August 2020

Indigenous Peoples and Human Rights

Monday, August 6, 2012

The censoring of Rosalie Little Thunder

Tucson schools banned books: Just what was so provocative, so dangerous, about Rethinking Columbus?

By Brenda Norrell
Censored News

TUCSON -- Still delirious from the relentless heat, I stumble into the university bookstore, in search of cold air. Then, I see them. Spread on a table near the front door, neatly arranged, are the banned books I've been searching for.

Picking up 500 Years Anos del Pueblo Chicano, 500 Years of Chicano History in pictures, I then see that my long search is over. I've finally found a copy of Rethinking Columbus, The Next 500 Years, among the first seven books banned by the Tucson Unified School District. The list of banned books was bloated into dozens of books when Mexican-American Studies was forbidden in January. The books in the classrooms were placed on the extricating cart and doomed for the depository.

So, just what was so naughty, so provocative, so dangerous, in Rethinking Columbus?

Rethinking Columbus is packed full of famous Native American authors.

The powerful Native American women's voices censored by Tucson public schools includes the voice of Rosalie Little Thunder, in, "The Sacred Buffalo." Little Thunder's letter describes the massacre of buffalo at Yellowstone National Park. It includes a personal family story of massacre and survival and her arrest at Yellowstone.

Above all, Little Thunder's letter describes the significance of the slaughter of buffalo. For the colonizers, the buffalo must die to eradicate Indians, just as in the minds of Tucson public school officials, the voices of Lakota survivors must be banned and silenced.

Little Thunder writes in Rethinking Columbus, "Just as I am a survivor of massacre, so too are the Yellowstone buffalo survivors of massacre."

Here, too, in Rethinking Columbus, is the powerful account of "Resistance at Oka," by Mohawk author Peter Blue Cloud Aroniawenrate. The censorship of Aroniawenrate by Tucson public schools was so powerful that the publisher of his book of poetry re-released it in response. Gary Lawless at Blackberry Books, re-released Back Then Tomorrow.

Meanwhile, the dramatic photos in the book of 500 Years of Chicano History, reveal plenty of photos to inspire. There are photos of farm workers being beaten bloody, and photos of the Southwest Organizing Project, fighting toxic dumping on Indian lands and elsewhere in the Southwest.

History, you see, is dangerous.

In 500 Years of Chicano History, there are also photos from southern New Mexico, where the wives of miners picked up the picket signs and manned the picket lines of the famous mining strike. The women faced brutality, while striking for running water and decent housing. Even their children were jailed.

Here, the past and present come together. When the movie about the mining strike, Salt of the Earth, was filmed in Silver City, N.M., in 1953, with the real life heroes of this strike, McCarthyism struck, and the filming went underground. In the next 10 years, only 12 theaters showed the film.

Wikipedia states about Salt of the Earth, "Director Herbert Biberman was one of the Hollywood screenwriters and directors who refused to answer the House Committee on Un-American Activities on questions of CPUSA affiliation in 1947. The Hollywood Ten were cited and convicted for contempt of Congress and jailed. Biberman was imprisoned in the Federal Correctional Institution at Texarkana for six months. After his release he directed this film.[3] Other participants who made the film and were blacklisted by the Hollywood studios include: Paul Jarrico, Will Geer, Rosaura Revueltas, and Michael Wilson."

Today, those miners and the movie have survived the tentacles of McCarthyism. The attacks to banish Salt of the Earth only served to cement it as legend.

The banning of Rethinking Columbus, 500 Years of Chicano History, and all the other books banned by Tucson public schools, reserves their place in history. The voices of Rosalie Little Thunder, Lakota, Peter Blue Cloud, Mohawk, and all the others, are now assured of standing the tests of time.

For permission to repost in full, contact, or feel free to share the link.
Also see:
Heatstroke: Scrounging for banned books in Tucson, with list of banned books and Censored News videos with Tucson students:

Copyright Brenda Norrell

Navajo Human Rights Commission report on relocation rights violations

NNHRC releases its relocation public hearing report citing human rights violations

By Navajo Nation Human Rights Commission
Posted at Censored News

Navajo human rights officials release their “Public Hearing Report: The Impact of the Navajo-Hopi Land Settlement Act of 1974—P.L. 93-531 et al.”

SAINT MICHAELS, Navajo Nation -- The Navajo Nation Human Rights Commission distributed its report, “Public Hearing Report: The Impact of the Navajo-Hopi Land Settlement Act of 1974—P.L. 93-531 et al.,” to representatives of the Navajo Nation about Diné citizens’ human rights violations on Friday, August 3, 2012. To read the report, go to

On July 6, 2012, commissioners for NNHRC unanimously adopted the public hearing report in a resolution (NNHRCJULY-21-12) as one of two last actions before ending their four year term on July 14, 2012.

