‘The Myth of Aboriginal Environmental Stewardship’

“Nothing is so pernicious as the profoundly-racist notion that somehow ‘indigenous peoples’ are genetically endowed with a special relationship, a spiritual kinship, with nature that makes them superior caretakers of the land.”

“…why is so much weight afforded to what is essentially raw, localized experience? If you strip away its spiritual accoutrements, you’re left with little more than the same wisdom that allows a fisherman to gauge impending weather, or derive crude conclusions on the state of fish stocks.”

“Surely, this is common sense. A person of any race or background can, at least in theory, be equally capable of protecting or destroying the environment.” 

ERBLSavingTheEnvironment800x800

“On 17 October, 1987, an article by Canadian environmental activist David Suzuki appeared in the ‘Globe and Mail’ about the looming environmental crisis facing the planet. In the article, Suzuki quotes large sections of a speech made by Chief Seattle…in 1854. 

Chief Seattle-- E.M Sammis
Chief Seattle– E.M Sammis

“Calling it an expression of a native world view “that offers a profoundly different vision of the human place in nature”, Suzuki reinforced a common assumption that aboriginal philosophy is essential to helping us solve environmental problems.

“The platitudes in Chief Seattle’s speech, which we have heard over and over —

“all things are connected”, “whatever befalls the earth, befalls the sons of the earth”, and “the earth does not belong to man: man belongs to the earth”

— are used to show how our attitudes must change, if we are to save the environment.

“They are also put forward as evidence that environmentalism is an innate component of the ‘aboriginal mindset’…

Suzuki20

“Suzuki is not the only member of the environmental movement to have used Chief Seattle’s speech… The speech has been translated into several languages and many environmental groups have published sections of it … Several books on environmental management include quotes from the speech…

“In 1990, the Canadian government even included Seattle’s words in its ‘Green Plan’…

“A children’s book, entitled “Brother Eagle, Sister Sky: A Message from Chief Seattle”, sold 280,000 copies in the year after it was published, in 1995. 'Brother Eagle, Sister Sky--A Message from Chief Seattle'“Seattle’s words are said to be

“the most-quoted single statement by any native American”.

“What is not mentioned, however, is that the words so often quoted ARE NOT Chief Seattle’s.

“The “speech” was actually written 33 years after the fact by Dr. Henry Smith, a NON-ABORIGINAL physician who claimed to have taken notes while listening to Chief Seattle…

“Smith’s account was used to develop another version of Seattle’s speech for an ecological film called “Home”, produced in 1972. Ted Perry, the NON-ABORIGINAL English professor who wrote the script,

“made no bones about the fact that — while he used…Smith’s version of Seattle’s speech for inspiration — HE CAME UP WITH HIS OWN VERSION, which differed markedly from the original.

“What was originally written by Smith HAS VERY LITTLE THAT PERTAINS TO ANY ABORIGINAL “ENVIRONMENTAL CONSCIOUSNESS.”

“It largely concerns Seattle’s purported resignation to the “white man’s” presence in the area and the inevitable disappearance of the “red man”.

“The only reference to the earth concerns the linkage of the land to the spirits of his ancestors, but this is not about ecological awareness; it concerns the beliefs of Seattle’s tribe about ghosts.

Chief Seattle statue at Fifth and Denny, 1936 ( Seattle Municipal Archives)
Chief Seattle statue at Fifth and Denny, 1936 ( Seattle Municipal Archives)

“But despite the fact that the speeches [were] written by Smith and Perry…the attribution of these words to Seattle continues to be defended… Whether or not Seattle actually said the things attributed to him is irrelevant to the ‘New Age’ mindset…

“This is now the position taken by David Suzuki in “Wisdom of the Elders”… Knudtson and Suzuki {co-authors} concede that the words attributed to Seattle are largely fictitious, but maintain that questions of the speech’s authenticity

“need not be taken as serious challenges to the value and validity of traditional Native knowledge about nature, which is amply confirmed in countless other ways”…

Grey Owl/Archie Belaney
Grey Owl/Archie Belaney

“But if we take away the various environmentalist ‘Adarios’ — Chief Seattle, Tecumseh, Black Hawk, Standing Bear, Sitting Bull, and, of course, Canada’s great fraud, Grey Owl — the evidential support for aboriginal peoples’ concern for “Mother Earth” disappears with them.

