As climate chaos escalates in Indian Country, feds abandon tribes

first_imgSouth Dakota’s Pine Ridge Oglalla Sioux Indian Reservation is one of the most impoverished places in the U.S. But in 2018 and 2019, the reservation was struck by two horrific storms — with economic harm to their homes and livelihoods that the community’s low income residents have found it extraordinarily difficult to absorb.High Plains weather has been getting more variable, erratic and destructive: in 2011 came severe drought and wildfires, followed in 2012 by severe flooding. Sometimes these oscillations take the form of high-powered storms, with a rash of tornadoes in 2016, a destructive ice storm in 2018, and a bomb cyclone in 2019.According to the National Climate Assessment issued at the end of 2018, “Climate change is expected to exacerbate these [extreme weather] challenges.” But starting with Bill Clinton and continuing under Donald Trump, the federal government has severely slashed federal aid to Indian reservations and their low income residents.As a result, Pine Ridge is increasingly forced to rely on its own resources and on creative solutions, including crowdfunded local and national volunteer teams who have risen to the challenge and helped the communities repair storm damage. But as extreme weather intensifies on the High Plains, surviving there will get tougher. Violent storms known as bomb cyclones usually appear over oceans or coastal areas, not over the U.S. High Plains, but one struck there in March 2019 causing major wind and flood damage. Image courtesy of NASA.Late last March, an unseasonably hot column of air shot suddenly upward from the U.S. Great Plains and collided with the frigid high atmosphere above South Dakota, sending barometric pressure plummeting. In just seconds, the sky erupted like an exploding pressure cooker, bringing devastating wind, storm and flooding. At the bottom of that madly swirling air column were the homes and ranches of South Dakota’s Pine Ridge Indian Reservation.The bomb cyclone hit the communities’ mobile homes like a missile. Such meteorological events (fierce storms that form with incredible speed when an extratropical surface cyclone undergoes “bombogenesis,” with a pressure drop of 24 millibars in 24 hours or less), are usually features of the coast, not the continent’s deep interior.But then, as the residents of Pine Ridge know from tragic experience, these were not normal times.This was their second weather disaster in eight months. When a fierce late July ice storm slammed into the Sioux reservation in 2018, Chase Iron Eyes and his kids had been on their way out for dinner. “It was dark, foreboding, swirling clouds,” remembered the Lakota attorney and tribal government spokesperson.Then the hail hit with the force of a shrapnel blast, “so strong it wasn’t coming from heaven to earth but sideways,” ripping through the reservation’s rural settlements, slashing holes in the vinyl and aluminum siding and roofs of their mobile homes, shattering house and car windows, while also pulverizing cottonwood leaves, filling the air with the powerful scent of fresh shredded greenery.When the July storm passed, Pine Ridge residents surveyed the damage: more than 500 homes were left uninhabitable, a severe blow to a reservation whose impoverished families have little capacity to absorb such a disaster. The March 2019 bomb cyclone would only add to the damage and despair. The reservation is home to the descendants of the Oglalla Sioux who, under the great war leader Red Cloud, made peace with the United States in 1873. Its communities remain desperately poor; Oglala Lakota County is one of the most impoverished counties in the nation.Chase Iron Eyes was a witness to the July 2018 hail storm when the wind and hail was “so strong it wasn’t coming from heaven to earth but sideways,” ripping through the reservation’s homes and wrecking vehicles. Image courtesy of the Lakota People’s Law Project.Like a Third World nationFor Iron Eyes, a grassroots activist who spent most of his life on the Standing Rock Sioux Reservation and who moved to Pine Ridge not long ago to campaign for the current tribal president, Julian Bear Runner, the dire conditions at Pine Ridge were eye opening: “It’s Ground Zero here,” he said. “During the campaign, we knocked on hundreds of doors, man. And the way a lot of people were living… I thought [such places] only existed in Third World countries.”Life on Pine Ridge, Iron Eyes said, “has all the outward manifestations of a slow genocide.”But behind the economic depression loomed something much larger and more frightening: the violent swings of a changing climate have come to the Northern Plains, threatening not only agriculture but the very habitability of a region once dubbed by whites as the “Great American Desert.”Poverty has long made adaptation difficult here. And that was before the March bomb cyclone, which damaged 75 houses, or last July’s hail storm, which damaged hundreds more.After the summer event, many houses perforated by the hail, were left exposed to the South Dakota elements. And as every Oglala knew then, time was fast running out. Soon the harsh Plains winter rolled in — a brutal season even in a house with intact windows and walls.Time is against the Oglala long-term as well: the Northern Plains, with their arid climate and long distance from temperate oceans, have always been a place noted for temperature and weather extremes — an unpredictability, the recent National Climate Assessment notes, that has always made it difficult for cities, suburbs and the tribes to cooperate in reliably managing resources. “Climate change,” the report warned, “is expected to exacerbate these challenges.”Over recent decades, the escalating climate crisis has steadily turned up the chaos meter, battering reservations. Creeping behind the more theatrical plagues of tornadoes and ice storms is an even greater threat: a dizzying dance of deluge, followed by drought, followed by flood, as regional weather systems swing ever more wildly. And as these extremes intensify, the