Sunday, April 27, 2008

Advocates submit Statement to Protect Sacred Sites

Representatives for the Advocates for the Protection of Sacred Sites (APOSS) just came home after a week at the United Nations Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues. Below is the the official Statement submitted on Thursday last week:

Name: Mark LeBeau
Organization: International Indian Treaty Council and Indigenous Environmental Network and Western Shoshone Defense

Intervention to the Seventh Session of the UN Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues 2008
Submitted by the International Indian Treaty Council and Indigenous Environmental Network.

Additional supporters: Advocates for the Protection of Sacred Sites, IPKRC-IGU, Tonatierra, United Coalition to Protect Panhe.

Agenda Item 7: Special discussion on Indigenous languages

Protection of Indigenous Languages and Sacred Areas
Madame Chairperson, distinguished members of the Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues of the United Nations (UN), delegates, ladies and gentlemen, youth and elders, and colleagues, I am Mark LeBeau from the Pit River Nation in California-USA and affiliated with the Advocates for the Protection of Sacred Sites and am hear to speak about the need for the Permanent Forum to work closely with Indigenous peoples on protecting Indigenous languages and sacred areas.

It is expected that in this century many Indigenous languages will become extinct. In the 2008 Report of the international expert group meeting on indigenous languages, the conclusions and recommendations section states that the protection of Indigenous languages is not only a cultural and moral imperative, but an important aspect of global efforts to address biodiversity loss, cultural loss, climate change and other environmental challenges. The report also states that Indigenous Peoples and Nations’ language rights include, but are not limited to, the right to maintain personal names, place names and the proper names of their languages. Indigenous peoples and their representative organizations have devoted and continue to dedicate a great deal of time and energy to developing and implementing effective strategies to protect Indigenous languages and sacred areas.

Within traditional songs, prayers, names and languages, the sanctity and the importance of these special places reflect the deep knowledge and spirituality of Indigenous cultures. Many Indigenous sacred areas are being destroyed or negatively altered by consumer mentality stemming from colonization.


Indigenous Peoples and Nations call on the Permanent Forum to convene an expert meeting on Indigenous sacred areas before the next session in 2009.

Permanent Forum to designate a UN Special Rapporteur to work with Indigenous Peoples and Nations on identifying State desecration of sacred areas and sacred languages and on determining suitable remedies.

As part of the Forum’s ongoing work on the protection of Indigenous languages, the Permanent Forum expert meeting on Indigenous sacred areas would identify additional information on and clarify existing knowledge of Indigenous sacred areas and their statuses, as well as provide an opportunity for Indigenous Peoples and Nations to submit recommendations on methods to protect these areas. The Forum would then be well equipped to provide appropriate information to the UN on Indigenous sacred areas and urge this body to assist in remedying the harm being done to these areas.

The UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples adopted during the 107th plenary meeting on September 13, 2007, proclaims the Declaration as a standard of achievement to be pursued in a spirit of partnership and mutual respect. Article 12 of the Declaration states, among other provisions, that Indigenous peoples have the right to manifest, practice, develop and teach their spiritual and religious traditions, customs and ceremonies; the right to maintain, protect, and have access in privacy to their religious and cultural sites. Article 13 states, among other provisions, that Indigenous peoples have the right to revitalize, use, develop and transmit to future generations their histories, languages, oral traditions, philosophies, writing systems, songs and literatures, and to designate and retain their own names for communities, places and persons, and that States shall take effective measures to ensure that this right is protected.

On behalf of all the creation, we submit this recommendation to you and ask that we work together to ensure the continuance of Indigenous song, land and life. We are walking in the prayers of our ancestors and in this work we set prayers for the Ancestors yet to come.

Toosi Sun Wee (In a good way)

Additional Co-Signatories:

Cultural Survival:
International Geographical Union: Indigenous Knowledge and Rights Commission
Laguna Acoma Coalition For a Safe Environment

Monday, April 14, 2008

Advocates Heading to the United Nations Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues

This week members of the Advocates for the Protection of Sacred Sites will be traveling to the United Nations as a part of a delegation of Native People working to culture, water, land and life.

Stay tuned for Updates!

