Friends of Turtle Island :


WESPAC Foundation’s Friends of Turtle of Island is a grassroots movement to increase awareness of Indigenous peoples’ ongoing struggles to protect their human and land rights, environment, sacred sites, dignity, language and traditions. We seek to build relationships, support Native sovereignty, challenge racism, and promote social and environmental healing. We support the reconnection of ancient Indigenous trade routes and the rekindling of those relations. We recognize the importance of freedom of movement for all First Nations peoples as they struggle to retain their ancestral lands, language, culture and identity. The balance of the ecosystem requires this freedom of movement, not only for people but for all creatures living within it. Please contact the office for more information and to get involved at 914.449.6514 or by email at [email protected]


WESPAC’s Friends of Turtle Island presents
The Teachings of the Tree People
Summer Monthly Potluck and Film: 
Monday night, July 21 @ 6 pm
The trees are our first teachers (more…)

Joint Intervention

 The American Indian Law Alliance with the Haudenosaunee, the Seventh Generation Fund for Indian Development, Native Children’s Survival,  Maya Vision, Techantit, TONATIERRA, American Indian Community House, Rigoberta Menchú Tum Foundation, Flying Eagle Woman Fund for Peace, Justice, and Sovereignty, Southern Diaspora Research and Development Center, United Methodist Women, Spiderwoman, Morning Star Foundation, WESPAC Foundation, the Connie Hogarth Center for Social Action and the Loretto Community.

 May 20-31, 2013

Agenda Item 8: Future work of the Permanent Forum, including matters of the Economic and Social Council and emerging issues.

 Mr. Chairman,

 1)  We wish to address an issue regarding the future work of the UN Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues, concerning the rightful status of Indigenous Peoples and Nations participation in all UN fora. Therefore we will respond to the statement of several umbrella groups, “National Congress of American Indians, United South and Eastern Tribes, and California Association of Tribal Governments, 72 Indigenous Nations and Seven Indigenous Organizations,” made yesterday under Agenda item six (6) discussion on the World Conference on Indigenous Peoples in particular recommendation number three (3) regarding an appropriate status for Indigenous Peoples participating in UN activities. We do agree that “Indigenous Peoples deserve to have a permanent status for participation in the UN that reflects their character as peoples and governments,” and we would respectfully request that traditional Indigenous Nations be included in this recommendation along with peoples and governments.

 2)  On May 16, 2013 a communiqué was issued by the Haudenosaunee, a signator to this joint statement, reiterating their position on imposed elected councils. The position holds that the primary intent of imposed elected band and council governments is and was to abolish the strength and national character of traditional governments as well as to assist in the assimilation of the Haudenosaunee and other traditional governments into the national fabric of both Canada and the United States. The abolishment and termination of traditional indigenous governments is in direct violation of the minimum standard of Free, Prior, and Informed Consent over our lands, territories and resources, including our inherent right to self-determination as established in the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples.

 3)  The line between traditional councils and imposed elected band and council governments is clear and distinct. Traditional councils are the original and continuous governments in place for over 1,000 years, while the imposed elected band and council governments are systems of the Indian Act in Canada and the Indian Reorganization Act in the United States for the administration of colonial policies in each of our respective communities.

 4)  Continuing these ongoing destructive policies, on May 22, 2013 the distinguished representative of the Permanent Mission of the United States to the UN made an intervention at the UN Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues on Agenda Item 7 Human Rights, (a) Implementation of the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples in which they reiterated their position that the rights of self-determination as recognized under international law for all peoples is somehow a different right for Indigenous Peoples.

 5)  We agree with the intervention made by the International Indian Treaty Council on May 28, 2013 under Agenda Item 6, Discussion on the World Conference on Indigenous Peoples “discrimination must not be tolerated in any body or process of the United Nations, which is based on the fundamental principles of international human rights law and the tenets of the UN charter which include non-discrimination.” The failure of the governments of Canada and the United States to recognize the legitimate, traditional governments and their right to self-determination is blatantly discriminatory.

 6)  Since 1923 and more recently 1977, the Haudenosaunee and other traditional governments of the Western Hemisphere have pioneered the Indigenous presence at the United Nations and other international venues, leading to the adoption of the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples in 2007 by the UN General Assembly. Throughout these decades of work traditional governments have been advocating for a proper status within all UN processes. It should be noted that the same traditional governments never referred to themselves as NGOs or domestic dependent nations.

