Saturday, May 17, 2008

Town Manager Set To Leave Kayenta Township, Navajo Reservation

KAYENTA- For the past 2-1/2 years, Daniel Peaches has worked for the Kayenta Township on the Navajo Native American reservation as the Town Manager. On Monday evening, May 12 at the regularly scheduled meeting of the Kayenta Township, the Commissioners made a decision to re-advertise the position of Town Manager.

In January 2006, Peaches was given a contract after former Town Manager Gary Nelson was relieved of his duty in 2005.

The 5-member Commission made the decision while in executive session. According to Commissioner Chairman Eugene Badonie, “It was an over-whelming consensus among the Commissioners that Mr. Peaches fulfilled the terms and conditions of his contractual obligations.” He added, “He served during the most challenging times in the history of the Kayenta Township.”

“He wasn’t terminated or fired, his contract was up so we decided not to renew his contract,” said longtime Kayenta Township Commissioner Richard Mike.

One major obstacle that Mr. Peaches was not able to overcome was organizing a meeting with the Navajo Nation Economic Development Committee pertaining to local business issues and streamlining the Kayenta Township’s Business Site-Leasing Regulations in accordance with Navajo Nation Business Site-Leasing Regulations.

He is expected to be relieved of his duties on Friday, May 16 when Kayenta Township Economic Development Specialist Ed Whitewater will assume the position as the interim Town Manager until a new one is selected.

The Township Commission is grateful for his services and leadership during his employment with the Kayenta Township. Peaches was hired by the Commission in January 2006 but the Commission felt that it was time for new leadership and direction for the Township.

His major accomplishments during his administration as Town Manager include the rapid development of the Kayenta Recreation Center/Park and the movement of capital improvement projects within the Kayenta Township.

“Although his employment with the Kayenta Township was short he did the best he could with what resources he had,” said Commissioner Mike.

Commissioner Chairman Badonie stated, “Mr. Peaches is welcome to re-apply the position among other applicants.”

Jarvis Williams – KTC Community Involvement Coordinator

P.O. Box 1490 Kayenta, AZ 86033

(928) 697-8451

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Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Indigenous Peoples and Climate Change: A Human Rights Issue

The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) Fourth Assessment Report published in early 2007 confirmed that global climate change is already taking place and having an impact on many communities around the world. The report found that communities who live in marginal lands and whose livelihoods are highly dependent on natural resources are among the most vulnerable to climate change.

Many indigenous and traditional peoples who have been pushed to the least fertile and most fragile lands as a consequence of historical, social, political and economic exclusion are among those who are at greatest risk. On the other hand, people living in marginal lands have long been exposed to many kinds of environmental changes and have developed strategies for coping with these phenomena. They have valuable knowledge about adapting to climate change, but the magnitude of future hazards may exceed their adaptive capacity, especially given their current conditions of marginalization. The potential impacts of climate change on the livelihoods and cultures of indigenous and traditional communities remain poorly known. As such, the International Union for Conservation of Nature has conducted a report examining how climate change may continue to impact indigenous peoples in the near future.

The goals of the IUCN report on Indigenous Peoples and Climate Change were:

* to improve understanding of the potential impacts of climate change on vulnerable communities and cultures and their associated ecosystems;
* to identify further research required to reduce the risks of climate change; and
* to develop appropriate adaptation and mitigation measures, particularly in areas with high risk of socio-cultural impacts.

Published in March of 2008, the report offers some elements that will facilitate integration of socio-cultural considerations in programs and actions to address climate change impacts.

A central point of the report is that indigenous and traditional peoples are going to be particularly burdened by the costs of climate change impacts, and that there is evidence that the dangers of climate change are already threatening traditional cultures (previously discussed in terms of anthropology, indigenous peoples, and climate change; and biofuel, indigenous peoples, and West Papua). The report documents that the degree of vulnerability varies from one group to another and can be unevenly distributed across and within communities. Women are expected to be particularly affected by the effects of global warming as a result of their disproportionate involvement in reproductive work, their frequently insecure property rights and access to resources, as well as of their reduced mobility due to caring for children and the elderly in situations of stress.

Broken down by ecological region, the report covers case studies in:

* Oceans, Coastal Areas, Islands and Climate Change;
* The Tropical Forest Belt and Climate Change;
* Drylands, Climate Change, and Indigenous and Local Communities; and
* Watersheds and Climate Change.

The report also reveals that there is already a long record of adaptations to climate variability practiced by indigenous peoples which may ultimately enhance their resilience. Examples of such traditional and innovative adaptation practices include: shoreline reinforcement, improved building technologies, increased water quality testing, rainwater harvesting, supplementary irrigation, traditional farming techniques to protect watersheds, changing hunting and gathering periods and habits, crop and livelihood diversification, use of new materials, seasonal climate forecasting, community-based disaster risk reduction and so on. The capacity to adapt to climate change can be asymmetrically distributed within a community (depending on age, social status or sex) and may change over time. Adaptive capacity depends on a range of factors, some of which coincide with the determining factors of vulnerability. The determinants of adaptive capacity include: social capital, social networks, values, perceptions, customs, traditions, and levels of cognition. Additionally, the capacity to adapt is also affected by external factors including violent conflicts or the spread of infectious diseases (IPCC, 2007b). However, even if the capacity to adapt is given within a society, successful adaptation may not occur. Research has shown that in some cases societies are reluctant to adapt even though they would actually possess the capability to adapt. There are significant issues which hinder adaptation including poverty, policies, lack of resources, financial or technological limits. In the case of indigenous and traditional peoples, social and cultural barriers, insecurity of rights and loss of traditional knowledge may hold back adaptation (IPCC, 2007b).

