Friday, September 30, 2016

Inadaggao Lengguahen Chamorro

Six years ago under the guidance of Peter Onedera, the Chamorro language program at UOG held a Chamorro Language Forum, in which senatorial and gubernatorial candidates were asked questions in Chamorro about pertinent island issues. It was on one hand a great success. Students asked hundreds of questions to the candidates in the Chamorro language. But on the other hand, the format of the forum made it so that candidates didn't have to speak in Chamorro, they could just respond in English. I assisted Peter Onedera with these forums both as a student and a professor at UOG, and so I found it on the one hand inspiring to see a place where the Chamorro language was the focus for political discourse. But it was also so depressing to see so many leaders and would-be leaders not even trying to speak Chamorro, even though they were given the questions ahead of time and could have prepared answers.

Fast forward six years and through my Chamoru Culture class at UOG, we have decided to bring the Chamorro Language Forum back, albeit with a new focus. This time around, we've limited the number of people invited, to only those who will commit to speaking Chamorro during the forum, whether off the top of their heads or through prepared remarks. As a result, we'll only have eight participants, four from each island political party. This year's Inadaggao Lengguahen Chamoru will take place October 10, 2016 from 6 - 8 pm at the UOG CLASS Lecture Hall.

I'll be posting more about it, and possibly writing about it for my PDN column next week. In the meantime, enjoy these articles, which are all about the last time we organized this forum.


UOG's Chamorro Language Program, We Are Guahan, Peace Coalition host gubernatorial, senatorial forums

SEPTEMBER 10, 2010

The University of Guam Chamoru Language program, We are Guahan, and the Guahan Coalition for Peace and Justice will co-sponsor a series of Chamorro language senatorial forums on Oct. 19-21 and a gubernatorial Chamorro language forum featuring Sens. Eddie Baza Calvo and Ray Tenorio, discussing issues with former Gov. Carl T. C. Gutierrez and Sen. Frank Blas Aguon Jr. on Oct. 25.

All forums begin at 7p.m. and will be held in the University of Guam’s College of Liberal Arts and Social Sciences Lecture Hall.

The October 19 forum features:
• Sen. Judith Won Pat
• Sen. Tom Ada
• Sen. Benjamin Cruz
• Sen. Adolpho Palacios
• Steve Dierking
• Sen. Frank Blas Jr.,
• Chris Duenas
• Ray Cruz Haddock
• William Q. Sarmiento
• Vic Gaza

The Oct. 20 forum features:
• Sen. Tina R. Muna Barnes
• Corinna Gutierrez-Ludwig
• Joe S. San Agustin
• Trini Torres
• Sen. Ben Pangelinan
• Sen. Tony Ada
• Mana Silva Taijeron
• Douglas Moylan
• Steve Guerrero
• William U. Taitague

The Oct. 21 forum features:
• Jonathan Diaz,
• Sarah Thomas-Nededog,
• Dennis Rodriguez Jr.
• Sen. Rory Respicio
• Sen. Judith Guthertz
• Sen. Telo Taitague
• Aline Yamashita
• John Benavente
• Shirley “Sam” Mabini
• Velma Harper

Chamoru Language Students enrolled in the fall semester classes at the University of Guam helped organize the event. Emcees for the forums are Ronald T. Laguana, Hope Alvarez Cristobal, Jose Q. Cruz, Miget Bevacqua, Ann Marie Arceo, Rufina Mendiola, Anthony “Malia” Ramirez, Irene Santos Quidachay, and Teresita Flores.

At the end of each forum, the audience will vote for their favorite candidates. All the candidates are being encouraged to have their supporters, family, friends, and party leaders in attendance as well as to post party banners in the lobby of the lecture hall.

Questions from the general public are being solicited and will be asked during the forums. All questions will be translated into Chamorro. Candidates are encouraged to speak in Chamorro, but will be allowed an interpreter/translator for the evening. “


Professor: students' freedom of speech violated
Posted: Oct 22, 2010 4:22 PM
by Lannie Walker

Guam - A professor at the University of Guam is saying students' rights to free speech may have been violated. Professor of Chamorro Studies Peter Onedera says he has held Chamorro language senatorial and gubernatorial forums since 1998, inviting candidates from all parties to participate.

As part of the exercise students are asked to acquire political signs and posters of the participants to be displayed in the hall way of the lecture hall where the forums are held. "For the first time ever during this forum our acting associate dean on Wednesday - mind you, this is Wednesday after the forum had taken place on Tuesday - told me that the posters had to come down because it is in violation of the Mini-Hatch Act," he said.

The Mini-Hatch Act prohibits the solicitation of political candidates by government employees. Onedera says no candidates were being endorsed and says he feels he is being singled out.

KUAM News spoke with dean of the College of Liberal Arts and Social Sciences Dr. James Sellman, who ordered the signs be taken down. He says he was erring on the side of caution and that the signs were left up when the forums were not in process. Sellman adds he does encourage the political debates.

Onedera tells us he has written to UOG president Dr. Robert Underwood about the matter but has not yet received a reply. 


"Maolek na Finaisen"
Michael Bevacqua
Wednesday, 20 October 2010
Marianas Variety

As I wrote about in my last column, the Chamorro Language Program at UOG is organizing a “Fino’ Chamoru na Inadaggao,” or Chamorro Language Forum, where political candidates will respond to questions asked in the Chamorro language (hopefully in the Chamorro language).

This week there are three forums for the senatorial candidates, and next Monday on the 25th, the gubernatorial teams will face off.

I took some time recently in my classes at UOG to discuss with my students the importance of the forum and give them all the opportunity to write down some possible questions to be asked, which would then be translated into Chamorro. The discussion was very spirited, because I pushed my students to be very intentional about what they were going to ask. I asked them not to fall into the usual traps that these events or these questions take, where politicians are asked the most generic and pointless questions, which don’t challenge them, don’t reveal anything important about them or the issue, and allow them to merely regurgitate something they’ve already said 8,000 times that same week.

I told my students to not be chained to what the “big” and “important” issues are usually thought to be, but to instead focus on something they felt was real in their lives. I knew that the following two questions, “What are your plans to fix the economy?” and “What are your plans to fix education?” were most likely the ones they felt were the most important, but I urged them to resist simply asking what they were supposed to ask, and focus on what they felt needed to be asked.

My students naturally asked, what kind of questions are the ones that “need to be asked?” I gave a number of different examples, such as the following after one student asked whether it would be okay to ask how she might phrase a question about whether or not the candidate could be trusted. Because in my World History class we were covering the origins of Christianity, I decided to give it a bit of Biblical flavor: “Jesus Christ said that it is easier for a camel to pass through the needle of an eye than for a rich man to get to heaven. Is this something that we should take seriously when choosing our leaders? If you are a person of financial means running for office, how can people trust you to make sure that you do not govern to promote yourself or your class, but are truly interested in helping everyone else on the island?” This is something that not only the wealthy should deal with, but all leaders as well. How can you ensure that you are acting for the benefit of all or most and not just for the few who are closest to you?

Some students found this and other similar questions too confrontational, and didn’t feel that this sort of thing was appropriate and that we should be more respectful to those who are our leaders, or wish to be our leaders. I didn’t criticize them, especially on Guam, where it’s very natural to think such a thing. Others found the bluntness refreshing and liberating, and in truth, that was how I was hoping they’d respond. That is after all the feeling of not just enjoying democracy, but actually participating in it. It stems from going beyond that abstract feeling of simply being part of a democracy, but being a part of it which can make intelligent decisions your society, and does not just cast a mindless vote, but actually attempts to educate oneself and find out what is the best choice.

I received several hundred questions from my students, and wanted to share in this column some of my favorites. By far the most blunt, honest and critical question is the last one. The questions:

1) Trash is a very important issue for any island, since your space is very limited. But Guam has very little recycling. We are living in a fantasy world and not facing the fact that if we don’t truly start to recycle and stop importing more trash into this island. We might just end up capsizing! How would you propose to help wake up Guam and start making recycling a big part of our lives?

2) Do you think that we should make it required that all of our leaders in the Executive and Legislative Branches should be able to understand or speak Chamorro since it is an official language of Guam and they are the representatives of the island? Even if we don’t all speak Chamorro now, this could be a great chance to help encourage people to learn!

3) The US military has promised that new troops will be given cultural sensitivity training to help them adapt to living here in respectful ways. What kind of programs do you propose we can develop to help teach them about real Chamorro culture and real Chamorro history?

4) If aliens landed on Guam the day you are sworn into office, what would your first official act in response to their arrival?

