(Radio Sweden via Eye on the Arctic, 11 March 2013) -- The Sami, an indigenous people living in northern Sweden, want higher compensation for their reindeer that are killed by other animals, reports Swedish Radio news. More than 5,000 bear, lynx, wolverine, and wolves are found in Sweden today. That's double the number of predatory wildlife from the time the reindeer compensation system was put in place in the mid-1990s. Most predatory animals live in reindeer areas. The Swedish National Sami Association says many of the 51 Sami reindeer herding communities are having a tough time. The association wants to reduce the numbers of predatory animals in their areas and get more in compensation for reindeer losses. Lena Ek, Sweden's Environmental Minister, says the issue will be taken up this fall when the government presents its plan for predatory wildlife. Sweden needs to be prepared to pay if it wants to continue to protect such animals, she says.
Posted 12 March 2013; 7:58:33 PM. Permalink
(Sever-Press via Yamal.org, 6 March 2013) -- This year the Department of Agro-industrial Complex, Trade and Provision of Yamal-Nenets Autonomous Okrug plans to undertake scientific and research work "Elaboration of the methodology for calculation of reindeer capacity of pastures on the territory of the region". The director of the department, Vyacheslav Kucherenko, explained the project to the conference of Yamal Union of Reindeer Herders, and said the methodology is intended to yield information for substantiating and taking administrative decisions on planning economic and nature-protecting activities and also use for practical aims by economic subjects. By his words, intensive industrial development of Yamal brings to decrease in territories of pastures. At the same time, number of domestic reindeer in the territory of Yamalskiy and Tazovskiy districts stays on the high level, which brings to more intensive use of reindeer pastures. Thus, it is necessary to elaborate the methodology and to calculate reindeer capacity of pastures on the territory of the region.
Posted 11 March 2013; 4:27:10 PM. Permalink
(CBC News, 8 March 2013) -- The Tlicho Government will formally sign on to the N.W.T.’s devolution agreement-in-principle at a ceremony today at 3:30 p.m. in Behchoko. The Tlicho are the last aboriginal group with a settled land claim to sign on to the agreement to transfer control of public land and resources from the federal government to the N.W.T. Prime Minister Stephen Harper is expected in Yellowknife on Monday, and it is anticipated he will announce a final devolution agreement has been reached. However, the final agreement won't be signed right away as the territorial government still plans to do community consultations before sealing the deal.
Posted 10 March 2013; 7:22:01 PM. Permalink
(CBC News via Eye on the Arctic, 18 February 2013) -- hough leaders in Canada's North are mixed on how effective John Duncan was as Canada's minister of Aboriginal Affairs and Northern Development, some feel his resignation may cause delays in files such as the Northwest Territories devolution. Duncan resigned from cabinet Friday over contacting a tax court judge on behalf of a constituent. He will continue to serve as Member of Parliament for Vancouver Island North. James Moore, minister of Canadian Heritage and Official Languages, will be the acting aboriginal affairs minister until a new minister is named. Western Arctic MP Dennis Bevington said Duncan wasn't successful in dealing with First Nations issues. "With the scale and importance of those issues, that job needs a very dynamic and dedicated minister, and Mr. Duncan, who has gone through a period of health issues during his time as minister, I don't think was able to give the portfolio that kind of prominence in cabinet." He said the prime minister needs to choose a minister he has confidence in, and Bevington said he hopes a more senior cabinet minister is assigned to the portfolio. Bevington said Duncan's resignation could slow some bills before Parliament but he doesn't expect it to interfere with files, such as environment assessments, that the minister needs to sign off on. Dene National Chief Bill Erasmus said business for First Nations will continue as usual despite the resignation but their relationship with the federal government still needs improvements.
Posted 19 February 2013; 6:35:41 PM. Permalink
(Trude Pettersen/Barents Observer, 13 February 2013) -- The Sami population on the Kola Peninsula is in a hard demographic situation. Their numbers have declined nearly 10 percent in eight years. According to the 2010 population census there were 1599 Sami living in the region. This is 170 less than in the 2002 census. The sex ratio in the Sami population is changing for the worse; while there were 1173 women for every 1000 men in 2002, the ratio was 1236 to 1000 in 2010. The Sami are the youngest nationality in Murmansk, with an average age of only 31.6 years. The average age of the total population is 37 years. While the majority of the Russian population on the Kola Peninsula lives in towns, most of the Sami in are living in non-urban areas. The settlement of Lovozero in the center of the peninsula is known as “the Sami capital of Russia”. The Sami language is also in a difficult situation in the Murmansk region. Only 17 percent of the Sami population in Murmansk considered Sami language to their native in the 2010 census, m51 reports, citing Murmanstat.
Posted 18 February 2013; 2:50:05 PM. Permalink
(Office of Senator Murkowski press release via Alaska Native News, 29 January 2013) -- WASHINGTON, D.C. - U.S. Sen. Lisa Murkowski, R-Alaska, yesterday reintroduced legislation restoring the traditional rights of the Huna Tlingit to gather glaucous-winged gull eggs in Glacier Bay National Park as part of their subsistence hunting activities. “The Huna Tlingit have gathered gull eggs as part of their traditional subsistence activities for centuries – certainly long before Glacier Bay was made into a national park,” Murkowski said. “Gull eggs are part of their traditional diet and cultural identity, and I believe it’s an activity they should be allowed to continue legally.” Glacier Bay National Park in Southeast Alaska is the ancestral homeland of the Huna Tlingit, who traditionally harvested gull eggs at rookeries from the cliffs of Glacier Bay prior to, and following, establishment of the park. Collection was prohibited in the 1960s under the Migratory Bird Treaty Act and National Park Service regulations. The National Park Service determined in 2010 that annual harvests would not harm the gull populations in the park, but congressional action is still required to authorize gull egg collection. Murkowski’s legislation would allow tribal members of the Hoonah Indian Association to collect gull eggs up to two times a year at as many as five locations within Glacier Bay National Park. Murkowski introduced similar legislation in 2011, during the 112th Congress. Rep. Don Young, R-Alaska, plans to introduce companion legislation in the U.S. House of Representatives.
Posted 30 January 2013; 11:52:27 PM. Permalink
(CBC News, 12 january 2013) -- World-renowned Inuk artist Kenojuak Ashevak died this morning at home in Cape Dorset, Nunavut, at age 85. Ashevak is considered a pioneer of Inuit art. Her drawings, prints and sculptures have been bought and displayed around the world. Her work has also been featured on several Canada Post stamps over the years, including her most famous print, Enchanted Owl. Ashevak was born in 1927 in a camp on Baffin Island and lived the traditional nomadic life on the land before settling in Cape Dorset. Okpik Pitseolak, an artist from Cape Dorset who knew Ashevak personally, said she brought Inuit art to the world but was "very humble about her work." Pitseolak said that when she appeared on the radio to talk about her art, she didn't want to come across "as someone who brags" about it. But she was "thankful for the fact that she was given this gift.” Ashevak died after a long battle with cancer. Director of Feheley Fine Arts Patricia Feheley, a Toronto dealer who handled Ashevak’s work, said she should be remembered as one of Canada’s great artists. ... Ashevak first became famous in her 20s, when the NFB film Kenojuak, made in 1962, showed her at work. She was creating drawings, prints and even sculptures in the 1960s. As her reputation grew, so did the reputation of Cape Dorset, the Inuit studio on Baffin Island that evolved into one of Canada’s most important artistic communities. ... Her legacy in Cape Dorset is “almost immeasurable,” Lalonde said. “She was so important to the print studio, the development of it – she influenced artists in the community to continue their artwork and become artists.”
Posted 14 January 2013; 3:02:57 PM. Permalink
(Ian Austin/New York Times, 12 January 2013) -- Kenojuak Ashevak, a once-nomadic artist from Canada's Arctic regions whose prints and drawings helped introduce Inuit art to much of the world, died on Tuesday at her home in Cape Dorset on West Baffin Island in the northern territory of Nunavut. She was 85. The cause was lung cancer, The Canadian Press news agency reported. Kenojuak as she was universally known, is probably best remembered for "The Enchanted Owl," a 1960 print showing an owl with wildly exaggerated feathers and a piercing stare. It became one of Canada's most famous works of art, appearing on a Canadian stamp in 1970 commemorating the centennial of the Northwest Territories.
Posted 14 January 2013; 2:32:33 PM. Permalink
(Jane George/Nunatsiaq News, 16 November 2012) -- Ministers from Canada and Norway, along with Arctic Parliamentarians, want the Russian Association of Indigenous Peoples of the North, Siberia and Far East back at the Arctic Council. Canadian officials will continue to monitor what happens to the RAIPON, says Nunavut MP Leona Aglukkaq, also the federal minister responsible for the Arctic Council. That comment follows a recent move by Russia’s ministry of Justice to suspend the operations of RAIPON, a move that came under fire at a meeting of the Arctic Council this past week in Haparanda, Sweden. “Our government supports the promotion of basic values—freedom, democracy, human rights and the rule of law, Aglukkaq told Nunatsiaq News Nov. 16. Aglukkaq’s statement echoes that of the Nov. 14 statement from senior Arctic officials from the Arctic Council’s eight member nations — including Russia — and from the other five indigenous Arctic organizations which sit as permanent participants on the council. Their statement expressed concern about the suspension and its impact on RAIPON’s absence at the council, asking “the Ministry of Justice of the Russian Federation to facilitate, as appropriate, the fulfilment of RAIPON’s important role as a permanent participant in the Arctic Council.”
Posted 19 November 2012; 3:25:02 PM. Permalink
(Bob Weber/Globe and Mail, 15 November 2012) -- Canada’s term as head of the Arctic Council could get interesting before it even begins after Russia shut down a group that represents its northern aboriginals at international meetings. Federal Health Minister Leona Aglukkaq, who sits on the council and is an Inuk herself, says Canada is concerned about the move and has joined other members in “expressing their concern.” “Canadian officials will continue to monitor the situation closely,” she said on Thursday. “Canada and other Arctic states have requested that Russia and [the Russian Association of Indigenous People of the North] co-operate closely to resolve the situation.” The Russian government surprised Arctic officials from the council’s eight member states this week when that country’s Ministry of Justice suspended the operations of the Russian indigenous group. The group represents more than 250,000 northerners and is one of six organizations that stand for aboriginals on the council. Canada begins a two-year term as the council’s head in the spring.
Posted 19 November 2012; 3:24:18 PM. Permalink
(IceNews, 11 October 2012) -- Greenland’s Oscar Committee has nominated Inuk as the Danish territory’s contender at this year’s Academy Awards in California. The film, which depicts the life of troubled 16-year-old Nuuk resident, will compete with films from around the world for the category of Best Foreign Language Film at the 85th edition of the Academy Awards, officials said on Monday. The American Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences will select five final nominees for the category’s Oscar; their selections will be revealed on 10 January while the award ceremony will take place in Hollywood on 24 February. Inuk has already gathered substantial critical acclaim and has taken home more than 20 awards at various international film festivals. Filmmakers said the production was shot on location amid Greenland’s typical frigid conditions and casting agents commissioned local teenagers from an area children's home as well as area hunters as actors. As reported by Nuntasiaq Online, Inuk co-producer and co-writer Jean-Michel Huctin describes the film: “Created as an original road-movie on the sea ice, Inuk is both an authentic story of Greenland today and a universal story about the quest for identity, transmission and rebirth after the deepest of wounds.” Inuk’s producers are currently amid negotiations for the film’s general release in the US, Canada and Australia, and the full-length feature is already scheduled for an early 2013 release in Germany, South Korea, Switzerland and Austria.
Posted 14 October 2012; 4:06:27 PM. Permalink
(Anja Kristine Salo/Indigenous Peoples in the Barents Euro-Arctic Region, 09 October 2012) -- 130 representatives from the government, indigenous peoples and business met in Tromsø on September 10 to discuss extractive industries in the Barents Region, an area where indigenous peoples have lived their traditional life for centuries. "It is huge uncertainty connected to what's happening up north. The indigenous peoples' opinions are not taken into account as often as we would have wanted. This is a great problem," says the President of the Norwegian Sami Parliament, Mr. Egil Olli. He is one of the participants at the seminar arranged by the Norwegian Foreign Ministry and the Working group of Indigenous Peoples in the Barents Region. Scientists, representatives from the mining industry, local, regional and national government officials were also present at the seminar. Many sensitive, difficult and important question and challenges facing member states, indigenous peoples and business entities in the Barents region were addressed at the seminar. "We face a great risk of evolving conflicts between states, indigenous peoples and other stakeholders in this bonanza of oil, natural gas, minerals and plentiful waters in the Arctic. The indigenous peoples in the Arctic have to find the equilibrium in this boom and tackle these challenges, hopefully in co-operation with the national states, business entities, UN and other, regional and international bodies," says Lars Anders Baer, Chairman of the Working group of Indigenous peoples in the Barents Region. The State Secretary at the Norwegian Ministry of Foreign Affairs stressed that the indigenous peoples must be consulted.
Posted 12 October 2012; 4:38:30 PM. Permalink
(Nunatsiaq News, 8 May 2012) -- This week and next, 500 representatives from the 370-million indigenous peoples who live around the world are meeting in New York at the United Nations for the 11th session of the UN Permanent Forum on Indigenous Peoples. The forum, which meets for 10 days each year, is a high-level advisory body that deals with indigenous issues related to economic and social development, culture, environment, education, health and human rights. Five years after the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples was adopted, a great deal remains to be done to realize the objectives contained in that landmark document, UN deputy Secretary-General Asha-Rose Migiro said May 7 at the opening of the 11th session of the forum. “We continue to hear stories of struggles and exploitation of indigenous peoples around the world. It is time for those stories to change,” Migiro said. “Let us instead move towards the day when indigenous peoples are heard, listened to and empowered.” Almost 2,000 indigenous participants from all regions of the world are taking part in the two-week session to advanced the rights and well-being of indigenous peoples.
Posted 8 May 2012; 10:47:06 PM. Permalink
(Gloria Galloway/Globe and Mail, 1 May 2012) -- The woman who heads the organization representing Canada’s 55,000 Inuit will let someone else lead her people into their future. Mary Simon’s work on behalf of the aboriginal people of the North spans more than four decades. She was one of the negotiators for the Inuit when Canada’s Constitution was being crafted. In her six years as leader of the Inuit Tapiriit Kanatami, she has witnessed the settling of the last major Inuit land claim, she has heard an apology from the Prime Minister for the treatment of the aboriginal children at residential schools, and she has seen increasing recognition of the Inuit title to the vast resources of Canada’s North. “There has never been a day when I didn’t like my job,” she said during a recent interview in her office in downtown Ottawa. But Ms. Simon, 64, has told The Globe and Mail she will not seek a third term when the ITK, which represents Inuit in 53 communities in the Northwest Territories, Nunavut, Northern Quebec and Labrador, holds its presidential election in early June. As she ponders the road forward, Ms. Simon knows much needs to be done. The progress made by the Inuit over the six years she has led their national organization has been “three steps forward and two steps back,” Ms. Simon said. ...
