vrijdag 17 december 2010

EEUU: Indígenas y Obama

Obama apoya declaración de derechos indígenas de Naciones Unidas
jueves 16 de diciembre de 2010 19:45 GYT
Por Caren Bohan

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - El presidente Barack Obama dijo el jueves que el Gobierno estadounidense apoya la Declaración de Naciones Unidas sobre los derechos de los pueblos indígenas, recibiendo aplausos en una reunión de nativos americanos.

La declaración de la ONU reconoce los derechos de los grupos indígenas, como los nativos americanos, en áreas como la cultura, propiedad y autodeterminación.

Estados Unidos es uno de los pocos países que se había abstenido de apoyar la doctrina en el pasado, pero tras una revisión reciente de la posición del Gobierno, Obama dijo: "Puedo anunciar que Washington brinda su apoyo a esta declaración".

"Las aspiraciones que afirma -incluyendo el respeto por parte de las instituciones y las culturas ricas de los pueblos nativos (...) son de la clase que siempre deberíamos buscar cumplir", declaró Obama en la apertura de una conferencia de naciones indígenas en el Departamento del Interior.

El mandatario agregó que "lo que importa mucho más que las palabras, lo que importa mucho más que cualquier resolución o declaración, son acciones que se ajusten con esas palabras".

Celebrando la decisión, Robert Coulter del Indian Law Resource Center dijo en un comunicado escrito: "La Declaración fija una agenda para que Estados Unidos y las naciones indias diseñen un enfoque razonable para una realización progresiva de los deberes y responsabilidades contenidas en ella".

Obama dijo a la conferencia a la que asisten 500 delegados, incluyendo más de 320 representantes de tribus reconocidas federalmente, que la Casa Blanca dará a conocer posteriormente detalles adicionales sobre el apoyo a la declaración.

(Reporte de Caren Bohan; Escrito por Jerry Norton. Editado en español por Carlos Aliaga)

donderdag 16 december 2010

US: American Indians & Obama meet again (IV)

Date: 12/16/2010
Today, President Obama met with tribal leaders at the White House Tribal Nations Conference. The text below is his address to the audience and includes a statement of support for the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples. It's not clear from the president's comments whether the United States will endorse the declaration with reservations, like New Zealand and Canada, or whether it will be whole-hearted. The president promised a full statement to follow.

"I see a lot of friends, a lot of familiar faces in the house. I want to thank all the tribal leaders who have traveled here for this conference. And I also want to recognize all the wonderful members of Congress who are here, as well as members of my Cabinet, including Secretary Salazar, who is doing terrific work here at Interior on behalf of the First Americans and on behalf of all Americans. So thank you very much, everybody.

Yesterday, I had the chance to meet with several tribal leaders at the White House, continuing a conversation that began long before I was President. And while I’m glad to have the opportunity to speak with you this morning, I’m also very eager to see the results of today’s meeting. I want to hear more from you about how we can strengthen the relationship between our governments, whether in education or health care, or in fighting crime or in creating jobs.

And that’s why we’re here today. That’s a promise I’ve made to you. I remember, more than two years ago, in Montana, I visited the Crow Nation -- one of the many times I met with tribal leaders on the campaign trail. You may know that on that trip, I became an adopted Crow Indian. My Crow name is “One Who Helps People Throughout the Land.” And my wife, when I told her about this, she said, “You should be named ‘One Who Isn’t Picking Up His Shoes and His Socks’.”

Now -- but I like the first name better. And I want you to know that I’m working very hard to live up to that name.

What I said then was that as President I would make sure that you had a voice in the White House. I said that so long as I held this office, never again would Native Americans be forgotten or ignored. And over the past two years, my administration, working hand in hand with many of you, has strived to keep that promise. And you’ve had strong partners in Kim Teehee, my senior advisor for Native American issues, and Jodi Gillette, in our Intergovernmental Affairs office. You can give them a big round of applause. They do outstanding work.

Last year, we held the largest gathering of tribal leaders in our history. And at that conference -- you remember, most of you were there -- I ordered every Cabinet agency to promote more consultation with the tribal nations. Because I don’t believe that the solutions to any of our problems can be dictated solely from Washington. Real change depends on all of us doing our part.

So over the past year my administration has worked hard to strengthen the relationship between our nations. And together, we have developed a comprehensive strategy to help meet the challenges facing Native American communities.

Our strategy begins with the number one concern for all Americans right now -- and that’s improving the economy and creating jobs. We’ve heard time and again from tribal leaders that one of the keys to unlocking economic growth on reservations is investments in roads and high-speed rail and high-speed Internet and the infrastructure that will better connect your communities to the broader economy. That’s essential for drawing capital and creating jobs on tribal lands. So to help spur the economy, we’ve boosted investment in roads throughout the Bureau of Indian Affairs and the Indian Reservation Road Program, and we’ve offered new loans to reach reservations with broadband.

And as part of our plan to revive the economy, we’ve also put billions of dollars into pressing needs like renovating schools. We’re devoting resources to job training -- especially for young people in Indian Country who too often have felt like they don’t have a chance to succeed. And we’re working with you to increase the size of tribal homelands in order to help you develop your economies.

I also want to note that I support legislation to make clear -- in the wake of a recent Supreme Court decision -- that the Secretary of Interior can take land into trust for all federally recognized tribes. That’s something that I discussed yesterday with tribal leaders.

We’re also breaking down bureaucratic barriers that have prevented tribal nations from developing clean energy like wind and solar power. It’s essential not just to your prosperity, but to the prosperity of our whole country. And I’ve proposed increasing lending to tribal businesses by supporting community financial institutions so they can finance more loans. It is essential in order to help businesses expand and hire in areas where it can be hard to find credit.

Another important part of our strategy is health care. We know that Native Americans die of illnesses like diabetes, pneumonia, flu -- even tuberculosis -- at far higher rates than the rest of the population. Make no mistake: These disparities represent an ongoing tragedy. They’re cutting lives short, causing untold pain and hardship for Native American families. And closing these gaps is not just a question of policy, it’s a question of our values -- it’s a test of who we are as a nation.

Now, last year, at this conference, tribal leaders talked about the need to improve the health care available to Native Americans, and to make quality insurance affordable to all Americans. And just a few months later, I signed health reform legislation into law, which permanently authorizes the Indian Health Care Improvement Act -- permanently. It’s going to make it possible for Indian tribes and tribal organizations to purchase health care for their employees, while making affordable coverage available to everybody, including those who use the Indian Health Service -- that’s most American Indians and native -- Alaska Natives. So it’s going to make a huge difference.

Of course, there are few steps we can take that will make more of a difference for the future of your communities than improving education on tribal lands. We’ve got to improve the education we provide to our children. That’s the cornerstone on which all of our progress will be built. We know that Native Americans are far more likely to drop out of high school and far less likely to go to college. That not only damages the prospects for tribal economies; it’s a heartbreaking waste of human potential. We cannot afford to squander the promise of our young people. Your communities can’t afford it, and our country can’t afford it. And we are going to start doing something about it.

We’re rebuilding schools on tribal lands while helping to ensure that tribes play a bigger role in determining what their children learn. We’re working to empower parents with more and better options for schools for their kids -- as well as with support programs that actually work with Indian parents to give them a real voice in improving education in your communities.

We’re also working to improve the programs available to students at tribal colleges. Students who study at tribal colleges are much less likely to leave college without a degree and the vast majority end up in careers serving their tribal nation. And these schools are not only helping to educate Native Americans; they’re also helping to preserve rich but often endangered languages and traditions. I’d also like to point out last year I signed historic reforms that are increasing student aid and making college loans more affordable. That’s especially important to Native Americans struggling to pay for a college degree.

Now, all these efforts -- improving health care, education, the economy -- ultimately these efforts will not succeed unless all of our communities are safe places to grow up and attend school and open businesses and where people are not living under the constant threat of violence and crime. And that threat remains real, as crime rates in Indian Country are anywhere from twice to 20 times the national average. That’s a sobering statistics -- represents a cloud over the future of your communities.

So the Justice Department, under the leadership of Eric Holder, is working with you to reform the way justice is done on Indian reservations. And I was proud to sign the Tribal Law and Order Act into law, which is going to help tribes combat drug and alcohol abuse, to have more access to criminal databases, and to gain greater authority to prosecute and punish criminals in Indian Country. That’s important.

