Here’s what Trump’s decision means for the Dakota Access Pipeline; new wave of protests after Trump signs executive action

From Grist


This story was originally published by High Country News and is reproduced here as part of the Climate Desk collaboration.

The Standing Rock Sioux Tribe and the pipeline industry have been locked in bitter dispute over the Dakota Access Pipeline. The 1,172-mile pipeline is nearly finished, except for a section that would cross under Lake Oahe, which the tribe relies on for water. But this week, they were on the same page: They agree Trump’s executive actions will likely lead to authorizations first for the Dakota Access Pipeline and then other big projects.

On Tuesday, the president signed a memorandum instructing the U.S. Army and the Army Corps of Engineers to “review and approve in an expedited manner, to the extent permitted by law and as warranted, and with such conditions as are necessary or appropriate, requests for approvals to construct and operate (the Dakota Access Pipeline).” It also directs the Army to “consider, to the extent permitted by law,” whether to rescind the Obama administration memorandum that stalled construction last month. Following that memorandum from the Assistant Secretary of the Army for Civil Works, the agency on Jan. 18 issued its notice of intent to prepare an environmental impact statement and asked for public comment due Feb. 20 before deciding whether to allow an easement needed to complete construction. The Trump memorandum also asked the Army to consider dropping that environmental impact statement.

Trump’s presidential memorandum on the Dakota Access Pipeline is full of legal language and doesn’t directly order the permit necessary for the pipeline to be completed. Still both sides concede that it paves the way for the pipeline to go ahead, probably more effectively than a direct order would have.

Industry representatives say the muted language will make it harder for successful legal challenges once the Army approves the pipeline. The president also signed another memorandum in support of reviving the Keystone XL pipeline to bring tar sands oil from Alberta, Canada, and an executive order mandating that environmental reviews of infrastructure be expedited. “They did it for strategic reasons,” says John Stoody, a vice president of the Association of Oil Pipelines. “While the memorandums look vaguer on the surface (than directly ordering an easement), they’re actually stronger legally and have a better chance in resulting in a positive outcome.” Industry officials heralded Trump’s actions as an early indication that a new era of job-creating infrastructure projects has dawned.

The Standing Rock Sioux’s chief lawyer, Jan Hasselman, says under a straightforward reading of Trump’s Dakota Access Pipeline memorandum, the Corps should still go forward with the full environmental impact statement and additional consultation with the tribe as ordered by the Army. That would take many months. “Do I think that’s what’s going to happen? No,” Hasselman, an attorney for Earthjustice, conceded.

One strong point in Trump’s favor, industry officials say, is that even the Obama administration argued that the Army had been on sound legal footing when it initially conducted a streamlined environmental review instead of the full study it’s now planning. “The last administration itself admitted it comported with the law,” Stoody says.

Assistant Secretary of the Army Jo-Ellen Darcy made this point when announcing the decision to stall the pipeline to conduct an environmental impact statement and further consult with the tribe. “I want to be clear that this decision does not alter the Army’s decision that the Corps’ prior reviews and actions comported with legal requirements,” Darcy wrote in a memorandum Dec. 4. “Rather, my decision acknowledges and addresses that a more robust analysis of alternatives can and should be done under these circumstances, before an easement is granted for the Dakota Access Pipeline to cross the Missouri River on Corps land.”

If, as expected, the Corps approves the easement, the tribe intends to challenge it in court. Hasselman underscored that Trump’s memorandum doesn’t mention the tribe, its treaty rights, or its concerns about water quality. “This is another action in a long history of sidestepping treaty rights and trampling on the rights of indigenous people,” he said. “If this is how the Trump administration is going to be approaching issues in Indian country, it’s going to be a long four years.”

Dave Archambault II, chair of the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe, told reporters that he had repeatedly tried to speak with the Trump administration but was rebuffed.

The tribe got the attention of the Obama administration last year after thousands of protesters gathered in and near the reservation to protest the pipeline plans. Now, the tribe has asked demonstrators to leave by Feb. 18, because of concerns for their health and welfare. “We’re asking that the camp be cleared. We’re asking that people don’t come,” Archambault said during a conference call Wednesday with reporters. “The fight is now in D.C.”

Archambault called on the public to stand up and for civil servants to resist the Trump administration, warning that many more attacks on the environment and people’s rights are on the way. “Now we have to go and make noise where we can be heard.”