Posted 4 May 2012; 1:48:03 PM. Permalink
(Lisa Demer/Anchorage Daily News, 16 April 2012) -- Her father was a Point Hope whaling captain. Her mother taught her how to butcher the bowhead and care for the meat. The family depended on the sea and land for so much. Caroline Cannon's lifelong connection to the Arctic Ocean pushed her to become one of the state's most vocal opponents of offshore oil drilling. Now, just as Shell Oil is poised to drill exploration wells off Alaska's northern coast, her advocacy has won her a coveted environmental award. Cannon, an Inupiat mother of nine and grandmother of 26, is one of this year's winners of the Goldman Environmental Prize, described as the world's biggest for grassroots environmentalists. Cannon and the other five winners from around the world were officially announced Monday. Each will receive $150,000. Cannon is the former president of the Native Village of Point Hope, the tribal council that has been involved in a number of lawsuits aimed at stopping oil exploration and drilling in the Arctic. She lost her spot on the village council in a close election last year but expects to get back on soon. Point Hope, a village of about 700 people, is 330 miles southwest of Barrow on a gravel spit that forms the western-most extension of the northwest Alaska coast. The village is one of the oldest continuously occupied Inupiat areas in Alaska, according to the state Division of Community and Regional Affairs. Cannon has spoken up against offshore drilling countless times. At a national tribal summit with President Barack Obama in 2009, she told him "we are not prepared for this." She has sat down with environmental leaders and with Shell. She's traded barbs with Pete Slaiby, Shell's vice president for Alaska operations, and didn't quiet down after he corrected some of her assertions in a letter to the editor. "When you have something you feel strongly about, there's no turning that light off," Cannon said in an interview. "Meaning it's stronger than me."
Posted 16 April 2012; 10:11:57 AM. Permalink
(Randy Boswell/Postmedia News ᔥ canada.com, 16 March 2012) -- Environmentalists and Arctic aboriginal groups are urging speed limits on ships and other rules to protect marine mammals as the Northwest Passage and other polar transportation routes become more heavily travelled in an era of retreating sea ice. The U.S.-based Wildlife Conservation Society and native organizations, including the Inuit Circumpolar Council, issued a call on Friday for northern countries to acknowledge the rising risks to northern marine creatures resulting from the "rapid increase in shipping in the formerly ice-choked waterways of the Arctic." Of particular concern, the groups stated after a three-day workshop on the issue, is the Bering Strait between Russia and Alaska, an ecologically rich but relatively narrow choke point for ships travelling through both the Northern Sea Route north of Russia and the Northwest Passage through Canada's Arctic islands. Among the species at risk from increased shipping are bowhead and beluga whale, walrus, several kinds of seals and the polar bear, the groups said.
Posted 18 March 2012; 1:05:58 AM. Permalink
(Stephanie Mc Feeters, The Dartmouth, 8 February 2012) -- Greenlandic Inuit welcome the possibility of economic opportunity that comes with the growing international interest in regional oil and mineral resources but worry about the effect it may have on their environment and traditional lifestyle, Aqqaluk Lynge, chair of the Inuit Circumpolar Council, said in a lecture to a packed Filene Auditorium Tuesday afternoon. Greenland has one of the most extensive green energy programs in the world, with over 60 percent of its electricity coming from hydropower, he said. At the same time, despite the environmentally friendly nature of Greenland’s energy programs, the potential influx of oil and mineral resource corporations poses a threat to the nation’s environment. Furthermore, the possible disappearance of sea ice could drastically change the composition of the circumpolar region by introducing new trade routes and more investment, he said. “Traditionally, we care about the environment because we live off the land,” he said, adding that the Inuit are the “guardians of the Arctic.” The environment is “silently changing,” and Inuit are facing a conflicting desire between combating climate change and embracing the potential for economic growth through foreign investment, Lynge said in an interview with The Dartmouth following his lecture.
Posted 12 February 2012; 9:14:30 PM. Permalink
(Radio Sweden via Eye on the Arctic, 1 February 2012) -- This week is festival time in the Arctic Circle town of Jokkmokk in Sweden's Far North. But not all the Sami, the indigenous people of Sweden's Arctic, will be celebrating. Mining, forestry and hydroelectricity provide lucrative business opportunities across northern Sweden. But exploiting natural resources often leads to conflict with Sami herders when reindeer grazing areas are blocked or damaged. High mineral and iron ore prices have led to an explosion in prospecting in recent years and increased the number of conflicts, with a regular stream of objections being brought to court. One of them centres on a mine planned just 40 kilometres west of Jokkmokk. The mining company Beowulf has been accused of illegal test drills that damage Sami grazing lands. Mattias Pirak from the Jåhkågaska Sami reindeer herding community told Sami Radio that opportunities to make big profits from iron ore should not be an excuse to destroy the environment. ... Pirak and other Sami herders are organising a demonstration to coincide with one the most visible demonstrations of Sami culture. Every year the Jokkmokk parade provides a blaze of colour in the dark of winter as herders lead their reindeer through the snow in traditional dress. The market is expecting about 40,000 visitors many of them foreign tourists, and the Sami protestors will also target them with flyers printed in English. However Mattias Pirak says that after the market protest his community will continue with their campaign — and that they will never give up.
Posted 1 February 2012; 11:57:23 PM. Permalink
(CBC News, 25 January 2012) -- Organizers for the 2012 Arctic Winter Games’ cultural events took the stage Tuesday. Eight presenters got a chance to lay out their plans for the week of shows in Whitehorse which will take place alongside the sports. The theme for this year is "Winter Living". "We're trying to create that atmosphere where people get together and they go in the backyard and they light a fire and there's some music and they go inside to warm up. It's about celebrating who we are as a northern people. I just thought that weather-wise, you know, it's sort of how we winter. That's kind of the theme that inspired some of the work," said Laurel Parry, vice-president for culture and ceremonies for the games. Some of the features will include an exhibition of circumpolar beading. There will also be local dancers, musicians and snow carving. The new Kwanlin Dun Cultural Centre and the MacBride museum will feature displays. The budget for the cultural games is $300,000. Patrick Roberge, who directed the opening and closing ceremonies for the 2007 Canada Winter Games is coming back to produce this year’s event on a $40,000 contract. The Arctic Winter Games start March 4.
Posted 30 January 2012; 2:37:44 AM. Permalink
(YLE, 21 January 2012) -- Experts believe that the Sami languages could become casualties of rural depopulation in Finland. More than half of Sami-speaking children now live outside Sami regions, in areas where language instruction is difficult to access. Linda Länsman is one of the few Sami teachers in the capital city region. Having moved south ten years ago, Länsman now works at a daycare centre in the Helsinki suburb of Kulosaari. Her work there includes, among other things, teaching Sami to six-year-old Joika Partin. Joika is lucky, as language instruction is hard to find for Sami children. There are just a few students in the capital city region, even though there are estimated to be hundreds of Sami children living in the area. They often do not even use their language at home. “If one of the parents is Finnish, they speak Finnish at home, and the child does not learn Sami,” says Länsman. Preserving the Sami language was a struggle up until the 1960s. After the war Sami were threatened by assimilation policies, but now urbanisation is a bigger threat. “The Finnish language law only provides for the protection of Sami languages in the Sami regions,” says Sami language and culture lecturer Irja Seurujärvi-Kari of Helsinki University. “From the start of the century it has been apparent that more and more Sami are moving to the cities.” The government acknowledged the situation a year ago, and set a ‘Sami resuscitation programme’ in motion. A working group due to report early this year is expected to recommend improvements in the organisation of language tuition, and a Sami centre in the Helsinki area. “If there is no support for language learning from outside the home, then language acquisition by the next generation will not happen,” says Seurujärvi-Kari. “If the next generation does not speak the language, then the language dies.”
Posted 23 January 2012; 9:02:49 PM. Permalink
(Sami Radio Sweden via Eye on the Arctic, 5 December 2011) -- Mild weather continued throughout the fall in the traditional Sami territories in northern Norway, Sweden, Finland and northwestern Russia. This has been the warmest fall since the Swedish Meteorological and Hydrological Institute (SMHI) began recording temperatures. SMHI meteorologist Sverker Hällström reports that this fall has had primarily southerly and westerly winds. Sameradion (Radio Sami) compared the temperatures of several locations in northern Sweden and Norway. In all locations, this fall's average temperature has been from three to eight degrees warmer than the normal average temperature. In Kiruna, Sweden's northernmost town, the average temperature in the first half of November was over 1 degree Celsius. November's average temperature is usually minus 6.5 degrees Celsius. "November as a month and this entire fall will be the warmest on record, and we've been measuring for over 100 years," says Sverker Hällström. The reason is a low pressure system over the Atlantic causing warm air to blow from the south or west, resulting in wind and rain with some snow in the mountains. And the warm weather will continue, according to meteorologist Sverker Hällström. "We still can't see a real cold air outbreak, so the temperature will remain on the milder side," says Sverker Hällström, adding that the climate is changing. "A mild fall like this fits right into the pattern: we're slowly but surely moving toward slightly warmer conditions," says Hällström.
Posted 5 December 2011; 4:00:19 PM. Permalink
(Carol Berry/Indian Country, 25 October 2011) -- An Inuk woman practicing a traditional craft finds the sealskin she’s working with doesn’t have the nice fur of times past and it has rotten patches that tear easily. Her husband finds that hunting seals is more difficult than in the past because the formerly stable edge of an ice-floe has broken off and fewer seals are there. He carries a gun as protection against increasing numbers of polar bears. They are among Native people in the circumpolar North who experience climate change in their everyday lives and for whom conventional science, despite its ability to describe the change, sometimes has been unhelpful. One Inuk hunter accuses wildlife biologists of “meddling [that] is causing problems” by putting radio collars on bears so they “can’t hunt properly” or using helicopters that destroy animals’ hearing. Carcasses of over-drugged bears have been found, he says, and wildlife policies “make our lives difficult” even though “we know our wildlife intimately.” His and others’ experiences are told in Qapirangajuq: Inuit Knowledge and Climate Change, the last film in the Eighth Annual Indigenous Film & Arts Festival, presented Oct. 12-16 by the International Institute for Indigenous Resource Management (IIIRM), Denver. The festival’s theme was “Adaptation: Finding Balance in a Changing World.” Mervyn Tano, IIIRM president, said both ground-level science and science policy are needed to “cut through some of the conventional wisdom” to discern, for example, what the role should be of wildlife biologists crafting wildlife regulations. Government inflexibility in wildlife rules is difficult to change, one scientist found after doing research in the remote northwest interior of Alaska. Shannon McNeeley, with the Integrated Science Program, National Center for Atmospheric Research, conducted a post-film panel with Tano and talked about changes in moose behavior patterns with climate change. ... That change is indeed occurring is documented by the film’s co-director, Zacharias Kunuk, who interviewed elders on Baffin Island, located in the eastern part of Nunavut in the Canadian polar North. Environmental change “is dangerous to people worldwide—it affects both Inuit and Southerners,” said Mary Simon, Inuk, Canada’s first Ambassador for Circumpolar Affairs. “These big money-makers in the world are all contributors to climate change.”
Posted 1 November 2011; 10:05:13 AM. Permalink
(CBC News, 29 October 2011) -- Former aboriginal students who say the RCMP herded them off to residential schools are expressing a sense of validation following the release of a report into the Mounties' role in the notorious school system. However, not all the survivors believe the report will help with their healing. The RCMP released the report Saturday at a Halifax session of the national Truth and Reconciliation Commission, which is looking into how 150,000 aboriginal children were taken from their families over more than a century. The 463-page report found that the RCMP had a major involvement in bringing students from First Nation communities to the residential schools. Various data sources were collected over a 30-month period between April 2007 and September 2009 to answer questions about the RCMP's relationship with schools, students, federal agencies and departments. ... The Truth and Reconciliation Commission has been holding public sessions in Halifax since Wednesday. The report says that at times, RCMP withheld information from parents of residential school students about what was happening with their children, and at times they acted like truant officers to schools. "Students saw themselves herded like cattle and brought into RCMP cars and taken into school. What they say is that these stories have come out throughout the years, but what this does today is validate those stories and show that they were true," CBC reporter Michael Dick said in Halifax. RCMP stress in the report that the force did not know what was going on behind the schools' walls, where abuse was rampant, and that they were trying to act in the best interest with the information they knew at the time. The Mounties stressed that the abuse in residential schools happened all over the country. Approximately 150,000 aboriginal children were forced to attend residential schools. The Mounties were summoned to forcibly take the children to the schools if their families resisted sending them away.
Posted 29 October 2011; 12:16:25 PM. Permalink
(University of Manitoba Newsroom, 27 October 2011) -- In an address to the Truth and Reconciliation Commission today, University of Manitoba President and Vice-Chancellor David Barnard offered a statement of apology and reconciliation on the subject of the Indian Residential School system. “We feel it’s important to stand with our Aboriginal students, staff and faculty in making this statement of reconciliation,” said Barnard. “Our best opportunity for a brighter future is to build a foundation of academic success and ensure that the values of First Nations, Métis and Inuit cultures and communities infuse scholarship and research across the university.” Barnard said while post-secondary institutions did not fund or operate Indian Residential Schools, the University of Manitoba failed to recognize and challenge the Indian Residential School system and damaging assimilation policies that were at the core of the system. “We did not live up to our goals, our ideals, our hard-earned reputation or our mandate,” said Barnard. “Our institution failed to recognize or challenge the forced assimilation of Aboriginal peoples and the subsequent loss of their language, culture and traditions. That was a grave mistake. It is our responsibility. We are sorry.” The president said the university also educated clergy, teachers and politicians who created and ran the residential school system.
Posted 28 October 2011; 2:16:54 PM. Permalink
(William Yardley and Erik Olsen/New York Times, 16 October 2011) -- BARROW, Alaska - The ancient whale hunt here is not so ancient anymore. “Ah, the traditional loader,” one man mumbled irreverently. “Ah, the traditional forklift.” That morning, the first of the annual fall hunt, a crew of Inupiat Eskimos cruising the Arctic Ocean in a small powerboat spotted the whale’s spout, speeded to the animal’s side and killed the whale with an exploding harpoon. By lunchtime, children were tossing rocks at the animal’s blowhole while its limp body swayed in the shore break like so much seaweed. Blood seeped through its baleen as a bulldozer dragged all 28 feet of it across the rocky beach. At one point, one man, not Inupiat, posed beside the whale holding a small fishing rod, pretending for a camera that he had caught it on eight-pound line. Eventually the heavy equipment gets the job done, and the whale is lowered onto the snow — and the shared joy is obvious. Big blades emerge and the carving commences. Steam rises when the innards meet the Arctic cold. Within an hour, nice women are offering strangers boiled muktuk — whale meat. People mingle. “Congratulations,” they tell the family of the crew. ... Here in Barrow, the snowy flats by the beach where the whales are butchered (the snow covers an old runway used by the former Naval Arctic Research Laboratory) are splashed with patches of blood and guts until more snow falls. Some blubber ends up in the trash, no longer prized as fuel for heat and light when a drill rig nearby makes natural gas cheap and easy. The whale hunters know what some people think of all of this, and many are wary when news crews show up with cameras. They know what the animal-rights people will say — and insist they will misunderstand. “We’ll never stop doing this,” Fenton Rexford, a candidate for mayor of the North Slope Borough, the northernmost municipality in the United States, said as he watched the festivities. “No one can stop what our fathers and forefathers have done for thousands of years. But we’re highly adaptable people. We use what tools are available to us to make life easier.”
Posted 26 October 2011; 11:38:25 AM. Permalink
(Jessica Benko with photos by Jessica Larsen/National Geographic, November 2011) -- Two hundred miles north of the Arctic Circle, near the jagged tips of Norway's crown, the sun does not set for weeks on end during the summer months, and the midnight sun bounces off fields of midsummer snow. The solstice comes and goes, but the Sami reindeer herders are too busy to pay much attention. "We're always in the middle of calf marking at this time," Ingrid Gaup says, referring to the yearly ritual in which the herding families carve their ancient marks into the ears of the new calves. In the Sami's homeland, spread across northern Norway, Sweden, Finland, and Russia, the notion of time is untethered from the cycles of the sun and is yoked instead to something far more important: the movement of the reindeer.
