4/30/2006

Revive la cultura indígena en Tibes


Un guerrero indígena enseña a una visitante a bailar areyto en ocasión del 24to. aniversario del Parque Ceremonial Indígena de Tibes. (Fotos / Víctor M. Figueroa)

Por Sandra Caquías Cruz, El Nuevo Dia

PONCE, PUERTO RICO - En un puente de metal desde el que se observaban varias faenas indígenas en el río comenzó ayer un recorrido donde el público se transportó a los tiempos en que los indios habitaron Tibes, un valle al norte de esta ciudad.

Cuatro jovencitas vestidas de indias hacían sus quehaceres en la orilla mientras que dos indios pescaban en el río Portugués. Estos formaron parte de los personajes que recrearon más de un decena de estampas indígenas en el Parque Ceremonial Indígena de Tibes, donde hoy habrá una Casa Abierta con motivo de sus 24to. aniversario.

Los artistas, del Grupo Wakía Arawaka Taína, realizaron un impresionante espectáculo que apenas fue disfrutado por una veintena de personas que visitó ayer el lugar.

Cada una de las estampas eran explicada por los guías turísticos del parque. El recorrido incluyó una estampa que recreó la caza de cotorras y otras aves, por lo que un niño indio subió a las ramas de un árbol mientras imitaba sonidos de aves. Esta escena fue aprovechada para explicar los diversos árboles nativos que tiene este parque ceremonial.

“Estas personas vivían de la naturaleza y para la naturaleza”, precisó el guía turístico Luis Sánchez, quien explicó el uso medicinal de algunas plantas. Otra de las escenas fue en el área del conuco, o siembra. Allí unos 10 indios recrearon las tareas agrícolas.

Mientras, dos hombres metidos en una charca mostraban al público varias jicoteas. Algunos de los visitantes aprovecharon la ocasión para tomarse fotos o grabar en vídeo. Una de las dramatizaciones más vistosas fue en el área de los bohíos, donde realizaron la Ceremonia de la Cojoba, rito en el que los médicos brujos fuman e ingieren pociones que les permiten comunicarse con los dioses.

El recorrido culminó con una demostración del Areyto de la Guasábara, una ceremonia de preparación para la guerra, realizada en la plaza ceremonial y tras la cual el público se unió a los personajes y bailó al ritmo de maracas y otros instrumentos indígenas. “A la verdad que quedé impresionada”, dijo Mayra Rivera, residente en Trujillo Alto, que visitó Tibes junto a su esposo. “Es impresionante y bien bonito”, agregó la joven tras danzar con los indios. El sacerdote español Alberto Fuentes, quien por primera vez visitaba Puerto Rico, dijo que la actividad le pareció “muy interesante”.

Pedro, un niño de nueve años que realizó el recorrido, fue uno de los que se acercó al guía para preguntar la diferencia entre la plaza indígena y el batey. El menor, residente en Ponce y quien estudia cuarto grado, dijo que le gustaba el recorrido “porque aprendo muchas cosas; los areytos, el batey, el bohíque”.

El Valle de Tibes fue poblado por las culturas Igneri y Pre Taína. Los Igneri llegaron a Tibes aproximadamente para el 300 D.C. Gran cantidad de las 143 osamentas encontradas en Tibes pertenecen a esa cultura. La cultura Pre Taína llegó varios siglos después de los Igneri. A éstos se le atribuye la construcción de las plazas ceremoniales y los bateyes que hoy se pueden apreciar en este lugar.


El Grupo Wakia Arawaka Taina dramatiza la Ceremonia de la Cojoba, donde los medico brujos fuman y bailan para comunicarse con los dioses. (Fotos / Victor M. Figueroa)

4/29/2006

350,000 March for Peace, Justice and Democracy


On April 29, the streets of New York City echoed with the chants, songs and shouts of at least 350,000 people from across the United States. Mobilized around the calls to end the war in Iraq, to say no to any attack on Iran, to bring urgent attention to global climate change, and to support the rights and dignity of all people, including immigrants and women, the marchers brought a renewed urgency to the clear demand for change. The march featured the largest antiwar labor contingent in US history.

For more information see: http://www.april29.org/

4/28/2006

After Negotiation, State Drops Charge Against Taino Activists


Taino Activists and Lawyers at Court House in Utuado, Puerto Rico. From left: Taina Rosado Cordova, Valeriana Shashira Rodriguez Valentin, Francisco Santiago, Jose L. Xuerix Camacho, Paolo Perez Roman, Elba Anaka Lugo, and Naniki Reyes Ocasio.

Utuado, Boriken (UCTP Taino News ) - As a result of an agreement offered by the State Prosecutor, a criminal charge accusing Taino activists of "usurpcion" was dismissed in an Utuado court on 25 April 2006.

Elba Anaka Lugo, Naniki Reyes Ocasio, Jose L. Xuerix Camacho, Taina Rosado Cordova, Edelmiro Baez, Juana Martinez, y Valeriana Shashira Rodriguez Valentin were scheduled to stand trail as a result of their arrest during the group's occupation of the Caguana Ceremonial Center in Utuado in August 2005. The Taino entered the state-run "archeological park", which they consider sacred, on 25 July to bring attention to the island-wide destruction of sacred places as well as the lack of recognition of their rights as Indigenous Peoples.

According to the terms of negotiated with the State Prosecutor, a minor charge of "contempt" would stand as the Taino technically did not appear before the court when ordered to do so during their peaceful occupation of "Caguana". A fine of $25 was imposed on each protestor for this charge.

Although this part of the process was difficult, and included 8 months of preparations, hearings and suspensions, both Lugo and Reyes Ocasio agreed that their stand was "worth the sacrifice".

"We said from the start that we wanted to be heard and that we wanted our rights to be considered as an indigenous nation" added Lugo.

The group's lawyer, Francisco Santiago, stated that "the defense maintained that the State was intent on criminalizing the freedom of expression of the accused". Santiago continued affirming that the Taino "will continue their cause using the system" and this negotiated agreement was a part of their strategy".

Although this court phase was over, the Taino now await the court's decision on their civil case appealing an injunction, which seeks to continue to prohibit "after hours" entry into Caguana by the accussed, their lawyers, their supporters, and any members of the organizations they represent.

"The imposition of this broad injunction is another example of the ongoing repression of the Taino People in Puerto Rico" stated Reyes Ocasio.

Following the dismissal of the usurpcion charge, the group along with their supporters that included two UCTP representatives and several students from the UCLA Tribal Learning Program, celebrated the decision by returning to the Caguana Ceremonial Center. Much to the surprise of the "park" staff, the Taino offered songs and prayers of thanks to their ancestors, their supporters, and to the sacred grounds themselves, which was their home for 18 days.

Plans are now being made by the organizations to commemorate the one year anniversary of the historic and precedent-setting action now known internationally as "El Grito Indigena Taino de Caguana".


