Friday, May 24, 2013

Indigenous Fronts for Capital

One thing that happened in Indian Country since the 1970s was the development of a Native American focus within the non-profit industrial complex, with heavy hitters like Ford Foundation providing the bulk of the money. This initial investment by Ford and its ongoing commitment has made a big difference in the ability of Native American artists and individuals involved in language revitalization to access and leverage philanthropic funds from ultra-wealthy Americans like Bill and Melinda Gates.

In addition to arts and culture, Ford invested in Native American non-profits oriented toward economic development in Indian Country, spawning many projects to help alleviate the vast poverty and dependence of American Indians. All to the good, one might think, except that as uber-capitalists, Ford and Gates are not interested in funding opponents of the global system of theft that made and keeps them rich.

Which is where the indigenous fronts for capital come in. As pass-through grant makers to tribes and artists over the years, indigenous capitalist activists like Rebecca Adamson were positioned to promote assimilation of tribes into the capitalist system, helping to corrupt tribal leaders to get in bed with oil and gas companies and other industrial extraction industries. Building indigenous capitalist activist networks to serve as public relations puppets at the UN and in other international venues, provided a means of using NGOs to pose as the protectors of indigenous rights, and later to help global capitalists and the UN keep indigenous governing authorities out.

One obvious problem involved in being on the Ford Foundation gravy train is that Ford and Gates -- along with the World Bank -- are ardent supporters of mega development on indigenous lands, and thus serve to decimate indigenous self-determination by indigenous governing authorities seeking to live in balance with nature. Having their army of indigenous NGOs and lobbyists playing their part in the UN Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues charade and World Conference on Indigenous Peoples fiasco – while simultaneously closing the door on indigenous governing authorities’ participation – allows Ford and friends to pretend to benevolence, while in reality condemning the implementation of the Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples to the dustbin.

In discussing the price of taking money from Ford, a friend of mine recently asked, “If I was a novice to Indian-related issues, I would say -- based on their (First Peoples Worldwide) website -- that they are in support of Indian rights.  However, so that I can be clear about their real intentions, would you say they are trying to assert that Indians should not be treated differently from other US citizens, when it comes to civil rights -- thereby opposing the collective rights of any particular nation/group within the US?”

Concluding my analysis of Ford, I said that it's why civil rights is promoted by liberal philanthropies, at the same time they invest in undermining human rights. Civil rights do not conflict with capitalism, while human rights do.

”Speaking of dirty money,” I said, “the gal that started off our discussion on Ford and the co-optation of indigenous NGOs, Rebecca Adamson, is in the news.” In fact, I just got the following press release in the mail that day. As I noted, “I guess Obama is looking for some capitalist Indians to help him whitewash the criminal intent of the extractive industries that ripped off tribes coast to coast and resulted in the shameful settlement known as Cobell.” As I remarked to my friend, “I guess we called that one right.”

January 8, 2013
Contact: Nick Pelosi +(1) 899-540-6545

Rebecca Adamson Appointed to USEITI
First Peoples Worldwide (FPW) Founder and President Rebecca Adamson has been appointed by the U.S. Secretary of the Interior to serve on the U.S. Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative Advisory Committee. The committee will guide and oversee the U.S. government’s implementation of the Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (EITI).

EITI is a global effort to increase the transparency and accountability of natural resource revenue reporting. Participating governments are required to disclose all revenues from oil, gas, and mining companies, while companies are required to disclose these same payments to governments. The two sets of data are subject to review and approval from an independent third party approved by both sides, and then released in a public report. The 21-person committee, which includes representatives from the industry, government, and civil society sectors, will develop USEITI reporting requirements through a multi-year, consensus-based process. The full list of committee members is available here.

“It is an honor to be chosen for the committee,” says Adamson. “We commend the Department of Interior’s recognition of the need to include an Indigenous voice in this process.  Given the impacts of extractive companies on our communities, it is important that we are given a role in increasing the transparency of the industry.”

Adamson is a pioneer in using market-based strategies to advocate for Indigenous Peoples around the world.  By engaging directly with oil, gas, and mining companies and their shareholders, Adamson and FPW are restructuring business models to ensure Indigenous communities a fair stake in development projects that affect them. This year, FPW will release a report measuring the risk exposure to Indigenous Peoples for 40 oil, gas, and mining companies in the Russell 1000 Index. The data will be used to help investors incorporate Indigenous Peoples’ interests in their investment decisions, and to promote shareholder dialogue with companies about Indigenous Peoples’ rights. Click here to read more about FPW’s corporate engagement program.

Notes to Editors:
For more information and to interview Rebecca Adamson, please contact Nick Pelosi at

About First Peoples Worldwide:
Founded by Rebecca Adamson in 1997, First Peoples Worldwide is dedicated to strengthening Indigenous communities through the restoration of their authority and control over their assets. For more information, visit


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