5) Senator Frank Aguon submitted a bill last year which would increase the number of senators in the Guam Legislature from 15 back up to 21. With the rapid increase of Guam’s population, do you support an increase of senators in the legislature? Why or why not?

6) So many of Guam’s current and possible leaders have claimed that there is nothing that we can do about the US military buildup and that it is a done deal or not in our power to change. If the power was in your hands, if you were in charge of the buildup, would you stop it? How would you change it? Please do not say that it will happen no matter what, because then frankly you shouldn’t be anyone’s leader.

Wednesday, September 28, 2016

Mapuno' si Lumuba

Throughout my interviews that I conducted for my graduate school research, when the issue of decolonization would emerge in the discussion, regardless of the demographic intersections of the interview subject, regardless of their life experiences or their level of education, all of them would find some way of saying that on the topic of political status change, mungga ma'åkka' i kannai ni' muna'boboka hao, don't bite the hand that feeds you. This narrative, while understandable for an island stuck in what I refer to as the decolonial deadlock, it was frustrating for someone who was seeking to study decolonization and convince other Chamorros of the need for it. Eventually, at some point amidst the interview conducting, the critical theory reading and the online ranting, I ended up watching the 200 movie Lumumba directed by Raoul Peck. It tells the story of the final months of Patrice Lumumba, an inspirational figure in African and global decolonization, who was the first Prime Minister of the Congo after it became independent. I had read the works of Fanon, Biko and Mandela up to that point, and knew the name Lumumba and the basic story of his life, but there was one part of it, a line, which stayed with me and eventually helped me write my Masters Thesis in Ethnic Studies at UCSD. The line was allegedly a Bantu proverb "the hand that gives, rules." For me, it aligned perfectly, in a very obvious, but nonetheless poetic way, with so much of the resistance that I had encountered in my oral history research.

Below is an article about Patrice Lumumba, looking back at this legacy and his assassination 50 years later.


Patrice Lumuba: the most important assassination of the 20th century
The US-sponsored plot to kill Patrice Lumumba, the hero of Congolese independence, took place 50 years ago today
The Guardian/UK
January 17, 2011

Patrice Lumumba, the first legally elected prime minister of the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), was assassinated 50 years ago today, on 17 January, 1961. This heinous crime was a culmination of two inter-related assassination plots by American and Belgian governments, which used Congolese accomplices and a Belgian execution squad to carry out the deed.

Ludo De Witte, the Belgian author of the best book on this crime, qualifies it as "the most important assassination of the 20th century". The assassination's historical importance lies in a multitude of factors, the most pertinent being the global context in which it took place, its impact on Congolese politics since then and Lumumba's overall legacy as a nationalist leader.

For 126 years, the US and Belgium have played key roles in shaping Congo's destiny. In April 1884, seven months before the Berlin Congress, the US became the first country in the world to recognise the claims of King Leopold II of the Belgians to the territories of the Congo Basin.

When the atrocities related to brutal economic exploitation in Leopold's Congo Free State resulted in millions of fatalities, the US joined other world powers to force Belgium to take over the country as a regular colony. And it was during the colonial period that the US acquired a strategic stake in the enormous natural wealth of the Congo, following its use of the uranium from Congolese mines to manufacture the first atomic weapons, the Hiroshima and Nagasaki bombs.

With the outbreak of the cold war, it was inevitable that the US and its western allies would not be prepared to let Africans have effective control over strategic raw materials, lest these fall in the hands of their enemies in the Soviet camp. It is in this regard that Patrice Lumumba's determination to achieve genuine independence and to have full control over Congo's resources in order to utilise them to improve the living conditions of our people was perceived as a threat to western interests. To fight him, the US and Belgium used all the tools and resources at their disposal, including the United Nations secretariat, under Dag Hammarskjöld and Ralph Bunche, to buy the support of Lumumba's Congolese rivals , and hired killers.

In Congo, Lumumba's assassination is rightly viewed as the country's original sin. Coming less than seven months after independence (on 30 June, 1960), it was a stumbling block to the ideals of national unity, economic independence and pan-African solidarity that Lumumba had championed, as well as a shattering blow to the hopes of millions of Congolese for freedom and material prosperity.
The assassination took place at a time when the country had fallen under four separate governments: the central government in Kinshasa (then Léopoldville); a rival central government by Lumumba's followers in Kisangani (then Stanleyville); and the secessionist regimes in the mineral-rich provinces of Katanga and South Kasai. Since Lumumba's physical elimination had removed what the west saw as the major threat to their interests in the Congo, internationally-led efforts were undertaken to restore the authority of the moderate and pro-western regime in Kinshasa over the entire country. These resulted in ending the Lumumbist regime in Kisangani in August 1961, the secession of South Kasai in September 1962, and the Katanga secession in January 1963.

No sooner did this unification process end than a radical social movement for a "second independence" arose to challenge the neocolonial state and its pro-western leadership. This mass movement of peasants, workers, the urban unemployed, students and lower civil servants found an eager leadership among Lumumba's lieutenants, most of whom had regrouped to establish a National Liberation Council (CNL) in October 1963 in Brazzaville, across the Congo river from Kinshasa. The strengths and weaknesses of this movement may serve as a way of gauging the overall legacy of Patrice Lumumba for Congo and Africa as a whole.

The most positive aspect of this legacy was manifest in the selfless devotion of Pierre Mulele to radical change for purposes of meeting the deepest aspirations of the Congolese people for democracy and social progress. On the other hand, the CNL leadership, which included Christophe Gbenye and Laurent-Désiré Kabila, was more interested in power and its attendant privileges than in the people's welfare. This is Lumumbism in words rather than in deeds. As president three decades later, Laurent Kabila did little to move from words to deeds.

More importantly, the greatest legacy that Lumumba left for Congo is the ideal of national unity. Recently, a Congolese radio station asked me whether the independence of South Sudan should be a matter of concern with respect to national unity in the Congo. I responded that since Patrice Lumumba has died for Congo's unity, our people will remain utterly steadfast in their defence of our national unity.

Georges Nzongola-Ntalaja is professor of African and Afro-American studies at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and author of The Congo from Leopold to Kabila: A People's History

By Benen

Esta hu sangani hamyo na gof ya-hu i bidada-na si Steven Benen. Kada diha ha na'huhuyong meggai na tinige' put hafa masusesedi gi botasion Amerikånu para presidente. Fihu gof tinanane' yu' guini giya Guahan, ya mappot para bei taitai todu ya tattiyi todu gi sanlagu. Lao sesso inayuda yu' as Steve Bene. Estague noskuantos na tinige'-na ginen pa'go ha' na diha.


Team Trump Wants Credit for all the wrong reasons
by Steve Benen

During this week’s presidential debate, when the discussion turned to race relations, Donald Trump explained that he opened a golf resort in Palm Beach that doesn’t discriminate against racial or religious minorities. “I have been given great credit for what I did,” the Republican boasted, adding, “I’m very, very proud of it…. That is the true way I feel.”

It was a reminder of one of Trump’s worst habits: he wants credit for doing the things he’s supposed to do anyway. In July, for example, the GOP nominee bragged about complying with the Americans with Disabilities Act in the construction of his buildings – failing to note that he didn’t have a choice.

It’s as if Trump effectively likes to tell voters, “Look at me! I routinely do what laws and basic human decency require of me!”

The same dynamic applies to the Trump campaign’s post-debate boasts. The Republican and his aides are incredibly impressed by the fact that Trump didn’t bring up Bill Clinton’s infidelities – as if attacking a woman over her husband’s affairs is a perfectly normal thing to do, but Trump is too nice and chivalrous for such boorish behavior.
Donald Trump doesn’t think he’s gotten enough credit for not talking about Bill Clinton’s history of sexual misconduct in Monday’s debate.

Just ask his son, Eric Trump, who said it took “a lot of courage” for the Republican nominee not to attack the former president. Or his campaign manager Kellyanne Conway, who told MSNBC on Tuesday that Trump showed “presidential virtue” by not talking about the Clinton scandals.
Eric Trump couldn’t stop raving about this, characterizing it as some kind of moral triumph. “That was a big moment for me,” he told an Iowa radio station yesterday, adding his father’s reluctance to attack a woman over her husband’s adulterous past “will be something I’ll always remember.”

This is more than a little bizarre.

Right off the bat, let’s note that a candidate doesn’t get credit for refraining from making an attack on Monday if his campaign proceeds to make that same attack, over and over again, on Tuesday and Wednesday. “Let’s talk all about Bill Clinton’s affairs while bragging about remaining silent on Bill Clinton’s affairs” is an inherently nonsensical sentiment.

