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Kee Watchman Statement to the UN 2001

February 8, 2001 by  
Filed under Voices from the Land

United Nations Human Rights Commission
Fifty-seventh Session, March 19, April 27, 2001
Oral Intervention, International Indian Treaty Council
Agenda Item 11 (e) Religious Intolerance

Thank you Mr Chairman,

My name is Kee Watchman. I am a delegate from the International Indian Treaty Council. I have been sent here to speak for the community where I have lived my entire life, Cactus Valley-Red Willow Springs. We have been subject for over thirty years to confiscation of our livestock, rules preventing us from building homes or even maintaining the homes we have, continuous police harassment, harsh restrictions on our religion and the threat of forcible evection from the lands of our clans have called home for thousands of years. I believe what I had said, applies to all Indigenous communities who are also subject to these same laws in the United States.

The international community’s attention has been focused on our plight for over 20 years. Every year some of us have some before you to tell our story and ask for justice. There have been three Special Rapporteur’s reports, two in 1989 and another in 1998 on the situation we face. The issues are clear.The United States government, for reasons of its own policy, is actively and knowingly destroying our families, our livelihood, our sacred places and our way of life. It has given itself statutory authority to use whatever force necessary against us to accomplish its goals.

Lately, we had heard strong rumors that PeabodyCoal Company still wants our rich and low sulfur coal that lays underneath our feet, hearing this only reaffirms our own intuition of why we had been faced with this force relocation policy by the United States government. We in our communities still face the ever encroachment of Peabody’s mining operations towards our direction. Even with those families who had signed face yet, still another relocation policy of the future generation’s.

As well, the Hopi Tribal Council recently had given permission to construct a cellular tower on the very peak of our shrine called (Dzil’na SÃ i) or Big Mountain without any consultation. This desecration of our Holy Mountain will only add further insult to a deep injury caused by this force relocation policy.

We sympathize and support our Apache relatives to the south, where they are struggling to protect their Holy mountain called (Dzil Nchaa Si An) or also known as Mount Graham. This Holy Mountain is being desecrated by telescope projects by the University of Arizona, the Vatican andby Max-Planck Institute of Germany.

The United States government is far from protecting our rights, as it promised in the Treaty of 1868, is the major violator of these rights. We worked for years on a mediated “settlementâ€� whichin the end took from us even more of our land, livestock, and our cultural and religious freedoms. We have appealed to the President, the Congress and the Courts of the United States, and have not been able to change our government’s course of action. Therefore, we have come before this body and the international human rights

My organization will work with the Working Group on Indigenous People and the Sub-Commission for the protection and promotion of Human Rights, in order to develop a new resolution on this issue, to be presented to the 58th Commission session. This resolution should:

A) provide for full-time monitoring of human rights violations in the Dine’ Country;

B) make provision for rendering adviceand guidance from the international community to the United States on its responsibilities under existing treaties, the UN Charter and otherinternational instruments;

C) providing an avenue of appeal to some international tribunal where the United States and its officials could beheld accountable for their actions.

We are well aware of the pressures the United States has brought to bear in the past on this body, the Sub-Commission and the Working Group. We have faith, however, that those who hear and understand our words will take this opportunity to protect our rights, and by doing so the rights of all indigenous peoples and of all the peoples of the world.

In closing Mr. Chairman, IITC would like to state that Indigenous peoples worldwide regret that Executive Clemency was denied to an Indigenous and environmental rights defender, LeonardPeltier. This case is an example of the injustices Indigenous peoples are facing today.

We want to renew our call for the immediate release for Leonard Peltier and we are asking the Commission to request the Special Rapporteur on the Independence of Judges and Lawyers and the Working Group on Arbitration Detention to visit and investigate the care of Leonard Peltier and report to next Commission’s session.

Thank you Mr. Chairman and all my relatives,

CactusValley-Red Willow Springs/Big Mountain region.

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