Welcome to the First Peoples Worldwide Blog. First Peoples is the first and only Indigenous-led organization working to restore Indigenous Peoples’ control and authority over their assets by making grants directly to Indigenous communities, and by engaging directly with corporations and investors to promote Free, Prior, and Informed Consent. Our Mission is to build upon a foundation of Indigenous values to achieve a sustainable future for all. Visit our main site at www.FirstPeoples.org for more information about our grants and how to apply.

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Dec02

Mining on the Guajira Peninsula: Wayuu Communities Fight Against Coal Extraction

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Located on the border of northern Colombia and northwestern Venezuela, the Guajira Peninsula was once an ecologically rich territory, full of tropical rainforests and an array of biodiversity, flowing with a plentiful supply of clean water and air. However, since transnational companies began buying land across the peninsula in the 1980s, principally for coal extraction, the landscape has become increasingly bleak. The water is now murky and polluted; drought and deforestation have caused the once fruitful lands to become arid and barren. The systematic destruction of the environment by mining companies has also led to serious problems for the Indigenous communities residing in the area, principally the Wayuu people.

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On the Guajira Peninsula in Colombia, there are an estimated 270,414 Wayuu people living on 10,780 square kilometers of the peninsula. In Venezuela, there are known to be 725,128 Indigenous people residing in the country, with the Wayuu accounting for 58 percent of the total Indigenous population. The Guajira Peninsula in Venezuela forms part of the state of Zulia, with extensive mining taking place in the municipality of Guajira north of the Guasare River at Mina Norte, and to the south of the river in the municipality of Mara, at Mina Paso Diablo.

On February 10, 2015, Decree No. 1,606 was approved by Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro. This decree gave the national army and the Carbones del Zulia company the duty to oversee further exploitation of coal and other minerals in the municipalities of Mara and Guajira, granting five additional mining concessions in the state of Zulia. The Wayuu communities residing in the areas of Guasare, Socuy, Mache, and the Cachiri river basins in the Sierra de Perija would be principally affected by the carbon contamination produced by the opening of these additional mines. However, these communities immediately took action and protested the enactment of the decree approved by Maduro, bringing international attention to the situation and stopping, for now, the opening of additional mines in the sector.

Luisbi Portillo, coordinator of the nonprofit organization Sociedad Homo et Natura, and member of the Ecologist Federation of Zulia and of the National Front for the Defense of Water and Life, works to mobilize Wayuu communities to defend their lands against the advancement of mining industries. In a recently published article, Portillo delineated the problems faced by Wayuu communities caused by Mina Norte and Mina Paso Diablo, vehemently opposing the opening of five additional mining concessions in Zulia.

Portillo states that in 2002, field studies showed that metals such as lead, vanadium, zinc, and cadmium were present in the water of the rivers in the state of Zulia on the Guajira Peninsula. The waters have become increasingly mineralized since 1987 Mina Paso Diablo was opened. Portillo has urged the government and organizations protecting the lands of the Wayuu to investigate how many tons of sulfur are released yearly into the surrounding atmosphere, with the mine explosion rate in Zulia currently emitting 7 million tons per year. He also notes that the government still does not support the Wayuu communities in their fight to keep new mines from opening in the region. In an interview with Cultural Survival, Portillo stated that “the government isn’t helping at all. In fact, it is doing the opposite. The government has broken the legacy of our former President Hugo Chavez and given in to pressure from the governor of Zulia and from the owners of carbon energy companies, who have declared that the exploitation of carbon in this region will continue to grow to maximum capacity.” Portillo also points out that Chinese companies are opening a coal fired power plant in the municipality of Mara at Mina Paso Diablo, and a naval port for coal on the island San Carlos-San Bernardo in the Gulf of Venezuela.

Portillo denounces the absence of government support for Indigenous communities in the region, asserting that environmental crimes committed by mining companies include the unsupervised discharge of toxic leaks, illegal use of wood from deforested trees in the area, and uncontrolled spills of toxic oils and liquids. When asked about the current situation of the communities affected by the mines on the border of Colombia and Venezuela, Portillo explained that for communities enclosed by the perimeter of certain mines, like Santa Fe and Sierra Maestra, “their water, their land, their fields, and their livestock are all extremely negatively affected by the carbon dust and the constant explosions that make the ground shake. The waters of the Guasare River are dammed up by the El Brillante Dam in the municipality of Guajira, and this liquid arrives to the Wayuu households completely contaminated by particles of carbon.” Portillo says that the main efforts to provide clean water to Wayuu communities affected by the mines are concentrated in making sure that new mines are not opened, so that the waters of the Socuy, Maché, and Cachirí rivers are not contaminated. In addition, he said, “we are trying to close the mines currently open on both sides of the Guasare River. These mines contain heavy metals that go into the waters of Guasare, the fish in these waters are contaminated by the heavy metals lead, vanadium, zinc, and cadmium. This is the same contaminated water that the people drink.”