Posted 21 October 2011; 2:02:04 PM. Permalink
(CBC News, 4 October 2011) -- Groups across the country will be gathering to remember and honour missing or murdered aboriginal women, including several communities in Yukon. The Sisters in Spirit campaign, part of the Native Women’s Association of Canada, has dedicated Oct. 4 as a day of vigil and will also hold events in nine provinces including Ontario, Alberta, British Columbia, Quebec and Nova Scotia as well as the Northwest Territories. There are more than 582 missing aboriginal women in Canada, according to data released Sisters in Spirit. Jayla Rousseau-Thomas, who is co-ordinating the vigils in the Yukon, said that includes 29 from the territory. “That’s more than one per community,” she said. “That’s more than one per First Nation. That’s a lot of women who are no longer with us, who’ve been missing or remain missing or are murdered.”
Posted 5 October 2011; 12:01:01 AM. Permalink
(Eye on the Arctic, 26 September 2011) -- Reindeer owners in the Sámi reindeer herding community of Vilhelmina Norra, in the northwestern Swedish province of Västerbotten, will work with researchers to find new ways for reindeer herders to adapt to changes in climate. The community is conducting the project in collaboration with the Department of Government at Umeå University and the Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences (SLU). There, studies are already underway to examine reindeer herding conditions and how they may be affected by future climatic changes. A meeting was recently held and attended by 20 members from the Sámi reindeer herding community, representatives from the Sámi Parliament, the Swedish Forest Agency, Umeå University and SLU. An important conclusion reached during the meeting is that it's impossible to isolate the climatic challenges from other factors that can influence reindeer herding. "We have therefore placed the climatic changes in a larger context in the project and investigated how the Sámi reindeer herding community can expand its capabilities to take action within other areas, so as to be able to meet future changes to the climate," says Annette Löf, political scientist, Umeå University.
Posted 4 October 2011; 11:56:07 PM. Permalink
(Anchorage Daily News via The News Tribune, 15 September 2011) -- How about some Yup'ik language rock? Maybe you missed the fledging Bethel-based band Frozen Whitefish at the state fair -- and on Discovery's "Flying Wild Alaska. There's still time to catch up on the group's MySpace and Facebook pages before their full-length album hits next year. I asked frontman Mike McIntyre to tell the group's origin story. Here's what he had to say: Frozen Whitefish is a Bethel based Alaskan Native Yupik Rock band formed in 2010 and all lyrics are written in the Yupik Eskimo language. Frontman Mike McIntyre was raised in the small village of Eek and spoke Yupik as his first language before moving to Bethel as a young child. Frozen Whitefish was first a project started by Mike after he returned from a trip to Greenland where he played drums for the Kuskokwim Fiddle Band in the Inuit Circumpolar Conference in 2010. He was inspired by the influence of their Native language in their own music and wanted to do the same here in Alaska. Soon after he started recording his music in his home studio, he got a request from a Native radio station in Washington to send his songs over to a TV producer with the Discovery Channel, which was gathering Native music for the "Flying Wild Alaska" TV show.
Posted 16 September 2011; 1:56:30 PM. Permalink
(Nadine Sander-Green/Whitehorse Daily Star, 9 September 2011) -- Only three days before Premier Darrell Pasloski announced the territorial election, one Burwash Landing resident started a political party. Gerald Dickson, a member of the Kluane First Nations, registered the Yukon First Nations Party on Tuesday. He already has the mandatory two candidates to be considered an official party in the election. Dickson, 47, is the leader of the newly-formed party and will also run as a candidate in Kluane. Stanley James, longtime Carcross resident, will represent Mount Lorne-Southern Lakes. Dickson said Thursday there also might be a candidate interested in running in Pelly-Nisutlin. Stacey Hassard defeated incumbent Justice Minister Marian Horne for that riding’s nomination last month. Dickson said the reason he started the party is simple: his elders’ voices are not being heard. Action, he said, is required to manifest the traditional laws of respect, honour, love, compassion and harmony. And Dickson believes only First Nations people can really understand First Nations issues. “We want the natural laws to be honoured and respected,” he said. Sustaining First Nations’ natural and cultural resources, Dickson told the Star, is at the very heart of the party’s beliefs. He did admit, though, that he hasn’t yet sat down with James nor other people interested in the party to flesh out its policies and platform.
Posted 12 September 2011; 3:30:35 PM. Permalink
(Aboriginal Affairs and Northern Development Canada) -- The Yukon is a land of trailblazers in Aboriginal self-government. Since 1995, 11 of Yukon's 14 First Nations have become self-governing, and account for more than half of the national total of self-governing First Nations. In this podcast series, Voices of Vision: Yukon Aboriginal Self-Government, some of the key people who have been involved in the continuing journey of self-government and implementation share their stories in their own words. The podcast series, Voices of Vision: Yukon Aboriginal Self-Government, was created in partnership with the Council of Yukon First Nations, the Government of Yukon, the Government of Canada and Self-Governing Yukon First Nations.
Posted 21 August 2011; 9:22:52 AM. Permalink
(Nunatsiaq Online, 9 August 2011) -- The Qikiqtani Inuit Association says it applauds the Quebec for acknowledging the dog slaughter that took place in Nunavik decades ago. “This is an important step towards building a more meaningful relationship based on trust between Inuit communities and government in Nunavik,” QIA President Okalik Eegeesiak said Aug. 9 in a news release. Quebec premier Jean Charest signed an agreement with Nunavik leaders Aug. 8, which recognizes the suffering that many Inuit families endured when their sled dogs were killed in the 1950s and 1960s. Now, the QIA hopes the federal government will acknowledge the findings of its Qikiqtani Truth Commission, which looked into similar allegations of dog slaughters in Nunavut communities and other traumatic events stemming from government policies. Those wrongdoings must be acknowledged in order for Inuit to move forward, Eegeesiak said. ... “The Inuit truth must be acknowledged by the federal government before the healing can begin for our region,” she said.
Posted 10 August 2011; 5:07:04 PM. Permalink
(YLE, 7 August 2011) -- Plans are underway to create a reality TV show about the lives of reindeer herders. The Promotion Centre for Audiovisual Culture AVEK has committed 7,500 euros in funding to produce the pilot episode of this show. The Tampere-based production company Standup etcetera filmed the material for the show’s first episode in July in Käsivarre, western Lapland. If a Finnish TV channel buys the idea, a 40-episode reality TV show about the lives of reindeer herders will take off. The decision one way or another will likely be made in September. The original idea of the TV show belongs to Sven Pahajoki, a journalist and writer from Lapland.
Posted 8 August 2011; 5:06:23 PM. Permalink
(CBC News, June 2011) -- Land: the great misunderstanding between Aboriginal Peoples and governments throughout Canadian history. In aboriginal spirituality, land cannot be separated from the creatures that it supports and feeds, including humans. Still today, the Ojibwa speak of Pimachiowin Aki, land that gives life. For a modern industrial nation, the word "land" means wealth: agriculture and industry, mines and forests, cities and suburbs, roads and pipelines. For over 200 years, native Canadians have been relegated to the outskirts of their original land. But they have not renounced their rights and they wish to take part, too, in the country's economic life. This special report presents the context of discussions between governments and native groups on this issue.
Posted 15 July 2011; 10:36:17 AM. Permalink
(Mike Dunham/Anchorage Daily News, 11 July 2011) -- Anchorage is home to more Athabascans than Fairbanks, more Yup'ik than Bethel and more Inupiat than Barrow, the U.S. Census shows. The city has long been known as "Alaska's biggest Native village." With new numbers from the U.S. Census Bureau it can now claim, more specifically, to be home to both the largest Yup'ik and largest Inupiat communities. According to information from the 2010 Census released on June 30, Anchorage has a Native American population of 23,130. That's about one in 13 residents. Yup'ik remain the single largest Alaska Native group in the state, followed by Inupiat and Athabascans, the figures show. The new numbers offer a closer look at where members of different Alaska Native groups live around the state. The previous Census, in 2000, made no distinction between Yup'ik, who have historically resided along the Bering Sea coast from the Alaska Peninsula to Norton Sound, and Inupiat, who occupy the coast north of Unalakleet and along the Arctic Ocean. In 2000, the two ethnic groups were lumped together as "Eskimo" and 5,607 were reported as living in Anchorage. That changed with the 2010 Census. In answering the survey, a respondent could identify himself or herself as belonging to a single tribe, as having two or more Native American tribes in their background, or in any combination with non-Native groups.
Posted 11 July 2011; 4:15:49 PM. Permalink
(Sarah Rogers/Nunatsiaq News, 29 April 2011) -- KUUJJUAQ - Nunavimmiut will continue to work towards self-government, despite saying a clear “no” to a proposed Nunavik Regional Government this week, says Makivik Corp. president Pita Aatami. The region’s April 27 referendum sunk a proposal to merge existing regional organizations and set up a new Nunavik Assembly, after two-thirds of voters said “no” to this plan. If the “yes” side had won, there would also have been further negotiations needed to give the NRG more powers, Aatami said. “We wouldn’t have been at a stage where we could say that we had our own government yet,” Aatami told Nunatsiaq News in an interview from Montreal. “We’ve been in discussions for over four years on this – what’s another few months or years? “There’s still a lot of work to do.” Aatami said the referendum result came as no surprise. The concerns that people raised about protecting the Inuit language and culture were legitimate, he said, because the content and direction of the second round of negotiations were “unknown.” But many people misunderstood the final agreement, or didn’t give themselves the time to absorb its contents, he said. “In no way were we even trying to give up rights that Inuit have under the James Bay agreement,” Aatami said. ‘We were very clear, form the beginning, that further negotiations would [determine our autonomy].” Aatami defended the process adopted by the negotiators. Aatami said Nunavimmiut had the chance to stay informed through the NRG website and could ask questions in person during a field trip to Nunavik communities this past February and March. Asked if the NRG Facebook group had anything to do with the “no” vote, Aatami said he was aware of resistance to the final agreement even before that group had formed. “I had an inkling, from all the people I was speaking to,” he said. Aatami said he was pleased to see Nunavimmiut participate in the referendum’s democratic process.
Posted 30 April 2011; 1:49:43 PM. Permalink
(Eye on the Arctic/CBC News, 29 April 2011) -- Inuit in the Nunavik region of northern Quebec voted this week to reject a self-government plan that was proposed for the region. About 70 per cent of citizens who cast ballots in a referendum Wednesday voted against adopting a final agreement on the creation of a Nunavik regional government. The final agreement was drafted by the federal and Quebec governments along with Makivik Corp., which represents Nunavik Inuit as set out by the James Bay and Northern Quebec agreement. But of 4,242 valid ballots cast in Wednesday's referendum, 2,842 said No to the proposed agreement while 1,400 said Yes, according to Elections Quebec. "It's back to the drawing board," Makivik Corp. president Pita Aatami told CBC News on Thursday. The three parties agreed in December 2007 to work towards establishing new self-government powers in Nunavik, with the goal of empowering Inuit in the region to govern themselves. The agreement they developed proposed merging three existing public agencies in Nunavik, namely the regional municipal administration, school board, and health and social services board. ... Despite the outcome of the referendum, Aatami said the desire remains for self-government in Nunavik, a predominantly Inuit region in northern Quebec. Aatami said he just hopes negotiations with the federal and Quebec governments can continue. "I'd like to sit down with the two governments right away, but are they open to sitting down with us right away after ... the votes that were cast?" Aatami said. "But we won't give up," he added. "We're going to keep going and try and get some more control over the region."
Posted 29 April 2011; 2:21:17 PM. Permalink
(SR via Eye on the Arctic, 30 March 2011) -- In a new report to be sent to the Swedish government in May, the Sami Parliament in Kiruna will demand greater self determination for the country's indigenous people. But how united are Sweden's estimated 20,000 Sami? How many feel represented by their parliament? Today only about one in ten Sami have traditional land rights but their parliament in Kiruna is still dominated by land-related divisions and disputes. Although only 5 percent of the Sami are reindeer herders, they occupy 55 percent of the seats in the Sami Parliament. “Swedish legislation has given the limited rights that indigenous people have to land and water use to the reindeer herders,” explains Peter Sköld, head of the Centre for Sami Research at Umeå University. And that gives them a better political ground to speak from – the others are totally excluded.” Since 2007 the Sami Parliament has responsibility for the reindeer industry in Sweden. But the president of the parliament, Ingrid Inga, says that's not enough - she says the government must fully recognise the Sami people's right to decide over their own affairs. "We want reforms that give us powers over areas that affect us - language, education, land use and so on. We need this so that the parliament becomes a real decision making body and not just the state agency which we are at the moment," she tells Radio Sweden.The Sami parliament has less power than a Swedish county council and is not formally consulted by the Swedish government, despite being in existence for almost two decades. “There has been a process over the last two decades where we first set up a Sami Parliament and then gave it responsibility for reindeer husbandry and now school boards,” says Eskil Erlandsson, the Swedish government minister responsible for Sami affairs. “We made a proposal [about consultation] two years ago and the Sami parliament refused it and said they wanted to think about it before deciding if they would accept the proposal.”
Posted 30 March 2011; 11:57:39 AM. Permalink
(CBC News, 21 February 2011) -- The Teslin Tlingit Council in southern Yukon has signed a historic agreement to run its own justice system, allowing the self-governing First Nation to enact its own laws and set up its own court. Teslin Tlingit Chief Peter Johnston signed the Administration of Justice Agreement with federal Indian and Northern Affairs Minister John Duncan and Yukon Premier Dennis Fentie at a ceremony Monday in Teslin. "The Teslin Tlingit Council now has the legislative, executive and judicial powers over its self-government jurisdictions, enabling us to further enshrine the Tlingit way of life into everything we do," Johnston said in a release. "We look forward to working with Canada, Yukon and our citizens to continue advancing our social, economic and constitutional visions." The agreement allows the First Nation to enact its own laws in a variety of areas, including wildlife protection, control of the First Nation's settlement land, controlling overcrowding of homes, local zoning and planning, adoption, the solemnization of marriages and wills and inheritances, according to the release. The First Nation will establish a "peacemaker court" to prosecute violations of its legislation, impose penalties and resolve disputes based on traditional Teslin Tlingit processes. As well, the First Nation will set up its own corrections programs and services for those who receive sentences from the peacemaker court. The Teslin Tlingit will not take over criminal law cases or matters under federal jurisdiction, such as national security, according to federal officials. The Teslin Tlingit becomes the first among Yukon's 11 self-governing First Nations to sign a justice agreement with the territorial and federal governments. As part of the Umbrella Final Agreement, which was signed by the federal, Yukon and First Nation governments in 1993, the parties have committed to reaching justice agreements with each self-governing First Nation. The Teslin Tlingit's justice system will not only apply to its own citizens — regardless of where they are in Yukon — but also to non-citizens who are visiting or residing on Teslin Tlingit traditional lands.