NNHRC adopted the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples in 2008 as a minimum standard of achievement for NNHRC when advocating for and protecting the human rights of Navajo citizens. With that, UNDRIP provided the standard to ascertain human rights violations in NNHRCs public hearing report.

Presently, NNHRC is the only Navajo Nation governmental entity using the U.N. Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples as a minimal standard of achievement.
What is not widely known is that the Navajo Nation officials presented recommendations to a working group when the Declaration was in draft form and had advocated its adoption by the U.N. General Assembly for nearly 15 years. In 2007, the United Nations adopted UNDRIP and later the United States as a member state to the United Nations did too, in 2010.
Interestingly, “[m]any of the Navajo families who are suffering from the Navajo-Hopi relocation program have journeyed to faraway places such as Geneva, Switzerland, in order to present their stories to international bodies,” according to NNHRCs resolution. Further, “[m]any of these international travels coincided with the Navajo Nation’s advocacy for the adoption of UNDRIP.” As a result, “the input and advocacy by the Navajo families who are directly impacted by the Navajo-Hopi relocation resulted in the United Nations General Assembly adopting Article 10 of UNDRIP.”
Article 10 of the U.N. Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples states,
“Indigenous peoples shall not be forcibly removed from their lands or territories.” No relocation shall take place without the free, prior and informed consent of the indigenous peoples concerned and after agreement on just and fair compensation and, where possible, with the option of return.”
Decisively, according to NNHRCs resolution the commission found that, “Navajo families and individuals [who] were relocated from their traditionally owned and used homelands, including those [who] remained on their lands under arrangements, have egregiously suffered, and continue to grieve, largely from the long lasting and devastating impacts on their lives.”
Glimpse at the Report
The report provides a sincere acknowledgement section from the commissioners, a summary of the historical account of the Navajo-Hopi land settlement, an overview of the international human rights laws including standards of assessing the impacts of relocation, a comprehensive summary of the testimonies provided by Diné and non-Diné individuals, 22 findings, and 16 recommendations.

As an example, the first finding in the report states, “Because the Navajo-Hopi Relocation Act falls within the scope of human rights violations under the standards of the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, the Navajo Nation Human Rights Commission recommends P.L. 93-531 et al., be repealed. Navajo lands should be returned to the Navajo Nation and all efforts to compete relocation should be halted immediately.”

Finally, NNHRC states, “The legacy of [Public Law] 93-531 et al. has been a source of profound dislocation, alienation, and trauma for Diné citizens who have been forced to relocate from their homeland and based upon investigation, NNHRC finds the forced relocation of over [ten] thousand Navajos is a clear violation of their human rights.”

The Navajo Nation Human Rights Commission, initiated this process with its charge to conduct public hearings on and off the Navajo Nation to determine the state of race relations between Navajos—Diné, and non-Navajos.  The state of race relations was assessed after NNHRC held a series of public hearings in 25 neighboring communities surrounding the Navajo Nation to determine if Navajo human rights were being violated. At that time, about 158 people testified. Many of whom were relocated as a result of the Navajo-Hopi Settlement Act of 1974—P.L.93-531.

Following the race relations hearings, two months later in 2009, to focus directly about the impact of the Navajo-Hopi Land Settlement Act of 1974, NNHRC conducted seven public hearings and received 124 testimonies. NNHRC conducted public hearings in Birdsprings, Navajo Nation; Dilkon, Navajo Nation; Tonalea, Navajo Nation; Pinon, Navajo Nation; Sanders, Navajo Nation; Flagstaff, Ariz., and in Tuba City, Navajo Nation beginning on November 17, 2009 to January 14, 2010. 

Throughout the week, NNHRC will provide a series of statements to better provide a comprehensive overview of the testimonies, NNHRC findings and recommendations, redress, and Commissioners’ concerns to the public through different media efforts. 

Rachelle Todea,Public Information Officer
Navajo Nation Human Rights Commission
P.O. Box 1689
Window Rock, Navajo Nation (AZ)  86515
Phone: (928) 871-7436
Fax: (928) 871-7437

"Indigenous peoples have the right to self-determination. By virtue of that right they freely determine their political status and freely pursue their economic, social and cultural development," according to Article 3 of the U.N. Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples.

United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, G.A. Res. 61/295, U.N. Doc A/RES/295 (Sept. 13, 2007), 46 I.L.M 1013 (2007).