Monday, May 25, 2009


P.O. Box 0
San Carlos Arizona 85550
(928) 475-2361



Oak Flat/Apache Leap Statement

The purpose of this statement is to affirm why the Lipan Apache Woman’s Defense and the San Carlos Apache Tribe opposes the Southeast Arizona Land Exchange and the proposed Resolution Copper mine at Chich’il Bildagoteel, how these proposed activities will seriously harm Apaches, and what steps the Tribe believes should be taken to resolve this matter.

Apaches have traditionally opposed large-scale mining, and the Tribe opposes large-scale mining to this day. Since 1996 the Tribe’s Elder’s Cultural Advisory Council has written several formal letters to Federal and local government agencies strongly opposing large-scale mining. Long before that countless Apaches fought, killed, and died protecting our homelands from large-scale mining.

Mining is inconsistent with our conservative, traditional Apache values. We have been taught to respect the natural world, and to keep it clean and natural. Our traditional relationship with the land is deep and personal. We depend on the natural world for our survival, and our survival depends on maintaining our personal relationships with all living things. Our word for this earth is Nigosdzan, “Earth is Woman”. We were taught never to desecrate her by digging deep into her veins.

In pre-Reservation days rape was punishable by death, the victim’s relatives exacting justice from the perpetrator. When our ancestors saw disrespectful miners raping Nigosdzan, they responded harshly in a proper, traditional manner. They viewed many of the early White settlers, especially miners, as filthy savages who destroyed the natural world wherever they went through mining, overgrazing, over-hunting, or by dirtying the land with their garbage and indiscriminate human waste. Our ancestors found these activities shocking and dangerous.

Everything in the natural world is alive and has a power. We have a name for everything: the plants, the animals, the birds, the atmosphere, the minerals, the winds, the stars, the bodies of waters, the places, and everything else. We recognize the power that each element of the natural world has, and that each individual power is directly related to particular Holy Beings.

We recognize that each of these elements works in concert with the other elements that make up an ecosystem. The power of each of these species is influenced by the other species in the ecosystem, and these combinations of power contribute to the power of the entire ecosystem. All of these powers are in turn influenced by the particular power of the place they are found, so that the power of each ecosystem cannot be duplicated or replaced.

Apaches often need to access these particular species and ecosystems, in person or remotely, by physical access, prayer, song, vision, or ceremony. Our traditional specialists use song cycles and ceremonies - just like modern scientists use formulas and technology – for the community’s healing, protection, and physical and spiritual well-being and happiness.

Damage to these ecosystems, and to the species found within them, weakens their power and shows great disrespect to the Holy Beings with whom they are associated, who have the ability to deny the benefits of this power, or the spiritual or physical access to these ecosystems. Losing access to these ecosystems – both by their closure or their destruction – profoundly weakens the strength of Apache prayer and ceremony, and severely limits the ability of Apaches to effectively practice their religion, ultimately resulting in physical and spiritual harm to Apaches.

Over the past 150 years our traditional Apache lands have been destroyed, place-by-place, ecosystem-by-ecosystem. We see parking lots covering our traditional food and medicine gathering areas, our sacred springs run dry by development, and trailer parks in our traditional corn and pumpkin fields. Now you are proposing more destruction.

The proposed mine at Chich’il Bildagoteel will destroy many particular ecosystems and the living things within them. These ecosystems and living things are associated with particular Holy Beings that we depend on, in particular a certain kind of Gaan – all-powerful Mountain Spirits – with whom Chich’il Bildagoteel is associated. Destroying this area will greatly hurt our ability to conduct public and private ceremonies involving these Gaan and other Holy Beings.

The area impacted by the mine includes cherished traditional food and medicine gathering areas, which would be forever lost if the mine were to open. We believe that the proposed mine will seriously affect the waters both above and below the ground that we depend on for physical and spiritual sustenance. We believe that there is no way to mitigate this loss or the serious impacts to Apaches. We believe that destroying these ecosystems will violate our civil and religious rights.

We, like you, believe in economic development for our people. We need jobs desperately. But we can’t accept an economy that is inconsistent with our most deeply held values. Just as you don’t want jobs for your young people that are based on drugs or prostitution, we don’t want jobs that are based on destroying Nigosdzan. We believe that an economy based on extractive industries is short-term, and physically and spiritually harmful. We believe, like so many international reports indicate, that extractive industries rarely benefit indigenous communities.

We want the Federal Government to proceed with a full administrative review through an Environmental Impact Statement so that we can more fully analyze the serious impacts that this proposed mine will have on our people. Existing cultural resource legislation has been ignored by the absence of meaningful, government-to-government consultation and the absence of responsible efforts to manage lands important to Indigenous populations, not to mention the pubic-at-large. At that time, we will be happy to discuss in detail these impacts, and the ways in which they may or may not be mitigated.

