"Last week President Obama acknowledged that America has its own legacy of misdeeds to account for – “slavery, segregation, and the past treatment of Native Americans.” Sadly, during the same week, the Supreme Court continued America’s legacy of mistreatment of Native Americans:
In Navajo Nation, despite Congress’ mandate to the secretary of the interior to aid Indian nations to maximize our return on oil and gas production, the Supreme Court gave the secretary a license to secretly collude with energy producers to minimize royalty payments to Indian nations.
In Hawaii v. Office of Hawaiian Affairs, the court ruled that Congress’ apology to Native Hawaiians had no bearing on Native land claims because it was merely “conciliatory” in nature, not substantive.
These cases make it clear that the Supreme Court has an ongoing institutional role in domestic law, including defense of the status quo of American takings of indigenous lands and infringement on Native sovereignty in contravention of natural justice and international human rights.
Today, we seek affirmation of our treaties upon their original terms. We can no longer be bound to a domestic American law resolution of our international claims. As Indian peoples, we call upon the world to honor our human rights. We respectfully call upon President Obama to “honor our treaties” and “respect our sovereignty,” as he has pledged to do. To accomplish this, Obama should establish an international treaty commission with appointments made by him to represent the United States and an equal number of appointments from Native nations to represent our peoples. It should be empowered to make recommendations to the president, Congress and Native nations on the enforcement of our treaties."
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Shenan Atcitty: Obama, Native nations and the Supreme Court
(Indian Country Today 4/16)