Posted 21 February 2011; 11:36:52 PM. Permalink
(Jake Neher/The Arctic Sounder, 21 February 2011) -- The Alaska Eskimo Whaling Commission (AEWC) is calling on Alaska's Congressional delegation to introduce subsistence whaling legislation before 2012. Officials say legislation is needed in case an international regulatory body fails to pass a harvest quota renewal for subsistence hunters. AEWC members and officials passed this and four other resolutions last week during the commission's two-day Mini-Convention in Barrow. The current five year block quota for native subsistence whaling is ending in 2012. At that time, the International Whaling Commission (IWC) will decide whether or not to renew or adjust the quota for another five years. But AEWC officials say the international body is dysfunctional, and has used the quota as a bargaining chip in negotiations on other issues unrelated to Native subsistence whaling. They fear political gridlock in 2012, which could leave the 11 communities in the AEWC without a set quota. A subsistence quota renewal needs the approval three-quarters of IWC member nations to pass. Alaska Eskimo Whaling Commission Vice President George Ahmaogak says it's time to start considering all options to protect against a quota denial from IWC. "It's getting harder and harder to work with the International Whaling Commission," Ahmaogak says, "even though we abide by all their rules, do the census work, a lot of the requirements and mandates by the IWC. Unfunded mandates, if you will. It's getting harder and harder. In 2012, it's going to be a challenge. So, I think we're better off going for domestic legislation. That's why we pushed this resolution on the floor." According to the AEWC resolution, the International Whaling Commission does allow subsistence whaling without a set quota "to meet cultural and nutritional need" under domestic national legislation. It says such legislation needs to correspond with IWC requirements.
Posted 21 February 2011; 11:19:53 PM. Permalink
(Sveriges Radio, 18 February 2011) -- A district court in northern Sweden has ruled there is no reason why indigenous Samis there cannot sue the Swedish state for infringing on their fishing and hunting rights. The court rejected the argument of state lawyers that there were legal errors in the suit. The Sami parliament, which has only advisory powers, had argued that the Sami people should have a major influence over fishing and hunting rights, rather than the Swedish state. Speaking with Swedish Radio, Mattias Åhrén of the Sami Council, the organization representing the Samis across the Nordic region, says the ruling will have a major impact.
Posted 20 February 2011; 11:17:36 AM. Permalink
(RIA Novosti, 15 February 2011) -- An indigenous group inhabiting Russia's northern region of Yakutia has called for the rerouting of a planned Siberian gas pipeline. The planned pipeline, which will link Yakutia's Chayandinskoye oil and gas deposit with the Far Eastern Russian city of Khabarovsk, is to be constructed near an indigenous Evenk settlement. "We are not against progress or economic development, but we feel like we are the ones who will suffer from this," the group said in a petition, signed by 213 people. "Our reindeer pastures and hunting sites are being seized, rivers are being poisoned and fish are disappearing." The Evenks have sent letters to the regional and national governments calling for the rerouting of the pipeline. They say their habitat is already under threat from the construction of the Eastern Siberia-Pacific Ocean oil pipeline and the development of gold and iron ore deposits in the republic. Russian energy giant Gazprom, which is constructing the pipeline, has said an alternative pipeline would be much longer and would cost around 49 billion rubles ($1.67 billion) more in construction expenditures "The sparsely populated Evenks, who have inhabited these territories for centuries, will be most affected by this decision," Yakut deputy parliamentary speaker Andrei Krivoshapkin told RIA Novosti. The Chayandinskoye oil and gas deposit to be developed by Gazprom is one of the largest in Russia, with gas reserves estimated at 1.24 trillion cubic meters and oil and gas condensate reserves of 68.4 billion tons.
Posted 17 February 2011; 8:48:55 PM. Permalink
[Found lodged in the crevices of my web site] (Mareike Aden/Living Planet, 12 March 2010) -- In the Bikin River Valley, in the region close to Russia's border with China, the World Wildlife Fund for Nature and the indigenous locals have found an unusual conservation solution.
[Found lodged in the crevices of my web site] (Edna Elias, guest columnist/Northern News Service, 22 February 2010) -- Tiihaklutit taigurit titigaqtamnik. Get a cup of tea and read my writings. Language, the Inuit language with its many dialectal variations along with English and French brought delegates from the circumpolar world, from Alaska to Greenland to Iqaluit, Feb. 8 to 12 during Nunavut's Language Week. Language week started the weekend before with the G7 but wasn't as important as our meetings. Some may beg to differ. The biggest challenge for many was trying to understand Greenlandic without the aid of an interpreter who understood the dialect. However all went very well. It forced to me to listen very carefully. One develops a deeper understanding and appreciation for one of the biggest differences amongst Inuit just by listening to all the dialectal variations from Greenland, Sanikiluaq, Grise Fiord, Kangiqsuk, Arviat, Kugluktuk to Barrow, Alaska. The idea of an auxiliary writing system was resurrected by presenter Edna McLean from Alaska. What is an auxiliary writing system you ask? An auxiliary writing system would be a common writing system used by circumpolar Inuit to share and exchange information. It would not replace any local writing system. Other topics included writing and standardization, terminology development, language instruction through all phases of life, preserving and respecting traditional language, language services in governments and the private sector, language planning and projects at the community level, and language in the media, publishing and the arts. Throughout the conference youth gathered each day to discuss the issues of the day coming up with recommendations which they presented at conference wrap-up.
Posted 15 February 2011; 3:18:56 PM. Permalink
(Nunatsiaq News, 12 February 2011) -- Nunavimmiut will vote April 27, 2011 on the creation of the Nunavik Regional Government. The final agreement, which spells out the proposed governance model for Nunavik, has been made public in time for a regional tour, which starts Feb. 14 in Kangiqsualujjuaq. The tour gathers negotiators from all three levels of government, regional, provincial and federal, who will visit each of the 14 communities in Nunavik to explain the agreement at public meetings and answer questions. That’s so Nunavimmiut have time to absorb the new model before the April referendum, when they will vote to either accept or reject the agreement. The Nunavik Regional Government, or NRG, would amalgamate existing regional bodies like the Kativik Regional Government, the Kativik School Board, and the Nunavik Regional Board of Health and Social Services, putting them under the authority of a new elected body called the Nunavik Assembly. The assembly would be made up of 20 members; a representative from each of the region’s 14 communities (elected locally), four executive council members and a leader (elected regionally) and one member from the Naskapi nation. Executive council members would hold full-time jobs.Nunavimmmiut will vote April 27, 2011 on the creation of the Nunavik Regional Government. The final agreement, which spells out the proposed governance model for Nunavik, has been made public in time for a regional tour, which starts Feb. 14 in Kangiqsualujjuaq. The tour gathers negotiators from all three levels of government, regional, provincial and federal, who will visit each of the 14 communities in Nunavik to explain the agreement at public meetings and answer questions. That’s so Nunavimmiut have time to absorb the new model before the April referendum, when they will vote to either accept or reject the agreement. The Nunavik Regional Government, or NRG, would amalgamate existing regional bodies like the Kativik Regional Government, the Kativik School Board, and the Nunavik Regional Board of Health and Social Services, putting them under the authority of a new elected body called the Nunavik Assembly. The assembly would be made up of 20 members; a representative from each of the region’s 14 communities (elected locally), four executive council members and a leader (elected regionally) and one member from the Naskapi nation. Executive council members would hold full-time jobs.
Posted 13 February 2011; 2:57:57 PM. Permalink
(Alex Demarban/The Arctic Sounder, 4 February 2011) -- A missionary couple in Kotzebue is looking for Inupiaq voices to create a digitally recording of the New Testament. Once passages have been recorded in the Kobuk dialect, the tracks will be sent to a studio where music and other sound effects, such as thunder during Jesus' crucifixion, will be added for dramatic flair, said Kay Finley. The dramatized track will eventually be downloadable in MP3 format and available on CD. It will open the Bible and the recovering Inupiaq language to new audiences, said Lorena Williams, language coordinator at Aqqaluk Trust in Kotzebue, whose mission includes language preservation. "For me, it's a two-fold benefit," she said. "First, it's the Bible, so it's spiritual, but you can also listen to Inupiaq at the same time." Problem is, only a few volunteers have signed up. Kay and her husband, Dan, hope to recruit many more. The effort is non-denominational, so Inupiaq speakers of all churches are welcome to help, Kay said. The Finleys also need proof-listeners, a critical role utilizing experts in Inupiaq to ensure words aren't butchered or left out. "They will catch the mistakes, because my husband and I do not speak Inupiaq. I know aariga, which means like, 'great' or 'wow,' " said Kay. The Lutheran couple from Ohio do the work for an Albuquerque, N.M., group called Faith Comes By Hearing [http://faithcomesbyhearing.com], which has recorded the New Testament in hundreds of languages.
Posted 5 February 2011; 2:49:51 PM. Permalink
(CBC News, 28 January 2011) -- Nunavut archaeological sites threatened by climate change may be saved thanks to new high-tech equipment, says the territory's director of culture and heritage. Doug Stenton said new 3D technology and a ground-penetrating radar system can be used to quickly map the surface and sub-surface, and could be used to deal with sites affected by coastal erosion and melting permafrost. The University of Manitoba has received funding to buy the technology and plans to use it in the Arctic. "It will help us identify areas that need special attention...and help us plan strategies to protect the site, [such as] stabilization methods," Stenton said. He added that there are about 12,000 documented sites in Nunavut, dating back as many as 4,500 years. Discoveries can include stone tools, clothing, bone and stone carvings, and masks. As an example of a threatened site, Stenton pointed to photos of a site containing artifacts from the Tuniit or Dorset people, who predate the Inuit. A large section of the site near Pond Inlet, Nunavut, has washed into the ocean.
Posted 28 January 2011; 11:16:46 PM. Permalink
(Rick Harp/mediaINDIGENA, 25 January 2011) -- YLE News reports that Finland and Sweden steadfastly refuse to ratify the nearly 22-year-old ILO Convention on Indigenous and Tribal Peoples, aka Convention 169, “the only [European Union] countries yet to do so.” The Scandinavian holdouts are embroiled in land disputes with their respective Sámi populations. If you’d like to learn more, Minority Rights Group International has published summaries of these struggles in Finland and in Sweden. (Norway, meanwhile, ratified the Convention way back in 1990, an interesting contrast when you consider it has the region’s largest Sámi population by far.)
Posted 25 January 2011; 11:50:01 PM. Permalink
(Kyle Hopkins/Anchorage Daily News, 20 January 2011) -- And now an Inupiaq language lesson. Qaqasauraq. Noun. The modern Inupiaq term for a computer. Loosely translated, it means "little brain." Ready to learn more? Fire up the qaqasauraq for the latest of three new computer programs designed to teach variations of the fading Alaska Native language. The North Slope Borough and Rosetta Stone software company plan to unveil a program this spring specially designed to teach the North Slope Inupiaq dialect, using the photos and voices of Inupiaq people recorded in Barrow. There are as few as 1,500 fluent speakers of Inupiaq in Alaska, estimates Fairbanks linguist Michael Krauss. Once, it was the primary language of the northern and northwest regions of the state. Barrow-born Edna MacLean, a former Inupiaq professor for the University of Alaska Fairbanks, spent two years working on the Inupiaq program. She translated thousands of words and phrases from English to the North Slope Inupiaq dialect of the Inuit language. The job is nearly done. Soon the program will be available to schools and households. Just in time for Inupiaq language experts like MacLean, 66.
Posted 20 January 2011; 10:10:01 AM. Permalink
(Roxanne Stasyszyn/Yukon News, 17 January 2011) -- The Truth and Reconciliation Commission wants to establish a museum for Canada’s residential schools. In 2008, Prime Minister Stephen Harper apologized to Canadian aboriginal communities for more than two decades of forced assimilation of First Nation’s culture through the 130 schools. The fallout of that federal-sanctioned policy has affected generations of people. A year after the apology, Harper signed the settlement agreement which established the five-year mandated Truth and Reconciliation Commission. Its job is to educate Canadians about what happened to the estimated 200, 000 aboriginal Canadians forced to attend the schools. The commission has been touring communities and holding events to gather and record peoples’ own stories, memories, artifacts and art. Last week, the commission announced it wants to house all this material in a research centre. In March, experts and survivors will gather in Vancouver to decide what the centre should look like and how it should work.
Posted 17 January 2011; 4:14:19 PM. Permalink
(Eye on the Arctic, 13 January 2011) -- A United Nations report on the human rights situation of Sweden's indigenous Sami population, stretching over northern Norway, Sweden and Finland[,] has sharply criticised the country for not respecting Sami rights. James Anaya, the UN special reporter on the human rights of indigenous people, said more needed to be done to ensure the Sami's [sic, Sami] - and particularly reindeer herders - have more say over land use when large windfarm projects are being decided. He also said the Sami Parliament in Kiruna should be granted greater powers and that more attention needed to be paid to recruiting Sami speaking [sic, Sami-speaking] teachers.
Posted 16 January 2011; 12:56:28 AM. Permalink
(CBC News, 14 January 2011) -- The Nunatsiavut government is asking for rule changes that would allow its members to hunt more caribou. Right now Nunatsiavut beneficiaries can kill as many caribou as they want on Inuit lands in northern Labrador, but outside that area, they're subject to the same rules as every other resident of the province. Newfoundland and Labrador limits hunters to just one animal per year. Some Inuit leaders want that to change. "It is very important that special consideration be given to beneficiaries," said Nunatsiavut First Minister Darryl Shiwak. He won't say exactly how many more animals they want but he did say that people in Nunatsiavut want Caribou to thrive in Labrador. "The conservation of this herd is very important but what we heard loud and clear is that people want to be able to harvest some caribou," said Shiwak. He also raised the idea of letting hunters transfer licences so one hunter can kill animals for several people. That's something the provincial government just abolished. The province hasn't responded to Nunatsiavut's request.
Posted 16 January 2011; 12:09:00 AM. Permalink
(CBC News, 12 Jnuary 2011) -- The Truth and Reconciliation Commission will travel to 19 communities across Canada's North this spring to gather residential school experiences from former students in remote communities. The national panel announced Wednesday that it will hold hearings in Nunavut, the Northwest Territories and Yukon, as well as the Nunavik region in northern Quebec, to speak with former residential school students "who might not otherwise be able to come to us, speak up [and] be heard," Justice Murray Sinclair, the commission's chairman, stated in a news release. The northern tour begins March 15 in Inukjuak, Que., and include hearings in the territorial capitals of Iqaluit, Yellowknife and Whitehorse. The tour wraps up on May 27 in Watson Lake, Yukon. The hearings will lead up to the commission's second national event in Inuvik, N.W.T., which runs from June 28 to July 1.
Posted 13 January 2011; 2:02:42 AM. Permalink
(Catriona Davies/CNN, 30 December 2010) -- Climate change is altering diets and lifestyles among Inuit people, according to a scientist who has studied the human face of global warming in the Arctic. Barry Smit, a professor at the University of Guelph, Canada, has spent five years leading research projects into how melting ice and changes in wildlife habits are impacting the lives and livelihoods of far northern communities. mong his most striking findings was that increasing difficulty in hunting for traditional food was leading to much more junk food in the Inuit diet. "People looking at the health of the Inuit have demonstrated that the traditional diet, which is almost exclusively raw meat, is in fact very healthy for them," Smit said. "But because of the new difficulties hunting, people are adapting their diets to what's available in the stores. "The stores only have food that's easy to transport and doesn't perish, so there are no vegetables. The young people are increasingly eating highly processed junk food, so we are seeing more teeth problems and obesity." The difficulties in hunting are caused by shifting ice and changing migratory patterns among animals such as seals, walrus, types of whales and polar bears, which form a large part of the traditional diet, Smit said. He also noted that the shifting ice made hunting and traveling more dangerous. Smit said: "Ice is fundamental to their livelihoods and culture. Most of their activities involve traveling on the ice. "Over the past decade or so, they have noticed that the behavior of the ice is changing, so their traditional roads are not as safe as they used to be."
