Indian and Indigenous Developments

Environmental Developments

U.S. Developments

International Developments

Environmental Developments

(Some developments not reported in Developments are reported in Activities)

Andrea Germanos, "UN Chief Warns World on 'Verge of the Abyss' as WMO Releases Climate Report: The warning came alongside the release of the World Meteorological Organization's State of the Global Climate in 2020, which said it was one of the three warmest years on record," Common Dreams, April 19, 2021,, reported, " United Nations Secretary-General António Guterres warned Monday that humanity stands 'on the verge of the abyss' as the climate crisis pushes the world 'dangerously close' to hitting the 1.5 degree Celsius target limit of warming.
     Guterres delivered the ominous remarks at the launch of the World Meteorological Organization's (WMO) State of the Global Climate report—a publication he said 'should alarm us all.'
      2020 was one of the three warmest years on record, coming in 1.2°C above pre-industrial times, and the past six years have been the warmest years on the books, the report says. The publication also calls attention to heat records in the Arctic, such as the 38°C on June 20 in Verkhoyansk, which marked the highest recorded temperature north of the Arctic Circle.
     What's more, despite coronavirus pandemic-related shutdowns in 2020, concentrations of greenhouse gases including carbon dioxide, methane, and nitrous oxide continued to climb.
      Further global climate indicators in 2020 noted in the report include extreme events like 'very extensive flooding' in parts of Africa, severe drought in parts of South America, extremely large wildfires, including the biggest ever seen in California and Colorado, and an above average number of tropical storms.
     Continuing ocean acidification and deoxygenation were also observed in 2020, and more than 80% of the ocean area had at least one marine heatwave in the year. Also, for just the second time on record, Arctic sea-ice extent minimum after the summer melt was covered less than 4 million square kilometers
      'All key climate indicators and associated impact information provided in this report highlight relentless, continuing climate change, an increasing occurrence and intensification of extreme events, and severe losses and damage, affecting people, societies, and economies,' said WMO Secretary-General Petteri Taalas.
     In light of such trends, Guterres said 'our challenge is clear.'
     'To avert the worst impacts of climate change, science tells us that we must limit global temperature rise to within 1.5 degrees of the pre-industrial baseline,' said Guterres, referring to the Paris climate accord's more ambitious target of limiting warming.
      'That means reducing global greenhouse gas emissions by 45% from 2010 levels by 2030 and reaching net zero emissions by 2050,' he said.
     Unfortunately, Guterres continued, 'We are way off track.'
     He added that 2021 'must be the year for action' and the next 10 years 'a decade of transformation
     To make that happen, Guterres called on governments to take actions including switching fossil fuel subsidies to renewable energy subsidies, preventing the construction of new coal power plants, and richer nations supporting climate finance for the developing world.
     'This is truly a pivotal year for humanity's future,' said Guterres.
     WMO released its report just before U.S. President Joe Biden hosts a two-day virtual climate summit to which 40 world leaders were invited.
     By the time the gathering begins Thursday, the U.S. "will announce an ambitious 2030 emissions target as its new Nationally Determined Contribution under the Paris Agreement," the White House said.
      Scientists and climate advocacy groups have urged Biden to set a target of slashing emissions by 50%—or more—below 2005 levels by 2030.
     The Associated Press reported Monday that a 50% reduction target from the White House was likely. As CNBC noted, however, that "would fall behind commitments by the U.K. and European Union, which have pledged to reduce emissions by 68% and 55% by 2030."
     Climate and social justice groups has urged Biden to go well beyond a 50% reduction goal in order to "advance an equitable, just and ambitious climate agenda at home and abroad."
     Friends of the Earth U.S. president Erich Pica said in a statement earlier this month that Biden "has made an unprecedented commitment to environmental justice and frontline communities, a commitment which must extend beyond U.S. borders. This requires the U.S. to do its 'fair share' of the global effort, consistent with it being the world's largest economy and greatest historical emitter of greenhouse gases."
     'A fair share that prioritizes the safety and well-being of the most vulnerable in both the U.S. and in developing countries requires the U.S. to cut domestic emissions 70% from 2005 levels by 2030 and provide international finance to enable the equivalent of an additional 125% reductions in developing countries.'
     'This is the yardstick by which we will measure President Biden’s soon-to-be unveiled Nationally Determined Contribution,' said Pica.
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Andrea Germanos, "Obsession With GDP, Disregard of Nature Leading Towards Ecosystem Collapse: Report 'Securing nature is investing in our self-preservation,'" Common Dreams, February 2, 2021,, reported, "A new report out Tuesday from the U.K. government framing the natural environment as 'our most precious asset says the world's destruction of biodiversity has put economies at risk and that a fundamental restructuring of global consumption and production patterns is needed for humanity's survival.
     The 600-page review ( was commissioned by Britain's Treasury and authored by Partha Dasgupta, Professor Emeritus of Economics at the University of Cambridge, who wrote that gross domestic product (GDP) is a faulty measure of sustainable economic growth.
     In a foreword to the report, renown naturalist and TV host David Attenborough wrote that although we 'are totally dependent upon the natural world,' we 'are currently damaging it so profoundly that many of its natural systems are now on the verge of breakdown.'
      Humanity is 'plundering every corner of the world, apparently neither knowing or caring what the consequences might be,' wrote Attenborough. 'Putting things right will take collaborative action by every nation on earth.'
      'The Dasgupta Review at last puts biodiversity at its core and provides the compass that we urgently need,' he added. 'In doing so, it shows us how, by bringing economics and ecology together, we can help save the natural world at what may be the last minute—and in doing so, save ourselves.'
     The report argues that a recovery effort like that seen in the aftermath of World War II is necessary. 'If we are to enhance the biosphere's health and reduce our demands, large-scale changes will be required, underpinned by levels of ambition, coordination, and political will akin to (or even greater than) those of the Marshall Plan,' it states.
     As the Associated Press reported:
      'Dasgupta called on the world to ensure demands on nature do not exceed sustainable supplies by changing food production and consumption, investing in natural solutions such as restoring forests, and protecting natural habitats. He said coordinated action now would in the long-run be less costly and would also help tackle other issues such as climate change and poverty.
     Additionally, he pointed to a need to move away from using gross domestic product, or GDP, as a measure of economic success toward one that accounts for the benefits of investing in natural assets such as forests, soils, and oceans.'
      'Truly sustainable economic growth and development means recognizing that our long-term prosperity relies on rebalancing our demand of nature's goods and services with its capacity to supply them,' Dasgupta said in a statement. 'It also means accounting fully for the impact of our interactions with nature across all levels of society.'
      The coronavirus pandemic 'has shown us what can happen when we don't do this,' Dasgupta added. 'Nature is our home. Good economics demands we manage it better.'
      According to Bloomberg, 'The review is the first time natural capital accounting—the act of quantifying ecosystems and their losses—has been discussed in detail by a mainstream economist with the support of the U.K. government.' The outlet added:
     Academics have spent decades attempting to put a price on nature. A widely-cited study in 1997 estimated that the global flow of the earth's biosphere was valued at an average of $33 trillion per year—far higher than the global gross domestic product of that era.
     Dasgupta said assigning absolute monetary values to nature would be meaningless because life would simply cease to exist if it was destroyed. The Indian-British economist called on governments to find an alternative to GDP as a way of measuring wealth, warning it is 'wholly unsuitable' for ensuring sustainable development. Instead, he said, governments should use a more inclusive measure of wealth that accounts for nature as an asset.
     'The message from the Dasgupta Review is clear,' said United Nations Environment Programme chief Inger Andersen. 'Securing nature is investing in our self-preservation.'
     'It is armed with this knowledge that in 2021 we must agree on an ambitious post-2020 global biodiversity framework that ends nature loss,' she said.
     The report was also welcomed by Marco Lambertini, director general of WWF International, who said its findings 'are clear: nature underpins our economy and our wellbeing.'
     'Our failure to recognize this relationship, and take decisive and urgent steps to reverse nature loss, is costing us dearly and putting the future of humanity at risk,' said Lambertini. 'To safeguard our future, we must stop taking nature for granted as an expendable commodity, value its services, and transform our economies and finance systems so they are geared towards conserving and restoring the natural world on which we all depend.'
     'This should be required reading at @hmtreasury,' tweeted Green Party MP Carolie Lucas of the report.
      'Biodiversity and enhancing nature cannot be separated from economic policy,' she wrote, calling for a replacement of "GDP growth with a wellbeing economy, starting with next month's budget.
      The report was not without criticism from environmental advocates, including from author and climate activist George Monbiot, who took issue with putting a price tag on nature. [S. Sachs note, 'I agree with Monbiot to the extent that given current mainstream economics, we cannot simply put prices on nature - which the report also intimates. What we need to do is to redefine economics and development. As the report indicates and several commentators intimate, we need to move away basing economics and development in terms of money, and see them in terms of relationships with an emphasis on the quality of the relationships and of all the elements (natural elements as well as people, groups,... institutions) in which money measures of it are useful, but the main indicators are of quality. See the discussion of redefining economics and development and many references concerning the aspects of doing this in, Stephen M. Sachs, "Returning to Reciprocity: Reconceptualizing Economics and Development, An Indigenous Economics for the Twenty-First Century," Indigenous Policy, fall 2016,, which shows what economics and development would be like if carried out according to relational Indigenous values. An updated version of the paper is Chapter 6, of S. Sachs, et al, Honoring the Circle: Ongoing Learning From American Indians on Politics and Society (Waterside Productions, 2000)].
     In a set of tweets ahead of and after the report's release, Monbiot called the review's approach 'morally wrong' and accused Dasgupta of promoting 'a kind of totalitarian capitalism' in which 'everything must now be commodified and brought within the system.'
      'Destruction is driven, above all, by the power of the rich. Regardless of how others value nature, those with power will destroy it, until their power is curtailed,' Monbiot wrote.
     'Dasgupta's natural capital agenda,' he added, 'is naive on many levels, but above all it is naive about power. Putting a social price on something does nothing to stop anti-social interests from exploiting it
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      Jessica Corbett, "New Soil Study Shows Pesticides 'Destroying the Very Foundations of Web of Life': 'These troubling findings add to the urgency of reining in pesticide use to save biodiversity,'" Common Dreams, May 4, 2021, reported, " A study published Tuesday in the journal Frontiers in Environmental Science ( bolsters alarm about the role that agricultural pesticides play in what scientists have dubbed the ' bugpocalypse' and led authors to call for stricter regulations across the U.S.
     Researchers at the University of Maryland as well as the advocacy groups Friends of the Earth U.S. and the Center for Biological Diversity were behind what they say is 'the largest, most comprehensive review of the impacts of agricultural pesticides on soil organisms ever conducted.'
     The study's authors warn the analyzed pesticides pose a grave danger to invertebrates that are essential for biodiversity, healthy soil, and carbon sequestration to fight the climate emergency—and U.S. regulators aren't focused on these threats.
      'Below the surface of fields covered with monoculture crops of corn and soybeans, pesticides are destroying the very foundations of the web of life,' said study co-author Nathan Donley, a scientist at the Center for Biological Diversity, in a statement.
      'Study after study indicates the unchecked use of pesticides across hundreds of millions of acres each year is poisoning the organisms critical to maintaining healthy soils,' Donley added. 'Yet our regulators have been ignoring the harm to these important ecosystems for decades.'
     As the paper details, the researchers reviewed nearly 400 studies 'on the effects of pesticides on non-target invertebrates that have egg, larval, or immature development in the soil,' including ants, beetles, ground-nesting bees, and earthworms. They looked at 275 unique species, taxa, or combined taxa of soil organisms and 284 different pesticide active ingredients or unique mixtures.
     'We found that 70.5% of tested parameters showed negative effects,' the paper says, 'whereas 1.4% and 28.1% of tested parameters showed positive or no significant effects from pesticide exposure, respectively.'
     Donley told The Guardian that "the level of harm we're seeing is much greater than I thought it would be. Soils are incredibly important. But how pesticides can harm soil invertebrates gets a lot less coverage than pollinators, mammals, and birds—it's incredibly important that changes.'
     'Beetles and springtails have enormous impacts on the porosity of soil and are really getting hammered, and earthworms are definitely getting hit as well,' he said. 'A lot of people don't know that most bees nest in the soil, so that's a major pathway of exposure for them.'
     Underscoring the need for sweeping changes, Donley noted that 'it's not just one or two pesticides that are causing harm, the results are really very consistent across the whole class of chemical poisons.'
     Co-author Tara Cornelisse, an entomologist at the Center for Biological Diversity, concurred that 'it's extremely concerning that over 70% of cases show that pesticides significantly harm soil invertebrates.'
      'Our results add to the evidence that pesticides are contributing to widespread declines of insects, like beneficial predaceous beetles, and pollinating solitary bees,' she said in a statement. 'These troubling findings add to the urgency of reining in pesticide use to save biodiversity.'
     In December, Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) of the United Nations releaseda report emphasizing how vital soil organisms are to food production and battling the climate crisis—and highlighting that such creatures and the threats they face are not being paid adequate attention on a global scale.
     'Soils are not only the foundation of agri-food systems and where 95% of the foods we eat is produced, but their health and biodiversity are also central to our efforts to end hunger and achieve sustainable agri-food systems,' FAO Director-General Qu Dongyu said at the time, pushing for increased efforts to protect the "silent, dedicated heroes" that are soil organisms.
     A growing body of research has also revealed the extent of insect loss in recent decades, with a major assessment last year showing that there has been a nearly 25% decrease of land-dwelling bugs like ants, butterflies, and grasshoppers over the past 30 years. The experts behind that analysis pointed to not only pesticides but also habitat loss and light pollution.
     In January, a collection of scientific papers warned that 'insects are suffering from 'death by a thousand cuts,' and called on policymakers around the world to urgently address the issue. That call followed a roadmap released the previous January by 73 scientists outlining what steps are needed to tackle the 'insect apocalypse.'
     The roadmap's key recommendations included curbing planet-heating emissions; limiting light, water, and noise pollution; preventing the introduction of invasive and alien species; and cutting back on the use of synthetic pesticides and fertilizers.
     'We know that farming practices such as cover cropping and composting build healthy soil ecosystems and reduce the need for pesticides in the first place,' Aditi Dubey of University of Maryland, who co-authored the new study, said Tuesday. 'However, our farm policies continue to prop up a pesticide-intensive food system.'
     'Our results highlight the need for policies that support farmers to adopt ecological farming methods that help biodiversity flourish both in the soil and above ground,' Dubey declared.
     While the solutions are clear, according to the researchers, the chemical industry is standing in the way.
     'Pesticide companies are continually trying to greenwash their products, arguing for the use of pesticides in 'regenerative' or 'climate-smart' agriculture,' said co-author Kendra Klein, a senior scientist at Friends of the Earth. 'This research shatters that notion and demonstrates that pesticide reduction must be a key part of combating climate change in agriculture.'
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Somini Sengupta, "Global Action Is ‘Very Far’ From What’s Needed to Avert Climate Chaos: New climate pledges submitted to the United Nations would reduce greenhouse gas emissions by less than 1 percent, the world body announced," The New York Times, February 26, 2021,, reported, " The global scientific consensus is clear: Emissions of planet-warming gases must be cut by nearly half by 2030 if the world is to have a good shot at averting the worst climate catastrophes.
     The global political response has been underwhelming so far.
     New climate targets submitted by countries to the
United Nations would reduce emissions by less than 1 percent, according to the latest tally, made public Friday by the world body." Less than half of all nations have submitted new climate goals. The U.S. has rejoined the Paris climate accord, but has yet to submit a new report. China announced, in December 2020, that it would increase green energy production, but with its economy growing that is likely only to slow increase of green gas production, when a steep reduction is required.

Christopher Flavelle, "Climate Change Could Cut World Economy by $23 Trillion in 2050, Insurance Giant Warns: Poor nations would be particularly hard hit, but few would escape, Swiss Re said. The findings could influence how the industry prices insurance and invests its mammoth portfolios," The New York Times, April 23, 2021,, reported, " Rising temperatures are likely to reduce global wealth significantly by 2050, as crop yields fall, disease spreads and rising seas consume coastal cities, a major insurance company warned Thursday, highlighting the consequences if the world fails to quickly slow the use of fossil fuels.
     The effects of climate change can be expected to shave 11 percent to 14 percent off global economic output by 2050 compared with growth levels without climate change, according to a
report from Swiss Re , ( one of the world’s largest providers of insurance to other insurance companies. That amounts to as much as $23 trillion in reduced annual global economic output worldwide as a result of climate change."

Kenny Stancil, "'We Have to Act': Atmospheric CO 2 Passes 420 PPM for First Time Ever: 'It is truly groundbreaking,' Greta Thunberg said of the growing concentration of the heat-trapping gas. 'And I don't mean that in a good way,'" Common Dreams, April 6, 2021,, reported, " The concentration of atmospheric carbon dioxide surged past 420 parts per million for the first time in recorded history this past weekend, according to a measurement taken at the Mauna Loa Observatory on the Big Island of Hawaii.
     When the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) research station "began collecting CO2 measurements in the late 1950s, atmospheric CO 2 concentration sat at around 315 PPM," the Washington Post reported. 'On Saturday, the daily average was pegged at 421.21 PPM—the first time in human history that number has been so high.'"
      Anything over 350 PPM is dangerously high, causing global warming induced climate change, and the level of CO 2 in the atmosphere continues to rise.

Jessica Corbett, "Climate Crisis Displaced Over 10 Million People in Past Six Months: Red Cross: 'We need greater action and urgent investment to reduce internal displacement caused by the rising risk of disasters,'" Common Dreams, March 17, 2021,, reported, " The world's largest humanitarian network warned Wednesday that urgent international action is needed to address the rising risk of climate-related displacement, highlighting data that shows disasters such as storms, droughts, fires, and floods internally displaced more than 10 million people from September to February.
      'In just the last six months, there have been 12.6 million people internally displaced around the world and over 80% of these forced displacements have been caused by disasters, most of which are triggered by climate and weather extremes," said Helen Brunt of the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC).
      'Asia suffers much more than any other region from climate disaster-related displacements,' noted Brunt, IFRC's Asia Pacific Migration and Displacement coordinator. 'These upheavals are taking a terrible toll on some of the poorest communities already reeling from the economic and social impacts of the Covid-19 pandemic.'
     The new report, entitled Responding to Disasters and Displacement in a Changing Climate (pdf), draws data from the Internal Displacement Monitoring Center. According to the IDMC, about 2.3 million displacements over the past six months are related to conflict compared with 10.3 million due to disasters.
     The report details how the IFRC has responded to various humanitarian needs across Asia, with case studies about assisting communities affected by drought in Afghanistan; seasonal cyclones and monsoon rains, which lead to flooding and landslides, in Bangladesh; and a dzud, a term for extreme winter conditions that cause mass livestock loss, in Mongolia.
     The network also dedicates a section to the Philippine Red Cross's efforts to adopt a strategic approach to housing, land, and property rights for displaced communities.
     'We are seeing an alarming trend of people displaced by more extreme weather events such as Typhoon Goni, the world's most ferocious storm last year, that smashed into the Philippines,' said Brunt. 'Three storms hit the Philippines in as many weeks, leaving over three million people destitute.'
     More broadly, she added, 'we need greater action and urgent investment to reduce internal displacement caused by the rising risk of disasters. Investing much more in local organizations and first responders is critical so they have the resources needed to protect lives, homes, and their communities.'
      The report includes eight overall recommendations:
     Investment in and focus on local actors and local responders;
     Meaningful community engagement and accountability;
     A protection, gender and inclusion (PGI)-informed approach and response;
     Strengthening national and branch level internal systems and capabilities;
     Monitoring population movements in the context of both slow and sudden onset disasters;
     Community-led assessments;
     Coordinating and promoting the centrality of durable solutions to displacement; and
     Humanitarian diplomacy, and multi-stakeholder partnerships and coordination.
     'Things are getting worse as climate change aggravates existing factors like poverty, conflict, and political instability
,' Brunt told Reuters. 'The compounded impact makes recovery longer and more difficult: people barely have time to recover and they're slammed with another disaster.'
      While the IFRC's report focuses on internal displacement—meaning individuals who remain within their home countries—recent climate-related disasters have also generated calls for just and updated policies related to refugees.
     Last month, a report from Kayly Ober, senior advocate and program manager for the Climate Displacement Program at Refugees International,
provided the Biden administration with a policy roadmap, declaring that 'the United States has a moral and practical responsibility to lead on issues of climate change, migration, and displacement.'
     'Yes, we should invest in climate change adaptation and resilience measures, because it enables people to stay in place if they would like to,' Ober told Common Dreams. 'But we also need to understand that people are already on the move and will continue to be on the move, especially as climate change impacts increase in intensity and frequency.'
     An analysis released last year by the Sydney-based Institute for Economics & Peace found that as the global population climbs toward 10 billion by 2050, ecological disasters and armed conflict could forcibly displace about 10% of humanity.
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      Christopher Flavelle, "Climate Change Is Making Big Problems Bigger: New data compiled by the E.P.A. shows how global warming is making life harder for Americans in myriad ways that threaten their health, safety and homes," The New York Times, May 12, 2021,, reported, " Wildfires are bigger, and starting earlier in the year. Heat waves are more frequent. Seas are warmer, and flooding is more common. The air is getting hotter. Even ragweed pollen season is beginning sooner.
     Climate change is already happening around the United States, the Environmental Protection Agency said on Wednesday. And in many cases, that change is speeding up," according to newly compiled EPA data
     "Nations Must Drop Fossil Fuels, Fast, World Energy Body Warns: A landmark report from the International Energy Agency says countries need to move faster and more aggressively to cut planet-warming pollution," The New York Times, May 18, 2021,, reported, " Nations around the world would need to immediately stop approving new coal-fired power plants and new oil and gas fields and quickly phase out gasoline-powered vehicles if they want to avert the most catastrophic effects of climate change, the world’s leading energy agency said Tuesday.
     In a sweeping new report, the International Energy Agency
issued a detailed road map ( of what it would take for the world’s nations to slash carbon dioxide emissions to net zero by 2050. That would very likely keep the average global temperature from increasing 1.5 Celsius above preindustrial levels — the threshold beyond which scientists say the Earth faces irreversible damage."

John Schwartz, “More Than a Third of Heat Deaths Are Tied to Climate Change, Study Says: Sweeping new research found that heat-related deaths in warm seasons were boosted by climate change by an average of 37 percent," The New York Times, May 31, 2021,, reported, “ More than a third of heat-related deaths in many parts of the world can be attributed to the extra warming associated with climate change, according to a new study ( that makes a case for taking strong action to reduce greenhouse gas emissions in order to protect public health.
     The sweeping new research, published on Monday in the journal Nature Climate Change, was conducted by 70 researchers using data from major projects in the fields of epidemiology and climate modeling in 43 countries. It found that heat-related deaths in warm seasons were boosted by climate change by an average of 37 percent, in a range of a 20 percent increase to 76 percent.”
     The larger percentage of climate related heat deaths tended to be in poorer nations, with the larger percentages of these deaths in Central and South America, while the percentages were generally at the low end in North America and East Asia. There has been considerable recent research on
heat stress and economic inequality ( in the United states ( and world wide (

Nick Jacobs, "Six Months to Prevent a Hostile Takeover of Food Systems, and 25 Years to Transform Them: A misguided technological revolution is about to sweep through food systems, but civil society and social movements can stop it in its tracks," Common Dreams, April 7, 2021,, reported, " Imagine a world where algorithms are used to optimize growing conditions on every fertile square metre of land. Where whole ecosystems are re-engineered. Where drones and surveillance systems manage the farm. Where farmers are forced off the land into e-commerce villages.
     Imagine a world where food is treated like a strategic asset and food transit routes are militarized. Where powerful
governments and their flag-bearer corporations control resources and food supplies across vast economic corridors.
      Imagine a world where many foods are grown in petri dishes, vats, and bioreactors. Where people's eating habits are invisibly nudged using reams of metadata they have unknowingly surrendered via digital wallets. Where AI assistant apps decide on people’s food intake based on genetic information, family history, mood, and data readings from inside their waste bins and digestive systems.
     This may sound like science fiction. But the "4th industrial revolution" is already sweeping through food systems
. For proof, we need look no further than the changing complexion of the agri-food sector, where mergers and market disruptions are occurring at a dizzying pace. E-commerce platforms like Amazon and China's are now among the top ten retailers globally. With agribusinessesincreasingly reliant on cloud, AI, and data processing services, big tech firms like Amazon, Alibaba, Microsoft, Google, and Baidu are moving into food production. Meanwhile, Blackrock and 4 other asset management companies own 10–30% of the shares of the top agri-food firms.
      With climate change, environmental breakdown, and pandemics wreaking havoc on food systems over the coming years, the 'silver bullet' solutions offered by the new agri-food giants may prove irresistible to panicking policymakers. This year's UN Food Systems Summit—arising from a partnership between the UN and the World Economic Forum—will be a showcase for corporate-led 'solutions.'
     In other words, t he keys of the food system are already being handed over to data platforms, e-commerce giants, and private equity firms. This could mean dismantling the diversified food webs that sustain 70% of the world's population and provide environmental resilience. It could mean putting the food security of billions of people at the mercy of high-risk AI-controlled farming systems and opaque supply corridors.
     And yet, there is nothing inevitable about this dystopian future. In reality, divisions will grow among corporations and between companies, workers, and consumers, as ecosystems refuse to be tamed, people refuse to be nudged, technologies malfunction, and environmental and social tipping points draw closer.
      Farmers, food workers and their allies have recognized the crossroads we are at. They are already organizing in new ways to defend their spaces, their livelihoods, and their future—starting with mobilization around the Food Systems Summit.
     In scanning the landscape for clues about the next quarter century, we found that what could be achieved by civil society and social movements is just as 'disruptive' as the plans of the agri-food giants. A 'Long Food Movement"—bringing together farmers, fishers, cooperatives, unions, grassroots organizations and international NGOs—could shift $4 trillion from the industrial chain to food sovereignty and agroecology, cut 75% of food systems' GHG emissions, and deliver incalculable benefits to the lives and livelihoods of billions of people over the next 25 years.
      The challenge is vast, and many of the victories will be hard-won, from new treaties to regulate and recall failing technologies, to shifting the $720 billion of annual producer subsidies towards agroecological farming and territorial markets.
But most of the tools are in the hands of civil society and social movements. Much can be achieved by amplifying existing approaches, linking different struggles together across sectors, scales and strategic differences, and thinking 5, 10 or even 20 years ahead.
     Over a 25-year timeframe, huge progress could be made by multiplying the farmer field schools and seed exchanges that underpin agroecological systems; by sustaining the current trendlines towards local, regional, and ethical purchasing and flexitarian diets; by developing 'early listening systems' and emergency food security blueprints so we are ready to act when harvest failures, pandemics and other shocks hit; by deploying apps to instantaneously decode negotiating texts, and to apprise consumers of the ‘true cost’ of their food; and even by syncing funding cycles and civil society gatherings to make cross-sectoral collaboration the norm.
      Both of these futures remain viable—but for how much longer? Travel any further down the path laid by agribusiness, and the momentum will soon be unstoppable. Once systems have been structured around specific production models and technological trajectories, it is very difficult to change the course. GMOs offer a cautionary tale: instead of rethinking chemical-intensive monocultures in the face of widespread environmental and social damage, the 'green revolution' was followed by a 'gene revolution' that reinforced its logic.
      We often hear that we have 10 harvests left before climate change becomes unstoppable. We have may less than 5 years to prevent the full-scale digitalization and automation of food systems, and only 6 months to prevent corporate takeover of global governance at the Food Systems Summit. Neither short-term actions nor long-term planning can wait. That's why we need a Long Food Movement.
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Jessica Corbett, "Scientists Warn 4°C World Would Unleash 'Unimaginable Amounts of Water' as Ice Shelves Collapse: 'Limiting warming will not just be good for Antarctica—preserving ice shelves means less global sea level rise, and that's good for us all,'" Common Dreams, April 9, 2021,, reported, " A new study is shedding light on just how much ice could be lost around Antarctica if the international community fails to urgently rein in planet-heating emissions, bolstering arguments for bolder climate policies.
     The study,
published Thursday in the journal Geophysical Research Letters, found that over a third of the area of all Antarctic ice shelves—including 67% of area on the Antarctic Peninsula—could be at risk of collapsing if global temperatures soar to 4°C above pre-industrial levels.
     An ice shelf, as NASA explains, 'is a thick, floating slab of ice that forms where a glacier or ice flows down a coastline.' They are found only in Antarctica, Greenland, Canada, and the Russian Arctic—and play a key role in limiting sea level rise.
      'Ice shelves are important buffers preventing glaciers on land from flowing freely into the ocean and contributing to sea level rise," explained Ella Gilbert, the study's lead author, in a statement. 'When they collapse, it's like a giant cork being removed from a bottle, allowing unimaginable amounts of water from glaciers to pour into the sea.'
     'We know that when melted ice accumulates on the surface of ice shelves, it can make them fracture and collapse spectacularly,' added Gilbert, a research scientist at the University of Reading. 'Previous research has given us the bigger picture in terms of predicting Antarctic ice shelf decline, but our new study uses the latest modelling techniques to fill in the finer detail and provide more precise projections.'
     Gilbert and co-author Christoph Kittel of Belgium's University of Liège conclude that limiting global temperature rise to 2°C rather than 4°C would cut the area at risk in half.
      'At 1.5°C, just 14% of Antarctica's ice shelf area would be at risk,' Gilbert noted in The Conversation.
     While the 2015 Paris climate agreement aims to keep temperature rise "well below" 2°C, with a more ambitious 1.5°C target, current emissions reduction plans are dramatically out of line with both goals
, according to a United Nations analysis.
     Gilbert said Thursday that the findings of their new study "highlight the importance of limiting global temperature increases as set out in the Paris agreement if we are to avoid the worst consequences of climate change, including sea level rise.'
      'If temperatures continue to rise at current rates,' she said, 'we may lose more Antarctic ice shelves in the coming decades.'
     The researchers warn that Larsen C—the largest remaining ice shelf on the Antarctic peninsula—as well as the Shackleton, Pine Island, and Wilkins ice shelves are most at risk under 4°C of warming because of their geography and runoff predictions.
     'Limiting warming will not just be good for Antarctica—preserving ice shelves means less global sea level rise, and that's good for us all,' Gilbert added.
     Low-lying coastal areas such as small island nations of Vanuatu and Tuvalu in the South Pacific Ocean face the greatest risk from sea level rise, Gilbert told CNN.
     However, coastal areas all over the world would be vulnerable,' she warned, 'and countries with fewer resources available to mitigate and adapt to sea level rise will see worse consequences.'
     Research published in February examining projections from the Fifth Assessment Report of the U.N. Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change as well as the body's Special Report on the Ocean and Cryosphere in a Changing Climate found that sea level rise forecasts for this century 'are on the money when tested against satellite and tide-gauge observations.'
     A co-author of that study, John Church of the Climate Change Research Center at the University of New South Wales, said at the time that 'if we continue with large ongoing emissions as we are at present, we will commit the world to meters of sea level rise over coming centuries.'
     Parties to the Paris agreement are in the process of updating their emissions reduction commitments—called nationally determined contributions—ahead of November's United Nations climate summit, known as COP26."

A small percentage of wildfires in the Arctic, consuming 0.8% of burned Arctic areas between 2008 and 2018, are zombie or holdover fires, that now smolder throughout the winter to spring up again in the spring. Although still rare, these fires can be devastating, such as a 2008 fire that consumed 38% of the area burned in Alaska in 2008 ("Zombie wildfires," The Week, June 11, 2021).

Christina Goldbaum and Kimon de Greef, "Wildfire Deals Hard Blow to South Africa’s Archive: The fire, which began Sunday and is still being fought, ravaged a library that housed first-edition books, films, photographs and other primary sources documenting Southern African history," The New York Times, April 20, 2021,, reported, " Firefighters in Cape Town battled a wildfire on Monday that had engulfed the slopes of the city’s famed Table Mountain and destroyed parts of the University of Cape Town’s library, a devastating blow to the world’s archives of Southern African history."
     "The wildfire is the latest in a series of devastating mountain blazes that have swept through the Western Cape province in recent years
. But the fallout from this fire was also felt across the region after towers of orange and red flames devoured Cape Town University’s special collections library — home to one of the most expansive collections of first-edition books, films, photographs and other primary sources documenting Southern African history."

Severe draught, now broken with heavy rains, in Australia has caused millions of mice to invade farms, houses and businesses in southern Queensland, New South Wales and northern Victoria, devouring harvested crops, food – indeed anything edible – in houses, seeds planted in fields – threatening future harvests – bitten people sleeping in their beds and eaten the toes of chickens in pens, as well as eating the insolation on wiring – causing a least one fire and the loss of phone service for a town and other damage. Losses to agriculture, alone, exceed a billion dollars ( Yan Zhuang, “Plague of Mice in Australia Overruns Farms, Shops and Bedrooms: For half a year, the rodents have been chewing their way around the country’s eastern grain belt, leaving economic and psychological scars," The New York Times, May 29, 2021,

Jon Queally, "Scientists Say Humanity Now at 'Dawn of What Must Be a Transformative Decade': 'Whether humanity has the collective wisdom to navigate the Anthropocene to sustain a livable biosphere for people and civilizations, as well as for the rest of life with which we share the planet, is the most formidable challenge facing humanity,'" Common Dreams, Mach 22, 2021,, reported, " A new analysis examining humanity's central role in disrupting the support systems of the natural world argues that far-reaching action this decade—including a halt to vast inequalities and the irresponsible deployment of advanced technologies—is vital if a more vibrant and sustainable future is to be achieved.
Published earlier this month in Ambio (, a journal of the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences, the analysis considers the 'profound meaning' of the current Anthropocene era, a period of Earth's history —'one that we are only beginning to fully comprehend' the paper notes—in which the biosphere is being shaped by human activity more than any other natural force.
      'We now know that society needs to be viewed as part of the biosphere, not separate from it,' the analysis states. 'Depending on the collective actions of humanity, future conditions could be either beneficial or hostile for human life and wellbeing in the Anthropocene biosphere. Whether humanity has the collective wisdom to navigate the Anthropocene to sustain a livable biosphere for people and civilizations, as well as for the rest of life with which we share the planet, is the most formidable challenge facing humanity.'
     Written for the upcoming Nobel Prize Summit, a first-of-its-kind digital gathering to be held April 26-28 to discuss 'the state of the planet in the wake of the Covid-19 pandemic,' the new report focuses on the dynamic between unprecedented environmental degradation on the one hand and a situation in which vast economic inequality has created a political situation in which taking the necessary steps to alter humanity's trajectory has proven almost impossible.
      'The risks we are taking are astounding,' says Johan Rockström, director of the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research and another co-author of the analysis. 'We are at the dawn of what must be a transformative decade. The Nobel Prize Summit is really the scientific community shouting 'Wake Up!''
     Exploring this 'interwined planet of people and nature,' the paper explains:
      The Anthropocene is characterized by a tightly interconnected world operating at high speeds with hyper-efficiency in several dimensions. These dimensions include the globalized food production and distribution system, extensive trade and transport systems, strong connectivity of financial and capital markets, internationalized supply and value chains, widespread movements of people, social innovations, development and exchange of technology, and widespread communication capacities.
     But while the achievements of the modern age are impressive in a certain light, the decades since the Industrial Revolution have also seen the rise of an unparalleled assault on biodiversity and the planet's natural systems
      'In a single human lifetime, largely since the 1950s, we have grossly simplified the biosphere, a system that has evolved over 3.8 billion years. Now just a few plants and animals dominate the land and oceans," said lead author Carl Folke, director of the Beijer Institute of Ecological Economics and chair of the Stockholm Resilience Centre, in a statement Monday. ' Our actions are making the biosphere more fragile, less resilient and more prone to shocks than before.'
     The report's summary catalogs a broad array of contemporary research and scholarship on the Anthropocene era, including the ways in which human activity and society has come to dominate the planet:
      '75% of Earth's ice-free land is directly altered as a result of human activity, with nearly 90% of terrestrial net primary production and 80% of global tree cover under direct human influence.'
      Rising greenhouse gas emissions means that 'Within the coming 50 years one-to-three billion people are projected to experience living conditions that are outside of the climate conditions, which have served civilizations well over the past 6,000 years,' depending on how population and climate scenarios play out.
     According to Line Gordon, co-author of the report and director of the Stockholm Resilience Centre, 'This is a decisive decade for humanity. In this decade we must bend the curves of greenhouse gas emissions and shocking biodiversity loss. This means transforming what we eat and how we farm it, among many other transformations.' According to the paper:
      'Climate change impacts are hitting people harder and sooner than envisioned a decade ago (Diffenbaugh 2020). This is especially true for extreme events, like heatwaves, droughts, wildfires, extreme precipitation, floods, storms, and variations in their frequency, magnitude, and duration. The distribution and impacts of extreme events are often region specific (Turco et al. 2018; Yin et al. 2018). For example, Europe has experienced several extreme heat waves since 2000 and the number of heat waves, heavy downpours, and major hurricanes, and the strength of these events, has increased in the United States. The risk for wildfires in Australia has increased by at least 30% since 1900 as a result of anthropogenic climate change (van Oldenborgh et al. 2020). The recent years of repeated wildfires in the western U.S. and Canada have had devastating effects (McWethy et al. 2019). Extreme events have the potential to widen existing inequalities within and between countries and regions (UNDP 2019). In particular, synchronous extremes are risky in a globally connected world and may cause disruptions in global food production (Cottrell et al. 2019; Gaupp et al. 2020). Pandemics, like the COVID-19 outbreak and associated health responses, intersect with climate hazards and are exacerbated by the economic crisis and long-standing socioeconomic and racial disparities, both within countries and across regions (Phillips et al. 2020).'
      'Humanity has become a global force shaping the operation and future of the biosphere and the broader Earth system,' the report notes. 'Climate change and loss of biodiversity are symptoms of the situation. The accelerating expansion of human activities has eroded biosphere and Earth system resilience and is now challenging human wellbeing, prosperity, and possibly even the persistence of societies and civilizations.'
      If various forms of inequality are not addressed and new technologies not properly harnessed to restore balance to the world's natural systems, the authors warn of increased harm in the years and decades to come.
      'Equality holds communities together, and enables nations, and regions to evolve along sustainable development trajectories,' they write. 'Inequality, in terms of both social and natural capitals, are on the rise in the world, and need to be addressed as an integral part of our future on Earth.'
     Co-author Victor Galaz, deputy director of the Stockholm Resilience Centre, said: 'As the pressure of human activities accelerates on Earth, so too does the hope that technologies such as artificial intelligence will be able to help us deal with dangerous climate and environmental change. That will only happen however, if we act forcefully in ways that redirects the direction of technological change towards planetary stewardship and responsible innovation.'
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"100% Solar, Wind, and Batteries is Just the Beginning: Executive Summary," RethinkX, accessed April 4, 2021,, found in part, " Our analysis shows that 100% clean electricity from the combination of solar, wind, and batteries (SWB) is both physically possible and economically affordable across the entire continental United States as well as the overwhelming majority of other populated regions of the world by 2030. Adoption of SWB is growing exponentially worldwide and disruption is now inevitable because by 2030 they will offer the cheapest electricity option for most regions. Coal, gas, and nuclear power assets will become stranded during the 2020s, and no new investment in these technologies is rational from this point forward. But the replacement of conventional energy technology with SWB is just the beginning. As has been the case for many other disruptions, SWB will transform our energy system in fundamental ways. The new system that emerges will be much larger than the existing one we know today and will have a completely different architecture that operates in unfamiliar ways.
      One of the most counterintuitive and extraordinary properties of the new system is that it will produce a much larger amount of energy overall, and that this superabundance of clean energy output – which we call super power – will be available at near-zero marginal cost throughout much of the year in nearly all populated locations.""The analysis we present here marks the beginning of a series of reports that call upon decision makers at all levels of society to rethink the future of energy so that we can fully capture the benefits of the SWB disruption."
     The full report is available at:

Jessica Corbett, "Experts Urge World Leaders to 'Put Marine Ecosystems at the Heart of Climate Policy': 'A healthy ocean, teeming with life, is a vital tool in the bid to tackle global heating,'" Common Dreams, March 22, 2021,, reported, " As global weather experts warned Monday that the world's oceans are 'under threat like never before' more than 3,000 scientists, politicians, and other public figures had endorsed an open letter urging national governments to "recognize the critical importance of our ocean and blue carbon in the fight against the climate emergency.'
     Led by the Environmental Justice Foundation ( EJF) and backed by 66 partner groups, the letter (pdf: calling on world leaders to 'put marine ecosystems at the heart of climate policy' is now open to public signature ( and will be presented to governments before November's United Nations Climate Change Conference (COP26) in Glasgow.
      'Nature-based solutions like restoration and protection of marine habitats will both help us meet global decarbonization goals and prevent the worst impacts of global heating while also protecting the lives and livelihoods of the three billion people who depend on marine biodiversity around the world,' said Steve Trent, executive director of the London-based EJF. 'Our political leaders must recognize the urgency of the climate crisis and take truly bold, transformative action to reach a global zero carbon economy.'
      'Our ocean gives us ​ every second breath ​. It absorbs around a third of the CO2 we pump out, and has taken in over a ​nuclear bomb's worth ​ of heat​ every second for the past 150 years,' the letter says. ' It underpins our climate system and keeps our planet habitable: It is the ​blue beating heart of our planet.'
     'Yet, when it comes to inclusion in climate policies, marine habitats are often neglected. ​​A healthy ocean, teeming with life, is a vital tool in the bid to tackle global heating: more than half of biological carbon capture ​ is stored by marine wildlife,' the groups note, highlighting the power of mangrove forests, seagrass meadows, and the wildlife of the open sea.
     'The COP26 climate talks and COP15 biodiversity talks this year will be the most important meetings for generations. They will set us on the road to either a sustainable future for humanity or conflict, suffering, and mass extinctions,' the letter continues, urging world leaders to take three specific actions:
     Include specific, legally binding targets to protect and restore blue carbon environments in their updated Nationally Determined Contribution implementation plans;
     Commit to the 30x30 ocean protection plan and designate 30% of the ocean as ecologically representative​ marine protected areas by 2030; and
     Agree an international moratorium on deep sea mining to protect the deep sea from irreversible, large-scale harm.
The letter comes about a month after a U.N. report warned that Nationally Determined Contribution (NDC) pledges—or plans to reduce planet-heating emissions—that parties to the Paris climate agreement have unveiled so far ahead of COP26 are dramatically inadequate on the whole. As Common Dreams reported, U.N. Secretary-General António Guterres called the findings 'a red alert for our planet.'
     Letter signatory Richard Unsworth, a marine scientist and co-founder of Project Seagrass, said Monday that "there is real hope: protection and restoration of habitats like seagrass meadows can be a key part of the solution in tackling climate change. But the missing piece has been the fundamental long-term support from the government.'
     'If we're going to fight climate change and face up to the associated problems of food security,' he said, 'then we need to restore our oceans, and that involves real government support as part of a genuine green deal for the environment.'
     Other signatories include including Pavel Kabat, Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) assessment reports lead author and inaugural research director of the U.N. World Meteorological Organization (WMO); human rights barrister Baroness Helena Kennedy; University of Exeter marine conservation professor Brendan Godley; wildlife filmmaker Gordon Buchanan; actor Joanna Lumley; and politicians from the United Kingdom, Germany, Indonesia, Taiwan, and beyond.
     British Green MP Caroline Lucas emphasized that policies and action reflecting the importance of marine ecosystems 'to both people and planet' must be 'additional to—and not instead of—decarbonization on land.'
     Echoing recent messages from fellow youth climate campaigners across the globe, 13-year-old Finlay Pringle, another signatory, said that 'talking and doing nothing is not acceptable anymore. We don't want more empty promises from our politicians, we need them to face the climate emergency and take action now, rather than continuing to pass the responsibility on to future generations.'
     The letter was released as the WMO prepared for World Meteorological Day, which on Tuesday will celebrate 'the ocean, our climate, and weather' while raising awareness about scientific findings regarding growing threats, including a landmark IPCC reporton the world's seas and frozen regions.
     'Ocean heat is at record levels because of greenhouse gas emissions, and ocean acidification continues unabated. The impact of this will be felt for hundreds of years because the ocean has a long memory,' said WMO Secretary-General Petteri Taalas in a statement Monday. 'Ice is melting, with profound repercussions for the rest of the globe, through changing weather patterns and accelerating sea level rise.'
     'In 2020, the annual Arctic sea ice minimum was among the lowest on record, exposing Polar communities to abnormal coastal flooding, and stakeholders such as shipping and fisheries, to sea ice hazards,' he added, also noting that "warm ocean temperatures helped fuel a record Atlantic hurricane season, and intense tropical cyclones in the Indian and South Pacific Oceans."
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Catrin Einhorn, "Trawling for Fish May Unleash as Much Carbon as Air Travel, Study Says: The report also found that strategically conserving some marine areas would not only safeguard imperiled species but sequester vast amounts planet-warming carbon dioxide, too," The New York Times March 17, 2021,, reported, "For the first time, scientists have calculated how much planet-warming carbon dioxide is released into the ocean by bottom trawling, the practice of dragging enormous nets along the ocean floor to catch shrimp, whiting, cod and other fish. The answer: As much as global aviation releases into the air."

Jessica Corbett, "Most Economists Agree: Benefits of 'Drastic' Climate Action Outweigh Costs of Status Quo: 'People who spend their careers studying our economy are in widespread agreement that climate change will be expensive, potentially devastatingly so," Common Dreams, March 30, 2021,, reported, " While scientists and campaigners continue calling on world leaders to pursue more ambitious policies to cut planet-heating emissions based on moral arguments and physical dangers, a U.S. think tank released survey results on Tuesday that make a clear economic case for sweeping climate action.
     The Institute for Policy Integrity at New York University School of Law invited 2,169 Ph.D. economists to take a 15-question online survey 'focused on climate change risks, economic damage estimates, and emissions abatement," according to a report (pdf) on the results. Nearly three-quarters of the 738 economists who participated in the survey say they agree that 'immediate and drastic action is necessary.'
     'In sharp contrast, less than 1% believe that climate change is 'not a serious problem,' the report says, noting a jump in support for bold climate action now compared with a 2015 survey. 'Nearly 80% of respondents also self-report an increase in their level of concern about climate change over the past five years, underscoring the high level of overall concern among this group.'
     Of those surveyed, 76% believe the climate crisis will likely or very likely have a negative effect on global economic growth rates. Additionally, 70% think climate change will make income inequality worse within most countries and 89% think it will exacerbate inequality between high-income and low-income countries.
     'People who spend their careers studying our economy are in widespread agreement that climate change will be expensive, potentially devastatingly so,' said Peter Howard, economics director at the institute and co-author of the research, in a statement. 'These findings show a clear economic case for urgent climate action.'
     As the report details:
     Respondents were asked to estimate the economic impacts of several different climate scenarios. They project that economic damages from climate change will reach $1.7 trillion per year by 2025, and roughly $30 trillion per year (5% of projected GDP) by 2075 if the current warming trend continues. Their damage estimates rise precipitously as warming intensifies, topping $140 trillion annually at a 5°C increase and $730 trillion at a 7°C increase. As expected, experts believe that the risk of extremely high/catastrophic damages significantly increases at these high temperatures.
     Sixty-six percent of respondents 'agree that the benefits of reaching net-zero emissions by 2050 would likely outweigh the costs,' compared with just 12% who disagree
. As the report says: 'Costs are often cited as a reason to delay or avoid strong action on climate change, but this survey of hundreds of expert economists suggests that the weight of evidence is on the side of rapid action.'
     The economists also foresee a 'rapid expansion of clean energy technologies' in the coming decades, and 65% of respondents expect the costs of emerging zero-emission and negative-emission tech will drop rapidly, similar to the recent developments with solar and wind energy. While a majority also expects negative-emission technologies will become viable in the second half of the century, the report notes that 'a very high percentage of 'No Opinion' responses underscores the uncertainty of this projection.'
      'Economists overwhelmingly support rapid emissions reductions, and they are optimistic about key technology costs continuing to drop,' said co-author Derek Sylvan, strategy director at the institute. 'There is a clear consensus among these experts that the status quo seems far more costly than a major energy transition.'
     The survey comes as governments party to the Paris agreement are revising and releasing emissions pledges for the next decade ahead of a global summit in November. A United Nations report recently warned that the pledges put forth so far are dramatically inadequate. As Power Shift Africa director Mohamed Adow said: 'It's staggering how far off track countries are to dealing with the climate crisis.'
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Andrea Germanos, "Scientists to Biden: Slash Emissions 50% Below 2005 Levels by 2030: 'This goal is both technically feasible and necessary—now we need action," Common Dreams, March 30, 2021,, reported, " Over 1,000 scientists urged President Joe Biden on Tuesday to pursue a 'robust target' of slashing the nation's 'emissions by at least 50% below 2005 levels by 2030 and transitioning to a net-zero emissions economy no later than 2050.'
     'This goal is both technically feasible and necessary—now we need action,' the experts write
( in an open letter t o the White House.
     The letter was released by research and advocacy group the Union of Concerned Scientists, which plans on delivering the letter next month ahead of the president's April 22 climate summit with other world leaders.
     Ahead of that meeting, the administration 'is expected to announce what the White House called 'an ambitious 2030 target,'' Reuters reported, referring to what is known as a Nationally Determined Contribution or NDC to the 2015 Paris Agreement.
     Noted signatories to the open letter so far include Dr. Michael Mann, distinguished professor of atmospheric science at Pennsylvania State University and lead author of the IPCC Third Assessment Report, and Dr. Lauren Edwards, executive director of 500 Women Scientists and director of the group's Fellowship for the Future.
     The signatories, who also include engineers and public health experts, say that emissions reductions must be prioritized in the transportation and power sectors.
      Five specific actions, touching on methane emissions, new vehicle fleets, and building soil health, are detailed. The letter calls for Biden to:
     'Aim for a transition to a 100% carbon-free power sector by 2035, through supportive policies and increased investments in energy efficiency, renewable energy, a modernized electricity system, transmission, energy storage, and clean energy research and development.
     Set strong long-term standards that reduce carbon pollution from passenger cars and trucks by at least 60% and ensure at least 50% of new vehicles sales are electric by 2030. Also increase investment in sustainable, equitable transportation infrastructure.
     Enact strong pollution standards that put us on track to have all new trucks and buses be zero-emission by 2040, which will also reduce dangerous air pollution.
     Sharply limit methane emissions from oil and gas production, processing and distribution.
     Enable farmers and eaters to be part of the solution by investing in equitable research and assistance programs that advance sustainable farming systems, build soil health, sequester carbon, and reduce food and farm emissions.'
     Communities of the front lines of the climate crisis must be centered in plans for effecting such changes, including by holding fossil fuel polluters accountable. Workers in the fossil fuel industry, the group adds, must also be aided through a 'well-funded long-term transition package
     An analysis out Tuesday from the Natural Resources Defense Council adds fresh support for the letter's recommendations. According to the findings , Biden must:
     'commit to an ambitious Nationally Determined Contribution (NDC) of reducing its GHG emissions by at least 50% below 2005 levels by 2030—a target which is necessary, achievable, and affordable. In fact, our own modeling shows that a 53% GHG reduction by 2030 is technologically feasible and would cost just 0.4% of projected U.S. GDP while delivering substantial economic, public health, and climate benefits for Americans. Moreover, this ambitious but credible NDC target will position the United States on a path to net-zero emissions by 2050, help pull the country out of the pandemic-induced recession by putting millions of Americans to work every year, avoid tens of thousands of premature deaths, and inspire more ambitious global climate action ahead of the UN Climate Change Conference of the Parties in November
     Analysis co-author Rachel Fakhry, policy analyst in NRDC's Climate & Clean Energy program, said in a statement: 'It's clear that the more progress we make this decade, the better off we will be. A strong but achievable new climate target will help us stay on track to a cleaner and safer future.'
     The open letter was released a day after the White House announced measures to boostthe nation's offshore wind capacity and named the 26 members members of the Environmental Justice Advisory Council. Members of the body, created under a January executive order, include voting rights and climate justice activist Jerome Foster II as well as Texas Southern University professor and author Dr. Bob Bullard, who's been dubbed the father of environmental justice.
     On Wednesday, the administration is expected to reveal the first part of its infrastructure and jobs package, which is set to include climate measures to help the nation's transition away from fossil fuels.
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Julia Conley, "Slashing Methane Emissions Must Play Larger Role in Fighting Climate Crisis, UN Says: The report confirms that 'natural gas is the precise opposite of a climate solution,' wrote author and activist Bill McKibben," Common Dreams, April 26, 2021,, reported, " The United Nations will release a report next month on methane, calling for a reduction in emissions of the main component of natural gas to play a greater role in fighting the climate crisis—a step that could result in relatively rapid benefits for public health and the climate, according to scientists.
     The report, which will be released by U.N.'s Climate and Clean Air Coalition and the U.N. Environment Program in the coming weeks, follows a pledge by U.S. President Joe Biden to reduce the country's carbon emissions by 50 to 52% below 2005 levels.
     As Common Dreams reported earlier this month, a study released by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) showed that both carbon and methane emissions rose in 2020 to levels unseen on the planet in more than three million years—despite the slowing of economic activity due to the coronavirus pandemic.
      Recent studies suggest that the amount of methane released each year from oil and gas production, mainly from leaks in infrastructure, have been underestimated in the past while releases from cattle ranching and other sources may have been overstated.
     Methane emissions could plummet by 45% by 2030 with a concerted effort to reduce the gas by the fossil fuel, agricultural, and waste sectors
, according to the New York Times, which obtained a detailed summary of the U.N. report. That reduction would help keep the planet from warming by nearly 0.3°C by the 2040s.
      As it stands, methane emissions are projected to rise through at least 2040, according to the U.N., and the report states that expanding the use of natural gas—which proponents have claimed is a cleaner and safer alternative to oil and coal—is not compatible with keeping the heating of the planet at or below 1.5°C.
     Author and co-founder Bill McKibben called the upcoming report a 'crucial study' for its clear-cut message about natural gas.
     The fossil fuel industry is in the unique position of being able to quickly effect change, according to the U.N. Because methane lasts in the atmosphere for only about a decade after its release—unlike carbon, which lasts for hundreds of years—cutting methane emissions now could help to meet midcentury targets for fighting the planetary emergency.
     'It's going to be next to impossible to remove enough carbon dioxide to get any real benefits for the climate in the first half of the century,' Drew Shindell, the study's lead author and a professor at Duke University, told the Times. 'But if we can make a big enough cut in methane in the next decade, we'll see public health benefits within the decade, and climate benefits within two decades.'
     While much of the focus in discussions about halting the climate crisis has revolved around carbon, methane warms the atmosphere more than 80 times as much as carbon does over a 20-year period.
     The U.N. reports that slashing methane emissions from the fossil fuel sector could prevent more than 250,000 premature deaths and more than 750,000 hospitalizations each year starting in 2030. Methane is also responsible for the loss of more than 25 million crops per year, the Times reported.
     The report comes days after U.S. Sen. Ed Markey (D-Mass.), a co-author of the Green New Deal, called on Biden to include specific language regarding methane in the country's nationally determined contribution (NDC), or its commitment to greenhouse gas reduction under the Paris climate agreement.
     'Momentum is building for international action to curb dangerous methane pollution and mitigate the immediate threat of accelerated global warming,'Markey wrote. 'The United States has an opportunity to cement its position as a global leader through robust methane reduction targets and strategies.'
     The U.S. Senate is expected to vote this week on reversing former President Donald Trump's regulatory rollback regarding methane emissions.
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"Senate Passes Resolution to Reinstate Methane Pollution Safeguards," The Sierra Club via an E-mail from the Albuquerque, NM chapter, April 28, 2021, reported, "Today, t he Senate passed (52-42) a resolution that would reinstate the Environmental Protection Agency's 2016 methane pollution safeguards for the oil and gas industry. The move is another critical step forward in undoing the previous administration’s reckless assaults on vital climate and public health protections. Last night, the White House released a statement indicating their support of the resolution.
     Methane, the primary component of fracked gas, is a powerful climate pollutant that is 87 times more powerful than carbon dioxide at warming the planet in the near-term. Methane emissions reached record highs ( over the last year even as the pandemic shut down significant parts of the economy, and a growing body of evidence indicates that oil and gas methane emissions are far higher than official estimates have thus far suggested. Next month, the Climate and Clean Air Coalition and the United Nations Environment Programme are expected to publish a global methane assessment ( which finds that the reduction of methane emissions must play a greater role in 'warding off the worst effects of climate change.'
      Now that the Senate has passed this resolution, all eyes turn to the House of Representatives, which is anticipated to vote on the measure within the next couple of weeks."

Somini Sengupta, "How Debt and Climate Change Pose ‘Systemic Risk’ to World Economy: With dozens of countries struggling to manage both staggering debt and mounting climate disasters, some financial leaders are calling for green debt relief," The New York Times, April 7, 2021,, reported, " How does a country deal with climate disasters when it’s drowning in debt? Not very well, it turns out. Especially not when a pandemic clobbers its economy."
     "The combination of debt, climate change and environmental degradation 'represents a systemic risk to the global economy that may trigger a cycle that depresses revenues, increases spending and exacerbates climate and nature vulnerabilities,' according to a new assessment by the World Bank, International Monetary Fund and others
, which was seen by The Times. It comes after months of pressure from academics and advocates for lenders to address this problem."

Andrea Germanos, "Solar Swells as Coal Collapses: Analysis Shows Rapid Shift to Renewables Underway: Cleaner and lower-cost wind and solar, coupled with battery storage, will drive fossil fuels out of the market,'" Common Dreams, March 31, 2021,, commented, " The nation's transition from dirty to renewable energy is 'nearing exponential growth'—a shift set to usher in 'transformative' impacts within a handful of years.
     So declares the Institute for Energy Economics and Financial Analysis (IEEFA) in its 'U.S. Power Sector Outlook 2021' report released Wednesday.
     Among the key findings (pdf: are that wind and solar are the least costly power generation option in much of nation.
      Wind, Solar Surge to Reshape U.S. Power SectorThe analysis also points to President Joe Biden's announcement this week regarding efforts to boost offshore wind as set to 'have a major impact on the speed of existing development efforts along the East Coast.'
      Expected new offshore wind capacity 'will certainly undercut any need for new fossil fuel generation in the region, as well as vying for market share with existing fossil fuel generators,' the publication finds.
     The fast decline of coal is projected to go into high gear, according to the report. Coal made up less than 20% of the U.S. electricity market in 2020, and coal generation capacity is in free-fall, dropping 32% from its peak 10 years ago. And while higher gas prices could tick coal generation upward this year, the analysis forecasts it would be 'a short-lived reprieve' lasting a year at best.
     What's more, a number of coal plants are already set for retirement, and that number 'in the coming decade is going to climb sharply,' the analysis forecasts.
      Gas, meanwhile, has plateaued. The narrative of it serving as a so-called bridge, according to the report, 'has now been closed'
     Additionally noted in the analysis are the major strides wind and solar are making. Thanks to a surge in capacity, 'utility-scale wind and solar accounted for more than 10% of total U.S. electricity generation in 2020 for the first time.'
     Industry predictions are for 54 gigawatts of new utility-scale solar for commercial operation by the end of 2023—which would mark a doubling of capacit
     Further aiding the U.S. move away from fossil fuel energy is that the Trump administration has ended. It's clear, the authors write, that 'the new Biden administration is going to take a much more aggressive policy approach over the next four years to quickly push the U.S. electricity sector to be less carbon-intensive.'
      Tipping the scales more towards renewables is the strong growth in battery storage installations. No longer a 'a niche product with limited applications,' there are now "markets for storage across the board."
      The bottom line, according to the analysis, is clear: 'Cleaner and lower-cost wind and solar, coupled with battery storage, will drive fossil fuels out of the market.'
     As report co-author David Schlissel, sees it, the writing on the wall for fossil fuels is clear.
     'This is just the start of a transition that is rapidly accelerating, driven by sharp declines in cost, stricter environmental regulations for coal generation, and mounting public concern about climate change,' he said in a statement.
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Jim Tankersley, "Biden Details $2 Trillion Plan to Rebuild Infrastructure and Reshape the Economy: The president began selling his proposal on Wednesday, saying it would fix 20,000 miles of roads and 10,000 bridges, while also addressing climate change and racial inequities and raising corporate taxes.
     March 31, 2021,, reported, " President Biden introduced a $2 trillion plan on Wednesday to overhaul and upgrade the nation’s infrastructure, calling it a transformational effort that could create the 'most resilient, innovative economy in the world.'”
     The proposal calls for:
     Estimated cost in billions
      Electric vehicle incentives: $174
Roads and bridges: $115
      Public transit: $85
     Passenger and freight railways: $80
Disaster resilience: $50
     Other: $35
     Airports: $25
     Improve road safety: $20
     Underserved communities: $20
     Waterways and ports: $17
     Many critics said that while the funding proposed to fight climate change is a helpful increase, it is not enough to do what is urgently necessary.

Brad Plumer, “E.P.A. to Modify Trump-Era Limits on States’ Ability to Oppose Energy Projects: In recent years, states have used the Clean Water Act to block pipelines and other fossil fuel projects. The Trump administration tried to curb that power," The New York Times, May 27, 2021,, reported, “The Biden administration on Thursday said it planned to revise a Trump-era rule that limited the ability of states and tribes to veto pipelines and other energy projects that could pollute their local waterways.”

Coral Davenport, Henry Fountain and Lisa Friedman, “Biden Suspends Drilling Leases in Arctic National Wildlife Refuge: The decision blocks, for now, oil and gas drilling in one of the largest tracts of undeveloped wilderness in the United States," The New York Times, June 1, 2021,, reported, “ The Biden administration on Tuesday suspended oil drilling leases in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, unspooling a signature achievement of the Trump presidency and delivering on a promise by President Biden to protect the fragile Alaskan tundra from fossil fuel extraction.
      The decision sets up a process that could halt drilling in one of the largest tracts of untouched wilderness in the United States, home to migrating waterfowl, caribou and polar bears. But it also lies over as much as 11 billion barrels of oil and Democrats and Republicans have fought over whether to allow drilling there for more than four decades.”

Kevin McGill, "Federal judge blocks Biden’s pause on new oil, gas leases," Associated Press, June 15, 2021,, reported, " The Biden administration’s suspension of new oil and gas leases on federal land and water was blocked Tuesday by a federal judge in Louisiana who ordered that plans continue for lease sales that were delayed for the Gulf of Mexico and Alaska waters “and all eligible onshore properties.”
     " U.S. District Judge Terry Doughty’s ruling came in a lawsuit filed in March by Louisiana Republican Attorney General Jeff Landry and officials in 12 other states. Doughty said his ruling applies nationwide. It grants a preliminary injunction — technically a halt to the suspension pending further arguments on the merits of the case.
     Judge Doughty wrote, “The omission of any rational explanation in cancelling the lease sales, and in enacting the Pause, results in this Court ruling that Plaintiff States also have a substantial likelihood of success on the merits of this claim."
     Plaintiffs claimed Biden's order was invalid because it did not follow proper procedure, including having a period for public comment.

Coral Davenport, "Biden Plans to Restore Alaskan Forest Protections Stripped Under Trump: The administration says it will “repeal or replace” the rule that opened up more than half of Tongass National Forest to logging," The New York Times, 11, 2021,, reported, " The Biden administration plans to restore environmental protections to Tongass National Forest in Alaska, one of the world’s largest intact temperate rain forests, that had been stripped away by former President Donald J. Trump.
     The administration intends to 'repeal or replace' a Trump-era rule which opened about nine million acres, or more than half of the forest, to logging and road construction, according to a White House document published on Friday."

Niraj Chokshi and Clifford Krauss, “A Big Climate Problem With Few Easy Solutions: Planes: The airline industry might not be able to reduce greenhouse gas emissions for decades because most solutions are not yet viable,” The New York Times, June 2, 2021,, reported, “ The worst of the pandemic may be over for airlines, but the industry faces another looming crisis: an accounting over its contribution to climate change.
     The industry is under increasing pressure to do something to reduce and eventually
eliminate emissions from travel , but it won’t be easy. Some solutions, like hydrogen fuel cells, are promising, but it’s unclear when they will be available, if ever. That leaves companies with few options: They can make tweaks to squeeze out efficiencies, wait for technology to improve or invest today to help make viable options for the future.”

Patrick McGeehan, "Indian Point Is Shutting Down. That Means More Fossil Fuel: When the Indian Point nuclear power plant shuts, its lost output will be filled primarily by generators that burn fuels that contribute to climate change, The New York Times, April 13, 2021,, reported, "For most of his long political career, Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo railed against the dangers of having a nuclear power plant [Indian Point Power Plant] operating just 25 miles away from New York City, saying its proximity to such a densely populated metropolis defied 'basic sanity.’
     But now, the plant is preparing to shut down, and New York is grappling with the adverse effect the closing will have on another of Mr. Cuomo’s ambitious goals: sharply reducing the state’s reliance on fossil fuels."

Jennifer Jett and Ben Dooley, "Fukushima Wastewater Will Be Released Into the Ocean, Japan Says: The government says the plan is the best way to dispose of water used to prevent the ruined nuclear plant’s damaged reactor cores from melting.
     April 13, 2021,, reported, " Japan said on Tuesday that it had decided to gradually release tons of treated wastewater from the ruined Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant into the ocean, describing it as the best option for disposal despite fierce opposition from fishing crews at home and concern from governments abroad."
     "Disposal of the wastewater has been long delayed by public opposition and by safety concerns. But the space used to store the water is expected to run out next year, and Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga said during the cabinet meeting on Tuesday that disposing of the wastewater from the plant was 'a problem that cannot be avoided.'”

Environment America wrote in an April 11, 2021 E-mail, " From breaching whales to napping sea otters, from clever octopuses to wizened sea turtles, our seas are full of amazing life. That's why the sight of plastic floating in the waves or sticking out of the sand is so distressing. Every minute, the equivalent of almost two garbage truck loads of plastic enters the ocean every minute, where it can harm and kill marine life. 1
     Thankfully, hope is on the horizon.
      Across the country, our elected leaders are working to address the problem. From banning unnecessary single-use plastic products, like foam cups and plastic bags, to holding producers responsible for the waste they create, we have the opportunity to pass bills that will put wildlife over waste.
     Want to know how you can help support this movement?
      Join us on Friday, April 16 at 1:00pm ET / 10:00am PT for "The United States Against Plastic" Rally to find out.
      Register today to attend our " The United States Against Plastic" Rally:"

"Saving 31 Species the Trump Administration Left Behind," Center for Biological Diversity, E-mail, April 8, 2021, stated, "This month the Center for Biological Diversity's lawyers are working hard to rescue 31 rare species the Trump administration neglected to 52 Trillion Spending Proposal to Fund Discretionary Priorities: The blueprint includes increases in funding to address climate change, along with beefing up education, health research and the Internal Revenue Service," The New York Times,
     April 9, 2021,, reported that President Biden proposed and additional $1.52 billion in domestic spending on top of the $2.3 trillion in infrasructure spending called for earlier. The new proposal would increase domestic discretionary spending by 16%, and includes funding for fighting and adopting to climate change.
     "Among its major new spending initiatives, the plan would dedicate an additional $20 billion to help schools that serve low-income children and provide more money to students who have experienced racial or economic barriers to higher education. It would create a multibillion-dollar program for researching diseases like cancer and add $14 billion to fight and adapt to the damages of climate change.
     It would also seek to lift the economies of Central American countries, where rampant poverty, corruption and devastating hurricanes have fueled migration toward the southwestern border, and a variety of initiatives to address homelessness and housing affordability, including on tribal lands. And it asks for an increase of about 2 percent in spending on national defense."

Andrea Germanos,"Warning of Threat to 'Humanity and the Natural World,' Hawaii State Legislature Becomes First in US to Declare Climate Emergency: 'The climate crisis is a clear and present threat for both current and future generations,' said Dyson Chee of the Hawaii Youth Climate Coalition.,'" Common Dreams, April 30, 2021,, reported, " Hawaii is poised to become the first U.S. state to declare a climate emergency after the Legislature's adoption Thursday of State Senate Concurrent Resolution 44.
     The bill 'acknowledges that an existential climate emergency threatens humanity and the natural world, declares a climate emergency, and requests statewide collaboration toward an immediate just transition and emergency mobilization effort to restore a safe climate.'
     It calls on the state to commit to 'a just transition toward a decarbonized economy that invests in and ensures clean energy, quality jobs, and a statewide commitment to a climate emergency mobilization effort to reverse the climate crisis.'
     The passage was welcomed by Hawaii Climate & Environmental Coalition member 350 Hawaii, which declared on its Facebook page: "We are the ones the future generation is counting on."
     "Hawaii is the first state to join a movement largely led by cities and counties to declare a climate emergency which reflects the commitment our state Legislature continues to make to address the causes and the impacts of climate change," state Rep. Lisa Marten (D-51), who led the House version of the measure, said in a statement.
      According to the Climate Mobilization Project, such declarations have been made by over 1,900 jurisdictions worldwide, including 144 within U.S. 24 states. Climate emergency declarations have previously been made by the Hawaii Island Council and Maui County Council ."

Julia Conley, "97% of Earth's Land No Longer Ecologically Intact, Study Finds: 'Conservation is simply not enough anymore. We need restoration," Common Dreams, April 15, 2021,, reported, " Ecologists and environmental advocates on Thursday called for swift action to reintroduce species into the wild as scientists at the University of Cambridge in England found that 97% of the planet's land area no longer qualifies as ecologically intact.
     Conservation is simply not enough anymore,' said financier and activist Ben Goldsmith. 'We need restoration
     The authors of the study, published in the journal Frontiers in Forests and Global Change, expressed alarm at their findings, which showed that of the 3% of fully intact land, much lies in northern areas which weren't rich in biodiversity to begin with, such as boreal forests in Canada or tundra in Greenland.
     he amount of ecologically intact land 'was much lower than we were expecting,' Dr. Andrew Plumptre, head of the Key Biodiversity Areas Secretariat at Cambridge and lead author of the study, told Science News.
     'Going in, I'd guessed that it would be 8 to 10%,' he added. 'It just shows how huge an impact we've had.'
     The researchers examined whether natural habitats had retained the number of species which were present in the year 1500—the standard used by the International Union for the Conservation of Nature to assess species' extinction.
     Earlier research using satellite imagery led to estimates that 20 to 40% of the planet had retained its natural biodiversity. But areas including dense forests, which can appear intact from above, were found to be missing numerous species.
     The researchers linked the loss of unscathed land to hunting and other destructive human activities, disease, and the impact of invasive species. According to The Guardian, the study may underestimate the intact regions because it does not 'take account of the impacts of the climate crisis, which is changing the ranges of species.'
      Only 11% of the land still considered intact was found to be in officially protected areas, but much of the intact regions 'coincide with territories managed by indigenous communities, who have played a vital role in maintaining the ecological integrity of these areas,' the researchers wrote.
     In light of the study, advocates including author George Monbiot and ecologist Alan Watson Featherstone called for 'rewilding,' or species reintroduction in affected areas.
      The reintroduction of up to five species could help restore 20% of the planet to previous levels of biodiversity, the study found.
     'Examples would include reintroducing forest elephants in areas of the Congo Basin where they have been extirpated, or reintroducing some of the large ungulates that have been lost from much of Africa's woodlands and savannas because of overhunting (e.g., buffalo, giraffe, zebras etc.), as long as overhunting has ceased,' the researchers wrote.
     Previously, the rewilding of gray wolves in Yellowstone National Park in the U.S. led to a resurgence in the park's ecosystem.
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Jake Johnson, "'A Crisis for Climate Stability': Data Shows Rainforest Destruction Accelerated in 2020: 'As in past years, commodity-driven deforestation was the leading cause of tree cover loss,'" Common Dreams, March 31, 2021,, reported, " Intentional deforestation as well as drought-induced wildfires made more frequent and severe by the climate crisis drove a significant acceleration of global rainforest loss in 2020, with new figures released Wednesday showing that 12.2 million hectares of tree cover were destroyed in the tropics last year.
     According to data from the University of Maryland and Global Forest Watch, 4.2 million hectares—an area the size of the Netherlands—of destruction occurred among humid tropical primary forests. Scientists say this level of loss is a major blow to the planet's biodiversity and a setback for the fight against the global climate crisis, given the crucial role rainforests play in absorbing atmospheric CO2.
      'The resulting carbon emissions from this primary forest loss (2.64 Gt CO2) are equivalent to the annual emissions of 570 million cars, more than double the number of cars on the road in the United States,' noted Mikaela Weisse and Liz Goldman of Global Forest Watch, an initiative of the World Resources Institute (WRI).
      'As in past years, commodity-driven deforestation was the leading cause of tree cover loss (both in primary and secondary forests) in Latin America and Southeast Asia, while shifting agriculture dominates in tropical Africa,' the pair observed. 'In addition, fires and other climate-related impacts continued to play a big role, both in the tropics and beyond.'
      Last year was third-worst year for forest destruction since 2002, with the loss of primary forest—defined as areas undisturbed by human activity—up 12% compared to 2019.
      Brazil—where Amazon deforestation has surged under the leadership of far-right President Jair Bolsonaro—led the world in primary forest loss in 2020, according to the new figures . Two bright spots in an otherwise dire report were Indonesia and Malaysia, where primary forest loss declined for the fourth consecutive year.
     'While there is reason to celebrate this decline in primary forest loss , Indonesia and Malaysia must do more to strengthen existing policies to ensure this trend continues, including extending the oil palm plantation license moratorium which is set to expire in 2021,' wrote Weisse and Goldman. ' Regional climate and market conditions also may have reduced pressure on forests—conditions that could shift and, without the right measures in place, undo progress.'
      Chart, bar chart Description automatically generated
     Frances Seymour, distinguished senior fellow at WRI, warned Wednesday that continued forest destruction 'represents a crisis for climate stability and biodiversity conservation, as well as a humanitarian disaster and lost economic opportunity.
      'What we can see from satellites is that when Indigenous peoples are present in forests and their rights are strengthened, forest cover is maintained,' Seymour wrote. 'Yet the number of forest defenders being murdered is rising along with the rate of forest loss. With global climate summits on climate change and biodiversity on the calendar, 2021 is a year for solidarity among governments committed to averting the worst impacts of forest loss.'
     'It's also time,' Seymour added. 'for solidarity with the communities risking their lives to save the world's remaining forests
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     Manuela Andreoni and Ernesto Londoño, "Bolsonaro’s Sudden Pledge to Protect the Amazon Met With Skepticism: The Biden era has prompted Brazil to take steps to repair its record as an environmental scoundrel — for which it’s seeking billions of dollars from the international community," The New York Times, April 21, 2021,, reported, " As the Biden administration rallies the international community to curb global warming in a climate change summit this week, Brazil is pledging to play a critical role, going as far as promising to end illegal deforestation by 2030.
     There’s a catch: Brazil’s president, Jair Bolsonaro, wants the international community to pledge billions of dollars to pay for the conservation initiatives." Leaders of the world's countries were strongly resistant to Bolsonaro's demand

Because the world is responding too slowly to global warming induced climate change there is a move to explore all options, "Geoengineering research programme proposed: All options to fight climate crisis must be explored, says national academy, but critics fear side-effects," The Guardian, March 25, 2021,, reported, " The US should establish a multimillion-dollar research programme on solar geoengineering, according to the country’s national science academy.
a report it recommends funding of $100m (£73m) to $200m over five years to better understand the feasibility of interventions to dim the sun, the risk of harmful unintended consequences and how such technology could be governed in an ethical way."
     "Outdoor experiments should be allowed only if they provide critical knowledge that cannot be obtained by other means
, said the report, and the research programme “should not be designed to advance future deployment of these interventions”. Harvard University is hoping to gain imminent approval from an independent committee for test flights , which are opposed by environmental groups ."

"How to Clean Up Steel? Bacteria, Hydrogen and a Lot of Cash: With climate concerns growing, steel companies face an inevitable crunch. ArcelorMittal sees solutions, but the costs are likely to run into tens of billions of dollars in Europe alone," The New York Times, March 24, 2021,, reported, "Few materials are more essential than steel, yet steel mills are among the leading polluters. They burn coke, a derivative of coal, and belch millions of tons of greenhouse gases. Roughly two tons of carbon dioxide rises into the atmosphere for every ton of steel made using blast furnaces.
     With climate concerns growing, a crunch appears inevitable for these companies. Carbon taxes are rising, and investors are wary of putting their money into businesses that could be regulated out of existence." Thus, major European steel maker ArcelorMittal has begun the huge investments necessary to transforming steel making into a less climate damaging operation. Other steel makers will likely follow

Henry Fountain and Jason KaoMay, "There’s a New Definition of ‘Normal’ for Weather," The New York Times, May 12, 2021,, reported, "The United States is getting redder.
     No, not that kind of red. (We’ll leave that to the political pundits.) We’re talking about the thermometer kind.
     The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration last week issued its latest 'climate normals': baseline data of temperature, rain, snow and other weather variables collected over three decades at thousands of locations across the country."
     The article includes U.S. maps showing changes in "normal" temperature and precipitation around the country based on data from NOA: Index of /pub/jared/normals/analysis/20th_century.

