5/31/2006

Poisonous Tree Frog Could Bring Wealth to Tribe in Brazilian Amazon


Secretions of the kambô, a poisonous tree frog, have medical use.
(Photo: Paulo Prada for The New York Times)

By PAULO PRADA
Published: May 30, 2006

CAMPINAS INDIAN RESERVE, Brazil — Fernando Katukina is chief of an indigenous tribe that lives largely without running water, electricity, or links to the world outside this remote corner of the western Amazon.

But Chief Fernando says he possesses a treasure that could be at the cutting-edge of biotechnology. If a plan initiated by the chief is successful, his tribe's fortunes will be transformed by an asset he and the Brazilian government believe holds great promise for the global pharmaceutical industry - the slime from a poisonous tree frog.

Tribal shamans have used the slime as an ancestral remedy to treat illness, pain, even laziness. The crucial ingredients are compounds with anesthetic, tranquilizing and other medicinal properties. Scientists say the promise lies in isolating peptides from the frog's slime and then reproducing them for medicines to treat hypertension, strokes and other illnesses.

Already, Chief Fernando has the full backing of Brazil's government, which sees the frog slime as a stepping stone to significantly advance its own research and development in pharmaceuticals. In particular, the scientific challenge of the frog, known locally as the kambô, will deepen Brazil's expertise in pharmacogenomics — the combined use of genetics and pharmacology — and it takes advantage of the traditional knowledge of indigenous people.

"Traditional knowledge can help modern medicine and generate significant economic benefits, too," said Bruno Filizola, technical coordinator of the project and a biologist at the environment ministry in Brasília, Brazil's capital.

The indigenous dimension is also crucial because Brazil, like other developing nations, is trying to fight back against what it perceives as biopiracy, the theft of biological resources from the country's native habitats for commercial use. Though the project is still in its early stages, and many starts often prove false, teams of some 20 scientists are seeking initial financing of close to $1 million from more than a dozen local universities, state governments and federal agencies.

There is also a great deal more than naïve hope at stake here. Brazilian scientists have already taught the country's farmers, who today are among the world's top exporters, to manipulate soils and alter crops once unsuited for the country's climate. Now many researchers believe science can turn Brazilian forests into working, productive laboratories.

"Brazil has a large, growing and capable community of scientists keen to develop their own research and products," said Joshua Rosenthal, deputy director of a division for international training and research at the National Institutes of Health in Bethesda, Md.

Moreover, Brazilian researchers have not forgotten the case of the jararaca, the Amazonian viper. The pharmaceutical giant Squibb used the snake's venom to develop captopril, a blood pressure medicine it began selling in 1975. Though available generically since 1996, the medicine at its commercial peak was the largest selling product for the company, now part of New York-based Bristol-Myers Squibb, grossing $1.6 billion in 1991.

"Because of past errors," reads a document from the Brazilian Environment Ministry, "captopril is not Brazilian."

Though home to the world's largest rainforest and one of the most biodiverse ecosystems on the planet, Brazil traditionally has been slow to develop its so-called genetic patrimony — the plants and animals within its territory and the potential they offer for profit. The Ministry document also laments Brazil's historical research lag and the consequent loss of billions in potential revenues from pharmaceuticals, agricultural products, and other commercial goods.

An overview for the effort known as Project Kambô, written by a team of researchers at the Environment Ministry, says, "The national genetic patrimony could be the key to Brazil's transformation in the global political and socio-economic context."

The effort comes as developing countries increasingly promote the idea of developing and commercializing their traditional medicines and local arts. And they are questioning the rights of foreigners to exploit their locally derived products. At a United Nations gathering in the southern Brazilian city of Curitiba last month, delegates from developing nations called for changes to international law that would allow governments to block — or at least share profits from — foreign patents on biological resources found in their territory.

In December, at a World Trade Organization meeting in Hong Kong, India's trade minister told delegates that progress in global trade talks hinged on similar changes.

Private industry is wary. The road from research to finished product is long and costly. Rare is the compound, companies argue, that in unadulterated form would become the next wonder drug or other commercial bonanza.

"Developing nations should take a lead by working to develop their own resources — not blocking the efforts of others to research and invest," said Alan Oxley, a former Australian trade ambassador who is now a consultant in Melbourne and runs a research institute funded in part by the U.S. pharmaceutical industry.

Brazil aims to take a lead through the kambô. The project was launched last year after Marina Silva, Brazil's environment minister, received a letter from Fernando, the Katukina chief, denouncing the growing use of kambô poison by outsiders. Its perceived benefits in recent years fueled a pirate trade in the poison in cities across Brazil.

The poison could be dangerous if administered wrongly, Chief Fernando warned. And its use, the letter added, is nothing less than biopiracy; if economic gain is generated by the remedy, the Katukina tribe should get a cut.


A member of the Katukina tribe in the Brazilian Amazon gave a dose of poisonous tree frog secretion to Paulo Bernarde, a biologist investigating possible medicinal uses of the substance.

Ms. Silva, a native of the tribe's home state of Acre, agreed. She authorized a ministry project to study the kambô, stipulating that any profits derived from the research be shared with the Katukina.

"The know-how is the tribe's," she said in a recent telephone interview. "They must share in any rewards."

Scientists have studied the kambô before. Called the giant monkey frog in English, because it climbs high into the rainforest canopy, the kambô first sparked attention among foreign researchers decades ago. Some of the compounds from the poison, secreted through the frog's skin, have even been patented abroad.

Yet because scientists are still struggling to understand the poison, none of those patents have led to successful products. "These compounds have potent effects on human physiology," said Paul Bishop, a biochemist at ZymoGenetics, a Seattle-based pharmaceutical company, and the author of five patents based on kambô poison. "But we don't fully understand them all or just why they occur in the defenses of this tree frog."

That is where Brazil hopes to excel. While biologists and chemists investigate the kambô, its habitat and the poison's makeup, a team of anthropologists and physicians will study the long-term impact of its use on the Katukina.

One morning in mid-March, two scientists from the Federal University of Acre visited the tribe's reserve, a 125-square mile section of jungle near the Peruvian border. There, amid one of five clusters of wooden cabins, two shamans agreed to administer the kambô remedy, known in Portuguese as the "vacina do sapo," or "frog vaccine."

Reginaldo Machado, a biologist, stood shirtless and sweating next to an older shaman, who touched the red-hot end of a burning twig three times to the scientist's shoulder. The other shaman, another twig in hand, then daubed the sticky, mud-like poison on each of the tiny burns.

Mr. Machado, already in pain from a flare-up of chronic kidney stones, within seconds sprang from the wooden shack, suffering hot flashes, nausea, and stomach aches. Ten minutes later, he returned, expressing surprise.

"I actually do feel stronger," he said. "There's more to this than myth."

Though western dress long ago replaced the grass skirts traditionally worn by tribal people, the frog remedy is one of a handful of customs the Katukina preserve.

After catching the frog in nearby trees, tribe members tie it spread-eagle style between two posts, collecting slime from its back and sides with a piece of wood, where it dries. They then release the frog and later, with water or saliva, re-hydrate the dried poison before applying it.

Despite the term "vaccine," the slime does not vaccinate against any specific germ or illness.

Once the body processes the poison's toxins — hence Mr. Machado's sweats and indigestion — its compounds induce what users say is a prolonged sense of alertness and wellbeing.

Because they believe it heightens their senses, Katukina hunters traditionally use it most: Long rows of burn scars dot their arms, chests and stomachs.
Most Katukina speak only the tribal variant of pano, a native Amazonian language group. Fernando, one of only two tribe members to work outside the reserve, is convinced of the kambô's value, and adamant that the medication, if used by others, can improve a tribal economy that is currently at the level of subsistence.

"The vaccine belongs to us," he said. "Science might help us develop it, but kambô knowledge is Katukina."

5/30/2006

Indigenous villages flooded in Suriname: OCHA Situation Report

This OCHA Situation Report is an analysis of the impact of river flooding in South America due to heavy rains in May 2006. Around 175 Maroon and indigenous villages and numerous smaller settlements located along the riverbanks and on islands are the most severely affected. Approximately 22,000 people have been left homeless and have been displaced to nearby villages on higher grounds. At least 3 deaths due to flooding have been reported by the Suriname Red Cross (SRC). An estimated 60 percent of all home-based poultry livestock was affected. Agricultural plots and fishing facilities have been completely damaged.



Suriname: Floods OCHA Situation Report No. 1
Ref: OCHA/GVA – 2006/0071
OCHA Situation Report No. 1
Suriname - Floods

This situation report is based on information provided by the office of the United Nations (UN) Resident Coordinator in Suriname and reports from the Government of Suriname, the National Coordination Centre for Disaster Control (NCCR), and the International Federation of the Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies.

Request for international assistance

The President of the Republic of Suriname has requested assistance from the UN and the international community.

Situation

1. Torrential rains starting around 1 May 2006 have affected the entire South and parts of the Central Amazonian Lowlands of Suriname. The districts of Sipaliwini and Brokopondo are the hardest hit. The heavy rain caused several major rivers, in particular the Upper-Suriname, Tapanahoni, Lawa and Marowijne rivers, to rapidly rise and submerge large areas. Lelydorp, which is 20km south of the capital Paramaribo, has registered 480mm of rain so far. Approximately 25,000 to 30,000 square km have been inundated. Authorities expect the situation to worsen until the end of the week with heavy rains forecast for the remaining 72 hours. While heavy rainfall is not uncommon during the rainy season, rainfall of this magnitude has rarely been encountered. As a result, disaster preparedness and response mechanisms for such an event are reportedly extremely limited.


