I am volunteering as a translator at the UN for an NGO that gives a voice to (withdrawn) indigenous peoples around the world. The only indigenous peoples that need translations from and to Russian come from various places in Siberia and the Arctic circle. Their papers are full of winter, just like the American Snowman. At the gravest risk of bringing something serious onto the Philolexian blog, I will nonetheless post this Resolution involving reindeer, snow and similar natural disasters.

Eighth Session of the UN Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues

21 May 2009

Item 5 Half-day Discussion about the Arctic

Irina Kurilova - Council of the Yukagir Elders, Russia

Esteemed Forum participants!

I am from Russia. I represent one of the smallest-numbering peoples of the Arctic: the Yukagirs. Only 1,500 of us remain. I was sent here by the Council of the Elders of the Yukagir people in order to speak before such a high Forum about the problems that trouble my small people.

In different regions of the world the process of climate change has different effects. In the opinion of certain experts climate change will be beneficial for Russia. And in parts of Siberia it will be as warm as in the Tropics. But for Indigenous peoples this will have far-ranging consequences. One of the main threats is the change in river flow patterns. The majority of settlements in the North today are located on the shores of river. In recent years there has been a sharp increase in the magnitude of spring freshets (a kind of flash flood); floods have become more common; processes of shore erosion, which cause grave disasters for the population, have accelerated. Already today the questions stands whether to close or relocate certain settlements. Thus, for example, there is the question of closing down my own village-township - the place of collective habitation of my people, the Yukagirs. And the closing of our settlement holds the threat of the disappearance of my people. Also there are new dangers besides the large material losses caused by the flooding: there is the possibility of washout of animal graveyards holding the remains of livestock that has died of Anthrax over the course of many years, as well as of the ancient graveyard with the remains of people who have perished in epidemics of plague and smallpox.

A serious effect is had by climate change on traditional forms of husbandry of the Indigenous peoples: reindeer herding, fishing, hunting and hunting-related trades. Due to massive snowfalls a thicker covering of snow forms, making it difficult for reindeer to graze. With changing water patterns the times of summer and autumn fish migrations are disturbed, changes occur in the types and quantities of fish; with the thawing of soil frosts some fish lakes "go"; due to late ice formation the time for ice-fishing is sometimes missed. Due to changing routes and times of migrations of caribou, geese, ducks, many hunters are left without their quarry. There is a growing threat to the lives of many hunters, who ride out to the hunt without waiting for sufficient ice thickness. The number of accidents among hunters has increased. But these are only a few of the problems connected with climate change. In actuality the problems are far more numerous.

Here then are my proposals to the Permanent Forum. Because:

1. Natural disasters (hurricanes, floods, storms, droughts, etc.) yearly acquire an ever more catastrophic nature, some countries already no longer able to address these problems on their own;

2. Questions arise of relocating within only a few years from now of the populations not only of settlements but already of entire regions and even of countries (the Seychelles, the Maldives, and others);

3. Climate change leads to the loss of traditional lands and change in the lifestyle of many representatives of Indigenous peoples.

I propose to raise the question:

1. About the creation of a global foundation for minimizing the consequences of and the adaptation of nations to climate change;

2. About the full participation of Indigenous peoples in international discussions and decision-making concerning issues connected with global climate change;

3. To address countries about acknowledging the fact of climate change and the instituting of national programs for diminishing the consequences of and the adaptation of peoples to changes in the climate.

Finding a solution for problems associated with climate change is a question of the fate of Indigenous peoples, a question of their life or death. Thank you!

I can out Kissinger Kissinger!
Yes - I can only speak in secret rumblings,
an esoteric mystical code understood by
the monastic brotherhood of Realpolitik.
My brows are furrowed always,
even in sex, even in the act
of making fierce love while
screaming “do me do me do me fuck my face and eyes
with your hands and desperate need to feel my hands ravage your skin
raze your arm hair and freckles to the ground!”
My glasses can only be thick, and I mean both lenses
and frames, all to keep out your searching eyes.
And when I think of nations, people, persons,
children running wild-eyed, their expressions
reminding me of water boiling over, ovens left on,
bread left in toasters… Yes, when I think of bombing nations,
I can only dream of secret missiles falling - my fingers
steepled as the planes make their soundless runs.
(How can somethings so silent; somethings so unobtrusive,
be so lacking in tenderness?)
Cambodia, a mass imagination ruined in silence.
Somethings that happen to somebodies, becoming nobodies.

Kissinger, with his scheming, was above it all: the only
one not bound up in the unfortunate shambles of Watergate.
But I can only stand next to Richard Nixon,
feeling most comfortable smelling his morning breath
of bad coffee and a bowl of cheerios.
His cool flop sweat soothes my nervous eyebrows.
I feel most at home beside liars,
for I know them better than I have loved tellers of truth.
His fingers are flung into the air, splaying like legs mid-coitus,
and his peace is one I can believe in.
I too believe “power is the ultimate aphrodisiac.”
Nothing makes me sexier than the fact
that I meet regularly with Mao Zedong. His face
is on posters and t-shirts, but I sit shrouded in mystery.
We walk through doors and enter back rooms together,
and no one may know I was there.
I can slip in and out of your world, and
you won’t know, but I can change it forever.
I stand over you and hold you on the bed,
muffling your mouth with my comforter; I
think of faraway lands and smile.

~jss, 2/28/08
*Thanks go out to Adam Katz, Samantha Kuperberg and Jeana Poindexter.

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