Hundreds of people from around the world recently gathered in New York for the "Indigenous Peoples’ Resistance to Economic Globalization a Celebration of Victories, Rights and Cultures" teach-in put on by the International Forum on Globalization and the Tebtebba Foundation. Today, we’ll play some of the speeches from the event:
* Elouise Cobell, a Blackfeet Indian and the plaintiff in the landmark lawsuit Cobell v. Kempthorne. The suit was filed on behalf of 300,000 Native Americans and is the largest class action lawsuit ever filed against the U.S. government.
* Felix Villca, an Aymara Indian and a senior advisor to the Bolivian Foreign Ministry in the government of Evo Morales, Bolivia’s first indigenous president.
* Sheila Watt-Cloutier, former chair of the Inuit Circumpolar Council that represents the more than 150,000 Inuit of Canada, Greenland, Alaska, and Russia.
* Mililani Trask, a native Hawaiian attorney.
[includes rush transcript]
AMY GOODMAN: Every year since 1970, United American Indians of New England have organized a National Day of Mourning in Plymouth, Massachusetts, on Thanksgiving Day. Recently in New York, hundreds of people gathered from around the world for an indigenous teach-in put on by the International Forum on Globalization and the Tebtebba Foundation. Today, we’ll play some of the speeches from this summit on Indigenous Peoples’ Resistance to Economic Globalization.
We begin with Elouise Cobell, a member of the Blackfeet Indian tribe and the plaintiff in the landmark lawsuit, Cobell v. Kempthorne. The suit was filed on behalf of 300,000 Native Americans and is the largest class action lawsuit against the federal government in US history. Elouise Cobell spoke about the case.
ELOUISE COBELL: When I accepted the IFG’s invitation to speak, I had some hope that I could come here with a success story. I hoped to be able to tell you that the class action lawsuit we filed against the federal government over ten years ago was nearing settlement. I hoped to tell you that the Bush administration had tired of spending more than $120 million of our taxpayers’ dollars per year to fight the simple request of Indian people for an accounting of our money. Sadly, I cannot tell you that that is the story and that Indian abuse is over. Despite our best efforts and despite our willingness to compromise, the extraordinary conditions of the administration killed any possibility of achieving a fair resolution this year.
Our struggle dates back from 1887, when Congress declared that American Indians were incapable of handling their own financial affairs. The lawmakers decided that the federal government would hold our money and manage our lands, and so that is how it is today. The government set itself up to have the powers and the authority of a trustee, but has never lived up to the responsibilities of a trustee. They wanted to dictate who the resources from our land would be sold and for how much, but they do not want to be accountable. The government, in a century, has never given us an accounting for our trust assets. Not once in a hundred years. I am a banker. I know how other people’s money is managed. And let me tell you, there is no other race of people that would have to sue for what we have sued for.
We now know, through this litigation, why the government is so resistant to fill the most fundamental fiduciary duty. It’s because the government has destroyed so many of our trust documents that it is impossible to conduct a true accounting the courts have legally entitled us to have. What has happened to the Indian monies is one of the biggest scandals in this country. Numerous crimes were identified and reported by Congress, by the Government Accounting Office, by the Inspector General, and so on and so on. One congressional report summarized it as fraud, corruption, and institutional incompetence almost beyond the possibility of comprehension. And in our case, there are repeated rulings by both the US District Court in Washington, the US Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia, that restates the obvious, that the government has failed Indians and failed them badly, that the government has committed malfeasance and has horribly breached its trust, its fiduciary trust duties. Billions of dollars are missing, taken from some of the poorest people in our nation.
Now, we have a simple demand: we want accountability, and we want accountability of what is ours.
And think about this for a minute. We live in a great country, but it is a very capitalistic system, which means you need capital to succeed. Our communities have been robbed year after year for a century for our capital, our financial lifeblood by this broken system. Is it any wonder that so many of our people are living in poverty?
This class action lawsuit on behalf of over 500,000 individual Indians was to say enough is enough. Our children, grandchildren, will not suffer the same indignities and abuse of our parents and our grandparents. We are putting a stop to this madness.
This is not a partisan problem. There is plenty of blame to go around for the Republicans and the Democrats. Both the Republican and Democratic presidents have fought our accounting. Administrations after administrations have failed to live up to their obligations. Senator McCain and Senator Dorgan believe it’s time to stop this foolishness. It’s time to be honest with our nation’s first citizen, they said, but here’s the problem. It takes more than two lawmakers to pass a law in Washington.
