Friday, November 15, 2013
So you read my title and think, “Well, that is an exaggeration if I ever read one!”
That is all fine until I point out some facts and figures to you. Perhaps we will take a little bit of the politically-driven-media-spin-doctoring out of the equation and you may see a bit more clearly what I am referring to. Yes, killing off all the baby-boomers would seriously benefit this country and with the current plans in place it will become a reality.
Why do I care?
Well, maybe because I am one of those boomers that keep getting berated for being the cause of the failing economy, the closed mindset to change and progress, the keepers-of-the-religious-right-winger-agenda and I certainly wanted Sarah Palin as President of the USA right? Oh yes, I forgot to mention that all the economic woes of the country, our support of the military and the enormous burden upon the taxpayers that war costs is also something we old farts support, right?
You could not be more wrong if you tried.
As a matter of fact, a good portion of my readers from all around the world make up the boomer generation and a large portion of them see more clearly than ever just how far astray this countries’ politics have ventured from where we need and want them to be.
No, we don’t expect everyone to get a free ride, free meals, free housing and all of that media spin.
However, where we do demand change and functionality be restored is into the long ago developed Social Security system which we boomers have paid into for the longest time and were told to rely upon as a major source of our security to survive in later years. We do demand that the deep pockets that have stolen that very money to cover all disassociated debts be repaid in full and immediately.
Would that cause a major wiki-leak type of scandal? Would the American people be surprised when all the facts are revealed about where the Social Security monies went? I can assure you, it would be a major revelation at all levels of this government, but I doubt we will ever get those answers.
So why do I say that this political agenda is hell bent on killing off the boomers as their way of solving the current and future woes in this country? Look no further than the current Obama Health Care Reform Laws and the disastrous way in which all of that mess is being handled. First, this Congress is the least performing Congress in the history of this USA. They have sat back, divided on sides and party lines, and refused to do a damned thing. They have passed fewer bills through to completion than any other Congress in history. Yet, their pay raises and their own health care plans are safe and well padded, I can assure you.
The media attacks Obama and his health plan at every opportunity. But is the health care the only issue we need examine? Sadly, most people ignore the fact that the President is but one chess player on the board of many players. He can do nothing without the support of a majority, or at least that is what the U.S. Constitution says, though few have read it recently.
No, far from it. The boomers are coming to the age where they need their retirement savings more than ever due to health insurance rates costing upwards of $1000 per month per person depending on your age and your health. Have you read any current statistics on how many baby boomers are set financially enough to cover that kind of monthly cost?
Did anyone in Washington D.C. attended Junior High or High School? I mean, I remember back when I was in those grades, we had text books, old-school film strips and movies that taught us about this “age of the boomer” reality and what impacts those demographics would have upon society in the future. Everything from a shrinking work force to the increased needs for health care workers and building of nursing homes were discussed decades ago in classrooms all around the USA. We had teachers putting this information on our exams making sure we had learned all the facts and details about this coming upheaval.
Did the powers-that-be not require those classes for people that would later attend Harvard, Yale or other Ivy League universities? Maybe those types never had to take classes associated with demographics, societal care and impacts of an aging work force or economics. Maybe that is why they end up being our countries’ leaders in politics and business. They don’t have to study things like that in order to be placed in charge of managing all of them in the future. Much like the joke regarding the name, Secretary of the Interior, which means that person is in charge of everything in the “exterior” or the outdoors, these leaders didn't learn basic social studies 101.
So now we are confronted with the very things we Boomers all studied and knew was coming years ago. We are seeing the bankers and Wall Street make out like bandits from our lost retirement accounts. No one has paid us back a single dime for everything we lost. The economy has tanked and we are forced to eat the cheapest food we can afford, decide whether we should pay the electric bill or pay for our medications. Our leadership in Washington D.C. is more concerned with how they are perceived in the public than they are about truly taking care of any business at hand. And all the while, the boomers are supposed to sit back and take it like spoon-fed infants.
No, we are not going to sit back and be the segment of the population taking the heat in the media and political rhetoric for being the root cause of the downturn in the USA global economic ratings. Todays’ most recent press states that the Obama Care program has miserably low sign-up numbers. The media spin for today is that there are not enough young people signing up to balance the requirements for the amount of old, broken down, boomers that are paying astronomically high rates per month for their new Obama care.
Maybe those in leadership that attended Harvard and didn’t have to study demographics, economics and social studies should go back in this article and re-read the previous portion about how everyone knew this day was coming? The blame is not the fault of the boomers. The blame also does not need fall upon the heads of our struggling young people, many of which are unable to afford a place of their own and live at home with their parents, due to their staggering and high-percentage-rate student loans that are killing them every month.
The blame for the current crises this country faces all sits upon the leadership; and not just todays’ political leadership, but going back several generations to when the greed and power struggles began. The theft from the American people began long ago and has thrived like its own economy, dividing the haves and have-nots into ever more chaotic segments.
Do you truly believe that a simple thing like one plan, Obama Care, is going to fix this broken, economically crashing, and politically driven nightmare we call America into some state of bliss? And, the counter question to that is, do you truly believe that one governmental Band-Aid is going damage the entire future of this country?
The answer to both sides of this equation is a resounding NO!
Why do I say that the USA will simply allow us old boomers to die off? We old ones won’t have the resources to care for our health, money to pay for housing and basic necessities, won’t be able to physically contribute to the working economy and because the leadership of this country FAILED to plan accordingly, we will have no monetary or physical means to stay alive. There will be millions of old people that are lay waste at a system so corrupt that even our hard-earned Social Security money we paid into all of our lives is gone.
No one is held accountable. The media spins the stories out directing the mindless population in whatever direction for the day is deemed necessary and all the while, the boomers are dying. Before our eyes, the wealth of accumulated knowledge and wisdom, courage and diversity, and all-things-old will be vanishing.
Will there even be a pause to honor the dead or the dying from these cataclysmic changes in this society? Will anyone ask for a moment of silence at the next ball game in honor of approximately 76 million American children that were born between 1945 and 1964?
Where has a growing dialogue on how to manage aging and end-of-life issues as the generation ages been for all these decades? Are baby-boomers really in that much denial regarding their own aging and death? Are we living vivaciously unaware of the undue economic burden on our own children we will be down the road for not only our care but for our very lives?
No, I can assure you, we are not. And, not all of us are sitting fat and happy with big bank rolls to retire on when you consider that estimates state 60% of us lost value in investments because of the recent economic crisis. Some 40% plus of our population are said to be forcing the delay of retirement and approximately 25% are saying they will never retire due to having no retirement to rely upon.
Obama Care and the issues surrounding it are one topic alone. The media and the politicians that have blindly spent everything in sight to aid foreign countries, finance more wars and their own special interests will retire fat and happy I assure you.
Where is the outrage at that fact? Seemingly quietly, the outrage is being quietly muttered in the distance when in fact all of America should be roaring with rage against the policies that have brought us to this point.
Outrage at a delirious-spending-system that has raped trillions of dollars from proper accounts for a strong nation to survive these demographic up-ticks is absent. The fingers of blame come back upon the very people that will be suffering the most. Not just the elderly will lie dead in the wake of this corrupt system, but the young generation that will carry these burdens, unable to produce enough to sustain a country literally falling apart before our eyes from lack of infrastructure care, future planning and careful development.
Oh yes! Let us all point the fingers of blame and see how far that gets any of us in surviving the disastrous mess that our country is in, and will be in, for a long time to come. All we will get for finger pointing is more arthritis from overused finger joints and little else. And, as previously noted, none of us will be able to afford health care for our damaged finger joints.
Change comes about through action alone. Demanding that the government be held fully accountable is not a suggestion, it is a must. Action from all members of this society, working together towards equality for all members is long overdue. To take no action is dooming us all to the peril of the baby-boomer fate.
When the country can no longer use or afford the baby-boomers in its workforce to maintain its current standards of spending? We will be conveniently and systematically disposed of.