 7)   Therefore Mr. Chairman, we would respectfully request that the UN Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues consider for its future work the following recommendation:

 8) Recognizing that the Haudenosaunee and other traditional indigenous Nations and Peoples have continued to express their fundamental right to self-determination and their original unbroken right to sovereignty over their lands, resources, and territories; we recommend observer status be given serious consideration, building upon the recommendation of the Expert Mechanism in 2011, “adopt, as a matter of urgency, appropriate permanent measures to ensure that indigenous peoples’ governance bodies and institutions, including traditional indigenous governments, indigenous parliaments, assemblies and councils, are able to participate at the UN as observers with, at a minimum, the same participatory rights as non-governmental organization in consultative status with the Economic and Social Council” U.N.Doc. A/HRC/18/43 (Aug. 19, 2011).

 9) However, Mr. Chairman we would go further and bring to your attention the observer mission status of entities which have received a standing invitation to participate as observers in the sessions and the work of the General Assembly and while maintaining permanent observer missions at UN Headquarters, as examples we suggest you look towards the Permanent Observer Mission of the Holy See and the Permanent Observer Mission of Palestine. Indigenous Peoples and Nations cannot lock ourselves into a minor position; our position has always been that we are equal to all peoples and nations.

 10) In closing Mr. Chair, Considering that traditional Indigenous Nations have worked diligently these past several decades within the international community of nations and have done so on a level that represents our status as sovereign, independent nations we therefore feel that observer status within the UN system is reasonable and appropriate.

 Thank you Mr. Chair for your kind attention.

Wespac’s long and sadly neglected committee, Friends of Turtle Island, is being rekindled.

Join us if you are interested in our mission of finding ways to stand in solidarity with (and learn from) Indigenous peoples locally and worldwide.


Friends of Turtle Island Planning Meeting

Thursday, December 19 at 1:00 pm

Silvertips Tea Room

3 North Broadway

(right next to the Greek restaurant at the corner of Broadway and Main)    

Tarrytown, NY


Please RSVP to Nada Khader 914-449-6514.


Also, come support our friends of the Ramapough Nation at an important screening of the film “Mann vs. Ford” a documentary about the Ramapough people, the Ford Motor Company toxic dumping, the EPA and legal actions that have been taken over the last 30 years. (The lands have been twice listed on the Superfund site. This is the only site in America to be twice listed). Chief Vince Mann of the Ramapough Turtle Clan will be there to speak. This will also be an opportunity to be guided in writing a letter to the EPA on this issue.


Mann vs. Ford film screening

Thursday December 18 at 7 pm

Stony Point Conference Center

17 Cricketown Road, Stony Point, New York 10980

(Rockland County)


In gratitude,

Tracy Basile

Ossining, NY

Statement of Support  

Submitted to the EPA on November 9, 2013 in support of a total cleanup of Ringwood, NJ Superfund Site, home of the Ramapough Nation.

 We come before you tonight on behalf of WESPAC, a 500-member strong Westchester-based non-profit organization that works for environmental and human justice, to stand in solidarity with our friends the Ramapough Lanape Nation who seek a full and just cleanup of their ancestral lands.  (more…)

two row wampumThe Two Row Wampum Renewal Campaign, a partnership between the Onondaga Nation and Neighbors of the Onondaga Nation (NOON), is developing a broad alliance between the Haudenosaunee and their allies in New York and throughout the world. Our statewide advocacy and educational campaign seeks to achieve justice by polishing the chain of friendship established in the first treaty between the Haudenosaunee and Dutch immigrants. Environmental cleanup and preservation are the core components of our campaign.  For details visit:




Subject: Stop Navajo, Hopi genocide: Oppose the Kyl bill

The bill would give water rights that currently fall under native control to the power industry, and leave huge portions of both Navajo and Hopi peoples without any water access. They will have no way to water livestock, meaning that this bill will be a death sentence for thousands of sheep, goats, horses, and cows. Their way of life and livelihood depends on sheep, so this bill is an act of genocide.

That's why I signed a petition to The United States House of Representatives and The United States Senate, which says:

"Oppose the Kyl-McCain legislation settling water claims with the Navajo and Hopi tribes. Protect native peoples' water rights on their ancestral lands."

