This action might not be possible to undo. Are you sure you want to continue?
Report on the Tlahtokan Abya Yala
(Gatheirng of Indigenous Nations and Pueblos) at
(Embassy of Indigenous Peoples) on the
Territory of the Oʼodham Nation (Phoenix, Arizona) March 13-14, 2011
The Doctrine of Discovery
Wakeup Call from the Nightmare of Manifest Destiny that is Arizona
Owe Aku International Justice Project was invited to participate in a regional hearing on the Doctrine of Discovery sponsored by Tonatierra on the traditional territories of the Oʼodham people in what is now Phoenix, Arizona. Kent Lebsock, Owe Akuʼs Coordinator, and Medora Woods, an elder on our Advisory Board, participated in the two day event. The Hearing took place just before the Treaty Meeting and North American Indigneous Peoples Caucus in Blue Lake, California on March 18, 19 and 20, 2011. It was hosed by Tonatierra at Nahuacalli or the Embassy of Indigenous Peoples as well as at Pueblo Grande, an archaeological site of the ancestors of the Oʼodham nation, both in Phoenix, Arizona. Arizona is now the epicenter of the most recent wave of American imperialism and continued myopia in the war against Indigenous peoples that has not diminished or defused for over 500 years now. “Arizona is a test, a front line on the assault on Indigenous and nonIndigenous peoples of color. The border here has been condensed into this narrow area by building the walls because the climate her eis right for the hatred necessary to continue the war on Indigenous peoples.” (Tupac Enrique, Tonatierra) Tonatierra called this Hearing in order to bring our peoples together to educate and focus on this particular crisis: “We … here on the ground, know we are at the pivot point of not just the history for Arizona but the future of our relationship as families of the children of Abya Yala and Mother Earth. The ﬁrst wave of impact of the impending climate chaos on the horizon of the global economy, which is projected to produce 50,000,000 climate refugees globally due to climate change exacerbated by global warming, has already broken upon the borders of Arizona. The climate of fear, ignorance, and insecurity which is driving the viscous attack against the migratory workers of Arizona and their families is signal that the climate of social relationships which should be based on our shared human values and supported by public policies is dangerously misguided. We are being assaulted on a daily basis by the dying gasp of the pathology of white privilege as determinant of the legal, political, and cultural identity of US citizenship and nationality.” (See http:// www.nahuacalli.org/Pohualtlahtoyan.html, March 16, 2011.)
A Two Front Strategy: Corrective Rights and A New Paradigm
Owe Aku International Justice Project was struck by the emergence of a two-front strategy that was revealed during the interaction with brothers and sisters from Abya Yala (“continent of life” in the Kuna language). Both “fronts” are especially relevant as we usher in a new age of human rights, based on the wisdom of Mother Earth and the memories of Indigenous peoples.
720 West 173rd Street, #59, New York City 10032, firstname.lastname@example.org, 646-233-4406 Written March 16, 2011 - Page 2
The ﬁrst is to eradicate the historical inequities that have violated the rights of Indigenous peoples to have stewardship of our lands, territories, waters and resources. In international parlance these tools of historical inequity would include, most particularly, the Papal Bulls of the Roman Catholic Church that created the “legal” justiﬁcations for genocide, domination and colonization by giving Christian nations a mythical mandate to kill, capture, enslave and steal anything they wanted from nonChristians. In the United States of America the words of the Roman Church have been continually used, up until today, in order to warrant other ﬁctions like dependent domestic nations, trust lands, and the ultimate tool of American genocide and christian domination, manifest destiny. “These have created enough verbal poison to ﬁll ten worlds” (Shannon Rivers of the Gila River Community, Oʼodham Nation). How else could a made-up country of immigrants (as Alex White Plume deﬁnes the United States) ﬁnd a means in the 21st century to encode such irrational, racist, discriminatory and illusionary laws regarding immigration such as those that exist in the human rights crisis that is the non-Indigenous mind of Euro-American Arizona? This question was addressed by Medora Woods, a long time ally and friend of Indigenous peoples, who has also been trained in Jungian analysis and American legal jurisprudence. She began her remarks by stating that: “While I have been here, not only have I been listening to the stories of you and your people, I am listening