International Justice

CJ354 Endicott College

UN to investigate plight of US Native Americans for first time

Although this does not connect (yet) to the ICC or other direct means of international justice, I found it very interesting because it brings up the question of international interference in domestic matters of our own country. For the first time the UN will conduct an investigation into the plight of Native Americans in the United States.

James Antaya, UN special rapporteur on indigenous people is leading the investigation. Antaya is originally from New Mexico and well versed in Native American issues. In 2010, the United States signed the UN declaration on rights of indigenous peoples. This declaration establishes minimum basic rights for indigenous people globally. Antaya states that the goal of this human rights inquiry is to assess “how the standards of the declaration are reflected in US law and policy, and [identify] needed reforms and good practices.”

I think that it is generally observed that life for Native Americans living on US reservations is at best rough. Personally I believe this investigation is warranted and I am interested in reading the report when it is concluded. The potential recommendations are obviously still unknown but how do you guys think the US will react to the report when it is issued? I’m wondering what your reactions are to having the tables turned on us and being the target of an investigation by the United Nations.


3 responses to “UN to investigate plight of US Native Americans for first time

  1. wfstates April 24, 2012 at 9:44 am

    I also agree that this is an issue that should be investigated. It’s clear that the United States and their relations with Native Americans in this country has been scared by frequent injustices. I was unaware of the UN declaration of the rights for Indigenous peoples and that the U.S signed on. Its long known that reservation sites are usually some of the worst plots of land, and many tribes have been given lands that did not originally have a connection to. In addition the serious social issues that this article mentions, “unemployment, alcoholism, high suicide rates, incest and other social problems” raises many questions such as why do reservations have such high numbers of social issues in such small concentrated areas? It will be interesting to review Anaya’s report, looking into “how the standards of the declaration are reflected in US law and policy, and identifying needed reforms and good practices.” Native American’s get very little attention in the news, unless its in regards to the planning of a new casino, so I have little knowledge of the United States Federal laws that impact Native American lives. I did however read an really interesting book last year, by Joseph Masco, The Nuclear Borderlands: The Manhattan Project in Post Cold-War New Mexico. He focuses on the development of Los Alamo National Laboratory and its impact on Pueblo Indian Nation living in the area. In short, the laboratory was built on sacred lands of the Pueblo and they have restricted access to much of the surrounding area. Also in the past decades they had no knowledge of the nuclear testing going on in the laboratory and sites surrounding their reservations, today they have a little more access to the degree of testing projects on sites near their reservations, but in general they have little influence on the testing but bear the impact of the testing fallout seen through the unusually high number of cancer cases. In addition the area suffers from high unemployment, and only a handful of Pueblo residents have jobs at the laboratory, the largest employer in the area. Since Anaya is from New Mexico, I can imagine her using the case of the Pueblo Indians to show the impact of American laws on Native American reservations. I serious wonder how/if the United States will the react to the report. Many of the issues are well known in the Native American community and academic fields but I wonder if the U.S and more importantly state and local governments will change their policies towards Native American reservations and Native Americans rights.

  2. kmumass April 24, 2012 at 11:10 am

    This is so amazing and should definately be investigated. This has been an ignored injustice for far too long. It is insanity that it would take the US this long to address this issue. Why did it take until 2010 for them to sign the human dec of rights for indigenous people that makes no sense. I think that Canda addressing their own injustices should have been a push for the US to admit and try and alleviate their own unfair treatment of Native Americans. I just find it crazy that people are more interested in the injustices that illegal immigrants face while they completely ignore what the Natives have faced for centuries.

  3. dodger18 April 24, 2012 at 11:41 am

    I agree totally with the investigation into the plight of the Native American. I see this move by the UN as a informative mission into how conditions can be improved, not a targeting of the U.S for maltreatment. In looking at the article below however, what comes up is the need for a uni-formative approach to addressing indigenous peoples in a modern world. The UN declaration of the rights of Indigenous peoples lays out framework for the fair treatment of natives. This outlines the native cultures rights to strengthen and maintain their own culture and its institutions. The problem facing us is the inherent need to address the need to improve life on the reservations as they have become stressed under a modernized hazards such as environmental stressors that hurt their crops. It also seems that part of the problem is that some of the population is moving away from cultural values getting caught up in endeavors when seeking work off the reservation. This UN report will delve into the problems facing our native population and shed light on what we can do to improve.

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