Here’s what Trump’s decision means for the Dakota Access Pipeline

From Lakota People’s Law Project Report
January 27, 2017

President Donald Trump has given the green light to streamline construction of the Dakota Access Pipeline near the Standing Rock reservation in North Dakota. His decision is not surprising given that his cabinet picks are full of pro-oil candidates like Exxon Mobil executive Rex Tillerson and former Texas Governor Rick Perry.

The pipeline construction in its current proposition has been found to understate the risks posed by landslides and amount of safety construction to contain spills. Such spills are most likely going to poison groundwater that the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe needs to sustain itself. If the pipeline construction is complete, Standing Rock could be the next Flint, where residents have to use bottled water for daily use.

This executive action overturns all the work water protectors have made recently under the Obama administration, and which is unfortunate because the Standing Rock Sioux tribe formally asked the encampments to disperse on Friday, January 20th according to Reuters. While Archambault stated that the fight is now in the courts, the tribe needs support and solidarity now more than ever.

This unfortunate turn of events overshadows the recent victory of the water protectors in the North Dakota Supreme Court, which allowed for out-of-state lawyers to represent the over 600 protesters that have been arrested so far . With arrests still ongoing, this number is likely to rise.

President Trump’s actions have not fallen on deaf ears, however. Various representatives of environmental groups and civil rights groups, including the ACLU and the Sierra Club, have all voiced their opposition to this revival of pipeline construction.

Activists like Chase Iron Eyes, Lead Attorney for the Lakota People’s Law Project, have been especially active in standing against these actions. On Facebook posted:

Fighters, brothers and sisters. Come. Heed the call to defend this country against all enemies, foreign & domestic. We shall find out who loves this land, who is loyal to the water and who is a traitor to this land, to our water.”

Protests have also occurred in New York outside of Trump Tower and Trump International Hotel—attendance numbering in the hundreds—to show the President that these actions will not go on without consequence.

As the situation intensifies, people are again diverting their attention to the confrontation in Standing Rock. Chairman of the United Nations (UN) Working Group on the issue of Human Rights, Transnational Corporations and other Business Enterprises, Pavel Sulyandziga, and Grand Chief Wilton Littlechild, member of the UN Expert Mechanism on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, have both arrived in North Dakota. These two gentlemen will be joined by representatives of the International Indian Treaty Council (IITC) as well as the ACLU Human Rights Program who participated in a human rights training workshop on Sunday January 22nd.

The water protectors still have a long battle ahead of them. In addition to the frigid weather, the state of North Dakota has introduced bills that make it illegal to wear masks at protests and for people to join the resistance camps  under threat of being fined $5,000 dollars.  Oh but what the North Dakota assembly attempted to make legal, by way of a bill introduction, is the “unintentional” mowing down of protesters being fast moving vehicles.

If these actions are not enough to make you cringe, the Trump administration denied a request by Dave Archambault II to engage in dialogue about moving forward with the oil pipeline. If the President is not even willing to hear both sides of the issue he is essentially declaring what side he stands for.

The fight to protect the water rights and the livelihoods of Standing Rock Sioux Tribe is far from over. We must remain vigilant in this crucial time and do everything we can to stand in solidarity with those who have vowed to protect the land, tribal sovereignty, and clean water.

Please add your comment to the Army Corps of Engineers’ Environmental Impact Statement at lakotalaw.org.dapl-action before the filing period ends on Feb. 20.

http://ourchildrenaresacred.org/new-wave-of-protests-after-trump-signs-executive-action-for-dapl-completion/

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Australian First Nation children are tortured and abused at Don Dale Detention Centre, Australia’s Abu Ghraib

By Ken Canning
Asia-Pacific Research, July 26, 2016
Green Left Weekly 26 July 2016

The following article from Australia is a sharp rebuke of Australian Prime Minister Malcolm B. Turnbull by an Aborigine candidate of the Australian Senate that rightly criticizes his government for doing nothing to stop the torture and widespread abuse of children and juveniles at the Don Dale Detention Centre that was exposed by investigative journalist Caro Meldrum-Hanna on Australian national television on July 25, 2016. The indigenous or Aborigine Australian community repeatedly demanded that the Australian government take legal action. Reports about Aborigine or First Nation children and juveniles, which are the bulk of the detention wards in the Northern Territory, being brutalized were frequently made without meaningful consequences.