Naniki Reyes Ocasio (left), and UCTP Rep. DeAnna Sarobei Rivera with Eric Sanchez, Mahshid Tarazizadeh, and Sandy Chang. Eric, Mahshid and Sandy are students from the UCLA Tribal Learning Program who made the journey to Puerto Rico to support the Taino activists.

4/22/2006

Elections underway in Region Two Amerindian villages

GUYANA, SOUTH AMERICA - Village elections have commenced countrywide in several Amerindian communities to determine whether there will be new leadership or the past toshaos will be returned to office.

In Region Two (Pomeroon/Supenaam), regional officials proceeded to the areas last week and are at present moving from village to village to conduct the elections, according to Regional Information Officer, Rajendra Prabulall, the Government Information Agency (GINA) reported.

Amerindians have already begun to cast their votes and Prabulall explained that the elections should come to a close by next week.

Under the new Amerindian Bill, these elections can now be held every three years instead of every two years.

During the past few years, a number of villages lobbied for the removal of their captains, who were subsequently relieved of their duties as a result of accountability issues and other problems. According to GINA, some of the villages include Wiruni in Region Ten and Orealla/Siparuta in Region Six. Meanwhile, others have retained their leadership and the successes of some of those villages have been quite visible, GINA said.

The Ministry of Amerindian Affairs has been assisting Amerindian communities in the form of training programmes to boost the capacity of captains and councils and to allow them to improve their managerial skills. Councils were trained in areas such as governance and legal issues, public administration and finance, environmental management, project management, community development and decision-making.

The last elections in Region Two Amerindian communities were conducted in April, 2004, GINA added.


Source: http://www.stabroeknews.com/

4/21/2006

Six Nations: 'They've started a war!'

© Indian Country Today April 21, 2006. All Rights Reserved
Posted: April 21, 2006
by: Editors Report / Indian Country Today


The recent massive early morning police raid on an encampment of Indian protesters at Six Nations Reserve in Canada left little doubt that authorities in that country are ready to play hardball over Indian claims, particularly when people make a stand over long-simmering disputes.

The police action struck with abrupt violence the morning of April 20. Armed and with weapons drawn, hundreds of Ontario Provincial Police invaded the encampment, clashing with activists at approximately 4 a.m. Arrests took place and at least one clan mother was reported as injured during the assault. The Six Nations quickly regrouped and within hours, hundreds more arrived to reinforce and retake the disputed property. Tires were set ablaze on the main road, Highway 6, which runs through town.

As of the deadline for this edition, it is being reported that as many as 1,000 OPP are suiting up in riot gear for another charge on the compound, while perhaps as many Native protesters have come in to support their compatriots.

Canada, it would appear, has another Indian war in the making. Reports confirmed that the warriors at the encampment kept their no-weapons stance as police moved in. However, the early morning raid unleashed a massive wave of sympathy for the beleaguered Native occupants, who were quickly reinforced by Six Nations residents, who formed a solid line and ''walked back'' the police from the contested camp area.

The OPP raid was the worst possible move to make at this juncture; it has already produced an intense radicalization at the Six Nations Reserve, and a response is forthcoming from other Haudenosaunee communities.

The ''end-game'' raid attempt on the encampment was predictable after talks between the protesters and Canadian authorities broke down two days earlier. What is less predictable is the reaction by activists and warriors across the Six Nations, where the argumentation against peaceful protest and in favor of physical confrontation will no doubt intensify.

Shame on Canada. Shame on a policy of carrot-and-stick against Natives that promises justice but only delivers the violence of the haughty and mighty.

Canada, like most every country in the Americas, sometimes has to face the reality of its sordid policy of dismantling the rightful land properties of Native peoples. Sometimes brusquely - by war - but in the past century, mostly by stealth and encroachment, First Nations peoples have seen first ''the Crown'' and then Canada pretend to own lands that were clearly Indian property and over which Indian title has not been relinquished.

Like most tribal peoples with small populations surrounded by huge numbers of non-Natives, the often divided governments on the Six Nations Reserve have not always been able to save reservation properties from being annexed by local townships, but in the ever-present tribal memory the lands in question have not been relinquished but have been taken by force or by trickery - an insult of cultural memory and these days a contentious issue as the Indian population grows and new families want to expand their generations within Indian jurisdictions.

At Six Nations of the Grand River within Ontario - the most populous Indian community in Canada - the tenacious reality of tribal memory over land ownership and lingering questions over the theft of Indian lands, first by the British Crown and then the Canadian government, exploded into a physical standoff between some traditional authorities based on the Haudenosaunee Confederacy, backed up by warrior groups from various Indian communities, and the local, provincial and federal police forces.

The standoff at the encampment to stop a housing complex on contested land is going into its second month. While the occupying group had announced a no-guns policy, the potential for further violence is high, as local residents continue to clamor for police action.

The contention over the particular tract of land goes back 165 years. It is one of several under claim by the Six Nations Band Council and forms part of the nearly 95 percent of Six Nations Reserve lands taken with impunity after promised and granted by Canada. The Six Nations Reserve contains 46,500 acres currently, less than 5 percent of the land granted to people of Haudenosaunee nations who had fought as allies to Britain in the Revolutionary War.

The study of land holding by Native and non-Native experts is quite precise, and yet opinions on recovery strategies vary among groups - within and outside the reserve.

In the present case, protest was triggered by the construction of a massive housing subdivision in Caledonia, the Douglas Creek Estates (Henco Industries), of which 10 out of a projected 600 houses have been built. A number of clan mothers and other traditional authorities, based in the confederacy, along with young leaders, sought to challenge a new reality that would seem to finalize a process of encroachment over one of several contested tracts. They called for an encampment on the land, a call accompanied by intense emotion among Indian people of all political persuasions; and many have responded, including warrior groups from reservations across the Northeast.

The encampment, which has fluctuated between several dozen to several hundred people, asserts a position that the land has been effectively ''reclaimed.''

The Canadian government should pay off the developer and all construction should cease. This strict Haudenosaunee position, appreciable for its righteousness, leaves little room for compromise at this time and is seen by some media as recalcitrance on the part of a warriors' movement that has had serious clashes with Canadian law enforcement in the past.

There had also been reasonable concern for the multimillion dollar business investment made by the developer in the case, Henco Industries, who merely intended to operate within a legality guaranteed by the federal government, which has ignored legitimate claims of many Indian bands for decades.

Tellingly, the painstaking research conducted by an office of the band council over the years has uncovered a good case that the disputed land tract - Hamilton/Port Dover Plank Road - was never intended for sale but only for lease by the Six Nations government of the reserve during the 1840s.

Six Nations land issues expert Phil Montour shared this with our network: ''The last correspondence of record with the government of Canada as relates to the Hamilton/Port Dover Plank Road lands was in a Six Nations meeting as held at the Onondaga Council House on October 31, 1844, in which the Chiefs explicitly stated: 'the Plank Road Lots from the River at the Caledonia Bridge to the Walpole Townline, that is lots on the west side of the Road, be kept and that the lands comprising the pieces described be leased and not sold.'''