“Even the aboriginal reverence for “Mother Earth” is largely a non-aboriginal American invention.

“At the root of this idea is yet another ‘Adario’ — Smohalla, a Sahaptin speaker whose words were “interpreted” by J.W. MacMurray in the late 19th century. Smohalla was then used as the source to claim that aboriginal people generally shared the belief that “the earth was the mother of mankind”, and that AGRICULTURAL AND RESOURCE DEVELOPMENT SHOULD BE OPPOSED, on the basis that it ravishes her body…” 

Chief Smohalla
Chief Smohalla

“Kondiaronk, Chief of the Hurons at Michilimackinac, was preserved in literature as ‘Adario’ in the Baron de Lahontan’s “Voyages” (1703). As a result of this, he became the model for all the “noble natives” who were thereafter recorded in European literature.” http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kondiaronk 

Kondiaronk--Ceremony of the Treaty of the Great Peace of Montreal in 1701
Kondiaronk–Ceremony of the Treaty of the Great Peace of Montreal in 1701

“David Suzuki, for example, maintains that recognizing aboriginal cultures’ “sacred connection to the land” is important for preserving the environment. To support this unscientific contention, Suzuki offers a number of romanticized accounts from native leaders and points to “enlightened land use” by the Cree and Kayapo. The Kayapo are a tribe of hunters and gatherers living in the Amazonian jungle…

“But the outcome of this story did not live up to the romantic explanations created by Suzuki… After British rock star Sting threw his support behind the Kayapo and helped them to gain control over 25,000 square miles of rainforest, the Kayapo began entering into agreements with mining and logging companies.

“As Sting candidly explained…

“I was very naive and thought I could save the world, selling T-shirts for the Indian cause. In reality, I did little.”

Kayapo
Kayapo

“Suzuki inadvertently provides another enlightening example of aboriginal peoples’ “environmental consciousness”. This is the case of the James Bay Cree…

“In the early 1990s, the Province of Quebec announced that…Hydro Quebec would begin a massive extension of a hydroelectric project… After an international campaign was mobilized to publicize the havoc that such a project would wreak on Cree hunting grounds, development was put on hold.

“Suzuki argued that the environmental impacts of the project explained

“why the Cree are rejecting all offers of money and compensation, and are prepared to fight any further development on their lands”…

“But Suzuki’s romanticism was again to collide with the events of history. The “resolution of their battle with Hydro Quebec” was the Cree signing an agreement to allow logging, mining, and hydroelectric development to take place. In exchange for this assault on their “sacred lands”, Quebec {via Alberta} agreed to pay the Cree $3.5 billion over 50 years…

“The ‘Sierra Club’…continued to oppose the project, but they maintained that without the support of the Cree, it was unlikely that they could be politically successful…”

–Excerpts from: “Disrobing The Aboriginal Industry: The Deception Behind Indigenous Cultural Preservation”,
Frances Widdowson and Albert Howard, McGill-Queen’s University Press, 2008. (P.221-226) {CAPS added}

http://www.amazon.ca/Disrobing-Aboriginal-IndustryIndigenousPreservation/dp/0773534210  

Hydro-Quebec's Eastmain-1-A and Eastmain-1 hydroelectric stations (Portland Press-Herald)
Hydro-Quebec’s Eastmain-1-A and Eastmain-1 hydroelectric stations (Portland Press-Herald)

An environmentalist comments:

“Nothing is so pernicious as the profoundly-racist notion that somehow ‘indigenous peoples’ are genetically endowed with a special relationship, a spiritual kinship, with nature that makes them superior caretakers of the land… Like so many racist myths, there are just too many historical examples to cite that would discredit it.

“Easter Island was arguably the most notorious one, where 20,000 people committed ‘ecocide’ by deforestation and overhunting.easter-island-01“Australian Aborigines, meanwhile, exterminated 85% of the mega fauna of the continent before the British even weighed anchor at Botany Bay, and American Indians probably annihilated the horse before it was re-introduced by the Spanish.

“Given the time it took to cut down a mature Douglas Fir with a stone axe, one is moved to speculate that it was their primitive technology, not an inherent love for nature, which constrained coastal aboriginals from clearing more.