The Bush administration first said we’d like to study the McCain and Dorgan legislation. But what the administration did was load up our settlement bill with so many conditions and so many qualifications that it was no deal at all. I think it illustrates that some of the same serious problems that Native people have faced since 1492, no one wants to take us seriously in America. As Senator McCain has said repeatedly, had this case happened to any group of Americans, this issue would have been settled years ago. This administration now wants to settle what seems like virtually every problem in Indian country on the backs of our legislation. It wants to undue all the victories that we have won in a decade of litigation. It wants to prevent any other group of Indians from ever suing over mismanagement of Indian trust, even though Indians did not create the problems the government did.
So here is my message. So here is my message to the members of this conference. This is happening today in America. It’s not in a faraway land. The government of America is abusing Native people. It is happening right now here in America in broad daylight. It is happening without any shame or guilt.
Why? I think that American Indians have become an invisible people in this great land, our land. We are a relatively small group of people, but this was our land. It was taken from us brutally, forcefully, and against our wishes.
In this case, all we ask is that we be given the same rights of other Americans, that when the government takes property of its citizens, it must pay them fairly and account for what it’s taking. It is our money. I seek your support for our lawsuit. Ours is a basic property claim that any other group of Americans would be furious about. The radio talk shows would be in a buzz with charges about the arrogance of the government against little people, but not in America in the 21st century.
American Indians have been forgotten. I ask you to do one thing after this conference: do not forget us. When you consider the plight of Native Americans around the world, do not forget us. The abuse began here in 1492, and, my friends, it continues today.
AMY GOODMAN: Elouise Cobell is a member of the Blackfeet Indian tribe of Montana. She is the lead plaintiff in the largest class action lawsuit ever launched against the US government. She was speaking at a celebration of Indigenous Peoples’ Resistance to Economic Globalization.
Also there was Felix Villca. He is an Aymara Indian, a senior advisor to the Bolivian Foreign Ministry in the government of Evo Morales. Morales made history in 2005, when he was elected Bolivia’s first indigenous leader. At the indigenous peoples’ teach-in, Felix Villca spoke about the state of Bolivia.
FELIX VILLCA: [translated] Brothers and sisters, I am from a country that has a tremendous wealth of natural resources, both renewable natural resources and nonrenewable natural resources. We have gold. We have silver. We have steel ore. We have iron. We have strategic minerals and metals. We have precious woods. We have the highlands. We have the lowlands. We have the rain forest. We have natural gas. We have oil, both in the ground and very close to the surface. We also have water. The only thing we don’t have is access to the ocean. But I’m not here to complain. Even though we have this vast wealth of renewable and nonrenewable natural resources, we are a poor country.
Why are we poor? We are poor because all these natural resources have been exploited by multinational companies. So nothing was left for us. Globalization and capitalism had robbed absolutely all of our natural resources. And that really made us scratch our head and think why this was. And we figured out that we needed to control the government. Yes, so we discussed in assemblies, and we discussed in meetings: how can we get control of our natural resources?
Fortunately — and it makes us very happy that it’s so — in Bolivia, there is a very powerful union movement. We are all — almost all of us are in unions. So, up to 1997, all these unions and organizations were used by the political parties on the right and the left, and when they were in power, they would pass laws that were against us. They would only use us to cast a ballot. And then once they had won the elections, they just passed more laws against us. The parties on the left talk about how we needed to help them take power, and they were going to do this with armed struggle and class struggle, but the only thing that the parties on the left gave us was pain and death. And in 1967, Che was killed in Bolivia.
Well, so we asked ourselves, how can we govern ourselves? And everybody else said, "Well, indigenous peoples are ugly, and the ugly cannot be in power." But we said, "Well, whether we’re ugly or not, we are going to govern ourselves." So we threw out class struggle, and we threw out armed struggle, and we recovered our own identity and our own culture. And I’m very proud to say that this is an image of our grandmothers, of our elders. And so, we recovered our identity, and we realized that actually we live well in our communities, in our culture, and that we needed to continue to promote our harmony with nature. And we see that our harmony with nature is like the complementary relationship of men and women, and we think that plants and animals are our brothers and sisters. And all of this is part of our world view and the basis of our identity, and that identity in turn is the basis of the political instrument that helped us move forward and take power.
The census that was done in 2001 shows us that 80% of Bolivians are, in fact, indigenous. So this statistic really made us think that we could participate in the elections and that we could have an indigenous candidate and that we could win the presidential elections.
