Costa Rican Indigenous land rights activist assassinated by gunmen

Sergio Rojas indigenous land activist is pictured during a interview in Salitre, Buenos Aires de Puntarenas, Costa Rica, October 2, 2015. Courtesy of La Nacion via REUTERS

A well-known Costa Rican indigenous land rights activist was gunned down on Monday night.

Sergio Rojas was at his home in the indigenous territory of Salitre, about 200 km (124 miles) south of the capital, San Jose, when the attack happened late on Monday, the office of President Carlos Alvarado said, calling the killing “regrettable.”

According to a press release, Rojas was assassinated by armed gunmen who shot him as many as 15 times at around 9:15 pm in his home in Yeri. It appears the armed assailant entered the back of Sergio’s home. Neighbors called 911. Over an hour later police arrived. Eventually members of the Red Cross entered and confirmed that he died of multiple gunshot wounds.

The Tico Times reports, an investigation into the murder has been initiated, led by the country’s Judicial Investigation Police (OIJ) in collaboration with National Police. 

Alvarado said he has asked the Public Security Ministry (MSP) to provide all necessary support to OIJ to aid the investigation.

MSP officers maintain a presence at the location of Sergio Rojas’s apparent murder. (Via Casa Presidencial. )

Rojas was President of the Association for the Development of the Indigenous Territory of Salitre and coordinator of the National Front of Indigenous Peoples (FRENAP) in Costa Rica and was a staunch defender of the Bribri of Saltire Indigenous people who have been fighting for years to regain their rights to over 12,000 hectares of land in southern Costa Rica pledged to them by a 1938 government agreement, according to a 2014 teleSUR report.

In 2012, Rojas was shot at six times in an apparent assassination attempt near the reserve but escaped the shooting unscathed.

Reuters reports, in 2015, the Inter-American Court of Human Rights ordered the government to provide Bribri and Teribe people with protection, arguing they were at risk because of actions taken to recover their lands.

Costa Rica has 24 indigenous territories inhabited by eight ethnic groups, with occupation and encroachment on their land by ranchers causing conflict since the 1960s.

Farmers, angered in a land dispute, burned down the home of an indigenous family in Salitre, a Bribrí indigenous reserve in south-central Costa Rica, July 5, 2014. (The Tico Times)

“He [Rojas] made a lot of enemies over the years,” said Sonia Suárez, a schoolteacher in Salitre.

In a statement, Costa Rica’s ombudsman said Rojas had requested further police protection on Friday after he and other members of his organization said they were shot at in connection with their “recovery” of a farm on Bribri land.

The Central American country has for years struggled to mediate land-right disputes between indigenous and non-indigenous people.

Costa Rica’s 1977 Indigenous Law prohibits the sale of indigenous lands, but is not clear on what to do in cases where land within reserves was already farmed by outsiders.

Redwolf Pope accused of sexual assaults fighting extradition to New Mexico

Photo provided by the Maricopa County Sheriff’s office shows Redwolf Pope arrested in Phoenix. (Via AP)

Police seek additional victims after Redwolf Pope arrested on sexual assault charges 

Redwolf Pope has been arrested in Phoenix, Arizona after a warrant was issued by the Santa Fe Police Department.

Santa Fe police issued an arrest warrant Monday for Pope, 41, after investigating him for more than a month on suspicion of sex crimes. The warrant accuses Pope, who police say has residences in Seattle and Santa Fe, of sexually assaulting females who appeared to have been slipped a date-rape drug.

The Santa Fe New Mexican reports, local police have been investigating these and other allegations since at least early June, when Pope’s roommates told officers they had found videos that appear to show him raping unconscious women. The roommates also told police they believe he planted hidden cameras in the bathroom and other rooms of an apartment they share with him in Santa Fe and one where they sometimes stay in Seattle.

KING 5 says, Pope would also rent his Seattle apartment on Airbnb. The company has removed Pope as a host and reached out to law enforcement to offer help with the investigation.

A woman from the Seattle area told police in that city earlier this month that she believes Pope raped her in Santa Fe during a visit last year.

