Located inside the Arctic Circle in northern Norway, the Alta River runs through the reindeer herding grounds of the indigenous Saami people. In 1970, the Norwegian Water Resources and Electricity Board proposed a hydroelectric dam on the river. The proposed dam, which would have completely submerged the Saami village of Masi and interrupted reindeer migration routes, was only the latest affront in a long history of Norway’s marginalization of its indigenous peoples.
During the 1600’s the Iroquois Indian Nations, a group of several indigenous tribes in North America, engaged in warfare with many other tribes. The men controlled when and against whom they declared a war.
Tribal Iroquois women decided that they wanted to stop unregulated warfare, and thought of a way to convince the Iroquois men to give them more power in deciding issues of war and peace.
In 1971 South-West Africa (now Namibia) had been under the rule of South Africa’s apartheid government for more than fifty years. Apartheid laws forced indigenous Namibian tribes to live in assigned tribal areas in the northern third of the country and required passes for movement within the country. The Ovambos were the main group of indigenous people, making up close to half the population, and inhabited the area called Ovamboland. The South African government had imposed a contract labor law system on all indigenous people.
Wallis and Futuna is an overseas department of France situated in the Pacific, 225 miles west of Samoa and 300 miles northeast of Fiji. The islands’ population stands at around 15,000 people. Between February and June of 1994, the Force Ouvrière union on Wallis and Futuna organized strikes for a variety of demands chiefly dealing with the high cost of living and the lack of a public educational option in primary school.
By November 1929, Igbo women in southeastern Nigeria had had enough. From the perspective of the British colonizers, the women became loud, angry, and disruptive. They marched through cities and towns and demanded political leaders to step down. The women took their British rulers completely by surprise. The British were ignorant of the discontent among women that had been building for years, and that had recently bubbled over the surface. They mistook the women’s organized action for spontaneous, ‘crazy’ outbursts.
For approximately two years, beginning in June 2008 and ending in 2010, churchgoers in the Cook Islands protested airplane flights taking place on Sundays. The protesters viewed Sunday as the day of rest but many local businesses retorted, saying that Sunday flights were crucial for the economy. The protesters’ ultimate goal was to ban all flights from taking off and landing (specifically on the island of Aitutaki) on Sundays.
Brazilian Rubber Tappers campaign to protest the deforestation of the Brazilian rainforest region, 1977-1988
For centuries, those who made a living by extracting and collecting rubber from rubber trees had been virtual slaves to the powerful rubber barons who controlled the Amazon region. Attempts were made in the 1960s to unionize these workers, called “rubber tappers;” however, these attempts failed. The 1970s marked a shift in the dynamics of the extraction of resources from the Amazon. Ranchers from Southern Brazil began to buy up huge tracts of land in order to clear them for cattle grazing land.
The Ogoni region is a highly oil-rich area in the Niger Delta area of Nigeria, populated by approximately 500,000 members of the Ogoni People. Since the Shell Petroleum Development Company discovered oil in Ogoniland in 1958, the region has been plagued with serious environmental degradation resulting from the over 100 oil wells in the area.
Easter Island (or Rapa Nui) is most commonly known for its moai, monumental stone statues resembling heads. The island has over 800 of these statues; however, in 2010, the subject of land rights also became prominently associated with the island.
The United States government established, by treaty, the Bad River Reservation in Ashland County, Wisconsin, in 1854. The treaty allowed members of the Chippewa tribe to retain their rights to hunt and gather food in this area. In 1995, the Copper Range Mining Company decided to use a technique called solution mining to mine copper. Solution mining by the Copper Range Mining Company and Inmet, another mining company, required that large shipments of sulfuric acid be transported to the mines on railroad tracks that intersected with the reservation. Members of the Chip
The Samoan archipelago, located in the southwest of the Pacific Ocean, is comprised of six main islands and several smaller ones. Prior to World War I, Germany and the United States occupied most of the Samoan Islands. During WWI, New Zealand, upon a request by Britain, captured German Samoa and established the British Military Occupation of Samoa. An influenza pandemic in November 1918 killed about 22% of the Samoan population. The administration's lack of response to the disaster became the foundation for Samoans grievances against the New Zealand administration.
The Kurdish people are the most populous ethnicity without their own nation-state in the world. The governments of Turkey, Iran, Iraq, and Syria have repeatedly disenfranchised and murdered Kurds since the end of World War One, when the Kurds were promised, and later denied, self-rule. In Turkey, where Kurds constitute 20% of the population, the ethnic Turk-dominated government long denied the existence of a Kurdish minority and has pursued an assimilationist agenda designed to quash Kurdish culture.
In 1954, a young military officer, Alfredo Stroessner, organized a military coup and overthrew Paraguayan President Federico Chávez. A devoted anti-communist, Stroessner declared a state of siege and suspended constitutional freedoms for the entirety of his 35-year rule. Throughout Stroessner’s last two decades in power, indigenous people organized widely to oppose the negative effects that his massive development projects were having on their communities.
The Naga people have been entrenched in a largely violent struggle with the Indian government since the 19th century in an attempt to unify and secure the independence of areas in northeast India that are primarily populated by members of the Naga community. The National Socialist Council of Nagaland (NSCN)--the leading Naga rebel group--declared a ceasefire with the Indian government in 1997 in order to begin peace talks, but little progress has been made since that point.
Famous for its ecological wildlife, tropical rainforests, beaches, mangroves, and coral reefs, the Talamanca region of southeastern Costa Rica is one of the most biologically rich areas in the world. It has gained protection as a UNESCO World Heritage Site, and ecological conservation efforts have helped spur the region’s flourishing eco-tourism industry. In addition to fishing, coffee, and banana exports, eco-tourism is a major source of income for local communities and indigenous groups, which include the Bribri and Cabecar.
As on many Pacific islands, the British colonial rulers of the Solomon Islands set up an economy based on an inter-island trade in indigenous labor. Islanders were often just as happy to avoid the labor trade and continue living in their traditional subsistence economy, so the British instituted coercive methods to encourage people to work on plantations and, during World War II, in military industries. One of these methods was a strict indentured labor system that prohibited laborers from removing themselves from contracts once signed.
The Kwajalein Atoll in the Marshall Islands is home to the Kwajalein Missile Range, which the government leased to the United States beginning in 1978. From the beginning, Marshall Islands natives protested U.S. usage of the range.
Workers in the British colony of Southern Rhodesia, now Zimbabwe, bore an increased workload to support the war effort during WWII. As extraction of mineral resources increased, employees of Rhodesia Railways worked upward of 65 hours per week to transport the minerals to ports on the Indian Ocean. While white European railway workers had strong unions representing them, black African employees received inferior treatment and lower pay grades than whites.