Steven Newcomb: US doesn't recognize our nations as nations

Steven Newcomb of the Indigenous Law Institute. Photo from Finding the Missing Link

Steven Newcomb analyzes the United States' interpretation of the term "indigenous peoples" in the wake of the World Conference on Indigenous Peoples:
First, our Nations are not being recognized as Nations at and by the UN. Second, in its interventions at the UN, the United States is characterizing our Nations as “tribes” and “tribal governments” that the U.S. deems to be “domestic” to its dominating political system. Third, the US has evidently begun to interpret “indigenous peoples” to mean merely “individuals” and “communities.” This diverts attention away from our political identity as originally free and independent Nations, as Nations that began originally free and independent of the political domination of the United States.

Ambassador Keith Harper is the newly appointed U.S. Ambassador to the UN Human Rights Council. On September 22, 2014, he was the head of the U.S. delegation attending the UN high level plenary meeting in New York. While there, he delivered the United States’ “Explanation of Position.” Even though it wasn’t exactly the same as Canada’s “Explanation of Vote,” anyone who wants to know how the United States is interpreting the high level meeting outcome document needs to closely read the U.S.’s Explanation of Position regarding the UN outcome document.

That U.S.’s Explanation of Position contains what appears to be a curious deception and resulting incoherence having to do with the letter "s" on the word “peoples.” In the international arena, the use of the letter “s” on “peoples” typically indicates a distinct and separate “Peoplehood,” i.e., Nationhood. However, the U.S.’s Explanation of Position says: “This historic conference honors the immeasurable contributions of the millions of indigenous peoples worldwide.” Read those last five words again: “millions of indigenous peoples worldwide.” See the "s" on “peoples?” As mentioned above, the ‘s’ typically indicates distinct Peoplehood and Nationhood, or in other words entire peoples, and entire nations.

Get the Story:
Steven Newcomb: The U.S.'s Interpretation of the UN High-Level Outcome Document (Indian Country Today 10/12)

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