He was taken into custody late Tuesday night and is being held at the Maricopa County jail without bond.

Pope, is a activist who spent time at Standing Rock fighting the Dakota Access pipeline reports He was featured in a TEDxSeattle talking about his activism called “Lessons of Courage from Standing Rock.”

Lessons of courage from Standing Rock | RedWolf Pope | TEDxSeattle. TEDx Talks

TEDxSeattle has since removed the video of his presentation from the web.

The Seattle Times reports Pope’s LinkedIn page lists him as an attorney, however Tulalip Tribal Court Director Wendy Church said that he doesn’t work as a lawyer for the tribe and a spokeswoman for the Washington State Bar Association confirmed that Pope is not a licensed lawyer in the state.

Pope is identified in other news media as a member of the Tlingit tribe of the Pacific Northwest.

The tribe says he is not an enrolled tribal citizen.

Although Pope has been showing up at American Indian events for decades he is not Native American.

Pope is charged in Santa Fe with rape, aggravated battery, false imprisonment and other crimes.

Police in both Seattle and Santa Fe are investigating the case.

Pope has not faced any other criminal charges in New Mexico.

Juan Ríos, the public information officer for the Santa Fe County Sheriff’s Office, said Friday that Pope is fighting extradition from Arizona to New Mexico.

The Seattle police are seeking additional victims and ask anyone with information on the case to contact the department’s Sexual Assault Unit.

Story updated July 30, 2018

Cleveland Indians Fan Apologizes To Native American Activist After Viral “Red Face” Photo

Cleveland Indians Fan Who Wore Red Face in Viral Picture Two Years Ago Returned to Apologize.

Cleveland Indians Fan Who Wore Red Face in Viral Picture Two Years Ago Returned to Apologize.

By Zak Cheney-Rice, April 6, 2016

Baseball is back, which means the return of great American pastimes like Sunday afternoon ballgames, peanuts, Cracker Jack… and racism:

But this year, something is different. The photo above, showing Cleveland Indians fan Pedro Rodriguez (right) confronting American Indian Movement activist Robert Roche (left) outside the ironically named Progressive Field in 2014 is back in the news — only this time, the story has a happy ending.

According to Indian Country Today Media Network, Rodriguez apologized to Roche on Monday for his ugly display two years back. “He approached me and apologized,” Roche told the media network. “It shocked me. I never expected [that]. He said he was an avid fan, but he was sorry and he understood where I was coming from now.”

Rodriguez had previously claimed he “was honoring Roche” by wearing the headdress and face paint, but has since changed his tune, ICTMNreported. Local indigenous activist Bee Schrull captured Monday’s apology in a photo:

The incident comes amid an intensifying debate about racism and professional sports mascots. The NFL’s Washington Redskins have long been at the center of the discussion, with activists on one side claiming the mascot is racist and fans on the other arguing that changing it would be a slap in the face to the team’s legacy.

Baseball is no stranger to the debate, either. The Cleveland Indians’ Chief Wahoo — a cartoonish caricature of a Native American — has beencriticized for years, with some fans even going so far as to rip the offensive logo off their Cleveland paraphernalia when they go to games.

The practice is known as “de-Chiefing” and has become emblematic of the tension between people wanting to support their team but not wanting to support, you know, racism.

In this context, Rodriguez’s apology can be read as part of an encouraging personal evolution. Too bad the Cleveland Indians organization — which has been de-emphasizing the logo’s prominence for some time now — still has yet to follow suit.

h/t Indian Country Today Media Network

American Indian Activist, John Trudell Dies At 69

John Trudell, Buffy St. Marie

FILE – This March 7, 1975, file photo shows John Trudell, left, national chairman of the American Indian Movement, AIM, flanked by singer Buffy St. Marie during a news conference in Los Angeles. (AP Photo/Wally Fong, File)

By Associated Press

LOS ANGELES, Calif. – John Trudell, who was a spokesman for American Indian protesters during their 1969 occupation of Alcatraz Island and later headed the American Indian Movement, died Tuesday. He was 69.

Trudell, who also was a poet and actor, died of cancer at his home in Santa Clara County in California, where he was surrounded by friends and family, said Cree Miller, a trustee for his estate.

