August 2020

Indigenous Peoples and Human Rights

Saturday, February 5, 2011

Indigenous Rights of Passage on the Southern Border

Indigenous What?
By Jose Matus, director
Indigenous Alliance without Borders
Feb. 5, 2011
Photo: Jose Matus with Zapatistas in mountains of Chiapas 1995/photo Brenda Norrell
Among the most difficult issues facing Indigenous peoples today is the protection and promotion of Indigenous Rights!
Indigenous Peoples
Federally recognized tribes are considered domestic dependent nations with rights to tribal sovereignty preserved. Tribal sovereignty refers to tribal rights to govern themselves, define their own membership, manage tribal property and regulate tribal business and domestic relations.
Government-to-government relationships between each tribe and the federal government
The Federal government has special trust obligations to protect tribal lands and resources, protect the rights to self-governments and provide services necessary to tribal survival and advancement.
The fight to preserve tribal sovereignty and treaty rights has been in the forefront of the Indigenous Peoples Rights Movement.
The current U.S. Immigration and Custom policies implemented on the U.S./Mexico border infringe on the sovereignty of Indigenous Nations along the southern border region. The continued militarization of the border and the systematic enforcement of federal immigration policies impede the free movement of religion, culture, language, and rights to sovereignty.
The Tribal Enhancement Card for travel does not solve issues of pass and re-pass rights. Only U.S. Indigenous citizens are eligible to obtain the card with approval of the U.S. Homeland Security Border Enforcement Immigration, Customs and Border Enforcement. Mexican Indigenous relatives who are culturally affiliated with southern border tribes do not qualify for the enhancement card.
This situation may be in violation of treaty rights and the trust responsibility of the U.S. Government to recognize tribes. The lack of an established protocol on the southern border to pass and re-pass subjects Indigenous peoples to U.S. Immigration and Customs laws.
The Indigenous Alliance Without Borders is conducting a comprehensive review of three documents. These address International border rights of passage and re-pass, to examine Treaties and carry out studies on Border Crossing Rights of Indigenous Peoples and Guidelines for the Inspection of Persons who are members of, or culturally affiliated with, Southern Border Native American Indian Tribes.
We are seeking more information on the above subject matter. The Indigenous Alliance will have a study session on this subject on Saturday, February 26, 2011. The time and place will be arranged.
If you have information, or need more information, contact Jose Matus at this email address.
Jose Matus, Yaqui ceremonial leader, for the past 30 years has carried out the responsibility given to him to bring Yaqui ceremonial leaders from Rio Yaqui, Sonora, across the border for temporary stays in Arizona to conduct ceremonies. Matus is the director of the Indigenous Alliance without Borders.

Mount Graham public records request: Did NAU dupe Indian donor?

UPDATE: NAU president responds, additional comment: NAU violated public trust

Center for Biological Diversity files public records request: Did NAU dupe the San Manuel Band into donating millions, concealing NAU's involvement in the telescopes on sacred Mount Graham

February 4, 2011
President John Haeger
Northern Arizona University
FAX: +1 (928) 523-1848

