Canku Ota - A Newsletter Celebrating Native America
March 25, 2000 - Issue 06

Drumbeat for Mother Earth Wins Awards
information provided by the Indigenous Environmental Network

Native Film, "Drumbeat for Mother Earth" wins top prize at New York International Independent Film and Video Festival.

On Eve of International Negotiations to Eliminate Toxic Pollutants, Documentary Draws Attention to Impact on Native Americans

(Bemidji, MN) "Drumbeat for Mother Earth," a documentary produced by the Indigenous Environmental Network and Greenpeace has been awarded a top prize from the New York International Independent Film and Video Festival. The film was recognized as Best Environmental Documentary.

"This is a great honor for all of those who worked on the film," said co-producer Joe Di Gangi, a toxics campaigner with Greenpeace. "More important than the film's accolades is the recognition by audiences of the tremendous threat persistent organic pollutants or POPs are having on Native Americans across the country."

Drumbeat was also awarded the Best Public Service Film Award at the American Indian Film Festival in San Francisco! The SF Fest is the world's oldest and most prestigious festival devoted to Indian Cinema.

Persistent organic pollutants (POPs) are chemicals such as dioxin and PCBs that are highly toxic in very small quantities and remain in the environment for long periods of time. POPs are released into the environment through the production and incineration of chlorine-based chemicals. Food is the most common route of exposure.

As illustrated in the film, POPs have become a silent plague on Native American communities whose lands and waters have become contaminated by these chemicals. Their traditions, diets and livelihoods are compromised by industry and the US government who have both failed to eliminate the poisons.

Drumbeat's recognition comes just two weeks before US negotiators are set to travel to Bonn, Germany for another round of United Nations-sponsored talks to eliminate the production and use of POPs. The ability of POPs to travel long distances across national boundaries has resulted in the need for international cooperation.

In response to the growing concern of Native Americans and Indigenous Peoples throughout the world, the German government, is planning a reception welcoming Native Americans and Indigenous Peoples. "Native members of our delegation from Tanana Village, Alaska, and a Yaqui ceremonial leader from Sonora, Mexico will join other Indigenous Peoples from Canada, the Arctic and other regions of the world in this reception," says Tom Goldtooth, national director of the Indigenous Environmental Network and co-producer of the film. "These toxic poisons are in the fetus of our pregnant women. Our communities have a right to know about these dangers and have a voice in these issues that effect our health," Goldtooth said.

Still, the battle to ban these substances appears to be a war waged on our own soil. While the European Union (EU) and other nations around the world have demonstrated their commitment to eliminating POPs, the US is not yet on board. In a leaked memo to the EU, the US threatened to block negotiations if the Europeans would not join forces with the US to weaken the treaty. The US wants to delete the goal of elimination of POPs from the treaty text, in favor of management of POPs.

Over 130 country delegates and non-governmental organizations from every continent will travel to Bonn, Germany during the week of March 20 to participate in the treaty negotiations. Non-governmental organizations will be participating as observers.

Tom Goldtooth, 218-751-4967
Jackie Warledo, 405-382-0820
Joe DiGangi, 312-554-1029

Indigenous Environmental Network
P.O. Box 485
Bemidji, Minnesota 56619-0485 USA
Phone (218) 751-4967
Fax (218) 751-0561
Internet Web Site:

"An alliance of Indigenous Peoples empowering Indigenous communities towards sustainable livelihoods, environmental protection of our lands, water, air and maintaining the sacred Fire of our traditions."
Indigenous Environmental Network

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