Think that is exaggerating? Think that it won’t or can’t happen to your generation, the next ones coming along behind the boomers?
Get a reality check. Read facts not propaganda and you will see very clearly all that awaits you.
Now, may we all please bow our overly-burdened heads, and mutter a moment of silent prayer to the extinct baby-boomers….may all 76 million of them find peace on the other side of the false security they grew up believing in while alive and financing the good old USA.
Thursday, October 31, 2013
Just Another Day in AnyTown, USA
by Shelley Bluejay Pierce
Sunday, January 13, 2013
Editorial by- Shelley Bluejay Pierce
January 13, 2013
Wednesday, February 22, 2012
Monday, January 31, 2011
January 31, 2011
In what may prove to be one of the most bizarre legal moves ever, lawyers for the oil giant, Chevron, asked an Ecuadorian court to dismiss a multi-billion dollar lawsuit on the grounds that the plaintiffs don’t actually exist. Just who is it that Chevron’s legal team wants to make ‘disappear’ like some rabbit from a top hat? Indigenous tribal members from Ecuador, that’s who.
I originally covered this storyline for the news outlet, “Native American Times” in July of 2007 and I was appalled then at the horrors being faced by these ‘invisible’ plaintiffs. To read this past week that this case is still unresolved and that the people in this region continue to live without clean water or access and payment for medical care made my blood boil. Now they are told that they ‘don’t exist!’
The case against Chevron has been on trial since 2003 and now, nearing a final judgment that could see damages of $113 billion levied against them, the legal-beagles are howling and snapping at any opportunity to rescue the oil giant.
From 1964 to 1990, Texaco, which was later bought out by Chevron, operated massive oil drilling operations in the remote Amazon rainforest regions of Ecuador. Between 1971 and 1992, more than 1.5 billion barrels of oil was extracted from this area. Chevron has been unable to make Texaco’s toxic mess disappear through magic or other means and may now be left holding the bag for a disaster of epic proportions.
How big is the disaster you ask?
Some experts consider this to be the worst oil-related disaster in history with toxic waste covering a region the size of Rhode Island. Billions of gallons of toxic waste were dumped into the rainforest area. Cancer rates, the highest in the region where Texaco operated its drilling operations, are blamed for hundreds of lives lost and contributing to the complete extinction of one indigenous group and the endangerment of two others.
Now, Chevron’s legal team has resorted to magic tricks beyond any scope of the imagination by stating that the lawsuit should be dismissed because the plaintiffs don’t really exist.
Well, maybe that is because you killed off a bunch of them! I mean, one tribe is now completely extinct so I am quite sure that you could manage to say that they don’t exist but what about the remaining plaintiffs? If Chevrons’ lawyers have their way, the delays and magic tricks may delay the final judgment long enough for the rest of the plaintiffs to die off too
Early scientific reports revealed that some water samples from this region contained toxic chemical levels thousands of times higher than permitted by Ecuadorian and U.S. environmental laws. Chemical agents like benzene, toluene and xylene are just some of the more glamorous waste by-products from petroleum operations and are known cancer causing agents.
Gee, I always like to have a little benzene in my morning coffee don’t you?
Ah yes, the fresh taste of a xylene cocktail after a long days work is quite refreshing indeed!
The list of plaintiffs that Chevron-the-Magician wants vanished before your eyes includes five indigenous groups- the Quechua, Siona, Cofan, Secoya and Huaorani. Approximately 80 communities allege that Texaco dumped more than 18 billion gallons of toxic wastewater into Ecuador’s rainforest during its operations. Documented cases of cancer, skin disease, reproductive abnormalities, and nerve damage are just a few of the benefits from drinking your morning chemical-cocktail if you live near these types of dump sites.
YUMMY! Pour me another glass of that for sure!
This case is hardly rare. Sadly, it seems most of modern society dabbles in such magic-self-deception. Like an ostrich surrounded by a pack of snarling dogs waiting to devour it whole, entire societies blindly believe that all is well in the world because their heads are buried deeply in sand.
Perhaps a cup of benzene would cure that.
We believe that all is well in the world and that our water, air and food supplies are safe because we want to believe it. We hold onto some warm and fuzzy commercial marketing ploy following such things as the BP Oil spill with hope and endearment to these mega-monster-corporations because we have been trained to for decades. All the while the deception continues and we lap it up like kittens for a bowl of warm milk.
The very real plaintiffs in the Ecuador case are still living with poisoned water and land this long after the realities of their plight became public. The old ‘out of sight, out of mind’ magic trick is still alive and well it seems. Until, that is, this scenario plays out in your own back yard.
According to an LA Times financial article, Chevron posted a net income of $5.4 billion for the second quarter of 2010.
I wonder how much of that will be left after their attorney fees? Enough to send a few cases of designer-label bottled waters over to Ecuador?
No, probably not.
I hear that the cost for magicians that can make entire Indigenous tribes ‘disappear’ runs quite high these days.
For more background information on this case, visit:
http://amazonwatch.org/ or http://chevrontoxico.com/
To view original article for Native American Times visit:
Monday, April 13, 2009
April 13, 2009
Corporate greed and political obsessions brought the global economy to a screeching halt. Representing a small percentage of the total population, these elite financial manipulators wrecked havoc upon the whole of society. Never in our history has an event like the recent financial crisis demonstrated that we, as a society, are inextricably interconnected.
Entire tent-cities made up of the homeless and unemployed are springing up like dandelions in the summer heat. However, contrary to the incessant yammering in the media and within the hallowed halls of political leaderships, the threat to our very survival is not financial decline. This threat is not based upon whether you have a job or are living in a tent-city due to financial ruination.
There is one common need for all living things to survive on this planet and it is not money. Few people or leaderships are acknowledging it and far fewer are taking action to protect this item in an effort to save us all from a global reactionary holocaust. Our most critical need for global survival is fresh water. You can survive in a tent without a job, electricity or modern conveniences so long as you have clean drinking water to sustain you. The international political communities and hosts of pocket-stuffing profiteers would have us think otherwise.
Why do I call the global water crisis a “reactionary holocaust?”
The immediate response to the term ‘holocaust’ brings forth a plethora of historical annihilations centered upon a particular race. Such will be the case again if we, as a united race of humans, do not protect the source of all life forms on this planet. Billions of people in less developed countries do not have access to clean water. Much of that available water is of poor quality and some is dangerously contaminated due to the lack of water treatment and unregulated pollution entering the water supply. An estimated 5 million people die each year from preventable water-related diseases and most of these are children. Some expert predictions state that by the year 2025, perhaps two-thirds of global populations will have limited water supplies with demands outpacing supply by 56%.
Indigenous and impoverished peoples bear the burdens in a world where an estimated 75% do not have enough clean water and estimates reveal that this portion of the human population will make up 95% of those suffering from water crisis levels by 2025. The Indigenous peoples in Bolivia account for nearly 80% of the population and they were the most impacted by transnational water companies who had raised the price of water to one-quarter the average family's monthly salary. Civil unrest erupted between police and the military resulting in a death, many injuries and literally hundreds of arrests. Still, the water profiteers are pressuring the Bolivian government to reinstate their contracts.
The extent of this water crisis is extreme enough and the predictions for future shortages dire enough that ‘holocaust’ is the only word with enough impact to address the situation.
Climate change is quickly altering the face of our planet leaving some regions without precipitation levels sufficient enough to meet the needs of local populations. Other regions are scrambling to prevent damage from flooding from increased precipitation. Statistics reveal a clearer picture of our water crisis when experts proclaim that global consumption of water is doubling every 20 years and at more than twice the rate of human population increase.
But why do I combine this dire forecast with the term ‘reactionary?’
In the race for industrialized supremacy, nation after nation profited from new developments and technology. The long-term impact of our newest creations often took a back seat to advancement simply for the sake of industrial supremacy and wealth. For example, when we needed more electricity, we built enormous dams. Not until the vast environmental and cultural impacts where the dam was built came to light did we examine the lasting effects of hydroelectric dams. We developed irrigation canals to channel water into agricultural areas only to realize later what damage we had done to once healthy rivers. Mining activities from the past now reveal a never-ending toxic contamination flow into our fresh water supplies.