As conditions deteriorate and pressure from mining companies builds, Wayuu communities have organized movements to stop the coal extraction advances consuming the State of Zulia. The Indigenous organizations Wayuu Maikiraalasalii and the Cultural Indigenous Association Wayuu Yalayalamaana, located in the lowlands of the Socuy river in the municipality of Mara, have been continuously organizing meetings and protests since 2005.

The problems caused by mining also extend to the stretch of the Guajira Peninsula in Colombia. The International Work Group for Indigenous Affairs estimates that about 350,000 individuals have been negatively affected by the coal industry operating on the peninsula. The seizure of Wayuu lands to expand mining has led to the displacement of entire families, villages, and communities since the mining began more than 30 years ago. Mining in the sector has also caused serious health problems for countless members of the Wayuu community. Mining companies have dammed up and diverted various water sources, including that of the Rancheria River, which is one of the main sources of water for the Guajira Peninsula. As a result, the daily consumption of water per person in Wayuu communities in Guajira is only .7 liters per day, a fraction of the UN recommendation of 50 liters per day. There is no water for communities to cultivate the crops they once depended on, such as the Yucca root vegetable and bananas. Most community members have to walk 5 to 10 kilometers to find water and bring it back to their settlements.

The Wayuu did not expect the mining in their region to lead to the complete degradation of their environment, their homes, and their communities. Remedios Fajardo, a Wayuu leader from Colombia, says that “many Wayuu believed that the mine would bring solutions to the region’s poverty, to the problems with access to clean water, to education, healthcare, and sustainable development. We hoped that we would receive some of the benefits from our land, which is so rich in minerals.” The picture painted by mining companies was something completely different than the outcome of their practices. Instead of bringing solutions to the region’s poverty, the mines have covered the landscape in coal dust, increased the poverty of an already struggling region, and brought a plethora of death and disease to Wayuu communities.

In May 2016, 140 Wayuu leaders arrived in Bogota, the capital of Colombia, to denounce the death of so many Wayuu children. They claim that 12,000 Wayuu children under the age of 5 have died since 2012. In the famous Bolivar Plaza, they placed small boxes representing coffins for each Wayuu child that has died. Remedios Uriana, one of the 140 Wayuu leaders that participated in this protest, declared the mining practices in the region to be “nothing more or less than an extermination of a community.” Meanwhile, across the Guajira peninsula in Colombia and Venezuela, mining companies ceaselessly pursue the opening of new mines and the expansion of old ones, even as the health, homes, and lands of Wayuu communities continue to disintegrate.

All photos courtesy of Luisbi Portillo.

Source: Cultural Survival

Nov28

Battling Pollution On Our Lands: Mekasi Horinek

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The Ponca Nation has lived on the reservation near Ponca City, Oklahoma since the federal government moved the tribe from Nebraska in the 1870s. Ponca City is also home to corporations, factories, and oil refineries that contaminate the environment with toxic chemicals. The fish in the Arkansas River, an important food source for the Ponca people, have been dying, and the Ponca Nation is suffering from abnormally high rates of cancer. Meanwhile, the city has placed the municipal dump on a Ponca burial site. Such actions are what Mekasi Horinek, member of the Ponca Nation and coordinator of Bold Oklahoma, calls environmental racism. In spite of a victory in a class action lawsuit against the Taiwanese Continental Carbon Company, a plant causing carbon black emissions, the tribe does not have adequate resources to pursue further legal action. Horinek recently spoke with Cultural Survival, discussing the impact of pollution on the Ponca Nation, actions that can be taken to make a difference, and what the future holds for the community.

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Cultural Survival: What are the sources of pollution affecting your community?
Mekasi Horinek:
The reservation, our main community, is about five miles south of the ConocoPhillips refinery on our land. We also have the Carbon Black Continental Carbon factory, which takes from the refinery. We have the Ponca Iron and Metal factory building just south of the refinery near our community, and we’re receiving a lot of pollution from that, fires burning, smoke all the time. We also have the Ponca City municipal dump which is located on the same hill as our burial ground. There is a waste management facility that treats raw sewage north of our community on the banks of the Arkansas River. [So] there is a lot of environmental stress in our area, and the pollution that comes from all of these is very detrimental to our people. We have very high rates of different types of cancer, leukemia, lupus, and also a lot of things with the children and the elders—and not only our community, but the city of Ponca City—you know they’re suffering the same as us.

What efforts have been made to clean up the river?
MH
: There have been no efforts to clean it up. As far as the river goes, we’ve had eight fishkills in the past four years and the EPA has done testing on the water, but they say they don’t know where exactly the pollution is coming from. The tribe doesn’t have the resources to do an extensive cleanup. I can pin the pollution in the rivers directly to the fracking industry; I know that they drain water out of the river, putting waste water back in the river. Why have the EPA and government entities failed to identify the source of the pollution? MH: We know that the oil industry feeds the economy in Oklahoma, and I guess you would say there are allowances they give the oil industry that they might not give other industries. The salt water content at the time of the fishkill would be one source, so the EPA saying that they couldn’t identify the source of the pollution was just blatant disregard.