We would also like to work with our local, state, and Federal governments in identifying long-term, responsible economic development strategies for all of us, that are consistent with both traditional Apache values and scientifically-informed, environmentally sustainable practices.

Thank you for your attention to projects occurring on our traditional Apache lands, ancestral lands to many Indigenous populations and the many diverse publics who use and care for the Oak Flat/Apache Leap areas. If you would like more information, please contact Chairman Wendsler Nosie Sr. at (928) 475-2361, ext. 225.

P.O. Box 0
San Carlos Arizona 85550
(928) 475-2361

Wendsler Nosie Sr. David Reede

Presidente Vice-Presidente

Declaración del Pueblo
Oak Flat/Apache Leap

El propósito de esta Declaración es afirmar la oposición de la Lipan Apache Woman’s Defense y de la tribu San Carlos Apache al Intercambio de Tierras del Sur Este de Arizona y a la resolución de la minera de cobre propuesta en Chich’il Bildagoteel, debido a que afectará gravemente a los Apaches y contradice los pasos que las Tribus consideran se deben tomar para resolver este problema.

Tradicionalmente los Apaches se han opuesto a la minería de gran escala, y aún en estos días las Tribus continúan oponiéndose. Desde 1996 el Concejo Consultor de Ancianos de la Tribu ha remitido varias cartas formales a las agencias de gobierno Federal y local, manifestando su determinante oposición a la minería de gran escala. Tiempo atrás, muchos Apaches lucharon, mataron y murieron protegiendo nuestras tierras de la minería de gran escala.

La minería no es consecuente con nuestros valores Apaches conservadores y tradicionales. Nos enseñaron a respetar el mundo natural, y mantenerlo limpio y en su estado original. Nuestra relación tradicional con la tierra es profunda y personal. Dependemos del mundo natural para sobrevivir, y nuestra supervivencia depende de mantener nuestras relaciones personales con todo lo viviente. Nuestra palabra para llamar a esta tierra es Nigosdzan, “La Tierra es la Mujer”. Nos enseñaron a nunca profanarla cavando profundamente en sus entrañas.

En los días de la pre-Reserva, la violación era castigada con la muerte, los familiares de la víctima clamaban justicia del violador. Cuando nuestros ancestros vieron a los mineros irreverentes violando Nigosdzan, respondieron severamente y en el modo apropiado y tradicional. Vieron a muchos de los primeros pobladores blancos, especialmente a los mineros, como asquerosos salvajes que destruían el mundo natural por donde iban con la minería, pastoreo y caza excesivos o con la contaminación de la tierra con su basura y desperdicios humanos indiscriminados. Nuestros ancestros consideran estas actividades como impactantes y peligrosas.

Todo en el mundo natural está vivo y tiene energía. Damos un nombre a cada cosa: las plantas, animales, pájaros, atmósfera, minerales, el viento, las estrellas, las formas del agua, los lugares y todo lo demás. Reconocemos la energía que tiene cada elemento del mundo natural, y que cada energía individual está relacionada directamente con los Seres Sagrados en especial.

Reconocemos que cada uno de estos elementos funciona en conjunto con los otros elementos que conforman un ecosistema. El poder de cada una de estas especies tiene la influencia de otras especies en el ecosistema, y que estas combinaciones de energía contribuyen a la energía de todo el ecosistema. A su vez, todas estas energías tienen la influencia de la energía especial del lugar en el que se encontraron, por lo tanto, no se puede reemplazar o duplicar la energía de cada ecosistema.

A menudo, los Apaches necesitan acceder a estas especies y ecosistemas especiales, personal o remotamente, accediendo físicamente, con oraciones, canciones, visiones o ceremonias. Nuestros especialistas tradicionales usan ciclos de ceremonias y canciones – al igual que los científicos modernos usan fórmulas y tecnología – para la sanación, protección, bienestar físico y espiritual y felicidad de la comunidad.

El daño a estos ecosistemas y a las especies que habitan en ellos, debilita la energía y significa la falta de respeto a los Seres Sagrados a quienes están asociados, quienes tienen la capacidad de negar los beneficios de esta energía, o el acceso espiritual o físico a estos ecosistemas. Con la pérdida de acceso – tanto por su cierre o su destrucción – se debilita profundamente la fuerza de las oraciones y ceremonias Apaches, y se limita gravemente la capacidad Apache para practicar efectivamente su religión, dando como resultado final el daño físico y espiritual de los Apaches.

