misappropriation and befouling of resources at Standing Rock. It tells us that settler-colonialism is ‘relentlessly active in the present’ and its tenets of expropriation violently enforced by increasingly militarized policing.
Water Protectors have been attacked by the National Guard with rubber bullets, tear gas, mace canisters and water cannons in freezing temperatures leading to dozens of cases of hypothermia. At time of writing, it isn’t clear whether Sophia Wilansky will lose her arm after police threw a concussion grenade directly at her during the face-off on the bridge on Sunday night. Razor wire has been laid on the banks of Cantapeta Creek. The camp is slated to be ‘cleared’ on December 5th.
Expressions of Indigenous pact with the Oceti Sakowin are pouring in from around the world. Australian Aboriginal climate organisations, such as the highly effective SEED (Indigenous youth climate network) and also Palestine artists have pledged support testifying to the global network of dispossessed linking from located sites of resistance.
Israa Suliman, a student and writer in Gaza, penned an open letter that accompanied a video featuring a number of Palestinian artists. She writes, “My ancestors were the indigenous people, just like you. And they suffered the same fate as your people. America’s policy of occupation and displacement through forced marches like the Trail of Tears, and the gradual transfer of so many of your people to massive, impoverished reservations, hurts me deeply because it is so similar to the ethnic cleansing of my ancestors by the Israeli military occupation in what we call al-Nakba (the catastrophe).”
Suliman notes that a large security corporation hired by the pipeline company profits from Israeli prisons. “Like you, we don’t control our natural resources,” Suliman writes. “Just as you were not consulted about the Dakota Access Pipeline that will traverse your land and contaminate your water supply if installed, we are not consulted by Israel, which wants to mine the gas supply in our harbor for its own use and monopolizes the water supply in the West Bank for the green lawns of its own residents – leaving Palestinians parched and dry.” Nor does she fail to draw a parallel to Palestinian expulsion, displacement and occupation, pointing to the five million Palestinian refugees in the global diaspora.
This resource deprivation is perpetrated by multinational fossil fuel conglomerates against Indigenous peoples who are simultaneously defending their homelands while carrying the can for the rest of us on the front line of the climate movement. We settlers owe them under new-yet-old sets of circumstances.
Anti-racist solidarities are changing before our eyes at the #NODAPL Standing Rock protest camp. Race formations are morphing into global Indigenous resistance networks. As Wolfe wrote in his essential read Traces of History, “To be effective, anti-racist solidarities should conjoin as wide a range of historical relationships as colonialism itself has created.”
As the well-worn tenets of settler-colonialism’s land and resource expropriation are rewritten because of its assault on the norms of climate our lives depend on, the resistance by those first and worst impacted – Indigenous peoples – has placed them on the front line, from where we must credit them as leading this struggle on behalf of the living.
We owe them, yet again.
Nuclear Standoff, CounterPunch, OCTOBER 14, 2016 “…….This week, as if in sync with the Marshall Islanders, a group called the Native Community Action Council convened the Native American Forum on Nuclear Issues, addressing half a century of lingering horror at another nuclear testing site, in Nevada. The forum addressed such issues as abandoned uranium mines and the proposed high-level nuclear waste disposal site under Yucca Mountain, “in the heart of the Western Shoshone Nation (and) a sacred site for Shoshone and Paiute peoples,” according to the organization’s press release.
“Because of U.S. nuclear testing in Nevada, the Western Shoshone Nation is already the most bombed nation on earth’” the release continues. “They suffer from widespread cancer, leukemia, and other diseases as a result of fallout from more than 1,000 atomic explosions on their territory.”
This is the reality we ignore. We’ve been ignoring it for the last 70 years and, indeed, much longer. We’ve reached the end of our ability to treat the planet, and much of its people, as disposable. Much of humanity knows this, but its leaders are refusing to listen. The human conscience is dismissed on a technicality. http://www.counterpunch.org/2016/10/14/nuclear-standoff/
Indigenous land rights fundamental to climate safety – Lord Stern Climate Home 10/10/2016,
Forests and grasslands would store more carbon if communities’ rights were protected, according to research from the leading climate economist By Karl Mathiesen
Honouring the land rights of indigenous peoples would lead to a safer climate for everybody, according to leading economist Lord Nicholas Stern.
