South Dakota governor tries to crush Native American efforts to contain the coronavirus

In hopes of minimizing the spread of coronavirus in their community, the Cheyenne River Sioux have established a series of checkpoints on state highways that run through tribal reservations in South Dakota. As Truthout explains:

Commercial drivers and South Dakota residents are being allowed to travel on tribal lands, but non-state residents are only allowed entry onto the reservations if they can provide proof of tribal membership or proof that they live there. Non-state residents are also being banned from hunting or fishing on tribal lands.

These, of course, are far more active measures than anything that South Dakota Governor Kristi Noem has done so far in this pandemic. And this clearly made her upset, or possibly embarrassed, because she wrote a letter to tribal leaders stating:

I request the Tribe immediately cease interfering or regulating traffic on U.S. and State Highways and remove all travel checkpoints. If the checkpoints are not removed within the next 48 hours, the State will take necessary legal action.

Under normal circumstances, there may be a valid argument about what some would consider the vigilantism on display here. However, when it comes to Native American land rights and legal jurisdictions, things get complicated. But they've been putting up with this shit for a while now, and many of them have a keen understanding of how things with the US government — namely, that it won't do shit to help them, except when it wants something, which usually ends up hurting the members of the tribe. Read the rest

Thousands of Zapatista women gather in the mountains of Mexico

There was an inspiring sight for indigenous and women's rights in the mountains of Chiapas this week, as more than 3,200 women from 49 countries reportedly gathered together for the second annual International Gathering of Women Who Struggle.

From the opening statement at the event:

As the Zapatistas that we are, we know that they will give us many examples of women who have advanced, triumphed, won prizes and high salaries—who have been successful, as they put it. We respond by talking about the women whom have been raped, disappeared, murdered. We point out that the rights they talk about above are won by a precious few women above. And we respond, we explain, we shout that what is lacking is the most basic and most important of rights for all women: the right to live. We’ve said it many times, compañera and sister, but we’ll repeat it again now:

Nobody is going to grant us our right to live and all the other rights we need and deserve. No man—good, bad, normal, or whatever—is going to grant these to us.

The capitalist system is not going to give them to us, regardless of the laws it passes and the promises it makes.

We will have to win our right to live, as well as all our other rights, always and everywhere.

Read the rest

Rare footage of the "uncontacted" tribe that killed the missionary who illegally went to their island to preach

The Sentinelese are one of the world's last "uncontacted" indigenous peoples, a hunter-gatherer tribe who live on the remote North Sentinel Island in India's Andaman Islands chain. You may recall that last November, a missionary named John Allen Chau, 27, obsessed with trying to convert the tribe to Christianity, paid local fishermen to help him get near the island. As soon as he illegally landed his canoe on the shore and started preaching, the Sentinelese fired arrows. He escaped with injuries but returned twice later and was eventually killed.

This footage above of the Sentinelese from 1991 was taken by anthropologist T N Pandit of India's Ministry of Tribal Affairs who attempted to visit them for several decades. Usually, the Sentinelese hid or fired arrows, but in 1991 they waded into the ocean to meet Pandit and his team peacefully.

"We were puzzled why they allowed us," he told the BBC last year. "It was their decision to meet us and the meeting took place on their terms."

"We jumped out of the boat and stood in neck-deep water, distributing coconuts and other gifts. But we were not allowed to step onto their island."

According to the BBC, "Mr Pandit says he does favour the re-establishment of friendly gift-dropping missions with the tribe, but says they should not be disturbed. 'We should respect their wish to be left alone, he said.'"

Well, duh. Read the rest

Troubles loom for patent trolls who rent sovereign immunity from Native American tribes

In September, we learned that the pharma giant Allergan had sold key patents to the St Regis Mohawk band in upstate New York, in a bid to avoid a streamlined patent-challenge process called inter partes review (IPR). Read the rest