August 2020

Indigenous Peoples and Human Rights

Sunday, May 22, 2011

Ben Powless Photos: UN Permanent Forum 2011

Photos copyright Ben Powless. Special thanks to Mohawk youth photographer Ben Powless for allowing Censored News to post these photos from the UN Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues now at the UN in New York. In these photos: Top: Mark Anquoe, Kiowa. Photo 2: Jihan Gearon and Tom Goldtooth of the Indigenous Environmental Network. Photo 3: Tony Gonzales of AIM West with Clyde Bellecourt, founder of the American Indian Movement and cofounder of the International Indian Treaty Council. Photo 5: Winona LaDuke and friends. Thank you! (Help identify others in the photos: thank you!)
View all 179 of this series on facebook:  Ben Powless

Intervention and remarks to the UN Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues
Tenth Session, May 20, 2011, United Nations, New York Agenda Item #5
Nee Gon Nway Wee Dung (Clyde H. Bellecourt) Founder and National Director, American Indian Movement, Executive Director, Heart of the Earth Inc.

Boozhoo, greetings my friends and relatives. Nee Gon Nway Wee Dung indizhenicoz. My name is Clyde Bellecourt. It is always an honor to speak to Indigenous leadership and peoples of the world. Allow me to give you a brief history of the International Indian Treaty Council (IITC) and this Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues, of the United Nations Economic and Social Council. I am founder and national director of the American Indian Movement, and one of the co-founders of International Indian Treaty Council. The American Indian Movement was formed in July 1968 when we felt that absolutely nothing was being done to upgrade the conditions that Indian people were being forced to live under here in the United States. Not one single treaty made between Native nations and the United States was being honored, which guaranteed us and our children’s survival. The right to practice our own spiritual and ceremonial way of life, to speak our languages, to hunt, fish and gather, and practice our traditional forms of government.

In 1974, nine and a half months after the liberation of Wounded Knee, the American Indian Movement leadership was threatened with hundred of years in prison for defending our treaty rights at Wounded Knee in South Dakota. In U.S. Federal court, the Fort Laramie Treaty of 1868 was introduced each and every day by famed attorney Larry Laventhal, as our defense in one of the longest trials in the criminal history of the U.S. government involving Indian peoples. Judge Fred Nichols refused to admit this covenant of international law as our defense. Of course the world now knows that all charges were thrown out. Judge Fred Nichols stated that ‘the rivers of justice have been muddied in my courtroom for the past 9-1/2 months. It is not the Indian people who are guilty here: It is the US government.’ He expressed judicial rage for governmental misconduct, illegal use of military forces and illegal search and seizure. ‘Who do you think you are?’ he demanded of the prosecutor. ‘You cannot use military forces anywhere in the world without presidential or congressional approval.’ He then threw all the charges out.

Following all of these events the American Indian Movement leadership decided that we had to form a treaty council to bring our case before the world communities, or we would never survive as a people, because of the ongoing attempts to annihilate us, the continuous violation of treaties, the destruction of our natural resources, and attacks on our traditional way of life, including the century long savagery of the Federal Indian Boarding Schools. This first meeting took place on the Standing Rock Sioux Nation (reservation) in South Dakota. Traditional leadership and delegates from 96 nations attended this historic gathering.

It was determined that we would never survive as a people unless we reached out to the world community, and brought our case before the world court. The genocide against our people did not allow us to pray in our traditional manner, speak our languages, or practice our traditional way of life. And these assault on our cultures continue in one form or another to this very day.

In 1975 the IITC applied to the UN for Non Governmental Organization (NGO) status and in 1977 it was granted. Then in September of that year the IITC immediately hosted an international conference and met in Geneva. This included two hundred and eighty two delegates from throughout the Western hemisphere, many of them from Central and South America that were in political exile. The Permanent Forum on Indigenous Peoples here today was the result of that conference in Geneva and we reached out to our 370 million Indigenous relatives around the world. As all of you know, it was a thirty year struggle within the UN structure to bring forth The Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (DRIP) of the world that was finally adopted by the General Assembly on September13, 2007.

My brothers and sisters, the battle to protect the land continues, when seventy five percent of the all energy resources in North America are still on Indian lands. Most importantly, water –our most precious medicine- is still being stolen by governments and greedy corporation. We must stand together in total solidarity to fight these monstrous acts for the survival of our children. We must continue to think like our grandfathers and grandmothers, chiefs and great leaders before us, who envisioned what it would be like for their children seven generations from now.

To conclude Madame Chairperson, we demand that President Barack Obama as the “commander and chief” and his war council to recognize and issue a public apology for the continued attack on Indian people, for comparing one of our greatest leaders, Geronimo, to one of the most notorious terrorists known to the world, Osama Bin Laden. It’s time for North America to get rid of the frontier mentality, and the myth that ‘the only good Indian is a dead Indian.’