The world must become “zero net carbon” by 2070-80 if it wants to stay within the 2C limit set by the Paris climate agreement, said Stern, or “much earlier for 1.5C”. But some industries – including aviation – are expected to continue emitting carbon late into the century.
“If there are going to be some that are [carbon] positive,” Stern told an audience at a World Resources Institute (WRI) event in Washington, DC, “there have got to be some that are negative and it’s the forests and the grasslands that are the big potential source there.”
Stern was speaking on Friday at the launch of a WRI study that found that securing indigenous land tenure in Colombia, Brazil and Bolivia could avoid the release of an estimated 42.8–59.7 Mt CO2 per year through avoided deforestation. This is equivalent to taking between 9 and 12.6m cars off the road………. The argument went beyond the economy and the environment, Stern added. Indigenous peoples in the Amazon and across the world are being dispossessed by development. In some cases, their rights are being considered. A massive dam project in the Brazilian Amazon was suspended in April over concerns about the impact on local tribes.
“We are talking about justice here, we ought to be very clear about that… If you haven’t got those rights, you’re much more vulnerable to outsiders… If you’re vulnerable to outsiders it’s theft. Its solid rights that protect you against that.”http://www.climatechangenews.com/2016/10/10/indigenous-land-rights-fundamental-to-climate-safety-lord-stern/
Africa Down Under: Tales Of Australian Woe On The ‘Dark Continent’, New Matilda, By Dave Sweeney on September 7, 2016 A mining conference underway in Perth states its aim is to help boost the fortunes of one of the poorest regions on earth. But boost the fortunes for whom, asks Dave Sweeney from ACF.
Stories of corruption, dirty dealing and corner cutting are not uncommon in the world of mining and resource extraction, especially in the developing or majority world. It is a tough trade where the high-visibility clothing is often in stark contrast to the lack of transparency surrounding payments and practises.
But as a major industry gathering takes place this week in Perth it is time for a genuine look at whether Australian resource companies are supporting the growth of fledgling democracies or literally undermining them.
No doubt the tall tales will flow along with the cocktails at the Africa Down Under mining conference, an annual event that sees Australian politicians join their African counterparts alongside a melange of miners, merchants and media.
According to the organisers “the ancient land mass of Africa is without question the world’s greatest treasure trove. A new era of joint ventures with juniors and grub-staking is taking place. The action across the continent is taking place hard and fast there could not be a better time to explore the options and hear the stories from the people who are unlocking the wealth of the formerly ‘Dark Continent’.”
While the agenda for conference participants seems clear, the benefits for communities in Africa are less so.
Recent years have seen a marked increase in Australian mining operations and ambitions in Africa with a major increase in the number of Australian mining companies and resource service companies active in sub-Saharan Africa (SSA). Over a 150 publicly listed companies are operating in more than 30 African nations.
There have been new allegations of Australian companies involved in irregular and illegal practices off-shore, including confirmation that the Australian Federal Police are actively investigating trouble prone Sundance Resources over bribery allegations linked to its Mbalam-Nabeba iron ore project in Congo.
But Sundance is not the only Australian miner generating headlines and heartache. Paladin Energy’scontaminating uranium operations, controversy over Anvil and state repression in Congo, MRC’s exit from its Xolobeni titanium project on South Africa’s Wild Coast following the murder of anti-mining advocateBazooka Rhadebe earlier this year.
The list goes ever on and the details – some of which are documented in a powerful report by the International Consortium of Independent Journalists – are deeply disturbing.
As this decade began, the Human Rights Law Resource Centre expressed the situation clearly stating: “Many Australian companies, particularly mining companies, can have a severe impact on human rights throughout the world, including the right to food, water, health and a clean environment. Despite this, successive governments lack a clear framework of human rights obligations for Australian corporations operating overseas. This is particularly problematic in countries with lax or limited regulations.”……..
