Indigenous Peoples and Human Rights

May 24, 2012

Mohawk John Kane on sovereignty and the UN agenda: 'We aren't jilted lovers'

John Kane, Mohawk, on sovereignty: "This isn't about a broken promise. We aren't jilted lovers."

By Brenda Norrell
Censored News

Amnesty International slammed the United Nations in its 2012 report for its failures, saying it ignores human rights when issues stand in the way of profit. The report comes after criticisms from Native Americans who say the recent UN Permanent Forum on Indigenous Peoples focused on rhetoric and academia, while ignoring issues which threaten their survival.

Amnesty International said the UN is failing its purpose. “The language of human rights is adopted when it serves political or corporate agendas, and shelved when inconvenient or standing in the way of profit.”

During recent sessions for testimony to the UN Rapporteur on Indigenous Peoples in the US, Native Peoples said the process of testifying was so formal and expensive that it excluded most grassroots Native people.

Further, Native people questioned what will become of their testimony and whether it will simply be reduced to a short and meaningless summary and then filed away.

Ofelia Rivas, O'odham, said traditional and ceremonial O'odham elders were not invited or on the speakers list at the Tucson session. However, a non-O'odham, misusing a sacred name of the O'odham in the name of his organization, was on the speakers list.

Tucson is traditional O'odham territory.

Others questioned the paternalism of the United Nations.

John Kane, Mohawk and host of Lets Talk Native Pride radio, questioned the focus of the Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues, and the pattern of Natives asking the UN to recognize Indian treaties and sovereignty.

"We aren't jilted lovers," Kane said.

Kane said, "For weeks we have heard nothing but the UN this and the UN that; the DRIP (Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples), the "Special Rapporteur," the Permanent Forum. All for what? So we finally can have our issues, Native issues, heard by the WORLD, the international community, responsible nations. And what do we talk about? Access to sacred sites, a 500 year old decree by the Vatican and, of course, treaties."

"The single biggest problem on Native lands is poverty! All social ills come back to this. Can some of it be traced to the Discovery Doctrine or other means of stealing our lands? Sure. But today's genocidal policies are specifically about denying our own economic development."

Kane points out Native sovereignty was never surrendered.

"It is not a question of asking the international community to honor or recognize Native sovereignty. The question is where, when and how was there ever a legal or internationally recognizable transfer of our sovereignty to the US, Canada or anyone else. If we start with the premise that our sovereignty WAS recognized, the only way it could not STILL be is that if there was some legal act of subjugation. Let the US or Canada produce their treaty that establishes that transfer of authority. Our sovereignty is NOT a treaty right and it was not surrendered in one either.

"This isn't about a broken promise. We aren't jilted lovers. We are not begging for the international community to respect us or feel sorry for us. Our sovereignty is an internationally recognized authority to 'carry ourselves.' We aren't asking a favor of the world. It is the legal and moral obligation of other nations to acknowledge that America's 'Final Solution' has failed. We are still here and although it is argued that some of our distinction has faded (and how could it not have in light of US and Canadian policies?), our sovereign birthright has not." Read more:

Meanwhile, the session of the UN Rapporteur in Tucson was held at the University of Arizona, which is boycotted by many Native Americans.

During the session, Rivas said she has boycotted the university because of its involvement in the development of spyware targeting Indigenous Peoples on the border.

San Carlos Apache Wendsler Nosie did attend the session, but pointed out when he testified that he had boycotted the university for 19 years. Nosie said the university had him arrested during protests to protect sacred Mount Graham from the construction of telescopes. After years of protests and court cases, the telescopes were put on the sacred mountain by a consortium headed by the University of Arizona and the Pope.

Others at the Tucson session questioned the sponsorship by the Ford Foundation, whose board members include a member of Goldman Sachs.

In its new report, Amnesty International also questioned the motives of the United Nations, pointing out opportunists and financial profiteers.

“In the last year it has all too often become clear that opportunistic alliances and financial interests have trumped human rights as global powers jockey for influence in the Middle East and North Africa,” said Salil Shetty.

“The language of human rights is adopted when it serves political or corporate agendas, and shelved when inconvenient or standing in the way of profit.”

Read Amnesty’s new report:
Amnesty 2012: No longer business as usual for tyranny and injustice:
Watch John Kane television interview:

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