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Deusdedit Ruhangariyo
Special to Indian Country Today

Around the world this week: A town in Serbia scraps a plan for lithium mining, a Canadian social worker uses Indigenous therapy in healing, an Indigenous food system wins praise for sustainability in Guatemala, an oil highway puts uncontacted Indigenous groups in danger, and more than 60 Indigenous people say they were subjected to a study without their consent.

SERBIA: Town scraps plan for lithium mine project

We start off in Serbia's western town of Loznica, where officials have for now scrapped a plan to open a lithium mine in the area after opposition from activists, although the developer said it has not given up on the project, Reuters reported on Dec. 16.

Mining giant Rio Tinto wants to develop the $2.4 billion mine near the town in the Jadar Valley to produce lithium, a critical ingredient for making batteries for electric vehicles.

Activists have protested in recent weeks and blocked roads across the country, calling on local authorities to end the project and causing a headache for the ruling coalition ahead of elections in April, Reuters reported.

Prime Minister Ana Brnabic promised to hold a vote on whether the project should go ahead.

Lithium is in high demand amid a global interest in electric vehicles. Another expected product of the mine, borates, are used in solar panels and wind turbines.

CANADA: Indigenous therapy uses language, art and land

A clinical social worker in Cowichan Tribes traditional territory has added an Indigenous touch to her counseling service by incorporating language, stories, art and land, Aboriginal Peoples Television Network reported on Dec. 19.

Counsellor Lyla Harman, who specializes in supporting individuals, couples, and families healing from trauma, says she often integrates Indigenous languages, songs, knitting, basket weaving, carving and painting in her practice.

When Harman works within her Cowichan Tribes community, she says she’ll often start a session by inviting people to introduce themselves by their traditional names “because that’s who we are and where we come from.”

“We come from hard-working people … who are connected to the land, our rivers, our culture, our traditions, and a very communal way of living in longhouses,” she told Aboriginal Peoples Television Network. “I go way back there because we’re decolonizing — we’re taking apart the stereotypes of ‘the lazy Indian.’”

She said she often invites clients to walk with her on the land, to harvest cedar or can salmon, depending on the season.

ECUADOR: Oil highway puts Indigenous groups in danger

An oil road that cuts through Yasuní National Park in Ecuador’s northern Amazon rainforest is putting the Indigenous Tagaeri and Taromenane people at risk, Mongabay.com reported on Dec. 15.

The road cuts through the distinct reserve within Yasuní where the Tagaeri and Taromenane people live and where outsiders had been prohibited from entering. Conservationists have watched in disbelief at the swift expansion of the road and construction of a new oil platform only about a quarter-mile from the buffer zone of the park’s “intangible zone,” Mongabay.com reported.

Among the most biodiverse places on Earth,the area is home to thousands of species of plants, birds, insects, reptiles and mammals. It’s also home to various Indigenous communities, including the Tagaeri and Taromenane, who are the Central American country’s last two uncontacted Indigenous nations.

Conservationists say the new construction puts the Indigenous peoples in danger and violates their rights under Ecuador’s Constitution.

CANADA: 'Indigenous study' done covertly, lawsuit says

Sixty-one members of Pictou Landing First Nation filed a complaint in court accusing two researchers of conducting an experiment on them without their consent, Aboriginal Peoples Television Network reported on Dec. 18.

Chief Andrea Paul, the lead plaintiff in the proposed class-action lawsuit, said she agreed to be part of a study by the Canadian Alliance for Healthy Hearts and Minds that included an MRI test.

When the test was over, however, staff at the hospital in Halifax left her in the MRI tube “while additional scans of her body were taken as part of a second, secret and separate study,” the lawsuit claims.

The study involved “MRI elastography of the liver of Indigenous subject,” and was called the “Indigenous study,” according to the court documents.

A judge is deciding whether to allow the case to move forward.

Final thoughts

In my final thoughts I would like to congratulate Counsellor Lyla Harman, a registered clinical social worker based in Cowichan Tribes traditional territory, who is using ancestral knowledge in her counseling sessions. What an amazing way to express the importance of Indigenous knowledge. Article 13 of the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples is on her side.

Article 13
1. Indigenous peoples have the right to revitalize, use, develop and transmit to future generations their histories, languages, oral traditions, philosophies, writing systems and literatures, and to designate and retain their own names for communities, places and persons.
2. States shall take effective measures to ensure that this right is protected and also to ensure

Global Indigenous is a weekly news roundup published every Wednesday by Indian Country Today with some of the key stories about Indigenous peoples around the world.

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