Leaks from Don Dale Detention Centre show children being forcefully stripped naked, hog tied like cattle, carried by the neck, knocked down, and thrown by facility staff. Prison guards systematically de-humanized and humiliated children and juveniles with insults, beatings, and gassing in what amounts to nothing short of unjust abuse of authority and criminal acts. Prior to the leaked footage aired by the Australian Broadcasting Corporation’s Four Corners program that explicitly shows children and juveniles being abused and tortured by guards, current and past Australian governments were well aware of what was happening at the youth detention centre for approximately two  to five years. These governments, however, refused to take any action. Only when the broader general public became aware of the horrific crimes at Don Dale Dentention Centre did the Australian government feign outrage and pledge to take action by saying that it would establish a royal commission of inquiry. This is utter hypocrisy and dishonesty on the part of the federal government of Australia, which has been motivated by the self-interest of saving face.

Along with the long history of the Australian state to abuse vulnerable peoples, the racist attitudes that serve to justify the marginalization of the Aborigine of Australia are deeply entrenched in Australian society and have enabled what has happened in Don Dale Detention Centre. The victims were not seen or respected as being equals. Instead the victims were viewed as lesser people by virtue of their socio-economic and ethnic backgrounds. Essentially they were treated as non-people that could be abused with impunity. This is why Don Dale Detention Centre should be viewed as nothing short of being Australia’s own Abu Ghraib. The Iraqis that were tortured by the US military in Abu Ghraib were also viewed as non-people by the US personnel stationed there, which for the US perpetrators excused the violation of the rights of their Iraqi victims. Moreover, the comparison between Abu Ghraib and Don Dale is especially fitting since many of the wards at Don Dale are children and juveniles from Australian indigenous communities, which are a dispossessed people that have been driven off their ancestral lands by the colonial process that established Australia.

 Mahdi Darius Nazemroaya, Asia-Pacific Research Editor, 26 July 2016.

Dylan Voller, a thirteen-year old boy, being strangled at  Don Dale Detention Centre.

Dylan, age seventeen, is seen above and below being tied to a chair in adult prison.

Malcolm Turnbull has called for a Royal Commission after seeing on ABC’s Four Corners the brutality that has been happening under both his government and the previous Labor government.

He said this evidence had not been brought forth at previous inquiries. Not good enough Turnbull!

People have been screaming for the past five years about the Don Dale detention centre and your government and the Labor government have chosen to ignore this pure evil. You not only ignored it, you let it fester.

You either knew and thus are complicit, or you did not know and are simply not fit to govern. You cannot get out of this one with a slippery smile, Turnbull.

A Royal Commission? What a joke! You have all the evidence you need; it shocked a whole nation. Predominantly First Nations children are being brutalised by a system you let continue in your pretence of ignorance.

The evidence is there. Sack everyone in Corrective Services in the Northern Territory. Those who did not actually do anything would have known of these practices and allowed it to happen.

Sack the NT government and while you are at it, sweep the federal parliament of the rubbish currently holding seats of power who sat by and watched while our kids were being tortured.

This is an international disgrace and this country should be dragged before the United Nations and stripped of its powers. The Australian government had its racist intervention into the NT so maybe its time for an international intervention into Australia?

Put simply the Coalition and Labor have lost the ability to govern.

Ken Canning is a First Nations activist who was a Senate candidate for the Socialist Alliance in the July 2 elections.

To read a past report about abuse at Don Dale Detention Centre please click here

The original source of this article is Green Left Weekly

Copyright © Ken Canning, Green Left Weekly, 2016

http://www.asia-pacificresearch.com/australias-abu-ghraib-australian-government-complicit-in-torture-of-children-at-don-dale-detention-centre/5538149

 

Indigenous Nations v. Junipero Serra: AIM takes Serra to court

From Indian Country Today Media Network

Serra Tribunal Defense Team

Nanette Deetz
9/21/15

Junipero Serra was brought to court by California’s tribal descendants of the Mission system in the case of Indigenous Nations v. Junipero Serra. He was brought to court by the American Indian Movement Southern California Chapter on Tongva territory in Los Angeles for the crimes of torture, slavery, rape, theft of California indigenous land and promoting the intentional death of thousands of California’s indigenous people. The historic effects of this trauma are still experienced today. Serra was found “guilty” of all charges against him.

