Monday, 27 February 2012

On tokenism and white people writing about indigenous peoples

Two weeks ago, the Australian Parliament held an event to show its official institutional support for the recognition of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Peoples in the Constitution. A link to a short video of the event is here, and contains brief glimpses of indigenous individuals speaking about their hopes and aspirations for the recognition process. Is this tokenism? Well, to a certain extent, it is. Most of the people that appear on this video are both indigenous and part of a “white-person-relatable” middle class. Which begs the question: why should their views matter, if they are to a certain extent assimilated (and, therefore, no longer “truly” indigenous)?

For one, there is no such thing as “truly” indigenous. Just like there is no such thing as “authentic” culture or cultural heritage. To think of indigeneity, or culture more broadly, in terms of authenticity implies a degree of essentialization that, to be quite honest, is counterproductive at its best, and plain evil at its worst. Allow me to explain that a bit further: by allowing people to be divided along lines of “authentic” and “non-authentic”, one necessarily creates the other, thereby playing into the hands of the racist policies one should be countering. Identity is not, by any standard, a watertight category, it is fluid, constantly evolving, multi-faceted. The fact that, back in the 1980s, Sandra Lovelace, and indigenous woman from Canada, got married to a white man, meant she lost her indigeneity, for legal purposes. Is that the way things should go? The UN Human Rights Committee said “no” back then, and it is surprising that things have not changed that much in the past 30 years, despite that forceful statement about identity not depending on one single factor, and one facet of identity not meaning the exclusion of others. But I digress.

Back to tokenism in the Australian process, the second reason why those peoples’ opinions should matter is precisely because, as Aboriginal peoples who got, for one reason or another, to be part of both worlds (the Aboriginal and the settler society), they are in a better place to mediate tensions, to understand both languages, to be themselves the catalysts for this important change. Without their presence, the whole process might be jeopardized simply by the inability to find a common language, or by finding a shadow of a common language that is plain condescending and paternalistic (reminiscent of early indigenous recognition processes in many Latin American constitutions).

So, these participants in the process are at least every bit as important as the “real” Aboriginals and Torres Strait Islanders, if not more so. This in turn relates to one of Sarah’s recent posts, about her place as a white person writing about indigenous issues. While I am in the same position (a non-indigenous person wildly interested in indigenous issues), and I am very careful not to essentialize, not to be paternalistic, and not to assume that I can any way fully comprehend the depth of the indigenous experience (just as I don’t think indigenous individuals can fully grasp the non-indigenous experience), I think my attempts at it are valid, precisely because of this “bridge” capacity of my interventions (however modest). Plus, it is by trying to step into one’s shoes that we develop empathy, something that is clearly in short supply in so many areas of human activity.

Written by Lucas Lixinski.

Friday, 24 February 2012

Update on Tar Sands Keystone XL Pipeline

There has been a new development in the Keystone XL pipeline development. The group EarthJustice reports that a Freedom of Information Act request is the basis of a legal action filed against the United States Department of State.

The complaint, filed on 23 February 2012, alleges that the Department of State has not complied with a Freedom of Information Act request that was sent to the Department.

The complaint alleges that"Friends of the Earth sought information related to communications between the State Department and lobbyists or other individuals from McKenna Long & Aldridge; Bryan Cave LLP; DLA Piper; and TransCanada Pipelines relating to the Keystone XL tar sands crude oil pipeline."

The press release from EarthJustice comments that "The State Department must not hide documents from the public that could shed further light on serious problems in the initial review of the Keystone XL pipeline—problems that contributed to the biased and incomplete environmental review of the pipeline the first time around.”

In the meantime, there is the possibility of a Senate vote on legislation that would approve the construction of the pipeline. Given the environmental and health concerns raised about this pipeline from a number of groups, and the political games which apparently accompany efforts to force it through the House and Senate, questions are raised about the motivations and the tactics being employed. The concerns abotu the pipeline are serious. Should those not be addressed in full before any further voting takes place? Further voting is irresponsible in the extreme until the health and environmental concerns receive a full and frank review and airing, rather than being swept under a huge political rug.

Thursday, 23 February 2012

Time to play: is this a proper match?

A long-running case involving NBA player Manu Ginobili and the Argentinean Mapuche community named ‘Paichil Antriao’ is again a hot debate.

