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September 30, 2013 Katrina Chow - Project Manager US Bureau of Reclamation Planning Division, 2800 Cottage Way Sacramento, CA 95825-1893 United States of America Re: Public comment regarding the raising of the Shasta Dam Dear Bureau of Reclamation: The International Organization for Self-Determination and Equality (IOSDE) opposes the proposed raising of the height of the Shasta Dam by 6.5-18.5 feet. Due to such a raise in the Dam height the Winnemem Wintu Tribe would see an additional 39 of their sacred sites flooded, including Puberty Rock. A major aspect of the tribe’s ability to practice their culture and religion would be lost. As IOSDE expressed to the United States Forest Service earlier this summer of 2013 in support of the protection of the Winnemem Wintu Balas Chonas puberty ceremony (performed at a Winnemem sacred site, amongst others, that would be flooded by the proposed Shasta Dam raise), IOSDE recognizes the Winnemem Wintu as a self-determining Indigenous People practicing their traditional culture, family, inheritance and religion amongst other human and Indigenous customs and values and land rights therein. Such customs and values are Rights of Indigenous Peoples under International Law, as well as being Human Rights in general. The United States and its National- and state-governing and administrative mechanisms are beholden to these International Laws that support Indigenous Peoples and Indigenous and Human Rights, including the rights of the Winnemem Wintu Tribe. The Winnemem Wintu are an Indigenous People with Human and Indigenous Rights as per International Law, including but not limited to those rights contained within the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (UNDRIP), adopted by the United Nations General Assembly in 2007, as well as the United Nations International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR) and the United Nations International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (ICESCR), both adopted by the United Nations General Assembly in 1966, the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC), adopted by the United Nations General Assembly in 1989, the United Nations International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination (CERD), adopted by the United Nations General Assembly in 1966, and the UN Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW), adopted by the United Nations General Assembly in 1979, United Nations Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR), adopted by the United Nations General Assembly in 1948, and the Charter of the United Nations, of which the Unites States of American is a Member, and which came into force in 1945. Specifically, The United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (UNDRIP), endorsed by the United States of America in 2010, supports the needs and requests of the Winnemem Wintu as an Indigenous People. The
IOSDE: an equal future starts with an equal now
following articles of the UNDRIP, amongst others, would be violated in light of the destruction to Winnemem Wintu sacred and cultural sites were the Shasta Dam to be raised:
Article 8 1. Indigenous peoples and individuals have the right not to be subjected to forced assimilation or destruction of their culture. Article 11 1. Indigenous peoples have the right to practise and revitalize their cultural traditions and customs. This includes the right to maintain, protect and develop the past, present and future manifestations of their cultures, such as archaeological and historical sites, artifacts, designs, ceremonies, technologies and visual and performing arts and literature. 2. States shall provide redress through effective mechanisms, which may include restitution, developed in conjunction with indigenous peoples, with respect to their cultural, intellectual, religious and spiritual property taken without their free, prior and informed consent or in violation of their laws, traditions and customs. Article 12 1. Indigenous peoples have the right to manifest, practise, develop and teach their spiritual and religious traditions, customs and ceremonies; the right to maintain, protect, and have access in privacy to their religious and cultural sites; the right to the use and control of their ceremonial objects; and the right to the repatriation of their human remains. […] Article 19 States shall consult and cooperate in good faith with the indigenous peoples concerned through their own representative institutions in order to obtain their free, prior and informed consent before adopting and implementing legislative or administrative measures that may affect them. Article 25 Indigenous peoples have the right to maintain and strengthen their distinctive spiritual relationship with their traditionally owned or otherwise occupied and used lands, territories, waters and coastal seas and other resources and to uphold their responsibilities to future generations in this regard. Article 26 1. Indigenous peoples have the right to the lands, territories and resources which they have traditionally owned, occupied or otherwise used or acquired. 2. Indigenous peoples have the right to own, use, develop and control the lands, territories and resources that they possess by reason of traditional ownership or other traditional occupation or use, as well as those which they have otherwise acquired. 3. States shall give legal recognition and protection to these lands, territories and resources. Such recognition shall be conducted with due respect to the customs, traditions and land tenure systems of the indigenous peoples concerned. Article 27 States shall establish and implement, in conjunction with indigenous peoples concerned, a fair, independent, impartial, open and transparent process, giving due recognition to indigenous peoples’ laws, traditions, customs and land tenure systems, to recognize and adjudicate the rights of indigenous peoples pertaining to their lands, territories and resources, including those which were traditionally owned or otherwise occupied or used. Indigenous peoples shall have the right to participate in this process. Article 31 1. Indigenous peoples have the right to maintain, control, protect and develop their cultural heritage, traditional knowledge and traditional cultural expressions, […]
IOSDE: an equal future starts with an equal now
2. In conjunction with indigenous peoples, States shall take effective measures to recognize and protect the exercise of these rights. Article 32 1. Indigenous peoples have the right to determine and develop priorities and strategies for the development or use of their lands or territories and other resources. 2. States shall consult and cooperate in good faith with the indigenous peoples concerned through their own representative institutions in order to obtain their free and informed consent prior to the approval of any project affecting their lands or territories and other resources, particularly in connection with the development, utilization or exploitation of mineral, water or other resources. 3. States shall provide effective mechanisms for just and fair redress for any such activities, and appropriate measures shall be taken to mitigate adverse environmental, economic, social, cultural or spiritual impact. Article 34 Indigenous peoples have the right to promote, develop and maintain their institutional structures and their distinctive customs, spirituality, traditions, procedures, practices and, in the cases where they exist, juridical systems or customs, in accordance with international human rights standards. Article 38 States, in consultation and cooperation with indigenous peoples, shall take the appropriate measures, including legislative measures, to achieve the ends of this Declaration.
As IOSDE also expressed to the United States Forest Service earlier this summer of 2013, and now expresses to the United States Bureau of Reclamation, these Human and Indigenous Rights apply to the Winnemem Wintu Tribe as an Indigenous People. That the authoritative bodies of the United States and its National and state and local mechanisms have not yet thoroughly learned of and/or applied these Indigenous and Human Rights to their methods of functioning and decision-making is a problem whose cost falls of the dignity and well-being Indigenous Peoples themselves, such as the Winnemem Wintu, resulting in ongoing undignified hardships and compounded traumatic memories of violation and experiences of trauma for the Indigenous persons and People(s) involved. In an era where violence against Indigenous Peoples, and in particular Indigenous girls and women, still exists, and after centuries of surviving genocide and colonialism, and in light of the ongoing cultural genocide faced by Indigenous Peoples in their loss of land and sacred and cultural sites, the Winnemem Wintu have the Indigenous and Human Rights by International Law to their full engagement in and protection of their traditions, religion and culture and related traditional lands therein, as they so chose, for the continuation of their traditions, their tribe as a People, and their self-determination. For this reason, the International Organization for Self-Determination and Equality (IOSDE) opposes raise the height of Shasta Dam. Sincerely, India Reed Bowers, B.A. LL.M. (U.S. Citizen & California voter) Founder & Director, International Organization for Self-Determination and Equality (ISODE)
IOSDE: an equal future starts with an equal now