Steven Newcomb: Self-determination but not for the indigenous

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

Steven Newcomb responds to Duane Champagne on the issue of indigenous self-determination:
I can understand such a US centric, and state-centric article being written by a representative of the United States or the United Nations, but reading Champagne’s article left me wondering why a Native person (a member of the Turtle Mountain Band of Chippewa) with a Ph.D. from Harvard—who is a Professor of Sociology and Native American Studies, and a Professor of Law at UCLA—would uncritically accept the viewpoint of the United States and other states regarding the right of self-determination in international law. Perhaps Dr. Champagne wrote his article in an effort to defend the United States and its federal Indian law and policy system by implicitly “correcting” those of us who have been contending that the international right of self-determination does rightfully apply to Original Nations and Peoples, and is a means of ending the system of domination that is being used against our Nations and Peoples.

After all, a centuries-old system of domination is what has resulted in our Nations and Peoples being classified as “Indigenous.” Duane Champagne certainly knows this to be the case because he is mentioned as one of the authors of the 2009 United Nations Report “State of the World’s Indigenous Peoples,” which predicates the definition of “indigenous” on a condition of “domination.” Yet, despite knowing this, Champagne did not once use words such as “dominance,” “dominant,” “domination,” “dominating” in his recent article to explicitly name that system.

He merely implied the existence of the domination system. For example, he tells his readers that after self-determination resulted in the new “nation-states” after WWII, the “Indigenous Peoples populated many of the newly colonized nation-states, but Indigenous Peoples generally were subgroups within the new nation states,” “without [the] international recognition of nation-state status.” (emphasis added) The phrase “subgroups within new nation states” is code for “under the dominance of” or “under the domination of” new nation states.

Get the Story:
Steven Newcomb: Duane Champagne’s Orwellian Form of Self-Determination (Indian Country Today 10/24)

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