Background:In 2004, Ginobili bought a piece of land (more than a piece though, it is 27 acres) for US$10 million in the region of Villa La Angostura, Argentina. It seemed that the intention of the NBA celebrity was to build a house and a five star hotel but nothing has been constructed as yet. However, the land has been in a legal battle shortly after its purchase. The reason: the Mapuche community of Paichil Antriao lives and has been present on that land since 1902. Accordingly, it is said that it is recognized by the Argentine state's own documents. Nonetheless, the Paichil Antriao community explains that over the years such title has been disrespected and they have been forced to move further and further to the border of the land.

In 2007, Ginobili filed a lawsuit seeking a declaration that his title was legitimate and no one else had any claims to the land. The suit however brought an outrage to the indigenous peoples because Ginobili’s lawyers used the argument that the Mapuche people never existed in Argentina (only in Chile) and, thus they did not have status as Indigenous Peoples at all. Therefore the lawyers argued that the Paichil Antriao Community could not claim the lands to be their own because they did not exist in Argentina; in other words they did not have any legal standing.

In 2011, an appellate court in actual fact ordered that the Mapuche community of Paichil Antriao to be added to the lawsuit, This was followed by a statement given by the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights of the Organization of American States granting precautionary measures to the community and instructing Argentina to “take steps to allow the Mapuche people to reach sacred sites on the land and to protect the lives of those in the community who had been displaced due to the conflict.”

It is good to note that ILO Convention 169, Indigenous and Tribal Peoples Convention, 1989 was ratified by Argentina on 2000. Having a look at Article 16 it clearly prohibits the eviction of indigenous peoples:

Article 16
1. Subject to the following paragraphs of this Article, the peoples concerned shall not be removed from the lands which they occupy.

Also it is also noticeable

Article 17
1. Procedures established by the peoples concerned for the transmission of land rights among members of these peoples shall be respected.
wish you were here (me too!)

In 2012, the human rights organization, Observatorio de Derechos Humanos de Pueblos Indígenas (ODHPI), announced that it will assist in the defense of the Mapuche community against the lawsuit filed by Ginobili. In fact, last week, ODHPI’s lawyer, Emma Cabeza, said that a presentation was made ​​in court answering the position of the community that claims to have possession of the land.

This story continues…hopefully there will be a happy ending for all parts involved.I said so because Mr Ginobili also appears to be a victim. He asserts that when he bought the land he did not know about any community leaving in the land. Moreover, ODHPI’s director, Juan Manuel Salgado, mentions that Mr Ginóbili bought the land from Joseph Salamida, a local official appointed by the dictatorship, who in the past had seized various lots of land. Thus, we could say that in a way Mr Ginobili is suffering from legally buying an illegally obtained land by a third party.

Sources here, here and here.

Tuesday, 21 February 2012

Protecting Horses as Part of Indigenous Culture and Heritage

The stereotypical image of a Plains Indian is someone with a feathered bonnet and a horse. The idea of a horse is ubiquitous to the popular image of the indigenous peoples in North America. The relationship of indigenous peoples with horses was outlined in the book “Broken” by Lisa Jones ( subject of an earlier blog) who explored the life of Arapaho spiritual leader Stanwood Addison. And horses were of course central to the issues that came about in the Dann v United States (subject of an earlier blog) case. That is made very clear in the video “Our Land Our Life”.   As I watched the video, one thing drew my attention with horror. That was the use of aircraft to herd the horses—and then to watch the frightened horses plunging through barbed wire. If anyone has ever seen a horse that has been lacerated with barbed wire, you will be aware that the injuries can be catastrophic. Why, inflicting injury upon injury, was this method of rounding up the horses used? It is far from humane. Horses first evolved on the North American continent, and at some point in their evolution left over the land bridge that is the present day Bering Strait to the other side of the world. It was not until European explorers returned with horses after first contact in 1492 that horses returned to the New World. And horses quickly became a part of indigenous cultures. I remember as a child reading about Wild Horse Annie ( real name Velma Johnson) and her efforts to bring about bans on herding horses on land with aircraft.

The Wild and Free Roaming Horses and Burros Act of 1971 provided protection to horses and burros on federal land. This followed an act that was passed in 1959 the Hunting Wild Horses and Burros on Public Lands Act known informally as the Wild Horse Annie Act that provided protection to the horses and burros on public lands.

So why were the horses in the Dann situation treated as they were? Don’t the protections of federal law prohibit driving horses through barbed wire when herding them with aircraft? Horses are part of the identity and culture of many indigenous groups. Surely in addition to the protections offered by these specific American federal pieces of legislation, horses that are associated with indigenous groups are deserving of protections under laws that protect indigenous culture and heritage.

