Onkwehonwe week in review, December 17 2014

US allows marijuana sales on reserves

WASHINGTON, D.C. – The US Justice Department announced on Dec. 11 that it will advise all state attorneys to allow all federally-recognized reservations to grow and sell marijuana inside their respective reservations, despite any state laws prohibiting it.

Those reservations opposed to legalization will have the chance to go through the normal legal channels if they so wish, reports High Times Magazine.

Indeed, though the selling of marijuana – like native cigarettes and casinos – may present a lucrative outlet for struggling indigenous economies, many tribes have shown ambivalence, citing a long history of issues relating to alcohol and drug abuse among their peoples.

For those who want to take advantage of the new laws, they will have to follow eight guidelines, reports the L.A. Times, including not selling to minors or transporting it to areas that prohibit it.

Nevertheless, John Walsh, U.S. attorney for Colorado, emphasized that all states and reservations allowing the selling of marijuana must have robust regulatory systems in place. Where they find it lacking, federal attorneys reserve the right to take broader enforcement actions.

Cree youth march against uranium

MONTREAL – A group of 20 Cree youths marched 850 kilometres from Mistissini to Montreal, in temperatures as low as minus-28 C, to protest uranium mining in northern Quebec.

Though the hearing held by the Bureau d’audiences publiques sur l’environnement (BAPE) on uranium mining wrapped up on Dec. 15, the day the youth arrived, their protest was meant to highlight the dangers of uranium mining in general, which they said can contaminate the land and water and encroach on trap lines, the Montreal Gazette reported.

The Cree Nation Youth Council said banning uranium exploration would also benefit all Quebequers and foreigners who come to the region to hunt and fish.

There has been a moratorium on all uranium projects in the province since 2013, which may or may not be lifted depending on the outcome of the BAPE hearing, which will produce its final report on the social acceptability and environmental impact of uranium mining by May 2015.

Quoted in the Gazette, Grand Chief Matthew Coon Come said that, “After following the first two phases of the BAPE process, the Cree Nation is convinced, now more than ever, of the significant long-term risks that uranium development would bring to our land.”

Native man gunned down by police

RAPID CITY, SOUTH DAKOTA – A day after more than 100 people attended a #NativeLivesMatter Anti-Police Brutality march in downtown Rapid City, South Dakota, a 30-year-old Native American man was shot and killed by a Rapid City police officer.

In a statement released on Sunday, Dec. 21, Allen Locke’s family thanked the Native American community for the prayer vigils and ceremony circles held in Locke’s memory.

“Allen was a Sun Dancer and we want all prayer families, medicine men, spiritual leaders and sundancers to come and pray for our family and to keep Allen and his loved ones in your prayers,” reads the statement.

Locke was killed by police officer Anthony Meirose in the Lakota Community Homes neighbourhood Saturday evening. Meirose was responding to reports of an unwanted person inside 541 Paha Sapa Road, and shot Locke up to five times after he allegedly charged at him with a knife, reported Kota Territory News.

Locke’s family said in their statement that Locke was a “son, brother, father, partner, grandson, uncle and loved one.” They also urged people to remain calm and to provide the family with the privacy needed to “send (their) loved one off and to give (their) children an appropriate holiday’s memory.”

New Brunswick fracking moratorium demands proper consultations with First Nations

FREDERICTON, NB – New Brunswick’s government is placing a moratorium on all fracking projects until five conditions are met, including a proper consultation process with First Nations.

This is yet another addition to the list of provinces that have placed moratoriums on fracking including Nova Scotia, Quebec and Newfoundland and Labrador.

N.B. Premier Brian Gallant said that all current shale gas explorations projects in the province will be allowed to continue operating as long as they don’t use fracking.

The other conditions include a plan for wastewater disposal and credible information about the impacts fracking has on health, water and the environment.

Meanwhile, throughout the country, indigenous groups such as the Wet’suwet’en Peoples (Unist’ot’en Camp) are opposing all fracking and pipeline projects on their lands, despite federal or provincial approval.

Site C approval ‘spit in the face’: First Nation Chief

PEACE RIVER, BC – The West Moberly First Nation has pledged to stand in the way of all mining and exploration projects, and has said they will go to court over the province’s controversial approval of Site C.

The dam would flood “5,000 hectares…of traditional hunting and fishing sites, burial grounds and places where medicinal plants are gathered,” reported the Globe and Mail.

Premier Christy Clark approved the $8.8 billion project on Dec.16 despite massive opposition by surrounding First Nations and land owners, so Chief Roland Willson promised they will be “reviewing…everything that’s going on and pushing back as much as we can. We are going to cause as much problems as we can on this,” according to the Globe and Mail.

The First Nation has launched judicial reviews in federal and provincial courts, and has been joined by Dog River First Nation, Prophet River First Nation and the McLeod Lake Indian Band, as well as farmers and ranchers affected by the project.

Part of the legal defence will include invoking rights established under Treaty 8, which guarantees indigenous peoples the right to continue their traditional practices in the northwest part of Canada, including in the Peace River.

New book expects ‘coherent’ indigenous uprising

With controversial mining and extraction projects and the constant disrespect and violation of indigenous rights by all levels of government leading to ongoing protests, the conditions for an indigenous uprising are ripe, according to a new book titled Time Bomb.

Doug Bland, former chair of Defence Management, writes that decades of abuse and neglect by successive governments have pushed native people to the brink. He adds that critical transportation links like the CN Railway, for instance, “are vulnerable to protests that could shut them down and cost the economy millions.”

This comes amidst deepening frustrations with Stephen Harper’s Conservative government, including the many contentious mining projects, Canada’s opting out of the latest U.N. indigenous rights declaration, and the Prime Minister’s callous remarks acknowledging that an inquiry into the problem of missing and murdered indigenous women “isn’t really high on our radar.”

Bland argues that non-natives should not dismiss the growing grassroots movements by indigenous people such as Idle No More and the many road blocks and protests around pipelines. In his book, he also writes that more and more indigenous people are supporting the idea of a “unified First Nations strategy for coherent civil action,” reported WC Native News.


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