The “No Sainthood for Serra Tribunal” was presented as satire on September 12 in the form of Guerrilla Theater, and was serious yet funny, allowing for laughter amidst the pain of the Canonization proposed by Pope Francis. This theater piece was conceived and organized by Corine Fairbanks (Lakota), director of AIM Southern California.

“We wanted people to have a voice, and we wanted this protest to be creative and interactive in a positive way,” Fairbanks said. “There is so much anger surrounding the proposed sainthood among California’s Native tribes, that we wanted people to be creative and have fun too.”

Mary Valdemar played the Virgin, and reminded Serra: “You cannot use Christianity to strip away our people. It is not an excuse for loss of language, culture and tradition.” (Steven Storm)
Mary Valdemar played the Virgin, and reminded Serra: “You cannot use Christianity to strip away our people. It is not an excuse for loss of language, culture and tradition.” (Steven Storm)

AIM Southern California views the Canonization of Junipero Serra as an international issue having global repercussions. The Doctrine of Discovery was an instrument used by the Spanish Monarchy and the Catholic Church to justify the invasion, enslavement, and genocide of indigenous people. Pope Francis, in his recommendation to elevate Junipero Serra to Sainthood, implies that the Doctrine of Discovery was justified, and atrocities committed against California’s First People were justified and by “Divine Right.” Canonization for a priest such as Serra, with the large body of his own recorded statements, and well-researched historic fact, presents a profound contradiction and hypocrisy within the Catholic Church.

RELATED: Serra-Gate: The Fabrication of a Saint

At the tribunal, Serra was assigned a public defender, portrayed by Fairbanks, and a defense attorney portrayed by Dennis Sandoval Landau (originally from Guatemala, now a senior at Cal State Los Angeles). There was a judge, expert witnesses for the Church, and even Satan, portrayed by San Bernardino College student Jason Martinez.

Martinez portrayed a dancing Satan with lines like, “don’t you love what you have now? Inhale the sweet smell of gunpowder in your streets instead of the sweet smell of sage.”

Josey Trevor played the comedic, yet serious pregnant nun. (Steven Storm)
Josey Trevor played the comedic, yet serious pregnant nun. (Steven Storm)

The role of Junipero Serra was performed by Kevin Head, a professional actor who also organizes community gardens. “It’s tough to play the role of someone so hated. Now I understand why so many California tribal people are angry. The decision to grant sainthood to Serra is wrong,” Head said.

The prosecuting attorney, played by Angela Mooney D’Arcy, Acjachemen Nation/Juaneno Band of Mission Indians, and executive director and founder of Sacred Places Institute for Indigenous Peoples, asked pointed questions about colonial ideology, forcing the defense to stumble. She asked for a definition of genocide, and forced Serra to say that he believed completely in Church Doctrine at the time.

The prosecution presented its own expert witnesses including the Virgin/Tonatzin, who was portrayed by Mary Valdemar, librarian at San Bernardino Community College and V.P. of Latino faculty and staff. The Virgin reminded Serra: “If you have men who claim to be doing the work of God, yet they prey on the most vulnerable, the women, the children, you have an obligation to speak out. You cannot use Christianity to strip away our people. It is not an excuse for loss of language, culture and tradition.”

Lydia Ponce (Mayo, Sinaloa and Quechua, Peru) represented the role of the women working in the fields, who were not fed enough, and were beaten. Her performance brought tears to the eyes of those watching. Josey Trevor (Hopi descendant, Third Mesa and Diné) provided comic relief as the pregnant nun. “Here we are again, Serra. Not only did you rape me (thus my pregnancy) my mother, and our children, but you enabled the Spanish soldiers to beat us and strip us. They came into our room all the time,” the nun said.

Lydia Ponce portrayed women beaten and forced to work in the fields with little food. (Steven Storm)
Lydia Ponce portrayed women beaten and forced to work in the fields with little food. (Steven Storm)

The tribunal was not only creative, funny, and engaging, but it also asked serious questions about the validity of canonization and the effects of colonization and historic trauma that tribal descendants of the Mission system continue to endure. The play presented the effects of dominant cultural mythology that is taught in California schools as the only narrative about California’s tribal nations, and the importance of a new historic truth.

http://indiancountrytodaymedianetwork.com/2015/09/21/indigenous-nations-v-junipero-serra-aim-takes-serra-court-161802
 
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Western values: Pope Francis’ plans to canonize Junipero Serra despite his crimes against indigenous nations

A very disturbing international event is planned for Wednesday: the canonization of Padre Junipero Serra by Pope Francis.

