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Old Habits Die Hard: Indigenous Land Rights and Mining in Australia

The threat or opportunity of resource development often prompts a movement for the recognition of indigenous ownership and control of lands. In Australia, this is particularly true in the mineral-rich arid lands of the interior. Recognition of indigenous peoples' interest in their lands, however, was a long time coming in this jurisdiction. A number of serious implications arise from the late…

Native Reluctance to Join Mining Industry Initiatives: activist perspective

Mining, more often than not, is a significant strain on native peoples and nature. From its human impacts (social, cultural, economic, spiritual) to its ecological impacts (biodiversity loss, energy consumption, air pollution, water contamination and loss) mining is a devastating assault on people and place. This scenario has been documented time and again, from the foothills of the Sierra Nevada…

Native Resistance to Multinational Mining Corporations in Wisconsin

Native resistance to multinational mining corporations in Wisconsin has been growing for over two decades. It started in 1975 when Exxon discovered the large Crandon zinc-copper sulfide deposit in Forest County, one mile upstream of the wild rice beds of the Mole Lake Chippewa (Ojibwe) Reservation, five miles downwind of the Forest County Potawatomi Reservation, and 40 miles (via the Wolf River)…

Mining in Paradise? Caught Between A Rock And Heavy Minerals On The Wild Coast, South Africa

South Africa has its fair share of controversial mining proposals. In the late 1980s, the protracted and widely publicized conflict surrounding a proposed heavy minerals mine at St. Lucia (in the vicinity of what has now become a World Heritage Site) heralded a new era in which environmental groups can engage mining development interests in fierce contests enacted on a national stage. Local…

Mining & Indigenous Rights: the emergence of a global social movement

Anyone who has seen the massive 900-page book entitled The Gulliver File (1992) will undoubtedly concur that for better or for worse anti-mining activism is a global social movement. This book lists mining projects and their parent companies around the world in alphabetical order and gives background history and environmental impact information (albeit from a particular activist perspective)…

Maroon Gold Miners and Mining Risks In The Suriname Amazon

In recent decades, small-scale gold mining has gained importance both as a source of income for the poor and as a cause of environmental degradation in low-income countries. Gold mining and its surrounding service economy sustain millions of households in the Amazon, and governments able to regulate mining in their countries earn urgently needed revenues. Gold miners, however, also attract…

Maasai Autonomy and Sovereignty in Kenya and Tanzania

"Sovereignty" in the context of indigenous peoples is a new and controversial term among government figures and the sections of civil society concerned with its interpretation and implications in Kenya and Tanzania. The term, however, is not new to indigenous people in its practical aspect. Native people thrived in the eastern Africa region as sovereign and autonomous nations -- with their own…

Long Night's Journey into Day: South Africa's Search for Truth and Reconciliation

South Africa's Apartheid system facilitated the forced removal from their homes of more than three million people and the imprisonment of a similar number for pass law offenses. Afrikaner companies were established to find a vaccine that would curb the fertility of the black population; the Nationalist Party government initiated a "scientific" search for a race poison to be effective only against…

Good Kurds, Bad Kurds

In his film Good Kurds, Bad Kurds, journalist Kevin McKiernan cites his desire to investigate post-Gulf War Iraq as his initial introduction to one of the most marginalized ethnicities in the world. With 20 to 25 million living in the Middle East, the Kurds are the largest ethnic population without a nation-state. This award-winning film concentrates its energy on exploring their plight.…

Views from the South: The Effects of Globalization and the WTO on Third World Countries

Violence erupted in Seattle at the World Trade Organization (WTO) summit in December 1999. The backlash against globalization is widespread and involves many disparate groups: protectionist labor union members; environmentalists; and those opposed to sweatshops in Micronesia, genetically altered foods from Europe, or the killing of turtles by deep sea tuna fishermen from Japan and Taiwan. There…

Uranium Mining On Navajo Indian Land

On July 11, 2000, U.S. President William Jefferson Clinton signed into law the Radiation Exposure Compensation Act (RECA) Amendment Act of 2000. At the turn of the century, we are still grappling with the consequences of uranium mining long ended. But this legislation has not brought to a close the issues raised by uranium mining. History and Consequences Uranium mining began in the United States…

This Land Knows Me: Indigenous Land Rights

I once looked into the eyes of an old man from the Kalahari Desert in Botswana who mesmerized me with tales about the waving savannah grasses and the end ess sky of his homeland and told me that he could never leave because the land knew him. The sentiment has been echoed by Richard Nerysoo of Fort McPherson in Canada's Northwest Territories, who explained that "being an Indian means saying the…