For that matter, there’s nothing especially virtuous about failing to condemn Hillary Clinton over Bill Clinton’s personal misconduct. The very idea that the public should blame a wife if a husband strays is absurd.

As for Eric Trump, if the candidate’s son seriously believes this is a great example of his father’s “courage,” that doesn’t exactly make Donald Trump look good.

But even if we put all of that aside, perhaps the strangest thing of all is the fact that Donald Trump is himself an admitted adulterer. The Republican nominee doesn’t exactly have the moral high ground when it comes to extra-marital affairs – and he’s on especially shaky footing when trying to go after Bill Clinton’s wife, rather than Bill Clinton himself.

Indeed, here’s the question Team Trump may want to consider while launching this coordinated attack about ’90s-era sex scandals: Hillary Clinton could have brought up Trump’s adulterous past during the debate, but she didn’t. Did that take “a lot of courage,” too? Is Clinton also getting too little credit for her generous graciousness?

Was Clinton’s reluctance to bring up Trump’s affairs a moment her daughter should “always remember” as a classic example of Clinton’s towering magnanimity?

Postscript: Rep. Marsha Blackburn told MSNBC yesterday. “I find it so interesting that there continues to be this conversation about what [Trump] has said when you look at what [Hilllary Clinton] has done: Gennifer Flowers, Paula Jones, Monica Lewinsky. My goodness.”

My goodness, indeed. Could the far-right rhetoric on this issue become any more ridiculous?


 Has Donald Trump paid Federal Taxes or Not?
by Steve Benen

It was arguably one of the most important moments of this week’s presidential debate. Hillary Clinton was speculating about why Donald Trump would choose to be the first modern American presidential candidate to refuse to release his tax returns. “Maybe,” she said, “he doesn’t want the American people, all of you watching tonight, to know that he’s paid nothing in federal taxes.”

Unprompted, Trump interrupted to say, “That makes me smart.”

A Washington Post reporter, watching the debate with undecided voters in North Carolina, noted there were “gasps” in the room after the exchange. “That’s offensive. I pay taxes,” one said. “Another person would be in jail for that,” another voter added.

With Clinton eager to let voters know about Trump’s comments, the GOP nominee made yet another Fox News appearance last night, where Bill O’Reilly brought up the issue. From the transcript via Lexis Nexis:
O’REILLY: Now, they are going to come after you, they being the Clinton campaign, on the statement that you made that you were as smart for paying as few taxes as you could possibly pay. You know it’s going to be in the next debate, it’s going to be on campaign ads. Do you have any defense for that right now?

TRUMP: No, I didn’t say that. What she said is maybe you paid no taxes. I said, “Well, that would make me very smart.” … I never said I didn’t pay taxes. She said maybe you didn’t pay taxes and I said, “Well, that would make me smart because tax is a big payment.” But I think a lot of people say, “That’s the kind of thinking that I want running this nation.”
Perhaps now would be a good time to note that “That makes me smart” and “That would make me smart” are not the same sentences.

Indeed, let’s also not forget that in the same debate, Trump talked about how the government doesn’t have the necessary resources for public needs. “Maybe because you haven’t paid any federal income tax for a lot of years,” Clinton interjected. Trump fired back, “It would be squandered, too.”

As we discussed the other day, comment was striking because of its apparent acceptance of the underlying premise. By saying his tax money would have been “squandered,” Trump seemed to be conceding that Clinton’s argument was correct: he hasn’t paid taxes.

What’s more, the Washington Post reported, “One big problem with Trump’s comments Wednesday is that there is a record of him paying no or very little income taxes. Of the five years for which we have a record of Trump’s taxes, he didn’t pay any or nearly any. So for Trump to suggest that he hasn’t avoided paying income taxes at some point is disingenuous, at best.”

Of course, Trump could clear up a lot of this by doing what every major-party presidential candidate has done for decades: release his tax returns. So far, he continues to refuse, for reasons that have failed to stand up to any scrutiny.


Why the Nuclear First Use Debate Matters in the 2016 Race
by Steven Benen

It’s difficult to choose the single most alarming thing Donald Trump said about foreign policy and national security at this week’s presidential debate, in part because there are so many unsettling comments to choose from.

The Republican seemed to believe ISIS has been around for much of Hillary Clinton’s adult life, which isn’t even close to being true. Trump suggested China should invade North Korea. He took credit for NATO policies that he had nothing to do with, while suggesting the NATO alliance itself should be considered as some kind of protection racket.

Trump also insisted, as he has before, that the United States should have stolen Iraq’s oil – which would have been illegal – in order to deny ISIS the resources it’s actually getting from Syria.

But as Rachel noted on the show the other day, the real gem has to be Trump’s woeful understanding of nuclear policy. Moderator Lester Holt asked an excellent question: “On nuclear weapons, President Obama reportedly considered changing the nation’s longstanding policy on first use. Do you support the current policy?”

Trump rambled a bit before eventually saying:
“I would like everybody to end it, just get rid of it. But I would certainly not do first strike.

“I think that once the nuclear alternative happens, it’s over. At the same time, we have to be prepared. I can’t take anything off the table.”
He then rambled some more, straying between a variety of loosely related topics, including his opposition to the international nuclear agreement with Iran.

But for those paying attention, the real problem was with Trump’s obvious contradiction. Policymakers can adopt a “no-first-use” policy or they can endorse a “nothing-is-off-the-table” position, but Donald Trump is one of those rare politicians who wants to take both sides simultaneously.

This followed a GOP primary debate in December at which Trump appeared to have no idea what the nuclear triad referred to. The Republican could have taken advantage of that opportunity, recognizing the importance of getting up to speed on the nuclear basics, but instead Trump seems to have done no homework on the issue at all.

That remained true in the intervening months.
In May, Trump even suggested he could support South Korea, Japan and Saudi Arabia, who are not currently nuclear powers, arming themselves with nuclear weapons for their own defense.

CNN’s Anderson Cooper asked the Republican presidential nominee, “So if you said, Japan, yes, it’s fine, you get nuclear weapons, South Korea, you as well, and Saudi Arabia says we want them, too?”

Trump agreed.

“Can I be honest with you? It’s going to happen, anyway. It’s going to happen anyway. It’s only a question of time,” Trump insisted, despite a 25-year trend in which numerous nations – Libya, South Africa, Iraq, and former Soviet republics – have been denuclearized.
The New York Times’ David Sanger added this week that, during the debate, Trump “appeared somewhere between contradictory and confused” on the nuclear issue.

Given the importance of the issue, that’s not at all reassuring.

 Trump campaign defends its rejection of substance, policy details
by Steve Benen

If anyone on Donald Trump’s presidential campaign should be willing to defend the importance of substantive details, it’s Sam Clovis. He is, after all, one of the Republican candidate’s top policy advisers.

And yet, as BuzzFeed noted yesterday, even Clovis doesn’t want to bother stressing the importance of governing details in the campaign.
Sam Clovis, Donald Trump’s national policy adviser and campaign co-chair, said Monday before the debate that voters don’t care about policy specifics and would be “bored to tears” by them.

“Our approach has been to provide outlook and constructs for policy because if we go into the specific details, we just get murdered in the press. What we’re dealing with [is] we’re chasing minutia around,” Clovis said on the Alan Colmes Show on Fox News’ radio network.
In fairness, Clovis added that he cares about “specificity,” but the campaign has chosen not to get into policy details because these kinds of campaign debates are of no interest to the electorate.

“I think the American people, the American voter, will be bored to tears if that is in fact the way this thing goes,” he said.

It’s a valuable insight, if for no other reason because Clovis’ comments make clear that Team Trump is deliberately avoiding a substantive campaign debate over the issues. For the Republican candidate and his team, it’s a feature, not a bug.

In May, Politico quoted a campaign insider saying Trump didn’t want to “waste time on policy.” The Trump source added at the time, “It won’t be until after he is elected … that he will figure out exactly what he is going to do.”

A month later, the candidate himself added that “the public doesn’t care” about public policy.

Hillary Clinton, obviously, had adopted a very different approach, recently telling voters, “I’ve laid out the best I could, the specific plans and ideas that I want to pursue as your president because I have this old-fashioned idea. When you run for president, you ought to tell people what you want to do as their president.”

As we discussed several weeks ago, according to her Republican rival, this is an antiquated model to be avoided. Indeed, circling back to our previous coverage, I’m reminded of something MSNBC’s Chris Hayes wrote nearly a month ago, noting a fairly routine profile in Politico on Clinton’s tech policy advisers. It stood out largely because there is no comparable group on Team Trump, which has made a deliberate decision not to build any intellectual infrastructure.

