Saturday, March 14, 2009

Northern Territories Indigenous Communities to Receive $10 Million in Grants

$10 million of grants for NT Indigenous communities

Joint Media Release with The Hon Warren Snowdon MP, Member for Lingiari

A new community store and a transport service for remote Indigenous communities are among 20 successful applicants to share in almost $10 million in funding from the Aboriginals Benefit Account (ABA).

The Australian Government and the ABA Advisory Council have supported a range of projects including improvements to food security in remote communities, access to education and employment and better management of land and sea resources.

These grants provide essential services to improve the lives of Indigenous people and help develop remote Indigenous communities.

The Australian Government understands that economic and employment opportunities are critical to turning around Indigenous disadvantage.

Working in partnership with Indigenous communities to achieve the improvements they want for their communities is central to the Australian Government's commitment to engaging with Indigenous people.
The Robinson River community will receive $1.6 million for a new community store.

Continuing to improve the affordability and availability of healthy food for Indigenous Australians in remote areas is vital to closing the gap on Indigenous disadvantage.

The Katherine region will receive $2.79 million to develop and run a three-year pilot program providing transport to Indigenous communities around the Katherine region. This pilot will test the viability of an ongoing transport service for this region.

Yipirinya School Council will also receive a grant of $170,000 to purchase two buses to support children attending school from Jay and Burt Creek.

The Laynhapuy sea rangers will receive $237,508 for a new sea vessel built to survey requirements to enhance coastal marine maintenance.

The ABA was established under the Aboriginal Land Rights (Northern Territory) Act 1976.

It receives financial compensation from the Commonwealth equivalent to the value of royalties paid in respect of mining interests on Aboriginal land.

The complete list of successful applicants can be found here.

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Friday, March 13, 2009

Indigenous Kowanyama Aboriginal Peoples and Climate Change: Video on Sea Level Rise

From United Nations University's OurWorld 2.0 project comes an informative video on how climate change is effecting indigenous peoples. In this video, the indigenous Kowanyama aboriginal peoples discuss how sea level rise will impact them.

Two quotes from the video and the OurWorld 2.0 project.

“When that whole ocean comes and rises up, where are we going to go?” ponders Inherkowinginambana, a Kunjen elder from Kowanyama, a coastal Aboriginal community in tropical Queensland, Australia.

“Every year it (the tide) comes in, it goes a bit further up….once it hits the swamps, that will kill all the plant life, and the waterways” adds an Aboriginal ranger who works with local elders to protect Aboriginal country and culture.


This video brief and article complements the on-going Indigenous Peoples Climate Change Assessment. It forms part of the work of the UNU-IAS Traditional Knowledge Initiative. The UNU would like to thank the Christensen Fund for their support for this intiative.

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Thursday, March 12, 2009

Indigenous Australian Aboriginal Workshop Begins in Adelaide

National Indigenous Workshop Kicks Off in Adelaide, Australia March 11

One hundred Indigenous people from around the country will meet in Adelaide next week for a three-day workshop to lay the groundwork for a new national Indigenous representative body.

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Social Justice Commissioner Tom Calma, who agreed to a request from the federal government to convene the independent Indigenous Steering Committee organising the consultation, said the 100 applicants were selected from a highly competitive field.

“There was an extraordinary field of highly committed Indigenous people from all walks of life who applied,” Mr Calma said.

“Such a high quality field of applicants meant that the selection process in the end had to come down to obtaining an appropriate balance of ages, locations and experience so that the workshop can represent the diversity of Indigenous communities across the country.”

Mr Calma said 263 applications were received by the closing date on 13 February, with a further 35 late applications which were not considered. He said 56 per cent of the applicants were male, 44 per cent were female and that 45 per cent were from urban areas, 34 per cent from regional areas and 21 per cent from remote communities.

“This national workshop will focus on identifying the key elements or features of a new national Indigenous representative body which can then be distilled down to a series of preferred models for the new body,” Mr Calma said.

“The workshop won’t be endorsing a final model for a national representative body nor will it be deciding the membership of it.”

The independent Indigenous Steering Committee assessed each applicant against criteria in the nomination form, including: the requirement that they be an Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander; that they be nominated by an Indigenous community organisation or self nominated with two written references supporting the nomination; that they have demonstrated leadership capacity; that they have an ability to take part in high level discussions on strategic issues; and that they are able to make a positive and considered contribution to deliberations on the establishment of the new national Indigenous representative body.

Read more about the National Indigenous workshop here.