to the stories of Mother Earth.” In essence, she concludes that the western mind, displaced and uprooted by its own volition from its own heritage and connection with the Mother, so necessary to human well-being, especially applicable to Euro-American colonizers, has suffered a kind of trauma. Deﬁning this as “displacement panic”, she stated that there can be no recovery without an honest examination and acknowledgment of that trauma. As Indigenous peoples affected by the same kind of trauma, we are well-aware of the ongoing, intergenerational affects that a loss of connection to our territory, ceremony and ancestry can have. The difference is we are ﬁnding ways to recover that connection and revitalize these critical connections. “We are awake, we are standing in deﬁance.” (Woman of the Confederation of Indigenous Nationalities of Ecuador ﬁlm presenation) Euro-Americans have no recourse for recovery, being on foreign lands, and without honest examination, there is little hope for healthy reintegration. The atrocities “they” perpetuate will continue without that examination to the detriment of all humanity. Also signiﬁcant is that she traces this disassociation from an Indigenous heritage on the part of the “western” mind as far back as three to four thousand years ago. In an ancient
720 West 173rd Street, #59, New York City 10032, email@example.com, 646-233-4406 Written March 16, 2011 - Page 3
text, found in what is today Mosel, Iraq, a story tells of the violent destruction of the “Mother” by the patriarchy. The symbolic nature of the story is apparent. For a video of her address to the representatives of Indigenous peoples, communities and nations gathered at Pueblo Grande on March 14, 2001, please follow these YouTube links: Medora Woods Video Part I: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=X6RY_yprmaQ Medora Woods Video Part II: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oigyBfW-ldo Steve Newcomb who reported on the history and implications of the Doctrine, coined a phrase for the struggle to abrogate it: “corrective rights.” Deconstructing the Papal Bulls and their bastard children, terra nullus, the doctrine of discovery, the law of nations, manifest destiny, and nation-building, along with the devastating results of genocide, terracide, ethnicide, and environmental destruction, is an essential aspect of ushering in a new era. “A movement without memory makes no history.” (Man of the Confederation of Indigenous Nationalities of Ecuador ﬁlm presentation) The second front being deﬁned in part by the work of Owe Aku International Justice Project is that Indigenous peoples and our nations and communities are building new laws and standards based on principles received from our ancient memories and passed down through the generations by our ancestors. These are memories forgotten by the “dominant” culture. The result of this loss of integrated memory is that these are no longer issues that pertain only to the preservation of Indigneous cultures and territories; they are issues threatening the existence of the human race and the preservation of any relationship that remains with Mother Earth. To move into a consciousness of preservation, away from one of destructive consumption, the only viable solution being presented is to follow the ancient lifeways of Indigenous peoples which are based upon the sacred inter-connection, not domination, of “all our relations”; land, water, air, plants, trees, animals, birds, rocks, minerals, all things animate and inanimate. “You never change things by ﬁghting the existing reality: To change something, build a new model that makes the existing model obsolete.” Buckminister Fuller Indigenous peoples are building a new paradigm based upon our wisdom and knowledge. The existing reality must be torn down and new standards put in place. “We must go home and do something different. We must ask, ʻwhat are we doing to help the people?” (Mona Polacca, Hopi/Havasupai/Tewa)
720 West 173rd Street, #59, New York City 10032, firstname.lastname@example.org, 646-233-4406 Written March 16, 2011 - Page 4
