Top 10 Indigenous Stories of 2013

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It’s that time of year again – time for Top 10 lists. It’s been quite a year for Indigenous peoples around the world, filled with stories of success, hardship and almost always inspiration. First Peoples enjoyed covering many of them on our blog so here is our Top 10 blog posts of 2013, ranked by the number times you, the reader, read them. The topics range from GMO to football to women’s rights and more, enjoy! (Click on the title to read the full story.)

  1. Three Reasons You Need to Support Indigenous Peoples, Even If You Are Not Indigenous: Look, we get it – everybody has an issue that they care strongly about. For us, that issue is the rights of Indigenous Peoples around the world. For you, it may be something different. You may even be of the mindset that if you are not Indigenous, then you have no reason to be concerned with Indigenous issues. But we strongly believe that the values and beliefs of Indigenous Peoples can be effectively applied to a wide range of modern-day concerns. Here are the top three reasons to support Indigenous Peoples even if you are not Indigenous.
  2. Proud To be Indigenous Week Starts Next Week – May 20th! : Indigenous Peoples from around the world will be descending on New York City for the United Nations Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues (UNPFII). While most of us can’t make it to New York, our voices need to be heard! Proud To Be Indigenous is an online campaign for Indigenous People to share their stories. The Proud To Be Indigenous coalition includes over 40 Indigenous and Indigenous-friendly organizations, large and small and from all over the world, that will be sharing photos, videos and stories about Indigenous, Native and Aboriginal people online during UNPFII (see the full list of coalition members below). But most importantly, Proud To Be Indigenous is about you, the Indigenous People from around the world, and sharing your story and voice.
  3. Idle No More Calls for Day of Action, Oct. 7th 2013: Idle No More is calling for an international Day of Action to be held in communities around the world on October 7th, 2013. The announcement comes towards the end of the popular Sovereignty Summer campaign, launched on June 21, Aboriginal Day in Canada. Sovereignty Summer is a campaign of coordinated non-violent direct actions to promote Indigenous rights and environmental protection in alliance with non-Indigenous supporters.
  4. Dine Nation Declares GMO and Pesticide-Free Zone: The Diné Nation has now been declared a GMO and pesticide-free zone. The declaration is the result of the “Corn is Life” Gathering held September 19-21 at Diné College, Tsaile, Arizona. The conference was hosted and presented by the Black Mesa Water Coalition, the Diné Policy Institute, Traditional Diné Farmers, and the International Indian Treaty Council. The conference’s stated goal was to discuss the impacts of climate change, genetic modification, pesticides, and extractive industries on traditional growing practices. At the end of the conference, participants agreed to stand against these harmful practices.
  5. First Nations Sign Treaty to Protect the Sacred From Tar Sands and Keystone XL: Representatives from indigenous nations across the United States and Canada recently met to reaffirm a centuries-old collective-security treaty in defense of their homelands and reassert its authority in the face of a modern-day threat. These representatives, participants in the January 23-25 event “Gathering to Protect the Sacred from Tar Sands and Keystone XL,” formally agreed to “mutually and collectively oppose tar sands projects which would impact [their] territory, including but not limited to the TransCanada Keystone XL pipeline, the Enbridge Northern Gateway, Enbridge lines 9 and sixty-seven, or the Kinder Morgan Trans-Mountain pipeline and tanker projects.”
  6. Aboriginals Create the World’s Newest Government: The world is welcoming its newest government – the Republic of Murrawarri, a nearly 82,000 square kilometer territory stretching across northern New South Wales and Queensland in Australia, has declared its independence as a sovereign nation. Murrawarri’s independence comes after a long diplomatic process. The republic, which has around 4,000 residents, officially declared their continuing independence and statehood on April 3, 2013.
  7. Top 10 Indigenous Must-Reads for Summer: It’s summer  – the perfect time to start working through that pile of books you “meant to read” a long time ago. Forget about that pile. We have a reading list for you unlike ones you’ve likely seen before – gathering suggestions from our staff members, we’ve compiled a “must-read” list for Indigenous issues. This list is by no means comprehensive – we’ve tried to include books that are geographically diverse, engaging, and easy to read (no textbooks here!). I am sure we have missed some of your favorites – please comment below and let us know!
  8. “Redskins” Is a Racial Slur Dating Back to 1755: The Washington Redskins are again facing criticism over their racially-insensitive name.  Both a case with the Federal Trademark Trial and Appeal Board and a bill originating in the House of Representatives are urging the team to rethink the name. The team has long been under fire from Native American organizations who claim the team name is a shameful racial slur, and that it should not be allowed to remain the football mascot of the nation’s capital. Opponents of the change say that the name is meant to honor, not disparage, Native Americans.
  9. “They Have Been Loved, and Now They Are Missing” – New Exhibit Honors 600 Murdered Indigenous Women: In the past 20 years in Canada, over 600 mothers, daughters, sisters, grandmothers, cousins, aunts, and best friends have gone missing. That’s six hundred lives that have suddenly, mysteriously ended – no note, no motive, sometimes hardly even a clue, leaving behind questions, uncelebrated birthdays, motherless children, heartbroken partners, and emptiness. 600 Indigenous women have gone missing or been murdered, and often it seems as though nobody even cares. “There has been an awful silence around this,” says Otipemiswak/Michif Nation artist Christi Belcourt, of Espanola, Ontario. “There has been a silence by the government, by police and by dominant society; it’s as though Indigenous women’s lives aren’t considered important.”
  10. Violence Against Women Act Adds Protection for Native American Women: But Is It Enough? : The newly-reauthorized Violence Against Women Act (VAWA) includes new protections for Native American women who are victims of sexual assault or domestic violence. Despite attempts by House Republicans to pass a watered-down version of VAWA that limited these Native American provisions, as well as eliminating protection for lesbian and gay victims, the bill was passed by the House of Representatives and signed into law by President Obama on March 7th, just in time for International Women’s Day.

And one more, our favorite feel-good story of the year:

11. Cree Youth Journey 1,100 km For Unity:  On January 16, seven Cree youth, led by two experienced guides, departed their community of Great Whale on the Hudson Bay to begin The Quest of Wisjinichu-Nishiyuu (Quest For Unity), a journey that will take them across 1,100 km to reach Parliament Hill, Ottawa, the seat of Canada’s federal government. Inspired by the Idle No More Movement, they seek to promote unity and a refocusing on traditional values.

Which one was your favorite story? What would you like to see us reporting on in 2014? Let us know, and have a happy New Year!