In a time when many are struggling, and challenged to summon the will to care for those most suffering, a centuries old bond between nations shines a light on human kindness and solidarity.
Over 1.7 million has been raised so far for the Navajo and Hopi families COVID-19 Relief Fund with thousands of donations over the first few days of May. During the night of May 4th and into the wee hours of the morning hundreds of donations raising hundreds of thousands of dollars poured in with multiple donations per minute. Along with the financial support came hundreds of messages of solidarity remembering the kindness shown to the Irish people by the Choctaw who sent $170 during the Irish Famine in 1847, the equivalent of thousands of dollars, soon after they had gone through their own Trail of Tears.
**UPDATE: as of 2 pm EST May 6th, the total raised is over 2.6 million dollars. And the relief fund has expanded it’s goal to 3 million dollars.
**UPDATE: as of 1 pm EST May 11th, the total raised is over 3.5 million dollars. And the relief fund has expanded it’s goal to 5 million dollars.
This story is being tracked by Naomi O’Leary, Europe Correspondent with the@IrishTimes.
In a time when the United States is preparing to brace for the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic and struggles to ensure emergency supplies for its citizens, there have been interesting announcements affecting civil rights, earth rights, and indigenous peoples.
BREAKING: The Bureau of Indian Affairs today told the Mashpee Wampanoag tribe that the Secretary of the Interior has ordered that their reservation be disestablished and their land be taken out of trust.
At 4:00 pm today — on the very day that the United States has reached a record 100,000 confirmed cases of the coronavirus and our Tribe is desperately struggling with responding to this devastating pandemic — the Bureau of Indian Affairs informed me that the Secretary of the Interior has ordered that our reservation be disestablished and that our land be taken out of trust. Not since the termination era of the mid-twentieth century has a Secretary taken action to disestablish a reservation.
Today’s action was cruel and it was unnecessary. The Secretary is under no court order to take our land out of trust. He is fully aware that litigation to uphold our status as a tribe eligible for the benefits of the Indian Reorganization Act is ongoing.
It begs the question, what is driving our federal trustee’s crusade against our reservation?
Regardless of the answer, we the People of the First Light have lived here since before there was a Secretary of the Interior, since before there was a State of Massachusetts, since before the Pilgrims arrived 400 years ago. We have survived, we will continue to survive. These are our lands, these are the lands of our ancestors, and these will be the lands of our grandchildren. This Administration has come and it will go. But we will be here, always. And we will not rest until we are treated equally with other federally recognized tribes and the status of our reservation is confirmed.
I will continue to provide updates on this important issue in the coming days as we take action to prevent the loss of our trust status.
The Trump administration says it will forgo a sweeping range of public health and environmental enforcement during the coronavirus outbreak
ELLEN KNICKMEYER Associated Press
March 27, 2020, 1:54 AM
3 min read
WASHINGTON — The Environmental Protection Agency on Thursday abruptly waived enforcement on a range of legally mandated public health and environmental protections, saying industries could have trouble complying with them during the coronavirus pandemic.
The oil and gas industry were among the industries that had sought an advance relaxation of environmental and public health enforcement during the outbreak, citing potential staffing problems. The EPA’s decision was sweeping, forgoing fines or other civil penalties for companies that failed to monitor, report or meet some other requirements for releasing hazardous pollutants.
WASHINGTON – Today the United States Supreme Court instructed a lower court to reconsider its ruling in a discrimination case involving National Association of African American Owned Media (NAAAOM) and Comcast. The decision issued by the Court weakens the reach of Section 1981, a core provision of the Civil Rights Act of 1866 – a historic statute that prohibits discrimination on the basis of race, color and ethnicity when making and enforcing contracts – imposing a burdensome pleading standard on victims of discrimination.
“The Court’s decision imposes a tougher burden of proof that will likely make it more difficult for discrimination victims to invoke the protections of Section 1981 in discrimination cases,” said Kristen Clarke, president & executive director of the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law. “This ruling weakens our nation’s oldest civil rights statute and may shut the courthouse door on some discrimination victims who, at the complaint stage, may simply be without the full range of evidence needed to meet the Court’s heightened standard. That said, the Court has ordered the district court to review its earlier decision to determine whether ESN’S claims satisfy the standard. We will be watching closely to ensure that courts give discrimination victims a fair opportunity to be heard in these cases.”
