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The North Dakota Frontlines: Between A Standing Rock And A Hard Place

Wrong Kind of Green

October 4, 2016

by Forrest Palmer with Cory Morningstar

 

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On the Standing Rock Sioux reservation in North Dakota, an indigenous uprising which captured national attention in August 2016 that those in power hope will be naturally extinguished due to time and conventional society’s short attention span on matters such as this (this characteristic best represented by the Occupy movement of a few years ago). The outward reason for the present uproar is the passage of North Dakota portion of the Bakken pipeline through the Standing Rock Sioux reservation that will intersect the area’s sacred burial grounds, and, critically, could pollute the freshwater source of the region’s inhabitants. As the American populace is wholly averse to addressing this to any great degree, the cause of the indigenous being cloistered in these remote, isolated and destitute lands is our desire to not recognize the last remaining reminders of the price that was paid in order to establish this so-called ‘land of the free and home of the brave’.  In particular, this movement has brought to light the fact that the mainstream public is totally ignorant about this particular reservation and the reservation system in general when it comes to the atrocious living conditions of the descendants of those domestically colonized in this country.

To understand the base of the anger residing in the participants of the uprising, it is necessary to take a closer look at the lifestyle of the people on the Standing Rock Reservation

 

These are all the endemic signs of a people who are wholly broken due to centuries of systemic abuses by their conquerors. Therefore, the question isn’t why are the Standing Rock Sioux citizens involved in this rebellion. The question is why is anyone shocked when being pushed past this limit has led to this inevitable outcome. But, just like the proverbial straw that has broken the camel’s back, this current injustice is the catalyst for pushing the rightly aggrieved people past their breaking point as a community.

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As detailed above, what is being unreported and overlooked in this uprising (which is one of the first steps to any revolution, with it yet to be determined if this will be the end result in this occasion) is the fact that life on the Standing Rock Sioux reservation is insufferably toxic and this current maneuver by the state at the behest of private industry will make it worse in the present and increasingly so in the future. But in order to truly ascertain the level of disinterest shown by the United States in its dealings with the government’s internally colonized descendants that currently reside in the grey area between ethnic cleansing and outright genocide, any unbiased individual need look no further than the behavior of United States in its dealings with defeated foes domestically and the ones internationally. As a specific case, the response by the United States in its treaties with the defeated foes of the Third Axis externally after World War II is the direct opposite of that implemented with the internal First Nations tribes. The treaties entered into by the United States with the defeated Axis powers and the resulting policies were totally in line with the promise to rebuild infrastructure that would be installed in the charred remains of Europe due to the war’s decimating effects, even those of its former enemies during the war. As the current successful state of the defeated combatants is a testament to the United States keeping its promise subsequent to its victory, it must be asked why is it that Nazi Germany, Imperialist Japan and Fascist Italy were given preferable treaty terms and the promises held fast to by the United States, which is in stark contrast to the historical treatment of a full-out genocide executed upon the remaining indigenous in this country, who are purported sovereign citizens of the United States.

The reason being is that the Marshall Plan, the United States economic framework of rebuilding Western Europe and Southeast Asia, and its attending policies were beneficial to the economic strength and growth of power of the United States, which allowed it to become the present and primary global entity. Hence, the United States had an economic reason to rebuild the broken shards of these areas that comprised the war theaters. Oppositely, there never has been and never will be an economic incentive for the United States to invest and fortify the reservations or support the people who inhabit them since their prosperity will never be a benefit to capitalism, but a drain on its precarious and ever dwindling resources.

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Photo: Terray Sylvester

To further illustrate the removal of the indigenous from the consciousness of almost all the people internal to the country who aren’t a part of the First Nation communities, the invisibility of the native in comparison to every other non-anglo furthers their collective removal from any discussion in terms of white supremacy and its deleterious effects on internal non-European populations. The closest in proximity to the tangible aspects of impoverishment and oppression of the indigenous in the U.S. would be the black and brown communities, identified as the descendants of the formally enslaved Africans and Latins from south of the U.S. border, respectively. Yet, in this particular instance, the black and brown U.S. citizens reside in a much better position due to the necessity of their particular existences in comparison to the decimated First Nation populations, who are congregated in the farthest outposts of the United States. The fact that black and brown people exist in areas close to the hubs of capitalism of major cities in the United States (as they always have been) and still are a necessary form of labor in an expression of white supremacy by historically doing jobs that anglos were and are unwilling to do means that any uprising these communities participated in would be disruptive to the economic system of capitalism that is the foundation of national prosperity. As the First Nations people reside in land that is far removed from the primary places and industries of which commerce is reliant upon, any comparable disruption in their present areas will have no effect upon the everyday ability of capitalism to function.

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Therefore, unlike every other non-anglo ethnicity in the country that can have some type of effect on the system, the indigenous population can remain isolated and unheard with no means of popular acknowledgement in terms of its ever present painful condition. Tragically, the only reason that this agony is heard to any degree presently and any problems addressed to any facile measure is to allow the dominant culture to not acknowledge that it has effectively decimated the entirety of the indigenous population while at the same time not deal with the guilt (if there would be any) of delivering the final death blow of genocide that has always been the unspoken threat directed at the relative handful of people still residing in the United States. Ultimately, if it wasn’t for this piece of pipeline that will only stretch a few miles into the region of the Standing Rock Reservation, there would be no reason whatsoever to even acknowledge their present protest, let alone do anything about it.

So, the presence of this seemingly spontaneous protest has dual layers to it. On the surface, it is about this singular pipeline and the possible problems that may arise due to its placement in close proximity to their living area.  However, in the same vein as non-violent direct action (NVDA) is based on the civil rights movement in the United States and its perceived success here in this country (although all evidence points to the contrary), many of the singular atrocities that galvanized the black community to utilize this particular means of protest, such as the murder of Emmitt Till and the arrest of Rosa Parks for not sitting in the back of the bus, were mere sparks that set off the powder keg that was already present in society due to the centuries long oppression that preceded them.

Similarly, the pipeline is just the catalyst for addressing inequities that have laid dormant for far too long. This is the layer beneath the surface where the righteous anger residing on the reservation has been fomenting since the natives were forced into this open air prison by the barrel of a gun decades ago. Whether it was this pipeline or some other form of intrusion on the land that the state said was theirs after surrendering as an entire ethnic group in order to not be fully exterminated, the need for capitalism to continuously gobble up everything in its path inevitably led to this current situation, where the natives are a harbinger for all of mankind as the extremities of needed energy accumulation will close on all of us more and more with each passing day whether we choose to accept it or not. And as current flow always follows the path of least resistance, the state has always looked first to the reservation system and its inhabitants to appropriate anything it may need to survive since the continued existence of the indigenous is seen as an inconvenience rather than a necessity by most non-indigenous citizens in this country.

As NVDA is a remnant of the aforementioned much ballyhooed civil rights movement, the response by the state has advanced and evolved while the tactics employed by the ethnic victims in regards to white supremacy has stagnated and remained the same. This is no more apparent than in the current actions by private interests regarding the indigenous uprising. During the civil rights movement of the 1950s and 1960s, the state employed attack dogs on protestors as a response to their marches. In the present iteration of the response, it isn’t the state that has employed these abusive tactics, it is the corporation that now has its paid minions to deliver counterattacks to the movement. ICYMI, a private security company, was employed by the manufacturers of the pipeline, Energy Transfer Partners, to confront the protesters by employing attack dogs to disperse the crowd and put a final end to this perceived effrontery to the dominant culture.

As this is a new wrinkle in the oppression of the masses, the million-dollar question is who or what is supposed to be held accountable for any injuries caused by the use of these tactics by private interests? Is it now a civil matter, even though the state is saying that it is in the public interest to have this land for the pipeline, as the term “eminent domain” is as nebulous term imaginable in masking the interest of private corporations by way of determining land appropriation as an expression of the public good. Can the corporation be taken to civil court for these attacks? As the land is in the grey area of appropriation, is it public or private land at this juncture? These are all legal questions that aren’t being addressed because the hope was that this endeavor would cease all of the ongoing uproar in North Dakota. In addition, these ill-defined forms of accountability make it much more difficult for the aggrieved to seek redress from those in power.

In the end, the most important thing for this uprising is to not just relegate the movement to this pipeline and the leaders must speak honestly about the need to attend to all the inequalities that have been imposed on the natives on this particular reservation and the reservation system as a whole. Of the over 500 treaties that have been entered into between the government and the First Nations people, all have been broken in some form or fashion by the U.S. government.  And these acts of broken treaties have been deemed legal by the same justice system that is supposed to be fair and balanced in its decision making as it purports to be based on an eponymous “rule of law”, something not reliant on the arbitrary positions of man. Yet, the U.S. populace readily believes this when all empirical evidence shows that this is anything but the case. Either the “rule of law” is faulty or our implementation of it is at issue.  More than likely, it is just a nice term utilized by the powers that be to inculcate people into an imaginary belief that when the outcome of a particular case is not to their well being or liking it is because of the weakness of the case and not due to systemic biases related to the arbiters culturally inculcated belief that anglo ethnicity and the attending economic system is more important than any aggrievement of the indigenous.

Whatever the reason for these decisions, the fact of the matter is that Einstein once famously said that “The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again, but expecting different results”. As such, there can be nothing more insane than expecting redress from the same justice system that has deemed 500 instances of broken treaties over a span of centuries to all of a sudden change course in this given instance regarding the ongoing pipeline conflict. Hence, this movement must be utilized as a tool to recognize, respect and ultimately implement the indigenous stated goals of self-determination, decolonization and self-government.

It is going to take a concerted effort that goes beyond a simplified NVDA that was used to allow black people the “privilege” of doing acts that are in hindsight trivial things, such using the same bathrooms as white people. The old stale tactics of the past can’t be used as the goals aren’t the same in this instance (self-determination from people who aren’t looking for integration as they want to be recognized as a sovereign nation within a nation) as those previously attempting to be obtained during the civil rights movement (an assimilationist integration based off of a wholly acknowledged acceptance regarding non-anglo inferiority by both oppressors and oppressed). To use sports as an analogy, this is akin to using a baseball bat on a soccer field or utilizing a hockey stick during a basketball game.

As this is the case, the strategy employed by the modern indigenous can’t be the same as those who preceded them in this country.  As Cuba famously utilized its guerrilla strategy in assisting African nations in their battles to end European colonialism, the devices employed by the First Nation members must be different than anything ever employed previously.  What is to stop the indigenous from aligning their interests with MEND in the Niger River Delta, whose enemy is also the multinational corporations trespassing on its land? This is another organization that is going through the same issues as the Standing River Sioux and numerous other tribes, like the Black Hill Sioux and their land being destroyed by uranium mining and coal mining on the Black Mesa plateau that has disaffected the water source of the Hopi and Navajo tribes. In addition, there needs to be a network of groups who have the same interests who must now band together with a common goal which is to stop the continuous encroachment of private interests in their particular domains at one level, as well as to address the fact that this will invariably be all of us.

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When all is said and done, this protest in North Dakota is the only portion of this conflict that is for the good of the public as the pipeline itself is anything but a benefit to humans or any other life form, no matter what portions of the mainstream society profess in this regard.  By any measurement of what is beneficial to the continuance of sentient beings on this Earth, the uprising in North Dakota is one of the few relevant ongoing acts presently. Although near-term human extinction (NTHE) is almost a certainty at this point, whatever portion of life that can be salvaged, be it human or otherwise, must start somewhere and it has to be at the grassroots level since the expectation that any portion of the establishment will save us is beyond insane when all evidence to this juncture has proven otherwise.

Ultimately, the First Nation members need to use this as a catalyst for an overall change in their collective living circumstances. Their problems reside in having their entire existence totally dependent on the goodwill of a white power structure that still sees them as savages. This structure, whose continuance is dependent on institutional racism, only gives a nod to the indigenous when they dress like them, use them as mascots or talk about the fact that their members’ great, great, great grandma was a First Nation member or something to that effect. Other than those few useless nods to the people and culture, the systemic need is to keep them isolated, weak and emaciated on a reservation where the only thing to be done is take the resources under their feet and relegate them to eternal impoverishment and disenfranchisement.

As the pipeline is a mere conduit of the resource that flows through its vessels, the uproarious response by the First Nations community is the conduit of the centuries long anger which as has been internalized on these outposts of human despair. We can only hope that the rupture of  First Nation emotions will make all of the previous pipeline fissures pale in comparison.

 

NVDA Training Teaches White Paternalism at Camp Standing Rock

Wrong Kind of Green

September 16, 2016

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What the white man seeks to destroy and what the non-profit industrial complex is financed to carry out: the destruction of the Indigenous Warrior culture. This is not news to native people, however, this reality is all but lost on today’s white “left”. Photo: Mohawk Warriors, Oka Crisis, Canada, 1990. Photograph: Armed warriors at Kanesatake during the 1990 “Oka Crisis.” / Gazette John Mahoney (CTY). [Further reading: Part II of an Investigative Report into Tar Sands Action & the Paralysis of a Movement, September 19, 2011]

The following comment is from a film director who just returned from the camp at Standing Rock. What she witnessed is the historical paternalism that is reminiscent of the ‘Indian schools’ where proper comportment was wholly identified as the ability to assimilate into Anglo structures. We thank this person for recognizing and  sharing what she witnessed. That this took place on native land – shows egotism and white paternalism still very much exists, is being taught/modeled (via NGO “training”/*NVDA dogma), has no bounds – and no shame. (*non-violent direct action)

Camp participant:

“I just returned from the camp at standing rock and I can report that this[referencing the article: All Eyes On Dakota Access – All Eyes Off Bakken Genocide] is exactly what has happened. I sat in on the first two non violent action trainings brought into the camp to help teach protestors how to “de-escalate” even to the point of pulling young men (warriors) aside and chastising them (gently of course) for their anger. They were also told not to wear bandanas over their faces but to proudly be identified. A chill went up and down me. The national guard was brought in a couple of days ago to “help with traffic” and now today protestors (called ” protectors”) were arrested by guards in complete riot gear. This will not end well.”

The following is an excerpt from the report: All Eyes On Dakota Access – All Eyes Off Bakken Genocide, published September 13, 2016:

Enter #NODAPL Solidarity

One would be hard pressed to find on any website such extensive NVDA (non-violent direct action) dogma as found on the #NoDAPL Solidarity website (created on August 29, 2016 by Nick Katkevich, noted liberal strategist who is the co-creator of the group FANG – Fighting Against Natural Gas). Especially in light of this website being meant to be interpreted as representative of Indigenous resistance. Yet, Indigenous peoples do not espouse NVDA as an ideology – this is the ideology belonging to and peddled by the NPIC. The fact is, Indigenous peoples retain a deep-rooted (and enviable) warrior ideology – deeply ingrained in the Indigenous culture. This is what the NPIC seeks to destroy. Because of the arrogance and paternalism of those within the NPIC, they even believe they will be successful in doing so. This site is sponsored by Rising Tides North America (RTNA), which can be identified under the “Friends and Allies” (North America) section on the 350.org website. Many view RTNA as a sister org. to Rainforest Action Network, with a more radical veneer, the common link being Scott Parkin: “Scott Parkin is a climate organizer working with Rainforest Action Network, Rising Tide North America and the Ruckus Society.” (see the multitude of Ruckus documents/links on screenshot below). [Source]

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Further irony arises when one takes note of the Martin Luther King quote on the “indigenous led resistance” website (see screenshot above). Ask yourself why Indigenous resistance would choose to quote MLK (a long-time favourite co-opted and sanitized icon of the NPIC), rather than a quote from their own warriors.