AMY GOODMAN: Felix Villca, he is an Aymara Indian, senior advisor to the Bolivian Foreign Ministry. More with him in a moment.
AMY GOODMAN: As we return to the summit held in New York celebrating Indigenous Peoples’ Resistance to Economic Globalization, Felix Villca, a senior advisor to the Bolivian Foreign Ministry in the government of Evo Morales, spoke about the significance of Morales becoming Bolivia’s first indigenous leader.
FELIX VILLCA: [translated] So, in November 2005, there were presidential elections again. Evo Morales was our candidate, and he won with 54% of the votes.
So it’s been ten months of us in power, of indigenous government, and in these ten months, electoral promises have been fulfilled. Evo Morales has not betrayed us. And on May 1st of this year, the hydrocarbon resources were nationalized and taken away from multinational companies like Petrobras. As we speak, we’re looking at nationalizing the mines and revamping all of the laws on land and promoting an agrarian reform to distribute land to indigenous peoples. On August 6, 2006, the constitutional assembly convened in Sucre to revamp the constitution and reform it to duly reflect the rights of indigenous peoples. Fifteen days ago, we signed new contracts with the companies that exploit natural gas in Bolivia, and this has meant that millions of dollars are now pouring into the national coffers, and with this money, we have been distributing to each student 100 Bolivars so that they can buy school supplies and their school uniform.
So what we’re trying to do is to solve our economic problems with our own natural resources. We don’t want to beg anymore. We don’t want to ask for help from the World Bank or the International Monetary Fund. We want to be self-sufficient and solve our own problems with our own resources. So we need your help. We need the cooperation of all of you. We need your support in buying our own products, our indigenous products, and buying our natural resources at a fair price.
So, only ten months have gone by, and like I said, a presidency in Bolivia is five years long. In these five years, we hope to resolve all of our problems that our communities face so that we can all live well.
So, just in closing, I would like to urge all of you who are from countries that have a majority of population that’s indigenous to come together and to support your clearest leaders and to participate in the elections so that you can, too, take power.
AMY GOODMAN: Felix Villca, an Aymara Indian senior advisor to the Bolivian Foreign Ministry in the government of President Evo Morales, speaking at a recent teach-in here in New York City put on by the International Forum on Globalization and the Tebtebba Foundation.
Sheila Watt-Cloutier also spoke. She is the former chair of the Inuit Circumpolar Council that represents more than 150,000 Inuit of Canada, Greenland, Alaska and Russia. She is a longtime defender of Inuit rights and has been the political spokesperson for the Inuit for more than a decade.
SHEILA WATT-CLOUTIER: For those of you who don’t know, we Inuit live in four countries of Canada, Alaska, USA, Greenland and Russia. And we’re about 155,000 Inuit in the entire world, at the top of the world, in the land of the cold, the ice and the snow.
And we lived very, very traditionally not so long ago. Rapid, tumultuous change has come to our homelands in my lifetime. In fact, I traveled only with my family only by dog team on the ice and snow the first ten years of my life. So you can appreciate and imagine what that — that changes has happened so very quickly in our homelands in the Arctic. And, of course, that kind of tumultuous change, together with historical traumas, have created an incredible breakdown of our society in the Arctic. And we rate one of the highest suicide rates of our young men in North America. And so, this is the backdrop in which all these other new changes on the new wave is happening.
The first wave arrived in my lifetime, in my mother’s lifetime, in my grandmother’s lifetime. And now, the second wave is really coming hard, and that’s environmental degradation. So we are already experiencing rapid changes, which is human-induced climate change. We have experienced, of course, the poisoning of our country food as a result of toxins coming from afar and had to deal with that intensely at the global level. And in fact, I worked very closely with Tom Goldtooth around the world, as we negotiated the Stockholm Convention with the global community to stop these toxins from getting into our food source, into our bodies, and in high, high levels in the Arctic in the nursing milk of our mothers. And so, environmental issues indeed are not just about the environment. When it comes to indigenous peoples, they are very much about the health and well-being of not only our bodies, but of course our cultural survival.
So we in the Arctic, of course, for generations, Inuit, we have closely been observing the environment, and we have accurately predicted the weather around us that has enabled us to travel safely on the sea ice to hunt our marine mammals, our walrus and our polar bears. And so, nowhere else in the world really does ice and snow represent transportation, mobility and life for a peoples. And ice and snow, in fact, are our highways that bring us out to the supermarkets, which is the environment, and links us to each other, to other communities.