The weakening of the Arctic vortex caused by climate change, again brings a huge complex of winter storms to North America. Rick Rojas and Marie Fazio, "Winter Storm Brings Icy Temperatures and Cuts Power Across U.S.: At least 2.5 million customers, most of them in Texas, had lost electricity by early Monday as weather advisories extended from coast to coast," The New York Times, February 15, 2021,, reported, " A coast-to-coast winter storm swept from Oregon and Washington to the Southeast on Sunday, part of a frigid weather pattern that created record low temperatures in Minnesota and a 100-vehicle traffic pileup in Texas and that is now producing dangerous conditions across much of the country because of heavy snowfall, perilous ice and dangerously low temperatures.
     The National Weather Service said early Monday that at least 150 million Americans were under ice or winter weather advisories. Hundreds of thousands of people were without power. Trucks slid off highways and cars piled up on ice-coated roads. As the storm continued to intensify, officials urged residents to brace themselves."
     By the next day, the virtually nation-wide cold, bringing record low temperatures to much of the U.S., and snow and below freezing temperatures to many places far to the south that rarely experience either - as well as subzero temperatures further south than experienced in decades - had caused rolling blackouts and power failures in many places
: Brad Plumer, "A Glimpse of America’s Future: Climate Change Means Trouble for Power Grids: Systems are designed to handle spikes in demand, but the wild and unpredictable weather linked to global warming will very likely push grids beyond their limits," The New York Times, February 17, 2021,, reported, " Huge winter storms plunged large parts of the central and southern United States into an energy crisis this week, with frigid blasts of Arctic weather crippling electric grids and leaving millions of Americans without power amid dangerously cold temperatures.
     The grid failures were most severe in Texas, where more than four million people woke up Tuesday morning to
rolling blackouts . Separate regional grids in the Southwest and Midwest also faced serious strain. As of Tuesday afternoon, at least 23 people nationwide had died in the storm or its aftermath."
     With global warming induced climate change worsening, the electric grid in the U.S, is likely to become extremely vulnerable to increasing extreme weather making life more and more difficult in the country, an indeed, world-wide
      Texas has suffered a major disaster with lack of power, some people died of exposure in their houses, numerous water treatment plants shut down and pipes burst leaving people without water, having to boil what water they can get, and houses flooded.
      This and other climate change related disasters shows that the country, its utilities and infrastructure are not prepared for the increasing weather extremes of escalating climate change ( Christopher Flavelle, Brad Plumer and Hiroko Tabuchi, "Texas Blackouts Point to Coast-to-Coast Crises Waiting to Happen: Continent-spanning storms triggered blackouts in Oklahoma and Mississippi, halted one-third of U.S. oil production and disrupted vaccinations in 20 states," The New York Times, February 20, 2021,
     The disaster in Texas is also impacting wildlife. For example, "Lifesaving water heaters DESPERATELY NEEDED!" Network for Animals, February 21, 2021,, reported, "A disaster has struck - the storm of the decade is threatening the lives of countless endangered sea turtles in South Padre Island, Texas. Many have died of the cold already… and thousands more are at risk of freezing to death!
Temperatures have plummeted below 40 degrees Fahrenheit (4 degrees Celsius) as record-breaking snow and wind continue to ravage the coast of Texas, which is usually a haven for thousands of endangered sea turtles. And a crippling second storm is on the way!"
     In addition, the agricultural losses from the Texas storm exceeded $600 million, disrupting the supply chain and causing food prices to rise (Kim Severson, Cost of Texas Storm to Be Felt in Grocery Aisles Far Beyond State," The New York Times, March 5, 2021).

In Texas and surrounding states, Indian nations met the terrible supper cold storm fairly well, by being prepared and warning residents. Just after the storm, the biggest need in tribal communities was food. The tribes sent out supplies to those they could reach, easing the hardship (Mary Annette Pember "Tribes survive Texas storms: Polar vortex hits areas unaccustomed to cold weather," ICT, February 17, 2021, Mary Annette Pember).

Extreme weather continued to hit the U.S. South East. A week after a serious storm, Eddie Burkhalter, Richard Fausset, Rick Rojas and Jesus Jiménez, "After the Tornadoes, Small Towns Grieve for Lost Lives and Wrecked Homes:Dozens of tornadoes tore across Alabama and Georgia beginning on Thursday, leaving at least six dead and many neighborhoods in tatters," The New York Times, March 26, 2021,, reported, " The tornado in Ohatchee [Alabama], which meteorologists said had winds of between 111 and 135 miles per hour, had been one in an outbreak across the southeast, beginning on Thursday. One in Alabama carved a trail that stretched some 100 miles. Another in Georgia has shredded the historic core in the city of Newnan and the surrounding rural communities, where one person was killed. At least six people in all were killed in the storms, the authorities said."

Rick Rojas, "Water Keeps Rising: Dozens of people were rescued as cars were swept away and neighborhoods were swamped. “We’re not out of the woods yet,” officials said, as water levels climbed on the Cumberland River," The New York Times, March 28, 2021,, reported, " Unrelenting rainfall in Nashville turned roads to rapids, sweeping vehicles off the streets and drowning a motorist who was carried away, one of at least four people killed during a storm that continued to threaten the city on Sunday, the authorities said.
     The water also gushed through neighborhoods, flooding houses and stranding dozens of people who needed to be rescued. And even after the rain stopped, officials urged residents to remain vigilant, as the rivers and creeks coursing through Nashville continued to rise
and were not expected to crest until late Sunday or early Monday."

The rounds of cold and snowy hitting the North American Midwest and East are repeating again this winter, because warming of the Arctic has tended to cause a weak poor vortex, sending Arctic air south. John Schwartz , "Forecast: Wild Weather in a Warming World: The polar vortex is experiencing an unusually long disturbance this year because of a 'sudden stratospheric warming.' Bundle up," The New York Times, January 31, 2021,, reported, "Rough winter weather is working its way across the United States, with bitterly cold air hitting the Northeast and snowstorms expected along the East Coast next week."
     not blocked by the new administration.

Colorado and Wyoming were hit with a heavy snowstorm, March 14-15, 2021, with record snow in some locations ad the most in years in others. The storm canceled flights, stranded many drivers on the road, and left more than 30,000 without power ( Bryan Pietsch, "Colorado Snowstorm Knocks Out Power to Thousands and Snarls Travel: The storm, which brought heavy, wet snow to parts of Colorado and Wyoming, resulted in road closings, canceled flights and downed trees and power lines," The New York Times, March 15, 2021,

Henry Fountain, "Severe Drought, Worsened by Climate Change, Ravages the American West: Heat and shifting weather patterns have intensified wildfires and sharply reduced water supplies across the Southwest, the Pacific Coast and North Dakota," The New York Times, May 19, 2021,, reported, " This year, New Mexican officials have a message for farmers who depend on irrigation water from the Rio Grande and other rivers: Unless you absolutely have to plant this year, don’t.
     Years of warming temperatures, a failed rainy season last summer and low snowpack this winter have combined to reduce the state’s rivers to a relative trickle. The agency that controls irrigation flows on the Rio Grande forced the issue. To conserve water, it opened its gates a month later than usual.
     Severe drought — largely connected to climate change — is ravaging not only New Mexico but the entire Western half of the United States, from the Pacific Coast, across the Great Basin and desert Southwest, and up through the Rockies to the Northern Plains

Derrick Bryson Taylor, "South Dakota Wildfires Prompt Mount Rushmore to Close: Gov. Kristi Noem said the monument was not under threat but that gusting winds could cause conditions to change quickly," The New York Times, March 30, 2021,, reported, " At least three wildfires in western South Dakota have prompted the closure of the Mount Rushmore National Memorial and forced the evacuation of about 400 homes, the authorities said on Monday."

The Southern Ute Reservation in Colorado shares with the region the impact of severe drought. Even with reservoir storage, reservation farmers are only expected to receive 60% of their usual irrigation water allotment, and will likely only be able to grow about half their usual crop of hay. They may not lose money as a result, as significantly reduced hay production will significantly raise the price of a bushel, but it will impact ranchers and raise meet, and perhaps milk, prices (Kevin Mallow, "Impacts of severe drought on crop and livestock producers," Southern Ute Drum, My 21, 2021).

Thanks to global warming induced climate change, 2021 has seen an increase in wildfires in the first quarter of the year over the same period in 2020, a time that used to be virtually wildfire free. New Mexico has had the Three Rivers Fire in the Lincoln National Forest near Ruidoso, spring up quickly in extremely dry conditions to burn almost 6000 acres, while only 13% contained at the end of April. In Arizona, near the California Border, the Flag Fire had consumed at least 1300 acres and forced evacuation of 200 homes by end of April in the Hualapai Mountains of Mohave County. It is one of 311 wild fires in the state during 2021's first quarter, up from 127 at the same time in 2020, amid the continuing worst drought in the region in centuries. In California, windstorms spread dozens of fires across the state in previously usually fire free January to commence what could be a year round fire season ( Simon Romero, " ‘Firefighters Out There in the Snow’: Wildfires Rage Early in Parched West: Firefighters in New Mexico, Arizona and California are battling springtime blazes that have been fueled by a severe drought and boosted by climate change," The New York Times, April 30, 2021,

New Mexico was troubled by wildfires as of the end of May. “Memorial Day Fires Burn Around the State: Severe Drought Stokes Flames,” The Paper, June 1, 2021,, “Fires in New Mexico’s Gila National Forest have burned nearly 70 square miles (175 square kilometers) after lightning strikes earlier this month.
     One of the blazes is mostly under control, officials said Monday. The Doagy Fire in western New Mexico is now 86 percent contained, National Forest spokeswoman Marta Call said. The blaze has burned around 20 square miles (52 square kilometers) on federal land in the Gila National Forest.”
     Meanwhile, the lightning strike ignited Johnson Fire has burned around 46 square miles (120 square kilometers). A smaller fire in Northern New Mexico was burning near Cuba, threatening oil infrastructure and local property.

“Amid Historic Drought, a New Water War in the West: A drought crisis has erupted in the Klamath Basin along the California-Oregon border, with fish dying en masse and farmers infuriated that they have been cut off from their main water source." The New York Times, June 1, 2021Updated June 2, 2021,, reported, “ Through the marshlands along the Oregon-California border, the federal government a century ago carved a whole new landscape, draining lakes and channeling rivers to build a farming economy that now supplies alfalfa for dairy cows and potatoes for Frito-Lay chips.
     The drawdowns needed to cover the croplands and the impacts on local fish nearing extinction have long been a point of conflict at the Klamath Project, but this year’s historic drought has heightened the stakes, with salmon dying en masse and Oregon’s largest lake draining below critical thresholds for managing fish survival. Hoping to limit the carnage, federal officials have shut the gates that feed the project’s sprawling irrigation system, telling farmers the water that has flowed every year since 1907 will not be available
.” Many farmers are up in arms over the situation, and a major political fight over who gets how much water is unfolding. This is also an expanding struggle across the parched West.”

Anna Schaverien, "Madrid Is Buried Under Heaviest Snowfall in 50 Years: At least three people have died after Storm Filomena wreaked havoc across Spain and blanketed the capital in more than a foot and a half of snow, paralyzing it for days," The New York Times, January 20, 2021,, reported, " The heaviest snowfall in five decades has blanketed Madrid over the past few days, after a giant storm hit southern and central Spain, causing at least three deaths and prompting the authorities to activate the highest level of weather warning in the capital."

Dera Menra Sijabat and Richard C. Paddock, "At Least 12 Dead in 2 Landslides in Indonesia: The landslides on the island of Java were set off by heavy rainfall and unstable soil, officials said, and left rescue workers searching for survivors," The New York Times, January 15, 2021,, "Two landslides set off by heavy rainfall and unstable soil killed at least 12 people on Java, Indonesia’s most populous island, and left rescue workers searching for survivors, disaster officials said Sunday."

Steven Lee Myers, "The Worst Dust Storm in a Decade Shrouds Beijing and Northern China: The Communist Party has made great strides in reducing China’s pollution, but a perfect storm of northern winds and an industrial rebound has created dangerously high levels of pollution countrywide," The New York Times, March 15, 2021,, reported that even as the Chinese government and Communist Party move further to improve the environment, "On Monday, large parts of China experienced just how bad the environment can still be.
      The largest and strongest dust storm in a decade swept across northern China, grounding hundreds of flights, closing schools in some cities and casting a ghastly shroud over tens of millions of people — from Xinjiang in the far west across to the Bohai Sea, according to China’s meteorological service."
     China had much to improve its terrible air polution problems, "But this week, three forces — the post-Covid industrial rebound, the continued impact of climate change on the deserts of northern China, and a late winter storm — combined to create a dangerous, suffocating pall."

Alexandra Stevenson and Cao Li, "21 Runners Dead After Extreme Weather Hits Chinese Ultramarathon: The 62-mile mountain race in Gansu Province left athletes in shorts and T-shirts facing freezing rain, hail and high winds," The New York Times, May 24, 2021,, reported, "Twenty-one people, including two of China’s top marathon athletes, died after freezing rain and high winds struck a 62-mile mountain race in northwestern China, local officials said on Sunday."

John Schwartz, “A Million Years of Data Confirms: Monsoons Are Likely to Get Worse: The annual summer monsoon in South Asia begins this month. A new study points to more destructive storms.
     June 4, 2021,, reported, “Global warming is likely to make India’s monsoon season wetter and more dangerous, new research suggests.
      Scientists have known for years that climate change is disrupting monsoon season . Past research based on computer models has suggested that the global heating caused by greenhouse gases, and the increased moisture in the warmed atmosphere, will result in rainier summer monsoon seasons and unpredictable, extreme rainfall events.”
     New research extending back a million years, published in Science Advances, supports the previous projections

With February, brutal fires have returned to Australia. Livia Albeck-Ripka, "First Came the Lockdown. Then Came the Wildfire: Residents on the outskirts of Perth in Western Australia fled their homes in the middle of the night, just days after being told to stay in because of the coronavirus ," The New York Times, February 2, 2021,, reported, " Just days after residents of Perth, Australia’s fourth-largest city, were ordered to stay in because of the coronavirus , some were forced to flee their homes on Tuesday as a ferocious wildfire bore down on the city’s outskirts.
     The blaze northeast of Perth, which began on Monday and was fueled by hot, dry and windy conditions, was out of control by about 2 a.m. on Tuesday, officials said. Residents described a confused scramble in the middle of the night, as they were unsure where they were supposed to go in light of the lockdown rules."

Damien Cave, "Australia’s Worst Floods in Decades Quicken Concerns About Climate Change: In a country that suffered the harshest wildfires in its recorded history just a year ago, the deluge has become another awful milestone," The New York Times, March 22, 2021,, reported, " Two massive storms have converged over eastern Australia, dumping more than three feet of rain in just five days. In a country that suffered the worst wildfires in its recorded history just a year ago, the deluge has become another record-breaker — a once-in-50-years event, or possibly 100, depending on the rain that’s expected to continue through Tuesday night.
     Nearly 20,000 Australians have been forced to evacuate, and more than 150 schools have been closed. The storms have swept away the home of a couple on their wedding day, prompted at least 500 rescues and drowned roads from Sydney up into the state of Queensland 500 miles north."

John Timmer, "New study: A zero-emissions US is now pretty cheap: In 2050, benefits to the US offset costs, but there are some unexpected outcomes," Technica, January 3, 2021, reported, " In many areas of the United States, installing a wind or solar farm is now cheaper than simply buying fuel for an existing fossil fuel-based generator. And that's dramatically changing the electricity market in the US and requiring a lot of people to update prior predictions. That has motivated a group of researchers to take a new look at the costs and challenges of getting the entire US to carbon neutrality.
     By building a model of the energy market for the entire US, the researchers explored what it will take to get the country to the point where its energy use has no net emissions in 2050—and they even looked at a scenario where emissions are negative. They found that, as you'd expect, the costs drop dramatically—to less than 1 percent of the GDP, even before counting the costs avoided by preventing the worst impacts of climate change. And, as an added bonus, we would pay less for our power."
      Julia Conley, "Economic Study Shows Why 'Saving the Planet Is Not a Jobs Killer:' "It's not an impossible task to make sure workers in the fossil fuel industry are provided with the skills, training, and opportunities to find other jobs," the Center for Economic and Policy Research found," Common Dreams, May 26, 2021,, reported, " A key argument made by opponents to climate action—that sharply reducing carbon emissions by shifting away from fossil fuel production and towards renewable energy sources would kill jobs—continued to fall apart Wednesday as a new report showed the employment impact of abandoning fossil fuels over the next two decades would be minimal. [While not included in the study but shown elsewhere in many analyses, building green economy would create many thousands of jobs].
     At the Center for Economic and Policy Research (CEPR), economist Dean Baker and researcher Aiden Lee found that while a reduction in the use of oil and gas will lead to job loss, even aggressive action by policymakers would affect fewer workers 'than the number of workers that employers typically fire or lay off in a single day.'
      'Saving the planet is not a jobs killer,' CEPR said.
     The researchers took stock of how many workers are employed in the drilling, processing, and distribution of oil and gas, finding that 1,027,000 people were employed in all nine sectors associated with fossil fuel energy production—about 0.7% of total payroll employment in 2019.
     Of those employees, about 655,000 people use skills for their jobs that are considered non-transferable, particularly if they work in construction and extraction.
     'Even in this category, there are occupations such as welders and electricians, which involve skills that can likely be transferred easily to other industries,' the study states.
      If the U.S. government were to largely eliminate the use of fossil fuels over a 20-year period—a more aggressive climate action path than the one the U.S. is currently on—an average of 53,600 jobs would be lost annually during that time period. About 32,700 of those jobs would use non-transferable skills, necessitating education and training to prepare workers for new professions.
     'There will invariably be cases where a refinery or power plant is closed, and all the workers are laid off, which will almost certainly include many workers who are not ready for retirement,' said Baker.
     Ideally, we would make efforts to ensure these workers are reemployed elsewhere.'
     The report shows, however, that ' it's not an impossible task to make sure workers in the fossil fuel industry are provided with the skills, training, and opportunities to find other jobs,' said Lee. 'The employment impacts of moving towards green energy is something that must be considered, and this report shows that it can be feasibly addressed.'
      Between 2000 and the Great Recession in 2009, according to the study, the annual rate of job loss was more than 12 times the rate expected in the fossil fuel industry in the event of aggressive climate action. In the manufacturing sector alone, between 2000 and 2007 the U.S. lost more than 3.4 million manufacturing jobs, or 491,000 per year on average—20 times the annual job loss rate in the case of a near-elimination of fossil fuels by 2040.
      Chart, bar chart Description automatically generated
     'While a rapid phaseout is desirable from the standpoint of limiting the damage from climate change, it is likely that it will take longer than 20 years to move the country away from fossil fuels,' the report reads.
     With this in mind, said Baker and Lee, it is likely that the annual rate of job loss in the oil and gas industries would be one-third less than the study anticipates.
     CEPR released the study a month after Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.) and Sen. Ed Markey (D-Mass.) reintroduced the Green New Deal, calling on Congress to pass legislation that would create more than one million well-paying union jobs while sustainably building the nation's infrastructure.
     Progressives have also called on the Biden administration and Democrats in Congress to fight for bold climate action within their infrastructure package, the American Jobs Plan, which President Joe Biden cut by $550 billion last week in an attempt to appease Republicans, who frequently claim—erroneously, it turns out—a shift toward a renewable energy economy will act as a 'jobs killer.'
     Our work is licensed under Creative Commons (CC BY-NC-ND 3.0)."
      John Schwartz, "Achoo! Climate Change Lengthening Pollen Season in U.S., Study Shows: New research suggests that climate change is responsible for longer pollen seasons in the United States and more pollen in the air, as well," The New York Times, February 8, 2021,, reported, "Among the many disasters climate change is wreaking around the world, scientists have now identified a more personal one: It’s making allergy season worse.
     That is the message of a new study in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences ( published on Monday. The researchers found a strong link between planetary warming and pollen seasons that will make many of us dread spring just a little bit more."

The Ojo Encio Chapter House on the Navajo Nation became the first on the Nation to receive, in February, a PA11 air quality monitor connected to the national Purple Air Network to monitor continuously levels in the air of particles from burned hydro carbons. In the first 10 days of its activation there were numerous spikes recorded of over 100 micrograms per cubic meter of air, indicating numerus unhealthy levels of particulate matter in the air (Teresa Seamster, "Navajo chapters get air monitors," Rio Grande Sierran, April, May, June 2021).

Chris Buckley and Henry Fountain, "China’s Emissions of Ozone-Harming Gas Are Declining, Studies Find: New research confirms that emissions from China of CFC-11, a banned gas that harms Earth’s ozone layer, have fallen sharply, reversing a dangerous spike," The New York Times, February 10, 2021,, reported, " Emissions from China of a banned gas that harms Earth’s ozone layer have sharply declined after increasing for several years, two teams of scientists said Wednesday, a sign that the Beijing government had made good on vows to crack down on illegal production of the industrial chemical.
      The findings ease concerns that increased emissions of the gas, CFC-11, would slow progress in the decades-long environmental struggle to repair the ozone layer, which filters ultraviolet radiation from the sun that can cause skin cancer and damage crops."

New climate goals submitted by the world's nations to the U.N. in February 2021 would only reduce greenhouse gas emissions world wide by 1%, not nearly enough to reach even the too small Paris Agreement goals (Somini Semgupta, "New Targets for Emissions Fall Short of Paris Goals," The New York Times, February 27, 2021).

Faced with drought and short supplies of river and irrigation water, many California farmers have been pumping large amounts of water from underground. In some areas this is causing subsidence, collapsing aquifers so that in the future they will have much less capacity, even if substantial rains return, while causing damage to buildings and infrastructure. Lois Henry, "The Central California Town That Keeps Sinking: The very ground upon which Corcoran, Calif., was built has been slowly but steadily collapsing, a situation caused primarily not by nature but agriculture" The New York Times, May 25, 2021,, reported, " In California’s San Joaquin Valley, the farming town of Corcoran has a multimillion-dollar problem. It is almost impossible to see, yet so vast it takes NASA scientists using satellite technology to fully grasp."
      The town has sunk up to 11.5 feet in some locations, experiencing some of the worst subsidence in California, and as the pumping continues so will the subsidence.
     "Already, the casings of drinking-water wells have been crushed. Flood zones have shifted. The town levee had to be rebuilt at a cost of $10 million — residents’ property tax bills increased roughly $200 a year for three years, a steep price in a place where the median income is $40,000

Kenny Stancil, "US Insurance Giants Worsening Climate Crisis, Biodiversity Loss, and Human Rights Violations: Report: 'Despite the sector's expertise in identifying, forecasting, and managing risk, it continues to support companies responsible for climate change, including those engaged in coal, tar sands, and Arctic oil and gas,'" Common Dreams, May 26, 2021,, reported, " The world's leading insurance companies, especially U.S. ones, are underwriting and investing in industries that drive planetary heating, destroy ecosystems, and violate human rights, according to Insuring Disaster, a new report released Wednesday by a United Kingdom-based financial industry watchdog.
     In what it described as the first comprehensive assessment of insurers' environmental, social, and corporate governance (ESG) credentials, ShareAction analyzed and ranked how 70 of the world's biggest insurance companies—together responsible for assets totaling $22 trillion—are approaching 'responsible investment governance,' the climate emergency, biodiversity loss, and human rights.
     In contrast to their reputation as 'risk experts' who assess, manage, and help reduce social and environmental risks, 'the majority of large insurers... fail to adequately address systemic risks such as climate change and biodiversity loss,' wrote the authors of the report, which was based on company surveys and an examination of publicly available data.
     Almost half (46%) of insurers received an E, the lowest grade, while another 17% received a D rating. Just 16% demonstrated a 'relatively strong performance' that merited a rating of B or higher. Yet, 'even the leading insurer scored just over 50% of the available points,' the report said. 'On average, insurers scored only 12% of all available points
     'We hope this unprecedented overview of the industry offers a wake-up call to insurers,' report co-author Felix Nagrawala said in a statement. 'These rankings must improve—and quickly—if the industry hopes to survive a future built on renewables and equity, not fossil fuels and slave labor.'
     No insurer received an AA or AAA rating, although five European companies received an A grade. The performance of U.S. insurers, meanwhile, was remarkably poor. ShareAction gave an E to 75% of U.S. insurance companies, compared with 52% in Asia and 22% in Europe.
     Of the 12 lowest-ranked insurers with a property and casualty business, half were U.S. insurance giants—Nationwide, AIG, Allstate, Genworth Financial, Protective Life, and Travelers—that scored 5% or lower on issues of governance, climate, biodiversity, and human rights.
      Furthermore, of the 15 lowest-ranked life and health insurers, which scored 3% or lower on the four categories being evaluated, nine were U.S. companies: RiverSource, Northwestern Mutual, Talcott Resolution, Pacific Life, Lincoln Financial Group, Protective Life, MassMutual, Brighthouse Financial, and Aflac.
     'The U.S. insurance industry is burying its head in the sand as the rest of the world races to embrace a greener, cleaner, and more equitable future,' said Nagrawala. 'Despite the sector's expertise in identifying, forecasting, and managing risk, it continues to support companies responsible for climate change, including those engaged in coal, tar sands, and Arctic oil and gas.'
     Disaggregated results from the study showed that while the world's top insurers received an average score of 27% on the topic of governance, they performed even worse on the climate crisis (11%), human rights (8%), and biodiversity (3%).
     By continuing to underwrite and invest in fossil fuel extraction and disregard the well-being of working people—by neglecting dangerous workplace conditions, gender and racial discrimination, child and forced labor in supply chains, and the forced displacement of communities—insurance companies, particularly U.S. ones, are exacerbating environmental and social crises even more than other actors in the financial sector with stronger ESG policies and practices, the report said.
     Despite the fact that insurers make up 12 of the 26 members of the United Nations-convened Net-Zero Asset Owners Alliance and despite plans for a Net-Zero Insurance Alliance, only 13% of assessed insurers have made net-zero commitments for investments, and just 3% have a net-zero policy for underwriting activities, according to ShareAction.
     'Insurers are better placed than any other type of private financial institution to exert pressure on the coal industry, as coal projects cannot be financed, built, or operated without insurance coverage,' the report noted. 'But U.S. providers are largely failing to use this influence.'
     In fact , of the seven assessed U.S. insurance companies with a property and casualty business, Liberty Mutual is the only one with a policy that restricts underwriting for coal projects, ShareAction pointed out. By contrast, 54% of non-U.S. insurers impose restrictions on underwriting for coal projects.
     However, ShareAction said tha t none of the 70 companies receiving scrutiny has placed limits on underwriting for gas and oil, despite a 2018 warning from the U.N.'s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change that building new fossil fuel projects and keeping global warming below 1.5°C are incompatible.
     Wednesday's sobering analysis of the global insurance industry comes on the heels of a bombshell report published last week by the International Energy Agency, in which the relatively conservative institution made clear that remaining fossil fuels must stay in the ground if the world is to avert the most catastrophic effects of the climate emergency.
      Regarding biodiversity loss, 'the vast majority of assessed insurers have not yet developed an approach to managing nature-related risks to their portfolios and show little understanding of how their investment and underwriting activities are driving, or may be affected by, the biodiversity crisis,' the report noted.
     Moreover, nearly three-quarters (73%) of assessed insurance companies "do not have an investment policy covering human and labor rights
," ShareAction found.
      'Only 13% of assessed insurers have made a commitment not to invest in companies that are knowingly in breach of human and labor rights, showing that the industry is willing to turn a blind eye to direct and deliberate corporate human rights violations,' the authors wrote. 'North American insurers are the worst offenders: Not a single one of the 24 insurers from the U.S. or Canada has a policy.'
      Underscoring the need for the insurance industry to evolve, the report noted that 'only one of the seven assessed U.S. insurers with a property and casualty business has carried out climate scenario analysis' to identify long-term risks to their portfolios, compared with 46% of non-U.S. peers. ShareAction called that 'particularly alarming in the context of recent wildfires in the U.S., which in California in 2020 alone caused insured losses of an estimated $8 billion'"
     The report comes less than a week after U.S. President Joe Biden issued an
executive order requiring federal agencies to address climate risks in their policymaking.
     Biden administration officials, said Nagrawala, 'have their work cut out to bring the U.S. into line with European standards.'
     Our work is licensed under Creative Commons (CC BY-NC-ND 3.0)."

"The Climate Crisis," The New Yorker, May 26, 2021, " In what may be the most cataclysmic day so far for the traditional fossil-fuel industry, a remarkable set of shareholder votes and court rulings have scrambled the future of three of the world’s largest oil companies. On Wednesday, a court in the Netherlands ordered Royal Dutch Shell to dramatically cut its emissions over the next decade—a mandate it can likely meet only by dramatically changing its business model. A few hours later, sixty-one per cent of shareholders at Chevron voted , over management objections, to demand that the company cut so-called Scope 3 emissions, which include emissions caused by its customers burning its products. Oil companies are willing to address the emissions that come from their operations, but, as Reuters pointed out, the support for the cuts 'shows growing investor frustration with companies, which they believe are not doing enough to tackle climate change.' The most powerful proof of such frustration came shortly afterward, as ExxonMobil officials announced that shareholders had (over the company’s strenuous opposition) elected two dissident candidates to the company’s board, both of whom pledge to push for climate action."

Clifford Krauss and Peter Eavis, "Exxon Mobil Faces Off Against Activist Investors on Climate Change: The oil company will hold a contested election for four board seats at its annual shareholders meeting on Wednesday," The New York Times, May 25, 2021,,
     HOUSTON — " Exxon Mobil’s management will face a big challenge over its climate change policies at an annual shareholder meeting on Wednesday as activists contest the election of one-third of the company’s board."
     "Led by Engine No. 1, an activist hedge fund, a coalition of investors concerned about the environment has argued that Exxon has not invested enough in cleaner energy, which will hurt its profits in the future. These investors argue that the company should
follow European oil companies like BP and Total that have begun investing heavily in renewables like wind and solar energy."
     When the vote counting was completed, it was determined a third environmental activist had been elected to Exxon’s board ( Clifford Krauss, “Exxon Board to Get a Third Activist Pushing Cleaner Energy: The new board member is likely to join two other candidates put forward by an activist investor who were declared winners last week," The New York Times, June 2, 2021,

Hiroko Tabuchi, “Here Are America’s Top Methane Emitters. Some Will Surprise You: Oil and gas giants are selling off their most-polluting operations to small private companies. Most manage to escape public scrutiny," The New York Times, June 3, 2021,, reported, “ As the world’s oil and gas giants face increasing pressure to reduce their fossil fuel emissions, small, privately held drilling companies are becoming the country’s biggest emitters of greenhouse gases, often by buying up the industry’s high-polluting assets.
     According to a new analysis ( of the latest emissions data disclosed to the Environmental Protection Agency, five of the industry’s top ten emitters of methane, a particularly potent planet-warming gas , are little-known oil and gas producers, some backed by obscure investment firms, whose environmental footprints are wildly large relative to their production.”

Alejandra Yépez Jácome, "The Climate Kids Are Alright: How Nine Girls Beat the Oil Industry in the Ecuadorian Amazon: The world says thanks to Leonela Moncayo, Rosa Valladolid, Skarlett Naranjo, Jamileth Jurado, Denisse Nuñez, Dannya Bravo, Mishell Mora, Jeyner Tejena, and Kerly Herrera," Amazon Watch, May 27, 2021,," " In a major victory for the environment, human rights, and our climate, nine Amazonian girls just put an end to the oil industry's gas flaring in the Ecuadorian Amazon!
     The practice has been hiding in plain sight across the Amazon rainforest for decades. For years, Amazon Watch has brought attention to flaring as a source of contamination through its campaigning and on-the-ground advocacy work alongside our long-term Indigenous partners. Amazon Watch's Ecuador Advocacy Advisor, Sofia Jarrin Hidalgo, and I supported the press work needed to amplify this case. Additionally, through our Amazon Defenders Fund, we provided a solidarity grant to the Union of Persons Affected by Texaco/Chevron (UDAPT), one of the organizations spearheading the case. The grant supported the strategies needed to build a successful case, including communications and legal support.
     In this case, without precedent, an Ecuadorian appellate court ruled in favor of nine children who are growing up in the shadow and contamination of hundreds of gas flares in the Ecuadorian Amazon. The flares burn 24/7 and have been a common industry practice, releasing toxic chemicals like benzene, hydrogen sulfide, and other pollutants into the surrounding air and water, and they take a huge toll on the health of nearby communities and the region's unparalleled biodiversity. The amount of flaring from Ecuador's oil fields also makes the country one of the western Amazon's largest emitters of CO2 emissions. According to the judgment, companies have 18 months to begin the phase-out of existing flares and end the practice by 2030.
     The lawsuit brought by the 'Amazonian Nine' is a historic victory against an industry that has been granted impunity for the last 50 years. The plaintiffs, girls between 9 and 13 years old, have grown up next to these flares and oil wells that poison their families daily. They filed suit in February 2020 against Ecuador's Ministry of the Environment and Water and Ministry of Health, Ministry of Energy, and Non-renewable Resources over the violations of their right to health, water, and food sovereignty.
     Their motivation? To grow up free of contamination, to live in an Amazon where life is protected and has fresh, clean water. In their current community, they are forced to live alongside the oil infrastructure built by Texaco (now Chevron), state-run Petroecuador, and myriad other companies. The river water is too toxic to drink or use for bathing, fishing, or washing clothes. Here, even a "solution" is a problem. Rainwater catchment systems aren't safe either because of the toxins in the rainwater from flaring. Motivation for the "Amazonian Nine" was born both out of a sense of justice and precautionary action for their own health. Many of them have had to witness firsthand the struggles of their mothers and other family members with cancer, a result of living among oil industry contamination, and hope to avoid the same fate.
     A 2017 study from the Environmental Clinic of leading Ecuadorian environmental organization Accion Ecologica found elevated rates of cancer among residents in close proximity to oil infrastructure and gas flares in the two oil-producing provinces of Orellana and Sucumbios in the country's northern Amazon region.
     The appellate court ruled in favor of the youth back in January 2021, but only recently announced the measures the oil industry must take to implement the judgment. It also has several measures such as annual monitoring of ecosystem restoration, evaluation of water resources for the implementation of a potable water supply system, the creation of an oncology clinic if supported by data, apologies to the plaintiffs, and monitoring of the implementation of the judgement by the Ombudsman's Office.
     The order could have been stronger but the industry and state-run Petroecuador argued that eliminating flaring overnight would shut down and bankrupt the industry, and used the three-plus months between the decision and writ to pressure the court. The court recognized that the government violated the right to health of the plaintiffs, however, it did not order remediation or damages from the flaring impact, and kept the door open to future permitting if 'technological advances' could be found.
     The decision is still a point of no return for the industry and provides relief for hundreds of Amazonian families who live day to day with the noise, smell, and health effects of flaring. This case is important because it confirms the crimes of an industry that has profited at the expense of Ecuadorian Amazon and its people; many lives were taken too soon, aided by government complicity, neglect, and impunity. This ruling recognizes the violations of human rights and the rights of nature – violations that often seem only evident to those who are affected. Those who have seen their rivers run black with crude, who live under the "flames of death" that billow smoke and toxins into the air and those who watch the flares incinerate any insect or living creature that gets too close.
     While we celebrate this victory, this is just one step in the struggle to keep it in the ground. Our partners will continue to resist until there is full and complete action, and an end to this industry in their communities "There is an inconsistency with the sentence issued in January that recognizes that the Ecuadorian government violated rights, the right to health, the right to a healthy and ecologically balanced environment, and the right to nature. The logical thing to do was provide adequate measures to redress these rights and restore them fully. We waited three months with the hope of a very sensible sentence, but this does not provide full reparation," shared Pablo Fajardo, UDAPT attorney in a statement.
     This ruling adds to the recent exclusion of trade finance for Ecuadorian crude due to environmental, social, and climate reasons from six top European Banks, and the bombshell report from the International Energy Agency last week which concluded that alignment on a 1.5°C pathway implies the end of investments in new fossil fuel supply and an end to new oil and gas development.
     Extracting oil from the Amazon rainforest and all the consequent businesses of this industry, such as gas flaring, is becoming unsustainable for the economy after more than 50 years of being unsustainable for life. The ruling presents an obstacle to the plans of Guillermo Lasso, Ecuador's newly inaugurated president who hopes to solve the country's economic crisis by doubling oil production. But Ecuador's oil dependence has never been sustainable for its economy, and it has never been sustainable for our Amazon. A country's economy cannot rebound from a path of death and destruction. The Amazon that the government is carving up and calling "oil concessions," are Territories of Life. The way forward is to listen to the voices of the youth who are fighting for future generations, and for a sustainable world and a balanced relationship with nature. It is our responsibility to continue to stand with these girls and fight alongside them to ensure respect for their rights and dignity.
     This is a tribute to the nine Ecuadorian girls who finally extinguished fifty years of gas flaring in the Ecuador Amazon. We stand with you. The world and our planet thank you!"

Aishvarya Kavi, "Biden’s 17 Executive Orders and Other Directives in Detail: The moves aim to strengthen protections for young immigrants, end construction of President Donald J. Trump’s border wall, end a travel ban and prioritize racial equity," The New York Times, January 21, 2021,, reported, " In 17 executive orders, memorandums and proclamations signed hours after his inauguration, President Biden moved swiftly on Wednesday to dismantle Trump administration policies." The orders were on moving to have a speedy and safe program for fighting the pandemic, reserecting the economy moving to a just and fair immigration policy, protecting rights and prompting equality, including for people of color and LGBTQ people, returning to government accountability and ethics, and on meeting climate change.
      "On Climate Change
     "Chief among executive orders that begin to tackle the issue of climate change, Mr. Biden has signed a letter to
re-enter the United States in the Paris climate accords , which it will officially rejoin 30 days from now. In 2019, Mr. Trump formally notified the United Nations that the United States would withdraw from the coalition of nearly 200 countries working to move away from planet-warming fossil fuels like coal, oil and natural gas.
     In additional executive orders, Mr. Biden began the reversal of a slew of the Trump administration’s environmental policies, including revoking the permit for the Keystone XL pipeline; reversing the rollbacks to
vehicle emissions standards ; undoing decisions to slash the size of several national monuments ; enforcing a temporary moratorium on oil and natural gas leases in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge; and re-establishing a working group on the social costs of greenhouse gasses."

"‘Keystone XL is dead!’ Dallas Goldtooth wrote on Twitter: 'We took on a multi-billion dollar corporation and we won!!'” ICT, June 9, 2021,, reported, " The Keystone XL pipeline project is officially terminated, the sponsor company announced Wednesday.
     Calgary-based TC Energy is pulling the plug on the project after Canadian officials failed to persuade President Joe Biden to reverse his cancellation of its permit on the day he took office." TC Energy stated it would cooperate with government agencies 'to ensure a safe termination of and exit from' the partially built line, which was to transport crude Tar Sands from the oil sand fields of western Canada to Steele City, Nebraska.
     Mary Annette Pember, "Michigan Tribe Banishes Enbridge Line 5 Pipeline," ICT, May 13, 2021,, reported, " The Bay Mills Indian Community tribal council voted to banish Enbridge’s Line 5 pipelines from the reservation as well as lands and waters of their ceded territory as efforts grow to fight the controversial Michigan project.
     The resolution approved by the tribe’s executive council on Monday, May 10, comes on the eve of a shutdown order issued by Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer that would terminate the company’s 1953 easement to cross the lakebed under the Straits of Mackinac."

Coral Davenport, "Restoring Environmental Rules Rolled Back by Trump Could Take Years: President Biden has promised to reinstate more than 100 rules and regulations aimed at environmental protection that his predecessor rolled back. It won’t happen overnight ," The New York Times, January 22, 2021,, reported, " President Biden, vowing to restore environmental protections frayed over the past four years, has ordered the review of more than 100 rules and regulations on air, water, public lands, endangered species and climate change that were weakened or rolled back by his predecessor.
     But legal experts warn that it could take two to three years — and in some cases, most of Mr. Biden’s term — to put many of the old rules back in place," as creating new rules, even if that is putting back old ones, in many cases must follow extensive procedures including public hearings and input and environmental impact statements.

Food and Water Watch reported in a January 27,2021 E-mail, " Today President Biden signed an executive order that will pause new leases for fracking and drilling on federal lands and waters for one year! And the administration will conduct a 'rigorous review' of existing oil and drilling leases and permits and work with Congress to eliminate fossil fuel subsidies."

Jake Johnson, "Federal Court Ends Trump Effort to Open 128 Million Acres of Atlantic, Arctic Oceans to Drilling: 'As the Biden administration considers its next steps, it should build on these foundations, end fossil fuel leasing on public lands and waters, and embrace a clean energy future,'" Common Dreams, April 14, 2021,, reported, " A federal appeals court on Tuesday dealt the final blow to former President Donald Trump's attempt to open nearly 130 million acres of territory in the Arctic and Atlantic Oceans to oil and gas drilling.
     In April of 2017, Trump signed an executive order aiming to undo an Obama-era ban on fossil fuel exploration in that territory, but a federal judge in Alaska ruled the move unlawful in 2019.
     Though the Trump administration appealed the ruling, President Joe Biden revoked his predecessor's 2017 order shortly after taking office, rendering the court case moot. On Tuesday, the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals agreed to dismiss the Trump administration's appeal."

Lisa Friedman, Coral Davenport and Christopher Flavelle, "Biden, Emphasizing Job Creation, Signs Sweeping Climate Actions: The array of directives — touching on international relations, drilling policy, employment and national security, among other things — elevate climate change across every level of the federal government," The New York Times, January 27, 2021,, reported, " President Biden on Wednesday signed a sweeping series of executive actions — ranging from pausing new federal oil leases to electrifying the government’s vast fleet of vehicles — while casting the moves as much about job creation as the climate crisis.
     Mr. Biden said his directives would reserve 30 percent of federal land and water for conservation purposes, make climate policy central to national security decisions and build out a network of electric-car charging stations nationwide

Lisa Friedman, Somini Sengupta and Coral Davenport, "Biden, Calling for Action, Commits U.S. to Halving Its Climate Emissions: Addressing leaders at a virtual summit meeting he convened, the president cast the fight against global warming as an economic opportunity for the world," The New York Times, April 23, 2021,, reported that in announcement at the U.S. Climate Summit that if carried out would greatly change U.S. energy use, " President Biden on Thursday moved to put four years of official climate denial behind the United States, declaring that America would cut its global warming emissions at least in half by the end of the decade."
     "In rapid succession, Japan, Canada, Britain and the European Union committed to steeper cuts. But China, India and Russia made no new emissions promises, and even Mr. Biden’s commitment to cut U.S. greenhouse gases 50 percent to 52 percent below 2005 levels by the end of the decade will be extraordinarily difficult to meet, economically and politically."
     A large number of Environmental groups stated that President Biden's plan to meet climate change did not go far enough
. For example, stated in an April 23 E-mail," it is no coincidence that Biden is holding his Leaders Summit on Climate on the same day as Earth Day. President Biden is planning to make some big announcements, some of which will, no doubt, be very good for our movement.
     But the reality is that we know this Summit won't be drastically different from other climate announcements: Biden and world leaders will not go far enough. So we put together a list of demands they must accomplish if we are going to stop the climate crisis at the pace it requires:
     Increase domestic climate targets to meet the science of a 1.5ºC warming limit. For most countries, that means at least doubling current targets.
     Stop handing billions in public money to the fossil fuel industry and turning a blind eye to the flow of financial firms' investments in the industry, driving its expansion worldwide. Our governments need to cut off the flow of funding to fossil fuels from all institutions.
     Use public money for public good. Invest in job creation, renewable energy, and sustainable infrastructure. Support the frontline communities that are hardest hit by the ravages of climate change. As our leaders work on the global stage to shift funding from climate destruction to a hopeful, equitable future, they must also ensure countries are taking the crisis seriously with policies that support this transition.
     Frontline communities, workers, and families need to be at the center of how we tackle the climate crisis.
     For more see the statement by The Center for Environmental Law (CIEL), in Ongoing Activities above, and other reports in this section.

The Center for Biodiversity reported January 27, 2020, Randi Spivak, (310) 779-4894,, "Biden Executive Order Pushes for Protection of 30% of America’s Land, Oceans," " President Joe Biden will issue an executive order today directing federal officials to protect 30% of the country’s lands and ocean waters by 2030, part of an effort to slow the wildlife extinction crisis and curb global warming.
     'This is a crucial step to stopping the wildlife extinction crisis, which threatens the future of all life on our planet,' said Kierán Suckling, executive director at the Center for Biological Diversity. 'We’ve got to preserve the most biologically rich ecosystems to have any hope of bringing nature back from the brink. Human activity got us to this heartbreaking point, and we’re grateful the Biden administration will address this global crisis by working to protect 30% of the nation’s lands and oceans by 2030.'
      Under the president’s order, the Interior Department will determine how to measure the country’s progress toward the 30x30 goal and outline steps to achieve it. Federal officials also will support local, state, private and tribal conservation and restoration efforts and work to improve access to nature for low-income communities and communities of color.
      Three-quarters of the planet’s lands and two-thirds of its ocean have been heavily altered by humans. Habitat loss and degradation remains the largest driver of extinction in the United States and around the world. The U.S. loses a football-field worth of natural area every 30 seconds to human development, severely affecting wildlife, fresh water and clean air.
      The United Nations last year said more than 1 million plant and animal species are heading toward extinction. Species are dying out at hundreds to thousands of times the natural rate. For example, there are less than 400 North Atlantic right whales left, just 14 red wolves known in the wild in North Carolina, and likely around 10 vaquita porpoises in Mexico. In the Southeast extinction looms for 28% of the region’s fishes, 48% of crayfishes and nearly 70% of freshwater mussels.
     A year ago the Center launched Saving Life on Earth, a plan that calls for a $100 billion investment to save species and the creation of new national monuments and parks, wildlife refuges and marine sanctuaries so that 30% of U.S. lands and waters are fully conserved and protected by 2030 and 50% by 2050."

There is hope in Indian Country that the 30x30 movement will give tribes a greater role in national environmental policy, including in protecting areas important to them. A January 2021 poll found that 77% of respondents in the West, and 82% of Native Americans, favored protecting 30% of the nation's land by 2030 (Graham Lee Brewer, "Naive Ground," Audubon, Spring 2021).

Lisa Friedman, "Reversing Trump, Interior Department Moves Swiftly on Climate Change," The New York Times, March 3, 2021,, reported, " As the Interior Department awaits its new secretary, the agency is already moving to lock in key parts of President Biden’s environmental agenda, particularly on oil and gas restrictions, laying the groundwork to fulfill some of the administration’s most consequential climate change promises."
     "The department has suspended lease sales in the Gulf of Mexico under an early
executive order imposing a temporary freeze on new drilling leases on all public lands and waters and requiring a review of the leasing program. It has frozen drilling activity in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, delayed Trump-era rollbacks on protections of migratory birds and the northern spotted owl , and taken the first steps in restoring two national monuments in Utah and one off the Atlantic coast that Mr. Trump largely dismantled ."

Lisa Friedman, "E.P.A. to Sharply Limit Powerful Greenhouse Gases: The Biden administration is moving quickly to limit hydrofluorocarbons, the Earth-warming chemicals used in air-conditioning and refrigeration," The New York Times, May 3, 2021,, reported, " The Environmental Protection Agency moved on Monday to sharply reduce the use and production of powerful greenhouse gases central to refrigeration and air-conditioning, part of the Biden administration’s larger strategy of trying to slow the pace of global warming.
     The agency proposed to regulate hydrofluorocarbons, or HFCs, a class of man-made chemicals that are thousands of times more potent than carbon dioxide at warming the planet. The proposal is the first significant step the E.P.A. has taken under President Biden to curb climate change."

Lakota People’s Law Project reported in a January 30, 2021 E-mail, "On the heels of President Biden’s decision to cancel the Keystone XL pipeline (KXL), another good piece of news came down this week! On Tuesday, a U.S. appellate court decision dealt one more legal blow to the Dakota Access pipeline (DAPL), upholding a lower court decision to throw out its permit to operate without proper environmental review."

Kenny Stancil, "In Victory for Public Health, Federal Judge Scraps Trump's Polluter-Friendly 'Censored Science' Rule: 'Science matters again, and it will again guide how to best protect people from dangerous pollution and toxic chemicals,'" Common Dreams, February 2, 2021,, reported, " In a development welcomed by environmental and public health advocates, a federal judge on Monday invalidated the Trump administration's last-minute rule change dictating which types of research the Environmental Protection Agency can use to regulate polluting industries and toxic chemicals."

Coral Davenport, "Biden Opens California’s Coast to Wind Farms: The idea of erecting wind farms in the Pacific Ocean has long been dismissed as impractical. But major hurdles, including military objections, have now been cleared," The New York Times, May 25, 2021,, reported, "The notion of wind farms churning in the Pacific Ocean, creating clean energy to power homes and businesses, has long been dismissed because of logistical challenges posed by a deep ocean floor and opposition from the military, which prefers no obstacles for its Navy ships.
     But evolving technology and a president determined to rapidly expand wind energy have dramatically shifted the prospects for wind farms in the Pacific. On Tuesday , the Navy abandoned its opposition and joined the Interior Department to give its blessing to two areas off the California coast that the government said can be developed for wind turbines."

"Federal judge voids western Colorado fracking plan, requires new analysis of climate harm," Western Environmental Law Center, March 29, 2021,, reported, "A federal judge late last Friday approved ( the Bureau of Land Management’s request to rescind the Grand Junction resource management plan following a lawsuit by environmental groups challenging the agency’s failure to analyze its potential harm to the climate. The plan, which the Bureau must now redo, opened nearly 1 million acres of public land in western Colorado to fracking and drilling and prioritized fossil fuel production over all other public-lands values.
     'The federal government must finally begin to align the management of public lands oil and gas development with the science and timeline of the climate crisis,' said Kyle Tisdel, attorney and Climate & Energy Program director at Western Environmental Law Center. 'The remand of this plan creates an opportunity to protect and support thriving landscapes and resilient communities, while also advancing U.S. climate goals and commitments.'
      'For too long BLM officials have willfully ignored the fact that federal fossil fuel programs conflict with U.S. climate goals. This order sends them back to the drawing board,' said Diana Dascalu-Joffe, a senior attorney at the Center for Biological Diversity. 'New oil and gas wells don’t fit with the Biden administration’s goals to transition to clean energy and conserve 30% or public lands and waters by 2030. Our rapidly warming planet simply can’t afford it.'
     In 2016 the BLM approved the 20-year Grand Junction resource-management plan, allocating 935,600 acres for oil and gas leasing and predicting development of nearly 4,000 new oil and gas wells. The BLM failed to analyze climate impacts from lease sales in the plan area and conservation groups sued ( the agency in 2019.
     'BLM’s plan prioritized oil and gas development over all other public land values and uses, disregarding the agency’s multiple use mandate and the public support for protecting wildlife, wilderness and recreation,' said Peter Hart, staff attorney at Wilderness Workshop. 'With this remand, the agency has another chance to ensure the spectacular BLM wildlands surrounding Grand Junction aren’t simply handed over to the fossil fuel industry.'
     Conservation groups prevailed ( in a similar lawsuit challenging the BLM’s failure to analyze climate impacts for its 2015 Colorado River Valley resource management plan for public lands adjacent to the Grand Junction plan. The BLM also failed to consider alternatives that would generate less greenhouse gas pollution.
     'We are hopeful that the Bureau of Land Management will be reviewing this plan in addition to many other plans that would cause climate change and community impacts,' said Phil Hanceford, conservation director for The Wilderness Society. 'We look forward to engaging in this and other short-sited plans in the future that prioritize science and communities that should drive policies on our public lands.'
     Friday’s order comes as the Biden administration is reviewing federal oil and gas programs because of their climate pollution and other potential harms.
     Kyle Tisdel, Western Environmental Law Center, 575-770-7501,
     Taylor McKinnon, Center for Biological Diversity, 801-300-2414
     Peter Hart, Wilderness Workshop, 303-475-4915,
     Phil Hanceford, The Wilderness Society, 303-815-3158,
      Fossil fuel production on public lands causes ( about a quarter of U.S. greenhouse gas pollution. Peer-reviewed science estimates ( that a nationwide federal fossil fuel leasing ban would reduce carbon emissions by 280 million tons per year, ranking it among the most ambitious federal climate-policy proposals in recent years.
     Oil, gas and coal extraction includes mines, well pads, gas lines, roads and other infrastructure that destroy habitat for wildlife, including threatened and endangered species. Oil spills and other harms from offshore drilling have done immense damage to ocean wildlife and coastal communities. Fracking and mining also pollute watersheds and waterways that provide drinking water for millions of people.
     Federal fossil fuels that have not been leased to industry contain ( up to 450 billion tons of potential climate pollution; those already leased to industry contain up to 43 billion tons. Pollution from already-leased fossil fuels on federal lands, if fully developed, would exhaust the U.S. carbon budget for keeping the world below a 1.5 degrees Celsius temperature increase."

Julia Conley, "'Huge Victory': Federal Appeals Court Orders EPA to Ban All Food Uses of Toxic Pesticide Chlorpyrifos: "EPA's time is now up," said the environmental law firm Earthjustice, which sued the agency on behalf of labor and public health groups," Common Dreams, April 29, 2021,, reported, "The environmental law organization Earthjustice celebrated a 'huge victory' for farmworkers and children on Thursday after the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals ordered the Environmental Protection Agency to ban all food uses of a toxic pesticide linked to memory loss and developmental harms.
     The EPA was
given 60 days (pdf) to revoke all food uses of chlorpyrifos and retain only those that are found to have no effects on people's health."
      On the Navajo Nation, communication about oil and gas extraction by the extracting companies and federal agencies has been very poor. Those living near drilling sites are not told of possible spills and regular pollution, and when polluting incidents occur, usually, they have been the last to know, though they are the most impacted. Jerry Redfern, "'No one explained': fracking brings pollution, not wealth, to Navajo land
     Navajo Nation members received ‘a pittance’ for access to their land. Then came the spills and fires," The Guardian, April 4, 2021,, reported that in February 2019 pipe carrying very toxic fracking slurry mixed with crude oil leaked 1400 barrels, or almost 59,000 gallons, for three days before someone noticed and shut the leak down. By then the polluted mix had flowed over a mile toward Chaco Culture national historical park before sinking into the stream bed. Three days later an explosion and fire occurred on a nearby well site that took a local fire crew over an hour to extinguish.
     " The two accidents account for just 1% of oil- and gas-related incidents in north-western New Mexico in 2019, according to statistics kept by the New Mexico oil conservation division (OCD). Since those two, there have been another 317 accidents in the region as of 29 March, including oil spills, fires, blowouts and gas releases.
     There were 3,600 oil and gas spills over the previous decade, both smaller and larger.
     In both cases in February 2019, the people living closest to the accident sites were among the last to know what happened

Kendra Chamberlain, "Bill would halt new fracking permits while state conducts impact studies," New Mexico Political Report, January 6, 2021,, reported, "State Senator Antoinette Sedillo Lopez, D-Albuquerque, plans to introduce a bill during the upcoming [early 2021] legislative session that would enact a four-year pause on fracking permits while studies are conducted to determine the impacts of fracking on agriculture, environment and water resources and public health."

Hannah Grover, "Environmental advocates praise adoption of final methane waste rule," New Mexico Political Report, March 25, 2021,, reported, "Mario Atencio [of the Counselor Chapter of Navajo Nation], an [environmental] activist from the Greater Chaco region of New Mexico, said the methane waste rule adopted by the [New Mexico] Oil Conservation Commission on Thursday will set energy production in New Mexico on a path trending toward fairness."
     "The methane waste rule requires 98 percent of the methane from oil and gas operations to be captured by 2026
, although it leaves the companies with the flexibility to use a variety of technology to meet those goals."

"The Washington Environmental Law Center reported in an April 29, 2021 E-mail, "A path to environmental justice in Washington: The HEAL Act passes," "WELC congratulates Front & Centered and other Washington state environmental justice advocates for the recent passage of the Healthy Environment for All (HEAL) Act. The HEAL Act requires most of Washington’s executive agencies to embed environmental justice considerations across policy and practice. The Act also creates an advisory environmental justice council, directs agencies to better develop outreach to impacted groups, and imposes environmental justice assessments on all major actions. The HEAL Act’s passage is the result of more than five years of concentrated work by environmental justice advocates and policy experts, and members of impacted communities. It is one of only a handful of existing laws recognizing and making first steps towards addressing centuries of unequal distribution of environmental harms and the resulting suffering of BIPOC and low-income peoples, communities, and populations."

Vote Solar reported in a December 16, 2020 E-mail, " The New Mexico Public Regulation Commission just unanimously rejected El Paso Electric’s proposal to expand their dirty gas plant! Over 1,000 New Mexicans wrote to the Commission, a huge show of support for clean and air water. Your activism helped make this incredible victory possible, Stephen, thank you!
     Our expert witnesses made the case that EPE did not need to build the new gas turbine, and could meet future energy demand with solar and storage, and better resource management."

Kendra Chamberlain, "Bill would halt new fracking permits while state conducts impact studies," New Mexico Political Report, January 6, 2021,, reported, "State Senator Antoinette Sedillo Lopez, D-Albuquerque, plans to introduce a bill during the upcoming [early 2021] legislative session that would enact a four-year pause on fracking permits while studies are conducted to determine the impacts of fracking on agriculture, environment and water resources and public health."
Jessica Corbett, "'Landslide Victory for Climate Justice': Court Rules Shell Must Cut CO2 Emissions 45% by 2030: 'This is a turning point in history,' said an attorney who noted that the ruling 'may also have major consequences for other big polluters,'" Common Dreams, May 26, 2021,, reported, " Climate campaigners worldwide are celebrating after a Dutch court on Wednesday ordered fossil fuel giant Royal Dutch Shell to cut its carbon emissions 45% by 2030, compared with 2019 levels—a historic ruling that activists hope is just the beginning of holding the oil and gas industry accountable for driving the climate emergency.
     'This is a landslide victory for climate justice,' said Sara Shaw of Friends of the Earth International (FOEI). 'Our hope is that this verdict will trigger a wave of climate litigation against big polluters to force them to stop extracting and burning fossil fuels. This result is a win for communities in the Global South who face devastating climate impacts now.'
     The first-of-its-kind ruling—which Shell told the Wall Street Journal it expects to appeal—came from the district court in The Hague and is the result of legal action brought by Friends of the Earth Netherlands, or Milieudefensie, along with over 17,000 individuals and six other organizations."

"Mexico Issues a Decree to Phase Out Glyphosate and Genetically Modified Corn," International Treaty Council, January 7, 2020,, reported, "On December 31, 2020, Mexican President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador issued a Decree announcing that Mexico will phase out the 'use, acquisition, distribution, promotion, and import of the chemical called GLYPHOSATE and the agrochemicals used in our country containing this substance as their active ingredient.' The Presidential Decree went into effect on January 1st, 2021, and establishes a transition period until January 2024 for private companies to replace Glyphosate with sustainable, culturally appropriate alternatives to 'safeguard human health, the country’s bio-cultural diversity, and the environment.'
     Glyphosate is produced by the multinational corporation Monsanto. Monsanto was formerly based in the United States and was purchased by the German Company Bayer Crop Science in 2018. Glyphosate is the primary component of Monsanto’s infamous weed killer 'Roundup' and is known to cause cancer.
     According to the Decree, “Public and government institutions as of the entry into force of this Decree, shall refrain from acquiring, using, distributing, promoting and importing glyphosate or agrochemicals that contain it as an active ingredient, within the framework of public programs or any other activity of the government.'
     The Decree also establishes that 'the [Mexican] authorities, within the scope of their competence, in accordance with the applicable regulations, will revoke and refrain from granting permits for the release into the environment of genetically modified corn seeds' to protect food security and food sovereignty, native corn, traditional cornfields ('milpas') and the country’s biocultural wealth.
     Andrea Carmen, Executive Director of the International Indian Treaty Council (IITC) called this a victory for the Indigenous Peoples of Mexico and the many organizations and UN Human Rights experts from around the world that have joined the campaign to eliminate the use and international traffic of toxic and banned agro-chemicals. She affirmed that 'this is most specifically a response to the long-standing challenge on Mexico to halt the import and use of toxic agrochemicals in the territory of the Yaqui People of Sonora.'
     In 2001 the International Indian Treaty Council (IITC) organized a meeting between the UN Special Rapporteur on the implications for human rights of the environmentally sound management and disposal of hazardous substances and wastes Ms. Fatma-Zohra Ouhachi-Vesely’s and representatives of Indigenous Peoples impacted by toxic pesticides from the US, Alaska, Mexico, and Guatemala. During her visit, she addressed the United States’ practice of exporting pesticides that are banned for use in its own country due to their known deadly health impacts, which is permitted under US and international law. She stated that 'Just because something is not illegal, it may still be immoral. Allowing the export of products recognized to be harmful is immoral.'
     Since that time the IITC has consistently presented the export of banned and highly toxic pesticides from 'developed' countries as a human rights violation and an example of environmental racism. IITC, in coordination with its affiliate Jittoa Bat Natika Weria and the Yaqui Traditional Authorities in Rio Yaqui Sonora, Mexico, collected over 90 testimonies from impacted Yaqui community members. These have included over 40 deaths, severe birth defects, cancers such as leukemia, and other deadly illnesses caused using highly toxic pesticides, including aerial spraying, and burning of contaminated crops by agri-business companies. These have been presented to the UN Committee on the Rights of the Child (CRC), the UN Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination (CERD), the UN Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues (UNPFII), and UN Special Rapporteurs on Human Rights and Toxics, Health, Food, Environment and the Rights of Indigenous Peoples.
     In 2015, for the Committee on the Rights of Child’s country review of Mexico, IITC sponsored a delegation from Rio Yaqui Sonora, Mexico, to present cases of deceased and dying children from the use of toxic pesticides in the Yaqui homelands. As a result, the CRC called upon Mexico to halt the import of pesticides that have been banned by the exporting country and to work with the Yaqui and other impacted communities to address the health impacts. The CRC also recognized for the first time that 'Environmental Health' is a right protected under the Convention.
     Francisco 'Paco' Javier Villegas Paredes is the coordinator of Jittoa Bat Natika Weria ('ancestral medicine') in Vicam, Rio Yaqui, Sonora, Mexico. He was a member of the delegation that traveled to Geneva Switzerland to present the devastating impacts of pesticides and other agrochemicals on the health of the Yaqui mothers and young children to the UN Committee on the Rights of the Child. Francisco welcomed the Presidential Decree as an important first step to removing these hazardous chemicals from the Yaqui homeland. 'Toxic chemicals like glyphosate imported from the US and other developed countries to Mexico, have been sprayed on our lands and communities for many years. Many of our Yaqui people have died and many children have suffered deadly illnesses and permanent disabilities as a result. We believe that the import and use of toxic pesticides and other agrochemicals should be prohibited for the health and well-being of the Yaqui and other Indigenous Peoples of Mexico, for all Peoples and our Mother Earth.;
     For more information contact Roberto Borrero via email at or log on to IITC’s web page:
     For a complete text of the Mexico Presidential Decree log on to:"

Sarah Dorman & Carla García Zendejas, "Panama’s Supreme Court recognizes Indigenous Peoples’ land rights and role as guardians of the environment" CIEL, January 22, 2021,, reported, " In a key decision paving the way for the creation of the long-awaited Naso Tjër Di Comarca, Panama’s highest court confirmed the State’s obligation to secure Indigenous collective rights to land and emphasized the critical role of Indigenous Peoples in protecting biodiversity, natural resources, and the climate. The decision joins a growing chorus of similar cases aimed at upholding Indigenous Peoples’ rights around the world.
      The Indigenous Naso people — like many other Indigenous Peoples around the world — have struggled for generations to retain access to and control over their ancestral territories, which are central to preserving their cultural identities, surrounding environment, and spiritual relationship with the lands that they have inhabited for millennia. Late last year, the Naso people achieved a key victory when Panama’s highest court sided with them in a ruling to uphold their communal right to their ancestral land.
     As one of Panama’s seven Indigenous Peoples, the Naso people have lived in the areas surrounding the Teribe River on the northwestern edge of Panama for generations. For the last fifty years, they have soughtto have their traditional lands officially recognized under Panama’s system of semi-autonomous Indigenous regions, known as comarcas. This struggle has involved numerous initiatives undertaken by the Naso people both nationally and internationally, including advocacy before the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights.
      The repeated encroachments that Naso communities have endured over the years illustrate the critical need for legal recognition of the Naso people’s claims to their ancestral lands. In some instances, Naso communities have even faced violent evictions and the destruction of their homes and crops.
     A turning point for the Naso people came in 2018, when their decades-long campaign finally succeeded in getting Panama’s legislature to formally recognize their traditional lands by passing legislation to establish the Naso Tjër Di Comarca. However, this legislative victory was soon delivered a blow when then-President Varela vetoed the law, calling it 'unenforceable' and 'inconvenient.'
     Ultimately, the fate of the Naso people’s territorial claim made its way to Panama’s highest court, the Supreme Court of Justice. On October 28, 2020, the Court issued its ruling in this case, paving the way for the Comarca’s creation and expanding the set of legal precedents that courts are developing around the world to uphold Indigenous Peoples’ rights.
      A critical decision for Indigenous land rights
This ruling regarding the Naso people’s claims to their ancestral lands in Panama comes decades after Convention 169 of the International Labour Organization on Indigenous and Tribal Peoples (1989) and Convention 107 of the International Labour Organization on Indigenous and Tribal Populations (1957) had established a clear international legal framework on the rights of Indigenous Peoples, including their rights of ownership and possession of their traditionally occupied lands. In the years since, this legal framework has been further developed through the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoplesand the American Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples. These instruments make clear that Indigenous Peoples have collective rights to the lands, territories, and resources that they have traditionally owned, possessed, and used and that States are responsible for ensuring legal recognition and protection for Indigenous Peoples’ lands, territories, and resources.
     In considering whether the legislation creating the Naso Tjër Di Comarca should be allowed to take effect in this case, Panama’s Supreme Court of Justice emphasized that the Panamanian State has a duty to ensure Indigenous land rights. Specifically, the Court described how, according to the Panamanian Constitution, this obligation requires the Panamanian government to secure for Indigenous communities the necessary lands and collective property rights to these lands for the achievement of their economic and social well-being.
     By adopting this decision, Panama’s highest court joined the ranks of other regional and national tribunals in acknowledging Indigenous Peoples’ property rights over ancestral lands, such as in the landmark cases: Yakye Axa v. Paraguay and Mayagna (Sumo) Awas Tingni v. Nicaragua, decided by the Inter-American Court of Human Rights ; Endorois Welfare Council v. Kenya and African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights v. Kenya (regarding the Ogiek Community of the Mau Forest), decided by the African Commission and the African Court on Human and Peoples’ Rights, respectively; and the case of the Federación de la Nacionalidad Achuar del Perú, in which a Peruvian court recognized the Federación as a self-governing entity in representation of the Achuar Indigenous Peoples and ordered the recognition and titling of their territory.
      A key step forward in recognition of Indigenous Peoples as guardians of the environment
In its ruling, Panama’s highest court took another important step by explicitly recognizing the key role that Indigenous Peoples play in protecting biodiversity and maintaining a healthy environment. In its own words, the Court considered:
     [W]ithout a doubt, that ancestrally the Indigenous population has preserved the environment in the places where they have settled, because they are bearers of ancient knowledge about biodiversity, plants, animals, water, and climate that allows for the sustainable use of the resources available to them. [Translation by CIEL.]
     This explicit recognition by Panama’s highest court echoes the well-established understanding — expressed by such experts as Victoria Tauli-Corpuz during her tenure as the UN Special Rapporteur on the rights of Indigenous Peoples — that Indigenous Peoples are among the best stewards of the biodiversity, ecosystems, and natural resources that make up their environment. This is demonstrably the case in the area that is home to the Naso people, who have protected and conserved the lush tropical forest along the Teribe River, effectively preventing the deforestation that has occurred at much higher levels in surrounding areas.
     Panama’s Supreme Court of Justice further emphasized the significance of the intrinsic relationship between Indigenous Peoples and the environment, adding that:
     Hence, the link between culture and the environment among Indigenous Peoples is evident. That is, from a careful analysis of their traditions, it becomes apparent that they share a spiritual, cultural, social, and economic relationship with their traditional lands. Likewise, [their] laws, customs, and traditional practices reflect both an attachment to the land and the responsibility to conserve it for the use of future generations. [Translation by CIEL.]
     Going forward: Translating Indigenous land rights into effective decision-making authority
     Following the decision by Panama’s Supreme Court of Justice, the executive branch was constitutionally required to move forward with ratifying the legislation creating a comarca for the Naso people. This occurred on December 4, 2020, when current President Cortizo Cohen traveled to Sieyick, the seat of government of the Naso people on the banks of the Teribe River, in order to sign the law and finally bring the Naso Tjër Di Comarca into being.
     Going forward, Indigenous Peoples’ land rights must be consistently recognized and protected, as Panama’s highest court did for the Naso people in this case. At the same time, the experiences of other Indigenous communities — from the Yakye Axa in Paraguay to the Mayagna (Sumo) Awas Tingni in Nicaragua — demonstrate that even after land rights receive recognition, political will is needed to ensure that these rights are respected and enforced. For example, in previous cases in Panama, official demarcation of Indigenous territories hasn’t been completed even after comarcas have been legally brought into being. This has left Indigenous communities — such as those who have long awaited official demarcation of the áreas anexas of the Ngäbe, Buglé, y Campesinos Comarca in Bocas del Toro — with uncertain legal status, which undermines their efforts to protect their ancestral territories in the face of outside pressures aimed at accessing their lands and exploiting their resources.
     In addition, for Indigenous Peoples to be able to effectively exercise their right to conserve, restore, and protect the environment in their traditional lands, legal recognition of their rights must translate into corresponding decision-making authority over what happens in their territories in practice. Unfortunately, it has repeatedly been the case in Panama that legal recognition alone has not been sufficient to protect Indigenous lands against incursions by outsiders — such as private agriculture and tourism companies, as well as illegal miners and loggers — as has been emphasized by James Anaya, another former UN Special Rapporteur on the rights of Indigenous Peoples.
     Despite the challenges that remain, the recent ruling that upheld the Naso people’s territorial rights and paved the way for the creation of the Naso Tjër Di Comarca is indicative of a growing chorus of judicial decisions and government policies upholding Indigenous land rights around the world. Through this decision, Panama’s highest court has given new momentum to the ongoing work, led by Indigenous Peoples, of ensuring that their legal rights serve in practice to allow them to protect their lands and natural environment for generations to come."

Jake Johnson, "'This Is Huge': Top Court Rules Germany's Climate Law Inadequate to Protect Future Generations: 'This can change so much, not just for us here in Germany but for activists worldwide,'" Common Dreams, April 29, 2021,, reported, "In a ruling hailed as a landmark victory for the climate justice movement, Germany's top constitutional court said Thursday that the nation's 2019 climate law violates young people's 'fundamental rights to a human future' by failing to set adequate emissions-reduction targets.
     The court
ruled that in their current form, the elements of Germany's Federal Climate Protection Act "governing national climate targets and the annual emission amounts allowed until 2030 are incompatible with fundamental rights insofar as they lack sufficient specifications for further emission reductions from 2031 onwards."
     The law's emissions targets for 2031 and beyond, the court added, 'are not sufficient to ensure that the necessary transition to climate neutrality is achieved in time' and thus 'violate the freedoms of the complainants, some of whom are still very young.'
      The new ruling gives the German government until the end of next year to improve the climate law, which requires the country to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by at least 55% by 2030 relative to 1990 levels and ensure almost no carbon emissions by 2050. A signature achievement of German Chancellor Angela Merkel, the law has long been criticized by scientists and activists as woefully insufficient."

It's just a beginning, but hydrogen fueled cars are becoming practical. Roy Furchgott, "The Gospel of Hydrogen Power: Mike Strizki powers his house and cars with hydrogen he home-brews. He is using his retirement to evangelize for the planet-saving advantages of hydrogen batteries," The New York Times, December 28, 2020,, reportedm "In December, the California Fuel Cell Partnership tallied 8,890 electric cars and 48 electric buses running on hydrogen batteries, which are refillable in minutes at any of 42 stations there. On the East Coast, the number of people who own and drive a hydrogen electric car is somewhat lower. In fact, there’s just one. His name is Mike Strizki. He is so devoted to hydrogen fuel-cell energy that he drives a Toyota Mirai even though it requires him to refine hydrogen fuel in his yard himself."

Stanley Reed, "A Monster Wind Turbine Is Upending an Industry: G.E.’s giant machine, which can light up a small town, is stoking a renewable-energy arms race," The New York Times, January 1, 2021,, reported, "Twirling above a strip of land at the mouth of Rotterdam’s harbor is a wind turbine so large it is difficult to photograph. The turning diameter of its rotor is longer than two American football fields end to end. Later models will be taller than any building on the mainland of Western Europe.
     Packed with sensors gathering data on wind speeds, electricity output and stresses on its components, the giant whirling machine in the Netherlands is a test model for a new series of giant offshore wind turbines planned by General Electric
. When assembled in arrays, the wind machines have the potential to power cities, supplanting the emissions-spewing coal- or natural gas-fired plants that form the backbones of many electric systems today."

Dera Menra Sijabat and Richard C. Paddock, "Oil Refinery in Indonesia Catches Fire, Prompting an Evacuation: The state-owned oil company, Pertamina, which operates the refinery on the island of Java, suggested the fire may have been caused by a lightning strike," The New York Times, March 29, 2021m, reported, "An oil refinery on the Indonesian island of Java caught fire early Monday, sending flames and smoke towering into the sky, seriously injuring six people and prompting an evacuation of nearly 1,000 nearby residents." The fire was producing large amounts of toxic pollution and global warming carbon pollution.

Ian Austen and Christopher Flavelle, "Trudeau Was a Global Climate Hero. Now Canada Risks Falling Behind: Canada is the only G7 nation whose greenhouse gas emissions have increased since the Paris Agreement. The main reason: its oil sands," The New York Times, April 21, 2021,, reported, " Prime Minister Justin Trudeau of Canada will arrive for President Biden’s climate summit on Thursday with an outsize reputation for being a warrior in the global fight against climate change.
      "Between Mr. Trudeau’s election in 2015 and 2019, Canada’s greenhouse gas emissions increased by 1 percent, despite decreases in other rich nations during the same period, according to government data released last week . In fact, Canada is the only Group of 7 country whose emissions have risen since the Paris climate agreement was signed six years ago."

Hiroko Tabuchi and Nadja Popovich, "People of Color Breathe More Hazardous Air. The Sources Are Everywhere: Researchers uncovered stark disparities between white people and minorities across thousands of categories of pollution, including trucks, industry, agriculture and even restaurants," The New York Times, April 28, 2021,, "Over the years, a mountain of evidence has brought to light a stark injustice: Compared with white Americans, people of color in the United States suffer disproportionately from exposure to pollution.
     Now, a new study ( on a particularly harmful type of air pollution shows just how broadly those disparities hold true. Black Americans are exposed to more pollution from every type of source, including industry, agriculture, all manner of vehicles, construction, residential sources and even emissions from restaurants. People of color more broadly, including Black and Hispanic people and Asian-Americans, are exposed to more pollution from nearly every source."

