American Samizdat

Thursday, August 09, 2007. *
Today is the date of the 13th annual United Nations International Day of the World's Indigenous Peoples. Forums, talks and events are occuring in San Francisco and in New York. Delegates will urge member nations to adopt the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples. Rebecca Sommer has produced an hour-long documentary on the rights of indigenous peoples, which will be screened on both coasts. An early draft of the documentary is available on YouTube. Parts 2-7 are accessible through SommerFilm's YouTube profile. (I would have posted the first video here, but offsite publication is disabled.)

Today is also the final day of a three-day summit in Venezuela bringing together delegates from 40 indigenous populations throughout the Western Hemisphere. Delegates from as far away as the Mohawk Nation of Canada traveled to the land of El Dorado to express solidarity with the Bolivarian Revolution and the people of Venezuela. The Mohawk Nation's statement to the International Congress of Indigenous People can be read here.

And today is the anniversary of the bombing of Nagasaki. How does this relate to the above? In this time of Peak Oil, the nuclear power industry is attempting to make a resurgence. Yet many of the stores of uranium which the industry needs to produce nuclear power are still on protected Native lands, and many of the proposed waste dumping sites are also on Native lands. Some of the same corporations profitting from the Iraq venture are also heavy movers in the nascent nuclear industry.

Recent efforts to ramp up uranium mining has activated indigenous politics and is slowly bringing native peoples once again into the public eye of the West. Indigenous protests against mining and dumping have occurred in as far-flung places as Ontario, Australia and South Dakota.

Indigenous political struggles have played a significant role in the recent leftward shift in Central and South America. Now those political movements are reaching out to indigenous populations throughout the world.

30 years ago, the Iroquois Confederacy issued "A Basic Call to Consciousness," outlining their perspective of the development of the Western industrial machine and the possibility of an alternate social contract which could bring human beings into a survivable relationship with each other and their environment. The traditional structure of the Iroquois Confederacy is thought to have inspired Western thinkers as diverse as Thomas Jefferson and Karl Marx.

At this time, when America's moneyed elite have come to believe itself absolved of the strictures which bind us all to common purpose; when the structure of society is more unequal and more rigidly enforced that at any other time in history; when widespread distrust of government leads most to doubt the political integrity of the richest nation on Earth; when the most public face of the American left has shown it to be as craven and shortsighted as their supposed opposition; when money itself seems more and more like a ghost chasing a phantom; where a "way of life" is predicated on endless war, torture, forced prostitution and theft of dwindling resources; and when it looks to even some conservative observers that we are reaching the horizon of civilization itself; perhaps then it is time once again to reexamine the structure of this system which thrives on catastrophe. And to remember that while industrial capitalism has brought itself to the brink of collapse within the span of a few short generations, other peoples--peoples who might not be so far from right where you are sitting now (or of course, people you might be)--have maintained traditions and economic practices which have fostered their survival for hundreds of thousands of years.

(Thanks to narcosnews for the post which inspired this cascade of thoughts, and thanks to Backwoods for the heads up about Akwesasne Notes.)
posted by the thistle at 1:05 PM
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