And several communities already, as we speak, are so damaged by global warming and climate changes that relocation at the cost of millions of dollars is now the only option. And among the harm that we have suffered both in Canada and Alaska, just to name a few, because in the absence of time, I don’t want to go into them in too much detail, but just to give you an example of the damages on the roads and the runways that are already damaged, the eroded landscape, the contaminated drinking water, the coastal losses because of erosion, the melting permafrost that is now causing beach slumping and increased snowfall in some areas, not enough snow in other areas, longer sea ice free seasons. New species of birds and fish and insects have arrived in the Arctic, which we don’t even have names for half the time. There is unpredictable sea ice conditions. Glaciers are melting, creating torrent rivers instead of streams, and now we have more drownings and we have, as a result of the unpredictability and condition of the ice, as well as torrents now instead of streams, where our hunters thought they could cross safely, there’s also large plans now to relocate some of our communities. And it’s becoming very stark, and it’s becoming a real dangerous reality for many of us up there. And so, it is starting to undermine the ecosystem, of course, on the very land, the ice, and the snow that we depend for our own physical and cultural survival.
And science now has caught up to our hunters, what we have been saying for years. And our hunters are our scientists in their own right. They may not have institutional recognition, but by goodness, they are scientists in their own right. And they have been observing these changes for decades. And in 2003, the Arctic Climate Impact Assessment released the world’s most comprehensive detailed assessment, regional assessment of climate change, and it was prepared by more than 300 scientists from 15 countries, but it included the traditional knowledge throughout this process, because we said it had to, and we said enough of further research that would not effectively benefit our people of the Arctic.
And so, I just want to read two quick key conclusions of this assessment, which are very stark reading for the peoples of the Arctic and particularly Inuit. And it says marine species dependant on sea ice, including polar bears, ice-living seals, walrus and some marine birds, are very likely to decline, with some facing extinction. And two, for Inuit, warming is likely to disrupt or even destroy their hunting and food-sharing culture, as reduced sea ice causes populations to decline or become extinct. So, you see climate change is not just an environmental issue with unwelcome economic consequences. It really is a matter of livelihood, food, individual and cultural survival. And it is absolutely a human issue affecting our children, affecting our families, and certainly our communities. And the Arctic is not a wilderness or a frontier. It is our home. It is our homeland.
And, of course, the hunting culture is so misunderstood, and I know that I am in a roomful of my own fellow indigenous peoples who understand that a hunting culture is not just about the killing of animals. It is about teaching our young children, our children, for the opportunities and challenges of life on the land, but very transferable skills, such as patience, courage, how to be bold under pressure, how to withstand stress, how not to be impulsive, how to have sound judgment, and ultimately wisdom. Those are the very things that traditional knowledges on hunting cultures teach and pass on to the younger generation. And these skills are so transferable and, in fact, a requirement to survive a transitioning culture such as ours and many others around the world.
And so, it’s more than meets the eye when we talk about environmental degradation of the Arctic, that this is very much about a peoples trying to make it in this new world order of globalization that affords us respect and a place in this world that we have always had.
And even with this compelling science that came from this Arctic Climate Impact Assessment, we continue to have these global challenges with many governments, including and especially the United States of America, and as well as Canada now, with the new government, we are having even more challenges when it comes to these issues. And so, even with the knowledge that governments have and still not act with a sense of urgency, the time when I was chair of ICC — my term just ended in July. I’m taking a breather to write a book and spend some time with my grandson who is now learning with his father to be a great hunter. He got his first bearded seal this summer. It was a big deal.
I took the route at the time to look at international human rights regimes that are in place to protect peoples from cultural extinction. The very thing that we are now challenged with in the Arctic, as we are faced with climate change, and the question always is, how can we bring some clarity and focus and purpose to a debate that always seems to be caught up in technical arguments and competing short-term economic ideologies? And I believed strongly at the time, and I still do, that it would be internationally significant if global climate change were debated and examined in the arena of human rights, an arena that many countries say, particularly those in the development world, "Take seriously."
So, after two years of preparation with really strong people who felt this was the right thing and a legal team, I and 62 other Inuit from Canada and Alaska filed a petition, not just one that you sign your name, but a legal complaint that we took a lot of time to prepare, and we launched this on December 7, 2005, just this last winter, as we concluded that the 1948 American Declaration on the Rights and Duties of Man, supported by the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights, may provide an effective means for us to defend our culture and our way of life. And what we’re doing here is we’re not asking necessarily for the world to take a complete economic backward step, but what we’re saying to the governments is, you must develop your economies using appropriate technologies that limit the pollution, that limit the greenhouse gases that are at the root of what is happening in the Arctic and the melting of the glaciers and the ice and the snow.
