Standing Rock – Dakota Access Pipeline

The Dakota Access Pipeline is currently planned to traverse over 1,800 miles through the Dakotas, Iowa, and Illinois. While it has gotten much less attention in the media than the Keystone XL pipeline, it is nearly as long and brings with it many of the same concerns: native sovereignty, environmental risk-taking, and putting short-term profits above long-term good. I’ve gathered here a few articles and videos to address the history of this pipeline, as well as where it stands now.

Dakota Access Pipeline Standoff – From August 15, covering some of the history of this particular standoff.

Dakota Access Ruling Postponed – From August 24, U.S. District Court Judge Boasberg says he will need until September 9 to weigh all the evidence presented to him during a hearing on a suit filed by the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe against the Army Corps of Engineers for approving the pipeline without consultation, in violation of their treaty rights.

Who’s Banking on the Dakota Access Pipeline? – An interactive flowchart tracing the money so far spent and potential profits for various companies involved in the project.

And just last week, Lawrence O’Donnell on MSNBC gave an editorial comment putting the current struggle in historical context. It is very much worth viewing:

Papua’s Karma raises questions after release – Radio New Zealand

The West Papuan independence campaigner Filep Karma has questioned the veracity of the process around his early release from prison last month.

The West Papuan independence campaigner Filep Karma has questioned the veracity of the process around his early release from prison last month.

Mr Karma, who was released after spending eleven years in prison for raising the banned Papuan Morning Star Flag, has promised to continue his peaceful campaign for West Papua independence.

However he said after being forced to go to jail under an unclear degree, charged with treason, he had now been forced to leave prison with similar “dubious” treatment.

Filep Karma previously refused government offers of an early release from his fifteen year jail term because he did not want to admit guilt for a crime he didn’t commit.

In the end, Indonesian officials forced West Papua’s leading political prisoner to leave Abepura Prison under a remission directive.

In a statement, Mr Karma claimed he was given just an hour to leave prison, but accorded no opportunity to see the official government letter ordering his release, or the conditions around it.


The statement is timely as it comes as West Papuans today mark Flag Day, the 54th anniversary of when Morning Star flag was first raised in a Papuan proclamation of independence.

The flag was later banned by Jakarta after it assumed control of the former Dutch territory, and Indonesian authorities take a dim view of Papuans who raise the Morning Star Flag or voice any separatist sentiment.

Filep Karma is not the only Papuan who has been jailed for raising the flag, but his 15-year jail term is the harshest sentence to date.

In 2011, the United Nations Working Group on Arbitrary Detention said that Filep Karma’s detention was arbitrary because he was imprisoned for the exercise of his rights to freedom of expression and peaceful assembly.

Indonesia’s Political, Law and Security Minister, Luhut Binsar Pandjaitan, recently said Filep Karma was wrongly convicted of treason, or makar, which implies inciting armed revolt.

Filep Karma expected it would take time to adapt to being out of prison again after such a long time.

“The process of my exemption was very brutal,” he said. “Even animals that are in captivity may need some time to adapt before being released into the wild. I had been imprisoned for eleven years, but I have not been given the time to adapt. Am I, a Papuan, was nothing more valuable than an animal?”

Since it came to power a year ago, Indonesia’s government of President Joko Widodo has been making clear efforts to foster economic development in Papua.

But long-running injustices related to the conduct of security forces in the region, as well as the state programme of transmigration continue to marginalise Papuans in their homeland.

Ideology to “never die”

The independence leader accused the Indonesian government of seeking to destroy his credibility for the sake of Jakarta’s image and authority.

“My current status, released from prison, wasn’t the result of a good will or good policy of the Racist Colonial Government of Indonesia as stated by Paulus Waterpauw, Papua Police Chief whom I consider as an invader’s servant in the Land of Papua.”

Mr Karma suggested that Mr Waterpauw would better serve his responsibility as head policeman in Papua by seeking arrests of unidentified people and military personnel “who continuously kill Papuans rather than dealing with what I believe about the Papua liberation ideology”.

He said that this ideology would never die.

The former Indonesian civil servant said that his freedom from prison had materialised because of growing international pressures against the government of Indonesia which he says “continues to commit crimes against humanity and human rights violations against it colony’s people and against its own people”.

RNZ International recently visited Filep Karma in Abepura prison, where he indicated he would continue to endorse independence for West Papuans.

According to the online political prisoner database Papuans Behind Bars, 47 political prisoners are currently detained in West Papua.

