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Slayings in Colombia
March 17, 1997

Click here to learn more about a program they work with called, Honor the Earth.
Three people who were committed to quality education for all, not some, were killed recently. This is part of their story, as relayed by friends of the Indigenous Women's Network, and what you can do to help.

Ingrid Washinawatokwho was Co-Chair of the Indigenous Women's Network, and Lahe'ena'e Gay and Terence Freitas, two other members of a group visiting the U'wa people of Colombia were kidnapped by hooded men in civilian clothing. They were later found murdered.

The three were part of a delegation that had been invited by the U'was People to join in prayer and solidarity. The purpose of their trip was to assist the U'wa People in establishing a cultural education system for their children and to support the continuation of their traditional way of life.

The Indigenous Women's Network, joining with the Menominee Nation, and other Indigenous Nations, is calling for a full prosecution of those responsible, and an investigation into the actions of the US State Department in reference to this incident. Honor the Earth is an organization that they work with.

"We believe that the US State Department destabilized negotiations and ultimately cost our sisters and brother their lives in a possible attempt to gain financial support for US policies in Colombia. We attribute this assertion to the fact that exactly during the negotiations for the release of the three humanitarian workers, the US State Department released approximately $230 million in military support for the alleged Anti-Drug War in Colombia. The Colombian government then attacked and killed over 70 members of the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) in an orchestrated attack. We believe that these two overt acts may have destabilized any hopes for the release of our sisters and brother."

The U'wa People live in the Arauca province in Northeastern Colombia. The U.S. multi-national oil corporations, Occidental Petroleum and Shell Oil had been carrying out oil exploration in the area known as the Samore block, the ancestral homelands of the U'wa People. It is estimated that these oil fields hold less than l.5 billion barrels of oil, equating too less than a three-month supply for the US. The U'wa people had threatened to commit mass suicide if these oil companies were successful in their exploitive endeavors.

How can you help? Read what you can about the incident - here is one news article to get you started. Do you feel the US government acted responsibly? Do you think the US government should press for the capture and punishment of the people who commited the murders?

Menomonie Nation Chairman Apesanakwat requests that you call the White House at 202 757-5000 and demand that the US government seek the immediate return of the bodies of these wonderful people and that the government press for a full investigation.

To make things even easier, you can write the President by visiting his website

Click here to read a San Francisco Chronicle article about the slayings.


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