tribes of the Plains — American citizens, like the Hurricane Maria-battered people of Puerto Rico — are being left to face the rising chaos alone.In addition to the powerful winds, the March 2019 bomb cyclone dumped rain on Pine Ridge, flooding this downtown park. Image courtesy of the Lakota People’s Law Project.Indian Country’s changing climateAccording to studies by NASA and NOAA, 2018 marked the fourth warmest year on record since 1880, “an extremely warm year on top of a long-term global warming trend,” said Gavin Schmidt, director of NASA’s Goddard Institute for Space Science.But for the Northern Plains and the communities there, the danger is less rising temperature per se than a tremendous increase in anarchic, unpredictable and extreme weather, particularly centered around water. According to the 2018 National Climate Assessment, weather on the Plains has been getting more variable, erratic and destructive, with sometimes surreal oscillations: in 2011, for example, the Northern Plains faced a rash of wildfires and drought, followed in 2012, by severe flooding. Occasionally, these oscillations take the form of high-powered storms, as in the rash of tornadoes that ravaged South Dakota reservations in 2016, or the ice storm of 2018, or the bomb cyclone of 2019.With its frigid winters and baking summers, and its lack of mountains or forests to break up violent weather systems, the Northern Plains have always been characterized by wild weather swings. But now those fluctuations are increasing, endangering infrastructure and water supplies that have made the semi-arid Plains habitable. For example, as winter drought and earlier spring melt reduce the High Country snowpack that feeds the Missouri River and other streams, agriculture is becoming more constricted, narrowing the region’s economic base. However, larger and more powerful storms dump far more rain all at once, causing Biblical floods, found the 2018 National Climate Assessment.Water woes were at the root of the region’s re-entry into the national consciousness in 2016. Early that year, as a Houston-based pipeline company proposed drilling the Dakota Access Pipeline beneath the Missouri River, Bobby Jean Three Legs, a young mother and long distance runner, woke up in her home on the Standing Rock Indian Reservation to her three-year old daughter asking her for water. Three Legs had a sudden, heart-stopping vision of a coming world in which there would be no water to give.The rebellion at Standing Rock, which grew out of a movement that Three Legs and a group of Lakota teens started, became a meeting-place for utopians and dissidents of all stripes who turned out to fight, as they said, “for the water.” But for the Lakota this was no metaphor: in 2002, when Three Legs was 9, a severe drought had caused Standing Rock to run out of water entirely; though that disaster was little noticed outside of South Dakota.By 2016 they were getting their water from the Missouri River and “water protectors” feared that a single pipeline oil spill could make Three Legs’ prophecy come true. Now that the pipeline is complete, that’s still a concern — and ironically, the National Climate Assessment notes, the source of that breach could be increased flooding brought by escalating climate change.The March 2019 floods put a serious strain on the reservation’s infrastructure, much of which consists of dirt roads. Steve and Lacey Pourier and their nine kids were unable to access their home because their road had been so damaged by the storm. Image courtesy of the Lakota People’s Law Project.The federal help that doesn’t comeThe surge in extreme weather has been exacerbated by tribal reliance on federal disaster relief — aid which has become more difficult to get. Indigenous people on reservations generally lack ready capital as a buffer against bad weather, and they also — because they are technically residents of sovereign nations — are often disqualified from receiving aid from state disaster agencies and county extension offices. Many Pine Ridge residents, for example, hit by the 2018 hail storm, were still living in FEMA trailers brought in after a 1999 tornado that destroyed 150 homes.As the winter of 2018-19 came on in the wake of the hail storm, the Oglala expected the federal government would step in again. But FEMA had weathered a harsh recent period of climate chaos too: 2017 had seen Houston inundated by Hurricane Harvey; the Gulf Coast and Caribbean utterly trashed by Hurricanes Irma and Maria; and a nearly-continuous season of wildfires across the West.Amidst all these disasters, the Trump Administration — ignoring both the reality of climate change and the need to adapt to it — had ransacked agency, taking from FEMA to fund other “national security” priorities. In late June 2018, as Hurricane Florence barreled toward Georgia and the Carolinas, Trump reallocated nearly $10 million from FEMA’s budget slated for operations, mitigation and recovery, and transferred it to Immigration and Customs Enforcement, which was running a $200 million shortfall due to its larger-than-expected expenses for incarceration of undocumented immigrants.This matters more, to be clear, for rhetorical reasons than practical ones. The FEMA budget is about $16 billion a year, far larger than the amount shifted to ICE. Jeff Byard, a FEMA associate administrator, told reporters that the loss of a mere $10 million had “not impacted [FEMA’s disaster relief] situation whatsoever.” But the optics were extraordinarily bad: the news of FEMA’s funding loss broke as hundreds of thousands of Puerto Ricans languished without power; deprived of much-needed supplies that FEMA had reallocated just before the storm. One study later found that a poor disaster response by FEMA had likely helped lead to the exodus of half a million American refugees from the beleaguered island.Meanwhile, President Trump told Puerto Rico it was too well-off to need support, treating the Commonwealth, David Dayen wrote in The Intercept, “like a welfare recipient found to have too much money in its bank account.” Several