Saturday, October 18, 2008

The GOP's War on Natives
(both at home and abroad)

Palin's Abysmal Record on Alaska Native Issues

Although Sarah Palin's husband Todd claims Native heritage on his grandmother's side of the family (Yup'ik Eskimo), this connection to Alaskan Natives has not resulted in Palin's support for Alaska Natives. In fact, Governor Palin has thwarted progress and advancement for Alaska Natives at virtually every turn. Here are just a few of the ways that Palin has failed to protect rights that matter to Alaskan Natives:

1. Palin has consistently voted and lobbied against subsistence hunting and fishing rights for Alaska Natives (it seems if you can't shoot it from a helicopter, then Palin isn't interested in hunting it). In terms of fishing rights, which are essential not only for cultural survival, but also for the very existence of Native peoples who reside in Alaska, Palin has fought to diminish the scope of the waters that Alaskan Natives can fish, in direct conflict to a Federal Court order that held: "Congress in 1980 had expressly granted the U.S. Interior and Agriculture Departments the authority to regulate and protect Native and rural subsistence fishing activities in Alaska."(Decision entered May 15, 2007, Docket No. 110).

2. Palin Has NOT Supported Tribal Sovereignty
"So extreme is Palin on tribal sovereignty issues that she has sought to block tribes from exercising any authority whatsoever even over the welfare of Native children, adhering to a 2004 legal opinion issued by the former Murkowski Administration that no such jurisdiction exists (except when a state court transfers a matter to a tribal court). Both the state courts and the federal courts have struck down Palin's policy of refusing to recognize the sovereign authority of Alaska Tribes to address issues involving Alaska Native children. Native Village of Tanana v. State of Alaska, 3AN-04-12194 CI (judgment entered Aug. 26, 2008) (Ak. Super. Ct.); Native Kaltag Tribal Council v. DHHS, No. 3:06-cv-00211- TMB (D. Ak.), pending on appeal No 08-35343 (9th Cir.)). "
This attack on Tribal Sovereignty runs counter to established federal law (Indian Child Welfare Act, 25 U.S.C. 1901 et seq., 2000, and numerous federal court decisions, among them, the pre-eminent Supreme Court case on the issue of the welfare of Indian Children Mississippi Band of Choctaw Indians v. Holyfield, 490 U.S. 30, 1989.)

3. Palin Has Attacked Native Languages:
Governor Palin has repeatedly refused to accord proper respect to Alaska Native languages and voters by refusing to provide language assistance to Yup'ik speaking Alaska Native voters.

Ángel Franco/The New York Times
Anna Nick, a local elder, is the lead plaintiff in a federal lawsuit demanding that election ballots and referendum questions also be available in Yup’ik. I want to know what I am voting on, she said through a translator. (See the NYTimes, "A Visit to Akiachak").

Why the Colombian Free Trade Agreement Hurts Indigenous Peoples

This is from a Statement issued by the Indigenous Peoples of Colombia:
We act with precise urgency. We risk our lives and offer our lives for life. We struggle with all our capacity against the sophisticated propaganda that is nothing more than well-crafted lies, against laws and measures that impose the interests of others against life itself and justice. We call on therefore, on the wisdom, the serenity and the respect that comes with dialogue. We love and defend dialogue. But we do so mobilized with firmness. We are people of our word and of dialogue. We live it through our assemblies, and within our Life Plans. Everything that we have created is based on a process of dialogue between contradictions and differences. We therefore need and call on an interlocutor who is legitimate, with whom we can dialogue. And we are totally committed to engage in this process.

What is it that we are proposing?
* That the necessary conditions for a process of dialogue are immediately established, in order to discuss the five main points of the agenda that we propose.
* That the dialogue is carried out under the watch and with the backing of legitimate and unquestionably credible persons, and with authority that is recognized in any part of the world.
* That in this dialogue, every sector of society is represented, according to democratic mechanisms of participation, giving priority to the majority of the population that has been excluded, marginalized and exploited.
* That honesty, truth and respect become non-negotiable conditions for the development of this dialogue, and those that violate these principles are excluded from participating in the process.

United State Government Seeks to Undermine the Government of Bolivia

It is no secret that the Bush/Cheney administration is not supportive of the government of Evo Morales, the first Indigenous, democratically-elected president of a Latin American country since the Spanish invasion of that territory over 450 years ago, but it turns out that their dislike of the Aymara Native has manifested itself in several covert actions that seek to undermine Morales' administration. Among the actions taken by the Bush/Cheney administration is one that seeks to suspend longtime U.S. trade benefits for Bolivia because of that country's failure to cooperate in drug-fighting efforts in the past year, the top U.S. trade official said on Friday, but Morales stated yesterday that his country would rather forego the U.S. aid than live under the threat of U.S. oppression (Bolivia Won’t Bow to the US, says Morales).

The above-mentioned stories represent just three ways that Indigenous peoples across the Western hemisphere are struggling to maintain their rights, their liberties, and their very way of life. It is no coincidence that these rights are threatened by the Bush/Cheney/McCain/Palin political party, and all the more reason why we need to elect Obama/Biden in just three short weeks. During the final presidential debate, when asked about the Colombia Free Trade Agreement, John McCain enthusiastically endorsed the Agreement, Barack Obama expressed reservations about jumping into another free trade agreement that may end up supporting a regime that oppresses its own people and may be responsible for death squads attacking union leaders. These are some of the facts that may not receive much coverage, but need to be considered by voters who are about to go to the polls very soon and cast what may well be the most important vote of their lives. Viva Obama/Biden 2008!

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