And we Inuit and other Northerners, of course, because we’re at peril, because governments are taking a short-term view that is favored by many businesses, in fact what we are doing here is we are defending our right to culture, our right to lands traditionally used and occupied, our right to health, our right to physical security, our right to our own means of subsistence and our rights to residence and movement. And as our culture, again, as I say, is based on the cold, the ice and snow, we are in essence defending our right to be cold.
And we do not wish to become a footnote in the history of globalization, because the predictions are stark. We may lose what I had as a child and that has given me the foundation upon which I do this work, my grandson may lose in his lifetime. So this is very much an issue of children, families, communities, and as we’re just coming out the other side of modernization, here comes this second wave. And this second wave, I fear, is going to be even more challenging. So it’s very real here.
And we have lived in the Arctic for millennia, and our culture and our economy reflects the land and all that it gives, and we are connected to our land, to our ice and to our snow. We want it to be cold. And our understanding of who we are and our age-old knowledge and wisdom comes from the land, and it is that struggle — and you all, I know, relate to this so well — to thrive in that kind of environment that gives us the answers. Always it gives us the answers that we need to survive in the modern world. Our young people, who are making it, are the ones that are spending as much time as they can out there, hunting and fishing and taking in what our elders are giving them, and it is that outlook, that respectful human outlook that sees connection to everything that should be informing the debate on climate change, as these monumental changes absolutely threatens the memory of who we were, who we are, and all that we wish to become. And so, we Inuit, and certainly many indigenous peoples from around the world and in the North, remain very connected with each other and with the land.
And I always ask the question to the global community, is it not to re-establish that connection that we are all here trying to deal with this issue? Is it not because people have lost that connection between themselves and their neighbors, between their actions and the environment, that we are debating this issue of climate change in the first place?
So, I think by putting the climate change in the arena of human rights, we have moved the focus from solely being that of a political, economic and technical issue to human impacts and consequences that do affect our children, our families and our communities. And we must remain vigilant in keeping climate change as a human and human rights issue.
And as I said earlier, Tom and I worked together with other indigenous peoples around the world to deal with this toxin issue that ends up in our bodies. And we were fairly effective and influential. In fact, we were able to exert influence well beyond our numbers as a people. Out of all proportion to our numbers, we were able to influence the global community. And I know that we can do the same in this issue of climate change, as well as many other issues, so I am not sure how that will go in terms of our petition that’s already in the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights that is based in Washington, D.C. It’s hard to gauge at this time, although some early indication may be that it might not go in our favor, but I think it’s really, really important that we as indigenous peoples and the global community who understand this issue for what it is, as a human and human rights issue, continue to shift support that movement and that way, because if we can connect and unify not only today in this room but around the world, we can certainly keep this as a human rights issue, and together I think we can keep this issue on the map.
So, please — I was hoping — because I’m a person that really doesn’t like structure, I was really hoping to finish before the bell rang, but it’s pretty close. So, thank you.
AMY GOODMAN: Inuit spokesperson Sheila Watt-Cloutier, here on Democracy Now! Back in a minute.
AMY GOODMAN: We turn now to Native Hawaiian attorney, Mililani Trask, who began by speaking about the US invasion of Hawaii.
MILILANI TRASK: Hawaii is the state in the union that has the greatest number of extinct species and threatened species. When Cook sailed in, there were one million kanaka maoli in the archipelago. Today, there are still one million people, but we are about 12% of those who occupy our lands.
In Hawaii, we have only two industries — tourism, which is the structural adjustment program under globalization, structural adjustment program of the World Bank, and the other industry, militarism, the making of war. Militarism is the primary vehicle that is used by developed countries of the North to enforce globalization worldwide. Fifteen years ago as a result of some quiet and secret negotiations in Washington, Deceit [D.C.], Hawaii was identified to be the lead location in the world to host research and experiments relating to the genetic modification of life forms. A few years ago, as a result of using the Freedom of Information Act, we learned to our great dismay that the United States had approved over 4,000 open air and lab testing and experiments relating to the genetic modification of life forms. As a result of this, Hawaii now hosts the largest number of transnational corporations in the world, who are patenting and claiming ownership of the food and of the plants and resources of the world.