2. The National Coordination Centre for Disaster Control (Nationaal Coordinatie Centrum voor Rampenbeheersing, NCCR) has made the following estimate of the affected population to date in the different relevant areas:

a) Area
b) Approximate total population
c) Percentage of displaced population
d) Areas mostly affected
e) Nr. of population severely affected

a) Tapanahoni b) 12,000 c) 60% d) Apomatopo, Lawa e) 7,200

a) Boven Suriname b) 15,000 c) 60% d) n/a e) 525

a) Boven Saramacca b) 1,500 c) 35% d) Poesoegroenoe and surrounding villages e) 525

a) Boven Coppename b) 600 c) information awaiting d) n/a e) n/a

a) Kabalebo b) 1,800 c) 2% d) Wanapan e) 36

a) Coeroeni b) 1,200 c) 40% d) Kwamalasamutu e) 480

a) Sarakreek b) 4,900 c) 100% d) All Areas e) 4,900


3. The following immediate needs have been identified:

• Immediate funds in particular for:
- Food
- Water
- Sanitation
- Emergency housing
- Transport
- Telecommunication facilities

• Skilled personnel in the coordination centre and for maintaining order and security in the affected areas;

• Skilled and knowledgeable expertise for early recovery and rehabilitation planning (including corresponding assessments) and coordination;

• Expertise with crisis management;

• Measurement equipment, satellite imaging and (hydrological) models.

Impact

4. Buildings such as policlinics, schools, shops, storage rooms, powerhouses, workshops, libraries, residential houses, tourist resorts, sawmills, ‘krutu osos’ (community halls) and spiritual places have been damaged. Telecommunication lines have been affected in several areas, i.e.: Pamboko, Jaw Jaw, Isadou, Nieuw Aurora, Pikin Slee, Botopasi, Futunakaba. In Danpaati, Manlobi, Massiakriki, Asidonhopo and Kajana two-way radio communications are blocked. Electricity lines in all flooded areas are affected. It is reported that medical facilities are still operational and they have HF radio contact with the capital.

5. Transport is a major difficulty because of the terrible condition (due to continued rainfall) of the only access road to the affected areas (Brokopondo: Afobaka road; Sipaliwini: road to Atjoni; Marowijne: road to Langatabiki/Bakaaboto). Air transport is very restricted due to unavailability of landing strips, which have been submerged or are rapidly deteriorating due to the frequent landings. The airstrips of Botopasi, Laduani, Kajana, Dritabiki, Kwamala, Apetina, Sipaliwini, Coeroeni, Amatopo, Tepu are not functional. Helicopter transport is expected to be the only possible transport to the interior if weather conditions deteriorate. Water transport is available using boats of local inhabitants, but fuel shortages are likely.

6. Around 175 Maroon and indigenous villages and numerous smaller settlements located along the riverbanks and on islands are the most severely affected. Approximately 22,000 people have been left homeless and have been displaced to nearby villages on higher grounds. At least 3 deaths due to flooding have been reported by the Suriname Red Cross (SRC). An estimated 60 % of all home-based poultry livestock was affected. Agricultural plots and fishing facilities have been completely damaged.

7. There is a risk of an outbreak of a diarrhea epidemic in most affected areas within the next 2 weeks, especially among children, due to flooding of sanitary places and cemeteries and dead livestock in the water. Malaria outbreaks might occur within 4 to 5 weeks.

National response

8. The Government of Suriname has declared the affected areas ‘disaster areas’ and established a Crisis Team composed of five ministers to manage the situation and activated a Crisis Centre managed by the NCCR. The UN has a liaison officer currently operating within the centre. The NCCR is in continuous coordination with the National Army and the Police Corps of Suriname and has included NGO Interior Network(1) representatives in its crisis centre. There are coordination meetings twice a day (morning and afternoon) between the NCCR and the Crisis Team.

9. The military is working to relocate those affected to higher ground and is also participating in a joint government/SRC/military rapid needs assessment of the current situation, the details of which will be provided to the UN shortly. It is also believed that a small stock of relief items is being distributed by the military.

10. A scenario analysis has been done and the ‘medium intensity’ scenario has been adopted (the scenarios ranged from a ‘best case scenario’ in which the rains would stop and the water level rapidly subside to a ‘worst case scenario’ with continued heavy rainfall causing increasingly more villages to be flooded, with casualties). In this scenario, rains will continue and the water will subside only gradually over a period of approximately one week, after which recovery measures can be undertaken. In case the crisis situation persists for more than 8 days, more permanent measures will have to be put in place for displaced persons.

11. It is expected that a surface area of 100 x 80 metres will have to be cleared for one camp for 500 displaced persons. At least five cleared areas will be necessary if all persons identified for evacuation are to be housed.

12. The SRC has participated in a joint Government/military assessment and has offered its services to the NCCR, with which they are in daily contact. Six trained members of the SRC’s Regional Intervention Teams (RIT) with expertise in water and sanitation, logistics, IT and telecommunications, and disaster response, are on stand-by. The SRC has stocks of relief items that will be made available. So far the SRC has not requested assistance but has stated that they may request 'supervisory' support if their RIT volunteers are deployed.

13. A UN Disaster Management Team (DMT) has been set up, consisting of the locally represented UN agencies (UNDP, UNICEF, UNFPA, PAHO/WHO). It has made a request for support to the UNDP Bureau for Crisis Prevention and Recovery (BCPR) and to OCHA. The DMT has initiated daily coordination meetings on 8 May among the major potential donors and development partners, namely the European Union, the Embassy of the Netherlands in Suriname, the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB), the Embassy of France, the Organization of American States (OAS) and UN agencies. One representative of the DMT has been integrated in the Crisis Centre headed by the NCCR.

International Response

14. The Government will declare the SRC as focal point agency to receive incoming international assistance.

15. At the request of the UN Resident Coordinator, OCHA will allocate an OCHA Emergency Grant of USD 30,000 for immediate humanitarian relief activities and is mobilizing a six-member UNDAC team, which is expected to arrive in Suriname on 11 May in the evening.

16. UNDP has mobilized USD 50,000 to respond to the emergency.

17. The Government of the Netherlands has decided to make a 1 million Euro contribution to the response to the floods, to be managed by the UN in country.

18. The European Union has indicated that an ECHO team will be deployed.

19. OCHA remains in close contact with the office of the United Nations Resident Coordinator and will continue reporting as further information is made available.

20. This situation report, together with the information on contributions and other ongoing emergencies, is also available on the OCHA Internet Website at
http://www.reliefweb.int

New Book on Taino Culture

Mitología y Religión de los Taínos (ISBN 0-9746236-4-4, 100 + xiv p., ilustrado) con presentación del Dr. José Juan Arrom. $20.00 con gastos de envio a USA. El libro comienza a circular en Puerto Rico.

Mythology and Religion of the Taínos (ISBN 0-9746236-4-4, 100 + xiv p., illustrated) with a presentation of Dr Jose Juan Arrom. $20.00 not including shipping & handling to the USA. The book began circulation in Puerto Rico.

For information contact/Para mas información:

Sebastián Robiou-Lamarche,
Editorial Punto y Coma,
P.O. 19802,
San Juan,
Puerto Rico,
00910.

5/25/2006

INDIGENOUS PEOPLE: DIVERSITY & UNITY

WORLD VIEW: UNITED NATIONS
Indigenous people: Diversity & Unity
You might never know it, but there are more than 370 million indigenous people in the world. COLLEEN LONG attends a U.N. forum on their struggles.

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

Dmitry Berezhkov comes because he wants to show off the traditional dances of his people. Marcella Jaramillo comes to represent the tiny part of Argentina where her family has lived for generations.

But above all, both come to the Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues to help the world understand who they are.

There are more than 370 million indigenous people spread across 70 countries. But you'd never know it: Most live in poor, rural areas, they're often uneducated, and they're rarely represented in government.

For younger members of these indigenous groups, it can be especially difficult to maintain their cultures. There's no incentive to follow tradition when there is no respect for the culture, and when assimilation guarantees a better economic status.

Roberto Mucaro Borrero, a member of the Taino tribe in the Caribbean, said he started going to the U.N. because elders asked him to. "They knew that they couldn't keep going themselves, so they had to reach out to other people to get involved," he said.

In Argentina, there are more than 20 indigenous groups but only seven dialects are maintained. The same is true in the Philippines, said Jennifer Corpuz, who comes from the Igorot people.

"Members of my family can't speak the language," she said. "It feels like it's dying away. Fewer and fewer are learning about the history."

Representatives from groups around the world met for the two-week U.N. conference because they share similar struggles: striving for recognition of their identities, their ways of life and their right to traditional lands and natural resources. For younger delegates, the conference is a way to show their ways can be preserved.

asap takes a look at four people from four cultures who came together for the conference.

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

Roberto Mucaro Borrero

Age: 40
Job: Educational program director at the Museum of Natural History; also works with the U.N. on issues related to the plight of indigenous people.