It unmasks the pope and Vatican establishment. What Junipero Serra did personally, as well as other Franciscan “padres” and Spanish soldiers throughout the California mission chain, is historical fact. A recent book documenting Serra and the missions is “A Cross of Thorns” by journalist Elias Castillo. So, are racism, slavery, and abuse being elevated and honored as well in this ceremony? It appears they are.

Many American Catholics and the California governor himself support the Pope’s highest honor for Serra, rather than standing with the ancient people of the land (see comment to original article by Ben Talley).

American and European crimes against indigenous nations continue.

From Indian Country Today Media Network:

Serra the Saint: Why Not?

1/26/15

We are told that Junipero Serra is being canonized because he brought Christianity to California Indigenous Peoples. If that were all he had brought to us, perhaps I could find it in my heart to forgive Pope Francis’ decision. If Serra had brought us the choice of Christianity—with no punishment for choosing to remain faithful to our own religions—perhaps I could understand the Pope’s decision. But Serra did not just “bring” us Christianity; he imposed it, he forced it, he violated us with it, giving us no choice in the matter.

Missionization, for California Indians, was more like indoctrination in an abusive cult than spiritual grace. Natives who resisted or refused conversion were beaten, imprisoned, starved, exiled or driven from their homelands—usually by soldiers, at the behest of priests. Catholicism was the stealth weapon of Spanish colonization; a “moral” reason for conquest, to protect lands Spain wanted for itself from Russians moving south from Alaska. In addition to Christianity, the Spaniards brought disease, including their own special brand of syphilis that not only sterilized Native women, but caused birth defects, blindness and death. A pre-contact population of close to one million dropped to 250,000-300,000 in less than 70 years. These numbers, these statistics, are human beings. Our Ancestors. Our relatives. Our families. The missionaries’ efforts directly caused generations of historical trauma to California Indians from which we still have not recovered (loss of indigenous religion, culture, languages, art, land, health, psychological well-being and sovereignty were direct results of Serra’s missionization efforts).

In other historical contexts, this kind of abuse of power is called genocide, a crime against humanity. It is certainly about as far away from sainthood as anything I can imagine, and the Catholic Church’s stated intentions to honor Serra with canonization indicates that it has learned nothing, and does not understand that it needs to learn: violently enforced religion is not missionization, it is terrorism.

RELATED: Disrobing Junipero Serra: Saint or Monster?

RELATED: Father Serra’s Sainthood: Sanctifying a Legacy of Domination

Why, then, is Serra’s canonization seemingly imminent? After the church rape scandals in the past couple of decades, Serra may be seen by many in the Vatican as someone whose reputation is above all of that, having lived prior to and not affected by the legal cases still going on. And this canonization is definitely seen, within Vatican circles, as having taken too long already—Serra was beatified in 1988, which raised protests from Native peoples and, along with the then-necessity of a second miracle—may have put things on the back burner until now.

Meanwhile, Pope Francis’ participation in the fast-tracking of the double canonization last year (of his predecessors, Popes John Paul XXIII and John II) should serve as a red flag, indicating a lack of judgment and sensitivity toward the suffering not just of Native Americans and their Ancestors, but of Catholics themselves, particularly those who were sexually abused and whose Church covered up the crimes. As Barbie Latza Nadeau writes, Pope John II not only protected one of the priests involved (“Legionnaires of Christ founder Father Marcial Maciel Degollado, who sexually abused seminarians, fathered several children and even abused his own son”), but actually rallied around him. In addition, “In many ways,” says Nadeau, “John Paul II laid the groundwork for his own fast track to sainthood back in 1983 when he dismissed the office of the advocatus diabolus, or devil’s advocate. Until then, all causes for saints had to be scrutinized by a canon lawyer, called the Promoter Fidei, who studied each saint’s worthiness. John Paul … would not likely have made the cut based on his record on the child abuse scandal.” Indeed, with the new rules for sainthood no longer requiring two miracles, Serra’s canonization does seem likely to happen soon.

Serra, many of his supporters have argued, was simply “a man of his times.” In other words, colonization happens, and we should not blame those caught up in it. But that has a flip side to it: if Serra was, in fact, “a man of his times” in 1769 when he founded the first California mission in San Diego, he should have known better: Bartolome de las Casas knew better in 1552 when he published “A Short Account of the Destruction of the Indies,” and spent his entire life working for the freedom of Indians and return of their lands (a wealthy man, a priest, and former Indian slave-holder); a document Serra and all priests in training would have read and debated.