In some of his last words, Trudell said expressions of concern and love for him have been “like a fire to my heart,” according to Miller.

“Thank you all for that fire,” he said.

“John Trudell and his family ask for people to celebrate love and celebrate life. He asked that people pray and celebrate in their own way in their own communities,” Miller said in a statement.

Trudell was born Feb. 15, 1946, in Omaha, Nebraska. His father was Santee Sioux, and Trudell grew up near the Santee Sioux Reservation.

He became involved in Native American activism after a stint in the U.S. Navy, serving in a destroyer off the Vietnamese coast.

In 1969, Trudell joined American Indians who had occupied Alcatraz Island in San Francisco Bay to demand that the former federal prison should be given to Native Americans under treaty rights.

Trudell, who studied radio and broadcasting at a college in San Bernardino, California, became spokesman for the group that called itself the United Indians of All Tribes, and he ran a radio broadcast from the island called Radio Free Alcatraz.

The protest eventually dwindled, and the last demonstrators were removed by federal officers after 19 months.

Trudell went on to serve as national chairman of the activist American Indian Movement from 1973 to 1979.

In 1979, while Trudell was demonstrating in Washington, D.C., his pregnant second wife, Tina Manning, three children and mother-in-law were killed in a fire at her parents’ home on the Duck Valley Indian Reservation in Nevada.

Trudell and others long suspected government involvement, but the cause of the fire was never determined.

Trudell later had a relationship with Marcheline Bertrand, the mother of actress Angelina Jolie, before her 2007 death from cancer. She was an executive producer of a 2005 documentary about him called “Trudell.”

Trudell was a prolific poet, combining spoken words and music on more than a dozen albums, including one released earlier this year.

His fans included Kris Kristofferson, who paid tribute to Trudell with the 1995 song “Johnny Lobo,” a tune Kristofferson still frequently performs live.

Trudell also acted in several movies, including 1992’s “Thunderheart” starring Val Kilmer and 1998’s “Smoke Signals” starring Adam Beach.

In 2012, Trudell and singer Willie Nelson co-founded Hempstead Project Heart, which advocates for legalizing the growing of hemp for industrial purposes as a more environmentally sound alternative to crops used for clothing, biofuel and food.

Red Power Media contains copyrighted material. We are making such material available to our readers under the provisions of “fair dealing” in an effort to advance a better understanding of Indigenous – political, economic and social issues. The material on this site is distributed without profit to our followers for educational purposes. If you wish to use copyrighted material for purposes other than “fair dealing” you must request permission from the copyright owner.

Native American Activist ‘Jess Sixkiller’ Shot To Death In Home Invasion

Jess Sixkiller (Photo: Sixkiller family photo)

Jess Sixkiller (Photo: Sixkiller family photo)

By Red Power Media, Staff

Phoenix police are investigating a violent home invasion in which a prominent member of the Cherokee community was shot and killed.

The wife of, 78-year-old, Jess Sixkiller called 911 about 3:15 a.m. Friday, to report she believed someone was inside the home she shared with her husband.

Police spokesman James Holmes said she heard someone attempting to break into the home. She then heard what she believed to be a gunshot and found her husband in another room.

When officers arrived, they took the woman from the home and during a sweep of the house, they discovered Sixkiller shot to death.

She told authorities that she thought she heard someone say “police” in broken English, police said.

Police are continuing to investigate and asking for the public’s help in identifying the perpetrator.

The daughter of the victim identified her father as Jess Sixkiller, a former Chicago police officer and a Native American rights activist.

A memorial fund has been set up in Sixkiller’s name. Donations can be made to:

Wells Fargo Bank
Jess Sixkiller Memorial
Account #2457886071

Phoenix Police Homicide detectives have very little to go on in this investigation and they are asking anyone who may have seen or heard anything, or who may have information about this homicide to call Silent Witness at (480) WIT-NESS. As always, any caller may remain anonymous.

At this point in the investigation, they don’t know whether anything was stolen, but say there are signs of forced entry.