“[U]ltimately a Trump Presidency is a complete and total black box,” Chris concluded. “No one, probably not even Trump, knows what the hell it looks like.”

And that’s not how national campaigns in mature democracies are supposed to work. Candidates for the nation’s highest office are not supposed to mock the very idea of pre-election governing details, vowing instead to figure stuff out after taking office.

It’s a problem exacerbated in Trump’s case because he’s never held elected office; he has no background in public service; and he’s never demonstrated any real interest in government or public policy. What we’re left with is an odd set of circumstances in which voters are apparently supposed to support the least-experienced, least-prepared presidential candidate of the modern era first, and then he’ll let the public know how he intends to govern.

The alternative, according to Trump’s national policy adviser, is a bunch of boring details that are only of interest to nerdy egg-heads. Why bore the electorate “to tears” with detailed information about the direction of their country after the election?

Stick it in a time capsule. Future generations won’t believe it.

Gary Johnson hurts himself with another "Aleppo moment"
by Steven Benen

Former New Mexico Gov. Gary Johnson, the Libertarian Party’s presidential nominee, recently appeared on MSNBC and was asked to reflect on the crisis in the Syrian city of Aleppo. He replied, “What is Aleppo?”

Yesterday, Johnson, a former Republican, appeared on MSNBC again, and as Rachel noted on the show last night, he made matters much worse for himself.
Libertarian presidential candidate Gary Johnson struggled to name a single foreign leader when asked who his favorite was during an MSNBC town hall Wednesday night.

“Any one of the continents, any country. Name one foreign leader that your respect and look up to. Anybody,” host Chris Matthews pushed during the event, causing Johnson to sigh loudly as his VP pick Bill Weld tried to jump in.

“I guess I’m having an Aleppo moment,” Johnson finally said.
Note, Chris Matthews started naming specific countries and continents, apparently hoping to help Johnson focus. The Libertarian nevertheless came up empty. Johnson said he was having a “brain freeze.”

As recently as Monday, Johnson told reporters how concerned he is about current U.S. foreign policy, which he described as “horrible,” and how eager he would have been to discuss the issue with the major-party nominees had he qualified for this week’s official debate. Of course, presidential hopefuls who care deeply about foreign policy can usually name one foreign leader they like.

The broader problem, meanwhile, is Johnson failing to take advantage of the opportunity that’s been presented to him on a silver platter.

There’s ample polling that suggests a sizable number of American voters are open to supporting a credible third-party candidate this year, and on paper, Johnson – a former governor who’s sought national office before – appears well positioned to appeal to those looking for an alternative to the major-party nominee.

This is especially true for Republican-friendly newspaper editorial boards that can’t endorse Hillary Clinton, but don’t want to support Donald Trump.

But in practice, Johnson can’t seem to get out of his own way. His campaign antics are often clownish and confusing; his campaign platform is radical in a way that alienates potential progressive allies; and when given the opportunity to make a good impression before national television audiences, the Libertarian has “Aleppo moments” that suggest Johnson’s presidential candidacy isn’t altogether real.

Yesterday’s “brain freeze” display was just embarrassing, and represented the latest in a series of missed opportunities.

Sunday, September 25, 2016

Setbisio Para i Publiko #33: The Question of Guam (2010)

The United Nations is a strange beast in Guam in turns of its place in the movement for decolonization. Prior to the failure of Commonwealth in 1997, the UN was always a quiet force in the background, but held little authority or played a very minor role in the consistency of arguments or political positions. Even when Chamorro activists were successful in getting people on Guam to recognize the Chamorro people as being indigenous, even though activists were successful in defeating a Constitutional movement on Guam, which would have trapped the island within an American framework, and both of these things rely heavily on discourses which find great potency in the UN and its history, they were not strongly international movements. The UN itself, although still a quiet presence on Guam, is still interpreted in a very American framework, and so regardless of how Guam's relationship to the UN is fundamentally different (it is a non-self-governing territory), people here tend to see it through a generic American, isolationist and anti-internationalism, Fox News lens. In this way, the UN is both something that is nefarious and far-reaching, which possesses so much insidious power, but also something that is useless and pointless and is stagnant and unequipped to deal with any problems today. The first point has little to do with reality and is a common fantasy that is tied to people feeling the sovereignty of their nation threatened by international law or agreements. The second is inaccurate, since the UN has little life of its own, but is successful or unsuccessful largely dependent upon whether the powerful nations of the world allow it to be. If the UN isn't successful at something, isn't moving on something, it is scarcely because of its own inability, but it is usually tied to certain key countries blocking any action since they feel it interferes with their interests in the world.

Because of this, it is common to hear a chorus of shots on Guam that the UN is useless and that we should just work with the US and do whatever they want. It is for this reason that we should hold onto the UN, even if it seems ineffective in the moment. Just letting the US do whatever it wants or playing by their rules doesn't lead to decolonization, it reinforces colonization. It ensures that even if whatever we become has a new fancy name, it will probably be the exact same status, perhaps with more American flags, stripes or stars. The UN is important, symbolically because it represents the link to the rest of the world, which due to colonization, Chamorros and others on Guam have trouble perceiving and relating to. We have become so accustomed to seeing the world through the United States, we forget that the US is just a fraction of the world and all that it holds. That as we look to the future, that simple ability to see the world, from our own location, from our own perspective is crucial so that we no longer nurture ourselves on the colonial Kool-Aid, but see the necessity or positive possibility in seeking a more self-determined future.

Another reason why we should continue to travel to the UN and make use of it, is because it is one of the few international outlets that is available to a colony such as Guam. Each year, representatives from Guam are invited to testify before various committees on what is happening in Guam. In the past, Guam has been able to use this more effectively in terms of negotiating and leveraging, however not in the past two decades. Here is a summary of the representatives who traveled to the UN on behalf of Guam in 2010.



OCTOBER 5-6, 2010

On Tuesday October 5, 2010, the United Nations Fourth Committee (Special Political and Decolonization) continued their annual consideration of decolonization items. The General Assembly heard testimony from 22 petitioners on the questions of the 16 NON-SELF GOVERNING TERRITORIES, with special delegations from Guam and America Samoa.

On the question of Guam, several petitioners expressed concern about the United States planned military expansion on the island. Guam's Delegation also included teachers, researchers, social workers and business professionals. Michael Tuncap, Ph.D candidate  and researcher from the Pacific Islands Studies group at the University of California Berkeley. David Roberts, Researcher and Ph.D candidate from the Department of Geography at the University of Toronto. Maria Roberts, Graduate Student from the City University of New York School of Business. Healthcare professional and Masters candidate Josette Marie Quinata represented the University of Southern California School of Social Work. Mylin Nguyen, a Graduate of UC Riverside and elementary public school teacher. Alfred Flores Perez, Doctoral researcher from the Department of History at the University of California Los Angeles.


The Fourth Committee (Special Political and Decolonization) met October 5 & 6, 2010 to continue its consideration of all decolonization issues. The Fourth Committee hears from the non-self governing petitioners including: Western Sahara, Turks and Caicos, U.S Virgin Islands and Guam. (Reports before the Committee are summarized in Press Release GA/SPD/422.) Statements from the Petitioners on Question of Guam

MICHAEL TUNCAP presented his research from the Pacific Islands Studies Institute of the University of California, Berkeley.  Tuncaps work looks at the impact of colonialism on the environment and indigenous health in the Marianas Islands. His testimony called upon the General Assembly to recognize the inalienable right to self-determination of Guam. According to Tuncap, the continued occupation of United States military forces in Guam and the Northern Marianas Islands represents a system of racial inequality between European Americans, Asian and Pacific settlers and the indigenous Chamorro people. Tuncap noted the existence of over one hundred toxic sites on the island which have had an impact on Guam's public health. He noted that modern colonialism prevents the people of Guam from exercising their inalienable right to self-determination.

Tuncap noted that colonial ideas of racial and gender superiority have shaped a long history of military violence and US economic security. The United States claims that its citizens in Guam (military personnel) have a human right to vote in the people's decolonization plebiscite. However, he said, the indigenous Chamorro people in the Marianas and the rest of Guam residents are denied the right to vote in United States elections. The United States also continued to deprive the people of Guam their right to land, even as they caused the toxic pollution that was irreparably damaging the environment. The United States military also threatened the integrity of the land through economic colonization, and colonialism had also caused irreparable harm to bodies of land and water. For those and other reasons, the Fourth Committee must immediately enact the process of decolonization for Guam in lieu of the severe, irreversible impacts of United States militarization. The process must include the maximum funding allowed to achieve a far-reaching education campaign informing all Chamorus from Guam of their right to self-determination and decolonization options, he said.