Monday, 20 February 2012

Video "Our Land Our Life" about Mary and Carrie Dann

The case of Carrie and Mary Dann v United States is often cited in discussions about the Inter-American system dealing with indigenous issues. At issue was ownership and use of land, and the location of gold—a somewhat perennial occurrence in the taking of indigenous lands in the United States—on the land in question. I will write further on this case during the week, but in the meantime, a very insightful video called “Our Land Our Life “ documentary gives voice to the Dann sisters, and their struggle, and how they took their issue and claims onwards to the United Nations.

Sunday, 19 February 2012

Tar Sands Update: Vote in US House of Representatives and Widespread Opposition

Tar Sands Update: Vote in US House of Representatives and Widespread Opposition

Despite the overwhelming response to the online petition against new activity in the US House of Representatives and Senate to back-door permissions for the Keystone XL Pipeline to proceed, the House of Representatives has voted in favour of the pipeline.

Now this is not so straightforward as it seems, as the permission for the pipeline to go forward was grafted onto unrelated pending legislation. The Senate has not given clear signals on whether it will even vote on the measure that would give approval to the pipeline.

It is not only the indigenous community that is in vocal opposition to the approval of the pipeline. Surprisingly, even members of the Tea Party in Texas oppose the pipeline,. In Texas, the Tea Party opposition is in relation to land that would be taken under government powers of eminent domain for the pipeline to be built and concerns for health safety if the pipeline is built as planned.

In Wichita, Kansas, a group called Occupy Koch Town protested against the pipeline, signalling out Koch Industries as being supportive of the pipeline, something that is denied by Koch Industries.

It is clear that there is widespread opposition to the pipeline from a variety of groups that might not always see eye to eye on any other issue. The health and environmental concerns from the pipeline are well documented yet somehow ignored or denied by those who argue to press ahead with the pipeline.

Thursday, 16 February 2012


I have just finished reading the book "Broken” by Lisa Jones. When I began to read it was with some scepticism, whether this was a version of “Eat, Pray, Love” that was playing itself out on Arapaho lands in Wyoming. When I finished the book, I was still not sure what I thought. A visit to Lisa Jones website revealed the sad news that the main protagonist of her book had passed away in May 2011.

The book itself is about the author and her experiences with an Arapaho spiritual healer. It talks about sweat lodges and the healing that people sought be coming to them. This thoughtful video posted at offers a very good insight into views of the use of sweat lodges, and whether the sweat lodge is being run by an indigenous or non-indigenous person.

The book also raises another issue, also discussed at about non-indigenous interpretations of indigenous peoples.

And finally, a video from the Lisa Jones website that really speaks for itself about the people in the book Broken, their horses, their land, and their culture.

Update on Online Petition Opposing the Tarsands Keystone Pipeline

According to this article in the end over 800,000 signatures opposing the Keystone XL Pipeline were obtain on an online petition. This was well over the target of 500,000 signatures that the online petition organisers had hoped to obtain.

But debate on the tar sands issue does not stop there. According to this article, the European Union will be debating a measure which would "class fuel from tar sands as highly polluting."

And the Indigenous Environmental Network was one of several signatories to a letter setting out grounds for opposing the pipeline. Other signatories include "CEOs of Major Environmental Regulations."
The depth and breadth of opposition to the pipeline has been demonstrated, but the recent moves to amend proposed federal legislation to include a non-related amendment to permit the pipeline to go ahead shows that the political battles to over-turn President Obama's denial of permission for a permit are far from over.

Monday, 13 February 2012

Senate to Vote on Keystone XL Pipeline

The Keystone XL pipeline issue is back--quicker than anyone might have predicted. The Indigenous Environmental Network has raised an alert that a vote in the Senate might occur as soon as 14 February, and is urging people to take note of this, and sign an online petition opposing the pipeline. More information and access to the online petition is available at the Indigenous Environmental Network website.

Video "Don't Need Saving: Aboriginal Women and Access to Justice"

This is a video which must be watched. It is called "Don't Need Saving: Aboriginal Women and Access to Justice". It raises many thought-provoking issues about the lives of Aboriginal women in Canada. It provides an indigenous point of view and voice on what no doubt are issues that stir up controversy-- but need to be confronted nevertheless.