“Soil microbiologist Peter Salonius has pointed out that by the time of European contact, Amerindians from mid-continent south had established an unsustainable society moving toward collapse, whose sustenance was increasingly from soil-depleting cultivation agriculture.

“And a biologist with Environment Canada maintains that

“…evidence is extremely weak that aboriginal societies necessarily exercised any form of wildlife management. I think evidence instead overwhelmingly supports the hypothesis that aboriginal culture did not wipe out the food they depended on, due to limitations in technology and population numbers.”

“But more relevant to our concerns is not what ‘natives’ once did but what they are doing now. He relates the following experiences:

–The profligate killing of caribou by ‘natives’ for their tongues.

–The decimation of Greenland seabird colonies by Inuit due to hunting during the breeding season, and wanton disturbance at sensitive colonies.

–The depletion of key beluga stocks in the Canadian Arctic.

–The insistence of opening a Bowhead Whale hunt in the eastern arctic by Inuit, despite the scientific evidence that this population is in critical condition.

–THE WILDLIFE “HALO EFFECT” around ‘native’ communities in North America, WHERE VIRTUALLY NO GAME CAN BE FOUND.

–Large-scale killing of Bald and Golden Eagles in North America by ‘natives’, under the guise of fulfilling “cultural needs”.

–Widespread killing of colonial waterbirds in Manitoba by ‘natives’ and ‘Metis’, since these birds are seen as competitors to commercial fisheries.

–The general ignorance of large wildlife populations by aboriginal elders and young people simply because they were “not important” as a food source.

“He is careful to qualify his experiences with the observation that all societies, ‘native’ and ‘non-native’, have pushed their environment to the wall, and all have their good and bad apples. Nonetheless, the environmental record of aboriginal economic development projects is less than promising.

“Case in point: The ‘Alaska ‘Native’ Claims Settlement Act’ had given the various ‘native’ corporations across the state ownership of lands they selected from federal holdings. The total in Southeast Alaska came to more than 500,000 acres (200,000 hectares).Tongass-National-Forest“Advised by timber economists, the ‘native’ regional corporations and villages picked out mainly lands with productive big-tree forests. Then, they began to level them and sell the raw logs to Asian markets, almost matching the pulp mills’ rate of timber consumption. So much for the precious ‘Tongas National Forest’.

“Ontario researcher Brishen Hoff has cited several Canadian examples of aboriginal eco-vandalism… The Zhiibaahaasing “First Nation”, also on Manitoulin Island, decided to make a quick buck by dumping an estimated 1.75 million used tires, creating a massive fire hazard and costing taxpayers a $4 million clean-up bill…

“The ‘Myth of Wise Aboriginal Stewardship’ is just a contemporary make-over of Jean Jacques Rousseau’s myth of the ‘Noble Savage’, a superior being untainted by our corrupt European vices.Jean-Jacques Rousseau“That caricature of aboriginals is just as preposterous and harmful now as it was then, in the eighteenth century. Just as inaccurate, however, would a representation of aboriginals as more careless of the land than European North Americans…

“All of the foregoing was merely an attempt to make ‘natives’ accountable for their record of eco-vandalism, as one would do with the multinationals.

“IT IS TO HUMANIZE THEM, RATHER THAN DEMONIZE THEM — or, as the politically correct have done, deify them.

“The sad fact is, people of various cultures and times, for various reasons, have not been able to acknowledge limits. And just because they can sing, dance and beat drums should not give them license to trespass those limits.”

(Brishen Hoff deserves credit for the research r.e. the aboriginal environmental track record, in this article.)

–‘The Myth of Wise Aboriginal Environmental Stewardship’,
Tim Murray, “Canada The Sinking Lifeboat” {CAPS added}

http://sinkinglifeboat.blogspot.ca/2008/03/myth-of-wise-aboriginal-stewardship.html

https://www.facebook.com/ENDRACEBASEDLAW/posts/333685066733733 'Disrobing the Aboriginal Industry'“Commonplace in the {pseudo-academic} literature is the claim that aboriginal people have a particular spirituality leading them to be natural stewards of the environment…

“Unconditional support is demanded in all discussions about aboriginal control over the environment. Even mild criticism results in accusations of ‘racism’, ‘colonialism’, or ‘hate propaganda’…

“The argument that aboriginal people were assigned the position of environmental custodians or stewards by the Creator is an attempt to give a…twist to land claims and self-government demands. Flowing from this argument is the idea that the environmental crisis is a direct result of aboriginal peoples’ loss of land and political autonomy. The expropriation of their lands has meant that they can no longer exercise their spiritually-assigned role of managing the environment.

