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  • Writer's pictureAntonio Gonzales

Native Alerts: First Nations Mining Rights, UNDRIP Revisit, Save the Peaks, Marine Life and Traditio

1. Action!: First Nations Land Rights In British Columbia In early June, Takla Lake First Nation and the Harvard Law School’s International Human Rights Clinic released a 200-page study titled Bearing the Burden: The Effects of Mining on First Nations in British Columbia. The Harvard study examined the mining laws and processes of British Columbia and Canada concluding mining laws are in contravention of international and constitutional laws, stacked against First Nations, favour industry and lack any consideration of shared decision-making, revenue-sharing or fair compensation. Grand Chief Phillip, President of the Union of British Columbia Indian Chiefs, remarked “In a few short weeks, the Government of Canada will formally announce through pomp and ceremony, its highly qualified support for the UN Declaration in accordance with the Constitution and laws of Canada. With the findings of the Harvard study, First Nations have every right to be greatly worried of what is to come.” Grand Chief Phillip added “Rather than gutting environmental protection legislation and harmonizing federal/provincial environmental regulatory processes to further favour industry, the Union of BC Indian Chiefs support the findings of the Harvard study that mining laws and processes such as environmental assessments must be overhauled to include and accommodate the unextinguished Indigenous Title, Rights and Treaty Rights of First Nations.” WHAT YOU CAN DO Ask the BC government to - consult First Nations before permitting or embarking on any mining project planned in their region - consult First Nations throughout the mining approval/disapproval process - provide First Nations ample time to respond to requests for information, conduct studies and carry out legal preparation Ministry of Energy, Mines and Petroleum Resources Minister's Office 250 387-5896 Deputy Minister 250 952-0241 FOR MORE INFORMATION To read the full report, visit Go to and for additional details 2. Action!: Voicing Support for UN Declaration of Indigenous Rights The State Department is currently reviewing the United States' failure to endorse the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples. As part of this formal review, the State Department is holding consultations with Indian and Alaska Native nations and NGOs to discuss the upcoming review process and receive comments on July 7 and July 8 in Washington DC. The State Department wants to receive comments from Indian and Alaska Native nations, NGOs and individuals. July 7, 2010 : Tribal Leaders Consultation, Washington, DC July 8, 2010 : Meeting with Nongovernmental Organizations, Washington, DC The U.N. General Assembly adopted the declaration Sept. 13, 2007, with 143 countries voting in favor and four countries – Canada, the U.S., Australia and New Zealand – voting against it. Australia and New Zealand have since endorsed the international human rights document. IF YOU ARE UNABLE TO ATTEND THE CONSULTATIONS please submit written comments to the State Department by email to or by mail to S/SR Global Intergovernmental Affairs, U.S. Department of State, 2201 C Street NW., Suite 1317, Washington, DC 20520. Please send written comments by July 15, 2010 to ensure that they can be given due consideration in the review. Also, for more information, Kimberly Teehee, White House Sr. Policy Advisor on Native American Affairs, discussed consultations with Indian Nations regarding the U.S. review of the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples on the June 23rd Native America Calling show ( 3. Action!: Marine Life Protection Act Hearings For those in or planning to be in northern California, you can attend MLPA hearings and let the state know that Native peoples need to have access to traditional harvesting areas and sacred sites in any coastal protection work Schedule: 4. Action! : Save the Peaks For those in or planning to be in Arizona, there is a prayer vigil and rally in Phoenix to stop development on the San Francisco Peaks. Arizona Snowbow, a ski resort, is attempting to make snow out of treated sewage effluent and apply it to sacred lands -- a mountain that is holy to more than 13 Indigenous Nation -- as well as public lands. One major concern of the Save the Peaks Coalition is that the treated effluent contains harmful contaminants such as pharmaceuticals, hormones and cancer causing agents. The Forest Service has ignored public health concerns and approved this development without any tests to determine the health effects if our children eat the wastewater snow. If you would like to help with outreach you can pick up posters at Taala Hooghan infoshop in Flagstaff (1700 N 2nd St. near Rt 66 and 4th St.) or you can print your own from Volunteer support is also needed, contact Rideshare available: There is also a rideshare board at Taala Hooghan Infoshop 4. Event: Native Language Summit, July 13-14 The 4th Annual National Native Language Revitalization Summit will be held in Washington, D.C. July 13-14 organized by the National Alliance to Save Native Languages, sponsored by the National Congress of American Indians, the National Indian Education Association, and the National Indian Gaming Association For more Information U.S. Department of Education and Senate to Host Native Language Summit 5. News: Human rights violations on indigenous peoples in the U.S. (Excerpted from, Gale Courey Toensing, June 30, 2010) A group of southwestern tribes has filed a collective report for the United Nations Human Rights Council, documenting the human rights violations imposed on the indigenous peoples of the area by the United States government. The 125-page report was filed with the U.S. State Department and will become part of the U.N. Human Rights Council’s Universal Periodic Review, a process created by the U.N. General Assembly in 2006 as a mechanism by which the human rights records of all 192 U.N. member states are reviewed every four years. The report emerged from a historic meeting June 11, called “Southwest Tribal Summit: Enough is Enough – Tribal Voices Must be Heard.” Tribal leaders, citizens, and tribal organizations representing dozens of southwestern nations attended the event. The report documents the federal government’s human rights violations against the tribal nations under four overarching themes: The federal government’s failure to consider and protect the tribes’ right to religious and cultural freedom; its failure to enforce its own laws to protect natural resources; its failure to conduct formal consultation regarding development that impacts tribal lands and peoples; and the lack and suppression of education about tribal history in U.S. public schools and the existing political relationship between tribes and the federal government. The report also urges that “the United States swiftly adopt the Declaration (on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples) and join the rest of the world in recognizing that indigenous people around the globe, including those within its own boundaries, are entitled to freedom, religion, culture, autonomy and resources which we require for our continued existence.” --- "Honor and respect water as a sacred and life-giving gift from the Creator of Life. Water, the first living spirit on Earth. . . . When water is threatened, all living things are threatened." -- Statement, Hopi Hisot Navoti Gathering

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