An example from the recent history of Indigenous peoples demonstrates how we are making changes and deﬁning different realities for the world to follow. Though it may not be a perfect document, the Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous peoples nonetheless enshrines many of the principles that Indigneous peoples use to preserve and protect our interconnection and the relationships that bind us to our communities and territories. In terms of the “existing obsolete model” it is nothing more than a “standard”, an aspirational document for member nations of the United Nations. However, it contains the building blocks for a new paradigm. Mostly unenforceable or disrespected by many member nations of the U.N., it nonetheless moves us into a position to ﬁght the “existing reality.” The fact that the document was drafted with direct input from the Indigenous nations and communities that carry within our cultures all that is necessary to create a new reality is itself a signiﬁcant step forward. Indigenous peoples are also inﬂuencing this paradigm shift within the Organization of American States through an InterAmerican Declaration on Indigenous Rights. Other examples include the Study on Treaties, Agreements and Other Constructive Arrangements which deﬁnitively places “original” title in the hands of Indigneous nations and provides a framework for creating a new model that rejects the illegal occupation and degradation of our lands and resources. The studies on cultural heritage, the relationship between Indigenous peoples and the land, as well as an important study on our rights to our intellectual property, all deﬁne new parameters of rights based on Indigenous cosmology. They openly dismiss the domination perpetuated by the Western mind and its reﬂection in the Doctrine of Discovery and all that ﬂows from it. At Owe Aku, our challenge to the world and to the United States, to honor our treaties, and our surety that we will again be in a position to protect our land and peoples, is one part of the effort to create a new paradigm, a new reality. Certainly there are obstacles, but when have we, as Indigneous peoples, failed to step up to change the “existing obsolete model”? Neither we will not fail to meet this challenge. At this critical stage in the evolution of the relationship between humanity and all our relatives of the Earth, it seems essential that we all identify the role we are to play, as given to us in ceremony and by our communities, and step up to meet the challenge. This was an essential component of what came out of the reunion of Indigenous peoples of Abya Yala in Phoenix on March 13 and 14, 2011. Owe Aku International Justice Project is proud to have been a part o that process.
720 West 173rd Street, #59, New York City 10032, email@example.com, 646-233-4406 Written March 16, 2011 - Page 5
“I donʼt want to make recommendations, I want to make movements.” (Shannon Rivers of the Gila River Community, Oʼodham Nation)
Shannon Riversʼ words suggest that we take our recommendations, a necessary part of the process for collective societies, and ensure they become movements. Although recommendations are words they can lead to actions and our actions are the essence of our movements. Shannon Riversʼ words remind us that this is work requires constant vigilance and self-examination and discipline to ensure we move forward. Recommendations that we have pulled from the discussions that took place in Phoenix are presented here. All of these are action items will be submitted to the North American Indigneous Peoples Caucus Meeting held on March 18, 19, and 20, 2011 at Blue Lake, California. 1. It has been requested that an amicus brief be submitted in Tonatierraʼs lawsuit on immigration in U.S. District Court in Phoenix. International human rights and Indigenous rights perspectives should be utilized addressing the issues raised during this conference, including the abrogation of the Doctrine of Discovery and the creation of a new paradigm based on Indigneous laws encapsulated in some United Nations documents, studies and standards. 2. That we pursue steps through necessary Indigenous protocols, including treaties, the exchange of ideas and wisdom, and trade, to strengthen the ties along the entire length of our Indigenous hemisphere. This will include the need to improve communications through the imperfect process bilingual exchanges in Spanish and English. 3. The creation of “thematic units” (areas of interest and focus) that can be presented to young people in order to continue the work and recommendations that we are making. 4. Challenge the Doctrine of Discovery through the use of United States foundational documents including articles 3 of the Northwest Ordinance and the Louisiana Purchase as well as the Dakota Territorial Act (this is speciﬁcally directed at the work of Owe Aku International Justice Project in its efforts to create a new paradigm surrounding Indigneous treaties, i.e., enforcement and respect). (Steve Newcomb) 5. Challenge the dominant culture by posing the question, “what are your original instructions about your existence here on Turtle Island? What is your culture of origin and how is it respectfully expressed here on Turtle Island?” (Mona Polacca, Hopi/ Havasupai/Tewa) Hecetu Respectfully submitted, Owe Aku International Justice Project
720 West 173rd Street, #59, New York City 10032, firstname.lastname@example.org, 646-233-4406 Written March 16, 2011 - Page 6