Native American Activist Found Dead In Jail Cell After Traffic Fine Arrest


By Counter Current News

A Native American activist was recently arrested and found dead in jail under conditions very similar to those of Sandra Bland in Texas.

Rexdale W. Henry, 53, was recently found dead inside the Neshoba County Jail in Philadelphia, Mississippi, on July 14th. He had been arrested over failure to pay a minor traffic citation.

Local WTOK, reported that corrections officers reported Henry dead around 10 a.m.. But reports and logs reveal that he was seen alive and perfectly fine only half an hour before that.

Reports say that the state crime lab in Jackson are currently conducting an autopsy. The Mississippi Bureau of Investigation also says that they are “looking into” Henry’s death.

But that hasn’t satisfied Henry’s fellow activists, friends and family. Just after funeral services were held on July 19th, in Bogue Chitto, Henry’s body was flown to Florida for an independently-funded autopsy paid for by anonymous donors. They hope that this autopsy will get to the bottom of what really happened.

Syracuse University law professors Janis McDonald and Paula Johnson of the school’s Cold Case Justice Initiative comment that, “at a time when the nation is focused on the terrible circumstances of the brutal death of Sandra Bland, it is critical to expose the many ways in which Black Americans, Native Americans and other minorities are being arrested for minor charges and end up dead in jail cells.”

Henry was a member of the Choctaw tribe. He has been well known in the community and by opponents in law enforcement as a lifelong community activist.

He was also a candidate for the Choctaw Tribal Council from Bogue Chitto, only the week before his arrest on July 9th.

Henry’s death occurred one day after that of Sandra Bland, who was found hanging in the Texas, Waller County Jail.

The results of the private autopsy will be made public when it is complete. Stay tuned and help SPREAD THE WORD!

(Article by M. David)

Argentina Indigenous Chieftain Leads Fight To Reclaim Ancestral Land

 Félix Díaz is attempting to change that narrative, by making visible the displaced indigenous minority and reaffirming their rights – and their claims to lost territory. Photograph: Alamy

Félix Díaz is attempting to change that narrative, by making visible the displaced indigenous minority and reaffirming their rights – and their claims to lost territory. Photograph: Alamy

Uki Goñi in Buenos Aires / The Guardian

Being ignored by the president will not stop Qom activist Félix Díaz from camping out in Buenos Aires with demands for government officials

Félix Díaz stands before a line of colourful plastic tents on one of the broad strips of land running down the centre of the Avenida 9 de Julio – one of the busiest thoroughfares in the Argentinian capital.

“We have many gods,” he says. “The god of nature, the god of water, the god of air, but we no longer have the land we shared with them. They’ve taken our gods and now they’re taking what little is left of our land.”

Díaz, the chieftain of the Qom indigenous tribe, is leading the fight for the return of his people’s ancestral lands in the distant northern province of Formosa. Together with representatives of the Pilagá, Wichi and Nivaclé indigenous communities, the Qom activists have for the past five months camped out in central Buenos Aires to demand the return of their traditional territories.

But his words are drowned out by the thunderous din of traffic – and his message has been actively ignored by government officials.

Argentina is often thought of as a country of immigrants: most of the current population consider themselves to be descendants of southern Europeans who arrived between the mid-19th and early 20th centuries.

Díaz is attempting to change that narrative by making visible the displaced indigenous minority and reaffirming their rights – and their claims to lost territory.

“Argentina’s indigenous people suffer racism, discrimination and violence,” says Nobel peace prize winner Adolfo Pérez Esquivel, who survived 14 months of torture and incarceration during the country’s 1976-83 military dictatorship and is now leading a campaign for official recognition of indigenous leaders such as Díaz.

Far from responding to their demands, however, Argentina’s government has responded by sending in the police. Riot police in armoured vehicles launched a 3am raid in a failed attempt to evict the protest camp.

The attempted eviction was halted after the news went viral on social media. “We’re not murderers, we’re not delinquents, we’re not corrupt,” said Díaz. “We just want our human rights respected and to be received by President Cristina Fernández de Kirchner.”