Finally Madam Chairperson, my delegation looks forward to strengthening this great world family relationship that has been created and developed, and that our children seven generations from now will remember us for protecting and promising their rightful legacy of a spiritual and traditional way of life. THE SPIRIT OF GERONIMO WILL LIVE WITH ALL OF US FOREVER.
Nee Gon Nway Wee Dung, Thunder Before the Storm, has spoken

Photos: UN Permanent Forum 2011

UN Forum on Indigenous Issues Opens 10th Session

Top photo: Todadaho Sid Hill, Chief of the Onondaga Nation, delivers a traditional welcome at the opening of the tenth session of the UN Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues, inside the General Assembly Hall. UN photo Evan Shneider. 16 May 2011
Photo 2: Briefing on Mining, Gas Extraction and Other Industries in Indigenous Territories
Raja Devasish Roy, Chief of the Chakma Administrative Circle (Bangladesh) and Member of the UN Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues, speaks at a joint press conference on extractive industries and mega projects - such as gold mining, gas extraction, and large-scale forestry - in indigenous peoples' territories. UN photo Mark Garten. 17 May 2011 United Nations, New York
Photo 3: Press Conference on Human Rights of Indigenous Peoples
Dalee Sambo Dorough, Inuit legal expert and Professor at the University of Alaska, speaks at a press conference on the human rights of indigenous peoples, as the UN Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues continues it tenth session (16-27 May) at UN Headquarters. UN Photo Devra Berkowitz.
18 May 2011 United Nations, New York
Photo 4: Indigenous Forum Chair Briefs on Forum’s 10th Session
Mirna Cunningham, newly-elected Chair of the UN Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues, briefs on the Forum’s tenth session, taking place at UN Headquarters over the next two weeks. UN Photo/Paulo Filgueiras. 16 May 2011
Mirna Cunningham
Chair, Center for Autonomy and Development of Indigenous Peoples (CADPI) member, Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues of the United Nations.
Cunningham was the first Miskitu woman to earn the title of surgeon; she is a leader in the peace negotiations in the North Atlantic Autonomous Region of Nicaragua who as fought for the creation of the Statute of Autonomy in the Autonomous Regions of the Nicaraguan Caribbean; She was the first Miskitu woman governor of the North Atlantic Autonomous Region and coordinator for the Continental Campaign of Indigenous and Black Peoples (1992).
She chairs the Center for Autonomy and Development of Indigenous Peoples and was recently elected to serve on the Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues of the United Nations from 2011 to 2013. In September 2009 she was awarded an honorary doctorate by the National Autonomous University of Mexico (UNAM).
Cunningham is the chair of the Indigenous Itinerant University, associated with the Latin American Fund for the Development of Indigenous Peoples. This Fund works with 15 universities and research centres in nine countries. She is also a member of the Board of the International Global Fund for Women and Advisor to the Alliance of Indigenous Women of Mexico and Central America. She was the founder and first rector of the University of the Autonomous Regions of the Nicaraguan Caribbean Coast (URACCAN).

Wikileaks Quito: US worked against UN Indigenous Rights Declaration in Ecuador

US Ambassador in Quito carried out US mission of working against adoption of UN Declaration

Children near Quito. UN photo Milton Grant.

By Brenda Norrell
Censored News

 In a cable released by Wikileaks, US Ambassador Linda Jewell in Ecuador said the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples is "fundamentally flawed." This cable marks the third cable revealing how the United States worked behind the scenes to halt adoption and implementation of the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples.

 Already, a Wikileaks cable from the US Embassy in Canada, said Canada agreed with the US that the Declaration was "ill-conceived and headed for a train wreck." In Iceland, the US Ambassador said Iceland's support of the Declaration was an "impediment" to US and Iceland relations at the UN.

Now, Wikileaks reveals that US Ambassador Jewell in Quito, Ecuador, described steps taken by the US to dissuade Ecuador from supporting the Declaration in 2006, the year before it was adopted by the UN. Jewell stated the government of Ecuador was inclined to support the Declaration in 2006. She said, however, that the US took steps to present papers to show that the UN Declaration "is fundamentally flawed."

The cable was written on Oct. 20, 2006 and released on May 2, 2011. It is marked sensitive and titled GOE (Government of Ecuador) Inclined to Support Indigenous Declaration.
Cable: 06QUITO2574
¶B. QUITO 1386
¶1. (SBU) PolOff presented Ref A points and non-papers to Augusto Saa, Director of Human Rights and Social and Environmental issues at the MFA, on October 12, emphasizing the USG view that the Chair's draft UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples is fundamentally flawed.
¶2. (SBU) Saa responded that the GOE continues to support the draft Declaration, but has advised its UN mission not to push any sensitive issues and would share USG concerns regarding the declaration with them. He agreed that more discussion of the declaration would be necessary before a final vote, and said Ecuador would consult with others who are in favor while remaining open to arguments from those who oppose it. Saa emphasized it would be difficult for Ecuador to actively oppose the draft, citing political realities here, including the current electoral climate and the support for the Declaration from Ecuadorian indigenous groups.