Rev. William Barber, co-chair of the new Poor Peoples Campaign said, “I really feel that, in some sense, Apache elder and my brother Wendsler Nosie Sr. is America’s Gandhi in this moment. A lot of our struggles start with lone individuals acting in ways that affect the whole.”
The protection of sacred sites of the original peoples is a moral and ecological imperative. The United States of America is built upon the ideals of life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness including freedom of religion, and equal protections under the law. The Center for Earth Ethics stands in solidarity with Wendsler Nosie, Sr. and his commitment to protect and defend the Sacred Sites of the Apache Nation.
“Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere”.
Oak Flat is under threat of destruction by Resolution Copper, a joint venture owned in part by Rio Tinto, one of the largest metal and mining companies in the world. Wendsler, with the blessings of the Apache Stronghold, has decided that he will not leave the sacred site until it is protected, and his tribe’s Constitutional and moral rights to religious freedom are respected, even if it means losing his life. National Co-Chair and President of Repairers of the Breach, Rev. Dr. Barber, along with Rev. John Mendez, Rev. Dr. Robin Tanner, and Ms. Yara Allen were present as he started this journey home.
In the Apache tradition, the waters at Oak Flat are the source of all life. Generations of Apache have come to pray for thousands of years at this most holy site. After years of unsuccessful negotiations and a corruption scandal that landed an Arizona Congressman in prison, Resolution Copper was given the rights to mine Oak Flat as part of a last-minute rider that then-Senator John McCain added to the 2014 Defense Spending Bill. To process the copper ore, the proposed extraction would use 6.5 billion gallons of water annually — as much water as a small city — which would then be polluted with sulfuric acid. These operations would replace the holy ground with a gaping crater, two miles wide and one thousand feet deep.
The only thing standing between Resolution Copper and the mining rights they have already been granted is an Environmental Impact Statement (EIS). The EIS must be certified by the federal government before private companies can begin mining public lands. During the required public comment period on the EIS, Wendsler argued that, while the environmental impact of this proposed project would be devastating, the bigger issue is in fact religious liberty.
In a joint statement with the current San Carlos Apache Chairman Terry Rambler, Wendsler wrote, “the Oak Flat Draft Environmental Impact Statement does not address the current religious significance and the value given to Oak Flat by the Apache people, Yavapai people, Aravaipa and many others…Native American Religion has been excluded from the areas of concern and value.” However, the U.S. Forest Service has refused to consider the Apache’s religious freedom claim in its EIS.
Two weeks ago, Wendsler and a delegation from the Apache Stronghold went to Washington D.C. to meet with the U.S. Forest Service and deliver the statement of his intent to return to Oak Flat. They were joined by Rev. Barber, Rev. Theoharis and a delegation of multi-faith clergy.
Rev. Dr. Barber was introduced to Wendsler seven years ago by Rev. Mendez, who has been engaged with the Apache Stronghold for over twenty years. Since then, they have built a relationship across faith, race, issues, and geography, to find common ground in this sacred and moral struggle.
Wendsler is a member of the National Steering Committee of the Poor People’s Campaign. Along with a delegation from the San Carlos Apache, he joined the December 4th, 2017, official launch of the Campaign in Washington D.C. And in June 2018, following a sacred journey connecting with indigenous people across the country, the San Carlos Apache joined the Campaign in Washington D.C. for the 40 Days of Action. There on Capitol Hill, Vanessa Nosie, Wendsler’s daughter, spoke to the conditions they had witnessed on their journey.
The Poor People’s Campaign now calls on all of the people in our movement to support the Apache Stronghold in their struggle for religious freedom and the right to their sacred lands at Oak Flat.
