Friday, June 27, 2008

Ancient Skeletons Returned to Indigenous Qawalangin Tribes of Alaska: NAGPRA Provides Positive Mechanism

The Native American Graves Protection and Repatriation Act (NAGPRA) has been covered on this site several times in the past. An article about attempts to change the plain language of NAGPRA was covered, as well as the Society for American Archaeology's stance on unidentified human remains. In fact, in a new book that just came out this month by Left Coast Press, the topic is extensively covered in terms of the Kennewick Man and ancient Native American skeletons: Kennewick Man: Perspectives on the Ancient One..

Most of these pieces cover the continuing struggle indigenous Native Americans have in recovering their ancestors and properly reburying them. However, not all instances of NAGPRA can be considered negative. In fact, there are more positive cases then negative ones. Below is a story about human remains that will be repatriated to the Qawalangin tribe in Alaska.

Human remains excavated from Unalaska and Amaknak Islands in the 1950s and '60s will soon be returned to the Qawalangin tribe under the provisions of the Native American Graves Protection and Repatriation Act (NAGPRA). The 1990 law says bones and funerary items found on federal lands need to be offered back to their original families or tribes. Robert King in Anchorage coordinates the repatriation of bones.

"When you have remains that are hundreds and indeed thousand of years old, as in this case," King explains, "those specific genealogical connections are broken. So then it goes the next highest claimant who would have the priority. You might say the collective descendants, so in this case, the tribe."

The bones of ten individuals were excavated by a now deceased archaeologist from Michigan from Eider Point in the 1950s. Bone fragments from another individual were found on Amaknak Island in the 1960s, though records do not say by whom. Because the remains were found on then federal land, the federal government took possession of them.

"When the remains are returned, they become the private property of the tribe and so then the tribe at its own discretion can do whatever the tribe wishes to do with the remains," King says.

King says tribes often decide to rebury the bones. The Qawalangin tribe will take possession of the bones later this summer. Tribal representatives could not be reached for comment on their plans for the remains.

Use the Search Function at the Top to Find More Articles, Fellowships, Conferences, Indigenous Issues, Book Reviews, and Resources

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

June 10 - 22, 2008: Five Key Indigenous People's Issues

Five Important Indigenous People's Issues for the Weeks of June 10 - June 22, 2008

Corporate Rights Trump Indigenous Rights in Ontario, Canada

In attempts to skirt constitutionally required consultations with First Nations, mining corporations are seeking access to territory by dragging the process through the Ontario legal system long enough to bankrupt cash-strapped First Nations.

Situated about 580 km north of Thunder Bay is Kitchenuhmaykoosib Inninuwug First Nation (KIFN; Big Trout Lake). Despite winning an important legal victory on July 28, 2006, in the Ontario Superior Court – a victory that forced Ontario mining exploration company Platinex Incorporated to cease drilling operations in the territory claimed by the Cree community of 1,300 – KIFN eventually found itself, according to its press release of April 9, $700,000 poorer. Moreover, Platinex had been granted a court injunction permitting it to drill on KIFN land and forbidding residents to obstruct the company’s operations.

KIFN has withdrawn from the judicial route and stressed the necessity of a political solution. The First Nation is concerned about the impact mining operations will have on their treaty-guaranteed traditional way of life – hunting and fishing – which is dependent upon the health of the environment. Read the rest of the article here....

Indigenous People's Cultural Heritage and Environmental Conservation through Traditional Knowledge

Nature has always been very vibrant, giving and resilient to a very large extent. We, as Indians, take pride in our strong cultural heritage. Religion protects and nurtures nature. If we take a look at Hinduism, we worship the sun, wind, land, trees, plants, and water which is the very base of human survival. Likewise, respect and conservation of wildlife — garuda, lion, peacock, and snake — are part of our cultural ethos from time immemorial. Almost the entire living of God Ram and Goddess Sita was very close to nature. Further, ancient texts written in Sanskrit, Pali or other languages can provide significant details. For instance, the scripture Vishnu Samhitâ in Sanskrit language contains some direct instructions dealing with biodiversity conservation.

In fact, whole civilizations have come into existence near sources of water like Indus Valley Civilization. In this sense, nature and culture become intertwined. Culture reflects our history, tradition and our beliefs. Revolutions in the technological and communication fields and the advent of globalisation have made an impact on our culture which have also evolved with time. However, it becomes imperative that we adapt new things without losing the basic character of our long cherished traditions and values which include environmental conservation. India is a culturally rich and diverse country where people speak many different languages, with many communities which live in their respective social structures completely depending on their environment to ensure their livelihood. Read the rest of the story here....

In Canada AbitibiBowater Chainsaws Stop at Grassy Narrows First Nation

The giant paper and forest products company AbitibiBowater has decided to "temporarily" stop logging on the traditional territory of the Grassy Narrows First Nation.