Padre Antonio Horra knew better in 1799 when he protested soldiers’ rapes and beatings of Indian converts at his California mission. The Church officials in California and Mexico sent poor Padre Horra home saying he had gone insane from the stress of missionization and his inability to deal with the hardships of The New World. Mission websites state that “Padre Antonio de la Concepcion Horra (1767-?) became a problem almost from the very beginning. Then-President of the missions, Padre Fermin Francisco de Lasuen, assigned Padre Horra to work with the experienced missionary Padre Buenaventura Sitjar, for the founding of Mission San Miguel. Less than a month after the July 25, 1797 founding, Padre Horra began showing signs of insanity … ‘Two surgeons at Monterey examined Horra and declared him insane; the governor made it official, and Horra was returned to Mexico. From there, Padre Horra was returned to Spain on July 8, 1804.”

However, there is another, rarely heard side to this story: “The treatment shown to the Indians is the most cruel … For the slightest things they receive heavy floggings, are shackled, and put in the stocks, and treated with so much cruelty that they are kept whole days without a drink of water,” Horra wrote in his own defense, adding that charges of insanity were false and brought against him because of his serious charges against of cruelty by priests and soldiers, and mismanagement of Church resources (Bancroft 587). In closing, Horra asked to be sent back to Spain because he feared for his life—not because of wild Indians, but due to his own Franciscan brethren.

Many letters, diaries and records of others traveling in California during Serra’s tenure and afterwards left behind testimonies of the brutality brought on by the missions. In 1786, French explorer Jean-François de Galaup de la Pérouse observed that during his visit to Mission Carmel a mere three years after Serra’s death, “Everything reminded us of a habitation in Saint Domingo, or any other West Indian slave colony. The men and women are assembled by the sound of the bell, one of the religious conducts them to their work, to church, and to all other exercises. We mention it with pain, the resemblance to a slave colony is so perfect, that we saw men and women loaded with irons, others in the stocks; and at length the noise of the strokes of a whip struck our ears.” Other visitors in the same era noted that Indians were even beaten with a whip or cane when they did not “attend worship”—not simply going to services, but actually paying attention to the service and necessary responses. These people saw through “the eyes of their time” and what they saw disturbed them deeply. Serra knew, too.

In 1988, the last time canonization of Serra came up, protests from California Indians was loud and immediately. “He is as responsible for what happened to American Indians as Hitler was responsible for what happened to the Jews,” Jeannette Costo told The Chicago Tribune.

This comparison is often dismissed out of hand as hyperbole, yet there is something to it: when Serra supporters write that “he was a man of his times, part of an inevitable colonization and expansion of European powers,” I often wonder, would we accept that as an excuse for Hitler, as well? Wasn’t he just another power-hungry European leader who went to war for more territory?

More recently, retired Bishop Francis A. Quinn apologized to the Miwok Indians during a Mass at the Church of St. Raphael in San Rafael California; Bishop Quinn admitted that missionaries “took the Indian out of the Indian,” and imposed “a European Catholicism upon the natives.” He also admitted that mission soldiers and priests had raped Indian women and enforced missionary rules with brutal and violent punishments. Perhaps most stunning, Bishop Quinn agreed with what some of us have long known: that Indians were civilized, had forms of religion, education, art, governance and agricultural knowledge long before the Spanish arrived bent on conversion and their own version of civilization.

And still more recently, Bishop Richard Garcia asked forgiveness from the Diocese of Monterey (in December 2012) when he offered a formal apology for the abuses of the Amah Mutsun Tribal Band of Ohlone/Costanoan Indians, one of several tribes taken into Mission Carmel.

RELATED: California Bishop Will Apologize to Amah Mutsun Tribal Band

A clear thread of protest from within the Catholic Church itself runs parallel to the protests of California Indians, although each has often been in danger of erasure by the powers that wish to control the narrative.

So is it any wonder that California Indians, and many of our allies, feel that Serra’s canonization is a mistake that will only cause further damage to our struggle to return from the aftermath of genocide—a struggle which in large part depends upon our ability to challenge and expose the Mission Mythology that supports past injustices?