Background: Taino, a subgroup of the Arawakan Indians, native to the Caribbean islands. Borrero, a native of Puerto Rico who now lives in New York, says the Taino were the first Caribbean natives to meet Christopher Columbus.

Hoping to educate: He hopes by speaking at the U.N. he can help educate others about the Taino people, and also help get proper education to the Taino people. "There's a lot of misrepresentation of our culture, especially in the schoolbooks," he said. "We are perceived as docile, which is why the Spanish were able to conquer the land. There are some stories that we were cannibals."

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

Dmitry Berezhkov

Age: 26
Job: President of the Kamchatka Association of Indigenous Peoples of the North.

Background:: Berezhkov lives in Kamchatka, a Russian peninsula about the size of Japan, off the Bering Sea west of Alaska. He comes from the Itlemens, a group of people with 15,000 years of history. His family lives in Petropavlovsk, the regional capital.

On fishing: Berezhkov's community revolves around fishing, and he came to the conference to learn more about the system to protect river rights in the area. Currently, he says, quotas are such that residents only fish to feed their families. As a result, many are poor. "All the communities live off fishing," he said. "We need to be able to make a living doing what it is in our nature to do. Otherwise, we'll sink deeper and deeper into poverty."

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

Marcela Jaramillo

Age: 26
Job: Lawyer, member of the Counsel of Indigenous Women.

Background:: Jaramillo lives in Buenos Aires, but her family is from JuJuy, in the northwest of the country, and is Kolla, one of largest indigenous groups left in the country.

On racism: She says Buenos Aires is a city that is very "white," and where she experiences racism frequently. "They won't open doors for us, they won't treat us like we are people because our skin is darker," she said. "Indigenous groups are invisible right now. We must be seen as people, as people with rights, or this will always continue."

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

Jennifer Corpuz

Age: 29
Job: Corpuz works for the Tebtebba foundation, an international center for policy research and education for indigenous peoples.

Background: She is from the Kankana-Ey tribe of the Igorot people, native to Cordillera region of the Philippine island of Luzon. She and her family live in Balgio, but she returns to her native area for planting season.

On the economy: Corpuz says part of the reason the economy is struggling in indigenous areas is because adolescents go away to school and can't return to work because there are no jobs. "We have to figure out a system where we help people who want to come back, to settle in and to help the economy grow," she said. "Otherwise there will be nothing left, no one will carry on the traditions."

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Colleen Long is an asap reporter in New York.

©2006 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.
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Oringinal story: http://asap.ap.org/stories/609569.s

2nd UN Intervention by INDIGENOUS PEOPLES CAUCUS OF THE GREATER CARIBBEAN

Intervention by the INDIGENOUS PEOPLES CAUCUS OF THE GREATER CARIBBEAN: Caney Quinto Mundo, Puerto Rico; Guyana Organization of Indigenous Peoples, Guyana; Hoboshirima Arawak Community, Venezuela; United Confederation of Taino People

FIFTH SESSION OF THE UN PERMANENT FORUM ON INDGENOUS ISSUES
25 May 2006

Madam Chair, Distinguished Delegates and Indigenous Representative of the World's Indigenous Peoples, we welcome this opportunity to address Agenda Item 4 (g) the Second International Decade, specifically with respect to the implementation of the Plan of Action, the Indigenous Peoples Caucus of the Greater Caribbean* recommends that the Permanent Forum:

1) Under item 15, urge UNESCO to promote and support the recovery of the indigenous heritage, oral tradition and ancient writings of the Indigenous Peoples of the Greater Caribbean region including Puerto Rico, with a view to recognizing them as heritage of humanity under the framework of the Convention Concerning the Protection of the World Cultural and Natural Heritage and the Convention for the Safeguarding of the Intangible Cultural Heritage;

2) In accordance with paragraphs 23 & 16, urge UNESCO to hold a special regional meeting with member organizations and communities of the Indigenous Peoples Caucus of the Greater Caribbean and the Caribbean Organization of Indigenous Peoples to facilitate their full and effective participation in its work relating to indigenous Peoples; specifically its programs on endangered languages, education, literacy, nomination of indigenous sites; in the World
Heritage List and other relevant programs;

3) Where ancestral languages of the Greater Caribbean have been replaced by the dominant language or not being used as a result of the actions of governments, assimilation and acculturation policies, the Permanent Forum should urge states, UNESCO and other relevant UN Bodies, to provide the resources, technical, or other assistance necessary to develop in conjunction with them, language, education and cultural exchange programs to restore and revitalize, and strengthen their languages, cultures, traditions and spiritual practices.

4) Under Item 18, urge the Greater Caribbean States, including Puerto Rico, in conjunction with Indigenous Peoples to review all education materials with a view to eliminate any discriminatory and derogatory content and erroneous historical accounts that makes them invisible, subject to ridicule, or in any way misrepresents them and to develop policies and focused programs to reverse these perceptions of indigenous cultures, which are often stereotyped, folklorized and biased.

5) Under item 47, urge that the Indigenous Peoples of the Greater Caribbean region including Puerto Rico be included in programs of education on the human rights of Indigenous Peoples, and the current Indigenous Fellowship Program of the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights

6) Under item 56, urge the Governments of the Greater Caribbean including Puerto Rico in conjunction with Indigenous Peoples to further develop national legislation for the protection and promotion of human rights, including means of monitoring and guaranteeing those rights and urge that where it is not already the case, like in the case of Puerto Rico, national constitutions recognize the existence of indigenous peoples, and make explicit reference to them, where relevant.

7) To urge the Rio Group to develop policy guidelines in collaboration with the member organizations and communities of the Indigenous Peoples Caucus of the Greater Caribbean and the Caribbean Organization of Indigenous Peoples, and to work closely with the respective governments to use said guidelines in the implementation of their respective regional agreements and to assist in strengthening fair trade and other areas of cooperation among Indigenous Peoples of the region.

8) To invite the Rio Group and the Bolivarian Alternative for the Americas to establish and contribute to a special regional fund for Indigenous Peoples Organizations of the Greater Caribbean to attend the Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues for the Second Decade.

9) To invite CARICOM, the Rio Group, and the Association of Caribbean States to establish a Fund to assist in the implementation of paragraph (95) of the Programme of Action A/60/270.

10) To recommend to the Governments of the Greater Caribbean especially in Guyana to consider paragraph (19) when implementing tourism initiatives.

11) To recommend to UNESCO in considering the women of the Machusi Language Project in the North Rupununi in Guyana, to attend universities to enhance their teaching skills of the different
indigenous languages in paragraphs (27) and (30) of the Programme of Action.

12) To urge Greater Caribbean governments including Puerto Rico to implement paragraph (31) of the Programme of Action in expanding their state budgetary allocations in order to increase the number of scholarships to indigenous persons.

13) To urge Greater Caribbean governments, CARICOM, Association of Caribbean States and the Rio Group to implement paragraph (39) of the Programme of Action as it relates to the indigenous Communities and the peoples.

14) To urge the Greater Caribbean governments to implement paragraphs 41 (a,b,c)

15) To request the Guyana Government to put in place the Indigenous Peoples Commission and the Toshau Council to implement paragraph (53).

16) To invite the Rio Group, CARICOM and the Association of Caribbean States to work in close collaboration with the Government of Guyana and Indigenous Peoples Organisations to effectively implement paragraph 59 (a,b, c) and paragraph 61.

Bo'Matum (Thank you) for your attention

*The Greater Caribbean is defined here as an area of cooperation in recognition of common ancestral heritages and common geographic spaces shared by the Indigenous Peoples of the region.

Special Note: This intervention was read to the Assembly by Millie Gandia, UCTP Representative

5/23/2006

UN FORUM SPEAKERS URGE RAPID ADOPTION OF LONG-NEGOTIATED DRAFT DECLARATION


Economic and Social Council
HR/4894
-----------------------------------------------------------------------------
Department of Public Information • News and Media Division • New York

Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues
Fifth Session, 9th & 10th Meetings (AM & PM)

Representatives of indigenous and tribal communities today urged the United Nations panel charged with drawing attention to their plight to press Member States to rapidly adopt a long-negotiated draft declaration on the rights of indigenous peoples, as the surest way to promote the human rights of 370 million people worldwide and to protect the fragile traditional lands and resources on which they depended for survival.

Gathered in New York for the fifth annual session of the United Nations Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues -- which runs through Friday -- indigenous representatives today praised the draft as the most comprehensive statement of their individual and collective fundamental rights, which were uniquely tied to the lands on which many of their communities lived.

Cut off from resources and traditions vital to their welfare and survival, and with the disruption of their traditional ways of life by waste dumping, strip mining, overfishing, and rapid urbanization, speakers said the draft reinforced the rights of indigenous peoples to the protection of their cultural property and identity, as well as the rights to education, employment, health, religion, language and more. It also protected the right of indigenous peoples to own land collectively.

Opening the discussion today, Rodolfo Stevenhagen, Special Rapporteur on the Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms of Indigenous Peoples, echoed the sentiment of many speakers when he told the Permanent Forum that the “health of the world was being severely challenged”, from the Arctic Circle to the Amazon jungle, because of the unsustainable use of natural resources and the destruction of woodland and aquatic habitats. The obvious impact was being felt by the indigenous people living in, and dependent on, those resources, especially medicinal plants and flora, which were being devastated by air and water pollution.