Rosana Miranda, "After Organizing Resistance, Indigenous Peoples and Allied Organizations in Brazil Win Key Victory Against Belo Sun," Amazon Watch, March 29, 2021,, reported, " The Canadian mining company, Belo Sun, experienced a setback in its plans to open a massive gold mine in the Xingu river: it lost authorization to meet with Indigenous communities during the pandemic due to a pressure campaign by Indigenous leaders and human rights organizations.
     Groups began mobilizing after a white paper was published on February 10, 2021, by the Brazilian National Indigenous Foundation (Fundação Nacional do Índio – FUNAI). It provided details on 'health protocols' so that Belo Sun could hold in-person and virtual meetings to present and validate its Environmental Impact Study (EIA) to Indigenous residents from the Indigenous Lands in Pará state.
     After the publication of the paper, FUNAI authorized in-person meetings between Belo Sun and the Indigenous peoples that would be impacted by its proposed project. Amazon Watch, together with a coalition of organizations, released a statement opposing this decision, as it was made during one of the most dangerous moments of the COVID-19 pandemic in Brazil. Indigenous peoples remain one of the most impacted and vulnerable groups. To date, the country has recorded more than 266,000 deaths and 11 million cases and about 994 Indigenous Brazilians have died since the COVID-19 pandemic began last March, according to the Association of Brazil’s Indigenous Peoples (APIB), Brazil’s largest Indigenous association.
     The coalition’s statement followed a strong recommendation by Brazil’s Federal Public Defender’s Office (DPU) that urged FUNAI not to authorize or participate in in-person meetings while the COVID-19 crisis still poses a threat to the Indigenous peoples of the region. Altamira – the city including the Indigenous lands where some of these in-person meetings would be held – has recorded 19,100 cases so far. Moreover, the regional hospital occupancy rate has exceeded 90%.
     By Wednesday, March 17, FUNAI had withdrawn its decision and vetoed any encounters between members of the company and the Indigenous peoples of Volta Grande do Xingu. Although a full halt to all activities would be the most appropriate step to take, Belo Sun remains more concerned with speeding up the process for the approval of its environmental license than with the lives of Indigenous peoples. A face-to-face meeting with Indigenous peoples from different communities in the city of Altamira could have had catastrophic consequences for their health and further burdened the health system.
      Volta Grande do Xingu, one of the most biodiverse places in the world, has already been grappling with the negative impacts of the Belo Monte hydroelectric plant. The project is also rife with several technical issues, as recent expert reports and researchers attest that the project is not viable from a socio-environmental perspective and raised concerns about its impacts on Indigenous communities. In this context, Brazilian authorities should guarantee the protection of Indigenous peoples and address the serious technical shortcomings of the project. When they authorized in-person meetings, both FUNAI and the Brazilian government made it clear what side they are on: that of the big mining companies.
      Belo Sun plans on becoming the largest open-pit gold miner in Brazil by running roughshod over the rights of communities in Volta Grande do Xingu. In addition to the Juruna (Yudjá) and Arara Indigenous peoples, the region is home to other Indigenous groups and several riverside communities. Contrary to the company’s claims, these communities have not yet been properly consulted on a project that could irreversibly change their lives and their traditional lands.
     With our partners in Brazil and Canada, such as Mining Watch, Rede Xingu+, Movimento Xingu Vivo para Sempre, Instituto Socioambiental (ISA), International Rivers, Above Ground, and the Interamerican Association for Environmental Defense (AIDA), Amazon Watch has been resisting and advocating to have the voices of impacted communities heard while continuing to highlight the impacts of yet another destructive mining project.
     Belo Sun is hardly the first extractive company to put its profit margin over the lives of Indigenous peoples, but through swift organizing across our coalition of allied NGOs and Indigenous partners, we have secured an important victory. This is but one stop along this campaign’s road to resist Belo Sun’s ambitions to permanently alter the Xingu region through open-pit mining. It is important that we maintain the pressure to assure that the rights of the Indigenous peoples that would be impacted by Belo Sun’s project are upheld. This includes amplifying their calls against the project and campaigning until their decision is respected."

"News Releases from Region 09: EPA Awards Contracts Worth up to $220 million to Three Companies for Cleanup at Navajo Nation Area Abandoned Uranium Mines," U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, February 11, 2020, Contact Information: Margot Perez-Sullivan (, 415-947-4149, announced, "Today, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced three contract awards for cleanup efforts at more than 50 abandoned uranium mine sites in and around the Navajo Nation. The Navajo Area Abandoned Mine Remedial Construction and Services Contracts (AMRCS), worth up to $220 million over the next five years, were awarded to Red Rock Remediation Joint Venture, Environmental Quality Management Inc. and Arrowhead Contracting Inc.
     'EPA continues to work with the Navajo Nation EPA and local communities to address the legacy of abandoned uranium mines,' said Deborah Jordan, Acting Regional Administrator for the EPA’s Pacific Southwest office. “These contract awards mark a significant step in this ongoing work.'
      Most of the funding for the contracts comes from the nearly $1 billion settlement reached in 2015 for the cleanup of more than 50 abandoned uranium mine sites for which Kerr McGee Corporation and its successor, Tronox, have responsibility. In addition to the funds from that Tronox settlement, EPA and Navajo Nation have secured funding agreements, through enforcement agreements and other legal settlements, for the assessment and cleanup of approximately 200 abandoned uranium mine sites on the Navajo Nation.
      Work is slated to begin later this year following the completion of assessments in coordination with Navajo Nation’s environmental agency, the Navajo Nation EPA. The sites are in New Mexico’s Grants Mining District and ten Navajo Nation chapters. The companies selected have experience working on hazardous waste sites across the country including cleaning up other abandoned mine sites in the southwest U.S.
     EPA worked closely with Navajo Nation to develop contracts that incentivize creating employment opportunities for Navajo residents and building local economic and institutional capacity. The contractors selected are classified as small businesses, two of which are owned by Native Americans. In addition, the companies have partnered with other Navajo-owned firms to ensure Navajo communities benefit economically from the ongoing work to clean up their land. To further direct benefits from this cleanup investment to the Navajo communities affected by this legacy pollution, each company will develop training programs for Navajo individuals and businesses to promote professional growth in areas related to the AMRCS contract. Workforce training that could be offered by the contractors may cover radiological contamination, health and safety, construction and road building. In addition, the contracts require the selectees to provide quarterly reports to the EPA, Navajo Nation, and the public on cleanup progress, training, and Navajo job and business opportunities.
     Cleanup of the abandoned uranium mines is a closely coordinated effort between multiple federal agencies and the Navajo Nation. During the Cold War, 30 million tons of uranium ore were mined on or adjacent to the Navajo Nation, leaving more than 500 abandoned mines. Since 2008, EPA has conducted preliminary investigations at all of the mines, completed 113 detailed assessments, cleaned up over 50 contaminated structures, provided safe drinking water to over 3,000 families in partnership with the Indian Health Service, and completed cleanup, stabilization or fencing at 29 mines.
     For more information, please visit:
     Learn more about EPA’s Pacific Southwest Region ( Connect with us on Facebook ( and on Twitter ("

Catrin Einhorn, "Shark Populations Are Crashing, With a ‘Very Small Window’ to Avert Disaster: Oceanic sharks and rays have declined more than 70 percent since 1970, mainly because of overfishing, according to a new study," The New York Times, January 27, 2021,, reported, "In just the last half-century, humans have caused a staggering, worldwide drop in the number of sharks and rays that swim the open oceans, scientists have found in the first global assessment of its kind, published Wednesday in the journal Nature (
      Oceanic sharks and rays have declined by 71 percent since 1970, mainly because of over fishing. The collapse is probably even more stark, the authors point out, because of incomplete data from some of the worst-hit regions and because fishing fleets were already expanding in the decades before they started their analysis."

Andrea Germanos, "'Major Win for the Planet': Federal Court Strikes Down Trump Coal Power Plant Rule: 'This decision frees up the new Biden administration to begin working immediately on the science-based greenhouse pollution rules we desperately need to make up for lost time,'" Common Dreams, January 19, 2020,, reported, " Climate campaigners welcomed a federal court's decision Tuesday to strike down the Trump administration's Affordable Clean Energy rule—dubbed by its critics the 'Dirty Power' rule—which loosened restrictions on greenhouse gas emissions from coal plants.
     'A failure by Trump is a major win for the planet,' said Clare Lakewood, legal director of the Center for Biological Diversity's Climate Law Institute. 'The court has wisely struck down another effort by this administration to shred environmental protections in service of polluters.'
      Finalized in 2019 and signed by Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) chief Andrew Wheeler, a former coal lobbyist, the Affordable Clean Energy (ACE) rule was a replacement to the Obama-era Clean Power Plan. ACE was met with fierce outrage and lawsuits from environmental groups and dozens of states and cities who said it was an industry-friendly rule that rejected science to the detriment of public health and the climate crisis.
     The U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit said Monday that "promulgation of the ACE rule and its embedded repeal of the Clean Power Plan rested critically on a mistaken reading of the Clean Air Act." The court remanded the rule back to the EPA.
      According to Bloomberg,
     'Tuesday's decision rejects the Trump EPA's position that the Clean Air Act only allows the agency to craft emissions restrictions that apply directly 'at the source' of power plants. The position was a departure from the Obama administration's sector-wide approach to reducing emissions.'
     'In other words, the EPA reads the statute to require the Agency to turn its back on major elements of the systems that the power sector is actually and successfully using to efficiently and cost-effectively achieve the greatest emission reductions,' the court said.
     It added that there is 'no basis–grammatical, contextual, or otherwise–for the EPA's assertion.'
     Andrea McGimsey, senior director for Environment America's Global Warming Solutions campaign, saw the ruling as 'a major step in the right direction' that affirms ACE 'was clearly a disastrous and misconceived regulation from the start.'
     The Sierra Club also applauded the appeals court's decision and expressed hope the incoming Biden administration would put the EPA back on the right course.
     'The court's decision to vacate former coal lobbyist Andrew Wheeler's Dirty Power Plan is the apt bookend to the Trump administration's EPA, which was defined by a general subservience to the fossil fuel industry and dozens of legal defeats brought by public health and environmental organizations," Joanne Spalding, the organization's chief climate counsel, said in a statement.'
     She said that 'the EPA's role is to protect the American people from dangerous pollution and act on the greatest threat to our country: the climate crisis," but the "Dirty Power Plan didn't do either of these things and the court rightly vacated it.'
     'We now look forward to the Biden administration keeping its promise and acting aggressively to restore the EPA to its institutional mandate and put its resources and expertise toward solving problems, not creating more of them,' said Spalding.
     Center for Biological Diversity's Lakewood added that the ruling 'frees up the new Biden administration to begin working immediately on the science-based greenhouse pollution rules we desperately need to make up for lost time.'
     Our work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 License."

Wild Earth Guardians reported via E-mail, February 5, 2021," It's a victory for the climate, but we need your help to keep coal in the ground once and for all. Tell President Biden to prioritize coal reform and a just transition," "This week, a federal court ruled the U.S. Office of Surface Mining illegally approved an expansion of a massive coal mine in Montana. The judge issued a stinging rebuke, finding the agency inappropriately ignored the climate costs of more coal and more carbon emissions."

Constant Méheut, "Court Faults France Over ‘Ecological Damage’ From Its Emissions Levels: A Paris court said the French state had failed to meet its commitments on greenhouse gas emissions. The lawsuit is among a growing number of such legal actions internationally," The New York Times, February 3, 2021,, reported, "A French court ruled on Wednesday that France had caused 'ecological damage' by insufficiently reducing its greenhouse gas emissions, a landmark decision that environmentalists said they hoped would be more than merely symbolic as such cases are increasingly brought to courts internationally.
     The court said it would give the French government two months to take action before issuing any order to reduce emissions and repair the damage, a decision that the four groups that brought the case described as a 'a victory for the truth.'”

Jessica Corbett, "NYC Pension Funds Set 'New Bar for Climate Finance Action' With Approval of $4 Billion Fossil Fuel Divestment: 'Fossil fuels are not only bad for our planet and our frontline communities, they are a bad investment,' said Mayor Bill de Blasio," Common Dream, January 26, 2020,, reported, " In another win for the global movement to stop the flow of money to big polluters, New York City leaders announced Monday that two major pension funds have voted to divest their portfolios of an estimated $4 billion from securities related to fossil fuel companies, citing the risks that such holdings pose to both the funds and the planet.
     The statement from Mayor Bill de Blasio, Comptroller Scott M. Stringer, and trustees of New York City Employees' Retirement System (NYCERS) and New York City Teachers' Retirement System noted that the New York City Board of Education Retirement System 'is expected to move forward on a divestment vote imminently.'"

Juan Cole, "President Biden, the US Is Capable of This Too: Europe Generates More Electricity With Renewables Than Fossil Fuels for First Time: If highly industrialized, carbon-intensive socieities like those in Europe can already in 2020 get a majority of their electricity from renewables, the world can clearly get to carbon neutrality," Common Dreams, January 26, 2021,, reported, " A new report from Ember and Agora Energiewende finds that in 2020, the 27 countries of the European Union generated more electricity with renewables (wind, solar, hydro) than with fossil fuels (coal and natural gas). The growth in renewables has all come from wind and solar. These two increased by 51 terawatt-hours in 2020, substantially higher than the yearly average growth during the past decade.
     Ember writes, “ Renewables rose to generate 38% of Europe’s electricity in 2020 (compared to 34.6% in 2019), for the first time overtaking fossil-fired generation, which fell to 37%.” The full report is here (
      Europe’s electricity was 29% cleaner in 2020 than in 2015, they report"

Reynard Loki, "Humanity’s #1 Environmental Problem Is Consumption—Climate Change Is Just One of the Byproducts | Take Action Tuesday @EarthFoodLife," Independent Media Institute, June 1, 2021, Independent Media Institute, reported, " The reality is that we don’t need more electric vehicles; we need fewer vehicles, period. Just think of all the materials that go into making an electric vehicle : steel, iron, aluminum, copper, cobalt, lithium, manganese, carbon fibers, polymers, graphite, glass, and a variety of rare-earth minerals like dysprosium, neodymium, niobium, terbium and praseodymium. The mining, processing and manufacturing industries required to extract and use these materials are highly destructive to ecosystems around the world—even deep-sea environments that are being ruined when waste rock and sediment from mining is dumped into the ocean—and emit tons of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere."
     In a report ('The Role of Critical Minerals in Clean Energy Transitions,' in May, the IEA found that in order to meet global climate targets, the demand for minerals to supply the electric car industry may increase by at least 30 times by 2040 . And that requires more mining and more manufacturing, which requires more fossil fuel combustion, and that means more emissions. A 2019 study published in the journal Energy by researchers in China found that manufacturing a single electric car emits about 2.5 more metric tons of carbon dioxide than manufacturing a car with an internal combustion (fossil fuel) engine. 'The data shows a looming mismatch between the world’s strengthened climate ambitions and the availability of critical minerals that are essential to [realizing] those ambitions,' said IEA’s Birol after the release of his agency’s minerals report."
     Eric Larson, Chris Greig, Jesse Jenkins, Erin Mayfield, Andrew Pascale, Chuan Zhang, Joshua Drossman, Robert Williams, Steve Pacala, Robert Socolow, Ejeong Baik, Rich Birdsey, Rick Duke, Ryan Jones, Ben Haley, Emily Leslie, Keith Paustian, and Amy Swan, "Interim Report: Net-Zero America: Potential Pathways, Infrastructure, and Impacts," Princeton University, December 15, 2020,, "Executive Summary,
     A growing number of pledges are being made by major corporations, municipalities, states, and national governments to reach net-zero emissions by 2050 or sooner. This study provides granular guidance on what getting to net-zero really requires and on actions needed to translate these pledges into tangible progress.
     Using state-of-the-art modeling tools, this study provides five different technologically and economically plausible energy- system pathways for the U.S. to reach net-zero emissions by 2050. We then further refine these model results to provide highly-resolved mapping, sector-by-sector, of the timing and spatial distribution of changes in energy infrastructure, capital investment, employment, air pollution, land use, and other key outcomes at a state and local level.
     We find that each net-zero pathway results in a net increase in energy-sector employment and delivers significant reductions in air pollution, leading to public health benefits that begin immediately in the first decade of the transition. The study also concludes that a successful net-zero transition could be accomplished with annual spending on energy that is comparable or lower as a percentage of GDP to what the nation spends annually on energy today. However, foresight and proactive policy and action are needed to achieve the lowest-cost outcomes.
     Building a net-zero America will require immediate, large-scale mobilization of capital, policy and societal commitment, including at least $2.5 trillion in additional capital investment into energy supply, industry, buildings, and vehicles over the next decade relative to business as usual. Consumers will pay back this upfront investment over decades, making the transition affordable (total annualized U.S. energy expenditures would increase by less than 3% over 2021-2030), but major investment decisions must start now, with levels of investments ramping up throughout the transition.
     Each transition pathway features historically unprecedented rates of deployment of multiple technologies. Impacts on landscapes, incumbent industries and communities are significant and planning will need to be sensitive to regional changes in employment and local impacts on communities.
      Motivation, Objectives, Approach
     • Growing government and corporate net-zero-by-2050 pledges, but little detail on execution, costs and impacts. Project objectives
     Temporally and spatially resolve scales, costs, and pacing of required physical, institutional, and human-resource efforts to reach net-zero by 2050 across the continental US.
     Focus on articulating a granular picture of prospective transitions. Identify potential bottlenecks to success.
     No advocacy of specific policies, but provide actionable details for policy- and decision-making; engage with stakeholders.
      Analytical approach
     Start with energy service demands projected to 2050 by US EIA (AEO 2019) for 14 regions across continental US.
     Construct multiple (diverse) technology pathways for meeting demands, while reaching net-zero emissions in 2050.
     • End-use technologies to meet service demands are exogenously specified in 5-year time steps. This determines final energy demands that must be delivered by the energy supply system.
     • Optimization model finds the energy supply mix that minimizes the 30-year societal NPV of total energy-system costs. The model has perfect foresight and seamless integration between all sectors.
      Modeling results are downscaled from 14 regions to state or sub-state geographies to quantify local plant and infrastructure investments, construction activities, land-use, and jobs impacts, 2020 - 2050.
      Six pillars are needed to support the transition to net-zero
     1 End-use energy efficiency and electrification
     2 Clean electricity: wind & solar generation, transmission, firm power
     3 Bioenergy and other zero-carbon fuels and feedstocks
     4 CO2 capture, utilization, and storage
     5 Reduced non-CO2 emissions
     6 Enhanced land sinks
      Six pillars expand rapidly for 3 decades. By 2050:

2. Clean Electricity

Wind and solar
  • Rapidly site 10s-100s of GW per year, sustain for decades
  • 3x to 5x today’s transmission
  • In RE- scenario site up to 250 new 1-GW reactors (or 3,800 SMRs).
  • Spent fuel disposal.
  • In RE-, 300+ plants (@750 MW)
Flexible resources
  • Combustion turbines w/high H2
  • Large flexible loads: electrolysis, electric boilers, direct air capture
  • 50 - 180 GW of 6-hour batteries
5. Non-CO 2 Emissions

Methane, N 2O, Fluorocarbons

  • 20% below 2020 emissions (CO 2e) by 2050 (30% below 2050 REF).

1. Efficiency & Electrification

Consumer energy investment and use behaviors change
  • 300 million personal EVs
  • 130 million residences with heat pump heating
Industrial efficiency gains
  • Rapid productivity gain • EAF/DRI steel making

3. Zero-Carbon Fuels

Major bioenergy industry
  • 100s of new conversion facilities
  • 620 million t/y biomass feedstock production (1.2 Bt/y in E- B+)
  • H2 and synfuels industries
    • 8-19 EJ H2 from biomass with CCS (BECCS), electrolysis, and/or methane reforming
    • Largest H2 use is for fuels synthesis in most scenarios

6. Enhanced land sinks

Forest management
  • Potential sink of 0.5 to 1 GtCO2e/y, impacting 1⁄2 or more of all US forest area (> 130 Mha).
Agricultural practices
Potential sink ~0.20 GtCO2e/y if conservation measures adopted across 1 – 2 million farms.

4. CO2 capture & storage

  • Geologic storage of 0.9 – 1.7 GtCO2/y
  • Capture at ~1,000+ facilities
  • 21,000 to 25,000 km interstate CO 2 trunk pipeline network
  • 85,000 km of spur pipelines delivering CO 2 to trunk lines
  • Thousands of injection wells

Executive Summary (5/9)
      Net increase of 1⁄2 to 1 million jobs over REF in the 2020s.
      Annual energy-related jobs (E+ scenario) U.S. total: net gain of 0.6 million jobs
      page11image3797173344 page11image3797173776 page11image3797174304
      Thousand jobs
     Green, yellow, and red indicate average annual employment in a decade is >15% above, within + 15%, or >15% below 2021 employment, respectively.
      Big air pollution health benefits starting in 2020s
     Cumulative air quality benefits, 2020 – 2050, include 200,000 to 300,000 premature deaths avoided (2 - 3 T$ estimated damages)
      page12image3800135952 page12image3800136448 page12image3800136976
      Net-Zero America by 2050 is possible and affordable if:
     Ø Technology and infrastructure are deployed at historically unprecedented rates across most sectors.
     Ø Expansive impacts on landscapes and communities are mitigated and managed to secure broad social license and sustained political commitment.
     Ø Large amounts of risk-capital are mobilized rapidly by government and private sectors.
     Ø Electrification uptake by consumers is rapid across all states (EV’s, space heating, etc.).
     Ø Industry transforms (electrification, hydrogen, low-carbon steel and cement, etc.)
     Ø Ambitious expansion of low-carbon technology starts now, with 2020s used to:
     § Increase and accelerate deployment of wind and solar generation, EVs, heat pumps
     § Invest in critical enabling infrastructure (EV chargers, transmission, CO2 pipelines)
     § Demonstrate and mature technology options for rapid deployment in the 2030’s and 2040’s
      A Blueprint for the Next Decade
     This study provides a blueprint for action, including a set of robust measures needed this decade to get on track to net-zero emissions by 2050, regardless of which net-zero pathway the country follows in the longer term. This implies that big energy investments can be made this decade with confidence that they will deliver value over the long term.
     Priority actions for now to 2030 include:
     Get roughly 50 million electric cars on the road and install 3 million or more public charging ports nationwide
     Increase by more than double the share of electric heat pumps for home heating (23% vs. 10% today) and triple the use of
     heat pumps in commercial buildings
     Grow wind and solar electricity generating capacity fourfold (to approximately 600 gigawatts), enough to supply roughly
     half of U.S. electricity (vs. 10% today)
     Expand high-voltage transmission capacity by roughly 60% to deliver renewable electricity to where it is needed
     Increase annual uptake of carbon stored permanently in forests and agricultural soils by 200 million metric tons of CO2-e
     Reduce non-CO2 greenhouse gas emissions, including methane, nitrous oxides and hydrofluorocarbons, by at least 10%
     Actions for the 2020s also include a set of important investments in enabling infrastructure and innovative technologies to create real options to complete the transition to net-zero beyond 2030:
     Plan and permit additional electricity transmission to enable further wind and solar expansion
     Plan and begin construction of a nationwide CO2 transportation network and permanent underground storage basins
     Invest in maturing key technologies to make them cheaper, scalable and ready for widespread beyond 2030, including: carbon capture for a various industrial processes and power generation technologies; low-carbon industrial processes; clean “firm” electricity technologies, including advanced nuclear, advanced geothermal, and hydrogen combustion turbines; advanced bioenergy conversion processes & high yield bioenergy crops; hydrogen and synthetic fuel production from clean electricity, and from biomass and natural gas with carbon capture; and direct capture of CO2 from the air.
      Added capital invested (vs. REF) in 2020s is at least $2.5T
     Total additional capital invested, 2021-2030, by sector and subsector for a net-zero pathway vs. business as usual (billion 2018$)
     Includes capital invested pre-financial investment decision (pre-FID) and capital committed to projects under construction in 2030 but in-service in later years.
     All values rounded to nearest $10b and should be considered order of magnitude estimates. Incremental capital investment categories totaling less than $5B excluded from graphic. Other potentially significant capital expenditures not estimated in this study include establishment of bioenergy crops and decarbonization measures in other industries besides steel and cement, non-CO2 GHG mitigation efforts, and establishing enhanced land sinks."

Moises Velasquez-Manoff, "In the Atlantic Ocean, Subtle Shifts Hint at Dramatic Dangers: The warming atmosphere is causing an arm of the powerful Gulf Stream to weaken, some scientists fear," The New York Times, March 13,2021,, report that a number of studies indicate that increased melting of arctic ice, as a result of global warming, is pushing a growing glob of cold water south that may be slowing and weakening one arm of the Gulf Stream that warms the North American east coast and much of Europe.
     "The consequences could include faster sea level rise along parts of the Eastern United States and parts of Europe, stronger hurricanes barreling into the Southeastern United States, and perhaps most ominously, reduced rainfall across the Sahel, a semi-arid swath of land running the width of Africa that is already a geopolitical tinderbox." A much colder Western Europe is also possible

China is having serious problems reducing coal use. Just as the Chinese Government and Communist Party push for more and faster movement to reduce greenhouse gas pollution, coal producing areas of the country and local governments are pushing for building new coal power plants, supposedly to be less polluting ( Chris Buckley, "The Rock Standing in the Way of China’s Climate Ambitions: Coal: Beijing’s new development blueprint is meant to steer the country to carbon neutrality before 2060, but companies and regions dependent on the fossil fuel aren’t making it easy," The New York Times, March 16, 2021,

Adam Rasgon, "Israel’s Beaches Are Littered With Tar After Mysterious Oil Spill: The environmental damage is being called one of Israel’s worst ecological disasters in decades. 'I feel like I want to cry,' said an official. 'It’s everywhere,'" The New York Times, February 24, 2021,, reported, "A large oil spill from an unknown source has devastated sea life in the Mediterranean and spewed tons of tar across more than 100 miles of coastline from Israel to southern Lebanon in what Israeli officials are calling one of the worst ecological disasters in decades."

The government of Great Brittan announced, in Mid-December 2020, that it is ending subsidizing fossil fuel projects abroad at the earliest possible date (Stephen Castle, "U.K. to End Fossil Fuel Subsidies Abroad," The New York Times, December 12, 2020).

Andrea Germanos, "After 13 Years, Justice!" Dutch Court Orders Shell Oil to Pay for Harm Done to Nigerian Farmers: 'Victims of environmental pollution, land grabbing, or exploitation now have a better chance to win a legal battle against the companies involved,'" Common Dreams, January 29, 2021,, reported, " Global environmental justice campaigners heralded a Dutch court's ruling Friday that Royal Dutch Shell's Nigerian subsidiary must pay punitive restitution to Nigerian villages for oil spill contamination that brought death, illness, and destruction to Nigerian farmers and communities.
     'After 13 years, justice!' tweeted Friends of the Earth Europe.
     The legal effort seeking accountability for the oil pollution in the Niger Delta, as Agence France-Presse noted, was brought forth by the Netherlands branch of Friends of the Earth, and 'has dragged on so long that two of the Nigerian farmers have died since it was first filed in 2008.'"

Matt Simon, "Why Covering Canals With Solar Panels Is a Power Move," Mach 19, 2021,, reported, "PEANUT BUTTER AND jelly. Hall & Oates. Now there’s a duo that could literally and figuratively be even more powerful: solar panels and canals. What if instead of leaving canals open, letting the sun evaporate the water away, we covered them with panels that would both shade the precious liquid and hoover up solar energy? Maybe humanity can go for that.
     Scientists in California just ran the numbers on what would happen if their state slapped solar panels on 4,000 miles of its canals, including the major California Aqueduct, and the results point to a potentially beautiful partnership. Their feasibility study , published in the journal Nature Sustainability, finds that if applied statewide, the panels would save 63 billion gallons of water from evaporating each year. At the same time, solar panels across California’s exposed canals would provide 13 gigawatts of renewable power annually, about half of the new capacity the state needs to meet its decarbonization goals by the year 2030."

The mining company Vale, agreed to pay the Brazilian state of Minas Gerais $7 billion in damages for the 2019 collapse of one of its dams that killed 270 people while sending great quantities of pollution down river (Manuela Andreoni and Letica Casado, "Mining Giant to Pay $7 billion for Lethal Brazil Dam Collapse," The New York Times, February 5, 2021).

Neal E. Boudette and Coral Davenport, "G.M. Announcement Shakes Up U.S. Automakers’ Transition to Electric Cars: Every carmaker is trying to figure out how to make the leap before governments force it and Tesla and other start-ups lure away drivers," The New York Times, January 29, 2021,, reported, "A new president took office this month determined to fight climate change. Wall Street investors think Tesla is worth more than General Motors, Toyota, Volkswagen and Ford put together. And China, the world’s biggest car market, recently ordered that most new cars be powered by electricity in just 15 years.
     Those large forces help explain the decision by G.M.’s chief executive, Mary T. Barra, that the company will aim to sell only zero-emission cars and trucks by 2035 ."

Jack Ewing, "Volvo Plans to Sell Only Electric Cars by 2030: The Swedish company would phase out internal combustion engine vehicles faster than other automakers,'" The New York Times, March 2, 2021,, reported, "Volvo Cars one-upped larger rivals like General Motors and added momentum to the movement toward electric vehicles on Tuesday by saying it would convert its entire lineup to battery power by 2030, no longer selling cars with internal combustion engines."

Aaron Gordon, " The US Is Real Close to Screwing Up Electric Vehicle Charging Forever: There is no such thing as 'the' EV charging network. It's a complicated patchwork of plugs and proprietary software. And unless something changes, it's only going to get worse," Vice, March 29, 2021,, reported, "Last week, the electric vehicle (EV) startup Rivian, backed by Amazon and Ford among other major investors , announced it will build a network of 3,500 fast chargers at 600 sites by the end of 2023. Only Rivian owners will be able to use them.
      This is a rational, if expensive, response to a major problem facing electric vehicles. There are currently two charging networks: Tesla's and everyone else's. Tesla's charging experience is great, one of the major perks of owning their vehicles. Just plug your Tesla into a Supercharger and it starts charging. They are fast and reliable. You're on your way in no time.
      Everyone else's network is, quite frankly, bad, in almost every sense of the user experience."

United Airlines, in December 2020, announced a goal of achieving zero emissions by 2050 ("United Airlines Plans Zero Emissions by 2050," The New York Times, December 11, 2020).

As a result of climate change, the financial cost of natural disasters in the U.S. doubled to $95 billion in 2020 over 2019. Insurance companies say they can't just continue to pay out more and more for rebuilding after storms or wildfires. In poorer countries, most people do not have insurance, making rebuilding even harder Christopher Flavelle, "Costs of Damage from Natural Disasters Doubled in 2020 to $95 Billion," The New York Times, January 8, 2021).

B.P. is investing in a multimillion dollar project to collect carbon pollution from a number of chemical plants in northeast England and burry it deep underground. Other oil and gas companies have bene considering similar projects ( Stanley Reed"Oil Giants Prepare to Put Carbon Back in the Ground: Climate concerns push BP and other firms to seek new roles as pollution fighters," The New York Times, March 8, 2021,

As part of President Trump's last minute rush to overturn environmental regulations, in mid-January, his administration opened 15 million acres of protected forest habitat of the northern spotted owl in the Pacific Northwest to logging (Lisa Friedman and Catrin Einhorn, "Habitat of a Threatened Owl Is Opened for Timber Harvesting," The New York Times, January 17, 2021).

"Reversing Trump, Interior Department Moves Swiftly on Climate Change," The New York Times, March 3, 2021,, reported, " As the Interior Department awaits its new secretary, the agency is already moving to lock in key parts of President Biden’s environmental agenda, particularly on oil and gas restrictions, laying the groundwork to fulfill some of the administration’s most consequential climate change promises."
     "The department has suspended lease sales in the Gulf of Mexico under an early
executive order imposing a temporary freeze on new drilling leases on all public lands and waters and requiring a review of the leasing program. It has frozen drilling activity in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, delayed Trump-era rollbacks on protections of migratory birds and the northern spotted owl , and taken the first steps in restoring two national monuments in Utah and one off the Atlantic coast that Mr. Trump largely dismantled ."

Andrea Germanos, "'Revolutionary Moment': Biden White House Announces Major Boost for Offshore Wind: 'As our country faces the interlocking challenges of a global pandemic, economic downturn, racial injustice, and the climate crisis, we must transition to a brighter future for everyone,'" Common dreams, March 29, 2021,, reported, " Climate action groups and ocean defenders issued strong praise Monday after the Biden administration announced its intention to boost the nation's offshore wind capacity with a number of steps including preparing forfede leases in an area off the coasts of New York, New Jersey, and Connecticut.
     'Today's announcement marks a revolutionary moment for offshore wind. This powerful renewable resource has been waiting in the wings of our energy system for too long, and now it can finally take center stage,' Hannah Read, an associate with Environment America's Go Big on Offshore Wind campaign, told Common Dreams.
     Taken together, t he initiatives will create 77,000 jobs, generate enough electricity to power over 10 million homes for a year, and avoid 78 million metric tons of CO2 emissions, according to the administration.
      The plan would general 30 gigawatts (GW) of offshore wind by 2030—a capacity that would surpass the roughly 19 GW predicted (pdf) in 2019 by some industry analysts. As NBC News noted, the nation's offshore wind capacity is largely untapped."

Coral Davenport, "E.P.A. to Review Rules on Soot Linked to Deaths, Which Trump Declined to Tighten: The Biden administration says it will consider tougher limits on a deadly air pollutant that disproportionately affects low-income and minority communities," The New York Times, June 10, 2021,, reported, "The Biden administration will reconsider federal limits on fine industrial soot, one of the most common and deadliest forms of air pollution, with an eye toward imposing tough new rules on emissions from power plants, factories and other industrial facilities." The Trump administration had refused to tighten those rules.

Lisa Friedman, "Biden Administration to Restore Clean-Water Protections Ended by Trump: The Environmental Protection Agency announced it would repeal a Trump-era rule that weakened pollution controls for wetlands and streams," The New York Times, June 9, 2021,, reported, " The Biden administration intends to revive federal environmental protections for millions of streams, marshes and other bodies of water across the country that had been eliminated by former President Donald Trump in his quest to please home builders, farmers and ranchers.
     The Environmental Protection Agency made the announcement Wednesday after it said it had found that the changes under Mr. Trump caused 'significant environmental degradation.'”

By Scott Wyland, "Oil commission approves rule change forbidding spills," Santa Fe New Mexican, June 10, 2021,, reported that in New Mexico, " The Oil Conservation Commission approved a rule change Thursday that will forbid drillers from spilling oil and toxic liquids — an amendment that activists and affected residents said would help prevent the pollution from occurring.
     The rule will be adopted July 8."

Jessica Corbett, "Families and Indigenous Youth Vow to 'Not Give Up' After Top EU Court Dismisses 'People's Climate Case': 'We will keep fighting for justice and for the protection of fundamental rights that are threatened by the unequal and diverse impacts of climate change,'" Common Dreams, March 25, 2021,, reported, " Plaintiffs in the ' People's Climate Case (' promised to keep fighting for justice after the European Union's top court on Thursday decided to "close its doors to people hit by climate impacts" by upholding a lower court's dismissal of the case on procedural grounds.
     Initiated in 2018 by families from Fiji, France, Germany, Italy, Kenya, Portugal, Romania, and a Sámi youth association in Sweden, the case directed at the European Parliament and the Council of the E.U. challenged the bloc's former goal to cut greenhouse gas emissions by at least 40% by 2030 compared to 1990 levels.
     The European General Court dismissed the case in 2019, claiming that plaintiffs weren't "individually" impacted by European climate policy.

Jon Queally, "'The People Have Spoken': Left-Wing, Indigenous-Led Party Vows to Stop Greenland Uranium Mining Project After Historic Win: 'Greenlanders are sending a strong message that for them it's not worth sacrificing the environment to achieve independence and economic development,'" Common Dreams, April 7, 2021,, reported, " Members of the left-wing and Indigenous-led Inuit Ataqatigiit (AI) party in Greenland celebrated late Tuesday after winning a majority of parliamentary seats in national elections and vowed to use their new power to block controversial rare-earth mining projects in the country.
     Poll results released Wednesday morning showed that the Inuit Ataqatigiit won 36.6 percent of the vote compared to the 29 percent garnered by the center-left Siumut party, which has dominated domestic politics since Greenland won autonomy from Denmark in 1979. If those margins hold, according to the Associated Press, AI is expected to grab 12 out of the 31 seats in the Inatsisartut, the local parliament, a 50 percent increase from the 8 seats it currently holds.
     As Agence France-Presse reports:
      'The dividing line between the two parties was whether to authorise a controversial giant rare earth and uranium mining project, which is currently the subject of public hearings.
     The Kuannersuit deposit, in the island's south, is considered one of the world's richest in uranium and rare earth minerals—a group of 17 metals used as components in everything from smartphones to electric cars and weapons.
      IA has called for a moratorium on uranium mining, which would effectively put a halt to the project.'
      According to Reuters, the results cast 'doubt on the mining complex at Kvanefjeld in the south of the Arctic island and sends a strong signal to international mining companies wanting to exploit Greenland's vast untapped mineral resources.'
     'The people have spoken,' IA leader Mute Egede told local news oultet DR when asked about Kvanefjeld. 'It won't happen.'
     "We must listen to the voters who are worried," he said. "We say no to uranium mining."
     In other comments following the party's victory, Egede said, 'There are two issues that have been important in this election campaign: people's living conditions is one. And then there is our health and the environment.'
      'It's not that Greenlanders don't want mining, but they don't want dirty mining,' Mered added. 'Greenlanders are sending a strong message that for them it's not worth sacrificing the environment to achieve independence and economic development.'
     Our work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 License."

Somini Sengupta, Catrin Einhorn and Manuela Andreoni, "There’s a Global Plan to Conserve Nature. Indigenous People Could Lead the Way: Dozens of countries are backing an effort that would protect 30 percent of Earth’s land and water. Native people, often among the most effective stewards of nature, have been disregarded, or worse, in the past," The New York Times, March 12, 2021,, reported, " With a million species at risk of extinction, dozens of countries are pushing to protect at least 30 percent of the planet’s land and water by 2030. Their goal is to hammer out a global agreement at negotiations to be held in China later this year, designed to keep intact natural areas like old growth forests and wetlands that nurture biodiversity, store carbon and filter water.
     But many people who have been protecting nature successfully for generations won’t be deciding on the deal: Indigenous communities and others who have kept room for animals, plants and their habitats, not by fencing off
nature, but by making a small living from it. The key to their success, research shows, is not extracting too much."

An important approach for fighting climate change while reducing water use, important in the U.S. West and other dry areas, is a switch to regenerative farming. The details of how to undertake it vary according to the specific conditions of each location. Overall, here is what the approach is about.
     "What is Regenerative Agriculture?", February 16, 2017.
     “ 'Regenerative Agriculture. describes farming and grazing practices that, among other benefits, reverse climate change by rebuilding soil organic matter and restoring degraded soil biodiversity – resulting in both carbon drawdown and improving the water cycle.
     Specifically, Regenerative Agriculture is a holistic land management practice that leverages the power of photosynthesis in plants to close the carbon cycle, and build soil health, crop resilience and nutrient density. Regenerative agriculture improves soil health, primarily through the practices that increase soil organic matter. This not only aids in increasing soil biota diversity and health, but increases biodiversity both above and below the soil surface, while increasing both water holding capacity and sequestering carbon at greater depths, thus drawing down climate-damaging levels of atmospheric CO2, and improving soil structure to reverse civilization-threatening human-caused soil loss. Research continues to reveal the damaging effects to soil from tillage, applications of agricultural chemicals and salt based fertilizers, and carbon mining. Regenerative Agriculture reverses this paradigm to build for the future.
     Regenerative Agricultural Practices are:
     Practices that (i) contribute to generating/building soils and soil fertility and health; (ii) increase water percolation, water retention, and clean and safe water runoff; (iii) increase biodiversity and ecosystem health and resiliency; and (iv) invert the carbon emissions of our current agriculture to one of remarkably significant carbon sequestration thereby cleansing the atmosphere of legacy levels of CO2.
      Practices include:
     1. No-till/minimum tillage. Tillage breaks up (pulverizes) soil aggregation and fungal communities while adding excess O2 to the soil for increased respiration and CO2 emission. It can be one of the most degrading agricultural practices, greatly increasing soil erosion and carbon loss. A secondary effect is soil capping and slaking that can plug soil spaces for percolation creating much more water runoff and soil loss. Conversely, no-till/minimum tillage, in conjunction with other regenerative practices, enhances soil aggregation, water infiltration and retention, and carbon sequestration. However, some soils benefit from interim ripping to break apart hardpans, which can increase root zones and yields and have the capacity to increase soil health and carbon sequestration. Certain low level chiseling may have similar positive effects.
     2. Soil fertility is increased in regenerative systems biologically through application of cover crops, crop rotations, compost, and animal manures,
     which restore the plant/soil microbiome to promote liberation, transfer, and cycling of essential soil nutrients. Artificial and synthetic fertilizers have created imbalances in the structure and function of microbial communities in soils, bypassing the natural biological acquisition of nutrients for the plants, creating a dependent agroecosystem and weaker, less resilient plants. Research has observed that application of synthetic and artificial fertilizers contribute to climate change through (i) the energy costs of production and transportation of the fertilizers, (ii) chemical breakdown and migration into water resources and the atmosphere; (iii) the distortion of soil microbial communities including the diminution of soil methanothrops, and (iv) the accelerated decomposition of soil organic matter.
     3 .Building biological ecosystem diversity begins with inoculation of soils with composts or compost extracts to restore soil microbial community population, structure and functionality restoring soil system energy (C- compounds as exudates) through full-time planting of multiple crop inter- crop plantings, multispecies cover crops, and borders planted for bee habitat and other beneficial insects. This can include the highly successful push-pull systems. It is critical to change synthetic nutrient dependent monocultures, low-biodiversity and soil degrading practices.
     4. Well-managed grazing practices stimulate improved plant growth, increased soil carbon deposits, and overall pasture and grazing land productivity while greatly increasing soil fertility, insect and plant biodiversity, and soil carbon sequestration. These practices not only improve ecological health, but also the health of the animal and human consumer through improved micro-nutrients availability and better dietary omega balances. Feed lots and confined animal feeding systems contribute dramatically to (i) unhealthy monoculture production systems, (ii) low nutrient density forage (iii) increased water pollution, (iv) antibiotic usage and resistance, and (v) CO2 and methane emissions, all of which together yield broken and ecosystem-degrading food-production systems.
     Regenerative Agriculture Initiative, California State University, Chico
     The Carbon Underground"

"Mexico Issues a Decree to Phase Out Glyphosate and Genetically Modified Corn," International Treaty Council, January 7, 2021, reported that Mexican President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador issued a decree, December 31, 2020, to go into effect January 1, 2021, ordering the phasing out of the "use, acquisition, distribution, promotion and import of the chemical glyphosate and the agrochemicals containing this substance as their active ingredient." By January 2024, private companies are ordered to replace glyphosate with sustainable, culturally appropriate alternatives.

Jenna McGuire, "New Study Finds Undisclosed Ingredients in Roundup Lethal to Bumblebees: Researchers found that one of the herbicide formulations killed 96% of the bees within 24 hours," Common Dreams, April 16, 2021,, reported, " Commonly used herbicides across the U.S. contain highly toxic undisclosed 'inert' ingredients that are lethal to bumblebees, according to a new study published Friday in the Journal of Applied Ecology ( .
      The study reviewed several herbicide products and found that most contained glyphosate, an ingredient best recognized from Roundup products and the most widely used herbicide in the U.S. and worldwide.
     While the
devastating impacts of glyphosate on bee populations are more broadly recognized, the toxicity levels of inert ingredients are less understood because they are not subjected to the same mandatory testing by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).
     'Pesticides are manufactured and sold as formulations that contain a mixture of compounds, including one or more active ingredients and, potentially, many inert ingredients,' explained ( the Center for Food Safety in a statement. "The inert ingredients are added to pesticides to aid in mixing and to enhance the products' ability to stick to plant leaves, among other purposes."
      The study found that these inert substances can be highly toxic and even block bees' breathing capacity, essentially causing them to drown. While researchers found that some of the combinations of inert ingredients had no negative impacts on the bees, one of the herbicide formulations killed 96% of the bees within 24 hours.
     According to the abstract of the study:
     "Bees exhibited 94% mortality with Roundup® Ready
To Use® and 30% mortality with Roundup® ProActive®, over 24 hr. Weedol® did not cause significant mortality, demonstrating that the active ingredient, glyphosate, is not the cause of the mortality. The 96% mortality caused by Roundup® No Glyphosate supports this conclusion.'"

A Washington State report has determined that 5 of the 14 salmon and steelhead species in its waters are "in crisis" and may not survive, while the other 5 species considered endangered are "lagging in their recovery goals" (Marie Fazio," Time is Running Out for Salmon Species in Northwest, Report Finds," The New York Times, January 21,2021).
      The Magpie River in northern Canada became the first river in that country to receive legal personhood, in February 2021, following a decade of demands by the Innu Council of Ekuanitshit, the municipality of Minganie, the Canadian Parks and Wilderness Society and several environmental groups. The river had suffered irreparable harm caused by the Hydro-Quebec Dam ("Canada: Magpie River Is First Canadian River to Receive Personhood," Cultural Survival Quarterly, June 2021).

“Tasked to Fight Climate Change, a Secretive U.N. Agency Does the Opposite: Behind closed doors, shipbuilders and miners can speak on behalf of governments while regulating an industry that pollutes as much as all of America’s coal plants,” The New York Times, June 3, 2021,, reported that the International Maritime Organ, a clubby United Nations agency-made up of industry representatives regulating themselves] on the banks of the Thames that regulates international shipping and is charged with reducing emissions in an industry that burns an oil so thick it might otherwise be turned into asphalt. Shipping produces as much carbon dioxide as all of America’s coal plants combined.
     Internal documents, recordings and dozens of interviews reveal what has gone on for years behind closed doors: The organization has repeatedly delayed and watered down climate regulations, even as emissions from commercial shipping continue to rise, a trend that threatens to undermine the goals of the 2016 Paris climate accord.

In many places in the ocean human activity - ships engines, drilling, etc. - are making so much underwater noise that it is making life unbearable for ocean creatures (Sabrina Imbler, "Drowning Out Nature's Soundrack in the Seas," The New York Times, February 9, 2021).

Despite an international agreement for wealthy countries to reduce shipments of plastic waste to poorer nations, U.S. exports of scrap plastic to poorer nations remained unchanged in January, 2021 , the first month under the agreement, and overall plastic exported by the U.S. increased (Hiroko Tabuchi and Michael Corkery, "U.S. Plastic Waste Exports Increase Despite Limits," The New York Times, March 3, 2021).

Scientists at the University of Washington have concocted a new enzyme cocktail that breaks down plastics more quickly, providing hope for developing a new kind of faster plastic recycling (Isabella Kwai, "Science Finds Way to Speed Breakdown of Plastics," The New York Times, October 4, 2020).

A new report has found that there is far more plastic imbedded in ocean floors than the huge amounts floating on the surface. Some 9.25 to 15.87 metric tons of micro-plastic are imbedded in the ocean floor (Tiffany May, "Millions of Tons of Micro Plastics Lurk Below," The New York Times,October 8, 2020).
     Aanya Wipulasena and Mujib Mashal, “Sri Lanka, Facing ‘Worst’ Marine Disaster, Investigates Cargo Ship Fire: A fire has raged on a cargo ship off the coast of Sri Lanka for 12 days, sending toxic chemicals and tons of plastic into the country’s waters and polluting its beaches,” The New York Times, June 2, 2021,, reported, “The authorities in Sri Lanka have opened a criminal investigation into the crew of a cargo ship laden with toxic chemicals that has been burning off the island nation’s coast for 12 days, spilling debris into the ocean and polluting the country’s beaches.
     Several tons of plastic pellets that were being transported on the ship have washed ashore, and Sri Lanka’s Marine Protection Authority
described the spill as ‘probably the worst beach pollution in our history.’ Security personnel have been employed to scour the country’s beaches for the pellets used in the production of plastic bags and fishing has been discouraged for miles along the coast.”

U.S. Developments

Many of the reports in this issue of U.S. government legislation, agency action, and court decisions are informed by electronic flyers from Hobbs, Straus, Dean and Walker, LLP, 2120 L Street NW, Suite 700, Washington, DC 20037, Reports from Indian Country Today Media Network, from the web, are listed as from ICTMN.

U.S. Government Developments

Presidential Actions

"Native American Legislative Update," Friends Committee on National Legislation, January 2021,, reported,
     " Biden Halts Construction of Keystone XL Pipeline and Oil and Gas Leasing in the Arctic
Among the executive orders issue by President Joe Biden on Jan. 20, one revoked the permit for the Keystone XL pipeline and temporarily halted oil and gas leasing in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge in Alaska.
     The decision to halt the Keystone XL pipeline, which encroaches on tribal lands in South Dakota, was applauded by both tribal advocates and environmentalists. They see this move as a sign that the Biden administration will take an active role in addressing climate change and strengthening the federal government’s nation-to-nation relationship with tribes."

"'My Administration is committed to honoring Tribal sovereignty and including Tribal voices,'” Lakota Times, March 4, 2021,, reported , "On January 26, 2021, President Biden issued a Memorandum on Tribal Consultation and Strengthening Nation to-Nation Relationships for the heads of Executive Departments and Agencies. It reads, in full, as follows:
      'American Indian and Alaska Native Tribal Nations are sovereign governments recognized under the Constitution of the United States, treaties, statutes, Executive Orders, and court decisions. It is a priority of my Administration to make respect for Tribal sovereignty and self-governance, commitment to fulfilling Federal trust and treaty responsibilities to Tribal Nations, and regular, meaningful, and robust consultation with Tribal Nations cornerstones of Federal Indian policy.
     The United States has made solemn promises to Tribal Nations for more than two centuries. Honoring those commitments is particularly vital now, as our Nation faces crises related to health, the economy, racial justice, and climate change — all of which disproportionately harm Native Americans.
     History demonstrates that we best serve Native American people when Tribal governments are empowered to lead their communities, and when Federal officials speak with and listen to Tribal leaders in formulating Federal policy that affects Tribal Nations.
     To this end, Executive Order 13175 of November 6, 2000 (Consultation and Coordination With Indian Tribal Governments), charges all executive departments and agencies with engaging in regular, meaningful, and robust consultation with Tribal officials in the development of Federal policies that have Tribal implications.
     Tribal consultation under this order strengthens the Nation to-Nation relationship between the United States and Tribal Nations. The Presidential Memorandum of November 5, 2009 (Tribal Consultation), requires each agency to prepare and periodically update a detailed plan of action to implement the policies and directives of Executive Order 13175.
This memorandum reaffirms the policy announced in that memorandum.
     Section 1. Consultation. My Administration is committed to honoring Tribal sovereignty and including Tribal voices in policy deliberation that affects Tribal communities. The Federal Government has much to learn from Tribal Nations and strong communication is fundamental to a constructive relationship. Accordingly, I hereby direct as follows:
     (a) The head of each agency shall submit to the Director of the Office of Management and Budget (OMB), within 90 days of the date of this memorandum, a detailed plan of actions the agency will take to implement the policies and directives of Executive Order 13175. The plan shall be developed after consultation by the agency with Tribal Nations and Tribal officials as defined in Executive Order 13175.
     (b) Each agency’s plan and subsequent reports shall designate an appropriate agency official to coordinate implementation of the plan and preparation of progress reports required by this memorandum. These officials shall submit reports to the Assistant to the President for Domestic Policy (APDP) and the Director of OMB, who will review agency plans and subsequent reports for consistency with the policies and directives of Executive Order 13175.
     (c) The head of each agency shall submit to the Director of OMB, within 270 days of the date of this memorandum, and annually thereafter, a progress report on the status of each action included in the agency’s plan, together with any proposed updates to its plan.
     (d) The Director of OMB, in coordination with the APDP, shall submit to the President, within 1 year from the date of this memorandum, a report on the implementation of Executive Order 13175 across the executive branch based on the review of agency plans and progress reports. Recommendations for improving the plans and making the Tribal consultation process more effective, if any, should be included in this report.
     Sec. 2. Definitions. The terms “Tribal officials,” “policies that have Tribal implications,” and “agency” as used in this memorandum are as defined in Executive Order 13175.
     Sec. 3. General Provisions. (a) Nothing in this memorandum shall be construed to impair or otherwise affect:
     (i) the authority granted by law to an executive department or agency, or the head thereof; or
     (ii) the functions of the Director of the Office of Management and Budget relating to budgetary, administrative, or legislative proposals.
     (b) This memorandum shall be implemented consistent with applicable law and subject to the availability of appropriations.
     (c) This memorandum is not intended to, and does not, create any right or benefit, substantive or procedural, enforceable at law or in equity by any party against the United States, its departments, agencies, or entities, its officers, employees, or agents, or any other person.
     Sec. 4. Publication. The Director of OMB is authorized and directed to publish this memorandum in the Federal Register.'"

Mary Annette Pember, 'The bison have returned," ICT, January 22, 2021,, reported that in 1908 the federal governemnt took land illegally from the Flathead Indian Reservaion oin Montana to estavlish the National Bison Range. "On Dec. 27, however, former President Donald Trump’s decision to sign the Montana Water Rights Protection Act, righted this historic wrong; the lands and bison herd have been restored to the tribes."
     "On Jan. 15, U.S. Interior Secretary David Bernhardt signed secretary’s order 3390 ( directing the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and the Bureau of Land Management to facilitate the transition of the National Bison Range land and property to the tribes and restore it to the Flathead Indian Reservation. The Bureau of Indian Affairs will formally take the land into trust for the tribes."
      In the act confirming an agreement between all three of Montanas Indian Nantions and the Federal Government, the Nations eneded claims to water resources outside the Flathead Reservation in exchange for water rights within reservation boundaries.

Kaitlin Onawa Boysel, "Native women appointed to White House’s climate justice table: The three women join 23 other people on the council to give recommendations to environmental councils," ICT, April 15, 2021,, reported, " For the next four years, three Native women will be volunteering their time to be part of the climate justice fight alongside the White House."
     " Jade Begay represents South Dakota, Carletta Tilousi from Arizona, and Vi Waghiyi out of Alaska sit on the 26-member committee that will also follow through on President Joe Biden’s executive order on the climate crisis."

“Missing and Murdered Indigenous Persons Awareness Day,” "Native American Legislative Update," Friends Committee on National Legislation, May 2021,, reported, “President Joe Biden recently issued a proclamation declaring May 5 as Missing and Murdered Indigenous Persons Awareness Day. A congressional resolution introduced by Sen. Steve Daines (MT) to name May 5 as the National Day of Awareness for Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls passed the Senate as well.
     Native women face a murder rate that is ten times the national average, and thousands of cases of missing and murdered Native women remain unsolved. May 5 is a day to honor the missing, and to call on Congress to take action.
     Advocates, organizations, and family members with missing loved ones took to social media that day to commemorate the missing and murdered. However, on May 6, Instagram deleted stories that mentioned the crisis or the day of awareness. Instagram apologized and claimed the error was a glitch, but the damage of the erasure had already been done.
      Illuminative, a nonprofit organization dedicated to bringing visibility to Native issues, raised concern over the silencing of Native voices. This continued erasure is a form of violence against Native people—we must continue to uplift and amplify Native voices.”

Congressional Developments

President Trump signed into law the Montana Water Rights Protection Act (S3019, MWRPA), December 27, 2020, following Senate passage, December 22.
     " Key Elements of the MWRPA," Char-Koosta News, the Official Publication of the Flathead Indian Reservation, January 6, 2021,
     " Ratifies the Flathead Nation Federal Reserved Water Rights Compact and the UMO. As a result, there is no further obligation for State approval; and confirms the Flathead Nation FRWRC.
      Includes restoration of the National Bison Range [now to be owned managed by the tribe, returned by the Federal govenement].
      Authorizes a process for restoration of State school trust lands on the Flathead Reservation.
     In exchange the CSKT will convey to the State CSKT co-ownership of State rights in the upper Flathead River Basin
     No Department of Interior Secretary funding. All of the Federal funds contribution of $1.9 billion will be deposited in a CSKT Trust Account under the American Indian Trust Fund Management Reform Act of 1994.
     $ 900 million in mandatory funding appropriated with the MWRPA settlement at $90 million per year for the next 10 years will be deposited in the AITFMMRA without additional appropriations. The CSKT and DOI Secretary will negotiate a split of the funds between the FRWRC and project funding vs. all other authorized issues.
      Self Governance protections for the CSKT in carrying out Section 7 activities."
     Additional information is reported in " Mary Annette Pember, The Bison Have Returned, ICT, January 28, 2021,
     The legislation also included passing the Navajo-Utah Water Rights Settlement Act, that will provide running water to 5,000 households on the Utah portion of the Navajo Reservation (Rima Krisst, "A Keshmesh mircle?" Navajo Times, December 23, 2020).
      S.199, the Leech Lake Band of Ojibwe Reservation Restoration Act became law in December, 2020. It restores 12,000 acres of northern Minnesota land to the tribe as trust land (

"Native American Legislative Update," Friends Committee on National Legislation (FCNL), April 2021,, reported, "V iolence Against Women Reauthorization Act of 2021: Passed the House (HR1620) and awaits introduction in the Senate."

Halei Kochanski, "House OKs Bill to Ban Mining Around Grand Canyon," ICT, March 11, 2021,, reported, " The House voted to permanently ban new mining claims on more than 1 million acres around Grand Canyon National Park, with supporters calling protection of the landmark canyon a 'moral issue.'
      The bill ( would make permanent a current mining moratorium that is scheduled to run through 2032. Supporters said a permanent ban is needed because the Grand Canyon is too valuable to risk possible damage from future mining."
     The bill, ‘‘Protecting America’s Wilderness and Public Lands Act" (H.R. 803, H.R. 878, H.R. 999, H.R. 973, H.R. 693, H.R. 1075, H.R. 577, and H.R. 1052, has many sections relating to public lands around the U.S. Section 801, Title VIII deals with Grand Canyon Protection.

"Legislation Reintroduced For Tribal Infrastructure," Lakota Times, February 25, 2021,, reported, " U.S. Senators Sens. John Thune (R-S.D.) and Kyrsten Sinema (D-Ariz.), members of the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation, on February 23, 2021, reintroduced the Tribal Transportation Equity and Transparency Improvement Act, legislation to increase tribal transportation funding flexibility and improve the transparency and consistency of the Tribal Transportation Program’s administration and data collection practices."
     The legislation would, "Improve the Accuracy and Transparency of the Tribal Transportation Program (TTP): The bill requires the Bureau of Indian Affairs (BIA) to use updated information when making funding allocations, and it requires that new data for certain facilities be updated and submitted. The bill also requires independent audits by the inspectors general of the Department of Transportation and the Department of the Interior, as well as the Government Accountability Office, to examine the program’s priorities. The Senators’ Tribal Transportation Equity and Transparency Improvement Act administration and its adequacy in addressing tribal infrastructure needs.
     Improve Cooperation for Tribal Transportation Planning and Safety: The bill codifies a joint federal-tribal advisory committee currently established in regulation, which is tasked with gathering tribal input and providing recommendations to BIA for changes to the TTP. The bill also makes it easier for tribes to form cooperative agreements with state and local governments on highway planning, design, and safety.
     Increase Tribal Access to Funding: The bill makes several changes to increase tribal funding flexibility and access, including by increasing the federal share for the Nationally Significant Federal Lands and Tribal Projects Program for tribes and allowing tribes to use planning funds for grant applications."
     The original bill introduced in February 2020 is at:

"House Bill Introduced to Save Sacred Oak Flat, in Arizona, From Massive Copper Mine," Center for Biological Diversity, March 15, 3021,, reported, "U.S. Rep. Raul Grijalva (D-Ariz.) introduced the Save Oak Flat Act today to protect the Indigenous sacred site in central Arizona from being destroyed by a massive copper mine.
     Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) is expected to introduce a companion bill in the Senate. The bills would overturn 2014 legislation that authorized the land to be traded away to multinational mining giant Rio Tinto for a massive copper mine. Oak Flat is considered sacred by Apache and other native people, with profound importance to western Apache culture and religion."

"Native American Legislative Update," Friends Committee on National Legislation (FCNL), April 2021,, reported, "Sen. Elizabeth Warren (MA) re-introduced the Remove the Stain Act ( H.R. 2226/ S. 1073) on March 26. The bill would rescind Medals of Honor from the soldiers who perpetrated the Wounded Knee massacre on Dec. 29, 1890.
     In a letter of support, FCNL wrote: 'Native Americans serve in the United States armed forces at a higher rate per capita than any ethnic group in the country. To award the soldiers who committed these atrocities at Wounded Knee the highest possible award in the United States military is wrong, and an insult to our Native veterans.'”

“Native American Legislative Update," Friends Committee on National Legislation, May 2021,, reported, “ Securing Urgent Resources Vital to Indian Victim Empowerment (SURVIVE) Act: Allocates 5% of the Crime Victims Fund for tribes. Introduced in the House (H.R. 2739).
     Native Youth and Tribal Officer Protection (NYTOPA) Act: Ensures children and tribal officers are protected from domestic violence. Introduced in the House (H.R. 2740

"Native American Legislative Update," Friends Committee on National Legislation (FCNL), April 2021,, reported, "Senate Committee on Indian Affairs holds hearing on COVID-19 Response,"
     "On March 14, a year after the pandemic’s start, the Senate Committee on Indian Affairs held a hearing to examine the response to COVID-19 pandemic in Indian Country. Despite decades of underfunding and deficiencies with infrastructure, Native health systems have 'mobilized and set up one of the most complex joint public health emergency responses in our shared histories,' said Chairman Brian Schatz (HI).
      Witnesses highlighted how inadequate access to clean drinking water, poor waste management, housing shortages, and limited access to broadband services hindered tribal responses to the COVID-19 pandemic. When it came to vaccine distribution, tribes were not treated as sovereign governments and instead “were forced to choose between receiving any one of the available vaccines through either the state in which they reside or through [Indian] health Service,” said William Smith, chairperson of the National Indian Health Board."

The Congressional Native American Caucus, led by then Representative Deb Haaland of New Mexico, introduced a Bill, in December 2020, amending H.R.8729, The Native American Language Resource Act, to protect Native American language education by supporting distance learning ("United States: Bill to Establish Native American Language Center Introduced," Cultural Survival Quarterly, March 2021).

      Following a victory in court in 2020 by the Blackfeet Nation of Montana preventing oil and gas drilling in the Badger Two Medicine area of the national forest, adjacent to their reservation, Montana Senator Jon Tester introduced a bill to preserve as a "cultural heritage area" 130,000 acres of the forest, with the Blackfeet having a greater voice in its administration (Graham Lee Brewer, "Naive Ground," Audubon, Spring 2021).

“Senate Subcommittee on Interior and Environment Appropriations Holds Hearing on Indian Health Service,” "Native American Legislative Update," Friends Committee on National Legislation (FCNL),, reported, “On April 28, the Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on Interior and Environment held an oversight hearing on health disparities in Indian Country. Indian Health Service (IHS) officials were invited to testify on their response to the COVID-19 pandemic and future crisis response efforts.
     Chairmen Jeff Merkley (OR) and Ranking Member Lisa Murkowski (AK) commended President Biden’s FY 2022 discretionary budget request of $8.5 billion for IHS. This is an increase of $2.2 billion from FY 2021 and represents a significant investment that upholds trust and treaty obligations. Both senators discussed tribal infrastructure needs, such as having clean water and sanitation infrastructure on tribal lands, to help the COVID-19 response.”

Federal Agency Developments

Brett Wilkins, "Haaland Announces New Missing and Murdered Indigenous Unit at Interior: The department said the new unit will 'put the full weight of the federal government into investigating these cases and marshal law enforcement resources across federal agencies and throughout Indian country,'" Common Dreams, April 2, 2021,, " Human rights defenders on Friday applauded the announcement [April 1, 2021 ] by U.S. Interior Secretary Deb Haaland that the Bureau of Indian Affairs will establish a unit tasked with investigating missing and murdered Indigenous people.
     The Interior Department said in a statement Thursday that 'approximately 1,500 American Indian and Alaska Native missing persons have been entered into the National Crime Information Center throughout the U.S., and approximately 2,700 cases of murder and nonnegligent homicide offenses have been reported to the federal government's Uniform Crime Reporting program.'
     The agency said that the new Missing & Murdered Unit (MMU) 'will help put the full weight of the federal government into investigating these cases and marshal law enforcement resources across federal agencies and throughout Indian country.'
     The MMU will build on the work of Operation Lady Justice, a task force on missing and murdered Indigenous people launched in 2019.
      'Investigations remain unsolved often due to a lack of investigative resources available to identify new information from witness testimony, re-examine new or retained material evidence, and review fresh activities of suspects,' the Interior Department statement said. 'The MMU, in addition to reviewing unsolved cases, will immediately begin working with tribal, BIA, and FBI investigators on active missing and murdered investigations.'
     Haaland—the first Native American Cabinet secretary in U.S. history—said Thursday that 'violence against Indigenous peoples is a crisis that has been underfunded for decades. Far too often, murders and missing persons cases in Indian country go unsolved and unaddressed, leaving families and communities devastated.'
     'The new MMU unit will provide the resources and leadership to prioritize these cases and coordinate resources to hold people accountable, keep our communities safe, and provide closure for families,' Haaland continued. 'Whether it's a missing family member or a homicide investigation, these efforts will be all hands on deck.'
     'We are fully committed to assisting tribal communities with these investigations, and the MMU will leverage every resource available to be a force-multiplier in preventing these cases from becoming cold case investigations,' she added.
      According to the Coalition to Stop Violence Against Native Women (, Indigenous women are murdered at 10 times the national average. Statistics from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention show homicide is the third-leading cause of death among American Indian and Alaska Native girls and women ages 10 to 24 and the fifth-leading cause of death for those between the ages of 25 and 34.
     A 2016 National Institute of Justice report (pdf: found that 84% of Indigenous women have experienced violence in their lifetimes, 41% had been physically injured by intimate partners, and 67% were concerned for their safety.
     Two years later, a survey (pdf: published by the Seattle-based Urban Indian Health Institute reported 5,712 cases of missing and murdered Indigenous girls in 2016, of which only 116 were logged in the U.S. Department of Justice's federal missing persons database.
     May 5 is National Day of Awareness ( for missing and murdered Native women and girls.
     Our work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 License."

Aliyah Chavez, " Indigenous knowledge at the White House: Haaland outlined the Interior’s work since she took office," ICT, April 24, 2021 ·, reported on Interior Secretary Deb Haaland's first White House press briefing. It is likely that she was the first Native American to brief the national press corps from the White House podium. She presented an outline of the work Interior had completed since the Biden administration had taken office, and "addressed the need to strengthen tribal sovereignty."
     Because the briefing took place at the time of the commemoration of National Park week, much of her presentation related to the parks. She spoke of the announcement of 16 new additions to the National Park Service’s Underground Railroad Network to Freedom, designed to preserve and promote the history of sites that served as shelters for enslaved African Americans traveling to gain their freedom.
      Haaland said that Interior had taken steps to advance offshore wind proposals as part of the President Biden administration’s goal to address the climate crisis with a “clean energy revolution.” Concerning the Biden administration's moratorium on oil and gas leases on federal lands and waters, she stated that the pause on new leases would be in effect until a review is concluded by the Interior department of the issues concerning them. Once completed, the review was to be presented to the president for a decision on next steps.
     Following the press conference, Haaland announced that she would shortly convene the first meeting of the White House Council on Native Affairs in the Biden administration with domestic policy advisor Susan Rice.
     Shortly thereafter, Haaland spoke at the United Nations Permanent Forum on Indigenous issues emphasizing the importance of Indigenous knowledge ways, saying, “With Indigenous knowledge, the world can usher in a new era of peace, justice and strong institutions to meet this moment and move our planet toward a more sustainable future.”
     Haaland’s participation in the White House Press conference followed Jill Biden’s two-day tour of the Navajo Nation , that included a tour of a boarding school and nearby hospital.

“Secretary Haaland Approves New Constitution for Cherokee Nation, Guaranteeing Full Citizenship Rights for Cherokee Freedmen,” U.S. Department of the Interior, May 27, 2021,, Contact:, stated, “ Secretary of the Interior Deb Haaland today approved a new Constitution for the Cherokee Nation that explicitly ensures the protection of the political rights and citizenship of all Cherokee citizens, including the Cherokee Freedmen. Cherokee law directs that changes to their Constitution be approved by the Department of the Interior.
     ‘The Cherokee Nation’s actions have brought this longstanding issue to a close and have importantly fulfilled their obligations to the Cherokee Freedmen,’ said Secretary Deb Haaland. ‘Today’s actions demonstrate that Tribal self-governance is the best path forward to resolving internal Tribal conflicts. We encourage other Tribes to take similar steps to meet their moral and legal obligations to the Freedmen.’
     Citizenship rights of Freedmen — the former slaves of members of what have been termed the Five Civilized Tribes (Cherokee, Choctaw, Chickasaw, Muscogee Creek and Seminole Nations) — have been the subject of various litigation efforts dating back to the Treaty of 1866.
     In 1999, delegates of the Cherokee Nation held a constitutional convention to draft a new Constitution, replacing the one enacted on June 26, 1976. Although the 1999 Constitution was approved by the Nation in 2003, it was not submitted for Secretarial approval until March 12, 2021.
      On August 30, 2017, the federal district court in Cherokee Nation v. Nash ruled that the Treaty of 1866 gave Cherokee Freedmen a right to citizenship in the Cherokee Nation ‘that is coextensive with the rights of native Cherokees.’ On February 22, 2021, the Cherokee Nation Supreme Court ruled that the opinion in Nash was binding on the Cherokee Nation and unanimously held that the Treaty of 1866 placed limits on the Nation’s government such that any calls to amend the Nation’s constitution or pass other laws solely to deny Freedmen descendants the rights of Cherokee citizenship ‘shall never be law.’”

Wasuta Waste Win, "BIA Land Buy Back Program Violated Regulations," Lakota Times, February 25, 2021,, reported, " The Office of the Inspector General (OIG) evaluated the U.S. Department of the Interior’s (DOI) Land Buy-Back Program for Tribal Nations and found that the Bureau of Indian Affairs (BIA) 2013 and 2015 delegations of land title authority to its Acquisition Center violated Federal regulations (25 C.F.R. 150).
     Land title authority is the authority to transfer land titles, given to the DOI by Congress.
     The Code gives the BIA’s Land Titles and Records Offices land title authority by authorizing it to record, maintain, and certify title documents which the BIA delegated to its Acquisition Center.
     According to the report by the OIG, violating the Code could result in claims that the DOI breached its fiduciary trust responsibilities by mismanaging Cobell settlement funds and could potentially place all program actions at risk of being invalidated."
     "A memorandum issued on February 17, 2021 had a signature sign off by Mark Lee Greenblatt, Inspector General, approving the final evaluation report by the OIG. Greenblatt gave three recommendations the OIG made to help the DOI leadership ensure the Land Buy- Back Program’s land acquisitions are legally defensible and risks are minimized."
     "The recommendations to the DOI are first to resolve longstanding conflicts between the offices involved regarding land title authority and document the decision made. Second, direct BIA leadership to update its policies to implement the final land title authority decision. Third, determine and implement the appropriate actions to correct identified land title document errors.
     The DOI concurred with the first and second recommendations and the OIG considers both resolved and implemented. The DOI responded to the third and the OIG considered it resolved but not implemented and referred it to the Assistant Secretary for Policy, Management and Budget (PMB) to track implementation."

The Department of the Interior held four regional consultations with tribal leaders, in February and March 2021, on dealing with major issues including climate change, racial justice, and economic needs ("Interior announces consultation series with tribes," Navajo Times, February 18, 2021).

Justin Schatz, "Acoma Pueblo Wins Federal Lawsuit to Keep Hospital Open: Emergency and In-Patient Services Restored to Tribal Communities, The Paper, April 29, 2021 ,, reported, "After a long, drawn-out legal battle with Acoma Pueblo, Indian Health Services has agreed to restore emergency services and in-patient care to the Acoma Cañoncito Laguna (ACL) hospital, (Cañoncito is now Too’hajilee.) IHS decided to suddenly close the vital location that served the Native communities in November 2020 in the middle of a global pandemic. The hospital was the only medical resource for most of these rural communities within a 24 mile stretch of I-40, and its closure was met with fierce backlash from community and state leaders. Governor Michelle Lujan Grishman referred to the agency’s decision to close the hospital during the pandemic as 'devastating.'”

"U.S. Department of the Treasury announces the launch of the Coronavirus State and Local Fiscal Recovery Funds Tribal Letter," May 10, 2021,,
     "Dear Tribal Leader,
     Today, the U.S. Department of the Treasury ("Treasury") announced the launch of the Coronavirus State and Local Fiscal Recovery Funds program ( authorized by the American Rescue Plan Act (“Act”). The initiative provides $350 billion in emergency funding for eligible state, local, territorial, and Tribal governments to help turn the tide on the pandemic, address its economic fallout, and lay the foundation for a strong and equitable recovery.
      Treasury also released the Interim Final Rule ("IFR": for the program that describes eligible uses of funding. These include responding to acute pandemic-response needs, filling revenue shortfalls, and supporting the communities and populations hardest-hit by the COVID-19 crisis. With the launch of the program, eligible state, local, territorial, and Tribal governments will be able to request funding from Treasury to address these needs.
     This email describes how your Tribal government may obtain funding through this program.
     The Act allocates $20 billion to Tribal governments, directing that (i) $1 billion is to be allocated equally among eligible Tribal governments and (ii) $19 billion is to be allocated to Tribal governments in a manner determined by the Secretary of the Treasury.
      Treasury has developed the Coronavirus State and Local Fiscal Recovery Funds Tribal Government Allocation Methodology ( , which incorporates important feedback that Tribal leaders shared during five Treasury-hosted Tribal consultations ( in late March and early April of 2021. In these consultations, Treasury requested and received input from Tribal leaders regarding the program’s allocation methodology, use of funds, and administrative activities such as reporting and compliance.
      Of the $19 billion that the Act directs Treasury to allocate, Treasury’s allocation methodology provides that 65% of these funds, or $12.35 billion, will be distributed based on pro rata, self-certified Tribal enrollment ("Enrollment Allocation"). Treasury will distribute the remaining 35% of these funds, or $6.65 billion, based on pro rata, self-certified Tribal employment data (“Employment Allocation”:
      Treasury will use self-certified enrollment numbers submitted to the Bureau of Indian Affairs in April 2021 for the Enrollment Allocations. For the Employment Allocation, Treasury will use the 2019 employment numbers submitted to Treasury in May 2020 in connection with the CARES Act Coronavirus Relief Fund and will require that Tribal governments confirm these numbers.
      Tribal Payment Structure
      Treasury will make two payments to eligible Tribal governments. First Payment:
     Each Tribal government’s first payment will include (i) an amount in respect of the $1 billion allocation that is to be divided equally among eligible Tribal governments and (ii) each Tribal government’s pro rata share of the Enrollment Allocation
     To receive the first payment, Tribal governments must submit their information online through the Treasury Submission Portal, which can be accessed here. After a Tribal government’s submission is received, it will take approximately 4-5 business days to review and process. The point of contact that a Tribal government designates in its online submission will receive status updates. Once the information and documentation submitted is determined to be complete and accurate, this point of contact will receive information regarding the timing and amount of the first payment. Tribal governments must sign the award terms but may disregard the assurances of compliance with civil rights requirements included in the submission materials.
     The deadline to complete the first submission is June 7, 2021 11:59 PM PST. 1
      Second Payment:
     Treasury will make a second payment to Tribal governments in respect of the Employment Allocation after Tribal governments confirm their 2019 employment numbers. In mid-May, Tribal governments will receive a notification requesting that they log into to the Treasury Submission Portal to confirm or amend their 2019 employment numbers previously submitted to Treasury in May 2020 in connection with the CARES Act Coronavirus Relief Fund.
     The deadline to confirm or amend a Tribal government’s 2019 employment numbers is June 21, 2021 11:59 PM PST. If a Tribal government does not confirm or amend employment numbers by that deadline, the Tribal government will not be eligible to receive a share of the Employment Allocation.
      Following the June 21, 2021 deadline, Treasury will calculate each Tribal government’s pro rata share of the Employment Allocation for those Tribal governments that confirmed or submitted amended employment numbers. In mid-June, Treasury will communicate to Tribal governments the amount of their portion of the Employment Allocation and the anticipated date for the second payment.
      Resources and Contact Information
Treasury will host a 30 min. briefing for Tribal leaders on the Coronavirus State and Local Fiscal Recovery Funds program today, May 10, from 3:30pm-4:00pm EDT. You may attend this briefing via this Zoom link, or you may dial in at 669-254-5252, meeting ID: 1614690386#.
     As noted above, Treasury also published the IFR today, which describes eligible uses and other guidelines for the Coronavirus State and Local Fiscal Recovery Funds. Please become familiar with the IFR and know there is an opportunity to provide comments on the rule over the next 60 days.
     Treasury prepared a Coronavirus State and Local Fiscal Recovery Funds Tribal Government Checklist ( to assist Tribes in completing the necessary steps to receive payments under the program. In addition, on May 13, 2021 from 3:30pm—5pm ET, Treasury will host a Coronavirus State and Local Fiscal Recovery Funds information session for Tribal governments to provide an overview of the program, review all relevant materials, demonstrate the Treasury Submission Portal, and answer your questions. Register here for the information session.
     For additional information about Coronavirus State and Local Fiscal Recovery Funds and Tribal Governments, please visit here. Please subscribe to Treasury’s COVID-19 Economic Relief Programs e- mail distribution list for future updates about the Coronavirus State and Local Fiscal Recovery Funds program.
     If you have questions about Treasury’s Submission Portal or for technical support, please email If you have general questions about the Coronavirus State and Local Fiscal Recovery Funds please email or call 844-529-9527. Please reach out to Treasury Tribal Affairs at should you have any other questions.
     We look forward to continuing to engage with Tribal governments to implement this landmark program, which we believe will help advance a more equitable and sustainable economic recovery for all.
     Nancy Montoya
     Treasury Tribal Affairs Program Coordinator Point of Contact for Tribal Consultation
     1. This letter was updated on May 24, 2021 to reflect the extension of the two portal submission deadlines."

