Brazilian president strips indigenous affairs agency of land reservation capability
- President Jair Bolsonaro issued a decree shifting the ability to create and define the boundaries of indigenous land reservations from the National Indian Foundation (FUNAI) to the Ministry of Agriculture.
- Bolsonaro previously announced intentions to loosen environmental and indigenous protections, even as farming and mining groups carry out armed attacks against indigenous communities.
- The order was the first of Bolsonaro’s presidency, issued only hours after taking office.
“Bolsonaro strips agency of right to decide native land in Brazil” (Agence-France Presse, via Yahoo! News | January 2019)
“Brazil’s new President Jair Bolsonaro rolls back Indigenous tribe protections” (The Associated Press/Reuters, via ABC News | January 2019)
“Brazil’s FUNAI Calls Army to Help Protect Isolated Indigenous Tribes” (The Rio Times | December 2018)
Indigenous communities throughout Mexico protest presidential election, press for self-rule
- Residents have banned political parties, destroyed protest signs, patrolled streets for campaign paraphernalia, and blocked ballot delivery throughout small towns in the western state of Michoacán as anti-government sentiment has grown.
- Seven municipalities covering 16 towns and at least 50,000 voters have decided to opt out of the election, and Maya communities in Guerrero and Chiapas have begun mobilizing as well.
- Although popular leftist candidate Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador has advocated for Mexico’s indigenous communities in the past, historical and ongoing neglect by and corruption in the government has led many indigenous Mexicans to disengage and push for greater autonomy.
“Indigenous Mexicans spurn presidential vote with blockades, bulldozers” (Reuters | June 2018)
“The Mexican indigenous community that ran politicians out of town” (The Guardian | April 2018)
“Mexico’s Indigenous Council Continues Campaign Despite Violence” (teleSUR English | January 2018)
Indigenous leaders in Australia seek formal legal and political representation with government
- More than 250 Aboriginal and Torres Straight Islander leaders met in Uluru to discuss political recognition, agreeing formal treaties were necessary beyond proposed symbolic representation in the constitution.
- The government issued an apology for historical injustices in 2008, although community leaders and activists have sought legal commitments to reparative measures beyond symbolism.
- The push is likely to face strong opposition as the Australian Constitution has only been amended eight times in 44 attempts in its 116-year history.
“Uluru talks: Indigenous Australians reject ‘symbolic’ recognition in favour of treaty” (The Guardian | May 2017)
“Australia’s Aborigines seek treaties in drive for more than symbolic change” (Reuters | May 2017)
“Why doesn’t Australia have an indigenous treaty?” (BBC News | May 2017)
The Australian Constitution
(Image Credit: Calla Wahlquist/The Guardian)
Australia’s “Stolen Generation” Speaks
For six decades across the 20th century, the Australian government pursued a ruthless policy of the forced assimilation of its indigenous population, tearing mixed-race children from their communities and creating “stolen generations” deprived of access to the culture of their aboriginal roots. The policy, similar to those pursued in Canada and the U.S., forced children into boarding schools, church missions, and adoptions to erase connections to their communities. Canadian photographer Matthew Sherwood has documented the stories of those in the Northern Territory through his photo series Generations Stolen, profiled in The New York Times.
“Australia’s ‘Stolen Generations’ Tell Their Stories” (The New York Times | May 2017)
The Uncertain Task of Defining Race in Brazilian Affirmative Action
The redress of racial injustice in Brazil, long stymied by the country’s reputation as a “racial democracy,” has gained increasing political attention thanks to the work of black activists across the nation. Brazil’s recent attempts to install socioeconomic and racial quotas in public university admissions have created a number of challenges as fraud and race-policing have pitted student against student in ensuring fair enforcement, particularly as verification committees decide race based on appearance rather than heritage. Foreign Policy and The Globe and Mail examine the volatile debates surrounding Brazil’s new affirmative action policies and the general uneasiness the country has experienced as it has begun to address the long history of discrimination against its black, brown, and indigenous citizens.
“Brazil’s New Problem With Blackness” (Foreign Policy | April 2017)
“Black or white? In Brazil, a panel will decide for you” (The Globe and Mail | January 2017)
(Image Credit: Tiago Mazza Chiaravalloti/NurPhoto, via Foreign Policy)
The Fight for Indigenous Equality, from Australia to Canada
As increased attention to negative outcomes in indigenous communities has pushed their governments to address racial disparities, Australian and Canadian indigenous advocates have drawn attention to the markedly similar ways in which English settler colonialism and systemic racial inequality unfolded in their countries. In both countries, indigenous peoples make up at least a quarter of the prison population, 40% of incarcerated children, and half of those in the child welfare system. Similar policies of forced family dissolution, detention, and delayed dismantlement of legal inequality have pushed advocates an ocean apart to come up with comparative solutions to the persistent indigenous/non-indigenous gap in their countries.
“‘It’s the same story’: How Australia and Canada are twinning on bad outcomes for Indigenous people” (The Guardian | April 2017)
(Image Credit: Torsten Blackwood/AFP/Getty Images, via The Guardian)
Designation of two new national monuments works to protect integrity of Native American lands
- President Obama designated two new national monuments, placing more than 1.6 million acres of land under federal stewardship and protecting the areas from development and looting.
- The Bears Ears National Monument comprises 1.35 million acres in southeast Utah, which includes more than 100,000 Native American cultural and archaeological sites and will be jointly managed by federal and indigenous leaders.
- The Gold Butte National Monument, located in southern Nevada, encompasses 300,000 acres that include sites of Native petroglyphs and critical habitats.
“Two New National Monuments Created in Utah and Nevada” (Scientific American | December 2016)
“Obama Designates Two New National Monuments, Protecting 1.65 Million Acres” (The New York Times | December 2016)
“Obama Designates Two New National Monuments, Protecting 1.65 Million Acres” (EcoWatch | December 2016)
(Image Credit: UIG/Getty Images, via Scientific American)