Leave it to white “leftists” to retain their unwavering belief they have the right and superior knowledge to manage/shape how Indigenous struggles should be led. This is the same “left” (funded by the establishment) that has failed at virtually everything except for the main task assigned by the elites they kowtow to: keeping current power structures intact.

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And yet…

Although the white left would never believe it to be true, the Indigenous Peoples have a wisdom and knowledge the Euro-Americans lack altogether. They are not part of our depraved society. So why would wise people succumb to the whims of the NPIC? There is perhaps a very good reason why the tribes standing with Standing Rock Sioux Tribe are not opposed to the white left saturation who will never fail to rush in front for the cameras: to place them in front to stop the bullets from being fired (“Don’t Shoot”). Indigenous peoples have been subjected to horrendous racism since the first European colonizers arrived, which continues to this day. The reality being white activists have no fear of being shot and killed by police regardless of their actions, whereby the same actions are opportunities for the state to kill natives, blacks and minorities.

For media sensation and photographs that will travel the globe, those at the helm of the NPIC ensure that publicly, Indigenous Peoples most always appear in the forefront – all while strategizing behind closed doors to take leadership. When they cannot do so, they vacate the movement, work to marginalize and if possible bury, the legitimate work they were unable to take over. The 2010 People’s Agreement (Cochabamba, Bolivia), led by Indigenous peoples, is an excellent example of just this. The white man has proven incapable of involvement if he is not soon in charge. He has proven himself incapable of following, learning, listening… standing behind. Keeping his mouth closed. The ugly reality is that these are racist, fascist organizations, only there to protect current power structures and count bodies. Social media metrics are far more important than disposable people.

“When the Enviros show up, their literature and banner is strung up against the wall. We are pushed into our place. Most have had a bad taste from wasicu hypocrisy.”  — Harold One Feather

Those at the helm of the NGOs that comprise the NPIC will not be joining land defenders that are willing to die to protect their land, people, culture and ancestry. For these cowards, the brand is too valuable, the price too high. The warrior culture too strong (unruly savages!) to contain. Instead they will throw a few crumbs and send their well-intentioned youth followers as the sacrificial lambs to test the waters. The Indigenous that live within the Bakken are the only credible organizers in opposition to the frack oil developments. It is an understood but unspoken reality that within this resistance, people are going to die.

“Much of the camp’s rhetoric is of the “Non-violent Direct Action” type. Lock your arm to this piece of deconstruction equipment and take a picture with a banner for Facebook. But the Warrior Culture that is so rich in Lakota memory seems to counter a lot of the liberal, non-violent, NGO types. Comrades saw what happened in Iowa, heard about the $1,000,000 in damage and got inspired. I wouldn’t say that it was publicly celebrated because the camp’s tactic of “Non-violence” is the image they want to perpetuate. Like I said, it is a tactic… not everyone thinks that is what we need to dogmatically stick to. It is one thing to use Non-Violence as a rhetorical device in corporate media to spread your inspirational actions but it is another thing to preach it as your dogma in your private circles and use it to stop material damage to the infrastructure of ecocide. I see the former being invoked much greater than the latter.” — A CONVERSATION ON THE SACRED STONE CAMP, Sept 4, 2016

One may also wonder about the Pledge of Resistance being “organized” by the CREDO corporation: “Many thanks to our friends at CREDO who organized the Pledge of Resistance against Keystone XL—the Bakken Pipeline pledge borrows liberally from their work.” Bold Iowa, Source]

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Above poster from the Keystone XL Pledge of Resistance, 2013

All eyes ON one (single) pipeline.

All eyes OFF the acceleration of genocide of Indigenous peoples in the Bakken.

All eyes OFF Bakken fracking oil.

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Further reading:

All Eyes On Dakota Access – All Eyes Off Bakken Genocide

Obedience – A New Requirement for the “Revolution”

 

Divide and Conquer: 350 Apologists

Public Good Project

June 10, 2016

by Jay Taber

 

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2011: Tom Goldtooth, Executive Director of the Indigenous Environmental Network, and Canadian author, Naomi Klein. Photo by Josh Lopez.

As I wrote in my op-ed Degrees of Evil: Savoring the Nuances of Co-optation, spectacle celebrities like Naomi Klein count on infantile consumers to maintain their activist credentials. As a board member of 350–funded by Rockefeller Brothers Fund and TIDES Foundation (Warren Buffett, et al)–Klein and her cohort Bill McKibben are in bed with CERES and Goldman Sachs. Yet, despite this blatantly obvious hypocrisy by the Jim and Tammy Faye Bakker of Climate Evangelism, the myth of 350 as a ‘grassroots’ organization persists.

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This myth might be an amusing entertainment, were it not for the fact that 350 is complicit with Wall Street in Hijacking the Environmental Movement, and guilty as Agent Saboteur of the World Peoples Conference on Climate Change and the Rights of Mother Earth.

So it is disappointing, but not surprising, when people like Tom Goldtooth of the Indigenous Environmental Network (IEN)–funded by TIDES–perpetuate the myth of 350 as a small organization responsive to indigenous interests. While IEN has done some good things, they nevertheless know where their bread is buttered, and this leads them to speak half truths–which amount to whole lies. The Goldtooth interview Divide and Conquer, while enlightening about REDD, also serves as a warning about the insidious corruption of Wall Street-funded NGOs–IEN included.

 

 

[Jay Thomas Taber is an associate scholar of the Center for World Indigenous Studies and a contributing editor of Fourth World Journal. Since 1994, he has served as communications director at Public Good Project, a volunteer network of researchers, analysts and journalists defending democracy. As a consultant, he has assisted Indigenous peoples in the European Court of Human Rights and at the United Nations.]

 

WATCH: Recognition Politics | A Lecture on Resurgence by Taiaiake Alfred

Video Published December 12, 2015

 

Taiaiake Alfred:

7:50 “The essence of being part of a resurgence movement comes out of that kind of feeling; it’s rooted, it’s accountable, and it’s transformative. […] Those are the three things that I think define the difference between resurgence and the other alternatives out there for what decolonization and colonization [are]; basically recognition politics, and, hate to say it, reconciliation….”

10:03 “Recognition politics is basically the idea that is driving Aboriginal rights, land claims and so forth. It didn’t start out that way. It started out as a strong nationhood movement to get our land back, to have our nations, our laws recognized, and to have them enlivened again and to have them govern our people and govern the lives of our people.”

“But through process of politics and so forth it’s come to be a process of recognizing Indigenous peoples only to the extent that they conform to the basic ideas of the colonial society. And so what you have is an idea that when you have a land claim, or a self-government claim, or you’re negotiating some kind of agreement, or the Supreme Court is considering our presence here and our rights, it’s more a recognition of the fact that we are now a part of Canada, and a recognition of our fact being here, but not any substantial transformative importance to that decision.

And so Glen Coulthard does a really good job of elaborating the problems with this and also I think builds on the notion of this idea of co-optation. About how Canada has structured the whole relationship, the decolonizing relationship in Canada to make it very enticing for people to want to follow that pathway rather than to stand on the strong principles that our ancestors defended our nations on. And so it’s not only intellectually seductive to think that … to be offered the idea of inclusion, recognition, validation, and so forth, but it’s also financially motivated as well in the sense that there’s a lot of programming dollars and a lot of money behind the whole process structured into the negotiation of these recognitions. That’s one element. I’m not going to focus too much on it. Just in jist that’s what it is.

The reconciliation. I think everybody is becoming very familiar with that. I mean when we talk about reconciliation, it kind of builds on recognition, on that whole structure of recognition and Aboriginal rights and so forth. It’s oriented towards inclusion too but in my reading of reconciliation too, it’s Canada’s effort to assuage the guilt of colonization. It’s Canada’s effort to turn the page on Canadian history. It’s Canada’s effort to make the suffering of residential schools the centrepiece of an effort to make us forget that our existence is rooted on the land, in nations and that we are collectivities and that there is a vast injustice still present.

Whether or not individuals are compensated or healed from the experiences and the horrible experiences they had in residential school, it’s Canada’s attempt to make it about cultural survival and healing, which are two things which no one is going to complain about and say shouldn’t happen, but when you stop there and you don’t talk about the land and you only talk about cultural revitalization and healing, it’s a further injustice. Because the root of all of our problems as Indigenous people, as we’ve experienced them growing up in our communities and even in the urban context, is dispossession.

I remember when I worked, I’ve said this many times in public but I always will every time I talk about this and give credit to Rosalee Tizya, a Yukon elder from Old Crow, who used to tell all of us who worked at the Royal Commission on Aboriginal Peoples, the young people at that time in the nineties, that it’s all about the land. It’s all about the land. So we were talking then about Aboriginal rights, self-government, the origins basically: the nascent idea of reconciliation was hatched in the Royal Commission in all the discussion forums that we had there and recommendations that were put forward. She would always remind us that it’s all about the land. Don’t forget that.

Don’t let them convince you that social justice is a substitute for land justice. Don’t let them convince you that programming dollars and being accepted and being allowed to dress and sing and do your ceremonies and all that is a substitute for your nation’s laws being the laws that govern your territory again. Don’t let that happen.

And not many of us paid attention at that time and I think that now is the time where if we don’t pay attention to that message, everything could be lost for our nations. It’s getting to that crucial point where there’s so little left of our nationhood as it manifests in reality on the ground, on the land, and there’s so much of an overwhelming threat of assimilation through laws and being overwhelmed culturally and all of these things happening to our people and our future generations that if we don’t pay attention to our connection to the land and our rootedness in it intellectually, spiritually and physically, we may not be talking about indigenous nationhood a generation from now. We may not be able to talk about it because it might be a memory for our nations, for our people, for the next generations coming up. So it’s imperative of us younger people, especially younger people, to understand how important and then to begin to live that in a very serious way.”

 

 

[Taiaiake Alfred (Gerald R. Alfred), born and raised in the Kahnawake Mohawk Territory, is a faculty member at the University of Victoria, and is also the Program Director of the Indigenous Governance Program at the University. His scholarly work focuses particularly on Native nationalism, Iroquois history, and indigenous traditions of government.]

Fundacion Pachamama is Dead – Long Live ALBA [Part VII of an Investigative Report]

The Art of Annihilation

February 9, 2015

Part seven of an investigative report by Cory Morningstar with Forrest Palmer

Fundación Pachamama Investigative Report Series [Further Reading]: Part IPart IIPart IIIPart IVPart VPart VIPart VII


A Playground for the Rich

“No other industry so flagrantly prospers off of colonialism – none penetrates and threatens Indigenous cultures so deeply.” — Is the Sacred for Sale: Tourism and Indigenous Peoples

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Above: Zoë Tryon, ambassador for Amazon Watch and Fundación Pachamama. Photo from the article “Escape From the Amazon: A Gringo Adventure,” October 7, 2013

Zoe went on to explain that she had done the ritual with over 100 people. ‘What people?’ I asked. ‘Mainly Jewish bankers who had come to exorcise their Wall Street demons and mommy issues,’ she replied in a matter of fact wayA glimpse into further insanity and the western commodity culture that now permeates the Achuar ethnicity is beyond embarrassing. June 6, 2008, The Daily Mail: “Looking at Zoë (Tryon), she is the physical embodiment of this linking of worlds, dressed today for our three-hour canoe ride to the Achuar village in a designer dress by Wheels and Dollbaby (an Australian label she is keen to let me know is stocked in Harvey Nichols), wellington boots and chunky jungle-made jewellery. The respect she has gained among the Indigenous people is remarkable; the Achuar president tells me that he regards Zoë as his people’s ambassador: ‘She is our mother and our sister. We want her to prick the conscience of the world and awaken them to the importance of the rainforest and its people.'”

A glimpse into some of those who visit the Achuar territory can be easily accessed via the internet. In one such article, a guest of “the honorable” Zoë Tryon’s tribal journeys (Tryon formerly resided with Pachamama co-founders, Lynne & Bill Twist) is refreshingly both candid and vulgar, summarizing the full ignorance of an average American traveler. The very traveler we are to believe will be “transformed” by their experience and have their conscience “pricked” (Awakening the Dreamer so to speak) prior to flying back home to save the world. On October 1, 2013, Zoë’s guest to the jungle writes:

“Nick was a billionaire real estate mogul from LA who was going through a divorce from his actress wife…. He told me that his trip to the jungle was a ‘spiritual’ quest…. I told him I was there on a spiritual quest to boost my Facebook and Twitter ‘cred’ and that I hoped to get a bikini shot underneath a waterfall. Zoe went on to explain that she had done the ritual with over 100 people. ‘What people?’ I asked. ‘Mainly Jewish bankers who had come to exorcise their Wall Street demons and mommy issues,’ she replied in a matter of fact way…. The next morning, the shaman got in his canoe and paddled home…. ‘I need to get out of here.’ ‘Where do you need to go?’ she laughed. ‘Back to Quito. To a mall. I need a manicure. A pedicure. I need ice cream. I need Zara and diet coke.’ She looks at me like I’m not serious and then realizes I am totally serious. We organize a plane and I anxiously wait at the end of the dirt runway until it got there. Four hours later we were finally eating ice cream and having our nails done.”

In 2012 Tyron established her own non-profit, One of the Tribe, establishing partnerships with U.S. based Amazon Watch, Fundación Pachamama and Creative Visions. Tyron also serves as an Ambassador for Amazon Watch and Fundación Pachamama.

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Above: Zoe Tyron relaxing at Kapawi Eco Lodge. Photograph:Clare Kendall

The rare exclusiveness, for those who can afford it, is not lost on the elite, rather it is marketedContact with the Earth’s last remaining and most isolated Indigenous peoples must be considered an extraordinary privilege. One could argue that for the elite few who experience such a rare “encounter,” there is little to differentiate between this encounter and most all other colonial conquests in Earth’s history. The rare exclusiveness, for those who can afford it, is not lost on the elite, rather it is marketed: “We will have the rare privilege of interacting with the Achuar People in the early stages of their contact with the modern world.” [Source] The exclusivity and desire of the Euro-American elite is heightened with the understanding that they are among the chosen few to experience, perhaps for the last time, what little remains of pristine nature and Indigenous cultures. The very same pristine nature and Indigenous cultures the West has been destroying for centuries via predatory industrialization and the rabid genocide of Indigenous peoples. Such tourists, having just stepped into the Anthropocene, comprise the very, very few who will encounter the exotic and bear witness to the living vanishing prior to planetary ecological collapse. Not unlike witnessing the last rhino on Earth or any other last remaining species to walk the planet – this “rare privilege” of interaction must be considered one of many ultimate accomplishments for the bourgeoisie’s own personal “bucket list.” The more rare the spectacle, the higher the cost, the more coveted the experience becomes.

As citizens who were spoon-fed the myth of American exceptionalism, it seems likely that collectively, we as Euro-Americans have become so desperate to escape ourselves, we now find ourselves attempting to latch onto Earth’s last authentic living/breathing cultures. Simply for no other reason than we can no longer tolerate who we have become. The atrocities committed in our names have become far too egregious for any respectable citizen to further hide behind a feigned ignorance and blindness. Thus, starved for true meaning, the “otherness” of Earth’s living ecosystems and authentic Indigenous cultures is not internalized or understood – rather, it is voraciously consumed.

