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Archive for the ‘indigenous peoples’ tag

Securing Indigenous Rights to Sacred Places with the UN Declaration

Photo from Collaborative Journeys blog

by Karla E.General
from Indian Country Today Media Network.Com

The UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples presents a new opportunity and a new kind of legal authority that could help Native peoples to secure rights to sacred places, and to preserve and protect cultural, religious, and spiritual practices.

The Declaration recognizes and affirms the rights of indigenous peoples to their cultural, religious, and spiritual practices, to have private access to sacred sites (Arts. 12(1), 11(1)), as well as to maintain and strengthen their spiritual relationship with their traditionally held lands, territories, waters and coastal seas and other resources (Art. 25). With the Declaration, Native peoples have rights acknowledged by the international community of nations, including rights to sacred places both within existing reservation or territorial boundaries and beyond.

As rights-holders, Native nations and individuals have the right to cultural, religious, and spiritual practices. As duty-bearer, the U.S. has the responsibility to prevent infringement of these rights. For instance, the Declaration provides that the U.S. must consult with indigenous peoples to obtain their free, prior, and informed consent when considering projects affecting their lands, territories, and resources (Art. 32(2)) or when adopting any legislative or administrative measures that may affect them (Art. 19), and to provide redress for takings of cultural, intellectual, religious, and spiritual property (Art. 11(2)). Generally, in implementing the Declaration, the U.S. is also obligated to, “in conjunction and cooperation with indigenous peoples … take the appropriate measures, including legislative measures, to achieve the ends of this Declaration” (Art. 38).

Click here to read the full article

Immigrants Remaking Canada’s Religious Face in Surprising Ways

Image from Lalani & Associates

by Douglas Todd
from the Vancouver Sun

Canada is welcoming more than the global average of immigrants who are Christian, Sikh, Buddhist and non-religious.

The country, however, is taking in less than the global average of immigrants who are Muslim, Hindu and Jewish.

Those are some of the surprising findings of a sweeping global survey on immigration and religion conducted by the independent Pew Forum on Religion and Public Life.

The report, titled Faith on the Move, provides an enormous amount of data on the religious loyalties of the world’s 214-million immigrants, a group larger than the population of Brazil.

Canada, which has 7.2 million permanent residents who were not born in the country, is the fifth most popular destination for the world’s immigrants. This country of 34 million accepts twice as many immigrants per capita as the U.S.

The Pew Forum report, which describes migration patterns in every country of the world, makes clear that immigration is changing the religious face of Canada in unexpected ways.

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On Day of Silence, Religious Tolerance Speaks Loud and Clear in Bali, Lombok

A Balinese man is hit with fire during a pre-Nyepi ritual in Ubud on Thursday.  Reuters Photo

by Made Arya Kencana & Fitri
from The Jakarta Globe

Denpasar/Mataram. It was an unusual sight for anywhere in Indonesia: Muslim men arriving for Friday prayers in an atmosphere of complete silence, without the usual call to prayers blaring from the mosque loudspeakers.

But the fact that they were still allowed to go to mosque on a day when virtually all of predominantly Hindu Bali remained shuttered at home for the holy day of Nyepi was itself testament to the high degree of religious tolerance on the resort island, said Ketut Teneng, a spokesman for the provincial administration.

Although religious and administrative authorities are strict about people remaining at home during Nyepi, the Hindu Day of Silence, Teneng said Muslims were welcome to go to mosque, as long as they only walked there and did not turn on the mosques’ loudspeakers.

Click here to read the full article. 

Restoring Indigenous Peoples’ Rights: A Pathway from Australia to Arizona

by Dave Weiman
from Cooking Together

At the January meeting, the UUA Trustees voted to place a responsive resolution to repudiate the Doctrine of Discovery on the business agenda for the General Assembly.  What is the Doctrine of Discovery?  Why have our partner organizations in Arizona called for its repudiation?  How are we as Unitarian Universalist people of faith called to respond?  For the next several weeks, Cooking Together bloggers will address these questions.  This post was written by Dave Weiman, who has been working with others to educate UUs about this issue. – Ed.

At 7:30 pm on December 3, 2009, Joy Murphy Wandin, senior woman of the Wurundjeri People, was the first person to greet the 6,000 plus people who had come together for the Parliament of the World’s Religions in Melbourne, Australia, with this traditional ‘Welcome to the Land’:

On behalf of the spiritual ancestors and the traditional owners of Melbourne, I invite you to Melbourne in 2009, for the Parliament of the World’s Religions to share in the traditions, culture and spirit of Australia.