Posted 3 January 2011; 3:50:08 PM. Permalink
(Sarah Rogers/Nunatsiaq News, 21 December 2010) -- It’s not unusual to see libraries and schools in Inuit communities across the north filled with mostly English-language books and materials based on life in the south. That’s why one Iqaluit family decided to create something relevant for their own children and other Inuktitut-speaking youngsters. Franco and Mary Buscemi recently designed Inuktitut — i, pi, ti, ki —wooden blocks. The product: a set of 16 wooden blocks, each with three Inuktitut syllabics corresponding to Inuit icons like the ulu, caribou antlers and berries. The colourful, one-and-half-inch blocks serve as both a toy and an educations resource. “There are lots of English and even French-language resources here but not much in Inuktitut,” Buscemi said. “So we started looking at how to get some made. (My wife and I) wanted it to be relevant to the Inuit and the north.” Buscemi says his own kids, who speak both English and Inuktitut at home, have been playing with a prototype of the blocks for the past couple of years now — stacking them, creating words and inventing games. Although the blocks were originally made for young children, Buscemi said adults have been buying and using them, too. Since the first batch came off the sealift last October, the Buscemis have sold 50 sets — while the Government of Nunavut has distributed hundreds more in schools and daycare centres across the territory.
Posted 21 December 2010; 2:22:51 PM. Permalink
(Tim Bradner/Anchorage Daily News, 18 December 2010) -- What I want from Santa this year is some good news about anything.
Afghanistan, Pakistan, the economy, Congress, a gas pipeline, our
state's long-term prospects, our education system. Please, Santa, put
some good news about something in my stocking Christmas morning. There is, however, one bit of good news, a present I already know is under the tree. This is in education, and it is the continuing accomplishments, stunning achievements, I think, of an innovative program helping rural students at the University of Alaska Anchorage. This is the Alaska Native Science and Engineering Program, which helps young Native Alaskans, many from small rural schools, with challenging university programs aiming them toward careers in the advanced technology and scientific professions. I write about ANSEP about once a year in this column, and each year the news gets better. The latest is that this year's group of incoming freshmen, whom ANSEP had been working with in high school, were fully prepared in math and science for their first year of university work. Zero remediation classes were needed, and some students were proficient enough in math to advance immediately to the next level. This is a significant accomplishment. To put it in perspective, consider that the university requires a large number of its freshmen, non-Native and Native alike, to take some form of remedial classes due to inadequate preparation in high school. I've never been able to get the university to tell me what percentage of freshmen they require to do catch-up work, and the fact that administrators are reluctant to talk about it tells me it's not good news. That ANSEP now brings their kids in fully ready, and from rural schools, is no small achievement.
Posted 19 December 2010; 2:29:45 PM. Permalink
(Randy Boswell/Postmedia News, 17 December 2010) -- The Canadian government is defending its controversial decision to ban the export of narwhal tusks from most of the Nunavut communities currently selling the spear-like objects that inspired the unicorn myth. Officials with the Department of Fisheries and Oceans told Postmedia News on Friday that Canada's hands are essentially tied on the issue because of its commitment to the protocols of an international wildlife treaty controlling the global trade in animal parts — including the long, spiralling tooth that serves as a sensor and mating adornment for the iconic Arctic whale. The tusks, which can grow longer than three metres, are coveted by collectors as rare keepsakes or used by ivory carvers to make canes, figurines and other objects. A few hundred from Arctic Canada are sold annually to buyers abroad, fetching prices of as much as $2,000 each and generating significant supplementary income for many Inuit hunters. In 2006, a single mounted narwhal tusk sold at a U.S. auction for more than $16,000. While acknowledging it was a "difficult decision" that will have a financial impact on Inuit communities, DFO spokesman Alain Belle-Isle said: "The result would be even worse if we skirted the rules," regulating foreign sales of the tusks. "If we didn't follow our obligations," he noted, "we could face sanctions," including a total ban on all narwhal products from all Canadian suppliers. The federal department informed Nunavut communities earlier this week that in order to comply with the terms of CITES — the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora — Canada would suspend foreign sales of narwhal tusks harvested in 2010 in 17 of the 22 Inuit communities that are now exporting the objects.
Posted 18 December 2010; 9:26:51 AM. Permalink
(Siku Circumpolar News, 25 October 2010) -- The Alaska Federation of Natives meets this past week to discuss the
problems and challenges of rural life in Alaska, including domestic
violence, subsistence laws, suicide rates and substance abuse. Delegates to this year's Alaska Federation of Natives convention in Fairbanks tackled the problems and challenges of rural life in Alaska, including domestic violence, subsistence laws, suicide rates and substance abuse. The Fairbanks Daily News-Miner reported a federation convention more than three decades ago carried a similar theme, but the prospect of "village survival" then held a strong thread of doubt, former state Sen. Georgianna Lincoln said. "Thirty-four years later, at this convention, we put an exclamation point on the end of that theme," said Lincoln, who represented the rural Interior in the state Senate. "We know our villages can survive, we know our villages have and will survive. We know, and we've known all along, our villages and our people are resilient survivors." At the convention, which attracts Alaska Natives from across the state, some weighed in at open microphones. Some suggestions were specific, such a request that Native communities do more to protect ground fish fisheries in the Gulf of Alaska and Bering Sea from commercial trawling; a 1998 bill that slashed state aid for any public school that saw enrollment dip below 10 students; and improved telecommunication infrastructure to help communities keep up with a quickly changing world. The keynote speaker, Gloria O'Neill, said Alaska Natives have survived disease, displacement, discriminatory policies and life in a demanding physical environment. O'Neill said she senses public leaders are poised to tackle another challenge: education. People who thrive, she said in an interview, are those that both stay in touch with their respective cultures while adapting to succeed in contemporary economies. "We've really got to invest in our young people," she said.
Posted 18 December 2010; 9:20:57 AM. Permalink
(Stephen Kaufman/Bureau of International Information Programs, U.S. Department of State, 17 December 2010) -- Washington - In what the State Department describes as "an important and meaningful change" in U.S. policy, President Obama announced that the United States is lending its support to the U.N. Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples and told a gathering of Native Americans that he hopes "we are seeing a turning point in the relationship between our nations." Speaking at the White House Tribal Nations Conference in Washington December 16, Obama said his administration began reviewing its position on the measure in April and "today I can announce that the United States is lending its support to this declaration." The declaration, adopted by the U.N. General Assembly in 2007, seeks to protect the rights of more than 370 million native peoples around the world by setting standards to fight discrimination, promote their human rights and affirm the rights of indigenous peoples to maintain their traditions, institutions and cultures. "The aspirations it affirms — including the respect for the institutions and rich cultures of Native peoples - are one we must always seek to fulfill," Obama said. The president told Native Americans that he hopes "we are seeing a turning point in the relationship between our nations," with an end to their facing an implicit choice between abandoning their heritage and accepting "a lesser lot in life." "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," Obama said. State Department spokesman P.J. Crowley said December 16 that the president's support of the declaration is "an important and meaningful change in the U.S. position." Although the General Assembly measure is not legally binding, "we think it carries considerable moral and political force," Crowley said, and the Obama administration is committed to making its support meaningful. "It is part of our ongoing work with [American] tribal leaders and their communities," he said. In a separate December 16 statement (PDF, 307KB), the State Department said the April decision to review the U.S. position on the U.N. declaration "came in response to calls from many tribes, individual Native Americans, civil society, and others in the United States" who believed U.S. support for the measure "would make an important contribution to U.S. policy and practice with respect to Native American issues." More than 2 million Native Americans, in 565 federally recognized tribes and other indigenous communities, reside within the United States, and the president's support "reflects the U.S. commitment to work with those tribes, individuals and communities to address the many challenges they face." The United States is also pleased to support the declaration's promotion of "a new and distinct international concept of self-determination" that is specific to indigenous peoples. "The United States is committed to serving as a model in the international community in promoting and protecting the collective rights of indigenous peoples as well as the human rights of all individuals," the statement said.
Posted 18 December 2010; 12:15:02 AM. Permalink
(CBC News, 15 December 2010) -- Inuit leaders are accusing the federal government of banning whalers in most of Nunavut's communities from exporting their narwhal tusks. Nunavut Tunngavik Inc., the territory's Inuit land-claims organization, says the trade restrictions, which were imposed by the federal Department of Fisheries and Oceans, violate Inuit harvesting rights. In a release Wednesday, Nunavut Tunngavik president Cathy Towtongie called on Ottawa to reverse its decision. Her organization is considering legal options, she added. "DFO does not have the right to impose such restrictions on Inuit, particularly when the [narwhal] population is thriving and harvest numbers do not threaten the species," Towtongie stated in the release. Nunavut Tunngavik says it was notified of the trade restrictions last week. The group said under the federal order, export permits will not be issued under the Convention on the International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES) for narwhal tusks harvested from 17 of Nunavut's 25 communities, including the territorial capital of Iqaluit. Inuit whalers in Kugaaruk, Taloyoak, Gjoa Haven, Igloolik, and Pond Inlet are still permitted to export their harvested narwhal tusks. "They've decided that there are different subpopulations, that some populations may be at risk," Gabriel Nirlungayuk, Nunavut Tunngavik's wildlife director, told CBC News. "We don't really know what that means. We would like DFO to explain themselves."
Posted 15 December 2010; 9:43:28 PM. Permalink
(Barents Indigenous Peoples, 13 December 2010) -- The first Assembly of the Saami people in Murmansk Oblast, Kuelnegk Soamet Sobbar, was established on December 12th 2010. The 2nd Congress of the Saami people of Murmansk Oblast was held in Murmansk, and 73 delegates of 89 elected ones, representing Saami communities in Murmansk Oblast, elected 9 representatives for the Assembly. Kuelnegk Soamet Sobbar is established on a preliminary basis, as its prior task is to work out a draft law proposal regarding the Assembly, which is to be dealt with by regional authorities and later adopted as a law. The President of the Saami Parliament in Norway, Egil Olli, participated in the Congress, as did Stefan Mikaelsson from the Saami Parliament in Sweden and Erkki Lumisalmi from the Saami Parliament in Finland. In 2008, the 1st Saami Congress of the Saami people of Murmansk Oblast was held in Olenegorsk, and the Council of Authorized Representatives of the Saami people of Murmansk Oblast (referred to as SUPS MO), which was elected by the 72 delegates, has been working continuously with the establishment of a democratically elected Saami Assembly in Murmansk Oblast. ... Valentina Vyacheslavovna Sovkina was unanimously elected Chair of the Assembly at its first meeting immediately after the closing of the Congress.
Posted 15 December 2010; 8:53:34 PM. Permalink
(Indigenous Peoples of the Barents, 26 November 2010) -- On December 12, the delegates of the Second Saami Congress might elect the First Saami Assembly of the Saami people in Murmansk Oblast, Russia. Delegates representing the Saami inhabitants of Murmansk Oblast will gather in Murmansk, as they did in Olenegorsk in 2008, when the Council of Authorized Representatives of the Saami people in Murmansk Oblast (referred to as SUPS MO – Совет Уполномоченных представителей Саамов Мурманской Област) was elected by altogether 72 delegates. Representatives of the Saami people in Russia have been working towards their goal for since 1992, and the establishment of the Saami Parliaments in Norway, Sweden and Finland has certainly set out the grounds for this work. The political cooperation between the Saami in the Nordic countries and the Saami in Russia is strong. It is formalized through the participation in the Saami Parliamentary Council, in which the Saami Parliaments in Norway, Sweden and Finland are represented, and representatives for the Saami non-governmental organizations in Russia are permanent observers. The Presidents of the Saami Parliaments in Norway and Finland, as well as representatives from the Saami Parliament in Sweden, took part in the First Saami Congress in 2008. In 2008, the 72 delegates gathered in Olenegorsk elected Valentina V. Sovkina as the Head of the SUPS MO, which consists of 11 representatives. SUPS MO has led the work towards the establishment of a democratically elected Saami Assembly since the Congress. Human rights, reindeer husbandry, management of fishing quotas and codetermination in issues concerning the Saami people in Murmansk Oblast are the main issues for the SUPS MO. The Regional Administration of Murmansk Oblast participated in the First Saami Congress in Olenegorsk, and the Regional Government of Murmansk Oblast established a separate Council of Representatives of Indigenous Peoples at the Government of Murmansk Oblast. This Council is led by the First vice Governor of Murmansk Oblast and consists of altogether 11 persons, representing various obshina communities and the Regional Public Chamber, appointed by the Regional Government. The President of the Saami Parliament in Norway, Egil Olli, will take part in the Second Saami Congress in Murmansk, together with the Chair of the Working Group of Indigenous Peoples of the Barents Euro-Arctic Region. Other guests from Saami institutions and organizations in the Nordic countries are also expected as observers to the congress.
Posted 3 December 2010; 4:49:17 PM. Permalink
(Barents Indigenous People, 22 November 2010) -- On Tuesday 16 November the Third Committee of the General Assembly adopted a resolution on indigenous peoples' issues. In this resolution, the General Assembly decides to organize a World Conference on Indigenous Peoples in 2014. The General Assembly decided to organize a World conference on Indigenous Peoples in 2014, aiming at sharing perspectives and best practices on the realization of the rights of indigenous peoples. The conference will also seek to pursue the objectives of the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (UNDRIP). The President of the General Assembly is invited to conduct open-ended consultations with member states peoples' representatives in the framework of the UN Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues, as well as with the Expert Mechanism on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples and the Special Rapporteur in order to determine the modalities for the meeting, including indigenous peoples' participation at the conference. At the same time, the General Assembly encouraged states who have not yet ratified or acceded to the ILO Convention No 169 (the International Labour Organization Convention concerhning Indigenous and Tribal Peoples in Independent Countries), to do so and to consider supporting the UNDRIP (UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples). [The specific section reads: "8. Decides to organize a high-level plenary meeting of the General Assembly, to be known as the World Conference on Indigenous Peoples, to be held in 2014, in order to share perspectives and best practices on the realization of the rights of Indigenous peoples, including to pursue the objectives of the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, and invites the President of the General Assembly to conduct open-ended consultations with Member States and with indigenous peoples’ representatives in the framework of the Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues, as well as with the Expert Mechanism on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples and the Special Rapporteur in order to determine the modalities for the meeting, including indigenous peoples’ participation at the Conference; ..."]
Posted 22 November 2010; 8:39:14 PM. Permalink
(Barents Indigenous Peoples, 22 November 2010) -- Barents Press International reports that in April 2010, the Selection Body of the Joint Programme approved a list of 24 organizations — grant receivers — for project realization in different regions of Russian Federation. State Television and Radio Broadcasting Company “Murman” was among the winners. It presented its project under the name “Sami time: preservation and protection of the traditional way of life of the indigenous people in Murmansk Region.” The project started on the 1st of July, 2010, and it will last till the 1st of February, 2011. Our work implies making and demonstrating TV series of video-films about livelihood of Sami people: about their history, cultural and business traditions, about Sami language preservation, about Sami position in the modern society, about vital problems and last achievements in development and preservation of Sami originality. The main purpose of the project is to draw public attention on issues of cultural, social-economic and language development of the indigenous people of the Kola Peninsula, on the issue of protection and preservation of Sami traditional way of life. All the episodes of the “Sami time” series will be recorded in DVD format in Russian and Sami languages. TV/Radio Company “Murman” will distribute the video among educational institutions, cultural-educational centres, museums, and archives both in Murmansk Region and in the countries of Barents Region, where Sami communities also live in Northern parts.