Land of the Morning Star – West Papua documentary

Full version of the critically acclaimed documentary Land of the Morning Star.

Made by Australian journalist Mark Worth, the film features rare archival film and eyewitness accounts. Worth spent much of his journalistic career reporting on the region before his sudden death in a hotel room in Jayapura shortly after this was broadcast on ABC in Australia in 2004.

Land of the Morning Star describes how for centuries the world has jostled for control of this rugged, isolated region, with its abundant natural resources and strategic position. It is an epic story of colonial ambitions, Cold-War sellouts and fervent nationalism.

The first outsiders to arrive were Macassans from the Malay Peninsula, looking for sandalwood, prized bird of paradise feathers and slaves. Next came Dutch explorers, traders, planters and missionaries.

When war came to the Pacific in 1941, the US chose Dutch New Guinea’s capital Hollandia as its base of operations against the Japanese. Half a million soldiers passed through Hollandia, to fight some of the bloodiest battles of the Pacific war.

After the war, the Dutch reclaimed Papua, until US President John Kennedy persuaded them to hand over their colony to a newly independent Indonesia. Today, despite continuing Papuan resistance, Jakarta remains firmly in control.

Narrated by Rachel Griffiths, Land of the Morning Star explores the causes and realities of the troubles in a land just 100 kilometres to Australia’s north.

Inside Brazil’s battle to protect the Amazon – CNN

Inside Brazil’s battle to protect the Amazon


Agents with IBAMA, Brazil’s environmental protection agency, raid a suspected illegal gold mine.

Novo Progresso, Brazil (CNN) Shasta Darlington:

Flying low over the dense Amazon rain forest, our target comes into view: an illegal gold mine cut into the heart of the jungle.

A helicopter lands and police from Brazil’s IBAMA environmental protection agency jump to the ground, weapons drawn.

Within 15 minutes they round up six miners and seize rifles, machetes and chain saws inside the camp in the middle of protected land in Brazil’s northern Para state.

“This is a .38. Out here it’s used in armed confrontation,” says Jaime Pereira Costa, a hardened veteran who has been with IBAMA’s special forces for 35 years. “That’s what they used to shoot at our helicopter earlier this year.”

IBAMA says the small illegal gold mines carved into hidden corners of the Amazon are a big business, tearing down trees and contaminating rivers with mercury.

According to the British journal Environmental Research Letters, a global gold rush has led to a significant increase in deforestation throughout South America, destroying 1,680 square kilometers (about 649 square miles) of tropical forest between 2001 and 2013.

Using satellite imagery, IBAMA has swooped down on the mine a couple of months after excavation started. Six miners sit barefoot on logs while agents confiscate small nuggets of gold and ledgers full of annotations.

The man in charge of the mine, Jose Nilton Azevedo, offers to show the precarious tent he shares with the workers.

“I know we’re destroying the trees,” he said. “But unfortunately it’s the only way for those of us who live here and don’t have jobs or studies.”

Pointing to pots of rice on a makeshift stove and hammocks strung from posts, he asked, “Do you think we would live like this if we didn’t have to?”

And yet the Lonking excavator dredging holes for his mine is worth more than $100,000.

“We’re fighting a war, a war to protect the environment in Brazil,” IBAMA agent Otavio Cesar Ramos said. “They have radios and weapons and expensive equipment, and they know what they’re doing.”

IBAMA, on the other hand, has under 2,000 agents tasked with monitoring the entire Brazilian Amazon, estimated at about 3.3 million square kilometers (1.3 million square miles). Brazil is home to 60% of the Amazon rain forest.

On this raid, they arrest the leader of the mine and set the other workers free. The workers climb into a motorized canoe and head downriver.

But they destroy the camp, burning the excavator, generators and pumps as well as the tent.

“We need to make sure nobody is tempted to come back and start it up again,” Ramos said.

Burning rain forests and deforestation account for anywhere from 5% to 20% of global greenhouse gas emissions per year, according to calculations made by climate scientists. And the Amazon basin — which is more than twice the size of India at 6.7 million square kilometers (2.6 million square miles) — contains by far the largest remaining rain forest in the world.

Conserving the Amazon, therefore, must be a central part of efforts to limit global warming going into the U.N. climate summit in Paris in December.

With some 80 world leaders on hand, the aim is to come up with a single agreement on tackling climate change, with the goal of capping warming at 2 degrees Celsius (3.6 Fahrenheit) over pre-Industrial Revolution levels.