Sunday, April 8, 2007

The Advocates Ralley At DOJ


Thursday, April 5, 2007

Friday, March 9, 2007

Wednesday, March 7, 2007

Latest Press Release

Advocates for the Protection of Sacred Sites

For Immediate Release: March 2, 2007

Radley Davis 530.917.6064; Mark LeBeau 916.801.4422; James Hayward Sr. 530.410.2875; Morning Star Gali 510.827.6719; Chris Peters 707.825.7640; Jimbo Simmons 415.641.4482; Tom Goldtooth 218.751.4967

Native Peoples & Environmental Justice Allies to Protest U.S. Department of Justice Over Plans to Build Power Plants in the Sacred Medicine Lake Highlands near Mt. Shasta

* Native People to Speak on the Situation *

Friday, April 6, 2007
Rally at High Noon at DOJ Office
450 Golden Gate Avenue, San Francisco

S.F., CA–On 2/21/07 the US Department of Justice (DOJ), acting on behalf of the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) and the Forest Service (FS), requested that the 9th Circuit Court review the issues involving the proposed plans to build geothermal power plants in the Medicine Lake Highlands, a place held sacred to many Native Nations. In November 2006, a panel of the 9th Circuit unanimously ruled that the agencies not only violated the cultural rights of the Pit River Nation but also failed to uphold provisions of the National Environmental Protection and National Historic Preservation Acts. In their ruling the Court of Appeals found that the above Federal Agencies had never adequately considered whether the Highlands should be developed for energy at all. As a result, the Court rejected the leases that would have allowed Calpine Energy Company to build geothermal plants.

With DOJ’s recent request to the 9th Circuit Court, the department may try to claim that the issue brought by the tribal government and supported by a panel of the 9th Circuit is irrelevant. They may argue that the Native peoples who traditionally use the Highlands did not protest a new 40-year lease agreement that superseded the previous lease agreement.

In the 1980s, BLM decided to lease the Highlands for geothermal development, but did not go through the required tribal government consultation process mandated by U.S. law. Pit River, Modoc, Wintu and other Native peoples have been opposing these plans ever since they learned that their holy place would be violated. From a Native rights perspective, Medicine Lake Highlands is essential to the free exercise of Tribal religious beliefs and the encroachment of the proposed electrical power generating plant, represents a gross infringement of their constitutional and civil liberties. Native Peoples have never endorsed energy development in this pristine and sacred region nor will they ever. In fact, as far back as June 5, 1970, the late Mickey Gemmill, a distinguished cultural leader of the Pit River Nation issued a “Proclamation: To the President of the United States and the American People” that stated “We are the rightful and legal owner of the land. No amount of money can buy the Mother Earth; therefore, the California Indian Land Claims Commission has no meaning. The Earth is our Mother and we cannot sell her." From this statement it is clear that the Native peoples that hold the Highlands sacrosanct would never support the pollution and money generating plans of the federal government and energy companies that would cause irreversible damage to the sacred and natural Medicine Lake region.

“Clearly, DOJ, BLM, FS, and Calpine energy company are grasping at straws with their latest legal argument to try to open up the Highlands for energy development,” said Radley Davis, Co-Chair of the Advocates for the Protection of Sacred Sites.

James Hayward Sr., Co-Chair of the Advocates for the Protection of Sacred Sites, said “If the Creator wanted such development in that area there would not be large amounts of dangerous arsenic and mercury in the ground to contend with. A panel of the 9th Circuit and a lower court have already spent a great deal of time and other resources reviewing the case and it is time for developers to leave the Highlands alone.”

Mark LeBeau, Co-Chair of the Advocates for the Protection of Sacred Sites, said “The federal government must cease and desist from supporting the building of power plants in the Highlands, stop playing politics and wasting tax payer dollars supporting an energy company bent on desecrating and negatively altering the Highlands. The government must ban such development out of respect for American Indian religious and traditional use rights and to fulfill its fiduciary responsibility to the tribal governments of the area and act in their best interests. In September 2004 President George Bush issued an executive memorandum requiring all federal agencies to respect Native sovereignty, self-determination and the government-to-government relationship as they make decisions; it is time for DOJ, BLM, and FS to abide by the president’s order as it relates to Native protection and preservation of the Medicine Lake area.”
Over 200 Native peoples, environmental justice allies, and other concerned citizens rallied in front of Calpine Energy Company's Headquarters on 1/29/07 in San Jose. Native nation representatives handed Calpine a Notice of Eviction from the Highlands. On 2/20/07 Natives, environmentalists, and other concerned citizens rallied outside the Alturas BLM and FS Field Office to demand the agencies not seek another review of the case involving Medicine Lake by the 9th Circuit. The agencies have moved forward and therefore so have we: please join us in protesting DOJ at 450 Golden Gate Avenue, San Francisco, CA on April 6, 2007 from high noon to 2:00 p.m.
Sponsors of the protest include Advocates for the Protection of Sacred Sites, Seventh Generation Fund, International Indian Treaty Council, Indigenous Environmental Network, Citizens of the Pitt River Nation, and Redding Rancheria Cultural Department.
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New Sacred Site Protection Blog

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