Apr 14, 2014 - An Open Letter to Senator Franken by Joseph Iratxeta
An Open Letter to Senator Franken
(Also Published on fmppp.org)
by Joseph Iratxeta
Hello Senator Franken,
Let me start by saying, I am not one of your constituents, but I am on your email list. This email list has been very active in my Inbox lately and has prompted this note. It has been interesting that in none of the emails voicing your concern for a great deal of issues have you ever raised the specific issue below. I am not sure if this note will even reach Al Franken but am trying to garner his attention as he is a statesman for the state of Minnesota with its 11 Indian reservations, the Indian activist Winona LaDuke and in a state which borders Canada where the Indian Reserve system has been gutted for oil and coal ventures.
I write to you with my concern about THE SECOND RAPING OF THE AMERICAS by statesmen of every sort from every country that are using Indigenous lands and raw resources to jumpstart a global economy that they themselves helped to crash with legislation (or lack thereof) that served corporate interests. It seems unjust that from the 1990’s to the mid 2000’s American economists and legislators were pushing for the privatization of everything once considered part of the “commons”. This continues with water resources, but on Indigenous lands, Indigenous people around the world are rapidly seeking to protect their land and intellectual property. In the case of Indigenous land and resources (including water) those same economists and legislators are claiming that the “commons” is too narrow and negatively affecting trade; forcing the commons open again with agreements like the TransPacific Partnership.
To me, it seems there are no commons left except on Indigenous lands. Meaning, there is only Indigenized and non-Indigenized space. As a Jew, whose people suffered their own holocaust, you must know of the American Holocaust that continues today in the Western Hemisphere. Such recent examples are the machinations in Chile, Nicaragua, El Salvador and now Mexico. As a people who suffered and fought for re-recognition of their Nationhood, I find it appalling that Israel is helping train Mexican troops to rid itself of its “Indigenous Problem”. I hate to say this because it has been said too many times before but often Native Americans are the “test cases” for a host of social reforms, economic policies and technological changes before they show any effects in other places. The problems in these “test cases” often hint at issues that are going to become problems for the greater populace.
The issues that you champion: Privacy, net neutrality, health care, agriculture, veteran issues and energy all have had correlates in Indian communities for some time, now. This, along with Genomic technology, which makes all our bodies the new gold, is where your fight is at. Indigenous issues like water rights, fracking and genome technologies will be very real, very confrontational, and very soon in states like yours.
Privacy over biomedical research and data control are huge issues for sovereign entities like American Indian Nations. Net neutrality, broadband access and speed also have unique legal and access issues on reservation land. Health Care for Native Americans is horrendous and as they are the only people in the US with a legal right to health care as mandated by treaty, they can enlighten the problems to come with the Affordable Care Act.
In regard to Veterans, I’m sure you are aware that Native or Mexican (also Indigenous) get treated with far less respect and have less access to services than non-natives. Every year the US continues to fail in its obligations owed to Native Americans by treaty.
Agriculture: Did you know that wheat is a “hands off” crop in terms of genetic modification because of Old World claims that it has “heritage” value, yet all the crops of the Americas that currently feed the majority of the world (corn, potatoes, chocolate, and sunflower) are all allowed to be modified with no nation standing up to Monsanto and other corporations in the same way that wheat has enjoyed successful advocacy? The new wave of genomic bio-colonialism is currently searching the Americas for the next big “SAVIOR” solution. We are tired of it. You cannot treat us like dirt, actively kill us and dismantle our cultures for 500 years and then turn around and expect from us a “magic bullet” for disease or economy.
Energy:: I know Wisconsin allows its Indians to sell power back to the grid, not sure about Minnesota. However, South Dakota has made it very difficult for Indians to develop energy production from Wind. Access to the grid is limited or non-existent for them, effectively cutting off that potential stream of revenue to them. If you have been following the Idle No More movement, Canada got rid of its reserves with a swipe of a pen but the tribes there are not standing for it. Neither are the tribes in Mexico, Chile, Peru, Bolivia, Venezuela or the Amazon. All of these Indigenous populated countries are dominated by a white governing population of 1-5%. Why is that? Because the leaders of US, Canada and Europe do what they have always done and support their own, actively slaughtering Indigenous peoples: Pinochet, Noriega, The Contras in El Salvador, and Rios-Mont in Guatemala.
Please do something now, Mr. Franken; if you care about the things you say you care about. This topic of the Second Era of “Discovery” will help us (Native and Latin American vote) and you to say all you want to say for the larger populace. Globalism needs to change its direction or we are all doomed. I believe Indigenous leaders in your state would be greatly interested in talking further with you.
I am a pharmacogenomics scientist of Native descent (Mexican) and am passionate about the rights and survival of First Nations, Native Americans and the Indigenous of the American continents and their cultures.