It is critical to note that interaction between foreign women and local men has been known (and documented) to cause community conflicts (Tapuy, 1996). One can safely assume bikini-clad foreign women being guided in canoes (by Achuar men) for leisure creates such conflict (and most likely intense jealousy) considering it has been documented that valuable time spent away from families and family responsibilities causes stress and conflict amongst many of the Achuar families/communities. Further, it has been documented that the Achuar are very jealous people, which is said to be a common trait in their culture. To understand the emotions that such selfish actions will undoubtedly evoke, yet still choose to fulfill one’s own personal wants and interests, is beyond the pale.

Cannibal Tours

Cannibal Tours

“[The film] affords a glimpse at the real (mostly unconsidered or misunderstood) reasons why ‘civilised’ people wish to encounter the ‘primitive.’ The situation is that shifting terminus of civilisation, where modern mass-culture grates and pushes against those original, essential aspects of humanity; and where much of what passes for values in western culture is exposed in stark relief as banal and fake.” — Dennis O’Rourke

Of course one does not have to read hundreds of papers via academia (another sector targeted and utilized by foundations/oligarchs) in an attempt to understand how members of isolated tribes might actually feel as fetishized “subjects” of fascination by the middle/upper class, predominantly white tourist. In some rare instances, the “subjects” speak for themselves with their thoughts, insights and feelings, unedited – shared by way of film. Such is the case in the understated masterpiece “Cannibal Tours” in which the interview of a village elder by the name of Camillus is woven throughout the film. Director Dennis O’Rourke (now deceased) communicates the commodification of human interactions (and relations) by simply filming people in their natural state. The raw honesty captured, in particular the thoughts of Camillus (unknown – 1987), is so tender and veracious, the film is almost unbearable to watch. Feelings of confusion, discontent and frustration as felt by the local native people are transparent; the superiority and ignorance of the tourist, demonstrated in effortless candour, is ugly and biting.

 “The commodification of human relations is highlighted through such photography of the locals, whereby the tourists (‘equipped with their essential “weapon”-camera’) assign monetary values to the interactions with the locals by payments. This action also introduces the element of power inequality between tourists and the natives, whereby the tourists are viewed as the one with monetary power, and the power to ‘control’ the locals, even to the extent that the locals, in the attempt to meet the tourists’ expectations, will alter certain elements of their cultures or rituals just to cater to the tourists’ likings. Through such examples, the notion of ‘re-colonisation’ can be seen whereby the whites (tourists) are seen as the wealthy and powerful group, whereas the locals are seen as the powerless with little wealth, that they have to rely on the money gained through tourism to keep their economy going.” — Commodification of culture and human relations [Source]

Although the documentary is filmed in Sepik River in Papua New Guinea (released in 1988), almost 30 years later we can recognize parallels. Note the scrappy Coca-Cola truck situated in the village (27:20). Just as Coca-Cola, having conquered the globe, has ventured into isolated jungles in the quest to unearth new untapped markets (as market share must grow indefinitely), industrialized/globalized and parasitic capitalism, having also conquered the globe, must also find new markets. As a response to this predatory economic system, we witness the targeting and sophisticated seduction of the last peoples remaining in isolation – within pristine natural settings, ripe for commodification. Note the face-painting (formerly reserved for traditional ceremonies), turned into a marketing component and an exotic novelty for the Euro-American tourist. Today, Indigenous peoples are rapidly abandoning their enviable subsistence economies – in exchange for impromptu, makeshift markets on the airstrips as the wealthy tourists descend. In a desperate attempt to sell their wares, they are in pursuit of the greenback – the greenback, backed by nothing.

“[A] Luxury top class tourist lodge with opportunity to encounter Achuar culture” — Trip Advisor Website

One could argue that since the filming of this documentary, the Euro-American has become more enlightened, with ecotourism NGOs and managers more cognitive of “politically incorrect” behaviour. Yet New York Times art critic Ken Johnson disagreed with such an assumption. Johnson once stated that if Voltaire were still around to tell the story of globalization, two of his principal character types would be “the enlightened, transnational citizen of the world and his imbecilic twin, the tourist.” It is crystal clear which character type the movie Cannibal Tours captures, yet what is not clear is the fact that under the system of industrialized capitalism, in tandem with Western ideologies of privilege and consumerism sweeping the globe, the choice of which type of traveller one wishes to emulate has already been decided.

“O’Rourke’s camera shoots the whole of a social relation that is taking over the world, the relation between the seeing and the seen. This double anthropology subtly shows how connoisseurship and condescension are linked, and how little the Western tribe of tourists understand their own culture.” — Camera Work Website

Cannibal Tours – Dennis O’Rourke’s 1988 documentary (Running time: 1:08:06)

Cannibal Economics

“The desire for profit without exploitation runs so strong, like that for ‘true love,’ even intellectuals can trick themselves into finding it where it does not exist, where… it can never exist.” — Cannibal Tours by Dean MacCannell

Consider the following study notes on Posada Amazonas eco-lodge, built in 1998. It is owned by the Indigenous Ese-Eja community of Infierno (Peru) in partnership with Rainforest Expeditions:

“[A] capitalist mindset has not only been introduced to Infierno but […] it also in some ways has been imposed upon them… this paradigm shift among community leaders whose conversations now include discussions of cost benefit analyses, product quality control, and marketing niches. The ethnographic literature also suggests a connection between ecotourism and the adoption of the Ecologically Noble Savage paradigm… this paradigm shift stemming from the commodification of the rainforest where the previous practical traditional use has been transformed into an instrumental tool for conservation and commodification for sale…. [There is] evidence not only of the adoption of the Ecologically Noble Savage stereotype in the Community, but the people’s active appropriation of it.” [Source: Take a Picture with a “Real Indian”: (Self-) Representation, Ecotourism, and Indigeneity in Amazonia, 2011]

In other words, evidence suggests that today, many formerly isolated Indigenous have learned (taught via the Euro-American) to successfully exploit the West’s idea/stereotype of the “ecologically noble savage” and effectively manipulate the tourists thereby fulfilling the exact function of branding and marketing agencies. In effect, the ecologically noble savage persona/stereotype is a growing commodity created specifically for foreign consumption, via ecotourism.

Kapawi: A Gift of Debt

“Neither the travel company nor the Achuar made a profit, and in 2008 Canodros transferred ownership of the lodge back to the Achuar. The future of this eco-jewel is now at risk.” [Source]

“Allí está el progreso, confía, sin embargo, por ahora extrañan el aporte mensual que Canodros les entregaba puntualmente hasta el 2007, por el arriendo de su territorio.” — April 18, 2010

“It has been enormously successful as a social experiment, and as a means of attracting external funding for conservation, health, communications, transportation and education, but not as a money-making venture….” [1]

According to a World Bank resource document (written by Nature Conservancy in partnership with USAID), the Kapawi development commenced with a stunning initial investment of USD $1.8 million by USAID.

While the document states clearly that “logging, oil exploitation and intensive agricultural projects had not been developed in the area when the Kapawi project was initiated in 1994 (Koupermann, 1997),” it is also quite clear from existing documents that many Achuar were convinced/came to believe that the ecolodge was the only way forward if the tribes were to resist oil development from destroying their communities.

“As my Achuar friend Domingo Peas said, ‘We are not business people, we never did it in the past… but we must learn in order to protect our territory and our forest,’ says Paulina Rodriguez, operations manager of the Kapawi Ecolodge and Reserve.”

There is no doubt that the descriptive and emotive text coupled with the sensual, prototypical rainforest imagery (utilized to “sell” Kapawi) conveys to the audience that it is only by way of ecotourism, and ecotourism alone, that the Achuar can continue their mission of conservation. This is in stark contrast to the fact that the Achuar practised truly sustainable conservation for centuries before colonization began only decades ago. This constructed message is also in stark contrast to the fact that tourism has greatly contributed to and continues to exacerbate an ever accelerating planetary climate crisis.

According to the El Universo newspaper (ironically founded by El Universo heir Perasso who conceptualized the Kapawi development with Kouperman):

“Pachamama, a vital ally: Pachamama Foundation, dedicated to accompany the Indigenous peoples in defense of their territory, is supporting the tourism operation in Kapawi since its inception eleven years ago. ‘We will continue to work with them when they take control of the ecolodge, for which they provide training and alternatives for sustainable development,’ said Belen Paez, executive director of the Ecuadorian arm of this entity headquartered in San Francisco (California, USA). In addition, the German Reconstruction Bank allocated 3.5 million euros (about $ 4.9 million) to the sustainable development of the Achuar people, a portion of which will be for Kapawi.” [El Universo, October 21, 2007, Source. Emphasis added.]

It is not clear where or how the 3.5 million euros designated to the sustainable development of the Achuar people (a portion for Kapawi) by The German Bank for Reconstruction (Kredietanstalt für Wiedraufbau – KfW) was spent … or how it was/is to be re-paid. [Note that the bulk of this loan appears to be for “the zoning and protection of Indigenous territories, via Fundação Nacional do Índio (FUNAI) applied in the framework of ‘debt-for-nature swaps’ (e.g., in Ecuador).”] It is critical to note that the normalized concept of “debt-for-nature swaps” – “offered to” the very resource rich/poverty stricken states who have suffered under centuries of colonization and gross exploitation – must be considered the most nefarious of injustices. [From 2004-2011, KfW funded €3.58 million for the Tropical Forest Conservation Morona-Pastaza project in partnership with the Ministry of Environment and the Nacionalidad de los Achuar en Ecuador (NAE). Source]

 “The western economy has eroded the traditional economy. An example is in the sale of chichi [a homemade drink]. Now, many Achuar are less inclined to work or support each other without pay.”

The Kapawi development appears to have transitioned from a Western-perceived independence and freedom, to a global and very real indebtedness, liability and perpetual servitude. Considering that the results mirror our very own entrapment within the industrialized capitalist system, it is safe to assume that this was the plan from inception.

“With up to 45% of their total income coming from direct employment in Kapawi and a further 21% deriving from handicraft sales (Rodriguez 2000:3), ecotourism is now a vital factor in the local economy. The problem is that while the community may eventually be able to control the enterprise, it has no control over the market. If Canodros, the company managing and financing Kapawi, with its experience and connections in the travel business, cannot bring in the tourists it needs in order to break even, it is unlikely the Achuar will be able to, especially when faced with growing competition from other operations in the region and in neighboring countries.” [1]

It is publicly stated of the Kapawi development that “the initiative’s board is composed of five people – representatives of Achuar com­munities both from the province of Pastaza and from the province of Motona Santiago, and a President of the Achuar Nation of Ecuador (NAE) – all of whom are Achuar. The board meets every six months to carry out an analysis of the project.” [Dec 20, 2012] However, again, the reality appears to be somewhat different.

“Mr Crespo is also on the board of the Kapawi Lodge, an internationally famous, pioneering tourism project. Deep in the Ecuadorean Amazon, rainforest warriors from the Achuar people now manage a luxury ecotourism resort, supported by the board.” World Finance Website

On The Business Year website, it is disclosed that economist and director general of Analytica, Ramiro Crespo, is currently Vice-President of the Paideia Foundation and Director of the Kapawi project. [“After receiving a Bachelor’s degree from the University of Maryland, Ramiro Crespo went on to pursue a Master’s in Economic Development at Georgetown University. He was an economic commentator for four years at Radio Bolívar. In addition to holding the position of Director General of Analytica, he is currently Vice-President of the Paideia Foundation and Director of the Kapawi project.” The Business Year – October 2012 | Bio]

Analytica is an investment bank in Ecuador specializing in debt restructuring, research, mergers and acquisitions, and trading. Analytica also sponsors a university in Quito, Universitas Equatorialis, offering degrees in environmental engineering, with Fundación Natura, the local chapter of the World Wildlife Fund.

“Analytica is among the hundred most important companies in the world in 2010 according to British magazine World Finance. Recognition ‘World Finance 100’ list rigorous nomination and selection, Analytica places with companies like Apple, BMW, ING Bank, Citigroup, Coca-Cola and Toyota. Between 35 institutions worldwide including HSBC, Deutsche Bank and Citigroup, Analytica is the only company in the list of a country in Latin America specializing in financial services. The merit of the professional team of Analytica evidence the increasing sophistication of regional financial sector. The premiere was announced in Davos, Switzerland, during the World Economic Forum meeting held in late January 2011. The annual list of the best companies and individuals in the year, ‘World Finance 100’ accompanies the publication of the World Finance Magazine, January / February 2011, essential source for global investors with its look to emerging markets.” Analytica Website

The amount of debt that Kapawi has incurred (so it appears) could be staggering even by Western standards. Consider that Pachamama administers Aerotsentsak, the airline corporation created, operated and eventually to be owned by FINAE. The costs associated with maintaining an airport, airplanes and an airstrip, even if small, must be intense. What of the original loan ($1.9 million) by USAID? What of the money invested by Conodros Tourism Corporation? What of the 3.5 million euros allocated by the German Bank for Reconstruction (KfW)? Was this withdrawn as initially agreed upon when the project was “given” fully to the Achuar approximately four years ahead of schedule? [“After this period, Canodros will withdraw all investment and the Achuar will manage the entire operation.”][Source] As part of the contract that would allow Canodros to transfer full ownership to the Achuar four years earlier than originally agreed upon, Conodros agreed to create a two-year trust fund and pay for extensive upgrades/renovations. [2] That Conodros would invest a further substantial amount of money in Kapawi – in order to terminate a contract – suggests that ending the partnership, even at a significant cost, was still a far better business transaction than maintaining the contract for four more years.

A sad irony is that the bulk of the monies received [3] from the Kapawi development (before being “given” full ownership) were spent on the never-ending maintenance of the airstrip and the school/education (“The School of Ecotourism”). Further, for four full years, the little monies allocated to the Kapawi communities were taken by one family. [“Because of the poor use of funds (40% for the community of Kapawi), and because of people who took advantage of the Achuar trust, good faith and naiveté, there is money [missing] from four years, and no one knows how or on what it was spent.”][Source]

“Meager profits flow back into the surrounding Achuar communities, which have been able to build schools; they allow lodge guests to visit.” – Travel and Leisure

Today Kapawi is desperate to increase the volume of wealthy tourists, whom they are now dependent upon. New high-end excursions that added to the resort’s itinerary include “Private Canoe River Cruise by Candlelight,” “Romantic Ceremony at Kapawi,” “Achuar Wedding in the Community,” and the “Natem Ceremony.” [Natem ceremony: “Interestingly, a day before, the shaman mentioned that he is now a catholic, which is [an] oxymoron.” Source]

It would appear that, tragically, the Achuar Indigenous peoples (among countless other Indigenous communities no doubt), in good faith yet via coercion, have inadvertently subjected themselves to loss of full control over their territories. One must contemplate how these massive bank loans are secured, considering the only asset (albeit most valuable) the Achuar could offer as guarantee would be pristine rainforest/land. Through heavy debt and financial obligations and a relatively new, strategically developed dependence on the global economy (via the necessity for an infinite stream of wealthy foreign tourists), Indigenous communities now participate in the continued colonization, or in the case of REDD (the UN’s Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation program), the neocolonialization of Indigenous resources and people.