The issues raised are not unique to Canada. A report from Amnesty International "Maze of Injustice: The failure to protect Indigenous Women from Sexual Violence" details the endemic problems in the United States on issues of sexual violence and system response to Indigenous women.

Tokenism and the Purpose of Academic Research on Indigenous Issues: More Questions than Answers

Where are we going??
At the beginning of this blog, I posted about some of the concerns I have on writing about indigenous issues because I am not indigenous. There are many pratfalls to be avoided in writing about indigenous issues as an outsider—at least in my mind. There is the need to avoid missionary zeal, the cloak of a rescuer, of suggesting that indigenous peoples lack a voice or that the voice of an outsider has more relevance, insight or knowledge. Some days I question whether it is appropriate to blog and research on indigenous issues at all, with those clouds of unease circling constantly. I try to be mindful of the pratfalls. There seems to be a surge in academic interest in indigenous issues. Is this a good thing? In many ways, I would think so, and yet that in itself perhaps comes laden with dangers and pratfalls. I wonder sometimes if indigenous issues have simply become a very fashionable subject for academic inquiry, in the way that other international law issues have come and gone based on the latest international instrument to be created or the latest political conundrum or conflict. The rise and fall in the popularity of topics no doubt could be traced around those parameters. At some point, something else will grab the collective attention of academia, researchers will swarm off to the next big topic, and indigenous issues will no longer perhaps have its current popularity.

But indigenous issues were around long before they became of interest in mainstream academia and no doubt they will be around long after. More to the point, indigenous peoples were around long before and will be around long after, and to what degree does academic inquiry and attention harm or help? Or does academic attention matter at all? It has been suggested in many places that the only people who read academic articles are other academics as they create their own articles—a sort of system of taking in each other’s washing. What is the value of academic writing on indigenous issues? What ought it strive to be?

To what extent should non-indigenous writing on indigenous issues be inclusive of indigenous voice? Does this simply become tokenism, or is it something that adds to the meaning and relevance of the work? Today, I have many questions, and not many answers.

Friday, 10 February 2012

Four Years after the Australian Apology: The Value of Words?

In 2008, an historic apology (here) was issued by then Australian Prime Minister Kevin Rudd to the Aboriginal Peoples of Australia.

The Australian newspaper article notes an event that was held to commemorate the four year anniversary of the apology. But as reflected in that article, “sorry” is a place to start—it is a beginning point, not a resolution.

The current Prime Minister of Australia, Julia Gillard will provide an update on the progress made since the apology next week, according to this article in the Sydney Morning Herald.

The apology addressed particularly the events of the forced separation of children from their families, something that has happened in recent history, not in the distant past, as noted in the apology:

“But let us remember the fact that the forced removal of Aboriginal children was happening as late as the early 1970s. The 1970s is not exactly a point in remote antiquity. There are still serving members of this parliament who were first elected to this place in the early 1970s. It is well within the adult memory span of many of us. The uncomfortable truth for us all is that the parliaments of the nation, individually and collectively, enacted statutes and delegated authority under those statutes that made the forced removal of children on racial grounds fully lawful.”

Today, this kind of forced removal is prohibited by Article 7(2) of the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples. What seems unthinkable today was seen as good government policy only a generation or so ago.

The Australian government was not alone in its pursuit of policies of forced assimilation and forced removal of indigenous children in the belief that this was in the best interest for the children. The United States government also pursued this prior to the passage of the Indian Child Welfare Act in 1978. ( See prior posts on the subject of the Indian Child Welfare Act here and here) And controversy rages in parts of the United States over whether the Indian Child Welfare Act is being adhered to, following a report by NPR.

All of which raises the question—what are the values of words? What is the value of an apology? What is the value of the words of laws on books if not accessible or implemented and enforced? Words alone do not begin to address the situations to which they are directed. Action is required to make them meaningful. Australia, which originally opposed the approval of the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples has reversed that stance. But what will be more meaningful is to heae the report of the Australian Prime Minister, and to hear what progress has been made four years after the Australian apology.

Wednesday, 8 February 2012

The Value of Traditional Knowledge

It is becoming more common place to hear about indigenous traditional knowledge in legal academic discussions ranging across a wide variety of subjects -- human rights, intellectual property, environmental law, economic law, medical law, and cultural heritage. Traditional knowledge is a simple name for an area that is vast in scope. Just what is traditional knowledge and why is so much importance being placed on this across such a wide variety of areas of law?

