Formal Statement to James Anaya, United Nations Special Rapporteur on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples
Indigenous Elders and Medicine Peoples
April 27, 2012
Formal Statement to James Anaya, United Nations Special Rapporteur on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples
“The Creator gave the Aboriginal Indigenous Nations of the People Laws to follow and responsibilities to care for all Creation. These instructions have been passed down from generation to generation from the beginning of Creation. It is the Law that no one can overpower the Creator’s Law, you are a part of Creation, thus if you break the Law, you are destroying yourself.
We speak on behalf of all Creation: the four legged/those that swim/those that crawl/those that fly/those that burrow in the Earth/the plant and tree Nations. This one life system includes the elements of fire, water, earth and air, the living environment of “Mother Earth”.
The Sanctity of the Creator’s Law has been broken. The balance of life has been disrupted. You come into life as a sacred being. If you abuse the sacredness of your life then you affect all Creation. The future of all life is now in jeopardy. We have now reached the crossroads. As Aboriginal Indigenous People we ask you to work with us to save the future of all Creation.”
The Creator created the Aboriginal Indigenous Peoples into the Land at the beginning of Creation and also created into the Peoples the Natural Law. We have followed this Natural law since the very beginning, passing it down through each generation to ensure the survival of all life.
As the Original Stewards of this Land we have the responsibility to follow and uphold the Natural Law. In order to uphold this responsibility we must be free to speak and act on behalf of our relatives who are not easily understood by those who are new to this land and who have little respect for the Natural Laws of this Land. The newcomers have demonstrated their lack of respect for the Natural Law time and again throughout the history of the United States of America, beginning with the abandonment of their own laws and homelands and the creation of new man-made laws that have been designed to serve destructive purposes upon our homelands. The lack of respect and abusive actions that the United States has continually demonstrated in opposition to Natural Law is both offensive and utterly destructive, not only to our Peoples and way of life, but to all Creation.
Since their arrival on our lands, the newcomers have shown very little respect towards our obligation to adhere to the Natural Law of the Creator. Instead of mutual respect there is simply an expectation that we will respect the man-made laws that have been forced upon us. In this way, we find that we are discriminated against, by consistently being required to respond in black and white with a foreign language that is not our own and which does not convey the full depth of our concerns. Our Indigenous ways of decision2 making and speaking are often not accommodated and our ways of interaction are not honored or recognized.
It is our inherent right to follow the Natural Law. And, it is our right to adhere to our obligations under that Law which extend beyond man-made domestic and international law. The government of the United States is also obligated. They are obligated to acknowledge our right to govern ourselves and our lands.
Domestic and International law requires the United States Government to acknowledge the Indigenous Peoples’ right to self-determination. This includes the right to live on our lands with unrestricted access to our waters and natural areas without fear of contamination or the threat of having our rights restricted or taken away.
In addition, the United States Government is obligated to acknowledge the right of Indigenous Peoples to maintain and protect their “religious and cultural practices.” Based on these legal precepts, our sacred holdings such as Eagle feathers are improperly placed under man-made law. Those who properly maintain and care for these sacred holdings, in accordance with our sacred teachings, are the ones to determine how they are to be used.
These sacred holdings are governed by the Creator’s Law. Yet, the United States Government presumes to control our ceremonies by dictating how and when we can use our sacred holdings, creating man-made laws that govern the use of our sacred holdings and our ceremonial way of life, in direct violation of our rights as Indigenous Peoples. These attempts to disrupt our way of life by dishonoring and disrespecting the Natural Law have consequences. The United States and the international community are experiencing these consequences today. They are being felt in the increased severity and frequency of natural disasters that have been brought about by their activities and they are being reflected in the deterioration of the social and moral standards. The need for manmade laws to be realigned with the Natural Law is urgent. This can only be accomplished if the Natural Law of the Creator, the Law held sacred by Indigenous Peoples, is included in real and meaningful ways. If the United States and International Legal Community does not address their destruction of the natural world and the social injustices that result from this destruction, immediately and urgently, by realigning their values and all future actions with the Natural Law, then we see newly emerging threats on the horizon, threats that pose an immediate danger to our survival as human beings.