Cecilia Kang, "F.C.C. Approves a $50 Monthly High-Speed Internet Subsidy: The money, aimed at low-income households, is part of an effort to bridge the access gap to broadband connectivity amid the pandemic.
     February 25, 2021,, reported, " The Federal Communications Commission on Thursday approved an emergency subsidy for low-income households to get high-speed internet, an effort to bridge the digital divide that has cut off many Americans from online communication during the pandemic.
     The four-member commission unanimously agreed to offer up to $50 a month to low-income households and up to $75 a month to households on Native American land for broadband service. The F.C.C. will also provide a one-time discount of up to $100 on a computer or tablet for eligible homes."

Felicia Fonseca, "USDA Puts Brakes on Oak Flat Transfer - For Now," ICT, March 4, 2021,, reported, " The Biden administration is pulling back an environmental review that cleared the way for a parcel of federal land that Apaches consider sacred to be turned over for a massive copper mining operation in eastern Arizona.
      The U.S. Department of Agriculture said Monday that it likely will take several months to further consult with Native American tribes and others about their concerns over Oak Flat and determine whether the environmental review fully complies with the law."
      The USDA and the U.S. Forest Service can only delay the transfer, as Congress specified that the land be turned over to Resolution Copper no later than 60 days after the final environmental review was published. But the delay might give Congress time to cancel the transfer.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture undertook a pair of tribal consultations in March 2021. The first concerned carrying out President Biden's order for federal agencies to strengthen nation-to-nation relations, advance racial equity and support underserved communities. The second consultation focused on the food distribution program on Indian reservations ("USDA begins outreach to tribes," Navajo Times, February 18, 2021).

ANA E-mail, March 23, 2021, "I would like to share that ANA will hold tribal consultation and community listening session to discuss the $20 million that ANA received for Native American language revitalization through the American Rescue Act. Attached are the relevant Dear Tribal Leader letter and flyer.
     Best regards,
     Michelle Sauve,
     Acting Commissioner Administration for Native Americans
     Acting Deputy Assistant Secretary for Native American Affairs
     Executive Director, Intradepartmental Council for Native American Affairs
     Intergovernmental Affairs Specialist,
     Administration for Children and Families
     U.S. Department of Health and Human Services
     (202) 260-6974
     ANA's Vision: Native Communities are Thriving"

The National Indian Gaming Commission letter announcing three tribal consultations in 2021, June 9, 2021,,
     "Dear Tribal Leader,
      This letter announces three Tribal Consultations series the National Indian Gaming Commission (NIGC) will host in calendar year 2021. In addition, this letter summarizes other key NIGC outreach efforts that will take place in the coming months. Our consultation and outreach efforts remain an important Agency responsibility. These efforts help ensure sound NIGC policy formation and strengthen the federal government’s inter-governmental relationship with tribal nations.
     The topics for each of the three consultation series represent different themes. Tribal Consultation Series A will begin on July 12, 2021, and will focus on efforts to ensure Agency requirements are clear, conform with NIGC practice, and align with IGRA requirements. Tribal Consultation Series B will begin on September 13, 2021, and will focus on opportunities to provide greater stability in NIGC operations, more flexibilities and assistance to the industry’s response to the pandemic, and considerations around the Commission’s roles in Self-Regulation certifications, appeals, and background investigations. Consultation Series C will begin on November 1, 2021, and will focus on NIGC tools to protect tribal assets and regulatory measures to address technology-based threats.
     The NIGC’s consultation and outreach efforts aim to remain respectful of your resources and time. The Commission will use virtual tools to facilitate your engagement in an efficient way over the coming months. We have included attachments to this letter in anticipation of questions you may have and to assist in your planning. You may also contact Ms. Rita Homa at for additional assistance.
     MAILING ADRESS: NIGC/DEPARTMENT OF THE INTERIOR 1849 C Street NW, Mail Stop #1621 Washington, DC 20040 Tel: 202.632.7003 Fax: 202.632.7066
     REGIONAL OFFICES Portland, OR; Sacramento, CA; Phoenix, AZ; St. Paul, MN; Tulsa, OK; Oklahoma City, OK; Rapid City, SD WWW.NIGC.GOV
     Thank you for your dedicated leadership to your communities and we look forward to collaborating with you in the coming months.
     E. Sequoyah Simermeyer Kathryn Isom-Clause Chairman Vice Chair
     NIGC 2021 Tribal Consultation Series NIGC 2021 Outreach Efforts
     Jeannie Hovland Commissioner
      page2image1448763952 page2image1448764544 page2image1448764912
     MAILING ADRESS: NIGC/DEPARTMENT OF THE INTERIOR 1849 C Street NW, Mail Stop #1621 Washington, DC 20040 Tel: 202.632.7003 Fax: 202.632.7066
     REGIONAL OFFICES Portland, OR; Sacramento, CA; Phoenix, AZ; St. Paul, MN; Tulsa, OK; Oklahoma City, OK; Rapid City, SD WWW.NIGC.GOV
     Although the NIGC’s three consultation series will address different sets of topics, all consultations will have common features. First, a video presentation will be made available in advance of each consultation series to provide background information. The video presentations will provide information in an efficient way and help facilitate tribal engagement. Second, future Dear Tribal Leader letters will announce video conferences and remind you of both the timeframe for the NIGC to receive written comments from tribes, and the scope of the discussions. Third, the Commission will hold multiple live video conference sessions with tribal government leaders and representatives in order to receive on the record statements. Fourth, all comments, transcripts, and the Commission’s written summaries of next steps for each of the three consultation series will be available at
      Consultation Series A to begin on July 12, 2021, and end on August 12, 2021
This series will center on topics the Commission views as requiring clarification in order to reflect the current practices or expectations of tribal governments, the Agency, and/or the tribal gaming industry. The Agency anticipates that this consultation may lead to regulatory updates through the public rule making process. Additional material to frame the consultation will be available no later than July 12, 2021. Between July 12, 2021 and August 12, 2021, tribes may submit written comments and the NIGC will host two nation-wide video conferences.
     · NIGC Consultation Policy: In July of 2013, the NIGC adopted a robust consultation policy detailing how the Commission will engage with tribes on a government-to- government basis. The policy states that the “Commission shall review its existing [consultation] practices and revise them as needed.” In addition, President Biden recently issued a Presidential Memorandum directing Agencies to review their consultation plans to ensure they meet the requirements of Executive Order 13175. Although that Presidential Memorandum and the underlying Executive Order do not apply to the NIGC because of our unique status, we nonetheless recognize the importance of tribal consultation and that our mission, and the complex and technical nature of the industry we regulate, places its own imperative on the NIGC to engage in government-to- government consultation. In furtherance of the NIGC’s existing consultation policy and in the spirit of the Presidential Memorandum, the Commission seeks your input on NIGC’s government-to-government consultation.
     · NIGC Strategic Plan: Every four years, the National Indian Gaming Commission is required to update the Agency’s strategic plan. The Commission will update tribal leaders, and seek meaningful input on its draft strategic plan, which provides a concrete basis for establishing goals, and the strategies by which the Agency will achieve those goals.
     · 25 C.F.R §§ 502.14; 502.19 – Definitions of Key Employee and Primary Management Official: The Commission seeks your input on a change to NIGC definitions of Key Employee and Primary Management Official that will allow the NIGC to process fingerprints for Tribal Gaming Commission Employees and other employees of the gaming operation. The Commission also seeks input on changing 502.14(b) to increase
     the cash compensation that establishes an employee as a “key employee”.
     · 25 C.F.R. § 559.2(b) – Facility License Notifications and Submissions: The Commission seeks your input on revising § 559.2(b) of the regulation to modify the requirement that facility license notice submissions include a name and address of the proposed gaming facility.
     · 25 C.F.R. Part 552 – Submission of Gaming Ordinance or Resolution: The Commission seeks your input regarding changes to submission requirements for gaming ordinance reviews. Specifically, the Commission wishes to ensure more manageable requirements for initial ordinances by tribes that have not yet established regulatory bodies to promulgate regulations. In addition, it is considering clearer regulatory requirements for ordinance provisions related to license suspensions. The Commission seeks to modify requirements in order to make NIGC practices more consistent with IGRA and ease unnecessary burdens on tribal submissions.
     · 25 C.F.R. § 514.4(c) – Fees – How does a gaming operation calculate the amount of the annual fee it owes: The Commission seeks your input on amending its regulation to specify that Free Play should be deducted from the calculation of assessable gross revenue.
     · 25 C.F.R. § 537.1(a)(3) – The Commission seeks your input on amending the § 537 to reduce the number of background investigations the NIGC conducts for each management contract by requiring investigations for those individuals and entities who have 10% or greater interest in the contract, rather than 10 individuals and any entities with the greatest interest in the contract. This change will ensure that NIGC regulations are consistent with the explicit requirements of IGRA and reduce the burden and cost of a management contract review thereby encouraging industry compliance.
      Consultation Series B to begin on September 13, 2021, and end on October 15, 2021
This series will center on topics the Commission views as responsive to the lessons learned from the pandemic’s impact. Specifically, the need for certainty in the NIGC’s operations and the opportunities for greater agency-flexibilities in its dealings with Tribal Gaming Regulatory Authorities. In addition, some of these topics seek to identify approaches the NIGC can explore to leverage its unique national role in both promoting industry integrity and establishing policies through the resolution of matters on appeal before the Commission. The Agency anticipates that this consultation could lead to the promulgation of new regulations as well as additional dialogue with tribes and industry stakeholders. Additional framing material will be available by September 13, 2021. Between September 13, 2021, and October 15, 2021, the Commission will receive written comments and will host three nation-wide video conferences.
     · 25 C.F.R. § 571.12 – Audit standards: The Commission seeks your input on proposed amendments to Part 571 to relieve financial and temporal burdens imposed on small and charitable gaming operations by reconsidering the requirement that they conduct an annual independent audit of the financial statements.
     · 25 C.F.R. § 571.12(b) and 571.13 - Audits: The Commission seeks input on whether disclaimed or adverse audited or reviewed financial statements satisfy the requirements of 571.12(b), and whether the submission of disclaimed or adverse audits meet the requirements of 571.13.
     · 25 C.F.R. Part 518 – Self Regulation of Class II Gaming: The Commission seeks your input on amendments to Part 518 to simplify procedures controlling self-regulation. The Commission seeks to reduce the time it takes to obtain a certificate of self-regulation and clarify the Office of Self-Regulation’s functions. The Commission also seeks to clarify the submission requirements for tribes with a certificate of self-regulation in order to ensure consistent NIGC practices, and explore the value of an annual Commission summit to promote and discuss best industry practices among self-regulated gaming operations
     · 25 C.F.R. Part 514– Fees: The Commission seeks your input on NIGC fee regulation, including: exploring a mechanism to adjust the year against which the fee rate is assessed in order to respond to extreme and unexpected variations in the industry; mandating a process for reporting on the carry over status at fiscal year-end; requiring a budget commitment to maintain a two-quarter transition fund; and considering guidelines for the fee rate calculation for self-regulated tribes.
     · 25 C.F.R. subchapter H – Appeal proceedings before the Commission: The Commission seeks your input on updates to the Agency’s appeal regulations designed to expedite the process, allow the Commission to decide appeals in less time, and clarify the authority and process for settlement agreements.
     · 25 U.S.C. § 2706(b)(3) – Powers of the Commission: The Commission seeks your input on adopting a rule to implement the Commission’s authority pursuant to IGRA to conduct necessary background investigations.
      Consultation Series C to begin on November 1, 2021, and end on December 17, 2021
This series will focus on regulations with implications for technology and NIGC tools to protect tribal assets, including NIGC background investigations and the substantial violations list. The Commission views updates to elements in the NIGC regulations with an impact on technology- based threats to the security of gaming operations’ day-to-day activity as an important discussion to ensure its regulations remain responsive to industry trends. The Commission views the protection of tribal assets through tools such as its substantial violations list and background investigations for the Chairman’s suitability determinations associated with management contract reviews as necessary for modernizing Agency regulations, ensuring Agency practice reflects gaming industry trends in the regulatory community’s approach to background investigations, and supporting the Agency’s role as a federal regulatory body.
     The Agency anticipates that this consultation could lead to the promulgation of new regulations after an additional round of consultation and dialogue with tribes and industry stakeholders during calendar year 2022. Additional framing material for these consultation topics will be available by November 1, 2021. Between November 1, 2021, and December 14, 2021, the Commission will receive written comments and will host four nation-wide video conferences.
     · 25 C.F.R. Parts 543 and 547 – Minimum internal control standards and minimum technical standards: Gaming has changed significantly since the NIGC implemented its minimum internal control standards and its technical standards. The Commission is seeking your input on matters related to technological enhancements and technology
     · 25 C.F.R. § 522.4(b)(7) – Approval requirements for class II ordinances; 25 C.F.R.
     § 573.4(a)12 – When may the Chair issue an order of temporary closure; The Commission seeks your input on whether the requirement that a tribe construct and operate its gaming operation in a manner that adequately protects the environment, public health, and safety extends to include issues related to cyber-security.
     · 25 C.F.R § 573.4(a) – When may the Chair issue an order of temporary closure: The Commission is seeking your input on adding misuse of net gaming revenues to the list of substantial violations for which the NIGC Chair may issue a temporary closure order.
     · 25 C.F.R. Part 537 – Background investigations for person or entities with a financial interest in, or having management responsibility for, a management contract: Since the NIGC first issued regulations related to contract review, the practices and procedures the agency uses in conducting those reviews has continued to evolve. The Commission seeks to engage in a discussion as to how the NIGC may modify its regulations to provide more transparency, accountability, and efficiency in its contract reviews.
The following outreach efforts are scheduled to occur during calendar year 2021. In order to maximize resources and participation, the NIGC will host these events in a video conference format. These outreach efforts are in addition to the consultation series that will take place during 2021.
      NIGC Region Summits Week of July 26, 2021
The Agency is committed to implementing innovative approaches to emphasize its focus on accountability in its operations. As part of that focus, the Agency is establishing Annual Region Summits. Led by the NIGC Region Directors, these summits will invite tribes within each of the NIGC’s administrative regions to identify priority issues and opportunities for tribal engagement in the NIGC’s planning processes. The Annual Region Summits will be held by video conference.
      NIGC Quarterly Operations Briefing Week of July 21, 2021 and Week of October 20, 2021
The Agency has established quarterly operations briefings for tribal leadership officials. This is a recurring video conference briefing hosted by the Commission. This effort aims to increase tribes’ awareness about how the NIGC’s operations focus on priority issue areas. The briefings are also intended to facilitate tribal leadership’s insights into the NIGC’s planning processes.
     NIGC Listening Session on Agency Budget August 23 to September 3, 2021
     The Commission hosts an annual listening session via video conference and receives written feedback from tribes regarding the Agency’s budget development process. The date for the video conference will take place between August 23 and September 3 and will be announced later this year. This effort integrates tribal feedback into the NIGC planning processes and provides an opportunity for the Commission to highlight its progress toward meeting its objectives."

National Indian Gaming Commission T ribal Leader Letter Regarding: Updates and Tribal Input Opportunities, February 25, 2021,,
     "Dear Tribal Leader:
      The National Indian Gaming Commission (NIGC) remains committed to providing opportunities for tribal leadership to engage in Commission activities and share insights that can improve the NIGC’s operations. There are currently two such opportunities during the month of March 2021.
     Second Round of Comments on the Memorandum of Understanding with the National Indian Gaming Commission regarding Criminal History Record Information
— March 22, 2021
     Over a year ago, the NIGC began taking steps to improve the administration of the fingerprint program to ensure compliance with the federal requirements. Earlier this month, NIGC’s Chief Information Officer provided an update to tribes on how the Agency has integrated tribal feedback into the draft Memorandum of Understanding. An invitation was given for a second round of feedback which is due March 22, 2021. You can find the Chief Information Officer’s recent letter at Tribal/NIGC MOU letter. A collection of material that the NIGC has maintained during this effort to ensure the fingerprint program’s compliance can also be found at
      Tribal Leaders Briefing on Agency Operations — March 18, 2021
     The NIGC’s four areas of emphasis include improving accountability in its operations. This effort has and will continue to include expanding the tribes’ role in the planning stages related to the NIGC’s annual budget development process. On March 18, 2021, between 3:00 and 4:00 p.m. EST, the Commission will host a teleconference briefing for tribal leaders. This briefing will provide an update on the Agency’s operations. This includes measures being taken to address needs arising because of the COVID pandemic’s impact on the Indian gaming industry—needs related to both budgetary uncertainties and additional demands on the regulatory community. Please email Ms. Rita Homa at to participate in the Tribal Leaders’ Briefing on Agency Operations."

Vincent Schilling, "Wilma Mankiller’s greatness minted onto 2022 quarter," ICT, June 15, 2021,, reported, " The first female principal chief of the Cherokee Nation will be stamped onto the 2022 quarters, the U.S. Mint announced (
     Wilma Mankiller is one of the five women appearing on the quarters as part of the American Women Quarters Program, which 'is a four-year program that celebrates the accomplishments and contributions made by women to the development and history of our country,' according to the U.S. Mint. The four-year program begins in 2022 and continues until 2025."

Federal Indian Budgets

"COVID-19 Response Law Includes Key Provisions to Strengthen Tribal Schools and Education Programs," Hobbs-Straus General Memorandum 21-002, January 25, 2021,, reported, "The recently enacted Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2021 (P.L. 116-260, “the Act”), which combines the fourth phase of COVID-19 relief with FY 2021 appropriations, contains three key provisions to expand the authority of tribes and tribal school boards and to increase resources available to tribally-controlled schools funded by the Bureau of Indian Education.
These important provisions came about thanks to the shared, sustained effort of tribes, tribal organizations, and allies in Congress. In this memorandum, we provide background and a summary of each of the three provisions enacted in the Consolidated Appropriations Act.
     Background. Years of inadequate federal funding for the Bureau of Indian Education (BIE) school system paired with the remote location of many schools have heightened the challenges for schools as they seek to attract and retain highly qualified teachers and to provide a safe and appropriate learning environment for their students. These very factors have in turn created impediments for tribes who are considering assuming the responsibility for administering these schools pursuant to the Tribally Controlled Schools Act (P.L. 100-297).
      Summary . The recently enacted COVID-19 and FY 2021 appropriations law contains three key provisions designed to help address these impediments. The Act:
     Empowers tribally-controlled grant schools to participate in the Federal Employee Health Benefits (FEHB) and Federal Employee Group Life Insurance (FEGLI) programs for their teachers and staff, which will enable schools to expand employee benefits programs, while reducing the costs of those benefits programs;
     Requires the BIE to appropriately quantify and request fixed cost increases to ensure the compensation for BIE teachers and counselors keeps pace with that of their counterparts in the Department of Defense school system; and
     Creates “Payments for Tribal Leases” as a separate account with an indefinite appropriation (like Contract Support Costs) within the Bureau of Indian Affairs (BIA) budget to pay for full service leases entered into pursuant to section 105(
l ) of the Indian Self-Determination and Education Assistance Act (ISDEAA), or pursuant to the Tribally Controlled Schools Act (P.L. 100-297).
     In addition, the Act, like appropriations laws since FY 2016, continues to acknowledge and to appropriate sufficient funding to fully fund Tribal Grant Support Costs (essentially the Contract Support Costs of tribally-controlled grant schools). The Act also continues funding for the repair and replacement of schools in the BIE school system, which the previous Administration sought to eliminate despite the critical and widespread need for improvements to school facilities.
A long-sought amendment to the Indian Health Care Improvement Act (IHCIA) was included in the Act (as Section 1114 of Title XI of Division FF) extending eligibility for tribally-controlled grant schools to participate in the Federal Employee Health Benefits (FEHB) and Federal Employee Group Life Insurance (FEGLI) programs. This amendment provides grant schools with access to higher quality and lower cost insurance options for teachers and staff through the federal employee benefits system—at no cost to the federal government. One grant school has estimated that this amendment alone will save $1 million per year for its school in insurance costs while offering greater choice and better options. Enactment of this provision extends to tribally-controlled grant schools (operated pursuant to P.L. 100-297) the same access to FEHB/FEGLI as is available to BIE-operated schools and programs operated by tribes and tribal organizations pursuant to P.L. 93-638 contracts. We note that of the 187 schools in the BIE school system, over 130 are tribally-controlled grant schools and could thus benefit.
     This amendment is the result of years of efforts by the Oglala Lakota Nation Education Coalition (OLNEC) and the Oglala Sioux Tribe as well as many other supporters. For example, the Dine’ Grant Schools Association passed a resolution of support and included it as a priority in FY 2021 appropriations testimony; and the National Congress of American Indians (NCAI), the National Indian Education Association (NIEA), and the National Indian Health Board (NIHB) all wrote letters and testimony of support.
     Prior to its inclusion in the Act, this amendment had been introduced as standalone, bipartisan legislation in the House and Senate: H.R. 895 (Rep. Dusty Johnson (R-SD)) and  S. 279 (Sen. John Thune (R-SD)) with key support from the New Mexico and Arizona Congressional Delegations, particularly Sen. Tom Udall (D-NM), Rep. Ben Ray Lujan (D-NM), Sen. Martha McSally (R-AZ) and Rep. Tom O’Halleran (D-AZ).
Federal law requires that teachers and counselors in the BIE-funded school system be paid equivalent salaries to their counterparts in the Department of Defense school system. For several years, the BIE failed to request fixed cost increases to cover this requirement, even though BIE-operated schools were still required to pay the salary increases, which resulted in schools having to absorb these escalating costs at the expense of other program requirements. Although tribally-controlled schools are not required to provide pay parity, they are eligible to receive the fixed cost increases and they depend on those funds to help keep their teachers’ compensation rates competitive with other jurisdictions.
     Representatives from the Dine’ Grant Schools Association informed the House and Senate Appropriations Committees as well as the New Mexico and Arizona Congressional Delegations of the BIE’s failure to include pay parity increases in its annual budget requests. Both the Joint Explanatory Statement, which accompanied the Act, and the section of House Report 116-448 referenced by the Joint Explanatory Statement discuss the implications of the BIE’s failure to request these necessary fixed cost increases. Accordingly, Congress directed the BIE to analyze the past 10 years of budget requests to determine the extent and impact of this failure to request the necessary fixed costs increases. Congress also directed the BIE 'to clearly display funding amounts required to comply with Defense Department-equivalent pay rates as part of future budget justifications and to include sufficient funding in its budget request to fully fund these requirements.'
Division G, Title I of the Act includes language establishing an indefinite appropriation for payment of Tribal leases under section 105( l ) of the Indian Self-Determination and Education Assistance Act (ISDEAA), which are estimated to be $21,593,000 in fiscal year 2021. The terms include amounts necessary to fully fund such costs without the need for reprogramming, if actual costs exceed the current estimate. The Joint Explanatory Statement, which accompanies the Act, speaks in detail about the creation of this new indefinite appropriation. The Joint Explanatory Statement refers to the case of Maniilaq Ass’n v. Burwell (which Hobbs, Straus, Dean & Walker litigated in federal court to establish the right of tribes and tribal organization to full compensation from the federal government for leases of facilities used to carry out ISDEAA agreements). The Joint Explanatory Statement explains that the rulings in that case 'appear to create an entitlement to compensation for 105(l) leases'. The Joint Explanatory Statement directs the Department of Interior and the Indian Health Service to develop guidelines relating to lease costs, in consultation with Tribes and Tribal organizations.
      The Tribally Controlled Schools Act incorporates numerous provisions of the ISDEAA, including Section 105( l ), which allows tribes and tribal organizations operating BIE-funded grant schools to negotiate this type of lease agreement with the federal government. Importantly, by leasing facilities back to the federal government, tribes and tribal organizations can generate critically-needed facilities funding. Under the regulations, compensation for leases between the Secretary and an Indian tribe or tribal organization may include amounts to cover operation, maintenance and facility repairs costs, as well as to pay depreciation and use allowances. Compensation for leases may also be used to make contributions to a reserve for future replacement costs of facilities, and for principal and interest paid on the facility.
   Conclusion . These important provisions offer tribes and tribal schools critical tools to strengthen their schools and education programs. Please let us know if we may provide additional information or if you would like assistance with respect to these provisions or education matters more generally."

"Native American Legislative Update," Friends Committee on National Legilation, January 2021,
     Welcome to FCNL's Native American Legislative Update! NALU is a monthly newsletter about FCNL's Native American policy advocacy and ways for you to engage members of Congress. Indian Country Highlights from the Consolidated Appropriations Act of 2021
     On Dec. 27, the Consolidated Appropriations Act of 2021 ( H.R. 133 ) was signed into law by the president. The $2.3 trillion spending bill includes 12 annual appropriations bills, along with a $900 billion COVID-19 relief package, both of which include tribal provisions.
     Within the bill’s Commerce, Justice, and Science appropriations, 5% of the $2.015 billion provided for the Crime Victims Fund (CVF) will be available to tribes for programs to assist Native American victims of crime.
     In addition, within the $513.5 million provided for grant programs of the Office on Violence Against Women (OVW), $4 million will be used for assistance to tribes for Special Domestic Violence Criminal Jurisdiction (SDVCJ), $1 million for research and analysis on violence against American Indian and Alaska Native women, and $500,000 for the National Indian Country Clearinghouse on Sexual Assault.
     The bill also authorizes the use of $1 billion to support broadband connectivity on tribal lands, including telehealth, distance learning, broadband affordability, and digital inclusion.
     Special Diabetes Program for Indians Receives Long-Term Extension
     In addition to the provisions mentioned above, the FY 2021 spending bill also extended the Special Diabetes Program for Indians (SDPI) until the end of FY 2023 at current funding levels.
     SDPI continues to be one of the most successful health initiatives for Indian Country, with diabetes rates in Native communities decreasing consistently over the last four years. The program provides culturally appropriate resources and community-driven strategies to treat and prevent diabetes within tribal lands and urban areas.
     We are excited to finally see a long-term reauthorization of this program. However, we will continue to advocate for an increase in SDPI funding to $200 million annually. The program is currently funded at $150 million annually, the same yearly rate it has received since 2004.

Mark Walker and Emily Cochrane, "Tribal Communities Set to Receive Big New Infusion of Aid: President Biden’s $1.9 trillion relief package provides $31 billion for tribal nations and Indigenous people to address longstanding problems like poor health care," The New York Times, March 18, 2021,, reported, "The $1.9 trillion stimulus package signed into law last week by Mr. Biden contains more than $31 billion for tribal governments and other federal programs to help Native populations, a record level of assistance intended to help bolster health care and a variety of other services in some of the nation’s poorest communities."
     "The new legislation, passed without a single Republican vote, allocates $20 billion to tribal governments. It also includes more than $6 billion for the Indian Health Service and other Native American health systems, including a $20 million fund for Native Hawaiians, as well as $1.2 billion for housing and more than $1.1 billion for primary, secondary and higher education programs."

"FY 2021 Enacted Indian Affairs Appropriations
Hobs-Straus General Memorandum 21-003. January 29, 2021,

   In this Memorandum we report on highlights of the final FY 2021 Enacted appropriations for the Indian Affairs budget and related accounts. President Trump signed the Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2021 into law (P.L. 116-260, “the Act”) on December 27, 2020. The Act includes both federal discretionary funding for FY 2021, as well as additional provisions for COVID-19 relief. This Memorandum reports only on regular FY 2021 appropriations.
      Indian Affairs (IA) Overview
   The Indian Affairs budget encompasses the Bureau of Indian Affairs (BIA), the Bureau of Indian Education (BIE), and the Office of the Special Trustee for American Indians (OST). For FY 2021, most Indian Affairs accounts were continued at FY 2020 Enacted levels with a number of targeted increases specified in the Joint Explanatory Statement, which accompanies the Act. The Act provides $3.5 billion for the Indian Affairs budget, an increase of $281.6 million above the FY 2020 Enacted level and a full $544.3 million above what was requested by the Trump Administration. Most notably for the FY 2021 Indian Affairs budget, Congress:
     Created “Payments for Tribal Leases” as a separate account with an indefinite appropriation (like Contract Support Costs) within the BIA budget to pay for full service leases entered into pursuant to section 105( l) of the Indian Self-Determination and Education Assistance Act (ISDEAA), or pursuant to the Tribally Controlled Schools Act (P.L. 100-297);
     Continued Contract Support Costs (CSC) as a separate account with an indefinite appropriation;
     Continued to provide what is estimated to be full funding for Tribal Grant Support Costs for BIE-funded schools operated pursuant to the Tribally Controlled Schools Act;
     Requested a detailed report looking back at ten fiscal years of budget requests from the BIE on teacher and counselor pay parity with counterparts in the Department of Defense Education Activity;
     Rejected the Trump Administration’s request to zero out $139.4 million in funding for School Replacement Construction; and
     Rejected the Trump Administration’s request to transfer the funding and functions of OST to stand up a new “Bureau of Trust Funds Administration” (BTFA).
         Additionally, Congress weighed in on the epidemic of missing, trafficked, and murdered Indigenous women and on the importance of the Tiwahe Initiative.
         The FY 2021 Appropriations Act (P.L. 116-260, Indian Affairs begins on p. 309) and is accompanied by the House and Senate’s Joint Explanatory Statement (Indian Affairs begins on p. H8534) and the House Appropriations Committee’s report (H. Rept. 116-448, Indian Affairs begins on p. 53). Because the Senate Appropriations Committee did not hold a vote on their draft bill and report, there is not a Senate Committee report to accompany this Act. The Joint Explanatory Statement incorporates by reference certain provisions from the Senate Appropriations Committee’s report from the previous fiscal year (FY 2020): “Language contained in Senate Report 116-123 regarding Government Accountability Office (GAO) high risk management challenges; GAO recommendations and funding of road maintenance; funding for all Tribes with resource challenges; transboundary rivers; protecting Indian trust resources from wildfire and threats; Office of Wildland Fire; inventory of wells; GAO recommendations and barriers to resource development; and Public Law 102-477 is restated.”
         Below, we describe highlights from each budget activity. A chart with funding details by sub-activity is attached for further reference.
   “… no reprogramming shall be implemented without the advance approval of the House and Senate Committees on Appropriations in accordance with the procedures included in this Act. The agencies funded in this Act are reminded that these reprogramming guidelines are in effect, and must be complied with, until such time as the Committees modify them through bill or report language.” (Joint Explanatory Statement)
   The agreement continues to allow transfers of Tribal priority allocations funds between BIA Operation of Indian Programs and BIE Operation of Indian Education Programs initiated at the request of an Indian Tribe. This authority does not apply to any other transfers, including those to separate the BIA and the BIE.
FY 2020 Enacted            $2,032,124,000
     FY 2021 Admin. Request        $1,907,881,000
     FY 2021 House             $2,183,938,000
      FY 2021 Enacted          $2,159,384,000
         The Bureau of Indian Affairs budget is composed of: Operation of Indian Programs, Contract Support Costs, Payments for Tribal Leases, Construction, Indian Land and Water Claim Settlements, and the Indian Guaranteed Loan Program Account.
FY 2020 Enacted            $1,577,110,000
     FY 2021 Admin. Request        $1,446,694,000
     FY 2021 House             $1,641,086,000
      FY 2021 Enacted          $1,616,532,000
         Budget activities within the Operation of Indian Programs are: Tribal Government; Human Services; Trust-Natural Resources Management; Trust-Real Estate Services; Public Safety and Justice; Community and Economic Development; and Executive Direction and Administrative Services.
         Tiwahe. “The bill continues the Tiwahe Initiative at fiscal year 2020 levels across all programs and activities with funding distributed in the same amounts to the same recipients, including the funding to support women and children’s shelters. There is concern that Tiwahe funding was not properly documented or distributed as outlined in the Office of Inspector General report published in 2018; therefore, the Bureau of Indian Affairs (BIA) is directed to submit the final reports as directed by House Report 115-765 and Senate Report 116-123 within 90 days of enactment of this Act. The bill provides that $1,000,000 of funds provided for Assistant Secretary Support within Executive Direction and Administrative Services is not available for obligation until Indian Affairs provides the requested Tiwahe reports to the Committees.” (Joint Explanatory Statement)
         Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women. “The Committees are concerned about the crisis of missing, trafficked, and murdered indigenous women. Native American women face high rates of violence and the lack of data on the number of women and girls who go missing or murdered further complicates the Nation’s ability to address the crisis. The agreement includes both funding and report language under the Bureau of Indian Affairs and the Indian Health Service in order to improve the Federal response to this crisis.” (Joint Explanatory Statement)
         Tribal Data. The Committee is disturbed by Indian Affairs’ recent leak of sensitive Tribal data and expects the Inspector General to submit a report within 60 days of enactment of this Act on actions taken to correct the activity leading to the leak, whether the leak was intentional, actions taken to ensure the leak does not happen again and to report any disciplinary actions taken against employees responsible for the leak. (H. Rept. 116-448)
      Tribal Government
FY 2020 Enacted            $334,179,000
     FY 2021 Admin. Request        $337,351,000
     FY 2021 House             $336,887,000
      FY 2021 Enacted          $341,031,000
         The Tribal Government sub-activities are: Aid to Tribal Government; Consolidated Tribal Government Program; Self-Governance Compacts; New Tribes; Small and Needy Tribes; Road Maintenance; and Tribal Government Program Oversight.
         The total for Road Maintenance reflects an increase of $500,000 above the FY 2020 amount designated to improve the condition of unpaved roads and bridges used by school buses transporting students. The House Report directs the BIA to report to the Committee within 90 days of enactment of the Act on the distribution of funds provided for school bus routes. The House Report also directs the BIA to report to the Committee within 90 days of the enactment of the Act on how formula funding levels on a tribe by tribe basis have changed over the past 16 years.
         Roads Used by Customs and Border Protection (CPB). The Act, under the CPB budget, provides that up to $5 million “may be transferred to the Bureau of Indian Affairs for the maintenance and repair of roads on Native American reservations used by the U.S. Border Patrol.” The Act authorizes the BIA to accept this transfer of funds “to supplement any other funding available for reconstruction or repair of roads owned by the Bureau of Indian Affairs as identified on the National Tribal Transportation Facility Inventory, 23 U.S.C. 202(b)(1).”
      Human Services
FY 2020 Enacted           $155,685,000
     FY 2021 Admin. Request        $ 87,490,000
     FY 2021 House            $166,755,000
      FY 2021 Enacted          $161,226,000
         The Human Services sub-activities are: Social Services; Welfare Assistance; Indian Child Welfare Act (ICWA); Housing Improvement Program (HIP); Human Services Tribal Design; and Human Services Program Oversight.
         Welfare Assistance. Congress rejected the Trump Administration’s request to cut $61.1 million in funding from Welfare Assistance.
         ICWA Section 202. Of the amount appropriated for the Indian Child Welfare Actsub-activity, a $1 million set-aside is continued to implement off-reservation programs authorized by section 202 of the Indian Child Welfare Act (25 U.S.C. § 1932). The House Report directs the BIA to report to the Committee within 90 days of enactment of the Act on the distribution of funds provided for off-reservation programs and to identify any challenges to obligating funds.
         Housing Improvement Program. Congress rejected the Trump Administration’s request to zero out funding for the Housing Improvement Program.
         Funding Allocations. “The Committees remain concerned about previous transfers in funding for welfare assistance, social services, and the Indian Child Welfare Act (Public Law 95-608), and direct the Bureau to brief the Committees within 30 days of enactment of this Act regarding the formula and funding allocation for these activities.” (Joint Explanatory Statement)
      Trust–Natural Resources Management
FY 2020 Enacted           $226,819,000
     FY 2021 Admin. Request        $209,726,000
     FY 2021 House            $240,369,000
      FY 2021 Enacted          $258,842,000
         The Trust–Natural Resources Management sub-activities are: Natural Resources, general; Irrigation Operation and Maintenance; Rights Protection Implementation; Tribal Management/Development Programs; Endangered Species; Cooperative Landscape Conservation; Integrated Resource Information program; Agriculture and Range; Forestry; Water Resources; Fish, Wildlife, and Parks; Mineral and Mining; and Resource Management Oversight. (The Act provides for the transfer of the Minerals and Mining sub-activity from the Community and Economic Developmentactivity, with the expectation that there will be no reduction or relocation of Full Time Equivalent positions (FTEs).
         Indian Youth Service Corps. Within Natural Resources, $1 million is provided for the Indian Youth Service Corps, authorized by section 9003 of the John D. Dingell, Jr. Conservation, Management, and Recreation Act of 2019.
         Elwha River Section 7 Implementation Completion. Funding to implement section 7 of the Elwha River Ecosystem and Fisheries Restoration Act (Public Law 102-495) has been completed and that reduction of $2 million is reflected in the total.
         Illegal Dumping. “The Committee is concerned about illegal dumping and other environmentally harmful activity that occurs on allotted trust land, specifically in the Pacific Region. The Committee encourages the Agency to use available resources to assist Tribes in enforcing environmental codes and ordinances, as well as support Tribal consortia protecting against illegal dumping.” (H. Rept. 116-448)
          Law Enforcement Needs for Treaty Sites. Of the amount appropriated for the Rights Protection Implementation sub-activity, there is a $1 million increase above the FY 2020 Enacted level for law enforcement needs for treaty sites on the Columbia River.
         Everglades. The FY 2020 funding level is continued.
         Pacific Salmon Treaty. The FY 2020 funding level is continued.
         Columbia River Fishing Sites Improvement. “The Committees are aware that the Bureau is in the process of analyzing additional funding requirements needed to support the sites and implement the Columbia River In-Lieu and Treaty Fishing Access Sites Improvement Act (Public Law 116-99), and expect the Bureau to provide a report within 90 days of enactment of this Act that details how the increased funds provided by Congress in fiscal years 2020 and 2021 were allocated and what additional resources are necessary to ensure adequate infrastructure, security, and sanitation at the sites in future fiscal years.” (Joint Explanatory Statement)
         Salmon and Steelhead Habitat Study Set-aside. Within the amount appropriated for the Tribal Management Development program, there is $830,000 to advance the understanding of salmon and steelhead habitat.
         Tribal Buffalo Herds Set-aside and Funding Plan. The agreement continues funding at FY 2020 levels to develop Tribal buffalo herds and support related activities. Further, the House Report states that, “The Committee expects Indian Affairs to examine the historical funding provided for buffalo preservation and management in comparison to other Native food activities, such as the preservation and management of fish. In fiscal year 2020, the Committee directed Indian Affairs to compare historical funding provided to Native food preservation and management activities and a plan to ensure parity among Native food activities to the Committee within 90 days of enactment of that Act. The Committee has not received this information and directs Indian Affairs to provide this information within 90 days of enactment of this Act.”
         Alaska Subsistence. The agreement continues funding at FY 2020 levels for pilot projects and programs for Alaska subsistence activities as further outlined in Senate Report 116-123. “The Bureau is expected to continue pilot projects and programs for Alaska subsistence and keep the Committees apprised of changes in the distribution methodology.” (Joint Explanatory Statement)
         Report on Fish Hatchery Funding. “The Committees note that BIA has not yet complied with a directive included in Senate Report 116-123 to produce and make publicly available a list of Tribes that have established fishing rights and operate fish hatcheries but do not currently receive fish hatchery operations funding. The Committees expect the Bureau to transmit such list to the Committees within 60 days of enactment of this Act.” (Joint Explanatory Statement)
         Tolowa Dee-Ni’ Tribe Reserved Fishing Right. “The Bureau is urged to continue to work with the Tolowa Dee-Ni’ Tribe and the State of California regarding a reserved fishing right.” (Joint Explanatory Statement)
         Cooperative Landscape Conservation. Congress rejected the Trump Administration’s request to zero out funding for Cooperative Landscape Conservation.
         Priorities for Climate Change and Resilience.
         “The Committees are particularly concerned about coastal Tribal communities and Alaska Native Villages that face severe challenges to their long-term resilience due to climate change impacts and expect the Bureau to prioritize the needs of Tribal communities that face significant threats to public safety, sacred sites, and natural resource values, including threats to endangered or threatened species.” (Joint Explanatory Statement)
         “Consistent with the Federal government’s treaty and trust obligations, the Committee directs BIA to coordinate with all relevant Federal agencies—including but not limited to the Federal Emergency Management Agency, the Army Corps of Engineers, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, and the Departments of Housing and Urban Development, Health and Human Services, and Agriculture—to leverage resources to support a whole of government approach to working with at-risk tribes to identify and expedite the delivery of resources and technical assistance necessary to support mitigation and relocation efforts.” (H. Rept. 116-448)
         Chaco Canyon. “The agreement includes $600,000 for the Assistant Secretary for Indian Affairs to continue its support for ongoing Tribal cultural resource investigations in the Chaco Canyon region of the Southwest, as instructed in the explanatory statement accompanying the Further Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2020 (Public Law 116-94).” (Joint Explanatory Statement)
      Trust–Real Estate Services
     FY 2020 Enacted           $138,097,000
     FY 2021 Admin. Request        $124,190,000
     FY 2021 House            $144,321,000
      FY 2021 Enacted          $140,663,000
         The Trust–Real Estate Services sub-activities are: Trust Services; Navajo-Hopi Settlement Program; Probate; Land Title and Records Offices; Real Estate Services; Land Records Improvement; Environmental Quality; Alaska Native Programs; Rights Protection; and Trust-Real Estate Services Oversight.
         From the amount appropriated for Trust–Real Estate Services the Act provides the following increases:
     an additional $500,000 is for Environmental Quality Projects;
     an additional $400,000 is for Water Rights Negotiation; and
     an additional $300,000 is for Rights Protection Litigation Support.
         Recruitment and Retention Challenges. “In addition to the agency-wide staffing and vacancies report, the Bureau is directed to brief the Committees within 180 days of enactment of this Act regarding pay disparities for real estate and appraisal personnel between the Bureau and other Federal agencies.” (Joint Explanatory Statement)
         Office of Trust Services Lack Standard Procedure for Receipt of Paperwork. “Given these ongoing issues, the BIA shall report to the Committees within 90 days of enactment of this Act on the standard procedure being established to confirm receipt of paperwork received through the mail and ensure it is forwarded to the appropriate recipient. Additionally, the report shall cover any inter-agency coordination that is being updated to comply with the new procedure.” (Joint Explanatory Statement)
      Public Safety and Justice
FY 2020 Enacted            $434,326,000
     FY 2021 Admin. Request        $423,722,000
     FY 2021 House            $455,346,000
      FY 2021 Enacted          $448,722,000
         The Public Safety and Justice sub-activities are: Law Enforcement; Tribal Courts; and Fire Protection.
         Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women. Joint Explanatory Statement states:
     “Language contained in the explanatory statement to accompany the Further Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2020 (Public Law 116-94) regarding coordination and data collection among law enforcement is restated.
     Within Criminal Investigations and Police Services, an additional $2 million is provided to solve Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women cold cases, an additional $1 million is for background checks to hire more law enforcement officers.
     The recommendation includes $19,783,000 for Law Enforcement Special Initiatives, of which an additional $1 million is to purchase equipment to collect and preserve evidence at crime scenes throughout Indian Country; $750,000 is to increase the number of Victim Witness Specialists; and $3 million is to address missing and murdered indigenous women, as requested by the Trump Administration.
     The recommendation continues $2.5 million to focus on advanced training needs to help address the crisis for missing, trafficked, and murdered indigenous women. These activities shall focus on training for detectives, forensics, and other specialized courses in an effort to provide greater access to programs for Indian Country law enforcement personnel to create safer communities. This advanced training shall not duplicate those activities at the Indian Police Academy, which continues as the central justice services training location for Tribal law enforcement, including for entry-level law enforcement officers, agents and corrections officers, and the agreement provides full funding for these programs.”
         Tribal Justice Support. The Joint Explanatory Statement provides that, “within Tribal Justice Support, $3 million is continued for activities to implement and ensure compliance with the Violence Against Women Act and $15 million is to address the needs of Tribes affected by Public Law 93-280 and as further outlined in the Senate Report 116-123.” (The Trump Administration had requested to zero out these two budget items.) Further, the Joint Explanatory Statement provides an additional $500,000 for facilities operations and maintenance to supplement fiscal year 2020 funding levels for facilities located on Indian lands and an additional $2 million for Tribal Courts (TPA).” (Joint Explanatory Statement)
         NAGPRA Enforcement. “…an additional $500,000 is for Law Enforcement to implement the Native American Graves Protection and Repatriation Act (NAGPRA).” (Joint Explanatory Statement)
         “The agreement includes $106,407,000 for Detention/Corrections. The amount for this program is reduced by $2.5 million to account for savings from unstaffed regional detention facilities but the program recommendation also includes an additional $1 million to supplement fiscal year 2020 funding levels to hire additional detention/corrections staff at facilities located on Indian lands and an additional $1 million to expedite background checks for detention facilities.” (Joint Explanatory Statement)
      Community and Economic Development
FY 2020 Enacted            $52,529,000
     FY 2021 Admin. Request        $27,472,000
     FY 2021 House             $54,382,000
      FY 2021 Enacted          $24,472,000
         The Community and Economic Development sub-activities are: Job Placement and Training; Economic Development; and Community Development Oversight. As noted earlier in this Memorandum, the Minerals and Mining sub-activity was transferred to the Trust–Natural Resources Management activity.
         Of the amount appropriated for Community and Economic Development:
     $13.5 million for Job Placement and Training;
     $3.2 million for Economic Development, of which $500,000 is for business incubators; and
     $7.6 million for Community Development Central Oversight, of which an additional $500,000 is to implement the NATIVE Act and $500,000 is for the HEARTH Act.
         Native Language Instruction and Immersion Programs for Native Students not in the BIE System. “The agreement continues $3 million for grants to federally recognized Indian Tribes and Tribal organizations to provide native language instruction and immersion programs to Native students not enrolled at BIE schools, including those Tribes and organizations in states without Bureau-funded schools.” (Joint Explanatory Statement)
      Executive Direction and Administrative Services
FY 2020 Enacted            $235,475,000
     FY 2021 Admin. Request        $236,743,000
     FY 2021 House             $243,026,000
      FY 2021 Enacted          $241,576,000
         The Executive Direction and Administrative Services sub-activities are: Assistant Secretary Support; Executive Direction; Administrative Services; Safety and Risk Management; Information Resources Technology; Human Capital Management; Facilities Management; Intra-Governmental Payments; and Rentals.
         Assistant Secretary Support. The Act provides $10.7 million for Assistant Secretary Support, which includes:
     $400,000 to implement the PROGRESS Act; and
     $1 million is withheld until the Secretary provides the requested Tiwahe reports. The Committees intend that no other programs or activities will be reduced to offset the decreased funds until the reports are provided. (Joint Explanatory Statement)
         The Joint Explanatory Statement rejects the reduction to Labor-Related payments.
FY 2020 Enacted           Such sums as may be necessary
                   (Estimated: $271,000,000)
     FY 2021 Admin. Request         Such sums as may be necessary
(Estimated: $335,000,000)
     FY 2021 House            Such sums as may be necessary
(Estimated: $335,000,000)
      FY 2021 Enacted           Such sums as may be necessary
(Estimated: $335,000,000)

         The Trump Administration requested and Congress continued Contract Support Costs (CSC) as an indefinite appropriation at “such sums as may be necessary” estimated to be $335 million for FY 2021. (This account is comprised of Contract Support (such sums as may be necessary, estimated to be: $330 million) and the Indian Self-Determination Fund ($5 million)). The Act includes language making these funds available for obligation through September 30, 2022, and prohibiting the transfer of funds to any other account for any other purpose.
FY 2020 Enacted           $-0-
FY 2021 Admin. Request        Such sums as may be necessary
(Estimated: $21,593,000)
     FY 2021 House            Such sums as may be necessary
(Estimated: $21,593,000)
      FY 2021 Enacted          Such sums as may be necessary
(Estimated: $21,593,000)

         Tribal Lease Payments. The Act includes language establishing an indefinite appropriation for payment of Tribal leases under section 105( l) of the Indian Self-Determination and Education Assistance Act (ISDEAA), which are estimated to be $21,593,000 in FY 2021. The terms include amounts necessary to fully fund such costs without the need for reprogramming, if actual costs exceed the current estimate. The Act includes language making these funds available for obligation through September 30, 2022, and prohibiting the transfer of funds to any other account for any other purpose.
         The Joint Explanatory Statement speaks in detail about the creation of this new indefinite appropriation account in light of litigation, which “appear to create an entitlement to compensation for 105( l) leases”. The Joint Explanatory Statement directs the Department of Interior and the Indian Health Service to develop guidelines relating to lease costs, in consultation with Tribes and Tribal organizations. It states:
         'The Committees also note that payments for 105( l) leases directly resulting from decisions in the case of Maniilaq Ass’n v. Burwell in both 2014 (72 F. Supp. 3d 227 (D.D.C. 2014)) and 2016 (70 F. Supp. 3d 243 (D.D.C. 2016)) appear to create an entitlement to compensation for 105( l) leases that is typically not funded through discretionary appropriations, and the Committees encourage discussion regarding the funding classification to continue. The Committees are aware of recent litigation in Federal courts regarding what constitutes reasonable lease costs under the 105( l) program. As part of the consultation required by language in Title IV of this Act, the Indian Health Service and the Department of the Interior are expected to consult with Tribes and Tribal organizations regarding agency regulations and policies that determine the amount of space and other standards necessary to carry out federal programs under a section 105( l) lease, and to ensure that such regulations and policies are consistent, transparent and clearly communicated to affected Tribes. The Service and the Department are expected to periodically update the Committees on the status of the consultation.'
FY 2020 Enacted           $126,591,000 [1]
     FY 2021 Admin. Request        $ 59,759,000
     FY 2021 House            $128,818,000
      FY 2021 Enacted          $128,818,000
         The Construction sub-activities are: Public Safety and Justice Construction; Resources Management Construction; and Other Program Construction/ General Administration.
         'All programs, projects, and activities are maintained at fiscal year 2020 levels, except for requested fixed cost increases and transfers, or unless otherwise specified below.' (Joint Explanatory Statement)
         'Green Infrastructure. With the funds provided, the agreement continues to encourage the Department to include green infrastructure as stated in the explanatory statement accompanying Public Law 116-94 and to submit a report to the Committees on Appropriations within 90 days of enactment of this Act describing how the Department incorporated these activities.' (Joint Explanatory Statement)
      Public Safety & Justice (PS&J) Construction
FY 2020 Enacted           $42,811,000
     FY 2021 Admin. Request        $10,441,000
     FY 2021 House            $42,811,000
      FY 2021 Final           $42,811,000
         The Public Safety & Justice Construction sub-activities are: Facilities Replacement/New Construction; Employee Housing; Facilities Improvement and Repair; Fire Safety Coordination; and Fire Protection. The amount appropriated includes:
     $25.5 million for Facilities Replacement and New Construction;
     $4.4 million for Employee Housing;
     $9.3 million for Facilities Improvement and Repair;
     $171,000 for Fire Safety Coordination; and
     $3.2 million for Fire Protection.
         Distribution of Funds and Consultation and Planning for Improvement. “The Bureau is expected to distribute funds provided in this Act to expeditiously complete construction of adult detention center projects that were previously awarded. Remaining amounts should be considered available for all public safety and justice facilities, consistent with previous direction. Direction is reiterated for the Bureau to: (1) produce and maintain a plan to improve public safety and justice facilities in poor condition; and (2) provide a draft plan within 120 days of enactment of this Act with next steps including Tribal consultation.” (Joint Explanatory Statement)
         Condemned Facilities. “The Bureau is directed to report back within 90 days of enactment of this Act with a comprehensive list of condemned facilities that need to be replaced. Additionally, the Bureau is directed to provide a briefing to the House and Senate Committees on Appropriations on its long-term plans for the replacement of the “Building 86″ public safety facility operated by the San Carlos Apache Tribe within 90 days of enactment of this Act.” (Joint Explanatory Statement)
      Resources Management Construction
FY 2020 Enacted           $71,258,000
     FY 2021 Admin. Request        $36,219,000
     FY 2021 House            $71,408,000
      FY 2021 Enacted          $71,408,000
         The Resources Management Construction sub-activities are: Irrigation Project Construction; Engineering and Supervision; Survey and Design; Federal Power and Compliance; and Dam Projects. The amount appropriated includes:
     $28.7 million for Irrigation Project Construction, which restores funding for the Navajo Indian Irrigation Project to the fiscal year 2020 level and provides fixed costs, and $10 million is for projects authorized by the WIIN Act;
     $2.6 million for Engineering and Supervision;
     $1 million for Survey and Design;
     $656,000 for Federal Power Compliance; and
     $38.3 million for Dam Safety and Maintenance.
         WIIN Act Authorized Projects. “The Committees expect the funds designated for WIIN Act (Public Law 114-322) activities will be deposited into the Indian Irrigation Fund and fund those projects authorized by Public Law 114-322.” (Joint Explanatory Statement)
         Dam Safety. Language contained in Senate Report 116-123 regarding dam safety is restated. (Joint Explanatory Statement)
         Colorado River Indian Tribes. “The Committees are concerned about recent issues with diversion calculations and other management decisions by the Bureau of Indian Affairs and the Bureau of Reclamation which impacted Colorado River Indian Tribes’ access to water resources in fiscal year 2020. The Committees expect the Bureau to improve coordination with the Bureau of Reclamation and with Colorado River Indian Tribes, and to finalize new standard operating procedures for the Colorado River Irrigation Project by no later than December 31, 2020, to ensure that the projected year-end diversions are consistent and based upon the best available data so that the Tribes may make use of their full water allocation.” (Joint Explanatory Statement)
      Other Program Construction/ General Administration
FY 2020 Enacted           $14,522,000
     FY 2021 Admin. Request        $13,099,000
     FY 2021 House            $14,599,000
      FY 2021 Enacted          $14,599,000
         The Other Program Construction sub-activities are: Telecommunications Improvement and Repair; Facilities/Quarters Improvement and Repair; and Construction Program Management. The amount appropriated includes:
     $1.4 million for Telecommunications;
     $3.9 million for Facilities and Quarters; and
     $9.2 million for Program Management, which includes $3.2 million to continue the project at Fort Peck.
      Indian Land and Water Claims Settlements and
     Miscellaneous Payments to Indians
FY 2020 Enacted           $45,644,000
     FY 2021 Admin. Request        $43,904,000
     FY 2021 House            $45,644,000
      FY 2021 Enacted          $45,644,000
         The Joint Explanatory Statement states:
     “The Act provides sufficient funding to ensure that Indian Affairs will meet the statutory deadlines of all authorized settlement agreements to date;
     The agreement updates the bill language of the Act to reflect those settlements that have been completed: Public Law 100-580, Public Law 101-618, Public Law 111-11, and Public Law 111-291;
     The recommended level enables Indian Affairs to make a payment, in an amount to be determined by the Secretary, to the Blackfeet Settlement Trust Fund; and
     The Department is directed to submit a spending plan to the Committees within 45 days of enactment of this Act on how it plans to allocate the funds provided by the bill for the specific settlements.”
      Indian Guaranteed Loan Program
FY 2020 Enacted           $11,779,000
     FY 2021 Admin. Request        $  931,000
     FY 2021 House            $11,797,000
      FY 2021 Enacted          $11,797,000
         The Indian Guaranteed Loan Program is made up of Loan Subsidies and Program Management. This program guarantees or insures loans covering up to 90 percent of outstanding loan principal to Indian tribes, tribal members, or for profit and not-for-profit businesses which are at least 51% Indian owned. Of the amount appropriated, the Act provides $1,593,000 for administrative expenses. The Act limits the total loan principal that can be guaranteed or insured to $82,886,197.
FY 2020 Enacted           $1,191,334,000
     FY 2021 Admin. Request        $ 944,544,000
     FY 2021 House            $1,230,974,000
      FY 2021 Enacted          $1,237,369,000
        The BIE Budget is composed of Operation of Indian Education Programs and Education Construction.
      Operation of Indian Education Programs
FY 2020 Enacted           $943,077,000
     FY 2021 Admin. Request        $875,659,000
     FY 2021 House            $981,697,000
      FY 2021 Enacted          $973,092,000
         Budget activities within the Operation of Indian Education Programs are: Elementary and Secondary Programs (Forward Funded); Elementary and Secondary Programs (Non-Forward Funded); Post Secondary Programs (Forward Funded); Post Secondary Programs (Non-Forward Funded); and Education Management.
         The Joint Explanatory Statement provides:
     “All programs, projects, and activities are maintained at fiscal year 2020 levels, except for requested fixed cost increases and transfers, or unless otherwise specified below; and
     Language contained in Senate Report 116-123 regarding support for BIE reforms; GAO documented management challenges; broadening access to Native languages and previous funding use; data collection on student absences; integrating school-based preventative health services; and compliance with education laws is restated.” (Joint Explanatory Statement)
      Elementary and Secondary Programs (Forward Funded)
     FY 2020 Enacted            $596,893,000
     FY 2021 Admin. Request        $585,209,000
     FY 2021 House             $619,983,000
      FY 2021 Enacted          $617,901,000
         The Elementary and Secondary forward funded sub-activities are: ISEP Formula Funding; ISEP Program Adjustments; Education Program Enhancements; Tribal Education Departments; Student Transportation; Early Childhood Development; and Tribal Grant Support Costs. Funds appropriated for FY 2021 for these programs will become available for obligation on July 1, 2021, for SY 2021-2022.
         ISEP Formula Funding received an $11.1 million increase.
         Tribal Education Departments. Congress rejected the Trump Administration’s request to zero out funding for Tribal Education Departments.
         Tribal Grant Support Costs are funded at what is estimated to be full funding, which has been the case for every fiscal year from FY 2016 Enacted to the present.
         Native Language Immersion. Within the amount appropriated for Education Program Enhancements, $4 million is included for Native language immersion grants at BIE-funded schools.
         Early Childhood Development/FACE. Congress provided a $2.1 million increase to this sub-activity. The House Report specifies that this increase is to allow the BIE to expand the FACE program to new sites. Further, the House Report directs Indian Affairs to submit a report on the number of new sites and additional students served with these new funds.
         Pay Parity for Teachers and Counselors. Federal law requires that teachers and counselors in the BIE-funded school system be paid equivalent salaries to their counterparts in the Department of Defense Education Activity. For several years, the BIE failed to request fixed cost increases to cover this requirement, even though BIE-operated schools were still required to pay the salary increases. Although tribally-controlled grant schools are not required to provide pay parity, grant schools are eligible to receive the fixed cost increases and they depend on those funds to help keep their teachers’ compensation rates competitive with other jurisdictions. Both the Joint Explanatory Statement and the House Report discuss the implications of the BIE’s failure to request these necessary fixed cost increases and direct BIE to correct this problem:
         “The Committees are concerned that the failure to request adequate resources to cover full fixed cost requirements, including funds to meet the legal requirement to compensate teachers and counselors at a pay rate that is consistent with the Defense Department Overseas Teachers Pay and Personnel Act (Public Law 86-91), have resulted in schools having to absorb these escalating costs at the expense of other program requirements. The agreement directs the Bureau to produce the report directed by House Report 116-448 regarding the implementation of Defense Department-equivalent pay rates by no later than 120 days from enactment of this Act. The Bureau is also directed to clearly display funding amounts required to comply with Defense Department-equivalent pay rates as part of future budget justifications and to include sufficient funding in its budget request to fully fund these requirements.” (Joint Explanatory Statement)
         “The Committee directs BIE to provide an analysis of ISEP funds from fiscal year 2010 to fiscal year 2020 that details: The BIE pay rate for teacher and counselor salaries; the Department of Defense (DoD) pay rate for teacher and counselor salaries; the amount of funding provided for teacher and counselor pay parity in annual budget requests and actually provided with available funds; the amount of annual funding spent on BIE-funded schools non-salary expenses (including student services, safety, programming, and other standard operations); the impact that any shortfall of ISEP funds for required pay increases had on school services and programming (if any); and a complete accounting of any amounts BIE funded schools may not have received because fixed costs increases that align with DoD teacher and counselor pay parity requirements were not included in annual budget requests. Upon completion of BIE’s work, the Committee directs the Department of the Interior (DOI) Office of Inspector General (OIG) to conduct a review and verification of BIE’s analysis and submit the review to the Committee.” (H. Rept. 116-448)
      Elementary and Secondary Programs (Non-Forward Funded)
FY 2020 Enacted           $156,638,000
     FY 2021 Admin. Request        $143,477,000
     FY 2021 House            $158,555,000
      FY 2021 Enacted          $153,477,000
         The Elementary and Secondary non-forward funded sub-activities are: Facilities Operations; Facilities Maintenance; Juvenile Detention Center Grants; and Johnson-O’Malley Assistance Grants.
         The Act maintains Facilities Operations at FY 2020 Enacted levels, including fixed costs, and accounts for the transfer of funds to pay for 105( l) leases through the new indefinite appropriations account.
         Health and Safety Inspections. “The Committee directs BIE to complete annual health and safety inspections of all BIE system facilities and to publish quarterly updates on the status of such inspections.” (H. Rept. 116-448)
         Johnson O’Malley (JOM) Program. The Joint Explanatory Statement notes that of the amount appropriated, the $2.5 million set-aside for capacity building is continued. The House Report explains, “Given GAO’s recent report finding BIE does not provide training to JOM contractors on administering the program, the Committee continues these funds for fiscal year 2021. The Committee expects BIE to report on training and capacity building activities provided to contractors in fiscal year 2020 and the activities to be provided in fiscal year 2021 within 90 days of enactment of this Act. Further, GAO found that BIE does not have systematic processes in place to conduct oversight of JOM programs. The Committee directs Indian Affairs to develop the recommended processes and timelines to ensure the JOM program operates effectively and efficiently and to submit a report to the Committee every 120 days on the progress being made towards meeting GAO’s recommendations until the recommendations are closed.”
      Post Secondary Programs (Forward Funded)
FY 2020 Enacted           $105,944,000
     FY 2021 Admin. Request        $ 97,943,000
     FY 2021 House            $110,919,000
      FY 2021 Enacted          $110,919,000
         The Post Secondary forward funded sub-activities are: Tribal Colleges and Universities; Tribal Technical Colleges (United Tribes Technical College (UTTC) and Navajo Technical University (NTU)); and Haskell and SIPI.
      Post Secondary Programs (Non-Forward Funded)
FY 2020 Enacted           $40,995,000
     FY 2021 Admin. Request        $-0-
     FY 2021 House            $42,495,000
      FY 2021 Enacted          $42,495,000
         The Post Secondary non-forward funded sub-activities are: Tribal Colleges and Universities Supplements; Scholarships and Adult Education; Special Higher Education Scholarships; and the Science Post Graduate Scholarship Fund. Congress rejected the Trump Administration’s request to zero out all of these sub-activities.
      Education Management
FY 2020 Enacted           $42,607,000
     FY 2021 Admin. Request        $49,030,000
     FY 2021 House            $49,745,000
     FY 2021 Enacted            $48,300,000
         The Education Management sub-activities are: Education Program Management and Education IT.
         Educational Broadband. “The importance of bringing broadband to BIE-funded schools is understood but concerns remain about how these funds are used and the planning process used for this type of investment. The agency is directed to report back within 90 days of enactment of this Act on a scalable plan to increase bandwidth in BIE-funded schools, procure computers, and acquire software. This report should also include how the Bureau is working with other Federal agencies to coordinate and plan for the technology buildout.” (Joint Explanatory Statement)
         Reports. The House Report calls for quarterly reports from the BIE on activities that occur to separate the BIE from BIA; and on steps taken to implement the Government Accountability Office’s recommendations regarding the BIE’s provision of special education for students with disabilities. Further, the House Report calls for the BIE to submit a workforce plan that includes a strategy and timeframe for filling vacant staff positions as recommended by GAO, to the Committee within 90 days of enactment of this Act.
      Education Construction
     FY 2020 Enacted           $248,257,000
     FY 2021 Admin. Request        $ 68,885,000
     FY 2021 House            $249,277,000
      FY 2021 Enacted          $264,277,000
         The Education Construction sub-activities are: Replacement School Construction; Replacement Facility Construction; Employee Housing Repair; and Facilities Improvement and Repair; as well as two new sub-activities: Replacement/New Employee Housing; and Tribal Colleges Facilities Improvement and Repair.
         Green Infrastructure. “With the funds provided, the agreement continues to encourage the Department to include green infrastructure as stated in the explanatory statement accompanying Public Law 116-94 and to submit a report to the Committees on Appropriations within 90 days of enactment of this Act describing how the Department incorporated these activities.” (Joint Explanatory Statement)
         Replacement School Construction and Replacement Facility Construction. Congress rejected the Trump Administration’s request to zero out funding for these two critical sub-activities and instead continued to fund them at FY 2020 Enacted levels   ($115.5 million and $23.9 million, respectively). The House Report calls on the BIE to submit a new school replacement list as part of the next budget request and calls on the BIE to prepare a five-year spend plan for Replacement Schools and Replacement Facilities based on the higher of the last fiscal year enacted levels or the current year budget request.
         Education Construction Site Assessment and Capital Investment Program. “The Committees recognize the efforts of Indian Affairs and the Bureau of Indian Education to develop and communicate to Tribes a comprehensive, system-wide approach to school repair and replacement, as the Committees have directed the agencies to do since the fiscal year 2015 appropriation, which should include a clearly identified list of prioritized projects to be accomplished with annual discretionary and mandatory appropriations. The agencies are encouraged to continue working with Tribes to develop and refine the program and are directed to provide feedback to Tribes throughout the process, consistent with direction contained in House Report 116-448 on Tribal consultation. The program must provide for data entry training of all on-site facilities managers and must not disincentivize any Tribe from making improvements with its own funds.” (Joint Explanatory Statement)
         Replacement – New Employee Housing. Congress concurred with the Trump Administration’s request for this new sub-activity “for replacing/building new teacher housing at remote locations where alternative housing is limited or current facilities are in critical need of replacement.” (FY 2021 BIE Budget Request, p. BIE-CON-ED-19). The House Report also calls for the BIE to provide an assessment of need for replacement/new employee housing and to provide a spending plan to the Committee within 90 days of enactment of this Act.
         Tribal Colleges and Universities (TCUs) Facilities. Congress created a new sub-activity with $15 million for TCUs facilities requirements. Further, the Joint Explanatory Statement provides additional direction “The Committees recognize that many Tribal colleges and universities (TCUs) have significant unfunded needs and direct BIE and the Assistant Secretary, Indian Affairs (ASIA) to work with Tribal leaders and other stakeholders to develop a consistent methodology for determining TCU operating and maintenance needs to inform future budget requests. The Committees previously directed BIE to develop a methodology regarding TCU operating and facility needs. The Committees again direct BIE and ASIA to assess TCU facility needs and to develop a distribution methodology to address these needs. The Committees also direct the BIE to report back within 60 days of enactment of this Act on how it conducts student counts at TCUs and how funding is provided to address facilities operation, maintenance, and construction needs.” (Joint Explanatory Statement)
      Bureau of Trust Funds Administration
FY 2020 Enacted            $-0-
     FY 2021 Admin. Request        $108,399,000
     FY 2021 House             $-0-
      FY 2021 Enacted          $-0-
      Office of the Special trustee for American Indians
FY 2020 Enacted           $-0-
     FY 2021 Admin. Request        $-0-
     FY 2021 House            $108,399,000
      FY 2021 Enacted          $108,399,000
         The Act continues funding for the Office of the Special Trustee for American Indians (OST) and rejects the proposed budget structure for a new Bureau of Trust Funds Administration (BTFA) within the Office of the Assistant Secretary-Indian Affairs. The Joint Explanatory Statement goes into great detail regarding the concerns around standing up BTFA, a number of which we excerpt here:
     The decision to transfer the functions of OST wholesale into a new bureau also raises questions about whether it is consistent with provisions of the 1994 Indian Trust Reform Management Act (Public Law 103-412), which created OST on a temporary basis until the completion of certain trust reforms, or with the existing transition plan for OST proposed by the Administration and adopted by Congress in fiscal year 2019.
     The Committees note that Secretarial Order 3384 dated August 31, 2020, requires OST to report to the Secretary. The Committees are concerned that this conflicts with the Department’s fiscal year 2019 reorganization, which shifted OST’s reporting structure from the Secretary to the Assistant Secretary Indian Affairs.
     Congress repeatedly hears from Tribes and Tribal organizations that many of OST’ s functions and activities are duplicative, overlapping, or fragmented with activities carried out by Indian Affairs. While Congress understands OST consulted with Tribes about possible duplication, Tribes state their concerns were not fairly considered. It is for these reasons that the House rejected the proposed BTFA structure in its fiscal year 2021 bill.
         Looking forward, Congress lays out expectations for the incoming Administration and also requests a number of Government Accountability Office reports. The Joint Explanatory Statement provides:
         “It is expected that the incoming Administration will perform its own analysis of its trust responsibilities under the 1994 Act and subsequent legislation and that committees of jurisdiction, including the House and Senate Appropriations Committees, will consider any proposals to address the future disposition of OST without prejudice. In the meantime, within 180 days of enactment of this Act, the Department is directed to provide a report that details: (1) the amounts and sources of funds expended in the creation of BTFA, and a justification of the expenditures, including the legal authority upon which they were based; (2) a detailed policy and legal analysis regarding whether transferring all OST duties, functions, and activities to BTFA is consistent with the provisions of the 1994 Act and subsequent legislation, as well as whether it is consistent with the 2019 OST reorganization agreed to by the Committees with the understanding the reorganization was not making OST permanent; and (3) a complete workforce analysis that details current OST or BTFA FTE by grade, position title and duty station and a justification of why each position must be retained by OST or a successor organization rather than be combined with or performed by existing Indian Affairs FTE. As part of this report, the Department is also directed to provide a detailed accounting of the funds spent to implement the transition associated with the proposal in the fiscal year 2019 budget justification.
         In addition to this analysis, the Government Accountability Office (GAO) is also directed to examine whether any duties, activities or functions performed by OST (including those proposed to be performed by the new bureau) are duplicative, overlap, or result in fragmentation with duties, activities, or functions performed by Indian Affairs. Further, GAO is expected to provide a report to the Committees on Appropriations that summarizes and examines tribal perspectives on any identified duplication, overlap, or fragmentation and also addresses how to best reduce any potential duplication, overlap, or fragmentation between OST (or a successor entity) and Indian Affairs. If any duplicative FTEs are identified by GAO, it is expected that the Department will make every effort to transfer current, duplicative staff to appropriate positions in Indian Affairs.”
      Other Related Agencies and Offices
     Office of Navajo-Hopi Indian Relocation
     FY 2020 Enacted           $7,500,000
     FY 2021 Admin. Request       $4,000,000
     FY 2021 House            $4,000,000
     FY 2021 Enacted           $4,000,000
   The Office of Navajo and Hopi Indian Relocation (ONHIR) was created as a result of the Navajo Hopi Settlement Act of 1974, Public Law 93–531. The Office is charged with planning and conducting relocation activities associated with the settlement of land disputes between the Navajo Nation and Hopi Tribe.
         The Joint Explanatory Statement states: “The bill continues the direction provided in the explanatory statement accompanying Division G of the Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2017 (Public Law 115-31). There is continued commitment to bringing the relocation process to an orderly conclusion and ensuring all eligible relocatees receive the relocation benefits to which they are entitled. Consultation with all affected parties and agencies is the key to a transparent, orderly closeout.”
      National Park Service
      Historic Preservation
         The Act provides $144.3 million for Historic Preservation. The Tribal Historic Preservation Program falls under this budget category and provides funding to tribes that have signed agreements with the National Park Service designating them as having an approved Tribal Historic Preservation Officer (THPO). The Act provides $15 million for THPOs, a $1.3 million increase over FY 2020.
         Tribal Consultation on National Register of Historic Places. “The Committees are concerned by the March 1, 2019, proposal by the Service to modify the longstanding procedure used to nominate properties for inclusion on the National Register of Historic Places (84 Fed. Reg. 6996). The Committees spoke to this concern in the explanatory statement accompanying Public Law 116-94, and directed the Department to complete meaningful government-to-government consultation with Tribes pursuant to Executive Order 13175 and consult with other Federal land management agencies, State and tribal historic preservation officers, or other key stakeholders prior to finalizing or implementing the rule. The Committees are not aware of any subsequent efforts by the Department to comply and expect the Department to comply with the directive from fiscal year 2020 prior to implementation of the rule.” (Joint Explanatory Statement)
   National Recreation and Preservation is found under a different part of the National Park Service budget than Historic Preservation. Cultural Programs is the sub-activity which funds National Native American Graves Protection and Repatriation Act (NAGPRA) grants. Under Cultural Programs, the Act provides $1.9 million for NAGPRA grants and $1.25 million for grants to nonprofit organizations or institutions for the purpose of supporting programs for Native Hawaiian or Alaska Native culture and arts development.
      Departmental Offices: Office of the Secretary [Interior]
     Departmental Operations
   The Joint Explanatory Statement states:
        Appraisal and Valuation Services Office (AVSO). The Great American Outdoors Act (Public Law 116-152) amended how funding from the Land and Water Conservation Fund (LWCF) is distributed. While this bill does not provide new discretionary funding in the Management Services activity for the Federal land operations of the AVSO, the bill does direct that $19,000,000 be made available from the LWCF for such operations. Of the funds provided, funding is included for preliminary appraisal and valuation work for potential land acquisitions and exchanges in high-priority conservation areas, such as the Bristol Bay ecosystem. Funding for Indian Country appraisal operations is made available through this bill and totals $11,204,000.”
         If we may provide additional information or assistance regarding FY 2021 Indian Affairs, Other Related Agencies, or National Park Service appropriations, please contact us at the information below.
      [1] Reflects a $2 million rescission."

"FY 2021 Enacted Indian Health Service Appropriations; SDPI Extended Through September 30, 2023"
Hobbs-Straus General Memorandum 21-001, January 12, 2021,

"On December 27, 2020, President Trump signed the Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2021 into law (P.L. 116-260, “the Act”). This massive legislation includes federal discretionary funding for FY 2021, as well as additional provisions for COVID-19 relief and extensions of key programs, such as the Special Diabetes Program for Indians (SDPI). In this Memorandum we report on highlights of the final FY 2021 enacted appropriations for the Indian Health Service (IHS).
     The IHS FY 2021 final appropriations bill is sparse, providing a $189 million increase over FY 2020 enacted and $57 million below the President’s budget request. The total FY 2021 IHS appropriation is $6.2 billion. Services funding was decreased a total of $13 million (transfer of 105( l ) lease costs described below) from FY 2020 and Facilities funding is increased by $6 million. See Appendix A for full funding details.