“Therefore, it is necessary to return control over development to aboriginal groups, so that they can resume their spiritual role as environmental custodians.

“Support for this political agenda depends on an ahistorical and decontextualized interpretation of aboriginal culture. Attributing environmental management practices to various aboriginal tribes fails to consider the effects of European influence.

“European societies had managed harvesting for centuries before they arrived in North America, and there are many instances of priests, traders, and government officials attempting to impart this knowledge to the native population.
(See, for example, Bruce G. Trigger, “Ontario Native People and the Epidemics of 1634-1640”, in “Indians, Animals and the Fur Trade”, Shepard Krech III, ed., p. 27-8… {Also} “The Ecological Indian”, Krech, p.182, 185-6… {And} “The Conservation of Wild Life in Canada”, C. Gordon Hewitt, p.12, 66, 286.)

“The need for conservation in European history came into being with population growth and technological development, both of which put a strain on natural resources. Aboriginal peoples in North America, on the other hand, had sparse populations and primitive technology. They had domesticated only the dog and so, did not have the control over animal stocks that would be necessary to manage them.

“Nor had they developed numbers or methods of counting, making it impossible for them to determine sustainable yields. Therefore, there is no basis for environmental management practices in pre-literate and nomadic hunting and gathering societies.

“The anthropologist Marc Stevenson even argues that conceptions of “management” are not an aspect of aboriginal traditions, although these ideas are often articulated by younger native people influenced by the “Whiteman’s way”.

“Assertions about aboriginal peoples’ ecological consciousness also require a decontextualized understanding of their relationship to the environment. What is promoted as a spiritual connection to the land is actually a result of the absence of ecological understanding. Animistic beliefs are a reflection of the neolithic period’s lack of technological development and a lower capacity to control nature.

“Cultures at this level of development reacted to scarcity by trying to appease animal spirits through various taboos and rituals (Hunting and gathering differs from horticulture or agriculture in that yields cannot be increased with human effort)…

“The Montagnais, for example, blamed lack of success at hunting beaver on feeding beaver bones to dogs, instead of hanging them on trees or throwing them into the water; while the southwestern Ojibwa thought “speaking ill of a beaver” would have the same effect. It is such taboos and rituals that are referred to when anthropologists maintain that aboriginal peoples are respectful toward animals.The MontagnaisWEB“Rather than methods of “managing” wildlife populations, taboos and rituals were simply attempts to increase the numbers of animals that could be killed and eaten.

“Management” of wildlife merely consisted of depleting resources until the carrying capacity of the area had been exceeded, and then moving to another location…
^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^
“Aboriginal beliefs can even result in opposition to environmental management. One example is the belief in reincarnation; killing more animals becomes one answer to wildlife scarcity, since a greater number are believed to be “reborn”. This concept has led some aboriginal people to resist the implementation of wildlife management practices, on the grounds that animal spirits would be offended.

“Another example is the idea that animals “choose” to be hunted and therefore, imposing limits on harvesting

“is denying the animal’s right of choice and hence, exhibits not only extreme disrespect towards the animal but also endangers the continuation of everybody’s survival, as the animals may refrain from offering themselves in the future.”

“With this logic, even the mass slaughter of endangered species could be justified by the belief that the sighting of an animal indicates that it “has offered itself to the hunter”.
^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^
“Erroneously asserting that aboriginal beliefs are indicative of a racially-based conservation ethic also fails to consider the many historical instances where aboriginal peoples engaged in environmentally-destructive activities.

“The disappearance of 35 species of mammals in the Americas coincided with the arrival of humans. These animals included mammoths, mastodons, giant sloths, pampatheres, glyptodonts, camels, capybaras, tapers, giant beavers, antelopes, horses, oxen, stag-moose, dire wolves, and serrated-toothed cats.