There has been much good news out of Brazil. Here, deforestation has declined significantly since 2004, thanks to the creation of national parks and enforcement of laws.

By 2012, Brazil lost 460,000 hectares (1.14 million acres) of forest, while Indonesia lost about 840,000 hectares (2.08 million acres) despite its forest being roughly a quarter of the size of the Amazon, according to the journal Nature Climate Change.

Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff has pledged to achieve zero illegal deforestation in the Amazon by 2030.

The problem is illegal activity has not been brought under control, and the Brazilian government has extended amnesties to ranchers and farmers in recent years, which critics say have prompted a spike in deforestation in 2014 and 2015.

According to satellite imagery analyzed by the watchdog group IMAZON, Amazon deforestation in 2014 and into the beginning of 2015 had more than doubled compared with the same time period a year earlier.

Continue to the rest of the article…

Invader-States Hijacked UN World Conference on Indigenous Peoples

Originally published in Indian Country Today, published here with supporting footnotes.

While watching the fraudulently-labeled United Nations World Conference on Indigenous Peoples (HLPM/WCIP)[1] on UN WebTV on September 22-23, I was reminded of the famous quote from Thomas Pynchon: “If they get you asking the wrong questions, they don’t have to worry about the answers.” The UN meeting was full of state members who had convinced a fair number of indigenous attendees to ask a multitude of the wrong questions. Unfortunately, whatever questions the indigenous people asked, the answer was always the same: the forces that invaded our homelands are firmly in charge at the UN.

Worse yet, the room at the UN contained indigenous people who attended the meeting from a position of fear, not from the courageous stance that defined the birth of the contemporary international movement for indigenous peoples’ rights forty years ago. The indigenous spectators seemed to be attending because of insecurity that they were going to be left out[2] of something big. They weren’t sure what, but they weren’t going to miss it. They refused to assert their most fundamental rights, for fear of irritating the UN members — the very states that invaded our territories, slaughtered our people, and attempted to exterminate our cultures. It was a sorry spectacle, indeed.

The meeting proved to be a predictable success for invader-states of the United Nations. It also marked a retreat from the forty years of international struggle towards indigenous peoples’ self-determination that took hold after the 71-day liberation of Wounded Knee in 1973. What most indigenous people around the world did not know about the HLPM/WCIP was that, ridiculously, the final conclusions, or as they called it the “Outcome Document” (OD), of the WCIP had already been completed by the states — before the conference ever began. The meeting was a charade, with the outcome pre-determined. There was no need for any discussion, let alone debate. In fact, there was no need for the meeting, at all – except as an example of self-serving kabuki theatre,[3] to allow states to perpetrate the fraud that they care anything about indigenous peoples.

The meeting was a retreat for indigenous peoples because the international indigenous peoples’ movement over the past forty years has been influenced largely through four essential, strategic priorities. These four positions were consciously excluded, or were rendered meaningless, in the final Outcome Document (OD)[4] of the meeting:

  1. Self-Determination. The right of self-determination for indigenous peoples, that is, the international legal right of indigenous nationsfreely to determine our political status and freely to pursue our economic, social and cultural development, is a hallmark of the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples[5] (UNDRIP) (Article3). Self-determination is mentioned nowhere in the OD.
  1. The international personality of indigenous nations, and the international character of treaties between indigenous nations and invader states. This principle is an extension of self-determination – and insists that indigenous peoples are not conquered nations and are not rightfully under the domination of, or occupation by, invader states. Similarly, the principle asserts that treaties between indigenous peoples and invaders must be accorded international respect and be subject to impartial, international arbitration, as alluded to in Article 37 of the UNDRIP. There is no mention, whatsoever, of treaties between indigenous nations and states in the OD.
  1. The right of Indigenous peoples to control our territories, natural resources and traditional knowledge. There are no guarantees in the OD to secure the free, prior and informed consent (FPIC) of indigenous peoples prior to state or corporate invasions of indigenous peoples’ territories. There is no mention of state’s commitment to enforcing FPIC. On the last day of the conference Canada explicitly stated that it would not support FPIC because Canada refuses to relinquish its presumed supremacy over indigenous nations. Canada’s colonial arrogance was not unique; Canada simply admitted it with the greatest blatancy.[6] References to FPIC in the OD are gratuitous, having been rendered sterile by state pillaging of the substantive meaning of FPIC.
  1. Dismantling the Doctrine of Christian Discovery. The legal bedrock upon which the U.S., Canada, and most other settler states rationalize their invasion, domination and destruction of indigenous peoples. This legal doctrine, the foundation for all US federal Indian law, legitimizes Christian, white supremacy and the theft of entire continents. The ongoing legitimacy of the doctrine in settler-state law violates the UN Charter, both UN human rights covenants, and the Conventional for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination. Yet, the “World Conference” OD ignored the issue entirely, and left the Doctrine of Discovery completely unexamined, and in tact.