Dear President Haeger,

RE: (1) Northern Arizona University's partnership in the cornerstone telescope of the Mount Graham telescope project in not consistent with NAU's "commitment" to the Native American community expressed upon receipt of the San Manuel Band of Serrano Mission Indians' $2 million for the Native American Cultural Center.
(2) Public Records Law request
The Center for Biological Diversity (CBD) is a non-profit, public interest, conservation organization whose mission is to conserve imperiled native species and their threatened habitat and to fulfill the continuing educational goals of our membership and the general public in the process.
The Mount Graham Red Squirrel (Tamiasciurus hudsonicus grahamensis) is one of the rarest and most imperiled animals on Earth. Only about 200 survive. Piecemeal loss of its habitat continues to be the greatest threat to the squirrel.
The Mount Graham telescope project destroys and fragments the old growth forested heart of an endangered species' critical habitat.
Mount Graham is of central religious and cultural importance to the Western Apache. The Mount Graham telescope project desecrates a central Apache religious site. The Western Apache remain opposed to the telescope project.
For specific details regarding the current status of the Mount Graham telescope please see:
Northern Arizona University is an institutional partner in the project's cornerstone Large Binocular Telescope. (
The Mount Graham telescope project's existence depends upon the following:
1. an unlawful, July 14, 1988, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Biological Opinion providing for a Mount Graham location,[1]
2. circumvention of environmental cultural and religious protection laws via two congressional riders secured by the telescope project,[2]
3. denial of Apache religion validity via the telescope project's legal position that " sacredness of Mt. Graham to the Apache is little more than a preposterous misuse of academic status and the poorest manifestation of sound methodology…," [3] and
4. the project's legal position that the telescope project must continue even if it contributes to the extinction of the Mount Graham Red Squirrel.[4]
The telescope project has been operating without a legal permit since April 1, 2009. Telescope proponents are currently seeking permit renewal without the legally required environmental, cultural and religious protection law reviews.
NAU's Native American Student Services website states,
"Native American Student Services (NASS) is committed to providing culturally-sensitive support services to our Native American and Alaskan Native students as part of the university's mission... Our students represent more than 60 tribal affiliations throughout the United States. Tribes represented include the Cherokee, Choctaw, Hopi, Navajo, and White Mountain Apache…"[5]
On January 6, 2009, upon receipt of a gift of $2 million to NAU from the San Manuel Band of Serrano Mission Indians for the Native American Cultural Center, NAU President Haeger states,
"…the center indicates NAU's commitment to its Native community."[6]
On January 14, 2009, InsideNAU states,
"NAU aspires to be the nation's leading university serving Native Americans…"[7]
The January 14, 2009, InsideNAU article quotes President Haeger,
"The center will underscore the vital role of cultural diversity and multicultural understanding on campus, in the region and across the globe.”[8]
On January 21, 2009, Indian Country Today reports,
"[NAU President John] Haeger said, 'The center will underscore the vital role of cultural diversity and multicultural understanding on campus, in the region and across the globe…
'An environment of this nature [NAU's proximity to government centers and several prominent Indian nations] begs for a strong and progressive relationship between the tribes and the university,' [San Manuel Chairman James] Ramos said." [9]
On August 11, 2010, InsideNAU reports,
"The center will embody Native values and will serve as a symbol of NAU's ongoing commitment to Native Americans…"[10]
Consistent with the mission of the Center for Biological Diversity, and consistent with A.R.S. Title 39-121, the Arizona Public Records Law, we respectfully request the following information:
1. A copy of each and every document providing the San Manuel Band of the Serrano Mission Indians with notification and/or justification of NAU's involvement in the Mount Graham telescope project.
"Each and every document” includes but is not limited to all materials, correspondence, minutes, memoranda, meeting notes, drawings, emails, reports, databases, and notes of phone calls.
This information is not for profit. It is not sought for and will not be used for commercial purposes. This information is sought for research and educational purposes.
Please forward the requested information in electronic format if possible.
If you have further questions, please contact Robin Silver, M.D., Center for Biological Diversity, by phone: (602) 799-3275, by Email:, or by mail: PO Box 1178, Flagstaff, AZ 86002.
Robin Silver, M.D.
Center for Biological Diversity
[1] Deposition of USFWS biologist Lesley Fitzpatrick, Mt. Graham Red Squirrel, et al., Plaintiffs, v. Clayton Yeutter, et al., Defendants, CIV 89-410 GLO ACM, January 11, 1990. Deposition of USFWS Arizona State Office Supervisor Sam F. Spiller, Mt. Graham Red Squirrel, et al., Plaintiffs, v. Clayton Yeutter, et al., Defendants, CIV 89-410 GLO ACM, January 12, 1990. Pair: told to fudge data on red squirrel, Sam Negri, The Arizona Republic, February 7, 1990. Order, Mount Graham Red Squirrel, et al., Plaintiffs, vs. Clayton Yeutter, et al., Defendants, CIV 89-410 GLO ACM, March 26, 1990. Judge OKs 4-month work ban on Mount Graham telescopes, Sam Negri, The Arizona Republic, March 27, 1990. Findings of Fact and Conclusions of Law, Mount Graham Red Squirrel, et al., Plaintiffs, vs. Clayton Yeutter, et al., Defendants, CIV 89-410 GLO ACM, April 11, 1990. U.S. General Accounting Office Testimony, "Views on Fish and Wildlife Service's Biological Opinion Addressing Mt. Graham Astrophysical Facility," Statement of James Duffus, III, Director, Natural Resources Management Issues Resources, Community, and Economic Development Division, Before the Subcommittee on National Parks and Public Lands, Committee on the Interior and Insular Affairs, and the Subcommittee on Fisheries and Wildlife Conservation and the Environment, Committee on Merchant Marine and Fisheries, House of Representatives, June 26, 1990. Correspondence, from GAO Natural Resources Management Issues Director James Duffus, III, to Chairman Gerry E. Studds, Subcommittee of Fisheries and Wildlife Conservation and the Environment, U.S. House of Representatives, RE: Response to the University of Arizona's disagreements with our June 26, 1990, testimony, November 9, 1990. Opinion, Mt. Graham Red Squirrel et al., v. Edward R. Madigan et al., and State of Arizona Board of Regents, University of Arizona, Defendant-intervenor-Appellee, United States Court of Appeals, Ninth Circuit, 954 F2d 1441 R Madigan, January 21, 1992.
[2] 1988, Title VI - Mount Graham International Observatory of the Arizona-Idaho Conservation Act; 1996 Section 335 of the Omnibus Appropriations Bill
[3] University of Arizona Exhibit C, Affidavit of Father Charles W. Polzer, S.J., Curator of Ethnohistory, University of Arizona's Arizona State Museum, University of Arizona, Apache Survival Coalition, et al. v. US, et al., University of Arizona, intervenor, CIV. No. 91-1350 PHX WPC, April 6, 1992.
[4] Judge OKs 4-month work ban on Mount Graham telescopes, Sam Negri, The Arizona Republic, March 27, 1990.
[6] Tribe gives $2M toward Native American center at NAU, Hillary Davis, Arizona Daily Sun, January 6, 2009.
[7] "NAU gets $2 million donated toward Native center," InsideNAU, January 14, 2009.
[8] Ibid.
[9] NAU Native center receives $2 million, Wells Mahkee, Jr., Indian Country Today, January 21, 2009.
[10] "Native American Cultural Center gets green light," InsideNAU, August 11, 20
NAU President Responds

