Out of Step

Out of Step

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September 14, 2012

In the August 30, 2012 report by the UN Special Rapporteur on the rights of indigenous peoples, it is noted that flagrant violations of historical treaties constitute some of the principal wrongdoings committed by the United States towards indigenous peoples. Indeed, as Special Rapporteur James Anaya reports, plenary congressional power over the “domestic dependent nations” is out of step with contemporary human rights values.

This plenary power, exercised throughout the history of US-tribal relations, he notes, has had devastating social and economic consequences still apparent today.

Anaya goes on to say that,

the image now often popularized of Native Americans flush with cash from casinos is far from the norm. A number of tribes do have casino operations as part of economic development efforts, taking advantage of special exemptions from ordinary state regulation and taxation that are available to them under federal law. Most tribes, however, do not have casinos and, of those that do, only a handful have reaped substantial riches sufficient to significantly reduce poverty levels.

The loss of their lands by force or fraud, says Anaya, meant the substantial or complete undermining of indigenous peoples’ own economic foundations and means of subsistence… Measures of reconciliation and redress, he notes,  should include initiatives to address outstanding claims of treaty violations or non-consensual takings of traditional lands and to secure indigenous peoples’ capacities in accordance with the United States international human rights commitments.

Only then can we advance toward reconciliation.

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