Expanding the extractives industry in regions with major governance, capacity and transparency challenges is a concern for communities and civil society groups in both Australia and Africa. The absence of a robust regulatory regime in many African countries can see situations where Australian companies are engaged in activities that would not be acceptable practise at home………
Tracey Davies, a lawyer with the South African-based Centre for Environmental Rights told Fairfax medialast year that there is a widespread and “very strong perception that when Australian mining companies come here they take every advantage of regulatory and compliance monitoring weaknesses, and of the huge disparity in power between themselves and affected communities, and aim to get away with things they wouldn’t even think of trying in Australia”……https://newmatilda.com/2016/09/07/africa-down-under-tales-of-australia-woe-on-the-dark-continent/
Grand Canyon tribe fears for its future amid battle against uranium mining Conservationists and other campaigners are urging President Obama to designate 1.7 million acres of the Canyon watershed a national monument before he leaves office, Independent Tim Walker Arizona @timwalker 30 August 2016 “…….First mined for copper at the turn of the 20th Century, the Orphan Mine became a source of uranium to supply the nuclear arms race in the 1950s. It was closed in 1969, but not before contaminating the water in nearby Horn Creek with enough uranium that passing hikers are warned not to drink it. The US National Park Service has already spent millions on a clean-up effort that is still in its early stages. “It proves not everything you dig up can be covered again,” says Kaska, a member of the Havasupai tribe.
The Havasupai, whose name means “people of the blue-green water”, have lived in the Canyon for at least 800 years. The tribe, who today number fewer than 700, rely for their income on the tourists – some 20,000 per year – who visit their reservation to see its strikingly beautiful blue-green waterfalls. But now they fear their lives and livelihoods could be endangered by another uranium mine being drilled nearby.
Canyon Mine sits far from the tourist attractions of the Grand Canyon, six miles to the south in a quiet, 15-acre patch of the Kaibab National Forest. But it is close to Red Butte, a Havasupai sacred site – and, more perilously, it threatens to affect the tribe’s water. The aquifer under the mine flows into Havasupai Springs, their sole water source…
Now, the Havasupai, the Navajo and the Grand Canyon Trust are all part of a coalition of tribes, conservationists and other campaigners hoping to persuade President Obama to create a national monument that would permanently protect the Grand Canyon watershed from any further uranium mining.
Since taking office, Obama has created or enlarged 26 national monuments, protecting almost 550 million acres of federal land and water – at least twice as much as any of his predecessors. Last week, under the US Antiquities Act, he created the largest protected area on Earth, expanding a national marine monument around Hawaii to 582,578 square miles……..http://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/americas/grand-canyon-tribe-uranium-mining-obama-national-monument-a7215776.html
Greenland Inuit oppose open-pit uranium mine on Arctic mountain-top http://www.theecologist.org/News/news_analysis/2988016/greenland_inuit_oppose_openpit_uranium_mine_on_arctic_mountaintop.html, Bill Williams ,17th August 2016
A collapse in the price of uranium has not yet stopped Australian mining company GME from trying to press ahead with a massive open-pit uranium mine on an Arctic mountain in southern Greenland, writes Bill Williams – just returned from the small coastal town of Narsaq where local people and Inuit campaigners are driving the growing resistance to the ruinous project.
As a doctor I routinely get asked for a second opinion, but it is not often that I travel halfway around the world to deliver it.
Recently I was invited to assess an old Danish uranium exploration site in Kvanefjeld in southern Greenland.
Inuit Ataqatigiit – the opposition party in the national parliament – had asked me to talk to local people about the health implications of re-opening the defunct mine.
An Australian firm called Greenland Minerals and Energy (GME) has big plans to extract uranium and rare earth minerals here. It would be a world first: an open-pit uranium mine on an Arctic mountain-top.
From the top of the range above the mine site I looked down across rolling green farmland to the small fishing village of Narsaq. Colourful timber houses rested at the edge of a deep blue strait that the Viking Eric the Red navigated a thousand years ago. Hundreds of icebergs bobbed on its mirror-like surface. To the east, half way up the valley, a small creek tumbled into a deep rock pool.
Behind that saddle lies Lake Tesaq, a pristine Arctic lake that GME plans to fill with nearly a billion tonnes of waste rock. This part of the mine waste would not be the most radioactive, because the company plans to dump this material in a nearby natural basin, with the promise that an ‘impervious’ layer would prevent leaching into the surrounding habitat.