We’ve also resolved a number of longstanding disputes about the ways that our government has treated -- or in some cases mistreated -- folks in Indian Country, even in recent years. We’ve settled cases where there were allegations of discrimination against Native American farmers and ranchers by the Department of Agriculture. And after a 14-year battle over the accounting of tribal resources in the Cobell case, we reached a bipartisan agreement, which was part of a law I signed just a week ago. We’re very proud of that and I want to thank all the legislators who helped make that happen.

This will put more land in the hands of tribes to manage or otherwise benefit their members. This law also includes money to settle lawsuits over water rights for seven tribes in Arizona, Montana and New Mexico -- and it creates a scholarship fund so more Native Americans can afford to go to college.

These cases serve as a reminder of the importance of not glossing over the past or ignoring the past, even as we work together to forge a brighter future. That’s why, last year, I signed a resolution, passed by both parties in Congress, finally recognizing the sad and painful chapters in our shared history -- a history too often marred by broken promises and grave injustices against the First Americans. It’s a resolution I fully supported -- recognizing that no statement can undo the damage that was done; what it can do is help reaffirm the principles that should guide our future. It’s only by heeding the lessons of our history that we can move forward.

And as you know, in April, we announced that we were reviewing our position on the U.N. Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples. And today I can announce that the United States is lending its support to this declaration.

The aspirations it affirms -- including the respect for the institutions and rich cultures of Native peoples -- are one we must always seek to fulfill. And we’re releasing a more detailed statement about U.S. support for the declaration and our ongoing work in Indian Country. But I want to be clear: What matters far more than words -- what matters far more than any resolution or declaration -– are actions to match those words. And that’s what this conference is about. That’s what this conference is about. That’s the standard I expect my administration to be held to.

So we’re making progress. We’re moving forward. And what I hope is that we are seeing a turning point in the relationship between our nations. The truth is, for a long time, Native Americans were implicitly told that they had a choice to make. By virtue of the longstanding failure to tackle wrenching problems in Indian Country, it seemed as though you had to either abandon your heritage or accept a lesser lot in life; that there was no way to be a successful part of America and a proud Native American.

But we know this is a false choice. To accept it is to believe that we can’t and won’t do better. And I don’t accept that. I know there is not a single person in this room who accepts that either. We know that, ultimately, this is not just a matter of legislation, not just a matter of policy. It’s a matter of whether we’re going to live up to our basic values. It’s a matter of upholding an ideal that has always defined who we are as Americans. E pluribus unum. Out of many, one.

That’s why we’re here. That’s what we’re called to do. And I’m confident that if we keep up our efforts, that if we continue to work together, that we will live up to the simple motto and we will achieve a brighter future for the First Americans and for all Americans.

So thank you very much. God bless you. Thank you."

US: American Indians & Obama meet again (III)


Obama: Efforts to strengthen Native American communities progressing

By the CNN Wire Staff
December 16, 2010 -- Updated 1546 GMT (2346 HKT)

Washington (CNN) -- Efforts to strengthen Native American communities and improve their relationships with the federal government have already borne fruit, President Barack Obama told a group of leaders from more than 500 federally recognized tribes Thursday.

"We're making progress," Obama said at the White House Tribal Nations Conference, the second of his administration. "We're moving forward. What I hope is, we're seeing a turning point in the relationship between our nations." He said he wants to hear more from tribes about how that can be done, whether it's through supporting education and health care on reservations, combating crime or job creation, "and that's why we're here today."

Leaders of 565 tribes were invited to the conference, the White House said.

The president said his administration has tackled some of the largest issues faced by American Indian communities, helping to create infrastructure, eliminate bureaucratic barriers and boost public health on reservations, where tribal members face rates of diseases like tuberculosis at a far higher rate than the rest of the nation.

The Justice Department, he said, is working to reform the criminal justice system on reservations. The Tribal Law and Order Act, signed by the president in July, contains measures to help fight drug and alcohol abuse on reservations, gives authorities better access to databases and improves opportunities for at-risk Native American youth.

American Indians' history has been "too often marred by broken promises and grave injustices against the first Americans," Obama said. While he acknowledged that no words can undo the damage, he said his administration aims for action to match those words.

Native Americans have been faced with a choice, he said -- abandon their heritage or accept a lesser lot in life.

"We know this is a false choice," he said. "To accept it is to believe that we can't and won't do better, and I won't accept that."

US: American Indians & Obama meet again (II)

More videos to come

US: American Indians & Obama meet again

Secretary Salazar Welcomes American Indian Leaders to Second White House Tribal Nations Conference Discussions with tribal leaders build on President’s commitment to strengthen nation-to-nation relationship with Indian Country

Contact: Kendra Barkoff (DOI) 202-208-6416

WASHINGTON, DC – Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar kicked off the Second White House Tribal Nations Conference today, calling the gathering a testament to President Obama’s respect for the inherent sovereignty of Indian nations and determination to honor the Nation’s commitments to American Indian and Alaska Native communities.

President Obama hosted the conference – the second he has convened since taking office – and delivered keynote remarks to leaders of the 565 federally recognized tribes in the United States. Members of the President’s cabinet and other high-ranking Administration officials participated in a series of breakout sessions with tribal leaders, discussing a wide range of social, economic and political challenges facing Indian Country.
At the first White House Tribal Nations Conference last year, the President directed Salazar and other cabinet secretaries to work with tribal leaders to develop a comprehensive agenda to reform, restructure and rebuild federal relations with Indian Country.
Salazar, whose department carries out the Nation’s principal duties for Indian Country, highlighted the progress that has been made in fulfilling trust management responsibilities, empowering tribal governments and helping them build safer and stronger communities. The Secretary also discussed the significant work remaining in “building a solid foundation for a bright, prosperous and more fulfilling future for the First Americans.”

The full text of the Secretary’s remarks as prepared for delivery is below.
Good morning everyone and welcome to the second White House Tribal Nations Conference!

It is an honor to welcome so many distinguished guests to the Department of the Interior for this special occasion.

Today we are joined by the leaders and representatives from the Nation’s 565 federally-recognized tribes. I know many of you have traveled a great distance to be here. Thank you for coming.

Today we are also joined by seven Members of the President’s Cabinet. It is rare that so many of us are in one place at the same time and it speaks to President Obama’s high-level engagement with and commitment to Indian Country.

There are many people who have put in a lot of work to make this conference happen, and I’d like to take a minute to recognize them:

Kimberly Teehee – Senior Policy Advisor to President Obama
Jodi Gillette – White House Deputy Associate Director of Intergovernmental Affairs
Larry Echo Hawk – Assistant Secretary for Indian Affairs
Laura Davis –Deputy Chief of Staff, Dept. of the Interior
Kallie Hanley – Special Assistant to the Secretary, Dept. of the Interior
A little over a year ago – at the first ever White House Tribal Nations Conference – President Obama pledged to you that we would work with American Indian leaders to fulfill our trust responsibilities, to empower tribal governments and to help build safer, stronger and more prosperous tribal communities.

We have made great strides toward reaching these goals.

First, we are working to restore tribal homelands. We are breaking the logjam on trust land applications and streamlining the process as part of the most substantial overhaul of the Department’s leasing process in 50 years.

Thanks to the great work of Mike Black, since 2009, the Department has acquired more than 36,000 acres of land in trust on behalf of tribal nations – a 242 percent net increase from the last administration’s entire 8 years.

Moreover, Indian County deserves responsive and responsible business practices as we work to meet our obligations to acquire land into trust for tribes.

One of the most significant developments concerning our trust responsibilities occurred last week when the President signed into law the historic Claims Resolution Act of 2010.

Through the leadership of Attorney General Eric Holder and his team, and Deputy Secretary David Hayes and Solicitor Hilary Tompkins here at Interior, we negotiated and achieved enactment of the Cobell settlement.

After 14 years of contentious litigation that included hundreds of motions, seven full trials, held three Interior Secretaries under contempt, and created a great fissure between the United States and tribal nations, this painful chapter in our nation’s history has finally been brought to an end.

The $3.4 billion settlement honorably and responsibly addresses long-standing injustices and demonstrates President Obama’s commitment to reconciliation and empowerment for Indian nations.

The injection of several billion dollars into Indian Country through the settlement has the potential to profoundly change and improve the administration of American Indian trusts and free up land for the benefit of tribal communities. This settlement will also provide new scholarship opportunities for Indian students.

The Cobell settlement marks the beginning of true trust reform and is nothing short of historic.