“Colonial Mentality” critics argue that “people, once subject to colonial or imperial rule, latch onto physical and cultural differences between the foreigners and themselves, leading some to associate power and success with the foreigners’ ways. This eventually leads to the foreigners’ ways being regarded as the better way and being held in a higher esteem than previous Indigenous ways. In much the same fashion, and with the same reasoning of ‘better-ness,’ the colonised may over time equate the colonisers’ race or ethnicity itself as being responsible for their ‘superiority’…. [I]mportation or continuation of cultural mores or elements from former colonial powers may be regarded as a form of neo-colonialism.” [Source]

“As profit outweighs protection, the sustainability of nature is rewritten as the sustainability of capital; the protection of nature is inverted to be the protection of profits; and the morality of democratic multigenerational planning is transmogrified into the pursuit of competitive advantage in the free market of nature.” Managing the Other of Nature: Sustainability, Spectacle, and Global Regimes of Capital in Ecotourism [Source]

Although it is said (by NGOs and foundation-financed academia) that eco-tourism projects such as Kapawi were conceived as a means to employ the Achuar and to provide revenue to combat the pressures of multinational corporations, one must wonder how this would in fact keep the multinationals at bay, then, or today. Of course, NGOs were not about to say back then what they will not say today nor will say in the future: that the key reason for involvement is ultimate control of the land and soft-power colonization of the people with their integration into the industrialized capitalist system. Like the multinationals, corporate NGOs also froth at the mouth over the prospect of exploiting these same territories – the NGOs financed by the very same multinationals, via tax-exempt foundations. Like circling vultures, the rapacious capitalists – even the self-proclaimed “compassionate capitalists” – leave no stones unturned. As discussed prior, if those in power of vulnerable states do not walk the delicate tightrope of somewhat satisfying the insatiable system, they will soon face the consequences of the West taking what they will not give willingly. Nature finds herself surrounded by predatory capitalist pathology.

“An insider who is employed by a leading green group explained to the journalist Johann Hari the motivations: ‘It’s because they will generate a lot of revenue this way. If there are national targets, the money runs through national governments. If there are subnational targets, the money runs through the people who control those forests – and that means TNC, Conservation International and the rest. Suddenly, these forests they run become assets, and they are worth billions in a carbon market as offsets. So they have a vested financial interest in offsetting and in subnational targets, even though they are much more environmentally damaging than the alternatives. They know it. It’s shocking.'” — Some Key REDD+ Players

Consider that if on average there are 1,000 visitors at Kapawi per annum (a number cited in several documents), at an average rate of US$3,000 per tourist, this equates to a revenue stream of $3 million per year. Now consider there is no mortgage, no property tax, no utility bills. One must contemplate why there is no profit. After lawyers, consultants, auditing technologies, eco-services, audits, environ­mental impact assessments, marketing agencies, advertising, tourist agencies, teachers, biologists, experts, accountants, engineers, travel expenses, one must contemplate how much of this income finds its way back to imperial states versus how much remains in the community. The answer is likely a reprehensible one that few wish to acknowledge.

While on the surface, CBE (community-based ecotourism) projects support traditional knowledge and cooperation, in real-life, Indigenous communities are told they must be competitive as international tourism is pushed as imperative to survival along with other free-market prescriptions. Ultimately this amounts to cultural assimilation – or annihilation. As yesterday’s missionaries instilled the fear of God, today’s modern-day missionaries instill the fear of operating losses. Further, as Lebanese-Australian professor Ghassan Hage (Future Generation Professor of Anthropology and Social Theory at the University of Melbourne) demonstrates, accumulation of capital underpins an ideology of race, in which multiculturalism works best when citizens yearn and strive to achieve Whiteness. [4]

Considering that foundations such as Rockefeller et al strategize for the protection/expansion of hegemonic power decades in advance, one could reasonably hypothesize that community-based ecotourism was developed and incremented as a deliberate stop-gap measure to control rainforests (via said protection) until a solid economic system/infrastructure for the commodification of all nature was firmly in place. Although such a theory may seem a bit far-fetched, it is not inconceivable considering foundations and “think-tanks” lead in the intense study of, and shaping of, behavioural change. The time involved in commercializing all aspects of society until saturation was achieved amongst the populace (ensuring tomorrow’s “consumers” would submissively acquiesce to an ideology of mass-commodification and privatization) would have been well-understood by foundations and think-tanks alike. Considering the 21st century explosion of land grabs, in tandem with the race to privatize and commodify the Earth’s remaining commons with little focus remaining on ecotourism, such a theory is deserving of further investigation.

DIRECT ACTION –THE ONLY TACTIC THAT HAS EVER WORKED

And although Americans, passive by decades of conditioning, may believe that integration into the industrialized economic system may be the only “solution” against the short-term “temptations” that present themselves when multinationals arrive to plunder for the First World, further reading tells us that the Achuar have far more effective methods than we do. Consider the blog post on February 28, 2008 written by a Kapawi tourist. In the post, the author writes that “Recently, Ecuador’s Minister for Energy arrived here in Achuar territory. He was accompanied with armed men and came representing the Burlington oil company to make an ‘offer’ to buy the Achuar’s land for oil development. The Achaur swiftly refused the deal and to prove their point, kidnapped the Minister for several days before returning him to Quito unharmed. The story went unreported in the national press.” This is not an uncivilized act (as both the colonial and modern-day missionaries would have you believe), rather, it is a no-nonsense act of self-defense. Despite the access to information made possible via the internet, similar success stories of true direct action that are truly effective continue to be grossly marginalized if not censored altogether in most all media. [June 7, 2013: Colombian guerilla group holding Canadian mining executive hostage takes aim at Ottawa; August 27, 2013: Kidnapped Canadian mining exec freed by Colombian rebels (“Last month, Toronto-based Braeval Mining Corp. said it was pulling out of Colombia.”)]

Further, the Achuar’s neighbours to the north, the Targaretti tribes (in the central Ecuadorian rainforest) have managed to stay isolated from industrialized “civilization” (industrialized civilization being the most uncivilized way of living that has ever existed). The Targaretti are the last tribes in Ecuador to refuse contact with Western civilisation and continue to live a traditional and nomadic way of life. One could argue that this tribe has no means of protecting/obtaining legal claim to their ancestral lands (because they have no monetary means of obtaining legal representation, etc.) and that this fact leaves them in a most precarious position, unable to defend themselves against the bulldozers and oil companies who are now encroaching upon their lands. Yet, the simple truth of the matter is that the Targaretti peoples fully understand what privileged Euro-Americans collectively refuse to acknowledge: the state only fears what it cannot control.

“On the one hand, eco-tourism has been presented as a negotiated response to the imperatives of ecological preservation within an ecocidal system of global capital. On the other hand, it is an insidious and largely unsuccessful attempt at articulating the social misery of global capital with(in) distinct cultural and environmental limits.” — Kerala: Exploring Future Frontiers in Tourism Development, 2000 [Source]

 +++

Next: Part VIII (to be published in 2016)

 

[Cory Morningstar is an independent investigative journalist, writer and environmental activist, focusing on global ecological collapse and political analysis of the non-profit industrial complex. She resides in Canada. Her recent writings can be found on Wrong Kind of Green, The Art of Annihilation, Counterpunch, Political Context, Canadians for Action on Climate Change and Countercurrents. Her writing has also been published by Bolivia Rising and Cambio, the official newspaper of the Plurinational State of Bolivia. You can follow her on twitter @elleprovocateur]

[Forrest Palmer is an electrical engineer residing in Texas.  He is a part-time blogger and writer and can be found on Facebook. You may reach him at forrest_palmer@yahoo.com.]


EndNotes:

[1] Paper: Community-Based Ecotourism in Ecuador and Its Contribution to the Alleviation of Poverty

[2] As part of the agreement to transfer the Kapawi ownership early, at the end of 2007 Canodros committed to create a trust fund that would hold autonomous assets of US$296,512 with CEKSA (Complejo Ecoturistico Kapawi S.A.) as the beneficiary. This trust was to cover the working capital, the air transportation operation and the payment of labour. The trust fund was to last two years until December 2009 with any funds not dispersed being transferred to CEKSA. As well, Canodros S.A. committed to the reconstruction of the facilities. This additional investment was reported to be US$748,056.05. Reconstruction included new cabin foundations, roofs, complete renovations of bathrooms, repairing the boardwalk, and an updated/improved sewage system. The main assets for Kapawi were also replaced. This included canoes, outboard motors, refrigerators, freezers and kitchen equipment. As well, an update and improvement of the photovoltaic system was undertaken that would allow for a savings of 1500 diesel gallons per year. (The October 2001 appraisal valued Kapawi assets at US$1,036,690 (infrastructure US$826,034; equipment, furniture and household goods: US$210,656.)

[3] Kapawi development income according to a 2003 report published in 2005 (prior to the Achuar being “given” the establishment): (US funds)

  • The income from the $10.00 per guest fee that went directly to Achuar territory based on an average 1,800 tourists amounted to an average of $18,000 per year
  • The income from the monthly rent/concession fee as per agreement by Canodros Tours was approximately $3,400.00 per month which amounted to about $40,000 per year. [This amount was renegotiated and increased to a higher amount in the midst of the contract when the Indigenous noticed a substantial increase in tourists with no increase in payment.]
  • The estimated annual income to Achuar from Kapawi was approximately $58,000 and broken down as follows:
  • 40% ($16,320) to one community: Kapawi (10 Quichua & 13 Achuar families)
  • 40% ($16,320) to one association: Amunday Association of six communities
  • 5% ($2,040) to FINAE for administrative costs
  • 15% ($7,120) shared among 53 Achuar communities

The community of Kapawi spent their money (40%) on:

  • Maintenance of the 800-metre airstrip through manual labour (“work that never ends”).
  • Health: In case of emergency, such as a bad case of malaria, funds are offered, 50% as a loan, and 50% as a donation.
  • Education: $80 per month. The School of Ecotourism in the community of Kapawi can be reached in 50 minutes by canoe from the lodge. They use funds to buy books, pay teachers, and for transportation. [It is not clear who the teachers (teaching tourism) actually are. It is unlikely that the teachers are Achuar.] In this document, Cristina Serrano of Canodros Tourism is cited as the leader/representative of the Ecotourism School.

The community of Amunday Association spent their money (40%) on:

  • $150 monthly to two communities
  • $100 monthly to three communities
  • $30 for education in the School of Education

 

[4] Ghassan Hage, expanding on Pierre Bourdieu’s theory, theorized on the notion that multiculturalism is a “field of accumulating whiteness,” adding that multicultural cohesion exists primarily when Black and Black bodies gain cultural and symbolic capital – by accumulating Whiteness. [White Nation: Fantasies of White Supremacy in a Multicultural Society] Hage aligns a desire for cultural capital with a yearning to accumulate Whiteness, which he ardently differentiates from being White: “‘Whiteness’ is an everchanging, composite cultural historical construct. It has its roots in the history of European colonisation which universalised a cultural form of White identity as a position of cultural power at the same time as the colonised were in the process of being racialised…. As such, no one can be fully White, but people yearn to be so. It is in this sense that Whiteness is itself a fantasy position and a field of accumulating Whiteness.”

Fundacion Pachamama is Dead – Long Live ALBA [Part VI of an Investigative Report]

The Art of Annihilation

February 5, 2015

Part six of an investigative report by Cory Morningstar with Forrest Palmer 

Fundación Pachamama Investigative Report Series [Further Reading]: Part IPart IIPart IIIPart IVPart VPart VIPart VII

 

The Achuar

The Achuar are a group of indigenous peoples in the Amazon, with a rich, ancient culture. Their territory resides over 700,000 hectares of the last unspoiled region of Amazon tropical rainforest in Ecuador. Until the 1970’s, they lived untouched by the modern world. Since 1991, the majority of the Achuar in Ecuador belong to a political organization called FINAE (Federation of Ecuadorian Achuar Nationalities). Today, the organization is called NAE (The Ecuadorian Achuar Nationality or Achuar Nation of Ecuador) and the Achuar people that NAE represents are organized into ten regional associations that contain a total of 68 communities and approximately 8,000 Achuar people. [2]

Pachamama Alliance Website: “The Achuar are a group of indigenous peoples of the Amazon Basin, currently numbering around 6,000. Their ancestral lands – nearly 2 million acres in all – straddle the modern borders of Ecuador and Peru, a remote area that has allowed them to preserve their way of life with little outside influence or colonization.” Yet this is hardly true. The information that follows on the Pachamama Alliance site states as much: “Throughout their history, the Achuar have been self-sufficient and autonomous, sustaining their family groups through hunting and gardening. Once semi-nomadic people, most Achuar now live in small villages, a result of contact with Christian missionaries in the 1960s. While their remote territory largely protected them from colonization, the Achuar did experience some change to their ancestral way of life and observed the destruction of neighboring indigenous cultures and communities.” It is incredible and simultaneously incredibly patronizing that while Pachamama Alliance acknowledges the Achuar have been self-sufficient and autonomous – at the same time they influence and encourage the Achuar to become part of, thus dependent upon, thus trapped in, an economic system incapable of reform. Pachamama continues that “[W]hile the Achuar expressed that their work with Pachamama in Ecuador was important, they also insisted that it was equally important for their Northern partners to ‘change the dream of the North’ – to work within their own ‘modern’ culture, shifting it from wasteful consumerism to a less destructive, more sustainable paradigm.” While this may sound lovely, Pachamama’s “work” in Ecuador does not contribute to “changing the dream of the North” – rather, it enables the nightmare of the North to continue.

“Nate [Saint] had spent the past three months flying over an Auca village he called Terminal City, showering it with candy, pots, combs, tools, machetes, and even photos of the smiling men holding the same gifts to familiarize the Indians with their suitors. He had made fourteen drops in all. If he did not occupy Auca territory soon, Rachel [Saint] [3] would.” — Thy Will Be Done, Operation Auca, The Akha Heritage Foundation

 

“History, Stephen said, is a nightmare from which I am trying to awake.” — James Joyce, Ulysses

Video (below, 4:27): “… the third wave of missions into the jungle… Take a look at the way CLIPAE (Council of Indigenous Leaders of the Ecuadorian Amazon Region) is raising up Indigenous people to serve the Indigenous Church…. The work is not easy and some of the villages are extremely remote, at times taking up to 8 or more days to walk to.”

http://vimeo.com/36366029

One could argue that the authors of this article demonstrate paternalism in rejecting the notion that the Achuar were/are free in all decision-making capacity and have embraced Western values of their own free will. There is no doubt that these dynamic men, women and communities embody an ethical intelligence far exceeding any intellect claimed by the Euro-American. That being said, an ethical intelligence is no match to the pathology espoused by defenders/believers in a predatory capitalist system dependent upon infinite growth where White “values” embodied in the global economy are forever sacrosanct and must/will always dominate and prevail.

The colonization of Latin America has never ended. Like a chameleon, it simply changes it colours. Like a parasite, it simply changes its hosts.