The “implementation gap” was one of the main obstacles standing in the way of human rights by indigenous groups, he said, noting that, on the one hand, some legislation was not always consistent with other laws, which tended to be enforced with a greater priority. On the other, there was a delay in the adoption of regulatory and secondary legislation, coupled with a lack of consultation with indigenous communities and deep-seated bias against indigenous rights among many politicians and legislatures.

Recalling several recent country visits, he said that from South Africa to Ecuador and Guatemala, there were still “great challenges” hindering the creation of a fair and equitable society that recognized and protected the human rights of indigenous people. With that in mind, he urged Governments to assign a high priority to the search for concrete actions and measures to close the gap and lead to effective implementation. And while adoption of the draft declaration was critical in that regard, at the same time mechanisms must be instituted for participation and consultation on all measures on a general scope, with special attention for legislation on natural resources and the development process, he added.

The Deputy Grand Council of the Cree Nation was among the speakers stressing that ongoing denial of indigenous peoples’ collective and individual rights was a root cause of debilitating poverty and injustice. Past and ongoing dispossession of lands and resources continued to gravely impact on indigenous communities, including far-reaching effects on development, peace and security, as well as the integrity of traditional territories, he added.

Adopting the declaration would, therefore, be a major step towards eliminating widespread human rights violations suffered by over 370 million indigenous people worldwide, he said, noting that the text called for the need to promote harmonious relations and mutual respect between indigenous peoples and States. And while some States had expressed reservations about the text -- many of which had been or were currently the subjects of “early warning and urgent action measures by the Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination -- the United Nations must not bend to “discriminatory voices” by delaying action.

Along with matters concerning the draft declaration, a number of speakers addressed the impact on indigenous people of United Nations reform gathering momentum after the 2005 World Summit. A representative of the Global Indigenous Caucus said indigenous groups were closely watching the exercise and were acutely aware of the process and structure of the newly created Human Rights Council. The world’s tribal and indigenous communities continued to depend on the United Nations and its main bodies to draw attention to and support their struggles, defend their rights and provide avenues of redress for violations.

To that end, she called on the Permanent Forum to ensure that indigenous peoples’ human rights remained a distinct, ongoing item on the Human Rights Council’s agenda and that indigenous peoples could participate actively and fully in the work of the new Council when matters concerning their rights were being discussed. She also recommended that the Human Rights Council include as one of its permanent agenda the human rights impacts of militarism, armed conflict, forced migration and forced displacement of all peoples.

Shortly thereafter, Julian Burger, a representative of the Geneva-based Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, said that many indigenous delegations had spoken to him or written the Office expressing concern and confusion about the abolishment of the Commission on Human Rights and creation of the Council. They had also expressed concern over the status of the relevant special rapporteurs, the draft declaration and the Working Group on Indigenous Peoples.

He reminded the Forum that the Assembly resolution that created the Council had stressed that the new body “would assume the responsibilities” for all the Commission’s mandates and functions as of its first session, set for 19 June, with a review of such mandates and functions set for next year. While he could not give a specific date by which the Working Group would begin its next session, he said that the Council would guarantee a space for all indigenous peoples. He urged the representatives of indigenous groups not to look at the new Council as a threat to their peoples, but as an opportunity for the United Nations to enhance the promotion and protection of their rights.

The Forum also took up matters related to indigenous children, youth and women, as well as data collection, and “free, prior and informed consent’” with speakers highlighting, among other things, the strong need to scale up investments in youth, and to ensure that they were partners in achieving the Millennium Development Goals. There was also a call to pay special attention to various disadvantaged groups towards improving the level of basic education, skill training and literacy among their youth.

The Forum will reconvene at 3 p.m. Tuesday, 23 May, to continue its interactive discussions.

Statement by Special Rapporteur on Indigenous People’s Human Rights

Opening discussions today, RODOLFO STAVENHAGEN, Special Rapporteur on the Situation of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms of Indigenous People, said the implementation gap was one of the main obstacles standing in the way of human rights for indigenous groups. In that context, there were two broad problematic areas. On the one hand, many cases in legislation were not consistent with other laws that tended to be enforced with a greater priority. On the other hand, there was a delay in the adoption of regulatory and secondary legislation. There was a lack of consultation with indigenous peoples and bias against indigenous rights that still existed among many participants in political life, and there was a lack of mechanisms to follow up indigenous legislation to ensure practical enforcement.

There was also a lack of adequate consultation and participation mechanisms for indigenous peoples that would allow them to take into account needs and points of view in relevant legislation in the decision-making process. That frequently engendered frustration among parties and could lead to failure of the consultation process, in general. Evidence also existed that various courts had blocked the reforms. That was why it was vital that the Government assign a high priority to the quest for concrete actions and measures to close the gap and lead to effective implementation. Mechanisms must be instituted for participation and consultation on all measures of a general scope, with special attention for legislation concerning natural resources and the development process.

From South Africa to Ecuador to Guatemala, there were still great challenges standing in the way of achieving a fair and equitable society. There was a growing awareness of the need to see to the human rights of the indigenous populations and important spaces had been opened to provide for the needs to indigenous peoples. The violation of the human rights of the indigenous peoples took place within the framework of the exploitation of natural resources. From the artic circle to the Amazon, the health of the world was being severely challenged, because of the lack of control, and the most obvious impact was being suffered in indigenous communities -- serious diseases, polluted waters and endless impacts that endanger their traditional ways of life. In such a situation, the international community must act urgently in a global manner.

Interactive Discussion on Indigenous People’s Human Rights

Among the Governments that took the floor during the first interactive panel, Mexico’s representative backed the current compromise draft declaration on the rights of indigenous peoples, calling it “balanced and well-drafted” and perhaps capable of generating consensus. It was not possible for the negotiations to go any farther or to remain inactive. After 25 years of negotiation and the serious momentum gained over the past decade or so, the text must be now forwarded to the new Human Rights Council and then on to the General Assembly for adoption. Mexico would, however, stress that the declaration would not establish or create new rights -- or interfere with the rights of third parties -- and would comprehensively protect the human rights of indigenous peoples.

The representative of the Global Indigenous Caucus said that indigenous groups from around the world were closely watching the broad efforts to reform the United Nations and were acutely aware of the process and structure of the newly created Human Rights Council. The world’s tribal and indigenous communities continued to depend on the United Nations and its main bodies to draw attention to and support their struggles, defend their rights, and provide avenues of redress for violations.

To that end, she called on the Permanent Forum to ensure that indigenous peoples’ human rights remained a distinct, ongoing item on the Human Rights Council’s agenda, that Organization-wide reform maintained the key roles of independent experts in developing and monitoring human right standards, and, among other things, ensure that the full and active participation of indigenous peoples in the work of the new Council when matters concerning their rights were being discussed. She also recommended that the Human Rights Council include, as one of its permanent agenda items, the human rights impacts of militarism, armed conflict, forced migration and forced displacement of all peoples.

Shortly thereafter, JULIAN BURGER, a representative of the Geneva-based Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, said that many indigenous delegations had spoken to him or written the Office expressing concern and confusion about the abolishment of the Commission and creation of the new Council. They had also expressed concern over the status of the relevant special rapporteurs, the draft declaration and the Working Group on Indigenous Peoples.

He stressed that the Assembly resolution that had created the Council had stressed that the new body “would assume the responsibilities” for all the Commission’s mandate and functions as of its first session, set for 19 June, with a review of such mandates and functions set for next year. He said that his Office would have the opportunity to meet with the Council and would stress the need for the new body to take up matters related to the draft declaration and the ongoing work of the Working Group.

While he could not give a specific date by which the Working Group would begin its next session, he said that the Office looked at the Council as an opportunity to guarantee a space for all indigenous peoples, and he urged the representatives of indigenous groups to look at the Council not as a threat to their peoples, but as chance a for the United Nations to enhance the promotion and protection of their rights.

The Deputy Grand Council of the Cree Nation said that rampant denial of indigenous peoples’ collective and individual rights was a root cause of debilitating poverty and injustice. Past and ongoing dispossession of lands and resources continued to gravely impact on indigenous communities, including far-reaching effects on development, peace and security, as well as the integrity of traditional territories. Indigenous women and children particularly suffered the ill-effects of such activities, as their education and access to health care and medical treatment were consistently being undermined.

He stressed that, if adopted, the declaration would be a major step towards eliminating widespread human rights violations suffered by over 370 million indigenous people worldwide. A key aspect of the text was the need to promote harmonious relations and mutual respect between indigenous peoples and States. He said that even though some States had expressed reservations about the text -- many of which had been or were currently the subjects of “early warning and urgent action” measures by the Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination -- the United Nations must not bend to “discriminatory voices” by delaying its adoption. All efforts should be made not to erode or water down the draft, particularly since the Action Plan of the Second International Decade of the World’s Indigenous Peoples stipulated that the declaration “shall not fall below existing international standards”.

A representative for the United Nations Voluntary Fund for Indigenous Populations of the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights said, during the recent years, the Fund had provided financial assistance to many representatives to allow them to participate in forums where decisions were made that affected them. The value of the knowledge of the relations established had proven to be useful for beneficiaries and participants. In the most recent meeting, 203 applications for financial aid were received, examined by five independent experts, and they agreed on 46 subsidies. The Fund had only been able to cover 25 per cent of requests received.