I was impressed that special recognition was given to the Peoples who had nurtured the land for thousands of years.   The welcoming practice not just for the opening, occurred at the beginning of almost every event during the Parliament, large or small.  And in fact, at the start of Sunday Service at the local Unitarian Church, the same basic welcoming statement started the service.  It is important to note that the words in these messages of welcome are of and by the Peoples who are native to the land, not from government officials.

At the final Plenary of the Parliament more than a dozen Indigenous Peoples from around the globe, presented a ‘Statement to the World.’  The Statement explained Indigenous cultures and contributions, the negative outcomes of colonization, and the injustices suffered by Indigenous Peoples.   It concluded with seven ‘appeals’.  Of the seven, two became an important focus of my social justice work when I returned home.  One asked for all nations to implement and support the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (Declaration), and another asked for the repudiation of the Doctrine of Discovery (Doctrine).

From the opening moment of the Parliament to its closing, I was being drawn into a social justice cause about which I had known virtually nothing.  Since the Parliament I’ve been learning more, about the Declaration and the Doctrine, and come to understand why these are so important, not only for Indigenous Peoples, but for all of us.

Cherokee 2012 Forgiveness Journey

In the spring of 2012 the Cherokee Healing and Wellness Coalition is collaborating with the United Keetoowah Band and Cherokee Nation in Oklahoma for a Journey to Forgiveness and Healing. The journey is an effort for the Cherokees to retrace the Trail of Tears to Oklahoma in 1838 back to Cherokee original homelands.  They will be stopping at significant places along the way where the Cherokees camped for healing up healing ceremonies. There will be conferences in Tahlequah, Oklahoma and Cherokee, NC with presentations about historical grief and intergenerational trauma and its effects.

The Journey to Forgiveness and Healing is one way to address how historical events, i.e. Trail of Tears and boarding schools, have continued to affect the Cherokee people for generations and how these events caused an almost near loss of our culture and identity primarily because of the forced removal, assimilation and acculturation process.  These past events have caused substance abuse, domestic violence, and various health and mental problems that continue to plague the Cherokee families today.

One of our objectives is to educate those who have experienced oppression through trauma on the psychological, physical and emotional levels.  They will become aware how this experience can have generational affects physically, spiritually, mentally and emotionally.

December 13th, 2011 at 5:46 pm

Webinar: Native American Earth-Based Spirituality

Register Now Wednesday, November 9, 2011 10:00am U.S. Central Time
Christopher Peters

Christopher Peters

Christopher Peters (Pohlik-lah/Karuk) was born and raised on his people’s territories in northwestern California. Chris is President and CEO of Seventh Generation Fund for Indian Development – a Native-led Indigenous Peoples public foundation. For more than 35 years his work has focused on grassroots social justice organizing, protecting sacred sites, working for holistic community renewal, rebuilding traditional economies, and supporting cultural revitalization efforts.

Title: Native American Earth-Based Spirituality
Date: Wednesday, November 9, 2011
Time: 10:00 AM – 11:00 AM CDT
After registering you will receive a confirmation email containing information about joining the Webinar.

System Requirements
PC-based attendees:
Required: Windows® 7, Vista, XP or 2003 Server

Macintosh®-based attendees:
Required: Mac OS® X 10.4.11 (Tiger®) or newer

Space is limited.
Reserve your Webinar seat now at:

On Greed and Giving Up the Boots I Cannot Live Without

by Jenn Lindsay
from State of Formation

I am on the planning committee of the International Political Camp at Agape Centro Ecumenico in the Italian Alps. Because I am always at a loss to describe exactly what Agape is to the uninitiated—and there is no way to truly grasp this ecumenical collective until one has visited—I will reference Agape’s description of itself from their website:

Agape international ecumenical centre is a place of encounter where one lives an intense experience of community in beautiful natural surroundings. Agape was and is an important point of reference in Italian Protestantism, for 50 years a place of education and development, theological exploration, political engagement, of acceptance and validation of differences. Every year many people, diverse in their religion, culture, ages, political thinking, come to Agape for one week to discuss and to be challenged, to get to know themselves and each other and to exchange experiences around a particular theme.