Posted 22 November 2010; 8:33:16 PM. Permalink
(Indian and Northern Affairs Canada press release, Ref. #2-3429, 12 November 2010) -- OTTAWA, ONTARIO - The Government of Canada today formally endorsed the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples in a manner fully consistent with Canada's Constitution and laws. Canada's Ambassador to the United Nations, Mr. John McNee, met with the President of the United Nations General Assembly, Mr. Joseph Deiss, to advise him of Canada's official endorsement of the United Nations Declaration. ... The United Nations Declaration describes the individual and collective rights of Indigenous peoples. It sets out a number of principles that should guide harmonious and cooperative relationships between Indigenous peoples and States, such as equality, partnership, good faith and mutual respect. Canada strongly supports these principles and believes that they are consistent with the Government's approach to working with Aboriginal peoples. While the Declaration is not legally binding, endorsing it as an important aspirational document is a significant step forward in strengthening relations with Aboriginal peoples.
Posted 12 November 2010; 1:09:02 PM. Permalink
(Paul Kennedy/Ideas on CBC Radio, 20 October 2010) -- In 1977, a Royal Commission looking into proposals to construct a pipeline from the Arctic Ocean to Alberta recommended a 10-year moratorium on pipeline development in the Mackenzie Valley until native land claims could be settled. That was only the beginning. Paul Kennedy talks with the head of the Mackenzie Valley Pipeline Inquiry, justice Thomas Berger. [This 53-minute interview has Mr. Berger talking about his early Aboriginal rights cases, his political and judicial career, about the Mackenzie Valley Pipeline Inquiry and its famous (in both official languages) report. He mentions his international indigenous rights work, too. Not to be missed!]
(CBC News, 11 November 2010) -- Traditional Dene crafts from the Tlicho people of the Northwest Territories are being sold around the world from an online store. The Tlicho Investment Corp. created the website last year to help its artisans sell everything from beaded leather moccasins and cellphone cases to birchwood baskets and stone baskets. "The website promotes the Tlicho way of life," said Gisele Marion, who oversees the website. The online store has opened up the market for more than 30 elderly Tlicho artists, many of whom have never used a computer before. "Once I start sewing, I don't stop all day long. Just eat and then back to sewing again," said Celline Wanazah of Behchoko, N.W.T., who is known for her moccasins and floral beadwork. The Tlicho people were formerly known as the Dogrib until 2005, when they signed a historic land claim and self-government agreement with the federal and territorial governments. Marion said the Tlicho crafts website sells around 20 items a month, with crafts costing anywhere between $40 and $1,000. Artists whose items are sold online are paid upfront for their crafts or offered a consignment option. Marion said the online medium offers anonymity to some artists who do not want extra attention. "Some people like to keep their privacy, and the Tlicho people do have a modesty about them when it comes to their products," she said. Before the website was launched, many Tlicho artists sold their products locally. Marion said many artists are proud to know their work is selling overseas. "We've been able to do that," she said. "The furthest package we've sent was [to] France." The French customer bought a Tlicho dictionary for $10.
Posted 11 November 2010; 9:16:57 PM. Permalink
(Siku Circumpolar News, 5 November 2010) -- Changes in Finland are expected in the system of public supports for reindeer herding to help the younger generation take over operations from their parents. The government is proposing a package of measures that will also help more young people start their own businesses. In addition to support already made available to reindeer herders, young people will be able to apply for money to expand their herds and to purchase equipment, such as snowmobiles. Supports will be more regionally focused, as well, with measures targeted at helping Saami. Further south, special funds will be made available for fencing off cultivated fields and fencing in some grazing lands. The terms and conditions to qualify to receive public supports for setting up a reindeer herding operation will remain the same. Those include making it a full-time job, based on one's own farm. However, the proposed package will raise the present funding of around two million euros a year by several hundred thousand euros.
Posted 5 November 2010; 12:24:35 PM. Permalink
(Radio Sweden, 1 November 2010) -- Sweden's equality ombudsman has appealed a recent decision acquitting the northerly district of Krokoms for not letting the indigenous Sami reindeer herders express their opinions when it came to issuing building permits that would affect their herds' grazing land. Swedish television reports that the ombudsman has chosen to appeal, because the case could set a precedent for similar conflicts.
Posted 2 November 2010; 1:43:04 AM. Permalink
(Eye on the Arctic, 29 October 2010) -- Since the European Union voted to ban seal products, the North American seal market has collapsed hitting Canadian Inuit communities hard – both economically and emotionally. A legal challenge filed by Inuit leaders delayed the ban for about two months, but on October 28th, the EU Court declared the ban final. (Story updated from original publication April 2010). See also VIDEO: Seal Ban: The Inuit Impact. The ban on seal products was passed in the European Parliament last spring by a vote of 550 to 49. It was adopted following a relentless campaign by animal welfare activists who opposed the commercial seal hunt, calling it inhumane. While the EU ban makes a partial exemption for seal products obtained through the Inuit subsistence hunt, Inuit sealers say the exemption makes little sense, as the ban has completely devastated the seal product market. "Back in 1983 the Europeans placed a ban on baby harp seals and at that time we were told that the Inuit would be exempt from the ban. However, when the seal market collapsed, even though there was an exemption for the Inuit, the Inuit suffered," Nunavut Deputy Minister Simon Awa said. "It's getting more and more difficult for a hunter to put food on the table." A coalition of organizations, including hunter and trapper organizations, the Inuit Circumpolar Council (Greenland) and Inuit Tapiriit Kanatami (representing Nunatsiavut, Nunavik, Nunavut, and the Inuvialuit Settlement – 53,000 Inuit) were involved in a court challenge on the ban. They say there is no environmental justification for the trade ban, that seal populations are being harvested at reasonable levels, and their hunting practices are humane. The EU court imposed a temporary suspension on the ban while they reviewed the challenge, but it was officially reinstated October 28th. Canada's Inuit and the fur industry will appeal the EU court ruling. "I am disappointed and angered that the suspension of the ban has been lifted, now that the judge has had ample time since Aug. 19 to properly consider this immoral legislation," said Mary Simon, president of Canada's national Inuit organization, the Inuit Tapiriit Kanatami, in a news release. "We plan to appeal the ruling as we believe the original seal ban was based on colonial perceptions of our sealing practices, and this week's ruling is a perfect illustration of this." Meantime, the Canadian government is planning to challenge the ban before the World Trade Organization, saying the ban is based on false information and violates trade obligations. The Inuit subsistence seal hunt differs from the commercial hunt that has drawn the ire of animal rights activists. Unlike Atlantic coast fishermen who hunt harp seals to supply tanneries with skins and pharmaceutical companies with Omega-3-fatty-acid-rich blubber, the Inuit hunt ringed seals to feed their communities. The hunting methods are different as well. Inuit hunters mostly use high-powered rifles, not clubs, to kill the seals. The skins have always been a by-product of the hunt, while providing a much-needed source of income. ... In a climate where the ground is covered in snow for 10 months of the year, livestock farming and agriculture are impossible. For the Inuit, the hunt is a way of life; a cultural mainstay, a way of living sustainably, and ultimately, of surviving. The Inuit harvest resources that the land and water provide. They rely heavily upon the seal.
Posted 29 October 2010; 4:33:35 PM. Permalink
(Radio Sweden via Eye on the Arctic, 25 October 2010) -- The development of wind power stations in Northern Sweden could threaten reindeer herding practices there. And a ruling by the Environmental Court of Appeals Thursday in favor of a wind farm in Jämtland, could be bad news for reindeer herders who are challenging wind farm expansion plans. The plan to build 30 turbines in Glötesvålen was challenged by a village of Sammi, Sweden's indigenous people, who maintain a reindeer herding operation and claimed the wind farms would be built on the reindeer's winter pastures. But the courts maintained that the effect would be limited. The decision was seen to signify that the courts would prioritize a national initiative to expand wind power over the interests of other groups. A decision on a 450-turbine wind farm in Jämtland is expected in December. Swedish Radio News reports that there are more than 60 wind farms in vaious stages of planning in development in reindeer herding areas today.
Posted 28 October 2010; 3:58:45 PM. Permalink
(Eilís Quinn/Radio Canada International via Eye on the Arctic: Views from Up North, 27 October 2010) -- IQALUIT, Nunavut; NUUK, Greenland – When Edna MacLean, a renowned Inuk linguist, took the podium at a language conference in Iqaluit this year, over 200 Inuit from Canada, the United States and Greenland were listening in the audience. Some of the Arctic's most highly-skilled translators were on hand. But despite their collective fluency in at least three Inuit-language dialects: Inuktitut, Inuinnaqtun and Greenlandic, and a working knowledge of several others, it still wasn't enough. MacLean began her talk in Inupiaq, an Inuit dialect spoken in northern Alaska. But the interpreter translating the speech into English soon stumbled on a word. A nearby translator whispered a suggestion: "Grandparents." The original interpreter spoke back into the microphone: "And also my grandparents,..." But the translation soon trailed away again. The next time the interpreter's voice came through the audience's ear pieces, it wasn't with a translation, but with an apology. "Sorry," the interpreter said. "We're not understanding her language." Approximately 150,000 Inuit live across the circumpolar North in Canada, Alaska, Greenland and Russia. They share the same traditions, oral history and what is essentially the same language. But the dozens of different writing systems and dialects are often mutually unintelligible – not only between Inuit in different countries, but also between Inuit who live in neighbouring communities within the same region. 'Aliasuk' may mean 'happy' in Nunavik, Quebec, but 800km away in Igloolik, Nunavut, aliasuk means you're downright scared. Even Inuit linguists disagree on how many dialects there actually are and how to define them. In Canada, alone, there's Inuktitut, Inuinnaqtun, Natsilingmiutut, Inuttut, Inuttitut ... The list goes on and on. That means Inuit from different regions often must use English to speak with each other. Inuit language experts want to change that. They're proposing a standard Inuit language and writing system that could be used and understood all across the Arctic. They say standardization would increase the language's use in day-to-day life, help protect traditional culture from the ravages of climate change and give Inuit increased cultural and political clout on the world stage. Jose Kusugak, a former educator and prominent Inuit leader from Rankin Inlet, Nunavut, calls the need for different dialect interpreters at international Inuit meetings 'absurd.' He's given numerous speeches around the world asking that a common dialect and writing system be decreed within a year. His position is controversial to some but he says he has no regrets. "I used to shy away from making those kind of remarks," Kusugak says. "But I'm old enough now to develop a thick skin and say 'Pick a damn dialect!'"
Posted 28 October 2010; 3:19:01 PM. Permalink
(Dan Bross/KUAC – Fairbanks APNR, 26 October 2010) -- There’s a new Facebook-like website for Alaska Natives. Alaskanvillages.org was created by Iditarod musher and Native rights and sobriety activist Mike Williams. Williams of Akiak says Native people need a new tool to stay in touch. The website feature individual pages for each village where messages can be posted. Williams says it mixes elements of Facebook and Craiglist, and is open to anyone. Williams says Alaska Natives living in urban areas often feel isolated from their culture, and that the immediate communication allowed by the Internet, can play a role in sustaining and reviving it. Williams, a mental health counselor, says a rash of suicides in southwest Alaska villages in recent months has heightened the need to connect. He’s organized local healing circles, and has mixed feelings about technology’s effects on Native people, but says it can be a positive tool.
(Barents Indigenous Peoples, 12 October 2010) -- RAIPON arranges their Youth Congress in Moscow on November 21-23 2010. Altogether 81 delegates from 27 regions will attend the meeting, as the regional member associations of RAIPON will each nominate two delegates for the congress. Each delegation will submit a report on the situation of young indigenous peoples in their region, and the delegates will share experiences in order to create a common action plan for youth in the Russian North, Siberia and Far East. The congress includes training seminars, a cultural program, workshops and a plenary session, in which the final decisions will be adopted.
Posted 13 October 2010; 10:53:40 PM. Permalink
(Stephen Pax Leonard/The Observer, 3 October 2010) -- Living in the most northern permanently inhabited settlements in the world, the Inughuit people, or polar Eskimos as they are often known, have eked out an existence in this Arctic desert in the north-west corner of Greenland for centuries. The Inughuit are one of the smallest indigenous groups in the world, with a population of just 800 spread across the four settlements that make up the Thule region. A thousand miles away from the capital, Nuuk, and occupying an unfeasibly remote corner of our world, the Inughuit enjoy their own distinct subculture based on the hunting of marine mammals. Unlike other Inuit populations across the Arctic, the Inughuit have maintained where possible their ancient way of life, using kayaks and harpoons to hunt narwhal and travelling by dog-sled in winter. This unique way of life is now under threat. A tiny society whose basis is just a half dozen families, some of whom are descendants of polar explorers Robert Peary and Matthew Henson, say they are being "squeezed" out of existence. Draconian hunting quotas have been imposed by politicians in the south, many of whom have never ventured this far north. The hunting restrictions have pushed up the cost of sea mammals and some Inughuit are switching to a western diet of imported food. Even if they can afford to eat their traditional diet, certain environmental groups advise them not to do so. The levels of mercury in some marine mammals are thought to pose a health hazard, and the risks of radioactive contamination from the nearby nuclear accident in 1968, when a US Air Force B-52 crash-landed with four hydrogen bombs on board, are still unknown. The one-price policy that used to operate across Greenland, effectively subsidising the more remote settlements, has also been abolished, and the result is that the cost of living has rocketed. Local people believe the government, which has self-rule within Denmark's small commonwealth, has a hidden agenda to force out the people in the most remote communities, creating three or four urban centres in Greenland and reducing the cost of servicing such isolated settlements. The Inughuit, however, are already a people in exile. Qaanaaq, by far the largest Inughuit settlement, was established in 1953, when the Inughuit people were given three days to leave their ancient homeland in Uummannaq, 150km (90 miles) to the south to make way for the controversial US air base at Thule. But now these displaced people face a new and unprecedented threat to their culture: global warming.
Posted 3 October 2010; 8:11:25 PM. Permalink
(Nunatsiaq News, 1 October 2010) -- The Inuit Circumpolar Council may choose Ottawa as the venue for an Arctic-wide summit on resource extraction issues they’re planning to hold early next year. The proposed dates were originally Feb. 18 and Feb. 19, but an ICC press release issued Oct. 1 said the meeting “will in all likelihood be held in Canada next March.” The press release also said the exact location of the summit will be announced “in the next few weeks.” A source told Nunatsiaq News the summit will likely focus on three issues: mining, especially uranium mining; offshore exploration and drilling; regulatory processes. Aqqaluk Lynge, the new president of the Inuit Circumpolar Council, said Sept. 22 that Inuit have an urgent need to discuss resource development issues, especially in light of Cairn Energy’s discovery of oil off western Greenland on Sept. 21.
Posted 3 October 2010; 7:39:35 PM. Permalink
(Nazanine Moshiri/Al Jazeera, 11 September 2010) -- There's a real contrast between Nuuk's old town, with its quaint colourful houses, and the long grey slabbed apartment blocks in the heart of Greenland's capital. Built in the 1950s, many Inuits were moved here by the Danish government at the time in what's known as the infamous G60 policy. Smaller communities were deemed as not modern enough, and locals were shipped to urban areas and "better jobs" in the booming cod industry. This modern way of life isn't what people wanted, adapting was difficult and many turned to alcohol. That in turn created social problems, including a rise in suicides, something I will be looking at while I am here. Things turned from bad to worse in the 1980s when, because of climate change, the valuable cod started to swim elsewhere. ... The Inuit Circumpolar Council helps promote Inuit rights across the Arctic and beyond. Aqqaluk Lynge, the council's chairman, comes from a long line of prominent Greenlandic Inuits, including his grandfather, who was a member of parliament in Denmark. Lynge is concerned about the changes he is seeing. "In my home town Aasiaat [it is] no longer possible to go with dog sleds in the winter time because the ice doesn't form," he says. "The way of life for locals here depends on a fine balance between the environment and humans who live in that environment. "That sense of harmony between the two is shifting as climate change, overfishing and modernisation take over."