Our climate is in critical meltdown as enormous sections of polar ice caps disappear into the oceans surrounding them. The human, reactionary mindset steps in again as we plan vast solar and wind generation plants but perhaps without the critical studies being done ahead of time. If history repeats itself, we are once again in the process of “reactionary” creativity. Forced by a major crisis to adjust and modify our way of life, we jump on the nearest bandwagon that promises safety, security and an end to our next catastrophe. Our policies and developmental strategies are “reactionary” rather than being steadily proactive.
Reactionary impulses spawned yet another disaster when the Alberta Tar Sands moved into full-scale production. Creating three times more greenhouse gas emissions than conventional crude production processes, extracting oil from the tar sands requires 3 to 6 barrels of water to produce one barrel of oil. Following the extraction process, toxic water is held in lagoons and are known to leak such contaminates as arsenic, mercury, PAHs, cadmium, chromium, cobalt, and lead.
A recent study reveals that Alberta is vulnerable to water shortages due to increasing population, extensive irrigation demands and the rapid growth of the Tar Sands project.
One expert stated the projected water use for the oil sands may reach 45 cubic meters a second and that relates to about half of the low flow volume for the Athabaska River during most of the past 20 years. Nearly three quarters of Canada's irrigation water for agriculture, and livestock operations comes from Alberta as well.
Allowed to continue on this course, Alberta will join the ranks of other regions worldwide that are caught up in the ‘reactionary holocaust.’ With climate warming, increasing population and industrialization, the final straw that broke the camel’s back may be only one drought away. Many are getting rich due to the developments but the question is, which segments of the population will pay the highest costs for these quick fixes. Our human history is riddled with responses given to catastrophes and often, with little thought to the future impacts, we move forward in all haste to ‘fix’ the problem.
Several reports have come into me from Indigenous communities saying that when visiting governmental or agency representatives are invited to join the community leadership for a meal and something to drink, visiting dignitaries decline to partake in the meal. Are these visitors simply rude or might the truth be that they fear for their own human health and well being if they were to drink from the same tainted water supplies as the communities are forced to use? Follow the path to the cleanest water supplies and safest food and you will find those segments of the population with the greatest wealth, political power and influence to gain access to the very best.
Moving forward, we as a global community must face the fact that we are indeed an inter-connected civilization. Failure to acknowledge that one basic fact may bring about the greatest ‘holocaust’ our civilization has ever known. Do you want proof of that? Look at the massive revolts, uprisings and protests over the recent financial meltdowns. If the human race is prepared to kill one another over the all mighty currency of the day, imagine what will happen when they are fighting for their lives for one glass of water.
“The three water crises - dwindling freshwater supplies, inequitable access to water and the corporate control of water - pose the greatest threat of our time to the planet and to our survival. Together with impending climate change from fossil fuel emissions, the water crises impose some life-or-death decisions on us all. Unless we collectively change our behavior, we are heading toward a world of deepening conflict and potential wars over the dwindling supplies of freshwater - between nations, between rich and poor, between the public and the private interest, between rural and urban populations, and between the competing needs of the natural world and industrialized humans.”
(Maude Barlow, “Blue Covenant: The Global Water Crisis and the Coming Battle for the Right to Water.”)
Sunday, March 29, 2009
By Shelley Bluejay Pierce
March 26, 2009
WASHINGTON – The Department of Justice’s Office on Violence Against Women (OVW) announced that applications are being accepted for $23.6 million in OVW Recovery Act grant funds. The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 authorized funding for enhancement of state, local, and tribal law enforcement efforts, including the hiring of new police officers, programs that combat violence against women, and initiatives that fight internet crimes against children.
This announcement comes as the U.S. House Interior and Environment Appropriations subcommittee held a hearing addressing the high rates of violence against Native American and Alaska Native women.
OVW’s Acting Director, Catherine Pierce, stated that, “The Office on Violence Against Women is committed to improving the innovative responses to violence against Indian women. These Recovery Act funds will create and stimulate additional staffing and resources to meet this goal.”
As American Indian governments and tribal women’s coalitions rally efforts at combating violence against women, federal funding is being made available through grant funding. The Fiscal Year 2009 Omnibus Appropriations Act, made significant progress towards addressing sexual violence in Indian Country, and in preparation for drafting the Fiscal Year 2010 Interior and Environment Appropriations bill.
Included, is language directing the BIA to partner with the IHS, community advocates and Tribal leaders to establish clear standards of practice and standardize protocols for responding to domestic violence and sexual assaults. The language also directed the BIA to provide training programs that better prepare officers in the field who are most often the first to respond to incidences of sexual assault.
National and State statistics show alarming figures with one in three Native women suffering sexual assault during their lifetime and 60 percent of sexual assaults not being reported to police. As disturbing as the figures are, authorities believe these statistics do not adequately portray the true levels of sexual violence against Native American and
Alaska Native women.
In 2007, Amnesty International (AIUSA) published a report titled, “Maze of Injustice: The failure to protect Indigenous women from sexual violence in the USA” which documented the details of sexual violence against Native American and Alaska Native women. Amnesty International interviewed Tribal leadership, law enforcement officials, healthcare agents and victims of abuse to complete a startling picture of realities for Indigenous women.
(full document available at http://www.amnestyusa.org/women/maze/report.pdf )
The Standing Rock Sioux Reservation was used to demonstrate one type of challenge in policing expansive, rural reservations where tribal and federal authorities have jurisdiction. In Oklahoma there resides a very different scenario where the area is composed of parcels of tribal lands mixed alongside state land where tribal, state or federal authorities may have jurisdiction.
In an attempt to address this, a first of its kind agreement between an American Indian police department and a state law enforcement agency was made by the Chickasaw Nation in 2007. The agreement, aimed at eliminating jurisdictional uncertainties that can benefit criminals, was made by Chickasaw Lighthorse Police Chief Jason O’Neal and Oklahoma Bureau of Narcotics Director R. Darrell Weaver. This historic cross-deputation agreement granted equal law enforcement authority, on or off Indian land,
to the Chickasaw Individual officers of the LPD and the OBN special law enforcement commissions.
The LPD also signed agreements and cross-commissioned officers with several local law enforcement agencies including the Pontotoc County Sheriff’s Department, the 22nd District Attorney’s Office, the Roff, Allen and Stonewall Police Departments, and others.
The Amnesty International report listed three main factors that determine where jurisdictional authority lies: whether the victim is a member of a federally recognized Indian tribe or not; whether the accused is a member of a federally recognized Indian tribe or not; and whether the alleged offence took place on tribal land or not.
These factors determine whether a crime should be investigated by tribal, federal or state police, whether it should be prosecuted by a tribal prosecutor, a state prosecutor (District Attorney) or a federal prosecutor (US Attorney) and whether it should be tried at tribal, state or federal level. Lastly, this determination dictates the body of law to be applied
to the case: tribal, federal or state.
The results of this systemic quagmire are leaving Native women confused and emergency responders hesitating to act based upon jurisdictional issues. This results in victims having inadequate care and legal protection and impunity for the perpetrators, especially non-Native offenders who commit crimes on tribal land.
According to the US Department of Justice, at least 86 percent of reported rapes or sexual assaults against American Indian and Alaska Native women were perpetrated by non-Native men.
The Recovery Act provides the DOJ with funding for grants to assist the Tribal Governments Programs aimed at fulfilling three primary goals. (1) to decrease the number of violent crimes committed against Indian women; (2) to help Indian tribes use their independent authority to respond to crimes of violence against Indian women; and (3) to make sure that people who commit violent crimes against Indian women are held responsible for their actions.