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Wednesday, March 11, 2009

March 4-10, 2009: Five Key Indigenous Peoples Issues

Five Key Indigenous Peoples Issues for the Week of March 4 - 10, 2009

United States: Penobscot Journalist Rhonda Frey Dies

Rhonda Mitchell Frey, a Penobscot activist and the sole American Indian journalist working in Maine, died Feb. 8, leaving the community saddened and shocked at her sudden unexpected passing.

Frey was born Dec. 30, 1955, the daughter of the late Matthew and Juanita (Nicholas) Mitchell of Indian Island.

She graduated from the University of Maine, Orono, where she received bachelor degrees in journalism and history. She worked as a producer for Channel 5’s 11 o’clock News at WABI-TV in Bangor. During the 1970s, she served as a police officer for Penobscot Nation. For the past several years she was the human resources coordinator for Penobscot Nation, Indian Island.

Frey was a member of the University of Maine Oratorical Society and St. Ann’s Catholic Church Voices of the Dawn Choir on Indian Island.

She served as consultant to the Abbe Museum, assisted in curriculum development for the Maine Native American History program’s secondary educational unit, and was an advocate for child protective services.

Frey’s great love was for journalism and she was the only Native journalist working exclusively in Maine. She was a member of the Native American Journalists Association, and the creator, producer and host of Indigenous Voices, a bi-monthly radio broadcast for WERU radio, in Orland, Maine, with simulcast on Bates, Bowdoin and Colby colleges and Maine Public Broadcasting Network radio stations.

According to Penobscot Chief Kirk Francis, Frey was a tireless and dedicated fighter for Native rights. Read more about Frey's career here....

Nepal: Tharus To Continue Strike Until Madheshi Label Erased

The agitating Tharu community and indigenous nationalities on Monday said that they will continue their strike unless the government revokes the ordinance that recognizes them as Madheshis.

Leaders of the groups forwarded such preconditions while speaking at a protest rally and corner meeting at Bhadrakali in the capital today, saying that the cabinet meeting this morning failed to address their demands despite Prime Minister Pushpa Kamal Dahal's assurances yesterday.

"We won't sit for dialogue unless the government retracts the ordinance brought in with the intention to make expansionists happy," said Laxman Tharu, coordinator of agitating Tharuhat Struggle Committee (TSC).

The government has chosen Minister for Physical Planning and Works Bijaya Kumar Gachhedar to pay a facilitator's role to hold talks with the agitating groups.

However, today's cabinet meeting had prepared a draft to meet the Tharus demands and had decided to finalize it after discussing with representatives of the agitating groups. Read more about the Tharu's protest here....

Nigeria: Abuja People Seek More Constituencies

A member of the House of Representatives from Abuja who represents Gwagwalada, Kuje, Abaji and Kwali Federal Constituency has said that Abuja people would take advantage of the constitution review to seek more constituencies and ensure they get full compensation as a result of relocation of the federal capital to their land.

Isa Edgah Dobi expressed concern that while only 20 percent of Abuja indigenes were compensated by the Federal Government during the relocation of the federal capital to Abuja, the plight of indigenous people is pitiable requiring urgent attention from the Federal Government

"Very few people, not up to 20 percent, were compensated by the Federal Government. The records are there. Officially, very few people from Maitama, Wuse and some parts of Bwari were compensated and moved out of their area," he told journalists in Abuja yesterday.

He said while the decision to relocate the nation's capital to the present day Abuja would have been done in good faith the fact remains that the indigenous people were not properly taken care of.

"Their life is miserable. They live in poverty while others live fat because of that land. How do you come and take away our father's land, build houses worth millions of Naira, enjoying light, steady water supply with sufficient infrastructure and good healthcare services and then build sub standard two and one bed-room houses for the indigenous people whose lands were taken away by the government," he said. Read more about the Abuja people here....

Canada: Do Local Governments Have A Responsibility To Consult Indigenous Peoples?

The issue of whether municipalities, like Brantford have an obligation to consult and accommodate indigenous peoples before permitting development on Native "land claim" area seems to be a crucial consideration in the current conflict over development in Brantford.

The Canadian Supreme Court has said in Taku River and the Haida Nation that the Crown has a duty to consult/accommodate Natives where rights and/or title may be adversely impacted by proposed developments.

Canadian provincial and federal governments are the Crown, according to the court and have such obligations whereas third party proponents like developers, forestry and mining companies do not.

The court was not specific on whether local governments like municipalities are also deemed to have such an obligation. There appears to be growing consensus though among Canadian legal minds that local governments indeed have an obligation to consult and/or accommodate aboriginal people.