In Rev. Barber’s and Rev. Theoharis’ words, “As Christian ministers who are committed to the freedom of religion for all people, we call on all people of faith to stand with Wendsler Nosie and the Apache Stronghold before it is too late. To preach the resurrection of Jesus is to proclaim that no one and no one’s tradition must be crucified for the greater good. We can protect the waters, protect Oak Flat, and still have enough resources for every family in this land to flourish. The history of terrible violence this nation has committed against indigenous people from the Trail of Tears to Standing Rock is a reminder that the apocalypse Nosie goes home to face is a real possibility. But it is not a necessity. We pray Americans will act to show genuine gratitude for the original stewards of this land and their religious freedom. We join our brother, Wendsler Nosie, in the call to save Oak Flat.”
Ministry in the Time of Climate Change:
On Food and Faith
May 30 – June 1, 2019
At Methodist Theological School in Delaware, OH
“The soil is the great connector of lives, the source and destination of all. It is the healer and restorer and resurrector, by which disease passes into health, age into youth, death into life. Without proper care for it we can have no community, because without proper care for it we can have no life.” – Wendell Berry, The Unsettling of America: Culture and Agriculture
Technological advances in the 20th and the 21st century offer many American consumers easy access to cheap and abundant food, much of which is traced to supply and labor chains around the world. The same advances have resulted in the depletion of soils, the overuse of fertilizers, herbicides, and pesticides, greenhouse gas pollution, as well as increasing obesity and food related health issues. And within this system, millions in the U.S. and billions more across the globe go hungry each day. Food deserts persist across urban and rural America, and upwards of 41 million Americans are food insecure, 13 million of whom are children. This system keeps externalities hidden, supply high, and prices low affecting the long term health of soils, water, human beings and wildlife.
As climate change becomes more pronounced, communities around the world will have to become more self-sufficient and sustainable. This new model of resilience may entail some hardship, but it also brings the opportunity to create new, more robust community relationships with the land and one another. It is here that faith communities have unique opportunity to guide others by providing space, pastoral care, education and leadership.
This year’s conference will teach faith leaders how our current food system is contributing to the climate crisis, explore the impact climate change is having on farming and food security, and help empower attendees to take action on these issues in a way that aligns with their deepest values. The training is hosted by the Center for Earth Ethics, Methodist Theological School in Ohio (MTSO), and The Climate Reality Project. It will take place at MTSO May 30th-June 1st.
Applications are open for the 2019 program. Application deadline is April 15, 2019. Applicants will be notified of decisions soon after.
Frigid. I cannot remember a King’s Day celebration that wasn’t. Born on January 15th, the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. was remembered today in many places throughout the country on what would have been his 90th birthday. Here today, Chief Dwayne Perry and I were in Newark, New Jersey, participating in the demonstration with the Peoples Organization for Progress. The march slowly began in front of the MLK monument.
As we drove around searching for the location, we reminisced about our younger years, trying to find work, direction and purpose. What would we have done at Dr. King’s young age? How did he manage? It’s interesting to know that Chief and I traveled in the same parts of New York City at different times, Bedford-Stuyvesant in Brooklyn and the Bronx, areas that were dangerous; drugs were brought in to the old neighborhoods, the steady climb toward mass incarceration began. The dreams of the Civil Rights era shattered by Urban renewal, which at first seemed like a good thing only to find that it really meant urban removal of Black homes and businesses. The drive showed us the changes made in the city; large empty lots, huge sections of new builds. The communities are impacted with gentrification. Again, at first it seemed like a good thing, but then, it wasn’t. Our communities are co-opted, our businesses cannot pay the high rents, our homes are being taken over by developers. It’s as if the clock had stopped. Dr. King had preached that we each needed to become leaders. In our own way, we and those we gathered with took that to heart, to continue the struggle.
What would Dr. King think of our progress? Our society does a kind of slow dance with its people of color, one step forward, two steps back. We had a Black president for eight years, and now the progress we made is being systematically rolled back. Dr. King would want to know that we are still positioning ourselves in justice work, that we are still mobilizing, we are still working for income equality. In his speech on economics and reparations, he outlined how our government subsidized the white peasants from Europe with land, with colleges to educate them on how to farm the land, and with tools and supplies to use to produce their farms and machinery to work the land. This same government had refused to provide any land for former enslaved people. Those same immigrants are now receiving millions in subsidies not to farm and with their privilege, telling Black people to pull themselves up by their boot straps. King’s tone and stance had changed over time, as he came to see that conditions for Blacks and poor folks remained the same. Martin was angry as he advocated for a radical redistribution of wealth. He challenged us to march on Washington and demand to get paid. Today, we are only just approaching a living wage as laws are past for $15.00 an hour.