The Indian Tribal Governments Program will award $20.8 million to grantees and the Tribal Domestic Violence and Sexual Assault Coalitions Program will award $2.8 million. Information on application and all procedures for Tribes interested in the new funding programs is posted at http://www.ovw.usdoj.gov/recovery.htm
New applicants in the Tribal Governments Program can apply for up to $450,000 in grants and current OVW grantees may request up to $1 million. Applications are due by April 9, 2009. Grants through the Tribal Coalitions Program will be awarded for up to $154,000 and applications are due by April 8, 2009.
During a recent teleconference held by the National Congress of American Indians, (NCAI) http://www.ncai.org/ the eligibility requirements, award periods, program scope, performance measures, selection criteria and review process were discussed so that Tribes would be fully aware requirements needed to access the funds.
Additionally, NCAI launched a new website containing the most recent information impacting Tribes in regards to the Recovery Act and its funding availabilities. (Please go to http://www.indiancountryworks.org/ for the most current information.)
Friday, March 27, 2009
Eastern Band of Cherokee Battle Runway Expansion
By Shelley Bluejay Pierce
March 27, 2009
FRANKIN, North Carolina- An ongoing conflict over the proposed expansion of a local airport runway has the Eastern Band of Cherokee at odds with the Macon County Airport Authority over the Iotla Valley historic site. Located in the Northern part of Macon County, the area in question is said to hold hundreds of Native American burials and evidence of human activities thought to be from around 2 A.D.
The land surrounding the airport once held the Cherokee Middle Town of Iotla, and is now known to be a significant historical site holding immense cultural and historical importance. Preliminary archaeological reports show that evidence of human activity remains intact beneath the surface including structural layouts and evidential remains.
The Eastern Band previously submitted guidelines for treatment of human remains and funerary objects uncovered at the site. Principal Chief, Michell Hicks, announced recently that the tribe had rejected a proposed Memorandum of Agreement (MOA) meant to coordinate the proposed 600 ft. runway expansion. The Cherokee’s rejection was based on the MOA stating that recovery of artifacts and burials would be conducted on only 25 percent of area.
Tribal Historic Preservation Officer, Russ Townsend, has stated earlier that the tribe recommends 100 percent artifact removal or abandoning the runway expansion entirely. When human remains are found during excavations, the Eastern Band prefers they be covered back in the ground and left alone.
Preliminary excavations at Iotla Valley have revealed structures and artifacts that would reveal much into the original communities’ activities. Opponents to the expansion have protested stating that as the airport runway project moves to completion, hundreds of graves would be permanently paved over and become a jet runway. Many have publicly decried this as an insult to human remains and burial grounds.
In an interview with Native American Times, Chief Hicks explained the Tribes’ firm stance on the issues saying, “I’ve been in office almost 6 years now and this is one of the first things I had to deal with. The requirements that we have set out there are obviously not satisfactory to the County and that’s their problem. We feel we are definitely right on this issue because there are several hundred graves on this site and it was a major village.”
Since 2000, the debates have continued with entrenched factions taking firm stances on how the Iotla Valley project should move forward, if allowed at all. Reasons for the expansion have appeared to change from the initial need for increasing safety at the airport, to being an aid for industrial business expansion and finally as a commercial economic boost to local businesses.
Chief Hicks told Native Times that he has no reason to doubt that economic impacts are included in the expansion plans due to the airport revenues impacting the Macon County economy. Hicks insisted however that the Tribe would stand firm on protecting their cultural heritage and the gravesites while also being mindful of the local economic needs in the region.
The State’s standard for recovering only 25 percent of the artifacts and burials has left many at odds with how to proceed at all. Chief Hicks told Native Times that, “I will never support moving a grave. When an individual is at their final resting spot, that is the way it was meant to be. The 25 percent rule is a level that is ‘acceptable’ by the State’s archaeologist.”
Chief Hicks explained that regardless of what the price tag may be for those funding the expansion project, complete studies on environmental impacts as well as archaeological reclamation efforts must be completed. The treatment of the Iotla site must consider the enormous cultural significance and treatment of burial grounds.
“We are going to do what we need to do to ensure that the right things are done for the right reasons. There are some steps in the runway project proposal required by the Federal guidelines that the County hasn’t even achieved yet,” replied Hicks.
Local residents whose peaceful community would be directly impacted by airport expansion commented in earlier press that they believe the project is geared at benefiting a few large corporations in the region as well as a minority of wealthy individuals who desire a larger airport close by. The airport would reap profits from increased fuel sales with more airliners landing at the airport if the expansion project moves forward.
Costs for the 25 percent archaeological recovery is estimated at $535,000 that would be paid for by funding from the State Department of Transportation’s Aviation Division. Dr. Michael Trinkley who performed the preliminary archaeological survey of the site in 2000 stated in previous reports and 100 percent recovery of artifacts may cost as much as $2 million.
Dr. Trinkley had also stated previously that potential industrial development was not a sufficient enough reason to destroy a historical and educational site of this magnitude adding that the handling of such a place is also an issue of human dignity.
The runway extension would require scrapping off topsoils and adding large amounts of compacted fill that would raise and level the runway. Archaeologists are concerned that this process would bring irreversible damage to human remains and artifacts.
As discussions continue between all sides in this issue, Chief Hicks repeated his bottom line message, telling Native American Times, “The Eastern Cherokee will stand firm on protecting their cultural heritage and the gravesites.”
Saturday, January 31, 2009
"SOS Amazon-“World Social Forum” Lends Indigenous Leaders and Supporters Opportunity to Defend Amazon Rainforest
January 29, 2009
photo courtesy of Lou Dematteis/Spectral Q.
BELEM, Brazil- As world leaders focus on severe economic crisis in their homelands, an estimated 100,000 activists traveled from all over the world to attend the World Social Forum in Brazil. Critical environmental impacts in the Amazon rainforest regions brought Indigenous tribal representatives from across Latin America, environmentalists and supporters together for the multi-day event. One full day during the World Social Forum will focus on issues impacting the Amazon rainforest and the resident tribal nations who dwell there.
Prior to constructing the human-banner, Brazil’s leading Amazonian Indigenous organization, COIAB, released this statement:
“With the permission of our ancestors’ spirits, we indigenous peoples are here with our friends from all corners of the earth. We build this symbol with our bodies as the cry of living beings from this green forest, this planet, for our continuity as humans and diverse creatures. The symbol of the bow and arrow has three meanings: The first, our aim that every man, woman, and child will decide to care for our planet; The second, the position of defending the rights of indigenous peoples, of nature, of the planet, and of our home the Amazon; The third, to send a message to the world so that each of us helps to protect our home, our air, our water, our food. The Datsiparabu ceremony is the purification of our minds, our spirit, our soul, and our hearts. Save the Amazon!”
These words and their message resonate with Indigenous peoples worldwide who face the destruction of their lands, culture and traditions. Mining operations, agricultural development and the endless grab for unoccupied land have forced millions of indigenous people worldwide from their traditional homelands and traditional ways.
Across the USA, Canada, Australia, New Zealand and a host of other countries, the Indigenous people are uniting and waging their own wars against the ruination of their lands. Governmental policies, often times made with little to no involvement by the Indigenous representatives, have decimated entire tribal groups and wrecked havoc with sensitive ecosystems. The remnants of post-mineral extraction, often grossly unregulated and mismanaged, have left their people to contend with death or illness, lack of safe water supplies and other toxic contaminations. Agricultural developments have stripped the land of needed indigenous plant species and animals and forced many tribes far from the lands they have inhabited for centuries.
Fighting onto the world’s political and environmental stage has not come easily, or quickly enough, to save many Indigenous peoples from the disastrous impacts of global resource development. One such case involves the landmark case against Chevron-Texaco and oil exploration in Ecuador. Contamination from petro-chemicals led to scientific reports revealing local water samples with toxic chemical levels thousands of times higher than permitted by Ecuadorian and U.S. environmental laws. Ecuadorian cancer rates were highest in the region where Texaco operated its drilling operations. The toxic waste may have contributed to hundreds of lives lost, the extinction of one Indigenous group and the endangerment of two others.