Earlier it was suggested that we try to imagine Soviets establishing Soviet NGOs espousing Soviet ideologies/policies on American soil during the Cold War. Few would argue that such an undertaking would have been tolerated then or now. Now, for a just a moment, try to imagine if Muslims were setting up residence in Ecuador and throughout Latin America – distributing the Koran throughout the jungles. In this scenario, one’s instant reaction (anxiety/panic for most Euro-Americans) has already been programmed/pre-determined by the establishment via psychological warfare. White skin: good. Brown skin: Irrelevant. Black Skin: Danger. Islam: Extremists. One can send their regards to the Obama Administration who propels the international terror psy-ops campaign largely targeting Muslims and Muslim tribes. Publicly, the U.S. “save” tribal people of Amazonia while Muslim tribal people in the Middle East are framed as terrorists or fanatics. Both forms of power (soft power versus hard power) are imperial in nature.

Kapawi: Integrating the Achuar with the “Modern” World

Michael-Allosso-our-Achuar-guide

Frenemies. Michael Allosso, The Ocean Conservancy, our Achuar guide: “We flew in small planes into the remote jungle near the Peruvian border. Here, a group of indigenous people called the Achuar (unknown to the outside world until 1972) are developing ecotourism as an alternative to oil company deforestation.” [Source] For more on The Ocean Conservancy read Marine Protection Reserves as Privatization Scam, Wal-Marting the Oceans.

 “Along with television, tourism is one of the most potent agents of globalisation – tourists are the shock troops of Western-style capitalism, distributing social and psychological viruses just as effectively as earlier colonists spread smallpox, measles and TB in their wake.” – Green Tragedy: The Blight of Eco-Tourism, June 12, 2002

Replace television with iPads. Add the spread of TB to animals, and measles into the rainforest, and welcome to 21st century eco-colonialism.

Consider that in Chobe, Botswana, mongooses are thought to have caught the human disease TB from rubbish heaps outside a tourist lodge that were contaminated with the human pathogen. Less clear is how the meerkats became infected. [Source] If human pathogens are infecting animals via ecotourism ventures, then we must consider how Indigenous tribes, having been forever isolated from the outside world, can protect themselves from these same pathogens that have been transmitted to animals.

On December 16, 2011, it was reported that “a major outbreak of measles in Kapawi, province of Pastaza, forced authorities to declare a quarantine in the community living around 300 indigenous Achuar…. We have contacted Kapawi Lodge who informed us that operations at the lodge are running smoothly and everything normal – no changes in terms of tourism operations. All staff have been vaccinated.” It is not clear where the measles were contracted from, yet it begs the question as to how Indigenous tribes, including children and elderly who have no immunities to these diseases, can possibly protect themselves. One can be fairly certain that if these communities are receiving vaccinations, such highly controversial conduct would not be readily discussed with the public.

“[D]iscussions about local participation, even in the most inclusive eco-tourism planning, often entail a discourse about the ‘use’ of local cultures for knowledge, employment, and commodity production (Drake 1991). Such discussions limit potential local resistance to development or ‘resentment’ (Olindo 1991) by ‘educating’ locals for employment – so as to have locals function in the service of eco-tourism and not against it (Boo 1991).” — Managing the Other of Nature: Sustainability, Spectacle, and Global Regimes of Capital in Ecotourism, by Joe Bandy [Source]

“Kapawi (lodge) has helped FINAE prepare for such contact with the outside world by linking them to a non-governmental organization (NGO) based in San Francisco that provides technical expertise and funding for a variety of Achuar projects. According to its website, the Pachamama Alliance was created to help ‘preserve the Earth’s tropical rainforests by empowering the indigenous people who are its natural custodians…. Since its inception in 1995, the Pachamama Alliance has raised roughly a million dollars to help revitalize Achuar culture and tradition, defend Achuar lands, and build leadership and capacity in FINAE.'” [1]

One must wonder how Americans help “revitalize Achuar culture and tradition” by creating a dependence on a money economy – development under the guise of conservation? And although Pachamama Founders would have the public believe they were called by the Achuar via what amounts to luminescent dreams and ethereal smoke signals, the spiritual stratagem could be considered liberal marketing bravado for today’s transcendental philanthropist and celestial capitalist.

“Almost twenty years ago Carlos Pérez Perasso, co-founder of Conodros S.A., a Galapagos Islands tour operator, linked up with Daniel Kouperman, an experienced adventure tour guide familiar with the Amazon jungle, to help create a hotel in the rainforest. It took them more than a year of discussions with the Achuar before the project could proceed.” [Source]

Perasso (1935-2002) was the former director/heir of the newspaper El Universo, entrepreneur, and founder of the tour operator Canodros. (His son, César Pérez Barriga, is current president and deputy director of the Buenos Aires Canodros as well as manager/heir to El Universo newpaper.)

Daniel Kouperman is a co-founder of Pachamama Alliance and past president (and board vice-president) of the Pachamama Foundation situated in Ecuador.

“Construction began in ’94, and by mid ’95 Daniel asked a group of ‘purposeful tourists’ to come down and help organize support for the project. Among the first group were two exceptional people, Lynne and Bill Twist, who became the founders of non-profit NGO, The Pachamama Alliance, which established a partnership with the Achuar. Construction was completed in ’96 and began operation in April of that year.” [1]

“Ordoñez (manager of the Kapawi Ecolodge & Reserve) says that the intercultural management is complex. The transition of Kapawil Lodge from Conodros to the Achuar, though formalized years ago, is still a work in process. ‘The Achuar colleagues did not comprehend 100 percent how to manage the company,’ he says. That, however, is slowly changing, thanks in part to the Pacha Mama Foundation, a non-profit organization that was created precisely to support the Achuar of Ecuador through various projects.

 

“One of those projects was Aero Achuar in which Pacha Mama helped the community acquire an airplane to establish their own air transportation service. Kouperman, who is also president of the Pacha Mama Foundation in Ecaudor, says two young Achuar members have obtained pilot licenses and are in their first 500 hours of training. Another Achuar member is a fully trained and licensed mechanic.

 

“Pacha Mama was also involved with training future managers of Kapawi. An agreement among Pacha Mama, the NAE (Achuar Nationality of Ecuador), and the Universidad Especiales Turisticas (UCT), has sent four Achuar youth to work towards a degree in Hotel Management at UCT. ‘They are the first [Achuar] who have had education in hotel management … and in a way are looked upon as examples because they are the first to study something in order to take charge of the company. It is a heavy responsibility,’ says Ordoñez.” [December 9, 2011, Source]

“Not all of the changes introduced by Kapawi have been easily assimilated by the Achuar. One challenge has been determining how to divvy up benefits produced by the lodge. “Issues come up, politics are involved, there are struggles for power,” noted Andre Barona. For example, the eight different associations of FINAE receive different amounts of money from tourism, but three of the associations closest to Kapawi generally receive the highest income. One community, Kapawi, receives $700 per month. Of Kapawi’s (the community’s) eighteen families, five dominant families of Quichua descent control most of the money. FINAE and Achuar leaders are generally intimidated by the more powerful Quichua families and so have done little to reclaim money.” [Source: Stanford School of Business Case Study, 2003]

The above documented observations begin to aptly demonstrate how a Eurocentric vision (ecotourism development) first initiated by an outsider (the CANODROS tourist corporation), with the assistance of the U.S. Pachamama Alliance, creates new divisions among the Achuar. The observations below begin to demonstrate how Western values and ideologies begin to permeate into Achuar communities. In the case of a private business venture, the required penetration of Western value is vital:

“To sell Kapawi, Canodros maintains a sales office in the U.S., and participates in travel marts around the word, in any given year hosting booths in Brazil, Argentina, Chicago, Berlin, Costa Rica, New York, Chicago, and Geneva. Time will tell whether such efforts were useful either for the idealistic goal of helping the Achuar integrate with the modern world on their own terms, or for the more practical goal of generating a good return on Canodros’ business investment.” [1]

 

“Another test for Canodros has been mixing two very different cultural modes and perspectives, all in one tourism operation. ‘One of the main challenges of our work is finding a balance between respecting the Achuar culture and way of living, while at the same time having them respect the needs of the business. You have to be patient and have limits,’ offered Jaramillo. ‘Often things come up. Someone comes from community, misses his family, or needs to go hunting. They tell me, “You white people need money, but I don’t need it.” Then they take a machete and just go in the forest. I’ve had cases when I have to go and do a job for them.'” [1]

 

“Visibly, however, Achuar may not appear as traditional as tourists would like. Though they continue to use some of their Achuar necklaces and headbands, and though they paint their faces for special occasions, most often they wear western clothes. Kapawi cultural experiences were described in Traveler’s Magazine this way: ‘There’s no glossing on Achuar villages themselves, which to First World eyes look desolate and poor. The Achuar wear Levi’s and t-shirts with logos….'” [1]

 

“‘Right now, they don’t feel they own the project. They know it, but don’t feel it,'” related Jaramillo. “At this point, if the project loses money, they won’t care. Kapawi has been exerting so much effort while the Federation has been able to sit back.'” — Gabriel Jaramillo, administrator at Kapawi [1]

 

“Yet, despite the awards, Kapawi has had to struggle to sustain profits and keep the tourists coming. ‘It’s definitely not easy to run Kapawi,’ conceded Andre Barona, General Manager for Canodros. ‘You have to be committed in at least two senses: for the impact you want to make and the bottom line. No one gets stock options for lessening impact.'” [1]

ClayInCanoe_fullsize

Photo: Tourists in a boat with an Achuar naturalist/guide at Kapawi Lodge, Ecuador, 2005.

As previously stated, Kapawi, the most expensive ecotourism development in the Ecuadorian Amazon, was to be given entirely to the Achuar in the year 2011. By that time, it had been estimated that Canodros would have paid $664,959 in rent (a rate later renegotiated/increased), and $150,000 in accumulated tourist fees to the Achuar (10.00 per tourist), along with helping leverage several hundreds of thousands of dollars in NGO contributions. Yet, the transfer happened ahead of schedule:

Pachamama.org, November 1, 2009: “Nearly two years ago, Kapawi Ecolodge was transferred to full ownership and close to full management by the Achuar nation. As anticipated, it has been a time of much change and learning for the Achuar, as they develop a deeper understanding of what it means to successfully run a world-class lodge located right in the heart of the Amazon rainforest. Kapawi Ecolodge has always been very special to Pachamama as the two organizations came into being at around the same time. Since then Pachamama has been a close ally to the Achuar supporting them in this bold and challenging project.” [Source]

Yet while Pachamama Alliance boasts publicly on their website that “Kapawi Ecolodge and Reserve is a thriving refuge run by the indigenous,” the reality, again appears quite different.

Although this early transfer is essentially framed as a “gift” by the generous developers/colonizers, in reality, it has been given back years ahead of schedule, [4] at least in part because it was a financial drain to the Canodros tourism corporation:

“A travel company called Canodros is running it. The agreement was that they would run it on Achuar land for 15 years and then give it back to the Achuar people, but sadly the owner of the company has now passed away and his sons didn’t share his vision for Kapawi as it wasn’t making much money. So they’ve decided to give it back after 10 years and unfortunately they haven’t been doing what was planned, training people or looking after the employees in the way that we would like to see them looked after.” [August 21, 2007, Zoe Tryon – Anthropologist and All-round Amazonian Woman]

Compare the above version to the “I Am Achuar” website which is registered to a private registrant in California:

“As planned, Canodros transferred the ownership of Kapawi Ecolodge & Reserve to the Achuar on January 1, 2008. The project is now operated by the Achuar through their tour operator CEKSA (Complejo Ecoturistico Kapawi Sociedad Anonima), a legal structure that has a category of a Tour operator, in charge of the ownership, operation and management of the lodge. [Source: http://www.iamachuar.org/] It is worth noting that the Achuar now have the responsibility of a legal corporation.]

To be clear, we have an indigenous population that was formerly sustainable in a true sense, now fully responsible for a corporation – a struggling tourist resort – with all/any liability, debt and stress that accompanies it. [Although some reports regarding the feasibility/profitability of Kapawi are conflicting (Rodriguez reports that earnings of over $1 million in direct and indirect contributions for the Achuar were distributed to local communities from Kapawi’s profits between 1996 and 2005 ($1,226,000) [Source]), the fact that the Canodros corporation incurred great financial cost to unload it approximately 4 years prior to the contract ending, is most telling.]

 At the beginning of years 1970 the Achuar was the only Jivaros that [had] not suffered any loss of culture due to the contact with the western world. In 1995, the Achuar signed an agreement to develop the project Kapawi Ecolodge & Reserve, which became his first source of income. On 1996, Pachamama Alliance was founded on San Francisco, California. At the same time, the Pachamama Foundation, its Ecuadorian office was founded in Quito. [Source: Canodros Website]

lynne-allen-gilberto-lynne

Photo: North American tourist marries Achuar tour guide

Pachamama excels in sharing stories of eagles and condors …. Yet one can be quite certain they will not be sharing stories of American Kapawi tourists who married their Achuar tour guides any time soon. One cannot know exactly how many times this occurs, yet at least one instance is evident, as described by the Kapawi tourist/U.S. citizen, Lynne Allen, on her personal blog. Allen recounts that on her last canoe ride of her 5-day stay, her guide professed his love for her. Allen describes her frustrations in obtaining a VISA for her new husband [“I tried sponsoring Gilberto on a student visa to the United States. The U.S. immigration people were not cooperative, despite the fact that he was admitted to the University of Florida’s language program, a six-month-long intensive. I had to guarantee that I had $9000, so my bank wrote me a letter verifying that fact…we soon realized that a spousal visa was probably our best chance to be together.”], as well as his integration into American values [“I introduced him to some of my family’s customs, such as a rather over-the-top Christmas, with loads of presents, well-filled stockings and a huge dinner with friends.”]

Allen states “[T]here has been no transition from the old culture to the new one and the villagers have picked up the worst of the new culture. They have little or no education or training. But they do have cell phones, internet accounts, televisions and DVD’s. They would pump up the generator and watch movies on television despite telling me stories about how they had nothing. Everyone would call me on their cell phones and ask for money.” – A Shuar Indian from the Amazon Jungle of Ecuador and A North American Teacher Find True Love (Emphasis in original.)

And we are to believe this is success?

Economic Colonialism via the School Curriculum

“Neocolonialism is the practice of using capitalism, globalization, and cultural forces to control a country (usually former European colonies in Africa or Asia) in lieu of direct military or political control. Such control can be economic, cultural, or linguistic; by promoting one’s own culture, language or media in the colony, corporations embedded in that culture can then make greater headway in opening the markets in those countries. Thus, neocolonialism would be the end result of relatively benign business interests leading to deleterious cultural effects.” [Source]

Disciplined capitalists of hegemony leave nothing to chance. The Kapawi eco-tourism project would be no exception. A high quality English instruction program commenced in the Kapawi Achuar community and Kapawi Ecolodge in November 2005.

“Create a program designed specifically for the needs of the Achuar community in terms of content and teaching methods, to maximize, not only the efficiency of the results, but also the enjoyment of studying English and the acceptance of the English program as part of the community by the Achuar.”

At the beginning of the description of the project, the author highlights the “temptation” of the Achuar (“it is very difficult for them to resist the temptation” (of short-term revenues). It is not surprising such terminology is used in reference to the Achuar when one considers a Catholic mission is situated in Kapawi:

“Volunteers will be living in the Catholic mission at the community (there is no religious pressure) which provides a very comfortable stay and volunteers will have their own room. There are four very nice sisters who work at the mission and the school who make one feel very welcome.”

A reference to the Catholic mission is also found on the Kapawi blog: “The community worked with the people from the hotel for the installation of almost 500 meters of pipeline so that in a future we can take the water near to the village house and from the catholic mission which is in Kapawi.”

