Western Shoshone Speak Out on War

Posted: November 29, 2004
by: Brenda Norrell / Indian Country Today - //www.indiancountry.com

PHOENIX, Ariz. - Western Shoshone Carrie Dann urged American Indians not to be a part of the slaughter of women and children in Iraq. Dann called on Native young people instead to rise to defend Native nations, as the Bush administration steamrolls America and Iraq for corporation gain.

''This government has treated indigenous people as the enemy and now they are fighting this war for them,'' Dann said, speaking at the Nahuacalli Indigenous Embassy in downtown Phoenix.

Dann said America's promise of democracy has never been fulfilled to Indian nations; their treaties were never honored.

''I have not seen democracy in action as far as indigenous people are concerned.''

Upholding the Western Shoshone Treaty of Ruby Valley of 1863, Dann said President Bush's signature on a bill for payment for Western Shoshone land was an illegitimate exercise of power.

''Western Shoshone land is not for sale,'' Dann said.

Dann questioned whether the Iraqi people would be subjected to a U.S. orchestrated government, designed to enrich oil corporations, in the same manner that American Indian tribal governments were initiated by the U.S. government for the purpose of seizing their land and energy resources.

''American Indians have been controlled by the Bureau of Indian Affairs. Is there going to be a Bureau of Iraqi Affairs? Are they going to be treated the way we are treated?''

Native youths, she said, have entered the military for the purpose of gaining an education because there are no jobs for them at home. Bush's war in Iraq, however, is not a war that Native warriors should be fighting.

''It is a war against indigenous people of that land for one reason, for the petroleum, for the oil. We are fighting for a corporation.''

Dann said it is clear that corporations control America.

Referring to the colonization of this country, she said Indian people once welcomed newcomers who later massacred them. ''We are being oppressed today by the same people we welcomed.''

Dann said it is wrong for indigenous people to be involved with taking the lives of women and children in Iraq. ''It is not the indigenous belief to hurt women and children. I do not think we have a right to do this.''

Although Pres. Bush said Americans are liberators and not conquerors in Iraq, Dann said she sees no proof of liberation or democracy in Indian country.

''If it can't happen here, I can't see that it will happen there. Our young people should not be going to fight for democracy over there, when it is not working for us here.

''They should defend their own nations first,'' Dann said, urging them to use their educations to protect their own people.

While the United States continues to violate the human rights and property rights of American Indians, she said the spiritual essence of their lives is being violated. ''We are tied to this land.''

Speaking on behalf of the generations yet to come, Dann said she is taking a stand for the land, water and air and the spiritual and cultural ways that bind indigenous people together.

''Our indigenous lands are sacred and they are not for sale.''

Julie Fishel, staff member at the Western Shoshone Defense Project, said Pres. Bush has promised to represent all Americans and Native people should hold him accountable. Pointing out that Bush spoke recently of America's ''moral values,'' Fishel said American Indians have not seen proof of this.

''The treatment of the first people of this land is so atrocious,'' Fishel said, pointing out America's failure to honor Indian treaties. She said Western Shoshone have been under increased pressure from the Bush administration in recent years and the U.S. Interior for the past seven years.

The Bureau of Land Management is upholding impound notices for Western Shoshone livestock in Nevada on Aboriginal territory secured by the Treaty of Ruby Valley of 1863.

Threats and pressures are escalating for Western Shoshone. Some who have not paid trespass fines are being told the matter will be turned over to the IRS, making it possible for the U.S. to seize their bank accounts and private lands.

The pace of gold mining exploration has been accelerated in the region of their sacred mountain, the place of their creation stories.

Urging a united presentation to the United Nations, Fishel urged indigenous people to join the Western Shoshone with their stories of human rights abuses and the seizure of their lands by corporations, working in collusion with the United States government.

Tupac Enrique Acosta, coordinator for Tonatierra Community Development Institute at the Nahuacalli Indigenous Embassy, held the sacred staff of the Eagle and Condor of the Peace and Dignity Runners across the American continents from the north and south.

Opening the presentation, Enrique said Phoenix is Aboriginal O'odham territory and in every direction are the remains of the descendants of the Hohokam whose spiritual presence remains.

Enrique welcomed the Western Shoshone, with a message from his people from the south. ''These are our relatives. Our history, our languages and our blood are tied together.''

Enrique shared the support by resolution for the Western Shoshone from the 2nd Annual Continental Summit of Indigenous Peoples and Nations of Abya Yala (Americas) in Ecuador.

The support follows the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights' final report in 2003, stating the United States claims to Western Shoshone land are illegal and contrary to international human rights law. The Commission concluded that the United States had used illegitimate means to assert ownership of the lands.

The press conference at the Nahuacalli was held as U.S. forces continued to attack Fallujah on Nov. 9, after a hospital in the city was bombed in violation of the Geneva Convention.

Pointing out the targeting of Native youths for recruitment in the U.S. military, Enrique said a call is being made to all indigenous nations to stop sending their young people to Iraq. He urged Indian nations to send a strong message: ''We are not sending indigenous people to this war.''

Indigenous people, he said, uphold the warrior tradition and want to fight for honor, but he said there is no honor in the war in Iraq.

Enrique said indigenous people have a sacred responsibility and obligation to carry forward this message of peace on behalf of all indigenous people struggling to be recognized as nations.

Enrique spoke of hope in America.

''At some point in the future this nation will regain its dignity.''


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