(see related article at: http://www.chevrontoxico.com/article.php?id=362)
“Indigenous people hold their traditional weapons skyward as they formed the human banner ‘SOS AMAZONIA’ Organizing and filming lasted almost and hour at the UFRA’s (Federal Rural University) main field. Technical assistance was provided by Amazon Watch, Rainforest Action Network, and Spectral Q.”
photo courtesy of Lou Dematteis/Spectral Q.
As tribal leaderships around the world learn the legal and political protocols required to navigate their way through the various jurisdictions surrounding them, environmental and scientific communities are joining forces with them. Together, they are forming new alliances aimed at bringing global awareness to the plight of the very habitats that sustain the world. In this sense, the Amazon rainforests’ health and survival are not only critical to the survival of the Indigenous people there, but to the entire planet as well.
Sometimes referred to as the, “Lungs of our Planet," the rainforest ecosystem works by continuously recycling carbon dioxide into oxygen. Some estimates state that more than 20 percent of the world’s oxygen supplies comes from the Amazon Rainforest. With an estimated 10 million species of plants and one-fifth of the world's fresh water supply located in the Amazon Basin, protecting this area from destruction is not a local issue but a global issue of great concern.
Echoing the call to action during the World Social Forum, Atossa Soltani, Executive Director, Amazon Watch stated, “It is urgent that the world act now to stop deforestation and to recognize the importance of the Amazon in stabilizing our climate. There needs to be an immediate halt to industrial resource extraction that is bringing the ecosystems and cultures of the Amazon to the brink of collapse.”
Vast swathes of rainforest have been clear cut which data suggests is responsible for one fifth of the annual global carbon emissions, roughly equivalent to all the automobile emissions. Some 17 to 20 percent of the Amazon rainforest has been destroyed in the last 40 years, with another estimated 20 percent having been fragmented or degraded. New road construction, expansion of agriculture, and mining for resources such as oil, gas, and precious metals are only a portion of the impacts severely altering the face of the rainforest.
Scientists are concerned that the Amazon forest will reach an irreversible ecological ‘tipping point’ that would forever change the ecosystem from rainforest to savannah. This event is estimated to release at least 76 gigatons of carbon, now stored in the forest ecosystems, into the atmosphere. Data suggests this amount is comparable to roughly 15 years worth of all human-caused emissions, and will exacerbate global climate change.
Since 2000, South American governments have been discussing a framework for continent-wide infrastructure projects along nine geographic corridors, including the Amazon. Known as IIRSA, the Initiative for the Integration of Infrastructure in the South American Region, these projects number over 500 and carry a staggering price tag estimated at a minimum of $70 billion. Financing has come from a number of sources, multi-lateral institutions like the Inter-American Development Bank and the Andean Development Corporation that have been powerful influences on IIRSA. Questions arise about the cumulative impacts such enormous projects will have upon the sensitive Amazon regions. Proponents to the initiative have not adequately provided the answers to these critical issues. Estimates state that the full implementation of IIRSA would result in a 50% reduction in the Amazon rainforest by 2050.
Indigenous communities, who are often those most effected by these projects, have not given consent nor been involved in the project planning for these massive developments. These enormous infrastructure projects bring the potential for escalated social conflicts across the regions, will apply negative impacts on Indigenous cultures and livelihoods, and accelerate deforestation. Without Indigenous community involvement, these impacts will likely continue and broaden in scope over time.
Marco Apurina, Vice-Coordinator of COIAB, an indigenous umbrella organization, said in earlier press reports during the World Social Forum, “We are the guardians of the forest. This is a critical moment for Indigenous peoples to unite with non-Indigenous, activists, teachers, environmentalists, unions, government—the Amazon rainforest needs everyone to work together now to defend it before it’s too late.”
(to repost this article or to request republication, please contact Shelley Bluejay Pierce at firstname.lastname@example.org)
Saturday, December 20, 2008
by Shelley Bluejay Pierce
May 9, 2008
Like many students in the Unites States of America, I have read and studied the Declaration of Independence written and adopted by the new Congress on July 4, 1776. I must admit however, that many decades have past since my last real study of this important political document. The study of our own history here in the USA is part of all formal studies across the country.
However, most of us never have cause to revisit these critical pieces of written history that are still meant to guide our country and its leadership in all dealings with the citizens here.
Most average Americans can recall certain famous passages, but I doubt that many can recite larger portions of this document from memory. With a growing need to remind myself of these earliest political platforms, I felt compelled to return to these historic words once again.
I was curious to examine just how far we may have diverged and wandered from the original “road map to Democracy” that our founding leaders risked their very lives to produce for all generations to come. With a sense of urgency, I plunged into the Declaration of Independence with a passion like I had never experienced in my early days as a simple student in a classroom.
The opening few paragraphs are probably the most recognizable portions of the entire document. Most of us have heard these sentences repeated in political speeches, in patriotic songs or such things.The greatest surprise awaited me as I journeyed further into this historic piece of writing.
The beginning of this critical document reads:
“The Declaration of Independence of the Thirteen Colonies
In CONGRESS, July 4, 1776
The unanimous Declaration of the thirteen united States of America, When in the Course of human events, it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the political bands which have connected them with another, and to assume among the powers of the earth, the separate and equal station to which the Laws of Nature and of Nature’s God entitle them, a decent respect to the opinions of mankind requires that they should declare the causes which impel them to the separation.
We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.
–That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed,
–That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness.”
Most of us will instantly recognize the portion that reads, “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.”
As young students, we studied the political history that led the original colonists to create the Declaration of Independence. The very foundation of the United States of America was based upon the needs of the people dwelling in this new land. The writers proclaimed their independence from England and all other outside governments by including these words,
“But when a long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariably the same Object evinces a design to reduce them under absolute Despotism, it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such Government, and to provide new Guards for their future security. —Such has been the patient sufferance of these Colonies; and such is now the necessity which constrains them to alter their former Systems of Government.”
As I read further, my mental state progressed from a place of historical reverence for the words set down by the early leadership and on to shock, disbelief and outright anger. I re-read the document several times to be certain that I was truly seeing what I thought I was reading.
Sadly, I was indeed reading these words and the descriptions of exactly what claims were being laid against England. The most ironic and alarming point to this comparison is the realization that the ruler of England at this time in history was none other than the King of Great Britain, George the III!
At the sudden reminder of this long forgotten piece of history, I fell into uncontrollable laughter. I then launched into the document in search of more comparisons between what our ancestors accused King GEORGE of, and what many citizens in the USA are complaining of with our modern day GEORGE, the current leader of the USA, President George Bush.
Though the ironic and perhaps comical overlapping of names was the beginning point for me, further examinations inside the Declaration of Independence yielded results that were anything but amusing.
The original grievances the colonies listed against Britain and King George III are presented in part, below. At each placement of the word, “He” remember that they are referring to King George. As you read these statements, you may begin to see resemblances to accusations made about our current President, GEORGE Bush.
“The history of the present King of Great Britain [George III] is a history of repeated injuries and usurpations, all having in direct object the establishment of an absolute Tyranny over these States. To prove this, let Facts be submitted to a candid world.
He has refused his Assent to Laws, the most wholesome and necessary for the public good.
He has forbidden his Governors to pass Laws of immediate and pressing importance, unless suspended in their operation till his Assent should be obtained; and when so suspended, he has utterly neglected to attend to them.
He has refused to pass other Laws for the accommodation of large districts of people, unless those people would relinquish the right of Representation in the Legislature, a right inestimable to them and formidable to tyrants only.
He has called together legislative bodies at places unusual, uncomfortable, and distant from the depository of their public Records, for the sole purpose of fatiguing them into compliance with his measures.
He has dissolved Representative Houses repeatedly, for opposing with manly firmness his invasions on the rights of the people.
He has refused for a long time, after such dissolutions, to cause others to be elected; whereby the Legislative powers, incapable of Annihilation, have returned to the People at large for their exercise; the State remaining in the mean time exposed to all the dangers of invasion from without, and convulsions within.