I would also like to offer a brief comment about the Carcieri decision, a devastating ruling which reverses 75 years of precedent and says that the Federal government cannot take land into trust for Indian Tribes that were not under Federal jurisdiction in 1934. Taking land into trust is one of the most important functions that the Department of Interior undertakes on behalf of Indian tribes. These lands allow tribal communities to practice their cultural traditions, to provide housing for tribal members and engage in economic development. The Obama administration is working overtime to deliver a fix that will restore the authority and allow tribes to continue their important work of restoring their homelands.

Second, the Obama administration is working across the agencies, including the Department of Justice, to help build safer communities.

We must do better to combat violence in Indian Country where crime rates far exceed national averages.

This year President Obama signed into law the Tribal Law and Order Act, which will allow us to accelerate our focus on safe tribal communities.

And thanks to an increase in the President’s 2009 and 2010 budgets, we are putting more law enforcement officers in Indian communities, and improving training and equipment.

We also are revamping the recruiting process for Bureau of Indian Affairs law officers, increasing the number of applicants for those positions by 500 percent - and we have hired more than 100 new officers this year. That’s the largest hiring increase in BIA’s history.

This year we also launched an intense community policing pilot program on four reservations experiencing high crime rates. We are already seeing promising results – a reduction of violent crime by at least 5% - and hope to expand the program in the near future.

Third, the Obama administration is working to build strong, prosperous Native American economies.

This starts with a reenergized commitment to meeting the critical water needs of Native American communities. Just this month President Obama signed landmark legislation on four historic water rights settlements.

These momentous settlements will deliver clean drinking water to the Taos Pueblo and Aamodt case pueblos, including the Pojoaque, Tesuque, San Ildefonso, and Nambe pueblos in New Mexico; the Crow Tribe of Montana, and the White Mountain Apache Tribe of Arizona.

These settlements will provide more than $1 billion to some of the most poverty-stricken regions in the nation. For these communities, the permanent water supply will vastly improve their quality of life and will offer greater economic security both now and in the future.

The settlements offer a fair resolution to more than 100 years of costly, contentious litigation and end decades of water controversy among neighboring communities.

Administration support for four water rights settlements in a single Congress has never happened before.

Additionally, thanks to the Recovery Act, nearly $3 billion is strengthening tribal communities and putting men and women to work improving tribal roads, schools, and water infrastructure projects.

In addition, we’ve signed nearly 400 contracts to build new roads on tribal lands. That’s an estimated $310 million going into tribal businesses, creating jobs.

These investments will have a lasting legacy. But just as important is the fact that more than 90 percent of the funding is going directly to tribal governments or Buy Indian and commercial contractors who, in turn, hire local workers.

But the Recovery Act is only a piece of the progress we are making on the economy.

We are also working to engage tribal governments in our national energy priorities, including renewable energy development on tribal lands. We know that Tribal lands hold a great capacity for solar, wind and geothermal projects, and we are committed to helping you unlock that potential.

My good friend Energy Secretary Steven Chu is announcing today the establishment of an Office of Indian Energy Policy and Programs at DOE.

The new office, which will be led by a member of the Cheyenne River Sioux Tribe of South Dakota, will leverage the Department’s resources to promote tribal energy development.

Fourth, President Obama is working to foster healthy Indian communities through investments in our youth.

Through the Recovery Act, $277 million is being invested in schools to benefit more than 18,000 Indian students.

Nearly a hundred school improvement projects are under way, half of which have already been completed.

And Secretary of Education Arne Duncan, along with Bureau of Indian Education Director Keith Moore and national experts, are heavily engaged in developing a national education reform agenda that will better serve Indian children.

This includes taking steps to bring Native languages and cultures back into the Indian education framework.

The Bureau of Indian Affairs is partnering with Native American youth to create good employment opportunities and build a conservation corps for the 21st century. In 2009, BIA hired 144 youth and – just one year later, through strong outreach and engagement – BIA hired over 1,000 Native American youth that will no doubt be our leaders of tomorrow.

Finally, I will say that critical to all of the initiatives that I have just outlined, is meaningful, structured tribal consultation. Responding to the charge the President gave to us last year, every Cabinet Secretary in this room is working to develop a transparent, comprehensive consultation policy to guide his or her Department’s nation to nation interaction with tribes.

These accomplishments are significant. As one tribal chair and president told me yesterday, President Obama’s administration has done more on tribal issues in less than 2 years than has been accomplished in the last 20 years.

But there is much more work to be done before Native Americans are full and equal partners in our federal family.

And that is why the President has brought us together today for what is the second ever White House Tribal Nations Conference.

We are here today to build on President Barack Obama’s commitment to strengthen the nation to nation relationship with Indian Country.

We are here today to pledge anew our respect for the inherent sovereignty of Indian nations.

And we are here today to honor our commitments to American Indian and Alaska Native communities.

The President has directed me, along with the other cabinet secretaries, to work with tribal leaders to develop a comprehensive agenda to reform, restructure and rebuild federal relations with Indian Country.

We are here to do that with you today.

In a few minutes, we will hear remarks from the President.

We will then convene into breakout sessions at which you will be able to have an extensive government to government conversation with me and my Cabinet colleagues.

As I said at the beginning, there is no doubt that much work remains to be done – by all of us.

All phases of our relationship and all major aspects of Indian Country’s social, economic and political development are on today’s agenda and open for discussion.

It is my hope that today provides a venue through which to continue a candid and honest dialogue between and among nations.

Thank you again for coming and for your engagement and commitment.

Together we are building a solid foundation for a bright, prosperous and more fulfilling future for the First Americans.

vrijdag 19 november 2010

Iceland (Ísland)...

First Americans 'reached Europe five centuries before Columbus discoveries'Scientists claim first Americans arrived long before Columbus bumped into an island in the Bahamas in 1492

Christopher Columbus did not introduce the first native Americans to Europe, according to new research.

When Christopher Columbus paraded his newly discovered American Indians through the streets of Spanish towns at the end of the 15th century, he was not in fact introducing the first native Americans to Europe, according to new research.

Scientists who have studied the genetic past of an Icelandic family now claim the first Americans reached Europe a full five centuries before Columbus bumped into an island in the Bahamas during his first voyage of discovery in 1492.

Researchers said today that a woman from the Americas probably arrived in Iceland 1,000 years ago, leaving behind genes that are reflected in about 80 Icelanders today.

The link was first detected among inhabitants of Iceland, home to one of the most thorough gene-mapping programs in the world, several years ago.

Initial suggestions that the genes may have arrived via Asia were ruled out after samples showed they had been in Iceland since the early 18th century, before Asian genes began appearing among Icelanders.

Investigators discovered the genes could be traced to common ancestors in the south of Iceland, near the Vatnajˆkull glacier, in around 1710.

"As the island was practically isolated from the 10th century onwards, the most probable hypothesis is that these genes correspond to an Amerindian woman who was taken from America by the Vikings some time around the year 1000," Carles Lalueza-Fox, of the Pompeu Fabra university in Spain, said.

Norse sagas suggest the Vikings discovered the Americas centuries before Columbus got there in 1492.

A Viking settlement at L'Anse aux Meadows, in the eastern Canadian region of Terranova, is thought to date to the 11th century.

Researchers said they would keep trying to determine when the Amerindian genes first arrived in Iceland.

"So far, we have got back to the early 18th century, but it would be interesting to find the same sequence further back in Icelandic history," Lalueza-Fox said.

The genetic research, made public by Spain's Centre for Scientific Research, was due to be published in the American Journal of Physical Anthropology.

Conclusions of the scientific article:
We have identified four different matrilines carrying the C1e lineage in the Icelandic mtDNA pool, with the earliest known ancestors of each born: 1720 (1), 1740 (2), 1710 (3), and 1720 (4). All four ancestors were geographical neighbors in Iceland, with 1, 2, and 3 from the county of Rangarvallarsysla and 4 from the adjacent county of Vestur Skaftafellssysla. This supports the notion of a matrilineal MRCA for the four ancestors born in Iceland after the time of settlement in 870. If it is assumed that ancestors 1, 2, 3, and 4 were all sisters or very close matrilineal relatives, then the MRCA and latest possible arrival date of the C1e lineage in Iceland could be dated to around or just before 1700. However, there are at least three reasons to assume an earlier entry date for the Icelandic C1e lineage. First, even if it is assumed that the MRCA of 1, 2, 3, and 4 was born close to 1700, the lineage could still have been present in Iceland for hundreds of years before that time. Indeed, although most matrilines in contemporary Icelanders are expected to be derived from the settlement period, only 8% of them can be traced beyond 1500, due to the cumulative impact of missing genealogical data. Second, it is unlikely that we have identified all C1e matrilines in the Icelandic mtDNA pool and each additional matriline increases the likelihood of an earlier date for the MRCA and therefore an earlier date for the most conservative entry date estimate. Third, although the fixed mutation at position 13567 in matriline 4 does not rule out a close relationship between its ancestor and those of 1, 2, and 3, it is more consistent with an MRCA some generations earlier because of the slow rate of mutation in the coding region. Thus, it is possible and perhaps even probable that the C1e lineage entered the Icelandic mtDNA pool prior to Columbus's rediscovery of the Americas.