Our income disparity has grown with new tax breaks for the rich, while the lower classes are forced to pay for defense, infrastructure, and perhaps a new border wall. Corporations pay wages below the poverty line and those who are incarcerated are paid dollars a day to manufacture goods. Even more egregious, is using untrained inmates to fight fires and handle other natural disasters, their humanity seen as expendable, their lives as throw-a-ways. What can we do to help them, what can we do for the children held by the thousands in detention centers at the southern borders, or the families marred by gun violence, those in government working without a pay check, to say nothing of our endless wars?
What would Dr. King make of our current dilemma? Our march focused on the deaths of so very many of our youth at the hands of police. This is surreal in Newark, New Jersey, today. The litany of names read echoed into the cold. We know that those who protest these acts are demonized in the media, but we are in solidarity with them. Voices of intolerance have gotten louder and bolder, evoking concern and fear. And still, we pressed on. We sang songs of the movement, teaching a new generation to carry on the tradition. The senior organizers were passing the baton to the younger college students.
Chief Perry reminded the crowd gathered to use their right to vote, and their advocacy to encourage others to do the same. We have to combat voter suppression nationwide. There are those who claim that voting is happening illegally, taking away from the fact of their suppression of this precious right, so many have died defending. He is heartened by so many women in Congress, he feels the tide is turning in a new and better direction. I am reminded that “the arc of the moral universe is long, but it bends towards justice”. The calendar has turned, we are fifty years later than when Dr. King was with us, and the struggle continues. On his birthday and every day, it does not matter how cold it is, Dr. King continues to walk with us, as a revered ancestor, whose constant and abiding love holds us in faith. His voice echoes on, teaching and inspiring us, giving us hope as we continue to work for justice and our Beloved Community.
Karenna Gore and CEE’s Herbalist in Residence, Poppy Jones, were joined by the Dogwood Alliance for a walk in the woods at NY City’s Van Cortlandt Park this fall. Please enjoy Stories Happen in Forests‘ video, “Finding Faith in the Forest” giving you a window into their time together and a deep spiritual connection to the woods. The Dogwood Alliance is dedicated to reminding us how both magical & critical to our survival our Forests really are.
A movement is happening. The Poor People’s Campaign has launched a united force for change bringing together people of diverse backgrounds who share a common calling to restore reason and dignity to the United States of America. This stage of the campaign – 40 Days of Moral Action – began on Mother’s Day and will culminate in a Global Day of Solidarity and Mass Rally in Washington, D.C. on June 23rd.
In response to the wave of non-violent direct actions, resulting in arrests across the country, Senator Elizabeth Warren (D-Massachusetts) and Representative Elijah Cummings (D- Maryland) called a hearing on Capital Hill to listen to testimony from Rev. William Barber and a panel of citizens among the most impacted by the various forms of violence and degradation being committed against our people and our planet.
Rev. Dr. Liz Theoharis was detained with eight other faith leaders overnight after being arrested on the steps of the Supreme Court. CEE’s Karenna Gore joined Rev. Barber and those offering testimony to read Rev. Theoharis’s statement on her behalf. Please watch the hearing and follow the link below to join the Mass March in DC on June 23rd or an event in Global Solidarity in your local area.
U.S. Sen. Elizabeth Warren and U.S. Rep. Elijah Cummings convene a hearing on Capitol Hill on economic inequality, union rights, voter suppression and other issues raised by the new Poor People’s Campaign. U.S. Sen. Cory Booker is expected to be among a dozen lawmakers who will hear testimony from and question campaign Co-Chairs Rev. Dr. William J. Barber, II and Rev. Dr. Liz Theoharis, along with victims of systemic poverty, systemic racism, ecological devastation and America’s war economy.