August 2020

Indigenous Peoples and Human Rights

Monday, September 19, 2011

Watch Live UN Geneva: Protect San Francisco Peaks, Sept. 20, 2011

U.N. Official addresses Navajo Human Rights at U.N. Human Rights Council

Watch video of Navajo President Ben Shelly's address to the UN Human Rights Council in Geneva:
By Navajo Nation Human Rights Commission
Censored News
San Francisco Peaks desecrated for Snowbowl pipeline
for sewage water/Photo Protect the Peaks
ST. MICHAELS, Ariz. -- The Navajo Nation Human Rights Commission’s request to a U.N. official will finally be heard on the floor at the United Nations in Geneva Tuesday morning, Sept. 20.

About 15 months ago, the Navajo Nation’s legislative entity to protect Navajo human rights (NNHRC) together with the Diné Hataałii Association, the Diné Medicine Man Association, and the Azee’ Bee Nahagha of Diné Nation communicated with Professor S. James Anaya, United Nations Special Rapporteur on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, regarding the desecration of the San Francisco Peaks [Dook’o’osliid], and the violation of Navajo human rights. The request followed Navajo Nation formal protocols and on May 17, 2010, the 21st Navajo Nation Council authorized the formal communiqué to Anaya.

U.N. Special Rapporteur Anaya will share his report with the U.N. Human Rights Council, which recommends that the U.S. President suspend the permit authorizing the use of reclaimed water on Dook’o’osliid [San Francisco Peaks], the sacred mountain to the west marking the traditional boundary of the Navajo people—the Diné. 

Anaya’s report to the U.N. Human Rights Council in Geneva, Switzerland was released to the public on August 22, 2011. To download it, visit the NNHRC web site

To watch Anaya present his report and recommendations to the 18th session of the U.N. Human Rights Council via a web cast, go to Anaya will be presenting his report in Geneva at 1 p.m., which means at 5 a.m., Navajo Nation time (Mountain Standard – Daylight Savings).

“Anaya’s report supports the need to not only elevate the fundamental religious rights into the international arena but importantly the necessity to ensure that United States carries out its commitments to human rights based on binding international treaties,” said Gorman in a previous press statement for the NNHRC and continued, “This is a comprehensive approach to protect Dook’o’osliid.”

On September 2, 2011, NNHRC passed a resolution; 4 in favor, 0 opposed, titled, “Acknowledging the Report by the United Nations Special Rapporteur on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, S. James Anaya, and Recommending that the Navajo Nation Council to Formally Request the President of the United States of America to Direct the U.S. Forest Service to Suspend the Permit authorizing the use of Reclaimed Waste Water to make Artificial Snow and follow the Recommendations of the Special Rapporteur; and other recommendations” and indicates the timeline between the NNHRC and Anaya formal correspondences. The 22nd Navajo Nation Council Delegate Jonathan Nez (Shonto/Navajo Mountain/Oljato/Tsah Bii Kin) will sponsor the legislation on behalf of the Navajo Nation Human Rights Commission, date to be determined. To view the legislation (0387-11), The public comment period for the 22nd Navajo Nation Council legislation 0387-11 will end on September 20, 2011.

Dene Nation part of international accord opposed to Keystone XL pipeline

Dene Chief Bill Erasmus at White House rally
to halt the pipeline in Sept./Photo Josh Lopez
Dene Nation Becomes Part of International Accord Opposed to Keystone XL Pipeline

Press statement

YELLOWKNIFE, Northwest Territories -- (Sept. 19, 2011) The Dene Nation has helped prepare an accord opposing the Keystone XL pipeline with First Nations, tribal leaders, and property owners in the United States and Canada. The accord was agreed to at a meeting on the Rosebud Sioux reservation in South Dakota last week, and is the latest in a serious of coordinated actions between different entities with diverse interests opposing the pipeline.

“Our meeting was very informative because, for the first time, we had the chance to listen to property owners who explained their concerns about the proposed pipeline going through their lands,” said Dene National Chief Bill Erasmus. “They are very concerned about potential spills on their land and need clarity about who is responsible for the potential cleanup.”