Although the complete sequence of the Icelandic C1 lineage fully resolved its position in the human mtDNA tree, the mystery surrounding the lineage's geographical origin has only deepened. This is because there are no other known human mtDNA sequences that belong to C1e out of the 6747 complete sequences available in the literature (van Oven and Kayser, 2009). A simple argument in favor of a Native American origin of C1e is the fact that three of the four previously characterized C1 subclades are associated with these groups and the vast majority of C1 sequences in the literature have been sampled from individuals of Native American ancestry. Most of these sequences are limited to the control region, which includes sites that are characteristic of C1, but none that can be reliably used to determine membership in C1e. We identified 980 C1 sequences in a database of 32,193 control region sequences from the literature, of which 152 could be assigned to C1 subclades based on control region mutations (16356C for C1a, 493G for C1b, and 16051G for C1d). An additional 274 sequences that did not include all these sites were inferred to be members of C1a, C1b, or C1d on the basis of shared rare mutations with longer C1 sequences that could be directly assigned to these subclades. From the remaining unclassified 554 C1 sequences, we attempted to pick out possible C1e candidates, using the criteria of one mutational difference from C1e when sequences were available for only hypervariable segment 1 (HVS1) or 2 (HVS2) and two mutational differences when both HVS1 and HVS2 sequences were available. The result was a shortlist of 276 sequences that we suggest be checked first for C1e coding region mutations (Supp. Info. Table S3). We note that for the sequences for which geographical information is available, all but two were sampled from individuals with Native American ancestry—i.e. from the Canary Islands and Germany. The German sequence (Pfeiffer et al., 2001) represents a perfect match to the Icelandic C1e for the short HVS1 fragment spanning sites 16024–16365. This raises the intriguing, but perhaps unlikely, hypothesis that C1e is a European-specific subclade of C1, following the precedent of the European and Native American subclades of mtDNA haplogroup X2 (Brown et al., 1998; Reidla et al., 2003). However, given the dense sampling of mtDNA variation in European populations, it is clear that C1e is exceedingly rare, a fact that weighs against a hypothesis of antiquity in Europe.

Assuming that C1e has a Native American origin, it seems most likely that it would be found in individuals that trace their matrilineal ancestry to the north-eastern coastline of North America, where the pre-Columbian contact with Icelanders may have taken place. This poses a problem for the hunt of C1e in the Americas, as Native Americans from North America are somewhat undersampled compared to groups from other regions of the world and may contain many mtDNA lineages that have not yet been encountered in the literature (Malhi et al., 2010). One likely candidate C1e sequence, found in individuals with Native American matrilineal ancestry from Quebec in Canada (Moreau et al., 2009), was quickly ruled out. It exhibited the same control region mutations as the Icelandic C1e sequence, with one additional 150T mutation. Further examination ruled out C1e status, based on a complete Canadian sequence (EU431086 from Achilli et al., 2008) that carried the same set of control region mutations, but was classified as C1c based on coding region mutations.

Given the rather drastic population size reductions that resulted from the actions of Europeans after 1492, it is quite possible that the C1e lineage was once carried by, but has now been lost from, contemporary individuals with Native American matrilineal ancestry. Thus, ancient DNA may play an important role in determining the origin of the C1e lineage. It is therefore intriguing to note that several ancient mtDNA sequences from Native Americans are found in Supporting Information Table S3. Among them are sequences from the skeletal remains of Oneota individuals from a cemetery in Illinois (Stone and Stoneking, 1998) and individuals from the Caribbean islands (Lalueza-Fox et al., 2001). From the latter study, a bone sample from a pre-Columbian Taino from Hispaniola (Lalueza-Fox et al., 2001) was tested by C.L.F. in Barcelona for five coding-region mutations characteristic of the Icelandic C1e lineage (Supp. Info. Table S4 and supplementary methods), but it was revealed to carry none of them.

The mystery surrounding the geographical origin of the Icelandic C1e lineage will remain until additional members are found in other populations—ancient or contemporary. Until then, we propose that the most likely hypothesis is that the Icelandic voyages to the Eastern coastline of the Americas resulted in the migration of at least one Native American woman carrying the C1e lineage to Iceland around the year 1000.

Ebenesersdóttir, S. S., Sigurðsson, Á., Sánchez-Quinto, F., Lalueza-Fox, C., Stefánsson, K. and Helgason, A. , A new subclade of mtDNA haplogroup C1 found in icelanders: Evidence of pre-columbian contact?. American Journal of Physical Anthropology, n/a. doi: 10.1002/ajpa.21419


dinsdag 16 november 2010

Canada: Nisga'a (1978 doc.)


Canada: United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples/ ONU Déclaration des Droits des Peuples Autochtones

National chief welcomes move to endorse UN native rights document
John Ward
The Canadian Press

OTTAWA—Canada formally endorsed the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples on Friday three years after being just one of four countries to vote against the pact.

The move, announced at UN headquarters in New York, was welcomed as a positive development by the Assembly of First Nations.

“It’s something that the welcome,” said Shawn A-in-chut Atleo, national chief of the Assembly of First Nations.

The endorsement of the declaration — non-binding statement of principles for dealing with native groups — fulfills a pledge made in the speech from the throne last March.

A government news release said of the declaration: “It sets out a number of principles that should guide harmonious and co-operative relationships between indigenous peoples and states, such as equality, partnership, good faith and mutual respect. Canada strongly supports these principles.”

Indian Affairs Minister John Duncan said the endorsement of the document is part of an effort by the government to strengthen its relationship with aboriginal peoples.

“Canada’s aboriginal leadership has spoken with passion on the importance of endorsing the declaration,” Duncan added. “Today’s announcement represents another important milestone on the road to respect and co-operation.”

Foreign Affairs Minister Lawrence Cannon said the move shows Canada remains committed to promoting and protecting the rights of natives.

Canada _along with Australia, New Zealand and the United States _ voted against the declaration when it was adopted by the General Assembly in September 2007.

At the time, the government said it objected to some of the wording, including articles dealing with lands and resources and self -government. It said many of these rights should be negotiated, not imposed by the UN.

Now, it says it has decided it’s better to endorse the declaration and explain its concerns, rather than reject the whole document.

The document, hammered out over 20 years of talks between diplomats and representatives of aboriginal groups from around the world, says indigenous peoples have a number of rights __to their lands, culture, and languages, among other things _ and that governments should work to protect these rights.

Atleo said he’s pressed hard for the endorsement, saying he’s raised it at every meeting he’s had with Prime Minister Stephen Harper.

The national chief said he’s not worried that the declaration isn’t binding and does nothing to change Canadian law.

“I think it has an important role,” he said. “It can provide us with a framework, with a guide, if you will.

“For example, one of the articles says indigenous peoples have the right to design education systems that work for them and let’s get on with the work of forging a much better reality for First Nations education success.”

He said it’s a symbol: “It suggests that we have work to do and it’s got to be done jointly.”

Atleo said the formal endorsement is “a signal being made by Canada that they are prepared to work in partnership with us.”

But he said much remains to be done.

“It needs to be about action,” he said. “The endorsement is welcome, now it’s about, let’s set out a work plan that’s going to achieve real change for the people.”


FAQ's (English/Français)

Le Canada signera la déclaration de l'ONU
Ottawa se résout finalement à adopter la Déclaration des Nations unies sur les droits des peuples autochtones.

Un représentant canadien a déclaré mardi, lors d'une réunion de l'Instance permanente de l'ONU sur les questions autochtones, que son pays allait signer ce « document de référence » dans les prochains mois.

Fred Caron, sous-ministre adjoint au bureau de l'Interlocuteur auprès des Métis, a affirmé que son gouvernement s'y était engagé dans le discours du Trône du 3 mars dernier et qu'il respecterait sa promesse, selon un compte rendu des discussions publié par l'ONU.

Le Canada fait partie des deux derniers pays, avec les États-Unis, à ne pas avoir encore ratifié la Déclaration sur les droits des autochtones, adoptée par l'Assemblée générale de l'ONU en 2007.