Historian ALFRED PEREDO FLORES, speaking on behalf of the Chamoru Nation chapter of the University of California Los Angeles, said instead of advancing the decolonization mandate of Guam, the United States was engaged in the largest military build-up in recent history, with plans that would bring, among other things, 50,000 people and six nuclear submarines. The United States pledge in 1946 to ensure its decolonization mandate on Guam remains on the margins half a century later. Flores noted that the Chamorro people continued to live in colonial conditions. That was why his delegation had come to New York, for over two decades, in effect, to speak against the violence and public health crisis in the Pacific Islands.

MYLIN NGUYEN, a second grade teacher from Whittier noted that self-determination, as outlined in the United Nations Charter and international conventions, was an inalienable right. As a Member State, the United States was bound to protect and advance the human rights articulated within the United Nations system.  Nguyen argued that Guam's residents need United Nations intervention that will address the increasingly poor human rights situation in Guam. She cited former Senator Hope Cristobal and noted that the hyper-militarization of Guam is illegal under any principled construction of international law. Nguyen said that as we end the Second Decade for the Eradication of Colonialism, Guam unfortunately still remained a Non-Self-Governing Territory under the United States. Guam continued to be a possession of its colonizers, and the Chamorro people were still being denied their rights to land and political destiny.

Nguyen discussed the devastation wrought on the island and its people created an uphill climb for self-determination. Yet, with the impending military build-up on Guam that was to start in 2010, she asked that the United Nations uphold the promise and "sacred trust" set forth in General Assembly resolutions 1514 and 1542, and ultimately hold accountable Guam's administering Power in recognizing and respecting its quest for self-determination.

DAVID ROBERTS, PhD candidate in the Department of Geography of the University of Toronto, said that the United Nations must work for a just solution in Guam, based on the understanding that Guam's status as a non-self-governing entity effected the ability of the Chamorro people to make crucial decisions about their lives and where they lived. He maintained that Guam's virtual status as a colony should be abhorrent to those who champion democracy around the world.

Roberts urged the Committee to give top priority to the fulfillment of the right of Chamorro to self-determination through a decolonization process that included a fully-funded campaign informing all Chamorro from Guam of their rights and options. The Committee, with United Nations funding, must investigate the United States non-compliance with its international obligation to promote the economic, social and cultural well-being of Guam, and must send a team within the next six months to assess the effects of the past and future militarization of the island. Finally, he said the Committee must comply with the Indigenous Forum's request for an expert seminar to examine the impact of the United Nations decolonization process on indigenous peoples.

Continuing, Tuncap's testimony notes the physical and emotional consequences that colonization had had on the remaining Chamorro who lived on Guahan pointed to a positive answer. Among other things, Chamorro people had been exposed to radiation, Agent Orange and Agent Purple as a result of the island being a decontamination site for the United States in the 1970s. He stated that the indigenous community was also deprived of their cultural and natural resources. The effects of colonialism on the Chamorro people had travelled along with them in the forced migration and assimilation. He noted that forced migration was not self-determination.

Tuncap and Roberts agree that the Committee should give top priority to the fulfillment of her people's inalienable right to self-determination and immediately enact the process of decolonization of Guahan in lieu of severe, irreversible impacts of United States militarization. The process must include a fully-funded and far-reaching education campaign informing all Chamorro from Guahan of their right to self-determination and decolonization options.

MARIA ROBERTS recommended that the committee send United Nations representatives to the island within the next six months to assess the impacts of United States military plans on the decolonization of Guahan and the human rights implications of the United States military presence. She noted that the Fourth Committee must comply with the recommendations of other United Nations agencies, especially the Permanent Forum in Indigenous Issues, which had recently requested an expert seminar to examine the impact of the United Nations decolonization process on indigenous peoples of Non-Self-Governing Territories.

JOSETTE MARIE QUINATA, Southern California Chapter of Famoksaiyan, said her homeland was threatened by the impending United States military build-up on Guam that was scheduled to begin in 2010. Yet Guam continued to be excluded from decisions that would affect the very people whose environment would be destroyed, and whose concerns were second to militarization and colonialism. The question of Guam was not solely based on political turmoil and chaos among those who claimed Guam as a United States possession, but also a reflection of Guam's identity, which continued to suffer from political hegemony and an administering Power that failed to recognize and respect political rights. Quinata recounted a dream in which she saw her ancestors, and spoke about revitalizing the Chamorro people and preserving their language and culture. She said that a powerful calling had kept her passion alive in understanding Guam's heritage and struggle for self-determination. She looked forward to creating a future moved by education, healthcare, and social programs to reaffirm that the question of Guam was a question of decolonization and the eradication of militarism and colonialism. MARIA ROBERTS noted that the people of Guam were strong, and had a resilient culture that had continued to prevail amidst agonies of political disarray, militarism and colonial dominance. Yet, the people's voices for choosing their own political destiny had been silenced, ignore and marginalized from democratic participation.

This year's Guam Delegation continues the work and legacy of former senator HOPE ALVAREZ CRISTOBAL, Guahan Coalition for Peace and Justice. Each Guam delegate provided citations from Cristobal's human rights scholarship. In her last UN testimony in 2008, Cristobal noted that the Chamorro people of Guam had a long history as a free and independent people, interrupted by over 450 years of colonization by outside nations beginning in the sixteenth century. She said that earlier United Nations resolutions had addressed military issues in the operative clause calling on the administering Power to ensure that the presence of military bases and installations would not constitute an obstacle to decolonization. However, she said the United Nations today seemed satisfied with obscure reference to the military -- the single most serious impediment to decolonization. Those types of changes undermined the intent and purpose of the United Nations Charter, especially Chapter 11, devoted to the territories whose people had not attained a full measure of self-government.

The administering Power of Guam had in the past cited the issue of its military activities as one of the reasons why that Power would no longer cooperate with the Committee. She noted the positive light used to describe the massive militarization of Guam in the working paper, which said its inhabitants generally welcomed the build-up, and the Guam Delegation said nothing could be further from the truth. The colonization of the Chamorro people through the militarization of Guam, combined with over a century of United States immigration policies, was a flagrant violation by the administering Power of accepted standards in its fiduciary responsibilities. Guam's administering Power had neglected the people's right as an indigenous people, and the people had long suffered at the hands of outside influences and decisions that neglected their voices and interests.

The 2010 Guam delegation to the United Nations will participate in a series of Pacific Islands Studies events (November-January) to share their research findings. Guam United Nations events will take place at the University of California Berkeley, the University of Toronto, the University of Washington, the University of Washington Seattle and the University of California Los Angeles and the University of Southern California.

Target Shaped Island of Guam

The Independence for Guahan Task Force held their second monthly general meeting last week and it was a significant success, with 70 members of the community coming to listen to educational presentations and provide feedback. Here are some media reports on the meeting, both before and after. As you'll read below the educational portion of the evening focused first on security threats to Guam due to it being a strategically important unincorporated territory of the United States. Second, it contained a presentation on Singapore, the first model of an independent nation that Guam can look to in terms of inspiration as it pursues independence itself. Each monthly meeting will feature a new independent nation to analyze and compare.


Does the US military turn Guam into a regional target?

By Timothy Mchenry

Pacific News Center

September 20, 2016

The topic was chosen after audience members at the first general assembly continually asked about how Guam should handle recent threats from North Korea. 

Guam - Does the American military presence on Guam make the island safer, or a target for countries like Russia, China and North Korea. These questions will be explored by the independence for Guahan task force at their second general assembly.

The topic was chosen after audience members at the first general assembly continually asked about how Guam should handle recent threats from North Korea. Independence for Guahan co-chair Dr. Michael Bevacqua says Thursday’s meeting will focus on Guam’s current security risks or issues. Bevacqua says this conversation will naturally center around Guam’s relationship with North Korea, Russia and China; specifically, if affiliation with the United States and housing U.S. military bases has made those countries Guam’s enemies by proxy. Additionally, Bevacqua says audience members asked about other small, successful independent nations Guam can mirror, if indeed the people choose independence. Task force members point to Singapore, one of the richest nations in the world and has a similar land mass to Guam.

“What the task force is really trying to remind people is that Independence is not a scary, weird abnormal thing. More than 80 former colonies chose to become independent. And so it’s the natural course for people in Guam’s position to seek more basic control over their lives. There is nothing strange or weird about this and so at each meeting what we would like to do is present a different model for what Guam can be like as an independent country,“ said Bevacqua.

