UVic professor was investigated by FBI after being accused of making “terroristic threats” during lecture in U.S.

Posted by admin on Jan 11th, 2011

By JUDITH LAVOIE, Timescolonist.com, January 11 2011

An associate professor at the University of Victoria was investigated by the FBI after a student complained about remarks she was alleged to have made during a lecture in the U.S.

Waziyatawin, a member of the Dakota First Nation who goes by one name, was accused of making “terroristic threats” in the lecture at Winona State University, Minn., after she said her people might have to reclaim tribal land by any means necessary.

The lecture took place in November. Waziyatawin was told Tuesday that the FBI had closed its file on her.

“The FBI agent informed me he was closing the case after listening to the original presentation as it was clear I had not made the statement that a young, white male student had complained about,” said Waziyatawin, who has held the UVic position of Canada Research Chair in Indigenous Peoples since June 2008.

Waziyatawin, who splits her time between Victoria and southwestern Minnesota, was investigated after the student wrote to a local newspaper claiming her remarks constituted terrorism.

“That initial letter to the editor said I made a number of inflammatory comments and attributed things to me that I actually didn’t say,” said Waziyatawin in an interview from Minnesota.

“It is really quite stunning that this one young, white male could wield this sort of power.”

Kyle Loven, chief division counsel for the FBI in Minneapolis, said he cannot comment on the individual case. But he said the FBI becomes involved if there are indications that a speech advocates violence.

“In the U.S., 99.9 per cent of the time, people are free to express themselves in any way that’s appropriate,” he said.

“The caveat is when there’s a speech inciting violence or inciting others to be violent. There’s no constitutional protection for a speech of that nature.

“When there’s a speech which is in the arena of violent rhetoric, the FBI will at least review that speech to make sure no state or federal laws have been violated.”

Waziyatawin, an author and land rights activist, said, as far as she knows, this is the first time she has been investigated by the FBI.

But she is used to her views ruffling feathers. “I talk about land reclamation by any means necessary. From my perspective that’s not a call to violence, but it doesn’t preclude the use of violence,” she said.

To put that in context, people must think about defending their land, she said.

In Minnesota, the Dakota people hold only 0.012 per cent of their original land base, but there are 12 million acres which could be returned to them without touching privately held lands, Waziyatawin said.

“If we were to reclaim some of that public land I would bet money that the state would respond with violent force and, in that context, I think we have the right to defend our land,” she said.

Waziyatawin has talked in Victoria and Minnesota about the role of indigenous people during a global collapse, but said she has never before seen such a backlash.

If there is a collapse of global institutions, indigenous people will need to arm themselves and obtain sufficient land base to survive, because lives will depend on it, she said.

“That’s what I advocate for and it’s always going to be scary or threatening for some segments of the population,” said Waziyatawin, who has no intention of toning down her lectures.

“Justice requires I keep saying something,” she said.

UVic spokeswoman Patty Pitts said she is not aware of any complaints in Victoria.


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