US and World Politics

U.S. and Canada Among Top Violators of Indigenous Rights: Mining, Militarization and Boarding Schools

By Brenda Norrell

Geneva—The United States and Canada are among the top countries violating the human rights of Indigenous Peoples, with mining companies based in the U.S. and Canada linked to assassinations of Native people around the world, Indigenous representatives told the United Nations Expert Mechanism on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples.

The United States is responsible for accelerating the crimes against humanity with its endless war, resulting in the deaths of millions of innocent people, which benefits its war manufacturers.

Canada’s long history of abuse of Native people includes the mandate for churches to seize Native children from their families and institutionalize them in residential schools, resulting in abuse, torture and murder, and generations of trauma. The Pope confirmed the Catholic Church was responsible for the genocide of Native people in 2022. Currently, Mohawk Mothers in Montreal are monitoring the search for graves at McGill University, the site of a CIA torture site.

During the testimony before the United Nations in Geneva in July Indigenous representatives from Peru said they are being shot by the army from helicopters, under orders from the president, as they march to protect their land from illegal mining and logging. The United States deployed soldiers to support the coup and to be used against the movement being led by Indigenous women.

Currently in the United States, Native lands are under attack by mining companies, in the fake green campaign of mining lithium for electric car batteries. The Paiute Massacre Site in northern Nevada is being dug into by the foreign company Lithium Americas of Canada, violating all federal laws that protect Native American burial and religious sites, endangered and protected species and groundwater. Interior Secretary Deb Haaland said she supports the lithium mine now destroying the unmarked burials of Paiute massacred at Peehee Mu’huh, Thacker Pass.

The sacred Black Hills are under threat from mining companies, threatening the water sources, Wakinyan LaPointe, Sicangu Lakota from Rosebud, South Dakota, representing AIM West, told the United Nations.

“Our sacred Black Hills are under threat of destruction by multinational mining corporations and lack of state preventative measures,” LaPointe told the United Nations EMRIP, which reports to the UN Human Rights Council.

“There is no greater offender of tribal rights than the U.S. Justice Department,” said Lisa White Pipe, Lakota, Sicangu Rosebud council member, representing the Coalition of Large Tribes, chaired by the Blackfeet Nation.

White Pipe said the U.S. government fails to abide by the Treaties and protect Native people. Technical assistance is needed for healing from assimilation and boarding schools, and more resources are needed for reconciliation and public safety.

Land seized by boarding schools

White Pipe said the U.S. must return lands seized for boarding schools, including the land used for the Rapid City Indian Boarding School in South Dakota.

“The United States has failed to address the mass dispossession of Indians of our lands occasioned by the Indian Boarding Schools Policy even though there are federal laws on the books that require reversion of those lands. The Rapid City Indian Boarding School is an example among the hundreds the U.S. funded and sanctioned. We call on the United States to make these land returns now.”

The Biden administration has now joined the foreign mining company Rio Tinto and is fighting the Apache Stronghold in federal court. Rio Tinto plans a devastating copper mine on the Apache’s ceremonial place at Oak Flat. The waste dump would be nearby on an ancestral O’odham village. Rio Tinto—which blew up 46,000 years of sacred Aboriginal teachings in Australia—was forced to admit widespread rapes at its mines in Australia and South Africa.

The oppression of the United States military was described by Chagossians who were driven from their homeland island in the Indian Ocean.

“Now we live a life that is not ours,” Bernadette Dugasse, Chagossian, told the United Nations. Dugasse’s people lived a life of poetry and song before their island was seized for a United States military base, with the help of the U.K.

A representative of AIM West described the militarization of the U.S.-Mexico border, pointing out the violence carried out by local, state, and federal law enforcement, including kidnappings and murders.

Raymond Mattia, Tohono O’odham, was shot nine times by U.S. Border Patrol agents, and died a few feet from his front door. Indigenous children are dying in U.S. Border Patrol custody.

The United States government’s surveillance towers are also increasing on the U.S.-Mexico border, he said, referring to the integrated fixed towers constructed by Israel’s Elbit Systems, including 11 towers on the Tohono O’odham Nation. The Israeli towers provide live surveillance to the U.S. Border Patrol.

The deadliest countries for human rights defenders are Honduras, Peru, Mexico, Guatemala, Brazil, Philippines, and Colombia, reports the Indigenous Peoples Rights International.

Mining and agribusiness are most frequently linked with the attacks and the United States and Canada are among the top countries responsible.

The majority of the companies linked to human rights violations and assassinations of Indigenous Peoples globally are based in Honduras, Guatemala, Canada, USA, Mexico and China, in that order, IPRI (International Property Rights Index) said in its documentation presented to the United Nations.

International, August 1, 2023