months later, in January 2019, Trump would threaten to cut FEMA aid from California counties ravaged by wildfires “unless they get their act together,” citing alleged wasted “billions of dollars.”The President didn’t follow through on the threat, but in this era of disaster-relief means-testing, the Pine Ridge request to the federal government for post-disaster assistance was quietly turned down.Flooded fields in the Wounded Knee district of Pine Ridge. Because Indian reservations are officially seen as sovereign nations, they often can’t get state aid, while the federal government has heavily cut back on, and delayed, its disaster relief. Image by Derek Janis.FEMA sent a couple of agents to assess the 2018 hail storm damage, and then, to the shock of Steve Wilson, tribal emergency management officer, the agency refused to help. The reason, it said, was because the total financial damage hadn’t been high enough to warrant assistance.Ironically: Pine Ridge property values were found to be so depressed that the extensive damage resulting from the hail storm — though catastrophic to the low income people living through it — wasn’t sufficiently high to warrant any aid.To Chas Jewett, a Cheyenne River Sioux Tribe Reservation organizer in South Dakota, the Trump administration response was symptomatic of the double bind that much of Indian Country finds itself caught in again and again. “If that ice storm had hit Rapid City,” she said, “that same [destruction] would have been [totaled in] millions of dollars in damages, easy.” The lack of disaster relief, she added, felt like a tax on poverty: “You don’t know what the real cost of poverty is until you have to spend hundreds of dollars a month on propane because your house isn’t insulated, and you’re not hooked up to a grid.”The Ghost Dance as seen at the Pine Ridge Agency in 1890 — an indigenous religious revival intended to dance a new world into being, bringing peace and prosperity. By 1890, the Oglala had been forced onto the arid High Plains reservation, land they were expected to farm, but that year’s intense heat and drought showed the region to be unsuitable for high yield agriculture. Still, the U.S. cut rations to the reservation that year in half. Now, as the climate crisis intensifies, the government has slashed aid to Pine Ridge and other reservations. Image by Harper’s Weekly, December 1890, as drawn by Frederic Remington, Public Domain.Extreme weather and a shrinking federal safety netOther Indian reservations are being shut out from federal aid as well, including South Dakota’s Cheyenne River Reservation last winter. The federal government shutdown in December 2018 and January 2019 cut funding to, and shut down, most of the Bureau of Indian Affairs, an agency that pays for tribal police as well as other support offices and services.During the shutdown, the Cheyenne River Indians endured almost three weeks of subzero temperatures, which took a heavy toll on roads, bridges, tribal vehicles, maintenance buildings and other infrastructure. With federal funding withheld, and budgets already thin, Jewett said, every additional bit of asset depreciation due to worsening extreme weather is more money taken out of largely depleted coffers.“Climate change brings in so much more volatility,” said Zach Ducheneaux, a Cheyenne River resident who provides technical assistance for Indian farmers through the Intertribal Agricultural Council. “Even where our trend line is staying the same, the highs and lows are so much farther from what’s normal.”Extreme storms and droughts, once considered outlier events, have gotten gradually worse, and have become the new normal on the reservation. In early October 2012, Winter Storm Atlas hit South Dakota with record setting blizzards and cold. “I knew tribal [cattle] producers who lost their whole herd,” Ducheneaux recalled. According to NOAA, this is part of a national trend — 2018 saw 14 one billion-dollar disaster events nationwide, the fourth highest ever. (The three higher years were all since 2011.)Because Indian Country is generally rural and agricultural its economic base is particularly susceptible to natural disasters and freak weather. Likewise, recent alterations in US Department of Agriculture policy have disproportionately impacted Native farmers and ranchers.Up until the late 1990s, the federal government maintained a standing disaster relief fund. Known as the Indian Acute Disaster Program, it was specifically earmarked for Indian Country and even included emergency money designated for hay deliveries to Native ranchers whose livestock feed had been snowed under, and guaranteed relief for herds assaulted by blizzards.Since Indian Country largely lives by ranching, the loss of grazing land and herds to floods or to hail can be a serious economic blow. This truckload of hay was donated by farmers in Emmetsburg, Iowa. Image by Steve Wedeking.But toward the end of the Clinton Administration, the rules changed: the standard Indian allotment was dropped in favor of a system where tribes and ranchers had to apply for relief after individual disasters.This new system was especially bad for Indian farmers, for reasons that mostly, like so much in farm country across the US, come back to credit.The new rule required lots of time-consuming paperwork, and then, following a written tribal appeal for disaster relief, USDA would send officials to “ground-proof” claims, all of which could take days or weeks. Most counties have extension agents whose job it is to coordinate between federal aid programs and farmers, but the reservation system often has to make do with whatever extension agents their non-native neighbors can spare — adding more delay.And finally, when aid does become available, records can be a problem. “Our Native American producers aren’t as accustomed to the [detailed] recordkeeping that non-Indian producers do on a regular basis,” Ducheneaux said, “because we don’t have the access to capital in the same way, which would require reporting your livestock.”Because Indians are less able to get loans, Ducheneaux