À l'époque, Ottawa jugeait le texte flou et s'inquiétait qu'il donne lieu à toutes sortes d'interprétation, concernant notamment de potentielles revendications territoriales.

L'Australie, qui s'était aussi abstenue de ratifier la déclaration en 2007, l'a fait en 2009. La Nouvelle-Zélande lui a emboîté le pas lundi dernier.

Les États-Unis réexaminent leur position
Reste Washington, qui a promis mardi de « revoir sa position ». L'ambassadrice américaine à l'ONU, Susan Rice, a affirmé que la Maison-Blanche mènerait des consultations à ce sujet avec les organisations non gouvernementales concernées et les communautés autochtones.

« Ne doutez pas de notre engagement, car nous sommes prêts à être jugés sur nos actes », a déclaré Mme Rice lors de la réunion consacrée aux Premières Nations.

Selon un communiqué publié par l'ONU, l'Instance permanente sur les questions autochtones s'est réjouie des engagements canadiens et américains.

Mais les représentants autochtones, présents à la réunion, ont tout de même réitéré leurs vives critiques face au « modèle de développement occidental », qu'ils jugent « fondé sur le profit immédiat » et « irrespectueux de l'environnement ».

Ils déplorent que leurs communautés subissent les conséquences de la pollution, de l'élévation du niveau de la mer, de la contamination de l'eau et de l'air et de la surexploitation de leurs terres ancestrales.

Ils demandent donc que les autochtones soient impliqués dans toutes les décisions qui ont potentiellement une incidence négative sur leur mode et leur qualité de vie.

Reconnaissant que les politiques de développement canadiennes ont trop souvent eu des impacts néfastes pour les Premières Nations, le sous-ministre adjoint Fred Caron a dit que son gouvernement est déterminé à prendre des mesures, en collaboration avec les collectivités autochtones, « pour assurer un présent et un futur meilleurs ».

maandag 15 november 2010

Bolivia: entrevista al vicepresidente


woensdag 10 november 2010


Conservation expedition 'poses risk to tribes'
By Victoria Gill
Science and nature reporter, BBC News

A conservation expedition to a remote area of Paraguay poses a risk to isolated tribal groups, according to an indigenous peoples' protection group.

Scientists from London's Natural History Museum (NHM) aim to record biodiversity in the Dry Chaco region.

An open letter from Iniciativa Amotocodie (IA) to the NHM has highlighted a dilemma: how to balance the need for research against the risks of disturbing indigenous communities.

IA says the trip should be called off.

But the museum, which is collaborating with Paraguayan colleagues in the project, said it was taking measures to ensure that the expedition would not threaten indigenous tribes.

A museum press statement said: "We always take advice on these issues from the relevant national authorities, as we are doing in Paraguay."

The Dry Chaco, a semi-arid lowland area that stretches into Argentina, Bolivia and Brazil, is one of the few places where there are still isolated groups of Ayoreo people.

These tribes have never had contact with the outside world.

The team of British and Paraguayan biologists and botanists hope to find undiscovered species of plants, insects and animals in the region.

They hope the expedition will help to draw attention to the need to protect the habitat, which is under threat from the expansion of logging and intensive agriculture.

But Benno Glauser, director of Iniciativa Amotocodie, told BBC News that any contact with tribal groups during the trip could have "fatal consequences".

He said there was a risk of "surprise contact" because the scientists had to "move around in a very silent way in order to observe animals".

Mr Glauser told the BBC's Today Programme: "We know of three isolated indigenous groups in the area targeted by the expedition.

"They live in completely virgin forest... it makes them vulnerable to any external intrusion."

New encounters

The letter has highlighted the risks associated with carrying out research in such remote regions.

Professor Richard Lane, head of science at the Natural History Museum, told BBC News: "We've considered the whole expedition from the very beginning.

"We have sought local advice from our guides to ensure there will be no inappropriate contact."

The team has also collaborated with Ayoreo representatives in the form of the National Union for the Ayoreo in Paraguay (UNAP).

"Most recently, our collaborators have enlisted an Ayoreo elder, who has volunteered to guide our team in the forest," Professor Lane added.

The charity Survival International has joined the debate.

But Jonathan Mazower, advocacy director for Survival, said that the tribes often perceived outsiders as hostile, and any unexpected encounters could turn violent.

But he did not suggest the trip should be abandoned. Instead, he said it should be moved to a different part of the Chaco.

"[It] is a vast area, but this expedition plans to go to an area that, despite being very remote, is known to be the ancestral home of the Ayoreo tribe," he told BBC News.

There are about 5,000 Ayoreo people in total. Survival International estimates that just 200 are still "uncontacted".

Mr Mazower said that these people were "permanently on the run" from cattle ranchers that were clearing the forest.

"Previously, when they have been contacted, there have been violent encounters," he told BBC News.

"And they are nomads, so it's impossible to know where they are at any one time."

Many of those Ayoreo who have moved out of the forest voluntarily have suffered appalling health problems, particularly from respiratory infections including tuberculosis.

Their isolation leaves them with no natural immunity to such infections.

Professor Lane said that the museum and its partners in the expedition had no interest in contacting isolated tribes during the trip.

"We are targeting protected areas because, many areas of forest of the Chaco have already been cut down, so they are of little interest for a scientific expedition," he said.

The museum plans to go ahead with the expedition and hopes that it will help "governments and conservation groups better understand how to manage fragile habitats and protect them for future generations".

Reel Injun

Op Nederlandse TV: AVRO CLOSE UP: dinsdag 16 november, 23 uur, Nederland 2
On Dutch TV: AVRO CLOSE UP, Tuesday, november 16, 23h/11pm, Nederland 2

Official website:

woensdag 20 oktober 2010

Mexico (español, nederlands, english) + report

ONU critica a México por abandonar a los indígenas
Los tarahumaras de Batopilas, Chihuahua, por ejemplo, viven peor que los africanos de Níger, el país con el menor índice de desarrollo humano en el mundo
En México, la desigualdad social que enfrentan los indígenas es 11 veces más profunda que la de cualquier otro grupo social. Según la Organización de las Naciones Unidas (ONU), su ingreso es 17 veces menor al de los capitalinos y 90% no tiene acceso a educación, salud, seguridad social, vivienda ni a servicios básicos.

Los tarahumaras de Batopilas, Chihuahua, por ejemplo, viven peor que los africanos de Níger, el país con el menor índice de desarrollo humano en el mundo.

Magdy Martínez-Solimán, director residente del Programa de las Naciones Unidas para el Desarrollo (PNUD), señaló que el país tiene una “deuda histórica” con los indígenas no sólo por la falta de bienestar, sino por “una sucesión de vejaciones, pues han sido despojados de sus tierras y de sus derechos”.

“Yo creo que no ha sido (suficientemente eficaz el gasto); si lo hubiese sido, no tendríamos las cifras de mortalidad infantil, materna, desescolarización, analfabetismo, etcétera”, admitió Martínez-Solimán en breve entrevista.

La vulnerabilidad de las mujeres indígenas es mayor. La mitad no completa la primaria y la tasa de mortalidad materna es muy alta, refiere.

“Este conjunto de condiciones condena a las mujeres indígenas y a sus familias a una situación de desventaja atávica que es muy difícil de superar”.

Mientras en la capital del país, 12 de cada 100 niños padecen desnutrición, en las zonas indígenas casi la mitad de la población infantil crece sin una dieta adecuada. De hecho, en los últimos nueve años no se ha movido ni un ápice la pobreza alimentaria que golpea a esas comunidades.

Al nacer los indígenas, tienen 10 veces más probabilidad de sufrir pobreza alimentaria que el resto de las personas.

Únicamente 27% de los indígenas goza de algún tipo de servicio de salud, mientras que en las zonas urbanas alcanza el beneficio hasta 50% de la población.

“La desigualdad social se transmite de una generación indígena a otra, provocando un círculo de pobreza y marginación”, dijo Martínez-Solimán.

Distribución errónea
Por primera vez, el PNUD de la ONU calibró la brecha de desigualdad de los pueblos originarios. El Informe sobre desarrollo humano de los pueblos indígenas en México concluyó que el error en la atención a estos grupos está en la focalización de los programas. En esta década, el gobierno federal incrementó 2.7% el presupuesto destinado a ese sector de la población.

En 2009 canalizó 38 mil 103 millones de pesos. Pero el aumento representa 1.5% del gasto programable total para 10 millones de mexicanos. “Hay que hacer un análisis del caso por caso, y ver dónde el gasto ha sido más efectivo”, recomendó Martínez-Solimán.