FY 2020 Enacted


FY 2021 Administration Request


FY 2021 House


FY 2021 Senate Committee (draft)


FY 2021 Enacted


 One key area of policy change concerns 105( l) leases which were added to a new 'indefinite appropriations account” (discussed in detail below). In addition, the Contract Support Costs (CSC) appropriation allows IHS to apply any unspent CSC as an offset to the following years CSC requirement, reducing its payment (more information provided below). The Act also provides additional funding and instructions for Electronic Health Records (EHR) and continues funding for accreditation emergencies.
     You can find the full text of the Act here. (IHS appropriations start on page 342)
     You can find the text of the Joint Explanatory Statement accompanying the Act here. (IHS specific language starts on page 77).
     The Joint Explanatory Statement also adopted the House Committee Report by reference. You can find the House Report 116-448 here. (IHS specific language starts on page 124).
      Detailed Discussion of FY 2021 Appropriations for Indian Health Service
      Policy Issues:
      105(l) leases – A separate indefinite appropriations for tribal leases under section 105(l) of the Indian Self-Determination and Education Assistance Act (ISDEAA) provides at “such sums as may be necessary” which are available through September 30, 2022. The estimated need is $101 million.
     The Act specifies that the initial term of a lease must begin no earlier than the date of receipt of the lease proposal, thus rejecting the House provision opposed by tribes that lease proposals had to be submitted within the first 8 months of the fiscal year.
     An earlier House bill had proposed further restrictions, such as denying funding for any proposal received during the final 120 days of the fiscal year, but Tribes opposed these and they were dropped in the final version. The Act directs Interior and IHS to consult with tribes during FY 2021 on “how to implement a consistent and transparent process for the payment of such leases.” The Title IV General Provisions of the Interior Appropriations Division of the Act reads:
     “Sec. 431.(a) Notwithstanding any other provision of law, in the case of any lease under section 105(l) of the Indian Self-Determination and Education Assistance Act (25 U.S.C. 5324(l), the initial lease term shall commence no earlier than the date of receipt of the lease proposal.
     (b) The Secretaries of the Interior and Health and Human Services shall, jointly or separately, during fiscal year 2021 consult with tribes and tribal organizations through public solicitation and other means regarding the requirements for leases under section 105(l) of the Indian Self-Determination and Education Assistance Act (25 U.S.C. 5324(l) on how to implement a consistent and transparent process for the payment of such leases.”
     The Joint Explanatory Statement also directs the agencies to engage in “meaningful dialogue” with each other and with Tribes “to coalesce around a process to develop policy guidance.” The Committees specifically direct the agencies to consult with Tribes “regarding agency regulations and policies that determine the amount of space and other standards necessary to carry out federal programs under a section 105( l) lease, and to ensure that such regulations and policies are consistent, transparent and clearly communicated to affected Tribes.”
      Contract Support Costs – As with 105( l) leases, Contract Support Costs (CSC) are their own account funded at “such sums as may be necessary” which has been the case since FY 2016. The estimate for FY 2021 is $916 million, an increase of    $96 million over the FY 2020 level. Unfortunately, the bill contains a provision, which last appeared in the FY 2017 Consolidated Appropriations Act that allows IHS to apply any unspent CSC as an offset to the following years CSC requirement, reducing its payment. Under this provision, if a Tribe spent all of its IHS direct dollars, but not all of its CSC, IHS could apply the unspent CSC as an offset to the following year’s CSC requirement, reducing its payment.
     However, the typical reason Tribes do not spend their entire CSC funding is that program funding remains unspent and is also carried over, which the ISDEAA authorizes. In this scenario, the unspent CSC will be required to support the unspent program funding in the next year, so there should be no reduction in CSC funding. Still, it is not clear how IHS will administer this provision, and it could be read to require offsets to CSC funding for any amounts carried over from the previous year.
      Electronic Health Records The final bill provides $34.5 million for a new Electronic Health Records System [1] which is $82.5 million below the President’s request. This funding would be used to replace the aging the Resource and Patient Management System (RPMS), which is currently reliant on support from the Veterans Administration’s VistA system that is being phased out. The Explanatory Statement also notes that $65 million in FY 2020 supplemental funding was provided for this project through the CARES Act (P.L. 116-136).
     The Act says the House and Senate Appropriations Committees must be consulted 90 days prior to IHS obligating funds for a new Health Information Technology Infrastructure system. It also says that IHS cannot obligate funds unless they submit a report to Congress within 120 days that lists Tribes who do not use the current RPMS system “along with cost estimates required for those Tribes to implement, maintain and make any necessary updates to these systems” (Joint Explanatory Statement, page 78). The Committee asked for a similar report in FY 2020, but given the escalation of this language to statutory text it is likely that IHS has not provided this report to the Committee.
     The Act also provides for an additional $500,000 through the Dental Health line item for the electronic dental records (EDR) system. Congress also directs IHS to ensure that EDR funding is included in the larger EHR enhancement efforts.
      Rejection of CHAP/CHR Consolidation – The final bill rejects the Administration’s proposal to consolidate the Community Health Aide Program with the Community Health Representatives and Health Education programs.
      Advance Appropriations – The Act and Joint Explanatory Statement are silent on the issue of Advance Appropriations for IHS which would provide funding for IHS a year in advance so that IHS funding would not be at risk from government shut downs or short-term continuing resolutions. However, House Report 116-448, which was also adopted a part of this Act restates language from FY 2020 appropriations directing IHS to “examine its processes, determine needed changes and report back to the Committee within 180 days” (House Report 116-448, page 125).
      Indian Health Services Funding
      Hospitals and Clinics (H&C) As discussed above, funding for 105( l) leases which had been in the Hospitals and Clinics account was transferred to a new indefinite account. Increases over FY 2020 under H&C are modest and include $1 million for Domestic Violence Prevention; $5 million for Tribal Epidemiology Centers; $5 million for the Hepatitis C and HIV initiative; $5 million for Alzheimer’s; $5 million to improve maternal health; and $2 million for the existing Tribal dental health therapist training program in Alaska, Washington, Idaho, and Oregon. Funding for Accreditation Emergencies remains at $58 million.
      Purchased and Referred Care – The final bill provides $975 million for Purchased and Referred Care, an $11 million increase, of which $5.8 million is for new tribes.
      Direct Operations – The Act provides a $10 million increase for a total of  $82.4 million. The increases are $4.9 million each for Quality and Oversight and for Management and Operations. In addition, $1 million is provided to conduct an infrastructure study for facilities run by urban Indian organizations.
      Staffing of New Facilities – The Act provides $16.3 million for newly opened health facilities which is the full amount needed according to recent estimates.
      Indian Health Facilities Funding
     Overall, the Facilities account received a $6 million increase for total funding of $917.9 million. Most funding is continued at FY 2020 levels, or received a nominal increase. This includes $259.2 million for Health Care Facilities Construction, which is level with FY 2020. Within this amount is $10 million for Staff Quarters; $5 million for Green Infrastructure; and $25 million for Small Ambulatory Clinics. Sanitation Facilities Construction is funded at $96.6 million ($3 million above FY 2020). Maintenance and Improvement is funded at $169 million (level with FY 2020). Facilities and Environmental Health Support receives a $2 million increase and Equipment funding receives a $1 million increase from FY 2020.
      Joint Venture Program – The Joint Explanatory Statement also directs IHS to establish “a more consistent application cycle of between three to five years for consideration of new joint venture projects.” The Committees also note that IHS should select a specific number of awards and let non-selected applications apply during the next competitive cycle.
     The Act continues language from previously enacted bills, including the following:
      Housing Allowances – Continues the provision that the IHS may provide to civilian medical personnel serving in IHS-operated hospitals housing allowances equivalent to those that would be provided to members of the Commissioned Corps of the Public Health Service serving in similar positions at such hospitals.
      IDEA Data Collection Language Continues the Bureau of Indian Affairs (BIA) authorization to collect data from the IHS and tribes regarding disabled children in order to assist with the implementation of the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA).
      Prohibition on Implementing Eligibility Regulations Continues the prohibition on the implementation of the eligibility regulations, published September 16, 1987.
      Services for Non-Indians Continues the provision that allows the IHS and tribal facilities to extend health care services to non-Indians, subject to charges. The provision states:
      “Provided, That in accordance with the provisions of the Indian Health Care Improvement Act, non-Indian patients may be extended health care at all tribally administered or Indian Health Service facilities, subject to charges, and the proceeds along with funds recovered under the Federal Medical Care Recovery Act (42 U.S.C. 2651-2653) shall be credited to the account of the facility providing the service and shall be available without fiscal year limitation.”
      Assessments by HHS Continues the provision which provides that no IHS funds may be used for any assessments or charges by the Department of Health and Human Services “unless identified in the budget justification and provided in this Act, or approved by the House and Senate Committees on Appropriations through the reprogramming process.”
      Limitation on No-Bid Contracts Continues the provision regarding the use of no-bid contracts. The provision specifically exempts Indian Self-Determination agreements:
     'Sec. 410. None of the funds appropriated or otherwise made available by this Act to executive branch agencies may be used to enter into any Federal contract unless such contract is entered into in accordance with the requirements of Chapter 33 of title 41 United States Code or chapter 137 of title 10, United States Code, and the Federal Acquisition Regulations, unless:
     (1) Federal law specifically authorizes a contract to be entered into without regard for these requirements, including formula grants for States, or federally recognized Indian tribes; or
     (2) Such contract is authorized by the Indian Self-Determination and Education and Assistance Act (Public Law 93-638, 25 U.S.C. 450 et seq.) or by any other Federal laws that specifically authorize a contract within an Indian tribe as defined in section 4(e) of that Act (25 U.S.C. 450b(e)); or
     (3) Such contract was awarded prior to the date of enactment of this Act.'
      Use of Defaulted Funds Continues the provision that allows funds collected on defaults from the Loan Repayment and Health Professions Scholarship programs to be used to make new awards under the Loan Repayment and Scholarship programs.
      Posting of Reports – The Act contains a provision to allow the agencies to post requested reports on a public website after the House and Senate Appropriations Committees have reviewed for at least 45 days. The Joint Explanatory Statement requests several reports of interest, including a report on Advance Appropriations; a report on Tribes that currently maintain their own non-RPMS EHR system; and a report recruitment and retention barriers.
      Other Provisions:
      Special Diabetes Program for Indians – The Act separately includes a 3-year renewal for the Special Diabetes Program for Indians (SDPI) at current funding levels of $150 million per fiscal year. This means SDPI will now expire on September 30, 2023. Tribes had advocated for an increase in funding to $200 million per fiscal year. Legislation introduced in the Senate would have also allowed SDPI funding to be received through self-governance contracts and compacts, but the Act does not incorporate this proposal.
     If you have any questions or would like additional information on any of issues raised in this report, please contact Karen Funk ( or (202-822-8282) or Caitrin McCarron Shuy ( or 202-822-8282).
      [1] the Senate had proposed $8 million and the House $61 million for this purpose."

In the Courts

The U.S. Supreme Court

Adam Liptak, “Supreme Court Rules on Tribal Police and Immigrants’ Testimony: In unanimous decisions, the justices refused to suppress evidence found by a tribal officer and rejected a presumption in favor of immigrants’ credibility,” The New York Times, June 1, 2021,, reported, “In a pair of unanimous decisions, the Supreme Court ruled Tuesday that tribal police officers may sometimes detain and search non-Native Americans on federal highways and that there is no presumption that testimony from immigrants fighting deportation is credible.”
     “ Justice Stephen G. Breyer, writing for the court, acknowledged that the Supreme Court’s precedents generally barred tribes from regulating the activities of those outside them. But he said there was an important exception. Tribes may act, he wrote, quoting a 1981 decision , when a non-Native American’s ‘conduct threatens or has some direct effect on the political integrity, the economic security or the health or welfare of the tribe.’” This case, United States v. Cooley , No. 19-1414,, involved an arrest by a tribal officer on a federal highway on the Crow reservation in Montana for methamphetamine possession and carrying two semiautomatic weapons, in a search of a stopped truck, where an officer had cause to make the search.

"The order makes it likely that the Supreme Court will weigh in soon on the extent of its 5-4 ruling last year in McGirt v. Oklahoma." ICT, May 27, 2021,, reported, " The Supreme Court on Wednesday granted Oklahoma's request to retain custody of a man [Shaun Bosse] who has been on death row for killing three Native Americans [on the Chickasaw reservation,] but following McGirt v. Oklahoma, has had his conviction overturned by an Oklahoma appeals court], a sign the court may be willing to limit the fallout from last year's ruling that much of eastern Oklahoma remains a tribal reservation."
     "The order makes it likely that the high court will weigh in soon on the extent of its 5-4 ruling last year in." As a result of that decision, hundreds of convictions for the entire range of criminal offenses in Oklahoma have been overturned, leading federal and tribal authorities, who have jurisdiction in on-reservation criminal cases, to work hard to refile those cases in tribal or U.S. district court.

Lower Federal Courts

"Feds Drop Legal Battle Against Mashpee Lands," ICT, February 25, 2021,, reported that in a case before the Washington, DC Court of Appeals, " The Mashpee Wampanoag Tribe scored a legal victory Friday when the U.S. Interior Department withdrew a Trump administration appeal that aimed to revoke federal reservation designation for the tribe's land in Massachusetts.
     A federal judge in 2020 blocked the U.S. Interior Department from revoking the tribe's reservation designation, saying the agency's decision to do so was 'arbitrary, capricious, an abuse of discretion, and contrary to law.' The Trump administration appealed the decision, but the Interior Department on Friday moved to dismiss the motion," and the court accepted the motion, dismissing the case.

Susan Montoya Bryan,"Navajo Nation reaches settlement over spill: Sunnyside Gold Corp. will pay the tribe $10 million," ICT, January 13, 2021,, reported, " The Navajo Nation and the state of New Mexico have reached multimillion-dollar settlements with mining companies to resolve claims stemming from a 2015 [Gold King Mine] spill [into the Animas River in Colorado] that resulted in rivers in three Western states being fouled with a bright-yellow plume of arsenic, lead and other heavy metals, officials confirmed Wednesday.
     Under the settlement with the Navajo Nation, Sunnyside Gold Corp. — a subsidiary of Canada's Kinross Gold — will pay the tribe $10 million."

Amy Beth Hanson, "Suit Targets Laws That Opponents Say Hurt Native Voters," ICT, May 20, 2021,, reported, " A lawsuit was filed Monday on behalf of Native American voting rights organizations and four tribes challenging new laws they say are part of a broader scheme by the Montana Legislature to disenfranchise Native voters.
The Legislature passed a bill to eliminate Election Day voter registration by closing late registration at noon on the Monday before Election Day. It also approved a bill including a provision to prohibit the paid collection of absentee ballots.
     The case was brought in federal district court by Western Native Voice and Montana Native Vote, who participate in get-out-the-vote efforts on reservations, the Blackfeet Nation, the Confederated Salish and Kootenai Tribes, the Fort Belknap Indian Community and the Northern Cheyenne Tribe."

Susan Montoya Bryan, "Tribes Sue Over Clean Water Rule: Tribes Have Concerns About Pollution and Uranium Contamination," The Paper, April 2, 2021,, reported, " Two Indigenous communities in New Mexico are suing the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency over a revised federal rule that lifts protections for many streams, creeks and wetlands across the nation, saying the federal government is violating its trust responsibility to Native American tribes.
      The pueblos of Jemez and Laguna are the latest to raise concerns over inadequate protections for local water sources in the desert Southwest. The challenge filed last week in federal court follows a similar case brought in 2020 by the Navajo Nation, the nation’s largest Native American tribe, and several environmental groups."
      Increased pollution, including from uranium, are major problems for the Pueblos that rely heavily on agriculture.

State and Local Courts

Sean Murphy, "Oklahoma Supreme Court Rejects Kevin Stitt's Gambling Compacts," ICT, January 28, 2021,, reported, " The Oklahoma Supreme Court has rejected gambling compacts that Republican Gov. Kevin Stitt negotiated with two Oklahoma-based tribes, delivering the first-term governor another setback in his attempt to renegotiate the deals that allow gambling at tribal casinos.
     In its decision on Tuesday, the court ruled the compacts with the Kialegee Tribal Town and the United Keetoowah Band of Cherokee Indians are invalid under Oklahoma law. The court determined that because Stitt negotiated different terms to those included in a model gaming compact approved by voters in 2004 and without approval of a joint legislative committee, the agreements disrupt 'the proper balance between the executive and legislative branches.'"

Tribal Courts

Cherokee Phoenix, "Cherokee High Court Rules 'By Blood' Reference Be Stricken From Law," ICT, February 25, 2021,, reported, " The Cherokee Nation Supreme Court unanimously ruled on Monday that the language “by blood” is void, and should be removed from the tribe’s laws, including provisions within the Constitution.
     The decision was in response to the 2017 federal Cherokee Nation v. Nash case that determined Freedmen citizens have full rights as Cherokee citizens, including the right to run for elected office, based on the Treaty of 1866

Tribal Government and State and Local Government Developments

A bill under consideration, at the beginning of March 2021, in the Montana legislature, that would put into law the terms of voting rights settlement, would make voting easier on the state's reservations. The act would require, during the entire election process in every federal and state election, at least two satellite elections offices on each reservation, with the same services as county elections offices. Tribal photo ID's would not be required to list an expiration date or a residential address, allowing instead nontraditional addresses provided the voter supplies sufficient information to be assigned to a precinct. Another bill in the Montana legislature would amend this one in requiring a "valid" (not expired) tribal ID card (Amy Beth Hanson, "Montana Bill Would Make Voting Easier ," ICT, March 4, 2021,

The New Mexico Indian Affairs Department, the McCune Charitable Trust and the Navajo Nation Ship Rock Chapter partnered, beginning in January 2021, to distribute organic produce to families impacted by COVID in the Eastern Agency of the reservation. The program links providing families with adequate food and ensuring that local farmers can market their produce ("NM partnership with farmers provides food in Eastern Agency," Navajo Times, January 14, 2021).

"Indigenous Leaders Laud New Mexico's Tribal School Funding Measure: Governor Lujan Grisham Signs Law for "Generational Change in Education," The Paper, April 6, 2021,, reported, " Tribal leaders on Monday welcomed Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham’s signature of a bill that will increase funding for schools serving Native American and military communities across New Mexico."
"The law eliminates a state credit that deducted 75% of federal funding from state funding that schools received to compensate them for serving communities with large tracts of federal land. The struggle to eliminate the credit for the federal funds, known as Impact Aid, was felt for decades across the state’s nearly two dozen tribal nations. It led to a federal court ruling against the state’s funding formula last year."

The North Dakota Senate, in April 2021, passed a bill requiring the state's public elementary and secondary schools to teach Native American History ("U.S.: North Dakota Bill Requires Schools to Teach Native American History," Cultural Survival Quarterly, June 2021).

Susan Dunlap, "Guv signs bills that protect against discrimination for hair and hairstyles," New Mexico Political Report, April 6, 2021,, reported that New Mexico, "Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham signed two companion bills into law on Monday that will protect against discrimination for natural hair, hairstyles or cultural or religious headdress in schools and workplaces."

Susan Haigh and Pat Eaton-Robb, "Towns face losing funds if mascots don't change: It's estimated that about a dozen schools in Connecticut still use Native names or imagery," ICT, June 15, 2021,, reported that under a recently passed Connecticut state budget, "Connecticut schools that still use Native nicknames and mascots could take a financial hit if they continue to use those images without written consent from a state- or federally-recognized tribe in their region, according to a provision tucked into a massive budget implementation bill that's up for a vote on Monday.
     Municipalities face the prospect of losing their allotment of revenue from the Mashantucket Pequot/Mohegan Fund, an account that's funded with the state's 25 percent share of slot machine revenues generated at the two casinos owned and operated by the federally recognized Mashantucket Pequot and Mohegan Tribes." It is estimated that about a dozen of the state's schools could be impacted.

"MOU signed to Collaborate and Coordinate Services," Lakota Times, April 08, 2021,, reported, "On Tuesday, April 6, 2021, a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) was signed between the Oglala Sioux Tribe, Native Women’s Health Care, and the Pennington County State’s Attorney Office. The purpose of the MOU is to collaborate and coordinate services between NWHC, NHP, and CHW/ CHR programs to provide increased services for prenatal care and substance abuse disorders."

Kolby KickingWoman, "California Truth, Healing Council Begins Historic Work," ICT, January 21, 2021,, reported, " Through an executive order, the governor [of California] established the California Truth and Healing Council to provide an avenue for Native Americans 'to clarify the record – and provide their historical perspective – on the troubled relationship between tribes and the state."
     "The council is made up of 12 leaders of federally and state-recognized tribes from four California regions — southern, northern, eastern and central. They will meet quarterly and present a yearly report to the governor’s tribal adviser, Christina Snider, Dry Creek Rancheria Band of Pomo Indians.
     Additionally, a final report of findings will be submitted at the council’s conclusion on Jan. 1, 2025. The council's budget originally included a request for $450,000 annually for four years, then $225,000 for the 2024-25 budget year, from California's Environmental License Plate Fund. However, due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the budget was reduced to $100,000 annually through 2024-25."
     The council, the first of its kind in the United States, held its first meeting, in late December 2020, focusing on setting an agenda of what it wished to accomplish. With COVID, it will initially meet virtually, but later in person. Members hope to do more than set froth historical truth, which continues to impact Naive peple today. As council member and chief of the Winnemem Wintu Tribe, Caleen Sisk, stated, “Telling the truth is only one small part of this whole healing cycle. It’s taking action and doing things so tribal ways can continue to exist.”

Joaqlin Estus, "Haunted by World War II internment: As a country, as a state, as a people, ‘we are still capable of these atrocities,’" ICT, May 18, 2021,, reported, " The Alaska Legislature unanimously voted on Monday to help protect an Unangax, or Aleut, cemetery in Southeast Alaska. The cemetery holds the remains of Aleut people who died in a World War II era internment camp." In 1942, the U.S. military forcibly removed Alaska Natives from the Pribilof and Aleutian islands to campus on the mainland with very poor housing, sometimes in tents, and facilities for the duration of the war, while the non-Native population was allowed to remain.

Michelle L. Price and Sam Metz, "Bill Would Bar Offensive Mascots, Place Names," ICT, March 11, 2021,, reported, " Nevada lawmakers are considering legislation to require schools to get rid of racially discriminatory logos and mascots and require officials to push for the renaming of mountains, trails or any other geographic points with racially offensive names."

The Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife paid $50,000 to settle a false arrest claim by Tulalip tribal members, Hazen Shopbell and Anthony Paul, owners of the now-defunct Puget Sound Seafood Distributors, who were arrested and their homes on the reservation searched by state fish and wildlife officers in 2016 during an investigation into allegations they unlawfully used their fish-buying license and trafficked in fish or shellfish (Richard Walker, "'We Can Infer an Apology from a $50,000 Check’", ICT, May 13, 2021,

State of Washington Attorney General Bob Ferguson reported in a February 12, 2021 E-mail, " #BREAKINGNEWS," "I wanted to reach out personally to share the news of a meaningful victory my team secured in federal court today. A judge granted my request to stop the sale of the National Archives building!
      In coalition with tribes and community organizations, my office took action to protect the invaluable documents that hold the history of the Pacific Northwest — including treaties and records related to the internment of Japanese Americans and the Chinese Exclusion Act.
     As you know, the federal government was attempting to rush the sale of our National Archives building and scatter invaluable, original historical records of our region thousands of miles away. Today’s ruling makes it clear that these documents, the DNA of our region, belong here."

Utah state Senators Doug Owens and Phil Lyman proposed a bill, in February 2021, that would establish a committee to consider creating a tribally run Bears Ears visitors center outside the Bears Ears National Monument (Krista Allen, "Bill Aims for tribally run Bears Ears visitors center," Navajo Times, February 11, 2021).

The Massachusetts legislature, January 11, 2021, enacted legislation establishing a commission to redesign the state flag and seal, long considered racist by Native Americans and supporters. The current state symbol depicts an Indian figure underneath an arm holding a sword, encircled by the Latin moto, "By the sword we seek peace..." ("U.S.: Massachusetts to Change Flag and Seal," Cultural Survival Quarterly, March 2021).

Minnesota Governor Tim Walz issued an official apology, December 26, 2020, for the December 26, 1862 hanging of 28 Dakota warriors. The warriors are honored in an annual memorial run ("United States: Minnesota Governor Apologies for 'Dakota 38' Execution," Cultural Survival Quarterly, March 2021).

Kallie Benallie, "Tempe Acknowledges Traditional Homeland, ICT, February 18, 2021,, reported that Tempe, "An Arizona city has formally recognized the traditional homelands it was built on more than a century ago.
     Tempe, along with metropolitan Phoenix, sits on traditional O’odham and Piipaash land. Recently, the city acknowledged that its 40 square miles are on the Salt River Pima-Maricopa Indian Community homelands — a rare move by a large city — as a way to recognize Native historical and cultural land significance."
      The statement will be used in its educational programs, ceremonies and holiday observances. As well as be included in the city’s discussions and decisions about land use and development, according to the press release:

Tribal Developments

Jack Healy, " Tribal Elders Are Dying From the Pandemic, Causing a Cultural Crisis for American Indians: The virus has killed American Indians at especially high rates, robbing tribes of precious bonds and repositories of language and tradition," The New York Times, January 19, 2021,, reported that the pandemic has fallen especially hard on quite a numbr of U.S. Indian Nations, bringing about the deaths of large numbers of vulnerable tribal elders who are the main keepers of traditional knowledge, and often the primary speakers of endangered tribal languages. "One by one, those connections are being severed as the coronavirus tears through ranks of Native American elders, inflicting an incalculable toll on bonds of language and tradition that flow from older generations to the young.
     'It’s like we’re having a cultural book-burning,' said Jason Salsman, a spokesman for the Muscogee (Creek) Nation in eastern Oklahoma, whose grandparents contracted the virus but survived. 'We’re losing a historical record, encyclopedias. One day soon, there won’t be anybody to pass this knowledge down.'”

As of March 2021, Native Americans were the hardest hit identified groups by COVID-19. being infected 3.5 times more often than Whites, and 1.8 times more likely to die from it. According to CDC, 1 in every 475 Indigenous Americans had died from the disease compared with 1 in 645 Blacks, who were the next hardest hit group by the pandemic. The rate of infection and death varied across Indian country with a few reservations having few if any infections but some communities many. Navajo Nation had suffered deaths, as of March, of 1 in 160 tribal members. In Mississippi, the tribal death rate was 1 in every 127 people ("Covid' assault on Native Americans," This Week, March 12, 2021).

Jourdan Bennett-Begaye, Sunnie Clahchischiligi, Christine Trudeau · Indigenous Investigative Collective, "Broken system can't keep track of Native deaths: From medical health privacy laws to a maze of siloed information systems, a true accounting of COVID-19’s impact on Indian Country is impossible to know," ICT, June 8, 2021,, This story is produced by the Indigenous Investigative Collective, a project of the Native American Journalists Association in partnership with High Country News, Indian Country Today, National Native News and Searchlight New Mexico. It was produced in partnership with MuckRock with the support of JSK-Big Local News, reported, "In May of 2020, the Navajo Nation reported one of the highest per-capita COVID-19 infection rates in the United States. Since that milestone, official data reveals that the Navajo Nation has been one of the hardest-hit populations during the pandemic. The Navajo Nation boasts the largest population of any Indigenous nation in the United States, and thousands of Navajos live outside the nation, in towns along the border, cities across the country, and in other parts of the world, making it difficult to tally the virus’ impacts on Navajo citizens.
      It’s made worse by a labyrinthian system of local, state, federal and tribal data-reporting systems that often do not communicate with each other or share information. In an effort to come up with a more reliable fatality count, reporters with the Indigenous Investigative Collective made multiple public-records requests for death records held by state medical examiners of Colorado, New Mexico, Arizona and Utah. Those requests focused on the counties on or adjacent to the Navajo Nation where many Navajo families live. The states rejected those requests, citing privacy concerns, preventing independent analysis of those records to determine death rates. Experts also cite pervasive misidentification of race and ethnicity of victims at critical data collection points, making the true toll of the pandemic on the Navajo Nation impossible to ever know."

Because Indian Nations are connected to a health system, consisting of the Indian Health Service (IHS), and tribal and Indian organization clinics they have been better able to take appropriate actions to deal with the COVID-19 pandemic than state and local governments, although that did not prevent Indian country from generally suffering far more illness and death from the virus then the rest of the country because long-term under funding by the federal government has left very poor conditions on many reservations.
     For the most part, Native communities were quicker to impose appropriate protection measures, such as requiring masks, imposing checkpoints and closing facilities than were many states. As of late January, Indian nations were ahead on the curve on vaccinating tribal members. it is estimated that tribal governments were vaccinating members at twice the rate of vaccinations of the general public. If all the doses of Vaccine IHS had received by January 29, 2021 were administered, 21% of Indian Country had been vaccinated (including many tribal members living off reservation returning to their communities to receive the shots), as opposed to the approximate 10% of the U.S population having received one dose, and 3% both doses ( Joaqlin Estus, "Tribes are racing ahead of vaccination curve: Across the Lower 48 and in Alaska, tribes acted first to protect their communities from COVID-19 and now they are leading the way in vaccinations due to an existing health system," ICT, February 16, 2021,

Dalton Walker, "First CPVID-19 Vaccine Hits Indian Country," ICT, December 17, 2020, reported, " The first Indian health system facility to receive the COVID-19 vaccine was a hospital in northern Minnesota on Ojibwe land.
     The Cass Lake Hospital on the Leech Lake Indian Reservation received the distribution on Monday [December 15, 2020], and health care staff were expected to begin to receive the vaccination imme
diately, according to Indian Health Service."

Jack Healy, "Plenty of Vaccines, but Not Enough Arms: A Warning Sign in Cherokee Nation: The tribe in Oklahoma is facing a problem that is likely to become more commonplace across the country: how to vaccinate everyone not eagerly lining up for a shot," The New York Times, March 17, 2021,, reported, "As people across the United States jockey and wait to get vaccinated, a surprising problem is unfolding in the Cherokee Nation: plenty of shots, but not enough arms.
      'We’re running out of people to vaccinate,' said Brian Hail, who helps oversee the tribe’s vaccination efforts. He winced as he pulled up the day’s schedule one recent morning: Vaccinations were open to basically everyone across the reservation, but 823 appointments sat unclaimed.
     It is a side effect of early success, tribal health officials said. With many enthusiastic patients inoculated and new coronavirus infections at an ebb , the urgency for vaccines has gone distressingly quiet."

Racial disparities persist in vaccinations: Hannah Recht and Rachana Pradhan and Lauren Weber, "In states such as South Carolina and Tennessee, where IHS access is more limited and Native residents are more likely to live in urban areas, vaccination rates are far lower than for White residents," ICT, May 24, 2021,, reported from Kaiser Health News, that, as of late May 2021, disparities still remained in vaccination rates, beyond the varying willingness of people to be vaccinated. At that time incomplete reporting data indicated that 33 percent of Whites had received the shots, compared with 22 percent of Black Americans whose rates trail those of Whites in almost every state, 29 percent of Latinex, and 41 percent of Asians. While 45 percent of Indigenous Americans had received at least one dose, the rate varied widely geographically.
     "Native vaccination rates are higher than White rates in 28 states, including New Mexico, Arizona and Alaska, where many receive care from tribal health centers and the Indian Health Service. In states such as South Carolina and Tennessee, where IHS access is
more limited and Native residents are more likely to live in urban areas, vaccination rates are far lower than for White residents."
     More information about the data, along with the data is available at the Github repository:

Going into the second week of February, 2021, Navajo Nation had achieved vaccinating against COVID-19 44.5% of the tribal members living on the reservation, the highest rate in the U.S. (Cindy Yurth, "Navajo leads the country in vaccine rollout: Here's what went right," Navajo Times, February 11, 2021).

Tom Crash, "Fate of District CARES Act Monies," Lakota Times, February 4, 2021,, reported, " In the first stimulus package put out by the U.S. Congress, the CARES Act, the Oglala Sioux Tribe received $64 million and distributed $24,399,999 to the districts. The three largest districts of Pine Ridge, Medicine Root and Wakpamni received $2,942,857 while the six smaller districts of Whiteclay, Pass Creek, LaCreek, Eagle Nest, Porcupine and Wounded Knee received $2,595,238. As of a recent report to the council, there is $5,697,830.99 left of the district CARES Act monies."
     The initial deadline to spending these monies was December 30, 2020, but the second stimulus package extended the deadline to December 31, 2021.
     A report was presented at the January 27, 2021 Oglala Sioux Tribal (OST) council meeting listing how much each district had received, had spent and how much of the CARES Act money remained.
      Expenditures by the districts included day labor costs, supplies, food, home repair, utilities, equipment, contracted services, salaries and other capital improvements. Porcupine district bought a new building that would eventually be a new district service center. Medicine Root district bought the Lakota Express building. Pine Ridge district bought the new building that would have been Rooks Funeral Home. Wakpamni district bought eight new buildings, one for each of their six communities to be used as telehealth sites and two buildings near the CAP office, one for Elderly Meals and one for staff.
     As of December 27:
     As of February 2, 2021, the Oglala Sioux tribe reported that to date there had been 2048 confirmed COVID-19 cases, with 75 then current. Ten tribal members were then hospital out of 367 who had been, The pandemic had caused 58 deaths among the Oglala as of that time.

"First Nations Receives Generous Grant to Help More Native Communities," First Nations Development Institute, E-mail January 27, 2021 reported, "First Nations Development Institute ( First Nations) is pleased to announce that more funding will soon be directed to Indian Country to counter the disproportionate impact of coronavirus on Native communities.
      First Nations is among the 20 Native American Community Development Financial Institutions and Native-serving nonprofits – many of them in Colorado – that together received $13 million in funding from Bank of America as part of its efforts to advance economic opportunity and racial equality.
      Systemic inequities have placed Native American communities at higher risk of serious complications from the coronavirus at a time of great economic strain that has pushed many basic needs and safety net services to their limits. Here in Colorado, we are fortunate to have a number of institutions serving the diverse needs of American Indian and Alaska Native populations both locally and nationally. Our support for First Nations is in response to the urgent call for targeted investments in healthcare, food assistance, small business support and education assistance,” said Raju Patel, Denver market president for Bank of America.
     First Nations President and CEO Michael Roberts said the generous funding of $250,000 from Bank of America will bolster First Nations’ ability to make grants to Native American-controlled nonprofit organizations and tribal programs that are meeting immediate human services needs related to the COVID-19 pandemic in Native communities, including food, clean water, and sanitation. Since the pandemic hit, First Nations has awarded $2,949,000 in 228 grants to Native nations and Native-led organizations with additional rounds of funding in the works.
      'COVID-19 has had a disproportionate and negative impact on Native communities mostly because of decades, if not centuries, of neglect and underfunding by government and philanthropy,' said Roberts. 'These Emergency Response grants, awarded without strings attached, are allowing organizations to use their genius in addressing their relief and recovery in ways that are in the best interest of their communities.'
      With support through First Nations’ COVID-19 Emergency Response Fund, Native individuals and families have been able to increase access to food, clean water, personal protective equipment, sanitation, and logistical support through the pandemic. In addition, Native nonprofit organizations and tribal programs have been able to keep their doors open and continue to serve their communities.
     Roberts said Bank of America funding will also go toward general operating support for First Nations’ programs and services that strengthen American Indian economies for healthy Native communities and for creating and boosting innovative institutions and models that promote Native control of Native assets. This includes support for Native artists, preservation of Native languages, and positive narrative-building on Native Americans and racial equality.
     A full list of Bank of America grantees can be found here (, and further information about First Nations’ COVID-19 Emergency Response Fund can be found here ("

In other instances, The Chickasaw Nation purchased Caring Cottages, tiny, 399 square foot, homes for people on quarantine. These were fully furnished with cable, WIFI and an emergency phone networked to the Chickasaw Nation. To deal with the possibility COVID cases would overwhelm existing health facilities, the tribe built an additional site care facility on its medical campus. When it is not in use for patient care, the site is available for nurse and physician training. From March 2020 to February 2021, the tribe provided subsidies allowing 22,000 virtual mental health visits. The nation renovated a former Kmart to serve as an emergency operations center, that also housed coronavirus-related activities such as testing and vaccinations, as well as storage for Personal Protective Equipment, bottled water and other supplies. This allowed for mass testing and mass vaccination.
     In Alaska, the Anchorage Tribes of Tlingit and Haida Indians of Alaska had no paid staff, but numerous tribal members volunteered to help meet the pandemic, with 50-60 families in need. With volunteer help for distribution and some other work, the Anchorage tribes applied their COVID relief funds assisting paying utility bills or rent, up to $500 a household, providing $50 grocery store gift cards, supplying food packages over the holidays and paying tribal citizens to make and distribute masks. Some arts and crafts supplies were also purchased for those requesting them.
      The Juneau-based Central Council of Tlingit & Haida Indian Tribes of Alaska received some $28 million in CARES funding, including $150,000 in state and private funding. With a tight time limit to spend the money limiting the council's ability to purchase materials and services, the council provided one-time financial assistance of up to $500 per household for rent, mortgage, utilities, education and retraining. Small business loans for COVID related expenses of up to $5,000 were made available. Emergency response supplies were sent to communities, while the council launched a Tribal Emergency Operations Center, and provided financial relief to tribal citizens impacted by the pandemic ( Joaqlin Estus, "How tribes spent COVID relief funds: ‘That's one of the biggest goals of why people get involved with our tribe, is to help our people,'" ICT, February 11, 2021,

Rima Krisst, "Jurisdiction, lack of ombudsman hinder nursing home oversight," Navajo Times , February 11, 2021,, reported, " After 40 COVID-19 deaths were reported at the Winslow Campus of Care two weeks ago, the Navajo Health, Education and Human Services Committee members attempted to gain clarity regarding oversight over nursing homes.
     But clear answers were hard to come by, at least initially. In the Feb. 3 meeting, the committee learned that with multiple state, county and tribal entities having varying responsibilities in multiple jurisdictions, effective oversight over long-term care facilities is dependent on communication and coordination between them, which is challenging in normal times and even more so during the pandemic."
      There had been a position of Ombudsman in DLTCS that would have provided DLTCS with some oversight of nursing homes. The position was advertised in 2015, but when no one applied to fill it, the position was eventually abolished, leaving that Navajo agency without oversight of nursing homes.

"Navajo & Hopi Families Relief Fund Completes One Year Of Critical Humanitarian Operations: Organization To Build A Stronger, More Resilient Future," Navajo & Hopi Families Relief, E-mail, March 22, 2021, stated, "On March 15, the Navajo & Hopi Families COVID-19 Relief Fund commemorated one year of successfully strategizing, organizing and distributing critical humanitarian resources to communities across the Navajo and Hopi nations.
     In March 2020, as the number of positive COVID-19 cases exploded across the Navajo and Hopi nations, these communities sought the basic living essentials they needed to undertake protective self-isolation. Both nations have been long-time food deserts with only 13 full-scale grocery stores on their combined 29,945 square mile-territory--an area larger than the combined areas of Massachusetts, Vermont, and New Hampshire. They also face unique challenges in the face of COVID with a third of their communities lacking indoor plumbing and another third without electricity in their homes. Other complicating factors include unemployment rates regularly exceeding 50 percent in these communities, significant rates of overcrowded housing, and a high incidence of underlying conditions due in part to almost a century of federal overburdening of Navajo lands with extractive development and unremediated Superfund sites.
     Given the extreme food desert conditions on the two nations, many tribal members do their shopping in off-reservation communities where the selection is broader, food is fresher and prices are lower. Unfortunately many shelves were barren in the border towns by mid-March 2020. The pandemic also caused many tribal businesses and departments to immediately shut down or reduce their hours of operation, which included critical water access points. Combined, these factors caused an unexpected crisis among many families who needed access to basic living essentials.
     On March 15, 2020, knowing the extreme vulnerability of these communities and the unique challenges they would face in protecting themselves from COVID-19, former Navajo Nation Attorney General Ethel Branch established a GoFundMe Campaign as a means to provide at-risk COVID-19 populations on Navajo and Hopi--such as elders, immunocompromised, and struggling families--with two weeks worth of essential living items so they could safely shelter at home and avoid spreading COVID-19.
     The next day, Branch assembled a team of a dozen phenomenal Navajo and Hopi women leaders to assist with this direct relief effort targeting the two communities. Immediately, the group started shopping. By the third day the group had made their first distribution to the Winslow Community Health Representatives who delivered the food, PPE, toiletries, and cleaning supplies to elderly and immunocompromised tribal members.
     On the fourth day, the team had raised over $100,000 through GoFundMe and delivered its second load of food to Tuba City. The group was able to deploy available food to Chilchinbeto when the Navajo Nation experienced its first COVID outbreak there on March 17. When the group put out a call for volunteers, over 100 brave community members stepped forward. Today, the group has over 300 volunteers and 30 regular volunteer and staff distribution teams.
     By the end of March 2020 the group had formed a Utah-based nonprofit, Yee Ha’ólníi Doo, which does business as the Navajo & Hopi Families COVID-19 Relief Fund. Yee Ha’ólníi Doo translates into 'May our people have fortitude in times of difficulty.' Today, the group operates under a fiscal sponsorship by Nonprofit Fiscal Services to ensure federal tax exemption for donations until it secures its own 501(c)(3) designation.
      To date, the team has raised over $18 million, most of which the Relief Fund has strategically channeled towards providing food, water, PPE and other essential items to over 370,000 Navajo and Hopi people. Each week the Relief Fund conducts 10 to 20 Kinship Care Package Distributions (each Package includes two weeks worth of food, water, and PPE for a household) and five PPE Kit Distributions (each Kit contains 50 three-ply masks, a container of lysol wipes, and an eight-ounce container of gel hand sanitizer for each adult recipient).
     The Relief Fund has also utilized its funding to launch an important, culturally relevant public health education campaign designed to equip Navajo and Hopi community members with the knowledge they need to protect their families from the spread of COVID-19. The team has also assisted Navajo and Hopi communities by infusing them with the following resources:
     Approximately 800 hand washing stations for households that lack indoor plumbing
     Over 100,000 masks, surgical gowns, and related PPE for elders, immunocompromised, and first responders sewn by volunteer seamstresses
     48,000 pounds of critical relief supplies airlifted to remote Navajo and Hopi communities in collaboration with Air Serv International
     Over 75 boxes of donated winter clothing items for children
     Over 140 tons of coal for elders as part of a winter home heating program
     17 industrial-sized refrigerators and 22 industrial-sized freezers to facilitate local food distributions
     261,000 gloves for Northern Navajo Medical Center during a nationwide glove shortage
This week, in recognition of the fact that children do not have access to the vaccine yet, the team began including special Children’s PPE Kits in their weekly PPE Distributions. In addition to child-sized and kid-friendly PPE, the Children’s PPE Kits include a children’s coloring book with educational content about COVID-19.
     Through their proven effectiveness, the Relief Fund was fortunate to have attracted the attention of MacKenzie Scott, a philanthropist who pledges funds to high-impact organizations doing transformative work. She provided an unrestricted gift to allow the team maximum flexibility in undertaking their critical work. This has allowed the team to provide a strong finish to their relief work and helps as they transition to long-term sustainability-based work. Scott’s criteria for selection included a track record in effective management and significant impact in their fields. Other major donors include the Vadon Foundation (which provided a critical infusion of resources to the Relief Fund that allowed them to continue operations full-speed through the end of 2020), the W.K. Kellogg Foundation, the Patrick J. McGovern Foundation, NDN Collective, and the Sierra Club.
     'The success of our fundraising campaign was driven by the deep kindness and generosity of so many beautiful-hearted people across this country, and indeed the world, who care about the well-being of the Navajo and Hopi people and recognize our unique vulnerability in the face of COVID. This inspired their willingness to assist our grassroots effort to protect our communities from this deadly virus and we thank them for enabling us to do this urgent, life-saving work for our beloved communities,' Branch said.
     The Relief Fund team plans to wind down its relief effort in the near term as the Navajo and Hopi communities continue their successful vaccine rollout and as the number of cases in these communities decline. Branch stated that the next phase of operations will focus on strengthening the resiliency of Navajo and Hopi communities so they are never caught off guard like this again.
     'We seek to build pandemic-proof and climate change-resilient communities that will be strong enough to withstand whatever existential challenges come our way in the future," Branch said. "Our first step will be the development of innovation hubs at the local community level through the establishment of community centers that will infuse communities with the critical resources necessary to rebuild and restrengthen our economies, our food security, our languages, and our cultural practices.'
     Navajo & Hopi Families COVID-19 Relief Fund Deputy Director Cassandra Begay said the alignment of staffing was reflective of the warrior role inherently taken on by indigenous women to protect their families, culture, and tradition. 'Historically, the Navajo Nation was a formidable opponent to anyone as communities operated on consensus and holistically respected gender roles. Our women are critical in carrying our culture forward and nurturing our future generations,' she said. 'As a matriarchy, we’re stepping forward to protect our people.'
     The governing board of Yee Ha’oolniidoo is composed entirely of Navajo women, and Hopi women play a vital role in ensuring delivery of services to Hopi community members.
     Please visit to learn more about the organization."

"Joe Biden Signs Navajo Disaster Declaration as Cases Rise," ICT, February 4, 2021,, reported, "On Tuesday, tribal officials said they received word that President Joe Biden had signed a long- awaited major disaster declaration for the Navajo Nation.
     It will provide more federal resources and prompts the release of federal funds for the reimbursement of emergency funds expended to address the COVID-19 pandemic on the Navajo Nation
which covers parts of Arizona, New Mexico and Utah."

" The Navajo Nation Council, in February, approved a supplemental appropriation from the Unreserved, Undesignated Fund Balance to assist tribal businesses hurt by the pandemic (Arlyssa Bacenti, "Council helps COVID impacted businesses," Navajo Times, February 18, 2021).

With the deadline extended by a year for tribes to spend federal COVID relief money, the Navajo Council in a special session allocated $24 million from the Sihisin Fund for heavy equipment for chapters, $33.8 million for chapter emergency water projects, $4.9 million for the Wide Ruins SDS Expenditure Plan and $350,000 for the Ship Rock Chapter Project Recapture Expenditure Plan. The original early deadline had not made it possible to allocate federal COVID relief funds for these purposes (Arlyssa Becenti, "Chapters to get their heavy equipment after all," Navajo Times, January 21, 2021).

The Navajo Nation Controller issued 200,000 COVID relief checks to tribal members, by early February 2021. The maximum payments were $1350 for adults and $450 for children. These payments used 90% of the Nation's CARES Act Hardship Assistance Program funding (Rima Krisst, "Controller: 120,000 hardship checks mailed," Navajo Times, January 28, 2021).
      The $8.9 million donated to the Navajo Nation for COVID relief was allocated to support humanitarian aid distribution to chapters and to sustain the Navajo Nation Health Department COVID-19 response (Rima Krisst, "'clock is ticking'," Navajo Times, January 28, 2021).

The Navajo Tribal Utility Authority received $147 million under the COVID Relief Act, spending much of it to connect 714 families to the electric grid, completing 120 of 151 needed electric projects, and completed: 46 bathroom additions, 70 water line and septic tank projects, 28 waterline and septic systems directly to homes, motor and pump replacements on 64 wells, 8 water well renovations and three pump replacements among other work. $34 million unspent was returned to the Nation's Hardship Fund. COVID, which led to the existence of the funding, combined with weather to prevent spending all of it by the original deadline ("NTUA returns $34 million for hardship assistance," Navajo Times, January 21, 2021).

Navajo President Jonathan Nez signed into law a Council resolution, in February 2021, appropriating more than $1.3 million from the Unreserved, Undesignated Fund Balance to the Chinle Navajoland Nursing Home to offset the costs of COVID ("Nez signs resolution giving $1.3 million to Chinle's Navajoland Nursing Home," Navajo Times, February 18, 2021).

At the end of January 2021, The Navajo Nation's agreement to rent two floors of a dormitory at the University of New Mexico in Albuquerque for Navajo students became unfeasible by COVID distancing requirements, until the pandemic improved sufficiently (Cindy Yurth, "UNM's Navajo dorm another COVID-19 casualty," Navajo Times, February 4, 2021).

The isolation brought on by the COVID pandemic has led to the development of a number of online talking circles in Indian Country to keep people connected. Some of these may remain active when health restrictions end. Among the web connections are Aunty Night; Bbother, Uncle, Dad Night, and Native Mama Meet Up (Stacy Thacker, "Online talking circles keep folks connected through the pandemic," Navajo Times, February 18, 2021.

Nanette Kelley, "Private Museums Could Face NAGPRA Scrutiny," ICT, May 20, 2021,, reported, " Small museums and private institutions that accept federal CARES Act money or other stimulus funds could be forced to relinquish thousands of Indigenous items and ancestral remains now in their collections.
      Under the Native American Grave Protection and Repatriation Act of 1990, museums or other institutions that accept federal funding must compile an inventory of Indigenous cultural items and initiate repatriation of the collections and remains to tribes or family members." Two museums that now may fall under the act are the nonprofit Favell Museum of Native American Artifacts and Contemporary Western Art in Klamath Falls, Oregon, and the End of the Trail Museum connected to the Trees of Mystery gift shop in the redwood forest in Klamath, California."

Responding to the difficulties of COVID, numerous tribes and tribal members across the U.S. have accelerated the food sovereignty movement, returning to growing and eating healthier traditional foods. Some of this development was featured in the March 22 issue, including on the cover, of the Christian Science Monitor, with the lead story, Richard Mertens, "Reclaiming Heritage Through Food: Native Americans Embrace Indigenous agriculture as part of a food sovereignty movement."

Alice Hutton, "Native American tribe in Maine buys back island taken 160 years ago: The Passamaquoddy’s purchase of Pine Island for $355,000 is the latest in a series of successful ‘land back’ campaigns for indigenous people in the US," The Guardian, June 4, 2021,, reported that Pine Island on Big Lake in Maine was home to the Passamaquoddy, who had lived there for at least 10,000 years, but had no Passamaquoddy residents by 1861. "In March, with a grant from conservation charities, the tribe raised $355,000, and finally bought the island back."

Kolby KickingWoman, "Tribes seizing McGirt opportunities despite hurdles," ICT, January 16, 2021,, reported, " The Cherokee and Chickasaw Nations see tribal-state compacts as a possible path forward to fix criminal jurisdiction gaps resulting from McGirt v. Okl ahoma."
      McGirt delt only with The Muscogee Nation, in stating that for the purpose of criminal prosecution, the Nation's reservation still existed so that criminal jurisdiction could not be exercised on it by the State of Oklahoma, but depending on the case, fell to either the tribe or the federal government. The similarities in the situations implied to the Cherokee and Chickasaw Nations that the federal courts would make similar decisions about their reservations and jurisdiction, and for other Oklahoma tribes as well.
     That being the case, the government of the Cherokee Nation created a sovereignty commission and increased funding for its criminal justice system by $10 million. Cherokee officials estimated that ultimately $25 million would be required for the increased criminal justice costs, but hoped that the federal government and/or other tribes would provide the remainder of the funding. One possibility would be for the Indian Nations and the state to deal with the jurisdictional situation through intergovernmental agreements, which exist in Oklahoma covering numerous matters. Tribal leaders were concerned, however, that Congress might have to be involved in fixing some of the jurisdictional arrangements, and hoped that the federal legislature would not undermine the recognition of tribal sovereignty expressed by the Supreme Court in McGirt.

Mark Walker, "Cherokee Nation Addresses Bias Against Descendants of Enslaved People: The tribe’s Supreme Court excised language from its constitution that limited the citizenship rights of descendants of Black people who had been enslaved by the tribe before the Civil War," The New York Times, February 24, 2021,, reported on what appears to be the conclusion of the long struggle of many Cherokee Freedman to be members of the Cherokee Nation. Under the treaty of 1866 the former Negro slaves of the Cherokee, were to become members of the Cherokee Nation. But the U.S. government listed them on a separate role from other Cherokee Nation members. That led to most of the Freedmen not being Cherokee Citizens, as the nation based citizenship on being a descendent of those on the the Cherokee role.
      Through a series of legal and political battles, those descendants, known as Freedmen, have been pushing to win equal status as members of the tribe, including the right to run for tribal office and receive full benefits like access to tribal health care and housing. And this week the Oklahoma tribe took another big step to resolve the issue by eliminating from its Constitution language that based citizenship on being descended “by blood” from tribal members listed on a late 19th-century census.
     The change effectively codified in the Cherokee Constitution the effects of a 2017 federal court ruling that held that the Cherokee Freedmen should have all the rights of tribal citizens, based on an 1866 treaty that laid out the terms of emancipation. Julie Hubbard, a spokeswoman for the Cherokee Nation, said there had been about 2,900 enrolled Freedmen citizens before the 2017 ruling; another 5,600 have become enrolled citizens since then."

Chris Cameron and Mark Walker, “Tribes to Confront Bias Against Descendants of Enslaved People: The Choctaw Nation and the Muscogee (Creek) Nation in Oklahoma said they would consider granting citizenship to the Freedmen” The New York Times, May 28, 2021,, reported, “ With pressure growing from the Biden administration, two Native American tribes in Oklahoma have agreed to consider reversing their policies of denying citizenship to descendants of Black people who were enslaved by them before the Civil War.
     The tribes, the Choctaw Nation and Muscogee (Creek) Nation, said they would take initial steps to address the long-running demands of the descendants that they be granted equal rights as tribal citizens, an issue that has split their communities and highlighted clashes over identity and racism among Native Americans
.” As of the end of May 2021 the Nations were discussing the issue, but had yet to make any decision on it.

"Chief of Cherokee Nation Says 'It's Time' for Jeep to Stop Using Name: Jeep has been using Cherokee as a model name since the mid-1970s, but its next generation of vehicles arrives during a heightened national discussion of racial and social justice issues," Car and Driver, February 20, 2021,, reported, " For the first time, the Cherokee Nation is asking Jeep to change the name of its Cherokee and Grand Cherokee vehicles.
     'I’m sure this comes from a place that is well-intended, but it does not honor us by having our name plastered on the side of a car,' Chuck Hoskin, Jr., principal chief of the Cherokee Nation, told Car and Driver in a written statement responding to our request for comment on the issue. 'The best way to honor us is to learn about our sovereign government, our role in this country, our history, culture, and language and have meaningful dialogue with federally recognized tribes on cultural appropriateness.'"

Overt racism remains a problem around Rapid City, SD and the Pine Ridge Reservation. Arlo Iron Cloud, "Racism Strikes again… Hate Crimes. Lakota Times, February 04, 2022,, reported a number of hate actions during the last week of January, 2021. In one incident that went viral on social media, a women approached two Lakota women eating at Murphy's Pub and Grill. "She called them racist names and in the video the she harassed Lockett and Red Bear. She can be heard saying 'go back to your reservation', 'You all are nothing' and even telling the two women they are ugly." "Murphy’s Pub & Grill asked the woman to leave and has banned her from returning."
     On nearby Art Alley Wall, "on the evening of February 1, 2021 in red lettering, someone wrote 'Go back to your reservation'. A couple police officers and a Parks and Recreation worker reported to the incident immediately and cleaned up the Hate vandalism.
     Around the same time on the border of the Pine Ridge Reservation, more racial and hate vandalism occurred. On the northwestern side of the Pine Ridge Reservation near the town of Wamblee, smeared across welcome signs are graphic phrases aimed at President Biden and swastika’s and “KKK” written across welcome to Pine Ridge Reservation signs and informational signs."

Amanda Takes War Bonnet, “Kyle Name Change Next Step,” Lakota Times, June 3, 2021,, reported, “Last fall, the Medicine Root District executive board on the Pine Ridge Reservation voted to change the name of the town Kyle [a white politician] to Little Wound [the respected Oglala leader, Taopi Cikila, who walked on in 1901] on the request of community members, led by Marcell Bull Bear, Lakota elder historian and Oglala Lakota College instructor.
      So far it is a name change at the community level. That executive board decision on September 20th needs to continue on to the state level for the name change to be official on national maps and permanent community identification.”

The Lower Sioux Community regained possession of 114 acres of land near Redwood Falls, MN, in February, 2021, after a 20-year legal effort (U.S.: Lower Sioux Indian Community Recovers Land," Cultural Survival Quarterly, June, 2021).

The Changing Woman Initiative in Santa Fe, NM is the first traditional birthing center established in the United States, run by one of about 20 Indigenous midwives in the U. S. trained to provide modern pregnancy and childbirth care which includes traditional midwifing. The move to reclaim traditional Native birthways is driven, in part, by the large number of complaints Native women have made about being badly treated by mainstream health providers, while the more friendly Indian Health Service (IHS) is underfunded and understaffed. One example of this is that the Phoenix Indian Medical Health Center and its obstetrics department had to close for an extensive period beginning in August 2020 because of insufficient staffing. Over all, in the United States, which has the highest rate of deaths of mothers in the industrial world, Native mothers are dying at twice the rate of other mothers (Jenni Monet, "Reclaiming Indigenous Birthways," The Nation, March 22, 2021).
     Kewa Pueblo had many of its historic houses from the 1600's and 1866 destroyed by storm flooding in 2013-14, compounded by additional weather damage in following years. The Pueblo has hired Elizabeth Suina, principal architect and owner of Suina Design + Architecture, an all-Pueblo women owned design firm, to rebuild eight of the shattered homes using traditional Pueblo methods to retain the original ancestral and traditional design concepts. Funding is being sought by the Pueblo to rebuild the rest of the 160 homes in the same traditional manner (Kallie Benallie, "Rebuilding for the Centuries: Adobe Block by Block," ICT, May 27, 2021,

Simon Romero, "Navajo Nation Becomes Largest Tribe in U.S. After Pandemic Enrollment Surge: A rush to secure federal benefits during the coronavirus pandemic accelerated enrollment in the Navajo Nation, pushing its population past the Cherokee Nation’s to nearly 400,000," The New York Times, May 21, 2021,, reported, "The Navajo Nation already had its own police academy, universities, bar association and court system, plus a new Washington office near the embassies of other sovereign nations. And during the coronavirus pandemic the Diné, as many prefer to call themselves, gained an important distinction: the most populous tribal nation in the United States.
      A rush to secure federal hardship benefits increased the Navajo Nation’s official enrollment to 399,494 from 306,268 last year, according to the Navajo Office of Vital Records and Identification. That jump was enough for the Diné to eclipse the Cherokee Nation, which has an enrollment of about 392,000."

Brett Wilkins, "National Park Ranger Condemned for Attacking Unarmed Indigenous Man on Sacred Native Land, 'Public lands are stolen lands,' asserted Red Nation. 'Indigenous people have the right to practice their culture and spiritual ways on Indigenous land without fear of repression, discrimination, or violence,'" Common Dreams, December 30, 2020,, reported, " Indigenous and wilderness conservation groups were among those on Wednesday responding with outrage to video of a National Park Service ranger tasering an unarmed Indigenous man after he walked off a trail in Petroglyph National Monument in New Mexico on Sunday and then refused to comply with the ranger's orders.
     Darrell House, a Diné (Navajo) and Oneida U.S. Marine Corps veteran, was hiking with his sister and his dog in the Albuquerque park—which features many petroglyphs, or ancient stone carvings that are sacred to tribes—so that he could harvest dirt for ceremonies and pray.
     House said he walked off a marked trail in order to socially distance himself from a large group of walkers when 'this park ranger started following me.'
     'I guess he was upset about me going off trail before, you know, doing my prayers for the rocks,' House told KOB. In a video released by the National Park Service, House repeatedly refuses to disclose his real name to the rangers.
     'I didn't see a reason to give my identification,' House told NBC News. 'I don't need to tell people why I'm coming there to pray and give things in honor to the land. I don't need permission or consent. And I don't think he liked that very much.'
     A ranger House identified by his last name Graden then fired his Taser at him. In a video recorded by his sister, House is seen writhing on the ground in agony next to his dog while the woman pleads for the attackers to stop.
     I don't have anything; I apologize for going off the trail,' House says between cries of pain.
     House said the attack left him 'traumatized' and bleeding.
     'I'm shaking,' he wrote in an Instagram post. 'What hurt me the most was when my baby Geronimo felt the shock,' he said, referring to his dog.
     'Here, you will see a white man abuse his power,' House. 'The law doesn't work for the Indigenous... You would think with George Floyd and Breonna Taylor, with the Black Lives Matter Movement, authorities would try to avoid having to pull a weapon out. Imagine I disarm him from the taser then what, I get charged with assault, or worse he grabs for his gun and ends me.'
     'These scenarios have been going through my head since this afternoon,' he added. 'I'm a son, I'm a brother, I'm a father. More importantly, I'm a human being.'
     The Indigenous liberation group Red Nation released a statement on Wednesday condemning the attack on House. It read, in part:
     'The Petroglyphs National Monument, which is home to ancient Indigenous rock art that still retains spiritual and cultural significance to Indigenous people today, was initially created at the request of Native activists to protect the area from vandalism and developers. Instead, the NPS under the authority of the Department of Interior is policing Native people on Native land.
     Public lands are stolen lands. Indigenous people have the right to practice their culture and spiritual ways on Indigenous land without fear of repression, discrimination, or violence. In consultation with our dear relative Darrell House, The Red Nation calls for a full investigation of NPS actions of racial terror that day, the termination of rangers Wineland and Graden, and restitution and a full apology to Darrell and his sister.'
     ' LandBack begins with defunding racist police on Indigenous land, the Department of the Interior is no exception,' the group added.
     Michael Casaus, New Mexico state director at the Wilderness Society, also released a statement condemning the incident:
     Park rules are there for protecting the lands but the enforcement of those policies should not come at the expense of protecting the humanity of all those who visit, especially if these are their traditional homelands. Our parks and open spaces should be welcoming and inclusive places of healing and comfort, yet they are not for so many, especially for Black and Indigenous people and people of color.
     The original purpose of the monument was to protect and promote the understanding of the petroglyphs in relation to the cultural and natural features of the West Mesa and to further the heritage of traditional communities connected to these lands. Petroglyph National Monument is a place where Native people should be able to visit and honor the past, the present, and the future on the very lands their ancestors stood without fear for their safety.
     House said the incident would not deter him from returning to walk and pray in the park again.
     'I will go back,' he told KRQE. 'I am going to continue to do my prayers, going off trail without permission. Without consent. That is my right.'
     Our work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 License."

" Navajo President Jonathan Nez, in February 2021, signed the Council resolution authorizing $4.8 million from the Nation's Land Acquisition Trust Fund to purchase an 1830 home on Capitol Hill in Washington DC, which will become the tribal DC office. The home will replace a rented office, costing $25,000 a month and $300,000 a year in utilities. the property includes a carriage house that can be rented to bring in income (Arlyssa Becenti, "Nez signs off on DC home purchase," Navajo Times, February 18, 2021).

Navajo Nation received a $947,750 from the Bureau of Land Reclamation, in February 2021, to add pumps wells and other infrastructure to the Broadway-Gap and Cameron Public Water Systems of the Western Navajo Pipeline to prepare for and respond to drought ("$900,000-plus grant aims to increase water supplies, improve management," Navajo Times, February 18, 2021).

By Sarah Oven, "Pascua Yaqui Win Water Funds," ICT, January 28, 2021,, reported, " Pascua Yaqui Council members called it 'a blessing' Tuesday.
     They were talking about $ 900,000 in federal funds [from an Army Corps of Engineers fund dedicated to water infrastructure projects in Arizona] that will be used to bring water to the tribe’s lands for irrigation, the first fruits of a successful effort last year by members of the state’s congressional delegation to win $150 million in federal funding for water projects around the state."

Kalle Benallie. "Tribe gives thousands to small businesses: 'I hope that what we do here today prompts others to do the same, which is support our local businesses, give as much as you can,'" ICT, February 24, 202,, reported that the San Manuel Band of Mission Indians of California gave $20,000 each to 50 small business. "Tribal Secretary Johnny Hernandez said businesses were selected based on:
     Businesses who implemented COVID-safe practices through social distancing, mask wearing and sanitization.
     Businesses who took part in the San Bernardino County’s COVID-compliant Business Partnership Program in 2020.
     Businesses located near tribal lands and ancestral lands in the mountains and high desert.
     Businesses hit the hardest."

Jean Schroedel, Joseph Dietrich and Kara Mazaraes, "The 2020 Election in Indian Country: Progress, but Equity is Still Elusive," Political Science Today, June 14, 2021,, included some interesting findings. " At the state level, nearly 100 Native Americans will take elected offices or serve in judicial roles starting in 2021. Finally, voter turnout among Native Americans appears to be at its highest level ever."
     "in Minnesota, where a very successful Native-focused registration drive resulted in more than 8,000 completed forms—many of which were only accepted after threats of legal action."
      Voting by mail "is far from a panacea for Native communities that have been ravaged by COVID-19. 7 Voting rights attorneys argue that VBM imposes additional barriers to Native Americans’ access to voting, due to the lack of home mail delivery, inability to get language assistance, travel distance to postal locations, and lack of reliable transportation."
     "Our preliminary findings show that voters living on the Navajo Nation face greater obstacles in voting-by-mail than do off-reservation voters
. We focused on two categories of barriers to participation: 1) access to mail services and 2) service delivery times." Difficulties identified were: there is no residential mail delivery. There are only 11 post offices and 16 providers on the reservation, so residents most often must travel a considerable distance to access mail. This is made more difficult by the fact that only 10% of Dine families have motor vehicles, and three reservation precincts do not have a post office. Off reservation access to post offices is much closer and easier, as for example in rural West Virginia.
      The researchers found that letters mailed off reservation arrived in one to three days. Those mailed on reservation took longer, up to 10 days (including one that was lost after being tracked as traveling 3,358 miles. First class certified mail posted in urban areas was delivered in an average of 39 hours as compared with 49 hours from rural off reservation areas and 113 hours from on reservation, where post offices generally offer less services.
      Debra Haalland (Laguna and Jimez Pueblos), representing New Mexico's first Congressional District, was confirmed a Secretary of the Interior by the U.S. Senate, March 15, 2021, making her the first Native American to head a federal cabinet agency ( Coral Davenport, Deb Haaland Becomes First Native American Cabinet Secretary: The Senate confirmed Ms. Haaland to lead the Interior Department. She’ll be charged with essentially reversing the agency’s course over the past four years," The New York Times, March 15, 2021,

Aliyah Chavez, "‘No small task’: Working in the White House': 'One of the most important goals for all of us is to ensure that representation in a place like the White House, across the administration, in Congress, and as a Cabinet member becomes a commonplace for Indian Country'," ICT, May 15, 2021,, reported, "In President Joe Biden’s White House, there are hundreds of staffers working in the executive office to help him run the nation. In this sea of staffers, four Native professionals are working to make sure Indian Country has a seat in these important discussions. "
      PaaWee Rivera, Pojoaque Pueblo, serves as a senior advisor and tribal affairs director in the White House office of intergovernmental affairs.
     Libby Washburn, Chickasaw, is a special assistant to the president on Native Affairs in the White House domestic policy council.
     Amanda Finney, Cherokee and Lumbee, works as chief of staff to the White House Press Office and is a special assistant to Press Secretary Jen Psaki.
     Tracy Goodluck, Oneida Nation of Wisconsin and Muskogee Creek, is a policy advisor to the White House domestic policy council
     The White House Council on Native Affairs was reestablished and held its first meeting in April ( It included 10 Cabinet secretaries, and other leaders, and was attended by Rivera and Washburn.
     The White House plans to hold a tribal nations conference this year (

Joaqlin Estus, "Navajo Woman Chosent To Head US Indian Energy," ICT, January 28, 2021,, reported, " A Diné woman [Wahleah John] who knows what it’s like to live without electricity and has fought for solar energy for her people has been selected to head the U.S. Office of Indian Energy Programs and Policy. She’ll be taking over a program that the Trump administration nearly brought to its knees by cutting its budget by two-thirds."

Aliyah Chavez, "2 of Interior’s Top Attorneys Will Be Native," ICT, January 21, 2021,, reported, "Hours after the swearing in of President Joe Biden, the U.S. Interior Department announced key members of the agency Wednesday. Two of those announcements include Native people who will work in the Office of the Solicitor, essentially performing the legal work for the agency.
     Robert Anderson, Bois Forte Band of the Minnesota Chippewa Tribe, has been named principal deputy solicitor, and Ann Marie Bledsoe Downes, Winnebago Tribe of Nebraska, has been named deputy solicitor for Indian Affairs in the Department of Interior.

Aliyah Chavez, "Native Electors Help Seal Biden Win," ICT, December 17, 2020,, reported that in the electoral college presidential voting, "At least eight Native people across three states cast electoral votes in favor of Biden. "
     Three of Arizona's 11 electors were Native: Gila River Indian Community Gov. Stephen Roe Lewis, Navajo Nation President Jonathan Nez and Tohono O’odham Nation Chairman Ned Norris Jr.
     Two of Washington state’s 12 electors were Native. Native American Caucus Chair Julie Johnson, Lummi Nation, and Native American Caucus member Patsy Whitefoot, Yakama Nation.
     One of New Mexico's five electors was affiliated with Laguna and Acoma Pueblos.
     In Wisconsin Shannon Holsey, president of the Stockbridge-Munsee Band of Mohicans Tribal Council, was an elector.

Aliyah Chavez, "Senate Committee On Indian Affairs Under New Leadership," ICT, February 11, 2021 ,, reported, " The Senate Committee on Indian Affairs elected new leadership at its first meeting of the 117th Congress Thursday morning.
      Democratic Sen. Brian Schatz of Hawaii will serve as chairman while Republican Sen. Lisa Murkowski of Alaska will serve as vice chairman."

Aliyah Chavez, "Arlando Teller to Join Joe Biden Transportation Team," ICT, February 4, 2021,, reported, " Former Arizona state Representative Arlando Teller, Diné, has been selected as a key member of President Joe Biden’s transportation team.
     He will serve as deputy assistant secretary for tribal affairs for the U.S. Department of Transportation
, the agency announced this week."

"New Smithsonian Post For Kevin Gover," ICT, January 14, 2021,, reported, " Kevin Gover, Pawnee Tribe of Oklahoma, has been named the Smithsonian’s undersecretary for museums and culture, effective next week.
     Gover is director of the Smithsonian’s National Museum of the American Indian and has served as acting undersecretary since February. The position oversees the Smithsonian’s history and art museums, its cultural centers, the Archives of American Art, exhibits and the National Collections Program."
     Aliyah Chavez, "Diné Woman Appointed to Vacant Seat in Arizona Legislature," ICT, February 11, 2021, , reported, "Jasmine Blackwater-Nygren fills a seat left by Arlando Teller, will be sworn into office Thursday
      Jasmine Blackwater-Nygren, Diné, will serve as a state representative for Arizona’s district seven, filling a pivotal vacant seat in the state’s Legislature."
     Blackwater-Nygren replaces Representative Arlando Teller who was appointed deputy assistant secretary for tribal affairs in the U.S. Department of Transportation (Cindy Yurth, "Teller tapped for cabinet position," Navajo Times, Februaty 4, 2021).

"Candidate Says Rethink Seattle, Indigenously," ICT, January 28, 2021,, reported, " Colleen Echohawk launched a campaign Monday to lead Seattle as its mayor, running on a platform of transformation; rethinking justice, mental health and the city’s common purpose."

Economic Developments

"2019 Indian Gross Gaming Revenues of $34.6B Set Industry Record and Show a 2.5% Increase," National Indian Gaming Commission, December 8, 2020,, reported," Today Chairman E. Sequoyah Simermeyer and Vice Chair Kathryn Isom-Clause of the National Indian Gaming Commission announced the Fiscal Year 2019 (FY19) Gross Gaming Revenue (GGR) for the Indian gaming industry. Revenues for FY19 total $34.6B; an increase of 2.5% over 2018.
     In the 32 years since the federal Indian Gaming Regulatory Act was enacted , 2019 marked the Indian gaming industry’s highest ever revenue report. During FY19, nearly every NIGC region experienced growth. The Oklahoma City region saw the largest increase of 7.7%. Additional information and a summary of gross gaming revenue according to the NIGC’s administratively determined regions can be found on the NIGC’s website.
     'Heathy tribal economies are important to promoting the tribal self-sufficiency envisioned in the Indian Gaming Regulatory Act. The growth reflected in the 2019 gaming revenue demonstrates the strength of tribal economies in recent years. The Indian gaming industry is a vital component to many tribal economies across the country,' said Chairman Simermeyer.
      The reporting period for FY19 ended before the COVID-19 Pandemic forced the temporary closure of every Tribal Gaming Operation. Although the full effect of the Pandemic is yet to be realized, many Indian gaming operations remain closed or operate at reduced capacity. Some Indian gaming operations have been closed since March 2020. The Pandemic’s impact on the Indian gaming industry will be reflected in the Fiscal Year 2020 GGR report.
     `Chairman Simermeyer cautioned that, 'it is important to recognize the Pandemic’s impact on Tribes.' Chairman Simermeyer went on to say, 'Tribes’ dedication to a safe and sustainable Indian gaming industry is demonstrated in the preventative measures Tribes continue to take during the challenging economic times brought on by the Pandemic. This same dedication has fostered a successful and responsibly regulated Indian gaming industry over several decades.'
     Vice Chair Isom-Clause added that 'While we welcome this positive report from FY2019, we know that the current reality is dramatically different. Future reports will reflect the effects of the pandemic on the industry, as well as how it continues to adapt to changing circumstances. Despite these current hardships, Indian gaming, like the tribal nations it benefits, has proved its resiliency over the years.'
     The FY19 GGR figure is calculated from 522 independently audited financial statements submitted to the NIGC by 245 federally recognized Tribes across 29 states. An operation’s GGR is the total amount of money wagered less any amounts paid out as prizes and before deducting operating expenses. 1
     For additional information regarding FY19 GGR, including information by region and facility size, as well as information regarding the Pandemic’s effect on the tribal gaming industry, please visit the NIGC website at For media inquires, please contact Mavis Harris at
     1. The Indian Gaming Regulatory Act created the National Indian Gaming Commission to support, 25 U.S.C. § 2717(a)(6)."

As one of the many financial and human impacts on Indian nations of COVID, Navajo Gaming, in January 2021, laid off 965 employees in casino connected jobs, as continued wage and salary funding ran out with the Casinos and related hospitality businesses closed since March 2020. A few workers remained on the job at the Twin Arrows Travel Center, adjacent to that casino and hotel (Bill Donovan, "Gaming lays off 965 employees," Navajo Times, January 7, 2021).

Sandra Hale Schulman, "Seminoles Ink 30-Year Gaming Compact," ICT, May 27, 2021,, reported, " The Seminole Tribe of Florida has reached a multibillion-dollar deal with the state of Florida [ratified by the state legislature] that will allow the tribe to build three new casinos at the massive Seminole Hard Rock Hotel & Casino resort, with exclusive rights to roulette, craps and sports betting in the state."
     "The agreement, signed by Gov. Ron DeSantis on Tuesday, May 25, is believed to be the largest and most expansive gaming compact with a tribe in the U.S. The deal is expected to generate $2.5 billion in new revenue for the state over the next five years, and an estimated $6 billion through 2030." The compact also allows for Trump to obtain a license for a Doral resort.
     Joseph Martin, "Ex-Chiefs Question Eastern Cherokee Casino Deal," ICT, February 4, 2021,, reported that Leaders of the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians of North Carolina are proceeding with the $250 million purchase of Southern Indiana Caesars casino despite objections from some leading tribal members, including three former principal chiefs and two candidates for the office. The tribe owns a pair of casinos in North Carolina, but those who support the Indiana purchase believe they require an additional source of income in the face of the Catawba nation opening a gaming facility in North Carolina.
     " The South Carolina-based Catawba tribe has a compact in hand, signed by North Carolina Gov. Roy Cooper, for a new casino outside Charlotte, North Carolina. The Eastern Cherokee are fighting it in court, but work on the property is underway."

Aliyah Chavez, "Las Vegas Feels Tribal Presence," ICT, June 3, 2021,, reported, " The San Manuel Band of Mission Indians announced plans in May to acquire the Palms Casino Resort in Las Vegas. After closing its deals, San Manuel will become the second tribal nation to do major business in the entertainment capital of the world.
     The Mohegan Tribe operates the Mohegan Sun Casino at Virgin Hotels in Las Vegas. It opened in March 2021 and is a casino resort located east of the Strip.

Aliyah Chavez, "Pueblo-Designed Hot Air Balloon Takes Flight," ICT, May 27, 2021,, reported, "In September, the Indian Pueblo Cultural Center [of Albuquerque, NM] announced its Pueblo-inspired and designed hot air balloon. The balloon’s name is “Eyahne on the Horizon,” which means blessing in the Keres, a language spoken by seven Pueblo nations.
      The balloon serves as a 'ambassador' for the cultural center to attract business and attention in a city where hot air balloons can be seen almost every morning. 'The balloon costs us less than it would be to have a billboard in Albuquerque,' said Emily Howard, the cultural center’s vice president of corporate strategy and marketing."

