Final Approved Statement by Lipan Apache Women Defense/Strength to the UN Special Rapporteurs:
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 Enviromental Network, Winnemem Wintu Tribe, Centro De Cultura Pueblo Nacion Mapuche Pelon Xaru, Native Women’s Association of Canada, International Geographical Union-Indigenous Peoples Knowledge and Rights Commission
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. We as Indigenous border communities with traditional territories along the now US/MEX border corridor, along with our non-indigenous neighbors in 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.
We urge the UNPFII 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 on our lands, culture, livelihoods, ceremonies and traditional sustenance. 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.
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.
In response to this year’s theme of climate, bio-cultural diversity and livelihoods we bring the Forum’s attention to the adverse affects of the 18 ft high cement and steel border wall on the spiritual welfare of the Apache and other Indigenous peoples along the US/MEX border corridor. This physical barrier is disrupting animal migration routes and deterring the growth of native vegetation and herbal medicinal plants used in traditional ceremonies. The border wall will impede the safe travel on foot, car, and other modes, of Apache people back and forth across the militarized zone. 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 “waived” over 35 laws to build the wall which provided some measure of protection to indigenous people’s rights to their environment, culture, and way of life.
We respectfully request that the UNPFII 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.
Eloisa García Tamez Grandmother, El Calaboz,
Margo Tamez Co-founder Lipan Apache Women—Defense/Strength