Left behind – all the toxic products of radioactive decay
These mine tailings would contain the majority of the original radioactivity – about 85% in fact – because the miners only want the uranium and the rare earth elements. They would mine and then leave the now highly mobile radioactive contaminants, the progeny from the uranium decay behind: thorium, radium, radon gas, polonium and a horde of other toxins.
Even at very low levels of exposure ionising radiation is recognised as poisonous: responsible for cancer and non-cancer diseases in humans over vast timespans.
This is why my own profession is under growing pressure to reduce exposure of our patients to X-Rays and CT scans in particular – making sure benefit outweighs risk. It’s also why ERA, the proprietors of the Ranger mine in Kakadu, Australia, are legally obliged to isolate the tailings for at least 10,000 years.
While this is hardly possible, the mere fact that it is required highlights the severity and longevity of the risk. My Inuit audience in Narsaq was particularly interested to hear the messages I brought from traditional owners in Australia like Yvonne Margarula, of the Mirarr people:
“The problems always last, but the promises never do.”
And Jeffrey Lee from Koongara:
“I will fight to the end and we will stop it, then it won’t continue on for more uranium here in Kakadu.”
So far in 2016, not a single new nuclear reactor has opened
Years after mining stops, uranium’s legacy lingers on Native land http://www.environmentalhealthnews.org/ehs/news/2016/tribal-series/crow-series/years-after-mining-stops-uraniums-legacy-lingers-on-native-land August 22, 2016 By Brian Bienkowski
Editor’s Note: This story is part of “Sacred Water,” EHN’s ongoing investigation into Native American struggles—and successes—to protect culturally significant water sources on and off the reservation.
CROW AGENCY, Mont.—The Crow are not alone in their struggle with uranium. The toxic metal is irrefutably intertwined with Native Americans, long a notorious national environmental injustice. Some 15,000 abandoned uranium mines with uranium contamination pocket 14 Western states. Of those, 75 percent are on federal and tribal lands, according to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). Contamination is especially concentrated across the Colorado Plateau near the Four Corners region of Arizona, Utah, Colorado and New Mexico, leaving a lasting impact on tribes such as Navajos, Utes, Hopi and Zuni.
The area became saturated with the dangerous metal from the heavy mining fueled by Cold War-era anxieties in the 1940s and ’60s, and the lax cleanup of the 1980s.
Most of the mines were on federal land—managed by the Forest Service or Bureau of Land Management. But tribes, namely the Navajo, were swept into the uranium-mining boom for both their labor and land and are still dealing with the mess it left.
More than 521 abandoned uranium mines pocket Navajo land alone. Some 90 percent of uranium milling in the United States took place on or just outside the boundaries of Native American reservations, according to a 2015 study. This left a legacy of dirty water, leftover toxic waste and health problems such as lung cancer and developmental delays for children in many Western tribes.
Such pollution becomes a force multiplier for Native Americans—on the Crow reservation it adds to economic, health and historical burdens, and further complicates the ability to cultivate and sustain their culture.
In the body, most—but not all—uranium is excreted. What remains settles mostly in the kidneys and bones. Excess uranium has been linked to increased cancer risk, liver damage, weakened bone growth, developmental and reproductive problems.
Even at low levels uranium may play a role in some cancers and fertility problems. Studies have shown it acts as an endocrine disruptor, mimicking the hormone estrogen. Hormones are crucial for proper development, and such altering can lead to some cancers and fertility and reproductive problems.
For the Navajo Nation, many men worked in mining or milling, unaware of the risks, and later dealt with various cancers and failing kidneys. In 2000 researchers reported that from 1969 to 1993 Navajo uranium miners had a lung-cancer rate about 29 times that of non-mining Navajos, according to the study published in the Journal of Occupational and Environmental Medicine.
Most of the mining tunnels, pits and waste piles remain on the reservation today near Navajo families. Water, already scarce, remains tainted with uranium and other metals. In one report, researchers found elevated uranium levels in the urine of 27 percent of almost 600 Navajo tribal members tested. The U.S. population as a whole is closer to 5 percent.
The uranium-mining legacy also left contaminated groundwater on the Wind River Reservation in Wyoming, home to the Eastern Shoshone and Northern Arapaho Indians. In Washington state, two mines were shuttered in the 1980s, but more than 30 million tons of radioactive rock and ore remain at the site. Today it is a federal Superfund site. Researchers are now tracking cancer rates on the Spokane Indian Reservation.