What does the term “environmental genocide” mean, and how does it apply to this situation?
MH:
There are two terms that I would like to talk about: environmental racism and environmental genocide. Environmental racism has been going on for many, many years in our area. Ponca City zones everything to the south side of town, which is where the reservation is. The refinery, the carbon plant, the Ponca oil and waste facility, solid waste treatment plant, the sewage plant, the dump, are all on the south side of town. They don’t put anything that’s toxic or bad for the people on the north or east or west sides of town where the more prominent citizens are. The south side of town is the low income side of town, with white people, black people, hispanics, and then the reservation. The fact that the city hasits municipal dump on our burial ground, the most sacred site on our reservation, is definitely environmental racism. As far as environmental genocide, we have a tirade of cancer in our community, and not only in our community but in the community of Ponca City. I have a 16-year-old son and a 14-year-old son. One of my 14-year-old’s classmates died last year, and one of my 16-year-old’s classmates is dying of cancer right now. I don’t think there are any families that have not been touched by cancer. That’s why I say that it is a form of genocide. Just in my family alone, my dad is a cancer survivor, my uncle just passed away from cancer about two years ago, my son’s classmates have cancer, and a lot of women in the tribe have had different types of cancer as well.

Besides the class action lawsuit against the Taiwanese Carbon Black Plant, have any other legal measures been taken to hold the sources of pollution accountable?
MH:
No. The class action lawsuit against the Carbon Black facility was actually won, but there weren’t long term medical benefits given to those people. So the people had enough money to relocate and move, but are still suffering from the health repercussions. There haven’t been any other lawsuits brought against Ponca City for environmental racism or ConocoPhillips Corporation for environmental genocide. I hope that is something I see happen in the near future.

What can be done to address the possible long term risks of the pollution?
MH:
I definitely think that the media can help. It’s kind of taboo to think about in this oil state of Oklahoma. Getting the word out and bearing witness is definitely one tool that we can use. One of the things that is hard to grasp is the carbon credit. They talk about carbon credits, that they buy carbon credits and they plant trees in Australia, or they take care of a certain area in the Amazon which permits them to put out more pollution here in our country, where we live. That’s something people need to be aware of, because people think that carbon trading and carbon credits are a really good deal, that these corporations are putting money into conserving rainforests and conserving trees in different areas to try to offset the change. But what it does is give them the opportunity to put out more pollution in the areas where they’re at, and it’s detrimental to my people.

How does the environmental contamination affect the future of the Ponca people?
MH:
I see genocide. I see my people dying every day. I have children, I have grandchildren. I think that if we stay here, we’ll die. How many children and how many of my grandchildren are going to develop cancer? I’ve thought about leaving to make a new life somewhere else many times, but what kind of person would I be to leave my people behind to just go and worry about myself? Out of 30 wells around the reservation, every single one is leaking methane gas. It just blows my mind to see how much methane is leaking into the air, and how close some of these wells are to homes and to the community. There are no fences around the wells, no warning signs saying “stay out of this area,” “don’t smoke,” or anything like that. A lot of kids think that that’s a good place to go and have their parties. It’s just a serious danger and a health threat and a major contributor to climate change. The future depends on the decisions we make now. We need to be looking at renewable energy and putting people, instead of profit, first. If we choose to keep using fossil fuels and keep draining mother earth of her lifeblood, there will be serious repercussions. We’re having earthquakes here in Oklahoma now. It’s a scary thing knowing you live five miles from a refinery with hydrochloric acid and hydrogen sulfide, and if a big earthquake opens up one of those wells or breaks a pipeline, everything in 12 miles will be killed. That’s not only my community, but everybody in the community of Ponca City and the surrounding areas. We have to take care of mother earth.

Source: Cultural Survival

Nov28

How You Can Help The Standing Rock Sioux Fight The Dakota Access Pipeline

Sacred Stone Camp. Joe Brusky/ Flickr.
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You can send propane. Or a generator.

You can send a body camera. Or a water bottle.

You can send an axe for chopping wood to keep warm. Or respiratory protection.

But, please, send something. Today.

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Sacred Stone Camp. Joe Brusky/ Flickr.

 

Sacred Stone Camp

P.O. Box 1011

Fort Yates, ND 58538

 

More here:

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/help-standing-rock-sioux-dakota-access-pipeline_us_583480c9e4b000af95eca013

 

Nov25

East Meets West: Hokule‘a Sails Up the East Coast

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This is the fifth installment in a series documenting the historic undertaking of the three-year voyage of Hōkūle‘a, a full-scale replica of a wa‘a kaulua (Polynesian double-hulled voyaging canoe) around the world by the Polynesian Voyaging Society. Cultural Survival has been blessed by the arrival of Hōkūle‘a on the shores of Boston, our home base, in July. From the time I left Hōkūle‘a in Cape Town, South Africa until she has arrived here, much has transpired. Hōkūle‘a crossed the Atlantic Ocean and arrived in Brazil, continued along South America and through the Caribbean, and made a historic landing in once off-limits Cuba, a first for a Hawaiian voyaging canoe.