States can make no pretense of forthright implementation of the UNDRIP while ignoring each of these four essential areas. Similarly, the indigenous people in the meeting can hardly claim the mantle of “leadership” after volunteering as props in a sham process, while allowing states to declare the meeting a success. The HLPM certainly proved to be a success for states – in their expanding domination and domestication of indigenous peoples. The “world conference” process permitted states to evade all accountability for their crimes against humanity, for genocide, and for their persistent, ongoing destruction of indigenous peoples, in the name of civilized progress, development, and globalization.

The state-controlled HLPM/WCIP process utilized three time-honored tactics against indigenous peoples, in achieving the deception of effective indigenous participation and consent in its ersatz “world conference”:

  1. Divide and conquer
  2. Exclusion of the opposition, and
  3. Ingratiation.

Certain UN members, (and the UN bureaucracy itself, which operates first and foremost to protect state interests) were masterful in establishing indigenous gatekeepers within the UN system, and in privileging those who were in favor of the HLPM/WCIP as the “good/reasonable Indians,” while marginalizing those who had criticisms of it as the “bad/hostile Indians.” By legitimizing the indigenous gatekeepers, the UN provided a level of insulation between the state parties who wanted the appearance of indigenous peoples’ buy-in to the HLPM/WCIP, and those indigenous peoples who rejected state manipulation, who demanded respect and equal participation, and who refused to lend their consent to a counterfeit “world conference”.

As it became clear that the indigenous gatekeepers could not achieve a global consensus for indigenous peoples’ collaboration in the HLPM plan, the UN simply began to exclude and silence the opposition. When the North American Indigenous Peoples’ Caucus (NAIPC) decided that it was not going to accept subordination and inequality in the “world conference” design, NAIPC representatives (both adult and youth) were systematically excluded from any debates or decisions regarding the meeting. The UN surreptitiously began to marginalize “bad Indians” and empower “pragmatic Indians,” who agreed to comply with the world conference program. The “reasonable Indians”, like the representatives from the Indian Law Resource Center (ILRC), the Native American Rights Fund (NARF), the National Congress of American Indians (NCAI), and the International Indian Treaty Council (IITC) were validated by being allowed to remain in the UN communications loop; they were rewarded with information, access, and sometimes even funding, to facilitate their continued participation. This tactic took the form of explicitly denying funding to opposition delegates, while funding supportive ones, leading to the censoring of oppositional voices in planning meetings for the WCIP. Delegates critical of the WCIP were denied credentials, silencing their voices in the HLPM/WCIP. The states’ strategy was to provide the deception of indigenous consensus by excluding those who might have blocked consensus through the expression of critical or contrary perspectives.

The third tactic, ingratiation, was used flagrantly by certain indigenous delegates from the US and Canada to circumvent the NAIPC “bad/hostile Indians”, and to solicit the US and Canadian governments. In the US, the ILRC, NARF, NCAI, and IITC met and/or communicated directly with the US State Department representatives a number of times prior to the WCIP. In an apparent quid pro quo for the U.S. indigenous NGOs agreeing to follow the game plan at the HLPM, the US government tossed them a few crumbs. The crumbs came in the form of cosmetic support for uncontroversial postures from the NGOs that in no way challenged the supremacy of US plenary power in domestic Indian law and policy. The “good Indian” organizations will, of course, reject these characterizations, but the record speaks for itself.  They allowed themselves, and cajoled several “tribal government” reps, to be exploited as extras in the states’ kabuki theatre. For their trouble, they came away from the meeting with absolutely nothing of substance.

