Official Statement to the United Nations Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues, 2008, New York City, New York.
April 22, 2008
Joint Statement to United Nations Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues: Seventh Session APRIL 21 – MAY 2, 2008, United Nations Headquarters, New York
Intervention under Agenda Item 5-Human Rights: Dialogue with the Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights and fundamental freedoms of indigenous peoples and other special rapporteurs
By: Lipan Apache Women Defense
Supported By: Alianza Indigena Sin Fronteras, Western Shoshone Defense Project, Tonatierra, Indigenous Environmental Network,
Good morning Madame Chairperson, Permanent Forum members and delegates. My name is Michael Paul Hill, I am Chiricahua Apache and I am here on behalf of the Apache land defenders from El Calaboz ranchería, El Polvo village (Redford) and the San Carlos Apache Communities. Although we are an Indigenous border community, with our inherent aboriginal territory along the now US/MEX border corridor, we along with numerous non-indigenous border communities within the southwestern border region of United States and northern Mexico, stand against the political and physical walls, barricades, and fencing that the United States is constructing at this very moment.
In response to this year’s theme we urge the UN PFII to bring special focus and critical attention to the colonization, militarization and industrialization of the T’nde’, Nde’, Nnee’, Dine’ traditional lands and peoples. We ask the Forum to support the peaceful but firm resistance efforts of the Lipan Apache Women land and culture defense, and the Southern Athapaskan Alliance against the increasing militarized occupations and assaults by the United States and Mexico of our lands, cultures, livelihoods, ceremonies and traditional sustenance, such as the migration patterns of the deer, elk, javelina, other big game and small game including the fowl, and many others too numerous to mention. These adverse affects of the four legged migration pattern through 18 ft. high cement and steel border walls and physical barricades deter the growth of native vegetation and herbal medicinal plants used in traditional ceremonies and the spiritual welfare of the Apache and Indigenous peoples along the US/MEX border corridor and impede the safe travel on foot, car, and other modes of Apache people back and forth across the militarized zone.
Of the 2000 mile long militarized conflict zone, over 1400 miles of the U.S.-Mexico border is the traditional territory of the Apache people. The Apache people must be given the opportunity to participate in the environmental, economic, social, and political decision-making in the region.
Due to the last two centuries of attempts to officially exterminate the Apaches of all clans and bands, Apache people today experience the highest levels of poverty, racism, sexism, gender violence, hunger, malnutrition, disease, gang violence, depression, and PTSD. They suffer extreme levels of social, economic and political displacement, dispossession, removal and diasporas while the world commodifies our ancestors on t-shirts, coffee cups, and tourist trinkets.
There are currently over 18,000 U.S. soldiers occupying our border communities—with a buildup of up to 75,000 by 2010, and an estimated 8-10,000 Mexican soldiers currently deployed in the border towns and villages positioned for crackdowns on civil society indigenous protests against the construction of a Berlin-style wall which is dissecting Yaqui, O’odham, Opata, Mayo, Cocopah communities along the border. Indigenous women are particularly targeted by violence that militarization culture imposes on the U.S.-Mexico conflict region evidenced by the 4000+ disappeared and murdered women of Juarez and other border towns.
Climate, bio-cultural diversity and livelihoods are critical areas the U.S. Department of Homeland Security is forced to address in regards to the current battle waged against the Lipan Apache Women land and culture defenders. Militarization of the border has resulted in the industrialized destruction of habitats, environments, livelihoods, bio-diversity, water sources, traditional agricultural practices, traditional food security, and traditional peace practices. To allow construction of the border wall, the U.S. recently broke all democratic principles prescribed by its own Constitution and officially “waived” over 35 laws to build the wall. These violations of state, national and international laws set in place by decades of civil and human rights movements in the United States, which provided some measure of protection to indigenous people’s rights to their environment, culture, and way of life have been revoked by the Department of Homeland Security. Current debates focused on “clearing brush to catch ‘illegal aliens’!” do not consider the threat of U.S. Army cranes, bull-dozers, tractors, pavers and tanks to old-growth and requisite woodlands along the river necessary for ecological health and safety, as well as a staple for the traditional indigenous life ways. Included in the groups who cannot speak for themselves are the “habitat” peoples, the “eleven unique plant and animal communities found in the four most southern counties of Texas.” These critical sectors of the Lower Rio Grande region, under threat by the border wall, are concentrated in Cameron County, home to Lipan Apache people.
We urge the UNPFII to set as an urgent initiative a special session on restoring gender to the debate and decision-making on climate change and bio-cultural diversity and livelihoods, as the U.S. Department of Homeland Security attempts to intimidate and to force the Lipan Apache Women Defenders to surrender their lands. We urgently request the UNPFII to meet us in dialogue at this forum, and ask that you consider our recommendations to take an intersectional approach to climate change that involves consideration of militarization, industrialization, gender, and environmental degradation in the U.S.-Mexico militarized zone of occupation and conflict.
Ahi’i’e Ussn, ahi’i’e diyini, ahi’i’e shimaa £ebaiyé T’nde-Nnee’, ahi’i’e shitaa Sumá Ndé-Nneé.
Official Representative Michael Paul Hill (Chiricahua Apache)
Supported by Official Representative Michelle L. Cook (Dine’)
On behalf of:
Eloisa García Tamez, Grandmother, El Calaboz,
Margo Tamez Co-founder Lipan Apache Women—Defense/Strength