Hopefully, increased reconciliation of strategic objectives can be forthcoming among the various Indian entities represented in the issue. An online report by Kahentinetha Horn, an impassioned Mohawk voice from Caughnawaga, detailed the rejection by the confederacy group at the encampment of some interesting points offered by the government: ''Ontario representative, Doug Carr, assistant deputy minister and secretary of aboriginal affairs, told [the encampment leaders and band council representatives] what the Ontario government was prepared to offer which in part was a land swap of 6,500 acres (some land in Cayuga, Burtch and another parcel for the 130 acres at Douglas Creek.'' The government would also see that ''water mains from the house development site be extended into Six Nations as well.''

An impromptu vote by band council members at an earlier meeting with the traditional group saw the majority of the elected council agree to ''let the confederacy council 'take the lead' on the Douglas Creek estates,'' according to Horn. The confederacy group turned down the offer by the government, reiterating their two main demands: Henco should stop building for a 90-day moratorium and the government should indemnify Henco for its loss. As for the land, it is to be considered ''reclaimed'' into Indian jurisdiction.

This hard-line stance by confederacy representatives is not likely to be accepted by the government, which instead has chosen the typical path of unilateral law enforcement generated partly by increasing pressure from local anti-Native groups and from Henco, which is suing the OPP to enforce the eviction of the camp.

When it comes to the Ontario government, however, lessons are not easily learned. One crucial restraint on the government should have been the lingering blotch of scandalous conduct of the OPP at the Ipperwash Camp protest of September 1995, when an unarmed 38-year-old Chippewa man was shot to death by a pumped-up constable. That case of a judicially unjustified killing of an unarmed Native activist remains in the courts and much in the news, and has even hounded Canadian foreign diplomats abroad.

One would have thought no Canadian police force would want responsibility for another Ipperwash, but it seems the historical trend of stealing Indian land and then holding it with force remains very much a part of Canada's dishonorable
history.

4/20/2006

Enter your vote today! A new poll has been created for the Taino_News group

UCTP Taino News - As a result of the historic occupation of the Caguana Ceremonial Park last year by Taino Activists representing the Consejo General de Tainos Boricanos and the Caney Quinto Mundo, Puerto Rico has seen an unprecedented number of Taino related conferences and events taking place around the island. The majority of these events however have not involved the island’s Taino leadership or if they do involve Taino People, it is not to take part in any meaningful dialogue but rather to perform some type of cultural demonstration. The position of the UCTP is that indigenous peoples need to speak for themselves on every issue that concerns them as well as be involved at every level of related decision making processes.

Sponsored by the Puerto Rican Institute of Culture, a conference entitled “Where are the Tainos?” is scheduled to take place at the Caguana Ceremonial Center on April 21, 2006. That the sponsors have not invited the Taino Activists to take part in this conference being held at our sacred ceremonial grounds is yet another example of the trend of indigenous exclusion and the on-going disrespect of the Taino People. Do you agree?

o Yes, I agree that the Caguana protesters should have been invited to participate at the conference and Taino People should be able to speak for themselves on every issue that concerns them as well as be involved at every level of related decision making processes.

o No, I think the Institute of Puerto Rican Culture should make all the decisions regarding Taino culture.

To vote, please visit the following web page:
http://groups.yahoo.com/group/Taino_News/surveys?id=12316212

Note: Poll votes are not collected via email. To vote, you must go to the Yahoo! groups web site listed above. Bo'matum (Thank you).

UCTP Stands in Solidarity with the Mohawk Nation


UCTP Taino News - Members of the Six Nations Reserve man a road block set up on Highway 6 to protest a housing development on land they claim as their own near Caledonia, Canada. Upon receiving the news UCTP President Roberto Mukaro Borrero stated "the Taino Nation and People represented by the UCTP stand in solidarity with Six Nations during their struggle near Caledonia". Borrero continued noting that "this issue reminds us of our own struggle on the island of Boriken and the sacrifice of our Taino leaders who took a similar action last year in Caguana. We have the people of Six Nations in our prayers".

Photo: J.P. Moczulski, Reuters

Where are the Tainos? Conference in Puerto Rico tomorrow...

Taino'ti Guaitiao (Greetings relatives):

Below you will find a brief article (in Spanish only), which announces a conference that will take place tomorrow at the Caguana Ceremonial grounds. The "conference" is more a presentation concerning the DNA studies being conducted by Prof. Juan Carlos Martínez Cruzado of the University of Puerto Rico.

What is important to note about this conference is that again, the Institute of Puerto Rican Culture has disregarded the Taino community on the island and not invited any Taino community leaders to share their perspectives of these studies. This should be of concern to all as the lack of inclusion of indigenous peoples on issues that directly concern them usually mean a further erosion of the basic human rights of the community.

While the Taino protestors continue to be harassed by the Government of Puerto Rico and will be back in court next week, does the Government really need to ask "Where are the Tainos"?

Bo'matum (Thank you),
Roberto Múkaro Borrero,
President and Chairman,
UCTP Regional Coordinating Office
http://www.uctp.org/
http://groups.yahoo.com/group/Taino_News/
http://www.uctp.blogspot.com/

-----------------------------------------------

Anuncian conferencia sobre ADN taíno en los puertorriqueños

San Juan (EFE).- El Centro Ceremonial Indígena de Caguana será la sede
de la conferencia "¿Dónde están los taínos?" que se llevará a cabo el
viernes, 21 de abril, con el auspicio del Programa de Museos y Parques
del Instituto de Cultura Puertorriqueña (ICP).

La conferencia comenzará a las 9:30 de la mañana y estará a cargo del
biólogo Juan Carlos Martínez Cruzado, quien se desempeña como profesor
de genética en la Universidad de Puerto Rico, Recinto de Mayagüez.

El ICP indicó en una comunicación escrita que Martínez Cruzado
pertenece a la "Society for Molecular Biology and Evolution" y a la
"American Society of Human Genetics".

El profesor estuvo a cargo de un estudio que se llevó a cabo en la
Isla y que demostró la alta incidencia de (Acido Desoxirribonucleico
(ADN) Mitocondrial indígena que existe en los puertorriqueños.

La actividad será libre de costo.

El Centro Ceremonial Indígena de Caguana está localizado en la
carretera 111, kilómetro 12.6, del barrio Caguana en Utuado.

Para más información puede comunicarse al 894-3245 ó al 894-7310. EFE

The UCTP and the UN Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues


NEW YORK, NY (UCTP Taino News) - Preparations are well underway for Caribbean Indigenous participation during the upcoming Fifth Session of the United Nations Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues, which will take place from 15-26 May 2006 in New York. This years’ session will focus on the United Nations Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) continuing the agenda theme from the Fourth Session.

Following past initiatives such as the founding of the first Caribbean Indigenous Caucus to register with the Forum to facilitating inclusion of artistic expressions from the region within the UN’s annual exhibition “In Celebration of Indigenous Peoples”, the UCTP is committed to increasing the visibility of Caribbean Indigenous Peoples this year.