She said they had some 50 beneficiaries for the coming meeting who were awaiting a decision to facilitate their participation. She also recommended enhancing the mandate of the Voluntary Fund to facilitate the contributions of indigenous peoples in other forums.

The speaker from the National Indians Caucasus of Venezuela said inter-culturality is a reality on the planet. Speaking of human rights meant the rights of indigenous peoples. It meant they were interrelated. They affected the actions of peoples as a whole. There was one right that comprised almost all rights, which was the right to one’s land, because it determined the right to life, citizenship, environment, culture, economic and political rights. All other rights were birth rights and could not be negotiated. He had seen Governments that did not acknowledge its fellow man. Ancestral lands were our medicine and our food, and that was why acknowledgement of our territory was an essential human right. It would guarantee a decrease in poverty.

He demanded processes to recognize borders, to carry out inventory of environmental liabilities, to launch recovery processes. Next, development plans must be reviewed. That was why, as part of the revolutionary process in Venezuela, the indigenous peoples had advanced in active political participation. Another basic right was acknowledgment of full citizenship. That had been achieved in Venezuela. He called on the Forum to urge Governments to create an awareness of the rights of indigenous peoples. Also, the Forum must approve the declaration on the rights of indigenous peoples.

The speaker for the Indigenous Peoples of the Greater Caribbean recommended that there be a permanent forum on indigenous issues for several reasons. First, to strengthen cooperation, coordination and capacity-building among indigenous peoples to the greater Caribbean. Second, to facilitate a regional special consultative session to focus on the situation of Caribbean indigenous peoples. Third, to ensure the regional meeting and special consultative session is open to representatives of indigenous organizations from throughout the greater Caribbean region. And finally, to pay particular attention to ensuring access to include equal funding to representatives from the Island of Borike (the Free Associated State of Puerto Rico) to ensure their participation at the regional and special consultative session.

The speaker for the Assembly of First Nations said she was pleased to address the third Goal of the United Nations Millennium Development Goals, because without progress towards gender equality none of the Goals would be achieved. Gender equality was implied through a range of international instruments. Gender equality was a recognized element of the United Nations draft declaration on the rights of indigenous peoples, including the protection of indigenous women’s and children’s well-being and security.

She said, historically, both women and men were valued for different roles and skills. Colonial and paternalistic policies over time altered that balance. Another concern was jurisdictional barriers that prevented indigenous women from having equal opportunities. Governments, scientists and environmentalists were beginning to value the indigenous peoples’ worldview and knowledge. At today’s critical juncture, the world must also embrace the opportunity to work together with indigenous peoples.

Forum member HASSAN ID BALKASSM, of Morocco, said the right of the people to participate in economic life, as well as economic decisions, was extremely important and needed to be protected. To monopolize resources was a denial of the rights of indigenous peoples. The right of indigenous peoples to participate in the establishment of values was also one of the rights that needed to be respected. Current policies that prevented the participation of indigenous peoples needed to be set aside. It was important to preserve and strengthen the role of the Special Rapporteur. It was also important to adopt the declaration as soon as possible. It was needed to guarantee the rights of indigenous peoples in the new Council.

WILTON LITTLECHILD, of Canada, said he wanted to refer to reports from the High Commissioner on Human Rights and to make a recommendation. Special attention should be given to the draft of the United Nations declaration on indigenous peoples, expert implementation of the Special Rapporteur’s recommendation, and consideration of a new mechanism within the Human Rights Council.

LILIANE MUZANGI MBELLA, of the Congo, said the indigenous peoples could not envisage attaining the millennium objectives if their fundamental rights and freedoms were not respected. There should be a strong connection between the Special Rappoteur, the Human Rights Council and indigenous peoples.

PARSHURAM TAMANG, of Nepal, said the concern was to implement the reports and recommendations by the Special Rapporteur. There were many cases of human rights abuses presented. It was frustrating to hear of the many indigenous peoples who were facing serious human rights violations, and he cited the case in his own country. In the last 11 years of armed conflict, more than 13,000 had been killed, and 33 per cent were indigenous peoples. In the same years, 36,000 were abducted, more than 50,000 were displaced, and more than 100,000 disappeared. It was evidently clear that indigenous peoples faced human rights abuses and violence.

NINA PACARI VEGA,of Ecuador, said representatives should not forget to link human rights to the search for development. Adopting economic resources was crucial, so there was not a continuation of the violation of rights of indigenous peoples. One of the recommendations should appeal to implementing and having access to economic resources, so real development for indigenous peoples could be promoted. In view of the experience already gained in terms of experts, there should be a permanent ongoing commission with greater strength to have a permanent impact. How could recommendations be made binding? Reform under way in the United Nations was an opportunity to make the new Council more dynamic, and to have an additional mandate so that it could have true impact.

Responding to the concerns raised by the Forum and participants, the Special Rapporteur, Mr. STAVENHAGEN, said he was grateful for the comments made by some of the State’s present and members of the Permanent Forum. He referred to three issues he considered fundamental. First, the concern expressed vis-à-vis the question of follow-up, as well as implementation and application of the recommendations he had made in the course of the last four years. The problem of implementation of the recommendations was a very serious one.

The Office of the United NationsHigh Commissioner for Human Rights had launched a project to study how one could promote and assess the follow-up and implementation of recommendations, he continued. It involved conceptual, methodological, logistical, as well as practical and organization, aspects, which involved different actors of the world community, different governmental levels, and judicial power through the various public ministries and tribunals at all levels. But, that was only one aspect. Another aspect was the participation of indigenous peoples, organizations, civil societies and communities. The third aspect was that of United Nations’ participation. Of course, there was also the question of international and bilateral cooperation of many countries, through non-governmental organizations, and so on, to help the neediest countries implement activities to promote human rights of indigenous peoples.

Frequently, he was asked what he was going to do to implement recommendations. He responded that he was not a policeman or judge, but a rapporteur of the Human Rights Commission. It was a job for everyone who took human rights seriously. He was pleased the Permanent Forum was adopting it as its own concern. He also hoped there would be an opportunity of linking forums, together with the new Human Rights Council, which was about to meet for the first time.

The second question, regarding the visits to countries, was a fundamental aspect of the work of the rapporteurship, he said. It was the pillar of the work of the rapporteur. The visits themselves had been very successful. Unfortunately, the resources of the United Nations, and in particular the human rights apparatus, were limited. It was not possible for him to attend to all the visits. There was so much documented information. A methodology needed to be determined to systemize the information before it became part of a report.

Discussion on Indigenous Children, Youth and Women, Data Collection, and Free, Prior and Informed Consent

The representative of Australia, speaking also on behalf of New Zealand and the United States, noted the recent efforts of the Permanent Forum to attempt to define and promote a principle of “right” of free, prior, informed consent in relation to indigenous peoples. The three countries considered that discussions about any such principle of “right” were far from complete. The international workshop on free, prior, informed consent sponsored by the Permanent Forum in 2005 highlighted that there were widely different views about the content and application of any such principle among States and indigenous peoples. It was, therefore, premature to refer to the conclusions of the workshop as reflecting “a common understanding of free, prior, informed consent”.

The consent process may include the option of withholding consent, rather than “must”. Some aspects of the recommendation were also vague in meaning or would be impossible to achieve in most situations. It was the firm position of Australia, New Zealand and the United States that there could be no absolute right of free, prior or informed consent that was applicable uniquely to indigenous peoples and that would apply regardless of circumstance. In fact, to extend such an overriding right would be potentially discriminatory.

It was an entirely different matter to assert, in the context of developing the draft declaration on the rights of indigenous peoples, that particular sub-groups of citizens had a right of veto over the actions of Governments and legislatures. That was not a position that a Government, democratically chosen to represent the interests of all its citizens, could accept. Australia, New Zealand and the United States supported efforts to increase indigenous peoples’ participation in decisions that affected them. But, neither indigenous nor non-indigenous peoples enjoyed an overarching for exclusive right of free, prior informed consent, regardless of circumstance.

On talk in the corridors that the three delegations did not want to see a declaration on the human rights of indigenous people adopted, Australia’s representative said that nothing could be further from the truth. Anyone who had been in on the negotiations for the past few years had witnessed the desire of the three States to work towards the elaboration of a document that was agreeable and capable of implementation.

The current draft text had retained certain fundamental problems from previous attempts, as Australia, New Zealand and the United States had highlighted last week. The text also lacked broad support, and the delegation believed it was premature for the Human Rights Council to vote on it at this time. Further consultations -- a period of reflection -- would allow stakeholders to come up with a shared, genuine consensus on a text that was capable of being implemented.

After all, indigenous peoples deserved more than “empty rhetoric” provided by a declaration that could not be implemented. The declaration should enjoy the political and moral force that came with being achievable, and, in particular, receiving broad support. The present document could perhaps be adopted, but only in a recorded vote, accompanied by a host of statements by States distancing themselves from it. That would inflict upon indigenous people a text that would create an implementation gap of unprecedented dimensions. Or, following further consultations, it could become a declaration that would have real moral authority, brought by consensus.