De acuerdo con el estudio, en lo que menos gasta el gobierno federal es en lograr un piso mínimo de seguridades jurídicas, pues sólo existen tres programas a nivel nacional, que representan apenas 0.2% de la cifra destinada para la atención de los grupos indígenas.

“México tiene que pensar en cómo saldar y atender su deuda histórica indígena, y a la vez, pensar y atajar los retos más recientes que engrosan esa deuda”, advirtió el representante de la ONU.

El 10% de los indígenas en las peores condiciones de vida apenas recibe 7.2% gasto gubernamental, mientras que el mismo porcentaje de indígenas con un índice de desarrollo más estable recibe 20% de los recursos.

“Este no es un problema mexicano ni tampoco un problema latinoamericano; es un problema mundial: la discriminación de nuestros pueblos originarios. Es necesario acelerar el proceso para reducir el proceso de desigualdad”, precisó.

Los estados que presentan los más altos niveles de rezago social para los pueblos indígenas son Chiapas, Durango, Nayarit, Chihuahua y Guerrero.

El representante del PNUD consideró que hay una mejor eficiencia del gasto en educación indígena, frente al fracaso de la orientación de los recursos destinados a salud y acciones en el campo.

En ese sentido, el informe del organismo de la ONU califica mejor al Programa Oportunidades que a Procampo.

Kritiek VN op behandeling indianen in Mexico
MEXICO-STAD - Mexico moet veel meer werk maken van het verbeteren van de positie van de inheemse bevolking. Inwoners van inheemse gebieden verdienen zeventien keer zo weinig als inwoners van de hoofdstad Mexico-Stad.

Dat staat in een rapport van de VN-ontwikkelingsorganisatie UNDP, aldus de Mexicaanse krant El Universal dinsdag. Volgens de UNDP heeft 90 procent van de inwoners van de inheemse gebieden in Mexico geen toegang tot onderwijs, gezondheidszorg en andere basisvoorzieningen.

Als voorbeeld noemt de VN-organisatie de positie van de Tarahumara's, een indiaanse bevolkingsgroep in de noordelijke deelstaat Chihuahua. De Tarahumara's leven in slechtere omstandigheden dan de inwoners van Niger. Dat Afrikaanse land is volgens een lijst van de UNDP een van de slechtste landen om te wonen. (ANP) http://www.parool.nl/parool/nl/225/BUITENLAND/article/detail/1034737/2010/10/19/Kritiek-VN-op-behandeling-indianen-in-Mexico.dhtml

Millennium Goals Far Off for Mexico's Indigenous Population

By Emilio Godoy

MEXICO CITY, Oct 19, 2010 (IPS) - It is unlikely that the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), a series of anti-poverty targets adopted by the international community, will be met for Mexico's indigenous people, a new United Nations report says.

"Poverty has been reduced, but the inequality is worrying," Rodolfo de la Torre, head of the United Nations Development Programme's (UNDP) human development research office in Mexico, told IPS.

Of the eight MDGs, he said, "the least progress has been made on cutting maternal mortality" -- the fifth of the eight goals set by the world leaders gathered at the U.N. General Assembly in New York in 2000.

In Mexico, 3.3 million indigenous people are unable to satisfy their basic nutritional needs, according to figures from the Ministry of Social Development.

And 38 percent of Mexico's indigenous people live in poverty, according to the UNDP report on the human development of indigenous people, titled "El reto de la desigualdad de oportunidades" (The Challenge of Inequality of Opportunities), released by the UNDP Monday in Mexico City.

The 120-page report does not directly refer to progress made towards the MDGs, but addresses issues linked to the goals, such as access to education, health care, clean water and sanitation.

The eight MDGs, which take 1990 levels as a baseline, set a 2015 deadline to halve the proportion of people suffering extreme poverty and hunger, achieve universal primary education, promote gender equality, reduce child mortality by two-thirds and maternal mortality by three-fourths, combat HIV/AIDS, malaria and other diseases, ensure environmental sustainability, and develop a global partnership for development.

Mexico has made progress in fighting poverty and improving primary school enrolment, and has virtually met the goal of halving the proportion of people without access to piped water and basic sanitation, according to the Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean (ECLAC).

But half of the country's indigenous women and 42 percent of indigenous men have not completed primary school, the UNDP report notes.

The study, which compares for the first time the living conditions in the country's 156 indigenous municipalities, 393 non-indigenous municipalities and 1,905 municipalities inhabited by people of mixed-race descent.

This Latin American nation, made up of 2,454 municipalities, has a population of 108 million people, approximately 12 million of whom are classified by the census as indigenous people.

The Mexican census identifies municipalities as indigenous if the local population preserves native languages, traditions, beliefs and cultures.

In indigenous areas of the country, the maternal mortality rate stands at 300 per 100,000 live births, as high as countries in sub-Saharan Africa, says the report, which points to the enormous gap between this rate and Mexico's national average of 60 maternal deaths per 100,000 live births.

The 2010 infant mortality rate among indigenous people is 22.8 per 1,000 live births, compared to 14.2 per 1,000 for the population at large, according to the government's National Population Council (CONAPO).

"The indigenous population is at a disadvantage, principally in the areas of health and education. And in both these areas, the inequality of achievement within this population group is higher than what is observed in the non-indigenous population," the report says.

"There are problems across the board," Esperanza Vargas, a lawyer from the Tzotzil indigenous group in the southern state of Chiapas, told IPS. "We can't say we are vulnerable in just one area; we are vulnerable on almost every front."

Chiapas, the only state that has incorporated a mandate to comply with the MDGs in its constitution, has a Human Development Index (HDI) of 0.61 for the local indigenous population -- the worst rate for native peoples in any of the country's 31 states or federal district.

The southern states of Guerrero, Oaxaca and Chiapas, the country's poorest, have the highest concentration of native people.

The HDI, a comparative measure of life expectancy, literacy, education and standard of living, has been measured by the UNDP within Mexico since 2002.

The infant mortality rate this year for indigenous people in Chiapas is 24.2 per 1,000 live births, one of the highest in Mexico, CONAPO reported.

"We know there are huge gaps," Xavier Abreu, head of the National Commission for the Development of Indigenous Peoples, said at the presentation of the report. "There is inequality; spending in indigenous areas is lower than in non-indigenous regions."

The UNDP and the Mexican government are producing a national report on progress in meeting the MDGs.

De la Torre said "The thrust of the report is that different identities should not translate into different opportunities. There must be equal opportunities, in order to come to grips with different identities."

In Mexico, native groups have an HDI of 0.68, compared to 0.76 for non-indigenous people, the report states.

"There are many red zones," said Vargas, who is studying for a master's degree in constitutional studies at a private college in Chiapas. "It is unlikely that the lag will be overcome in just a few years, but some progress has been made."

In the national budget for 2010, some 3.43 billion dollars were earmarked for indigenous communities, and a slightly higher amount -- 3.6 billion dollars -- has been allotted in the 2011 draft budget that the administration of Felipe Calderón sent to Congress for approval. (END)


vrijdag 8 oktober 2010

America pre & post 1492

200.000-25.000: Period 0 (Early arrival? How early?)
Nobody knows when humans forst enterd the Americas. We don't even know from where and how. Until very recently most scholars believed in the Bering Strait Theory (BST) and the Clovis Horizon (CH). In short this theory said that the first Americans walked from Siberia to America (Alaska) around +/- 13.000 years ago (during the end of the last ice age), and "colonized" the rest of the continent via an Ice Free Corridor (IFC). The Clovis site in New Mexico gave it's name to this "first Ameriican culture". The Americas thus were the last continents to be colinized by humans (Out of Africa, and into Asia, around 60.000 years ago, in Europe and Australia around 40.000-50.000 years ago).

However, a lot of South American scholars have since long disagreed. The saw/see (and accepted the data) other archaeological sites, most of them in Latin America, that are in their view a lot older than the CH. The most famous example is the Pedra Furuda site(s), dated to up to 50.000 years ago.

Today, everything is open again. Mostly due to genetics and new archaeological discoveries. The BST seems to have lost most of its credibility, and it's almost certain now that people arrived earlier than 13.000 years ago. The CH isn't seen anymore as the first American culture. But what now? Sites like Pedra Furuda still are not widely accepted, but genetic research seems to indicate that people were in the Americas for at least 15.000 to 25.000 years. The theory that people came along the North American westcoast (WCT) by boat is becomming more popular, while others also think a passage from/via Europe (taken by some early Americans) is possible too.

