Issues of social justice, especially as they relate to First nations, have received much attention from bloggers recently. We are living in a time when the rights of first nations people around the world are, once again, increasingly under siege. Also threatened are basic supports for persons with disabilities, those on low incomes, and families. This includes many Indigenous people. Yet, there is also light.
From Argentina comes word of continuing suffering among Indigenous people. Silent All These Years posted an Al Jazeera video about the plight of the Wichi people, and noted:
The recent deaths of at least seven children, from Argentina’s Wichi Indigenous community, have been attributed to malnutrition and dehydration.
Throughout South America, indigenous communities are often among the poorest, and much of the land they used to inhabit has been taken over for farming. Although Argentina produces more than enough food, and the government has launched an emergency plan to prevent more deaths, in some areas children are still in desperate need.
In Columbia, the Nukak people are caught between dueling greeds, reports Talking About Columbia:
The Colombian government has moved about 170 Nukak indigenous, whom the FARC displaced from their native jungle in the Amazon, to a farm in the hamlet of Agua Bonita near San Jose del Guaviare. About 40 families now live in 15 open-aired huts.
But the Nukak are nomadic, and in their jungle, a 900,000-hectare reserve the state had set up for their protection, they once lived off the plants, as well as hunting and fishing. In their new home, the government provides them with food; however, the Nukak take what they find, yuca and bananas and live animals to slaughter, from their neighbors. They also pick whatever crops they come across. This has created much tension.
The Nukak do not understand the concept of private property, authorities say. And none of them speak Spanish.
Nukak elders have made it known that the food of “the white people” makes their children sick, and many have contracted epidemics. Fewer than 500 Nukak have survived, their number cut in half since they first contacted the outside world in 1988.
Even if the Nukak were to return to their ancestral land, the risk of landmines placed by the illegal armed groups is too high.
Yet, not all is lost. Polnytt reports the Sami reindeer herders have won the legal right to sue the State in support of traditional practices!
A district court in northern Sweden has ruled there is no reason why indigenous Samis there cannot sue the Swedish state for infringing on their fishing and hunting rights.
The court rejected the argument of state lawyers that there were legal errors in the suit. The Sami parliament, which has only advisory powers, had argued that the Sami people should have a major influence over fishing and hunting rights, rather than the Swedish state.
Speaking with Swedish Radio, Mattias Åhrén of the Sami Council, the organization representing the Samis across the Nordic region, says the ruling will have a major impact.
Eagleireports brought us an announcement:
Buffalo Council’s 2011 Annual Feast and Symposium
“Indigenous Education and Civil Discourse in American Society “
“Creating Dialogue with Contemporary Native American Leadership to Preserve and Protect Indigenous and Ecological Rights”
I’ve been thinking lately about the strong desire of most First Nations people I know to create a setting for civil discourse. I am finding this increasingly challenging to do, even in the classroom. For me, civility is a give away to the spirits, as it makes space for us to remember the wisdom of those who have gone before, and to hear their thoughts and wishes for us as individuals and communities. I would love to be able to attend this conference.
Vocal Space brings us news of another conference I would very much like to attend:
This month the 3rd National Aboriginal Writers’ Festival will be held at the NSW Writer’s Centre in Rozelle on March 19th. The all-day event, titled ‘Guwanyi’ which means ‘to tell’, celebrates the oral traditions and written influences of Aboriginal cultures on contemporary Australian society. Featured speakers include authors Dr. Anita Heiss, Peter Minter and Bruce Pascoe.
I mentioned Critical Companions in my last post, and want to add a bit more from Narelle Smith’s blog post about working for social justice. Narelle writes about her thoughts as she works with groups:
Who amongst the group is not being heard or represented (DeJean 2010a)? How am I contributing to the oppression of other people (DeJean, 2010e)? How am I perpetuating stereotypes based on gender, class, disability, race, and culture (DeJean, 2010b)? This is an honest account of my experiences, struggles, and the opportunities that arise when thinking about social justice in a community setting. My study of social justice has raised many more questions for me than it has answered. Integrating social justice and multiple cultures through literacy requires concerted effort and a lifelong process of adaptation.
Finally, Alan Lechusza wrote about the passing of Professor Jack Forbes (Powhattan-Renape, Delaware-Lenape):
Dr. Jack Forbes was and continues to be an inspiration for young Native scholars throughout Indian Country. His passing/crossing-over is only a minor limitation as the impact of his work does and will continue to be felt for generations. His services will be a celebration of his life and work as traditional for such a prominent Native person. Please forward a long the information below to others and be sure to do something wonderful to celebrate the life and work (scholarly and creative) from Prof. Forbes.
As always, I invite you to visit these bloggers and let them know you appreciate their work.