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Each stop up the eastern coast of the United States was a first time experience for the crew, who were greeted by the Indigenous Peoples and local residents. These ports included Florida’s Kennedy Space Center; Washington, D.C.; the United Nations in New York; Block Island, Rhode Island; Mystic Seaport, Connecticut; Martha’s Vineyard, Woods Hole, New Bedford, Boston, and Salem, Massachusetts; Portsmouth, New Hampshire; Hurricane Island and Mt. Desert, Maine; and Yarmouth, Nova Scotia, among many others.

At each port, local Indigenous tribal elders were sought out so that the crew could ask permission to enter the ancestral lands of these tribes, as is the custom of our Hawaiian people. Once permission has been granted and we are welcomed, we continue the formal ceremonies with a cultural exchange, and once that is done, we share food. Of my many experiences aboard the deck of the canoe, from swimming in crystal clear lagoons to enduring open ocean storms to sailing under a cloak of stars on a cloudless night, my favorite experience has been the greeting ceremonies at each port; a chance to meet as culturally diverse individuals and leave as family, as brothers and sisters, of our island Earth.

“The Wampanoag Tribe of Gay Head (Aquinnah) was truly honored to welcome the crew of the Hokule’a to our Island. Through sharing song, dance, and our traditional foods, our time spent with the Hokule’a and her crew was a cultural event that will not ever be forgotten. They are now woven into our collective oral history and we are proud to be part of their Hokule’a family,” said Bettina Washington, the Tribe’s historian.

Jonathan Perry (Aquinnah Wampanoag) was one of the local leaders who met the crew on Martha’s Vineyard. “We really appreciated the crew’s accordance with traditional protocols and being acknowledged,” he said. Weeks prior to Hōkūle‘a’s arrival, the Aquinnah Wampanoag Tribe sent a strand of wampum to the crew as an official invitation and permission to enter their territory. “To show due respect to her voyage and message, we burned out a traditional ocean-going mush8n (pronounced mu-shoon) on our tribal lands,” Washington said.

Members of the Wampanoag Nation paddled out to meet the voyagers, as the proper way to greet a traditional canoe is with another one. The canoe builders were able to launch it only the day before Hōkūle‘a arrived, and paddled out to greet the crew after just a few minutes of paddling practice. “This was the first time in 300 years that we made a beaked open ocean canoe. Its beaked shape allows it to go into deeper and rougher waters,” said Perry.

Soon Hōkūle‘a will make its way south and continue through the Panama canal, making its way to Rapa Nui (Easter Island), Tahiti, and home to Hawai’i in the summer of 2017. And we, the crew, the people of Hawai’i, those who came to visit and make a connection from every corner of the voyage, will celebrate her voyage around the world through song, chant, dance, and story for generations to come. E ola Hōkūle‘a, may the legacy of Hōkūle‘a live on!

Follow the World Wide Voyage at www.hokulea.com.

Author:

Since 1972 Cultural Survival has been advocating for Indigenous Peoples’ rights and supporting Indigenous communities’ self-determination, cultures and political resilience.

Learn More

To read about Cultural Survival’s work around the world, click here. To read more articles on the subject use our Search function and explore 40 years of information on Indigenous issues.

Do More

For ways to take action to help Indigenous communities, click here.

Donate

We take on governments and multinational corporations—and they always have more resources than we do—but with the help of people like you, we do win. Your contribution is crucial to that effort. Click here to do your part.

Nov21

Think Globally, Shop Locally: At International Art Festival, Celebrate the Native Peoples of New England

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Boston, MA (November 17, 2016) – On December 10-11, and on December 16-18, Indigenous artists and musicians from across the globe will come together in Boston and Cambridge for Cultural Survival’s free admission Native arts and cultures Bazaars.

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Among the many artists featured in the festivities at the Dec. 10-11 event will be Massachusetts-based Aquinnah Wampanoag musician, artist, and performer Jonathan Perry, along with Leah Hopkins (Narragansett and Niantic). As noted on his website, Perry is a seasoned veteran of the performing arts, with a career spanning over 25 years in the field both as a member of the Wampanoag Nation Singers and Dancers and as a founding member of the Kingfisher Dance Troupe. Perry has over 15 years of experience lecturing on Eastern Woodland art and traditions at such venues as the Peabody Essex Museum, the National Museum of the American Indian, Harvard College, Brown University, and others. In addition, he has received acclaim for his talent as an artist. In August of 2015, Perry was selected by the Rhode Island State Council on the Arts as a recipient of a Folk Arts Fellowship.

