What Our Soldiers Should Know About U.S. Government
- -------- Original Message --------
Subject: What Our Soldiers Should Know About U.S. Government
Date: Thu, 9 Sep 2004 11:35:44 -0400
From: Russell Diabo <rdiabo@...>
What Our Soldiers Should Know About U.S. Government
By: Kenneth Deer, The Eastern Door
Kahnawake has a proud history of our men and women serving in the
American armed forces. We have more people serving in the U.S. armed
services per capita than anywhere else in Canada and probably much of
the United States. We hope they all serve well and return home safely.
The same is true for all Native Americans who live inside the borders of
the United States. They serve the U.S. armed forces will and in large
It is important, however, that these servicemen understand how the U.S.
government views Native Americans in the United States.
At the United Nations Commission on Human Rights last April, the U.S.
representative, a Cuban ex-patriot, made the following statement. It
started out well, but the ending is the kicker: Over 100 years age the
United States was in conflict with the Native Peoples of America. In the
hundred years since, the United States has adopted various policies from
assimilation to the termination of tribal status to the current era of
self-determination. And, history is witness, the United States did not
always get it right.
"...Through it all, Native Peoples struggled to survive, to reclaim
their strength, to heal their people. They fought to defend the land,
America, through world wars, the conflicts of the cold war and now in
the war against terrorism. As a percentage of the population of the
United States, there are more Native Peoples protecting our land in this
way than any other group. Their patriotism is evident. The United States
is fortunate to have the Native people at our side. The United States is
proud to have a government-to-government relationship with over 560
Indian tribal governments within the U.S.
"...Much has been said about so-called U.S. obstructionism at the WGDD.
The United States of America takes the work of itinerating a Declaration
of Indigenous Peoples seriously. For this reason, the U.S. has examined
its position and has offered the notion of 'internal
self-determination'. The notion of 'internal self-determination'
recognizes that local authorities will and should make their own
decisions ina range of issues from taxation to education to land
resources management to membership. These are the powers of a
government. This is the essence of a federal system with which we are
quite comfortable. In this sense, the Draft Declaration is not a human
rights instrument. Instead, it is a blueprint for how the U.S. ought to
conduct relations with Indigenous peoples. The U.S. stands ready to
negotiate that kind of aspirational document. But we will not support
continued negotiations on a Draft Declaration that pretended to re-order
internal relationships within a sovereign democratic state."
What the United States is saying here is that it is okay for Native
Americans to die defending America's right to self-determination but the
United States will not recognize Native Americans' own right to
The United States has a long history with Native Americans and has made
treaties with them. Treaties are made between sovereign nations. These
sovereign nations have a right to self-determination and exercise that
right when they sign a treaty.
The U.S.'s position that Native Americans have only a right to 'internal
self-determination' is a clear attempt at re-writing history and denying
Native Americans their right to self-determination which they hold since
There is no such concept as 'internal self-determination' in law. The
U.S. is trying to create a new concept that denies a basic, fundamental
human right that all peoples in the world are entitled to under
international law which states: "All peoples have a right to
self-determination. By virtue of that right they freely determine their
political status and freely pursue their economic, social and cultural
By denying this right to Native Americans and all Indigenous Peoples in
the world, the United States is practising racism and discrimination
against a specific group of peoples.
America's rhetoric at the beginning of its statement describing a
'government-to-government relationship' is false in the selse that it is
not a true relationship between equals. The U.S. wants a colonial
relationship with Native Americans having municipal powers with a few
extra rights. Native Americans have a right to much more.
Next week in Geneva, Switzerland, governments and Indigenous
representatives will debate the Draft Declaration on the Rights of
Indigenous Peoples and we can expect that the Untied States will
continue to reduce those rights as much as possible.
In the meantime, Native Americans are expected to serve and die in
foreign countries in defense of america and establish the right of
self-determination of the Iraqi people while the rights of these Native
Americans are being denied at home.
Terrorism takes many forms. The United States will use its power and
influence to force the reduction of the rights of Indigenous Peoples.
And, at the same time, we are expected to spill our blood while they do so.
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