All in all, the IUCN report documents that impacts to indigenous peoples as a result of climate change is largely a human rights issue. Human rights include the right to life - a right that climate change is effecting as indigenous and traditional peoples are continually impacted and marginalized. The question is, what can we do as individuals. Well, beyond the basics of recycling, consuming less, and being social active, one can go to the Amnesty International site and get involved in the many pressing human rights issues. Together, we CAN make a difference.


IPCC, 2007a. Climate Change 2007: The Scientific Basis. Working Group I. Contribution to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change Fourth Assessment Report. Cambridge University Press, Cambridge.

IPCC, 2007b. Climate Change 2007: Impacts, Adaptation and Vulnerability. The Working Group II Contribution to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change Fourth Assessment Report. Cambridge University Press, Cambridge.

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Monday, May 12, 2008

May 6 - 12, 2008: Five Key Indigenous Peoples Issues

Five Important Indigenous People's Issues for the Week of May 6 - May 12, 2008

New Ecuador Constitution Addresses Demand for ‘Plurinational’ State

Ecuador’s new constitution, which a constituent assembly expects to finish drafting by mid-June, establishes a united "plurinational" state, recognising equality along with ethnic diversity, as agreed between the government and indigenous organisations.

"’Plurinationalism’ means admitting that several different nationalities coexist within the larger Ecuadorean state, which is obvious in this country and need not scare anyone," said President Rafael Correa. "Everyone should have the same opportunities," he added.

"The next step is to properly define the scope of plurinationalism, which basically means recognizing the different peoples, cultures and worldviews that exist, and for all public policies, such as education, health and housing, to recognize the plurinational dimension," he said.

The Ecuadorean Confederation of Indigenous Nationalities (CONAIE) agrees that the proposed plurinational state reflects reality in the country. Read the rest of the story here....

Bolivia Vote Shows Depth of Divisions Towards Indigenous Peoples

Pro-autonomy supporters in Bolivia's eastern department of Santa Cruz have turned the capital city's main square into a sea of green and white flags - the colours of the region.

The celebrants have ignored the allegations of fraud made by supporters of Bolivia's first indigenous president, Evo Morales. It is a defining moment for an increasingly powerful civic and business movement and a skilled political opposition which united in this resource-rich province to challenge Mr Morales.

Before thousands of exultant "crucenos" - as the people from Santa Cruz are called - Ruben Costas, the now self-declared governor of Santa Cruz, claimed that the victory meant, "initiating the path towards a new republic". Supporters of more autonomy for the region want to loosen what they term the "totalitarian and hegemonic centralism" of the central government in La Paz. Read the rest here....

Three Indigenous Chiefs in Fiji to File a Complaint with United Nations Over Interim Regime

Three paramount chiefs from Fiji’s Namosi, Rewa and Cakaudrove are planning to file a complaint with the United Nations Human Rights Council on issues surrounding indigenous Fijians.

The head of the Burebasaga confederacy and Rewa chief Ro Teimumu Kepa has confirmed to Fijilive that with Ratu Suliano Matanitobua and Ratu Naiqama Lalabalavu, they are putting together a paper that would be forwarded to the UN Forum on Indigenous Issues. Ro Teimumu said indigenous Fijians are being threatened through the actions of the interim government. She said their rights have been taken away because the interim regime dictates everything now and the people have no say. She said they are being threatened with changes to their chiefly system, which includes the GCC.

Ro Teimumu said these changes have greatly affected the indigenous Fijians one way or the other. The Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples was adopted by the UN General Assembly last year with the mandate to develop a set of minimum standards that would protect indigenous peoples. Learn more here....

Obstacles to Easing Plight of Baka Indigenous People in Congo, Africa

Faced with the still pressing marginalisation of the indigenous Baka people, NGOs in Congo are implementing projects to improve living conditions in these communities. In most of the country, the Baka people, sometimes referred to as Pygmies, have been the victims of poverty, endemic famine, lack of education and basic medical care, social isolation and exclusion from the political decision-making process.

Access to drinking water and a healthy and balanced diet remains a problem and a source of numerous illnesses. In a bid to resolve this situation, NGOs have been trying to implement projects aimed at improving their living conditions. However, they reckon the task is not easy. Find out more about the situation here....

No More Arbitrary Land Allocation in Kenya for Indigenous Peoples

Excerpts on land-related issues

SUNDAY NATION: Land allocation has been a huge problem in Kenya since independence. How do you plan to deal with this in law?

ORENGO: The law has previously been abused. Although the President has powers, which are drawn from the Crown Lands Act that was repealed and became the Government Lands Act, such powers should be in the public interest as was exercised by the colonial governor on behalf of the queen. However, over the years, presidents have used this power to dish out land to politically correct groups or persons. This is even in instances where the beneficiaries do not need land other than for speculation. The exercise, therefore, became a mechanism for rewarding sycophants and people who were greedy.

As a remedy, no public land, including trust land, can be given without justification, even if the Commissioner of Lands or the President thought there is an appropriate case. And, to ensure that there is transparency and accountability, there must be a justification on record as to why that piece of land has to be given out.

Secondly, we want to regulate the issuance of letters of allotment and beneficiaries must accept the offer within 30 days and develop the land in question within two years. Any default on any of these would lead the ministry to cancel the letters and withdraw the offer.

We are also building a system in which letters of allotment will be given at the highest level, either by the Commissioner of Lands or the deputy. But the permanent secretary and the minister must be kept abreast. Read the rest of the interview here....

Last weeks Five Key Indigenous People's Issues can be found here.

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