Working in solidarity with other representatives under the auspices of the Indigenous Peoples Caucus of the Greater Caribbean (IPCGC), the UCTP plans to highlight the unique situation of Caribbean Indigenous Peoples during collective interventions, and by participating in several special events. Some already confirmed panels will focus on Sacred Sites, a follow up on the World Summit on the Information Society (WSIS), and the UCTP sponsored panel entitled “The MDGs and Indigenous Peoples: A Focus on Caribbean First Nations”.

Caribbean indigenous representatives have already confirmed attendance to the Forum from Puerto Rico, Venezuela and the Diaspora. Guyanese representatives have also expressed interest in attending the Forum although their participation is contingent on securing travel funding.

During the visit of the Caribbean delegates, the UCTP Regional Coordinating Office is also planning several off-site initiatives in collaboration with other organizations such community gatherings, discussion groups, and press interviews.

Persons who maybe interested in volunteering doing this time should contact the UCTP Regional Coordinating Office in NY at uctp_ny@yahoo.com or by telephone at 1(212)604-4186. Contributions are also needed to assist the visitors while they are here.

UCTPTN 04.20.2006

4/18/2006

Tainos Attend Immigrant's March in Seattle

By Evelyn Garcia

FERNDALE, WASHINGTON (UCTP Taino News) - Last Monday, March 12, 2006, my husband, daughter and I all marched in a demonstration in Seattle against proposed legislation to criminalize illegal immigrants, deporting them or putting them in jail for the crime of entering the U.S. illegally. This demonstration was one of 140 held on this day in cities all over the United States. The Seattle Times estimated that 35,000 to 40,000 people marched.

I felt very emotional at times during the parade and moved to tears at other times. There were so many families marching... young and old all together. I marched behind a pregnant woman and next to a man with sheet rock mud all over his clothes and his hands, as if he had to rush so much to be there he didn't even have time to wash his hands. People were carrying babies and had small children up on their shoulders.

It was a warm day and Seattle is a very hilly city. And even though I walk every day I found it to be a very strenuous 4 mile march. One lady near us fainted. An old man sat on the steps of someone's house with tears in his eyes, he couldn't go on. We passed a Country Club and saw Mexican workers hanging out the window of a second floor restaurant cheering, you could tell they wished they could join us. Many people on the sidelines clapped and cheered as we went by. There were only a few counter-protestors carrying signs that said things like "what part of 'illegal' don't you understand?" etc., who were jockeying in front of the cameras trying to get on the evening news.

What really made me want to march and show my opposition to the legislation that would make criminals out of hard-working people was two things that happened over the weekend before the march.

My neighbor and I e-mail each other 'jokes' and other things of interest. On Saturday, she sent me a poem about illegal immigrants and how they come here and get on welfare, and have a lot of babies, and don't learn English, and take jobs from U.S. workers and every other ugly stereotype you ever heard, all told in this 'poem' using creative and mean-spirited rhyming words. I was so offended. I wrote and told her how I felt and reminded her that my husband was an immigrant who came to this country (legally) when he was six and was put into kindergarten not speaking a word of English in a time when there were no ESL (English as a second language) classes, and whose parents had never ever gone on welfare but had worked hard for everything they had, and how my husband had gotten not one, but two full-ride scholarships to college (for art and basketball), and had served this country in the US Army for 20 years and that if she ever sent me anything like that again, we could no longer be friends.

Then, the next day, Sunday, we went to a barbeque at a friend's house. Their daughter is turning 15 soon and the family is planning a quincenera. The young girl asked my husband to fill a position of honor, padrino, for her upcoming ceremony and we were there at her house will all the other people (if you have ever attended a Mexican quincenera, you know it is huge) making preparations for the big day. I was the only white person there and only a few others in attendance even spoke English. These are people we know, good people, kind people, fun people and none of them is on welfare. One has a landscape business and employs several others who were there, one was a tile installer, one lady a maid at a hotel, another an elderly care giver, another a painter, others roofers... every single one a hard worker.

Now, some will argue that these people work for less than Americans and therefore compete with Americans for jobs and lower the wages of others... but, this has been said of every new wave of immigrant groups since the relatively recent beginnings of our country... the Chinese were accused of the same thing, the Jews, the Irish... working for less is a price each new group of immigrants has to pay until they familiarize themselves with the language and the system.

Some argue for them, saying they do jobs Americans won't do... gutting fish, working long hours under the blazing sun in the fields for very little money etc., and farmers say their farming operations would cease to exist without this 'cheap labor' and we need them to keep our grocery bills down.

Others will argue that they come here and get on welfare right away... but, that is not true. If you are illegal you cannot get welfare and if you come here legally (as my mother-in-law recently did) you have to be sponsored by someone. In my mother-in-law's case, we signed an affidavit stating that we would provide for her in the event she could not provide for herself for the first 5 years she lived here. So, it is not true that illegal immigrants just come here to get on welfare.

Many US companies have moved their factories and manufacturing operations to Mexico where they pay the workers an average of $2.00 a day. This saves Americans lots of money on cars, clothing, etc. But, it still is not a wage on which these workers can support their families. I heard one man who was interviewed say that he can work here washing dishes for $5.00 an hour and almost make the same money in a day that he would earn in a month in Mexico. So, these people risk their very lives to come here and try to make a better life for themselves and their families. They sneak across the border in the killer heat of day or at night when armed border patrol agents with infrared lights can spot them and shoot them, they pay smugglers extortionist fees to bring them across the border stuffed into the backs of trucks and vans with inadequate ventilation, food, water or a place to relieve oneself. They risk their lives and their limbs hopping trains to try for a piece of the American Dream.

This country was intended to be a place that was open to all and all would have an equal opportunity to worship as they please, work and live free. The Statue of Liberty bears a plaque welcoming immigrants that says: "Give us your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to be free"... did they mean to say "we only want white people?" What part of this don't some members of our society understand? They have a 'now that I'm here I want the doors closed' mentality.

Some of the anti-immigration people support the government's idea to build a 700 mile wall between here and Mexico. The terrorists have not been entering through Mexico, so that's not the reason. The reason is to keep Mexicans out of the U.S. Some people say that the illegal immigrants just need to go back home and enter the U.S. legally, and that would be the ideal, but we have understaffed the INS (Department of Immigration and Naturalization Services) so that the process of legal immigration takes approximately 4 years to complete which is far too long for most people to wait... they have families, wives and children who need to be fed.

These people are part of the human family and deserve humane treatment as well as the same welcome and opportunities that most European immigrants to these shores have received.

UCTPTN 04.18.2006

4/12/2006

UN body raps Guyana over inequalities faced by indigenous population

GUYANA, SOUTH AMERICA - The UN Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination (CERD) has criticised Guyana for deficient policies in protecting the rights of and addressing inequalities among the indigenous population, including the new Amerindian Act passed earlier this year.

The committee's observations were issued on March 21, 2006, a little over two weeks after Guyana turned in its periodic reports covering the years between 1978 and 2004. Guyana's report has been overdue for 26 years.