"Rainbow Fiber Co-Op Helps Sustain a Way of Life," First Nations Development Institute, E-mail, June 11, 2021, reported, "First Nations Community Partner Rainbow Fiber Co-Op ( , reported, " First Nations Community Partner Rainbow Fiber Co-Op ( ) is a Diné-led and shepherd-owned agricultural co-operative established to improve the financial sustainability and equitable market outcomes for three of the largest flocks of Navajo-Churro sheep remaining on the Navajo reservation. Navajo Times ( reports how the organization is upholding the price of wool by taking over the production of a value-added product, high-quality yarn."

The Eastern Navajo Fair, scheduled for July 22-25, 2021, became another casualty of COVID, when its board cancelled the event in February 2021 in the face of the pandemic ("Eastern Navajo Fair Canceled," Navajo Times, February 4, 2021).

Joseph Martin, "Eastern Cherokees Green-Light Medical Pot," ICT, December 17, 2020, 2/files/66ae6125-25fa-48e5-8736-eb8838eb7314/12.17.20_The_Weekly.pdf, reported, "The Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians has started the process of legalizing medical marijuana, joining a growing number of U.S. tribes eying the drug's economic and medicinal potential."

Partly in response to COVID, also as part of an already evolving strategy, the Southern Ute Growth Fund has expanded its management team along with the tribal money management arm making more complex and longer term investments (Jeremy Wade Shockley, "Gottlieb hired as Chief Investment Officer for PF Investments," Southern Ute Drum, January 29, 2021).

Education and Culture

Vincent Schilling, "‘The Bears Of Pine Ridge’ Addresses Youth Suicide," ICT, March 11, 2021,, " There is a new mini-documentary film, Executive-produced by Sonny Skyhawk, Oglala Lakota, and directed by Noel Bass titled, “The Bears of Pine Ridge” that explores the distressing statistics of Native youth suicide plaguing the Pine Ridge Reservation in South Dakota.
     The film highlights the efforts of the highly respected Oglala Lakota community leader 'Tiny' DeCory, who oversees her Native youth performance group known as 'The Bear Program.'” The film shows how the program works to empower and encourage Lakota young people
. The trailer of the film is available at: The film was planned to be available on the internet in the near future.

Daniel J. Chacón, Santa Fe New Mexican, "Report outlines deficiencies in education for Native American students," New Mexico Political Report, January 19, 2021,, reported, "While Native American students in New Mexico are showing improvement in graduation rates, third-grade reading and math proficiency, they continue to perform well below their peers on state and national measures of achievement.
     As a result, a report released Monday makes several recommendations to help close the gap. They include asking the Legislature to reduce or eliminate the so-called Impact Aid credit from the state’s public education funding formula, freeing up the money for affected school districts to spend on evidence-based interventions."
     " Other recommendations in the report, which was presented to lawmakers on the Legislative Finance Committee, include:
     The Legislature should invest in broadband infrastructure in unserved and underserved tribal communities and request a plan from the state Department of Information Technology to prioritize funds for those communities.
     The Public Education Department should annually assess the implementation and success of a four-part strategy to address the landmark Martinez/Yazzie lawsuit, which found the state failed to adequately serve Native American children, among other students at risk of poor outcomes.
     Native American-serving school districts and charter schools should take full advantage of K-5 Plus and extended learning time programs for Native American students

Darrell Stranger, "Minecraft's Indigenous World," ICT, February 25, 2021,, reported, " The LRSD in Winnipeg, is using the game Minecraft to teach students about Manitoba Anishinaabe culture. It’s a first of its kind education tool using an educational version of the game" that young people like to play on their own time].
     The program was made thanks to a partnership between Microsoft Canada, Minecraft: Education Edition and LRSD."

Kolby KickingWoman, "Innovative MIT Natives: ‘It’s Time for Action,’" February 25, 2021,, " For three years and counting, the Massachusetts Institute of Technology Solve initiative has sought out Native innovators finding creative ways to find solutions to challenges facing their communities."
     For more information go to:

The Southern Ute Culture Department, in collaboration with the Southern Ute Education Department, received a three-year grant, in January 2021, from the Administration for Native Americans to assist preserving the Ute language and getting it into the homes of tribal members ("Cultural Preservation Receives Prestigious Language Grant," Southern Ute Drum, January 29, 2021).

Vincent Schilling, "Navajo-Dubbed ‘Finding Nemo’ And ‘Star Wars: A New Hope’ Now On Disney+," ICT, February 18, 2021,, reported, " Sq’tah Anaa’ (Star Wars) and Nemo Há’dèístíí (Finding Nemo) can be found in the ‘extras’ section.
      Navajo language versions of the Disney films ‘Finding Nemo’ and ‘Star Wars: A New Hope’ are now available on the Disney+ streaming service:"

Aliyah Chavez, "The First Indigenous Caldecott Medal Winner," ICT, January 28, 2021,, reported, " The American Library Association announced winners of the nation’s outstanding children’s books this week. At the top of the list is We Are Water Protectors, a picture book created by two Indigenous women.
     It was illustrated by Tlingit artist Michaela Goade and written by Carole Lindstrom, Turtle Mountain Band of Ojibwe." This is the first time an Indigenous person has won the Caldecott Medal

Vincent Schilling, "Black List, IllumiNative and Sundance announce inaugural Indigenous screenwriters list: Nine Indigenous-written scripts have been announced that highlight the ‘very best Indigenous film and television writers living and working within the United States,’" ICT, December 12, 2020,, reported, " As part of a collaborative effort to highlight some of the most talented Indigenous screenwriters in the U.S., The Black List, IllumiNative and the Sundance Institute have unveiled their latest selections of The Indigenous List for 2020."
     Reports on these Indigenous screen-writers and their work is at the above web address.
     "[Ianeta Le'i, the senior manager for the Sundance Institute’s Indigenous program] said they do have plans for an Indigenous list for 2021."

Among PBS increasing American Indian programs is the film, The Warrior Tradition, chronicling Native participation in the U.S. armed services from their own point of view. The film is available from PBS as a DVD ( Shop PBS, Summer 2021).

Stewart Huntington, "Major investment in Indigenous 'agents of change:' First Peoples Fund, other groups tapped by philanthropist MacKenzie Scott as part of $2.7 billion in donations," ICT, June 15m 2021,, reported, " Native artists and culture bearers received a multimillion-dollar boost Tuesday as First Peoples Fund and other Indigenous groups were tapped for investments from philanthropist MacKenzie Scott,"
     "The donation to First Peoples Fund was one 286 grants to various community and artistic organizations, [a number of which are Native,] totaling $2.7 billion to a wide array of organizations announced Tuesday by Scott
in a blog post:"
     Additional Native nonprofits that received donations included the Alaska Native Heritage Center , the American Indian College Fund , the American Indian Higher Education Consortium , Decolonizing Wealth Project , IAIA Museum of Contemporary Native Arts , the Native Arts & Cultures Foundation , the NDN Collective , the PA’I Foundation and Thunder Valley Community Development Corporation .


International Developments

Max Fisher, “As Dictators Target Citizens Abroad, Few Safe Spaces Remain: For émigrés and exiles, pressure on families back home, social media intimidation, even kidnapping, have become a regular part of life,” The New York Times, June 4, 2021,, reported, noting that Chinese authorities had threatened the family of a Uyghur activist living abroad, and take other measures against him in his place of exile, “And not just to Chinese Uyghurs. Authoritarian governments large and small are increasingly reaching beyond their borders to intimidate, kidnap and kill troublesome émigrés.
     In just the past two weeks, Belarus forced a civilian airliner to land in its territory, arresting a journalist on board. Turkish spies grabbed a citizen living in Kenya whose uncle is a prominent dissident, bundling him off to Turkey. And Hong Kong authorities pressured an Israeli web hosting company to shutter the website of democracy activists in London.”

International Organization Developments

United Nations Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues (UNPFII) 20th Session

United Nations Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues (UNPFII) 20th Session, held at the United Nations Headquarters in New York, was postponed from 2020 to April 25-May 6, 2021. The theme was “Peace, justice and strong institutions: the role of indigenous peoples in implementing Sustainable Development Goal 16”

Among the numerous reports of the session:
     "Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues Twentieth session
     New York, 19–30 April 2021, E/C.19/2021/L.4,,
     22 April 2021 Original: English, draft report
     Chapter I
     B. Matters calling for action by the Economic and Social Council or brought to its attention
     Matters brought to the attention of the Council
     Recommendations of the Permanent Forum
      Discussion on the theme 'Peace, justice and strong institutions: the role of indigenous peoples in implementing Sustainable Development Goal 16'
     1. The aim of Sustainable Development Goal 16 is to promote peaceful and inclusive societies for sustainable development, provide access to justice for all and build effective, accountable and inclusive institutions at all levels. This ambitious and important goal can only be met with the full and effective participation of indigenous peoples in decision-making. The United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples provides a clear framework for the individual and collective rights of indigenous peoples, recognizing their right to self-determination and self-governance, participation in decision-making and access to justice.
     2. The Declaration also recognizes indigenous peoples’ rights to the lands, territories and resources that they have traditionally owned or occupied. It is worth noting that these same territories contain 80 per cent of the world’s biological diversity. Indigenous peoples have proven themselves to be wise managers of their lands, which they have developed in a sustainable manner. This is especially important given that conflicts frequently arise over competition for natural resources, including in border regions, as the traditional territories of indigenous peoples often straddle national borders. Indigenous peoples’ management of these lands, territories and resources is not only good for the environment and biological diversity, but is also important for maintaining international peace and security.
     3. It is also vital that Governments recognize indigenous peoples’ institutions, especially their representative institutions. These institutions help promote and protect the cultures, livelihoods, identities and languages of indigenous peoples and other essential elements of their lives. These institutions should be supported and strengthened as essential elements of diverse and multicultural States. The Permanent Forum notes that many Governments already recognize indigenous peoples’ representative institutions at the municipal and national levels. However, they are not yet recognized at the international level.
     4. The recognition of indigenous peoples’ representative institutions is particularly pertinent in conflict-affected and post-conflict regions. Indigenous peoples’ role in peacebuilding is essential for reconciliation and for strengthening resilience to extremism and radicalization, particularly among indigenous youth. Indigenous peoples’ institutions should be viewed by States as allies in the efforts of the Security Council to establish peace and security.
     5. Peace and security are important at all levels. The Permanent Forum is deeply troubled by continuing accounts of violence against indigenous women and girls across the globe. The Permanent Forum hears the stories of indigenous women and girls who are murdered or go missing year after year, with little visible progress. Furthermore, such violence is perpetrated with callous impunity that must be addressed with a renewed sense of urgency.
     6. The Permanent Forum is concerned by the killings, violence and harassment targeted at indigenous human rights defenders, which are also frequently committed with impunity. The Permanent Forum is concerned that, despite international condemnation, these criminal acts of violence persist, especially in a small number of countries in South and Central America, Africa and Asia.
     7. The Permanent Forum recognizes the importance of the signing of the Final Agreement for Ending the Conflict and Building a Stable and Lasting Peace in Colombia. The Permanent Forum urges Colombia to promote and guarantee the rights of indigenous peoples, in particular by achieving the goals and indicators set out in the “ethnic chapter” of the peace agreement. The Permanent Forum urges the Special Jurisdiction for Peace of Colombia to prioritize the conduct of a high-profile investigation to highlight the violations of the collective rights of indigenous peoples that occurred during the armed conflict and to identify the patterns and perpetrators of this violence.
     8. Climate change threatens the very existence of many communities in both the immediate and long term, while deforestation, increased urbanization and industrial agriculture continue to put pressure on the territories and ecosystems in which indigenous peoples live. Large-scale infrastructure development and the exploitation of natural resources, including minerals critical for so-called green technologies, in indigenous territories by private and State-owned companies, without the participation and consent of the affected peoples, leads to the loss of livelihoods, culture and identity. Moreover, legitimate protests and opposition to such activities on indigenous lands are increasingly being criminalized.
      The global engagement of indigenous peoples at the international level has led to some positive institutional developments, including the establishment of the Local Communities and Indigenous Peoples Platform of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change. The traditional knowledge of indigenous peoples can play an important role in the fight against climate change. Member States and UN entities should ensure that any activities related to the use of the traditional knowledge of indigenous peoples respect Indigenous peoples’ own protocols and consent agreements for managing access to their traditional knowledge. Strengthening and ensuring the full participation of indigenous peoples at all levels is also critical for the design and implementation of climate policies, plans, programmes and projects at the local, national and global levels.
      9. The Permanent Forum commits to facilitating informal online regional dialogues between Member States and indigenous peoples on autonomy and self-governance to support the development of guiding principles for the realization of the rights of indigenous peoples to autonomy and self-government. The Permanent Forum invites the Inter-Agency Support Group on Indigenous People's Issues to encourage the active participation of member states to participate in the preparation of a discussion paper on this matter to be presented at the twenty-first session of the Forum. The Permanent Forum also invites the Group pf Friends of Indigenous Peoples to encourage the active participation of Member States in this endeavour.
     10. The Permanent Forum also commits to facilitating a process among indigenous peoples and Member States with the aim of rethinking and supporting international efforts to ensure peace, security and peacebuilding and ensuring the effective participation of indigenous peoples in these processes.
     [NEW PARAGRAPH] The Permanent Forum considers climate change as a driver of insecurity, exacerbating conflicts over lands, territories and resources. The Permanent Forum calls on the Security Council to consider Indigenous Peoples as partners. Close consultation with indigenous peoples is required to ensure the respect of the rights of indigenous peoples in conflict and post conflict situations.
     [NEW PARAGRAPH] Private sector stakeholders should, in the application of their guidelines and safeguard policies ensure the protection of the rights of indigenous peoples, as enshrined in the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples. Respect for the free, prior and informed consent is essential for enabling indigenous peoples to participate in, and engage with, private sector activities, including in forestry, agriculture, fishing and extractive industries. "

"Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues Twentieth session
     New York, 19–30 April 2021, E/C.19/2021/L.5
      Draft report
Rapporteur: Ms. Tove Søvndahl Gant
     Chapter I. Matters calling for action by the Economic and Social Council or brought to its attention
     B. Matters brought to the attention of the Council
     Recommendations of the Permanent Forum
     Future work of the Permanent Forum, including issues considered by the Economic and Social Council and emerging issues, specifically challenges related to pandemics and responses to them (item 7)
     [NEW PARAGRAPH] The Permanent Forum expresses thanks to the Government of Finland for hosting its pre-sessional meeting for 2020. The Permanent Forum also expresses its thanks to the Governments of Bolivia (Plurinational State of), Canada, China, the Congo, Denmark, Guatemala, Mexico, Nicaragua, Norway, the Russian Federation, Spain and the United States, as well as the government of Greenland, for having hosted previous pre-sessional and intersessional meetings of the Forum. The Forum recommends that States that have not yet done so, consider hosting such meetings in the future. It also requests that the secretariat of the Forum organize pre-sessional meetings for future sessions of the Forum.
     1. Across the globe, indigenous peoples have experienced epidemics and pandemics introduced by outsiders. The epidemics have often led to the dispossession of their lands and to the loss of lives, cultures and languages. The ongoing coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic has exposed and aggravated a range of pre-existing inequalities faced by indigenous peoples. In particular, it has highlighted the fact that indigenous peoples have inadequate access to infrastructure and services, including health care and education, and to markets; endure poor housing conditions; and experience diminished food security. These circumstances have led to disproportionately high infection and mortality rates among indigenous peoples in many countries.
     2. Poor access to infrastructure and services has also exposed indigenous peoples to the indirect socioeconomic effects of the pandemic. The Permanent Forum is particularly concerned about the situation of indigenous children who have not received adequate education during the pandemic, especially in situations in which schools have been closed. The digital divide is a compounding factor that must be addressed with urgency in order to ensure that indigenous peoples are provided not only with access to information and communications technology but also with the necessary education and skills to be able to take advantage of that technology. Distance learning plans must include solutions that address the limited access to electricity, connectivity and the Internet.
     3. Despite such challenges, indigenous peoples have exercised their self- determination and organized their own responses to the pandemic. They have relied on and revitalized traditional medicines and practices, established efficient alternative communication systems in their indigenous languages, shared food supplies and established procedures for lockdowns.
     4. The Permanent Forum emphasizes the importance of the engagement and meaningful participation of indigenous peoples in the design and roll-out of measures taken to prevent the contagion, including through the non- discriminatory delivery and administration of vaccines, and in recovery plans and efforts. In that context, the important roles of indigenous women should not be overlooked. The United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples and the Secretary-General’s call to action on human rights provide important tools in guiding those efforts.
     [ADDITIONAL PARAGRAPH] The permanent Forum welcomes efforts by member states to organize specific vaccine programs for indigenous peoples and encourages CEPI, Gavi, WHO and UNICEF in their administration of the COVAX Facility to ensure that indigenous peoples are uniquely included in vaccine dissemination efforts. Given the disproportionate effect COVID-19 has had on the mortality of Indigenous Peoples in many countries, the Permanent Forum underlines the urgency of ensuring that all Indigenous Peoples are uniquely considered in vaccine planning and distribution. Due attention should also be given to indigenous peoples affected by conflict- and post-conflict situations and complex humanitarian emergencies.
     [ADDITIONAL PARAGRAPH] The Permanent Forum recognizes that due to historical and ongoing discriminatory practices in the delivery of healthcare, including administration of vaccines there is distrust that needs to be acknowledged and addressed by governments. Therefore, the Permanent Forum recommends that governments collaborate with indigenous peoples’ representatives and leaders, provide culturally appropriate information in indigenous peoples’ languages, engage with indigenous healthcare practitioners and provide support to indigenous peoples’ organizations that are already providing pandemic related support in their communities.
     Indigenous women and girls
     5 . The COVID-19 pandemic has particularly affected indigenous women and girls, who already face violence and higher rates of poverty, in conjunction with limited access to health-care services, information and communications technologies, financial services, education and employment, while also suffering from multiple forms of discrimination and exclusion. Violence against women and girls is a 'shadow pandemic' that has increased during the COVID-19 pandemic. With the closure of schools, pregnancy rates among indigenous young women and girls have risen. In that context, support for indigenous women’s organizations and networks is vital since they are on the front lines of the responses to the pandemic.
6. The ongoing COVID-19 pandemic has illustrated the urgent need for the collection of disaggregated statistical data on the situation of indigenous peoples. Where such data is available, it has shown that the pandemic has affected indigenous peoples differently than other populations, requiring culturally appropriate approaches and solutions. The Permanent Forum reiterates its recommendation to Member States to collect and disseminate disaggregated statistical data on indigenous peoples, in close cooperation with indigenous peoples themselves, to support evidence-based policymaking and programming.
     7. The Permanent Forum recommends that the World Health Organization (WHO) create and convene regional round tables to address the issue of indigenous peoples and COVID-19 in order to ensure that the indigenous peoples of the globe are uniquely considered in mitigation efforts. Such round tables would also offer a timely opportunity to coordinate actions to respond to the impact on indigenous peoples of the pandemic.
     8. The Permanent Forum also invites recommends WHO and PAHO to engage in an intersessional round table on COVID-19 with Forum members to ensure that ongoing mitigation planning and efforts are uniquely adapted to the needs of indigenous peoples, including by applying the intercultural approaches to health such as those applied by PAHO in the Americas.
     9. The Permanent Forum recognizes the need to address the emergence of the mental health consequences of the pandemic. The consequences are being felt in all populations, but most acutely in populations that have traditionally been marginalized. The Forum calls for investments and preparations for mental and behavioural health interventions that are culturally adapted. Traditional medicines and practices can play a key role in the health of indigenous communities and individuals by encompassing a variety of dimensions, including the spiritual. The Permanent Forum calls on the WHO/Pan American Health Organization, States Members of the United Nations and indigenous peoples to work together to provide pathways to promoting mental health.
     10. The Permanent Forum recommends that WHO and the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, together with the Inter-agency Support Group on Indigenous Peoples’ Issues, promote dialogue forums at the national and regional levels between government ministries and indigenous peoples to establish culturally relevant strategies to address the epidemiological risks and the food and environmental crises resulting from the pandemic, as well as access to justice and the safeguarding of indigenous peoples’ territorial control.
     11. Throughout history, indigenous peoples have moved from place to place in search of water, pastureland for their animals, and game; to trade goods from different ecological zones; and even to seek job opportunities in urban areas. Mobility restrictions both within and across State borders have affected indigenous peoples adversely, with the impact on pastoralist groups being particularly severe in the context of their ability to access water and food. The Permanent Forum recommends that States implement specific measures to address the mobility needs of indigenous peoples, including through cooperation with neighbouring States, and that such efforts be made with the full free, prior and informed consent of the indigenous peoples affected.
     12. The Permanent Forum welcomes the establishment of the Network of the Centers of Distinction on Indigenous and Local Knowledge under the Intergovernmental Science-Policy Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services. The Network, which comprises indigenous leaders, experts, professionals and advocates of indigenous and local knowledge, serves to promote the integrity and value of the knowledge of indigenous peoples and local communities in science and policy. In addition, the Forum notes the aspects relevant to indigenous peoples that the Platform has rolled out until 2030 in its work programme, and in that regard seeks to further its collaboration with the Platform in its own future work. The Forum invites the Platform and the Network to continue to inform the Forum about the progress of its work, including at the Forum’s twenty-first session.
     13. The Permanent Forum welcomes the entry into force of the Regional Agreement on Access to Information, Public Participation and Access to Justice in Environmental Matters in Latin America and the Caribbean (Escazu Agreement) on 22 April 2021 and urges those countries that have not yet signed and ratified the Agreement to do so at the earliest opportunity. The Permanent Forum urges those countries that have
     ratified the Escazu Agreement to ensure its implementation.
     14. During the pandemic, indigenous peoples have been seriously affected by a lack of access to energy, health-care establishments, education centres, infrastructure that supplies clean water, and communication services and information technologies. In their responses to the economic impacts of the pandemic, Governments have made a range of efforts to support economic activity. The relaxing of environmental and human rights standards in order to support activities that will promote economic growth, such as logging, mining, large-scale agriculture and various infrastructure and energy projects, threaten indigenous peoples’ territories. The Permanent Forum requests Member States to include indigenous peoples in the preparatory process and the outcome of the high-level dialogue on energy to be held by the General Assembly in September 2021, in order to accelerate action on achieving Sustainable Development Goal 7 and the implementation of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and the Paris Agreement on climate change.
     15. The Permanent Forum welcomes the fact that the International Union for Conservation of Nature, in cooperation with indigenous peoples, is undertaking preparations for the World Summit of Indigenous Peoples and Nature to be convened during the upcoming World Conservation Congress, which will be held in Marseille, France, in September 2021. The Summit is aimed at providing an opportunity to highlight and exchange information about the contributions of indigenous peoples to sustaining biodiversity, combating climate change and promoting sustainable development. The Forum recommends that Member States, international organizations and non-governmental organizations support the participation of indigenous peoples in the Summit. The Forum invites the International Union for Conservation of Nature to share the outcomes of the Summit at the Forum’s twenty-first session.
      The Permanent Forum appoints Hindou Oumarou Ibrahim and Vital Bambanze, members of the Forum, to conduct a study on Indigenous Peoples and resource conflicts in the Sahel and Congo Basin and to present that study to the Forum at its twenty-first session, in 2022.
      The Permanent Forum appoints Irma Pineda Santiago and Símon Freddy Condo Riveros, members of the Forum, to conduct a study on collective intellectual property and the appropriation of the ideas and creations of indigenous peoples and to present that study to the Forum at its twenty-first session, in 2022.
      The Permanent Forum appoints Sven-Erik Soosaar, Irma Pineda Santiago and Bornface Museke Mate, members of the Forum, to conduct a study on indigenous languages in the formal education system and to present that study to the Forum at its twenty-first session, in 2022.
      The Permanent Forum appoints Darío José Mejía Montalvo, member of the Forum, to conduct a study on the rights of Indigenous Peoples facing the global energy mix and to present that study to the Forum at its twenty-first session, in 2022."

" Draft report E/C.19/2021/L.6
     Rapporteur: Ms. Tove Søvndahl Gant
     26 April 2021 Original: English
     Chapter I. Matters calling for action by the Economic and Social Council or brought to its attention
     B. Matters brought to the attention of the Council
      Recommendations of the Permanent Forum
     Human rights dialogue with the Special Rapporteur on the rights of indigenous peoples, the Expert Mechanism on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples and the United Nations Voluntary Fund for Indigenous Peoples
(item 5 (d))
     1 . The Permanent Forum welcomes the ratification on 15 April 2021 by the Bundestag of Germany of the Indigenous and Tribal Peoples Convention, 1989 (No. 169) of the International Labour Organization (ILO) and reiterates its recommendation to all Member States that have not ratified said Convention to do so as early as possible.
     2. Effective access to justice for indigenous peoples implies access to both the State legal system and their own systems of justice. Without accessible State courts or other legal mechanisms through which they can protect their rights, indigenous peoples become vulnerable to actions that threaten their lands, natural resources, cultures, sacred sites and livelihoods. Concurrently, the recognition of indigenous peoples’ own justice systems is pivotal in ensuring their rights to maintain their autonomy, culture and traditions.
     3. The lack of effective recognition of the indigenous justice systems by State institutions, as well as the ongoing discrimination against them in the State justice system and inadequate access to redress and reparation, are among the key challenges faced by indigenous peoples around the world. Strengthened support for indigenous justice systems is key to promoting human rights, the rule of law, the achievement of justice for all and the promotion of effective, accountable and inclusive institutions, as set out in Sustainable Development Goal 16.
     4. The Permanent Forum is dismayed by continuing disproportionately high rates of incarceration of indigenous individuals, especially indigenous men, in many countries around the world. Even more troubling are the accounts of all too many deaths in custody.
     5. With few commendable exceptions, indigenous peoples have been neglected in large part in the contingency measures of government authorities in response to the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic. As a result, their needs and requirements are not taken adequately into account or addressed by national programmes and policies. The Permanent Forum agrees with the United Nations Special Rapporteur on the rights of indigenous peoples that effective responses to the pandemic and recovery measures need to be a collaborative effort between indigenous institutions and State institutions. Combining indigenous knowledge of what is best for indigenous communities with State services and financial support will ensure effective outcomes.
     6. The Permanent Forum underlines that necessary response measures to epidemics or pandemics can never justify the repression of the exercise of human rights and fundamental freedoms, including freedom of expression and assembly in the context of legitimate protests in the defence of lands, territories, resources and the environment.
     7. The Permanent Forum welcomes national engagement of the Expert Mechanism on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples with Brazil, Finland, Mexico, New Zealand and Sweden on projects related to, among others, the development of national action plans for the implementation of indigenous peoples’ rights, processes related to land demarcation and land titling, and facilitating the repatriation of sacred ceremonial objects. The Forum highlights the agreement facilitated by the Expert Mechanism among the Museum of World Culture in Sweden, the Yaqui people in Mexico and the United States of America on the repatriation of the Maaso Kova as a commendable best practice. The Forum encourages States and indigenous peoples to build on the successful country engagement practices and avail themselves of the Expert Mechanism’s unique analytical capacity and potential to support dialogue between indigenous peoples and Governments.
     8. The Permanent Forum is concerned by the high number of indigenous children being removed from their families and placed into public social care, in particular in developed countries. In this regard, the Forum noted with satisfaction the Expert Mechanism’s engagement on the rights of the indigenous children. The report of the Expert Mechanism on the indigenous child will be discussed at its forthcoming session, in July 2021.
     9. The Permanent Forum expresses its grave concern about the lack of observance and implementation of indigenous peoples’ rights, as enshrined in the Indigenous and Tribal Peoples Convention, 1989 (No. 169), the American Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples and the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples. This underscores the need for more awareness- raising and capacity-building regarding indigenous peoples’ rights, not only for indigenous peoples themselves, but also for government and justice officials, as well as for private sector actors and civil society at large. In this regard, the Forum welcomes the e-learning course on indigenous peoples’ rights developed by the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR), with the support of the Expert Mechanism and United Nations Voluntary Fund for Indigenous Peoples. The course, which is available on the OHCHR website, is a small but important contribution towards building capacities for the promotion and protection of indigenous peoples’ rights.
     [NEW PARAGRAPH] The Permanent Forum recalls its invitation to the Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (CESCR) to initiate a general comment on the collective rights of indigenous peoples to lands, territories and natural resources. The Permanent Forum welcomes the decision of the CESCR to draft a general comment on Land and Economic, Social and Cultural Rights. However, the Permanent Forum expresses its concern with the limited participation of Indigenous Peoples in drafting the general comment and invites the CESCRC to consider facilitating participation of Indigenous peoples. The Permanent Forum invites the Voluntary Fund for Indigenous Peoples to provide support in this regard.
     10. The Permanent Forum recommends that the Organization of American States establish a consultation mechanism, composed of experts from indigenous peoples communities, as part of the effort to ensure national implementation of the American Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples and the Indigenous and Tribal Peoples Convention, 1989 (No. 169).
     11 . The Permanent Forum urges States to address the stark inequality between indigenous and non-indigenous people in all aspects of life, which has been heightened as a result of COVID-19, by implementing in full the Indigenous and Tribal Peoples Convention, 1989 (No. 169), the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples and the American Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples in all their legal norms and public policies related to indigenous peoples.
     12. Given increased violence against indigenous peoples in the Amazon region, the Permanent Forum urges the Member States of the region to take urgent, extraordinary and coordinated measures to protect the individual and collective rights of indigenous peoples, with the aim of maintaining their ownership and use of their territories. The Forum also calls upon the United Nations system and specialized agencies, including OHCHR, the United Nations Environment Programme, the United Nations Development Programme, the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations and ILO, to support Member States in the protection of indigenous peoples’ habitats and cultures in the Amazon region in cooperation with indigenous peoples.
     13. The Permanent Forum recommends that all indigenous peoples make use, whenever appropriate, of the early warning measures and urgent procedures established by the Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination. These early warning measures and procedures are aimed at preventing existing situations from escalating into conflicts and respond to problems requiring immediate attention to prevent or limit the scale or number of serious violations of the International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination. The Forum also recommends that the Committee’s Working Group on Early Warning and Urgent Action Procedures urgently address the serious human rights violations and the criminalization of indigenous peoples in the Amazon in order for the Committee to take effective measures.
     14. Member States must urgently address violence against indigenous peoples, including State violence, gender-based violence, forced assimilation and forced child removals, discrimination in the justice system and other forms of discrimination, including discrimination based on gender, religion, disability, age and LGBTIQ identity. The Forum encourages the Expert Mechanism, at its earliest convenience, to engage with the Governments of Australia and New Zealand, and with the participation of indigenous peoples, regarding the removal of indigenous children.
     15. The Permanent Forum invites the secretariat of the Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women to share information, at its twenty-first session, in 2022, regarding the progress made in incorporating the rights of indigenous women into the work of the Committee. It also invites States parties to the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms Discrimination against Women to incorporate specific rights-based indicators and information on indigenous peoples, in particular indigenous women, in their periodic progress reports on the implementation of the Convention.
     16. The Permanent Forum recommends that the Human Rights Council mandate the United Nations Special Rapporteur on torture and other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment, with the contribution of the United Nations Special Rapporteur on the rights of indigenous peoples, to undertake a study on incarceration, deaths in custody and indigenous peoples.
     17. The Permanent Forum notes that, over the course of the global COVID-19 pandemic, opportunities for consultations and participation in decision-making have increasingly moved online. Although in-person meetings and interaction should always be the preferred option, on-line consultations and decision-making present opportunities for enhanced participation. However, these online options expose existing inequalities and a digital divide that is especially detrimental to the participation of indigenous peoples in many parts of Africa, Latin America, the Pacific and in rural areas around the world. Recognizing that virtual dialogues, consultations and other events will continue beyond the pandemic, the Forum emphasizes that existing mechanisms to support the participation of indigenous peoples in processes that affect them must adapt to this new environment and support the online participation of indigenous peoples. This includes purchasing data packages and facilitating access to electricity and necessary hardware and in- country travel to gain access to stable Internet connections. The Forum notes that current administrative processes of the United Nations do not facilitate such participation and therefore requests that the Secretary-General instruct relevant United Nations entities to make the necessary arrangements as a matter of urgency."

"Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues
     Twentieth session, New York, 19–30 April 2021
      Draft report E/C.19/2021/L.7
     26 April 2021 Original: English
     Rapporteur: Ms. Tove Søvndahl Gant
     Chapter I. Matters calling for action by the Economic and Social Council or brought to its attention
     B. Matters brought to the attention of the Council Recommendations of the Permanent Forum
      Follow-up to the outcome document of the World Conference on Indigenous and the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development (item 6)
1. Since the adoption of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development by Member States in 2015, the Permanent Forum has repeatedly highlighted the importance of ensuring the meaningful and full participation of indigenous peoples in the implementation of the 2030 Agenda. Unfortunately, the world is not on track to meet globally agreed targets. This has been particularly evident during the period of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic, in which existing inequities have been exacerbated, placing the survival of indigenous peoples at greater risk. During the pandemic, indigenous peoples, in particular indigenous women and girls, have not only been left behind, but have been left even further behind.
     2. Bearing that in mind, the Permanent Forum considers it an opportune moment to reconsider and adjust the implementation of the 2030 Agenda and to design a non-extractivist, sustainable agenda that fully incorporates a human rights-based approach.
     3. The Permanent Forum is concerned that the concept of building back better has been interpreted by some States as a means to continue the execution of harmful development projects, which for indigenous peoples means repeated violations of their collective and individual rights, expropriation of their lands and resources, criminalization of indigenous human rights defenders, increased poverty, inequality and food insecurity, violence against indigenous women and girls, and limited access to justice.
     4. The concept of building back better also implies opportunities to recognize and value the traditional knowledge of indigenous peoples in safeguarding and conserving the environment, actions which can significantly advance the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals. It also implies addressing the lack of educational infrastructure, digital literacy and culturally appropriate education. It also requires the involvement of indigenous youth as they will inherit the responsibility to protect and preserve indigenous peoples’ traditional knowledge and preserve their traditional lands, resources and sacred sites upon which their cultural heritage and identity are based. Furthermore, indigenous women, as guardians of their traditional and gender-specific knowledge, must participate adequately in land ownership and governance at all levels.
     5. The Permanent Forum reiterates its call to Member States to redouble their efforts to ensure disaggregated data collection on indigenous peoples (in accordance with target 17.10) and to include complementary indicators on indigenous peoples in voluntary national reports submitted by Governments for meetings of the high- level political forum on sustainable development. Data disaggregated by ethnicity will help Governments to make informed decisions in a culturally appropriate way in response to the specific needs of indigenous peoples. The Forum underlines the importance of applying a human rights-based approach to data collection, including on ethnicity.
     6. The Permanent Forum recommends that the United Nations and United Nations system organizations ensure the effective participation of indigenous peoples at the Food Systems Summit in 2021, as well as at all the related processes conducted in advance thereof and thereafter, including the pre-summit to be held in Italy from 19 to 21 July 2021. The food systems of indigenous peoples support sustainability and care for the environment and generate healthy foods important for the eradication of hunger and the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals.
     7. The Permanent Forum calls on Member States and international institutions to engage in full cooperation with indigenous peoples in their COVID-19 recovery efforts. The Forum further recommends that all available means of assistance, including financial support by international and national donor agencies and private philanthropic institutions, be allocated to initiatives led by indigenous peoples towards the achievement of the Goals.
      Follow-up to the outcome document of the World Conference on Indigenous Peoples
8. Implementation of the outcome document of the World Conference on Indigenous Peoples, as set out in General Assembly resolution 69/2 and the Alta outcome document, is crucial for both meeting the aspirations of indigenous peoples worldwide and for ensuring that their rights and interests are guaranteed in decision- making processes. Further efforts should be made to reach the goal of enhancing the participation of indigenous peoples in the work of the United Nations from a system-wide perspective and in relation to various United Nations bodies and organs.
     9. States Members of the United Nations and indigenous peoples must continue their constructive dialogue under the auspices of the President of the General Assembly, within the framework of the relevant decisions of the General Assembly, the Economic and Social Council and the Human Rights Council. It is also important to continue to make use of and explore ways to improve the opportunities provided through the existing formats and modalities of the Assembly, the Economic and Social Council, the Human Rights Council and various entities of the United Nations system. In that regard, the Permanent Forum welcomes the adoption by the Assembly of resolution 75/168 and the continuation of the dialogue within the context of the Forum at its twenty-first session.
     10. In the study entitled 'Representative institutions and models of self- governance of indigenous peoples in Eastern Europe, the Russian Federation, Central Asia and Transcaucasia: ways of enhanced participation' (E/C.19/2021/8), the authors emphasized that there were various forms and models of indigenous peoples’ participation in decision-making. They indicated that no one form or model was universal and that it was necessary to carefully study existing best practices in order to adapt flexibly to situations in diverse subnational regions. In general, indigenous peoples had representation in both executive and legislative bodies in subnational regions while having or developing their own decision-making institutions.
     11. The authors also emphasized that regular and constructive dialogue between States, indigenous peoples’ organizations and private entities was vital and must be free of any discrimination or inequality regarding the status or number of indigenous peoples. The process of establishing a council of ombudsmen on the rights of indigenous peoples and of establishing consultative bodies with State institutions were highlighted as examples of best practices. A pragmatic approach was desirable in terms of using the opportunities that distinct political systems provided for participation in decision-making, in line with the minimum standards set by the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples. It was also important to take into account the situation of indigenous peoples who lived across administrative and State borders. It was necessary to apply the principle of free, prior and informed consent in a comprehensive and systemic way.
     12. The Permanent Forum recommends that Member States continue to develop legislation to support genuine indigenous representation and participation in decision-making. Legislative measures that create practical, economic, legal and political difficulties for the establishment and functioning of indigenous organizations and institutions worldwide should be addressed in order to allow for cross-border and international cooperation between indigenous peoples of different countries and with and within international organizations on issues and processes affecting them.
     13. Indigenous peoples should be free to continue and enhance the participation of their institutions in various processes locally, nationally, regionally and globally in forms and ways that are culturally appropriate for them and that ensure equality and non-discriminatory access. In at regard, the Permanent Forum recommends that Member States and indigenous peoples involved in international regional cooperation forums exercise an inclusive and non-discriminatory approach towards indigenous peoples living in the countries and territories covered by such forums.
     14. The Permanent Forum underlines that the right of indigenous peoples’ to revitalize, use, develop and transmit to future generations their histories, languages, oral traditions, philosophies, writing systems and literature, and to designate and retain their own names for communities, places and persons, applies to all indigenous peoples, regardless of population or membership size.
     15. The Permanent Forum recommends that States ensure that the participation of indigenous peoples in subnational and local decision-making bodies is based on equality and non-discrimination and on respecting indigenous peoples’ rights to choose their own representatives in accordance with their own procedures."

"Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues Twentieth session
     New York, 19–30 April 2021
      Draft report E/C.19/2021/L.8
     Rapporteur: Ms. Tove Søvndahl Gant
     28 April 2021 Original: English
     Chapter I. Matters calling for action by the Economic and Social Council or brought to its attention
     B . Matters brought to the attention of the Council Recommendations of the Permanent Forum
     Dialogues: thematic dialogues
(item 5 (f))
      Discussion on the International Decade of Indigenous Languages
     1 . The Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues welcomes the proclamation by the General Assembly in its resolution 74/135 of the period 2022–2032 as the International Decade of Indigenous Languages, following the successful celebration in 2019 of the International Year of Indigenous Languages. The International Decade provides a unique opportunity for creating sustainable changes in complex social dynamics for the preservation, revitalization and promotion of indigenous languages.
     [NEW PARAGRAPH] It is important to recognize that indigenous peoples themselves must claim ownership of their languages and direct the revitalization efforts of their languages, while States should support these efforts and facilitate the transmission of the languages by parents and grandparents to the younger generations.
     2. The Permanent Forum welcomes the high-level event entitled 'Making a Decade of Action for Indigenous Languages' held in in Mexico City in February 2020 and its outcome document, the Los Pinos Declaration [Chapoltepek] – Making a Decade of Action for Indigenous Languages, which laid the foundations for the global action plan for the International Decade.
     3. The Permanent Forum also welcomes the establishment of a global task force in 2021 that is tasked with preparing, planning, implementing and monitoring progress on the global action plan.
     4. The Permanent Forum takes note of the evaluation report on action by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) to revitalize and promote indigenous languages, within the framework of the International Year of Indigenous Languages. According to the report, which was adopted by the Executive Board of UNESCO, UNESCO and the global task force should adopt lessons learned and the recommendations contained therein during the International Decade of Indigenous Languages, including by developing a road map with clear, measurable and time-bound activities and results. The Forum welcomes the inclusion of indigenous experts in indigenous language revitalization in the coordinating team of UNESCO for the International Decade and stresses the continuing need for such experts in the future. With a view to enhancing the global accessibility of all relevant information pertaining to the Decade, the use of the six official languages of the United Nations is crucial.
     5. In order to achieve a successful International Decade, it is vital to ensure the worldwide engagement of indigenous peoples and States. The full and effective participation of indigenous peoples at all levels and the involvement of all relevant government ministries, such as those for education, culture, and finance in the design, planning, financing and implementation of all activities is crucial. The private sector should also be invited to contribute since information and communications companies can play a unique role in the design, development and usage of contemporary language technologies.
     6. The Permanent Forum urges Member States, the United Nations system and private philanthropic institutions to fund activities for the implementation of the global action plan and invites UNESCO, as the lead agency for the commemoration of the International Decade, to prioritize support for projects led by indigenous peoples. Languages on the brink of extinction must be afforded particular attention.
     7. The Permanent Forum invites UNESCO to create, in cooperation with academic institutions and indigenous peoples’ institutions, a universal digital platform in which digital resources for indigenous languages can be created, stored and made available to indigenous peoples and researchers in order to preserve linguistic diversity.
     8. The Permanent Forum welcomes the recent decision to establishment of the an Ibero-American Institute of Indigenous Languages, with the support of the Fund for the Development of the Indigenous Peoples of Latin America and the Caribbean and member States of the region, within the framework of the XXVII Ibero- American Summit of Heads of State and Government held in Soldeu, Andorra, in April 2021, and encourages other regions to follow this initiative.
      Discussion on the six mandated areas of the Permanent Forum (economic and social development, culture, environment, education, health and human rights), with reference to the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (item 4)
     [NEW PARAGRAHP] Due to the COVID-19 pandemic preventing in-person meetings, the Permanent Forum held regional dialogues virtually with indigenous peoples from all seven socio-cultural regions of the world in preparation of its twentieth session. The dialogues highlighted cross-cutting issues affecting indigenous peoples across the globe, including the adverse effects of the COVID-19 pandemic, discrimination, the need for disaggregated data and indigenous peoples rights to lands, territories and resources. A full summary of the regional dialogues is available at the Permanent Forum website1. The Permanent Forum is committed to continue to organize virtual regional dialogues in the context of building back better and the recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic. The Permanent Forum invites the Secretariat of the Forum to continue to support these virtual regional dialogues.
     9. The Permanent Forum highlights the continued misappropriation and illicit use of indigenous peoples’ intellectual property and cultural heritage by enterprises and individuals that use it for their own vested interests or benefits.
     10. The Permanent Forum stresses that the intellectual property rights held by indigenous peoples, including with regard to data and knowledge, should not be exploited or be taken by private companies and individuals without the free, prior and informed consent of the indigenous peoples concerned. The principle of free, prior and informed consent and the stringent application of relevant safeguards and policies promulgated by United Nations system entities also applies to intellectual property rights in the context of industrial, forestry, mining and other projects conducted on indigenous peoples’ lands and territories. This also applies to also to relevant instruments, such as the Nagoya Protocol on Access and Access and Benefits Sharing of the Convention on Biological Diversity.
     11. Acknowledging the normative work of the Intergovernmental Committee on Intellectual Property and Genetic Resources, Traditional Knowledge and Folklore of the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO), the Permanent Forum recommends that Member States and WIPO ensure protection against the misappropriation of the intellectual property of indigenous peoples. Member States must also enact laws and adopt policies and mechanisms to protect indigenous peoples’ intellectual property from misappropriation, including the wrongful use of their cultural heritage and traditional knowledge (including traditional knowledge of nature) and traditional cultural expressions (such as oral traditions, rites, literatures, graphic designs, textile designs, traditional sports and games, and visual and performing arts) and the manifestation of indigenous science and technology (including human and genetic resources, seeds and medicines).
     12. The Permanent Forum is concerned that the ruling of the African Court on Human and Peoples’ Rights on the Ogiek community in the Mau forest in Kenya has still not been implemented and calls on the Government of Kenya to urgently implement a sustainable system of equitable land tenure to prevent any further forced evictions; publish without delay the recommendations of the task force to advise the Government on the implementation of the decision of the African Court on Human and Peoples’ Rights in respect of the rights of the Ogiek community of Mau; enhance the participation of indigenous communities in the sustainable management of forests; and comply with the decision of the Court.
     13. The Permanent Forum notes with concern that the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic has increased sexual and reproductive health challenges worldwide and stresses that there is a need for Governments to implement the commitments they made during the summit held in Nairobi in 2019 to mark the twenty-fifth anniversary of on the International Conference on Population and Development.
     14. Furthermore, States should strengthen measures, systems and resources to effectively address all forms of violence against indigenous women, such as female genital mutilation; child marriage; sexual abuse; forced labour; modern slavery; domestic, institutional and political violence, including in the context of forced displacement; sexual exploitation; trafficking; armed conflict; and the militarization of indigenous lands and territories.
     15. The Permanent Forum urges States and bodies and organizations of the United Nations system, including the United Nations Environment Programme and the United Nations Environment Assembly, to include indigenous peoples in a fully meaningful and effective manner in decision-making processes in all areas aimed at tackling marine litter and plastic pollution, and landscape/ecosystem degradation, including in programmes and partnerships and in the future negotiations of international instruments. Such efforts should include recognition of the traditional knowledge, practices and innovations of indigenous peoples, in particular indigenous women, in plans and actions to restore landscapes and ecosystems and to address marine litter and plastic pollution.
     [NEW PARAGRAPH] Considering the continued threats facing Indigenous Peoples Living in Voluntary Isolation and Initial Contact (PIACI), and due to their unique vulnerability in the time of COVID-19, the Forum recommends that COVID-19 vaccination plans prioritize the local populations located in the territories and adjacent areas of indigenous peoples living in voluntary isolation and initial contact. The Forum reminds the States that by virtue of their international obligations, specifically those contained in the American Convention on Human Rights, they must adopt measures to safeguard the life and integrity of their citizens, especially when it comes to those population groups that are highly vulnerable, as is the case of the PIACI.
     [NEW PARAGRAPH] The Forum urgently recommends that PAHO and WHO in cooperation with the Permanent Forum and other relevant entities, create a Permanent Working Group to evaluate the ongoing situation of PIACI, and to design, promote and discuss with governments and other institutions, the implementation of urgent measures for the protection of Indigenous Peoples Living in Voluntary Isolation and Initial Contact.
     [NEW PARAGRAPH] The Permanent Forum welcomes the launch of online courses on Indigenous Peoples’ rights by Columbia University, OHCHR, Tribal Link Foundation and Universidad Indígena Intercultural of FILAC and recommends to academia, Indigenous and other organizations and the UN system to seek ways to provide access to these courses to Indigenous Peoples living in remote areas without internet or digital devices. Special efforts should be made to make such courses available in various languages, including Indigenous languages, and to make them accessible to Indigenous youth. The Permanent Forum also recommends the incorporation of more Indigenous knowledge into universities, in consultation with the indigenous owners of the knowledge, designing online course content addressing specific local and national Indigenous issues in different countries, and the increased participation and voices of Indigenous Peoples in online courses.
     [NEW PARAGRAPH] The Permanent Forum welcomes the establishment and development of Indigenous-led funds as a self-governance practice, which promote funding access to indigenous communities and shift power relations in donor and philanthropy processes. The Forum invites the broad donor and philanthropic community to support these initiatives.
      Dialogues: dialogue with United Nations agencies, funds and programmes (item 5 (c))
16. The Permanent Forum welcomes the endorsement by the United Nations System Chief Executives Board for Coordination in November 2020 of a call to action to revitalize the system-wide action plan on the rights of indigenous peoples, as set out in the report entitled 'Building an inclusive, sustainable and resilient future with indigenous peoples: a call to action'. In the report, the Chief Executives Board called for ensuring the more systematic participation of indigenous peoples in United Nations country processes, such as the United Nations Sustainable Development Cooperation Frameworks, and in the implementation of socioeconomic response and recovery plans and the Sustainable Development Goals.
     17. The Permanent Forum takes note of the progress made in including indigenous peoples in several of the newly developed United Nations Sustainable Development Cooperation Frameworks developed in 2020 and the COVID-19 socioeconomic response plans. However, the Forum also takes note of the uneven inclusion of indigenous peoples in United Nations country programming consultations and development, and the lack of disaggregated data, which perpetuates their invisibility. The Forum reiterates that indigenous peoples should participate in the preparation of common country assessments as well as the Sustainable Development Cooperation Frameworks and that United Nations country teams should work with Governments to effective consultation with indigenous peoples.
     18. [NEW PARAGRAPH] The Permanent Forum recalls that over 10 years ago, the International Fund for Agricultural Development established an Indigenous Forum, which the Permanent has repeatedly recognized as a good practice and recommended that other UN entities should follow. However, despite these recommendations, other UN entities have not done so, with the notable exception of the Local Communities and Indigenous Peoples Platform of the UNFCCC. The Permanent Forum reiterates its recommendation to United Nations entities to incorporate indigenous peoples-driven platforms in order to give advice on and to promote indigenous peoples’ issues, as well as consider the participation of the Permanent Forum together with indigenous peoples in such platforms.
     [NEW PARAGRAPH] In the absence of in-person sessions of the Permanent Forum over two years, the Permanent Forum expresses its appreciation of the online dialogues with United Nations funds, programmes and specialized agencies and welcomes the continuation of this good practice in the coming years, beyond the effects of the pandemic. The Permanent Forum expresses its appreciation to Secretariat of the Permanent Forum for facilitating these dialogues and invites the Secretariat to continue doing so.
     19. The Permanent Forum recognizes that as the global economy promises to 'build back better' from the economic crisis caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, it is imperative that international financial institutions, including the World Bank, work in close consultation with indigenous peoples and invest in their communities. Indigenous peoples are partners in restarting the global economy while also maintaining their position given to them by birth as stewards of Mother Earth.
     20. The Permanent Forum welcomes indigenous peoples’ contributions to the implementation of the Convention on Biological Diversity and the development of the post-2020 global biodiversity framework. The Forum underlines the need to develop a new programme of work and institutional arrangements on article 8(j) and other provisions of the Convention with the full and effective participation of indigenous peoples. It recommends that the secretariat of the Convention facilitate a capacity-building process for indigenous peoples to enable them to prepare themselves for the development of new programmes of work and institutional arrangements.
     21. The Permanent Forum welcomes the launching by the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), during the twenty-seventh session of its Technical Committee on Agriculture, in 2020, of the global hub on indigenous peoples’ food systems. It recommends that FAO continue to facilitate the work of the global hub.
     22. The Permanent Forum welcomes the White/Whipala paper on indigenous peoples’ food systems, which was drafted under the coordination of the global hub, and which has been accepted as one of the scientific papers that will serve to inform constituents at the Summit. [COMBINE 21 AND 22 INTO ONE PARAGRAPH]
     23. [NEW PARAGRAPH] The Permanent Forum welcomes the dialogues to support indigenous peoples’ preparations for the Food Systems Summit. The Permanent Forum requests Member States and the secretariat of the UNFSS to guarantee the participation of indigenous peoples at the Summit and with a view to ensure due reflection of indigenous peoples’ rights and issues in the relevant outcome documents.
     24. The Permanent Forum recommends that FAO develop an action plan to identify priorities with indigenous peoples to support their participation in the 2022 International Year of Artisanal Fisheries and Aquaculture.
     [NEW PARAGRAPH] The Permanent Forum welcomes the decision by the FAO to observe an International Year of Rangelands and Pastoralists in 2026 and encourages Member States to support the participation of Indigenous Peoples in events leading up to the year.
     [NEW PARAGRAPH] The Forum recommends UN Women to conduct a study on Violence against Indigenous Women and Access to Justice, especially in cross-border situations in cooperation with Indigenous Women.
     [NEW PARAGRAPH] The Permanent Forum calls on the organizers of the forthcoming Conference of the Parties to the UNFCCC, CBD and UNCCD to ensure the full and effective participation of indigenous peoples, virtually or in person, that are to be organized later this year. The Permanent Forum encourages donors and civil society organizations to support indigenous peoples’ participation in these events.
     [NEW PARAGRAPH] The Permanent Forum welcomes the establishment of the Steering Committee on Indigenous Peoples of Africa that consists of the African Commission’s Working Group on Indigenous Populations/Communities and Minorities in Africa as well as interested members of the Inter-Agency Support Group on Indigenous Issues. The Permanent Forum invites the Steering Committee to work in cooperation with the members of the Permanent Forum to support the implementation of the System-Wide Action Plan on Indigenous Issues as well as the Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples on the African continent. The Permanent Forum also encourages United Nations agencies, funds and programmes to establish a similar inter-agency group in Asia.
     [NEW PARAGRAPH] The Permanent Forum is concerned about reports of UNDP entering into a strategic partnership with the oil company GeoPark, a private entity that has been accused by indigenous communities of disregarding their rights, to carry out economic development activities in Colombia without the free, prior and informed consent of the indigenous communities that will be impacted. This contradicts UNDP’s own Social and Environmental Standard 6, and the Forum urges UNDP to suspend all related partnership activities until a proper FPIC process can be carried out.
     1. Final.pdf."

The Twenty-first session (2022) of UNPFII is April 25-May 6, 2022, at UN Headquarters, New York City. The Special theme is, “Indigenous peoples, business, autonomy and the human rights principles of due diligence including free, prior and informed consent,” For more information go to:

For information, including additional UNPFII reports, press releases and agendas visit:

“United States’ Human Rights Record Examined at UN Universal Periodic Review,” Cultural Survival, December 16, 2020,, reported, “In October 2019, Cultural Survival submitted a report on the state of Indigenous human rights in the United States as part of the 36th Session of the United Nations Universal Periodic Review, a process by which UN member States have the opportunity to review fellow States’ human rights records and make recommendations.
     The United States’ review took place on November 9, 2020. Its representative led its statements by saying the country is “immensely proud of our human rights record,” an egregious but not surprising denial of the violations enumerated in Cultural Survival’s report, in fellow States’ reviews, and beyond. Several States offered recommendations relevant to Indigenous Peoples in the United States, some of which reflected the content of Cultural Survival’s report (full list below). Japan, Kazakhstan, and several others recommended that U.S. ratify Convention on the Elimination of all Forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW), the Convention on the RIghts of the Child (CRC), and the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD ) “as soon as possible,” an affirmation of Cultural Survival’s recommendations. Various countries recommended that the U.S. take steps to minimize violence by law enforcement officers. Native Americans in the U.S. are more than three times more likely to be killed by police than white Americans. Four States —North Macedonia, Kenya, Paraguay, and Azerbaijan— made specific recommendations mentioning Indigenous Peoples.
      Paraguay recommended that the U.S. ‘pursue free, prior and informed consent with Indigenous communities as regards the potential impact in their areas in step with numerous SDGs,’ a fundamental principle enshrined in the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, which the Obama administration adopted in 2011, but which the U.S. has not successfully implemented in the almost decade since. Kenya’s recommendations included to ‘implement deliberate strategies to reduce the gap between African Americans and the rest of the population, as well as between the Indigenous and non-Indigenous populations and hence reduce structural and institutional discrimination.’ Azerbaijan recommended that the U.S. address housing and sanitary problems faced by marginalized communities, including Indigenous and migrant communities. Peru called for the U.S. to allow human rights defenders of immigrants to do their work freely and to put an end to punitive family separation policies, an essential complement to Cultural Survival’s criticism of family separation at the U.S.-Mexico border and our demand for language justice in the services provided to Indigenous language speakers in immigration detention .
     Several of the points Cultural Survival’s report centered were reiterated by the various recommendations, yet many were not. The UPR process compiles stakeholder reports into a brief summary covering a broad range of human rights issues, which are then provided to the State representatives to review prior to the meeting of the session. In this review, 73 individual reports and 65 joint reports from civil society were submitted. Joshua Cooper, Executive Director of the Hawaii Institute for Human Rights, lecturer at the University of Hawaii, and Dean at the Global Leadership Academy for a human rights advocacy in Geneva, Switzerland, describes meeting with different countries' embassies in Washington, DC, and at the UN missions in New York and Geneva prior to the UPR, so that in addition to submitting reports, Indigenous voices were brought directly to these representatives. While not all demands were named by member states during the hearing, they remain fundamental steps to achieving justice and sovereignty for Indigenous Peoples in the United States
      Cultural Survival acknowledged that its report was ‘not comprehensive and only briefly touches upon some issues Indigenous Peoples face that are emblematic of deep-rooted systemic discrimination and injustice. ’ It is framed in the context of over 500 treaties between the United States government and Native American nations signed between 1778 and 1871, all of which have been violated. The report discussed the issue of federal and state recognition, which reserves certain rights for specific Tribal Nations according to their ability to prove that they meet conditions, a discriminatory, colonial, and sometimes decade-long process. It highlighted land and resource rights violations in the New England area and nationally, specifically several cases of denial of access to ancestral lands and burial grounds and rejection of land claims in several cases, as well as high profile cases like the Dakota Access Pipeline and the criminalization of protesters such as those resisting the pipeline at Standing Rock in 2015. Cultural Survival also emphasized the historical trauma resulting from Indian Boarding Schools , to which Euro-American settlers forcibly removed Indigenous children from their families for over a hundred years and whose impacts continue to reverberate through Indigenous communities in innumerable ways , including, as the report noted, continued policies of removal through new institutions such as the foster care system.
     Cultural Survival also highlighted the ongoing crisis of Missing, Murdered, and Trafficked Indigenous Women ( MMIW, also written as MMIW2S to recognize the impacts of the crisis on Two-Spirit and LGBTQIA+ Indigenous people). At the end of the UPR hearing, the United States responded to the previous presentations. United States Deputy Assistant Attorney General, Alexander Maugeri, reported that the U.S. is working to ‘end violence disproportionately affecting American Indian and Alaska Native communities. In November 2019 President Trump signed an executive order establishing a task force on Missing and Murdered American Indians and Alaska Natives.’ While some Indigenous individuals have expressed support for the order, others have critiqued it because of the observation that the president himself is undermining its efficacy. Other critiques include that the administration has failed to consult Indigenous Peoples on the issue and that the initiative is underfunded and a political ploy .
     Finally, U.S. Department of State Acting Legal Advisor Marik String reported that the U.S. ‘reaffirms its support of the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, as explained in our 2010 statement of support’ and that it supports the recognition that Indigenous Peoples are entitled to both individual human rights recognized in international law and additional collective rights owed to them as Peoples. He claimed that, in compliance with laws requiring consultation with Tribal Nations, ‘multiple consultations with Tribal leaders are held each year on activities and policies affecting tribes or Tribal lands. The reestablished White House Council on Native American Affairs coordinates development of policy recommendations to support Tribal self-governance and improve the quality of life for Native Americans. With respect to cultural property, the United States is committed to supporting efforts by Tribes and individual Native Americans to recover ancestral remains as well as sacred and ceremonial cultural property that has been stolen, looted, or trafficked.’
     The UN General Assembly established the Universal Periodic Review (UPR) along with the United Nations Human Rights Council on March 15, 2006. Its role is to review the human rights records of the 193 UN member States, addressing the States’ obligations to respect, protect, and fulfill human rights, and to provide technical assistance to the States being reviewed. Over the course of a 4.5-year cycle, all member States are reviewed. Three sessions are held per year, with 14 countries reviewed per session for a total of 42
     Cooper highlights the importance of the UPR and international solidarity: ‘We need to connect with one another in solidarity here in the United States...connect with each other and point out how all of our human rights are connected. There will be many more, important UPRs coming up. Just one on the horizon that's very important for Indigenous Peoples will be Australia...And I think it's important for us to be able to participate in the UPRs and make sure that the human rights of Indigenous People is a constant and important communication that is shared during every UPR where Indigenous Peoples live. Basically, our lives and our liberties are on the line and the UPR is one important space that we can strategize and share the voice of Indigenous Peoples’
      Cultural Survival’s stakeholder report for the 36th session of the UPR called upon the US government to accept and implement the following recommendations:
     1. Implement UNDRIP and incorporate it into domestic policies and laws
     2. Reexamine treaties signed with Tribal Nations and set up commissions to find ways they can be implemented in today’s circumstances in line with UNDRIP
     3. Implement National Congress of American Indians’ plan for a streamlined process for federal acknowledgement and work with its Federal Recognition Task Force to address the interests of all Tribes, both federally and non-federally recognized.
     4. Pass the Mashpee Wampanoag Tribe Reservation Reaffirmation Act (H.R.312) in the Senate
     5. Reauthorize the Violence Against Women Act which is stalled in the Senate
     6. Pass the Not Invisible Act of 2019, H.R. 2438, to address the crisis of missing and murdered Indigenous women, establishing an advisory committee on violent crime.
     7. Enact bans on racist mascots state-wide and nationally
     8. Work with local Tribes to change Massachusetts state seal and flag.
     9. Set up national and State truth and reconciliation commissions based on the example from Maine and work on reparations to survivors and families.
     10. Ensure Indigenous participation in decision making in all matters affecting Indigenous Peoples
     11. Work with Tribes to ensure all Native Americans have access to voting.
     12. Pass the “For the People Act” (H.R. 1 / S. 949)—to improve voter turn-out including provisions to promote automatic voter registration; same-day voter registration; early voting; voting by mail; the re-enfranchisement of ex-felony offenders; an improvement in provisional ballots; while at the same time prohibiting voter caging, voter deception and voter intimidation.
     13. Enact the “Voting Rights Advancement Act” (H.R. 4 / S. 561) to ensure that last-minute voting changes do not adversely affect voters; to protect voters against discrimination, and to expand the Federal Observer Program; and improve voting rights protections for Native Americans and Alaska Natives.
     14. Devote resources to recruiting, training, and compensating licensed interpreters of Indigenous Central American languages.
     15. Disaggregate data at the border to recognize the ethnicity of Indigenous migrants, and devote resources accordingly.
     16. Reverse the inhumane policy of separating children from parents at the border and provide a mechanism for redress.
     17. Ratify CEDAW, CRC, CED, CRPD, ICESCR, Optional Protocol to CAT, Optional Protocol ICCPR
The next step in the UPR process is the adoption by the U.S. of the recommendations made by States at the upcoming Human Rights Council session scheduled for February and March 2021.
     For a video of the entire U.S. UPR hearing, click”
     "Rights of U.S. indigenous leader must be respected – UN experts," United Nations Human Rights, Office of the High Commissioner, December 15, 2020,, reported, " UN human rights experts* today expressed concerns about charges brought against a U.S. indigenous leader and human rights defender who will appear in court later this week in connection with peaceful demonstrations against President Donald Trump’s political rally at the iconic Mount Rushmore earlier this year.
      'Obviously we cannot pre-judge the outcome of the case against Nicholas Tilsen, but we are seriously concerned about his arrest and the charges brought against him in connection with the exercise of his rights as an indigenous person, particularly the right to assembly,' the experts said. 'We call on the U.S. to ensure that Mr. Tilsen’s due process rights are respected during the criminal prosecution and recall the obligation to ensure equal protection of the law without discrimination.'
     Tilsen, a human rights defender of the Oglala-Lakȟóta Sioux Nation and president of the indigenous-led NDN Collective, was one of 15 peaceful protesters arrested when a political rally was organised – without the consent of the indigenous peoples concerned – to celebrate U.S. Independence Day in July. Mount Rushmore National Memorial, with its colossal sculptures of former presidents, is located on treaty lands of the Great Sioux Nation.
     Tilsen is due in court on 18 December on four felony charges and three misdemeanour charges after he and others blocked a road leading to the rally site. If convicted of all charges, he could face 17 years in prison.
     “We are also concerned at allegations of excessive use of force by law enforcement agents against indigenous defenders, and recent reports of surveillance and intimidation by local police officers following the arrests,” the experts said.
      Trump’s rally, held without the consent of the Great Sioux Nation, attracted some 7,500 people who did not wear masks or practice social distancing. South Dakota is one of the states worst hit by the COVID-19 pandemic.
     'It is absolutely essential that the authorities do more to support and protect indigenous communities that have been disproportionately affected by the COVID-19 pandemic,'
the experts said. 'We also call on authorities to initiate dialogue with the Great Sioux Nation for the resolution of treaty violations.”
     *The experts: Mr. José Francisco Calí Tzay, Special Rapporteur on the rights of indigenous peoples, Ms. Mary Lawlor, Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights defenders,Mr. Clément Nyaletsossi Voule, Special Rapporteur on the rights to freedom of peaceful assembly and of association; Ms. E. Tendayi Achiume, Special Rapporteur on contemporary forms of racism; Ms. Karima Bennoune , Special Rapporteur in the field of cultural rights.
     Special Rapporteurs are part of what is known as the Special Proceduresof the Human Rights Council. Special Procedures, the largest body of independent experts in the UN Human Rights system, is the general name of the Council's independent fact-finding and monitoring mechanisms that address either specific country situations or thematic issues in all parts of the world. Special Procedures experts work on a voluntary basis; they are not UN staff and do not receive a salary for their work. They are independent from any government or organisation and serve in their individual capacity.
     For further information and media requests please contact Ms. Christine Evans (+41 22 917 9197 / or write to
     For media enquiries regarding other UN independent experts, please contact Ms. Kitty McKinsey (+41 76 691 1323 / and Mr. Jeremy Laurence (
     Follow news related to the UN's independent human rights experts on Twitter @UN_SPExperts."

Kumar Sunuwar, “UN Human Rights Review Highlights Nepal’s Shortfalls on Implementing Indigenous Rights,” Cultural Survival, January 22, 2021,, reported, “On January 21, 2021, Nepal’s human rights record was examined for the third time by the UN Human Rights Council’s Universal Periodic Review (UPR) in Geneva. Indigenous Peoples’ issues were addressed at a higher level than in previous years. The Universal Periodic Review was established by the UN General Assembly along with the UN Human Rights Council on March 15, 2006. Under this process, the human rights records of the 193 UN member States are reviewed in light of States' obligations to respect, protect, and fulfill human rights.
     Nepal’s human rights came under scrutiny in this process during the first cycle on January 25, 2011, and during the second cycle on November 4, 2015. In the first and second cycle only three recommendations were made at each review that specifically mentioned Indigenous Peoples. The UPR session to examine Nepal was first scheduled to be held in Geneva in November 2020, but due to the COVID-19 pandemic it was postponed and finally was conducted virtually on January 21.
     Nearly 98 countries lined up for the slots to raise questions in a 3-hour long virtual review session. As many as seven countries, namely Argentina, Fiji, Finland, Marshall Islands Federation, Thailand, and Timor-Leste raised concerns about the lack of promotion and protection of Indigenous Peoples’ rights in Nepal and made recommendations to the government of Nepal to ensure Indigenous Peoples rights to land, territories and natural resources. These recommendations add to those made to Nepal from the previous two cycles. The government of Nepal is obligated to implement recommendations and report on its progress towards implementation to the Human Rights Council. Indigenous Peoples comprise 36 percent of the total population of Nepal, but lack equal representation in State structures and experience discrimination and marginalization that has wide-ranging impacts.
     Taking part in the Nepal’s UPR review, the Marshall Islands Federation raised concerns in regards to hydropower projects that are being developed on the lands, territories and resources of Indigenous Peoples without addressing the concerns of the local communities beforehand, and recommended Nepal ‘ensure Indigenous Peoples rights relating to their land with revision of the legislation in these matters.’ Indeed, the aggressive pursuit of hydropower generation in the lands and territories of Indigenous Peoples without Free Prior and Informed Consent (FPIC) has resulted in massive impact on Indigenous Peoples, an issue that was documented in a stakeholder report submitted by a coalition of Indigenous rights organizations in Nepal and internationally, including: Sunuwar Sewa Samaj, Indigenous Women’s League, Newa Misa Daboo, Nepal Tamang Women Ghedung, Indigenous Media Foundation, and Cultural Survival, in advance of the Nepal’s review.
      Nepal has ratified over 24 various human rights conventions, and declarations which include International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, International Covement on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, Convention on the Rights of Child, Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW), Convention Against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishement (CAT), Convention on the Rights of persons with Disabilities (CRPD), ILO Convention 169, UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (UNDRIP), among others, which directly outline the human rights of Indigenous Peoples.
      Foreign Minister of Nepal, Pradeep Kumar Gyawali, presented information on compliance with these norms on behalf of the government of Nepal, highlighting the efforts made by the State to promote and protect human rights and implement the recommendations made in two previous UPR reviews of Nepal.
     Presenting the report, the Minister said, ‘Nepal upholds the values of those human rights conventions that Nepal has been party to and duly have internalized in the 2015 Constitution of Nepal in the forms of comprehensive bill of fundamental rights.’
     However, though Nepal has ratified ILO Convention 169 relating to Indigenous Peoples human rights in 2007, it has not yet been fully incorporated in the Constitution nor adopted the National Action Plan for its implementation prepared in 2010. Rather, Indigenous Peoples have been excluded from decision-making power and civil services in Nepal.
      A number of countries raised concerns in regards to lack of government’s effort to ensure the protection of rights of vulnerable groups. In this connection, the Marshall Islands Federation recommended to Nepal, ‘to ensure the protection of rights of vulnerable groups, women, children, persons with disabilities ethnic minorities. Likewise, Argentina recommended that Nepal ‘take necessary measures to ensure combating the discrimination of all forms of racial and caste based discrimination. Thailand recommended to Nepal, ‘to strengthen its legal efforts as per 2015 constitution to end gender-based violence, violence against women and Indigenous women.’ Indigenous women in Nepal make up 36 percent of the 13.5 million women’s population in Nepal. They face multiple, compounding forms of discrimination due to their gender, class, and ethnicity. Likewise, Fiji made a recommendation to Nepal, “to ensure that women, children, persons with disabilities, Indigenous and local communities meaningfully engage in the development of climate change and disaster reduction framework.’
     Nepal has ratified most of the international human rights conventions but has been weak in its implementation. On Indigenous Peoples’ rights, Nepal has had a particularly poor history of implementation. Following Nepal’s ratification of ILO Convention 169, in regards to the implementation of rights of Indigenous Peoples, the Nepal government reported in its report that it had formed a Adibasi Janajati Commission (Indigenous Nationalities Commission). However, it did so only in haste in December 2020, a month prior to the UPR review, five years after the adoption of the new Constitution mandated its creation as per Article 261 of the 2015 Constitution of Nepal. Similarly, the government also formed the Tharu Commission as per Article 263 of the 2015 Constitution of Nepal, despite the Tharu Peoples being only one of the 59 Indigenous Peoples legally recognized in Nepal. Rather than being a positive development, the creation of the Commission divided Indigenous Peoples by creating resentment. Additionally, these bodies have no power to receive complaints and investigate acts of human rights violations, discrimination, nor make recommendations to government for further actions. Many in Nepal feel that there is no real meaning in or power behind these ‘commissions.’ In fact, formation of these institutions is contrary to the Paris Principles, which establish that when a State creates a constitutional institution, it should have financial and administrative autonomy and its recommendations should be implemented. However, these newly formed commissions do not have powers to make recommendations to the government and no authority to sanction officials or public institutions if they ignore their findings. The Nepali government is publicly showing the international community that on paper it is respecting, protecting, fulfilling human rights of certain communities but in reality, this is very different.
     Speaking at the review session, Timor-Leste raised concerns about Nepal’s failure to ensure Indigenous children’s right to education, and recommended that Nepal ‘ensure the right to education in mother languages of each constituency.’ Finland also echoed this sentiment, recommending that Nepal “take all necessary measures to ensure full inclusion and improve learning results to all children belonging to Dalits, Indigenous communities, including children with disabilities at all levels of education and inclusion of these groups in teaching professions.’ While reviewing and adopting these recommendations , the Nepali government may argue that the Constitution, laws and regulations have already guaranteed education in mother tongues up to the basic or secondary level: the Department of Education states ‘as many as 70 local languages have already been used as medium of instruction in the classroom teaching and learning activities at primary level.’ However, Indigenous communities report that schools lack resources to hire teachers and there are no teaching materials in Indigenous languages. Nepali is still the most dominant language used in the classrooms. The large gap between Nepal’s public reporting and the reality on the ground demonstrates a failure of transparency and lack of commitment to implementing its international and national Indigenous rights obligations.
     Cultural Survival urges the government of Nepal to commit to transparency and honesty in aligning domestic law and policy with international human rights conventions and treaties and genuine implementation of these standards in practice, with allocation of adequate resources to ensure their fulfillment.”

“Virtual consultation with the Special Rapporteur on the rights of indigenous peoples on the Situation of Indigenous Peoples living in Urban Areas [was held] March 17, 2021
     9:00 am – 10:30am MST.”
     “The Special Rapporteur on the rights of indigenous peoples will hold a virtual consultation to inform his annual report to the General Assembly on the Situation of Indigenous Peoples living in Urban Areas to be presented at the 76th session in October 2021. The report will review the reasons for urbanization, its impacts and initiatives by States, indigenous peoples and other stakeholders to ensure that the rights and specific needs of urban indigenous peoples are addressed.
     Please register here for the consultation by March 12, 2021. If you have questions for the rapporteur or expert guest participants, please send in advance to”
     The full announcement of the consultation, with agenda details, is at: (information provided by the International Treaty Council,

"Expert Mechanism on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples Calls for submissions," International Treaty Council, March 2, 2021,, reported, " The Expert Mechanism on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (EMRIP) is calling for submissions for its study on the rights of the indigenous child under the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples. The deadline for submissions is 1 March 2021.
     To learn more:"

“UNPFII Consultations for North America,” International Treaty Council, April 20, 2021,, announced,
     "Sessions, Dates and Themes
     The following four topics will be discussed over two days/four sessions.
     Tuesday, 9 March 2021 – 2-4 PM (Eastern Standard Time)
     COVID-19 and Indigenous Peoples
     Implementation of UNDRIP: Towards a full and meaningful participation of indigenous peoples at the United Nations
     Thursday, 11 March 2021 – 2-4 PM (Eastern Standard Time)
     Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls
     United Nations International Decade of Indigenous Languages.”

“Just published: Evaluation of International Year of Indigenous.” International Treaty Council, May 18, 2021,, reported, “ The Final Report of Evaluation of UNESCO’s action to revitalize and promote indigenous languages within the framework of the International Year of Indigenous Languages 2019 is at:
      2-page brief for Indigenous Peoples on the evaluation, available in English (, French, Spanish, and Russian.”