Fernández has cast herself as a defender of human rights, throwing her political weight behind the trials against military officials of the dictatorship era, but her government has consistently disregarded the rights claimed by indigenous leaders such as Díaz.

“The government talks about human rights during the time of the dictatorship while it violates the rights of the indigenous people today,” says Pérez Esquivel.

Pérez Esquivel has the ear of a powerful ally: the former bishop of Buenos Aires. In 2013, he arranged a meeting between Díaz and Pope Francis at the Vatican, and a striking photograph of the meeting between two white-clad leaders made front pages across Argentina. But even that media coup has failed to shake apparent public indifference to indigenous rights.

That is why in February Díaz brought his protest from Formosa, a steamy, subtropical poverty-stricken province, to this makeshift protest camp in bustling Buenos Aires.

After five months, the plastic tents are looking ragged, the white plastic chairs are soiled and the modular toilets standing in the middle of the avenue look out of place. Few people stop to express solidarity. Two small girls run barefoot perilously close to the curb as oblivious motorists speed by.

Part of the problem is that Fernández refuses to recognize the results of a government-sponsored 2011 vote in which the 50,000-strong Qom community elected Díaz as its representative to negotiate the land question.

Díaz defeated his opponent in an 80% landslide. But Fernández dismisses Díaz outright. “The Qom don’t live in press conferences; they don’t live on 9 de Julio avenue,” she said two years ago regarding a previous protest on the same spot. “They live in Formosa.”

Díaz counters: “In 2007 the government took away 2042 hectares [about 5,000 acres] of our ancestral lands,” counters Díaz. “Since then, it has ignored all our

“Losing land for us is like losing a body organ,” he says. “It means death
to us if we don’t have our land for physical and spiritual nourishment, for our ancestral medicine.”

Argentina’s last population census in 2010 registered nearly 1 million people – about 2.38% of the total population of over 40 million – who consider themselves direct descendants of the nation’s indigenous inhabitants.

But the overall genetic makeup of Argentinians is more mixed than was once believed. “The ancestry information markers we carry in our blood show that genetically Argentinians are about 70% European, 20% indigenous and 5% African,” says Daniel Corach, director of the service of genetic digital tracing at the University of Buenos Aires, who reached that conclusion based on wide-ranging DNA testing throughout Argentina.

But in the country’s northern regions, some communities have less mixed ancestry, says Corach. Among the groups with the least European blood are the Wichi and Qom communities in Formosa. “There are over 30 native languages still spoken in Argentina today. And the economically dominant economic groups continue to displace those people even now, especially with the advent of extensive soy plantations, which have forced those native populations to resettle in urban areas,” he said.

The Qom people fiercely resisted Spanish colonial encroachment and attempts to convert them to Christianity. But their ecosystem was devastated when the province of Formosa came under Argentinian rule in 1876 after a war with neighbouring Paraguay.

That ecosystem was destroyed by exploitation of the native quebracho tree, known for its tanin and its hard timber. And when the new white landowners turned to cotton production, the Qom people became the cheap seasonal workforce.

Since the 1990s their situation has only deteriorated further. Industrial-style soy cultivation has accelerated deforestation. Communities have lost their lands to agribusiness and suffer health problems from fertilizers, pesticides and water poisoning.

Father Francisco Nazar, a priest who left Buenos Aires to work amongst the Qom and the Wichi peoples in Formosa 44 years ago, sees Díaz as Argentina’s best hope for coming to terms with the existence of its indigenous communities. “He’s imbued with the culture and spirituality of his ancestors, combined with a total belief in non-violence. He is a great man against very powerful enemies.”

According to Pérez Esquivel, the situation facing Argentina’s indigenous people is dire. “They are the object of systematic persecution while their lands are handed over to big international firms for mining, oil, gold, strategic minerals, fracking. They’re being driven out of their territories. They live like exiles in their own land.”

Although Díaz and Pérez Esquivel continue pressing for a presidential response, they are not optimistic. “I don’t think the president is going to change on this. It’s a political decision,” says Pérez Esquivel.

Díaz adds: “They’re killing us with indifference.”