While the committee's report was critical on a number of issues, it also noted some positive efforts in areas such as employment, housing, health and education that impacted on the indigenous population.

The CERD is composed of 18 independent experts who are nominated and elected by countries that have ratified the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination.

Minister of Amerindian Affairs Carolyn Rodrigues said she had attended the committee meeting in Geneva, along with Human Services Minister Bibi Shadick to defend the country's reports, answer a number of questions and offer clarifications based on complaints that were made to the committee by local NGO, the Amerindian Peoples' Association (APA). She said the meeting went well although given the questions that were asked, it appeared that the committee had been misled.

Minister Rodrigues subsequently responded to some of the issues raised in a statement issued by the Government Information Agency (GINA).

In a statement issued last week, the APA said the committee's deep concern over various provisions in the new Amerindian Act vindicated its own criticisms of the legislation.

"We hope the government will now make the necessary changes in order to give effective protection to our rights," the group stated.

It noted it had recommended that the National Assembly delay enactment of the Bill until after the CERD session because the CERD convention is incorporated in the constitution. "If CERD found the Bill to be substandard, questions would be raised about its constitutionality," the APA said.

The committee said it had difficulty assessing the country's reports, as there were no disaggregated statistical data on the number and economic situation of the indigenous peoples.

Inequalities

Based on the reports it reviewed, one of the committee's chief criticisms was the absence of a national strategy to address inequalities faced by members of the indigenous population in the enjoyments of their rights under the Convention. Indeed, it noted that the state had adopted several measures aimed at improving the situation of indigenous people in fields such as employment, housing and education. But the absence of a development strategy was considered to be of great concern.

The committee recommended that the government should adopt a comprehensive strategy or action plan that will provide for special measures to allow indigenous people the full and equal enjoyment of human rights and fundamental freedoms. It said adequate funds ought to be allocated as well.

The enactment of a new Amerindian Act has been one of the major milestones for the indigenous population. However, it has been the subject of a lot of criticism by indigenous peoples' NGOs and other groups since its draft.

The committee also had deep concerns about a number of the provisions in the new Act. It said there was a lack of legal recognition of the rights, ownership and possession of indigenous communities over the lands, which they traditionally occupy. It was also concerned about the government's practice of granting land titles excluding bodies of waters and subsoil resources to indigenous communities on the basis of criteria that may not be in accordance with the traditions of the indigenous people involved. It said this could deprive untitled and ineligible communities from rights they traditionally had.

As a result, the committee urged government to recognise and protect the rights of all indigenous communities to own, develop and control the lands that they traditionally occupy, including water and subsoil resources as well as their traditional access to other areas, which they rely on, for sustenance.

The distinction drawn between titled and untitled communities in the new Act was another area in need of correction, according to the committee. But Minister Rodrigues said this could not be done because "titled communities simply mean that you have title to your community and untitled communities mean that you do not have title to your community."

However, while these are named differently, there are provisions in the Amerindian Act, for untitled communities to become titled. She pointed out that the separation is necessary as Amerindians live all across the country. "If we say it is the same, then it means wherever Amerindians are living, the lands belong to them," she said.

The minister said that during the deliberations at the Select Committee level, there were no criticisms about this aspect of the Bill.

The Act also caters for a village council to administrate village affairs, although they are subject to approval and gazetting by the minister.

However, the committee urged government to recognise and support the establishment of village councils or other appropriate institutions in all indigenous communities, vested with the powers necessary for the self-administration and the control of the use, management and conservation of traditional lands and resources.

However, Rodrigues told GINA that it was felt in some cases the village councils had too much power, in the sections for instance where they are expected to make their own rules and also enforce them.

The description of the indigenous people as "Amerindians" in the new Amerindian Act, a contentious point during the debate on the new legislation, was also another area of concern in the committee's report. It recommended that government, in consultation with all concerned indigenous communities ought to clarify whether "Amerindians" is the preferred term of these areas. Also, it urged that government should consider the criteria laid down in ILO conventions as well as CERD's own advisories in defining indigenous peoples, and that it recognise the specific rights and entitlement accorded to indigenous peoples under international law.

Another item of concern in the report is the extensive exception to the protection of property in Article 142 (2)(b)(i) of the Constitution, which authorises the compulsory taking of property of Amerindians without compensation "for the purpose of its care, protection, management or any right, title or interest held by any person in or over any lands situated in an Amerindian District, Area or Village established under the Amerindian Act for the purpose of effecting the termination or transfer thereof for the benefit of an Amerindian community." The committee recommended that government afford non-discriminatory protection to indigenous property, in particular to the rights of ownership and possession of indigenous communities over the lands, which they traditionally occupy.

It also recommended that the government confine the taking of indigenous property to cases where it is strictly necessary, following consultation with communities concerned, with a view to securing their informed consent and giving adequate compensation where property is compulsorily acquired by the state.

The absence of statistical data on the representation of ethnic minorities, including indigenous women in public offices and government positions was also listed as an item of concern. On this latter point, the committee also urged government to ensure that all ethnic minorities have adequate opportunities to participate in public affairs at all levels, including both parliament and government.

It noted the establishment of the Ethnic Relations Commission (ERC) and acknowledged that it did not require representation of any particular ethnic group. But it said the absence of indigenous representatives on the commission was a concern and it recommended that the ERC be as inclusive as possible and that representatives of indigenous communities be consulted in the decision-making processes that affect their rights directly.

Further, regarding the ERC, the committee noted that only a few complaints about acts of racial discrimination have been brought before it and none before the courts. Government explained that this could be, in part, attributed to the high burden of proof required in judicial proceedings and difficulties securing witnesses. As a result, the committee recommended that the government consider sharing the burden of proof in civil and administrative proceedings once the commission of an act of racial discrimination has been sufficiently substantiated by the complainant. It added that government should allocate funds for witness protection programmes in such cases.

Low secondary school and university attendance by indigenous children and students was another area of deep concern as well as the reports about the lack of qualified teachers, textbooks and classrooms in areas predominantly inhabited by Amerindians. The committee urged that there be equal quality of teaching for indigenous children and adolescents as well as an increase in school and university attendance. It also called for intensified training and incentives for hinterland teachers as well as the construction of schools in these areas. The provision of culturally appropriate textbooks, including in indigenous languages, in schools with indigenous pupils and an increase in the outreach of scholarship programmes were also recommended.

Ethnic balance

The committee also noted the government's special recruitment measures for the armed forces and the police in favour of indigenous people and other applicants from hinterland areas. The committee also deemed the composition of the armed forces and the police in particular, which are predominantly recruited from the Afro-Guyanese population, a concern. It recommended intensified efforts to ensure balanced ethnic representation in the composition of the groups and it suggested the implementation of proposals contained in the Disciplined Forces Commission report as a solution. The commission was charged with, among other things, addressing the imbalance in the forces, and the committee suggested extending special recruitment policies to all under-represented ethnic groups, especially Indo-Guyanese, and by providing incentives for members of under-represented ethnic groups to join the forces.