As I write this, my mind is already leaping ahead to the hate mail and comments sure to follow. In the comment section of a November 2013 issue of an article about Junipero Serra in The Guardian, I saw this typical thread:

Serra the Saint Message Thread
Serra the Saint Message Thread

The sheer inability of people to do their own research, or lacking that, to critically examine the arguments of the “research” they do read (or imagine they read), stuns me. Obviously, our California Indian Ancestors not only survived “the ravages of Mother Nature,” but had a deeply spiritual connection with the cycles and our responsibilities to the beings around us; we did not need a “refuge” “against” nature, because we had spent thousands of years working with our world and understood what was required for an equitable relationship. I’ve seen far, far more vicious threads in the past few days. On the New York Times comment section after an article in which I was quoted (along with two other California Indians), someone named Richard M wrote, “I hate to be blunt, but it must be said: ‘Prominent Native Americans’ here equals ‘usual handful of professional left-wing activists.’” I replied with my academic and tribal credentials, gave him a few hard facts about missions, and told him to educate himself. I refrained from his own brand of blunt simply because, as an Indian, I’ve learned that I cannot stoop to the level of haters without losing what little credibility I have.

So I don’t fool myself into thinking that I am going to change the minds of haters, or of the people who think this debate is highly amusing and not worth their time, because “it’s all water under the bridge now, just move on.” But I do feel strongly that as one of the few descendants of the Indians who survived the missions, I have a responsibility to my Ancestors and to my own descendants to speak up and try to create a clearer understand about why Junipero Serra’s canonization would be another historical flogging of California Indians. No, Serra was not the only one involved. Yes, he was part of an intricate machine run by the Spanish Crown’s political desires, the Spanish military’s might, and the Vatican’s multiple ambitions to convert and acquire both souls and wealth. But Serra was also a man who, like many before him, was faced with a choice: go along with the program, achieve his own personal goals, and ignore the larger crimes—or take a stand against inherently inhumane and unchristian acts against a people who were obviously vulnerable to diseases and technologies far different from their own.

Serra made his choice. And in my eyes, that choice does not make him a saint, or anything close to it. Why not canonize Mother Teresa? Why not Archbishop Romero, who died defending Indigenous Peoples from poverty and injustice? Why honor and elevate a man who allowed himself to close his eyes and continue to head an organization that was clearly destroying souls faster than it could “save” them? This is what I want to bring to the attention of those who are willing to consider the more difficult sides of this debate: when we believe in Mission Mythology, or even simply just allow it to continue to exist, unchallenged, we accept that cruelty and injustice is allowable, inevitable, and profitable.

But that will come back to bite you, and those you love, one day.

This story originally appeared on the blog Bad NDNs, and has been republished here with permission.

Deborah Miranda is a Native American writer and poet. Her father is from the Esselen and Chumash people, native to the Santa Barbara/Santa Ynez/Monterery, California area and her mother was of French and Jewish ancestry. Miranda earned a B.S. in Teaching Moderate Special Needs from Wheelock College in 1983 and earned her Ph.D. in English from the University of Washington in 2001. She is currently John Lucian Smith Jr. Memorial Professor of English at Washington and Lee University, where she teaches Creative Writing (poetry), Native American Literatures, Women’s Literature, Poetry as Literature, and composition. She is also the author of “Bad Indians: ATribal Memoir,” a mixed-genre story of her ancestors’ survival of the California missions.

Comment:

ben talley
In 1850 California enters the Union AND FIRSTLY MAKES SLAVERY OF INDIANS LEGAL and the CHURCH did NOTHING to stop it. “With miners flooding the hillsides and devastating the land, California’s Indians find themselves deprived of their traditional food sources and forced by hunger to raid the mining towns and other white settlements. Miners retaliate by hunting Indians down and brutally abusing them. The California legislature responds to the situation with an Indenture Act which establishes a form of legal slavery for the native peoples of the state by allowing whites to declare them vagrant and auction off their services for up to four months. The law also permits whites to indenture Indian children, with the permission of a parent or friend, and leads to widespread kidnapping of Indian children, who are then sold as “apprentices.” http://www.pbs.org/weta/thewest/events/1850_1860.htm

[Note: The land had already been seriously impacted by Spanish and Mexican settlements, hunting, agriculture, cattle, and sheep.]

http://indiancountrytodaymedianetwork.com/2015/01/26/serra-saint-why-not-158863

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