The Dene Nation and others will be seeking support for the accord from First Nations, tribal leaders and property owners. The accord will be brought to Washington, D.C. next month and presented to the United States’ government during hearings on the pipeline. President Barrack Obama is expected to announce his decision on approving the pipeline in early November.

The proposed Keystone XL pipeline would transport 1 million barrels of synthetic crude oil each day from Alberta’s tar sands to US refineries in the Gulf of Mexico. Construction of the 2,700 km pipeline would facilitate a massive expansion of Alberta’s tar sands, along with increased pollution, stress on water resources, and greenhouse gas emissions. Dene communities are downstream from the tar sands, and are threatened by the impacts of upstream water usage and pollution, and the impacts of climate change and global warming.

--For more information please contact: Barret Lenoir or Daniel T’seleie at the Dene National Office (867) 873-4081.

A dark shadow in Geneva: Human rights and coal-fired power plants

Denver protest Peabody Coal.
Photo by Mano Cockrum, Hopi-Navajo.
When it comes to protecting human rights, you can't pick and choose. 
When it comes to Mother Earth, that's like saying 'I only raped her a little.'

By Brenda Norrell
Censored News

Navajo President Ben Shelly plans to be in Geneva for the UN Human Rights Council report on sacred places.

Hopefully President Shelly will say that he will no longer push for another coal-fired power plant on Navajoland, and bring to an end those that are there. Coal-fired power plants in the US are a primary reason for the melting of Arctic ice. The result is that Native villages are dropping into the sea and polar bears and other wildlife are dying due to the loss of habitat.

President Shelly recently pushed for the building of another coal-fired power plant, Desert Rock, which would be the third on Navajoland in the Farmington, N.M., area, with another power plant at Page, Ariz. Peabody coal mines on Black Mesa have long desecrated the sacred places of Big Mountain and elsewhere on Black Mesa, poisoning the land, depleting the aquifer, poisoning and drying up the springs, polluting the air and causing respiratory diseases.

President Shelly, according to the news, will be at Special Rapporteur James Anaya's report on human rights and sacred places in Geneva. So hopefully someone will point out, as they usually do, that when it comes to protecting human rights, you can't pick and choose. When it comes to Mother Earth, that's like saying 'I only raped her a little.'

Roberto Rodriguez: In Arizona: After 519 years, Indigenous Knowledge on Trial

Column of the Americas
Photo Norrell
In Arizona: After 519 years, Indigenous Knowledge on Trial
By Roberto Dr. Cintli Rodriguez
Special Length-column

Justice. That’s a word not normally associated with Arizona. With Sheriff Joe Arpaio and his military tank still on the loose, this will not be changing anytime soon. In Arizona, Arpaio is colorful, but he is actually the least of them.

Just recently, Sen. John McCain decided to blame “illegal aliens” for the state’s forest fire outbreaks. Aided and abetted by the media, the senator’s irresponsible accusations, after touring the 500,000-acre Wallow fire, set off a contagion of wind-aided hate and fear. This month, two cousins were arrested for setting that fire. They were not aliens of any kind. The senator has issued no retractions.

This is the climate we live in. But it is actually worse. The borderlands are killing fields. That is not accidental or hyperbole, but U.S. policy since the 1990s. It is a policy that has resulted in thousands of deaths; migrants are intentionally funneled to the most dangerous deserts, mountains and rivers. Not just in Arizona, but the full expanse of the border.

So too brutality against detained migrants. It is widespread and not an aberration. The human rightsorganization, No More Deaths, is releasing a shocking study that won’t so much surprise, but simply confirm these widespread practices [thousands of abuses]at the hands of immigration agents. Here, the “migra” act as hunter battalions,always chasing down people the color of the earth.

The government refers to the funneling as policies of deterrence. Politicians in Iowa, Kansas, New Mexico and Washington have advocated even more direct forms of deterrence: shooting migrants or blowing them up as they cross the border.