As the sole authority on our way of life we must be included in all planning and decision making that affects our way of life and the ability of the natural world to sustain life upon this planet. In regard to the legal consultation requirements set forth under domestic and international law, the United States of America is required to engage in meaningful consultation and to attain the free, prior and informed consent of the Indigenous Peoples before making any decisions that might impact them, their lands or their way of life. However, even with these laws in place, there has been very little meaningful face-toface open dialogue with Indigenous Peoples. When consultation does occur the peoples whose interests and way of life will be most impacted are often disregarded or ignored, while the plans of the United States Government move forward unaltered. Consultation often results in discussions with a few individuals, generally it is with those individuals who will somehow benefit from the decisions that the United States is making. This has endangered our water and subsistence rights and lead to the destructive extraction of our minerals, the introduction of invasive species and numerous pollutants that have contaminated our environment, damaged our way of life and threatened our sacred places. The United States Government has violated our rights and disrupted our way of life, by allowing a few individuals to illegally provide consent on our behalf. Therefore, the United States Government and those individuals, who have participated in the elimination of our rights, by illegally providing consent, must be held accountable for the destruction of our lands, waters and our way of life.
True consultation requires those with decision-making authority to come to us formally and to sit with us face-to-face, to initiate a true dialogue and proceed honorably with consensus, so that we can establish the type of working relationship that is necessary to address the critical environmental issues that all living beings currently face. We recommend that as a first step towards justice and reconciliation, the International Community conduct an independent investigation into all past and current human rights violations, environmental violations and the violation of any and all treaty rights and agreements. We also request that you thoroughly investigate all discriminatory practices and failures related to reaching acceptable standards of consultation, under both domestic and international law. The findings from this independent investigation should be made public and must include participation from Aboriginal Indigenous Nations and people. Recommendations and plans to restore past damage and to prevent future harms to the Indigenous Peoples, our way of life and the natural world should be outlined in legally binding agreements that have clear enforcement mechanisms in place. Today, there are no mechanisms within the laws of the United States that offer any real protections for our sacred places, the natural world or our way of life. The United States must be held responsible for all activities and actions that it has allowed or undertaken that have damaged, destroyed and desecrated our sacred places and the natural world that we rely upon for our survival. Real enforcement mechanisms must be created. Legal authority without enforcement is meaningless.
We are now in the state of survival and we must begin to sacrifice in order to provide a future for our coming generations. We must adhere to the Natural Law. We cannot continue to damage, desecrate or destroy parts of the natural system and expect what remains to live unaffected. We ask that you work with us to save the future of all Creation and to uphold, respect and honor the Natural Law.
We respectfully ask that all Nation States and human beings around the world use the Natural Law, provided by the Creator, as a guiding light and foundation for all decision making, from this point forward. We ask you to stand with us to protect sacred places such as San Francisco Peaks, the Black Hills, Mount Graham, Greasy Mountain also known as South Mountain, Bear Butte, Black Mesa, Bdote and Medicine Lake, and all other threatened sacred places here and around the world.
We have been asked to carry sacred responsibilities for our people, to provide a future for the coming generations. This responsibility includes the protection of all life. We are from various Nations and we are spiritually related. We will not be divided by any terminology that defines us as “recognized” or “unrecognized”, by the Government of the United States or any other body. We are recognized by the Creator and we are united under the Creator’s Law, as United Aboriginal Indigenous Nations, with a sacred covenant to protect and extend Life for all future generations.
REPRESENTATIVES OF THE COUNCIL Chief Arvol Looking Horse 19th Generation Keeper of the Sacred White Buffalo Calf Pipe Spiritual Leader Lakota, Dakota and Nakota Nations Bobby C. Billie Clan Leader and Spiritual Leader Council of the Original Miccosukee Simanolee Nation Aboriginal People Bucky Preston Hopi Henry Barber President Dine’ Medicine Men Association Leonard Bends Crow Sun Dance Chief Crow Nation -ADDITIONAL SIGNATURES TO FOLLOW