explained, they are also less likely to carry through on the sort of recordkeeping that becomes vital once disaster strikes. Not that records are necessarily any salve: “A whole bunch of cows got burnt up in the big wildfires on the Colville Reservation a few years ago,” Ducheneaux recalled. “How do you document your cow got burnt up?”Pine Ridge was pummeled with baseball-sized hail in 2018, leaving over 500 houses damaged and inflicting an estimated $5-10 million in damage. FEMA declined aid, on the logic that the damage was largely “cosmetic.” Image courtesy of the Lakota People’s Law Project.The credit problemIt isn’t, Ducheneaux emphasized, that Indians always get aid significantly later than non-Indians. But with, for example, Winter Storm Atlas, no federal money came through till the following autumn, forcing any farmers who lost their herds to get by for many months without credit or relief. Indian farmers, he noted, are resilient and well-networked with their neighbors — but they don’t generally have banked cash or equity to float them through a disaster until the federal relief money shows up. “The non-Indian is up there with a bunch of farm [assets],” Ducheneaux said. “He has his CAFO, he’s diversified. He’s had 45-50 years to build equity. So if he knows there’s federal disaster assistance coming [eventually], he can go to the bank, borrow against this collateral for now, pay you back later.”By contrast, Ducheneaux described a Cheyenne River rancher who had just taken out a loan for his cows when Winter Storm Atlas froze them all to death. “That Indian producer was tapped out borrowing to secure the cows [in the first place]. So there’s no real ability for him to go to the bank and say, ‘Well, I got federal assistance coming at some point, how about we work together [and you give me a loan to tide me over]?’.”Ducheneaux sees a broader economic problem as well: if Indians could capture more of the wealth currently being extracted from their reservations in the form of cattle — say, by building their own meatpacking plants, their own credit instruments — then they would have more resilience in terms of disasters too. A partial solution may be on the way: the Intertribal Agricultural Council currently has $2.5 million out in loans to small producers, which it hopes to parlay into a new-model sustainability fund available to all of Indian Country, in which the bank helps Native farmers win, rather than simply taking the house when they lose.But losing rather than winning could be the order of things in the near and far future. A grab bag of predictions from the recent National Climate Assessment for the Great Plains suggests harder times ahead: the number of days over 100 Fahrenheit is likely to double by 2050, with average temperatures up by 2-4 degrees Fahrenheit, in addition to that increased variability. Winter and spring precipitation is expected to irise up to 30 percent by the end of the century — likely bringing increases in flooding. There could be half again as many serious two-day floods by 2050. And as rainfall increases, snowfall will decrease, becoming more concentrated in dramatic hail storms, which will be, the federal report projected, 40 percent more damaging.Despite predicted rainfall increases (mostly coming all at once, in extreme events), higher temperatures (which force plants, like people, to transpire more water), could lead to greater drought and groundwater depletion, which is already a serious creeping threat for the huge section of the United States that draws from the Oglala Aquifer.These big changes, Ducheneaux pointed out, won’t only impact the reservations. The Great Plains have become a breadbasket to the world; dramtic shifts in historical weather patterns and far greater climate extremes could pose a serious threat to U.S. and world food security.Prayer ties blow in the wind in the aftermath of the destructive July 2018 hail storm. Image courtesy of the Lakota People’s Law Project.Helping those who help themselvesFor Pine Ridge, where the FEMA desk in the tribal headquarters has stood empty for more than a year, help after the 2018 hail storm came not from faraway Washington, but from the reservation’s own people, and from the kindness of strangers.Jacquelyn Cordoba, a Taos Pueblo woman who had fallen in with the Oglalla Lakota via her involvement in the International Indigenous Youth Council at the Standing Rock pipeline protest encampments, showed up in December 2018 on a different project. She was shocked to see the conditions following the July storm: “I heard it had happened, but I never knew how bad it was. Because you never hear how bad it is. Because the mainstream [media] doesn’t talk about what’s happening there [on the reservation].”Her new organization, the Sacred Healing Circle, had passed their elders’ lore on to the young people at Pine Ridge, who were fired up on traditional religion after the Standing Rock protests. The previous summer, those young people had installed water quality monitors in a number of sensitive sites.Now Cordoba walked through the Pine Ridge neighborhoods that had suffered the worst. “There were windows, doors, all stove in; cars smashed up,” she said. Church groups from Rapid City had already spent weekends volunteering, using plywood to cover gaping holes, but that was far from sufficient. “It was still cold and dark inside the houses, and people’s pipes were breaking” as winter temperatures fell. She crowdfunded $50,000 dollars, enough to put together a small work detail of locals and outside volunteers.“A team came [to make repairs]. There would be a whole [street] of 20 busted up houses — and you just started knocking on doors, ‘Hey, we’re helping repair windows with Plexiglas. Would you like help?’ We would put five people on this house, five on that one, and you would just go for it,” Cordoba recalled.It was slow going; few of the volunteers were professional construction workers, and there was “so much damage. We found out: some houses, it was [just] a window had to be fixed, but then [for others] the whole [trailer home] frame was damaged. Or, that person’s door has holes in it, so you go to Loews, and you buy them a new door — but then you realize the [door] frame was never set right, so the whole door is crooked,” and then both door and frame may need replacing to seal up the house again.With the climate crisis now escalating, and the federal government withdrawing, help from local muscle and outside charities is about all the disaster relief that Pine Ridge can expect for the foreseeable future.Speaking of FEMA’s 2018 hail storm aid denial, Cordoba said her team remains upbeat: “Sure, it shouldn’t have happened like that, but it did happen like that. And who was gonna keep people warm if not us?”Originally, she expected volunteers to begin recovery work with great enthusiasm but then fade away. Instead, the building crews were indomitable: “They’d say, ‘These are our people.’ So we would do one more house. One more window. Keep one more family warm tonight.” So they hammered and drilled, house-by-house, until the last of the money was gone. Eight months later, the bomb cyclone hit.BANNER IMAGE: A supercell over Kansas. Climate change is intensifying storms over the High Plains, making this already difficult arid environment with its extremes of hot and cold, more challenging to inhabit. Image by The Archive Team licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 4.0 International.FEEDBACK: Use this form to send a message to the author of this post. If you want to post a public comment, you can do that at the bottom of the page. Popular in the CommunitySponsoredSponsoredOrangutan found tortured and decapitated prompts Indonesia probeEMGIES17 Jan, 2018We will never know the full extent of what this poor Orangutan went through before he died, the same must be done to this evil perpetrator(s) they don’t deserve the air that they breathe this has truly upset me and I wonder for the future for these wonderful creatures. So called ‘Mankind’ has a lot to answer for we are the only ones ruining this world I prefer animals to humans any day of the week.What makes community ecotourism succeed? In Madagascar, location, location, locationScissors1dOther countries should also learn and try to incorporateWhy you should care about the current wave of mass extinctions (commentary)Processor1 DecAfter all, there is no infinite anything in the whole galaxy!Infinite stupidity, right here on earth.The wildlife trade threatens people and animals alike (commentary)Anchor3dUnfortunately I feel The Chinese have no compassion for any living animal. They are a cruel country that as we knowneatbeverything that moves and do not humanily kill these poor animals and insects. They have no health and safety on their markets and they then contract these diseases. Maybe its karma maybe they should look at the way they live and stop using animals for all there so called remedies. DisgustingConservationists welcome China’s wildlife trade banThobolo27 JanChina has consistently been the worlds worst, “ Face of Evil “ in regards our planets flora and fauna survival. In some ways, this is nature trying to fight back. This ban is great, but the rest of the world just cannot allow it to be temporary, because history has demonstrated that once this coronavirus passes, they will in all likelihood, simply revert to been the planets worst Ecco Terrorists. Let’s simply not allow this to happen! How and why they have been able to degrade this planets iconic species, rape the planets rivers, oceans and forests, with apparent impunity, is just mind boggling! Please no more.Probing rural poachers in Africa: Why do they poach?Carrot3dOne day I feel like animals will be more scarce, and I agree with one of my friends, they said that poaching will take over the world, but I also hope notUpset about Amazon fires last year? Focus on deforestation this year (commentary)Bullhorn4dLies and more leisSponsoredSponsoredCoke is again the biggest culprit behind plastic waste in the PhilippinesGrapes7 NovOnce again the article blames companies for the actions of individuals. It is individuals that buy these products, it is individuals that dispose of them improperly. If we want to change it, we have to change, not just create bad guys to blame.Brazilian response to Bolsonaro policies and Amazon fires growsCar4 SepThank you for this excellent report. I feel overwhelmed by the ecocidal intent of the Bolsonaro government in the name of ‘developing’ their ‘God-given’ resources.U.S. allocates first of $30M in grants for forest conservation in SumatraPlanet4dcarrot hella thick ;)Melting Arctic sea ice may be altering winds, weather at equator: studyleftylarry30 JanThe Arctic sea ice seems to be recovering this winter as per the last 10-12 years, good news.Malaysia has the world’s highest deforestation rate, reveals Google forest mapBone27 Sep, 2018Who you’re trying to fool with selective data revelation?You can’t hide the truth if you show historical deforestation for all countries, especially in Europe from 1800s to this day. WorldBank has a good wholesome data on this.Mass tree planting along India’s Cauvery River has scientists worriedSurendra Nekkanti23 JanHi Mongabay. Good effort trying to be objective in this article. I would like to give a constructive feedback which could help in clearing things up.1. It is mentioned that planting trees in village common lands will have negative affects socially and ecologically. There is no need to even have to agree or disagree with it, because, you also mentioned the fact that Cauvery Calling aims to plant trees only in the private lands of the farmers. So, plantation in the common lands doesn’t come into the picture.2.I don’t see that the ecologists are totally against this project, but just they they have some concerns, mainly in terms of what species of trees will be planted. And because there was no direct communication between the ecologists and Isha Foundation, it was not possible for them to address the concerns. As you seem to have spoken with an Isha spokesperson, if you could connect the concerned parties, it would be great, because I see that the ecologists are genuinely interested in making sure things are done the right way.May we all come together and make things happen.Rare Amazon bush dogs caught on camera in BoliviaCarrot1 Feba very good iniciative to be fallowed by the ranchers all overSponsored Article published by Glenn Scherercenter_img Adaptation To Climate Change, Climate, Climate Change, Climate Change And Extreme Weather, Climate Change Policy, Climate Change Politics, Climate Politics, Controversial, Drought, Environment, Environmental Activism, Environmental Ethics, Featured, Global Environmental Crisis, Green, Impact Of Climate Change, Indigenous Groups, Indigenous Peoples, Indigenous Reserves, Indigenous Rights, Poverty, Poverty Alleviation, Storms, Temperatures, Water Crisis, Water Scarcity last_img read more