“Although the cause of these extinctions is disputed…the timing of the sudden disappearance of so many animal species indicates that the introduction of weapon-wielding human predators was at least partly responsible. None of these animals had evolved in relation to human beings and they had no defence against the hunting technology brought over the Beringia land bridge…

“Another example that does not fit well with idealized conceptions of aboriginal peoples’ role as “natural stewards” concerns events that transpired after Iron Age technology and commerce were introduced in North America.

“In the space of 300 years, aboriginal peoples wiped out most of the beaver and buffalo populations (“Indians, Animals and the Fur Trade”, ed. S. Krech).

In the late 1700s a blanket was worth seven prime beaver pelts, a gun cost 14 pelts. (As portrayed in' Canada--A People's History)
In the late 1700s a blanket was worth seven prime beaver pelts, a gun cost 14 pelts. (As portrayed in’ Canada–A People’s History)

“Although these depletions have largely been blamed on the “white man” for initiating the fur trade, there is no evidence that aboriginal peoples…showed any philosophical opposition to this economic activity.

(A government biologist, for example, noted decades ago that

“there is no major instance on record where Treaty Indians have shown restraint in caribou hunting unless it has been imposed on them…by authorities concerned with the welfare of caribou”. )

“… aboriginal peoples, like all human beings who have lived on the planet, were only responding to economic and political imperatives. Once more sophisticated technology is developed and the profit motive becomes dominant, people must either participate in the system, or change it; they cannot simply “choose” to ignore it and operate according to some kind of transcendental environmental ethic…

“Such was the circumstance in the development of the fur trade, when different aboriginal tribes used guns they acquired to secure a dominant economic position {vis-a-vis other tribes}.
^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^
“The idea that environmentalism is inherent within the aboriginal population…has been created by…a romanticized image of aboriginal peoples…

“Invariably, any “earth-loving” idea put forward by a native person is attributed to teachings connected to their ancestry, even though these same ideas already exist in non-aboriginal traditions.

“In the 18th and 19th centuries, for example, English romantic poets like William Wordsworth, Samuel Coleridge Taylor, John Keats, and Percy Bysshe Shelley, as well as American writers Ralph Waldo Emerson and Henry David Thoreau, were espousing a very similar philosophy.

Henry David Thoreau
Henry David Thoreau

“Mainstream Christianity also includes people such as Saint Francis and Albert Schweitzer, who felt a oneness with the natural world.

“Rather than originating these ideas, aboriginal culture is reflecting romantic and transcendental philosophies that have been very influential in European, American, and Canadian societies…
^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^
“Despite these observations, many may remain unconvinced that the romanticization of aboriginal culture is a problem; sure, it may be a distortion of history and aboriginal culture, but what is the harm if it makes aboriginal people feel proud of their heritage? After all, aboriginal people are suffering terribly, and the idea that they have a spiritual relationship to the land is one way for them to feel good about themselves.

{This creates}…the obvious problem of encouraging aboriginal people to view themselves as spiritually superior to other groups…

“The problems arise when blanket assertions are made about aboriginal peoples’ environmental consciousness, where it is assumed that everyone with aboriginal ancestry has a spiritual relationship to the land, that ensures that they act in an ecologically-responsible manner…”
^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^
“The assumption that aboriginal peoples should play more of a role in environmental management becomes even more problematic when native groups have an interest in development…

“In the case of the logging and fishing disputes, for example, it is aboriginal groups who profit from cutting trees and selling lobsters and salmon…
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“In recent years, the legal gains of aboriginal groups in the area of self-government and land claims have led to the development of a split personality in native leaders in their attitudes toward economic development.

“On the one hand, they want to obtain the economic rewards that can be made from sitting on boards of economic development corporations, acquiring royalties, and getting business contracts; while on the other hand, they express concern over maintaining a “traditional way of life”.

“What is not discussed, however, is how aboriginal leaders plan to reconcile a “traditional economy” (i.e. subsistence) with industrial development…

“Aside from nebulous platitudes about being respectful of ‘Mother Earth’ and engaging in various “spiritual ceremonies”, aboriginal elders are silent about what should be done.