Will you sign this petition? Click here:

Peter Clark,
LPDOC, Lenny Foster, Navajo Nation, and Paulette D'Auteuil, Jericho Movement, went to Tucson last week to present before the Special Rapporteur on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, James Anaya. He has since been to Portland Ore., Pine Ridge, Lakota Nation, Oklahoma City (David Hill presented on Leonard) and various other places and this is part of his response…

Paulette Jericho Co-Chair

UN's correspondent on indigenous peoples urges government to act to combat 'racial discrimination' felt by Native Americans

US should return stolen land to Indian tribes, says United Nations

A Native American at his home on Pine Ridge Reservation, South Dakota, which has some of the US's poorest living conditions. Photograph: Jennifer Brown/Star Ledger/Corbis

United Nations investigator probing discrimination against Native Americans has called on the US government to return some of the land stolen from Indian tribes as a step toward combatting continuing and systemic racial discrimination.

James Anaya, the UN special rapporteur on the rights of indigenous peoples, said no member of the US Congress would meet him as he investigated the part played by the government in the considerable difficulties faced by Indian tribes.

Anaya said that in nearly two weeks of visiting Indian reservations, indigenous communities in Alaska and Hawaii, and Native Americans now living in cities, he encountered people who suffered a history of dispossession of their lands and resources, the breakdown of their societies and "numerous instances of outright brutality, all grounded on racial discrimination".

"It's a racial discrimination that they feel is both systemic and also specific instances of ongoing discrimination that is felt at the individual level," he said.

Anaya said racism extended from the broad relationship between federal or state governments and tribes down to local issues such as education.

"For example, with the treatment of children in schools both by their peers and by teachers as well as the educational system itself; the way native Americans and indigenous peoples are reflected in the school curriculum and teaching," he said.

"And discrimination in the sense of the invisibility of Native Americans in the country overall that often is reflected in the popular media. The idea that is often projected through the mainstream media and among public figures that indigenous peoples are either gone or as a group are insignificant or that they're out to get benefits in terms of handouts, or their communities and cultures are reduced to casinos, which are just flatly wrong."

Close to a million people live on the US's 310 Native American reservations. Some tribes have done well from a boom in casinos on reservations but most have not.

Anaya visited an Oglala Sioux reservation where the per capita income is around $7,000 a year, less than one-sixth of the national average, and life expectancy is about 50 years.

The two Sioux reservations in South Dakota – Rosebud and Pine Ridge – have some of the country's poorest living conditions, including mass unemployment and the highest suicide rate in the western hemisphere with an epidemic of teenagers killing themselves.

"You can see they're in a somewhat precarious situation in terms of their basic existence and the stability of their communities given that precarious land tenure situation. It's not like they have large fisheries as a resource base to sustain them. In basic economic terms it's a very difficult situation. You have upwards of 70% unemployment on the reservation and all kinds of social ills accompanying that. Very tough conditions," he said.

Anaya said Rosebud is an example where returning land taken by the US government could improve a tribe's fortunes as well as contribute to a "process of reconciliation".

"At Rosebud, that's a situation where indigenous people have seen over time encroachment on to their land and they've lost vast territories and there have been clear instances of broken treaty promises. It's undisputed that the Black Hills was guaranteed them by treaty and that treaty was just outright violated by the United States in the 1900s. That has been recognised by the United States supreme court," he said.

Anaya said he would reserve detailed recommendations on a plan for land restoration until he presents his final report to the UN human rights council in September.

"I'm talking about restoring to indigenous peoples what obviously they're entitled to and they have a legitimate claim to in a way that is not devisive but restorative. That's the idea behind reconciliation," he said.

But any such proposal is likely to meet stiff resistance in Congress similar to that which has previously greeted calls for the US government to pay reparations for slavery to African-American communities.

Anaya said he had received "exemplary cooperation" from the Obama administration but he declined to speculate on why no members of Congress would meet him.

"I typically meet with members of the national legislature on my country visits and I don't know the reason," he said.

Last month, the US justice and interior departments announced a $1 billion settlement over nearly 56 million acres of Indian land held in trust by Washington but exploited by commercial interests for timber, farming, mining and other uses with little benefit to the tribes.

The attorney general, Eric Holder, said the settlement "fairly and honourably resolves historical grievances over the accounting and management of tribal trust funds, trust lands and other non-monetary trust resources that, for far too long, have been a source of conflict between Indian tribes and the United States."

But Anaya said that was only a step in the right direction.

"These are important steps but we're talking about mismanagement by the government of assets that were left to indigenous peoples," he said. "This money for the insults on top of the injury. It's not money for the initial problem itself, which is the taking of vast territories. This is very important and I think the administration should be commended for moving forward to settle these claims but there are these deeper issues that need to be addressed."

