INDIGENOUS SNATCH A SMALL VICTORY FROM THE JAWS OF DEFEAT AT THE OAS
At the 14th Session of negotiations in the quest for points of consensus, on the Draft Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples of the Americas – held at OAS headquarters in Washington DC; USA – April 18-20th 2012…we (in the Indigenous Caucus) felt a tangible and pervasive sense that many OAS member states had NOT come into this meeting with a genuine determination to make progress; instead – from our perspective in the Indigenous Caucus – we got the distinct impression that many states had come mainly to protect their various regressive Colonial-era National legislation’s and NOT bring them in line with progressive International legislation – especially as it concerns the Human Rights of Indigenous Peoples.
Here is but one example of the kind of State level intransigence we had to contend with:
Chief Willie Little-Child of the Cree Nation in Canada (among several other seasoned Indigenous veterans of the Human Rights struggle in the UN and OAS) took the podium on more than one occasion to educate the seemingly unaware State delegates of the following FACTS:
“We remind the States that ALL of your governments have ALREADY recognized the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples – and supported it in the United Nations General Assembly since the 13th of September 2007. So how can you all sit here and oppose – one after another – language quoted verbatim from the UN Declaration and try to insert language designed solely to weaken THIS Draft Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples of the Americas? This is supposed to use the UN Declaration as a MINIMUM STANDARD. This is a Declaration FOR the Indigenous Peoples of the Americas – NOT a Declaration for the States of the Americas !”
One minute after – we witnessed the States representatives one after another take to the floor immediately following and continue to try to insert language geared to weaken the Draft Declaration.
About half of the current OAS State delegates at this Session seemed to know very little about the previous positions taken by their governments in these negotiations with the Indigenous Caucus, nor do they seem very knowledgeable about the various International Human Rights Laws and Conventions concerning Indigenous Peoples that their respective governments have ALREADY ratified – and are therefore morally and legally bound to respect and uphold.
Though in disbelief, we in the Indigenous Caucus remained respectful in the face of the perplexing attitudes of the State delegates – who’s flowery words about their ‘commitment to the rights of Indigenous Peoples‘…stood in stark contrast to their actions that exhibited a complete opposition to the very ‘Rights of Indigenous Peoples‘ as they are enshrined in International Human Rights Laws and Conventions.
As a member of the Indigenous Caucus who has been involved in these important negotiations since the year 2000, I cannot fail to highlight and congratulate the delegations of the following OAS member states from Latin America – who were strong supporters of the hopes and aspirations of the Indigenous Peoples of the Americas at the 14th Session; namely:Bolivia, Ecuador, Guatemala, Honduras, Nicaragua, Panama, Paraguay, Peru and Venezuela. These 9 countries represented half (50%) of the Latin American countries in the OAS.
I take this opportunity to remind the delegations of the OAS member states that Indigenous Peoples are recognized as ‘International Actors‘ under International Human Rights Law, this is because we represent our Tribal Nations; NOT the Nation States – within who’s imposed political borders our Tribal Nations reside.
For example, a Navajo member of this (or any other) negotiation represents the Navajo Nation AS a citizen of the Navajo Nation… NOT as a citizen of the United States of America – within whose political boundaries the Navajo Nation is located.
Former U.S. President Richard M. Nixon was the first American President to officially recognize into Law – the de-facto locally autonomous status of Native American Tribal Nations; and mandate that negotiations between the US governments and the Native American Tribal Nations MUST be conducted on a GOVERNMENT TO GOVERNMENT Basis!
Since the Nation States of the Americas use ‘National Laws‘ as their convenient excuse for NOT doing anything of great significance for the advancement of our Indigenous Peoples Rights within their territories….We, as Tribal Nations should in turn use ‘International Laws’ as OUR convenient excuse FOR doing everything of great significance for the advancement of our Indigenous Peoples Rights within our own locally autonomous territories.
In this year of Prophecy, the time for the condescending political games that many Nation States have been playing with us for the last 519 years – is fast coming to an end.
It is now time for us to begin preparations for the next phase in our struggle to reclaim that which International Human Rights Laws have ALREADY recognized and enshrined….as our ‘inherent and undeniable right to self-determination‘. I belong to a Tribal Nation – not to a Nation State!
Neo-Colonialism has replaced Colonialism in this Hemisphere….the conquest of the Americas has not yet ended – and neither has our resistance to it !