“We see a high percentage of wells contaminated with trace elements like uranium in the double digits all over the U.S, but they are certainly more prevalent in Western, more arid areas.”
– Joe Ayotte, USGSThis toxic trail spreads throughout the West. Some uranium mining took place near the Crow Reservation, but naturally occurring levels can infiltrate drinking water wells too. And private wells don’t have the same safeguards of testing and treatment that public water does.
“We see a high percentage of wells contaminated with trace elements like uranium in the double digits all over the U.S, but they are certainly more prevalent in Western, more arid areas,” says Joe Ayotte, chief of groundwater quality studies section for the U.S. Geological Survey.
The USGS reported 20 percent of untreated water samples from public, private and monitoring wells nationwide contained concentrations of at least one trace element, such as uranium, arsenic and manganese. Manganese and uranium were found at levels at or above human health standards in 12 percent and 4 percent of wells nationwide, respectively, according to the study.
Like the rest of the country, Montana home wells have historically not been tested for elements such as uranium and manganese, so it’s unclear if Crow is an outlier or the norm for the state.
The Montana Department of Environmental Quality does not have regulatory authority over private wells on tribal lands, says Lisa Peterson, an agency spokesperson, adding that they haven’t received any information about contamination on the Crow Reservation.
For questions or feedback about this piece, contact Brian Bienkowski at email@example.com.
World can’t afford to silence us’: black church leaders address climate
One of the largest and oldest black churches in the US warns that black people are disproportionally harmed by global warming and fossil fuel pollution, Guardian, Oliver Milman, 24 July 16, African American religious leaders have added their weight to calls for action on climate change, with one of the largest and oldest black churches in the US warning that black people are disproportionally harmed by global warming and fossil fuel pollution.
The African Methodist Episcopal church has passed its first resolution in its 200-year history devoted to climate change, calling for a swift transition to renewable energy.
“We can move away from the dirty fuels that make us sick and shift toward safe, clean energy like wind and solar that help make every breath our neighbors and families take a healthy one,” states the resolution, which also points to research showing that black children are four times as likely as white children to die from asthma.
was passed at the church’s general conference in Philadelphia, where more than 30,000 members gathered. The AME church, the oldest independent Protestant denomination founded by black people in the world, has about 7,000 congregations and 2.5m members.
“Damage to our climate puts the health of children, elderly, and those with chronic illnesses at greater risk and disproportionately impacts African Americans. We believe it is our duty to commit to taking action and promoting solutions that will help make our families and communities healthier and stronger,” stated Bishop John White, president of the council of bishops of the AME church.
The resolution follows an open letter sent by African American clergy last year that called for political leaders to take “bold action to address climate change”……..
Dupont-Walker said that the church’s voter mobilization campaign will work throughout the 2016 election cycle to question candidates on climate change. Local officials and landlords will also be put under pressure over inadequate housing and infrastructure that helps spread pollution to black communities.
According to the NAACP, African Americans emit far less carbon dioxide per person compared with white people and yet will bear the brunt of heat-related deaths, due to the concentration of black people in cities…….https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2016/jul/24/african-methodist-episcopal-church-climate-change-letter
Indigenous Fight Against Nuclear Colonialism
Indigenous people protest EPA’s nuclear plans
70th Anniversary of Operation Crossroads Atomic Tests in Bikini Atoll, July 1946
EXCELLENT VIDEOS and PHOTOS, National Security Archive Government Films and Photographs Depict Test “Able” on 1 July 1946
Removal of 167 Bikinians from the Atoll Preceded the Atomic Tests
National Security Archive Electronic Briefing Book No. 553 July 1, 2016 Edited by William Burr with Stav Geffner For more iThe Atomic Tests at Bikini Atoll, July 1946nformation contact: William Burr at 202/994-7000 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
The Atomic Tests at Bikini Atoll, July 1946 Washington, D.C., July 1, 2016 – Seventy years ago this month a joint U.S Army-Navy task force staged two atomic weapons tests at Bikini atoll in the Marshall Islands, the first atomic explosions since the bombings of Japan in August 1945. Worried about its survival in an atomic war, the Navy sought the tests in order to measure the effects of atomic explosions on warships and other military targets. The test series was named Operation Crossroads by the task force’s director, Rear Admiral William Blandy. The first test, Able, took place on 1 July 1946. Of the two tests, the second, Baker, on 25 July 1946, was the most dangerous and spectacular, producing iconic images of nuclear explosions. A third test was scheduled, but canceled. Photographs and videos posted today by the National Security Archive document Crossroads, focusing on the Able test.