Posted 11 September 2010; 11:01:27 PM. Permalink
(CBC News, 6 September 2010) -- Two monuments will be unveiled in the High Arctic this week to recognize Inuit who were forced to live in Canada's most northerly settlements in the 1950s. Indian and Northern Affairs Minister John Duncan is expected to join about 40 government officials and Inuit leaders in the Nunavut communities of Resolute and Grise Fiord for the monument unveilings, slated for Wednesday and Friday, respectively. The monuments were commissioned by Nunavut Tunngavik Inc., an Inuit land-claims organization, to "commemorate the sacrifices made by Inuit who were relocated to these communities." "They had to compromise a lot with leaving their loved ones because of unfulfilled promises by the federal government," James Eetoolook, acting president of the organization, told CBC News. Under the federal government's High Arctic relocation program, 87 Inuit from Inukjuak, Que., were transported by ship about 1,200 kilometres to Resolute and Grise Fiord in 1953 and 1956. Another three families from Pond Inlet, Nunavut, were moved north to help the Inukjuak families adjust to their new environments. Many believe the Inuit, commonly dubbed the High Arctic Exiles, were transplanted in the High Arctic to help bolster Canada's sovereignty over the North during the Cold War. But the settlers, who had been taken from the relatively lush tundra of northern Quebec, had to endure unfamiliar conditions and little government support. They and their descendants have told stories about enduring perpetual darkness, harsh winters and a limited variety of wildlife to hunt. The federal government has acknowledged that it failed to give the settlers adequate shelter and supplies during their first winter. The government also has admitted it did not act on its promise to move the Inuit back to Quebec if they did not want to stay in the High Arctic after one or two years.
Posted 6 September 2010; 6:35:22 PM. Permalink
(Randy Boswell/Postmedia News via Vancouver Sun, 3 September 2010) -- More than 50 years after the controversial relocation of 22 Inuit families to some of the world's most unforgiving terrain in Canada's Far North, two monuments paying tribute to the country's "High Arctic Exiles" are set to be unveiled next week on Ellesmere and Cornwallis islands. The sculptures will be dedicated less than a month after the relocated Inuit and their descendants received a historic formal apology from the Canadian government for the broken promises that followed the migrants' arduous voyage in the 1950s across thousands of kilometres of Arctic land and sea from as far south as Inukjuak in northern Quebec. The quest for an official apology — finally delivered in Inukjuak on Aug. 18 by Indian Affairs Minister John Duncan — had been a key motivation when the Inuit land-claims organization, Nunavut Tunngavik Inc., announced the planned monuments in 2008. The memorial sculptures "played a major role in ensuring the apology was done," acting organization president James Eetoolook told Postmedia News on Friday. "The Inuit play a major role in Canada's Arctic sovereignty, and we are proud to be Canadians," he added. "But these people who faced such hardships were forgotten." The sculptures are to be unveiled Wednesday in Resolute Bay on Cornwallis Island and on Friday at Ellesmere's Grise Fiord. Those two communities were the key destinations for the relocated Inuit families from Inukjuak and the Baffin Island hamlet of Pond Inlet.
Posted 5 September 2010; 4:12:25 PM. Permalink
(Canadian Press via Winnipeg Free Press, 18 August 2010) -- INUKJUAK, Que. - Larry Audlalak wasn't quite three years old when his family finally gave in to the insistent promises of the RCMP officer and left their comfortable lands along Hudson Bay's northern coast for the frigid unknown of the High Arctic. The memory is with him yet. "It was very bad," said Audlalak, one of the surviving "High Arctic Exiles" to whom the federal government finally apologized Wednesday. "It was very cold, we had no shelter. We had to fend for ourselves for the first two years living in tents. "The RCMP were able to give us some old buffalo hides and some reindeer hides for insulation." Minister of Indian and Northern Affairs John Duncan travelled to Inukjuak in northern Quebec to say 'sorry' to Audlalak and others like him for a policy some say was a move to reduce welfare costs and reinforce Canadian sovereignty. "We would like to express our deepest sorrow for the extreme hardship and suffering caused by the relocation," reads the text of his speech. "The Government of Canada deeply regrets the mistakes and broken promises of this dark chapter of our history and apologizes for the High Arctic relocation having taken place." In 1953 and 1956, 87 Inuit from 19 families were moved 2,000 kilometres from the relatively warm and lush environs of Inukjuak to what is now Resolute and Grise Fiord, the two most northerly communities in Canada.
Posted 21 August 2010; 10:05:40 PM. Permalink
(Randy Boswell/Postmedia News, 6 August 2010) -- The German government has weighed in on the dispute over a planned seismic survey in Lancaster Sound, insisting the controversial Arctic seabed probe has nothing to do with oil exploration and offering Inuit opponents of the project a special place on the German research ship now poised to conduct the tests for the Canadian government. The conciliatory offer — made to angered Inuit communities through a statement from the German Embassy in Ottawa — came as Baffin Island residents opposed to the sea floor scan battled with federal officials in a Nunavut courtroom in a bid to block the survey. In its statement, the embassy said the geological procedure would be "basic research" conducted in an environmentally friendly" manner, calling it "the latest example of Germany's long-standing and fruitful scientific research collaboration with Canada." The crew of the Polarstern research vessel, owned by the German ministry of education and research, "would welcome the opportunity to inform representatives of the Inuit communities concerned about the work to be carried out and are prepared, if so desired, to take on board an additional observer designated by these communities," the embassy stated.
Posted 10 August 2010; 9:07:51 AM. Permalink
(George Lessard/The MediaMentor, 2 August 2010) -- In 2002, the Nunavut Department of Education decided that this booklet, created by the Pauktuutit Inuit Women’s Association and then out of print, needed to be reproduced so that it could be made available to teachers and others moving to the territory to work so that they could acquire a basic understanding of the Inuit culture. I was asked to scan and redesign the original publication so that it could be easily reproduced as a PDF file with an ordinary computer and printer. This file, The Inuit Way: A Guide to Inuit Culture, contains the English, Inuktitut and Inuinnaqtun versions of the original publication. There is a newer version available at http://www.pauktuutit.ca/publications_e.html ©2002 Pauktuutit Inuit Women’s Association http://www.pauktuutit.ca
Posted 6 August 2010; 12:08:13 PM. Permalink
(Barents Indigenous Peoples, 30 June 2010) -- Yasavey, in cooperation with Norway and Canada, is looking into the possibility of establishing a Nenets radio station in Nenets Autonomous Okrug, North-West Russia, aiming at bringing Nenets language, culture and news to the Nenets, inhabiting the large tundra areas. The indigenous peoples in Canada know how to do this, and have shared their knowledge and experiences with the Nenets during a one-week study trip in Ontario, Canada. In June, Yasavey (the Public Association of Nenets People in NAO) visited several media enterprises and culture organizations and institutions in Toronto, Brantford, Six Nations and Ottawa, Ontario. Lewis Cardinal, who is the Vice-President of Aboriginal Voices Radio Network, has been involved in the project since the beginning, and he hosted the Nenets delegation together with Metis Elder, Wil Campbell, who has long experience from indigenous media work, in particular film making. The study tour was financed by the Norwegian Ministry of Foreign Affairs, as the project is a result of the Dialogue on the High North between Norway and Canada. In autumn 2009, the two states decided that this pre-project was to be implemented, and the Norwegian Barents Secretariat is currently responsible for carrying out the activities. This study tour will be followed up by a seminar on the establishment of a radio station, and the establishment itself will constitute the main project. Yasavey will host the seminar in Naryan-Mar in March/April 2011, in cooperation with the Nenets Autonomous Okrug Regional Administration, as well as with the Norwegian and Canadian partners. Development of the Nenets language and culture is the core of the project, as Nenets, like several other indigenous languages, are threatened by extinction. Currently, the regional radio station broadcasts in Nenets a few minutes every week, but the signals from this radio station does not reach beyond the city boundary of Naryan-Mar. Approximately 8,000 Nenets inhabit the Nenets Autonomous Okrug, whereas only 746 Nenets live in the city of Naryan-Mar, according to Yasavey.
Posted 12 July 2010; 9:14:26 PM. Permalink
(U.S. Department of State/Office of the Spokesman media note, 7 July 2010) -- As part of the U.S. Government's review of U.S. position on the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, the State Department, together with other Federal agencies, will host dialogues with interested non-governmental organizations and other stakeholders. The first dialogue will be held on July 8 from 10:00 am to 1:00 pm in the Rasmuson Theater, National Museum of the American Indian, 4th Street and Independence Avenue, SW, Washington, DC 20013-7012. An additional dialogue will be held in the fall. During President Obama's first year in office, tribal leaders, stakeholders and non-governmental organizations encouraged the United States to reexamine its position on the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples. On April 20, 2010, Ambassador Susan E. Rice, United States Permanent Representative to the United Nations, announced that the United States decided to review its position on the Declaration. ... Details on consultations with tribes and dialogues with stakeholders and NGOs will both be posted on the State Department's website located at: http://www.state.gov/s/tribalconsultation/declaration/index.htm
Posted 9 July 2010; 10:59:38 PM. Permalink
(Nunatsiaq News, 8 July 2010) -- The James Bay Cree of Quebec gained ownership over most of the land covered by the Nunavut territory’s most southerly chain of islands, through an offshore claim agreement signed July 7 in Chisasibi, Quebec. “This is an agreement in every sense of the word — no court orders, no arbitration, just plain, old-fashioned good-faith negotiation,” Chuck Strahl, the northern affairs minister, said at the signing ceremony. Nunavut Premier Eva Aariak and Matthew Coon Come, Grand Chief of the Grand Council of the Crees, also signed the agreement, which covers islands and waters in James Bay and Hudson Bay lying off the coast of Eeyou Istchee, the Cree region of northern Quebec. The offshore James Bay islands covered by the deal lie wholly within the boundary of the Nunavut territory, though not within the boundary of the Nunavut land claim settlement area. (See the map at the bottom of this page.) The Cree now own 80 per cent of the land mass of those islands, about 1,050 square kilometres, under a form of title that includes subsurface rights. This collection of small islands within Nunavut all lie south of Long Island just below the top of James Bay, and stretches almost to the southern end of the bay. Because these islands are not part of the Nunavut land claims settlement area, no overlap agreement with the Inuit of Nunavut was required. But because they do lie within the Nunavut territory, they’re subject to territorial legislation. The Cree Regional Authority will manage the Cree-owned islands, while Canada will retain rights to seabed, tidelands and waters.
Posted 9 July 2010; 2:25:25 AM. Permalink
(CBC via Alaska Dispatch, 6 July 2010) -- The 11th Inuit Circumpolar Council general assembly wrapped up its conference Friday in Nuuk, Greenland, by calling for an urgent Inuit leaders summit on resource development. Sixty-five Inuit delegates from Russia, Alaska, Canada and Greenland spent five days in Greenland's capital discussing issues of mutual concern, including uranium development and offshore oil and gas drilling. Delegates passed the Nuuk Declaration, which calls on the council to lobby member nations of the Arctic Council to confirm their commitment to that forum. The ICC is a permanent participant on the Arctic Council along with eight northern countries: Canada, Denmark — including Greenland and the Faroe Islands — Finland, Iceland, Norway, Russia, Sweden and the United States. Akkaluk Lynge, president of the Inuit Circumpolar Council in Greenland, who was elected at the assembly as the ICC's new chair, said the assembly is concerned about a recent meeting by governments of the five countries — Canada, Russia, the United States, Norway and Denmark, which administers Greenland — that border the Arctic Ocean. Inuit were not included in those discussions, he said. "We are the only ones that are living in the Arctic, in the Arctic coastal areas," Lynge said. "No one else does, except for oil explorers and mineral resources developers. We are staying there the whole winter."
Posted 8 July 2010; 8:51:48 PM. Permalink
(CBC News, 5 July 2010) -- Improving the health and well-being of Inuit in Canada and other Arctic nations is a major challenge, according to a circumpolar Inuit health committee. The Inuit Circumpolar Council's steering committee told delegates at the council's general assembly last week in Nuuk, Greenland, that Inuit in Canada, the United States, Russia and Greenland have health indicators below national averages. The committee also found that Inuit have among the highest numbers of health and social problems, from lung cancer and tuberculosis, to suicide, substance abuse and domestic violence. "I will not say I'm saddened by our state. All I can say is that it is a challenge and we're up for that challenge," Minnie Grey, a Canadian member of the health committee, told CBC News in Nuuk. "I believe that [the Inuit Circumpolar Council] can be a really good vehicle to inform the international world, the national governments and so on, and the Inuit themselves that they can stand up to take charge of their own health and well-being."
Posted 6 July 2010; 5:50:42 PM. Permalink
(Juliet O'Neill/Canwest News Service, 17 June 2010) -- OTTAWA — The government should get cracking on implementing Nunavut land claims and involving Indigenous peoples more in protecting Arctic sovereignty, the House of Commons defence committee said Thursday. An all-party report expressed "concern" that Indigenous peoples have not been accorded proper recognition for their historic role in helping ensure Canada's sovereignty in the Arctic by living in the region. "The assertion that our sovereignty depends largely on Inuit occupation of the region are a bit hollow if we continue to lag on our commitments to the Inuit and prolong the failure to implement the Nunavut land claims agreement," Jack Harris, New Democratic Party defence critic, said at a news conference by committee members. The MPs also recommended the Arctic Council should be strengthened, the government should re-establish the office of Arctic ambassador, create a cabinet committee on Arctic affairs and give priority to resolving a dispute over the Beaufort Sea with the United States. The report generally supported the broad direction of government policy but chair Maxime Bernier said the recommendations aim to ensure Canada has the right tools. While the committee concluded the Canadian Forces are equipped to defend the region, it was concerned the building of Arctic patrol ships and the icebreaker John G. Diefenbaker are falling significantly behind schedule. The committee recommended the government make development and long-term maintenance of viable Indigenous communities a priority and ensure that the Inuit be included in Northern environment scientific projects. "It is especially important that Canada's Indigenous peoples be an integral part of any decision making process affecting policies regarding the Arctic," the report said. "In line with this, we believe it important that outstanding land claims in the region be settled quickly."
Posted 4 July 2010; 2:03:06 PM. Permalink
(Jane George/Nunatsiaq News, 20 May 2010) -- QUEBEC CITY - Many of the 280,000 indigenous peoples of Russia’s north are watching their communities and cultures teeter on the brink of extinction as economic hardships force them to leave their homelands and migrate in droves to the city. Many of those who remain behind have abandoned traditional values and become “profit-driven in their search for compensation for their traditional lands,” Larissa Abryutina of the Russian Association of the Indigenous People of the North said May 18 in a presentation to a conference at Laval University on sustainable development and sovereignty in the Arctic. Like other speakers, Abryutina revealed a striking irony: that it’s much easier to find bad examples of development and self-determination in the Arctic than good ones. Abryutina, a Chukchi, is herself a casualty of the desperate choices facing northern Russian indigenous people: a doctor of radiology, she left her home region of Chukotka due to its declining standard of living. Since the 1990s, and the fall of the Soviet Union’s Communist government, things have gone from bad to worse for northern indigenous people in Russia, Abryutina said. And their life expectancy has fallen to between 40 and 45 years due to the environmental pollution, alcoholism and poor health care.