Regional and Country Developments

     (Some developments not discussed below are discussed in Activities)

Jess Cherofsky and Bia'ni Madsa' Juárez López, “COVID-19 among Indigenous Peoples, One Year into the Pandemic: Data, Variants, and Vaccines, Cultural Survival, March 29, 2021,, reported, “ More than a year has passed since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic , which has resulted in upheaval to peoples’ lives globally. More than 2.7 million people have died and the global economic crisis has deepened. Indigenous Peoples have faced challenges based on their diverse situations and experiences. Subsequent waves of infections have been worse than the first in some Indigenous communities in terms of the number of deaths, and while it still has not been possible to account for all of the impacts over the first year, other issues continue to be added to the list of priorities to understand the course of the pandemic: new COVID-19 variants, reinfection, immunity, vaccines, and other data related to SARS-CoV-2. In this article, we will offer an overview of these issues framed through case studies of Indigenous Peoples around the world.
      New Variants of SARS-CoV-2
As was to be expected given viruses’ capacity to mutate, new variants have appeared, with few extensively studied and described to date. It is not clear yet how many of the variants have significant health implications, but some have already resulted in both higher infection rates and higher mortality rates than the first. Variants like those from Brazil, South Africa, and the United Kingdom have been the most studied due to their impact.
     In mid-2020, the first wave of infections reached the Ziora Amena community, located in Colombia on the border with Brazil and Peru, leaving almost all of the community’s 110 families infected . The arrival of that first wave meant very difficult weeks for the community, as they had neither tests, nor specialty hospital beds, nor sufficient medicine for the region. But 2021 started off even worse for this Muruy Indigenous community when the Brazil variant arrived, again infecting almost every community member, resulting in much worse symptoms, two deaths, and leaving the community incapacitated as far as its ability to sell its products and access food. In spite of the clear impacts in the region during the first wave, the Colombian government took no precautions and failed to increase medical capacity, all of which meant that when the second wave carried in the new variant, it found them in the same conditions as the previous had.
      Reinfection and Immunity to COVID-19
     The available information related to SARS-CoV-2 has been advancing throughout the pandemic. However, scientists continue to lack a complete understanding of how the virus behaves. Over time, the list of symptoms has changed, making diagnosis difficult in areas without access to tests and leaving an enormous number of cases unaccounted for. There is also no firm consensus on how long immunity lasts after a person is infected; the exact long-term consequences following infection are unknown; and without access to testing, it is not possible to know the true number of reinfections or whether they result from the same variant or not. This information is even more scarce in rural and Indigenous areas. Updated information in Indigenous languages is delayed in arriving, if it does at all, compared to the development and spread of the pandemic. The distribution of updated information about COVID-19 in Indigenous communities continues to be of utmost importance, and governments should act as such. The situation becomes even more complicated by the fact that, oftentimes, the information that does arrive in communities is false, which does not give communities the opportunity to make informed decisions.
       Lack of Disaggregated Data for Indigenous Peoples
     In June of 2020, Cultural Survival published an article about the lack of disaggregated data regarding COVID-19 in Indigenous communities. Since then, no country has yet correctly included in its official reports disaggregated data; the few that do record data by ethnic group compile the great diversity of Indigenous cultures into one category. It has been civil society organizations and communities themselves who have taken on this task. Maps like those of the Confederation of Indigenous Nationalities of the Equadorian Amazon ( CONFENAIE), the National Indigenous Organization of Colombia ( ONIC), and Indian Country Today have consistently gathered data, classifying it by Indigenous People. Also in June 2020, Cultural Survival undertook a global mapping projectwhere data of COVID-19 cases continues to be collected, including subsequent deaths and cases of human rights violations in the context of COVID-19. To date, Cultural Survival has compiled information on at least 263 Indigenous Peoples in 28 countries have had cases of COVID-19 and 102 associated human rights violations against 88 Indigenous Peoples in 30 countries.
      Successful Community Strategies in the Face of COVID-19
     In the face of the pandemic, Indigenous communities have shown their capacity for resilience, implementing different measures to ensure the health of their populations. In many Indigenous communities, the communities have taken actions such as closing their borders, establishing COVID-19 checkpoints, canceling festivals and other big events, and establishing mask requirements to prevent the virus from entering their territories. As a result, one year into the pandemic, 82 communities in the state of Oaxaca, Mexico, find themselves
completely free of COVID-19 cases . Importantly, these communities are majority Indigenous and operate according to collective self-government. In the Kuikuro community in Mato Grosso, Brazil, the community achieved zero mortality after improvising a hospital in their territory and hiring medical personnel to attend to people who had been infected with the virus. Also in Brazil, in December 2020, the Ashaninka People became the only Indigenous People without COVID-19 cases in the state of Acre after adopting strict isolation measures for nine months. These successes that emerge when Indigenous Peoples have autonomy demonstrate that the catastrophes that have occurred in Indigenous communities in many parts of the world throughout the pandemic are not inevitable. Rather, they are the result of structures of marginalization which deprive many Indigenous Peoples of the right to self-determination and empower the state as the sole decision-maker, many times without the involvement nor consent of Indigenous Peoples. Indigenous Peoples are capable of identifying and creatively developing responses and solutions, based on their own values and systems of organization which save lives.
      Vaccination Among Indigenous Peoples
     Indigenous Peoples have a diversity of perspectives on and experiences with vaccination. At the global level, there are cases of communities that accept the vaccine and those that don’t, communities that have had access and those that haven’t. There are also countries where Indigenous communities have been included as part of the vaccination plan and many places where Indigenous Peoples have taken advantage of their own collective systems and values to lead unique vaccination programs for their own communities. Several of these cases follow.
      The development of COVID-19 vaccines has occurred at a historic rate, and around the world, to date, approximately 458 million doses have been administered. Although this is the ‘ biggest vaccination campaign in history,’ there are major inequalities in access to the vaccine. It is predicted that 90 percent of the residents of approximately 70 low-income countries will be unlikely to receive the vaccine in 2021. Meanwhile, wealthy countries have hoarded vaccines , an extreme example being Canada, which has bought enough doses for each resident to receive the vaccine five times. South African social justice activist and human rights lawyer Fatima Hassan has called this ‘ vaccine apartheid .’ According to Andrea Taylor, director of the Duke University Global Health Innovation Center, ‘ While high-income countries represent only 16% of the world’s population, they currently hold 60% of the vaccines for COVID-19 that have been purchased so far.’ Even within countries that have been able to access the vaccine, there are enormous gaps between who can access it and who cannot, with Indigenous, rural, and poor communities being among the most commonly left behind. On top of this, there is a lack of sufficient and culturally appropriate information which would permit Indigenous Peoples to make informed decisions related to the vaccine.
      In Australia, Indigenous Peoples are included among the priority groups receiving the vaccine; community members age 55 and older are allowed to access the vaccine during the same phases as non-Indigenous people age 70 and older. This serves as a way of addressing historical inequities which make Indigenous Peoples disproportionately more vulnerable to the virus. It is a strategy being used as a reference in the struggle for vaccine equity in other communities, such as in Black communities in the U.S. who have also suffered socioeconomic and medical inequities that result in poorer health outcomes. Yet Australia’s Indigenous Peoples are also hesitant due to distrust and misinformation. ‘We’re quite early in the vaccination process – for obvious reasons,’ [said Dr. Tanya Schramm, a Palawa woman and Chair of the Expert Committee behind the COVID-19 clinical recommendations for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.]. ‘But because we’re getting it earlier than say the general population, there’s concern that there may be … a problem with it.’
      Limitations in Vaccine Access
     The limitations in access to vaccines in Indigenous communities relate to factors such as the lack of infrastructure and communication. This is the case in communities on the margins of the city of Oaxaca, Mexico
, where much of the Indigenous population lives. The vaccine requires advance online registration, to which elders generally cannot access due to lack of devices, internet, and familiarity with the technology. Also in Mexico, communities like Vista del Valle, largely comprised of Chatina and Zapotec people, there is no electricity, much less internet, nor are there many young people who could help elders navigate the vaccine registration system. This is not a unique situation that only affects a few people; to the contrary, only around half of homes in the community have cell phones or computers. In the case of this community, a 22-year-old Ayuuk woman, Adriana Kupijy Vargas, has organized to support her elderly neighbors to register; however, the structural problem that results in exclusion persists.
     Meanwhile, the government of Tanzania, a country which has an Indigenous population of over half a million, has taken the unique unilateral decision to prohibit importation and registration of the vaccine entirely. They have argued that the nation “should stop living in fear and that they should trust in God and rely on traditional African remedies to prevent getting the virus, according to Catherine Kyobutungi, Executive of the African Population and Health Research Center. Kyobutungi explains that this leads to two great risks: that the uncontrolled transmission of the virus can lead to the development of new variants, and that, if just one country does not control the pandemic, the efforts of other countries cannot be successful due to the movement of people, especially between neighboring countries. However, Tanzanian authorities are pressuring doctors to treat patients as if they have pneumonia and other illnesses that are not COVID-19. Since the government stopped tracking COVID-19 infection data since May 2020, it is difficult to know the virus’s impact, much less its impact in Indigenous communities. To date, no testing has been reported in the country.
      Rejection, Fear, and Distrust Regarding Vaccines
The doubts and fear that Indigenous Peoples in various parts of the world feel towards western institutions is founded on a long history of violence, ‘disinvestment, incompetence and brutality,’ including the intentional propagation of diseases as an integral part of the genocide perpetrated by colonizers, cases of forced sterilization among Indigenous Peoples, and general practices and institutions that colonial governments have imposed upon Indigenous Peoples without their consent. Despite the fact that Indigenous Peoples in the US are being vaccinated at a higher rate than any other group, there continue to be doubts about vaccination. In the state of Nevada, the One Community campaign is involving leaders and community members from Indigenous, Black, Latinx, and other marginalized communities to ‘provide multilingual, culturally competent vaccine outreach to help keep Nevadans of color healthy .” They have identified distrust of government agencies as an obstacle to vaccination. Roxann McCoy, President of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) says, ‘It's really not just about the vaccine. We've seen police brutality. All those entities that are 'in authority' that are there to protect and serve have not equitably protected served and especially when it comes to the minority community.’
      In some cases, fear and distrust is being imposed upon Indigenous Peoples systematically by external forces. In Brazil, evangelical groups, as well as President Jair Bolsonaro himself, who has constantly negated the truth of the pandemic which has killed more than 266,000 people in Brazil , are perpetuating “ Fake News ’ about the dangers of the vaccine. ‘Fundamentalists and evangelical missionaries are preaching against the vaccine,’ says Dinamam Tuxá, a Tuxá leader of APIB, Brazil’s largest indigenous organization.’ Leader Apuriña Claudemir da Silva says, ‘It’s not happening in all villages, just in those that have missionaries or evangelical chapels where pastors are convincing the people not to receive the vaccine, that they will turn into an alligator and other crazy ideas.’ In response, some Indigenous Peoples in Brazil are launching local campaigns to combat this misinformation and educate their communities with the hashtag #vacinaparente . Many remote Peoples in Brazil have been heavily impacted by the pandemic, which has arrived to their communities via illegal miners operating in their territories throughout the pandemic. This has gone on in spite of major campaigns, such as that of the Yanomami in the Amazon, to expel the miners in accordance with Indigenous rights. Similar disinformation and religious campaigns have taken place in Chiapas, Mexico, one of the poorest states in Mexico with some of the greatest diversity of Indigenous cultures in Mexico. Forty-five communities in Chiapas decided in a community assembly that they would not permit any of their members to receive the COVID-19 vaccine. One community member explains that people believe that the vaccine, rather than preventing COVID-19, would cause infection. This distrust has also affected other medical campaigns; for example, it has resulted in rejecting fumigation for dengue-carrying mosquitoes because the community feared that fumigation would spread COVID-19.
      Acceptation of the Vaccine
     The Navajo Nation has seen
11 percent of their population of 170,000 people infected by COVID-19, and in the whole country Indigenous Peoples have the highest COVID-19 mortality rate . By mid-February 2021, “Indigenous Americans [had] the highest inoculation rate so far, with 11.6% (one in nine) already having received at least one dose.” Indigenous Nations had the option to receive the vaccine through state governments or through the Indian Health Service (IHS) at the federal level; many Indigenous Nations and Urban Indigenous Organizations have chosen the second option and many of them are “ pleased with the distribution so far.” However, these national statistics do not reflect the reality of every person and community, and in some places, such as in Los Angeles County, the vaccination rate for Indigenous communities, as well as Black and Latinx communities, is lower than for the white population .
      Many Indigenous Nations are designing and activating systems that accelerate vaccine distribution to protect their beloved members, above all their elders who are invaluable for the survival of their languages and cultures. The Cherokee Nation is putting elders ‘ at the front of the line ’; this follows their having lost, over the course of the pandemic, 35 of just 2,000 remaining fluent speakers of their language. Although Indigenous Peoples in the US have survived a long history of medical violence imposed by the colonizers, ‘a survey of 1,435 Native Americans [spearheaded by Abigail Echo-Hawk, Director of the Urban Indian Health Institute based in Seattle, WA] revealed that 75 percent would be willing to be vaccinated, not because they suddenly trust Uncle Sam, but because they put the ‘we’ ahead of the ‘me. ’ Although a vast range of Indigenous perspectives towards the vaccine exists and each person and community will have their own opinion, the survey suggests that Native Americans are proportionately more willing to receive the vaccine than the general population, largely due to their commitment to collective wellbeing. Indigenous Nations are using community centers and other creative methods to educate and distribute the vaccine to their members, while directly addressing the historical trauma associated with the abuses of western medicine.
         The pandemic in Indigenous communities globally has had a wide range of impacts, and thus it is necessary to evaluate the particularities of each Indigenous People to take action to reduce the pandemic’s impact. Cultural Survival demands that states provide culturally appropriate and updated information to Indigenous communities; generate disaggregated data; and respect Free, Prior and Informed Consent and the self-determination of Indigenous Peoples for all actions related to combatting the pandemic.”

Ian Austen, " Report Denounces Canadian Police in Handling of Indigenous Man’s Death: The Royal Canadian Mounted Police were found to have mistreated and discriminated against the family of Colten Boushie in 2016 and to have mishandled parts of the investigation into his death," The New York Times, March 22, 2021,, reported, "When seven police officers arrived at the home of Debbie Baptiste in August 2016, encircling the house and carrying rifles, they informed her that her son was dead. Then, instead of comforting the grieving mother, they asked if she had been drinking and told her to 'get it together.'
      The callous treatment of Ms. Baptiste, a Cree woman, as well as other incidents of racial discrimination by the police against her family, were detailed in an independent review released to the public Monday that inquired into police conduct and their investigation of the death of Colten Boushie, a 22-year-old Cree man in Saskatchewan."


Rob Gillies "Canadian Minister: Pope Needs to Apologize to Indigenous, ICT, June 3, 2021,, reported, " Canada’s Indigenous services minister said Wednesday that Pope Francis needs to issue a formal apology for the role the Catholic Church played in Canada’s residential school system, days after the remains of 215 children were located at what was once the country’s largest such school [at Kamloops, BC].
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s government also pledged again to support efforts to find more unmarked graves at the former residential schools for Indigenous students - institutions that held Indigenous children taken from families across the nation."

The WSANEC First Nations of British Columbia, Canada, in February 2021, were preparing to recover the island of SISCENEM, enabling the nation to protect biodiversity, and traditional culture (Canada: WSANEC First Nations Recover Island," Cultural Survival Quarterly, June 2021).

The Canadian Government agreed, in April 2021, to pay the Madawaska Maliseet $145 million CAD to settle a land claim first filed in 1966 (Canada: Madawaska Maliseet Receive Compensation of $145 million biodiversity, and traditional culture Canada: WSANEC First Nations Recover Island).

Kate Gunn and Nico McKay, "Reconciling Interests, Upholding Indigenous Land Rights: Aboriginal Title Cases to Watch," Firs People's Law, March 18, 2021,, reported, " The relationship between Aboriginal title and privately-held lands, whether held by public bodies or private individuals, is one of the most pressing unresolved legal issues facing Indigenous Peoples in Canada today.
     After decades of uncertainty, the BC Supreme Court is poised to address this question in the
Cowichan Tribes ( and Kwikwetlem First Nation ( Aboriginal title cases."
     The article goes on to, "summarize the state of Canadian law in relation to Aboriginal title and private lands, and potential implications for Indigenous Peoples seeking to advance title and jurisdiction over lands subject to private interests."

The University of British Columbia, Okanagan in the territory of the Syilx Okanagan Nation, in March 2021, established the first bachelor's degree program in an Indigenous Language, Nsyilxcn, in Canada, and one of the first in the world ("Canada: First Bachelor's Degree of Indigenous Language Fluency Offered," Cultural Survival Quarterly, June 2021).

Russell Daibo, stated in an E-mail with pdf's of the Canadian "Crown-Indigenous Relations and Northern Affairs Canada Departmental Plan 2021–22," and "Indigenous Services Canada Departmental Plan 2021-2022,", " These are the 2021-2022 Main Estimates of ISC and CIRNAC. This federal spending represents the federal definition of UNDRIP (Bill C-15) and the “Rights Recognition Framework” that will be used to implement Bill C-15 if passed! If Bill C-15 isn’t passed, the Trudeau government will continue to implement its “Rights Recognition Framework” anyway at various discussion/negotiation tables with federal “partners” (First Nations, Metis, Inuit) with a goal of reaching Final Agreements."
     He stated of the " First Nations Governance Project: Phase I, August 2018,", " I only recently became aware of this 2018 report, prepared by a Federally created Fiscal Institutions Body. It clarified for me the thinking of the Trudeau government’s 'Pan-Indigenous' agenda and of those groups associated with the federal National 'First Nation' Institutions."
     " While this report describes much of the federal (and their proxies) thinking about how to implement UNDRIP’s recognition of “self-determination” and “self-government” in the Canadian context, there is much critical analysis missing from a real a First Nations perspective.
     The report helped me to understand the thinking behind the Trudeau governments: 2017 “10 Principles for Indigenous Relationships”; 2018 “Rights Recognition Framework”; 2018 Dissolving the Department of Indian Affairs to create two new “Indigenous Departments” and now the background for the content of the federal UNDRIP Bill C-15, which does not implement UNDRIP, but will be used to implement the federal “Self-Determination and Governance Framework” described so clearly in this report!
     I hope you will find the attached report as illuminating about the federal CANDRIP (Bill c-15) national action plan under development as I did!"

" Years after release of TRC report, most Canadians want accelerated action to remedy damage done by residential school system, says poll," Assembly of First Nations, June 15, 2021,, reported, "A poll conducted by the Canadian Race Relations Foundation, the Assembly of First Nations and Abacus Data shows that the majority of Canadians believe governments are not doing enough to teach students about the legacy of the residential school system.
The discovery of the remains of 215 First Nation children at the former site of the Kamloops Indian Residential School, and another discovery of a possible mass grave at the site of the Brandon Indian Residential School in Manitoba has highlighted the devasting and traumatic impacts of the residential school system, prompting Canadians to express unprecedented support, with 49 percent saying they have a new appreciation of the damage done by residential schools. Canadians also signalled strong support for actions on First Nations-led priorities toward justice, healing and closing the socio-economic gap."

"Regional Engagement Sessions First Nations National Action Plan on MMIWG: First Nations National Action Plan," Assembly of First Nations, April 27, 2021,, " The development of a National Action Plan to End Violence Against Indigenous Women in Canada is a key recommendation from the final report of the National Inquiry on Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls (MMIWG).
     The Assembly of First Nations (AFN) is developing a First Nations-led National Action Plan to End Violence Against Indigenous Women, Girls and 2SLGBTQQIA Peoples
as mandated in Resolution 67/2019 passed at the AFN Annual General Assembly in Fredericton, NB. Resolution 67/2019 directs the AFN Secretariat to work together with the AFN Women’s Council to develop a First Nations-led National Action Plan with input from the regions and First Nation survivors, families and First Nations Coalitions and Grassroots Family organizations."

In Canada, Ontario Regional Chief RoseAnne Archibald after organizing a campaign seeking increased fiscal accountability by the Assembly of First Nation Chiefs (AFN), was accused of harassment by AFN leaders. She responded saying the charge was reprisal for her campaign ( Steven Chasesenior and Kristy Kirkup, "Target of AFN harassment probe says she’s facing reprisal for demanding more fiscal accountability," Toronto Daily Mail, February 19, 2021, (Note, Regional Chief RoseAnne Archiblad was later elected National Chief of AFN, the first woman to hold the position).

Latin America

Stefany Gomez, “Raising Awareness of COVID-19 in Southern Mexico: Center for Indigenous Rights,” Cultural Survival, February 24, 2021,, reported, “ In the state of Chiapas in southern Mexico, the conditions of health services are very precarious. The municipalities of Chilón and Siala are home to more than 600 Indigenous communities and more than 13,844 people. Even before the COVID-19 pandemic, in both municipalities, there was a shortage of medical staff and equipment. With the arrival of COVID-19, the situation has become even worse. In hospitals, there are no more places for patients as there are only 180 beds available for a population of more than 100,000. The lack of access to basic services such as water, and the little general knowledge about the symptoms and forms of transmission of the virus, have put the population at risk.
     To address these problems, the
Center for Indigenous Rights (CEDIAC) launched a project based on the participation and decision making of the communities of Chilón and Siala. With an emergency grant from Cultural Survival’s Keepers of the Earth Fund, CEDIAC trained community members as health promoters to protect their communities from the spread of the virus. They held workshops where volunteer doctors trained a total of 88 people to be health promoters for their communities. The youth also took action. Ten young people created videos and radio programs sharing factual information about COVID-19 to fight fake news. The material produced was later broadcasted on the local community radio station and posted on Youtube and Facebook . Likewise, the health promoters visited communities to inform them about the preventive care and to debunk the myths surrounding COVID-19. A total of 881 people from various communities attended the talks by the health promoters. Eighteen young people from the community also planted a community garden of medicinal plants.
     Jenifer, one of the workshop participants who became a health promoter, from the community of Chilón, said: “The workshops helped me a lot. They gave me the opportunity to receive training to help the people from my community." She added that she would like to participate in more workshops to learn more about health in order to improve her work. Another project participant, Pascuala Vázquez Aguilar, a member of the Community Group Council of Chilón, pointed out the importance of implementing these types of activities, “[the workshops] motivate us to continue to train more young people in health matters. It is important to build our own shields and to prepare and train ourselves.”

Mexican President Andres Manuel Obrador issued an apology to the Maya Peoples for centuries of brutal exploitation and discrimination, in the Maya town of Tihosuco, Felipe Carrillo Puerto Township, May 3, 2021, on the hundred twentieth anniversary of the battle that ended one of the last Indigenous rebellions in the country. Tihosuco had been the headquarters for the rebellion ("Mexico: Government Apologies to Maya Peoples," Cultural Survival Quarterly, June 2021).

John McPhaul and Nati Garcia (Maya Mam/ CS Staff), "Suspected Murderers of Indigenous Leader Identified, yet Justice Remains Elusive in Costa Rica," Cultural Survival, May 21, 2021,, reported, " A Costa Rican online newspaper recently published leaked information of a report by investigators into the March 18, 2019 murder of Costa Rican Bribri Indigenous leader Sergio Rojas , showing that the authorities had identified four suspects in the murder as long ago as September 19, 2019.
      The report, made public in January 2021 by the online newsletter, authored by the Judicial Investigation Organization (OIJ by its Spanish acronym), stated that Rojas was gunned down at night while in his house in the hamlet of Yeri in the Salitre Indigenous Territory by two male suspects of Nicaraguan nationality. According to the report, they were paid 1 million colones by two Costa Ricans, intellectual authors, who wanted to get rid of Rojas over a land dispute.
      The 59-year-old Bribri leader was at the forefront of a movement led by Indigenous Peoples to recover their ancestral lands, which were legally granted to them by the 1977 Indigenous Law that established Indigenous Territories, but which failed to provide for the purchase of the land from those who currently occupy it.
      Rojas had emerged as a leader capable of marshaling the Indigenous community, numbering about 104,000, to re-settle their lands after complaining of decades of government inaction. But conflicts arose between Indigenous Peoples and settlers, both those who illegally acquired land and those who held title to the land before the 1977 law was passed and have not been compensated by the government.
      While the leak of the information for the case violates legal norms, the existence of leads and identified suspects begs the question of why the prosecutors asked for the case to be shelved on Sept. 29, 2020 , saying that they were done with the investigation. Still, Oscar Retana, attorney for Sergio Rojas' family, decried the leak of the investigation. Retana noted that the leak's narrative could lead to the identification of witnesses in the case, exposing them to pressure, threats or aggression 'in an indigenous territory where they haven't found an answer to the multiple sustained and well-founded claims of the deficient actions of the Judicial Branch, notwithstanding the antecedents of aggression, threats and damage and without to date obtaining a guilty verdict for openly racist crimes.'
     According to, the OIJ report also includes information pertaining to three telephone messages in the investigator's possession in which Rojas' murder is discussed ahead of the act. "The three messages (recorded) an hour and 15 minutes before Rojas Oritz's death are fundamental for this investigation. They expose clear knowledge that the investigation had about the crime, since by our interpretation, before the crime the communication that day said that someone was 'going to visit the chief of the Indians’ (Rojas) to ‘hunt’ him. That could only be communicated by a person with full knowledge and full control of the area and intellectual participation of the murder," said the OIJ report according to
     Gustavo Oreamuno, the spokesperson for the NGO Coordinadora de Lucha Sur Sur, said the revelation of the evidence requires the state to act. "The evidence indicates where this investigation is headed, and that it relates to the land disputes. Now it is time for the prosecutors to act according to the evidence," said Oreamuno.
      In January 2021, under pressure from the Indigenous community and human rights groups, a criminal court ordered the investigation to proceed. 'Prosecutors tried to get the case closed, saying their investigation was done. The criminal court rejected their motion affirming what we were always saying, that the State did not do a complete investigation,' said Vanessa Jimenez, an attorney for the non-governmental organization, Forest People Programme, which has been assisting the Bribri Peoples.
     Prosecutors insist that they never stopped investigating despite the request to shelve the case. 'The institution has not stopped attending to all kinds of information and tips that have been received in relation to the case, even after the request for dismissal, and has requested of the Judiciary a prolongation of the police investigation,' the Prosecutor's Office told However, Elides Rivera, a Brörán Indigenous resident of the Terraba Territory told that the leaked report and the failure of authorities to act sums up their attitude toward the case: 'They can always resort to acts that devalue or delegitimize the investigation– not due to lack of evidence–but rather it is a question of racism or xenophobia against Indigenous Peoples, an attempt to make it seem like we are lying." said Rivera.
      Since the assassination of Rojas, intimidation, and threats against Indigenous Peoples from ranchers and non-Indigenous settlers illegally occupying their lands have only increased . Two years have passed and there is still no justice. The imposing threats to shut down the resistance of the Indigenous Peoples of Costa Rica has deterred some from reoccupying their ancestral lands, but have made others more committed, they say. Now there is more organization and communication between the communities of Cabagra, Térreba, Salitre, China Kicha and all surrounding villages within Bribri, Cabécar, and Térraba territory.
     Ongoing since colonial conquest, the Indigenous Peoples of Costa Rica, including the Bribri, Cabécar, Boruca, Guaymí, Hueter, Maleku, Matambú, and Térraba have experienced systemic discrimination, racism, and forced removal from their lands. But persecutions against Indigenous People have surged in the South of Costa Rica since the Indigenous communities have been organizing to recover their lands, especially in Puntarenas province which has the highest concentration of Indigenous population.
     Over 20 years, the Bribri, Cabécar, and Térraba people have been in a process of recuperating ancestral territory. Rojas was one of the first members of the Uniwak clan of the Bribri, Salitre people to lead the collective process of Indigenous land recuperation until his death on March 18, 2019.
     Following his death, violent threats and aggressive attacks of intimidation have continued towards the Indigenous Peoples of the Bribri, Cabécar, and Térraba territories with little state intervention of safety or preoccupation- something that led to the murder of Jerhy Rivera Rivera, Indigenous Brörán of Terraba, on February 24, 2020, who was also leading a process of land reclamation in the area of Mano de Tigre. Rivera’s death came just two weeks after the attempted murder of Mainor Ortiz Delgado, a Bribri leader who survived a bullet wound in his thigh after a shooting in his community in Río Azul de Térraba. Today there continue to be regular reports of death threats among 12 Indigenous people suffering from the illegal occupation of their lands.
      'Currently the biggest problem is that of land tenure. Lands in our territories are illegally occupied by finceros [non-indigenous ranchers],' explained Lesner Figuero Lázaro, Bribri of the Tuadiwak clan and Coordinator of the Concejo Ditsö Iriria Ajkönuk Wakpa of the Bribri territory, explained. “I could say many things about the murder of Sergio Rojas, but one of the greatest lessons that have been inherited is the defense of our land, which is our mother, which we defend not only with our cultural methods, but also legally by the law of Indigenous Peoples, Convention 169, and other instruments that protect us to defend our land.'
      The tensions will progress as the state law enforcement continues to favor non-Indigenous beneficiaries of land ownership on Indigenous lands without their Free, Prior, and Informed Consent, said Indigenous leaders. Meanwhile, Indigenous community leaders have made endless attempts to seek justice on a judicial level domestically, and internationally. A decision by the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights in 2015 advising for the implementation of precautionary safety measures protecting the Bribri and Brörán Peoples was incapable of preventing the violence. The Bribri community is having to look upon international organizations and allies among non-governmental organizations in Costa Rica for advocacy while continuing to protect and defend their lands on the ground.
     Some Indigenous Peoples in Costa Rica have vowed to continue fighting for what they consider an essential and fundamental part of their identity, spirituality, livelihoods, and ways of life. 'We, the Bribris, without our lands, are nothing, we need the land to continue surviving. The land is what gives us everything, without land we don't have water, we don't have a house, we don't have our natural medicine, we don't have trees, we don't have air, we don't have wind, we don't have clothes, we don't have food, it is the land that gives us everything, it is a gift that was given to us, before our creation, Sibu created the Earth so that we can live in it and we must take care of it for that mandate as Sibu left it,' explained Lázaro.
     Indeed, the next generation of Bribri leaders are already stepping in to continue the work of their elders. Yensie Esteban Jimenez Sandoval, of the Muriwai clan and a young Bribri leader from the territory of Tainí and Talamanca shares, “The issue is that non-Indigenous owners claim to possess titles but they do not teach them [its history], and this leads to doubts or uncertainty about land possessions. It is known that the oldest plan over this area reflects that it is all indigenous territory. The same is said by the elders of our communities. The problem is that certain regional authorities provide us with a map. At first, we did not know that these lands belonged to us until we investigated. When the elders raised the issue, they told us that these lands were ours. From there the claim to our lands was born. Now it is up to the youth to recover what is ours, our lands, and without ever giving up.
     'I lost years without my culture and when I grew up I decided to go back to my roots. I returned to the territory, with my people and here I am. For me it is very important to know where I come from, to know who my ancestors were, to know my customs because I feel that they belong to me, they identify me, it is my identity. Sibu put that in my heart and I am proud to be Indigenous. I am the happiest person being Indigenous. I want to fight for my community, for my people; but also for the natives of Talamanca and for the natives of the whole world.'”

Ifáṣínà Efunyemi (Garifuna), "Strengthening the Garifuna Language Through Community Radio in Belize," Cultural Survival, April 20, 2021,, reported, " The threat of erasure of the Garifuna language is a real one for Garinagu (Garifuna people) in Belize. Recognizing that fact, the Executive Committee at Hamalali NGC Radio, a community radio station in Dangriga, southern Belize, has started a project titled “Ichiga Iiderebugu Hamalali” which means 'Strengthening their voice.' The purpose of this project is to help a group of young Garinagu to improve their capacity in the Garifuna language so that they could produce a radio program in Garifuna that could be aired on Hamalali NGC Radio. They have been meeting weekly since the start of the year to learn their mother language in the same way they have been taught the colonizer’s language. They have truly gone back to basics starting with the letters of the alphabet used in Garifuna with a catchy song to help with the learning too! They have learned how to say numbers, tell the time, and start a conversation in Garifuna.
     To many, this may not seem like much but to the participants and the Hamalali Committee, this is a very big deal. As the lessons are being taught, they are being recorded so they can be aired on Hamalali NGC Radio. That way, not only the small group of young people benefits from these sessions, but the wider community gets to learn or fine-tune their knowledge of the Garifuna language as well. Garifuna was primarily an oral language, however, over the years and with much work by Garifuna linguists and scholars, the Garifuna language has been documented – at least two Garifuna dictionaries have been produced – and several works have been published in the Garifuna language. The Facilitator of the Furendei Garifuna (Learning Garifuna) training program is Dr. Gwen Nuñez-Gonzalez, a Garifuna cultural activist and icon in her own right, who has also produced a game in Garifuna to help in promoting and preserving the Garifuna language.
     The threat to Garifuna language preservation began years ago when Catholic schools were established in Dangriga with nuns and priests as teachers and administrators. National Garifuna Council President Sandra Miranda recalls in a recent interview that a nun whipped her and a friend for speaking Garifuna on the school grounds. Their parents were also discouraged from speaking Garifuna at home. As the process of colonization continued through the education system, many Garinagu gained academic excellence, mastering the colonizers’ language while at the same time losing their own. Even in situations where Garinagu who had achieved higher education still retained Garifuna language, many did not pass it on to their children. This pattern would continue for years to follow. Added to the dilemma was the experience of brain drain when hundreds of Garinagu left their communities to seek educational and job opportunities elsewhere including faraway places like the United States. This would contribute to a downward spiral as it regarded Garifuna language and overall Garifuna cultural survival.
      In the face of these challenges, several efforts have been made over the years to minimize this seemingly inevitable threat to Garifuna cultural survival. The National Garifuna Council (NGC) was born with the mission to protect, promote and preserve Garifuna language and culture. This 'Strengthening their Voice' project builds on efforts the NGC made in the past to use radio as a means of promoting Garifuna language and culture as far as the radio could be heard. Back in the ’80s, the NGC produced the “Garifuna Half Hour” that aired every Sunday afternoon on Radio Belize. It was the one time each week when the Garifuna language would be heard for 30 minutes over the airwaves, and this show ran for approximately 10 years to the ’90s. The only other time that Garinagu people could expect to hear their language on the radio was when Radio Belize aired the Miss Garifuna National Cultural Pageant in November each year. That also occurred for about 10 years until the government-owned radio station closed down.
     Fast forward to 2002 and the NGC was able to set up Radio Hamalali station that would allow for the Garifuna language and culture to be promoted every day and all year round. Finding people, especially young people, who were fluent in Garifuna and knowledgeable of Garifuna culture posed a challenge, year after year, however, this project has brought hope and true possibility for Hamalali NGC Radio to fulfill its vision of being 'the premier medium for disseminating relevant and factual information regarding Garifunaduaü (Garifuna-ness) …' By the end of the project, participants are expected to develop their own radio programs in Garifuna highlighting an aspect of Garifuna culture that interests them. The program they produce will be aired on Hamalali NGC Radio and the hope is that these young Garinagu will continue to engage in Garifuna language and cultural preservation through their own regular program on the radio. They already held their first in-studio training in which they were able to greet the radio audience in Garifuna, taught listeners the months of the year, days of the week, letters of the alphabet plus numbers in Garifuna, and the trainees were introduced to the radio broadcasting equipment. The steps may be small and sometimes slow, but they are certain in getting to the ultimate goal of 'Strengthening their Voice (Ichiga liderebugu Hamalali).'”

The Supreme Court of Panama ruled, in January 2021, that 400,000 acres of tradition land of the Nao People, including forests containing endangered species, would be managed by the Naso in a new autonomous region ("comarca") ("Panama: 400,000 Acres of Forest Returned to Naso People of Panama," Cultural Survival Quarterly, March 2021).

"Report to UN Reveals Negligence of Surinamese Government Towards Respecting Indigenous Peoples’ Rights," Cultural Survival, April 15, 2021,, reported, " The Surinamese state has structurally failed to meet its human rights obligations towards its Indigenous Peoples–that is the conclusion of a submission to the United Nations Human Rights Council by the Mulokot Foundation, the Association of Indigenous Village Leaders in Suriname ( VIDS ) and Cultural Survival. The report was drafted to contribute to the upcoming examination of Suriname’s human rights record by the United Nations, the Universal Periodic Review (UPR), which is scheduled for November 2021.
     During the previous UPR cycle in 2016, Suriname accepted recommendations from several countries that obligated the country to improve the situation of Indigenous and Tribal Peoples and guarantee their rights, including through respecting their rights to their lands and territories, culture and resources, and by strengthening legislative measures to ensure equality of rights for Indigenous Peoples, including the right to health, education and adequate housing. However, the government has failed to show any progress on these issues.
     'It is time for the government of Suriname to live up to the expectations they have been raising for years, regarding their so-called ambitions of improving the situation of its Indigenous Peoples, for instance by finally complying with the legal obligations set by the Inter American Court of Human Rights' says Jupta Itoewaki, a prominent Surinamese Indigenous Rights activist and chairperson of the Mulokot Foundation.
      Despite several judgments of the Inter-American Court of Human Rights, upholding their land, resource and related rights, Indigenous Peoples continue to lack any form of legal recognition in Suriname for their land rights or any other form of tenure security. Although several countries made strong recommendations, supported by Suriname, to the much-needed compliance with these rulings in previous UPR cycles, the status qua has not changed. To the contrary: the report submitted by the Mulokot Foundation, VIDS and Cultural Survival provides details of a substantial number of continued violations of these rights, to the continued detriment of the Indigenous peoples of Suriname. This negligence and the lack of legal recognition and protection continues to lead to an ever-increasing pollution and destruction of Indigenous territories, primarily for the purpose of extracting minerals and other natural resources, causing a variety of human rights violations.
     In their report, the Mulokot Foundation, VIDS and Cultural Survival call upon the United Nations and its Member States to urge the government of Suriname to adopt recommendations and decisions that can be enforced, in order to prevent continued violation of the human rights of Indigenous Peoples in Suriname and to meet the Sustainable Development Goal
     Read the full report here:"

“Mulokot Foundation Develops Consultation Protocol Brochure with Wayana Peoples of Surinamem” Cultural Survival, March 29, 2021,, reported, “ The Wayana Peoples live in the northern Amazon in Suriname, Brazil, and French Guyana. They depend on planting cassava, hunting, and fishing. Due to the threats that Wayana land faces from gold mining and illegal hunting, it was necessary for Wayana Peoples to create a document outlining the consultation protocol for parasisi (outsiders). This document’s aim is stated in the subtitle, ‘Protection of the rights of the Wayanas in the field of self-determination, participation, and decision-making.’ This work was made possible by a grant from Cultural Survival’s Keepers of the Earth Fund to the Mulokot Foundation. The KOEF grant supported the Foundation to develop a protocol guide for NGOs and government officials to engage with the Wayana Peoples in a way that respects their traditional practices.
      The Mulokot Foundation, an Indigenous-led organization based in Village Kawemhakan, Lawa area, Sipaliwini, Suriname, aims to bring sustainable development to Wayana communities through capacity building, developing management skills, protecting land and biodiversity, and developing sustainable livelihoods. The chairperson of the Mulokot Foundation, Jupta Itoewaki, says that ‘One of our biggest concerns is the way NGOs and the government deal with the Wayana Peoples. They don’t respect our traditional laws.’ An organization in Suriname had previously developed a general engagement approach but did not take traditional laws into consideration. Their document provided some background for the new Wayana consultation protocol brochure. A delegation of Wayana people from Suriname and French Guyana were also able to travel to another Wayana community in Brazil to obtain documents in Portuguese with certain protocols that they were able to adapt to their own communities.
     The Mulokot Foundation used the Keepers of the Earth Fund grant to organize a meeting in the village of Kawemhakan in January 2020 to ask Wayana community members what they would like to see from a document. It was agreed that it needed to be translated into a number of different languages. With their help, it was drafted in Wayana and Dutch. An unnamed community member says, ‘We have wanted such a document for a long time.’
     The COVID-19 outbreak in March 2020 disrupted some travel activities and the Mulokot Foundation was unable to travel to the interior. In September 2020, Jupta Itoewaki was able to fly again and visited Kawemhakan to translate the brochure into English with further input from community members. In Paramaribo, the layout of the brochure was made by a graphic designer.
        The final design is an eight-page full color brochure in Wayana, English, and Dutch. It was presented to the Paramount Chief of the Wayanas, Ipomadi Palenapin, by Jupta Itoewaki on December 18, 2020 and shared with Wayana communities.”

In a worsening situation that also impacts Indigenous people, "Children Trapped by Colombia’s War, Five Years After Peace Deal: Despite a 2016 peace deal with the FARC, Colombia’s long internal conflict continues. Seldom has that been as evident as this month, when the government bombed a rebel camp full of young people," The New York Times, March 27, 2021,, "reported that the huge amount of aid and investment to rural areas agreed to by the government in the peace deal has never been provided, leading to increased recruiting of disillusioned people by the rebels, including children. Meanwhile, the government has increased coca eradication efforts, sparking protests in some places. The government forces repressed some of these demonstrations, increasing recruiting by the rebels."
Many children have been brought by the rebels to some camps, some of which the government has bombed. A government may legally attack child soldiers, who are combatants under international law, but is required to investigate first whether the children are or not, in fact, combatants. There is evidence that the Colombian military/government has not done so.

ICG, "Deeply Rooted: Coca Eradication and Violence in Colombia," Report  87 / Latin America & Caribbean 26 February 2021,, commented, " Coca gives Colombian small farmers a stable livelihood but also endangers their lives, as criminals battle over the drug trade and authorities try to shut it down. Bogotá and Washington should abandon their heavy-handed elimination efforts and help growers find alternatives to the hardy plant.
      What’s new?  Coca crops have set record yields in Colombia since the 2016 peace accord with FARC guerrillas, persuading the government to expand its forced eradication campaign with the backing of U.S. authorities. Bogotá claims that eliminating the plant will reduce rural violence.
Why does it matter ?  Insecurity in Colombia’s countryside has steadily got worse in recent years as armed groups vie with one another and the military for supremacy. Enhanced eradication, and potentially aerial fumigation, could intensify violence by forcing farmers into the clutches of armed outfits, while failing to stop the replanting of coca.
What should be done ?  Colombia and the U.S., the lead outside backer of tough counter-narcotic policies in Latin America, should turn the page on using force against coca farmers in a bid to dent global cocaine supply. Boosting rural economies, forging ahead with crop substitution and avoiding clashes with cultivators would make for better policy.
     Executive Summary
     Coca stands at the heart of a fierce debate over Colombia’s worsening rural insecurity
. The plant’s leaves are the sole raw material from which cocaine, an illegal drug that generates outlandish profits and finances armed and criminal groups, can be manufactured. Colombian President Iván Duque argues that the whole narcotic supply chain – from coca cultivation to global cocaine trafficking – is the scourge behind rising massacres, forced displacement and assassinations of community leaders in Colombia. With cultivation hitting new highs in recent years, Bogotá has vastly expanded campaigns that involve sending in the army and police to pull up or otherwise eradicate coca crops. It also threatens to restart aerial fumigation. Yet an approach based on forceful eradication of coca, which the U.S. has stoutly backed, tends to worsen rural violence, while failing to reduce drug supply. A new strategy is needed that persuades coca farmers to abandon a plant that offers a stable income and an attractive alternative to other legal crops.
      Dismantling the illicit drug economy was one of six main planks of the landmark 2016 peace accord between the state and the guerrilla Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC). That accord promised to institute a nationwide crop substitution program enabling roughly 200,000 coca-growing families to pursue other legal businesses. It sought to sever links between the insurgency and drug trafficking, while establishing state authority in pockets of the country where criminal rule and poverty had long allowed cocaine production to thrive.
     Four years later, few of those promises have been met
. Coca cultivation began rising to historical highs during peace negotiations, driven in part by the expectation that any eventual accord would benefit coca farmers who pledged to substitute their crops. This trend worsened as the government struggled to meet the promises made to farmers. Bogotá has not been able to transform the economic fundamentals that make coca – fast-growing and destined for a loyal international market – such a reliable crop. New armed groups have swooped in to control the supply chain the FARC left behind. An array of hustlers, guerrillas and criminals vie for control over the purchase and refining of coca, as well as trafficking routes out of the country.
     The Duque government’s policies have not helped. Rather than redouble efforts to fulfil the 2016 accords, the government has placed coercive methods such as manual eradication at the centre of its push to bring order to Colombia’s violent countryside. Little suggests this strategy will succeed, either in curbing coca supply or reducing violence. Eradication pushes farmers into unwilling alignment with armed groups, since the state’s only service to them is perceived as a disservice that uproots their livelihoods. Vulnerable to traffickers’ coercion yet also stigmatised as illegal collaborators by the military, farmers experience violence from both. Soldiers have also suffered casualties and psychological damage during manual eradication. Worse, the military and cultivators both know that these efforts will have only a partial effect, as replanting rates reach 40 to 50 per cent, or higher.
     A strategy to reduce violence should focus on bringing coca farmers back under the state’s protective umbrella while providing them with genuine licit alternatives to the crop. Given support, the vast majority of cultivators have already signalled that they would willingly forsake the coca economy. Farmers need more systematic help to make that transition. Above all, this would entail major improvements to rural roads, access to credit and provision of formal land titles, as laid out in the transformative package of rural reforms promised in the 2016 peace accord. In the interim, Bogotá should de-emphasise forced eradication methods and abandon plans for a return to aerial fumigation. To salvage trust between farmers and the military and police, security forces should not be at the forefront of crop destruction if it does take place.
     In support of these reforms, the new U.S. administration should turn the page on Washington’s long history of backing tough yet in essence counterproductive measures to destroy drug supply. The administration should instead back comprehensive efforts to boost Colombia’s rural economies. Together with the U.S. Congress, it should also review the merits of a requirement that the U.S. president certify key countries’ compliance with U.S. counter-narcotic policy each year in order to receive foreign assistance. This process has placed great pressure on Colombia to focus its rural security policy on reducing coca supply in a way that is insensitive to local dynamics and exacerbates threats to civilians
      The past decades have demonstrated that Colombia is losing the battle against a plant that has been at the centre of a dangerous drug market, but whose cultivation has provided the poorest rural communities with a lifeline. It is time to take a hard look at a strategy that has focused too hard on destroying that lifeline, and not enough on replacing it with something better."

ICG, Bram Ebus, Consultant, "A Rebel Playing Field: Colombian Guerrillas on the Venezuelan Border,", commented, " In the jungle along the Colombian-Venezuelan frontier, guerrillas, criminals and shadowy state elements jostle for illicit profits. Venezuela’s campaign against one armed group has raised tensions. Bogotá and Caracas should temper their war of words and work to forestall an inadvertent bilateral escalation.
     In the early hours of 21 March, the screech of combat aircraft overhead sounded the alarm that Venezuela has become a theatre in Colombia’s decades-long internal conflict. That morning, the Venezuelan military launched its first large-scale operation against a dissident faction of the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) active inside Apure, a Venezuelan state hugging the Colombian frontier from the Andes in the west, along the Meta River, to the Orinoco River in the east. This action kickstarted a series of skirmishes that so far have reportedly claimed the lives of at least eight Venezuelan troops – with an unspecified number of additional losses reported last weekend – and nine alleged Colombian guerrillas. Relations between the two countries, already poor, have declined a notch further as leaders in Bogotá and Caracas swap insults and blame each other for the civilians displaced by the fighting. Meanwhile, both are dispatching reinforcements to border posts
. The events in Apure have at times dominated headlines in both countries, drawing attention to what is happening more quietly along much of the border: Colombian guerrillas are penetrating deeper into Venezuelan territory.
     Bouts of violence have long been the norm along the 2,200 km Colombia-Venezuela border. The last few years, however, have marked a perilous escalation, dragging in more rebel and military forces, as well as an array of traffickers and criminals. On one side of the border, Venezuela is suffering the worst economic and humanitarian crisis in its history. On the other, Colombia is saddled with the remnants of over 50 years of conflict, which the government’s 2016 peace accord with the FARC was meant to end. Although the FARC disarmed under the deal, some former members now fight as part of dissident groups formed in its wake.
     In March 2020, Bogotá and Caracas closed their border, citing the COVID-19 pandemic. But rather than stopping traffic, the closure encouraged the smuggling of goods and people over illegal crossings under predatory armed groups’ control. Refugees and contraband continue to pour across the border from Venezuela to Colombia; drugs and men with guns flow the other way. Colombian rebel groups deny having fighters in Venezuela, or downplay their numbers, as, until recently, did President Nicolás Maduro’s government in Caracas. But the guerrillas are clearly there, and their ranks are swelling.
     To better understand the evolving dynamics among communities, armed groups and state authorities along this fraught border, Crisis Group visited its southern reaches, where Amazonas state is on the Venezuelan side. In addition, trusted sources have supplied Crisis Group with photos, videos and audio recordings that confirm activities by both FARC dissidents and uniformed fighters from the National Liberation Army (ELN), another Colombian guerrilla force, in Amazonas and elsewhere in Venezuela.
      Where the Meta and Orinoco Meet
Early in the morning, locals in Puerto Carreño, a town in Colombia’s Vichada state where the Meta meets the Orinoco, hawk buckets of freshly caught fish. Toward the Orinoco’s eastern bank, the sun rises over the dense treeline of the Venezuelan Amazon rainforest. An estimated 4,300 Venezuelan migrants and refugees have settled in the district, where the total population is 20,000. Some wander through town rummaging for rubbish that can be recycled; others swarm around trucks as they tilt their containers in a nearby dump. The Orinoco is officially closed for crossings. Locals who make the trip are commonly subject to threats and extortion, often by one of the armed groups that have made the area their home.
     These groups include FARC dissidents, the ELN, the local crime ring Los Puntilleros del Vichada and the paramilitary successor group Autodefensas Gaitanistas de Colombia. These outfits make and break alliances with one another, albeit with little bloodshed, as they jostle for control over drug smuggling and other illegal commerce.
     Within the Puerto Carreño municipality, there is a Colombian army battalion, a national police unit and a naval brigade patrolling the rivers. But clashes between Bogotá’s military and armed groups are infrequent. Some sources, including local officials, allege that corrupt elements in the military are collaborating with non-state actors, but most say the two sides have no more than a tacit understanding aimed at preventing violence. “Here, they [non-state armed groups] learned to behave well with public forces”, an official explained, arguing that more brazen violence results in a larger troop presence – which is bad for business.
     Silence is critical for the lucrative trafficking over the many smaller rivers that wind through Vichada toward the Orinoco and the Venezuelan frontier. Both Família do Norte and Comando Vermelho, Brazilian crime groups, have stakes in south-eastern Venezuela and Colombian border areas. A local law enforcement investigator claims that Vichada is one of the most important corridors for trade in cocaine and coca paste. Shipments from coca-growing states such as Guaviare, Meta, Caquetá and Cauca are funneled through Vichada toward Venezuela.
      Turbulent Relations with the Locals
Venezuelan migrants on the Colombian side of the Orinoco say the guerrillas’ presence in their home country, which dates back decades, began to grow in 2016, at the moment Colombia’s peace accord came into effect and ex-FARC fighters eyed the easy money to be made from illegal gold mining across the border. Now both FARC dissidents and ELN fighters rove freely across the Venezuelan Amazon. Some of the rebels in Amazonas state live in fixed locations where they grow their own food, raise their own cattle and store the meat in refrigerators they have installed. Others move about, making only small, transient camps.
     In material received by Crisis Group, the turbulence of the guerrillas’ relations with locals stands out. In one video, a FARC dissident fighter brandishing a machine gun addresses a tumultuous crowd of Indigenous people. They should not fear the guerrillas, he claims, who are in Venezuela to defend it from greater dangers he alleges lurk in Colombia. 'The reason for our presence is that if any Yankee or Colombian soldier steps on the border of [South American independence hero Simón] Bolívar’s homeland, we will be willing to give our lives', he says. Indigenous men look on in anger and disbelief.
      Indigenous communities living deep in Venezuela’s Amazon rainforest are largely cut off from the outside world. Malnutrition and diseases that would be curable elsewhere pose existential threats to some of these peoples. NGOs and aid agencies that try to reach these areas are restricted in their movements by military authorities and guerrilla groups. Internet and telephone connections are intermittent or dead, and power blackouts are frequent. On top of this, the country is experiencing a severe fuel shortage – the result of a collapsing oil industry and U.S. sanctions – and the Venezuelan fuel that does arrive in Amazonas ends up in the hands of local state bodies that sell it to gold miners at inflated prices. Other fuel is trafficked across the border from Colombia, under guerrilla oversight, and ends up in the same gold mines. There is hardly any for anyone else.
     In these circumstances, one might think that the Colombian guerrillas would try to win over the local population by offering public services, acting as a quasi-government in a region that otherwise has none. Both the FARC and ELN have done so in Colombia, and both seem to want to use the economic crisis in Venezuela to their advantage. 'Socialism can no longer hand things out', a FARC dissident commander tells members of an Indigenous community in Amazonas state, reflecting on the decline in state welfare spending since the oil boom heyday of late President Hugo Chávez. Dissident and ELN representatives claim in various recordings that they support communities and provide security.
     Nevertheless, Crisis Group’s research shows such efforts to provide services in southern Venezuela are rarely undertaken in a way that wins much affection among the locals – though, as noted below, the ELN units seem to try harder than the FARC dissidents. In some villages, the guerrillas pay schoolteachers, but they also seek to shape the educational program. Sometimes, they pay for transporting the sick to clinics, but on other occasions, the rebels will charge fees to let boats or vehicles through their checkpoints. Most things come at a price
     At the same time, the guerrillas are not above trying to buy influence. Small delegations of dissidents have been visiting hamlets throughout Amazonas, promising cars, motorbikes and “suitcases of money” to Indigenous leaders who will sanction their presence. Locals observe that members of one Indigenous advocacy group are driving around in new vehicles. 'Some communities gave in, because they bought them', says one Indigenous leader from Amazonas. 'They buy the conscience of people'. The source complains that guerrilla leaders sometimes invite village girls to get them drunk in the fighters’ camps. Local collaborators, or milicianos, receive about $8 per day for providing information and doing chores.
     Meanwhile, the guerrillas increasingly wear their own uniforms, display guns, appear in public alongside government officials and otherwise associate themselves with state authorities. In one video, a man presenting himself as a FARC member, but wearing a cap and shirt of the ruling Socialist Party of Venezuela, speaks to an Indigenous crowd. In another audio recording, a dissident commander says: 'We are the operational commanders in the area, but we have chiefs, and we need to consult with the government, beginning with the state government, municipal government, Indigenous chiefs in Amazonas and with the ruling party'.
     Several Indigenous sources say ELN guerillas are more respectful of locals than the FARC dissidents and armed forces. They reportedly extort less money than the dissidents, and block violent mining gangs from neighbouring Bolívar state, called sindicatos, from entering Amazonas. There are cases where an Indigenous group has demanded that guerrillas stay out of its territory: the ELN has respected the demand and the dissidents have not. The ELN has reportedly also brought some law and order, albeit a rough and summary approach – up to and including executions – to both the mines and the state capital, Puerto Ayacucho. Despite the brutality, some locals nevertheless approve; they credit the ELN’s 'social cleansing', as the practice is commonly known, with bringing the town’s crime rate down sharply. 'Puerto Ayacucho was suffering from a terrible crime wave', a former Venezuelan intelligence agent explains. 'When the cleansing started, the people had even asked them to act'.
      Some Indigenous communities have revolted against the guerrillas. In 2020, according to local sources, hundreds of people, some of them carrying bows and arrows, confronted a group of FARC dissidents. They told a commander: “How can you come here to impose your norms, while you can’t even fix your own country?” Other Indigenous people have threatened to remove mining equipment and block access to rivers.
      Collaboration and Conflict
     There is evidence of some collaboration between Colombian guerrillas and Venezuelan authorities
. Colombian media sympathetic to the government regularly mention intelligence reports of alleged guerrilla activities on Venezuelan soil and tend to assert that the upper echelons of the Venezuelan state are lending the armed outfits shelter, although these accounts are shaped by Bogotá’s hostility to Caracas. A recording viewed by Crisis Group shows a commander arguing to locals that Venezuela needs “friends”, and that FARC dissidents and the ELN are there to help the Maduro government. A recent Crisis Group report on the border found that Venezuelan authorities have indeed relied on the ELN to help reinforce their control over sensitive border areas in the last two years, suggesting that there may be high-level government backing for that group.
     Nevertheless, relations between armed groups and the Venezuelan state are far from straightforward. Clashes between Colombian guerrillas and Venezuelan forces are not uncommon. In 2018, the ELN killed three troops and suffered unknown losses in a shootout after the Venezuelan National Guard arrested a guerrilla commander named Luis Felipe Ortega Bernal, also known as Garganta. The highest death toll in such clashes was reported in September 2020 in Apure, when at least fifteen rebels and four soldiers were killed in a firefight between FARC dissidents and the Venezuelan army. The series of Apure skirmishes that began in March has displaced an estimated 6,000 people, who crossed the border to Colombia.
     Yet even if things sometimes boil over, the Maduro government’s wrath with guerrilla groups does not seem to last long. According to local observers, after a jail stint in Caracas, Garganta was released in December 2020 and is again operating close to the border.
     What explains the seemingly sudden switches from collaboration with the Venezuelan state to head-on confrontation and back again? Along the Orinoco, as at other parts of the border, links among armed groups, state officials and residents are brittle relationships rooted in self-interest. The ELN and FARC dissidents run similar illicit businesses, such as drug trafficking and illegal gold mining, and both work alongside local Venezuelan authorities and security forces, but each guerrilla faction manages its trafficking routes and contraband shipments separately. Alliances appear to depend more on profit than ideology or geopolitical position. Until recently, as Crisis Group has reported, groups that emerged from the former right-wing paramilitaries in Colombia, particularly the Rastrojos, were colluding with Venezuelan security officers – nominal adherents of chavismo, the Maduro government’s left-populist creed – in the border state of Táchira.
     That said, the government in Caracas does intervene in the border region when it feels its strategic interests are at stake – for example, when local security forces have formed bonds with armed groups that for whatever reason it distrusts. Moreover, disputes over money can also shatter alliances. Misunderstandings, encroachments upon someone else’s territory or the appearance of new faces who try to make their mark by disrupting prior understandings or dynamics can easily tip cooperation into violent competition. The Venezuelan military offensive in Apure, for example, seems to be the result of rising tensions between the army and a FARC dissident faction, the 10th Front, over distribution of illicit revenues and territorial control. Reports from local sources, law enforcement officials and security experts suggest that the dissident outfit grew too ambitious, failed to make required payments to the military and became a thorn in the side of other non-state armed groups that Caracas prefers.
      An Array of Armed Groups
Flare-ups of fighting also owe much to the sheer number of armed groups competing for riches. Colombian guerrillas have a long history in Venezuela, with the ELN’s presence dating back about 40 years. But the groups have grown fast in recent years. An ELN militant said the guerrillas were involved in mining in southern Venezuela’s Bolívar state as early as 2006. Now, the group operates across all the southern states, and according to several sources, it is the most influential guerrilla force in Amazonas.
     As for the FARC dissident groups, these are now present in each of Amazonas state’s seven municipalities. The dominant FARC dissident faction in the state is called Acacio Medina, a group of around 280 former guerrillas and new recruits who continue to use FARC rhetoric to claim legitimacy for their exercise of territorial control in parts of various municipalities. Acacio Medina is represented by Jhon 40, its most senior commander, and Julián Chollo, who runs operations in the field. Its activities boil down to illegal gold mining, drug trafficking and extortion.
     A second dissident faction, Segunda Marquetalia, has also begun moving emissaries into Amazonas state, although it remains more notorious in Colombia. The group, which is named after the area where the FARC were first formed after a military offensive in 1964, was unveiled two years ago by Iván Márquez, a former senior FARC commander and chief negotiator. In addition to trying to resurrect former FARC fronts throughout Colombia, Segunda Marquetalia has struck alliances with outfits with greater clout on the ground in Venezuela. Acacio Medina seems to be a partner to Segunda Marquetalia; it also plays this role for the 1st Front, one of the largest FARC dissident groupings, which is headed by alias Iván Mordisco, and is based predominantly in south-eastern Colombia. Acacio Medina reportedly provides logistics and resources for both rebel factions.
      What draws all the factions together – what 'unites them', in a Colombian law enforcement officer’s words – is the booming illegal economy in Amazonas and their efforts to profit from it. The region is an important corridor for narco-trafficking into Brazil and via small planes to Central America, but gold is the biggest draw. The economic crisis in Venezuela has made gold (as well as coltan on a lesser scale) highly attractive because hyperinflation is whittling away the value of the national currency, the bolívar. Many families have migrated to mining districts. Teachers have followed them to the makeshift towns near the mines, both to give lessons for about 3.5g of gold per month and to search for gold themselves. The unregulated industry is ripe for exploitation by those with weapons and the will to use them. “The guerrillas take advantage of this critical situation that we are going through”, said an Indigenous leader from Amazonas.
     Guerrillas run some of the mines themselves and collect a sort of tax in gold from others. The ELN in particular controls many of the growing number of illegal mines on Venezuelan territory. In the Yapacana national park, illegal gold mining sites occupy more than 2,200 hectares of land, causing huge damage to fragile ecosystems. Dredges wallow in the rivers, while gas-guzzling excavators rip into the earth, uprooting piles of trees and other vegetation. Locals report that corrupt state officials fly into Yapacana in helicopters to skim off some of the gold that the guerrillas gather.
     A Venezuelan smuggler, who claims to be a former army officer, says that he offers gold from a mine in the Manapiare municipality, in eastern Amazonas, for sale in Puerto Carreño on the Colombian side of the border. He explains that the ELN takes a percentage of the gold extracted by owners of mining equipment but allows small-scale Indigenous miners to keep what they find. He and others sell small quantities in Puerto Carreño for below-market prices, but payment protocols are different for those seeking quantities weighing kilograms. “Then you need to transport your cash over to the mines to buy the gold”, he says. How does one get the gold to Colombia? “In pineapples”, he grins.
      Bilateral Suspicions
In Caracas and Bogotá, the two governments appear less interested in what various armed groups are doing along the border than they are in trading barbs to please their respective bases. Early in 2019, at a time of heightened political tensions in Caracas, Venezuela and Colombia severed diplomatic ties. Speaking to the UN General Assembly later that year, Colombia’s president, Iván Duque, declared that he had “reliable and conclusive evidence that corroborates the support the dictatorship gives to criminal groups and narco-terrorists that operate in Venezuela to attack Colombia”. Following the Apure offensive, the Duque government has insisted that Venezuelan authorities are only acting selectively against certain outfits in their quest to “control drug trafficking” in the area.
     For their part, Venezuelan leaders have countered that their army is targeting guerrilla groups that are part of a Colombian-U.S. campaign to 'create the conditions to justify imperialist interventionism'. At a press conference, President Maduro was forthright in making the accusation: 'They have taken dirty and disgusting methods from the Colombian conflict into Venezuela!'
     While there is little to suggest that the Colombian armed groups in Venezuela are either an imperialist conspiracy or a chavista proxy to attack Colombia, this invective is likely to continue so long as the two countries bristle with bilateral tensions. Meanwhile, the real perils – frictions in local communities, violence against local people and a deepening humanitarian crisis – in Amazonas, Apure and elsewhere along the border remain unaddressed. Not only is that a problem for the communities that are being victimised, but it creates an atmosphere of insecurity where the erratic moves of fragmented rebel bands, or an ill-considered response by security forces, could draw the two states into a confrontation with each other, if not by design then by misjudgment or miscalculation. A clash between the two state militaries would serve neither country, much less the impoverished peoples living along their border.
      Against this backdrop, calls for a communication channel between Bogotá and Caracas, potentially with multilateral support, have intensified in at least some quarters in recent weeks. Venezuelan Foreign Minister Jorge Arreaza has appealed directly for the UN secretary-general to use his “good offices” to help create such a channel with Colombia – a request that Bogotá has shown little interest in embracing – while a group of 60 NGOs from both countries have called for the appointment of a UN envoy to the border region. Suspicions between the neighbours could scupper these efforts. But without a means for the two governments to communicate even as they accuse each other of sponsoring armed proxies, any military build-up close to the border, outbreak of violence or guerrilla offensive could be misinterpreted as a plot hatched by the neighbour. Incommunicado deadlock is beginning to look more dangerous with each day. 'It’s like the colour of an ant', a local Indigenous person says when asked to reflect on the future – muddy, but dark and ominous."

In Colombia, the Special Jurisdiction of Peace indicted 8 leaders of the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) for crimes against humanity for their practice of taking hostages for ransom to help finance FARC's armed struggle (Colombia: Tribunal Indicts FARC Leaders for War Crimes," Cultural Survival Quarterly, March 2021).

Carlos Mazabanda And Alejandra Yépez Jácome, "Electoral Upheaval Rocks Ecuador, as Indigenous and Environmental Defenders Score Huge Gains: Will a new government prioritize protection of the Amazon rainforest and Earth defenders?" Amazon Watch, February 24, 2021,, reported, " Ecuador's presidential election is a clash between two visions for the Amazon and the country. Despite allegations of voter fraud, the country is set for presidential runoff on April 11 between Andres Arauz, a self-proclaimed leftist, economist, and protege of former president Rafael Correa, and right-wing banker Guillermo Lasso. Arauz and Lasso both have platforms that continue to promote an expansion of the fossil fuel and mining industries as the financial future of the country, despite its legacy of contamination, deforestation, rights abuses, and failure to be an economic panacea.
     The other vision for Ecuador's future was led by Indigenous leader Yaku Pérez, the candidate from the Pachakutik party, one of the political expressions of the Indigenous movement. Pérez ran on an environmental agenda, calling for a ban on new extraction, greater protections for the rights of nature and ecosystems, expanded Indigenous rights to territory and self-determination, as well as alternative and sustainable economic development that would help Ecuador get out of the boom and bust cycles of commodity dependence. The fact that both candidates in the run-off, Arauz and Lasso, share the same policy agenda based on the extractive industry does not bode well for the Amazon or its people
     In fact, their agendas run contrary to other environmental wins during the February 7th election. In the province of Azuay, home to Cuenca, the country's third-largest city, a referendum against mining activities won by a landslide, throwing several large mining concessions into question and ending any future mining activity there.
      The electoral results confirm that the power of Indigenous peoples and the movement for change away from extraction that we've seen in the streets came through at the ballot box, supporting the construction of a platform not only for the Indigenous movement but for the whole country, hand in hand with all the social movements. It is a clear rejection of past policies and political groups that pursued resource extraction, criminalization of protest and Indigenous leaders, denying rights and essential guarantees of the Indigenous communities."
      The Confederation of Indigenous Nationalities of the Ecuadorian Amazon (CONFENIAE)
Amid allegations of widespread voter fraud, Ecuador's National Election Council (CNE) rejected calls for a recount this week. Yaku Pérez was excluded from the run-off elections by 33,000 votes under "questionable circumstances," according to his campaign team.
     Yaku's campaign presented allegations of egregious errors in vote counting between hard copy ballots and thousands of vote tallies in multiple provinces. Official investigations into the allegations are ongoing. The inconsistencies of the vote tally, whether through incompetence or manipulation, have called into question the transparency of the electoral process and institutions and provoked protests. Perez led a march of supporters that arrived in Quito yesterday, delivering 16,000 poll statements to the office of the CNE which they say show the irregularities in the vote.
     The power of Yaku's presidential run and turnout is historic. He received the highest level of support ever for an Indigenous candidate – almost 20% in a field with 16 candidates – clearly crossing over and winning many non-Indigenous votes. The only other Indigenous candidate to previously run for president received 2% of the vote. The Pachakutik party also took 27 Congressional seats, up from seven, and won all of the Amazonian provinces in a landslide, and all of the Andean provinces except one. The strong and unexpected showing of Yaku is a major rebuke of the country's right-wing and Correa-era policies, signaling a new political landscape and an emboldened Indigenous movement.
     Ecuador is facing a current economic crisis, and it is not solely a consequence of the COVID-19 pandemic. Over the last two years, the government of Lenin Moreno has enacted a series of austerity measures that have weakened public services, health care, education, environmental protections and have overwhelmingly increased unemployment. During his tenure, the government also violated human rights and the rights of nature that are enshrined in the constitution and international law.
     The vision that the government, and its presidential candidates in the run-off Arauz and Lasso, are offering to Ecuadorians is based on the irresponsible exploitation of natural resources and violates fundamental rights such as free, prior, and informed consent (FPIC). It is tethered to the expansion of oil, mining, and logging. This also occurs in a context where the pandemic has highlighted the profound neglect of Indigenous peoples by the health and education systems. Health centers near Indigenous communities continue to be under-resourced, school dropout rates remain high, and communities are losing Indigenous elders and the ancestral knowledge of their peoples to COVID-19, which has taken an incalculable toll on loved ones.
     To all this, we can add the impunity granted to the extractive industry and a lack of independence of the judicial system. A clear example of this is the April 2020 spill of more than 15,000 barrels (672,000 gallons) of crude oil in the Napo and Coca rivers – the worst environmental crime of the last 15 years. There are 27,000 Indigenous people who are still without water and facing food insecurity. Almost a year later, the hundreds of families affected remain invisible in the eyes of the government despite this emergency crisis.
     Therefore, it is essential that the policies of the incoming presidential administration take into account the historical demands of the Indigenous movement, who seek to have their rights and their lives guaranteed and respected. They are the ones who live by and take care of the rivers, the forests, and biodiversity, and they are the ones who suffer directly from the effects of pollution and the destruction of their lands.
     The new representatives elected to the Ecuadorian National Assembly have the obligation to defend and protect the rights of Earth defenders whose lives and freedom are at risk because they speak up against extraction projects and the destruction of the Amazon. The Assembly will also have the arduous task of responding to the demands of civil society. They will need to address demands for amnesty for the Indigenous peoples and activists facing charges from the October uprising over IMF austerity measures, progress towards post-extraction economic alternatives, respect for the right to consent and self-determination, employment security, quality intercultural education and health, and the protection of Indigenous territories.
     As an organization dedicated to advancing Indigenous rights and protecting the Amazon, we support the calls from our Indigenous partners for any new government to respect the clear mandate of Indigenous peoples in the Amazon and the Andes for an end to new oil and mining extraction and guarantee their rights to territory, self-determination, and to live in an environment free of contamination."

Ricardo Pérez, "Forced to Resist in the Peruvian Amazon, How the War on Drugs placed a target on Indigenous Earth defenders, Amazon Watch, April 15, 2021,, reported, " A year has passed since the assassination of Indigenous Earth defender Arbildo Meléndez, a leader of the Cacataibo people in the Peruvian Amazon. On Sunday, April 12, 2020, Arbildo went into the rainforest to hunt and never returned with food for his family. The next day his wife, Zulema Guevara, went searching for him and found his body. In between tears, she begged two young men nearby to help her carry him out of the rainforest. Zulema has been demanding justice for her husband Arbildo ever since.
     Zulema shared that, despite the fact that the prosecution has already identified the alleged perpetrator, he was never sentenced. 'To ensure that the murderer did not flee, I requested that they detain him while the process continues, but they have not done so.' Zulema's fear is that the case will be shelved like many others and will end up unsolved. 'The judges have had conclusive evidence in their hands, but justice has not been delivered,' says Zulema.
     She remembers that Arbildo always told her that, 'even if my blood is spilled, my community's land is going to be titled.' But despite the progress he had already made, the entire process was interrupted due to his death and the state of emergency caused by the pandemic. The titling process remains stalled to this day.
     Before Arbildo was murdered, he presented his case to the United Nations. The Peruvian government was also made aware of Arbildo's struggle to title 22,000 hectares of the ancestral territory of the Cacataibo people. This process turned him and his young family into targets, and they began to be threatened and harassed by drug traffickers who wanted to use this same territory to plant coca and build clandestine airstrips.
     Today, we know that there are 46 new clandestine airplane runways in the area from satellite images used by the Peruvian government to monitor deforestation in the Amazon, with support from international funding. Three of these runways are in the territory belonging to Arbildo's community, Unipacuyacu.
     Only four months into 2021, two more Indigenous Earth defenders have already been murdered: Yensser Ríos and Herasmo García. These latest cases prompted Indigenous organizations and the Earth defenders at risk to launch an emergency campaign to draw the attention of Peru's president and prime minister. This decision was not easy to make, since denouncing drug trafficking increases their exposure and the risks that they face.
     But the campaign is succeeding. The cases reached the media in the United States, United Kingdom, Germany, Spain, and all of Latin America, in addition to the most influential press outlets in Peru. Alongside this campaign to increase international attention, Amazon Watch supported a security plan to keep leaders safely hidden because as press coverage increased and exposed the international scandal, so did the threats against these Earth defenders.
     Responding to pressure, the Ministry of the Interior recently gave an order for a covert operation to burn illegal coca crops throughout the area with the support of the army. The operation will continue to coordinate directly with Indigenous leaders to carry on with eradication.
     This was the first major blow to the area's drug traffickers in years
. Indigenous leaders were warned that there could be retaliation, and Amazon Watch stepped in to support our partners Regional Organization of AIDESEP in Ucayali (ORAU) and Native Federation of Cacataibo Communities (FENACOCA) to meet with the national police to provide a protection plan for the leaders who had come forward to share their stories with the press.
      The Peruvian government also created a new working group to follow up on all the commitments that it has not fulfilled including roundtables with Indigenous organizations on Free, Prior, and Informed Consent (FPIC) processes, among other priorities. This government response is a signal that it may finally be recognizing the urgent need to listen to Indigenous communities.
     The government is also making progress with the creation of a policy on human rights defenders. Indigenous organizations are pushing for a specific focus and defined plans to protect Indigenous peoples who are located in remote regions.
     These initial steps by the government, of course, are a partial victory. But we must look carefully at new developments. Today, communities are consistently harassed by armed men who arrive in vans with dark windows to ask where the leaders who led the campaign are hiding.
      These new working groups and commissions still exist only on paper. We have not yet seen a comprehensive security plan for all the communities in the area, and there seems to be no progress or update on when the land titling processes will be completed. However, Indigenous organizations do expect that the judicial processes against land traffickers will advance.
     Resistance must continue. In the new phase of this campaign, you may not see as many headlines anymore, but it is essential to remember that at this time there are Indigenous leaders who are now spending their lives in and out of hiding until they and their families are no longer at risk. We must remain vigilant and we must keep up the pressure. Amazon Watch will continue to assume the responsibility and honor of accompanying Peruvian Earth defenders in whatever they need, but your voice and attention can make the difference between perpetual impunity or justice and accountability."

"Brazil: Indigenous people fight Covid and Bolsonarom" Survival International, February 15, 2021,, reported, " Brazil’s indigenous people are being decimated by a crippling second wave of Covid-19, at the same time as President Bolsonaro ramps up his campaign of persecution against them.
     Indigenous organization
APIB has confirmed that 962 indigenous people have died of the virus in Brazil, while 48,405 people have tested positive. Ten children died in January in just two Yanomami communities.
     According to figures from COIAB, the Coordinating Body for Indigenous Organizations in the Brazilian Amazon, the mortality rate among indigenous people in the Amazon region is a staggering 58% higher than that of the general population, while the infection rate is 68% higher.
     The Amazonian city of Manaus – home to around 30,000 indigenous people – has been seriously hit, and urgent assistance for areas further away from hospitals remains particularly precarious. Once the virus reaches indigenous communities in the forest, particularly recently contacted and uncontacted tribes’ territories, the results can be devastating, and many uncontacted tribes’ territories have already been invaded by loggers, miners and settlers.
     Manaus is the only city in Amazonas state with an intensive care ward – and oxygen is already in short supply.
      President Jair Bolsonaro’s handling of the pandemic in Brazil has drawn national and international condemnation, and his government has been accused of carrying out an 'institutional strategy for the spread of coronavirus .'
     Bolsonaro’s list of anti-indigenous policies is
well documented and amounts to a genocide against Brazil’s first peoples. Having recently won control of both houses of Brazil’s Congress, Bolsonaro has laid out his priorities by attempting to push through a controversial mining bill, which would further the elimination of indigenous rights in Brazil.
      While vaccination programmes have started to roll out across the country, as of December 2020, Brazil’s Indigenous Affairs Agency FUNAI had only spent 52% of its budget to tackle the pandemic, according to APIB.
     Meanwhile, indigenous communities continue to take matters into their own hands to protect themselves from Covid-19. Antonio Guajajara, the leader of Maçaranduba community in Maranhão state, said : 'It’s no coincidence that many indigenous lands are being invaded, and this means the disease is spreading more and more. The last thing that should happen at a time like this is for the Brazilian government to give more support to these large-scale invasions… but they are, and this is making things worse… We’ve been taking measures around our territory… Thanks to our work to protect our village and our land, the disease has not entered our territory.'”

"Brazilian Supreme Court takes crucial step towards recognizing indigenous rights," survival International, April 9, 2021,, reported, "A small community of Brazilian Indians has won a land rights case at Brazil’s Supreme Court that could have major repercussions for indigenous people across the country.
     The Court has ruled that a 2014 judicial decision canceling the return of some of their ancestral territory to the Guarani community of Guyra Roka must be revisited because the Guarani themselves were not involved in the process. Now, they must be given a fair hearing before the Court votes again on the return of their territory.
     The ruling will potentially affect other communities whose lands have been stolen, but who hope to reclaim them.
     However, the chances of the Guarani recovering their land any time soon are remote
     Most of the area has been taken over by a powerful politician and rancher, José Teixeira, who has been implicated in a series of attacks on the Guarani. One of the leaders of Guyra Roka, Ambrosio Vilhalva, who acted in the feature film Birdwatchers, was stabbed to death in 2013.
     Vilhalva and others led a 're-occupation' in 2000 to recover a small parcel of their land from the rancher.
     Tito Vilhalva, a religious leader of the Guyra Roka community, said: 'I’m 99 years old now. [When I was young] Guyra Roka was forest – there was no road, no fences. It was just forest and Indians, monkeys and tapirs. There were no Brazilians then.'
     The 2014 cancelation of the Guyra Roka’s territory was based on what campaigners have called the 'Time Limit Trick' – a ploy by anti-indigenous politicians to manipulate the constitution and steal indigenous lands.
      The Time Limit Trick says that unless indigenous peoples were living on their ancestral lands on October 5, 1988 [the day the Brazilian Constitution was adopted] they no longer have any right to them. If successful, this genocidal manoeuvre would put hundreds of indigenous territories and dozens of uncontacted tribes at grave risk.
     The Supreme Court is due to rule in a separate case shortly concerning the Xokleng tribe that will set the definitive precedent for the Time Limit Trick. If it is upheld in that case, indigenous rights will be set back decades and many tribal peoples, and their lands, could be destroyed.
     The indigenous lawyer Eloy Terena said: “Instead of protecting indigenous interests, [the state and its agents] worked with the region’s farmers to evict the indigenous people from their lands and to promote genocidal agribusiness.”
     The Time Limit Trick is just one of a series of measures that President Bolsonaro’s government is pushing aimed at opening up all indigenous lands in the country to mining, ranching and logging
. These measures constitute the biggest attack on indigenous peoples in decades, and if passed could have the effect of completely destroying tribal peoples in Brazil.
     Survival’s Research & Advocacy Director Fiona Watson, who has visited the Guyra Roka community, said today: 'This is a stunning victory for a group of people who have been relentlessly persecuted for decades but never stopped fighting to recover their land. The Guarani and their many allies around the world will fight for their land to be returned. The Guarani have endured a decades-long humanitarian crisis in which almost all their land has been stolen, their leaders murdered, and their means of survival destroyed. Like other tribal peoples across Brazil, they’re confronting a government whose policies and actions have the clear and genocidal aim of wiping them out.'”