He has endeavoured to prevent the population of these States; for that purpose obstructing the Laws for Naturalization of Foreigners; refusing to pass others to encourage their migrations hither, and raising the conditions of new Appropriations of Lands.
He has obstructed the Administration of Justice, by refusing his Assent to Laws for establishing Judiciary powers. He has made Judges dependent on his Will alone, for the tenure of their offices, and the amount and payment of their salaries.
He has erected a multitude of New Offices, and sent hither swarms of Officers to harass our people, and eat out their substance.
He has kept among us, in times of peace, Standing Armies without the consent of our legislatures.
He has affected to render the Military independent of and superior to the Civil power.
He has combined with others to subject us to a jurisdiction foreign to our constitution and unacknowledged by our laws; giving his Assent to their Acts of pretended Legislation.
For Quartering large bodies of armed troops among us.
For protecting them, by a mock Trial, from punishment for any Murders which they should commit on the Inhabitants of these State.
For cutting off our Trade with all parts of the world.
For imposing Taxes on us without our Consent.
For depriving us, in many cases, of the benefits of Trial by Jury.
For transporting us beyond Seas to be tried for pretended offences.
For abolishing the free System of English Laws in a neighbouring Province, establishing therein an Arbitrary government, and enlarging its Boundaries so as to render it at once an example and fit instrument for introducing the same absolute rule into these Colonies.
For taking away our Charters, abolishing our most valuable Laws, and altering fundamentally the Forms of our Governments.
For suspending our own Legislatures, and declaring themselves invested with power to legislate for us in all cases whatsoever.
He has abdicated Government here, by declaring us out of his Protection and waging War against us.
He has plundered our seas, ravaged our Coasts, burnt our towns, and destroyed the lives of our people.
He is at this time transporting large Armies of foreign Mercenaries to compleat the works of death, desolation and tyranny, already begun with circumstances of Cruelty and perfidy scarcely paralleled in the most barbarous ages, and totally unworthy the Head of a civilized nation.
He has constrained our fellow Citizens taken Captive on the high Seas to bear Arms against their Country, to become the executioners of their friends and Brethren, or to fall themselves by their Hands.
In every stage of these Oppressions We have Petitioned for Redress in the most humble terms.
Our repeated Petitions have been answered only by repeated injury. A Prince whose character is thus marked by every act which may define a Tyrant, is unfit to be the ruler of a free people.”
As I read each of these statements from the original Declaration of Independence, I began to see several glaring similarities to our current political behaviors in the USA. I am not a political analyst, pundit, media television news host, or corporate-owned journalist. On the contrary, I am a law-abiding, tax-paying citizen of the United States of America who also serves as a journalist. I may be inaccurate in some of my assessments here, but I believe that there is enough accuracy in my comparisons between these two leaderships as to warrant some serious analysis by other citizens of the USA.
Several political events that have taken place during the period of time that George Bush has served as President of the United States are comparable to many of the accusations the colonists first made against King George III.
The Bush administrations’ Patriot Act, the development and enormous expansion of the Homeland Security Agency, and massive increase in domestic surveillance upon its own citizens is one glaring comparison to the ruler ship of King George III.
The U.S. Congress has had numerous bills and potential laws go before the President for his signature only to be told outright that he, referring to the President,
“refuses to sign any bill from them unless it contains exactly what I WANT included in it…”
Appointed leaders inside the Bush administration appear intent on gaining exclusive protection for those who are also members of the inner circle nearest the President. They have been offered immunity, Presidential pardons and more “Get out of Jail Free” cards than at any time in history.
More tax-payer money has been misspent, lost, redirected, or falsely appropriated to those corporations involved directly with the elected governmental leadership than a journalist can even report on.
A brief list of accusations against this administration include, but are certainly not limited to:
Questionable actions taken by the White House, National Security Council, State Department, Department of Defense, and the Central Intelligence Agency related to the United Nations and Iraq Security Groups initial inspections of Iraq.
The detention of people suspected of terrorist activities or connections to such activities and held in foreign prisons for interrogations by the U.S. Many such people were never provided legal counsel or knew exactly what they were accused of.
The “secret” meetings of top-level advisors to the White House including current elected officials, where private discussions yielded the new policies and guide lines for “approved” torture techniques later used against suspected “terrorists.”
Since 2005, numerous local governments have introduced and passed resolutions calling for the impeachment of President Bush and members his administration. Among the states that have filed impeachement recommendations are: Alaska, California, Colorado, Illinois, Indiana, Maine, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New Mexico, New York, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Texas, Washington, Wisconsin, and Vermont.
On May 21, 2006, the Alaska Democratic Party passed a resolution calling for the impeachment of President Bush, Vice-President Dick Cheney, Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld, and World Bank President (and former Deputy Secretary of Defense Paul Wolfowitz.) The resolution cited “the unjustified invasion of Iraq,” the administration’s “felonious warrantless wiretaps,” and “gross incompetence in response to natural disasters, stewardship of the economy and the environment.”
On April 21, 2006, California State Assemblyman Paul Koretz (D-Calif.) submitted Joint Resolution No. 39, calling for the impeachment of President George W. Bush and Vice President Dick Cheney.
Among the list of suggested impeachable offenses were:
a. Misleading Congress and the American people regarding the threat from Iraq in order to justify an unnecessary war that has cost billions of dollars and thousands of lives and casualties
b. Exceeding constitutional authority by Federalizing the National Guard.
c. Spying on American citizens in violation of the 1978 Foreign Agency Surveillance Act
d. Holding American citizens without charge or trial
The list of complaints and alleged constitutional violations goes on and on yet no matter what the citizens of the United States of America demand from their leadership, there has yet to be action taken. No one in the elected leadership demands full accountability from the President or his extended administration.
“We the People” have seemingly been ignored.
Our demand for full disclosure regarding facts surrounding the “Oil for Food” scandal, the false comments made about September 11th bombings, the war in Iraq, or the endless string of “Presidential Pardons” have been ignored.
The muzzling of journalists, scientists and agencies that may endanger the “facts” as the Bush administration would have them be known continues on with impunity.
The citizens of the United States appear to be “ham-strung” by their own leadership. There is no movement toward accountability though our websites, media outlets and governmental documents are saturated with evidence of misconduct.
I am simply a member of the vast “We the People” in this country and am not an expert on political affairs. However, I believe that the average American citizen deserves the basic information laid out before them. They may then conduct their own investigation into the facts surrounding the very real decline in political morals in this country.
The original Declaration of Independence is one of the guiding beacons for our democracy. How far we have veered from its original directive is for those professional analysts out there to decipher. I am but one citizen who, on a certain day, discovered the alarming similarities between KING GEORGE vs. PRESIDENT GEORGE.
I can only hope that the citizens of this country awaken to the realities around them and soon realize that the time for true action is now. I hope they will take heed to the historic words from our founding fathers as they move forward to create a true democracy:
“A Prince whose character is thus marked by every act which may define a Tyrant, is unfit to be the ruler of a free people.”
(All rights reserved, permission to reprint this article must be granted by author, Shelley Bluejay Pierce by contacting email@example.com)
Friday, December 19, 2008
by Shelley Bluejay Pierce
Saturday, 31 May 2008
(later in article here, the impacts on the Yankton Sioux Tribe are features)
These famous words from the 1776 Declaration of Independence sound good in theory but in actuality, at the time they were written, the evident truth was that only a select few humans were deemed “equal.”
“We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.”
Equality did not include black slaves, most certainly was not bestowed upon the “heathen, savage, Indians” and did not include women or other minorities. Perhaps more accurately, the “self-evident” matter of equality for all human beings was a decision made by a small minority of European immigrants to this new land.
The actual definition of the term, self-evident is, “Evident without need of proof or explanation.”
The legal definition of the term unalienable is, “The state of a thing or right which cannot be sold….The natural rights of life and liberty are unalienable.”