The Wangurri Garden Project, Australia: Coordinator, Timothy Buthimang

In Australia's remote northeast Arnhem Land, Wangurri clan Elder Timothy Buthimang pursues his vision: ensuring that self-sufficient Aborigines are gainfully employed utilizing the land and sea as they did in olden times, before the widescale movement of peoples into centralized mission communities in the 1940s. Through the Aboriginal Land Rights (NT) Act 1976, the Aborigines of Arnhem Land hold…

The Tribal Agro-forestry Technology Project: The Philippines

In November 2000, Cultural Survival was pleased to welcome Philippines TAFT Special Project Coordinator Datu Efren Mandipensa to our Cambridge offices, and to present him with a check for $3,000 to support his community's reforestation project in Mindanao. The plan is to build a Durian forest buffer zone around the remnant rainforest homeland of the indigenous Higaonon, an area targeted by…

The Mining Minerals and Sustainable Development Project and indigenous peoples

Many of those involved with the mining industry, or with mining related issues will by now be aware of the Mining Minerals and Sustainable Development Project (MMSD) being managed by the International Institute for Environment and Development (IIED) in London. MMSD is a two-year endeavor which began in April, 2000. The project was designed to address the role of mining, minerals, and metals in…

The Man-Eating Mines of Potosi

The man-Eating mines of Potosí On the Bolivian Altiplano, at more than 4000 meters above sea level, lies South America's most elevated town. Potosí is a mining town famous for the incredible riches that have been cut out of the Cerro Rico Mountain ever since 1545, when the Spaniards began with large-scale excavation. Its silver soon became the foundation of the Spanish Empire, and at its peak in…

Papuan Gold: A Blessing or a Curse? The Case of the Amungme

Beautiful rugged Papuan valleys and rainforests have held treasures of natural resources for their inhabitants for thousands of years. The people live off the land and in many ways have protected it in order to ensure its continued prosperity. The immense gold deposits in the mountains have brought more than miners, mining, and exploration. Layer upon layer of complex social issues have…

The Indigenous Community Foundation and Australian Response

I'll begin today with an admission of sorts: I am not a lawyer. Therefore I won't be entering into debates over legal definitions or the significance of court decisions or rulings. Nor will I proffer argument on strategies for influencing legislative processes and outcomes. My point here is to introduce some discussion on the exercise of self-determination by indigenous peoples in Australia. For…

The Efe Medical Project, Democratic Republic of Congo

The Efe of the Ituri rainforest are the shortest people in the world, and the least affected of all pygmy groups by Western influences. An estimated fifty thousand Efe survive in the northeastern corner of the Democratic Republic of Congo. Living in small family groups, their survival is based upon seasonal mobility: honey gathering when trees are in bloom, antelope hunting during the dry season…

The Djenne Project, Mali: Coordinator, Jean-Louis Bourgeois

Cultural Survival and local Malian opponents to the damming of the lower Bani River are concerned that the project impact zone has been identified exclusively as upstream from the dam. Downstream areas have been excluded because engineers contend that waters would not be diverted, only delayed by a week or so in the rainy season, and therefore not impact the normal seasonal flooding that sustains…

The Cordillera People's Alliance: Mining and Indigenous Rights in the Luzon Highlands

On the northern end of Luzon island in the Philippines is a mountainous region called the Cordillera. known as the vegetable basket of the country, the Cordillera region encompasses seven provinces, has a total land area of over 1.8 million hectares, and is home to 1.3 million indigenous people. The Cordillera also sits upon a rich mineral belt that traverses the region. The Department of…

The Amungme, Kamoro & Freeport: How Indigenous Papuans Have Resisted the World's Largest Gold and Copper Mine

The story of the Amungme and Kamoro peoples and U.S. mining corporation Freeport McMoRan Copper & Gold(1) ("Freeport") offers one of the best-documented examples of how local communities have experienced and resisted the seizure of their traditional lands by government-backed multinational mining enterprises. The Amungme and Kamoro are the original indigenous landowners of the areas that now…

The Ainu Oral History Project, Japan/United States

On December 16th and 17th, 2000, I was invited by the Ainu People of the Kansai and Tokyo area to participate with them in a ceremony that had not been performed in over 25 years. This occasion was precipitated by a proposal submitted to them by Cultural Survival, entitled "The Ainu Oral History Project." Mrs. Ukagi and her brother Mr. Haruzo Urakawa, both traditional elders and leaders of the…