Although it found much to criticize, the committee's report also included a brief look at positive aspects of the country's efforts.

The committee included its appreciation for the efforts made by the government to extend the public health system to remote hinterland areas through community health centres, health huts, special incentives to doctors deployed to hinterland areas and a system to airlift patients to hospitals in emergency cases.

However, it said too that despite these efforts the average life expectancy among indigenous peoples is low and they are reportedly disproportionately affected by malaria and environmental pollution, in particular mercury and bacterial contamination of rivers as a result of mining activities. The committee recommended the training of health personnel from indigenous communities to increase the number of skilled doctors. In response, the minister said that while the situation is not ideal it has been tremendously improved taking into consideration the remote locations of Amerindian communities. Nevertheless, she said, the government has been making efforts to deploy doctors and medexes to Amerindian communities.

She noted that if there are no doctors or medexes in most villages there are at least community health workers, many indigenous to the communities, and employed by the government.

The committee welcomed information on the high literacy rate of the population as well as efforts by the government to increase the number of secondary schools in the hinterland areas. The minister said it is obvious that Amerindians are now better equipped with educational facilities, resources and opportunities. It was only under this administration that Secondary Schools have been built in all Amerindian-dominated regions - Regions One (Barima/Waini), Seven (Cuyuni/Mazaruni), Eight (Potaro/Siparuni) and Nine (Upper Takutu/Upper Essequibo). Prior to 1992, there was only one secondary school in Region One at Mabaruma and one at Bartica.

The committee commended the government for the ratification of most of the core UN human rights treaties and that the international convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination can be directly applied in the country's courts. At the same time, it noted the lack of information on the practical application of criminal and other legislation aimed at eliminating racial discrimination, including the Racial Discrimination Act (1997), the Prevention of Discrimination Act (1997) and Article 149 of the Constitution. In this regard, the committee urged that government monitors and ensures the effective implementation of all legal provisions aimed at eliminating racial discrimination and provides an update in its next report.

In its general review the committee also said it was concerned about the existing ethnic tensions in Guyana, saying they constitute an impediment to inter-cultural recognition and the construction of an inclusive and politically pluralist society.


Source: http://www.stabroeknews.com/

4/11/2006

Support the Six Nations' Land Reclamation Stop Canada's Genocide!

Support the Six Nations' Land Reclamation Stop Canada's Genocide!

Cross Canada Solidarity With Six Nations

Montreal, Vancouver, Toronto, Saskatoon, Victoria

Montreal Rally & Info Picket
Wednesday April 12th, 2:30pm
@ the Revenue Canada Building
305 Rene Levesques West
corner Rue De Bleury, Metro Place des Arts
Email for Information


Under the direction of the Clan Mothers at the Six Nations Territory, a series of actions are being organized in solidarity with the with the Six Nations clan mothers and in support of their demands for an immediate cessation of all construction by Henco Industries on Six Nations territory and for resolution to the current standoff to be conducted on a nation-to-nation basis. Jamie Jamieson from the Six Nations community states "I hope for a resolution. It would involve having the whole issue of title and jurisdiction resolved, and it would mean for the federal government to take accountability and responsibility for their actions in regard to this land."

The racist colonial legacy of Canada continues to devastate the lands and lives of indigenous peoples and standing in support of the Six Nations community is a tangible way to stop the settler government's interventions in the continued illegal expropriation and exploitation of indigenous lands and territories.

To increase the pressure on April 11-12, the Six Nations Clan mothers are also asking that people contact Michaelle Jean, Governor General of Canada, and Michael Bryant, Attorney General of Ontario to express their support of the demands of the clan mothers and call for resolution to the standoff through political means, rather than policing.

* Michaelle Jean, Governor General:
Phone: (613) 993-8200, Toll Free: 1-800-465-6890
Fax: (613) 998-1664
Email

* Michael Bryant, Ontario Attorney General
Phone: (416) 326-2220 or (416) 326-2210
Toll Free: 1-800-518-790
Fax: (416) 326-4007
Send Email to Attorney General

Background

On March 3rd, 2006, members of Rotinoshon'non:we (Iroquois) people set up camp on the Haldimand Tract, located at the entrance to Douglas Creek Estates, a 71-lot subdivision under construction by Henco Industries Ltd. on Six Nations territory.

This land has at no point been surrendered to Canada, and was formally recognized by the Crown as Six Nations territory as part of the 1784 Haldimand Deed. The Plank Road Tract was subsequently registered as a land claim with the federal government in 1987. The Six Nations band council, in its submissions to Ottawa, claimed the reserve was never properly compensated for land sold to non-natives and land that was taken to build the Hamilton to Port Dover Plank Road. The Six Nations reserve now covers less than 5 per cent of the original tract of six miles each side of the Grand River from the mouth to the source.

Meanwhile, the province of Ontario passed legislation allowing this tract of land to be developed as part of a scheme to draw 4 million settlers into the Golden Horseshoe area.

Henco Industries successfully obtained a court injunction last month to have members of Six Nations who are camped out on the territory forcibly removed by the Ontario Provincial Police (OPP). A revised injunction issued by an Ontario Supreme Court Judge on March 28th states that those who refuse to vacate the property are guilty of criminal and civil contempt, and will be fingerprinted and photographed as part of a probation order.

In delivering his judgment, Provincial Court Judge David Marshall said this to the Clan Mothers: "What's the matter with you people? Why don't you forget all about the past and listen to me?"

On the evacuation deadline date issued by Justice Marshall, there were roughly 300-500 people lined up at the road in support of the Six Nations. The Clan Mothers held an action that had 50 women blocking the construction crews from building. In the face of mounting police presence at Six Nations - including two dozen marked and unmarked police vehicles parked outside a nearby elementary school currently being used as a command post, a number of police cruisers scattered throughout the neighbouring town of Caledonia, and scores of undercover officers around the periphery of the Six Nations reserve - and a mobilization of the state reminiscent of the lead-up to the murder of Dudley George by the OPP at Ipperwash in 1995, the Clan Mothers and Six Nations community have requested solidarity in their struggle to affirm their inherent right to self-determination and sovereignty on the land. "Canada must stop using guns to resolve its legal disputes with the indigenous people," states Jacqueline House.

The clan mothers have put forward the following statement:

The Women, being Title Holders to all lands of Turtle Island, assert our constitutional jurisdiction over the Haldimand Tract. We have never and cannot ever give up our land or our sovereignty.

1. The Six Nations are distinct original nations. We are to be dealt with on a nation-to-nation basis by the Crown and all other nations.

2. The Crown must respect our original relationship as set out in the Two Row Wampum, our jurisdiction as provided in our constitution, the Kaiannereh'ko:wa, and as respected by Sections 109 and 132 of the BNA Act, 1867 and according to international covenants that Canada has signed.