“Unfortunately, Achuar leaders trained in the short term won’t be the ones managing the project in 15 years; rather, today’s twelve-year-olds will be in charge. With that in mind, Kapawi has helped get materials about tourism and ecotourism added to the regular school curriculum. Meanwhile, an environmental education project funded by a private donor connected with Pachamama offers six weeklong workshops each year to grades one through six.” [1] [Emphasis added.]

“The community has a school built by missionaries.” [Source]

 “It was a proud moment for the Achuar nation who clearly understand that university education is essential to the development of future Achuar leaders, not just in eco-tourism management but in all fields if the Achuar are to achieve a sovereign, holistic and sustainable development that strengthens the Achuar nation as a whole.” — Pachamama.org, November 1, 2009 [Source]

Profitability must be prioritized over safeguarding both living ecosystems and culture, as that is the nature of the capitalist beast. Even legitimate concern can only lend itself as far as the profitability of eco-tourism may allow. Profit not only outweighs protection; in the 21st century, profit, along with growth, is sacrosanct.

[English] “is taught by Professor Kate Krumrei (25 years), volunteer Texas (USA), which qualifies the Achuar as good students, but they must overcome shyness to communicate more fluently with foreigners. During his academic training, Kuji particularly enjoyed accounting classes and costs. ‘The most important thing in business is to establish how much you spend and how much you receive, so know your profit.'” – April 18, 2010

 

“Achuar leader added that young people are the most committed to the operation of the ecolodge, because they believe that through tourism revenue will more and more natives can finish high school, attend college and become professionals.” – April 18, 2010

 

“At Kapawi, there is an English teaching program offered to every worker. Ramiro Vargas, an Achuar guide, traveled to the United States to attend a language school. When he returns, he will replace a non-Achuar naturalist guide; the idea is to continue program until the Achuar are properly trained to run lodge and the marketing structure.” [Source]

A minga (Quechua) is a traditional work cooperative of sorts, a communal work party in the Andes and the Amazon. A fairly new venture (2012), International English Minga (IEM), in partnership with the University of San Francisco, the Pachamama Alliance and NAE, refers to itself as a catalyst for “wide-scale collaboration” giving way to “global community work parties and common purpose” and building “better pedagogy.” The said mingas (which include approximately 17 Americans who fly into the Amazon) focus on the teaching of the English language to the Achuar. Although this is said to be a partnership of exchange, there is no indication of the San Francisco student teachers reciprocating by learning the language of the Achuar – which is endangered. A well-intentioned White saviour/Minga veteran believes that “this Minga will be a catalyst which brings the concept of Minga into this new century – that experts of all kinds will want to come and want to partake in this amazing new way of teaching and learning.” While minga implies it will safeguard indigenous peoples’ interests, it demonstrates superiority and reinforces coloniality by imposing “expert” knowledge from the “West” upon the local people.

One must note the willful (perhaps instilled is more accurate) disregard and avoidance of any examination of White/First World privilege with no meaningful efforts whatsoever to counteract it. Rather, they are completely oblivious to it. Yet, this, too, is to be fully expected in our corporatized educational institutions.

It is of interest that in the photographs provided by the students on the IEM website, the Achuar people are rarely painted when in a natural social setting. Although the face/body painting was reserved as a practice for special occasions, today the painting is fully exploited for the benefit/entertainment of Kapawi tourists and outsiders. Stunning photographs of the beautifully painted Achuar serve as the prime advertising imagery for attracting international tourism. In the 2011 thesis, “Take a Picture with a Real Indian”: (Self-) Representation, Ecotourism, and Indigeneity in Amazonia, Ami Temarantz explores Indigenous identity in the online marketing of three ecotourism lodges, including Kapawi. The paper demonstrates how those (the Indigenous) exploited by such “social experiments” [5] (experiments designed to create dependency upon international tourism and an industrialized capitalist economy), are compelled to engage in the “ecologically noble savage myth” vis-à-vis emotive and spiritual “language that appeals to the Western ecological imagination” – in order to attract the Euro-American tourist in a highly competitive and aggressive industry. Under these social experiments, aspects of everyday life (the lives of Indigenous peoples) may or may not be suppressed “in order to cater to the fetishistic tourist image of ecological nobility” an Indigenous authenticity preferred by the West. Yet, not surprisingly, authenticity is willfully avoided by the tourist when it comes to perceivable threats (dangerous insects, for example) or physical difficulty (such as having to trek through the jungle carrying one’s own luggage). The adoration and desire for authenticity, as if by magic, all but disappears when access to luxury on demand is threatened. As an example, the romanticism of Indigenous authenticity would no doubt quickly dissolve if a tourist had to launder their own bedding each day in the river.

How Indigenous communities, now saddled with intense pressure to allure, seduce and satisfy White privilege, can continue to evolve naturally under such conditions appears to be of little interest to White saviours. Again, as throughout history, the Achuar are presented as the lucky beneficiaries of Western development and ideologies, thereby, yet again, assigned to their historic role as the passive novelties/objects of rapacious colonial ambition.

The success of Kapawi depends literally on the Achuars’ ability to tend to and fulfill the needs, wants, expectations and fantasies of the elite rich – the same elite group responsible for the bulk of global greenhouse gas emissions, thus, the same group responsible for the ongoing genocide of Earth’s most vulnerable peoples, nonhuman life, and our collapsing living ecosystems. (The monetarily wealthiest 1% are responsible for 50% of all global greenhouse gas emissions.)

Further, for how long will the Achuar be satisfied spending their lives literally serving White privilege (“a haven of ease, good taste, and understated luxury”) only to return at the end of each long day (or weeks on end) to dirt floors and discarded Nike t-shirts? How this can truly be considered a foundation to build relationships based upon mutual respect and equality is anyone’s guess.

Airplane pilots, mechanics, flying students to English schools in the US, and university degrees in hotel management: if this does not fall under the description of colonization, one must wonder what does.

 

Next: Part VII

 

[Cory Morningstar is an independent investigative journalist, writer and environmental activist, focusing on global ecological collapse and political analysis of the non-profit industrial complex. She resides in Canada. Her recent writings can be found on Wrong Kind of Green, The Art of Annihilation, Counterpunch, Political Context, Canadians for Action on Climate Change and Countercurrents. Her writing has also been published by Bolivia Rising and Cambio, the official newspaper of the Plurinational State of Bolivia. You can follow her on twitter @elleprovocateur]

[Forrest Palmer is an electrical engineer residing in Texas.  He is a part-time blogger and writer and can be found on Facebook. You may reach him at forrest_palmer@yahoo.com.]

 

EndNotes:

[1] Source: Case study: THE KAPAWI INDIGENOUS-CORPORATE PARTNERSHIP FOR ECOTOURISM IN ECUADOR

[2] “Kapawi ?Lodge,? Ecuador:? A? full? partnership? project? with ?the? Indigenous? Organization? of? Ecuadorean? Achuar? nationalities ?(OINAEI).?” [Source] (OINAEI is also referred to as the Indigenous Organization of Achuar Nationality of Ecuador.) OINAEI is now formally recognized as NAE (Achuar Nationality of Ecuador or Achuar Nation of Ecuador).

[3] “Rachel [Saint] was sure that she could testify that the Auca’s destiny did belong to her brother’s sacrifice. It merely confirmed her prophetic visions. The shedding of Nate’s blood atoned for the sins of the Auca (as she insisted on calling the Huaorani, even after learning their language), sanctifying her own calling to bring them out of Satan’s realm. To Rachel, the portrait of tribal life rendered by Dayuma, her informant on the Huaorani language, verified her own belief in a universe molded by the struggle between Good and Evil. Dayuma spoke in a trembling voice of her grandfather’s tales of Winae, the small vampire of the forest night. In these stories Rachel saw not the normal human fear of a jungle full of predators and rubber slavers, but the power of Satan himself. In her mind, there was no question that the tribe’s traditional shaman was a witch doctor doing Satan’s bidding. Likewise, she was sure that the Indians’ polygamy had dark metaphysical, not cultural, roots. The fact that her own brother had suffered martyrdom at the hands of at least one of Dayuma’s brothers was another intimate sign of deep Christian meaning in the Auca destiny of salvation through blood atonement. In June 1957, Dayuma and Rachel began Cam’s (William Cameron Townsend (founder of Summer Institute of Linguistics) whirlwind tour of 27 American cities. A legend was being born.” [The Akha Heritage Foundation]

[4] The transfer of ownership slated for January 1, 2011 took place in June 2008. The Kapawi–Conodros contract signed in 1996 came to an end in 2007. The process (to end the contract/partnership) began in November of 2003 and ended on September 18th of 2007 with the Pachamama Foundation serving as the consultant for the Achuar. [Source]

[5] Paper: Community-Based Ecotourism in Ecuador and Its Contribution to the Alleviation of Poverty

Fundacion Pachamama is Dead – Long Live ALBA [Part V of an Investigative Report]

The Art of Annihilation

February 5, 2015

Part five of an investigative report by Cory Morningstar with Forrest Palmer

Fundación Pachamama Investigative Report Series [Further Reading]: Part IPart IIPart IIIPart IVPart VPart VIPart VII

 

The Conceptualization of Kapawi

The Kapawi Ecolodge, although marketed as a vision first conceptualized by the Achuar, was, in reality, first conceptualized by entrepreneur newspaper mogul Carlos Pérez Perasso and Dan Kouperman, an experienced adventure tour guide. [“The newspaper The Universe was founded in 1921 in the coastal city of Guayaquil, by Ismael Pérez Pazmiño. Management has historically remained in the hands of heirs Pérez. Carlos Pérez Perasso, also a Galapagos Islands tour operator, raised the prestige of the newspaper until it became the largest daily national newspaper in Ecuador, and one of the most influential.” [Source] [See part I of this investigation for further background on El Universo and how the ideologies upheld by this powerful family have undoubtedly influenced/impacted isolated Achuar communities.)

“There were always passengers on board [occupancy rates were high], and as it was a good business. So, the directors began to wonder, why not expand?” — Arnaldo Rodriguez

“It was the early 1990s, and Canodros had become a well-known tour operator in the Galapagos by then, doing well with their ship Explorer. ‘There were always passengers on board [occupancy rates were high], and as it was a good business. So, the directors began to wonder, why not expand?’ Rodriguez remembered. ‘We had originally picked an area in the highlands, and started looking for people to associate with.’ The directors and Koupermann were intrigued by the idea of exploring the lowlands, especially because visitor interest in the rainforest seemed to be on the rise. In fact, they hoped that 40% (2,800 passengers per year) from the Galapagos operation might have an interest in visiting the Amazon, and they began imagining an Achuar ecolodge as an add-on to Galapagos.” [1]

“When we approached them in 1993 for the first time they lived in communities and had contact with the state via military detachments, the ministries of health and education, and the Silesian missions, Dominicans, and Evangelicals,” says Kouperman, who is also quick to caution how an outsider should perceive the Achuar.” [Source]

Kouperman was and is not overly sentimental, his ambitions strikingly clear: “To assume that primitive and isolated cultures with little contact with the western world are not going to change is a utopia[n] [idea]. These cultures are dynamic and always adapt to the times.” [Source]

In Kouperman’s world, the Achuar’s “adapting to the times” is a good thing.

One could argue that the Achuar people have simply undergone a natural and internal evolution toward capitalism that would have evolved even without the influence of Pachamama Alliance and their business alliances – but who would have the audacity?

As Euro-Americans who have destroyed an entire planet (i.e., the uncivilized), it is somewhat incredible that we have the audacity to bring “our knowledge” to the remaining few who have successfully survived (legitimately sustainable, in the most real sense of the word) for centuries outside of the industrialized civilization (i.e., the civilized).

And yet we need to believe that they somehow need us. Perhaps this lie assists in denying the fact that we are a culturally and emotionally starved people – a commodity culture that cannot yet admit that our choice for material wealth, which supersedes our (gutted) instinct to protect our children from harm at all costs, is collectively pathological. Emotionally malnourished, we have perhaps produced an entire populace drowning in subconscious self-loathing and self-hatred. Anorexia nervosa pales in comparison to the distorted self-image of Euro-Americans.

“The Third World has thus become not just a playground for Western fantasies (Maoz, 2005:223), but also the world producer of ‘natural’ resources such as authenticity, nativity, exoticism, sensuality, the picturesque, adventurism, spectacle, and even catastrophe and destruction (see post-Tsunami tourism).” [Source]

Revolution and enslavement do not always comes by way of a gun; likewise colonialism. Prior to the NGOs of the non-profit industrial complex becoming the missionaries of the 21st century, we had the “founding fathers” of colonialism, 19th and 20th century missionaries of the church:

“Between 1968 and 1970, Catholics and Evangelicals began to enter Achuar territory with an evangelizing intent. Although the missionaries met with limited success in their quest for souls they did initiate a process of increasing intercultural contact that would slowly begin to change the Achuars’ way of living. For example, it was the Catholic missionaries who suggested to the Achuar that there might be some advantage to living in small villages, which is how many Achuar live today.” — Kapawi Ecolodge Website | The Achuar Community of Ecuador’s Recent History

The Kapawi website states “[Y]our official Amazon Jungle excursion begins in Shell, near the Amazonian frontier town of Puyo. This is the headquarters for the Achuar people outside of their rainforest territory. Shell can be reached overland from Quito in about four and one-half hours by public bus, or by private car, van or motor coach.”

GeoPolitics | The Missionary Hub of Quito

“That men do not learn very much from the lessons of history is the most important of all the lessons that history has to teach.” ? Aldous Huxley

Distributing Bibles in Guatemala 

Past: Historical photo of MAF in the early years, distributing bibles in Guatemala.

FirstCard(2) 

Present: Photo: MAF International, the ‘mobile ministry’: “The project has grown from putting a few Christmas videos on the cards, to adding Christmas carols, images, audio, the ‘JESUS Film’ series and an audio Bible. A Christmas message recorded by an MAF staff member is also included. The message encourages people to remember Jesus this Christmas, and discusses how to become a Christian. December 18, 2013, Source

maf 

Above: MAF utilizing social media to “share the love of Jesus Christ through aviation and technology so that isolated people may be physically and spiritually transformed.”

wpad37aa0a 

254891_orig

Above: From MAF Africa website: “Our vision is to see isolated people physically and spiritually transformed in the Name of Jesus Christ and for all people to have access to both the Gospel and resources that advance God’s Kingdom.” [Source]

Not found on the Kapawi website is the history of Shell, which is significant. The town named Shell (also La Shell, or Shell-Mera) is named after the Royal Dutch Shell Company and the smaller town of Mera, which is 5 miles (8 km) to the northwest. It was established in 1937 as a Shell Oil Company base. Around 1949, Shell became reoccupied by the Mission Aviation Fellowship (MAF), founded in 1945.

On January 8, 1956, MAF-US pilot Nate Saint and four other missionaries who had been attempting to make contact with the Huaorani tribe under the auspices of Operation Auca were killed by the Huaorani when they landed (via plane) in Huaorani territory. Key political forces leading up to and beyond “Operation Auca” included, but were not limited to, the CIA, Nelson Rockefeller, President Eisenhower, Ecuadorian President Galo Plaza and William Cameron Townsend (founder of Summer Institute of Linguistics).