February 9, 2011
Dear colleagues,
I want to set the record straight regarding recent e-mails that have been
circulating, especially among our friends in the Native American community,
regarding Northern Arizona University's involvement at the Mount Graham
International Observatory.
The e-mails appear designed to mislead and inflame rather than inform.
Construction of Mount Graham International Observatory in southeastern
Arizona began in 1989 with telescope operations beginning in 1993. The
University of Arizona has applied to renew a 20-year special use permit. The
permit process is likely to be the impetus for the e-mails, which question
NAU's commitment to cultural and environmental causes.
Northern Arizona University is only a scientific "partner" in one aspect of
the observatory, the Large Binocular Telescope Observatory. While Northern
Arizona University may be called a "partner" on the observatory's website,
that is a misnomer and is inconsistent with the role NAU actually plays. In
fact the university's role is quite limited, with no influence on
operations, management or construction at the facility. Rather, the UofA,
working under the auspices of the Arizona Board of Regents, operates and
manages the facility under the authorization and licensure from the U.S.
Currently, NAU has two scientists who occasionally use the Large Binocular
Telescope and the Vatican Advanced Telescope for their research. Both of
these researchers report that conditions for accessing and using the site
are carefully explained, monitored and enforced, in order to minimize any
potential cultural impacts or environmental effect on the Mount Graham red
squirrel habitat.
Northern Arizona University has a history of respectful interaction with our
Native American community. The university is home to 1,400 Native American
students from 62 different tribes and is consistently recognized for its
commitment to fostering the success of Native American students.
The university recognizes the benefit of exposure to broad perspectives,
cultures and opinions, and this commitment is reflected in a campus culture
that is respectful of all persons. Through its academic programs, event
offerings and student support initiatives like the Native American Cultural
Center, NAU has earned a deserving reputation as one of the best
universities in the nation for Native American students.
In addition, Northern Arizona University demonstrated a strong commitment to understanding and advancing prudent environmental practices long before it was a popular cause. This commitment is reflected in campus buildings,
policies and curriculum, contributing to a common thread of sustainability
that is woven throughout the mission of the university.
John D. Haeger
COMMENT: NAU violated public trust
From: JR Welch
Sent: Monday, February 21, 2011 12:50 PM
Subject: Publications on Mount Graham