 Operation Streamline is also one of these deterrence policies. Every day, seventy brown men (and a few women) are herded into the 2nd floor of the federal court building in Tucson.They are all shackled to their wrists, waists and ankles, charged with illegal entry. If the judge spends more than a minute on each detainee, that might bean overestimation as the entire operation generally lasts but an hour. By the time this kangaroo court is done with, the judge will have criminalized them and ritualistically sentenced these men and women to private profit-making detention centers (Corrections Corporation of America).

 What else can you call them but human sacrifices. The operation is designed not to mete out justice, but to enrich and to send a message (propaganda]. Prior to 9-11-2001, no one would have associated such an operation with the United States. Perhaps apartheid South Africa, but not the U.S.A. It is fitting that it operates in Arizona. It is also no coincidence that several of the governor’s closest advisors are implicated in this profit-making scheme.

 The same day I go to witness this operation, I watch a movie, The Postville Raid: I shake my head. This can’t be happening in the land of freedom. The movie is about the infamous Postville, Iowa immigration raid of 2008. It is about the herding of 389 men women and children – mostly from Guatemala – into a cattle facility where they are processed, deported or forced to wear dehumanizing electronic ankle monitors. For 3 days, it’s their version of Operation Streamline. For us in Arizona, it’s 24/7/365.25.

 The next day, a friend is visiting and wants to go to the border. As we cross from Nogales, Arizona into Nogales Mexico, we come upon a man from Central America. His eyes reveal not post-traumatic stress disorder, but rather, eyes of terror. He has been out in the summer desert, unsuccessfully trying to cross for a week.

Every time I am anywhere near the militarized border, my stomach turns. There is no justice there. Just scars,like the unnatural wall separating the two Nogaleses. It is the most visible sign of dehumanization.

 Amidst all this, state senate president, Russell Pearce, who associates with known racial supremacists and who has been recalled and is facing election in November, is convinced that he can legislate the state back into the 19th century.

 But none of this could have prepared anyone for the Tucson Unified School District’s appeal hearing in Phoenix. Despite the independently commissioned Cambium Study, which gave two thumbs up to the district’s Mexican American Studies program, State Schools’superintendent John Huppenthal still found the district out of compliance with HB 2281 – the state’s anti-Ethnic Studies law. The district is appealing his ruling and the hearings are reminiscent of the 1500s-era Inquisition. At this surreal hearing, it is knowledge, a discipline and [brown] people that are on trial. Not surprisingly, even the student organization MEChA or Movimiento Estudiantli Chicana/Chicano de Aztlan is also under attack.

This six-year war against MAS is about what is permissible knowledge vs. banned knowledge. It is about banned books and about banned curriculums. In this instance, it is a war against Indigenous Knowledge, this in a state that is also engaged in Ethnic Cleansing.

The supposition here is thatindividualism is next to godliness… that to teach [Indigenous] culture is to somehow not to treat students as individuals and that do so is to be both,anti-American and anti-Western Civilization (Great Zeus!)

Today, this hearing is about Mexican American Studies and its maiz-based curriculum. But the state law itself actually covers all of Ethnic Studies. And yet, a closer inspection reveals that it is a war over education itself. The state here wants to make Swiss cheese out of what can be taught/learned, wants to be able to censor, and still be able to call it education. Short and simple, this is not simply a war against ethnic studies, but a civilizational war on the very idea of education.

 What is bothersome is not so much the Inquisitorial questions or answers, but by the very fact that this hearing (a modern day Auto de Fe) is taking place at all. I check the calendar; it is 2011, not 1511. I check the map… and not so sure where Arizona belongs. The last hearing is scheduled for Oct 17,though we are not sure what the point of the charades is because as Huppenthal has already shown, regardless of the evidence, he does whatever he feels like.

 By the way, the tremendous anti-Mexican rhetoric that has resulted from this conflict has also produced death threats against the students – threats that law enforcement has deemed “ajoke.” Not coincidentally, I too have received a series of death threats. Normally,death threats seem to be ignored, but in this case, the person issuing the threats against me will be arraigned at the end of September. Stay tuned.