A new article in National Geographic, “The Key to Understanding Climate Change: Indigenous Knowledge” ( link to article here ) highlights the ways in which indigenous knowledge is and has been important in understanding the environment. A few statistics noted in the article bear this out: “Comprising only four per cent of the world’s population (between 250 to 300 million people), they utilize 22 per cent of the world’s land surface. In doing so, they maintain 80% of the planet’s biodiversity in, or adjacent to, 85% of the world’s protected areas.”

These facts and figures alone point out the importance of indigenous peoples and indigenous traditional knowledge to the environmental health of the planet today. But there is also an important contribution to be made to scientific knowledge, again, as noted in the National Geographic article, “[indigenous] community-based and collectively held traditional knowledge accumulated and maintained through practice over countless generations, offers valuable insights into the state of the environment. Indigenous knowledge possesses chronological and landscape-specific precision and detail that is often lacking from scientific models developed by scientists at much broader spatial and temporal scale…”

The National Geographic article is not the only one to point out the benefits, and indeed, the necessity of traditional knowledge in scientific research today. An article at this link points out the valuable contribution that local traditional indigenous knowledge played in the study of the migration habits of killer whales, in research done through the University of Manitoba. The article quotes Paul Irngaut, “Inuit traditional knowledge is essential to scientific research,” Irngaut said. “It’s verified by local hunters year after year. It’s not projections or predictions — it’s current and it’s accurate.”

This is good news—but the involvement of traditional knowledge in scientific research and development comes at some risk. Whether adequate protections are provided in law and in practice is the subject of on-going debate. An article reflecting on the protections in the Kenyan Constitution ( link here ) argues that the Kenyan Constitution provides adequate legal protections for traditional knowledge. How traditional knowledge is protected and exploited in other parts of the world will be the subject of future blog posts.

Tuesday, 7 February 2012

Transmission line pole types: destruction or improvement

On a recent Chilean court decision a judge accepted an appeal regarding the protection of indigenous rights, to be more precise protecting Mapuches communities and their lands. On 25th January, the Temuco Appeals Court cancelled a project called “Línea de Transmisión en Poste de Hormigón 110Kv Melipeuco-Freire”. This was a project for a transmission line of 110kv and 98.9 km long that passed through several Mapuche communities and land . The aim of the transmission line was to send out energy power generated by several hydro electrical centres. The project was approved on October 4, 2011 and the decision was notified to the community on October 18th.
Transmission lines as hunting perches.
Is the Environmental Commission the eagle or the pole?

On November the Mapuche community’s president sought invalidation of the project on the grounds that the community was not consulted on this as required by International Labour Organization Convention (ILO 169) - ratified by Chile.

The Chilean Environmental Evaluation Commission signed off on the project and stated that the environmental impacts of the power lines were minimal and required no environmental impact study. Yet, the Court of Appeal held that an environmental impact study was required and must be carried out before the project can move forward. Moreover, the Court stated that the Mapuche communities were entitled to consultation under ILO 169.

The right to be consulted
While I could not find the extract of the case we could speculate that the Court was referring to either ILO 169 Article 6 or Article 7 or both:
Article 6
1. In applying the provisions of this Convention, governments shall:
(a) consult the peoples concerned, through appropriate procedures and in particular through their representative institutions, whenever consideration is being given to legislative or administrative measures which may affect them directly;
(b) establish means by which these peoples can freely participate, to at least the same extent as other sectors of the population, at all levels of decision-making in elective institutions and administrative and other bodies responsible for policies and programmes which concern them;
Article 7
1. The peoples concerned shall have the right to decide their own priorities for the process of development as it affects their lives, beliefs, institutions and spiritual well-being and the lands they occupy or otherwise use, and to exercise control, to the extent possible, over their own economic, social and cultural development. In addition, they shall participate in the formulation, implementation and evaluation of plans and programmes for national and regional development which may affect them directly.[looking at the last sentence we can argue that a transmission line (energy power) may bring development to some regions and so, the Mapuche community and land been implicated in this project, they should have a say]
Also Sarah rightly addressed me to other Articles that should be relevant in the Mapuches cause of action i.e. Art 13 and Article 15 both referring to the right of land as follows:
Article 13
1. In applying the provisions of this Part of the Convention governments shall respect the special importance for the cultures and spiritual values of the peoples concerned of their relationship with the lands or territories, or both as applicable, which they occupy or otherwise use, and in particular the collective aspects of this relationship.[ to pass a transmission line through Mapuches Ancestral land may disturb spiritual values for example]
Article 15
1. The rights of the peoples concerned to the natural resources pertaining to their lands shall be specially safeguarded. These rights include the right of these peoples to participate in the use, management and conservation of these resources. [the judge indentified that there was the need to have a environmental study before the project commence – this clearly oversees that the environment may be affected]
Referring to today's title 'Transmission line pole types: destruction or improvement', I will say that for some  a transmission line can bring development and improvement of life but for others it could mean the destruction of their lands and culture, and thus their life.