Dear President Haeger,
I have read with interest some of the recent press and correspondence relating to NAU participation in UA's Mount Graham Observatory.
I have no doubt that you receive daily doses of unsolicited advice and hope you find mine timely and useful: Carefully investigate every UA claim regarding the observatory, especially those regarding (1) involvement in or effects on Apache tribes and members and (2) adverse environmental effects.
As documented in the attached, peer-reviewed publications, UA and federal officials have participated in a 20-year conspiracy to avoid and reduce the adverse effects of widely and wisely accepted legal mandates on observatory construction and operations. Needless to say, this conspiracy is directly at odds with good governance and the public trust doctrine. More specifically, UA actions fly in the face of the transparent and fact-based planning and decision making that are cherished hallmarks of public institutions.
Please think twice before tarnishing NAU's exceptional reputation or compromising NAU's commitments to collaborations with Native American partners by suggesting that any form of institutional support for or participation in the observatory is appropriate.
I'm preparing to leave the country early next week, but would welcome the chance to discuss this matter with you or your V-PR before that time.
AZ Mobile:
Respectfully Submitted,

J.R. Welch
Associate Professor & Canada Research Chair, Indigenous Heritage Stewardship Department of Archaeology & School of Resource and Environmental Management Simon Fraser University, Burnaby, BC V5A1S6
Faculty Mentor, White Mountain Apache – University of Arizona Western Apache Ethnography and GIS Field School 778.782.6726
COMMENT: NAU President Haeger refused to answer questions:
Quotations from Dr. Haeger’s 2/22, “lunchtime chat”:
Q: How can you justify NAU's participation in a telescope project that desecrates the religious grounds of the Apache and contributes to the extinction of an endangered species…the Mount Graham Red Squirrel of which only about 200 survive?
A. Mount Graham issue of telescopes…they were built sometime ago. Their permit is up for renewal. All environmental issues have to be satisfied. The University of Arizona is responsible. That's their issue. I don’t tell the UA president what to do. He does not tell me…We have two researchers who, on occasion, use the Mt. Graham telescope,” Haeger said. “One of the things, as university president, I will not do is I will not tell researchers where they can do their research and on what topics. Intellectual freedom is important to me, as president.”
NAU is a featured partner in the cornerstone Large Binocular Telescope ( ). At least five other partners[1] feature NAU's partnership in their promotional materials. Mount Graham partners feature others to imply stability in a controversial project that has seen more than twenty other universities withdraw mostly for cultural, religious, environmental, or financial concerns.
NAU uses its participation on Mount Graham to promote its Department of Physics and Astronomy and to recruit staff.[2] NAU holds a position on the "review board that evaluates observing proposals…"[3]
Mount Graham telescope project-related activities recently destroyed nearly one-third of the squirrel's essential spruce-fir old growth forest home. The continued presence of the telescopes and access road fragments and prevents recovery of degraded habitat. The Mount Graham Red Squirrel cannot recover as long as the telescopes remain.
NAU participates in a project that desecrates an Apache religious site and interferes with the Apaches' ability to practice their religion. NAU’s participation betrays NAU’s “commitment” to the Native American community, NAU's "history of respectful interaction with our Native American community" and a "respectful" campus culture.
[1] University of Arizona, Arizona State University, Max Planck Institute, Arcetri Observatory, and Ohio State University
[2] , , and .

[3] Correspondence from University of Arizona Office of the Vice President for Research Program Manager Mary Black to NAU Vice President for Research Laura Huenneke, Subject: background for meeting with Dr. Silver, November 19, 2010.

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