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Deusdedit Ruhangariyo
Special to ICT

Around the world: Muskeg Lake Cree Nation reaches a $127 million agreement with the Canadian government, an investigation finds big banks fund machinery devastating the Amazon rainforest, Indigenous activists claim victory over logging, a Yolngu artist wins a $100,000 prize for traditional weaving, and Indigenous tattooists from around the world are expected to gather in New Zealand for a big expo.

CANADA: First Nation, Ottawa reach $127M agreement

The Muskeg Lake Cree Nation and the Canadian government have reached a $127.9-million settlement over the 1919 Soldier Settlement Board Surrender claim, CBC News reported Aug. 5.

The payment will be made to the First Nation over the federal government’s breach of obligations more than 100 years ago.

"This is an important day as our ancestors and our great-grandmothers and our great-grandfathers are watching from above and also celebrating yet honoring those who lived through the hardships of 1919," Chief Kelly Wolf said, according to CBC News.

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After World War I, veterans returning to Canada received land from the government, including about 8,960 acres taken from Muskeg Lake Cree nation. The First Nation now has the option to apply for the same amount of land to be added to its reserve.

Canada’s Indigenous-Crown Relations Minister Marc Miller was present for the announcement of the agreement. It was a “very special day” for the community, Wolf said.

"We wanted to have Minister Miller here to see the land,” the chief said, “and I had the opportunity to show him the 8,900 acres that was an invalid surrender from our community and talked about the families that were displaced."

BRAZIL: Big banks fund machinery used in deforestation

An investigative report by news outlet Repórter Brasil says that big banks are funding the acquisition of heavy machinery such as bulldozers, excavators and tractors that accelerate deforestation in the Brazilian Amazon, Mongabay.com reported Aug. 4.

The report said that the use of machines of all sizes and types has been on the rise in the Brazilian Amazon over the past decade, mostly in protected areas and Indigenous territories.

“When you see photos of deforestation, those big areas were opened up by machines,” the report’s co-author, Naira Hofmeister, said, according to Mongabay.com. “These are machines that are able to dig very quickly and cover a large area.”

Last year, almost 30,000 motor graders, road rollers, backhoe loaders, wheel loaders and other types of construction equipment were sold in Brazil by some of the world’s top manufacturers, including Caterpillar, Komatsu, John Deere, Hitachi and Sandvik.

In the agricultural sector, there was a 40 percent increase in sales from the preceding year.

MALAYSIA: Activists claim victory at logging equipment removal

Indigenous activists are claiming victory for the removal of logging equipment from a long-disputed area in Malaysia’s Baram Forest, Mongabay.com reported Aug. 2.

The Penan Indigenous community filed a police complaint against Samling and had planned to blockade the site after organizations using satellite and drone images saw the company entering the deep forest and culturally delicate areas near the Batu Siman mountain.

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A woven artwork by Margaret Rarru Garrawurra won the 2022 grand prize and $100,000 from the Telstra National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Art Awards in Australia. The work, "Dhomala," is a pandanus sail made with traditional dyes. (Photo by Mark Sherwood, courtesy of the artist and Milingimbi Art and Culture)

Instead, activists realized Samling Timber had instead dismantled the equipment and removed it from the area by July 15, Mongabay.com reported.

AUSTRALIA: Yolngu artist wins $100K prize 

A senior Yolngu artist has won the grand prize from the prestigious Telstra National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Art Awards with a woven technique she learned from her father, National Indigenous Television reported Aug. 5.

Margaret Rarru Garrawurra won the Telstra Art Award and $100,000 for her winning entry, “Dhomala,” a woven pandanus sail dyed with natural pigments.

She invoked the memory of her father, who introduced the technique to her.

“I was watching my father making these dhomala,” she said, according to NITV. “I thought about how he made them, my father, and I started remembering. And now I'm making these.”

The Telstra awards are the country’s longest-running First Nations art awards. Six other artists won $15,000 each for their diverse works, NITV reported.

NEW ZEALAND: Indigenous tattooists gather for expo

The Toi Kiri Expo’s World Indigenous Tattoo Culture Festival is expected to draw more than 50 Indigenous practitioners of tā tatau, tāmoko and other cultural arts to Tauranga Moana in New Zealand, Te Ao Maori News reported Aug. 6.

The 11-day expo – which will be open to the public Sept. 23-25 at Whareroa Marae, Taiaho Place, Mount Maunganui – will also feature weavers, carvers and Māori food, artists and vendors.

Toi Kiri Expo Director Julie Paama-Pengelly said the practitioners would be coming from as far away as South America, the Pacific, northern Canada, Alaska and other parts of the United States.

Paama-Pengelly said the Māori people have led the way for other Indigenous cultures to embrace their traditions.

"I think a lot of Indigenous nations have regained their bravery and the incentive to revive their traditions, looking at what Māori have achieved in the last 35 years - so they look to us for leadership," she said, according to NITV.

My final thoughts

My final thoughts are about the big banks that are funding the purchase of big machinery used in destroying the Amazon. It is a shame they make sales more important than saving the Amazon. I advise them to rethink their decisions – to look into the future of the planet for the generations to come.

Lastly, let me share with you Article 12 of the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples.

Article 12
1. Indigenous peoples have the right to manifest, practice, develop and teach their spiritual and religious traditions, customs and ceremonies; the right to maintain, protect, and have access in privacy to their religious and cultural sites; the right to the use and control of their ceremonial objects; and the right to the repatriation of their human remains.
2. States shall seek to enable the access and/or repatriation of ceremonial objects and human remains in their possession through fair, transparent and effective mechanisms developed in conjunction with Indigenous peoples concerned.

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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