Friday, October 16, 2009


Indigenous Rights


Indigenous Peoples
Southern Border Rights Campaign


By Brenda Norrell

TUCSON — In the new Southern Border Rights Campaign, the Alianza Indigena Sin Fronteras/Indigenous Alliance Without Borders, is working toward national guidelines to ensure border rights for Indigenous Peoples in their homelands, from California to Texas.

Indigenous Alliance Without Borders director Jose Matus, Yaqui, said recent meetings were held with members of the Gila River Indian Nation, Cocopah Nation and Kumeyaay Nation, along with meetings in Los Angeles and San Francisco. The purpose was to network and solicit support for a Southern Border Rights Campaign. The Alliance is working toward national guidelines and a manual for Southern Indigenous Border Rights at the U.S./Mexico Border region.

Matus, Yaqui ceremonial leader, has traveled to Yaqui communities in Sonora, Mexico for thirty years to bring Yaqui ceremonial leaders to the United States for temporary stays for ceremonial purposes. At the US border, there were repeatedly harassments and detainments of ceremonial leaders and their families.

Indigenous Peoples living along the border in their traditional homelands, from California to Texas, continue to be harassed and intimidated by US federal agents, including the US Border Patrol, and local enforcement agencies working with Homeland Security. The situation has not improved under the Obama Administration.

While the United States piously demands that other countries assure basic human rights to their citizens, the United States remains one of the greatest offenders of the rights of Indigenous Peoples.

The United States, Canada, Australia and New Zealand were the four countries that refused to vote in favor of the adoption of the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples. The stated rights include the right to prior and informed consent and the right to traditional territories.

The Alliance said, “The militarization of the southern US border with Mexico threatens the survival of Indigenous Peoples living on both sides of the U.S.-Mexico borderline. Our survival as Peoples depends largely on our ability to practice our ancient Indigenous languages, spiritual beliefs, culture and ceremonies in privacy and community without interference. This is not merely a cultural and spiritual concern; it is a matter of human right that exists in the U.S. legal statues, U.S. Constitution and International Law.”

Matus said the following statement by the Indigenous Alliance Without Borders was completed in cooperation with the International Indian Treaty Council:

“Southern Border Crossing for Indigenous Peoples And the Lack of U.S.-Mexico Border Rights & Justice

By Alianza Indigena Sin Fronteras/Indigenous Alliance Without Borders

The United States is quiet about the U.S. vote of ‘NO’ to the Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples”

‘We did not Cross the Border, The Border Crossed Us’

The militarization of the southern US border with Mexico threatens the survival of indigenous peoples living on both sides of the U.S.-Mexico borderline. Our survival as Peoples depends largely on our ability to practice our ancient Indigenous languages, spiritual beliefs, culture and ceremonies in privacy and community without interference. This is not merely a cultural and spiritual concern; it is a matter of human right that exists in the U.S. legal statues, U.S. Constitution and International Law.

It is well known that the US was one of four countries voting against the recently adopted United Nations Declaration on the rights of Indigenous Peoples. It is dishonest for a government that lauds itself throughout the world as a Nation of Laws and protector of Human Rights to vote against the basic rights of Indigenous Peoples in its own country as well as the rights of hundreds of millions of Indigenous Peoples throughout the world.

To restore American credibility and make progress on these issues the Alianza Indigena Sin Fronteras will advance a vision of responsible local, regional and international engagement that emphasizes human rights, solidarity and cooperation in an interdependent world, realizing that progress on compelling southern border problems will require the active support of friends, allies, and other major stakeholders in the local, regional and international community.

With that purpose, the Alianza Indigena Sin Fronteras is spearheading the first ever Southern border transnational collaboration of Indigenous Peoples to address the rights of mobility and passage, militarization of the southern border and seek national policy on Southern Indigenous Peoples’ border rights, justice and recognition for the cultural and religious rights of Indigenous Peoples, and their traditional ceremonial leaders.

Our goal is to create a strategic collaboration along the US-Mexico border among Indigenous Nations/communities and their organizations, allies and partners. We also propose future collaboration, mutual support and solidarity with northern border tribes including the Dakota-Nakota 7 Council Fires of South Dakota, who engaged in similar issues along the US-Canada border. Our aim is to unite Indigenous communities across borders in bringing key Indigenous Rights issues to the U.S. Government and 00international arena, in particular to the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, Department of State and the United Nations Human Rights Mechanisms and the Permanent Forum on Indigenous Peoples.

As Indigenous Peoples, we must come together as one organized voice - we must speak for ourselves. Therefore, the Alianza Indigena Sin Fronteras asks for the support of all Indigenous Peoples, friends, community allies and partners to stand in support of the fundamental sovereign principles of our traditional Indigenous cultural beliefs. Our social justice journey is to establish Indigenous human/civil rights, cultural survival and protection of our Indigenous languages, and the protection of mother earth and sacred sites at the southern border.

Networking and Coalition Building to promote Indigenous Southern Border Rights & Justice

Solutions may only be possible with consistent political pressure, an organized Indigenous community and the support of human rights organizations locally, nationally and internationally. Assistance and support will also be required from federally recognized border tribes who would also benefit from the restoration of mobility for their members on the south side of the border fence.

The best strategy for defending Indigenous rights, the rights of indigenous people’s mobility and passage of the U.S.-Mexico southern border must involve a combination of factors and strategies, including mobilizations of Indigenous communities and tribal councils, creating political pressure, the use of domestic courts and international human rights mechanisms.


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