Color Lines: US not accountable for rights of indigenous people
"Well before America was known as the land of plenty, it was a land of plunder. About four centuries after the first colonial encounter set off a wave of destruction, the continent’s displaced indigenous communities are still looking for home. They remain largely alienated from international frameworks protecting the rights of native peoples.

Lately, the White House has inched toward reconciliation by boosting funding and social services in Indian Country. And in an unprecedented pivot in the international arena, the Obama administration even suggested it may endorse the U.N. Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (which the U.S. rejected in 2007 despite overwhelming international approval).

Yet a close reading of the administration’s words and deeds reveals plenty of room to wriggle out of diplomatic promises.

In anticipation of the U.S. government’s Nov. 5 appearance before a U.N. working group charged with evaluating member states’ human rights records, the U.S. Human Rights Network has published a massive compilation of reports documenting an array of alleged abuses, many of them perpetrated against migrants and native groups. The violations documented include racial profiling and environmental devastation of tribal lands by industries like uranium mining.

In recent years, many indigenous rights groups have appealed to international bodies like the United Nations But beyond the public-shame effect, such moves exert little direct leverage over government, especially since the U.S. can easily wriggle out of international standards and oversight."

Get the Story:
Michell Chen: U.S. May Back Indigenous Rights, But Not Accountability for Them (Color Lines 10/27)

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