As the founders of this new government began to set in motion the legal bulwark for the United States of America, they created such guiding documents as the Declaration of Independence and the Constitutional Amendments. As these lofty goals for the new union were set upon paper, perhaps these men were seeing what the future held for this country rather than the actualities of the time they lived in. For if in fact, these new leaders truly lived in accordance with these new guidelines, they would not have behaved in the ways that they did or treated their fellow human beings in the manner that history recounts.
If it were truly “self-evident” that such things as the natural world and all that was dwelling within or upon it could not be bought or sold due to its being an “unalienable” right as the very source for all of mankind’s survival, then the stealing and mass “ownership” mentality would not have prevailed. The ravaging of these new lands, long inhabited by the Indigenous people, would not have occurred and the abuse of the natural resources would not have proliferated.
If “all men are created equal” then the mass genocide of millions of original occupants to this land would not have been allowed. The decimation of entire cultures and thefts of the lands they dwelled upon for centuries would have not occurred because the original authors of this text would have seen that the land itself was an unalienable right, not for sale or transfer, because it was the land itself that offered the human race its means for survival.
The pervasive attitude carried by this European culture was one of “taming the wilderness.” Those inhabitants who had lived in harmony with these lands were forced off of them or annihilated so that “modern and civilized” expansion could take place. Perhaps in truth, the European mindset was nothing more than a grand opportunity to perpetuate all the destructive behaviors that had surrounded these people prior to them leaving Europe in the first place. Looking at the ongoing rape and ruination of the lands and natural resources makes it clear that the pervasive mindset has changed little over the last 200 plus years.
Over many decades of internal warfare, foreign wars, upheavals and massacres, we arrive into a new era that brought perhaps the greatest period of change to our United States of America. During the 1960’s and 1970’s, protests and civil unrest boiled over into all segments of the population. The “peace and love” movement grew to monumental levels and such civil rights as those fought for by Dr. Martin Luther King and others gained enormous momentum.
During this period of time there was a demand for change and for the first time ever in this country, true equality and access to those “unalienable rights” was a goal for ALL people, not just a select few. The changing times brought with it, a demand for a cleaner, safer environment that in turn brought the creation of new governmental agencies such as the Federal Drug Administration and the Environmental Protection Agency. Both of these agencies were created to provide protection for all citizens in the United States and for the protection of the environment that sustains them.
The general population placed enormous public pressure upon the government and its leaders. Demanding peace, civil rights and increased environmental protection, the citizens of the USA brought to the forefront, a radical change in the way this country functioned. However, with this blossoming potential for radical change, there festered a dangerous mindset that would take decades to be acknowledged.
With alterations to the status quo came an increased sense of trust and peace of mind within the mindset of the average citizen. Each of us became dependent upon and truly believed that we would be protected by the leadership. We as a people trusted our military and first responders to care for our safety, both as a nation and as individuals, in our times of need. We trusted our new governmental agencies to ensure that we had access to all the unalienable rights such as clean water, safe food supplies, access to safe living conditions and medications to treat our illnesses.
That initial trust grew into a state of what may be more likened to “blind faith.” Failures discovered within this government have previously been responded to so that faults in the system could be addressed and corrected. Over the past decade, we have silently watched as all governing systems have seemingly taken on a life of their own and the enormous impact of its layered deception has brought this country to its knees.
The enormous and cumbersome size of the agencies set in place to “protect” us has become unapproachable even by the most studied citizen. The overwhelming amount of contradictory information available to each person leaves most individuals daunted by the task of being socially aware of the issues. The “information over-load” has hit every sector of this society to the point where the average citizen often chooses to ignore the information coming in from all directions and focuses simply on the personal realm they inhabit each day.
As we look at just one issue, the Iraq war, most of us are incapable of deciphering the facts from the propaganda. We cannot grasp the enormous expenditures involved with this one issue because the monetary figures are incomprehensible to most citizens. Perhaps examining a smaller “bite” of the full plate of issues is necessary for us to clearly see what is happening to us on the broader, national level. If the statement, “the sum of all parts makes up the whole” is true? Then a targeted examination may give us a good snapshot into our country as a whole.
Let’s choose an area of the country that most people assume as a peaceful country setting. There are no mass transit systems and the crime rates are not what you encounter in the large metropolitan cities across the USA. This is a small town consisting of farmers, ranchers, homeowners, shopkeepers and such things as one would expect to find in the mid-section of this country. Wide-open prairie lands, expansive horizons and peaceful surroundings are what brings many occupants to this community.
Zero in on Marty, South Dakota for this targeted investigation. This is a community situated within the boundaries of the Ihanktowan Nation, better known to most people as the Yankton Sioux tribal lands. Like many communities across the USA, there are limited or no zoning restrictions here due to the fact that they have never been required. The land itself and the environment in which the people dwell have dictated the lifestyle and activities of the occupants.
The unimaginable becomes your new daily nightmare if you are a member of this community when the agencies assigned to protect you, actually turn against you. These agencies approve the permits for a new resident moving in amongst you and you find out that your newest “neighbor” is a large, commercial hog farm, which will house as many as 3000 sows and produce as many as 75,000 hogs per year. Commonly referred to as a CAFO operation, (Concentrated Animal Feeding Operation) these industrial sized farms are usually located at a distance from human habitation and city services due to their potential impacts upon the “neighbors” and the environment.
We as citizens of the USA have come to “trust” with “blind faith,” that our governing agencies will protect us from harm and ensure a safe environment in which to exist and prosper. However, in this case, the EPA and other agencies have approved this CAFO hog farm even with the knowledge that it will be situated in the midst of human occupation, culturally historic, and environmentally sensitive areas.
Looking at the facts about CAFO’s, documentation abounds detailing the foul smells and the reported higher rates of respiratory problems in people living near large-scale animal operations. Proof exists at all levels regarding the fact that the waste from this many animals harms the environment and human health. Water and ground pollution often occur when the waste containment systems fail or when the CAFO owners gain permission from local farmers to spread the “waste” across their fields as a means of disposing of the tons of manure produced each day. Gently referred to as “free nutrients for your crops,” the overwhelming evidence shows that too much of something is not a good thing. This includes “free nutrients.” According to the 1998 National Water Quality Inventory conducted by the EPA, 30 percent of surveyed rivers, 44 percent of surveyed lakes, and 23 percent of surveyed estuaries were contaminated with unsafe levels of “nutrient” pollution.
Manure from CAFOs may degrade soil quality over time and since heavy metals are often added to animal feed to promote growth in the animals, the manure may carry such things as arsenic, copper, selenium, and zinc. The high concentration of manure in CAFO lagoons often enables heavy metals to accumulate in the surrounding environment which later leaches out into nearby soil, surface waters, invasion of local private wells used for drinking water, poisoning wildlife, and polluting groundwater. The area in which this South Dakota hog farm is located will provide “nutrients” for the Missouri River and all areas downstream due to run-off of surface water.
This potentially effects millions of people located a great distance away from this one hog farm.
Additionally, the property values that you as a homeowner depend upon for such things as resale value and home equity loan value plummets. No one wants to buy property in close proximity to a large-scale animal production facility. The land you dreamed of being your little piece of paradise instantly becomes valueless. You fear that no one in leadership is listening to you as you bemoan your recent fate. All you can do as an individual is cry out for justice and protection from the sources you once believed were brought into existence to “protect you” and your unalienable rights to “life, liberty, and pursuit of happiness.” All you find is a justice system meant to benefit others but not you, the private citizen.
The question now becomes, “How in the world did we get to this state of being in this country and why is no one listening to me?”
Follow the money trail and you will find, on a much smaller scale, the same problems as we find within the quagmire of the Iraq war and its funding processes. The government allots multi-millions of tax dollars to the rich farm corporations in the form of farm subsidies. The enormous tax funds are directed to those operations which make the biggest money and that includes CAFO’s. Why are these big tax-donated funds important? Why, to care for and repay the MILLIONS of dollars that these special interests group donate to the political campaigns for those officials that will support their causes once in office of course!