“This is because they have no answers that make sense in the modern context, since native “environmental sustainability” consists of engaging in hunting and gathering practices — practices now largely unviable…”

–“Disrobing The Aboriginal Industry: The Deception Behind Indigenous Cultural Preservation”,
Frances Widdowson and Albert Howard, McGill-Queen’s University Press, 2008. (P.215-227)

http://www.amazon.ca/Disrobing-Aboriginal-IndustryIndigenousPreservation/dp/0773534210 

Benjamin West
Benjamin West

‘Environmental stewardship is not innate’

“If there was ever a microcosm to illustrate aboriginal issues…it is the George River caribou hunt in Labrador.

“It incorporates most of the concerns and conflicts raised by native groups across the country, including land claims, self-governance and resource management.

“The George River caribou herd is in serious trouble. In good times, the herd has reached populations well into the hundreds of thousands. An intergovernmental study last year found the number had plummeted to about 27,000, and that figure may now be closer to 20,000.

“In January, the province announced a five-year moratorium on hunting George River caribou. In reaching that decision, officials had, wisely, consulted aboriginal groups and garnered a general concensus about the need to avoid hunting. Typically, though, it has not translated into full co-operation.

“Innu ‘Nation’ Grand Chief Prote Poker said the Innu, for one, will not recognize the moratorium.

“We’ve been talking to our elders, and they did not agree to a total ban on our people”, he said.

“It’s a troubling trend, one that surfaces almost every year. In 2010, provincial wildlife officers arrested and charged two Quebec Innu hunters, BUT DID NOT FOLLOW THROUGH. In that case, as well, THE HUNTERS WERE BACKED BY THEIR ELDERS, WHO DID NOT CONCUR WITH SCIENTIFIC SURVEYS.

“University of Calgary professor Frances Widdowson addressed this notion of “traditional knowledge” in a 2010 paper called “Indigenous Ways of Knowing and the Environment: Does Epistemological Relativism Contribute to the Protection of Western Lands?”
http://blogs.mtroyal.ca/fwiddowson/files/2010/10/Indigenous-ways-of-knowing-and-the-environment-october-11.pdf

“Widdowson’s research into basic precepts of native advocacy in Canada has been greeted with virulent hostility.

“But you still have to wonder why these questions can’t even be asked, let alone answered.

“In this case, why is so much weight afforded to what is essentially raw, localized experience? If you strip away its spiritual accoutrements, you’re left with little more than the same wisdom that allows a fisherman to gauge impending weather, or derive crude conclusions on the state of fish stocks.

“Mind you, this knowledge is useful.

“It can sometimes add to, and even guide, scientific inquiry.

“But it certainly can’t replace it.

“Widdowson says the emphasis on traditional knowledge draws its strength from long-held notions about ‘indigenous’ and ‘non-indigenous’ cultures.

“In a nutshell: ‘Since aboriginal people did not destroy the environment, while ‘whites’ did, it must be the former’s ancestrally {racially} determined philosophy that ensured environmental sustainability. It is not considered that THE PRIMITIVE TECHNOLOGY AND SUBSISTENCE ECONOMIES THAT EXISTED IN THE AMERICAS BEFORE CONTACT WOULD HAVE PRECLUDED A SIGNIFICANT IMPACT ON THE ENVIRONMENT.’

“Surely, this is common sense. A person of any race or background can, at least in theory, be equally capable of protecting or destroying the environment.

“When Quebec Innu hunters roar into Labrador on snowmobiles and shoot caribou with modern rifles, there is no mystical buffer that makes their actions any more or less destructive than any other hunter.

“Prote Poker says Innu elders are, in fact, more optimistic about the herd’s survival than government scientists.

“They think the caribou is coming back”, he said.

“Given the fickleness of caribou populations, they may be right.

“But SUCH AN INTUITIVE APPROACH HAS NO PLACE IN SOUND CONSERVATION POLICY.”

–“Environmental stewardship is not innate”, Peter Jackson, The Telegram {UK}, January 30, 2013 {CAPS added}

http://www.thetelegram.com/Opinion/Columns/2013-01-30/article-3166774/Environmental-stewardship-is-not-innate/1 

Labrador Innu Illegal Caribou Massacre, 2010 (Adam Randell-The Labradorian)
Labrador Innu Illegal Caribou Massacre, 2010 (Adam Randell-The Labradorian)

From 2010: 
{Provincial} Justice Minister Felix Collins says there are not two standards for ‘white’ and Innu people caught hunting in closed zones.