Forum member MICHAEL DODSON, of Australia, responding to what he believed were the only three States calling for delay in the adoption of the draft declaration, said that he would be more than happy to support a “period of reflection” for ongoing consultations on the text, if he believed that there was an overwhelming feeling that such time needed to be allotted. “But I just don’t see that”, he said, adding that the general feeling among the participants in the Forum and beyond was that it was time to move ahead to action.

The speaker from the Pacific Caucus presented specific findings and recommendations relating to the issues concerning indigenous children and women. The first recommendation was that Hawaii should be re-inscribed onto the United Nations list of Non-Self-Governing Territories. Second, that the Permanent Forum call for the immediate adoption of the Draft Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples. Third, due to the extreme poverty suffered by the indigenous women of the Pacific, that the Permanent Forum request annual reports on the status of Pacific indigenous women from all relevant United Nations agencies.

She also recommended the strong need to scale up investments in youth, and that they should be seen as partners in achieving the Millennium Development Goals. A recommendation was also made that Governments at all levels were encouraged to develop and implement integrated youth policies, making linkages between the different priority areas for youth development. There was also a continued need to pay special attention to various disadvantaged groups and the need for improving the level of basic education, skill training and literacy among youth.

A representative of the African Caucus said past and present efforts resulted in the people’s forum on indigenous issues and the United Nations declaration. It was noted that the United Nations Commission on Human Rights was to be replaced by the Human Rights Council. He requested that the issues continued to be of importance to the Council. He demanded that the working group be allowed to meet in July. He hoped the working group would be retained when the new Council took over from the Commission.

VICTORIA TAULI-CORPUZ, Chairperson of the Permanent Forum, said that she appreciated the observation that had been made by Australia on behalf the United States and New Zealand, but the response was that, in some countries, the principle of “free, prior and informed consent” of indigenous communities about plans and projects that effected them had already had been recognized. While it was an “emerging” right, she called on that delegation to consider the full range of views on the matter. Development had caused many problems for indigenous peoples and safeguards needed to be in place to allow those peoples to participate in decision-making that affected the way they lived.

Also commenting on Australia’s statement, Forum member WILTON LITTLECHILD recalled that he had chaired the Forum’s consideration of the right to free, prior and informed consent, and one of the important results of that exercise had been the good work done to identify what constituted “free, prior and informed consent”. The participants in those discussions believed that “free” in this context meant consent without coercion of outside pressure. The “informed” element meant the indigenous people should be allowed to hear arguments both for and against a particular initiative that would affect them. He added that, if a democratic Government was serious about the situation of its indigenous peoples, it should perhaps reconsider the treaties that had been reached with those communities.
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News Source: http://www.un.org/News/Press/docs//2006/hr4894.doc.htm

5/22/2006

Intervention of the Indigenous Peoples Caucus of the Greater Caribbean

Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues, 5th Session

Intervention of the Indigenous Peoples Caucus of the Greater Caribbean: Caney Quinto Mundo, Puerto Rico; Guyana Organization of Indigenous Peoples, Guyana; Hoboshirima Arawak Community, Venezuela; United Confederation of Taino People

Monday, 22 May 2006
Plenary Session: Ongoing priorities and themes
Agenda Item 4(b)

With regard to Agenda Item 4(b), we welcome this opportunity to address the human rights of Indigenous peoples specifically as it relates to the Indigenous Peoples of the Greater Caribbean.

With this in mind and in accordance with Item 85 and 86 of the Plan of Action for the Second International Decade of the World’s Indigenous Peoples, the Indigenous Peoples Caucus of the Greater Caribbean recommends that Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues:

1) Hold a Caribbean regional meeting on indigenous issues on the Island of Trinidad among existing organizations to strengthen cooperation, coordination, and capacity building among Indigenous Peoples of the Greater Caribbean.

2) Facilitate Regional Special Consultative Session to focus on the unique situation of Caribbean Indigenous Peoples. Organization and planning of the regional meeting and special consultative session should take place in collaboration with the member organizations and communities represented within the Indigenous Peoples Caucus of the Greater Caribbean and the Caribbean Organization of Indigenous Peoples.

3) Ensure the regional meeting and Special Consultative Session is open to representatives of indigenous organizations from throughout the Greater Caribbean region.

4) Pay particular attention to ensuring access including equal funding to representatives from the Island of Borikén (the Free Associated State of Puerto Rico) to ensure their participation at the Regional and Special Consultative Session. Since Puerto Rico is not a member State of any UN or OAS International Bodies, Agencies or Organizations because of its colonial status, Indigenous Representatives have been denied funding by the UN Voluntary Found for Indigenous Peoples to participate in meetings, conferences, regional specific consultations, capacity building opportunities and conferences in Geneva, the United States, Latin America, the Caribbean, and elsewhere.

Failure to address the effects of institutionalized colonialism only serves to perpetuate colonialism, and affect our ability to participate effectively within these systems as Indigenous Peoples of the Caribbean, which is not the intention of the Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues.

5) Encourage the financial contributions and participation of all relevant UN agencies and programs (e.g. UNESCO, UNDP, UNEP, ILO etc.) for the Regional and Special Consultative Session.

6) Invite the Special Rapportuer on the Situation of the Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms of Indigenous People to the Special Consultative Session to review the particular situation of indigenous Caribbean communities including their claims that;

a. national laws and policies are discriminatory and inconsistent with International Human Rights laws and standards, as in the case of the recent Amerindian Act of Guyana.

b. The legal and judicial systems discriminate against indigenous peoples asserting, claiming and enjoying their rights to their lands, territories and resources as in the recent case of the Taino Peoples Reclamation of Caguana Ceremonial Grounds in Utuado, Puerto Rico.

7) Specific mention should be made in the fifth session report of the inclusion of the Indigenous Taino Peoples of Borikén (the "free" associated state of Puerto Rico).

8) Call upon States to create adequate mechanisms in conjunction with the Indigenous Peoples of the Greater Caribbean to facilitate uninterrupted communication and border crossings between the Arawak, Carib and Warao Peoples of Venezuela, Guyana, and Surinam, the Taino Peoples of Puerto Rico, Cuba, and Dominican Republic, and the Carib Peoples of Dominica and Trinidad who all share common ancestral heritages.

Justification: The Greater Caribbean is defined here as an area of cooperation in recognition of common ancestral heritages and common geographic spaces shared by the Indigenous Peoples of the region.

5/17/2006

TAKING CARE OF BUSINESS: A DIALOGUE ON ENVIRONMENTALLY BALANCED ECONOMICS

Indigenous Leaders and Wharton Business School Students Gather at the UN

NEW YORK (May 17, 2005)—For the first time, indigenous leaders from across the globe have come together with Wharton Business School's Net Impact Club to discuss future models for business partnerships. The conference, which marked the opening of a new chapter in trade relations with indigenous communities, focused on a balance between cultural, environmental and financial standards and served as the first step of a dialogue between the larger business community and those who are in the daily business of living in balance with and protecting our planet....

This year's summit actively addressed the needs raised by this assessment: to create an economically viable business model for trading natural resources responsibly, and with respect to the rights of indigenous people. Opening the conference was Roberto Mucaro Borrero, a native Taino of Puerto Rico, and Chair of the NGO Committee on the United Nations International Decade of the World's Indigenous Peoples. Additional speakers included Marcos Terena, of the Terena community in Mato Groso do Sul, Brazil, and Leon Secatero, a Spiritual Elder of the I'Inebeho (Navajo) community of Canoncito.

See full story at http://aveda.aveda.com/about/press/wharton_conference.asp

5/16/2006

Ancient "Batey" found in the Amazon...

Astonishing Discovery Deep in the Amazon

They're calling it the "Amazon Stonehenge." Archaeologists have found a massive ancient stone structure in a remote part of the Amazon basin that was probably used as an astronomical observatory or a place of worship, report the BBC News and Agence France Presse.

The site, which is thought to be about 2,000 years old based on the age of fragments of indigenous pottery found nearby, was constructed long before Europeans colonized the area and so suggests that the native people had a sophisticated and advanced knowledge of astronomy--something that contradicts historical views. The appearance bears a striking resemblance to England's Stonehenge, which is several thousand years older than the Amazon site.

Found in Calcoene in the Amapa state of Brazil in the far north of the country near the border with French Guyana, it was constructed of 127 large stone blocks, each of which weighs several tons and measures 10 feet high. Carefully arranged and evenly spaced, they were driven into the ground in an open field on top of a hill. But it is the sophisticated construction with the stones laid out to identify the winter solstice that most impresses the archaeologists. "Only a society with a complex culture could have built such a monument," archaeologist Mariana Petry Cabral, of the Amapa Institute of Scientific and Technological Research, told O Globo newspaper. In December, the sun's rays pass through a hole in of the blocks, which possibly allowed the people to calculate agricultural activity and religious rituals, reports AFP.


UCTP Note: Amazonian Stone "Batey" similar to those found in the Caribbean.

5/14/2006

United Nations Permanent Forum and Caribbean Indigenous Peoples

New York, NY (UCTP Taino News) - Over 1200 Indigenous Peoples will meet governments and UN officials at the 5th Session of the UN Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues from 15-26 May, 2006. The opening of this High Level meeting will take place in the General Assembly Hall at 11:15 am.

The session will focus on will focus on health, education and decision-making, and more than fifty side events are scheduled.

