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Proud to Be Indigenous Week starts Monday, April 20. Are you part of it yet?!

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The Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement (TPP) is a massive, controversial free trade agreement currently under negotiation behind closed doors by officials from the United States, Australia, Brunei, Canada, Chile, Japan, Malaysia, Mexico, New Zealand, Peru, Singapore, and Vietnam.

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Over the past few weeks, Guatemala has witnessed some of the worst violence against journalists in recent times. Election years are the most dangerous times for journalists in Guatemala, regardless of their political leanings. So far in 2015, three journalists have been killed, many have received threats and been assaulted, and over 10 Indigenous community leaders have been jailed.

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The Maya people of Toledo are scheduled for a hearing to reaffirm their land rights case at the regional Caribbean Court of Justice in April of 2015, after almost a decade of back and forth in the national courts in Belize.  Their claim to the land has been upheld twice in the Supreme Court, once in 2009 and again in 2013.  The government of Belize continues to assert that the land title the Maya hold should not be considered Native or Indigenous land title, but merely based on a long peri

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They demand that their countries reduce the inequality gaps and improve the quality of life for Indigenous Peoples.

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Rigoberto Juarez Mateo, a long-time Indigenous community activist from Santa Eulalia, Guatemala was arbitrarily arrested on March 24, 2015 in Guatemala City, where he was denouncing human rights violations against himself and his community. Rigoberto Juarez is a representative of the Pluri-national Government of the Q’anjob’al, Chuj, Akateka, Popti and Mestizo peoples, of Huehuetenango. Juarez is criminalized, along with many others who have been active in defending the natural resources of their communities.

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Douglas Limón (Oneida) is an artist in White Bear Lake, Minnesota who is well known for his beadwork, however, he was drawn to cradleboard construction by the birth of his youngest son Gavino. Unfortunately, he found few people who could help him.

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On March 19, 2015, members of Radio Snuq Jolom Konob, alongside ancestral leaders, community elders, and various human rights organizations, took to the streets demanding that the town’s mayor re-open the radio premises in Santa Eulalia, Guatemala. Supporters and radio members gathered in front of the municipal building demanding to speak with the mayor to resolve this issues.

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In the early mornings of January 20th 2015, the mayor of Santa Eulalia, Huehuetenango, Guatemala, Diego Marcos, shot at a crowd of peaceful protesters outside a government building, as accounted for by many eye-witnesses. The crowd was exiting the Administrative Justice Center after many hours of negotiation regarding environmental damages by the Proyecto de Desarrollo Hidroelectrico (PDH), a hydroelectric company. The shots injured several people but two suffered critical wounds. Twenty-year-old Pascual Basilio, from a nearby village, was one of the severely wounded victims. He was transferred to a hospital in Quiche.

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On February 25, 2015 the Guatemalan National Police and the Public Ministry once again raided two community radio stations, this time in Chichicastenango, Quiche, a popular tourist destination. Radio Swan Tinamit and Radio Ixmukane both serve important audiences in Chichicastenango. Radio Swan Tinamit is mostly staffed by youth, and the topics they cover include the rights of Indigenous Peoples, youth participation in leadership, and Indigenous traditions, among others. Radio Ixmukane is mostly staffed by women, as the radio was founded as part of and is housed by Asociacion de Mujeres Ixmukane (Ixmukane Womens’ Association). Radio Ixmukane focuses on women’s rights, education on domestic abuse, and reproductive rights.

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On an average day out of adobe bricks, the Tucson Indigenous Adobe Initiative is building school ovens and sculptures of gila monsters, a lizard native to the southwestern United States with meaning in many local Indigenous cultures, and that’s just to keep the momentum going. The initiative is associated with Sustainable Nations, a privately and individually funded group working to support the economic, ecological, and cultural sustainability of Indigenous communities.

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