3. We are to be dealt with on a nation-to-nation basis, as was the custom before Canada separated from the British Empire. Respect for the independent international status of the Six Nations by Canada was established before Canada achieved recognition as a state or gained the ability to sign treaties on its own. The independent international identity of the Six Nations identity has never been legally extinguished.

4. The band councils were established with procedures that violated international law. They continue to function as colonizing institutions. We have never consented to their establishment nor their representing us.

5. Canada and all its politicians, bureaucrats, agents, assignees and appointees should cease and desist immediately their attempt to criminalize and apprehend our people for defending what is rightfully ours, the land to which we hold title.

Any further action by Canada, Ontario and their agents shall be viewed as being a direct violation of the Two Row Wampum, the constitutional accord between the Ratino'shon:ni and Canada and international law.

6. The claims of Canada and the province of Ontario to have a right to legislate for the Rotino'shon:ni Six Nations and to grant private title to our land has no foundation in law.

4/10/2006

Grito de Caguana - Next Court Date - April 25 1:30pm

Grito de Caguana - Next Court Date - April 25 1:30pm

Takaji (Buenos Días),
Takaji (It's a Good Day),

Solo una nota corta para recordarle a todos que la próxima fecha de tribunal relacionado a "El Grito de Caguana" es el martes, 25 de abril, a las 1:30 pm.

Just a short note reminding everyone that the next court date related to "El Grito de Caguana" is Tue, April 25, at 1:30 pm.

Usted puede apoyar estos guerreros Taino con su presencia en este tribunal y/o pasando la palabra a todo los Tainos y Guaitios que pueden ser presentes mostrar apoyo para el pueblo Taino en Boriken.

You can support these Taino warriors with your presence at this court hearing and/or by passing on the word to all Tainos and Guaitios (Relations) who can be present to show support for the Taino people in Boriken.

Como siempre, nuestros corazones, pensamientos y oraciones están con todos nuestros Hermanos y Hermanas.

As always, our hearts, thoughts and prayers are with all our Brothers and Sisters.

Bo Matum (Gracias).
Bo Matum (Thank you).

Tio Bo Guatukan (Bendiciones Ancestrales),

Con Amor, Abrazos y Taino ti (Honramos la Luz/lo Bueno en Ti),
Love, Hugs, Peace & Taino ti (We Honor the Light/Good in You),
Joanna Soto Aviles
JSAviles@prtc.net

Mashpee Wampanoag Win First Round of Recognition

by: Gale Courey Toensing / Indian Country Today

MASHPEE, Mass. - The Mashpee Wampanoag Tribe, whose ancestors were the first to greet and protect English colonists almost 400 years ago on the shores of what came to be known as North America, has received preliminary acknowledgement from the BIA as a federally recognized Indian tribe.

The 1,468-member tribe was notified of the preliminary decision March 31 at its tribal council office in Mashpee on Cape Cod. A day before the decision was due, tribal members erected a tent and started a spirit fire. Hundreds gathered at the site on decision day to await the news. Many brought tobacco and sage to burn while they offered prayers. There was a day-long picnic with children playing baseball, soccer and football, Glenn Marshall, chairman of the Mashpee Wampanoag Tribal Council, said.

''When the call came there was such an uproar of jubilation heard from our office and our people, it was not to be believed. For all our people now and for all the people who went before me, my mother, my father, my grandmother and all the people we have lost, it was such a culmination of emotions. It was wonderful,'' Marshall said.

It was Mashpee Wampanoag Indians who met the first 102 colonists from England debarking from the Mayflower on Nov. 9 (Nov. 19 by today's calendar), 1620. It was this Northeastern tribe whose famous ancestors taught the newcomers how to survive in the ''wilderness'' and hosted the settlers at the first Thanksgiving in 1621.

''History, in one respect, now comes full circle,'' said Mashpee Wampanoag Chief Vernon Lopez, whose Indian name is Silent Drum.

''Our ancestors, as a sovereign nation, met the Mayflower, and that meeting led to the birth of this great nation. Today, our government has reaffirmed this status and the faith of that first meeting. But in another respect we are today who we were yesterday: the keepers of an important American story, one that was in danger of dying out but has been given a new birth,'' Lopez said.

The proposed positive finding comes 31 years after the tribe filed its letter of intent to seek federal recognition.

The tribe is likely to build a casino off of Cape Cod, but has no concrete plans in the works at the moment, Marshall said.

''If it's available when we're ready, we'll certainly take a look at it. The rules are rigorous and we can only do what's allowed in the laws by the state, so whatever is allowed at that point is what we'll do,'' Marshall said.

''If there was another way to make the money ... whatever it takes to allow this tribe or any tribe not to be under the gun looking for federal government funds - most tribes and tribal chairmen would do that. Everyone wants to regulate Indian gaming, but not non-Indian gaming. Why is that? That's the question,'' Marshall said.

The Mashpees' backer, Herb Strather, has contributed around $15 million to the tribe's quest for federal acknowledgment over the past five or six years of their association.

''He's a real estate guy from Detroit. He's a black man who is a big-time philanthropist who does a lot with Optimist Clubs and churches. He's a real neat guy,'' Marshall said.

Indigenous people have lived in the area since time immemorial: Archaeologists have found local village sites dating back 5,000 years. The tribe has the dubious honor of having had the first reservation in the New World, Marshall said.

''The tribe has a deed for 55 square miles signed by the king of England in 1679, I think,'' Marshall said.

Only a fraction of the land the tribe once used remains - around 110 acres in three separate parcels. Most of its land was taken through eminent domain and tax takings. But the tribe expects some lands will be restored.

''As for outstanding land claims, my people are very, very leery of going to a land court. My people have decided that sometime we'll get what we deserve to get. We have an air base nearby and we'll be able to do some stuff though negotiations with the federal government. We do have some federal land and I think they'll flip it over to us just to keep us quiet,'' Marshall joked.

The BIA ruled that the tribe met all seven criteria required for federal acknowledgement. A final decision will be issued by March 31, 2007, as required by a court-supervised settlement agreement. The tribe, interested parties and the general public have 180 days to comment on the proposed finding from the time it is published in the Federal Register, followed by a 30-day period in which the tribe can respond to the comments.

''We certainly don't have the struggle that our brothers and sisters down in Connecticut have, where you have legislators and an attorney general that are out of touch as far as Indian rights are concerned. It's certainly a long struggle, I know. I hope they make it. I know they deserve it,'' Marshall said, referring to Connecticut's Eastern Pequot and Schaghticoke tribal nations, whose federal acknowledgement was rescinded last October after a campaign of political pressure was exerted on the Interior Department.

Both the local and state governments helped the tribe in its quest for federal status, Marshall said.

''The legislators unanimously voted on support for our federal recognition and urged the federal delegation to help us get federal recognition. That's tremendous,'' Marshall said.

U.S. Rep. William Delahunt, D-Mass., confirmed the tribe's political support in his congratulations.