“About 150 Quebec Innu {illegally} completed a caribou hunt in the Cache River area of Labrador last Wednesday, taking 250 animals.

“The area of the hunt is a closed zone because the endangered Red Wine caribou herd — which only had an estimated 87 animals left — live in the area year-round…

“The Newfoundland and Labrador government made it clear the hunt was illegal, and said charges will be laid if sufficient evidence was gathered by the RCMP and conservation officers during the five-day hunt last week.

“Officers monitored the hunt from the ground and the air, but did not attempt to arrest the hunters.

“My understanding is the calibre of the surveillance is good, and in all likelihood, good enough to have charges laid and we’re hoping that’ll be the case”, Collins told ‘The Telegram’, Monday.

“Some people in the province have complained the government didn’t stop the hunt because the hunters were Innu.

“But Collins said that’s not true.

“He said all hunters — regardless of their background — caught in a closed zone will have to forfeit vehicles and gear and face being arrested.

“Collins said that would have happened last week if it was a dozen or so Innu hunters.

“But it’s a different ball game when you put 200 people there”, he said. “That was the collective consensus. Going into this, we would not put people in harm’s way.”

“Considering the volatility of the situation, with 150 to 200 armed hunters on the ground, Collins said it could have escalated to be like “the showdown at the O.K. Corral” if the RCMP or conservation officers tried to make arrests.

{So, as long as aboriginals with weapons gather in sufficient numbers, they can do whatever they want? This ‘Caledonia’ pattern is out of hand…}

“Nobody in their right mind is going to put people’s safety at risk in that kind of a situation”, said the minister…

{Are you suggesting that the Innu were out of their minds? They were the ones creating the dangerous situation. Or are these just the excuses of a coward who caved in to criminal bullies?}

“Last week’s hunters, from five different Quebec communities, weren’t concerned about being charged because they believe they have an ‘aboriginal right’ to hunt in the area…”’

–‘Quebec Innu hunters may be charged’,
Adam Randell, St. John’s Telegram, March 2, 2010

http://www.thetelegram.com/Sports/Other-Sports/2010-03-02/article-1436267/Quebec-Innu-hunters-may-be-charged/1 

Labrador Innu Illegal Caribou Massacre, 2010 (CBC)
Labrador Innu Illegal Caribou Massacre, 2010 (CBC)

But:
“Just one hunter has been charged in the illegal slaughter of about half of a protected caribou herd in Labrador, ‘CBC News’ has learned.

“In March 2009, dozens of Innu hunters from Quebec travelled to the Joir River area of Labrador and hunted caribou. The Newfoundland and Labrador government prohibits hunting in the area.

“Officials said about 50 animals in the Joir River area were killed in last year’s hunt.

“Hunting in that area of central Labrador is forbidden because it is also home to the endangered Red Wine caribou herd, which mingle with other caribou species.

“Wildlife officials were ordered not to have direct contact with the hunters last year, on grounds of safety {?}, which made collecting evidence in the case difficult {!}.

“Quebec Innu have argued that their ‘traditional rights’ have been ignored and have made several provocative moves against Newfoundland and Labrador in recent months.

“Earlier this year, in a separate hunt in western Labrador, Quebec Innu leaders have said they were wrongfully excluded from a benefits agreement involving Labrador Innu and the government over hydroelectric power. 

“Natural Resources Minister Kathy Dunderdale is not commenting on the hunt, citing an ongoing investigation.

“So far, just one person — a resident of La Romaine, Que. — has been charged: on one count of killing a threatened species and another for possessing a specimen of an endangered species.

“Because a one-year limitation has passed, it is too late to lay more charges. {Those responsible for policing this should be fired…}

“The Newfoundland and Labrador government said the evidence it had collected was not good enough to support more charges. It has been relying on photographs taken from a helicopter that maintained surveillance in the area.

“Meanwhile, the government said it has bought a camera with a longer zoom lens and better stabilization.”

–‘Labrador caribou kill brings few charges’,
CBC News, April 14, 2010

http://failover2.cbc.ca/news/canada/newfoundland-labrador/labrador-caribou-kill-brings-few-charges-1.914806
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END RACE BASED LAW inc. Canada
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