In Ontario the provincial government is now directing third party proponents to carry out consultation with aboriginal people to the province's satisfaction.

Private energy developers for example, are now required to carry out consultations with affected aboriginal peoples as a condition of their service contracts with the province. Read more about local governments consulting indigenous communities here....

Guatemala: Indigenous Guatemalans Resist Mega-Mines And Hydropower Dams

Amidst the growing controversy surrounding foreign-controlled resource extraction and mega-development projects in Guatemala, populist leader Bishop Alvaro Ramazzini, together with a group of community leaders, is demanding a two-year moratorium on the granting of mining concessions by the Guatemalan government.

In the municipal capital of San Marcos in northwest Guatemala, Ramazzini, with several hundred of his supporters, took to the streets last Tuesday to call on Congress for a two-year halt to the sale of mineral rights to international companies. This pause would give the current government enough time to review a petition to reform the existing mining code.

"A moratorium would be most sensible, given all the conflict generated by the subject of mining," the Bishop told "Prensa Libre," a national daily newspaper.

Ramazzini and numerous local and international organizations contend that the current mining law does not properly consult local communities as defined by the International Labour Organization's Convention 169, which guarantees the right of indigenous people to exercise control over the form of development that occurs in their traditional territory.

Guatemala signed onto the ILO 169 agreement shortly after the affirmation of the Peace Accords in 1996.

Critics of the current government led by President Alvaro Colom argue that the existing mining law fails to address issues surrounding water usage and the low requirement of royalty payments to the state, which stands at one percent of the revenue earned. Read more about Guatemalan resistance to mines here....

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

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Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Hmong Written Language Officially Recognized At World Congress

Fully supported by Hmong leaders, business people and community held three days Conference in St. Paul, Minnesota, United States of America to official recognize the Hmong Pahawh written language. " The Hmong Indigenous nation's rights, including writing language systems is protected by the United Nations Purposes and Principles of the Charter and the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples" stated Mr. Chairman Yang Hubert Toushouyeng.

Affirming that the Hmong (Meo or Miao), is a Proud Peace Loving Nation, existed more than 5000 years in Greater Asia and Southeast Asia;

Proudly affirming that the Hmong are the descendants of Hmong Great King Chi-You, one of the Founders of China, who lost the Hmong Great Kingdom Jualidou (Cuajlig Ntuj) in 2700 BC to Houag Di and Ying Di;

Affirming further that over 15 millions Hmong peoples world wide should be treated equal to all other nations or peoples on earth and must be recognized our distinct Ancient Script written language, culture, religious and national origins;

Reaffirming that during the reigns of Hmong Kings Yang Tseng Cheng (1879), Vang Youa Lor (1893) and Vue Pa Chay (1921), the Hmong were only used the original Ancient Script (Hmong Pahawh Source Version);

Condemning the assassination of Hmong last king Vue Pa Chay (1921), perpetrated by the combination forces of Lao, Vietnamese, Tai and France; which our head quarter Chong Chee Chong Cha or Mt. Phati, (former U.S. radar station) was destroyed and the Hmong nation was threaten for learning our Hmong Ancient Script;

RESOLVED, that World Hmong Congress General Assembly, fully supported Father Yang Shong Lue’s goal for modifying the Hmong Pahawh Source Version to meet the need of the Hmong nation; we unanimously adopted the following resolution:

WHEREAS, in September 1959, Father Yang Shong Lue, who was chosen by the agents of Hmong King Vue Pa Chay, to in charge, preserve and pass on the Hmong Pahawh written language for the Hmong indigenous nation;

WHEREAS, for teaching the Hmong Pahawh written language in Vietnam, Father Yang Shong Lue, was false accused by the Vietnamese authorities as the agent for the U.S. Officials, before he escaped to Laos;

WHEREAS, while in Laos, under the Lao dictator Prime Minister Souvanna Phouma regime, he was false accused as the Agent for China and the Soviet Union;

WHEREAS, sadly in February 1971, Father Yang Shong Lue and his wife Bau Moua were assassinated by Lao government soldiers; and in November of that year many Hmong students including the Chief disciple Mr. Yang Yong Lee, were assassinated, and T-28 aircrafts were ordered to bomb the Hmong Institutions and temple completely in the city of Houay Kining, near Moung Cha, Laos;

