Apache culture restoration / historical recovery in militarized zones / Indigenous / self-determination / UNPFII

COMMENTARY: UNITED NATIONS PERMANENT FORUM ON INDIGENOUS ISSUES (UNPFII), 2010

From April 19 through April 30, 2010, the United Nations Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues will be in session.

Statements (interventions) submitted to the Permanent Forum are available here. And, this service is provided by doCip (Indigenous Peoples’ Center for Documentation, Research and Information.)

Access to the UNPFII is quite difficult for the common Indigenous peoples–from regional and national meetings (where agendas are established and set)to transnational meetings (where hemispheric understandings are shaped) to the annual UNPFII session (where Indigenous delegates shape the ‘voice’ of Indigenous communities.

The politics of access continue to incise and sculpt the disparities and unbalance reflected in Indigenous self-determination movements, and at times gloss over how much at odds community-level analysis differs from elites’ articulations of ‘crisis.’ While ‘self-determination’ and ‘sovereignty’ continue to be defined through normative Western political-science frameworks within U.N. realms, the lack of will by Indigenous delegates to challenge ‘sovereignty’ as an artifact of Western thought and to determine frameworks that disrupt normative sovereignty is nowhere to be seen in this year’s opening statements.

Indigenous communities defending themselves against intensified violence and the use of violence by states, nations and nations-within-nations (the Indigenous polity) is hyperperipheralized, again.

The use of normative sovereignty to evade the ways in which ‘sovereignty’ is used daily as an umbrella to glaze over the ways in which–locally, regionally, nationally, and globally–Indigenous polities are not innocent of their enmeshments with the state, and not innocent of the use of this legal platform to exert violence against their own–is marginalized. And, this is crucial because most indigenous peoples experience violence intimately, in their closest environs–where the Indigenous polity of the household, community center, council, is entangled with the violence of the state.

Indigenous communities challenging deep militarization–at the bordered peripheries of the ‘core’, are increasingly pushing back on the tightening of the fist around the throat of their communities by oligarchical polities and challenging this across entire regions (comprised of both non-Indigenous and Indigenous leadership). The communiites experiencing physical, economic, and penetrating psychological violence as a result of violent dispossessions, displacements, and persecutions through the apparatus of the state working with and through the nation-within-the-nation sort of violence absolutely threaten the ideation that Indigenous sovereignty is utopic and unscathed. The voices from below are indicators that ‘Indigenous sovereignty’ and its discontents–must be allowed open debate, and put up for scrutiny if true self-determination and autonomy will ever gain traction among the common people–who are at best skeptical of the UNPFII larger impact on the Indigenous peoples from below.

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