1952: When the first Summer Institute of Linguistics (SIL) (founded by William “Cam” Townsend) team arrived in Ecuador, the Huaorani (also known as Waorani, Waodani and Waos) had been reduced to approximately 400 due to enslavement and massacres by rubber barons. The Quichuans, who lived in the area, were said to be terrified of the Huaorani, giving them the derogatory name Auca. Auca is a modification of the Quechua word awqa – which translates to “savage.” “No one in the SIL party entertained any illusion about conquering the Aucas for Christ. No one volunteered. They all accepted the wisdom of other missionaries that the hundred Auca spearmen who had held up civilization’s advance would have no compunction sending white foreigners quickly to their God of Love.” [Source] That is until SIL’s Rachel Saint stepped forward. It was through her brother, MAF-US pilot Nate Saint, that Rachel Saint learned of the Huaorani’s existence. She became enamoured with a vision that she had been chosen by God to “save” the “brown tribe in the green forest.” While this was unfolding, Shell’s Director, General James Doolittle, was conducting a secret investigation of the CIA’s covert operations in Ecuador at US President Eisenhower’s request (Doolittle would befriend Nate Saint in 1954). Upon receiving the findings (in 1954) Eisenhower gave the report to CIA’s Allen Dulles.

“Two months later, he appointed a new special assistant on Cold War strategy and psychological warfare. As the president’s personal representative on the National Security Council, this man would oversee the global escalation of CIA covert warfare. A Planning Coordination Group, which came to be called simply the “Special Group,” was established. In a position of authority over policy second only to the president himself and actually exercising much more power than he did, three men –CIA director Allen Dulles, Undersecretary of State Herbert Hoover, Jr., and Undersecretary of Defense Roger Kyes – would be in command, chaired by the president’s new special assistant: Nelson Rockefeller”. — Rachel Saint vs. The Huaorani

On a bitterly cold winter day in Chicago (December 17, 1955), one week prior to Rockefeller’s resignation as the presidential assistant for psychological warfare and Cold War strategy, one of the Cold War’s least-known but most significant events took place outside an airport hangar. Amidst a crowd and the press, Chicago mayor Richard J. Daley dedicated a plane (a CIA assett named the Helio Courier) [2] that would transport Wycliffe Bible Translators into the depths of the Ecuadorian Amazon. Present was the notorius Ecuadorian ambassador Jose Chiriboga, “sanctioning the penetration of Ecuador’s remaining Amazonian lands by a well-connected American missionary organization.” [3] “This day marked the beginning of the Inter-American Friendship Fleet [4] [that] he [William Cameron Townsend, founder of Wycliffe Bible Translators and Summer Institute of Linguistics] was promoting in Washington’s corridors and of the Jungle Aviation and Radio Service (JAARS) as an important instrument of the Cold War.” The dedication of the Helio Courier, to be operated by SIL, spelled out that MAF’s Nate Saint’s reign over the Ecuadorian Oriente skies was coming to a close. [Source]

Cam had spent most of his furlough year in the United States in a fruitless effort to convince the oilmen of Tulsa that JAARS was the answer to their prayers, not just his. He needed a publicity coup to win them over and to persuade businessmen in other cities to buy the Helios he had ordered.” — Rachel Saint vs. The Huaorani

The foreign/corporate control and plunder of oil and natural resources within pristine, untouched third-world countries was difficult if not impossible due to tribal people who would stop at nothing to protect their lands and people. Consider that Shell’s work crews had fallen to Indian spears and poisoned darts from blow guns. [Source] Ultimately, subjugation, allowing access, was won utilizing missionaries, bibles and “gifts.” “Planes were becoming the most important means for governments involved in ‘nation-building’ in the Third World to secure, penetrate, and colonize frontiers with landless peasants.”

Cam needed more money to buy more planes but the recognition of JAARS’s “unique potential” was not enough to convince the establishment to part with their money.

Then, as the Akha Heritage Foundation [5] has documented, “as if from the Hand of God, lightning struck in the glint of spears.” [6]

The spear struck on January 8, 1956, when MAF’s Nate Saint and four other missionaries killed in Operation Auca were transformed into martyrs by American television. (“Life magazine published a gripping account of Christian martyrdom, which caused a worldwide sensation. The doors of nationally known politicians, such as Vice President Nixon and former president Harry Truman, now opened to Cam’s Helio promotions.”) Via American television, Rachel Saint was made into the most famous missionary in the United States. (“Overnight 30 million Americans could recognize the woman with intense eyes who had dedicated her life to converting her brother’s killers.”)

Although it appeared Operation Auca was now over, it had, in fact, only just begun.

+++

“I speak of the Christian religion, and no one need be astonished. The Church in the colonies is the white people’s Church, the foreigner’s Church. She does not call the native to God’s ways but to the ways of the white man, of the master, of the oppressor. And as we know, in this matter many are called but few chosen.” ? Frantz Fanon, Concerning Violence (Chapter 1 in The Wretched of the Earth, 1961)

Two years later, in 1958, the Hospital Vozandes del Oriente (the dream of Nate Saint) was established as the first hospital in that region of Ecuador. In August 1964, Nate Saint Memorial School opened in Shell for missionary children. In 1985, a new Hospital Vozandes was opened on the other side of the Motolo River. [“Hospital Vozandes-Shell was borne of the late missionary Nate Saint’s passion to see the people of Ecuador’s rainforest hear the gospel of Christ. It was dedicated in 1958 as Epp Memorial Hospital in Shell, known in Ecuador as Hospital Vozandes del Oriente HVO).”][Source]

In 1949, Dr. Catherine Peeke joined Wycliffe Bible Translators and Summer Institute of Linguistics (SIL) and worked in Mexico, Peru and Ecuador as a linguist and translator. Peeke then began two years of language study of the Waorani people in Ecuador. For 14 years, Dr. Peeke worked closely with SIL staff member Ms. Rosi Jung (from Germany) and with several Waorani to complete the translation of the New Testament in the native language. After the dedication of the Waorani New Testament in 1992, Peeke retired but returned to Ecuador several times as a volunteer. Both Peeke and Jung traveled to jungle villages to teach the Waorani in the use of the translated Scriptures. In retirement, Peeke completed a bilingual dictionary in Waorani and Spanish. She passed away in 2014, a lifelong member of First Presbyterian Church, Weaverville, North Carolina. [Source and source]

Ecuador, Texaco, and missionaries from the SIL/WBT collaborated to pacify the Huaorani and end their way of life.

It was during this period, in the late 1960s and early 1970s, that most Huaorani were “contacted” by “cowode” (strangers) for the first time. The missionaries who worked with Texaco had their own converging interests. SIL/WBT described the “Aucas” as “murderers at heart” and its operation to convert them as “one of the most extraordinary missionary endeavors” of the twentieth century, “living proof of miracles brought to pass through God’s word.” [Source]

Jaime Roldós Aguilera (November 5, 1940 to May 24, 1981) was President of Ecuador from 10 August 1979 until his death on 24 May 1981. In his book, Confessions of an Economic Hitman, Pachamama co-founder John Perkins tells us that Rondo accused the Summer Institute of Linguistics (SIL) (the evangelical missionary group from the US) of sinister collusion with the oil companies: “SIL had been working extensively with the Huaorani tribe in the Amazon basin area, during the early years of oil exploration, when a disturbing pattern emerged. Whenever seismologists reported to corporate headquarters that a certain region had characteristics indicating a high probability of oil beneath the surface, SIL went in and encouraged the indigenous people to move from that land, onto missionary reservations; there they would receive free food, shelter, clothes, medical treatment, and missionary-style education. The condition was that they had to deed their lands to the oil companies.”

And while Perkins reveals Rockefeller connections that threatened Roldós (it is apparent that Perkins admires Roldós greatly), he fails to comprehend the imperial ties/interests within his own organization – including grants and Rockefeller financing:

“Rachel Saint, the sister of one of the murdered men, toured the United States, appearing on national television in order to raise money and support for SIL and the oil companies, who she claimed were helping the ‘savages’ become civilized and educated. SIL received funding from the Rockefeller charities. Jaime Roldós claimed that these Rockefeller connections proved that SIL was really a front for stealing indigenous lands and promoting oil exploration; family scion John D. Rockefeller had founded Standard Oil – which later divested into the majors, including Chevron, Exxon, and Mobil. […]

“But Roldós would not cave in to intimidation. He responded by denouncing the conspiracy between politics and oil – and religion. He openly accused the Summer Institute of Linguistics of colluding with the oil companies and then, in an extremely bold – perhaps reckless – move, he ordered SIL out of the country. Only weeks after sending his legislative package to Congress and a couple of days after expelling the SIL missionaries, Roldós warned all foreign interests, including but not limited to oil companies, that unless they implemented plans that would help Ecuador’s people, they would be forced to leave his country. He delivered a major speech at the Atahualpa Olympic Stadium in Quito and then headed off to a small community in southern Ecuador.”

Is history repeating itself? It is no secret that those in charge of psy-ops simply “rinse, lather and repeat” the same tried and true destabilization strategies that dupe the masses over and over again. Today, substitute environmental markets for oil corporations, NGOs for religious missionaries. Rondós’s speech is echoed through both Educador’s President Correa and President Morales of Bolivia today.

Roldós died there in a fiery airplane crash, on May 24, 1981 with all the markings of a CIA-orchestrated assassination.

“Osvaldo Hurtado took over as Ecuador’s president. He reinstated the Summer Institute of Linguistics and their oil company sponsors. By the end of the year, he had launched an ambitious program to increase oil drilling by Texaco and other foreign companies in the Gulf of Guayaquil and the Amazon basin…. Omar Torrijos (president of Panama), in eulogizing Roldós, referred to him as ‘brother.’ He also confessed to having nightmares about his own assassination; he saw himself dropping from the sky in a gigantic fireball. It was prophetic. […] But Torrijos was not buckling. Like Roldos, he refused to be intimidated. He, too, expelled the Summer Institute of Linguistics, and he adamantly refused to give in to the Reagan administration’s demands to renegotiate the Canal Treaty. Two months after Roldós’s death, Omar Torrijos’s nightmare came true; he died in a plane crash. It was July 31, 1981.” [Source]

Everything changes. Everything stays the same.

Hallefuckinglujah

“I must confess, I hadn’t been to Mass in 10 years or something, and suddenly I’m going to meet Mother Teresa. I cancelled all the meetings I had with the IMF, the World Bank, UNICEF, and everything that day. I went straight to a church. I went to confession. I did the rosary about a 100,000 times. I did everything I could to prepare myself.” — Lynne Twist (Pachamama co-founder) interview, 2009

Today, we have what constitutes a full-blown orgy or even a modern day Sodom and Gomorrah of 19th/20th century missionaries – infused with the modern day 21st century missionaries, the NGOs.

“In Ecuador, there is Catholicism, Mormonism, animism and paganism…. There is a need for the truth and for discipling people in the truth and all they are getting is lies from Catholicism and Mormonism. We have a responsibility to go all nations, tribes, tongues and peoples and we need to go back to places where we have been before and take the gospel there again.” — The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, Experiencing the culture firsthand, February 23, 2006

It is imperative to note that while missionary Nate Saint with the four other missionaries are today considered heroic martyrs (killed by the Waodani people), there is no such martyrdom for the millions of Indigenous peoples slaughtered and enslaved by the Europeans for centuries.

Unlike stealth NGOs within the non-profit industrial complex, the Hospital Vozandes-Shell makes no attempt to tone down nor disguise colonization efforts:

“The lives of Waorni warriors and their families were saved and the gospel went forth among these jungle people…. Here we have the privilege of helping some 20 patients find personal faith in Christ each month.” [Source]

Today Shell is a much larger town, brimming with Spanish-speaking churches, hangars, a hospital, schools, hotels, and missionary guest houses. Nate Saint’s house still stands. The airport is also still a major base of operations for the Mission Aviation Fellowship.

The feature-length documentary film, Beyond Gates of Splendor, released in 2004, surmises the “success” of the missionaries as follows: “And now they are no longer the Auca, the savage…” [http://youtu.be/BD8LZFht9i4] The documentary closes with the showing of the former “killers” – now transformed into “God Followers.”

 

 

Today’s 21st century missionaries/NGOs have traded in the baggy hemp trousers and the long tunics of their predecessors for Bagir EcoGir all-organic suits. Espresso-coloured bamboo fibres avec buttons made from dried nuts of tagua palm ecologically harvested from the rainforest. Made exclusively for white male privilege – made possible by those exploited and paid next to nothing in the harvesting of the resources, by those exploited in sweatshops producing clothing they will never be able to afford in their lifetime. On the left, we have male, blond, blue-eyed Jesus. On the right, we have economic growth, and markets as sacrosanct.

Occupation

“The only way we’ll get freedom for ourselves is to identify ourselves with every oppressed people in the world. We are blood brothers to the people of Brazil, Venezuela, Haiti, Cuba – yes Cuba too.” Malcolm X

The occupation of Shell commenced in 1937 with the Shell Corporation, recommenced in 1949 by Mission Aviation Fellowship, and expanded at the end of the 20th century with the presence/onslaught of non-profits/NGOs financed from abroad. The occupation continues to this day.

Occupations need not exist only in the form of military force; they can also be the result of compliance via psychological methods and soft power.

The definition of colonize is to “settle among and establish control over”; “the act of setting up a colony away from one’s place of origin.” Human colonization refers strictly to migration, for example, to settler colonies, trading posts, and plantations, while colonialism deals with this, along with ruling the existing indigenous peoples of styled “new territories.” The definition of an occupation is the “control of a country by a foreign military power”; “the seizure and control of an area by military forces, especially foreign territory and/or the term of control of a territory by foreign military forces.” Then how to define psychological/soft-power occupation as successfully practised by the former missionaries and 21st century missionaries/NGOs?

We can safely define soft-power occupation (the act of occupying; the state of being occupied) as 1) enculturation: the process by which a person adapts to and assimilates the culture in which he lives, 2) social control: control exerted (actively or passively) by group action and norms, 3) socialization: the adoption of the behaviour patterns of the surrounding culture, 4) cultivation: socialization through training and education to develop one’s mind or manners, 5) auto limitation: social control achieved as a manifestation of self-will or general consent, 6) acculturation: the process of adopting the cultural traits or social patterns of another group, especially a dominant one, 7) psychology: the scientific study of all forms of human and animal behaviour, sometimes concerned with the methods through which behaviour can be modified.

 

Next: Part VI

 

[Cory Morningstar is an independent investigative journalist, writer and environmental activist, focusing on global ecological collapse and political analysis of the non-profit industrial complex. She resides in Canada. Her recent writings can be found on Wrong Kind of Green, The Art of Annihilation, Counterpunch, Political Context, Canadians for Action on Climate Change and Countercurrents. Her writing has also been published by Bolivia Rising and Cambio, the official newspaper of the Plurinational State of Bolivia. You can follow her on twitter @elleprovocateur]

[Forrest Palmer is an electrical engineer residing in Texas.  He is a part-time blogger and writer and can be found on Facebook. You may reach him at forrest_palmer@yahoo.com.]