WHEREAS, with God’s love, in December 1983 St. Paul, Minnesota, United States of America, Dr. Smalley, A. William, an American Professor of Linguistics and was a teacher at Bethel College, was contacted by IBM to investigate the Hmong Pahawh written language;

WHEREAS, in 1987, IBM Company proudly produced two Hmong Pahawh modern electronic type writers to the Hmong nation in the United States;

WHEREAS, Dr. Smalley, strongly supported and confirmed, “ Hmong Pahawh written language” was not copied from any other systems; and he would like to call upon all Hmong to know that we should be proud that “Hmong Pahawh ” was achieved by a Hmong;

WHEREAS, the World Hmong Congress goals will benefit for the Hmong Indigenous nation for the generations to come;

NOW, THEREFORE, on behalf of the World Hmong Congress General Assembly, WE:

  1. OFFICIALLY RECOGNIZED, the “wKH zbkH qbJ - Hmong Pahawh written language,” modified by Father Yang Shong Lue ( Mother of Writing ) and created by Hmong King Chi-You, 2700 BC as the official Hmong nation’s written language for all Hmong ( Meo or Miao ) .
  2. Call upon all citizens of the world including local and federal governments to honor and recognize World Hmong Congress goals.


V. World Hmong General Assembly was held from 20-22 February 2009 - Saint Paul, Minnesota, United States of America

Contact: Mr. Yang, Nao Yia, Assistant Secretary


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Monday, March 9, 2009

Partnerships for American Indian Education Conference: Call for Presenters

2009 Partnerships for Indian Education Conference

The 2009 national conference provides an opportunity for Indian education partners at all levels to participate and engage in an effective dialogue for addressing the issues facing American Indian and Alaska Native students, their schools, families, and communities.

American Indian Education ConferenceRegistration includes:

  • One all-access name badge and conference materials
  • Plenary luncheon sessions
  • Continental breakfasts and daily refreshments
  • Dinner on Day 1

The 3-day forum will help foster communication, collaboration, and cooperative strategies among federal, state, local and tribal agencies, and national advocacy organizations.

The conference seeks to:

  • Share information on successful collaborative interagency partnerships in Indian education
  • Provide opportunities to discuss current research in Indian education
  • Engage and discuss research-based projects suitable for replication
  • Reveal the latest and most innovative practices that successfully advocate for Native student success in all areas of their community

The 2009 Partnerships for Indian Education conference will bring together educators, administrators, researchers, parents, policy makers, and advocates to address the unique needs of American Indian and Alaska Native students. Join us in building a stronger and more resilient community.

Call for Presentations

Proposals for presentations and workshops are invited on the following education-related topics that may focus on students, schools, family, and community:

  • Current Research
  • Interagency Partnerships
  • Innovative Program Practices
  • Safe and Healthy Communities

More information for presenters

Join us April 17 – 19, 2009 for the 2009 Partnerships for Indian Education conference in Norman, Oklahoma.

Important Dates

  • Presenter Submission Deadline: Feb. 25, 2009
  • Advance Registration: Jan. 13 – April 10, 2009
  • Late/Onsite Registration: April 11 –18, 2009


The conference willl be held in Norman, Oklahoma at the brand new Embassy Suites Norman - Hotel & Conference Center.

Embassy Suites Norman - Hotel & Conference Center
2501 Conference Drive
Norman, OK 73069

More information

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Sunday, March 8, 2009

An Example from New Zealand/Aotearoa: Defining Indigenous People's Identity in the Law

Identity has always been a contentious issue. People constantly seek to affirm their identity within various peer, social, and cultural groups. Likewise, larger social and ethnic groups often have to reaffirm their identity and sovereignty within state, national, and international structures. One group of people that often find themselves on the defensive in terms of reaffirming their identity, and the inherent rights associated with that identity, are indigenous peoples.

In a recent example from New Zealand involving the Maori indigenous peoples, researcher Ilana Gershon documents how identity and its definition can be manipulated, deconstructed, and reconstructed again. This example provides an excellent window onto one of the continuing struggles of indigenous peoples, and it highlights a struggle that is not unique to New Zealand/Aotearoa.

From 2003 to 2006, the New Zealand parliament explored the hazards of making Maori indigenous identity an explicit basis for legislation in debates between the ruling Labour Party and its allies and the opposing National Party and its allies. As Gershon discusses in Being Explicit About Culture: Maori, Neoliberalism, and the New Zealand Parliament, bringing cultural identity into the legislative process can have negative repercussions.

Read more about Defining Indigenous People’s Identity in the Law: An Example from New Zealand/Aotearoa here.

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