Author Archives: Ryan Seelau

About Ryan Seelau

Ryan Seelau received his law degree (JD) from the University of Iowa, and then went on to receive advanced degrees (LLM and SJD) from the University of Arizona in Indigenous Peoples Law and Policy. His most extensive work experience is with the Native Nations Institute for Leadership, Management, and Policy in the areas of general research and curriculum development. He has, however, also worked with a number of different organizations on indigenous-related projects in areas as diverse as: justice systems, economic development, and health. His expertise is grounded in U.S. Indian Law, and more generally, in governance structures and theory.

Argentina: Tonocoté Violently Evicted from Land then Offerred New Housing

On Friday, May 24th, approximately twenty-three Tonocoté families — located in north-central Argentina — were violently evicted from their community of more than 200 years. According to news reports, dozens of police mounted on horseback used rubber bullets, tear gas, and dogs to force the Tonocoté people out of their community. Once the people were free from the area, the land was quickly bulldozed in preparation for a real estate development that will allegedly be put on the land. The eviction drew the ire of many human rights organizations, including Greenpeace who “condemned” the “illegal” eviction. Continue reading

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International Observers Conclude that Chile’s Imposed Regime on Rapa Nui Violates Human Rights

On May 23, 2013, multiple Chilean news outlets posted articles (here, here and here) about a report made to the International Work Group for Indigenous Affairs that detailed the relationship between Chile and the Rapa Nui people — ultimately concluding that Chile’s regime on Easter Island violates the Rapa Nui peoples’ rights to territory, self-determination, and political participation. Additionally, the report specifically lays out rights under the American Convention on Human Rights that have been violated and provides several pages of recommendations on how the human rights situation of the Rapa Nui might be improved. Continue reading

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Amnesty International’s 2013 Report Comments on Indigenous Situations in Argentina, Chile and Paraguay

On Wednesday, May 22nd, Amnesty International released its annual report entitled, Amnesty International Report 2013: The State of the World’s Human Rights. Within it is a wealth of information on global human rights in the form of short summaries of major events that have taken place in each country around the world. With respect to the Southern Cone, the report discusses the condition of human rights for indigenous peoples in Argentina, Chile and Paraguay. Those portions related to indigenous peoples are reprinted below. Continue reading

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Argentina: Qom Community (Toba) Goes to Supreme Court Amidst Violent Protests and Accusations of Police Brutality

On May 22, 2013 the Qom (or Toba) people of Argentina were granted a hearing at Argentina’s Supreme Court to discuss their ongoing land dispute. For years, the Qom have tried to get the Argentinian government to recognize their land rights in the province of Formosa, along the Paraguay border. The Qom community’s efforts have included round table meetings with government officials, protests, encampment in Buenos Aires, among other strategies. Oftentimes, these protests have ended in violence as was the alleged case on May 22nd, when reports that more than 50 Qom had been injured by police and more than 100 had been arrested. Continue reading

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Chile’s President References “New Deal” with Indigenous Peoples in Annual Address

On May 21st, Chile’s President Piñera gave his annual address in front of Congress for the final time before his term ends. The address is given annually and highlights both accomplishments from the previous year as well as goals for the forthcoming year. In this year’s address (full address in Spanish can be found here), Piñera offerred a few words about Chile’s indigenous groups and his administration’s goals with respect to those peoples. Continue reading

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Efforts Made to Recover Kunza Language, Once Thought Extinct

Kunza is the language of the Atacameño or Likan Antay people. Although there are more than 6,000 Atacameñós living in Chile, it has long been believed that their language was extinct. Although much of the language had been recorded and exists on paper, native speakers of Kunza no longer existed. That said, recent efforts by the Atacameño people, coupled with assistance from Conadi (Chile’s Indigenous development corporation), are trying to change that by teaching individuals to once again can speak in their native tongue. Continue reading

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Barrick Gold Asks Chilean Court to Reconsider Mine Stoppage from Diaguita Communities’ Lawsuit

According to Radio Universidad de Chile, one week after the Chilean appellate court in Copiapó sided with several Diaguita communities and granted an injunction to halt all action at the Pascua Lama mine (owned by Barrick Gold), the mining company filed a motion to ask the court to reconsider its injunction. The court will decide whether to accept or deny the request to reconsider in the next few days. The Diaguita communities’ lawyer, Alex Quevedo, said Barrick Gold’s request was an unusually rare maneuver and “lacked substance”. Continue reading

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Chile Announces Project to Restore Ancestral Gardens of the Rapa Nui People

From 500 to 1500 C.E., the Rapa Nui people utilized a type of gardening that relied on small, semi-circular stone structures known as “manavai” to protect plants from wind and other harmful elements. Now, a joint project involving the municipal government on Easter Island, the Chilean national forestry corporation (CONAF), and the Inter-American Development Bank, are seeking to restore a number of these ancestral gardens — the ruins of which many still exist. The long-term goal is to preserve Rapa Nui agriculture, promote cultural education, and increase ethno-tourism on the Island. Continue reading

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Lawsuit by Diaguita Community Shuts Down Barrick Gold’s Mine in Chile

On Wednesday, April 10th, the Court of Appeals in Copiapó unanimously ordered all work at the Pascua Lama mine halted until further notice. The order was a result of a lawsuit brought by the Diaguita communities of the Huasco Valley in northern Chile and alleged that the mine’s work was violating multiple environmental regulations including regulations that protect three glaciers in the area from environmental harm and contamination. The decision marks the second time in the past 12 months that a Chilean court has halted a mine based on a lawsuit brought by Indigenous communities. Continue reading

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Chilean Government Invests in Local Mapuche Language Courses

In a press release dated April 9th, CONADI (the Chilean government’s Indigenous development corporation) announced that it would invest approximately US$350,000 in Mapuzungun language courses (the language of the Mapuche people) in the Araucanía Region. The funding would operate much like a block grant and would go “directly to the communities, without intermediaries” according to Deputy Director Germán Riquelme Reuss. Reuss also stated that the goal was to have Mapuche language and culture taught in the traditional way by an elder with knowledge of those things. Continue reading

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