According to an Independence for Guahan press release, each general assembly pays tribute to a Chamoru hero who believed in Independence for Guahan. This meeting will honor Dr. Bernadita Camacho- Dungca, who passed away earlier this year. Dr. Duncga was a pioneer in Chamorro linguistics and education. 


Independence for Guahan Task Force honoring Chamorro pioneers
by Ken Quintanilla
September 20, 2016

While community conversations will continue next week to educate on Guam's political status options, the Independence for Guahan Task Force will be holding its second general assembly this Thursday. Because the group's last assembly had many questions regarding Guam's handling of threats from North Korea, this week's presentation will focus on the limitations and vulnerabilities that come with being an unincorporated territory that host US bases, such as Guam.

Other areas of discussion will include information about successful independent nations along with a tribute to a Chamorro hero who believed in independence. This week's Chamorro hero tribute will be Dr. Bernadita Camacho-Dungca, who was considered a pioneer in Chamorro linguistics and education and wrote Inifresi (The Chamorro Pledge).

The assembly begins Thursday at 6pm at the Chamorro Village main pavilion.


Independence Task Force discusses militarization on Guam
By Shawn Raymundo
Pacific Daily News

While Guam’s location in the northern Pacific has played a key role for the U.S. armed forces for decades, members of a decolonization task force advocating for the island's independence question whether or not the military presence makes the island a target for regional threats.

During their second general assembly meeting at the Chamorro Village on Thursday night, the Independence for Guahan Task Force conducted a presentation to answer the question: "What can Guam do to protect itself from threats like North Korea and China?" The presentation was attended by about two dozen residents.

The Decolonization Commission's independence task force represents one of the three political status options Guam’s native inhabitants could choose, should the island hold a plebiscite – a non-binding referendum that would measure the preferred political status in regards to island’s future relationship with the U.S.
The three options are statehood, independence or free association.

Gov. Eddie Calvo has proposed holding the plebiscite during the 2018 General Election, but nothing is official.

Citing the Chinese missile that’s been recently dubbed the “Guam Killer,” independence co-chairwoman Victoria Leon Guerrero noted news publications that have reported both North Korean and Chinese militaries have been conducting missile testing with the purpose of possibly striking Guam and the U.S. military bases here.

“We always hear that China and Korea want to attack Guam, and that’s why we need America,” Leon Guerrero said. "(We’re told that U.S. military exercises are) happening to protect us. But actually in the world, (other countries) don’t see themselves as a threat to us, they look at (the exercises) as a threat to them.”
Recent exercises, like bomber training at Andersen Air Force Base and the launch of the joint-operations training known as Valiant Shield, have likely perpetuated the idea that the U.S. is militarizing Guam for the purpose of attacking its regional enemies, she said.

“So all of this is a tit-for -tat that we’re caught in the middle of,” Leon Guerrero said. “‘I’m going to do this and you’re going to do that’ … What we want to ask ourselves is: Are we a threat because Guam is what they desire or because the U.S. is here?”
After the U.S. Air Force’s announcement that Andersen would be hosting a rare training exercise with the military’s three bomber aircraft, international news sites reported the North Korean government's response.

“The introduction of the nuclear strategic bombers to Guam by the U.S. … proves that the U.S. plan for a preemptive nuclear strike at the (Democratic People’s Republic of Korea) has entered a reckless phase of implementation,” North Korea’s foreign ministry said.

Guam’s identity around the world, Leon Guerrero said, isn’t being seen for the island that it is, with a culture and people, but rather as a U.S. military installation and base.

“That’s why Guam is how the world sees it today, as a place that could be attacked, because there’s so much testing,” Leon Guerrero said. “We’re offending everyone around ... do we really need it? Do we really need a third of the island being used this way?”

Using the island nation of Singapore as an example, the independence task force noted that there are once-colonized lands that gained independence and became financially sufficient and successful.

Except for a brief period during World War II when Singapore endured Japanese occupation similar to Guam, the small island was a British colony since 1819 up until 1965.

Since it gained independence, Singapore’s Gross Domestic Product had increased by 3,700 percent as of 2014. That same year, the country’s GDP reached an all-time high of $306.34 billion, according to the World Bank.

Ana Won Pat-Borja, a member of the task force and the researcher for the Guam Legislature’s legal counsel, said Singapore didn’t have any natural resources to profit from, but acknowledged that for the past two centuries it has been a prime hub for trading, with its port.

The country, she noted, capitalized on its best asset by investing heavily into the port and opening up foreign investments into free trade, thus making it one of the largest and most visited ports in the world.

Singapore, Borja continued, isn’t without its problems, as human rights concerns have been an issue, specifically the country’s ban on same-sex marriage.

Borja said choosing independence isn’t a path to doom.

In an effort to educate the island as much as possible before the proposed plebiscite, the Independence for Guahan task force launched its monthly general assembly meetings in August.

Melvin Won Pat Borja, a member of the task force, acknowledged that the independence option is the “underdog,” adding that if the plebiscite were to happen today the likely outcome would be statehood.

“If we’re going to be successful in winning the hearts and minds that this is the right path for our people, we have to take responsibility for it,” Melvin Borja said, advocating for more outreach.

The task force will hold its third general assembly meeting on Oct. 27.

Wednesday, September 21, 2016

Banning English to Preserve Culture

Todu i Chamorro siha ni' mañathinanasso put i kotturå-ta yan i minalingu i lenguahi-ta, debi di u ma tatai este. Anggen ta cho'gue mas kinu manggongongong siña ta na'lå'la' mo'na i lenguahi-ta. Atan este na familia. Manu na gaige i Chamorro siha ni' siña tumattiyi este na hemplo?


Indigenous family bans English to preserve culture
by Lynn Desjardins
Radio Canada International
September 5, 2016

Like many parents, Nancy Mike and Andrew Morrison have to work hard if they want to preserve their aboriginal language. Because so much English is spoken in Iqaluit in the northern territory of Nunavut, they have decided to ban English at home and oblige their two daughters to speak their native language of Inuktitut, reports CBC.

“Language is not just language; it’s the way you transmit culture,” said Mike to CBC reporter Sima Sahar Zerehi. Mike said she wanted to be certain the girls were able to speak to her unilingual grandfather and great-grandfather and to be close with the extended family.

English is everywhere

Preserving the language is difficult because English in books, movies, toys and movies is ubiquitous. Although the school system has an Inuktitut stream, materials are most often in English.
When Mike reads English books to her children she translates on the spot.

Total immersion with extended family

Four or five times a year she and her partner send their children to visit relatives in the more remote town of Pangnirtung where they can spend time with family and be totally immersed in their native language.

They also enjoy the lifestyle which includes spending more time on the land and eating what’s called country food—food hunted or gathered locally.

Sunday, September 18, 2016

Democracy Now! and the North Dakota Pipeline

Democracy Now! is doing some great coverage of the protests over the North Dakota Access Pipeline in North Dakota. Here are some interviews and a column from Amy Goodman after a warrant was put out for her arrest in response to her coverage. If you are able, please consider donating in order to support their continuing efforts.


Native American Activist Winona LaDuke at Standing Rock: It's Time to Move On from Fossil Fuels
September 12, 2016
Democracy Now!

While Democracy Now! was covering the Standing Rock standoff earlier this month, we spoke to Winona LaDuke, longtime Native American activist and executive director of the group Honor the Earth. She lives and works on the White Earth Reservation in northern Minnesota. She spent years successfully fighting the Sandpiper pipeline, a pipeline similar to Dakota Access. We met her right outside the Red Warrior Camp, where she has set up her tipi. Red Warrior is one of the encampments where thousands of Native Americans representing hundreds of tribes from across the U.S. and Canada are currently resisting the pipeline’s construction.