Swiss Activist Missing in Borneo

Bruno Manser, a forty-six year old human rights activist from Basel Switzerland, disappeared in late May of last year in the province of Sarawak, located in East Malaysia on the island of Borneo. Manser, who for ten years has fought diligently for the cause of the indigenous Penan in their ongoing struggle against large-scale logging in the oldest tropical forest on earth, leaves few clues to his…

Staking Claims: Innu Rights and Mining Claims at Voisey's Bay

This place has many names, attesting to the different human histories intertwined here. Archaeologists have found evidence here of human habitation going back 6,000 years, and the descendants of these early peoples have continued to make extensive use of the place.(1) To the Innu, it is known as Kapukuanipant-kauashat, or more recently as Eimish (or "Emish"). To the Inuit, it is Tasiujatsoak.…

Regopstaan's Dream

The film under review tells the story of the most dramatic recent African court case involving indigenous people: the successful land claim of the Southern Kalahari Khomani San (Bushmen) against the South African National Parks Board. The 1994 Restitution of Land Rights Act in the new South Africa provided the legal grounds for the Khomani people to claim ownership of their ancestral lands, from…

Reconciliation-to-forgive v. Reconciliation-to-forget

This past November 11th, Americans, Canadians, Australians, and others commemorated Remembrance Day (Veterans Day). One week later, during his keynote address at Hanoi National University, Bill Clinton became the first U.S. president to call for "reconciliation" with Vietnam, urging the Vietnamese to "bury the painful, painful past" and focus instead on "building a prosperous future." (Daily…

Gender Issues in Consultation Processes

Resource development can have significant impacts on indigenous women. Indigenous women are "crucial actors in biodiversity management in their multiple roles as farmers, herders, forest gatherers, primary health care givers, market vendors, selectors and preservers of seeds, soil conservationists, and keepers of the natural and built environment."(1) Indigenous women also play a crucial role in…

Do I Still Have a Life? Voices From the Aftermath of War in Rwanda and Burundi

It is a daunting challenge to any investigator, regardless of academic training or experience with war, to assess the various impacts of genocidal behavior. Such a challenge is only intensified in Rwanda and Burundi because both the perpetrators and the survivors now coexist. Under the sponsorship of the Mennonite Central Committee, John and Reinhild Janzen chose to undertake this challenge. In…

Cultural Survival on "cultural survival"

on "cultural survival" In a recent issue of Civilization, a publication of the U.S. National Library, Harvard philosophy professor Michael Blake objects to the expression "cultural survival" because he understands its usage as being something close to a moral absolute: promotion of an endangered traditional people s way of life is to somehow endorse their membership in the ever-growing and…

Community consultation in Mining

Two-hundred and sixty thousand metric tons of arsenic trioxide is enough to poison nearly everyone on the planet and severely impact the global ecology. Imagine it was buried in your backyard, leaking into your community's traditional lands. Now imagine that your community members have few, if any, effective means of influencing decisions as to how and when this arsenic is to be cleaned up, nor…

An Interview with Sayo':Kla Kindness: an Oneida woman talks about mining

"I have lots of extended family -- all of them live on the reservation. Most of them are unemployed right now. My mom's really proud of me. I'm the first generation college student who went to a four-year university. She's happy with the work I'm doing because it's giving back. She knew I wanted to come back to work for my people at some level, and that I did not quite know how to do that. Back…

Ainu: Spirit of a Northern People

The Ainu are the original indigenous people of Japan, once inhabiting much of northern Japan and now confined primarily to the island of Hokkaido. Many parallels can be drawn between the history and subsequent treatment of the Ainu and that of Native Americans. A lack of scholarly and non-scholarly text dealing with the Ainu only furthers the existing misunderstanding about the Ainu, both in…

The Totem People's Preservation Project, Mongolia

We celebrate a recent extraordinary experience with peoples speaking seven languages and hailing from vast areas surrounding Lake Baikal, Russia, to the inner Asian Republic of Tuva and to the steppe and lake country of Mongolia. In December, 2000, the Association for the Protection of the Adirondacks, a New York State nonprofit, teamed with Cultural Survival and its Totem People's Preservation…

Help Us Help Ourselves: An Innu Leader Speaks Out

Newspaper coverage of the social problems we have in Sheshatshiu -- the high suicide rate, the gas-sniffing children -- blame boredom and isolation. Media in the South suggest that the solution is moving us to bigger communities where there might be jobs. The facts as I see them through Innu eyes are more complex. I share my insights in the hope of a constructive dialogue that will lead you to…