Agape describes itself as an “Ecumenical centre”, where ecumenism is understood in broad terms. An encounter among believers of different faiths and denominational backgrounds certainly, but also secular in character so that those who are not believers can also feel at home. In an open dialogue among atheists, agnostics and believers, each participant comes to lose his or her presumptions in claiming to know and possess the truth.

This year the theme of the International Political Camp was Violence, and camp attendees had a chance to consider many different specific scenarios of violence, resistance efforts and regenerative communities in order to grasp the deep interconnections of every level of violence—from globalization, to ethnic marginalization to domestic brutality.

In the middle of the week we planned a role-play game in which the camp was to enact a global summit considering a potable water shortage. The game presented a scenario wherein the world is running out of fresh water, so the United Countries of the Almost Arid Planet were to gather for an extraordinary General Assembly to address the situation. In attendance were corporate interests, highly paid water experts, emerging world superpowers, impoverished counties, civil society organizations, and radical grassroots activists.

In their presentation, the rhetorical tactic of the corporate giants and the reigning world superpowers was clear: to exploit the fear of scarcity that compels individuals and societies on the deepest level.  Lack of food, lack of money, lack of love, lack of hope: what is more terrifying and galvanizing than lack?

Click here to read the full article

Bishop Ruiz Garcia, Champion of Indigenous, Dies in Mexico

Bishop Samuel Ruiz Garcia

Bishop Samuel Ruiz Garcia in 1993

By David Agren, Catholic News Service
From the National Catholic Reporter

MEXICO CITY — Retired Bishop Samuel Ruiz Garcia, known as the champion of the poor and indigenous in southern Mexico, died Jan. 24 of complications from long-standing illnesses. He was 86.

The bishop headed the Diocese of San Cristobal de Las Casas from 1960 to 2000, and from 1994 to 1998 mediated a commission looking for an end to the conflict between the Mexican government and the indigenous Zapatista National Liberation Army in Chiapas state.

For his work with the state’s indigenous population he received death threats and, in 2002, was the recipient of the Niwano Peace Prize for his work “raising the social standing of the indigenous communities of Mexico” and for his work toward “the reclamation and preservation of their native cultures.”

“Don Samuel was like the prophet Jeremiah, a man who lived and experienced contradiction,” said Bishop Raul Vera Lopez of Saltillo, who served as Bishop Ruiz’s coadjutor from 1995 to 1999.

Vera, celebrant at a Jan. 24 Mass for Bishop Ruiz in Mexico City, described Bishop Ruiz as “a person whose actions were discussed and condemned by a section of society, but for the poor and for those who worked with him, Don Samuel was a bright light, who fulfilled what God told the prophet: ‘This day I set you over nations and over kingdoms, to root up to destroy tear down … to build and to plant.’”

Politicians, prominent journalists and even a group of campesinos (peasant farmers) wielding machetes emblazoned with Bishop Ruiz’s name attended the Mass in Mexico City. A funeral Mass was to be celebrated Jan. 26 in Tuxtla Gutierrez, with the papal nuncio, Archbishop Christophe Pierre, presiding.

News of Bishop Ruiz’s death made nationwide headlines because he was well-known for his human rights advocacy and mediation work in Chiapas. He most recently participated in a commission serving as a channel between the rebel People’s Revolutionary Army and the Interior Ministry over the issue of forced disappearances.

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Indigenous Peoples´ Concerns in Nepal´s 2011 Census

From The American Chronicle

After a decade, Nepal is due to hold its census for the eleventh time in 2011. The history of census in Nepal goes back a hundred years to 1901. National census can facilitate planning of projects targeted towards specific groups if it records actual figures and conditions of those groups. The past censuses of Nepal are often termed to be “deliberate undercounting of [indigenous] communities…” and erroneous with omissions and misreported data , thus providing false picture of population composition. This has particularly concerned the indigenous nationalities of Nepal struggling for their identity and rights. Currently, Nepal has 59 ethnic groups identified as indigenous nationalities and many other groups are striving to be listed. The country has recently been transformed from a Hindu kingdom to a secular federal republic. The 2011 census – the first one since the country became a republic – thus holds a specific importance.