AMY GOODMAN: This is Democracy Now!,, The War and Peace Report. I’m Amy Goodman. While Democracy Now! was covering the standoff at Standing Rock earlier this month, on Labor Day weekend, we spoke to Winona LaDuke, longtime Native American activist, executive director of the group Honor the Earth. She lives and works on the White Earth Reservation in northern Minnesota. She spent years successfully fighting a pipeline similar to Dakota Access, the Sandpiper pipeline. We met her right outside the Red Warrior Camp, where she has set up her tipi. Red Warrior is one of the encampments where thousands of Native Americans, representing hundreds of tribes from across the U.S. and Canada, are currently resisting the pipeline’s construction. Her tipi is painted with animals that are threatened by climate change. We began by asking Winona LaDuke why communities are now protesting the pipeline.
WINONA LADUKE: It’s time to end the fossil fuel infrastructure. I mean, these people on this reservation, they don’t have adequate infrastructure for their houses. They don’t have adequate energy infrastructure. They don’t have adequate highway infrastructure. And yet they’re looking at a $3.9 billion pipeline that will not help them. It will only help oil companies. And so that’s why we’re here. You know, we’re here to protect this land.
AMY GOODMAN: Explain what happened to the Sandpiper pipeline, the one that you protested, the one that you opposed.
WINONA LADUKE: What we opposed, yeah. So, for four years, the Enbridge company said that they absolutely needed a pipeline that would go from Clearbrook, Minnesota, to Superior, Wisconsin. That was the critical and only possible route. They proposed a brand-new route that would go through the heart of our best wild rice lakes and territory, skirting the reservations, but within our treaty territory. They did not consult with us, and they made some serious errors in their process. They underestimated what was going to happen there.
And so, for four years, we battled them in the Minnesota regulatory process, which is a process which is more advanced and slightly more functional than North Dakota’s regulatory process, which, from what I can see, is largely nonexistent. And in that process, we attended every hearing. We intervened legally. We rode our horses against the current of the oil. We had ceremonies. And they cancelled the pipeline. That’s what they did, after four years’ very, very ardent opposition by Minnesota citizens, tribal governments, tribal people, you know, on that line.
And that pipeline, you know, big problem—we still have six pipelines in northern Minnesota to go to Superior, the furthest-inland port. But their new proposals are not going to happen there. Enbridge has said that they still want to continue with their proposals for line three. The first pipeline they want, they want to abandon. The beginning of a whole new set of problems in North America, the abandoning of 50-year-old pipelines, with no regulatory clarity as to who is responsible. And so we are opposing them on that, that they cannot abandon, and they cannot—they still cannot get a new route.
But when they announced that, you know, in my area, I could have said, "Hey, good luck, y’all. We beat it here. Good luck." You know? But, no, we said we’re going to follow them out here, too, because we believe that—you know, we could spend our lives fighting one pipeline after another after another, but someone needs to challenge the problem and say, "This is not the way to go, America. This is not the way to go for any of us." So, we came out here to support these people.
AMY GOODMAN: So talk about everyone who’s out here.
WINONA LADUKE: There are a lot of people out here, you know? It’s very funny, because I feel like I’ve been like the Standing Rock switchboard, the travel guide, for the past two weeks. You know, everybody hits me up on Facebook, calls me up: "Hey, LaDuke, I want to bring out this. I got some winter coats. You know, what should I do?" I was like, "Oh, my gosh!" You know?
So, a lot of people are coming here, united. You know, so what I know is out here is like—you know, I go walk in here, and I’ve seen people from the—you know, from Wounded Knee in 1973. I’ve seen people I worked with in opposing uranium mining in the Black Hills in the 1970s and '80s, you know, out here. I mean, I've been at this a while. You know, it’s like Old Home Week out here. I’ve seen people from Oklahoma that opposed the Keystone XL pipeline, and Nebraska. And I’ve seen people from, you know, out in our territory that are opposing the pipelines here. The tribal chairman of Fond du Lac is here, and, you know, a whole host of Native and non-Native people. And there are a lot of people that just do not believe that this should happen anymore in this country, that are very willing to put themselves on the line, non-Indian people, you know, as well as tribal members, and they are here. And it is a beautiful place to defend.
AMY GOODMAN: For people who are watching in New York and Louisiana, in California and India, China and South Africa, why does this matter to them?
WINONA LADUKE: This matters because it’s time to move on from fossil fuels. You know, this is the same battle that they have everywhere else. You know, each day or each week, there’s some new leak, there’s some new catastrophe in the fossil fuel industry, as well as the ongoing and growing catastrophe of climate change. The fact that there is no rain in Syria has directly to do with these fossil fuel companies. You know, all of the catastrophes that are happening elsewhere in the world has to do with the fact that North America is retooling its infrastructure and going after the dirtiest oil in the world—the tar sands oil and the oil out of North Dakota, the fracked oil—rather than—you know, they were working with Venezuela’s—it also has to do with crushing Venezuela, because Venezuela has the largest oil reserves in the world. And rather than do business with Venezuela, they were bound and determined to take oil from places that did not want to give it up, and create this filthy infrastructure. So, this carbon—this oil is very heavy in carbon and will add hundreds of millions of tons of CO2 to the environment, if these pipelines are allowed through. So, that is—you know, it affects everybody.
AMY GOODMAN: Now, some tribes are for the pipeline. Can you describe the division?
WINONA LADUKE: You know, I don’t know that I would say some tribes are for it. I would say some interests in Indian country have been for the pipeline. I mean, historically, the Three Affiliated Tribes is an oil-producing tribe, but they came down here to support the opposition to the pipeline. They came down there. Their whole tribal council came down here a couple of days ago. You know, but the fact is, is that, you know, some tribes have been forced into production of fossil fuels. Eighty-five percent of the Navajo economy, for instance, is fossil fuel-based. About the same percentage of the Fort Berthold economy is fossil fuel-based.
So, you know, just to give a little historic picture: You come out here with your smallpox, and you wipe out 95 percent of the people, the Mandan, Hidatsa and Arikara people, in the early 1800s. They live along these villages, you know, just trying to hang in there. Then you come out here, and you flood their lands. And the agricultural crops that they produced are now owned by Monsanto and Syngenta as trademarked varieties that they created. Right? And then you’re out here in North Dakota, and everybody in the country flies over North Dakota and looks down and says, "Well, that’s North Dakota." Nobody comes out here. And so stuff continues out here for a hundred years, where these people are treated like third-class citizens, you know, where they have no running water in their houses, and they have oil companies coming out here. And you have high rates of abuse and violence against women and children, and it accelerates and increases in the oil fields, until you have an epidemic of drugs, which now hits this community. This community doesn’t get any benefit from oil, but the meth and heroin that came out of those fields is here, you know? Because those dealers came up here, and then they saw these Indian people, and they said, "Well, we’ll just go there." And so these reservations are full of it. You know? And then you say, you know, to that tribe up there, the BIA cuts some backyard deals and starts oil extraction. And so, then you—
AMY GOODMAN: The Bureau of Indian Affairs.
WINONA LADUKE: Bureau of Indian Affairs. And then you end up with oil—you end up with haves and have-nots in the oil fields. And you end up with a tribe that now has oil revenues that are coming in. And they look out there, frankly, and they say, "You know? Things haven’t been going too well for us, so we’re going to sign a few more of these leases, because, after all, you know, nothing has ever worked out well for us. And so, we’re going to get a little bit of money." And that’s how you get—you know, you force people into that, with a gun to their head, and then they end up destroying their land, you know, which is what is happening up there on that reservation. And they’ve had huge investigations into corruption at the leadership. But, you know, you force poor people. You force people into that situation, and that’s a perfect storm.
AMY GOODMAN: You’ve talked and written about Native Americans having PTSD, post-traumatic stress syndrome.
WINONA LADUKE: Yeah, we have ongoing; I didn’t finish it, I still have it. You know, you say "Enbridge," and I get this little like quirk, you know, and because the Indian wars are far from over out here. But, you know, what you get is intergenerational trauma, is what it is known as, historic trauma. And other people have it. But you have a genetic memory, and you look out there, and you see—every day you wake up, and you see that your land was flooded. And that big power line that runs through this land, that doesn’t benefit you. You still have to—you know, everything that is out here was done at your expense, but you still have to pay for it. And every day you go out there, and some—you know, you got a roadblock, that the white people put up, coming into your reservation. And every day you go out there, and you look at your houses, and you see that you’ve got crumbling infrastructure, and nobody cares about it. And you’ve got a meth epidemic, and you’ve got the highest suicide rates in the country, but nobody pays attention. You know, and so you just try to survive. That’s what you’re trying to do. Like 90 percent of my community, generally, I would say, is just trying to survive.
You know, I mean, in my community, we have rice. We still have our wild rice. And we can go, and we can harvest wild rice. And we can be Anishinaabe people. You know, we can still live off of our land. You know, these people have a much tougher time living off of their land. The buffalo were wiped out, you know? But this year is their stand. This is their stand. They’ve got a chance to not have one more bad thing happen to them. And from my perspective, my perspective is, is that $3.9 billion pipeline, these guys don’t need a pipeline. What they need is solar. What they need is wind. Look at this wind. You know, what they need—they have like class 7 wind out here. What they need is solar on all their houses, solar thermal. They need housing that works for people. They need energy justice. This is this chance, America, to say, "Look, this community does not need a pipeline. What this community needs is real energy independence." They call this energy independence, you know, shoving a pipeline down people’s throats, so that Canadian oil companies can benefit, and, you know, a bunch of people can—the world can worsen. That is not energy independence. Energy independence is when you have solar. Energy independence is when you have wind. Energy independence is when you have some control over your future. That’s what these people want.
AMY GOODMAN: That was Winona LaDuke, longtime Anishinaabe activist from White Earth Reservation in northern Minnesota.


