Russia to meet with US Canadian Native leaders
Russia announces meeting of US and Canadian Native leaders in Russia in January
By Brenda Norrell
Russia will meet with Native American and First Nation leaders in Russia in mid-January, in the first ever gathering of Indigenous Peoples from the three countries. Russia also announced that one of its officials will meet with "Sioux chiefs" this week.
The announcement comes as Russia's Indigenous in Siberia, fighting oil and gas drilling in the Arctic and mineral mining in their homelands, face harsh repression as they seek to defend nature. Last month, the government of Russia shut down Russia's leading Indigenous organization, RAIPON, for six months. Natives defending the land, water and air in the US and Canada are questioning who Russia will meet with, and whether they are the Natives on this continent struggling to defend the land, water and air.
Meanwhile, Russia said the meeting of Native American chiefs from the US and Canada will begin in Moscow in mid-January, according to Russia's government radio station Voice of Russia. It will be the first time that Indigenous Peoples of Russia will meet with Native leaders from the US and Canada, said Pavel Sulyandziga, chairman of the working group for the development of the North, Siberia and the Far East at Russia Public Chamber.
Sulyandziga said, "I am currently working on the visit to Russia of a number of Native American chiefs from the USA and Canada, as well as the leaders of indigenous people from other countries."
"Willie Littlechild, the Honorary Chief of the Crees from the Canadian Province of Alberta, Aali Kirskitaua, vice president of the Sami parliament, Henry Harrison, chief of the Thabas tribe from Alaska have already confirmed their visit. They will come to Russia in mid-January and meet with the indigenous peoples for a joint discussion of the problems and cooperation. We are planning a press conference in Moscow and then will go to Lake Baikal," Suldyanziga told Voice of Russia.
In Canada, Mohawks are among those questioning who the Native leaders are in Canada and the US that Russia will be meeting with, and whether or not those Native leaders are fighting mining and drilling.
Mohawks said, "Canada and the US are sending 'their corporate Indians' there to sign deals on our behalf. They know we won't do it."
In Russia's radio interview, Sulyandziga said he will speak with "Sioux chiefs" this week.
"Yes, we are talking about the annual meeting of the Sioux tribe chiefs, which is one of the largest Native American tribes in the USA. Our association of the indigenous people of the North, Siberia and the Far East has been seeking contacts with them for a long time in order to work jointly. And now, for the first time ever, they have invited an outsider to their Council of the chiefs to take place on December 21-22."
In the radio show, Russia recognized Bolivia President Evo Morales' defense of Mother Earth.
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