(following are absolute dates, calibrated/corrected dates BC and AD)

13.500-9500: Period 1 (setteling down)
Almost everybody agrees nowadays that people where in the Americas around 15.000 years ago (13.000 calBC). The most important site is Monte Verde II, southern Chile

12.700: Monte Verde. People lived in huts along the coast and used a lot of plants and seaweed.

11.500-9500: people in South and Central America use fishtail spear points, while people in North America use mostly Clovis spearpoints. Along the coast of Peru and Chile fishing becomes more and more important and this makes it possible to some early forms of (partly) settlement as can be seen in the Early Paiján culture from Tubes to Ica (Peruvian coast). People here are quite long and robuste (men 1.68 meters). In eastern Brazil continue to make (or start making) a lot of rock painings.

9500-3500: Period 2 (agriculture)
9500-8000: First cultivated crops like squash, lleren, arrowroot, calabash, and some palms. From Panama to Peru and in Mexico (Late Paiján, Las Vegas).

8000-6000: domestication of maize (Mexico), manioc & peanut (Brazil). First Chinchorro textiles in northen Chile, first signs of social differentiation in Lambayeque region (Zaña valley), Peru. More permanent settlements across the continent (Chile, Ecuador, Colombia)

6000-4500: expantion of agriculture, "diffusion" of important crops (for example maize in South America: Panama, Colombia, Ecuador (+/- 6000), Chile (+/- 5000) & manioc in Panama (+/- 5000) & Mexico (+/- 4500)), invention & spread of ceramics & pottery (Brazil, later Colombia, Ecuador), first mound architecture (Peru, Ecuador) & mounds made of sea shells (Brazil, Colombia, Mexico), world's oldest mummies around 5900 (Chinchorro, Chile), first irrigation canals (Zaña valley, Peru +/- 4700). Start of working with copper in North America, along the Great lakes (6000)

4500-3500: Important developments in different places like El Porvenir (Tumbes, Peru), Valdivia (Ecuador), Aspero & Caballete (Norte Chico, Peru), Puerto Hormiga & San Jacinto II (Colombia, mouth Magdalena), Monagrillo (Panama), Watson Brake (Louisiana, US)

3500-1500: Period 3 (cities, religion, metals)

3500-2500: Galgada, Caral, Bandurria, Las Shicras, Huaricanga, Sechin Bajo... Norte Chico culture (more canals, cotton weaving, quipu, music, tempels, etc). In Ecuador maize is becomming staple food and people reach La Plate island to exploit spondylus shell (development balsa raft?) at the coast. Here and in the Amazonian part of the country (Santa Ana La Florida) big ceremonial plazas are laid out with mounds and graves. Greenstones (turquoise, malachite) are being worked (masks, etc)

2500-1500: El Paraiso (big tempels, central coast Peru), first depiction Staff God (Norte Chico, Peru), Buena Vista (Temple of the Fox), Ventarron (wall paintings) First silver, copper and gold around 2000 (Andes). Madre Vieja & Barra Period (oldest pottery in Mesoamerica, Chiapas & Guatemalan coast). First towns along Soconusco coast of Chiapas. First ballcourt & pyramid, central plaza in city like settlement at Paso de la Amada (1650)

1500-1: Period 4 (Pre Classic)

1-1000: Period 5 (Classic: large states and city states)

1000-1500: Period 6 (last 500 years)

1500-1650: Period 7 (Domination without Dominance)
Why should one begin this period of " an indigenous history of America" with a European man from Genua? The people that encounterd him and his tiny crew (+/- 90 men) in 1492 probably weren't that impressed at all. The biggest Spanish boat (Santa Maria) carried only 39 men, and was +/- 25 meters long. But although the natives of Guanahani, Colba (or Cubanacán) or Marién (Haití or Quizqueia) probably saw masts and sails for the first time, their own largest boats (all boats were named "canoas" by the Spaniards wether they were large or small) could hold up to 70-100 men (some reports even say 150), and were just as long. It is true that the Caribbean natives never had seen iron before, but the Spaniards, for the first time in their lives, saw the metal called guanín (a copper-gold/silver alloy). And so this list goes on...

Perhaps more important is that some natives used the Spaniards as their allies (that's correct: the natives used the Spaniards, not the other way around) in their conflicts. The first one to do so was the cacique (leader) Guacanagari(x) of Marién (now north Haiti). He made friends with Columbus in 1492 and let him establish a small fort. The next year, when Columbus returned, he found the fort destroyed. It was Guacanagarix who told Columbus that the cacique of Maguana (southeastern part of the Dominican Republic) was responsible and that they had to attack him. Columbus agreed and both leaders send armies. Although the amount of natives that went is not known, this event takes place before the first disease is mentioned (later that year). On this second voyage, Columbus brought with him +/- 1500 men and some weapons. The island was populated by 8 million (maximum) to 60.000 (minimum) people (most modern scholars seem to favor a population of into the hundred thousands). Even if we take the lowest calculation, this means there were 10.000 people per ethnic territory (casicazco) on Hispañola. The Spaniards who befriended Guacanagari were, thus, outnumbered by his people by about 1 to 7 (1 : 33 if one takes 300.000 people for the whole island & 1 : 889 if the number was 8 million). Whatever the number was, it was a strong army.

An army in which numbers (not brilliant Spanish minds or supperior Spanish weapons/technology) decided. Numbers and disease. Yet the Spanish supriority myth is still doing well. One of them is that the whole conquest was finished in a few years (let's say between 1492 and 1532 when Pizarro met Atawallpa, "an" Inka).This was not the case. A lot of peoples weren't conquered at all (most famous example being the Mapuches in southern Chile), neither by the Spaniards nor indian (= indigenous) conquerors. Also, like on Hispañola, every conquest was done by alliances of several armies of different indian peoples (nations) and various Spanish (the word European is a better term, especially for later events) troops.

Very good examples of these alliances are the conquests of the Aztec and Inka empire. The traditional story (told over and over again and mainly based on one single book: The Conquest of Mexico/Peru by William Prescott in 1843 & 1847) tells the story of two heroic men (Cortés and Pizarro) who, almost on their own, succeed in bringing down two of the mightiest empires the world had ever seen. It reflects the Romanticism of the 19th century, and of the author himself.

Except for Romanticism, the main reason why the Prescott story is what it is, is because he only used the main official acounts of the Spanish conquerors themselves (used for the personal propaganda of the author). Serious scholarship on the Aztecs or Inka's didn't really exist in those days, and most non-official accounts of the conquest period were still hidden away in (mainly Spanish) libraries. Also, the idea that, for example, the indians themselves had written reccords on the events was not held possible. All in all, Prescott's work (although of great importance, being the first one do describe the conquests) isn't really a reliable source if one wants to know what happened in the sixteenth century.

To give a few (not very well known to the general public) facts about these two events that recent scholarship (the last 20 years or so) made clear.

The southern half of Mexico was part of Meso America (see above, pre 1492 section). Between +/- 1440 and 1519, quite a bit was conquered by the Aztec Empire (Tripple Alliance of the Mexicah), in a very short period of time. But there were still a lot of independent states. The most important being that of the Taraskans (P'urepecha) in the west, the Tututepec of the Mixtecs (Ñuu Save) in the southwest, the Tlaxacallan (Tlaxcala) in the center, just east of the Aztec capital, and the different Maya peoples in the Maya area (Yucatan, Guatemala, etc). The Aztec empire had about 20 to 30 million subjects. With another 10 to 20 million people living in the rest of Meso America. These subjects had to pay tribute and had to deliver manpower for new Aztec conquests.

When the Spaniards arrived from Cuba in 1519, they already had heard of a powerful people. Their leader, Hernando Cortés first met an indigenous leader at a city called Cempoala. Cempoala was the capital of a Totonac state, a state that only a few years before had been conquored by the Aztecs. It was in this city that Cortes' men first heard the name of these mighty people: the Mexicans.

Cempoala probably had a population of 20.000 to 30.000 people. Cortés had no more than a few hundred men under his comand. Besides that, his departure to Mexico was declared to be illegal by the official Spanish governor of Cuba Velázquez de Cuéllar. This in fact made the whole conquest of the Aztec empire officially illegal, something Cortés knew. For that reason he wrote five letters to the king (Carlos I/V) and presented in them an image of himself as a great hero who, against all odds and thousands of worriers, discovered and conquered the mighty and brutal Aztecs. As a sign of good will, he also send the king numerous presents, with them showing the king that not he but Velázquez had made a mistake and that his conquest of the Aztec empire brought the Spanish crown nothing but wealth and power. Initially the king accepted these gifts and granted Cortés with the governorship of "New Spain" (1521) but already in the same year a royal inspector was sent to investigate what Cortés was doing. After a few replacements, in 1526 Cortés finally lost his governorship and, a year later was exiled by the new governor. Although he returned to Mexico from 1530 to 1541, he never again hold his important political position. He died in Spain in 1547, embittered and surrounded by paperwork in which he presented his claims to power.