 Rodriguez, an assistant professor at the University of Arizona, can be reached at:

Thanks & Sincerely
Roberto Dr. Cintli Rodriguez
Column of the Americas
PO BOX 3812
Tucson, AZ 85722



North Dakota Indian Nations oppose Keystone XL pipeline

Alberta tarsands/Photo copyright Curtis Hooper
By Brenda Norrell
Censored News
Photos of environmental destruction by CurtisHooper:

The United Tribes of North Dakota opposed an environmental disaster in the making -- the Keystone XL Pipeline -- which would cross Indian country with dirty, corrosive oil from the Alberta tarsands, where mining is already destroying the homelands of First Nations.

The United Tribes in its resolution, opposing the pipeline, said the pipeline threatens "water aquifers, water ways, cultural sites, agricultural lands, animal life, public drinking water sources and other resources vital to the peoples of the region."

The United Tribes points out that the US has failed to carry out the required consultation with American Indian Nations. Further, the dangerous pipeline would cross Indian country. Already, the first Keystone pipeline in the northern plains has been the source of a spill.

The United Tribes opposed it because the Keystone XL would be the second oil transmission pipeline to be constructed by the same company that crosses through Indian country in northern Alberta, Saskatchewan, Montana, North Dakota, South Dakota and Nebraska.

The pipeline would cross near, and potentially over, many culturally significant areas for Tribal Nations within those provinces and states.

"Based on the relatively poor environmental record of the first Keystone pipeline, which includes numerous spills, U.S. regulators shut the pipeline down in late May, 2011, and, therefore, based on the record of the first Keystone pipeline, and other factors, it is probable that further environmental disasters will occur in Indian country if the new pipeline is allowed to be constructed."

Further the resolution points out that Indian tribes, including the Affiliated Tribes of Northwest Indians, are also in opposition to the Exxon-Imperial “Heavy Haul” proposal to transport “tar sands” equipment through the Nez Perce Reservation and across scenic highways, and several Indian tribes have joined in litigation to stop this proposal.

The resolution states that regardless of the concerns of the numerous Tribal Nations and the First Nations of Canada, and the fact that comments are still being collected on the pipeline, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency issued a “Finding of No Significant Impact” of the proposed pipeline.

The United Tribes resolution was passed during the Fifteenth Annual InterTribal Summit, which had the theme, “Tribal Challenge: Provide a Safe, Secure Environment for Living and Learning With Limited Resources," held Sept. 7--9.

"The U. S. Department of State did not properly consult with the Tribes along the route of the Keystone Excel Pipeline and, as a result of the mechanisms used for what consultation was provided, the affected Tribal Nations were not provided the opportunity for 'free and informed consent; regarding the construction of the pipeline," the resolution states.

"The United Tribes of North Dakota stands in solidarity with the First Nations of Canada and with Tribal Nations in the United States in opposing the Keystone XL pipeline and the Exxon-Imperial Heavy Haul proposal and their negative impacts on cultural sites and the environment in those portions of Indian country over and through which it is proposed to be constructed, and disagrees with the Finding of No Significant Impact issued by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, and agrees to file these comments regarding this opposition to the Keystone XL pipeline with the Secretary of State as soon as possible," the resolution states.

Further, the resolution says the pipeline is not in the best interest of the United States. The title of the resolution is: "Opposition to Keystone Excel (“Keystone II”) Pipeline now being considered for authorization by the United States Department of State, on the basis that construction of such pipeline is not in the national interests of the United States."

The United Tribes of North Dakota is an association of the five federally recognized Tribes located in North Dakota, each of which has a government-to-government relationship with the United States established by Treaty, including the Three Affiliated Tribes, the Sisseton Wahpeton Oyaté, the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe, the Spirit Lake Tribe and the Turtle Mountain Band of Chippewa, with a Board of Directors composed of the Chairman and one council member from each member Tribe.

Read the full resolution:

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