When the United Nations adopted the UN Declaration in 2007, the US, Canada, New Zealand and Australia were the four countries that voted against it. Although the four countries later took action on it, the US and Canada gave only lip service and did not sign on to it, or fully endorse it.

The United Nations said Thursday that UN Member States have the responsibility to uphold the human rights principles outlined in the Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, adding that violations of the fundamental rights of those communities persist.

“First and foremost, the nation Member States of the United Nations are to take the initial obligation to begin to adopt policies and legislation … to maintain consistence with the human rights standards that are embraced in the declaration,” said Dalee Sambo Dorough, a member of the UN Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues, at a press conference at UN Headquarters on May 18, 2011.

She said the direct and often brutal violations of the basic rights of indigenous people in every region of the world continue, even in areas where success had been achieved, such as in Canada where an agreement over land use between the aboriginal communities in Nunavut has faced implementation hitches.

“The reality of the UN declaration is that the rights of indigenous people did not arise out of the goodwill of States,” said Ms. Dorough.

“Rather, it is because of the entire history of exploitation, colonization, as well as the full range of human rights violations that the indigenous community has pressed the UN to open its doors in order to for us to take our rightful place not only in the context of the human rights pillar of the UN, but also in the environment, as well as the peace and security pillar,” she told reporters on the sidelines of deliberations in the two-week Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues.

The forum is aimed at advancing the rights of the estimated 370 million indigenous people worldwide. More than 1,300 delegates are participating.

Already, the Black Hills Sioux Nation Treaty Council has rejected the limited support of the United States.

"In the first paragraph of the 'support' statement they make it is clear that the Declaration is in no way a legal document, nor are they bound by it," the council said in a statement.

"The Black Hills Sioux Nation Treaty Council calls upon the United States of America to adopt the Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples without inserting unilateral qualifications, limitations, and abrogations that clearly stand in violation to internationally binding treaties, international treaty law, and international human rights laws and standards."

The rights stated in the UN Declaration includes Indigenous Peoples' "rights to their lands, territories and resources" and states that no relocation can occur without "free, prior and informed consent." The rights stated include Indigenous Peoples rights to their cultural, intellectual, religious and spiritual property and their right to free, prior and informed consent.

Coal-fired power plants, oil and gas drilling and uranium mining target Indian lands. The collusion between the US government, Canadian government and mining and energy corporations is obvious. The UN Declaration secures the rights of Indigenous Peoples to their territories, forests and rivers, as well as to their intellectual property rights.

Wikileaks cables reveal how the US Embassy in Peru tracked Indigenous activists and organized mining companies to counter Indigenous efforts to protect their communities. Five countries formed an alliance to promote mining, while the US provided a list of names of Indigenous grassroots activists in Peru.
Wikileaks Peru: Ambassador targeted Indigenous activists:
Wikileaks Peru: US engaged in espionage of Indigenous activists:
Wikileaks Peru: US feared Indigenous power:
Wikileaks US: Canada says UN Declaration headed for a train wreck:
Black Hills Sioux Nation Treaty Council rejects US limited support:
WIKILEAKS: US says Iceland's support of UN Indigenous Declaration is an 'impediment' to US relations:

Adopted by the General Assembly 13 September 2007
The Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples was adopted by the General Assembly on Thursday September 13, by a majority of 144 states in favour, 4 votes against (Australia, Canada, New Zealand and the United States) and 11 abstentions (Azerbaijan, Bangladesh, Bhutan, Burundi, Colombia, Georgia, Kenya, Nigeria, Russian Federation, Samoa and Ukraine). More:

UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (text)

Gila River: Stop the South Mountain Freeway

By Gila River Against Loop 202

Stop the South Mountain Freeway
Support us on our ongoing effort in protecting the Gila River Indian Community's vital connection with Muadag Do'ag (South Mountain) and ensuring the mental, spiritual, and biological well being for today's and tomorrow's community members, by submitting written comments against the proposed South Mountain Loop 202 extensions.

Friday June 3, 2011 is the deadline to submit your written comments to the Arizona Department of Transportation (ADOT) about the proposed South Mountain extension to the 202 freeway. The State Transportation Board will consider all of the public comments before adopting the final program in June.
ADOT Five Year Program
Communication and Community Partnerships
206 South 17th Avenue
Phoenix, AZ 85007
The two currently proposed routes for the freeway are less than a mile apart and will have the same harmful effects on the Gila River Indian Community's air quality, health and traditional cultural properties.
The on-reservation alignment will result in a loss of approximately 600 acres of tribal land, and the forced relocation of Akimel O'odham and Pee-Posh families.
The off-reservation alignment would gouge a 40-story high, 200-yard wide cut into South Mountain, which is sacred to all O'odham and Pee-Posh.
We are sending the message out that “No Build” is the only option that preserves the health of GRIC, respects O’odham and Pee-Posh traditions and is also beneficial for Laveen and Ahwatukee residents who will be affected by the noise and pollution of a new freeway.

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