Please find attached Owe Aku (Bring Back the Way) written release on White House resistance and arrests on the 2nd of September.



(September 3, 20011)  Debra White Plume from Owe Aku (Bring Back the Way), a Lakota organization from the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation designed for cultural preservation and protection of Lakota treaty rights and human rights, and Kent Lebsock from Owe Aku’s International Justice Project which utilizes international strategies to preserve Lakota treaties, sovereignty and self-determination, were both arrested at the White House on Friday, September 2, 2011.  They were participating in the two-week long civil resistance that occurred there in opposition to the XL Pipeline and tar sands oil mining.  Organized by the Indigenous Environmental Network and their allies, the 2nd of September was designated as Indigenous Peoples’ Resistance Day.   The tar sands come from Native lands and the pipeline will cross hundreds of miles of Native territory, including Lakota territory, and violate treaty rights under the Fort Laramie Treaties of 1851 and 1868 as well as human rights under the Declaration on the Rights of Indigneous Peoples.  
Before the arrests, Debra White Plume addressed the large crowd that gathered in Lafayette Park across from the White House perimeter, saying:
“Our Lakota people oppose this pipeline because of the potential contamination of the surface water and of the Oglala aquifer.  We have thousands of ancient and historical cultural resources that would be destroyed across our treaty lands.  As a mother and a grandmother, I am related to Mother Earth and the life-giving water and it is my spiritual responsibility to be here today protecting Mother Earth from Father Greed.”
After being released from jail, Debra White Plume, along with Kandi Mossett of the Indigenous Environmental Network, met with State Department official Daniel A. Clune, Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary for Environmental and Scientific Affairs.  There they urged the State Department to consult at high levels with Native leaders and to consider Section 106 (“tribal” consultations) in line with free, prior and informed consent as set forth in the Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples.  Kent Lebsock stated, “What action will be taken by politicians is unknown but the two-week long demonstrations at the White House and Indigneous participation are having an effect, if not on the President, at least in building alliances  in opposition to corporate greed and government abuse.”  
Democratic state senator from Maryland, Paul Pinsky, also addressed those gathered in the park and stated that the non-Native environmental movement owed a great debt to Indigneous peoples who had been involved in this struggle long before anyone else.  Later, Senator Pinsky was arrested along with 165 other demonstrators.  
The Native American peoples gathered in front of the White House fence sang throughout the long afternoon of arrests.  Differing cultural viewpoints between Native and non-Native allies were only visible when the crowd would chant, “this is what democracy looks like.”  Native people were respectfully silent, pointing out that any American view of democracy has rarely served the interests of Native peoples, our lands or resources.  Mrs. White Plume was the first Native woman to be arrested and the last five arrests were all of Native men including Owe Aku’s Kent Lebsock.   Speaking from the Lakota homeland, Rosalie Little Thunder, also an elder. leader, mother and grandmother from Owe Aku’s International Justice Project and a long time defender of Lakota sacred sites, said of those who took part, “Today, you acquired probably hundreds if not thousands of relatives!  It is a good thing to use your whole body and spirit to protect Mother Earth.  Was-te ksto!”    
Owe Aku Owe Aku International Justice Project
PO Box 325 720 W. 173rd St. #59
Manderson SD 57756 New York City 10032
605-455-2155 646-233-4406

The Unfractured Future

Tuesday, June 29 @ 7pm

See a short film

by Scott Halfmann & Tracy Basile

with Indigenous voices

reminding us that

water is life.

Join us in working to

ban natural gas drilling

and create the world we want.

The Unfractured Future

6/29 @ 7 pm, Pleasantville , N.Y.

Because you

can’t drink money.

WESPAC Foundation

17 Marble Ave.

Pleasantville, NY

914-449-6514 [email protected]

December 9, 2009

U.S. Will Settle Indian Lawsuit for $3.4 Billion

WASHINGTON — The federal government announced on Tuesday that it intends to pay $3.4 billion to settle claims that it has mismanaged the revenue in American Indian trust funds, potentially ending one of the largest and most complicated class-action lawsuits ever brought against the United States.

The tentative agreement, reached late Monday, would resolve a 13-year-old lawsuit over hundreds of thousands of land trust accounts that date to the 19th century. Specialists in federal tribal law described the lawsuit as one of the most important in the history of legal disputes involving the government’s treatment of American Indians.

President Obama hailed the agreement as an “important step towards a sincere reconciliation” between the federal government and American Indians, many of whom, he said, considered the protracted lawsuit a “stain” on the nation.