Sources here, here and here.
The project can be found here (in Spanish).

Friday, 3 February 2012

Genomic Research, Informed Consent and Understanding Culture

The issue of what is required to obtain consent that is informed consent —consent that is obtained because the person or group providing consent truly understands what is encompassed by the consent—is at the heart of the issues that were raised in the lawsuit by the Havasupai peoples regarding blood they donated for research [More information on the background of the case, the legal case and its settlement can be found here].

This is as much, if not more, an issue for the medical research committee as it is for lawyers. A 2010 article by Jacobs, et al in the Journal of Law, Medicine and Ethics (article available at this link) comments that if researchers involved with the Havasupai had “practiced the processes of consultation, consent and collaboration here outlined [within the article], the dispute may never have started.” The point being, legal issues are unlikely to arise if meaningfully informed consent is obtained. The article by Jacobs et al points to the need for several steps to be taken to ensure that meaningfully informed consent is obtained, including an important step of consultation with the specific indigenous community from which researchers are interested in obtaining consent and doing genomic research.

An article by Roderick McInnes (available at this link) that was his 2010 Presidential Address to the American Society of Human Genetics underscores that understanding culture is a two-way exchange in the process of obtaining informed consent. It is not only important for the indigenous community and individuals to understand fully what research would be undertaken should they give consent. It is important as well for the researchers to understand the culture of the indigenous community itself. McInnes comments in his article “that the culture, priorities, values and jurisdiction of the indigenous community must be respected and that, in successful studies, it is.”

Two further points should be taken from this:

  • Firstly, the important task of understanding culture should not be ignored in genomic research and is a vital part in obtaining meaningfully informed consent. Nor is understanding culture a need limited to medical research. It is very much a required ingredient in legal education. Understanding culture is not restricted either to an indigenous sphere—it is potentially an issue anywhere that there are legally pluralistic jurisdictions. The place of culture in legal education will be the topic of a future blog post. An article by Professor Aliza Organick ( available at this link) provides important insight into the necessity and challenges of the inclusion of the idea of culture into legal education.
  • Secondly, indigenous groups themselves have established research boards whose standards scientists must meet as part of the requirements to obtain informed consent. One example is the Navajo Nation Human Research Code (available here).

Self-determination and autonomy means that many indigenous groups have their own laws, and certainly this can extend into requirements for human subjects research. Yet so often, legal education neglects to provide this understanding of indigenous groups and communities, as addressed in this article by Professor Tonya Kowalski,

These points will be further discussed in future posts on this blog.

Written by Sarah Sargent.

Thursday, 2 February 2012

The more things change...

There is another new blog on indigenous peoples that started at the end of December 2011, just like TK Totem. Now as TK Totem is trying to get the word out about itself, and let people know it’s here, some people might think it is a bit mad to highlight another indigenous rights blog. I myself do not see blogs in competition—and at any rate, I would be remiss not to shout out about the blog at

It is filled with dynamic posts, fresh points of view, and well-written perspectives. One post in particular caught my eye, and that was the one about “Vine and the Divine.” The blogger, Denny Gayton, discusses the worth of the work of the late Vine Deloria, Jr. There is very little I can add to what has been written; only to say that if you are not familiar with Vine Deloria, Jr and his work, and if you have an interest in indigenous rights, you cannot afford to overlook his work.

I have a well-worn copy of “Behind the Trail of Broken Treaties: An Indian Declaration of Independence” ( at this link here) on my desk. The concluding chapter discusses the importance of reinstating a treaty process between the indigenous peoples in the United States and the United States government. His arguments for the need for this resonate with the arguments being made by the Corroboree for Sovereignty group in Australia ( the subject of this blog post).

“Behind the Trail of Broken Treaties” was written in 1974. A great deal has changed since then—but a number of issues still persist as well—as shown by the parallels that can be drawn from Vine Deloria’s arguments and the current position of the Corroboree for Sovereignty.

Written by Sarah Sargent.