UPDATE: Halt of telescope on Mauna Kea, Is it a one week pause, or a one week ploy?



Ige announces 1 week halt of Mauna Kea telescope construction

Is it a one week pause, or a one week ploy?

Governor David Ige announced at a press conference Tuesday that construction of the Thirty Meter Telescope atop Mauna Kea will ‘pause’ for a week. He’s hoping the next seven days will ease tensions and increase dialogue between stakeholders over the construction of the thirty meter telescope.

“The president of the University (Hawaii) and the Office of Hawaiian Affairs have agreed to a timeout on the project and there will be no construction activities this week,” Gov. Ige said.

Opponents aren’t sold.

“I believe it was just to avoid the national black eye because we have the Merrie Monarch going on right now,” said De Mont Conner, manager of Ho’omana Pono, an activist organization.

He was referencing the world renowned hula festival taking place in Hilo this week.

“They’re taking Merrie Monarch week off because the world watches Merrie Monarch. The world will know the truth, so they figure what you don’t see you don’t know,” added his wife Momi.

The Governor did not mention Merrie Monarch in his press conference, and offered little on the specifics of the proposed dialogue set to take place between parties. However, he did say in so many words what his position on the telescope is.

Gov. Ige said that all sides are actively engaged in “meaningful discussions” and “conversations.”

“There have been many decisions made previously on Mauna Kea and about Mauna Kea and I believe those decisions have to be honored,” Gov. Ige said.

Activists were more direct in their views.

“How can we be trespassing on our own land? We are kanaka ma’oli, we are the host culture. The governor and the powers that be need to start listening to the power of the people,” said Conner.

“What the people on the ground is calling for is a moratorium. Stop the building.”

Outspoken First Nations Activist Says She’s Being Tracked By The Government

First Nations activist and Ryerson University professor Pam Palmater speaks to CTV's Question Period about Bill C-51, the government's anti-terror bill, on March 22, 2015.

First Nations activist and Ryerson University professor Pam Palmater speaks to CTV’s Question Period about Bill C-51, the government’s anti-terror bill, on March 22, 2015.

By Michelle Zilio |

A well-known First Nations activist and lawyer says she is being tracked by the federal government departments.

Pam Palmater, a Mi’kmaq lawyer and professor at Ryerson University, told CTV’s Question Period that access-to-information documents show that she is being tracked by three federal government departments.

“I wrote an access to information request to CSIS (the Canadian Security Intelligence Service), National Defence, the RCMP and Indian Affairs to determine whether or not they were following (or) surveilling me in any way and three out of the group all confirmed that they were,” she said.

Palmater did not indicate which three of the four departments are tracking her.

Palmater said the ATIPs indicate the government started tracking her prior to her involvement in the highly publicized Idle No More movement, which swept across Canada in early 2013.

Palmater’s concern about government surveillance of First Nations activists comes as Parliament debates the Conservatives’ controversial anti-terror bill, C-51, which increases powers for Canada’s security agencies to track threats. She worries some wording in the bill may lump First Nations and environmental activists into that group.

“Any activity by anyone in Canada which relates to or poses a potential threat to things like the economy, critical infrastructure, diplomatic relations, territorial integrity and sovereignty of all things, can be on this terror list,” said Palmater.

“So that essentially puts in the realm any First Nation that’s ever declared sovereignty in this territory and any environmental group that’s ever interrupted the economy.”

But the government has said the legislation won’t target activists like Palmater. Speaking to the House of Commons public safety committee on March 12, Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Public Safety Roxanne James addressed concerns raised by Assembly of First Nations National Chief Perry Bellegarde that First Nations activism will be viewed as “activity that undermines the security of Canada.”

“I can’t think of a single instance in my history — I’m 49 years old — where a First Nation has brought something that would blow up infrastructure, that would kill innocent lives, and I can’t think of anything in history that would connect First Nations to being a group that would be within the information sharing act,” said James.

Palmater rejected such claims.

“They are already spying on me,” said Palmater. “So right now, without this anti-terrorism bill, my rights are already being violated.”