In this respect, Hawaii is only one small microcosm in the larger problem of the Pacific Basin. We now have independent evidence of the actual impact of globalization in the Pacific. This evidence was put together by none other than the Christian Churches of the Pacific Basin. A few years ago, the Christian Churches in the Pacific got together — they are the World Council of Churches of the Pacific — and they conducted an investigation and held a conference on the impact of globalization in the Pacific. Their documentation of the impact is published in a report called "Island of Hope."
The report found the following, that the major impacts of globalization in the Pacific were, number one, rapid increase in extreme poverty; and number two, destabilization of governments. After decades of failed economic development and stagnant private investment, we see now the rapid rise of extreme poverty in the Pacific. 40% of the peoples of Vanuatu live in poverty. 48% in Samoa. Over 50% in Kiribati. "The Island of Hope" documented that the primary cause of poverty in the Pacific relates to globalization, and that this rise in poverty is interlinked with the adoption by national governments of liberal policies promoting investment and competition, and this has operated to the detriment of social services, including health, education, housing, and social welfare.
With regards to the impact on the political stability of Pacific Basin nations, the report found that within the last fifteen years, the Pacific region has attracted increasing international attention and is now on the world map of political and economic trouble spots. When we look at the destabilization and the constitutional crisis in Fiji, where we have now had three coup d’etats, in the Solomon Islands, we see that the governments of the Pacific are falling apart because of the onslaught of transnational corporations and globalization.
I am sad to say that for the first time in the history of the Pacific, we now see the destabilization of the Kingdom of Tonga. Tonga was the only, the only, Pacific nation that was not taken over by foreigners during the time of colonization. But yesterday, as a result of the legislature concluding its deliberation without addressing the problem of economic disparity caused by globalization, riots broke out in Tonga. Two were killed yesterday, thirteen more today.
The report demonstrates that these threats to international security have intensified as the consequence of the mixed impact of reform policies based on economic liberalization. And these impacts are, number one, increasing economic disparity; number two, increased competition for control of the governments of the Pacific and of government public funding; and number three, reduced capacity for the governments to effectively address the social problems of their citizens.
With regards to ecological impact, the report found that the Pacific region has more rare and endangered threatened species per capita than anywhere else in the world. The marine environment, the Pacific comprises an enormous and largely unexplored resource. In the Pacific, we have the most extensive and diverse reefs that remain in the world, the largest tuna fishery, the deepest ocean trenches, and the healthiest remaining populations of many species that are now globally threatened, including the kohola, the whales, the honu, the turtles, and the dugong and saltwater crocs. The report of the church has verified that in the Pacific high islands, we still support large areas of intact rain forest, and we are the home of many unique species and communities of plants and life forms that are found nowhere else in the world.
The report documented that the reason for the ecological threat and the decline in the biodiversity of the Pacific, that this is traceable to extensive exploitation, rather than sustainable management, of the Pacific’s natural resources. The report documented that the exploitation of the Pacific natural resources is being undertaken by transnational corporations from outside the region.
With regards to the economic impact, the report found the following: a heavy emphasis on foreign investment as the engine of growth only encourages greater foreign control of island economies and has created increased dependency by Pacific peoples on externally devised economic initiatives, rather than promoting and supporting local initiatives.
With regards to the impact on economic development, the report now verifies that this is what has resulted in increased foreign control of the indigenous territories of the Pacific and the decline of the Pacific Island nation states.
How does this happen? It happens because there’s a globalized structure, such as what has been imposed on the Pacific region by the two dominantly white powers in the region, and that is New Zealand and Australia. These results come from what is known as the Pacific Plan for Trade Liberalization, but there are also other global initiatives moving in the Pacific that have had a negative and detrimental impact. Here, I refer to the APEC plan of 2004, which is called the APEC Integrated Oceans Management Plan. This proposal was developed by the APEC nations for the purpose of bringing states together in the Pacific so that they could have a collective and integrated approach to marine resource management, and so that they could all share equally in the benefit of this plan.
The problem is that no indigenous nation of the Pacific is allowed to be a member of APEC. Samoa, Kiribati, Tonga, Fiji, Vanuatu, French-occupied Polynesia, they are not members of the APEC. The members of APEC in the Pacific are the two dominant powers, Australia and New Zealand, and the other member nations that participate now in the rape of the ocean marine resources of the Pacific are Canada, China, Indonesia, Japan, the United States of America. Why are we not surprised to see that leading the APEC initiatives, the governments of the United States, Australia, Canada, and New Zealand are the same four governments that for 21 years have prevented the passage of the Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples in the United Nations?
AMY GOODMAN: Native Hawaiian attorney, Mililani Trask, speaking at a forum sponsored by the International Forum on Globalization.