Native radio journalists urged a war crimes tribunal for Bush and immediate withdrawal from Iraq
By Brenda Norrell
LOS ANGELES -- On American Indian Airwaves, Native American radio hosts Kehaulani Kauanui, Kanaka Maoli/Native Hawaiian, and James Brown, Elm Pomo Nation, called for a tribunal to hold President Bush responsible for war crimes, during a panel discussion by distinguished Indigenous journalists and scholars.
“I think we need to pursue trying George Bush and company for war crimes related to this illegal and unlawful occupation in Iraq,” Kauanui said.
“We need to have a war crimes tribunal and bring all these people in,” Brown added. Both Kauanui and Brown called on President elect Obama to initiate immediate withdrawal from Iraq upon entering office.
During the panel on KPFK Radio Los Angeles/Santa Barbara today, Suzan Harjo joined James Brown, producer of “Tribal Voices Radio” on KPFZ, and Tiokasin Ghosthorse, Lakota Nation. Ghosthorse serves as host of “First Voices Indigenous Radio,”at WBAI in New York. Kehaulani Kauanui, an associate professor and producer of "Indigenous Politics: From Native New England and Beyond," on WESU, in Middletown, Conn., completed the panel.
Today's show demonstrated Indigenous programming and shared the history, girth and diversity on Pacifica since the 1960s, according to American Indian Airwaves cohosts Marcus Lopez (Chumash Nation) and Larry Smith (Lumbee Nation.)
James Brown, Pomo, spoke about Rattlesnake Island and the incompetence of the BIA. “Our so-called protectors can not be trusted with the land,” Brown said. The BIA sold off Pomo land for mercury mining in the 1940s, leaving the tribe with only 50 acres of land, located 100 miles north of San Francisco.
"We have all our Creation stories here. We were basically fishing villages," he said.
Brown said Pomo is a matriarchal society, which resulted in the strength of the culture which has lasted so long. Earlier, Pomo fought Boise Cascade and prevented Rattlesnake Island from being subdivided for condominiums. Now, a wealthy businessman, John Nady, is attempting to build a mansion on their sacred mound and burial grounds at Rattlesnake Island.
"We may end up occupying this island to help preserve it this coming summer," Brown said.
Harzo praised President elect Obama for promising to protect Native American sacred places. Harzo said Native Americans have no way of protecting their “churches,” or sacred places because of the lack of legislation. Harjo, now president of the Morning Star Institute, said she was a WBAI broadcaster for "Seeing Red" in the 60s and 70s.
“We have hundreds and hundreds of sacred places being desecrated as we speak,” Harjo said.
Native American radio hosts described the desecration of sacred places, including San Francisco Peaks, and how US courts have closed the door to Native Americans protecting their sacred places.
Kauanui pointed out that the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals is allowing “sewage to be turned into snow so the rich can ski” on San Francisco Peaks. However, countries in South America have made strides in Indigenous rights.
Harjo said the Bush administration has not honored federal laws regarding the protection of endangered species or of Native peoples' human remains. Harjo said this sent a signal that it was "open season" on Native remains.
Brown said Obama's appointment to head the Interior, Ken Salazar, is a disappointment. Describing Salazar as a "cowboy," Brown said a Native American should have been appointed to head the Interior. "Let's light a fire under Obama," Brown said. Brown said he supported the Green Party and Cynthia McKinney, who has a better understanding of Native Americans.
Brown also pointed out that universities, including UC Berkeley, are violating the Native American Graves Protection Repatriation Act.
Tiokasin Ghosthorse, Lakota Nation, said he is watching to see what Obama will do once in office. Ghosthorse said there is a “mystical” feeling that something is going to change, but he wants to wait and see. Ghosthorse said Native Americans must dictate their own sovereignty and not allow the seizure of their lands for energy development.
“We have to see past the system that depleted us of our spiritual values,” Ghosthorse said, adding that countries in South America are now stating the rights of nature within their laws. He said the treaties have not been honored in the United States. Further, the United States and New Zealand still have not signed the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples.
Kauanui urged the Obama administration to honor the petition from the Lipan Apache women to halt construction on the US/Mexico border wall and stop the forced removal of Indigenous individuals and communities. Kauanui said Obama should take a stand on the state sponsored terrorism and attacks on Palestine and the issue of colonialism. She said there must be careful watch to make sure the US does not “start aggravating in Iran.”
Kauanui said US universities can lose all federal funding if they do not comply with NAGPRA laws. But the problem is the Bush administration has not gone after the violators.
“Obama needs to turn this around,” she said. She urged Obama to oppose the Native Hawaiian Reorganization Act, also known as the Akaka bill, which does not ensure Native Hawaiian rights.
After the show, she explained that the problem with the bill is that it is being sold as federal recognition and therefore packaged as a solution for Native Hawaiians. But it actually states that any future Native Hawaiian governing entity would be subject to both state civil and criminal law.
"We Native Hawaiians have sovereignty claims that the US government already recognizes and exceed US federal policy regarding tribal nations. This bill is about setting up a 'reorganized' Hawaiian government that would settle un-adjudicated land claims to 1.8 million acres, the same lands recognized in the Apology Resolution," she explained.
Kauanui said Obama must honor the apology resolution of 1993, US Public Law 103-150, which states "the indigenous Hawaiian people never directly relinquished their claims to their inherent sovereignty as a people or over their national lands to the United States, either through their monarchy or through a plebiscite or referendum."
She said the Akaka Bill undermines this resolution.
On the radio show, Ghosthorse said there must be withdrawal from Iraq and soldiers must have a way to come home, without bringing the violence with them.
“Instead of honoring the killing, they have to reinstate their relationship with the Creator," Ghosthorse said.
Harjo said there are cleansing ceremonies for soldiers returning home.
Ghosthorse said Pacifica radio and pirate radio stations have helped counter the mainstream media and more needs to be accomplished to reveal the truth from Israel and Palestine.
Ghosthorse has served as host of "First Voices Indigenous Radio,"at WBAI in New York since 2002, after beginning with KAOS in Olympia, Washington in 1992.
"Other Indigenous radio stations in South America have formed a broadcasting relationship with First Voices Indigenous Radio largely due to their participation at the United Nations' Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues," Ghosthorse said.
Today's show will be available later in archives at: http://www.kpfk.org/