"Uncontacted tribe under threat after Senator’s secret plot to open up their territory," Survival International, January 27, 2021,, reported, " The Ituna Itatá (“Smell of Fire”) indigenous territory in Brazil, home to uncontacted Indians, is under grave threat after it was revealed that a Brazilian Senator is plotting to open it up to settlers, loggers, ranchers and miners.
     Brazilian organization
OPI has reported that Senator Zequinha Marinho – who has strong links to the mining and ranching lobby and is also a member of the controversial Assembly of God evangelical church – wrote to the President’s office demanding that part of the territory’s current protections be revoked. The aim is eventually to open the entire area up.
     Located in the Amazonian state of Pará, Ituna Itatá is only inhabited by uncontacted people and is already being heavily targeted and invaded by land-grabbers and loggers. Illegal logging is increasing there exponentially, and last year it was the most deforested indigenous territory in Brazil.
      Another serious threat to the region is from the Canadian mining company Belo Sun who are planning to develop the country’s largest open-pit gold mine just a few miles away. Yet the territory should have been mapped out and protected years ago – it was one of the conditions for the approval of the huge Belo Monte dam project nearby."

"Crisis in Yanomami territory as goldminers launch series of attacks," Survival International, June 15, 2021,, reported, " A major humanitarian crisis is engulfing the Yanomami. In the last few months several communities have been subjected to repeated, violent attacks by heavily armed goldminers who are operating illegally in the Yanomami territory. Following one such attack on Palimiu community, two young children drowned in the river as they tried to escape.
     On 5 June a large group of miners entered the community of Maikohipi and set off tear gas canisters, forcing the Yanomami to flee into the forest
      Another community, Walomapi has been under constant attack since 10 May, according to the indigenous health body, Condisi-YY. The latest there was on 8 June , when miners fired at Yanomami hunters who had to dive into the river to escape.
     Junior Hekurari Yanomami, president of Condisi-YY said: 'The situation is chaotic… the authorities must act urgently…. and uphold the Brazilian constitution.'
      Since 30 April Yanomami organisations have sent six desperate appeals to the authorities. A federal judge ruled on 12 May that the authorities must establish a permanent presence in the Palimiu region to guarantee the safety of the Yanomami communities. On 24 May a Supreme Court judge ordered the government to immediately take “all necessary measures to protect the lives, health and security of the Yanomami.” The UN and OAS have also condemned the violence and urged the authorities to take immediate action, but the authorities have done little.
     According to Dario Kopenawa, vice-president of Hutukara Yanomami Association: 'Every day, the Yanomami are intimidated. There’s a lot of harassment, death threats, shouting, brandishing guns, shooting with tear gas. The authorities have never sent in security forces permanently… The authorities have not complied with our requests [for protection and to remove the miners]. The situation is very tense.'
      Uncontacted Yanomami communities are highly vulnerable to attacks and diseases transmitted by the miners, and fears are growing for their safety.
      The social and environmental impacts of the invasion are immense: 20,000 miners are polluting the river systems with highly toxic mercury. Several studies have shown that some Yanomami communities in the mining zones have levels of mercury poisoning significantly over the WHO’s recommended limit.
     The miners are also destroying the forest – a recent report by Hutukara revealed that 2,400 hectares of forest have been destroyed. In 2020, deforestation increased by 30%
     Yanomami leader and shaman Davi Kopenawa, chairman of Hutukara Yanomami Association said: 'You see the dirty water, the yellowish river, pits everywhere. These prospectors are like pigs from big farms—they dig a lot of holes looking for precious stones like gold and diamonds. They eventually come back. Twenty years ago, we managed to send these invaders away, and they returned. They are coming in like starved beasts, looking for the wealth of our land. They are advancing very fast.'
      The miners are also spreading malaria and Covid-19. In the past five years cases of malaria have increased by 500%. In 2020 the indigenous health department registered 20,000 cases of malaria. More than a third of the total Yanomami population may have been exposed to Covid-19, making a lethal combination which is devastating their health and ability to feed themselves. Yanomami children are dying from malaria, pneumonia and malnutrition.
     Survival International has worked closely with the Yanomami for 50 years. Our Research Director Fiona Watson, who knows them well, is available for interview:
     To take action and support the Yanomami:"

"Revealed: Bolsonaro’s plan to wipe out “the world’s most vulnerable uncontacted tribes,” Survival International, May 19, 2021, reported, " The Brazilian government is planning to open up the land of uncontacted tribes to deadly exploitation, by scrapping the emergency orders that currently protect their territories.
     Experts say the plan could drive several uncontacted tribes to extinction, and destroy around 1 million hectares of rainforest – an area twice the size of Delaware
     These tribes are especially vulnerable as their territories are not officially mapped out and protected. Currently the only thing standing between them and well-funded and heavily-armed loggers, ranchers and land-grabbers are the orders (known in Brazil as “Restrições de uso” injunctions).
      Seven territories are currently protected by these orders, most of which have to be renewed every few years. Three of them are due to expire between September and December 2021, and are particularly vulnerable.
      One of these protects the forest home of the last of the Piripkura tribe – after a series of massacres only three members of this tribe are known to exist, though some studies indicate others may still survive in the depths of the forest. A recent study by Brazilian NGO ISA showed that 962 hectares of forest in the Piripkura territory were razed last year, the equivalent of more than 1,000 football pitches.
      President Bolsonaro and allies are targeting these tribes’ territories, which remain vulnerable until they are fully demarcated as indigenous lands. A Senator close to Bolsonaro, for example, is demanding that the Ituna Itatá territory be dramatically reduced in size, while state and federal politicians allied to powerful logging, ranching and agribusiness interests target other territories. President Bolsonaro is highly sympathetic to these deadly land-grabbing efforts, and has explicitly said he wants to open up all indigenous territories for exploitation.
      COIAB (the Coordinating Body of Indigenous Organizations of the Brazilian Amazon), OPI (Human Rights Watch of Isolated and Initial Contact Indigenous Peoples) and Survival – today launched a new video to expose Bolsonaro’s plan. They’re calling for the Brazilian government to renew the Land Protection Orders; evict all invaders; fully protect the territories; and #StopBrazilsGenocide.
     Angela Kaxuyana, one of COIAB’s Coordinators, said today: 'No more massacres! We won’t allow any more invasions! It’s vital that indigenous peoples and the organizations of the Amazon, and all civil society, mobilize to prevent the territories where the isolated indigenous peoples live from being handed over to loggers, land grabbers, gold miners and other forest predators to destroy. If the Bolsonaro government ends the Land Protection Orders, it will be yet another disaster and attack against the lives of these peoples, which is part of the grand plan to dismantle the indigenous policy in our country.
     'We need to prevent more lives from being lost in this (un)government, we’ll carry on defending our rights to life, and those of our relatives who live autonomously in their territories.'
     Fabrício Amorim of OPI said: 'Land Protection Orders are a cutting-edge tool of public policy in Brazil, which can be deployed quickly to safeguard the lives and land rights of uncontacted indigenous peoples. They’re the highest expression of the precautionary principle, provided for in national and international laws. Doing away with them will mean the extermination of indigenous peoples, or some groups of them, without there even being time to recognize their existence in order to guarantee their rights. It will silence little-known lives and impoverish humanity. Therefore, it’s vital to strengthen these instruments, start demarcating these areas and remove all invaders.'
     Elias Bígio, former head of the Uncontacted Tribes unit at Brazil’s Indigenous Affairs Agency FUNAI, said today: 'The Piripkura’s land has been occupied by aggressive and violent people who are destroying the environment and threatening everyone.
     'The uncontacted Piripkura have shown that they don’t want contact. They don’t have the security of contact with ‘our’ society, given the traumatic relationship they’ve had with the invaders. They’re there in the forest, and they’ve devised strategies to protect themselves and survive. They’ve managed to survive and are there, hidden, restricted to a small territory, and claiming this territory for themselves.'
      Sarah Shenker, Coordinator of Survival’s Uncontacted Tribes campaign, said today: 'The future of several uncontacted tribes living in territories shielded by emergency Land Protection Orders will be decided this year. They have already experienced land theft and appalling violence and killings at the hands of outsiders. The orders are currently the only thing standing between them and certain death.
     'The ranchers’ and politicians’ plot to rip up the orders, steal these lands, and wipe out the uncontacted tribes who live there, is one branch of many in the Bolsonaro government’s genocidal attack on Brazil’s indigenous peoples, and it must be blocked. Over the coming months, uncontacted tribes’ allies in Brazil and around the world will be campaigning non-stop for the orders to be renewed, all invaders evicted, and the forests to be fully protected. Only then can the uncontacted tribes survive and thrive.'
      Notes to Editors
- Representatives from COIAB, OPAN, OPI and Survival are available for interview.
     - The uncontacted tribal territories currently shielded by the Land Protection Orders are:
     Territory | Expiration date | Area in Hectares
     Piripkura (Mato Grosso) | 18 Sep 2021 | 243,000
     Jacareúba/Katawixi (Amazonas) | 08 Dec 2021 | 647,000
     Pirititi (Roraima) | 05 Dec 2021 | 43,000
     Ituna Itatá (Pará) | 09 Jan 2022 | 142,000
     Tanaru (Rondonia) | 26 Oct 2025 | 8,000
     Igarapé Taboca do Alto Tarauacá (Acre) | Until the demarcation process is complete | 287
     Kawahiva do Rio Pardo (Mato Grosso) | Until the demarcation process is complete | 412,000."

"Brazil: European colonial history exposed in landmark court case," Survival International, May 6, 2021,, reported, " The land rights of the Xokleng, a tribe that was violently expelled from its territory in the 19th and 20th centuries to make way for European colonists, are now the focus of a landmark court case in Brazil.
     The Xokleng were brutally persecuted and evicted by armed militias to make way for European settlers. The Supreme Court hearing into the so-called 'Time Limit Trick' could now set the effects of these and subsequent evictions in stone, establishing a precedent which would have far-reaching consequences for indigenous peoples in Brazil
      Other Xokleng communities are also fighting to recover some of their territory. The Xokleng Konglui in Rio Grande do Sul state have launched a ‘retomada’ (reoccupation) of their land, which is now occupied by a national park. The government wants to make it an ‘ecotourism’ destination.
      The case centers around the demarcation of the “Ibirama La Klãnõ” Indigenous Territory in the state of Santa Catarina in southern Brazil. If they win, the Xokleng would be able to return to a significant part of their ancestral territory.
     However, the official demarcation of the territory has been suspended following a lawsuit filed by non-indigenous residents and a logging company operating in the area. They argue that on October 5, 1988 – the date the Brazilian Constitution was signed – the Xokleng only lived in limited parts of the territory and therefore have no right to most of their original land. If this argument succeeds, it would legitimize centuries of evictions experienced by indigenous peoples throughout Brazil.
      The Brazilian government encouraged Europeans to settle on indigenous land, and allocated them large parts of the Xokleng and other indigenous territories at the beginning of the 20th century. It also financed a so-called 'Indian-hunting militia', which accelerated the colonial land grab. This militia specialized in the extermination of indigenous peoples and hunted down the Xokleng.
     'The Redskins are interfering with colonization: this interference must be eliminated, and as quickly and thoroughly as possible,' German colonists demanded at the time.
     German settlers resented Xokleng attempts to defend their territories, and frequently subjected them to cruel 'unitive expeditions.'
     The Xokleng territory was continuously reduced over several decades. In the 1970s, a dam was built in the small part that remained.
      Map of the current (Ibirama) and planned (Ibirama La Klãnõ) indigenous territory. The expansion of the territory is the cause of the legal dispute.
     Map of the current (Ibirama) and planned (Ibirama La Klãnõ) indigenous territory. The expansion of the territory is the cause of the legal dispute.
     © Marian Ruth Heineberg/Natalia Hanazaki based on data from FUNAI/IBGE/MMA.
      If Brazil’s Supreme Court votes in favor of the 'Time Limit Trick', it would have devastating consequences for many other indigenous peoples, and their chances of reclaiming their ancestral territories. It could enable the theft of land that is rightfully owned by hundreds of thousands of tribal and indigenous people. The validity of existing indigenous territories could then also come into question.
     Brasílio Priprá, a prominent Xokleng leader, said: 'If we didn’t live in a certain part of the territory in 1988, it doesn’t mean it was 'no man’s land' or that we didn’t want to be there. The 'Time Limit Trick' reinforces the historical violence that continues to leave its mark today.'
     Indigenous organizations and their allies, including Survival, began raising fears about the 'Time Limit Trick' in 2017, calling it unlawful because it violates the current Brazilian Constitution and international law, which clearly states that indigenous peoples have the right to their ancestral lands.
     President Bolsonaro is turning back the clock on indigenous rights, attempting to: erase their right to self-determination; sell off their territories to logging and mining companies; and ‘assimilate’ them against their will. Survival International and tribal peoples are fighting side by side to stop Brazil’s genocide.
     Fiona Watson of Survival International said today: 'The history of the Xokleng shows just how absurd the 'Time Limit Trick' is: Indigenous peoples have been evicted from their lands, hunted down and murdered in Brazil for centuries. Those who demand that in order to have the right to their land now, indigenous lands had to have been inhabited by indigenous communities on October 5, 1988 – after the end of the military dictatorship – are denying this history and perpetuating the genocide in the 21st century.'
     Note to the editor:
     - More information on the Xokleng and their history can be found here:
     - The case before the Court concerns only the Xokleng of Ibirama La Klãnõ indigenous territory. There are many other Xokleng communities."

The Inter-American Commission on Human Rights, in January 2021, ordered precautionary measures to protect the Awa and Guajajara peoples living in the Aribola Indigenous Territory in the State of Manahao, Brazil. The commission also asked the Brazilian government to provide health care (Brazil: Human Rights Commission Grants Protections to Guajajara and Awa peoples," Cultural Survival Quarterly, March 2021).


International Crisis Group (ICG), "Toward a Viable Future for South Sudan," Report  300 / Africa 10 February 2021,, commented, " Ten years after independence, South Sudan is faring poorly, beleaguered by political and socio-economic ills. The civil war’s two main antagonists have an uneasy peace, but others fight on. The country needs a reset rooted in power sharing and devolution of authority from the centre.
      What’s new ?  In February 2020, South Sudan’s two main belligerents began forming a unity government pursuant to a peace deal inked a year and a half earlier. But the pact is fragile, smaller conflicts are still ablaze and the threat of return to full-blown civil war remains.
Why does it matter ?  Forthcoming elections could test the peace deal severely. Looking further ahead, conflict will continue to plague South Sudan until its leaders forge a political system that distributes power more widely. The cost of cyclical fighting since 2013 has been steep: hundreds of thousands dead and millions uprooted from their homes.
What should be done ?  South Sudan’s leaders should strengthen pre-election power sharing and broaden the peace deal to include other parties. They should not rush to polls, if conflict looms, and seek a political settlement decentralising governance and cementing national power sharing. Civil society and external partners should continually advocate for these steps.
     Executive Summary

     Fêted at birth a decade ago, South Sudan is failing. It suffered a brutal civil war from 2013 to 2018, exposing a country whose foundations were weaker and divisions deeper than its well-wishers envisioned. The war has quietened thanks to a peace deal, signed in 2018 by the two main belligerents. But the path to stability is unclear. Not only could the pact collapse, but it does little to calm an insurgency in the nation’s south or local violence elsewhere. Elections looming as soon as 2022 threaten to inflame tensions between its signatories. Moreover, South Sudan’s winner-take-all political system ill suits a country that requires consensus among major blocs to avert cyclical power struggles. South Sudanese need to get through elections, which may well require some form of pre-election power-sharing pact. They also need a revised political settlement. While prospects of that for now appear slim, the country’s reform-minded elites, civil society and external partners should still work toward fairer power sharing at the centre and greater devolution.
     While the country’s stark development needs were apparent at independence, South Sudanese and outsiders significantly downplayed its political woes, especially its ethnic cleavages. That proved a mistake. Just two years after the triumphal inauguration of the world’s newest country in July 2011, South Sudan collapsed at the centre, as the rival camps loyal to President Salva Kiir and Vice President Riek Machar turned against each other in bloody combat that shattered the ruling party. The resultant fighting, which has mostly taken place along ethnic lines, has killed as many as 400,000 people. Since the 2018 peace deal, which moved forward in February 2020 when Kiir and Machar agreed to form a unity government, the ceasefire between the two main warring parties has held but the pact has accomplished little else.
      With the country so broken, the first challenge is maintaining and expanding upon the ceasefire. The peace process requires endless maintenance by external actors, notably East African leaders, with their attentions consumed by efforts to prevent a slide back to war between the two chief factions. Meanwhile, groups that fought under Machar’s banner could well split off and return to conflict. Communal violence in parts of the country is running up the death count, particularly in remote rural areas. An insurgency led by Thomas Cirillo, a veteran general in the South’s previous struggle against Khartoum, has also taken root in the southern Equatoria region, including near the capital Juba, and risks spreading . Regional and other diplomacy aimed at bolstering the ceasefire between Kiir and Machar is critical, but those involved should do what they can to prevent splinter conflicts and broaden the peace process to include Cirillo.
     The next hurdle is preventing renewed violence in the run-up to or aftermath of promised elections. The polls are expected to pit Kiir’s coalition against Machar’s in what some call a final showdown. That the peace deal culminates in such a winner-take-all contest is a potentially fatal flaw. Even if fighting does not erupt before the polls, as occurred in 2013 when Kiir’s faction exchanged fire with Machar’s, setting off the civil war, an all-or-nothing vote risks dissolving the agreement’s political settlement by locking the losers out of power. Regional leaders and other external actors have to tread a fine line: pushing South Sudanese parties toward elections while showing flexibility when necessary to create space for them to reach consensus on key decisions. At the same time, they should keep a watchful eye on pre-election dynamics and encourage dialogue between Kiir and Machar. If the poll looks set to be fraught, particularly if, as appears likely, both men decide to run, regional leaders should push for a pre-election deal that guarantees a share of power to the loser.
      Getting past the vote without a descent into further violence will be hard enough, but the bigger challenge lies in finding a settlement among South Sudanese that lays the groundwork for a sustainable peace. Regional leaders and diplomats are short of ideas as to how to steer South Sudan out of its pattern of peace deals that fall apart. They privately express little optimism or vision for South Sudan’s future. Nor is such a vision to be found among South Sudan’s major donors, which also once championed its cause and now foot the huge humanitarian bills, if not the ultimate costs, for its failings.
      Solutions could be found in the reshaping of South Sudan’s political architecture toward more consensual forms of governance. Constitutionally, the country is a majoritarian democracy. Yet in practice, peace in South Sudan requires consensus among elites and communities, which often mobilise as well-armed ethno-political blocs, notably within Kiir’s Dinka people, the nation’s largest, Machar’s Nuer, the next largest, and Equatorians, a diffuse grouping of ethnicities in the nation’s south. Even the concept of a centralised state in South Sudan butts against the reality of a country lacking basic institutions and infrastructure including roads. Maintaining stability is impossible without broad accommodation.
     A more durable political settlement requires reducing the winner-take-all stakes. Options could include institutionalised power sharing at the centre or an elite bargain to rotate power among key ethno-political groups or regions. Some form of decentralisation is almost certainly necessary. Such remedies cannot cure all the country’s ills, but they might provide its elites a sense of shared interest that has eluded them over decades of brutal conflict. Prospects for such reform for now appear slim, with powerful elites, including Kiir and Machar themselves, for the most part opposed. Still, until space opens for official dialogue on reform, South Sudanese civil forces should advance discussions in whatever venue they can, including outside the state arena. South Sudan’s external partners should be ready to facilitate such dialogue, if asked. Long-term peace in South Sudan almost certainly requires the country’s leaders to agree on a more equitable division of power and resources, no matter how long it takes them to do so

International Crisis Grousp (ICG), "South Sudan’s Other War: Resolving the Insurgency in Equatoria," Briefing  169 / Africa 25 February 2021,, commented, " A rebellion in Equatoria, South Sudan’s southernmost region, is undermining the already troubled peace between the main belligerents in its civil war. Mediators should push for a wider compact that accommodates Equatorian grievances and includes the insurgent general in talks about the country’s political future.
      What’s new?  Despite a 2018 deal bringing South Sudan’s main warring parties into a ceasefire and unity government, a rebellion in the southern multi-ethnic Equatoria region fights on. Its leader, Thomas Cirillo, rejects the agreement, saying it fails to address his peoples’ core grievances, while calling for greater autonomy from the centre.
Why does it matter?  On-and-off fighting is cutting a swathe of destruction in Equatoria, including south and west of the capital Juba, displacing hundreds of thousands of people into neighbouring countries and obstructing South Sudan’s path out of war and toward a more viable future.
What should be done?  Mediators and external powers should press Cirillo and South Sudanese President Salva Kiir to broaden the existing peace deal by fulfilling the bespoke ceasefire agreement between them. Cirillo should join the country’s constitution-making process. Parties also should support a grassroots process to address local grievances.
I. Overview
South Sudan’s long civil war is not over, as a major insurgency south and west of the capital Juba has plunged large parts of the Equatoria region into chronic bouts of violence that have displaced many thousands. A February 2018 pact bringing South Sudanese President Salva Kiir and his rival First Vice President Riek Machar into a ceasefire and unity government was a major step forward in ending the war. Yet the holdout rebellion in Equatoria shows few signs of abating. Driven by grievances sharpened over decades, the rebels and their supporters demand greater autonomy and political decentralisation. Mediators and external powers should push the warring parties to abide by commitments they have already made to respect a ceasefire. They should then broker a deal to bring the rebels into the national peace process and, later, the constitutional negotiations that this process calls for. The country’s outside partners should also forge grassroots support for a deal in places afflicted by conflict.
      Many Equatorians feel that the region has been excluded from negotiations to end the civil war, which helps explain why its conflict has become entrenched. After war broke out in 2013, most Equatorian politicians shied away from involvement, leaving the main belligerents Kiir and Machar to battle it out, although they did ask to be included in peace talks. When Kiir blocked their inclusion as a bloc, armed factions from Equatoria rose up against the national army. Unable to unite, many of them drifted into Machar’s camp, adding tinder to the feud burning between him and Kiir and prolonging the war. Yet as talks focused on finding a deal between Kiir and Machar, Equatorians continued to feel sidelined. In 2017, Thomas Cirillo, a top Equatorian general in the national army, broke off and declared his own insurgency in the region, gaining the loyalty of major opposition commanders south and west of Juba. Although Kiir and Cirillo committed to a ceasefire of their own in early 2020, that agreement quickly broke down. The holdout general’s units today are fighting the forces of both Kiir and Machar.
      As long as this insurgency endures, South Sudan is unlikely to be able to consolidate peace, notwithstanding the deal between Kiir and Machar, which is holding for now. Equatoria is a cornerstone of the country. It was the birthplace of the 1960s liberation movement that set South Sudan on the path to independence from Khartoum, and its people have a long tradition of advocating and fighting for autonomy. Today, besides being home to the capital, the region is the gateway to neighbouring countries to the west and south. Its peoples are mixed in ethnicity but have a common aversion to political domination by outsiders. Their relations are particularly bitter with the Dinka, Kiir’s ethnic group (and South Sudan’s largest), who have moved into the region, often with large herds of cattle guarded by heavily armed and abusive militias. Local sympathy for Cirillo’s demands is strong, even as his forces are also accused of mistreating civilians.
      International efforts need to ensure that Equatoria is part of the national reconciliation effort. Mediators and external powers should push for Juba and Cirillo to fulfil the terms of their ceasefire deal, including incorporating Cirillo’s representatives in the existing ceasefire-monitoring body. They should also press Kiir to bolster and Cirillo to join the constitution-making process that the deal between Kiir and Machar provides for. This way, the holdout rebel leader will have an avenue to press home his demands at the table, instead of on the battlefield. To complement these top-down efforts, all parties will need to work together to win grassroots support for the deal and to tackle the local grievances against the government and ruling elite that underpin the intense political alienation found across Equatoria."

Yera Kim, "Peace education for a better future in DRC," UNICEF, October 31, 2019,, reported, " The province of Tanganyika, located along Lake Tanganyika in south-eastern Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), was the scene of violent clashes between the Bantu and the Twa (Pygmies) ethnic groups that led to more than 630,000 people displaced and the loss of countless lives between 2016 and 2017. Although peace seems to have returned, many children who survived the conflict are still struggling with the trauma and negative emotion caused by memories of the horrendous acts of violence.
     To address this, UNICEF and partners are promoting peace education by establishing Peace Committees in schools for internally displaced children. The Committee is led by students such as those I met at Lumbwe primary school
. As members of the Committee, they learn life skills and play a key role in spreading the culture of peace in their school and community. Theatrical performances, songs and poems also help them heal their psychological wounds. The Committee is further responsible for preventing and mediating conflict between classmates and for helping them overcome their differences."

Declan Walsh, "Ethiopia’s War Leads to Ethnic Cleansing in Tigray Region, U.S. Report Says: An internal U.S. government report found that people in Tigray are being driven from their homes in a war begun by Ethiopia, an American ally — posing President Biden’s first major test in Africa," The New York Times, February 27, 2021,, reported, " Ethiopian officials and allied militia fighters are leading a systematic campaign of ethnic cleansing in Tigray, the war-torn region in northern Ethiopia, according to an internal United States government report obtained by The New York Times."
     "Fighters and officials from the neighboring Amhara region of Ethiopia, who entered Tigray in support of Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed, are 'deliberately and efficiently rendering Western Tigray ethnically homogeneous through the organized use of force and intimidation,' the report says."
     Amnesty International reported that soldiers from Eritrea had  killed hundreds of Tigrayan civilians systematically in the city of Axum.
      Declan Walsh, "‘They Told Us Not to Resist’: Sexual Violence Pervades Ethiopia’s War: Rape is being used as a weapon as fighting rages in remote parts of Tigray region. 'Even if we had shouted,' one woman said, 'there was no one to listen'," The New York Times, April 1, 2021,, reported, “'This is ethnic cleansing,' she said. 'Soldiers are targeting Tigrayan women to stop them giving birth to more Tigrayans.'
      Her account is one of hundreds detailing abuses in Tigray, the mountainous region in northern Ethiopia where a grinding civil war has been accompanied by a parallel wave of atrocities including widespread sexual assault targeting women." More than 500 had been reported, and likely there are a great many more sexual assaults that have been committed.

Simon Marks and Declan Walsh, "Dozens Die in Ethnic Massacre in Troubled Ethiopian Region: It was the latest of several bloody outbursts over the past year in the western region of Benishangul-Gumuz, along the border with Sudan, where ethnic tensions are running high," The New York Times, January 13, 2021, reported, " At least 80 people were killed on Tuesday when unidentified gunmen stormed through a village in western Ethiopia in the latest of a series of ethnically driven massacres in the area, the Ethiopian Human Rights Commission and witnesses said on Wednesday.
     The massacre in Benishangul-Gumuz region, along the border with Sudan, is the latest challenge to the regime of Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed, who came to power in 2018 promising to unite Ethiopia but has struggled to contain a growing wave of ethnic violence."
      The President's military incursion into Tigray has taken soldiers away from other region, making it more difficult to stop ethnic clashes. In this case, witnesses said that men of the Gumuz ethnic group undertook the attack on Daletti village, claiming the villagers were on Gumuz land.

Declan Walsh, "Eritrea Agrees to Withdraw Troops From Tigray, Ethiopia Says: The announcement comes amid mounting international condemnation of atrocities in Tigray, and days after an American presidential envoy visited Ethiopia’s prime minister," The New York Times, March 26, 2021,, reported, " After months of denial, Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed of Ethiopia admitted this week that Eritrean troops had been fighting in Tigray, the war-torn northern Ethiopian region where the brutal conflict between pro-government and local fighters has become a byword for atrocities against civilians.
     On Friday, under mounting American and international pressure, Mr. Abiy went one step further and announced that the Eritrean soldiers had agreed to go home."

ICG, "Finding a Path to Peace in Ethiopia’s Tigray Region," Briefing  167 / Africa 11 February 2021,, commented, " War has devastated Ethiopia’s northernmost region. Pending comprehensive national dialogue, Addis Ababa should ease Tigray’s immediate predicament, engaging elements of the authorities it unseated to govern the area and ensure that aid reaches the millions in need.
      What’s new? After weeks of fighting in Ethiopia’s Tigray region, federal troops removed the regional government and declared victory. Yet thousands have died, hundreds of thousands are at risk of starvation and the conflict continues. Addis Ababa has established an interim administration, but ousted Tigrayan politicians say they will fight back.
      Why did it happen? Relations between Addis Ababa and Mekelle tanked after Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed took office in 2018 and Tigray’s leaders lost federal power. Tensions spiked when Tigray defied central authority by holding regional elections in September, culminating when Tigrayan forces captured the national military command in the region, triggering federal intervention.
      Why does it matter? The conflict has poisoned relations between Tigrayan and other Ethiopian elites and inflamed public opinion in Tigray against the federal authorities, who may well struggle to administer a restive region. If Addis Ababa’s energies are drained by enforcing its rule on Tigray, other Ethiopian ethno-nationalist forces may be emboldened.
     What should be done? To get Tigray’s public on side, Ababa Ababa should ensure that Eritrean and Amhara regional forces that participated in the intervention withdraw. It also should urgently allow aid to reach all Tigrayans who need it. Ultimately, inclusive dialogue is needed to address federal-Tigray disagreements and wider disputes over regional autonomy.
     I. Overview
Following weeks of conflict, Ethiopian federal forces declared victory over the northern Tigray region’s leadership after taking the capital Mekelle on 28 November 2020. The army says it is mopping up, although ousted Tigrayan leaders and the UN say fighting is still widespread. The war has killed thousands and displaced maybe a third of Tigray’s population amid reports of atrocities by all sides. More than 4.5 million people in Tigray reportedly require emergency food aid and hundreds of thousands could starve. Federal troops are backed by Amhara factions claiming areas they say Tigray annexed in the early 1990s. It is now apparent that Eritrean troops intervened to support Ethiopia’s army, though both Asmara and Addis Ababa deny it. Whether or not the federal government achieves all its military goals, it will need to work with chunks of Tigray’s former regional administration and win popular acceptance to avoid being seen as an occupying force. It should curtail the Amhara and Eritrean troop presences and let aid flow. Inclusive national dialogue to heal this and other political divides is essential.
      The war between Addis Ababa and Mekelle was driven by bitter divisions over power sharing. Tigray’s leaders lost much of the disproportionate federal influence they long held, and which incurred the resentment of other political elites and many Ethiopians, after anti-government protests paved the way for Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed to take office in 2018. Acrimony grew and, when Abiy consolidated his rule by fusing other regional ruling parties in late 2019, the Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TPLF), Tigray’s governing party, refused to join. In June, federal authorities extended all governments’ terms after COVID-19 delayed elections. Tigray baulked and, in defiance of federal rulings, ran a regional poll in September. Addis Ababa then classified Tigray’s new executive as unconstitutional, with Mekelle saying the federal government had no legal authority after its original term expired in early October. The mutual delegitimisation put the two sides on a collision course.
     Fighting started in the late hours of 3 November, sparking Ethiopia’s worst security crisis in decades. Tigray’s forces fired the first shots after they partnered with Tigrayan federal military officers to take over the Ethiopian armed forces command located in the region, killed or detained soldiers who refused to defect, and commandeered armaments that comprised the bulk of the national military’s hardware. Tigrayan leaders said they acted in anticipation of a federal intervention they thought was imminent. The same day, Abiy sent tens of thousands of Ethiopian National Defence Force soldiers, backed by Amhara region paramilitaries and militiamen, to battle Tigray’s defence forces. Eritrea’s army soon joined the offensive from the north.
     The federal military intervention removed the TPLF administration from the seat of power in the space of a month, with Addis Ababa establishing a provisional replacement in Mekelle from whence the TPLF leadership fled. It has come at great cost, however, and most wanted Tigrayan leaders are still at large despite some of them being killed (including a former foreign minister) and arrested in recent weeks. Still, a large majority of Ethiopians outside Tigray, including non-Tigrayan opposition leaders and some from the region itself, appear to support federal actions in the region. Many endorse Addis Ababa’s view that the TPLF was responsible for abuses when in power and has since sponsored ethnic conflicts in order to undermine reforms. The federal government says it will rebuild infrastructure damaged during the intervention and restore public services that were interrupted. A federal state of emergency is in place until early May in Tigray and, so far, no elections are scheduled for the region though they are set for 5 June everywhere else in the country.
      Battlefield dynamics are hard to verify, due to a communications blackout, but whichever way the conflict goes – toward the Tigray forces’ revival, their defeat or their endurance as an insurgency – it will be an uphill struggle to persuade most Tigrayans to support an administration they deem to be occupiers, especially given atrocities by Eritrean and Amhara forces. As the conflict began, Crisis Group argued that dialogue between Tigray’s leadership and Addis Ababa was still necessary and appropriate. Abiy and others rejected such talks, arguing that mutinous TPLF leaders had destabilised the country and must face justice. But widespread local opposition to a federally imposed administration means that, at a minimum, Addis Ababa must take decisive steps lest it face stiffened resistance. To increase the chances of local cooperation, the federal government should roll back Eritrean deployments and reverse Amhara territorial occupations, which are provocative for many Tigrayans.
     Ethiopia’s external partners need to weigh in. The Biden administration should intensify its call for Abiy’s government to end Eritrea’s involvement and implore allies in the Gulf to deliver the same message to Asmara. All actors should press for the Amhara territorial claims to be assessed by a federal boundary commission and then addressed through political negotiations. The U.S., European Union and African Union (AU) should continue to press federal authorities to allow untrammelled access for rights investigators and media outlets to all of Tigray. To date, movement restrictions and a telecommunications blackout have prevented vulnerable populations from receiving assistance and rendered claims of atrocities by both sides hard to verify. External partners should push for independent probes of all sides’ allegations
      A humanitarian catastrophe resulting from mass starvation will make matters immeasurably worse. In past conflicts, Tigrayan resistance has been fuelled by Addis Ababa’s refusal to allow relief supplies. Abiy’s administration should allow aid agencies untrammelled access to Tigray to prevent the large-scale deaths that interim administration officials, themselves appointed by the federal government, have warned could be imminent. Addis Ababa says it is delivering aid to those in need, but humanitarian actors say the assistance is insufficient. Federal authorities may also calculate that permitting aid will offer Tigrayan forces a chance to resupply and thus prolong the fighting. But the alternative – hundreds of thousands of preventable deaths – would be unacceptable: it might constitute a crime under international law, would shred any hope of winning over Tigrayans and would tarnish Abiy’s reputation abroad. With European and U.S. backing, AU peace envoys should urge the government to prioritise aid deliveries.
      In the end, Ethiopia’s feuding elites will need to resolve the core dispute over Tigray’s autonomy and, more broadly, over the balance of power between central authorities and Ethiopia’s regions as well as the role of ethnicity in the federal system if the transition under Abiy is to proceed without worsening turmoil. Unrest elsewhere in Ethiopia and the growing hostilities with Sudan mean that authorities can scarcely afford a lengthy – and costly – campaign in Tigray. It is ever clearer that only an inclusive national dialogue stands a hope of addressing Ethiopia’s festering, fundamental political divisions."

ICG, "Ethiopia’s Tigray War: A Deadly, Dangerous Stalemate," Briefing  171 / Africa 2 April 2021,, commented, " Both federal and resistance forces are digging in for a lengthy battle in Ethiopia’s Tigray region. Conditions for civilians are dire, with famine a growing danger. Outside powers should urge Addis Ababa to let more aid into the war zone, while maintaining pressure for talks.
      What’s new? War rages on in Ethiopia’s Tigray region – with civilians bearing the brunt of a brutal conflict marked by atrocities. Under international pressure, Addis Ababa has offered concessions on aid access and pledged that Eritrean troops will withdraw. But prospects of a negotiated settlement appear dim.
      Why does it matter? An entrenched Tigrayan resistance combined with Ethiopian and Eritrean authorities’ determination to keep Tigray’s fugitive leaders from power mean that the conflict could evolve into a protracted war. That would further devastate Tigray and greatly harm Ethiopia, the linchpin state in the Horn of Africa.
      What should be done? With a decisive battlefield win for either side a remote prospect, parties should consider a cessation of hostilities that allows for expanded humanitarian aid access. This practical first step would reduce civilian suffering and ideally pave the way for a return to dialogue down the road.
     I. Overview
Though Ethiopia’s federal government claimed the war in the country’s Tigray region was over in November, fighting continues – at great cost to a stricken population trapped in a multi-sided conflict. Tigray’s ousted leadership appears to have consolidated its position in rural areas and its resistance commands support from a Tigrayan population that values the region’s autonomy. As part of the federal war effort, Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed enlisted forces from Eritrea and also from Ethiopia’s Amhara region. This move added to Tigrayans’ sense of injustice and broadened backing for the rebellion, particularly as Eritrean and Amhara combatants stand accused of atrocities against civilians. While mounting evidence of abuses and international pressure have forced concessions from Addis Ababa, including an announcement that Eritrean forces will withdraw, the war looks set to continue. Led by the U.S., European Union, African Union and UN, external actors should press for a pause in the fighting as an urgent priority so as to allow increased aid delivery – and keep demanding that the parties pursue a negotiated settlement.
The Tigrayan leadership, though driven from power in Mekelle, the region’s capital, has rallied under the banner of the Tigray Defence Forces, an armed resistance group. It is led by the removed Tigrayan leaders and commanded by former high-ranking Ethiopian National Defence Force officers. It currently operates primarily from rural areas in central and southern Tigray, while federal troops control the main roads and urban areas. Eritrean soldiers have their heaviest presence in northern Tigray and Amhara forces patrol western Tigray and the far south. All sides are fixated on securing a military victory. None appears capable of achieving one in the near term. The Tigrayan resistance appears to enjoy broad support in the region, while federal authorities and their allies are determined to capture its leaders and put them on trial. The parties’ positioning means that the conflict could well last for months, or even years, an outcome that would be even more disastrous for Tigray and the rest of the country.
      Urgent measures are needed to stem the tragedy. Direct talks between the parties appear a distant prospect at present, given that Prime Minister Abiy rejects the notion of engaging Tigray leaders he portrays as traitors. For now, the U.S., EU, AU, UN Security Council and other actors should press for more limited but critical gains. Notably, they should demand a cessation of hostilities that at least allows for rapidly expanded aid delivery. To stave off the risk of mass starvation it is critical that ploughing and planting take place as Tigray’s rainy season arrives in the next few months. Addis Ababa should also tacitly allow aid groups to negotiate access to Tigray-held areas. Getting Eritrean forces out may not be easy, given Eritrean President Isaias Afwerki’s apparent determination to crush the Tigrayan leadership, but Ethiopia’s foreign partners should hold Abiy to his pledge that these forces will leave. First steps along these lines could – if all goes well – eventually usher in talks between the federal government and Tigrayan representatives."

ICG, "Ending Nigeria’s Herder-Farmer Crisis: The Livestock Reform Plan," Report  302 / Africa 4 May 2021,, commented, " Nigeria’s latest plan for curbing herder-farmer conflict is facing obstacles, including staff and funding shortages as well as political opposition. If this initiative fails, there could be more rural violence. Abuja should work with donors to raise both money and awareness of the scheme’s benefits.
      What’s new ?  In 2019, Nigerian authorities launched a ten-year National Livestock Transformation Plan to curtail the movement of cattle, boost livestock production and quell the country’s lethal herder-farmer conflict. But inadequate political leadership, delays, funding uncertainties and a lack of expertise could derail the project. COVID-19 has exacerbated the challenges.
Why did it happen ?  Violence fuelled by environmental degradation and competition over land has aggravated long-running tensions in the country’s northern and central regions. A surge in bloodshed in 2018 prompted Nigeria’s federal government to formulate a far-reaching set of reforms for the livestock sector.
Why does it matter ?  The new Plan represents Nigeria’s most comprehensive strategy yet to encourage pastoralists to switch to ranching and other sedentary livestock production systems. Modernising the livestock sector is key to resolving the herder-farmer conflict, which threatens Nigeria’s political stability and food security.
What should be done ?  Federal and state authorities, working with donors and investors, should prioritise securing funds, training personnel and communicating the Plan’s benefits to herders and farmers. Making progress on pilot ranches, donor commitments and staff training before the 2023 election, and ensuing change of administration, may help preserve the Plan’s post-election viability.
     Executive Summary
Nigeria’s federal and state governments are struggling to implement a National Livestock Transformation Plan that seeks to curb the movement of cattle across the country and reduce deadly herder-farmer conflict. While the Plan has earned the endorsement of many state governments, it faces significant challenges. Deficient political leadership, popular misperceptions about its purpose, budgetary constraints aggravated by the COVID-19 pandemic, a lack of personnel with the expertise to carry it out and widespread insecurity are all hindering progress. If the Plan fails – as previous initiatives to modernise livestock management did – herder-farmer violence could escalate. Federal and state governments should do more to publicise the Plan and win the support of both herders and farmers. These authorities should also work with donors and investors to fill funding gaps and to build capacity for implementation. Finally, Abuja should make sure the Plan’s enactment takes into account the projected impact of climate change and also develop a strategy for dealing with non-Nigerian migratory herders.
     Approved by the National Economic Council in January 2019, the Plan represents the most comprehensive effort to date to overhaul Nigeria’s inefficient and grossly underperforming livestock system. At the core is a strategy to curtail migratory or open grazing and thus lower the risk of conflict between herders and farmers. It is animated by the hope that over a period of ten years, predominantly nomadic pastoralists will be persuaded to move their cattle into ranches and public grazing reserves, where breeding farms and other mechanised livestock management practices are to bolster the sector’s productivity. By the end of 2028, authorities aim to have at least 119 ranches operating in all participating states, creating over two million jobs in the livestock production, processing and marketing chains.
     President Muhammadu Buhari’s administration came up with the Plan following a wave of violence between herders and farmers – and particularly a surge in related violence afflicting rural dwellers in 2018. The federal government, which has committed to fund 80 per cent of the transformation proposals submitted by participating states, has taken preliminary steps toward putting the Plan into practice, including by providing technical support to help states prepare for implementation, such as help with field surveys and site mapping. Several states have reactivated earlier-demarcated grazing reserves, opened offices and set up steering committees to administer the Plan. Authorities have also held workshops and done other work to explain the benefits of livestock reform to a larger audience.
     But two years into the ten-year Plan, the first new ranch has yet to be built, and the obstacles are many. Opposition, partly among herders predominantly from the Fulani ethnic group but also among farmers who resent the Plan’s benefits to pastoralists, hinders reform efforts. Distrust is widespread in Nigeria’s Middle Belt, which has been the scene of violent disputes over land between herders and farmers, notwithstanding peacemaking and military efforts that since 2018 have reduced the bloodshed. Federal and state budgets are pinched, partly due to the pandemic’s economic fallout, and the country lacks sufficient technical expertise for managing ranches and grazing reserves. In many states, especially in the North West, the proliferation of criminal gangs and other armed groups is cutting off access to grazing reserves and scaring away potential investors. Unless addressed, these and other problems could delay or even scuttle the Plan, leaving the country vulnerable to an escalation of herder-farmer conflict, which could degenerate into wider ethnic, regional and religious violence.
      Tackling these challenges requires a concerted effort by federal and state authorities, with help from donors and investors. First, Abuja and supportive state governments should provide stronger political leadership and improve public communication to dispel misgivings and misperceptions about the Plan. These are especially prevalent among pastoralists, who will be asked to change a centuries-old nomadic lifestyle, and who legitimately doubt the Plan’s promises about available pasture. But many farmers are fearful, too, worrying that they may lose land to livestock producers. Many in the Middle Belt and southern states remain deeply suspicious of the Plan’s long-term goals, which they see as creating privileges for herders and more broadly the Fulani.
      With Abuja’s and other partners’ support, state governments must build expertise and technical capacity, especially for managing ranches and grazing reserves, dairy production and meat processing. Federal and state governments should also up budgetary commitments, hasten the release of funds and provide financial transparency to ensure accountability, working with donors and investors as necessary. Addressing rural insecurity, curbing impunity and rehabilitating communities adversely affected by earlier violence in participating states are also vital. Plus, authorities will need to consider climate change’s likely impact and reach a decision about how the transhumant herders who cross into Nigeria seasonally should or should not benefit from the Plan.
      While some of these steps will take time, the Plan’s proponents should focus on delivering concrete, visible results on a relatively short-term basis. Less than two years from now, the country will hold general elections. If the Plan is to survive the change of government that will follow, politicians may need to be able to produce clear proof of its benefits. (Having served two terms, President Buhari and many state governors are ineligible to compete, meaning that change is certain.) Ideally, by the time campaigning heats up in late 2022, the Plan’s backers should be able to point to at least a handful of newly constructed ranches or rehabilitated reserves, strong donor and investor commitments, and the first of a cadre of newly trained livestock management professionals.
      None of this will be easy, but the Plan is worth the effort. While far from perfect, it offers an important chance to reform Nigeria’s livestock system with a strategy that addresses the needs of both herders and small-scale farmers. About 70 per cent of Nigeria’s work force earns an income through agriculture. Modernising the livestock sector could boost the country’s prosperity overall at the same time that it takes a big step toward resolving one of Nigeria’s most dangerous conflicts. With the clock ticking down to the 2023 elections, federal and state authorities will need to move quickly to make a visible mark, lest the work they have done to create this moment of opportunity be lost."

ICG, Arrey Elvis Ntui, Senior Analyst, Cameroon, "Cameroon’s Ethno-Political Tensions and Facebook Are a Deadly Mix," Op-Ed / Africa 12 February 2021, Originally published in World Politics Review,, commented, " A heavily contested presidential election in 2018 has unleashed a new layer of political tensions that have taken an ethnic turn and found a formidable amplifier on social media.
      When at least 53 people died in Cameroon in late January after a bus collided with a fuel-laden truck—one of the worst road accidents in the country’s history—few observers would have expected that reactions to the tragedy would include ethnic slurs, mainly on Facebook. They were directed toward members of the Bamileke community, from which most of the victims appeared to originate. Cameroon has long prided itself on the relative harmony between the country’s approximately 250 ethnic groups, none of which dominates nationally—a diversity that many Cameroonians consider to be a safeguard against communal violence.
     But Cameroon now has to deal with a new reality. A heavily contested presidential election in 2018 has unleashed a new layer of political tensions that have taken an ethnic turn and found a formidable amplifier on social media. Among the supporters of longtime President Paul Biya and the main opposition leader, Maurice Kamto, many now frame the political dispute that arose from that election as a competition for power between, on the one hand, Biya’s Bulu group and the ethnic Beti with whom the Bulu identify, and, on the other, Kamto’s Bamileke community.
      If allowed to further deepen its roots, this increasingly ethnic acrimony could lead to violence and threaten the stability of a country already facing a separatist insurgency in its Anglophone region . Cameroon’s social fabric could then be torn apart, especially as both sides position themselves for the eventual end of Biya’s presidency. He will turn 88 next week, after nearly four decades in power. A rash of communal violence in a southern town in October 2019 gave Cameroon a taste of what could come if the genie is not swiftly put back in the bottle.
     To avoid reaching the point of no return, Biya’s government and the opposition should engage in meaningful dialogue about electoral reforms, while the government should also strengthen the country’s laws against ethnic discrimination. Facebook, the most popular social media platform in Cameroon, has a role to play, too—
by increasing its capacity to identify and remove inflammatory content on its platform .
      The ethnic cleavages originate in the rivalry between the ruling party, the Cameroon People’s Democratic Movement, known by its French acronym RDPC—which firmly intends to keep the upper hand whenever Biya’s presidency ends—and opposition leaders ambitious for power, Kamto most prominently. The 2018 election, considered by many observers as riddled with irregularities and whose results are still being contested by the opposition, stoked further political division.
     Since then, Kamto’s Cameroon Renaissance Movement, or MRC, has boycotted parliamentary and regional elections in 2020 and condemned Biya’s management of the COVID-19 pandemic and the Anglophone crisis. The opposition also wants to see the government undertake some electoral reforms before any future election. This wish notably emanates from a fear that Biya could die or resign before the end of his term, in 2025, leading to snap elections that the ruling party would be better able to control under the current, compromised electoral system.
      Despite warnings from influential figures and institutions, like Cameroon’s Catholic bishops more than a year ago , the power struggle between the RDPC and the MRC is now increasingly aligned with ethnic affiliations—a situation only made worse by the use of social media by both politicians and the public.
     While the rise of social media has been a welcome boost for free speech in a country where government-controlled outlets occupy most of the media space, it has also had some destabilizing effects. The platforms, and especially Facebook—the most popular social media platform in Cameroon, with close to 4 million users—are now used to spread ethnic stereotypes, exchange ethnic-based insults, propagate misinformation and even incite violence. That is all widening the divide between the two sides.
     In the southern town of Sangmelima, such increased divisions seem to have played a role in riots that erupted in late 2019, when Indigenous Bulu targeted Bamileke and Bamoun groups originating from Cameroon’s West Region. Underlying tensions over land rights in the area, notably for space to open shops—which local Bulu feel locked out of by the other groups—spilled over into violence after a Bamoun man was blamed for the murder of a local motorbike taxi driver. Hundreds of locals then attacked Bamilekes, Bamouns and other Cameroonians from the country’s north with sticks and stones, while also looting and destroying their properties. Hundreds fled back to their region of origin in western and northern Cameroon.
     The government quickly held intercommunal talks, which managed to calm the situation in Sangmelima. However, the episode is a possible sign of the dangerous path the country is currently embarking on. As political actors position themselves for the end of Biya’s presidency, there is a risk they will turn to their own ethnic groups when mobilizing support, meaning even more serious ethnic disputes could arise and shatter decades of relative harmony between ethnic communities.
     Both the ruling party and the opposition have in their ranks people who understand the dangers of this trend toward tribalized politics, and who have voiced their concerns. But neither camp has done much to stem these tensions. The authorities have sounded alarm bells on rising hate speech, run seminars to warn of its potential harm and even passed a new law criminalizing “contempt of tribe,” in December 2018. But the political opposition has greeted these moves with suspicion, suggesting that they are a smokescreen for repressing journalists. Yet since its passage, the law against tribal hate speech, which provides for more stringent punishment for inflammatory language that appears on social media, has yet to be applied in even a single case. There are concerns over when the law will be used and on what basis, given widespread abuse by both sides.
     Given the opposition’s boycott of the 2020 parliamentary elections, which lost it the opportunity of getting seats in the National Assembly, the ruling party and the opposition have no forum where they can engage on the difficult topic of electoral reforms. Both sides must nonetheless find a way of talking to each other in order to reach agreement on changes to make the process more transparent—perhaps, most importantly, by moving from a multiple ballot vote, which is more open to manipulation, to a single ballot.
     Meanwhile, to deal with ethnic tensions, the government should strengthen the legal framework that prohibits ethnic discrimination, notably for access to public service employment. One way to do that might be to better empower a body it created in 2017 to fight this discrimination, but which lacks funding and only has an advisory role.
     Social media companies have a responsibility, too. Curbing hate speech and disinformation online will not in itself solve the ethnic tensions born out of Cameroon’s political crisis. But it remains key to reduce their reach, and therefore to mitigate the risks of violence. Facebook, in particular, should improve its own capacity to identify and remove fake content and content that incites violence, including by hiring moderators familiar with the particularities of Cameroonian hate speech and linguistic nuances. The social media giant should also boost its outreach to politicians in Cameroon to help them engage with their supporters and tone down the rhetoric online.
     Biya and his backers may be reluctant to take measures they will perceive as weakening their grip on power. Still, there is reason to hope that the president, at 87, will consider his legacy. With separatist sentiment mounting in the Anglophone areas, the man who has been leading Cameroon since 1982 should be particularly sensitive to preserving the country’s historically amicable interethnic relations

Christina Goldbaum, "Killing Several People; Fate of Hundreds Unknown: The attack by hundreds of militants trapped nearly 200 people, including foreign workers, in a hotel in Palma, Mozambique, site of a major gas project," The New York Times, March 27, 2021,, reported, " Insurgents seized control of much of a town in Mozambique on Saturday, after a three-day siege that has left at least several people dead and hundreds of other civilians unaccounted for as government forces try to regain control, according to private security contractors in East Africa and news reports."

Shaldon Ferris,“#LandBack in South Africa: The Fight for Table Mountain,” Cultural Survival, February 11, 2021,, reported, The sound of drums echoed in the streets of Cape Town, South Africa, on January 28, 2021, when the ‘Mountain 12’ appeared at the Wynberg Magistrate Court. Supporters lined the streets displaying placards that called for the protection, honor, and respect of Aboriginal Peoples' rights in South Africa. The Mountain 12 are a group of people from different Khoi and San Tribes who were arrested for trespassing by the South African police on January 1, 2021, while they were engaged in ceremonies at Table Mountain, a sacred site. Chelsea Smit Lee, Niel Moffat, Sharon Moffat, Wanda Danster, Clive Danster, Shane Chamberlain, Eric Bowers, Connie Smit, Bronwyn Paulsen, Edgar Smit, Gairoodeen Mitchell, and Timothy Maasdorp were all released on bail on January 2, 2021.
     Hundreds, perhaps thousands of years ago, the people who inhabited Table Mountain and the surrounding area referred to as Huri ǂoaxa, the place where the clouds are gathered. The traditional name for Cape Town is ǁHuiǃGaeb. Today, Table Mountain is also a popular tourist attraction where many visitors use a cableway or hike to the top to overlook the city of Cape Town. The mountain forms part of the Table Mountain National Park. It is still a place of spiritual significance for local Indigenous Peoples.
     According to the International Working Group for Indigenous Affairs’ Indigenous World 2020, in South Africa, it is estimated that approximately one percent of the 50 million total population are Indigenous Peoples. The Khoikhoi and San communities are not formally recognized as Indigenous in South Africa, nor are their languages recognized as official languages. During the Apartheid regime, Indigenous identification and cultures were discouraged, if not actually banned, and many Khoisan people were forced to learn Afrikaans as their primary language. Indigenous Peoples were similarly subjected to the impacts of colonialism and colonization for hundreds of years before that.
     In October 2020, representatives from different Khoi and San Tribes formed an alliance with the intention of reclaiming Table Mountain, and occupied the site until their arrest on January 1, 2021. On January 28, the Mountain 12 appeared in court briefly. Proceedings adjourned when the accused and the State asked for more time to prepare. The Mountain 12 have asked for a Khoekhoegowab language interpreter to be present and the group is scheduled to reappear on February 24.
      The Table Mountain alliance is citing international protections for their actions in Article 11 of the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, which states that: “Indigenous Peoples have the right to practice and revitalize their cultural traditions and customs. This includes the right to maintain, protect and develop the past, present and future manifestations of their cultures, such as archaeological and historical sites, artefacts, designs, ceremonies, technologies and visual and performing arts and literature.”
     The fight for the Khoi and San Peoples to access and conduct ceremonies at their sacred mountain is fueled by their long lasting relationship with this sacred place. Tens of thousands of years before South Africa was colonized, the San and Khoi people called Table Mountain ‘Hoerikwagga’ (Mountain in the Sea). The mountain was sacred for the Khoi and San, who believed their supreme god, Tsui//Goab, roamed there. The Khoi called Cape Town ‘Camissa,’ the place of sweet waters, based on a stream that flows from under the mountain and into the ocean.
     Much has been written about the early meetings of seafarers and the ‘Strandlopers,’ or beachcombers, who were at home in ǁHui ǃGaeb. Many accounts exist of famous Indigenous leaders such as Autsumao (Harry the Beachcomber), the chief of the Goringhaikanos, and Krotoa, who was married to a Dutch settler. Most of these accounts were written by the explorers who passed by, or who settled in South Africa. The name of Hoerikwagga was changed to Table Mountain in 1503, after Portuguese explorer Vasco Da Gama called it ‘Taboa da caba.’
      It was in 1652, however, after Jan Van Riebeeck anchored his ship in Cape Town, that permanent change would take hold. In the mid-1600s, the history of South Africa was at a turning point. Table Mountain, the landscape around it, and its inhabitants would forever be altered. Not only was this the beginning of colonialism in South Africa, but it is at this time when the country’s inclusion in the Transatlantic slave trade shaped the future of our Peoples. With the importing of slaves from West Africa, Madagascar, Southeast Asia, and elsewhere, miscegenation was inevitable, and very soon there was inter-marriage between people of European, African, Asian, and Indigenous South African Peoples. A racist attitude from colonizers has permeated South African history since the beginning of their invasion.
     As early as 1655, and likely much earlier, there was known to be a form of worship in the Cape by Indigenous Peoples who lived there. The Supreme Being of the Khoi-Khoi, published in 1881, documents many acts of ceremony and describes how the Aboriginal Peoples of the region referenced both good and evil. It is on this basis that the alliance at Table Mountain, who are descendants of these ancestors, are now basing their reclamation of the Mountain as an historic place of spiritual significance.
     Tazlyn Maasdorp, whose husband, Timothy Maasdorp, was among the arrested, stated on January 28: ‘It is a bittersweet moment yet again, this postponement [of the trial]. However, the Mountain 12 greatly appreciate all the support and prayers from everyone. As this court case will go into our history books of tomorrow, the next generation will be proud of the sacrifices we are making today.’
     In 2007, 144 states adopted the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples. Thus far, however, not many have implemented it. In South Africa, Indigenous Peoples today still face much discrimination. Under the Apartheid regime, all Indigenous Peoples were classified together with the people of slave heritage and mixed heritage under the term ‘Coloured.’ This group was, and still is, seen as distinct from other groups. There are still Indigenous Peoples in South Africa who have strong connections to their roots, exercising the practices and traditions of their ancestors. There also exists a group who have been robbed of their languages and identities through assimilation into Western culture, speaking only Afrikaans or English.
      With the advent of democracy in South Africa a revivalist culture is growing, and many people who were previously discouraged from identifying as Indigenous are now reconnecting with their roots. It is difficult to put an accurate number on how many Indigenous people are in the country, and there is much debate on the matter even among ourselves. A 2011 census estimates that there are approximately 200,000 Nama speakers in South Africa, Namibia, and Botswana. A significant number of Khwedam and !Xun speakers reside in Platfontein, South Africa; the 2011 census figure puts this estimate at 8,000 in Southern Africa. A growing population of !Xun and Khwe people reside in Platfontein in Northern Cape, South Africa, where the state has founded XK FM in an effort to preserve and promote both !Xun and Khwedam languages.
        Out of 6,000,000 people who have been classified as ‘Coloured,’ one has to search for clues such as facial features, surnames, place of birth, or spiritual links to identify who is Indigenous, and this makes it difficult to measure just how many people are of Khoi or San ancestry. DNA testing has made it possible for some to find out their origins, and initiatives are underway to assist communities in finding out more about their heritage.
     Some eight years ago, the University of The Western Cape went out to communities and took DNA samples from so-called ‘Coloured’ communities, and this is how it was confirmed to me that my lineage is that of some of the oldest people of the world, belonging to the Haplogroup L0d. People from this Haplogroup are estimated to have originated from 39,000 to 57,800 years ago. For 35 years of my life, I was convinced and happy to be something that I was not. This is the devastating power of colonialism; this is how what was done 400 years ago and still affects us today.
     Indigenous leaders are now exercising their right to self-identification by identifying themselves as San and Khoi-Khoi or Khoe-San. Land, language, and cultural reclamation and revitalization efforts are underway by many Indigenous leaders, especially our youth leaders. They are battling for land, culture, and language reclamation as the fight for Table Mountain wages on.”

"Khoe Grassroots Organization Munanai Publishes Khoekhoegowab Language Reader in South Africa," Cultural Survival, April 13, 2021,, reported, "Munanai is an Indigenous grassroots organization in ||Hui !Gais, which is the original name for Capetown, South Africa. With the help of a grant from Cultural Survival’s Keepers of the Earth Fund, Munanai was able to publish a digital reader teaching basic phrases in Khoekhoegowab, or Khoikhoi, the language of the Khoe people of South Africa, Namibia, and Botswana. Khoikhoi: Useful Phrases and Words is a full-color reader and PDF booklet which is designed to teach young people greetings, conversational phrases, proverbs, etc., and has been distributed via email, print, social media and Whatsapp. Each page contains illustrations and translations in English and Afrikaans for each Khoekhoegowab phrase. The Keepers of the Earth Fund also supported an educational podcast for Khoe language learners."

Chris Buckley, "Tibetan Who Spoke Out for Language Rights Is Freed From Chinese Prison: Tashi Wangchuk was sentenced to five years in prison after telling The New York Times that Tibetan language education was being repressed," The New York Times, January 29, 2021,, reported, " A Tibetan businessman has been released from prison in China after completing a five-year sentence for 'inciting separatism' by campaigning for Tibetan language education, including in interviews with The New York Times, his lawyer said on Friday."

Amy Qin, "China Targets Muslim Women in Push to Suppress Births in Xinjiang: In most of China, women are being urged to have more babies to shore up a falling birthrate. But in Xinjiang, they are being forced to have fewer," The New York Times, May 12, 2021,, reported, That in contrast to China's general policy of encouraging increased births, "When China’s government ordered women in her mostly Muslim community in the region of Xinjiang to be fitted with contraceptive devices, Qelbinur Sedik pleaded for an exemption. She was nearly 50 years old, she told officials. She had obeyed the government’s birth limits and had only one child.
     It was no use. The workers threatened to take her to the police if she continued resisting, she said. She gave in and went to a government clinic where a doctor, using a metal speculum, inserted an intrauterine device to prevent pregnancy. She wept through the procedure."

"India: Prominent Indigenous activist violently arrested during International Women’s Day event," Survival International, March 16, 2021,, reported, "The prominent Adivasi (Indigenous) activist, Hidme Markam, from the Koya tribe, was arrested on Tuesday March 9th, while attending an International Women’s Day event in the Indian state of Chhattisgarh. A video shows her being violently bundled into a car amid protest from other women activists.
      Ms Markam, 28, is an anti-mining and tribal rights activist working to prevent the mining of a sacred mountain in south Chhattisgarh and against police brutality and the building of paramilitary camps.
      She is the convenor of the Jail Bandi Rihai Committee, a group campaigning for the release of thousands of Adivasis who have been criminalized, branded as Naxals [armed Maoist rebels] and held, often for many years, in pre-trial detention for speaking up for their rights. She now finds herself in the same situation.
     According to the police, she has been arrested for a number of cases filed between 2016 and 2020 relating to Maoist activity. They also claim there was a US $1,500 bounty on her head.
     This is disputed by other activists, such as Soni Sori, who said: “She isn’t a Maoist as police claimed. She has been fighting for the Jal-Jangal-Jameen (water, forest and land) of tribals in Bastar. She had been going to the offices of the Superintendent of Police (SP), and Collector [government official] frequently and met with many prominent personalities … to raise tribals’ issues…Have you ever heard that a Maoist goes to the SP or Collector’s office, meets with the Chief Minister, Governor and reveals their identity openly?”
     The police have said that she will be held in custody for 10 days. Lawyers are applying for bail.
      Her arrest is clearly meant to send a warning to those who speak out for Adivasi and women’s rights and against mining and state repression. It is another sign of the growing attack on Adivasi rights and democracy in India under Modi’s authoritarian regime. Even in Chhattisgarh – which is not under the control of Modi’s party – the assault against Adivasi lives and rights is relentless.
     In India those who dissent, especially Adivasis and their supporters are often branded 'anti-national' and are accused of sedition or held under the draconian Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act (UAPA). In November 2020, 67 activists were charged under the UAPA in just two states. 10,000 Adivasis have been accused of sedition for their role in laying stones at the entrances to their villages engraved with their constitutional rights.
     There are grave concerns about the treatment that Hidme Markam will receive in custody. The event at which she was arrested was to speak out against the sexual abuse of Adivasi women. It was to commemorate the lives of two young Adivasi women who were physically and sexually assaulted by the Chhattisgarh police and subsequently took their own lives.
     In the last few weeks Hidme Markam recorded a video message for Survival, in which she describes the way Adivasi women are treated in India. She said: 'They’re being beaten every day, they’re being jailed every day. Every day, wherever our women go, they face the same kind of abuse. The only possible way forward is for all women to be united, for our water and forests, for our lands – to save them from mining.'
     Survival is joining Adivasis and Indian civil society organisations in calling for Hidme Markam’s release."

"Forest guards harass 'Kings of the Forest' tribe, risking Covid outbreak," Survival International, May 13, 2021,, reported, " Whilst the pandemic rages in India, the Jenu Kuruba tribe are being harassed and threatened for daring to demand their rights to live in their forest – which has been turned into a national park.
     Last week, six Jenu Kuruba leaders were charged with serious criminal offences. They are accused of 'assaulting and using criminal force' against officials, after a forest ranger tried to stop one of the leaders from repairing his house. The Jenu Kuruba strongly deny any wrong-doing and have lodged a complaint with the police saying that the officials 'are not just threatening our lives but have also purposefully filed completely false allegations.'
     JK Thimma, who has spoken out against attempts to evict his people from the Nagarhole National Park for many years, has been
repeatedly harassed and persecuted for building a house in his village. A recent court judgement recognized his right to build a house in the forest; acquitted him of violations of wildlife laws and said it could not be ruled out that the charges against him were false and in retaliation for his resistance to evictions.
     Thimma said, of the latest charges against him and other leaders: 'It was because of the protest. They’ve filed cases against us to silence us and put us in jail so that no other voices speak out from the villages. It’s to create fear amongst the tribal people in the forest.”
      In March the Jenu Kuruba held a major protest against attempts to evict them and to demand their rights to live in their forest. In response, the local government promised to recognize their rights by the end of May. However, instead of working to meet this promise, the Forest Department is targeting leaders of the protest with false criminal charges, which could see them imprisoned for up to five years.
Evictions are carried out by India’s Forest Department but the Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS – the parent organization of the Bronx Zoo) supports them. WCS insists these are 'voluntary relocations' which benefit the tribes. Yet communities report that they are forced to relocate; that their quality of life is worse in the relocation sites; and that they want to return to their forest, prompting the US government to halt funding for relocations in the name of conservation.
     Increasing international evidence shows that Indigenous peoples are the best conservationists. During the protest the Jenu Kuruba sang songs about the forest and their need to protect it: “We are the people of Nagarhole. We are kings of this forests. This is our motherland and we are her people. Who else other than her children will protect her?”
     To keep their community safe from Covid, the Jenu Kuruba had erected a barricade with a notice stating that outsiders were banned from entering their village without permission. But this was ignored by more than ten officials, including forest guards and the police
, who violated the village’s Covid protection measures, putting the tribe at risk.
     Survival’s Senior Research and Advocacy Officer, Sophie Grig said: 'It’s scandalous that while the pandemic is devastating India, police and forest officials have endangered the lives of Adivasis [indigenous peoples] living in the forest, in order to harass and intimidate them in this way. These false cases must be dropped immediately; action should be taken against these officials and the rights of the Jenu Kuruba to live in, manage and protect their own forest must be recognised.'”

"Setback for BJP in Tripura, new outfit captures key tribal body," Times Of India, April 10, 2021,, reported, "In a major setback for the ruling BJP, a newly-formed tribal-based party 'TIPRA Motha' is heading towards capturing power in Tripura Tribal Areas Autonomous District Council (TTAADC)," leading in the election in 19 of the 28 seats, most of or all of which they were expected to win. when vote counting became final.

Dev Kumar Sunuwar, “Hydropower Projects on Likhu River Fail to Obtain Consent from Indigenous Communities in Nepal,” Cultural Survival, February 16, 2021,, “ Seven hydropower projects along the Likhu River in eastern Nepal have adversely impacted Indigenous and local communities who live in and near the project sites but have received little attention. Likhu River is a hydropower hub and a recent field study conducted by a team from Kathmandu of the area found that the construction of these disruptive hydropower projects were shrouded in secrecy and deceit to Indigenous and local communities.
     Hydropower projects are operated and planned along the Likhu River with a combined capacity of 329.6 Megawatt (MW) electricity by Kathmandu-based private investors without obtaining the Free, Prior and Informed Consent (FPIC) and without due compensation to those whose lands have been destroyed while building access roads, tunnels, and other infrastructure at the dam sites and powerhouse.
     Likhu River is a glacier and the freshwater system running down from Mount Numbur (6,959m) through Ramechhap, Okhaldhunga, and Solukhumbu district in eastern Nepal. For generations, it has been stewarded and occupied mostly by Sunuwar Indigenous communities along with Sherpa and other non-Indigenous communities, namely Bahun and Chhetries. However, Indigenous and local communities have not been consulted or given their fair share of project benefits, despite shouldering the numerous social, environmental, and economic impacts of the hydropower projects.
     Dev Kumar Sunuwar, Cultural Survival Staff, and Uttam Kumar Sunuwar and Pam Bahadur Sunuwar, representatives from Sunuwar Welfare Society jointly visited the areas Radio Likhu serves from December 28, 2020 to January 8, 2021, to study the impacts of hydropower projects on Indigenous and local communities. Out of seven hydropower projects operating on the Likhu River, the team visited three projects: Likhu-1, Likhu-2 and Likhu-A; observed the construction of a dam site, a power-house, a tunnel, as well as interviewed local residents to learn about the impacts of the hydropower projects. The observation of the team concluded that the investors did not honor Indigenous Peoples’ right to Free, Prior and Informed Consent. In addition, the companies have not followed due diligence to ensure that their actions would not violate or be complicit in violating Indigenous Peoples’ rights. The field visit identified adverse human rights impacts of the hydropower projects such as displacement from the areas they have been inhabiting for generations and the destruction of their religious, cultural and ritual places/spots and so forth.
      Hydropower on the Likhu River
     The freshwater in the Likhu River, flowing from the Himalayas, is a collective treasure and a common good stewarded by Indigenous and local communities, but is now being misappropriated by private companies like the MV Dugar Group which includes Prime Bank Limited, Machhapuchhare Bank Limited, and four other private banks
     Three hydropower projects out of seven on the Likhu River have now been purchased by MV Dugar Group: the Likhu-1 Hydro Project (77 MW capacity of electricity), previously owned by Pan Himalaya Energy Pvt. Ltd.; the Likhu-2 Hydro Project (55 MW capacity), previously owned by Global Hydropower Associate Pvt. Ltd.; and Likhu-A, previously owned by Numbur Himalaya Hydropower Pvt. Ltd.
     Similarly, the Nupche Likhu Hydropower Project is also operating at 57.5 MW capacity by Vision Energy and Power Pvt. Ltd. Meanwhile, about 50 percent of work of the Likhu-4 Hydroproject (52.2MW capacity), developed by Green Venture Pvt. Ltd., has been completed. Likewise, the Lower Likhu Project (28.1 MW capacity), developed by Swet Ganga Hydropower and Construction Limited and financed by Sanima Bank Limited, has also been installed and is operational.
     Although local communities say that they never heard about the public hearings conducted by companies, the companies argue that they did hold the hearings. Even if the public hearings had been carried out, these were done as a mere formality, not to obtain the consent of the local people. The views of affected communities had no bearing on project decisions. For example, project representatives told the locals that they would be given jobs in the project. But, in reality, most of the construction workers were brought from outside of the project areas.
      The assertion of claims and payment of compensation was also never a clear process. Those villagers who stood against the construction of access roads were threatened with the use of police. Many villagers are now annoyed and fear for their health, as company construction vehicles generate dust. According to villagers, even while building access roads, companies never consulted with them and few were paid little compensation, most receiving no compensation. The land acquired for the tunnels, dam sites, and powerhouses were obtained by providing very little cash compensation to the land owner.
     The vast majority of affected families speak Sunuwar and Sherpa languages as their mother tongues. Many have difficulty in expressing themselves in Nepali andall project related communication has been carried out in Nepali. The project authorities have not provided affected communities any information about the hydropower projects, its benefits, and impacts. Project representatives promised some people jobs, roads, schools, health facilities such as ambulances, and education facilities in their areas. But nothing has been provided yet.
     The companies neither fulfilled FPIC nor made their reports public. The Ward Chairperson of Umakunda-3, Kubukasthali said, ‘We, the local authorities simply demand to the companies should follow the minimum standards set by the government of Nepal while constructing hydropower.’
      The local communities also have asked to ensure their basic rights while undertaking development works on their lands, territories, and natural resources. But companies have used force and power through support from Ministers, the Chief District Officer, the police and have completed their construction work.
     A few conditions created a favorable environment for the appropriation of land and resources including: Indgienous and local communities’ impoverishment and historical marginalization; lack of access to information and awareness about their rights; and the State’s failure to provide locals with basic services like health, education and drinking water facilities.
      Law Breaking
     The government of Nepal ratified the ILO Convention 169 in 2007 and also voted for the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (UNDRIP) in the same year. These international laws provision that before appropriating the natural resources in the Indigenous Peoples’ areas, the government and private companies are required to obtain the Free, Prior and Informed Consent of Indigenous Peoples impacted. When conducting consultations, if Indigenous Peoples say ‘no’ to the utilization of their land and natural resources, Indigenous Peoples should not then be displaced forcefully. In the case of Likhu River, the companies have failed to inform, consult, and obtain the consent of Indigenous Peoples and have and continue to appropriate the land and natural resources, violating international laws.
     International laws have provisioned strong regulations to protect the interests of Indigenous and local communities affected by the hydropower projects by setting standards of benefit sharing and requiring access to information. Similarly, international laws have provisioned social and economic standards and corporate social responsibility as a part of business operations. Likewise, hydropower developers are required to implement impact mitigation measures, present Environment Impact Assessments (EIA) and Social Impact Assessments (SIA) to the local Indigenous communities in public hearings and compensate affected people for all harms and damages.
      But to attract private and foreign investment in hydropower generation, in February 2016, the government of Nepal endorsed the National Energy Crisis Reduction and Electricity Development Decade Plan and introduced measures to overcome local communities resistance against hydropower projects and simplified the process of land acquisition, temporarily waiving the EIA and SIA requirement and limiting the benefits local people could expect to receive from new hydropower projects. These moves by the government of Nepal violate the 2015 Constitution of Nepal, especially Article 27, regarding rights relating to access to information, and Article 30 regarding the right to be compensated from environmental damage. Moreover, the government limited the power for granting licenses and royalties to the central government. Now, private companies have obtained support from a handful of political cadres and misappropriated the local resources.
       The hydropower projects on the Likhu River is only a case in point. There are 84 hydropower projects with a total capacity of 1,115 MW being carried out across the country. Similarly, some 217 hydropower projects with 7600 MW capacity have already obtained licenses and are set to start construction. All these hydropower projects are carried out on Indigenous lands where communities are often entirely dependent upon rivers for their livelihoods.
      Concerns about Hydropower
      Indigenous and local communities do not have many demands, they simply expect that companies undertake remedial actions against avoidable losses, pay fair compensation for losses, and provide further benefits to the locals. It appears that private investors have not been transparent with the impacted villagers in an effort to obtain their land for building infrastructures necessary for hydropower. A resident of Umakunda-3, Korandu, from Ramechhap district, Lok Bahadur Basnet said, ‘The company first said that they will provide compensation and clear up the debris stored on my land. I did not get any compensation nor was the debris on my land cleaned up.’
     Similarly, another resident of Likhu Pikey-3, Dovan in Solukhumbu district, Bir Bahadur Sunuwar said, “The company first came and forced us to provide our land, we didn't want t