Rooted in the traditions of his seafaring ancestors, Perry shares his culture’s rich history through his artwork. He notes that his art is intended to reflect balance within the natural world, incorporating stories, effigies, and symbology of Wampanoag traditions. It attempts to reflect the quality of his ancestors’ art, while incorporating his own contemporary experience in the world.

Leah Hopkins runs a cultural consultation business and is a seamstress, beadwork artist, and Eastern Woodlands singer and dancer. She has performed both in the US and internationally and her deep cultural roots contribute to her passion for educating Native Peoples and building cultural competency.

The Bazaars will feature artists from North America, Central and South America, the Middle East, Asia, Africa, and Eastern Europe.

Since 1982, Cultural Survival’s Bazaars have provided a market for thousands of artists and cooperatives spanning six continents and over sixty countries, as well as a stage for people like Perry to share their often forgotten or marginalized stories. Each year the Bazaars generate about half a million dollars for Indigenous artists, performers, and projects benefiting Indigenous communities worldwide. Attendees can enjoy craft-making demonstrations, free concerts, and one-on-one conversations with representatives of dozens of different Indigenous cultures.

Cultural Survival is a Cambridge-based NGO that advocates for Indigenous Peoples’ rights and supports Indigenous communities’ self-determination, cultures, and political resilience since 1972. Since 1982 the Bazaars have provided a market for thousands of artists and cooperatives spanning six continents and over sixty countries. Providing a unique space especially for Indigenous artists and their supporters, the Bazaars take attendees on “a trip around the world’s bazaars,” which promotes both artistic and socio-political education.

 

High resolution photos available upon request

Cultural Survival Bazaars Website

Cultural Survival Official Website

Bazaars on Facebook – news, vendor updates

 

Event Information:

December 10-11
Cambridge Rindge and Latin School
459 Broadway
Cambridge, MA 02138

Saturday and Sunday 10am – 5pm
Free admission
Free parking

Accessible entrance and ramps within venue

Live music by Jonathan Perry and Leah Hopkins

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December 16-18
Prudential Center
Belvidere and Huntington Arcades
800 Boylston Street
Boston, MA 02199

Enter at the corner of Huntington Ave. and Belvidere St. (Elevator and escalator access at this entrance)

Friday and Saturday 10am-10pm
Sunday 10am-8pm
Free admission

2 minutes from Prudential Station on “E” line on Green line
Across the street from 39 bus stop
10-minute walk from Mass Ave. stop on the Orange Line
Several paid parking garages in the area

Live music Dec. 17-18 by New Inca Son

 

 

Since 1972 Cultural Survival has been advocating for Indigenous Peoples’ rights and supporting Indigenous communities’ self-determination, cultures and political resilience.

Learn More

To read about Cultural Survival’s work around the world, click here. To read more articles on the subject use our Search function and explore 40 years of information on Indigenous issues.

Do More

For ways to take action to help Indigenous communities, click here.

Donate

We take on governments and multinational corporations—and they always have more resources than we do—but with the help of people like you, we do win. Your contribution is crucial to that effort. Click here to do your part.

 

Source: Cultural Survival

Nov01

CALVERT RELEASES STATEMENT IN SUPPORT OF STANDING ROCK SIOUX NATION

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October 31, 2016

Calvert Investments and the Calvert Social Funds have released a resolution as a joint effort in support of the Standing Rock Sioux Nation and its peaceful efforts to halt the construction of the Dakota Access Pipeline in North Dakota.

HIGHLIGHTS

  • Calvert has long been committed to the rights of Indigenous Peoples and had the nation’s first mutual fund that adopted specific Indigenous Peoples’ rights criteria.
  • The Standing Sioux Rock Nation is using its traditional wisdom to implement sustainability and peaceable solutions while seeking to protect both its sacred lands and source of clean drinking water.
  • Companies must ensure they follow full and proper consultation processes with Indigenous Peoples and obtain Free Prior and Informed Consent before beginning projects that affect Indigenous Peoples.
  • To date, Energy Transfer Partners has not demonstrated respect for the Standing Rock Sioux and other communities affected by its operations. We call on Energy Transfer Partners to take a more fruitful and collaborative approach.
Resolution of the Calvert Social Funds and Calvert Investments Supporting Standing Rock Sioux Nation

 

BE IT RESOLVED, the Boards of Trustees/Directors of the Calvert Social Funds, together with Calvert Investments, Inc. support the Standing Rock Sioux Nation as it stands steadfast in its peaceful efforts to halt construction of the Dakota Access Pipeline and protect both its sacred lands and its source of clean drinking water. Following traditional wisdom, the Tribe seeks to implement sustainability and peaceable solutions and to ensure that its human right to water is fulfilled. More broadly, Calvert will maintain our commitment to respect Indigenous Peoples and their essential rights both nationally and globally as we all strive together toward the creation of a meaningful legacy for future generations.