It is unclear if the king ever believed Cortés’ story of the conquest. What is clear is that Cortés (and his followers/supporters, like the other great chroniclers of the conquest Diaz de Castillo and Franciscan friar De Sahagún) used propaganda to win the king for his cause against the other fractions (most importantly the Velásquez fraction) within the Spanish troops. It gives a picture of the conquest that is very favorable and his men and negative of all the other people, be they Indians or Spaniards. It also makes it a “one man show”. The picture that Prescott, almost without any reflection, copied and that so many scholars (and millions of enthusiastic readers) after him excepted.

We now know that the king was right to be skeptic, and that it, by far wasn’t a one man show. We may even ask ourselves the question whose conquest it actually was. What happened? When Cortés and his men arrived in Cempoala, the local leader (known as “The Fat Cacique”), who had heard of the Spaniards winning some battles in a few coastal towns prior to their arrival in his city, complained heavily to Cortés about the Aztecs. He apparently decided to see if the interesting new Spanish soldiers, weapons and horses were effective enough for a planned uprising against the powerful empire. He sent the Spaniards to a town in the north to conquer with the excuse that some Mexicans were stationed there. When the Spaniards and the Cempoala companions arrived, no Mexicans however were to be seen. But the Cempoala leader probably was happy enough with what he saw so a alliance was made and the Fat Cacique himself suggested to Cortés to travel to Mexico via the mighty Tlaxcallan state (fierce enemies of the Aztecs).

When the army arrived (a few hundred Spaniards, 8000 to 16.000 Cempoalans and 4000 to 8000 worriers from other cities) at Tlaxcallan however, they were confronted with an army. After three battles, peace was made (although some Tlaxcallan leaders wanted to continue fighting, and many Spaniards were wounded and sick) between both parties and agreements were made to combine forces against the Aztecs. Xicotencatl., the principal ruler of Tlaxcallan insisted that ten thousand of his soldiers should accompany the allied army.

Eventually at least 24.000 Indians (minimal number) and about 500 Spaniards confronted the Aztecs in their capital Tenochtitlan… This means that the allied army had at least 48 times more Indians in it than Spaniards. This is more or less the same as the amount of American soldiers in Afghanistan (+/- 78.500) in proportion to the amount of their Spanish(!) allies in the same war (+/- 1600).

So, whose war was it?

The next event is perhaps as surprising: no war broke out between the two parties. This war only started a few months later, when Cortés had left the city to confront the Valásquez army at the coast. In what the Spaniards remembered as “La Noche Triste” (“The Sad Night”, as many of them and their allies died), the Aztecs drove out their enemies, all the way back to Tlaxcallan.

So, actually the Aztecs won.

But later that year, smallpox arrived at Tenochtitlan and it had a disastrous effect. In the mean time, new allies (and new Spanish soldiers arriving from the Caribbean) joined the Indian-Spanish army at Tlaxcallan, and in a second try, they succeeded in conquering the disorientated (due to the disease and following famine) city, at August 13, 1521.

The End?

The story too often ends here as if the Spaniards were completely in charge now, the Indian allies were somehow gone, and the Aztecs ceased to exist. Of course, this is again a myth. It is interesting to note that Monteuczoma (also known as Montezuma) was not the last Aztec leader (but even before the arrival of the Spaniards you couldn’t compare him to an emperor, see above, pre-1492), nor was the other famous “last one” Cuauhtemoc. After the “fall” of Tenochtitlan, other leaders were chosen. In the official Spanish sources they appear as puppet rulers, but considering the fact how little Spaniards there actually were, this can also be seen in a different light. It is clear for example that the Tlaxcallans were the mightiest representatives of the alliance that conquered the Aztec capital. In their view, they finally had succeeded in conquering their main enemy. But the Aztec empire was bigger than just the capital so lot’s of Tlaxcallan soldiers went on conquering other territories. They even went beyond the former Aztec territories and conquered large parts of Guatemala. Others stayed in Tenochtitlan and got estates, riches, and slaves, just as some of the Spaniards got. Tenochtitlan however also got a new leader, the first one being Tlacotzin. This system continued to function until 1614 when the last leader (since 1568 called “Judge Governor”) dies. By then the amount of Indians is that small (only 1 million in Mexico left in 1650) that one really can say that power “finally” de facto turned over to the Spaniards, although, even in 1600, there were only 200.000 Spaniards in all of Latin America…  

1650-1800: Period 8 (Effects of desease)

1800-2010: Period 9 (European dominition, the real conquest)

zondag 18 juli 2010


Muere el hondureño Nathán Pravia, líder indígena que luchó favor de misquitos
Por Agencia EFE – hace 20 horas

Tegucigalpa, 17 jul (EFE).- El líder de la etnia misquito Nathán Pravia, quien luchó a favor de los pueblos indígenas de Honduras, murió hoy en Tegucigalpa tras sufrir un quebranto de salud, informaron sus familiares.

Pravia, de 62 años y natural de Puerto Lempira, departamento de Gracias a Dios, fronterizo con Nicaragua, dedicó muchos años de su vida a la causa de los pueblos misquitos de su país, que tradicionalmente han vivido casi en el olvido gubernamental.
Como defensor de derechos humanos lideró varias luchas para que los misquitos hondureños pudieran acceder a la tierra.

También denunció y condenó la situación de los buzos misquitos que se ganan la vida capturando langosta, de los que muchos han quedado parapléjicos o han fallecido por los daños causados por la sumersión en aguas profundas del Caribe.

En varias oportunidades denunció en la prensa local el tráfico de drogas, particularmente de cocaína, en La Mosquitia, procedente de países sudamericanos.

Pravia fue presidente de la Confederación de Pueblos Autóctonos de Honduras y delegado por su país ante organismos indígenas de Latinoamérica y Centroamérica.

En el campo cultural deja una recopilación de textos y otros apuntes sobre la cultura misquita que serán publicados próximamente, indicó su hija Yuwan, estudiante de periodismo de la Universidad Nacional Autónoma de Honduras.

El presidente de la Organización de Desarrollo Étnico Comunitario (Odeco), Céleo Álvarez, lamentó el deceso de Pravia, de quien resaltó su lucha por los pueblos indígenas y sus derechos.


vrijdag 16 juli 2010


Campaign Update – Belize: Government Challenges Mayas’ Land Rights Ruling

    Date: 07/15/2010
    For Belize’s Mayas, good news was immediately followed by bad. In late June, the Chief Justice ruled that the Mayas of all 33 villages in the Toledo district have customary land tenure rights dating back to their residence in pre-colonial times. The ruling specified that the claimants’ rights to customary land tenure “were not extinguished by formal distribution of leases and titles by colonial settlers or any such law or act” and that they have the right “to seek redress in the courts for any breach.”
    According to news reports, the Chief Justice declared that the government is obligated to adopt and protect the Constitutional rights of the claimants. He ordered the government, in consultation with the Mayas, to devise legislative and administrative measures to create a mechanism to protect land tenure practices. In the interim, the Chief Justice ordered the government to cease and abstain from any action that goes against land tenure practices, and to refrain from issuing leases to lands or resources, including concessions for logging, mining or oil explorations, unless these are done in consultation with the Maya communities.  Maya and Garifuna communities in Toledo district have protested concessions for oil development in their territories, and Global Response supported their protests with letter-writing campaigns.
    Now the bad news: the Belize government responded to the ruling by saying it would immediately appeal the decision. The government has never conceded that Mayas have customary land tenure rights, in spite of a 2007 Belize court ruling in favor of the Mayas and a similar ruling by the Inter-American Human Rights Court.
    Greg Cho’c, executive director of the Sarstoon-Temash Institute for Indigenous Management (SATIIM), called the Chief Justice’s ruling “a quantum leap for justice in this country, a quantum leap for Belize on a whole.”  He continued, “I hope that we can move towards the kind of reconciliation that the Chief Justice spoke about. We want to develop. We want to contribute, and I believe the government wants to ensure that every Belizean has the opportunity to contribute to their own development.” 
    For more information, see SATIIM’s website.