Xavante tribe digs in as Brazil reneges on vow not to build a road in their reserve

first_img Popular in the CommunitySponsoredSponsoredOrangutan found tortured and decapitated prompts Indonesia probeEMGIES17 Jan, 2018We will never know the full extent of what this poor Orangutan went through before he died, the same must be done to this evil perpetrator(s) they don’t deserve the air that they breathe this has truly upset me and I wonder for the future for these wonderful creatures. So called ‘Mankind’ has a lot to answer for we are the only ones ruining this world I prefer animals to humans any day of the week.What makes community ecotourism succeed? In Madagascar, location, location, locationScissors1dOther countries should also learn and try to incorporateWhy you should care about the current wave of mass extinctions (commentary)Processor1 DecAfter all, there is no infinite anything in the whole galaxy!Infinite stupidity, right here on earth.The wildlife trade threatens people and animals alike (commentary)Anchor3dUnfortunately I feel The Chinese have no compassion for any living animal. They are a cruel country that as we knowneatbeverything that moves and do not humanily kill these poor animals and insects. They have no health and safety on their markets and they then contract these diseases. Maybe its karma maybe they should look at the way they live and stop using animals for all there so called remedies. DisgustingConservationists welcome China’s wildlife trade banThobolo27 JanChina has consistently been the worlds worst, “ Face of Evil “ in regards our planets flora and fauna survival. In some ways, this is nature trying to fight back. This ban is great, but the rest of the world just cannot allow it to be temporary, because history has demonstrated that once this coronavirus passes, they will in all likelihood, simply revert to been the planets worst Ecco Terrorists. Let’s simply not allow this to happen! How and why they have been able to degrade this planets iconic species, rape the planets rivers, oceans and forests, with apparent impunity, is just mind boggling! Please no more.Probing rural poachers in Africa: Why do they poach?Carrot3dOne day I feel like animals will be more scarce, and I agree with one of my friends, they said that poaching will take over the world, but I also hope notUpset about Amazon fires last year? Focus on deforestation this year (commentary)Bullhorn4dLies and more leisSponsoredSponsoredCoke is again the biggest culprit behind plastic waste in the PhilippinesGrapes7 NovOnce again the article blames companies for the actions of individuals. It is individuals that buy these products, it is individuals that dispose of them improperly. If we want to change it, we have to change, not just create bad guys to blame.Brazilian response to Bolsonaro policies and Amazon fires growsCar4 SepThank you for this excellent report. I feel overwhelmed by the ecocidal intent of the Bolsonaro government in the name of ‘developing’ their ‘God-given’ resources.U.S. allocates first of $30M in grants for forest conservation in SumatraPlanet4dcarrot hella thick ;)Melting Arctic sea ice may be altering winds, weather at equator: studyleftylarry30 JanThe Arctic sea ice seems to be recovering this winter as per the last 10-12 years, good news.Malaysia has the world’s highest deforestation rate, reveals Google forest mapBone27 Sep, 2018Who you’re trying to fool with selective data revelation?You can’t hide the truth if you show historical deforestation for all countries, especially in Europe from 1800s to this day. WorldBank has a good wholesome data on this.Mass tree planting along India’s Cauvery River has scientists worriedSurendra Nekkanti23 JanHi Mongabay. Good effort trying to be objective in this article. I would like to give a constructive feedback which could help in clearing things up.1. It is mentioned that planting trees in village common lands will have negative affects socially and ecologically. There is no need to even have to agree or disagree with it, because, you also mentioned the fact that Cauvery Calling aims to plant trees only in the private lands of the farmers. So, plantation in the common lands doesn’t come into the picture.2.I don’t see that the ecologists are totally against this project, but just they they have some concerns, mainly in terms of what species of trees will be planted. And because there was no direct communication between the ecologists and Isha Foundation, it was not possible for them to address the concerns. As you seem to have spoken with an Isha spokesperson, if you could connect the concerned parties, it would be great, because I see that the ecologists are genuinely interested in making sure things are done the right way.May we all come together and make things happen.Rare Amazon bush dogs caught on camera in BoliviaCarrot1 Feba very good iniciative to be fallowed by the ranchers all overSponsored For more than 50 years, the Xavante indigenous group has been fighting to regain sovereignty of the Marãiwatsédé Indigenous Reserve in Mato Grosso state. The most recent obstacle is the federal government’s plan to pave BR-158, the interstate highway that cuts through the middle of the reserve.Marãiwatsédé is the most heavily deforested