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Remembering Jake Swamp-Tekaronianeken

Jake Swamp-Tekaronianeken

Jake Swamp-Tekaronianeken, 69, the Wolf Clan Mohawk diplomat, author, teacher, chief, husband, father, grandparent and great-grandparent passed into the spirit world on October 14, 2010 at his home on the Akwesasne Mohawk Territory.

Swamp was one of the most respected and honoured Mohawk Iroquois leaders of the past century.  He was a member of the Mohawk Nation Council of Chiefs for over three decades, a position in which he served as a counselor, spiritual leader, legislator and ambassador. He was an exceptional orator with a powerful command of the Mohawk language.  He possessed great knowledge as to the cultural heritage of the Haudenosaunee and shared that wisdom not only with his people but at forums, conferences and classes across the planet. He was known not only for his knowledge but for his teaching skills which were defined by his unique sense of humour.

When Skennenrahowi (the Peacemaker) established the Haudenosaunee Confederacy 800 years ago he set standards for leadership which were embodied in Tekaronianeken. He was patient, compassionate, humble, generous, intelligent and kind.  Whenever he was called upon to serve the needs of the Haudenosaunee he did so without hesitation.  He established the Tree of Peace Society in 1984 to promote the teachings of the Skennenrahowi while advocating greater ecological awareness and sensitivity.  Swamp planted hundreds of Peace Trees in many nations, an activity begun with the founding of the Confederacy.  Through his example millions of trees have taken root around the world from Israel to Australia, Venezuela to Spain and in all regions of North America.

Jake Swamp was a founder of the Akwesasne Freedom School in 1979 and helped develop a curriclum which was based on the traditional values of the Haudenosaunee.  He managed Radio CKON at Akwesasne and not only oversaw its Native based programming but helped secure its status as the only Native licensed broadcast facility in the Americas.

Swamp served as Mohawk Nation diplomat in many instances. He addressed the Fourth Russell Tribunal in the Netherlands, was a delegate to the United Nations, met with leaders of foreign nations and advised representatives from the US Congress and Canadian Parliament.  He worked closely with Dr. Greg Schaaf to have the US Senate pass a resolution acknowledging the influence of the Haudenosaunee on the US Constitution and thereby initiated a revolution in the understanding of American history. He was a delegate to two sessions of the World Parliament of Religions where he was affectionately called “el jeffe”.

As a member of the Mohawk Nation Tekaronianeken took an active role in preserving the ceremonial activities of the longhouse people.  At each one of the rituals he rose from his seat as a Wolf Clan leader to address the people, with the beauty of his words calling their attention to those rituals which express the nation’s collective gratitude to the natural world for the blessings of life.  He presented infants to the people, gave advice to newlyweds and spoke words of condolence to those who suffered the loss of their loved ones.

There is another requirement for leadership set by Skennenrahowi, perhaps the most important of all.  Before one can become a leader that person has to have the love and support of  their family and must in turn love them; peace in the home brought about clarity in council.  Tekaronianeken was a devoted family man, married to Judy Point Swamp for 49 years. Theirs was a solid and stable union defined by mutual respect, admiration and a quiet yet powerful affection. Jake was a highly skilled ironworker, he was one of the legendary Mohawk “skywalkers”, traveling great distances to provide for his wife and children.  This determination to insure his family’s health and security was a legacy of his parents, the late Leo and Charlotte Papineau Swamp. Jake was the second child of fourteen, in a family raised to be self reliant,hardworking and creative. He is leaving behind seven children, twenty three grandchildren, and thirteen great grandchildren, many of whom are now assuming their own leadership roles within the Nation. He was a devoted lacrosse fan and an avid gardener and was rightly proud of the athletic skills of his family.

It is taught by the Haudenosaunee that whatever one does in life it is essential to leave things better than when they were found, to take into consideration the effect of one’s actions on the seventh generation into the future.  Throughout his wonderful life Tekaronianeken abided by this principle.  Through his books, his words and his actions he brought great honour to his family, his community, the Mohawk Nation and the Haudenosaunee.

Tekaronianeken was a good friend of the Parliament of the World’s Religions, and will be greatly missed by many in the interreligious movement.

Services for Tekaronianeken will begin at the Homemaker’s Building, River Road, Snye District of Akwesasne on October 16 with the funeral at the Mohawk Nation longhouse at 10 AM, Monday,October 18.

Flowers and other support may be sent to the Swamp family: Box 326, Cook Road, Akwesasne, NY 13655.