[News] Listening Conferences for UN Report: No one was listening to Native Americans

Anti-Imperialist News news at freedomarchives.org
Tue Aug 24 17:25:21 EDT 2010

Listening Conferences for UN Report: No one was listening to Native Americans

By Brenda Norrell


Updated Aug. 24, 2010

It appears no one was listening at the US State Department's 
Listening Conferences this year, when Native Americans offered 
testimony on human rights for a report to the United Nations.

The US Periodic Review on Human Rights released Monday, Aug. 23, 
shows the Obama Administration giving itself a glossy, positive 
review on the issue of Native Americans and human rights to the 
United Nations Human Rights Council.

However, the release of the final document proves Russell Means was 
accurate when he described the Listening Conferences as a "Smokescreen."

"Once again, the occupation government of the United States of 
America has trotted out its dogs and ponies to provide a smokescreen 
and diversion from its continuing crimes against the indigenous 
peoples and nations of the Western Hemisphere," Means said in March.

The US report to the UN fails to describe the ongoing environmental 
genocide, where corporations in collusion with the US government 
target Indian country with power plants, coal mines and oil and gas wells.

The United States does not address the uranium mining that now 
threatens water supplies of Navajos or Lakotas, nor of the proposed 
Desert Rock power plant that threatens the health of Navajos. There 
is no mention of the so-called Navajo Hopi land dispute that resulted 
in the relocation of 14,000 Navajos on Black Mesa. It was 
manufactured by attorneys, Congressmen and Peabody Coal to make way 
for Peabody Coal mining. The report does does not mention the 
Forgotten Navajos of the Bennett Freeze zone, where development was 
frozen by federal legislation.

The US report does not address the poisoned groundwater of the Tohono 
O'odham from mining, nor the conditions on South Dakota Indian lands. 
It does not address the violations of the rights of the Western 
Shoshone as gold mining targets sacred Mount Tenabo. There is no 
mention of how the use of recycled sewage water on sacred San 
Francisco Peaks will affect American Indian Nations.

There is no mention of the radioactive spills and radioactive 
tailings strewn across the Navajo Nation or the live Cold War bombs 
in the Badlands on Pine Ridge, S.D. There is no mention of the 
genocide of uranium mining, leaving behind a legacy of cancer and 
death, in Acoma and Laguna Pueblos. There was no mention of testimony 
to protect Zuni Pueblo sacred places.

The US Periodic Review fails to address the widespread abuses by the 
US Border Patrol of Indigenous Peoples traveling in their own 
territories, or the violations of NAGPRA and other federal laws 
during construction of the US/Mexico border wall. This included 
Boeing digging up the ancestors of the O'odham.

There is no mention of the physical abuse of Haudenosaunee and others 
on the northern border by border agents. The US fails to describe the 
racial profiling that has become acceptable for police and border 
agents in the US. There is no mention of the destruction of 
ceremonial items by border agents.

The US does not address the violations of fishing and hunting rights 
of Native Americans in violations of Treaties. There is no mention of 
the loss of water rights.

The report fails to describe the targeting of American Indians by 
police during traffic stops, the longer prison sentences issued by 
courts for American Indians or the ongoing hate crimes in Indian 
country bordertowns. The US fails to admit to the denials of American 
Indian religious freedom in US prisons.

While giving a sweeping rosy report of the United States in regards 
to Native Americans and human rights, the US says it is considering 
passage of the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples. 
The US fails to point out that it is trailing all the other countries 
in the world in adoption of the Declaration.

The US is currently attempting a flim-flam approach to the adoption 
of the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples. But 
Indigenous Peoples say that US laws of "Discovery" and "Conquest" can 
not supersede the UN Declaration.

Tonya Gonellaa Frichner, Onondaga, said the US House of 
Representatives submitted Resolution 1551.1H to Congress and referred 
it to the House Foreign Affairs Committee on July 22.

"The resolution expresses the sense of Congress that the United 
States should 'promote respect for and full implementation of the 
provisions of the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples 
consistent with US law.'

"As positive as this wording of the resolution may seem, the phrase 
'consistent with US law' is highly problematic because US law with 
regard to American Indian nations and peoples is premised on 
unacceptable doctrines such as 'discovery,' 'conquest,' and 'plenary 
power,' and on a presumption of United States supremacy over 
Indigenous peoples," said Frichner, North American Regional 
Representative to the UN Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues.

"The UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples is an 
international human rights instrument that recognizes the individual, 
collective, and group rights of Indigenous Peoples, including the 
right of self-determination, and the right of Indigenous Peoples to 
give or withhold their free, prior, and informed consent when it 
comes to the exploitation of their Indigenous lands, territories, and 

"It is incumbent upon the United States government to fully endorse 
and implement the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples 
in a manner consistent with international standards of human rights, 
and in keeping with the recognition of the individual, group, and 
collective rights of Indigenous Peoples," she said.

  Meanwhile, in the Periodic Review to the UN, while applauding 
freedom of expression in America, the US fails to point out that 
spying on private citizens is nearing the Cold War spying level. 
There is no mention of ongoing US war crimes.

The ACLU, in its response to the US Periodic Report, stressed the US 
abuse of the rights of prisoners and migrants.

Although Window Rock, Ariz., on the Navajo Nation was one site of the 
testimony at the Listening Conferences, there are no specifics of 
Navajo testimony in the final report.

Although written testimony was presented on behalf of Leonard 
Peltier, there is no mention of Peltier in the final report.

Means said, in his statement in March, "As we can see, many 
indigenous people have been duped to participate, yet again, in a 
lying and duplicitous process of the United States. The United States 
has absolutely no interest or intention of admitting to the world its 
human rights record that is neither justifiable nor defensible. In 
particular, the record of the United States with regard to 
historical, and ongoing, violations of over 370 treaties that were 
negotiated and signed with indigenous nations must be, but will not 
be, addressed by the United States."

The ACLU listed the shortcomings of the report and made 
recommendations today, stressing the United States abuse of the 
rights of prisoners and migrants:


View the US Periodic Review to the UN Human Rights Council:


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