As a presidential candidate, Mr. Obama said, “I pledged my commitment to resolving this issue, and I am proud that my administration has taken this step today.”

For the agreement to become final, Congress must enact legislation and the federal courts must then sign off on it. Administration officials said they hoped those two steps would be completed in the next few months.

The dispute arises from a system dating to 1887, when Congress divided many tribal lands into parcels — most from 40 to 160 acres — and assigned them to individual Indians while selling off remaining lands.

The Interior Department now manages about 56 million acres of Indian trust land scattered across the country, with the heaviest concentration in Western states. The government handles leases on the land for mining, livestock grazing, timber harvesting and drilling for oil and gas. It then distributes the revenue raised by those leases to the American Indians. In the 2009 fiscal year, it collected about $298 million for more than 384,000 individual Indian accounts.

The lawsuit accuses the federal government of mismanaging that money. As a result, the value of the trusts has been unclear, and the Indians contend that they are owed far more than what they have been paid.

Under the settlement, the government would pay $1.4 billion to compensate the Indians for their claims of historical accounting irregularities and any accusation that federal officials mismanaged the administration of the land itself over the years.

Each member of the class would receive a check for $1,000, and the rest of the money would be distributed according to the land owned. In addition, legal fees, to be determined by a judge, would be paid from that fund.

Philip Frickey, a law professor at the University of California, Berkeley, who specializes in federal Indian law, said that of all the Indian land claims and other lawsuits over the past generation, the trust case had been a “blockbuster” because it is national in scope, involves a large amount of money, and has been long-running.

The lawsuit spanned three presidencies and engendered seven trials covering 192 trial days, generated 22 published judicial opinions, and went before a federal appeals court 10 times.

Over its course, the federal judge originally assigned to the case, Royce C. Lamberth, put contempt orders on two secretaries of the interior over their handling of the lawsuit. In 2006, after the Bush administration complained of bias, a federal appeals court removed Judge Lamberth from the case.

Judge James Robertson has handled it since, and he pushed both parties to negotiate — including brokering a last-minute deal over an undisclosed problem that nearly derailed the settlement late Monday, said David J. Hayes, the Interior Department deputy secretary.

Attorney General Eric H. Holder Jr. on Tuesday characterized the case as “intense, and sometimes difficult.”

“The United States could have continued to litigate this case, at great expense to the taxpayers,” Mr. Holder said. “It could have let all of these claims linger, and could even have let the problem of fractionated land continue to grow with each generation. But with this settlement, we are erasing these past liabilities and getting on track to eliminate them going forward.”

The settlement also seeks to resolve an ever-growing headache of the trust system that contributed to the government’s problems — especially in the pre-computer era — in keeping track of the allotments: the original owners, most of whom died without leaving wills, have many heirs, which has “fractionalized” the ownership interests.

For example, one 40-acre parcel today has 439 owners, most of whom receive less than $1 a year in income from it, Mr. Haynes said. The parcel is valued at about $20,000, but it costs the government more than $40,000 a year to administer those trusts.

In an effort to resolve such problems — and prevent them from worsening in subsequent generations — the settlement would establish a $2 billion fund to buy fractional interests in land from anyone willing to sell. The program would seek to consolidate ownership in parcels of land for the tribes, while reducing the Interior Department’s work in keeping track of the trusts.

“This is an historic, positive development for Indian country,” said Ken Salazar, the Interior Department secretary, “and a major step on the road to reconciliation following years of acrimonious litigation between trust beneficiaries and the United States.”

Over the years, the plaintiffs have contended that they were owed tens of billions of dollars, while the government has at times taken the position that it owed them little or nothing.

Elouise Cobell, the lead plaintiff who filed the class-action lawsuit in 1996, said she believed that the Indians were owed more, but that it was better to reach an agreement that could help impoverished trust holders than to spend more years in court. She said she had originally expected the litigation to last only two or three years.

“We are compelled to settle by the sobering realization that our class grows smaller each day as our elders die and are forever prevented from receiving just compensation,“ Ms. Cobell said.

Robert Clinton, an Arizona State University law professor who specializes in federal Indian law, said the settlement alone would not resolve the trust problem because many of the heirs who own tiny interests in parcels may not be willing to sell them.

Still, the settlement will provide an incentive for such owners to sell: the Interior Department will set aside up to 5 percent of the value of the land interests for a scholarship fund to help Indians attend college or vocational school.