The historic GA Hall opening will address the theme MDGs and Indigenous Peoples: redefining the Goals (press release). The "Millennium Development Goals" (MDGs) 3 to 8 will be examined through indigenous approaches to cultural diversity, traditional knowledge and human rights.

The session will be opened with a special screened message from the SG, followed by statements by Ms.Victoria Tauli-Corpuz, Chairperson of UNPFII and José Antonio Ocampo. The Programme of Action for the Second International Decade of the World's Indigenous People will be launched during the opening session.

The event will be attended by top government and UN officials: Eladio Loizaga, Acting President of the General Assembly; Ali Hachani, President of the Economic and Social Council; José Antonio Ocampo, Under-Secretary-General for UN's Department of Economic and Social Affairs; and Victoria Tauli-Corpuz, Chairperson of the UN Permanent Forum Indigenous Issues.

Celebrated indigenous performers including Native American rock musician, Robby Romero, P. Town Boyz from Red Lake Nation, U.S.A. and Descendance Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander Dance Theatre from Australia will perform at the ceremony. Taíno activist and Chairperson of the NGO Committee on the UN International Decade of the World's Indigenous Peoples, Roberto Mukaro Borrero will call the session to order sounding the Guamo (conch shell trumpet).

A delegation of Indigenous Peoples from the Greater Caribbean will attend the session and include representatives of the United Confederation of Taíno People, Caney Quinto Mundo (Puerto Rico), Hoboshirima Arawak Community (Venezuela), Guyanese Organization of Indigenous Peoples, and the Amerindian Peoples Association (Guyana).

Borrero will also have the honor to serve as Master of Ceremonies for the opening Cultural Event and Exhibition inauguration on Tuesday 16 May, 2006. The exhibition entitled "Indigenous Peoples: Honoring the Past, Present and Future" will feature indigenous art works and photography from around the world including artist from
the Taíno and Carib communities.

A side event focusing on the Caribbean Indigenous Peoples will take place on Wednesday, 24 May entitled Caribbean First Nations and the MDGs: Towards a Special Consultative Session from 1:15 p.m.-2:45 p.m.

The United Nations Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues Opening Ceremony (15 May - 11:15am est) and Opening Cultural Event and Exhibit Inauguration (16 May – 6:15pm est) will be webcast at www.un.org/webcast .

5/13/2006

General map of the Dominican Republic



Source: Date: 01 Oct 1970
Source: Central Intelligence Agency (CIA)
Type: Reference - Political
Keyword(s): Reference

5/11/2006

Lectures on Amerindian role in development set

GUYANA - The Walter Roth Museum of Anthropology is highlighting the Amerindian contribution to Guyana's development by hosting a lecture series in honour of Guyana's 40th Independence anniversary.

The series is scheduled for May 10, 17 and 24 and will be held in the Conference Room of the museum at 5pm.

A press release from the museum informed that the series, titled 'The Stephen Campbell Lecture Series', will feature three celebrated Amerindian personalities including Philip Duncan, Justice of the Peace, former Member of Parliament, Parliamentary Secretary (Home Affairs) 1966 and Minister of State (Amerindian Affairs) 1977; Sister Theresa LaRose, Sister of Mercy and artist George Simon.

The focus of the series is to educate the public about Campbell's contribution to the political and social development of Amerindians and Guyana. Presented under the theme 'aba karaiahu' - Honouring a Guyanese Amerindian Statesman; the legacy of the late Stephen Campbell' the series honours Campbell's struggle for Amerindian peoples' rights, particularly to their land, when he represented them at the pre-independence talks in London in 1966. Aba karaiahu or 'vision' is an Arawak phrase chosen for its fitting description of Campbell's dream for Amerindians nationwide.

Campbell hailed from the North West District, Region 1 and is the father of renowned Arawak Lokono singer David Campbell of Canada.

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

5/10/2006

Jaguar Sighted This Year During N.M. Hunt Trip

By Tony Davis
ARIZONA DAILY STAR
Tucson, Arizona Published: 05.01.2006


LORDSBURG, N.M. — At first, when the mountain lion hunters in the hills of Southwest New Mexico saw that one of their dogs had its throat cut, they thought the attacker was a javelina, protecting its young.

Instead, it turned out to be a jaguar, the third recent confirmed in-person sighting of the big cat in the Southwestern United States.

This one occurred in the "Boot Heel" country of the Animas Mountains about 15 miles east of the Arizona border and a mile and a half north of the Mexican border.

The man who spotted and photographed this jaguar on Feb. 20 was Warner Glenn, a Douglas-area rancher and lion hunter who made the first recent confirmed U.S. jaguar sighting in March 1996.

Glenn saw the jaguar under a tree at the bottom of a hillside while chasing one of his dogs. The dog had gotten away from the rancher's lion-hunting party of seven people, including his daughter Kelly Kimbro.

"It took me five minutes to ride down there, to get down the mountain," Glenn recalled last week in an interview. "It was pretty rough. I got to the bottom where the dogs were baying the jaguar, who was backed up under a cedar tree. At that point, I told them on the radio to get down there and help me. He had bitten three of the dogs."

The animal then ran toward others in the hunting party, and then toward Glenn, before leaving "in kind of a long trot" toward the higher part of the mountains.

Before the cat ran away, Glenn photographed him, looking smooth and sleek on a rock on or near a bluff.

The jaguar weighed about 175 to 200 pounds and looked "very healthy," Glenn said at Thursday's Jaguar Conservation Team meeting in Lordsburg. "There's not a blemish on him anywhere."

As for the dogs, all are now fine, with none having been bitten any deeper than into their flesh and hide. None sustained any broken bones. "I had a little veterinary bill but other than that they were fine," Glenn said.

Glenn's March 1996 confirmed U.S. jaguar sighting was in the Peloncillo Mountains at the Arizona-New Mexico border. Six months later, fellow lion hunter Jack Childs and his party treed, photographed and videotaped another adult male jaguar in the Baboquivari Mountains southwest of Tucson. In addition, a fourth adult male jaguar was photographed in Arizona with a remote sensing camera, first in December 2001 about 4.5 miles north of the Mexican border and again in August 2003, 3.75 miles north of there.

Common in the Southwest until the beginning of the 20th century, the jaguar has ranged south through Mexico and Central America to as far south as Argentina. But a recent survey determined that the animal now occupies only 46 percent of its former range, and it was deemed virtually extirpated in the United States by the mid-1900s.

Evidence exists of only three reports of breeding jaguars in Arizona, the last in about 1910. The jaguar declined sharply in this country through most of the 20th century due to predator-control activities to protect livestock and to human settlement in general, according to a new report from the Arizona and New Mexico Game and Fish Departments. A minimum of 64 jaguars were killed in Arizona after 1900, the report said. The most recent killing came in 1986.

● Contact reporter Tony Davis at 806-7746 or tdavis@azstarnet.com

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*See the Taino relationship with the Jaguar visit
http://www.pbs.org/wnet/nature/spirits/html/tainobodytaino.html

*To purchase the video of "SPIRITS OF THE JAGUAR, Hunters of the Caribbean Sea" please contact WNET Video Distribution by calling (800) 336-1917, or by writing to WNET Video Distribution, P.O. Box 2284, South Burlington, VT 05407.

5/09/2006

In the Spirit of the Ancestors: Reconciling Post Tribal Stress Disorder

by Patrisia Gonzales
Column of the Americas
© May 1, 2006

I once heard an Ojibwa woman tell a group of Chicanos working on indigenous liberation that our ancestors did what they had to, to survive.

Our indigenous ancestors survived by passing as Mexicans or mestizos, or being defined away as mestizos by governments. And many married mestizos. As a result, the Mexican community is a pan indigenous community comprised of native peoples of both Mexico and North America. Indigeneity became private and individualized in families. They survived by hiding the indigenous knowledge so deeply that some of us could no longer recognize it. Some were taught to forget and to fear and disconnect from our place in the natural world and the power of nature within our own hands. There was no need for the Inquisition once forced conversion could be regulated by the community itself. Choctaw scholar Karina Walters says that part of historical trauma was established through forced conversion and separating people away from their original instructions, the ancestral agreements and covenants about how to treat each other and how to honor their responsibilities to the natural world.

I believe that among those defined as mestizos many suffer from PTSD or Post Tribal Stress Disorder. I use this term to refer to the suffering and afflictions that result from de-Indianization. Invariably, there is someone who remembers in their family that they are Indian. Or they will recount how one of their grandparents told them to never forget, "we are Indian." But like historical trauma, not all suffer the soul wound of de-Indianization.

Part of their historical trauma is the void where there should be remembrance of the names of our ancestors and nations. They are the other “disappeared” of the Americas, by the processes of social control. Some argue that mestizos are like a brown clay pot, emptied of a native spirit that was claimed by impositions. Others argue mestizos indigenized Spanish culture and that it is, in fact, only a shallow topsoil that covers indigenous Mexico, which is indigenous in the spaces also claimed as mestizo or urban. We are another kind of Indian that does not fit into the current boxes on identity.

