Rights of Mother Earth Gatherings, from Bolivia to Kansas

Rights of Mother Earth Gathering at Haskell continues efforts of Bolivia President Evo Morales in Cochabamba

Article by Brenda Norrell

Photo by Loren White, Jr.

Indigenous Peoples from the Americas gathered at the Rights of Mother Earth conference, April 4 – 6, 2012, at Haskell Indian Nations University in Lawrence, Kansas, continuing the effort by Bolivian President Evo Morales and Indigenous Peoples at the World Peoples Conference on the Rights of Mother Earth and Climate Change in Cochabamba, Bolivia, in 2010.

At Haskell, Marlon Santi, described the difficult struggle to force oil companies out of his homeland in Ecuador.

“We do not want this generation to be enslaved again,” Santi said, pointing out that an Indigenous Nation without land can not exist. Indigenous Peoples that lose their language, lose their history. He said his peoples’ architecture and science have been described as “ruins” by scientists, and still they have overcome these oppressors. Santi served previously as president of the Confederation of Indigenous Nationalities of Ecuador (CONAIE.)  

Native Americans struggling to protect their people, and the land, air and water from destruction in the United States included Kandi Mossett, Mandan, Hidatsa and Arikara Nations, from North Dakota.

Mossett said semi-trucks of the oil and gas industry have resulted in the deaths of seven children and youths in the past the three years, including two children who were three and five years old. Still, Tribal Chairman Tex Hall, other politicians and the US Interior Department are pushing for more drilling on tribal lands, and less regulation of fracking. The land, air and water are already devastated, poisoned with widespread pollution and degradation at Fort Berthold, known as the Three Affiliated Tribes.

Anishinaabe Renee Gurneau shared how a dream led her to better understand the Creation Story and the reality of being part of the Earth and feeling its pain. Gurneau is the former president of Red Lake Nation College in Red Lake, Minn. Gurneau described how today is the time of the Seventh Fire, urging the people to rely on the strength from millenniums of ancestors carried in their DNA.

Haskell professor Dr. Daniel Wildcat encouraged a new dialogue, based on spirit, power and place, and a renewal of the ancestral ways of life. “Our power resides in the landscapes and seascapes that we call home," Wildcat said, Yuchi member of the Muscogee Nation of Oklahoma.

Rueben George, Sundance Chief and Member of the Tsleil-Waututh First Nation in northern Vancouver, BC, is the grandson of Chief Dan George. George began with thanks to the stewards of this land and caretakers of this land. George honored the caretakers of this land with a song of his grandfather Chief Dan George. His nature song is “Honor Mother Earth.” George also shared the history of his people.

Mona Polacca
, Havasupai/Hopi, spoke about the foundation of life. From the first water inside the mother's womb, to the prayer upon which life depends, Polacca spoke of the spirituality of life. Polacca, one of the International Council of Thirteen Indigenous Grandmothers, began by remembering the words of Thomas Banyacya, "We are all related.”

Dine' Robert Yazzie of the Dine' Policy Institute, former Navajo Supreme Court judge, shares a Declaration of the Dine' elders, the Roots of Dine' Law. Yazzie shares the power of prayer, and the power of names and language, in the Dine' and English languages.

"There are still Holy People around. We still see the Holy People speaking to us through water, and through fire," Yazzie said.

As Indigenous Peoples met in Kansas, Navajos and Hopis protested Arizona Senators John McCain and Jon Kyl in Tuba City, Ariz., on the Navajo Nation, and their scheme to steal Navajo and Hopi water rights to the Little Colorado River.

Supai/Hopi Mona Polacca pointed out in Haskell that the senators scheme to steal Navajo and Hopi water rights was created to benefit the Salt River Project which operates the Navajo Generating Station on the Navajo Nation. It is one of the dirtiest coal fired power plants in the US and a major cause of greenhouse gases.

The senators are also seeking water for other polluting industries downstream in Phoenix and Tucson, where residents continue to live lavish lifestyles, with golf courses in the desert. The US House is now fast tracking this water theft scheme, HR 4067, sponsored by Rep. Ben Quayle. 

At Haskell, conference organizers said the earliest rights of nature laws recognized the right for ecosystems to exist and flourish. Others, including the Ecuadorian constitutional provisions adopted in 2008, recognize the right for nature to exist, persist, evolve, and regenerate. Those laws also recognize the right of any person or organization to defend, protect, and enforce those rights; and for payment of recovered damages to government to provide for the restoration of those ecosystems. Conference organizers include the Indigenous Environmental Network, Pachamama Alliance, and Haskell professor Dr. Dan Wildcat. Videos recorded by Earthcycles.

Read more from these speakers in Kansas, and watch their video presentations at Censored News.

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About Brenda Norrell

Brenda Norrell has been a news reporter in Indian country for 32 years. She is publisher of Censored News, focusing on Indigenous Peoples, human rights and the US border. Censored News was created after Norrell was censored, then terminated, by Indian Country Today after serving as a longtime staff reporter. Now censored by the mainstream media, she previously was a staff reporter at numerous American Indian newspapers and a stringer for AP, USA Today and others. She lived on the Navajo Nation for 18 years, and then traveled with the Zapatistas. She covered the climate summits in Cochabamba, Bolivia, and Cancun, Mexico, in 2010.

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About Brenda Norrell

Personal Website
http://www.bsnorrell.blogspot.com/

Biography

Brenda Norrell has been a news reporter in Indian country for 32 years. She is publisher of Censored News, focusing on Indigenous Peoples, human rights and the US border. Censored News was created after Norrell was censored, then terminated, by Indian Country Today after serving as a longtime staff reporter. Now censored by the mainstream media, she previously was a staff reporter at numerous American Indian newspapers and a stringer for AP, USA Today and others. She lived on the Navajo Nation for 18 years, and then traveled with the Zapatistas. She covered the climate summits in Cochabamba, Bolivia, and Cancun, Mexico, in 2010.