North Dakota v. Amy Goodman
Journalism is not a crime
By Amy Goodman and Denis Moynihan
Democracy Now!

Last Thursday, an arrest warrant was issued under the header “North Dakota versus Amy Goodman.” The charge was for criminal trespass. The actual crime? Journalism. We went to the Standing Rock Sioux Reservation to cover the growing opposition to the Dakota Access Pipeline.

Global attention has become focused on the struggle since Labor Day weekend, after pipeline guards unleashed attack dogs and pepper spray on Native American protesters. On that Saturday, at least six bulldozers were carving up the land along the pipeline route, where archeological and sacred sites had been discovered by the tribe. The Dakota Access Pipeline company obtained the locations of these sites just the day before, in a court filing made by the tribe. Many feel that the company razed the area, destroying the sites, before an injunction could be issued to study them.

Scores of people, mostly Native American, raced to the scene, demanding the bulldozers leave. The guards pepper-sprayed, punched and tackled the land defenders. Attack dogs were unleashed, biting at least six people and one horse.

We were there, filming the guards’ violence. When we released our video of the standoff, it went viral, attracting more than 13 million views on Facebook alone. CNN, CBS, MSNBC and scores of outlets around the world broadcast our footage of one of the attack dogs with blood dripping from its nose and mouth.

Five days after the attack, North Dakota issued the arrest warrant. North Dakota Bureau of Criminal Investigation Special Agent Lindsey Wohl, referencing the “Democracy Now!” video report in a sworn affidavit, states, “Amy Goodman can be seen on the video identifying herself and interviewing protestors about their involvement in the protest.” Precisely the point: doing the constitutionally protected work of a reporter.

“Charging a journalist with criminal trespassing for covering an important environmental story of significant public interest is a direct threat to freedom of the press and is absolutely unacceptable in the country of the First Amendment,” said Delphine Halgand, U.S. director of the global press freedom watchdog group Reporters Without Borders. Carlos Lauria of the Committee to Protect Journalists added: “This arrest warrant is a transparent attempt to intimidate reporters from covering protests of significant public interest. Authorities in North Dakota should stop embarrassing themselves, drop the charges against Amy Goodman and ensure that all reporters are free to do their jobs.”

Steve Andrist, executive director of the North Dakota Newspaper Association, told The Bismarck Tribune, “It’s regrettable that authorities chose to charge a reporter who was just doing her job,” adding that it “creates the impression that the authorities were attempting to silence a journalist and prevent her from telling an important story.”

This is a story that is critical to the fate of the planet. It’s about climate change, and indigenous rights versus corporate and government power.

The arrest warrant was issued on the same day that North Dakota Gov. Jack Dalrymple called out the National Guard in preparation for a court decision due out the next day. On Friday, the judge ruled against the tribe, allowing construction to continue. Fifteen minutes later, in an unprecedented move, the departments of Justice, the Interior and the Army issued a joint letter announcing that permission to build the pipeline on land controlled by the Army Corps of Engineers would be denied until after “formal, government-to-government consultations” with impacted tribes about “the protection of tribal lands, resources and treaty rights.” Construction and nonviolent blockades continue along nonfederal lands, despite the government’s request that Dakota Access halt construction voluntarily.
Many have said that journalism is the first draft of history. In the past 20 years, a hallmark of the “Democracy Now!” news hour has been our coverage of movements, because movements make history. The standoff at Standing Rock is a historic gathering of thousands of people from over 200 tribes from the U.S., Canada and Latin America who call themselves “protectors, not protesters.” It marks the largest unification of tribes in decades.

To date, none of the pipeline security guards have been charged, despite being clearly shown in the video assaulting protesters with dogs and pepper spray. Now, the North Dakota Private Investigation and Security Board is investigating the pipeline security guards’ use of force and their use of dogs.
In the meantime, we will fight this charge. Freedom of the press is essential to the functioning of a democratic society. North Dakota, muzzle the dogs, not the press.


 Lakota Activist Debra White Plume from Pine Ridge: Why I am a Water Protector at Standing Rock
Democracy Now!
September 12, 2016

While Democracy Now! was covering the standoff at Standing Rock earlier this month, we spoke to longtime Lakota water and land rights activist Debra White Plume, who was born and raised on the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation in South Dakota and lives along the banks of Wounded Knee Creek. She described what the Dakota Access pipeline means to her.

AMY GOODMAN: That same day, though, right next to the Red Warrior Camp protesting the pipeline, we spoke to longtime Lakota water and land rights activist Debra White Plume, born and raised on the Pine Ridge Reservation in South Dakota, living along the banks of Wounded Knee Creek. I asked her to talk about what the Dakota Access pipeline means to her.
DEBRA WHITE PLUME: What it means to me is that it pushes us further over the tipping point of not only fossil fuel extraction, but the desecration of Mother Earth and the exploitation of Native peoples in the area, as well as the threat to drinking water. Where I live, six hours from here, when I turn on my tap, the water that comes out is from the Missouri River. It’s a 50-50 mix with the Ogallala Aquifer and the Missouri River, because at home our aquifer is badly contaminated by decades of uranium mining. So, there’s only portions of the aquifer on the Pine Ridge Reservation that pass the Environmental Protection Agency’s maximum contaminant level for alpha emitters. So we have to mix half and half with the Missouri River water.
AMY GOODMAN: And what would happen to the Missouri River water?
DEBRA WHITE PLUME: Well, if the pipeline is put in, it’s going to leak or spill or burst or explode, and that oil is going to get into the water. And Dakota Access pipeline says they’re going to bury it 30 feet under, and they’re assuring everybody that it’s going to be safe. But I think Western science doesn’t really know everything it thinks it knows. And we need to make our decisions based on what’s best for Mother Earth and our coming generations. And that includes protecting our water. Water is under threat all over the world. Right now, there are people who have no access to clean drinking water.
AMY GOODMAN: Do you call yourself a protester?
DEBRA WHITE PLUME: No, I call myself—first and foremost, I’m just a regular human being. I’m a mother and a grandmother, a great-grandmother. I’m Lakota. I’m a woman. And it’s—water is the domain of the women in our nation. And so, it’s our privilege and our obligation to protect water. So, you know, if somebody wants to label me, I guess it would be water protector.
AMY GOODMAN: You go way back to the Pine Ridge Reservation, where you live today, 1973. Could you describe what happened then?
DEBRA WHITE PLUME: Sure. What happened then was the Indian Reorganization Act government, which is an act of Congress, in place in 1934, governs most Native nations in the United States. Well, our IRA government at that time was very oppressive to Lakota people. They were keeping us from having jobs or homes or whatever few services the federal government provided, because we held onto the Lakota way of life, and we also wanted to reclaim not only our identity, but our lands and the care of our land and the responsibility of caring for our land.
And at that time, the tribal president was Dick Wilson, and he had been working with the federal government to sign away one-eighth of our homeland to the federal government. And it just happened to be where there was a lot of what the fat taker calls resources, and they want to mine it—you know, coal, gas, oil, uranium, whatever it may be, water. And so, we put up a ruckus, and we said, "No, you’re not going to do that, because our coming generations need that."
And so, there were a lot of shootouts and armed struggle going on in those days. And in the so-called border towns around us, which we call occupied territory, Indians were getting killed, and their murderers were not being held for justice. They were like charged with the lowest felony there could be, doing two years of probation. And it was just enough was enough. You know, it was a moment in time there was the women’s movement, there was the civil rights movement, there was the Vietnam War stuff going on. And we just said, "That’s enough for us, too. We’re not going to take this anymore." And we stood up, and we fought. You know, we had to fight our own government, and they called in the FBI and the Marshals and the Army. Basically, it was a military occupation of our homeland.
AMY GOODMAN: And what happened then?
DEBRA WHITE PLUME: Well, Wounded Knee was liberated by relatives from the Four Directions. And the military came in and surrounded the little tiny village of Wounded Knee. And the rest is history. But we were able to get our spiritual way of life removed as a criminal act in American law. Prior to that, it had been a crime to practice our way of life. We have many people that went to prison in those days or were committed to, held in and died at state mental institutions for having a sacred pipe or conducting any of our ceremonies.
AMY GOODMAN: Lakota leader Debra White Plume of the Pine Ridge Reservation, speaking from Red Warrior. Special thanks to Laura Gottesdiener, John Hamilton, Denis Moynihan.


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