Indigenous Peoples and Human Rights December 2019

Indigenous Peoples and Human Rights

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Seneca to Obama at UN 2011: Adopt the UN Indigenous Rights Declaration

Seneca Nation points out that the US has not adopted the UN Indigenous Rights Declaration -- which President Obama earlier gave lip service to

Photo Susan Andrews/Salamanca Public Schools at UN
By Brenda Norrell

NEW YORK -- (May 26, 2011) The Seneca Nation encouraged the United States to move forward with full adoption and implementation of the United Nations Declaration of Indigenous Rights, during the UN Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues.

"In December 2010 President Barack Obama announced his support of the Declaration but the United States, which to date has failed to formally adopt the document, has taken no meaningful action," the Seneca Nation said.

Speaking at the UN Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues, the Seneca pointed out what others at the UN Permanent Forum failed to point out. During the Permanent Forum this month, presenters praised Obama's verbal support of the Declaration. However, Obama's support was followed with stipulations from the US State Department.

In a similar manner, Canada is attempting to sidestep implementation of the Declaration, which would give the Declaration the full force of law regarding rights to ancestral territories and ensure free, prior and informed consent, along with other Indigenous rights inherent to sovereign nations stated in the Declaration.

Seneca Nation Councilor Nikki Seneca traveled to New York City to deliver a statement to the Tenth Session of the Permanent Forum. This is the first time the Seneca Nation has taken issues, including treaty rights, to the international arena, according to the Seneca's statement.

"Councilor Seneca urged the members of the Permanent Forum and the international community to examine the federal and state obligations to respect and honor Native treaty rights and guarantees. The Seneca Nation is calling for the UN Permanent Forum to provide recommendations for developing an international mechanism for resolving conflicts arising from treaty violations."

“We join with the other distinguished delegates who have requested that the Permanent Forum continue its call for the 3rd UN Seminar on Treaties, Agreements and Other Constructive Arrangements to be held in 2012.”

Seneca Nation President Robert Odawi Porter pointed out that the UN Declaration was not adopted and its goals have not been realized in the US.

“The UN Declaration on Indigenous Rights is a broad all-encompassing document that speaks to the many issues and concerns affecting Native people in the Western Hemisphere. The Seneca Nation looks forward to the day when the Declaration is not only adopted by the United States and all other major countries and nations, but when the goals of the Declaration are realized. For us of primary significance is enforcement of the treaties. Given our current struggles with New York State, the Seneca, along with other indigenous peoples could benefit from the backing of the world community to recognize basic human rights and to uphold the significant treaty rights of Native people," President Porter said.

Courtney Crouse, a Seneca student at Salamanca High delivered the statement in New York City. The focus for the student group centered on the need for informed consent in the wake of major construction projects such as dams and the impacts on indigenous peoples and communities.

Crouse stated, “We would like to bring attention to the negative effects of dams on indigenous peoples. About 50 years ago, a third of our beloved homelands were flooded due to the construction of the Kinzua Dam. The dam was built to improve flood control and water quality for various communities downstream. Many of the students here are grandchildren to the heartbroken elders that had everything taken from them. Our people fought on all levels - even submitted alternative plans, but all were rejected. We were given money and new homes as compensation to cover up the truth of what the Army Corps of Engineers had done. But no amount of money and no new homes could ever bring back what we lost. We did not just lose land. We lost our way of life.”

In 1954 the Army Corps of Engineers undertook the building of the Kinzua Dam for the purpose of flood control protections several hundred miles downstream in Pennsylvania. The Seneca lost 10,000 acres of prime agricultural homelands.

The Seneca Nation also stressed the need for the Permanent Forum to support development of a legal framework enabling implementation of Article 37 and Articles 20 and 21 of the UNDRIP which speaks to the interaction between treaty rights and Indigenous peoples’ right to economic development.

Read more of the Seneca Nation statement at Pechanga Net:

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