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Deusdedit Ruhangariyo
Special to ICT

Around the world: Villagers protest an iron mine in Indonesia, a First Nations horseman known only as Jimmy is honored centuries later in Australia, a crackdown on illegal fishing is also netting legal fishermen, and a special program helps Indigenous students break into the film industry.

INDONESIA: Sumatra villagers protest iron mine

An iron mine accused of operating with incomplete permits and dumping waste into a river is facing renewed opposition from local villagers on Indonesia’s Sumatra Island, Mongabay.com reported on Aug. 25.

The villagers are demanding that authorities revoke the existing permit for PT Faminglevto Bakti Abadi, known as FBA, in Pasar Seluma village, Bengkulu province. The mine had continued to operate despite an order to halt its activities, officials told Mongabay.com.

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The Bengkulu marine affairs agency said that FBA also would pose a threat to the marine ecosystem in the area if it continued with plans to mine about 380 yards offshore.

Bengkulu Governor Rohidin Mersyah told FBA to cease its operation on July 10 after a July 7 field visit by local government officials found multiple violations, Mongabay.com reported.

“That’s why [the mining operation] has to be temporarily halted until the company obtained complete permits,” he told state news agency Antara.

Pasar Seluma villagers said they saw operations continuing at the mine weeks later.

“The mine hasn’t stopped working even now,” Elda Nenti, a Pasar Seluma villager, said at an online press conference on Aug. 1, according to Mongabay.com. “[Even] today, they’re still working and dredging.”

Ledianto Ramadhan, a lawyer for FBA, said the company had complied with all request and had merely been testing its equipment.

AUSTRALIA: Creek named in honor of Aboriginal horseman

An unnamed creek in the rural town of Glastonbury in southeast Queensland has been named Uncle Jimmy’s Creek in honor of a First Nations horseman from the 1800s, The National Indigenous Times reported on Aug. 27.

He was known only as Jimmy in the area, and his Aboriginal name is unknown, The National Indigenous Times reported.

He lived and worked in the Glastonbury region during the Gold Rush era, and was hired by several pioneering families in the late 1800s. He often camped near the creek, which runs through land once held by Thomas Betts, the first European to settle in the region.

Queensland Resources Minister Scott Stewart, in announcing the naming, said there had been strong local support for naming of the creek after the Jimmy.

“The community expressed their strong support for the name of Uncle Jimmy’s Creek, acknowledging First Nations people and history,” he said, according to The National Indigenous Times.

The creek begins in the Glastonbury state forest area and runs through several properties before joining Glastonbury Creek.

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CAMBODIA: Crackdown on fishing hits local communities

A ban on illegal fishing at the largest fishing lake in Cambodia is causing problems for local communities where legal fishing is a mainstay, Mongabay.com reported on August 2

Fishermen at the Tonle Sap lake said a heavy law enforcement presence has created a climate of fear and corruption.

“By continuing to fish, we are forced into hiding, we are forced into crime,” one fisherman said, according to Mongabay.com.

Another fisherman said the officers were confiscating fish then claiming the catch was “illegal” in hopes of receiving a bribe, according to Mongabay.com. A violation carries a $250 fine.

The rise in enforcement began after March 23, when Prime Minister Hun Sen condemned provincial officials for failing to address illegal fishing and logging.

CANADA: Program helps students break into film industry

A program aimed at training members of the Siksika Nation the basics of film production, acting and stunt work has expanded to include college-level students,  CBC News reported on Aug. 26.

The Counting Coup Indigenous Film Academy, which provided training to Indigenous youth for years, expanded in June to accept students 18-30 at Old Sun Community College in Siksika Nation, southeast of Calgary.

Actress Jessica Matten, who helped start the program with others in the film industry, said it is the first time the training has been offered at the college level. She hopes to empower Indigenous youth to work in the film industry and "be the leaders of the community."

"I'm always going to be there when I can, as present as I can, but really my goal is to pass the torch onto them," she said, according to CBC News.

Matten, who is of Red River Métis-Cree descent and from the Métis Nation, has been in the television and film industry for 20 years, playing roles in such shows such as “Tribal” and “Frontier,” which also starred Jason Momoa. She is currently starring on AMC in “Dark Winds,” which was produced by Robert Redford and George R.R. Martin.

Dan McMaster, one of 15 students in the college academy, said he was eager to participate.

"I wanted to get everything that I could out of it,” McMaster said. “Whatever it is, anytime anybody needs a volunteer, go first."

Susan Solway, chairperson of Old Sun Community College and a councilor for Siksika Nation, said the film academy was initially meant to be a two-week pilot program but quickly expanded into a three-month course. She hopes it continues.

"The amount of technical aspects they learned and experienced here really helped them grow within themselves,” Solway said, according to CBC News, “and hopefully now they'll be able to see themselves in these roles, whether that's working in the industry or creating their own."

Final thoughts

My final thoughts are with the Cambodian people from Tonle Sap, who have been pushed to the brink by a ban on illegal fishing that is also affecting those who fish legally. This state of affairs in all honesty shouldn’t continue. I don’t support illegal fishing, but the legal fishing shouldn’t suffer because of state inefficiencies. This fishing is the only source of livelihood for these people and it shouldn’t be stopped because of the state’s failures.

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

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