The decision comes after decades of lawsuits and peaceful protests by the people of Grassy Narrows, including the longest standing logging blockade in North America.
The tribal actions were taken in an effort to protect the 2,500 square miles of forests, lakes and rivers north of Kenora, Ontario that comprises Grassy Narrows traditional territory.

Last October, AbitibiBowater was formed as a merger of Abitibi-Consolidated Inc. of Quebec and Bowater Incorporated of South Carolina. AbitibiBowater is the third largest publicly traded paper and forest products company in North America and the eighth largest in the world. Read more here....

Canadian Government Apologizes For Abuse of Indigenous First Nation People

Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper delivered a long-anticipated apology yesterday to tens of thousands of indigenous people who as children were ripped from their families and sent to boarding schools, where many were abused as part of official government policy to "kill the Indian in the child."

Harper rose on the floor of a packed House of Commons and condemned the decades-long federal effort to wipe out aboriginal culture and assimilate native Canadians into European-dominated society. "The government of Canada sincerely apologizes and asks the forgiveness of the aboriginal peoples of this country for failing them so profoundly," Harper declared. "We are sorry." Read more of the story here....

Québec Native Women's Association Responds to Harper's Apology for Residential Schools

The Québec Native Women's Association has called upon the Canadian government to acknowledge that residential schools were an act of genocide.

Statement by Quebec Native Women's Association/Femmes Autochtones du Québec
Re : Government of Canada's Residential School Apology

June 11, 2008, Kahnawake

Quebec Native Women recognizes the Prime Minister's official apology concerning the genocidal experience of Aboriginal people in the history of the Residential School system. While the apology to Aboriginal peoples is long overdue it is contradicted by the oppressive policies of the Indian

The heinous crimes committed against Aboriginal children who were victims and survivors of the Residential School experience must be dealt with beyond mere apologies and monetary compensation.

The damages to our languages, well-being, social and political structures, and sexuality caused by Residential School, demands attention. The policy of assimilation through the Residential Schools system constituted a war against an identifiable group of people. Read the rest of the response here....

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

Use the Search Function at the Top to Find More Articles, Fellowships, Conferences, Indigenous Issues, Book Reviews, and Resources

Contribute to Indigenous People's Issues Today

Do you have a resource on indigenous peoples that you would like to share? Indigenous People's Issues is always looking for great new information, news, articles, book reviews, movies, stories, or resources.

Please send it along and we will do a feature. Email it to the Editor, Peter N. Jones: pnj "at"

Indigenous Peoples Issues and Resources

Privacy Policy for Indigenous Peoples Issues Today (

The privacy of our visitors to Indigenous Peoples Issues Today is important to us.

At Indigenous Peoples Issues Today, we recognize that privacy of your personal information is important. Here is information on what types of personal information we receive and collect when you use visit Indigenous Peoples Issues Today, and how we safeguard your information. We never sell your personal information to third parties.

Log Files

As with most other websites, we collect and use the data contained in log files. The information in the log files include your IP (internet protocol) address, your ISP (internet service provider, such as AOL or Shaw Cable), the browser you used to visit our site (such as Internet Explorer or Firefox), the time you visited our site and which pages you visited throughout our site.

Cookies and Web Beacons

We do use cookies to store information, such as your personal preferences when you visit our site. This could include only showing you a pop-up once in your visit, or the ability to login to some of our features, such as forums.

We also use third party advertisements on Indigenous Peoples Issues Today to support our site. Some of these advertisers may use technology such as cookies and web beacons when they advertise on our site, which will also send these advertisers (such as Google through the Google AdSense program) information including your IP address, your ISP, the browser you used to visit our site, and in some cases, whether you have Flash installed. This is generally used for geotargeting purposes (showing New York real estate ads to someone in New York, for example) or showing certain ads based on specific sites visited (such as showing cooking ads to someone who frequents cooking sites). Google, as a third party vendor, uses cookies to serve ads on this site. Google's use of the DART cookie enables it to serve ads to users based on their visit to sites on the Internet. Users may opt out of the use of the DART cookie by visiting the Google ad and content network privacy policy.

You can chose to disable or selectively turn off our cookies or third-party cookies in your browser settings, or by managing preferences in programs such as Norton Internet Security. However, this can affect how you are able to interact with our site as well as other websites. This could include the inability to login to services or programs, such as logging into forums or accounts.

Thank you for understanding and supporting Indigenous Peoples Issues Today. We understand that some viewers may be concerned that ads are sometimes served for companies that negatively depict indigenous peoples and their cultures. We understand this concern. However, there are many legitimate companies that utilize Google Adwords and other programs to attract visitors. Currently, we have no way of deciphering between the two - we leave it up to the viewer to decide whether the companies serving ads are honest or not.