Canadian Bar Association concerned about bill

The Canadian Bar Association (CBA) expressed similar concerns about the anti-terror bill on Question Period, joining the growing chorus of criticism against the legislation.

The organization is particularly concerned about the government’s failure to include any new parliamentary oversight for Canada’s security agencies in the legislation.

“The concern for us is with almost a rewriting of the mandate for CSIS; there isn’t a commensurate increase of on-the-ground operational, over-the-shoulder oversight for the organization,” said Eric Gottardi, of the CBA.

Gottardi said it is also unclear why the new powers are necessary, as many of them are already covered under existing legislation.

The Commons public safety committee will continue its study of the bill next week, where it will hear from a number of new witnesses, including Palmater and the CBA.

‘War’ Looms Over The Fight For Inquiry Into Missing And Murdered Indigenous Women

A Mohawk sits on the Canadian Pacific Railway line last January when several people blocked the rail lines through Tyendinaga.

A Mohawk sits on the Canadian Pacific Railway line last January when several people blocked the rail lines through Tyendinaga.

By Kenneth Jackson | APTN National News FEB,  06, 2014

Prime Minister Stephen Harper has been warned.

According to Mohawk activist Shawn Brant, Harper has to the end of the month to call a national inquiry into missing and murdered Indigenous women, or face a direct conflict led by the Mohawks of Tyendinaga.

Brant says he’s gathered support from his community, Ontario chiefs, organizations and grassroots activists to pressure the federal government to call an inquiry.

Brant wrote a letter to Harper this week and gave a copy to APTN National News.

“It is our opinion that all diplomatic means to convince you of the need for an inquiry have failed,” wrote Brant. “Further, the tears and sadness of the families left behind have not moved you to any position of compassion.”

Brant doesn’t give Harper a deadline in the letter but told APTN it’s the end of the month. He “sadly” could see this action turning into a “war” with Harper.

Brant is known for blocking rail tracks, bridges, roads and highways. But Brant says this time, he will push his protests to the limit, because of the importance of an inquiry.

He’s gone to jail before because of blockades and has said he never wants to go back.

In this case, he said there is no option for failure.

“I don’t have the option on that – the door has already been closed. It has to be to a resolution,” he said “If I die on the vine, then I should be happy for such a proper issue.”

It’s not the first time the father and husband has said he’s willing to lay his life down to fight what he believes to be injustices against Indigenous peoples.

But when he speaks of missing and murdered women, he seems especially committed.

“This is an issue where all other issues that people stand for can fall in behind this. If we’re successful in dealing with this, given the disrespect and unwillingness of the government to deal with it in a meaningful way, all other issues will be resolved, as well, including fracking, education and healthcare funding in First Nation communities,” he said.

Brant said the identities of his supporters will be made public as the campaign unfolds. But he’s seen alleged supporters turn their back on him before.

In 2007, he blocked Hwy. 401 for 11 hours in both directions, along with the rail lines and local road, during the so-called national Day of Action.

Brants says the Mohawks of Tyendinaga were the only ones to step forward despites others like former Roseau River chief Terry Nelson saying he’d block rail and roads too in Manitoba.

Instead, Nelson took a land deal offered by the feds and was nowhere to be seen on the day Brant was facing off with police on the pavement of the busiest highway in Canada.

This time around, Nelson, who is grand chief of the Southern Chiefs Organization in Manitoba, says he backs grassroots on thefight for missing and murdered.

“I support activism on this issue but it doesn’t always need chiefs, the people can push issues on their own, not have to wait for permission from anyone,” he said.

The blockade caused about $100 million in “economic damage,” according to a secret 2008 Canadian Security Intelligence Service memo obtained under the Access to Information Act, as previously reported by APTN.

The Assembly of First Nations called for the Day of Action by former national chief Phil Fontaine but pulled away in the lead up to it. Fontaine then disavowed actions like blockades.

In the end, Brant says he and his people were left standing alone.

Gladys Radek has put her support behind Brant after years of trying to raise awareness for the missing and murdered through walks and trips across Canada.

“Joining up with Shawn is the only way of pushing this forward,” said Radek, who’s niece went missing in September 2005.

– with files from Jorge Barrera