One specific reflection of these cozy relations can be found in US representative Keith Harper’s presentation to the WCIP on September 23.[7] Harper, a Cherokee but speaking for the United States government, was named this year by Obama to be the US ambassador to the UN Human Rights Council. The number of similarities between Harper’s address, and the positions being circulated by the ILRC/NARF/NCAI alliance defies coincidence. Certainly, the “pragmatic Indians” are jubilant that Harper mentioned the US’ consideration of the possibility of a place for Indian “tribal governments” somewhere, sometime in the UN system. The “reasonable Indians” (just like those “good Indians” of previous eras) would be well advised not to hold their breath for the U.S.’ artifice to be realized, any more than the thousands of other promises that litter the historical relationship between the US and indigenous nations.

In the debates over the past two years, about whether NAIPC should withdraw from the HLPM/WCIP, a defense of participation from North America was offered, based on the premise that it was important for indigenous peoples to participate in the HLPM/WCIP because, “if you’re not at the table, then you’re probably on the menu.” In other words, to protect the gains of the past forty years, we must continue to participate in the UN process even, apparently, under conditions that might be disrespectful, unequal and destructive.

While watching the HLPM on the UN webcast, I thought of those debates and of the “menu” slogan. Another culinary paraphrase came to mind, this time from the great Uruguayan author Eduardo Galeano: “your participation in this process allows you only to suggest the sauce with which you will be eaten.” Unfortunately, the most that came out of this UN meeting for indigenous peoples was, as Galeano cautioned, the “opportunity” for indigenous peoples to participate in a process that allows us only to suggest the sauce with which we will be eaten by the invader states and corporations. We have been warned.

Glenn Morris (Shawnee) is a member/spokesperson for the Leadership Council of the American Indian Movement of Colorado. He is a professor of political science at the University of Colorado at Denver, where he directs the Fourth World Center for the Study of Indigenous Law and Politics. He has been active in the defense of Native nations at the United Nations since 1981.

[1] Although the use of the word fraud might seem hyperbolic and divisive, it is, in my view, more accurate than a term such as pretension. Fraud describes an intentional deception with the goal of depriving people of their property or their rights. Some well-meaning or naive people were drawn into this process, and I do not mean to impute bad motives to them. Other indigenous gatekeepers in the UN system clearly understood what was happening and freely participated in it, fabricating rationalizations and excuses, at every turn. It is clear that some invader states advanced the WCIP to continue the state/corporate theft of indigenous peoples’ territories and to deprive indigenous peoples of fundamental rights under international law, as discussed below. Ultimately, the goal of these states was to use the WCIP to reduce and incorporate the Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples into domestic law, imprisoning indigenous peoples in the legal semantics of invader states. This fraud began with the imposition of the official title of the meeting, “A High Level Plenary Meeting (HLPM), to be known as The World Conference on Indigenous Peoples.” Anyone familiar with the UN system knows that a HLPM is not synonymous with a World Conference. An authentic world conference is 10-14 days long, with thousands of participants, speakers, rallies, scholarly discussions, and with a final global plan of action to advance the goals of the conference. Examples of genuine world conferences are the World Conference on Women in Beijing in 1995, and the World Conference Against Racism in Durban, South Africa in 2001. This meeting in no way resembled a genuine world conference. It was analogous to one proclaiming, “This is my  Prius, to be known as a Ferrari,” with the irrational expectation that the world should, in fact, acknowledge your Prius as a Ferrari. The fraudulent design of the plan was so clear to many indigenous people in North America, that the North American Indigenous Peoples’ Caucus called for the cancellation of the meeting, altogether, and refused to participate in it; see:

[2] This is a variation of the social anxiety disorder known as Fear Of Missing Out (FOMO). FOMO is a form of neurosis through which a person is compulsively concerned that s/he might miss an opportunity for social interaction, personal recognition, profitable investment or other satisfying event. One problematic with the indigenous FOMO crowd attending the HLPM was that because they never intended to confront or to challenge the racist, structural domination of states over indigenous peoples, their very presence at the WCIP provided the appearance of consent to the states’ design to diminish the rights of all indigenous peoples. At the same time, the FOMOs provided cover for the states that acknowledged the indigenous FOMOs in the room, and crowed that indigenous peoples had been consulted, and had provided  “comprehensive engagement” in the sham meeting. The states projected the FOMO participants as proxies for all indigenous peoples around the world. See paragraph 2 of the Outcome Document for the High Level Plenary meeting,

[3] As a political metaphor, kabuki theatre is used here to describe actions that are an artifice, insincere, and something done for show, an act that pays only lip service to the stated goal.





Harper’s comments begin at 2:06:00 on the UN Web TV video.