Also documented is the U.S. Navy’s removal, in early March 1946, of 167 Pacific islanders from Bikini, their ancestral home, so that the Navy and the Army could prepare for the tests. The Bikinians had the impression that the relocation would be temporary but the islands remain uninhabitable due to subsequent nuclear testing in the atoll……….
The plan to turn South Australia into the world’s nuclear waste dump has been met with near-unanimous opposition from Aboriginal people.
The Royal Commission acknowledged strong Aboriginal opposition to its nuclear waste proposal in its final report – but it treats that opposition not as a red light but as an obstacle to be circumvented.
Radioactive waste and the nuclear war on Australia’s Aboriginal people,Ecologist Jim Green 1st July 2016
Australia’s nuclear industry has a shameful history of ‘radioactive racism’ that dates from the British bomb tests in the 1950s, writes Jim Green. The same attitudes persist today with plans to dump over half a million tonnes of high and intermediate level nuclear waste on Aboriginal land, and open new uranium mines. But now Aboriginal peoples and traditional land owners are fighting back!
From 1998-2004, the Australian federal government tried – but failed – to impose a national nuclear waste dump on Aboriginal land in South Australia.
Then the government tried to impose a dump on Aboriginal land in the Northern Territory, but that also failed.
Now the government has embarked on its third attempt and once again it is trying to impose a dump on Aboriginal land despite clear opposition from Traditional Owners. The latest proposal is for a dump in the spectacular Flinders Ranges, 400 km north of Adelaide in South Australia, on the land of the Adnyamathanha Traditional Owners.
The government says that no group will have a right of veto, which is coded racism: it means that the dump may go ahead despite the government’s acknowledgement that “almost all Indigenous community members surveyed are strongly opposed to the site continuing.”
The proposed dump site was nominated by former Liberal Party politician Grant Chapman but he has precious little connection to the land. Conversely, the land has been precious to Adnyamathanha Traditional Owners for millennia.
It was like somebody ripped my heart out’
The site is adjacent to the Yappala Indigenous Protected Area (IPA). “The IPA is right on the fence – there’s a waterhole that is shared by both properties”, said Yappala Station resident and Adnyamathanha Traditional Owner Regina McKenzie.
The waterhole – a traditional women’s site and healing place – is one of many archeological and culturally significant sites in the area that Traditional Owners have registered with the South Australian government over the past six years. Two Adnyamathanha associations – Viliwarinha Aboriginal Corporation and the Anggumathanha Camp Law Mob – wrote in November 2015 statement:
“Adnyamathanha land in the Flinders Ranges has been short-listed for a national nuclear waste dump. The land was nominated by former Liberal Party Senator Grant Chapman. Adnyamathanha Traditional Owners weren’t consulted. Even Traditional Owners who live next to the proposed dump site at Yappala Station weren’t consulted. This is an insult.
“The whole area is Adnyamathanha land. It is Arngurla Yarta (spiritual land). The proposed dump site has springs. It also has ancient mound springs. It has countless thousands of Aboriginal artefects. Our ancestors are buried there.
“Hookina creek that runs along the nominated site is a significant women’s site. It is a registered heritage site and must be preserved and protected. We are responsible for this area, the land and animals.
“We don’t want a nuclear waste dump here on our country and worry that if the waste comes here it will harm our environment and muda (our lore, our creation, our everything). We call on the federal government to withdraw the nomination of the site and to show more respect in future.”
Regina McKenzie describes getting the news that the Flinders Ranges site had been chosen from a short-list of six sites across Australia: “We were devastated, it was like somebody had rang us up and told us somebody had passed away. My niece rang me crying … it was like somebody ripped my heart out.”