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED, Calvert will research corporate practices on engagement with Indigenous Peoples by sector and then share findings related to best practice and opportunities for improvement publicly.  This research will define effective Indigenous Peoples’ engagement, and highlight or define best practices for relevant high impact industries.  In cases where metrics do not exist across industries, we will develop key performance indicators or standards within each of these sectors in consultation with tribal leaders, industry leaders and other relevant parties. We will seek input from tribal leaders in this stage of our work. Calvert plans to share its research findings publicly and in particular with investors and NGOs that address issues of social justice and inequity. We will engage directly with companies on these issues and call on them to develop comprehensive engagement programs with Indigenous Peoples.

SUPPORTING STATEMENT

The Calvert Social Funds and Calvert Investments, Inc. are deeply committed to the rights of Indigenous Peoples through our investments.  Since sponsoring the nation’s first mutual fund to adopt specific Indigenous Peoples’ rights criteria in 1999, we have sought to further Indigenous Peoples’ rights via company engagement on a range of issues, including land rights, sacred sites and offensive images.

We expect companies to operate in ways that support shareholder and bondholder value while simultaneously seeking to reduce risk. In order to manage its business wisely, a company must consider the harm it may cause to communities, or specific cultures, which can stem from inadequate engagement, particularly engagement with Indigenous Peoples.

Indigenous Peoples have the right to self-determination as per the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, which also encompasses the internationally recognized norm of Free, Prior and Informed Consent (FPIC). Companies must ensure they follow full and proper consultation processes with Indigenous Peoples and obtain FPIC approval through the proper channels before beginning projects that may undermine these rights. All too often there has been notification rather than consultation and when consultation does occur, it falls short of international guidelines.

Because of inadequate consultation, companies may lose their social license, which refers to approval or broad social acceptance from the local community and other stakeholders to work on a particular project. (This is becoming more and more of a necessity to obtain before a project launch.)  Too often, companies fail to engage tribes, local communities and others cooperatively on issues that affect the lives and lands of those tribes and communities.  Too often the focus has been on cost cutting approaches in these industries rather than on potential opportunities for investing in improved relationships with communities.  A Harvard study found that it is difficult afterwards for companies to repair damaged relationships with these communities. It has also been estimated that delays from such conflicts can average about $20 million per week for mining projects valued between $3 and $5 billion.i  

Native American land holdings collectively encompass more wildlands than the land in National Parks and areas protected by the Nature Conservancy across the United States, despite covering just four percent of U.S. land.ii  Globally, Indigenous Peoples’ territories cover 80 percent of the world’s biodiversity and up to 22 percent of the world’s land surface.iii  Currently, 39 percent of oil and gas production occurs on Indigenous land. It is estimated that 46 percent of oil, gas and mining reserves will be on Indigenous lands in the near future.iv  With such significant overlap between resources and Indigenous Peoples’ lands, it is critically important to address the social license issue broadly as well as specifically related to the Dakota Access Pipeline. For example, fossil fuel embodies a traditional approach to business with extractives taking a heavy toll on the Earth, while clean energy and renewables offer important and attractive strategies with fewer impacts and less pollution.

The Standing Rock Sioux Tribe opposes the Energy Transfer Partner’sv  Dakota Access Pipeline as it fears contamination of its only water source, the Missouri River.  While pipelines transport oil and gas in a safer fashion than trucks or railways, there are significant site-specific environmental and safety risks for pipelines that must be addressed. Between 2010 and 2015, there were over 3,300 incidents of crude oil and liquefied natural oil leaks or ruptures on US pipelines.vi  Within the pipeline industry, some companies manage these risks more effectively than others, and Energy Transfer Partners has an especially poor record.  According to the National Lawyers Guild, the company and its affiliates “have a long history of violations of environmental laws, including pending lawsuits by the states of New Jersey, Vermont, Pennsylvania and the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico and the City of Breau Bridge, Louisiana over MTBE contamination of groundwater, as well as citations for releases of hazardous materials from its pipelines and facilities in Ohio, Oklahoma, Louisiana, Missouri, Texas, Pennsylvania and Hawaii.”vii 

We recognize the peaceable actions the Tribe is willing to take to stand strong in its beliefs.  We also acknowledge the hardships it is willing to endure to reach its goal of having access to clean drinking water and opposing the negative impacts of the Dakota Access Pipeline.  Most recently, as the standoff escalates with the company, local law enforcement has become more militarized in response to peaceful protests — leading the Tribe to request intervention by the United States Department of Justice in order to keep both water protectors and law enforcement safe and calling for investigation into the considerable reports and videos of aggressive tactics, abuses and arrests, including frequent allegations of being strip searched.viii  The federal government has the opportunity here to uphold and support Tribal sovereignty as per historic treaties with Indian Nations.