Posted 21 May 2010; 1:52:29 PM. Permalink
(Joseph Robertia/The Redoubt Reporter, 5 May 2010) -- From the tales of elders long passed to more modern poems of still-living members, the Kenaitze Indian Tribe continues to share its stories and rich oral history as a way to pass on knowledge. In recent decades, the tribe had worked with anthropologists and others to put those words to paper in an effort to keep the endangered Kenai dialect of the Dena’ina Athabascan language alive. The culmination of all this linguistic preservation work was demonstrated last week when Kenai Peninsula College anthropology students — some of whom had no knowledge of the language just 16 weeks ago — wrote and spoke in Dena’ina for their final exam. “Taking students who knew little about Dena’ina to writing sentences in a very complicated language has been 30 years in the works,” said Alan Boraas, instructor for the Dena’ina language course. Dena’ina is to language what differential calculus is to mathematics. It’s difficult to learn, and even more so when there are no speakers of the Kenai dialect alive and willing to share their linguistic knowledge through typical methods, such as immersion sessions.
Posted 6 May 2010; 12:12:27 AM. Permalink
(Winnipeg Free Press, 3 May 2010) -- YELLOWKNIFE - A federal government plan to dramatically change the way northern development gets done could reopen aboriginal land claims that took decades to negotiate. Indian and Northern Affairs Minister Chuck Strahl says his department has appointed a negotiator to restructure a confusing welter of northern regulatory boards. "We want to be part of a co-ordinated effort working with you, respectful of the land claims, but also respectful of the desire to see proper investment, proper predictability and timeliness of decision-making," Strahl told the Yellowknife Chamber of Commerce on Monday. His announcement comes in response to a 2008 report that looked at how industrial development from pipelines to mines is reviewed in the Northwest Territories. Aboriginal consultation is constitutionally required for any development on aboriginal land, so each land claim across the North has its own regulators for water use, land access and environmental impact. There are now more than 20 such boards in the three territories, most of them in the Northwest Territories. Virtually all parties, from industry to aboriginals to environmentalists, agree that the current approach is unwieldy, slow and expensive. Many point to the environmental review of the much-delayed Mackenzie Valley natural gas pipeline proposal as an example. That pipeline was originally supposed to be shipping gas by now. In an interview with The Canadian Press, Strahl said he hopes a consistent and predictable regulatory regime can be developed for the N.W.T. without having to change land claims. But if such changes are deemed necessary, the review won't back away from them. "I think it can be done within the current structure," said Strahl. "If there's a consensus to go broader than that, then we'll look at that. There's always a consideration that if there's a consensus to move in a certain direction, I don't want to preclude that." Strahl said various treaties are clear that aboriginals must have a say in development, but don't specify how. "The say can be anything from a membership on the final board, [to] a panel that reviews local decisions and makes recommendations." But both of those options would mean a downgrade for the various land and water boards under review. ... Deputy N.W.T. premier Michael Miltenberger said he doubts whether such
boards could be changed without land claims coming up. ... Miltenberger said Ottawa could speed things up by devolving more authority to the territorial government, instead of requiring final approvals on all regulatory matters from the federal cabinet. John Kearney, president of the N.W.T. and Nunavut Chamber of Mines, welcomes Strahl's plans but is looking for more information about what the government has in mind. "We have no details," said Kearney, who added that the current system is one of the reasons mining exploration in the N.W.T. has fallen dramatically in recent years.
Posted 4 May 2010; 1:40:38 AM. Permalink
(Paul Goble/Moldova.org, 24 April 2010)** -- The dying off of the numerically small peoples of the Russian North, already taking place because of economic development and climate change, is being accelerated by the mishandling of nuclear materials at power stations and military bases in that region and especially by the lack of secure storage facilities for nuclear wastes there. In a study of this problem published this week, Sergey Rykov says that the impact of radiation on the lives of these nationalities is so great that it is time to think about creating a Red Book not just for animals and plants but for threatened and now disappearing peoples like the Yukagirs, the Ens, and the Negidals, each of which numbers fewer than 1,000 people. Many people have written about the way in which the economic development of the Russian North and climate changes have affected these peoples in a negative way, Rykov says, but few have focused on the ways in which radioactive materials are killing off these peoples. In the waters off the Kola Peninsula, there are ships which “up to now are used for storing radioactive wastes and spent nuclear fuel.” Some of these are only “two kilometers” from places where people live. As a result, “drinking water brings death,” although few are prepared to talk about it, and many residents do not even know they are at risk. Murmansk oblast, Rykov continues, has the largest number of nuclear reactors per person “not only for Russia as a whole but even for the entire world.” There are 123 nuclear ships in the Northern Fleet, with a total of 235 reactors. In addition, there are nuclear weapons and nuclear power stations. What is making the current situation especially serious, Rykov says, is the processing of decommissioning nuclear-powered ships there and in the Far East. On the Kola Peninsula alone, there are now a minimum of five “dumps” where spent nuclear fuel and other radioactive waste are being deposited, often with little concern to the surround environment or population.
Posted 25 April 2010; 6:16:59 PM. Permalink
(CBC News, 15 April 2010) -- Nunavut Inuit who do not want polar bears listed under Canada's Species at Risk Act say they should be the ones being protected from the Arctic bears. Speaking Wednesday before the Nunavut Wildlife Management Board (NWMB) in Iqaluit, Inuit elders and officials voiced their opposition to a proposal by the Committee on the Status of Endangered Wildlife in Canada (COSEWIC) to have the polar bear listed as a species of special concern in Canada. "We have to listen to our communities, we have to listen to Inuit, and we get our direction from Inuit and also from our executive," said Paul Irngaut, a wildlife adviser with Inuit land-claims organization Nunavut Tunngavik Inc. "Our executive does not support the listing, and that's what we relate to [the] NWMB."The polar bear was last classified as a species of special concern — one step below threatened and two below endangered — in 2002. COSEWIC, an arm's-length federal scientific advisory committee, recommended the same status for the species in 2008. The federal government has to give a final decision on whether to approve that status. Scientists on the committee argue that although Canada's polar bear population has improved over the last 50 years, the species' future could be threatened by climate change and receding sea ice. But one by one, Inuit representatives on Wednesday spoke of the threats polar bears pose to people in Nunavut communities — from bears breaking into cabins and destroying hunting equipment to bears mauling people to death. The polar bear hearings conclude on Thursday with final submissions. The wildlife board will then be expected to prepare its own position on the COSEWIC proposal by early July. The board will submit its recommendations to Federal Environment Minister Jim Prentice, who will have 60 days to respond. "We, too, are worried about polar bears in the future because climate change, it's a huge thing. It's not only going to affect the polar bears, it's going to affect us, so we are concerned too," said Irngaut. "But we feel that at this time, the polar bear is really being used to combat climate change, and we don't agree with that."
Posted 18 April 2010; 12:11:06 AM. Permalink
(Bob Weber/CP via Google, 10 April 2010) -- Inuit hunters are helping scientists understand an essential fact of Arctic climate change — the weather's not just getting warmer, it's getting weirder. A new study published in the journal Global Environmental Change has combined the observations of Inuit on the land with cold, hard data to conclude that Arctic weather is getting less predictable all the time. "The character of weather is changing," said lead author Betsy Weatherhead, an atmospheric physicist at the University of Colorado. "The kind of style that it has to it." Weatherhead's research began as an attempt to reconcile differences between what Inuit were saying about their weather and what scientists were recording. Hunters used to be able to count on stable weather, but were increasingly complaining that conditions were swinging wildly from day to day, making their traditional prediction skills less useful and endangering them on the land. And the anomalies weren't showing up in the long-range studies developed by researchers. "I've been hearing these reports from the Inuit probably since the late '90s," Weatherhead said. "My colleagues would give these presentations saying, 'The Inuit are saying this, and I don't see it. The data isn't showing it.'" At a conference, Weatherhead had an idea: "Ah, I think what they're talking about is persistence," she said. Persistence is the tendency of weather to remain stable for a few days at a time. "We know that things pass and there's a natural time spell to it," Weatherhead said. "We know that a cold spell doesn't last half a day, for instance." She decided to examine the weather in two Nunavut communities — Baker Lake and Clyde River — for short-term, day-to-day variability. Inuit told her that the greatest unpredictability was in June's spring weather, so that's where she focused her analysis. She and her fellow researchers combined weather information from detailed, lengthy hunter interviews together with hourly temperature logs dating back more than 40 years. The two information sources backed each other up. Likewise, a statistical analysis showed that in the 1960s, June weather persistence was about 80 per cent of the maximum rating. By the turn of the millennium, persistence had dropped as low as 20 per cent. The weather itself isn't necessarily outside the normal range, but the speed with which it changes is.
Posted 12 April 2010; 11:42:55 AM. Permalink
(Barents Observer, 7 April 2010) -- Regional authorities in Murmansk want to limit the free movement of reindeer herds to 100-200 km wide zones. In an interview with newspaper Vedomosti, regional Governor Dmitry Dmitriyenko said that his administration plans to establish 100-200 km wide zones for the regional reindeer herds. This will help raise productivity, the governor argues. Today, reindeer herds migrate over major parts of the peninsula. Governor Dmitriyenko says the changing climate makes it increasingly difficult to gather the herds at slaughter time because the rivers now freeze later than before. It is the indigenous Sami population which has the reindeer herding as its main industry. The main Sami settlements are located in the central parts of the peninsula with the town of Lovozero as the main centre.
Posted 12 April 2010; 12:25:10 AM. Permalink
(Barents Indigenous Peoples, 7 April 2010) -- RAIPON (Russian Association of Indigenous Peoples in the North, Siberia and Far East) is hosting the Fifth Arctic Leaders' Summit in Moscow on April 14th-15th 2010, supported by the Public Chamber of the Russian Federation. The event will gather indigenous leaders of the Arctic for discussion about industrial development in the Arctic under climate change. The Summit is arranged back-to-back with the 20th anniversary of RAIPON, and there will be an opening of the 2010 Northern Civilization Expo. The ICC (Inuit Circumpolar Council) hosted the first summit in 1991, and two years later, the Saami Council hosted the event in Norway. The third summit was hosted by RAIPON in 1999, and the fourth was hosted by AAC (Arctic Athabaskan Council) in Canada in 2005. Read more at Indigenous Peoples' Secretariat and RAIPON
Posted 12 April 2010; 12:18:19 AM. Permalink
(Barry S. Zellen/Tundra Telegraph, 6 April 2010)** -- Over the last forty years, tremendous structural innovations have been made to the North American Arctic’s political and economic systems. Stretching from the Bering Sea to Baffin Bay, these innovations are the result of a multi-generational process of negotiating comprehensive Aboriginal land claims treaties to resolve issues of land ownership and to foster an enduring partnership between the indigenous peoples and the modern state through a variety of new institutions—including Aboriginal regional and community corporations, investment corporations, land administration agencies, a variety of tribe-state co-management boards, plus a complex patchwork of local, regional, and territorial governments created to give a voice to the Native interest. As a result of these changes, the Inuit and other Aboriginal northerners have become powerful stakeholders in the economic and political systems that govern the Arctic today, and are also the largest private land owners, with direct control over some ten percent of arctic territories and indirect influence over a far larger portion of the arctic land mass.
Posted 11 April 2010; 11:35:06 PM. Permalink
NunatsiaqOnline 2010-04-05: NEWS: What the High Arctic exiles signed in 1996 http://bit.ly/9HAOac
NunatsiaqOnline 2010-04-05: NEWS: Background: What’s proposed for the High Arctic exiles fund http://bit.ly/94NtsM
NunatsiaqOnline 2010-04-05: NEWS: Quebec court to ponder big changes to High Arctic exiles’ ailing trust fund http://bit.ly/aS1EKk
Posted 5 April 2010; 12:07:40 PM. Permalink
(Indian Country Today, 19 March 2010) -- Indigenous peoples and human rights and faith based organizations welcome the announcement in the Speech from the Throne that the Canadian government is taking steps to endorse the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples. We urge the government to embrace this vital human rights instrument without conditions or limitations. The Declaration was overwhelmingly adopted by the U.N. General Assembly Sept. 13, 2007. At that time only Canada, Australia, New Zealand and the United States voted against the Declaration. Australia has since reversed its position, and New Zealand and the U.S. have indicated their positions are under review. We applaud Canada’s decision to join the growing global consensus of support for the Declaration. The Declaration provides a principled and normative framework for partnership and reconciliation between states and indigenous peoples. Its adoption was heralded around the world by indigenous peoples, states, human rights organizations and the United Nations. Its provisions provide much needed guidance to governments, state institutions and society as a whole on how human rights laws and obligations can be best understood and applied to the distinct circumstances and the urgent needs of 370 million indigenous people around the world. We are concerned, however, as to what is intended by the government of Canada in stating that it will take steps to endorse the Declaration “in a manner fully consistent with Canada’s Constitution and laws.” In previously opposing the Declaration, the government had claimed that there were unspecified and unsubstantiated incompatibilities between the Declaration and the Canadian Constitution. As affirmed in an open letter from more than 100 experts on constitutional and international law aspects relating to aboriginal rights in Canada, there is no contradiction between the Canadian Constitution and the Declaration. Furthermore, human rights standards cannot merely condone or sustain the current practices and preferences of states, whether or not those practices and preferences are expressed in domestic law. To limit U.N. declarations in this way would defeat the purpose of having international standards, which are meant to inspire and guide improved protection for human rights, not simply reinforce the status quo. ... Signed Assembly of First Nations; Assemblée des Premières nations du Québec et du Labrador; Amnesty International Canada; Amnistie internationale Canada francophone; Canadian Friends Service Committee (Quakers); Chantier de l’économie sociale; Chiefs of Ontario; Confédération des Syndicats Nationaux – CSN; Conseil central du Montréal métropolitain – CSN; Fédération des femmes du Québec; First Nations Summit; Front d’action populaire en réaménagement urbain – FRAPRU; Grand Council of the Crees (Eeyou Istchee); Inuit Circumpolar Council (Canada); Inuit Tapiriit Kanatami; KAIROS: Canadian Ecumenical Justice Initiatives; Ligue des droits et libertés; Native Women’s Association of Canada; Quebec Native Women / Femmes autochtones du Québec; Regroupement des centres d’amitié autochtones du Québec; and Union of BC Indian Chiefs.
Posted 21 March 2010; 4:44:04 PM. Permalink
(Barents Indigenous Peoples, 12 March 2010) -- Indigenous peoples of the Arctic took part in the first Arctic Dialogue meeting hosted by the European Commission. The Arctic Council member states were also present at this first dialogue meeting between the European Commission and the Arctic indigenous peoples. Arctic indigenous peoples' organisations met the European Commission (EC) in Brussels on March 9th, as the EC had invited them to a Arctic Dialogue meeting. The Arctic Council member states were also present, as were other organisations and institutions focusing on indigenous peoples' issues in the Arctic and the Barents Euro-Arctic Region. In the EC's communication to the European Parliament and the Council (November 20th 2008), the EC proposes to engage Arctic indigenous peoples in a regular dialogue, and last Tuesday's meeting was the first step. As the European Commission has an increased focus on the Arctic, the purpose of this meeting was to establish a dialogue between the EC and the indigenous peoples of the Arctic.
Posted 14 March 2010; 10:43:04 PM. Permalink