 

EndNotes:

[1] Source: Case study: THE KAPAWI INDIGENOUS-CORPORATE PARTNERSHIP FOR ECOTOURISM IN ECUADOR

[2] “Six months before, another unusually long-winged airplane had zoomed into the stratosphere before startled onlookers, but it would be another half year before the CIA’s U-2 would make its secret maiden voyage into Soviet skies. This plane, however, was ready now, and although its design came out of the same aeronautical origins as did the U-2, the Helio Courier was no secret. It could not be, for it was designed to be flown at low altitudes and low speeds, not in the heavens beyond sight and sound. Both planes would make history for the CIA. But the U-2’s mission would be exposed to the world within five years while the Helio’s use as a CIA asset would remain virtually unknown for three more decades.” Helio is the Greek word for “sun,” and courier is the Latin word for “messenger. [Source]

[3] “Richard J. Daley, looking the model of the stocky Irish American big-city politician, was a conservative but devout Roman Catholic. The newly elected mayor of Chicago was absolute ruler of arguably the most powerful Democratic machine in the United States. Daley had not risen to power championing the ambition of Fundamentalist Protestants in Catholic countries like Ecuador. Yet here he was, officially welcoming the crowd, including members of the press, to the dedication of an airplane that would bring the Wycliffe Bible Translators into the heart of the Ecuadorian Amazon. Standing beside Daley was Ecuador’s ambassador Jose Chiriboga, who had earned a reputation for shrewdness as mayor of Quito equal to Daley’s in Chicago. Only twelve years before, he had confounded his countrymen by signing over half of Ecuador’s Amazon to Peru at Washington’s behest. Pearl Harbor had made hemispheric unity essential, Chiriboga had explained, and the war between Ecuador and Peru had to end, even if that meant that Ecuador would lose land rumored to be coveted by Standard Oil’s Peruvian subsidiary, International Petroleum Company. And now here was Chiriboga again, as ambassador of a self-described radical nationalist government, sanctioning the penetration of Ecuador’s remaining Amazonian lands by a well-connected American missionary organization.” [Source]

[4] “To ‘strengthen the Good Neighbor feeling even more,’ Townsend suggested, the planes should be referred to as the ‘Inter American Friendship Fleet.'” — The Development of the Wycliffe Bible Translators and the Summer Institute of Linguistics, 1934-1982

[5] “We are strongly opposed to mission organizations which would remove Akha Children and destroy Akha language, literature, culture and identity. We believe that the defense of land rights and other human rights is at the heart of any just system, and we would oppose those who remain silent while these abuses continue.” [Source]

[6] “In September 1955, the same month that Ambassador Chiriboga announced that the Ecuadorian government no longer recognized the Oriente concessions of a Canadian-owned company, Peruvian Oils and Minerals Company, Nate suddenly launched Operation Auca.” [Source]

How to Uphold White Supremacy by Focusing on Diversity and Inclusion

December 10, 2014 | 2014 in Review

Liberalism’s Inherent Racism

by Kyra

Since the civil rights movement, white people have exploited every opportunity to conceal their colonialist legacy and longstanding (ab)use of white supremacist power. They’ve proven time and again that they have no interest in rectifying that history, only in dealing with the fact that they could no longer deny the reality of those injustices. One effective tactic has been to separate white supremacy and colonialism from the way racism is understood and taught through schools, history textbooks, news media, and through any white-controlled institutions. These lessons, of anti-racism as-told-by-white-people, will be familiar to you: that racism is only explicit racial prejudice; that separatism is the essence of Jim Crow (and therefore inclusion is the antithesis to de jure segregation); and that the remedy for a racist society is a colorblind one.

All of these assumptions are grounded in liberalism: the egalitarian principle which works to ignore and erase difference rather than to undo oppression. It strives for a post-feminist, post-queer, post-racial or racially colorblind world. Liberalism as an ideology deems equal rights and equal treatment as a higher priority than? material justice, or as an effective means towards ?it. Its presumptions of equality are false, as individualist equality may be written into law and policy while material inequality thrives. It effectively abstracts and obscures power dynamics along lines of race, class, and gender. The difference between material justice and liberalism is the difference between actually making reparations for a long history of racism and countries like Austria, Finland, Hungary, France, and now Sweden removing all mentions of “race” from their legislation.

Liberalism is not the opposite of conservatism on a left-right political spectrum, but a set of values that informs various other political ideologies including conservatism and libertarianism. Even the most popular manifestations of feminism and radical political thought (anarchism, communism, and socialism) are their most liberal forms. You can recognize the influence of liberalism in any political philosophy or practice that?, ?consciously or not?, ?focuses on individual equality before social power. What is it that says that ending racism means setting aside our differences and finding commonality? Liberalism. What is it that says that we need love to bring us together and to end the hate which drives us apart? Liberalism. What is it that says to choose unity over disunion? Liberalism. What is it that says racism/sexism/sizeism hurts everyone? Liberalism.

A large public art structure with alphabetical blocks spelling out 'LOVE'.

Photo CC-BY jm scott, filtered.

All of these ideas value a certain perception of equality at the expense of those who suffer due to social inequality. That’s why you’ll notice this rhetoric so frequently employed to dismiss oppressed people who direct their anger…at their oppressors. Through a white-writing of history (and history textbooks) that erases and minimizes all of the revolts that were necessary for change, liberals are able to demand that protesters remain totally peaceful, pacifist, and nonviolent (by which they mean non-destructive of property) in the face of dehumanization, degradation, and absolute repressive violence (the actual destruction of human life). White liberals and their sympathizers take ideas and quotes from Martin Luther King out of context and use them to shame disruptive protesters as rioters and looters, dismiss more militant activists as spiteful and vengeful, blaming them all for their own conditions.

The toxic effects of liberalism are clear in diversity advocacy and its language. Take the reframing of affirmative action as an initiative to promote diversity. Affirmative action was created in recognition of a centuries-long legacy of racism and historically discriminatory hiring/admissions practices. It is remedial in nature, and requires the recognition of past and ongoing wrongs that need to be righted. In stark contrast to this, diversity emphasizes the pragmatic benefits to morale, productivity, and profits. Diversity is the practice of mixing together different bodies within a common organization, and is a prime resource to be capitalized upon by businesses and organizations that are white owned and/or operated. Diversity still benefits those in power by taking advantage of the various experiences and vantage points of different racial/gender/sexual backgrounds. Rather than respecting difference and redistributing power based on it, diversity only “celebrates” difference in order to exploit multiculturalism for its economic value.

There is a reason that diversity is consistently promoted as being beneficial to everyone, disregarding who benefits most from various arrangements of diversity. As a dominant mode of thought, we must challenge liberalism if we hope to challenge the structures of domination that it both masks and reinforces, through diversity or otherwise.

A wall that reads 'Imagine' with a peace symbol on it.

Image CC-BY Matteo Piotto, filtered.

“Inclusivity” and “exclusivity” are politically meaningless without context and divert attention away from specific power dynamics. In common use, they are assigned inherently positive and negative values without specifying who is being included or excluded. This is why you might see a group proudly promote itself as being more “open” and “inclusive” than a group which is intentionally exclusive to create a safer space for a specific marginalized group. This is because de jure segregation is so strongly associated with racism. Still, segregation is not racist in and of itself. It is racist depending on a history of white supremacy, depending on who is enforcing segregation, and depending on the material impact of said segregation.

While after a history of slavery and Jim Crow segregation, fighting for desegregation was obviously necessary, but that progress is not inherent to diversity and inclusion. They are only valuable insofar as they reduce a white stronghold on power. How would racial diversity or the inclusion of men benefit the organizational team behind Black Girl Dangerous? What about organizations like the Trans Women of Color Collective or INCITE! which could only be opened to more racial diversity through the inclusion of whites? Diversity and inclusion whitewash and undermine the very basis of their value for racial justice and feminism: providing access to resources, representation, and power to identity groups that lack them. Not only is “inclusivity” politically meaningless, but to frame the benefits of stronger representation of marginalized races, genders, etc. within “diversity” gravely strips the progress it provides of its power and political significance. There is then danger in uncritically advocating for—or even just discussing power dynamics in terms of—diversity or inclusivity.

Closed spaces for marginalized identities are essential, especially ones for multiply marginalized identities, as we know from intersectionality (not to be confused with the idea that all oppression is interconnected, as many white women who have appropriated the term as self-proclaimed “intersectional feminists” seem to understand it). Any group, whether organized around a shared marginalized identity or not, will by-default be centered around the most powerful within that group. For example, cisgender white women will dominate women’s groups that aren’t run by or consciously centering trans women and women of color. A requirement for all groups to be fully open and inclusive invites the derailment and silencing of marginalized voices already pervasive in public spaces, preventing alternative spaces of relative safety from that to form. Hegemony trickles down through layers of identity, but liberation surges upwards from those who experience the most compounded layers of oppression.

So why do so many people seeking racial justice, female empowerment, and queer liberation still choose to advocate for “diversity” and “inclusion”? They appeal to liberalism. They prevent oppression from being named. They prevent us from speaking truth to power. They make progress sound friendly to those in power. Companies can tokenize women and people of color throughout their advertising. They can get way more credit than they deserve for being not 100% white men. They can profit from the increases in efficiency and productivity associated with more diversity. All of the above ignore the fact that companies needed to have diversity initiatives to make them less overwhelmingly white in the first place; that white people are the ones in the position of being able to grant access in the first place. When we work for justice and liberation, we can’t accept progress that is conditional on being economically beneficial.

The only way to prevent that is to name oppression for what it is; to speak truth to power. If a group is dominated by whites, men, and other privileged classes, don’t let that be reduced to a diversity issue.

You may have seen the phrase before and possibly even used it yourself, but if you still focus on inclusion and diversity, you don’t truly understand: assimilation ? liberation. When we talk about diversity and inclusion, we necessarily position marginalized groups as naturally needing to assimilate into dominant ones, rather than to undermine said structures of domination. Yes, we need jobs; we need education; we need to access various resources. What we don’t need is to relegate ourselves to the position of depending on someone else to offer us inclusion and access to those resources. Inclusion is something they must give, but our liberation is something we will take. The cost of assimilation is always in the well-being and lives of those who are not close enough to power to be able to assimilate. Another less popular expression of our expression more sharply calls attention to these dangers of uncritical integrationism: assimilation = death.

 

This work is licensed under the Decolonial Media License 0.1.

 

[Kyra is a Chinese-Amerikan trans woman working to create space for radical racial justice through technology where progress has been limited to liberal white feminism. She serves on the board of directors of the Free Culture Foundation and founded the Empowermentors Collective, a skillshare, discussion, and support network for trans, disabled, and queer people of color who share a critical interest in race, gender, and technology. She Tweets in spurts and bouts @kxra.]

Moolah Boodle Lucre Simoleons

July 22, 2014
By Jay Taber

nonprofitindustrialcomplex

Wall Street’s vertical integration of controlling consciousness is based on five components: ownership of media, fabrication of news, integration of advertising with state propaganda, financing of foundations and brokerages, and co-option of NGOs. While many well-meaning people are channeled into the latter by the concerted collaboration of all the former, the corporate agenda that determines the policies, practices and projects of these NGOs is anything but benign.

Indeed, the distractions, distortions and deceit promoted by the scoundrels, malefactors and curs — working on behalf of Wall Street villains — to mesmerize the naive in order to lead them astray, pose a lethal threat to Indigenous Peoples and their desperate movement of liberation. Pretending otherwise, in order to coddle the credulous, accomplishes nothing noble. Indeed, it only perpetuates misperceptions that urgently need to be shattered.

Two months from now, in New York City, the Wall Street/NGO convergence around climate change, Indigenous Peoples human rights, and corporate derivative philanthropy, promises to be one of the super spectacles of the decade. Shining a light on that shadowy affair is something that simply has to be done. Unfortunately, there is no painless way of doing that, for it is way past time for an awakening.

Bedlam in Gotham, meanwhile, is going to be a three-ring circus:

  1. September 20-21 People’s Climate Change March
  2. September 22-23 World Conference on Indigenous Peoples
  3. September 24-26 World Summit on Indigenous Philanthropy

All the Ford and Rockefeller PR puppets from the non-profit industrial complex will be swarming for media attention to keep those grants flowing. Moolah, boodle, lucre, simoleons–a love fest for compromised NGOs, philanthropic brokerages and corporate foundations.

ICs position on the brokerages and foundations undermining the Indigenous Peoples Movement is non-negotiable: IC opposes the philanthropic system of assimilating Indigenous Peoples; this is core IC policy.

These editorials illustrate that policy in more detail:

The following definitions might be unsettling, but nevertheless useful:

CULTURE
Artistic and intellectual customs and achievements of a particular civilization. Refined appreciation of this.

IMBECILE
Person of abnormally weak intellect, esp. an adult with a mental age of about five.

CULTURE of IMBECILES
Ideological absence in which advertising has become the only active factor, overriding any preexisting critical judgment or transforming such judgment into a mere conditioned reflex. Inability to develop any political consciousness

[Jay Taber is an associate scholar of the Center for World Indigenous Studies, a correspondent to Forum for Global Exchange, and a contributing editor of Fourth World Journal. Since 1994, he has served as communications director at Public Good Project, a volunteer network of researchers, analysts and activists engaged in defending democracy. As a consultant, he has assisted indigenous peoples in the European Court of Human Rights and at the United Nations. Email: tbarj [at] yahoo.com Website: www.jaytaber.com]

Dependence Limits Strategies

June 29, 2014
by Jay Taber
http://i0.wp.com/pages.uoregon.edu/adoption/images/pgillus/Genoaschoolbig.jpg
Students who attended the Genoa Industrial School for Indian Youth in Nebraska in 1910, when this photograph was taken, were mostly Sioux, placed off the reservation and away from their families.

George Manuel, chief of the National Indian Brotherhood (known today as the Assembly of First Nations), once remarked, “Assimilation is annihilation.” As president of the World Council of Indigenous Peoples from 1975-1981, Manuel’s work was foundational to the Indigenous Peoples Movement we see today.

Assimilation of indigenous peoples by corporations, church and state is facilitated by creating financial and psychological dependence. As Chief Manuel’s partner in forming the Center for World Indigenous Studies in 1984, Rudolph C. Ryser once noted that “Dependence limits strategies.”

Indeed, dependence on corporations and billionaire philanthropies has corrupted indigenous leaders, and compromised indigenous activism. Something Public Good Project has exposed in its coverage of the indigenous non-profit industrial complex.

One of the assimilated indigenous NGOs exposed by IC Magazine is First Peoples Worldwide, a non-profit funded in part by Shell Oil. A non-profit whose role in this theatre of the absurd is to help corporations assimilate indigenous leaders by creating dependence that leads to cultural annihilation.

Featured frequently at Indian Country Today, First Peoples Worldwide propaganda posing as news is meant to psychologically undermine the Indigenous Peoples Movement that Chief Manuel and Dr. Ryser helped create, and to introduce non-sequiturs like Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR), as though they are valid concepts. As Wrong Kind of Green reports in the evolution of CSR, corporations have never acted for the benefit of society, and it is the current threat to the legitimacy of the corporation that CSR seeks to counteract.

 

[Jay Taber is an associate scholar of the Center for World Indigenous Studies, a correspondent to Forum for Global Exchange, and a contributing editor of Fourth World Journal. Since 1994, he has served as communications director at Public Good Project, a volunteer network of researchers, analysts and activists engaged in defending democracy. As a consultant, he has assisted indigenous peoples in the European Court of Human Rights and at the United Nations. Email: tbarj [at] yahoo.com Website: www.jaytaber.com]