To date, Energy Transfer Partners has not demonstrated respect for the Standing Rick Sioux and other communities affected by its operations.  We call on Energy Transfer Partners to take a more fruitful and collaborative approach. We believe the company’s suppliers and business partners must also understand their roles in the pipeline project and should be held accountable for their involvement in practices that undermine Indigenous Peoples’ rights. We call on each to create and then implement, if they have not done so already, a comprehensive Indigenous Peoples’ rights policy and a program.

As an investor with a long-time focus on a broad array of social and environmental issues, Calvert believes that the future belongs to companies striving to operate in harmony with the world around them.  We recognize the need to mitigate climate change by drastically reducing the consumption of fossil fuels through investment in efficiency and climate friendly business models as well as renewable energy sources, such as wind, solar, and sustainably sourced biofuels. In our sustainable and responsible portfolios, we avoid investment in companies focused on extraction of fossil fuels or those that own significant fossil fuel reserves while on the demand side, we engage significant users of fossil energy to reduce their energy consumption and use more sustainable energy sources. We also direct investment towards companies helping society to transition towards a low-carbon economy. Calvert further advances these objectives by calling on corporations to properly engage with Indigenous Peoples, whose traditional stewardship practices offer innovative solutions for adapting to and mitigating climate change, and to obtain their consent before beginning industrial or extractive projects.

Photo credit: Vance Blackfox

#15740 (10/16)

ihttps://www.uq.edu.au/news/article/2014/05/conflict-communities-big-cost-business, May 13, 2015

iihttp://www.esf.edu/nativepeoples/, October 19, 2016

iiihttps://siteresources.worldbank.org/INTBIODIVERSITY/Resources/RoleofIndigenousPeoplesinBiodiversityConservation.pdf, May 2008

ivhttp://www.firstpeoples.org/images/uploads/R1KReport2.pdf, October 28, 2013

v As of September 30, 2016, securities of Energy Transfer Partners were not held by any of the Calvert Social Funds.

vihttp://www.foreffectivegov.org/blog/map-displays-five-years-oil-pipeline-spills, June 22, 2015

viihttp://www.nlginternational.org/2016/08/national-lawyers-guild-statement-of-solidarity-with-standing-rock-sioux-tribe-against-dakota-access-pipeline/

viiihttp://indiancountrytodaymedianetwork.com/2016/10/24/standing-rock-sioux-tribes-response-treatment-protesters-166189

For more information on any Calvert fund, please contact Calvert at 800.368.2750 for a free summary prospectus and/or prospectus. An investor should consider the investment objectives, risks, charges, and expenses of an investment carefully before investing. The summary prospectus and prospectus contain this and other information. Read them carefully before you invest or send money.

Calvert mutual funds are underwritten and distributed by Calvert Investment Distributors, Inc., member FINRA and subsidiary of Calvert Investments, Inc.

Oct10

Join First Peoples Worldwide to Support the Standing Rock Sioux

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Please join First Peoples Worldwide and support the Standing Rock Sioux today! Donations will be used for legal, sanitary and emergency purposes!
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Donations accepted online here.
Donations can be mailed to:
Standing Rock Sioux Tribe
Attention: Donations
PO Box D
Building #1
Fort Yates, ND 58538
 
Please make checks payable to Standing Rock Sioux Tribe Donations

Sep30

Language Immersion as a Tool for Cultural Revival

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By: Hannah Stack

As a building block of humanity, language, both spoken and written, is a fundamental necessity for human interaction and community development. It encompasses the complexities of a people and connects younger generations to their ancestors of years past. A language in its own right can be seen as a crucial representation of cultural identity and tradition, and its endangerment therefore as a grave threat to the preservation and maintainability of the culture it represents.

The Euchee Tribe, an Indigenous people that today reside in Northeastern Oklahoma, is no stranger to this great cultural threat. A federally unrecognized community consisting of approximately 2,400 people, the Euchee people have been threatened for generations by forced relocations, western influence, and cultural marginalization. Along with other aspects of their culture and tradition, the language of the Euchee People is constantly exposed to and has been critically affected by these outside forces. Today, only four native speakers of the ancient Euchee tongue remain, all of age 89 or above.

Despite being confronted with a threat of this magnitude, the Euchee People have proved their resilience and, through the formation of the Euchee (Yuchi) Language Project in the late 1990s, have begun the arduous road to increased cultural rebuilding and language restoration. Responding to organization founder Richard Grounds’ belief that language loss is “the biggest crisis in Indian country today,” the Euchee Language Project encourages the continued growth and retained usage of the Euchee language through a highly immersion-based program.

Centered on the elder native speakers, the program relies on now-fluent apprentices who work in close proximity with the native speakers to record and better understand the unique syntax and intricacies of the Euchee language. Together, the elder speakers and apprentices conduct daily afternoon immersion courses for Euchee children aged 3 to 18 that focus on developing a strong language basis for the young learners. Although most of the students do not speak Euchee at home, the organization hopes that, with an increased number of speakers in the community, a “new generation of first-language speakers” will eventually be created.