McKenzie said on ABC television: “Almost every waste dump is near an Aboriginal community. It’s like, yeah, they’re only a bunch of blacks, they’re only a bunch of Abos, so we’ll put it there. Don’t you think that’s a little bit confronting for us when it happens to us all the time? Can’t they just leave my people alone?”
Adnyamathanha Traditional Owner Dr Jillian Marsh said in an April 2016 statement:
“The First Nations people of Australia have been bullied and pushed around, forcibly removed from their families and their country, denied access and the right to care for their own land for over 200 years. Our health and wellbeing compares with third world countries, our people crowd the jails. Nobody wants toxic waste in their back yard, this is true the world over. We stand in solidarity with people across this country and across the globe who want sustainable futures for communities, we will not be moved.”
The battle over the proposed dump site in the Flinders Ranges will probably be resolved over the next 12 months. If the government fails in its third attempt to impose a dump against the wishes of Aboriginal Traditional Owners, we can only assume on past form that a fourth attempt will ensue……
Now Aboriginal people in South Australia face the imposition of a national nuclear waste dump as well as a plan to import 138,000 tonnes of high-level nuclear waste and 390,000 cubic metres of intermediate level waste for storage and disposal as a commercial venture.
The plan is being driven by the South Australian government, which last year established a Royal Commission to provide a fig-leaf of independent supporting advice. The Royal Commissioner is a nuclear advocate and the majority of the members of the Expert Advisory Committee are strident nuclear advocates.
Indeed it seems as if the Royal Commissioner sought out the dopiest nuclear advocates he could find to put on the Expert Advisory Committee: one thinks nuclear power is safer than solar, another thinks that nuclear power doesn’t pose a weapons proliferation risk, and a third was insisting that there was no credible risk of a serious accident at Fukushima even as nuclear meltdown was in full swing.
Announcing the establishment of the Royal Commission in March 2015, South Australian Premier Jay Weatherill said: “We have a specific mandate to consult with Aboriginal communities and there are great sensitivities here. I mean we’ve had the use and abuse of the lands of the Maralinga Tjarutja people by the British when they tested their atomic weapons.”
Yet the South Australian government’s handling of the Royal Commission process systematically disenfranchised Aboriginal people. The truncated timeline for providing feedback on draft Terms of Reference disadvantaged people in remote regions, people with little or no access to email and internet, and people for whom English is a second language. There was no translation of the draft Terms of Reference, and a regional communications and engagement strategy was not developed or implemented.
Aboriginal people repeatedly expressed frustration with the Royal Commission process. One example (of many) is the submission of the Anggumathanha Camp Law Mob (who are also fighting against the plan for a national nuclear waste dump on their land):
“Why we are not satisfied with the way this Royal Commission has been conducted:
Yaiinidlha Udnyu ngawarla wanggaanggu, wanhanga Yura Ngawarla wanggaanggu? – always in English, where’s the Yura Ngawarla (our first language)?
“The issues of engagement are many. To date we have found the process of engagement used by the Royal Commission to be very off putting as it’s been run in a real Udnyu (whitefella) way. Timelines are short, information is hard to access, there is no interpreter service available, and the meetings have been very poorly advertised. …
“A closed and secretive approach makes engagement difficult for the average person on the street, and near impossible for Aboriginal people to participate.”
The plan to turn South Australia into the world’s nuclear waste dump has been met with near-unanimous opposition from Aboriginal people. The Aboriginal Congress of South Australia, comprising people from many Aboriginal groups across the state, endorsed the following resolution at an August 2015 meeting:
“We, as native title representatives of lands and waters of South Australia, stand firmly in opposition to nuclear developments on our country, including all plans to expand uranium mining, and implement nuclear reactors and nuclear waste dumps on our land. … Many of us suffer to this day the devastating effects of the nuclear industry and continue to be subject to it through extensive uranium mining on our lands and country that has been contaminated.
“We view any further expansion of industry as an imposition on our country, our people, our environment, our culture and our history. We also view it as a blatant disregard for our rights under various legislative instruments, including the founding principles of this state.”
The Royal Commission acknowledged strong Aboriginal opposition to its nuclear waste proposal in its final report – but it treats that opposition not as a red light but as an obstacle to be circumvented.http://www.theecologist.org/News/news_analysis/2987853/radioactive_waste_and_the_nuclear_war_on_australias_aboriginal_people.html