''If patience is a virtue, then the Wampanoags are among the most virtuous people on the face of the earth. This preliminary decision finally begins the end of the 30-year march toward federal recognition. It is, at long last, a clear determination on the merits of the Tribe's petition - and a giant step toward resolution and reconciliation,'' Delahunt said.

Marshall had great praise and thanks for all of the previous chairmen, the team of researchers and lawyers, and all of the tribe's supporters, naming the long list in a phone interview with Indian Country Today.

''At the end of the day, as long as it takes, we're still a tribe, no matter what. We didn't need the federal government to tell us we're a tribe,'' Marshall said.

© Indian Country Today April 10, 2006. All Rights Reserved

4/06/2006

Ancient Pyramid Discovered in Mexico

By MARK STEVENSON, Associated Press Writer

MEXICO CITY - Archeologists announced on Wednesday they have discovered a massive 6th-century Indian pyramid beneath a centuries-old Catholic religious site.

Built on a hillside by the mysterious Teotihuacan culture, the pyramid was abandoned almost 1,000 years before Christians began re-enacting the Crucifixion there in the 1800s.

"When they first saw us digging there, the local people just couldn't believe there was a pyramid," said archaeologist Jesus Sanchez. "It was only when the slopes and shapes of the pyramid, the floors with altars were found, that the finally believed us."

Ceramic fragments and the presence of other ceremonial structures on the hill suggested the possibility there was a pyramid or temple somewhere nearby, but the theory wasn't proved until a member of Sanchez's team, Miriam Advincula, started a project to map the site in 2004. Exploratory trenches dug in 2005 and 2006 confirmed the find.

"Both the pre-Hispanic structure and the Holy Week rituals are part of our cultural legacy, so we have to look for a way to protect both cultural values," said Sanchez, who, along with archaeologist Miriam Advincula, has been exploring the site since 2004.

The people of Iztapalapa — now a low-income neighborhood plagued by squatter settlements — began re-enacting the Passion of Christ in 1833, to give thanks for divine protection during a cholera epidemic.

During the ritual, which draws as many as a million spectators every year, a wooden cross is raised just a few yards from the buried remains of the Teotihuacan temple, and a man chosen to portray Christ is tied to the cross.

Archeologists said they will fill in the excavation pits that revealed the pyramid to prevent the structure from being damaged by Good Friday spectators.

Measuring nearly 500 feet on each side, the 60-foot-tall pyramid was carved out on a natural hillside around 500 A.D., the scientists said. It was abandoned about 300 years later when the Teotihuacan culture collapsed.

Mexico abounds with cases in which Spanish conquerors literally built their Catholic faith atop the remains of older religions.

But the case of Iztapalapa hillside, known as the Hill of the Star, appears to be mere geographical coincidence, Sanchez said.

Pre-Hispanic cultures chose the hills that dot the otherwise flat, mountain-ringed Mexico Valley for their ceremonial sites, and postcolonial communities did the same.



Maria Flores, an archaeologist working on the excavation of a pre-Hispanic structure in Mexico City, Mexico, Wednesday, April 5, 2006. Archeologists said they have discovered a massive 6th-century Indian pyramid beneath the site of a centuries-old re-enactment of the crucifixion of Christ. Built on a hillside by the mysterious Teotihuacan culture, the pyramid was abandoned almost 1,000 years before Catholics began re-enacting the Crucifixion there in the 1800s, unaware they were celebrating one of the holiest moments of their faith on a site originally dedicated to gods of earth, wind and rain. (AP Photo/Eduardo Verdugo)

4/02/2006

Closing Statement of the Indigenous People's Caucus read by Damon Corrie at OAS Meeting in Brasilia, Brazil.

Brasilia,
Brazil, March 25th 2006

Helaykwaba,

My name is Damon Gerard Corrie and I am the Hereditary Chief of the Eagle Clan Lokono-Arawaks of Guyana - though I live in exile in Barbados. It is my great honour and priviledge to deliver this closing statement of the Indigenous People's Caucus.

Ambassador Juan Leon, Chair of the Working Group,
Ms. Ana Pena, Councilor of the Permanent Mission of Peru and Vice-Chair of the working group,
Mr. Mercio Periero Gomes, President of FUNAI,
Dr. Isabel Madariaga of the Inter American Commission on Human Rights,
Dr. Luiz Toro of the Legal Advisor's office,
Distinguished representatives of the States,
Respected collaborators and special guests, and sisters and brothers - distinguished representatives of the Indigenous Peoples.

We, the representatives of the nations and organizations of the indigenous peoples of Abya Ayala and members of the Caucus of Indigenous Peoples, extend our respectful remarks upon the closing of the seventh session of the Working Group for the search for consensus of the working group to prepare the draft American Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous peoples.

First, we would like to extend our extreme gratitude to the Brazilian government and our Indigenous brothers and sisters in Brazil and FUNAI and the the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, for hosting this session of the Working Group - and for their warm hospitality. We would also like to extend our gratitude to the Brazilian government for providing members of the Indigenous Caucus with diplomatic visas, which greatly facilitated the ability of many of our members to attend and participate in this event. We hope that Indigenous representatives will be extended similar courtesies by all OAS members for future meetings.

Second, we would like to thank the States for your efforts to engage in meaningful dialogue and for your participation in informal consultations as we proceed in our quest for points of consensus. While we sometimes have different interests and concerns that we would like addresses in the declaration, we want to convey our heartfelt appreciation for your efforts. We are pleased with recent momentum in building consensus, particularly since our last session in Guatemala.

Thirdly, we would like to make a few comments regarding this important and historic process in which we are engaged. We have embarked on a process to turn a new page in the history of relations between Indigenous Peoples and States. In this regard, Indigenous Peoples have a strong interest in establishing a new and respectful relationship with the states of the Americas. Indigenous Peoples have collective human rights, which must be reconciled and accommodated if we are to achieve the goal of creating this new and respectful relationship.

Throughout the vast history of our relations with the states of the Americas, it has been our collective rights that have been primarilly denied and supresses. For Indigenous Peoples, our collective rights ARE human rights. In this regard, any Declaration relating to the human rights of Indigenous Peoples cannot ignore our collective rights.

Fourthly, we would like to re-iterate a point that we have made at previous sessions. As these talks are directed at establishing a new relationship and involve our collective and individual rights, there must be full and effective participation of Indigenous Peoples at each stage in order to reach true consensus. The search for consensus among us requires equity in the process and in results. In this context, we very much appreciate the contributions made to the Voluntary Fund. We would hope that these contributions could be substantially increased and that more countries invest in this process.

Fifthly, to facilitate the consensus building process, all States must consult with the Indigenous Peoples in their countries, seek the advice and counsel of their relevant national secretariats or ministries, and present their commentaries, criticisms and concerns on the text of the draft for the consideration of all.

Mr. Chair, in the name of the Caucus of Indigenous Peoples, we thank you for this opportunity to speak on these matters that will aid us in the difficult but critical task of adopting the Draft Declaration.


At left, Damon Gerard Corrie (Lokono-Arawak) reading
the closing statement of the Indigenous Caucus at the OAS