Native American Church members fight harassment by authorities


“Peyote Drummer,” photogravure, Edward Sheriff Curtis, 1927.

Editor's note: The Oklevueha Native American Church, or ONAC, is a non-profit organization dedicated to preserving the legal freedom to observe Native American spiritual traditions. Some of these involve sacramental or medicinal use of various plants: Peyote, Ayahuasca, San Pedro, Cannabis, Mushrooms and others. I am an ONAC member. While law varies state by state, those who grow or use these plants--Native Americans, or otherwise--risk arrest, property confiscation, legal harassment, and police abuse. One of ONAC's members in California was recently arrested, and his property confiscated, shortly after local law enforcement were notified they have no right to do these things. ONAC is holding a press conference today to announce their response. —Xeni Jardin

There will be a press conference today, 2 PM at the Hyatt Vineyard Creek Hotel in Santa Rosa California, at 170 Railroad Street.

Noted Constitutional and Civil Rights Lawyer Matt Pappas will be announcing lawsuits and other legal actions against a number of Law Enforcement and County officials and entities.

These legal actions have become necessary because of repeated abuses of power and evidence of collusion by these groups to deprive members of the Native American Church of their Native Ceremonies and Sacraments by raiding their sacred grounds, confiscating their objects of worship and destroying the sacraments and medicines.

All of these items are protected under the 1st, 4th and 14th Amendments to the US Constitution and the Religious Land Use and Institutionalized Persons Act of 2000. These protections have repeatedly been upheld by numerous court cases around the country including the US Supreme Court, US District Courts and State Supreme Courts. Read the rest

Navajo Nation bears burden of recent Animas mining spill disaster in Colorado

After the Animas River spill, rancher Irving Shaggy is forced to travel a 70-mile round trip to get water for his livestock. "It's going to be a long struggle," he says.
Laurel Morales/KJZZ
The Environmental Protection Agency was investigating an old mine near Silverton, Colo., earlier this month, when it accidentally released 3 million gallons of toxic waste water into the Animas River.

'Large face' found in rock cliff on remote Canada island, but where did it come from?

The origin of this "large face" on the side of a cliff remains unknown. Read the rest

Native American teens commit suicide at alarmingly high rate

A pair of young Native American dancers stand together during the opening "grand entry" to start the Oglala Nation Pow Wow and Rodeo in Pine Ridge, South Dakota, August 4, 2006. The annual festival is a bright spot for the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation, which struggles with high unemployment and problems with substance abuse and gangs and is one of the poorest communities in the United States. (REUTERS/JONATHAN ERNST)
The reservation struggles with high unemployment and problems with substance abuse and gangs and is one of the poorest communities in the United States.

Guatemala genocide trial: Day 6. "If I die, the story of what I lived will never be forgotten"

Photo: NISGUA. A witness testifies in the trial of Rios Montt, with aid of court-appointed Nebaj Ixil interpreter.

As Emi McLean writes on the Open Society Justice Initiative's blog about the genocide trial in Guatemala, "Semana Santa (or Holy Week) seemed to slow down Guatemala City everywhere but in Judge Jazmin Barrios’s courtroom on Monday."

And the trial continues at breakneck speed. The prosecution of Jose Efraín Rios Montt, the Army general who ruled Guatemala from 1982-1983, and his then-chief of military intelligence Jose Mauricio Rodriguez Sanchez, re-opens for the 6th day today in Guatemala City. The charges of genocide and crimes against humanity they face are based on evidence of systematic massacres of Mayan citizens by Guatemalan troops and paramilitary forces during a most bloody phase of the country's 36-year civil war. The US government provided assistance to Ríos Montt and other Guatemalan military dictators that followed in that era, in the form of funding, training, military and CIA personnel, and weapons that were used against the indigenous population.

Watch live video from the courtroom here; listen to audio here. A Twitter list with accounts who are live-tweeting the trial is here.

On Monday, March 25, the court heard 13 witnesses for the prosecution recount horrifying accounts of atrocities they witnessed and survived, committed by soldiers under Ríos Montt's command.

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Gangnam Canadian Inuit Style

A Gangnam Style video from the students of Nunavut Sivuniksavut, a college for Inuit youth.

Mayan Oxlajuj Baktun: "End of an Era, More of the Same," photo essay by James Rodriguez

James Rodriguez, a brave and talented photojournalist in Guatemala, has a striking photo-essay up on his blog.

On this occasion I share a photo essay documenting events in the Guatemalan northern city of Huehuetenango during the much-awaited end of the Mayan Oxlajuj Baktun. These provide a clear reflection of the divisions and challenges faced by Mayan communities today. The media exploited erroneous apocalyptic rumors, the government and business sectors viewed it as an opportunity to gain economically through tourism, and progressive groups seized the opportunity “to strengthen ancestral wisdom and never-ending search for balance” while vindicating what seem never-ending struggles for justice, inclusion, and self-determination.
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Shit White People Do, part umptybillion: "Les Indes galantes—Les Sauvages" (video)

[Video Link]

BB Community moderator Antinous (the person who nukes your comments at Boing Boing when you act like a dick) plucked this gem from the jaws of YouTube and says,

I could watch this a hundred times and find something new to be horrified at every time. I love Rameau's music, but who thought that it was a good idea to have the singers doing the chicken dance in front of a giant turkey cloaca while clenching corncob pipes in their teeth?

You need to see it on a proper monitor to appreciate the full cavalcade of racialist nuances.

The opera-ballet shown, "The Noble Savages" is by French Baroque era composer Jean-Philippe Rameau. More about its history here, and you can buy the music on Amazon if you're so inclined. I can maybe give the dude a break, seeing as how it was all, like, 1725 when he wrote it and stuff, man. But there can be no forgiveness for any of the contemporary humans involved in this production. Read the rest

In Guatemala, pirate Mayan radio connects marginalized indigenous communities

I missed this great read published a few months back by photojournalist Connor Boals in Columbia Journalism Review, but it's worth revisiting now: a story about the indigenous pirate radio stations that connect poor rural Mayan communities throughout Guatemala.

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