Case in point, in the 2006 election year, Agribusiness industries are reported to have contributed $44,732,566.00 to campaigns for elected officials in the USA. The Governor of South Dakota, Mike Rounds, reportedly received $36,250.00 for his 2006 electoral run from the agricultural businesses. Add to this figure all the agribusiness donations given to those Senators and Representatives representing the state where you dwell and you begin to understand why you now have a huge hog farm as a neighbor.
Money talks and bigger money speaks even louder in this country as history proves over and over again. The voice of the small, individual voter and citizen of this country means nothing in the bigger scheme of American politics. As one compares this localized scenario in South Dakota with the enormous Federal issues such as the Iraq war, similar layers of corruption are exposed. The farther up the political “food chain”one progresses, the less aid a single individual gets due to the larger amounts of political leverage gained by the contributions given by these special interests groups like agribusiness.
Lets take a look at some of the background issues surrounding the hog farm in South Dakota:
1) South Dakota Governor, Mike Rounds, cuts the Highway Patrol budget and states that he believes the agency “can get by with a $2 million reduction in its budget.” In early February 2008, a media source leaks a memo detailing how deep these budget cuts would hit the department.
2) One source states that the Highway Patrol budget cuts will take effect immediately and last only one year while another released memo states that the budget cuts will last “indefinitely.” (The citizens AND the Highway Patrol officers are left wondering what part media-spin is truth or fiction of course.)
3) One statement in the press says that this information comes from a written, authorized budget submitted by Governor Rounds but just a few days later, Governor Rounds tells the media that what is circulating was simply his “recommendations” for the upcoming expenditures and not the bottom line decisions. Once this memo was obtained by the media and circulated, Governor Rounds’ media-management team states that the memos were never meant for public circulation and that they were intended only for internal circulation. By February 15, 2008, the internal memos circulating in the State Highway Patrol were called a “miscommunication” by Governor Round’s office. (more media-spin and now the truth is even further from our grasp)
4) State Highway Patrol leadership released guidelines to their officers which I condense here. Startling issues begin to surface with these recommended cuts and leaves the average citizen in the coverage area wondering if there will be ANY response teams available should they need them. “Burning of overtime which will make it difficult to maintain current manpower requirements, especially on Fridays and weekends” is one of the department recommendations. Statements include the fact that there will be no new patrol vehicles purchased during the 2009 budget cycle. Governor Rounds states that troopers must save on gasoline requirements by having more “stationary patrols” where trooper will perform the “stare and glare” law enforcement techniques rather than actively pursue offenders. Other budget cuts will affect training for officers, Troopers will no longer help transport organ, eye or blood donations and search and rescue operations with the highway patrol airplane will be limited. Requests to assist BIA or tribal police with fatal crashes on reservations will be limited. Finally, the department acknowledges that because of these budget cuts, they will “more than likely be criticized by some agencies for their lack of manpower or response to incidents or accidents.” (Now the citizens in the area are really wondering about how safe they truly are in the event of an emergency.)
5) After the facts about this new hog farm came into mainstream media spotlight, Governor Rounds basically stated that he and his office preferred to let “tribal agencies work the issues out.” I am supposing that the Governor has forgotten that not ONLY tribal members are being impacted by this CAFO. The impacts are vast and have the potential to negatively impact many in South Dakota and all the way down the Missouri River.
6) Considering the fact that the South Dakota Highway Patrol is under major budget constraints and are told to limit all extra travel and deployment to scenes other than critical response areas, why did a reported 52 patrol cars roll onto the scene of a peaceful demonstration against the hog farm? Especially since the Highway Patrol leadership stated in their internal memo that, “requests to assist BIA or tribal police with fatal crashes on reservations will be limited.” (this was not a fatal crash, no one was armed with weapons and there were perhaps 50 or so protesters on the site…many of these were minors and children!)
7) The road leading into the property where Longview Farms is building their hog farm has been considered by the Yankton Sioux Tribe and their own law enforcement officers as being under BIA jurisdiction which means that no local or State law enforcement agencies are to deploy there except under extreme circumstances. When construction of the hog farm began in early April, the community attempted to block the completion when the Yankton tribal council passed an exclusion order against Long View Farms, of Hull, Iowa. The BIA (Bureau of Indian Affairs) was asked to confirm its jurisdiction over the road leading into the hog farm property, which would have denied Longview Farms access to the building site. Even though there was NO FINAL DECISION MADE about the jurisdiction of this road, law enforcement from outside agencies descended en masse upon lands where jurisdiction was still very much in question.
Here is a small group of the dispatched law enforcement teams to deal with this handful of unarmed, peaceful protesters.
The large mobile unit was a reported SWAT team. To the sides of where this picture was taken, was an entire hillside of patrol cars. This response for a handful of protesters?
(photo courtesy of Yankton Sioux Tribe)
8) Several members of the Yankton tribe were arrested, jailed and released on bail money paid by the tribe. They individually have had to seek legal defense and are going through all the legal proceedings for what may turn out to be illegal arrests once the jurisdiction of the road is decided. The BIA, which is funded by taxpayers in the USA, has paid out millions of dollars since 1994 to maintain this very road and added it to its inventory following a signed agreement between all local agencies. However, on May 5, 2008, a commission in Charles Mix County voted to rescind the agreement in response to the BIA’s declaration of ownership. (I guess what we, the US taxpayers think of all this, is null and void?)
9) Go a step further and examine a rough estimate at the costs for this police response to a small group of peaceful protestors gathered along side of a road that is yet to be determined as to WHO has jurisdiction over it! Based on online available figures for average salaries and costs of such things as officers and patrol cars, we find that the average salary for a State highway patrol officer is $30 per hour. Multiplied that by the number of hours required for response, handling, and completion of each assigned duty location. Gasoline costs of $3.85 per gallon based on today’s average price per gallon of fuel across the USA. Add in equipment wear and tear, vehicle tires, radios, uniforms, uniform cleaning, paper used and miscellaneous expenses. Add in the salaries for radio dispatchers, and office staff costs and you have a very rough average of $180.00 for each unit to respond to the scene of a normal, easy-to-handle incident, which averages one hour from dispatch to clearing. That’s $180.00 per hour is for local calls only and does not include extra travel across long distances. This rough average cost multiplied by 52 police units comes to approximately $9,400.00 PER HOUR! SWAT or Mobile units as seen in the picture above are usually presumed to be double that cost due to extra equipment and training for their personnel so add in another $360.00 per hour. Protesters on the scene reported that Wagner Police, North Platte Police Department, and State Highway Patrol vehicles came in on this one scene. Any overtime pay is probably 1.5x their salaries and Highway Patrol cars may have traveled into the protest site from wide areas all over South Dakota. Add in the costs for arresting these protesters, jail staff, court clerks, judges and office staff to manage all of this? Beginning to feel similar to war expenditures at the Federal level?
But I thought Governor Rounds stated that there was this huge deficit in the budget and that every possible money-saving effort needed to be made inside the Highway patrol?
All of the above expense and manpower to manage a small number of peaceful protestors?
Still confused about how this all impacts YOU and the potential impacts of a hog farm moving in to YOUR neighborhood? Still confused about how the Federal government and its agencies are layered with special interest groups, huge campaign financing and layers of deception?
By looking at one small issue in a rural location nestled inside the United States of America, perhaps the realities are sinking in. Just how far we have allowed ourselves to become blinded by “trust” is that festering wound I mentioned earlier. We have so blindly accepted the protection from our government and its agencies and leaders that we have missed the fact that we are now dependent and blind to truth. Perhaps the biggest “self-evident” fact before us as a Nation of individuals is that our trust is entirely misplaced. Perhaps the pursuit of life, liberty and happiness is truly an allowance for the elite after all. Perhaps it is history repeating itself but this time, ALL races are included in the destruction. The decimation of the lands and resources that sustain us all is at stake as is the very country we all call “home.”
Now… about that hog farm…. ready to become “neighbors?” Do you still believe it won’t happen to YOU?
Blind faith strikes again.
(All rights reserved, permission to reprint this article must be granted by author, Shelley Bluejay Pierce by contacting firstname.lastname@example.org)