While the Language Project unquestionably acknowledges the degree of difficulty presented by such a weighty undertaking, its staff and supporters understand the necessity of its continued success. In the words of Renee Grounds, daughter of founder Richard Grounds and now-fluent second language learner, “We feel like it’s the birthright of every child to be able to speak their own language. It’s our responsibility in my generation to bridge that gap, to reach to the elders and bring it down to the new ones born now. If we don’t do it, there won’t be another chance.”

With the help of the First Peoples Worldwide Keepers of the Earth Fund, the Euchee Language Project looks to continue their mission and allow for the lasting rebirth of their culturally significant language throughout their community. 

Sources:

“Euchee-Yuchi Language Project

<http://www.yuchilanguage.org/>.

 

Landry, Alysa. “Racing to Save the Yuchi Language.” Indian Country Today Media Network.com. 28 Mar. 2014.

<http://indiancountrytodaymedianetwork.com/2014/03/28/racing-save-yuchi-language-154149>.

 

“Our Mother Tongues | Euchee.”

<http://ourmothertongues.org/language/euchee/5>.

Sep26

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Screen Shot 2016-07-04 at 10.34.58 AMFOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Date: Monday, September 26th, 2016

Website: www.firstpeoples.org

Material Risks of Flawed Consultation for the Dakota Access Pipeline

The Investors & Indigenous Peoples Working Group (IIPWG) and First Peoples Worldwide are hosting a follow-up Webinar on the Dakota Access Pipeline (DAP) with representatives of the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe (SRST) that are opposing the pipeline.
The Dakota Access Pipeline Investor Follow-Up Call is on Wednesday, September 28th, 2016 and is intended for investors interested in learning more about the material risks of companies with poor environmental and social performance.
SRST Chairman David Archambault II will give an update on the protest and on new legal developments that have occurred since the last call on September 9th. Prof. Carla Fredericks, Director of the American Indian Law Program at the University of Colorado Law School, will discuss the legal landscape for Native American consultation, and the implications of the US government’s recent call for “nationwide reform with respect to considering tribes’ views on these types of infrastructure projects.”
First Peoples Worldwide joins the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe (SRST) for a historic gathering of Native American governments to demand accountability from Energy Transfer Partners, the company behind the proposed Dakota Access Pipeline. The pipeline is slated to cross the tribe’s treaty territory and drinking water without Free, Prior, and Informed Consent.

About First Peoples Worldwide
First Peoples Worldwide is an Indigenous-led organization using market-based strategies to advocate for the rights of Indigenous Peoples.

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Sep23

Finding a Balance between Humanity and Nature at The Eco-earth Environment for Peace Initiative in Kenya

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By: Hannah Stack

Indigenous community development is frequently met with hindrances and obstacles – oftentimes imposed by some well-meaning conservationist organizations whose methods of environmental preservation come at a significant cost to indigenous aspirations. While arguably similar beliefs of environmental conservation have long been held by indigenous populations globally, some of these organizations diverge from indigenous ideals by choosing to place a sole focus on environmental conflict resolution, while ignoring important issues of community development.

In order to minimize these costs, the Ugandan-based organization The Eco-earth Environment for Peace Initiative, or TEEP Initiative, seeks to find a common balance between indigenous interests and environmental wellbeing. With support from the Keepers of the Earth grant awarded to the organization by First Peoples Worldwide, the TEEP Initiative continues its mission through its work with the Ethnomedicine Preservation Project.

Based in the Wakiso district of Uganda, TEEP Initiative is an indigenous-led organization seeking to find a peaceful balance between humanity and nature. Through its involvement and work with community partners supportive to its cause, the TEEP Initiative looks to increase the community’s awareness of important environmental issues. Additionally, by employing both traditional and modern approaches to conservation, it aims to work toward heightened ecological restoration.

Working together with First Peoples Worldwide and its Keeper of the Earth Fund grant, the organization continues its support of a specific program: the Ethnomedicine Preservation and Documentation Project, which serves the Baganda Tribe of the Gombe Subcounty. In hopes of ensuring the availability of traditional medicinal practices in generations to come, the project aims to maintain the time-honored indigenous knowledge of ethnopharmacology while placing an added emphasis on the preservation of medicinal plants crucial to the practice. Ultimately, it is intended to educate younger members of the community in the medicinal remedies still practiced by their elders, in this manner ensuring that the pharmaceutical knowledge of the Baganda People does not disappear as traditions are fused with modern ideas. Through this project, the TEEP Initiative looks to respond to the region’s lack of health care while also allowing for the continued cultural development of the community.

Sources:

“The Eco-earth Environment for Peace Initiative – TEEP”

<https://www.betterplace.org/en/organisations/teepinitiativeuganda>

 

“The Eco-earth Environment for Peace Initiative – TEEP”

<http://teepinitiative.zohosites.com/>

 

“The EthnoMedicine Preservation Project”

<http://www.ethnomedicinepreservation.com/>