Native groups oppose Olympics
The anti-Olympics coalition in Canada clearly states its position on the home page of their website (www.no2010.com): “No 2010 Olympics on Stolen Native Land – Resist the 2010 Corporate Circus.”
|Written by Mordecai Specktor,
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In late October, protesters were preparing to confront the Olympic torch relay along its 106-day route across Canada. “In Victoria, with the Olympic flame arriving on a plane from Greece just a day before Halloween, anti-Olympic groups are planning a street festival and a ‘zombie march’ along Victoria’s streets,” according to the Canadian Press. The paper also reported that opponents of the 2010 Vancouver Olympic Games range from “native groups and anti-poverty activists to civil rights advocates and opponents of Canada’s seal hunt.”
Among various reasons for opposing the Winter Olympics, which begin in
mid-February 2010, the Resist 2010 coalition cites the Canadian
government’s exploitation of “largely unceded and non-surrendered
Indigenous territories” in British Columbia.
The Resist 2010 organizers argue that a “fraudulent treaty process”
legitimizes the government’s control of Native land for the “benefit of
corporations, including mining, logging, oil and gas, and ski resorts.
Meanwhile, Indigenous peoples suffer the highest rates of poverty,
unemployment, imprisonment, police violence, disease, suicides, etc.”
The Resist 2010 analysis notes that the modern Olympics have a “long
history of racism,” and have served to promote colonialist and
authoritarian regimes. You may recall that there were protests of the
torch relay prior to the 2008 Summer Games in Beijing, by Tibetans and
others opposed to the Chinese government’s human rights abuses.
As I learned a couple years ago, there also were protests of the torch
relay through Europe before the 1936 Games – the Nazi Olympics in
Berlin. The U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum organized a 1996 exhibition
on the controversial 1936 Berlin Games, which explained how the games
were designated for Berlin prior to the 1933 Nazi seizure of power.
Hitler used the Olympics as a propaganda device to enhance the stature
of the Third Reich.
An international boycott campaign protesting the Nazi regime’s
anti-Semitic policies was launched; but the head of the American
Olympic Committee, Avery Brundage, a Nazi sympathizer, opposed the
boycott of the Berlin Games and declared, “The Olympic Games belong to
the athletes and not to the politicians.”
Brundage later had Sam Stoller and Marty Glickman, the only two Jews on
the U.S. Olympic team, removed from the 4 x 100 relay. It is suspected
that Brundage did not want to embarrass Hitler by having two Jews win
an event in his presence. (Hitler, whose vision was of Nazi global
domination, planned to build a 400,000-seat arena, the Deutsches
Stadion, in Nuremberg, and stage the Olympics forever in Germany.)
The Resist 2010 activists also point to the 1968 Mexico City Olympics,
which were preceded by a massacre of 300 students; Brundage, who was
then head of the International Olympic Committee, did not acknowledge
the murderous repression by the Mexican government.
In addition to the issue of broken treaties, there is growing
opposition to the further development of Alberta tar sands, a massive
industrial project that involves profound environmental consequences.
This issue has been front and center in protests of the 2010 Vancouver
The Alberta tar sands exploitation involves massive strip mining to
expose bitumen, a compound like asphalt, which is melted with steam and
upgraded into synthetic oil.
A group called the Polaris Institute has organized the Tar Sands Watch
Campaign (www.tarsandswatch.org), which is trying to educate the
Canadian public about this toxic and disastrous energy extraction
They also point out that the MacKenzie Gas Project, which is designed
to bring more natural gas from the High Arctic to fuel the Alberta tar
sands development has “serious implications for Aboriginal peoples,
especially the Dehcho First Nation.”
Finally, the Cowichan sweater, an iconic symbol of the Pacific Coast in
Canada, will be produced for the Canadian Olympic team – but not by
First Nation artisans. Instead, a more expensive knock-off sweater will
be produced by another outfit under contract to the Hudson Bay Company.
The Bay will market its hand-knit sweater for $350, compared to the
$215 charged for the Cowichan original, according to the Vancouver Sun.
This is the latest Olympic-related insult to Native people in British Columbia.