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bullet"I want to live where I really belong, on my own land." Davi Kopenawa Yanomami, Brazilian aboriginal.
bullet"Settlement of other people in our midst would mean that the Ogiek culture would cease. We will be wiped out." Joseph Towett, Oglek Welfare Council, Kenya.

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Genocide and mass murder: then and now:

We maintain a list of current civil conflicts, wars and genocides which have a significant religious component. However, there are many smaller conflicts that go largely unnoticed: those between aboriginal cultures and their more highly developed neighbors.

In many ways, these current struggles have many points of similarity with the genocide against American Aboriginals. That was perhaps the most massive and longest lasting genocidal program in human history.

"For his second voyage to the Americas, Columbus took the title Admiral of the Ocean Sea and proceeded to unleash a reign of terror unlike anything seen before or since. When he was finished, eight million Arawaks -- virtually the entire native population of Hispaniola -- had been exterminated by torture, murder, forced labor, starvation, disease and despair." 1 Later European Christian invaders systematically murdered additional tens of millions of Aboriginal people, from the Canadian Arctic to South America. The exact number is unknown. Natives were murdered by warfare, forced death marches, forced relocation to barren lands, intentional and accidental spread of disease, poisoning, and the promotion of suicide through the destruction of their cultural and religious heritage. More info.

The difference between the plight of the American Natives after the European invasion, and other tribal people today is mainly that of scale. Some of the same techniques are still in use: murder, theft of land, forcible relocation, destruction of culture, and spread of disease.

Survival International is a British non-profit charitable organization which has been active since 1969. They monitor the interaction between the 150 million tribal peoples in the world, and their more highly developed neighbors. "...Almost all [aboriginals] are persecuted  relentlessly." Some are listed below. We recommend that you visit Survival International's web site for additional information. 2,3

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North America:

The Innu, formerly called the Montagnais-Naskapi Indians, are the only threatened aboriginal culture in North America which is listed among the 80 tribes that Survival is actively working with. They live in vast area of sub-arctic spruce and fir forest, lakes, rivers and rocky 'barrens' which they call Nitassinan. This encompasses most of the Labrador - Quebec peninsula in Eastern Canada. They currently number about 15 to 20 thousand.

During the 1950's and 1960's, the Canadian federal government and Roman Catholic church pressured the Innu to move into settled communities. This made the Innu easier to control: it facilitated the delivery of education, medical and other services; It allowed the government to steal their land and divide it among mining companies and hydro-electric generating projects. It also resulted in an almost total incompatibility between the nomadic Innu culture and their present settled living arrangement. Innu communities experience "extremely high levels of alcoholism, petrol-sniffing amongst children, violence, and record levels of suicides." 3

The Canadian government's policy is to only recognize Innu land rights if the Innu first agree to give up most of the land that they have traditionally occupied. "In April 1999, the UN Human Rights Committee described the situation of tribal peoples as 'the most pressing issue facing Canadians', and condemned Canada for 'extinguishing' aboriginal peoples' rights." 3 Few Canadians are aware of the situation among the Innu. Occasionally the massive glue-sniffing and massive suicide rate will be featured in the press. There is a flurry of interest, which quickly dies down. More information.

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Recent developments:

In their 2002-JUN-18 report, Survival International briefly mentioned the following tribes:

bulletBrazil: Recently, hundreds of Aw have been murdered and evicted from their traditional lands by ranchers. They are a nomadic tribe of hunter-gatherers in the Northern Amazon. A judge will shortly decide whether a critical area of land, currently occupied by ranchers, will be returned to them. See http://www.survival-international.org/awauab0205.htm
bulletPeru: Three reserves are set aside for Indians in south-east Peru. Loggers are moving in, presenting the risk of violent clashes and the spreading of diseases to the tribal people which, to them, are often fatal. See: http://www.survival-international.org/yoraup0206.htm
bulletBotswana: The Gana and Gwi 'Bushmen' tribes have been brutally evicted. Many believe this action was taken because of the discovery of diamonds on their land. A demonstration against Botswana's treatment of their tribal people is being held outside the World Diamond Conference in Vancouver, BC, Canada during the week of 2002-JUN-16. See: http://www.survival-international.org/bushman.htm

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  1. "#671 - Columbus Day, 1999," at: http://www.rachel.org/bulletin/bulletin.cfm?Issue_ID=1591 
  2. Survival International's home page is at: http://www.survival-international.org/
  3. "Innu - about," Survival International, at: http://www.survival-international.org/tc%20innu.htm
  4. Survival International distributes a free monthly bulletin via Email. See: http://www.survival-international.org/signup.htm

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Site navigation: Home > Laws & religion Genocide > here

or: Home > Religious violence Genocide > here

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Copyright 2002 by Ontario Consultants on Religious Tolerance
Originally written: 2001-JUN-18
Latest update: 2002-JUN-18
Author: B.A. Robinson

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