Many scholars concur that Mesoamerica's indigenous legacy remains in traditional agriculture and Mexican traditional medicine - and protective factors against disconnection. Zapata asserted that the land belongs to those who work it -- Mexicans still work the land and have relationships with this natural world. But many are taught to deny their Indianness, to even hate it. A Kickapoo elder once recounted to me how a group of Mexican kids in Coahuilla, Mexico, got mad when he proclaimed to them, "you're Indian."

Those people identified as mestizo, Hispanic, or Latino suffer from a particular kind of historical trauma. They are told that they are both the oppressed and the oppressor. Many Mexicans are largely Indian by heritage and do not descend from Spanish colonialists, and when they do, it may be through rape or forced marriage, such as with one of my Kickapoo grandmothers. It is hard to determine who is the “we/they,” who of the relatives were/are the mestizos who benefited from controlling “the Indian.” The Mexican (read Bolivian, Ecuadorian etc.) community has been in a constant process of de-Indianization and each family has its own particular relationship to that process.

In my work, I identify some symptoms of PTSD:

1. Anehlos -- a feeling of longing and that something is missing.

2. Cracked mirror -- a feeling that something wants to break through, or break open and that your sight is refracted from cracks in perception, with some parts distorted and others clear.

3. Rejection -- feeling rejected by Latinos and mestizos as being too Indian and by some Native Americans as almost or maybe Indian, but then again not really (while others welcome you as cousins, brothers or sisters.)

4. Loss -- mourning the loss of ancestors, nations and the spiritual teachings that were wrested away and in which you had no say or control.

Fortunately, there are numerous native elders working with, or in, these communities as people resist de-Indianization, particularly the more recent indigenous migrants from the southern hemisphere. Some people argue that mestizos and Latinos should accept their historical conditions, that they have no right to renew or strengthen their indigeneity. Yet, that goes against the spirit of self-determination. If we could hear them speak in the spirit world, would they not ask for their children to return? to fight? to renew knowledge in the spirit of their ancestors? To do otherwise, is to accept colonization, something no community, native or not, can justify as an acceptable human condition. To proclaim their Indianness, someone once said, is the biggest paradigm shift since the Spanish debated whether Indians had souls.


© 2006 Column of the Americas

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Column of the Americas, PO BOX 5093 Madison WI 53705.

Our bilingual columns are posted at: http://hometown.aol.com/xcolumn/myhomepage/

5/04/2006

Thousands attend Gathering of Nations Pow Wow

By Erny Zah
The Daily Times May 1, 2006

ALBUQUERQUE -- A local drum group walked away with three different awards at the Gathering of Nations Pow Wow, which is advertised as "North America's Largest Powwow."

This year, the Gathering of Nations brought in more than 2,000 dancers that came from throughout North America. In addition, the powwow had nearly 40 drums that entered into the drum contest.

Southern Outlawz, a drum group from Shiprock, won fifth place in the "Southern Challenge" drum contest. Their women back-up singers -- the women who sing behind the seated drummers -- won first place in their division. To top it off, singers from Southern Outlawz entered a hand drum competition, taking away first place honors.

"I was nervous like crazy," said Veronica Keeswood, one of the back up singers. "I couldn't believe (we won) because there was a lot of competition."

The Southern Outlawz drum group entered a category that is mostly dominated by drum groups hailing from Oklahoma, where southern plains style singing is more common.

"We sang our best song from the heart," said J.R. Keeswood, head singer for the drum group. "We sang to have fun. We're excited to be there. I'm glad to see everything worked out really good."

In addition to the singing group competition, the dancers also competed against each other for top honors.

Adam Nordwall, 25, of Redding, Calif., was surprised when his name was called for fourth place in a powwow competition.

"It's just a real big surprise," he said. "There's a lot of really good dancers. To hear my name was pretty exciting. I couldn't believe it."

"Just being in the top five, it's quite an honor," Nordwall said.

In his division there were more than 70 dancers competing against each other.

But the competition for "North America's Largest Powwow" is just one aspect of the powwow.

For Nordwall, the Gathering of Nations marks the beginning of his travel season.

He said it's a 23-hour drive from Redding to Albuquerque and this is the second year in a row that he has made the drive.

"Its just one of the biggest powwows of the year," he said. "There's a lot of good dancers and a lot of good drums."

One singer, Al Santos, took pride in the fact that the powwow lived up to its name this year, The Gathering of Nations.

For him, the powwow did that in two ways: First, Otter Trail, Santos' drum group, won fourth place in the "Southern Challenge" drum contest, and second, the new Miss Indian World, Violet John, is part Taino, an indigenous tribe that came from the Caribbean Sea islands.

Al Santos is also a Taino.

"I about had a heart attack when she introduced herself," Santos said. "I thought maybe they said something other than Taino."

The recognition of a small tribe in the singing contest and in Miss Indian World means a lot, Santos said.

Proud of both her Cree and Taino Heritage, Violet John is crowned the new Miss Indian World at "North America's Largest Pow Wow" - the Gathering of Nations.

See: http://www.gatheringofnations.com/miss_indian_world/index.htm

5/02/2006

Taíno Set Precedent at Major Archeology Conference in Puerto Rico

San Juan, Borikén (UCTP Taino News) – Providing a “forum for the dissemination of knowledge and discussion”, the 71st Annual meeting of the Society for American Archeology (SAA) took place in sunny San Juan, Puerto Rico.

The well-attended sessions featured at this year’s conference were hosted at the Caribe Hilton and the Puerto Rico Convention Center from April 26 – 30th 2006. Programs were mainly structured within four categories including forums, general sessions, symposiums, and workshops.

Even with the incredibly wide topic areas being presented over three days, the organizers recognized the conference’s location and featured at a number of Caribbean oriented sessions. The opening session of the program, featured the catchy title “Islands in the Stream: Inter-island and Continental Interaction in the Caribbean”. This program was chaired by L. Antonio Curet, Curator of North American Archaeology, Chicago Field Museum. Although no Taíno or other Caribbean indigenous community leaders were invited to participate in this session, an array of interesting theories and research were presented by a host of academics. Unfortunately, like many similar conferences, few Caribbean Indigenous Peoples will see or be able to comment on these “perspectives” as the majority of these presentations are not readily available to the general public.

On a positive note, an historic precedent was set for indigenous peoples’ participation at the 2006 SAA annual meeting during a special session entitled “Current Issues in the Practice of Archeology in Puerto Rico”. Apparently, during the previous 70 years of SAA conferences, indigenous peoples or their “descendant populations” have never been invited to present their issues officially. During this session however, four Taino community leaders were able to present their views on contemporary Taino Culture as well as Caribbean Indigenous archeology at what was described by an audience member as “one of the most dynamic programs of the conference.”

The “Current Issues” program was sponsored by the SAA Indigenous Populations Group and was organized by Sonya Atalay (Choctaw) and Desiree Martinez (Tongva). Taino participants included Naniki Reyes Ocasio Esq., Elba Anaka Lugo, Roberto Múkaro Borrero and DeAnna M. Sarobei Rivera Esq. Prof. Wendy Teeter, Gabriel de la Luz Rodriguez, Martin Wobst also presented during this program which covered identity issues, legal recognition, the Caguana Ceremonial Center Occupation, and the Taino in the international system.

The Taino session was not only attended by archeologists and academics but by indigenous archeologists or those who are interested in monitoring this field. Along with the Choctaw and Tongva organizers, members of the Piaute and Mohegan Nations were present. Taino and Paiute shared songs and after hearing the moving presentations of the Taino, the Mohegan representative remarked on the “bravery of the Taino People”. She urged the Taino presenters to “keep up their good work” and she assured them she would “report on this incredible situation to her people back home.”

Boriken Taino Community Leader, Elba Anaka Lugo (at right) meets with Paiute community representatives at SAA Conference.

Highlighting a concern of the Taíno participants who stressed the ongoing lack of inclusion of Caribbean Indigenous Peoples in issues that concern them, there were at least 8 other sessions that focused on the Caribbean - all neglecting to include contemporary Caribbean Indigenous perspectives. One of these sessions was entitled “New Methods and Techniques in the Study of Material Cultural from the Caribbean”. This session was chaired by William Keegan, Chairman and Curator of Anthropology, Department of Natural History, Florida Museum of Natural History.

Another was entitled “Archeology in the Caribbean Region” and yet another was entitled “New Perspectives on the Prehistoric Settlement of the Caribbean”. Other sessions also covered “Archeology from Behind the Blockade: New Research in Cuba”, “Caribbean Archeological Research at the Peabody Museum of Natural History, Yale University: In Memory of Irving Rouse”, “Compliance Archeology in Pursuit of the Caribbean’s Past”, “Current Research in Bahamian Prehistoric and Historic Archeology”, and “Current Topics in Puerto Rican Archeology”. The last program was organized by the Puerto Rican Institute of Culture.

One other session did include a respected local Taino community member, Luis Sanchez, who works as a guide and a cultural presenter at the Tibes Ceremonial Center. This session was entitled “The Civic-Ceremonial Center of Tibes, Ponce, Puerto Rico” and was chaired by L. Antonio Curet. Luis opened the program sounding the guamo, the Taino conch shell trumpet.

The 72nd Annual SAA Meeting will take place in Austin, Texas from April 25-29, 2007.

Taino community members at SAA Conference in San Juan. From left: Naniki Reyes Ocasio, Luis Sanchez, DeAnna M. Sarobei Rivera, and Roberto Mukaro Borrero.