indigenous reserve in the Legal Amazon: around 75% of its native vegetation has already been cut down. The Xavante suspect that paving the dirt track is part of the federal government’s plan to authorize leasing part of the reserve to ranchers in the region.In 2009, the Xavante began a lengthy negotiation process with government agencies to define alternatives to the original roadway. It was decided that BR-158 would circumvent the reserve, running to the east of its borders. But the government of President Jair Bolsonaro does not support the change, resulting in a stalemate that has escalated tensions in the region. The grief that plagues the Xavante people of northeastern Mato Grosso state in Brazil seems far from over. For more than 50 years now, the indigenous group has been fighting to regain sovereignty of the Marãiwatsédé Indigenous Reserve, which covers 1,650 square kilometers (640 square miles) in the valley where the Araguaia and Xingu river basins meet. Their biggest obstacle today is an unfinished interstate highway, the BR-158, that cuts through their land. The tension in the reserve has been growing, and the federal government has failed to find a solution for the impasse. On the contrary, the ministry of infrastructure insists on keeping the current roadway, which has already given way to a series of threats to the indigenous people.On Nov. 19 last year, the government included the 121 km (75 mi) of dirt road of BR-158 carved into the Marãiwatsédé Indigenous Reserve on its list of priorities for future concessions.“How [can the government] make a decision over the interstate without talking with us?” Damião Paridzané, the cacique, or historic leader, of the Xavante, said in a statement to Mongabay. “You can’t cut down a tree here without asking us. It seems as if they want to do everything without consulting with the Indians.”Interstate BR-158 has been associated with such problems as criminal invasions and illegal fires in the dwindling native forest that remains in Marãiwatsédé. It is now the most heavily deforested indigenous reserve in the Legal Amazon, with an accumulated loss of 75.7% of vegetation, according to Brazil’s Monitoring Deforestation in the Brazilian Amazon by Satellite Project (known as PRODES). What remains now are “islands” with vestiges of unique vegetation, characteristic of the transition between the biomes of the Amazon rainforest and the Cerrado savanna.Cacique Damião’s passions flare when the subject turns to the government’s plan to pave the original trajectory of Interstate BR-158, which it had previously been agreed would be diverted to circumvent the reserve rather than cut through it: “When are they going to keep the promise they made, to move the interstate far from here?”In 2009, the Xavante began a long negotiation with the National Department of Transportation Infrastructure (DNIT), the National Indian Foundation (FUNAI), the Brazilian Institute of the Environment and Renewable Resources (IBAMA) and the Federal Public Ministry in order to define alternatives to the road’s original course. It was decided at that time that Interstate BR-158 could be diverted to the east of the reserve.Though progress since then was slow, the project advanced with environmental authorizations for the construction of the new trajectory. But the Ministry of Infrastructure under the new president, Jair Bolsonaro, does not support the alternative.The ministry confirmed to Mongabay that the plan is indeed to pave the 121 km that cut through the reserve. On the other hand, the ministry guaranteed that it would follow “all the legal formalities, including the participation of the indigenous communities.”Others involved in the matter declined to comment, including the secretary of infrastructure for Mato Grosso state, and the offices of the mayors of Alto Boa Vista, Bom Jesus do Araguaia and São Félix do Araguaia, the municipalities that comprise the indigenous lands.Image of the Xavante people at the time of their forced removal by the military in the 1960s. Image courtesy of FUNAI.Broken agreements and a promise of warThe Xavante’s fight for their lands is intimately connected to BR-158. The interstate symbolizes a trauma inflicted during a time of dictatorship: in 1966, around 400 members of the ethnic group were herded onto military planes and expelled from their territory. The area was evacuated explicitly to enable the clearing of forest for BR-158.“The highway is part of the history of the Xavante and the fight to reclaim their territory,” says public prosecutor Wilson Rocha Assis. He was part of the Federal Public Ministry in Barra do Garças, Mato Grosso, where he worked for reparations for violations against the ethnic group.He also participated in the development of the alternative trajectory for the highway, and called the new administration’s insistence on sticking with the original course a “mistake.” “Veering east would be a win for everyone, because it would diminish the threats to the Marãiwatsédé while integrating municipalities that are left out, like Serra Nova Dourada, Mato Grosso, strengthening the local economy,” says Assis, who now works in Goiás state.The minister of infrastructure, Tarcísio Gomes, disagrees. According to him, the decision to maintain the course of the interstate running through the indigenous land is, first and foremost, an economic issue.In June 2019, he discussed the impasse with the director general of the National Department of Transportation Infrastructure, Antônio Leite dos Santos Filho, and politicians from Mato Grosso allied with agribusiness — including Governor Mauro Mendes and federal representatives Neri Gueller and Carlos Fávaro of the ruralist caucus.On that occasion, Gomes said the plan was to substitute the wooden bridges inside the reserve with concrete structures, as well as to finish paving the stretch of road through Marãiwatsédé. “We are going to deal with whatever we have to, but BR-158 will have the same original course, which makes more sense economically … This is why we’re going to fight. Leave the confrontation to us,” the