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American Indian Movement: Hidden history, sovereignty and resistance

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The American Indian Movement’s annual west coast conference reveals atrocities of California Indian missions, and honors Darrell Standing Elk, while urging clemency for Leonard Peltier
By Brenda Norrell
SAN FRANCISCO — The AIM West Conference revealed the true history of the California Indian Missions. It is a history of slavery, beatings and murder. It is a history that the Pope refused to recognize when he honored the brutal priest Junipero Serra.
Valentin Lopez, Chairman of the Amah Mutsun Tribal Band of Costanoan Ohlone Indians, described the true history of slavery and cruelty, beatings and murders, of the California Indian missions.
Lopez chronicled the history and opposition to the recognition of Junipero Serra as a Saint, during the American Indian Movement’s annual West Coast Conference here this weekend.
“We can’t depend on the Catholic Church to tell the truth.” He said the state of California can not be depended on to tell the truth.
“We need to tell our own truth.”
Lopez said the beatings and atrocities of California Indians carried out by Junipero Serra were carried out with the moral authority of the Pope.
“That does not come from the Creator. That comes from evil.”
The annual AIM West Conference began by honoring Darrell Standing Elk, Lakota, and urging clemency for Leonard Peltier, now 71, who has spent his life in prison.
Jean Whitehorse, Dine’ (Navajo) spoke on termination, relocation and sterilization by the US government. Speakers discussed protection of Native American sacred places and burial places, using the social media and the ongoing organizing by Indigenous Peoples for the UN climate summit COP21 in Paris.
Sovereignty was also a focal point.
Tohono O’odham human rights activists and Mohawk Warriors spoke out on sovereignty.
Mike Wilson, Tohono O’odham, described documenting the abuse by the US Border Patrol and an increase in violence toward O’odham by border agents along the border of the United States and Mexico.
“The Tohono O’odham tribal government has completely surrendered to the US Homeland Security,” Wilson said.
Wilson said people ask him why — if the Tohono O’odham is sovereign — is the US Border Patrol on the Tohono O’odham Nation.
“In Indian country, we are not sovereign nations, we are not even sovereign people,” Wilson said.
“If we were truly sovereign, why do we have Border Patrol, as far as I’m concerned it is an occupying army in Indian country.”
Mark Maracle, Mohawk Warrior, responded on the issue of sovereignty.
Maracle said that Mohawks do not wait for anyone to tell them that they are sovereign.
“You don’t have sovereignty unless you assert sovereignty,” Maracle told Censored News.
“The United States and Mexico are not sovereign nations.”
“We tell them we are sovereign. We don’t wait for them to tell us that we are sovereign. We tell them. If you want sovereignty, you have to make sacrifices.”
Maracle said Mohawks have stood up against the state police, federal agents and all forms of government.
“We keep reminding them that this land belongs to us.”
Maracle said he is speaking because he was given the right to speak by the Mohawk clan mothers.
Read more of their comments:
– Day 1: Honoring Darrell Standing Elk, urging clemency for Peltier,
and speakers
– Day 2: Hidden Atrocities: California Indian Missions and Doctrine of Discovery
– Response: Mohawk Warrior Mark Maracle interview and Tohono O’odham human rights activist Mike Wilson speak out on sovereignty
– The 2014 video archives are streaming until the 2015 video archives are posted.
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Brenda Norrell has been a news reporter in Indian country for 29 years, serving as a writer for Navajo Times and a stringer for AP and USA Today during the 18 years she lived on the Navajo Nation. After being a longtime staff reporter for Indian Country Today, she was censored and terminated. She then created Censored News, focused on Indigenous Peoples and human rights, now in its fifth year.


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