minister said.The coming fight could very well be literal. The Xavante have made clear they are ready to face the ultimate consequences if the interstate is not redirected: “Let it be clear that our decision is for the destruction of the bridges cutting through our territory. We know that this action will cause conflicts, but it is the only alternative we have left,” they wrote in a letter to the National Department of Transportation Infrastructure in 2018.One of Damião’s sons, Cosmo, also criticized the interstate’s legacy in the reserve. “I say, as an indigenous man, who lives with my community on a daily basis, that our situation is precarious. This road is being utilized without a landowner … They are only attending to people who have economic interests,” he said at a public hearing in Congress. At the time, lawmakers insisted on the controversial pavement plan.Last July, the Federal Public Ministry in Mato Grosso spoke up, demanding greater flexibility from the federal government in resolving the stalemate. It filed a lawsuit to force the government to shut down the stretch inside Marãiwatsédé. According to the Federal Public Ministry, paving the road would facilitate new invasions and other threats, further suggesting that the Xavante demands do not move the federal government to action.“Paving the road will have an irreparable impact on the landholding order in the region and make it impossible for the authorities to make good on their obligations to the Xavante,” federal prosecutor Everton Pereira Aguiar Araújo said in the lawsuit.He also said ”there is an evident correlation between the existence of the roadway [BR-158] and the incidence of damages to the indigenous land,” and criticized the government’s priorities, saying its “greatest concern is to maintain Interstate BR-158 and that all other issues are accidental.” The lawsuit is now circulating in the federal courts in Mato Grosso, with no decision announced yet.Traditional Xavante log race. Image by Fora do Eixo (CC BY-NC-SA).A history of invasions, resistance and violenceBR-158 was also the stage for a conflict that deeply scarred the Xavante people. In 1992, the largest invasion of the reserve took place right at the intersection with another highway, BR-242, where a village called Posto da Mata was founded.After a 20-year saga in the court system, the Supreme Court of Brazil (STF) ruled that the invaders be expelled. Between 2012 and 2014, the indigenous people retook the area with the support of law enforcement agencies and the Federal Public Ministry. But around 2,000 people resisted, leading to a dangerous escalation in tensions.“[The invaders] broke into FUNAI headquarters in Marãiwatsédé and set fire to everything — destroying documents, equipment and whatever else was there,” says prosecutor Wilson Assis, who worked on the case.At the time, public figures like Damião Paridzané and the bishop emeritus of São Félix do Araguaia, Dom Pedro Casaldáliga, as well as FUNAI employees, faced death threats — no trivial matter in an area known to have assassins for hire and gunmen since the 1960s.The Federal Public Ministry accused 13 people of being part of a criminal organization that had coordinated the invasions. In its complaint, it alleged that this group manipulated public opinion in the municipalities neighboring the reserve, like Alto Boa Vista and São Félix do Araguaia, with the objective of favoring large-scale farmers and local politicians.The criminal scheme even spilled over into Congress. The investigation revealed ties between the overseers of the invasions and representatives in Brasília. The Supreme Court went so far as to open an investigation into the case. In 2016, the inquiry was shelved at the request of the court’s president, Dias Toffoli, on grounds of judicial confidentiality.The contentious expulsion of the invaders turned into a political powder keg in the region. Tensions got to a point that the Federal Public Ministry was forced to make a statement about the impasse in early 2019, promising “an energetic and effective response” in the event of any attack or reoccupation of the old Posto da Mata.For Damião, the current climate of tension serves only to weaken the indigenous people’s sovereignty over their lands.In particular, the Xavante believe that the federal government wants to authorize the leasing of part of the reserve to ranchers in Araguaia-Xingu. President Bolsonaro has never made any attempt to hide his support for the idea of leasing out indigenous lands.“Do they think we’re fools?” Damião said. “If you lease to one, then another one will pop up, then a bunch more. What we want is support, real help from FUNAI to take care of our land.”This story was first reported by Mongabay’s Brazil team and published here on our Brazil site on Jan. 23, 2019. Article published by Xavier Bartaburucenter_img Amazon, Amazon Biodiversity, Amazon Destruction, Biodiversity, Indigenous Communities, Indigenous Peoples, Indigenous Reserves, Indigenous Rights, Infrastructure, Mrn-amazon Infrastructure, Rainforest Deforestation, Roads last_img read more

London Olympics: Hungarian Aron Szilagyi wins gold in men’s sabre fencing

first_imgAron Szilagyi of Hungary turned out unstoppable as he stormed all the way to win the men’s sabre fencing gold at the London Olympic Games on Sunday. The 22-year-old beat Diego Occhiuzzi of Italy 15-10 in the final. Russian Nikolay Kovalev, who knocked out world No.1 Nicolas Limback of Germany 15-12 in the quarterfinal, won the bronze.Szilagyi raced to a 7-0 lead in the final, and though Occhiuzzi fought back valiantly, the Hungarian managed to hold his lead.The top four seeds met their waterloo even before the semifinals. Before Linback lost to Kovlev, the second seed Alexey Yakimenko of Russia was upset by Daryl Homer of the US 15-14 in the third round.World No. 3 Gu Bon Gil of South Korea also fell in the third round where he was bundled out by German Max Hartung.Italian Aldo Montano, gold medalist at the Athens Olympics, was stopped by Occhiuzzi before the quarterfinals.last_img read more