En los últimos 150 años, nuestras tierras tradicionales Apache han sido destruidas, una por una, de un ecosistema al otro. Vemos áreas de estacionamiento sobre nuestras áreas de recolección medicinal y comida tradicional, nuestros manantiales secos por el desarrollo y campos de casas rodantes en nuestros campos tradicionales de maíz y calabaza. Ahora, Uds. nos proponen aún más destrucción.

La mina propuesta en Chich’il Bildagoteel destruirá especialmente muchos ecosistemas y todo lo que ahí vive. Estos ecosistemas y sus habitantes están asociados en particular a los Seres Sagrados que dependen de un cierto tipo de Gaan – todos los Espíritus poderosos de las Montañas – que están asociados con Chich’il Bildagoteel. La destrucción de esta área dañará profundamente nuestra capacidad de realizar ceremonias en público o en privado, incluyendo a estos Gaan y a otros Seres Sagrados.

El área impactada por la mina incluye las preciadas áreas de recolección de alimentos y medicina, las cuales se perderán por siempre si se abre la mina. Consideramos que la mina propuesta afectará seriamente a nuestras aguas tanto superficiales como de subsuelo que depende del sustento físico y espiritual. Consideramos que no hay forma de mitigar esta pérdida o los graves impactos para los Apaches. Creemos que con la destrucción de estos ecosistemas se violarán nuestros derechos civiles y religiosos.

Al igual que ustedes, creemos en el desarrollo económico de nuestro pueblo. Tenemos la necesidad desesperada de empleos. Sin embargo, no podemos aceptar una economía que es incongruente con nuestros valores profundamente arraigados. Del mismo modo en el que ustedes no quieren empleos para sus jóvenes que estén basados en el consumo de drogas y prostitución; no queremos empleos que estén basados en la destrucción de Nigosdzan. Creemos que una economía basada en las industrias extractivas es perjudicial a corto plazo, además de ser dañina física y espiritualmente. Tal como lo indican muchos informes internacionales, creemos que las industrias extractivas benefician vagamente a las comunidades indígenas.

Solicitamos que el Gobierno Federal proceda con la revisión administrativa completa por medio de una Declaración de Impacto Ambiental de tal modo que podamos analizar más en detalle los graves impactos que esta mina propuesta tienen en nuestros pueblos. La legislación existente sobre los recursos culturales ha sido ignorada por la ausencia de consultas significativas de gobierno a gobierno y por la ausencia de esfuerzos responsables para manejar las tierras importantes para las poblaciones indígenas, sin mencionar a todo el sector público. En dicho momento, estaremos gustosos de debatir en detalle estos impactos, y las formas en las que se puedan mitigar.

Del mismo modo, nos gustaría trabajar con nuestros gobiernos locales, estatales y federales en la identificación de estrategias de desarrollo económico responsable de largo plazo para todos nosotros, que sean consistentes tanto con nuestros valores tradicionales Apaches como con las prácticas de desarrollo sostenible, basadas en la información científica.

Agradecemos la atención a los proyectos que ocurren en nuestras tierras tradicionales Apaches, tierras ancestrales para muchas poblaciones indígenas y el vasto público que usa y se preocupa por las áreas Oak Flat/Apache Leap. Si desean más información, por favor contáctense con el Presidente Wendsler Nosie Sr. en el teléfono (928) 475-2361, anexo 225.

Lipan Apache Women Defense, Intervention on Human Rights, Indigenous Women, Families & Militarization

UN Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues, Eighth Session
May 19-29, 2009

Presented by Margo Támez, Co-Founder, Lipan Apache Women’s Defense,
Nádasi’né’ nde' isdzáné begoz'aahi' shimaa shini' gokal
Gową goshjaa ha’áná’idiłí texas-nakaiyé godesdzog
[El Calaboz Ranchería, U.S.-Mexico Border;
subregion: Texas, U.S.-Tamaulipas, MX]

Agenda Item 4:
Follow Up on the Recommendations of the Permanent Forum
“Human Rights, Indigenous Peoples, Militarization and the Texas-Mexico Border Wall”
(a) Implementation of the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, Women and Children

(b) Dialogue with the Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights and fundamental freedoms of indigenous people and other special rapporteurs

Thank you Madame Chair, Permanent Forum Members, Special Rapporteur on the Situation of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms of Indigenous People, Member States, UN Agencies and Our Indigenous Delegates, brothers and sisters all:
Dagotee’. My name is Margo Tamez, and I am the Co-Founder, with my mother, Eloisa García Tamez, of Lipan Apache Women Defense, located in El Calaboz Ranchería.
I speak today with the consent and consultation of my mother and lineal clans of Lipan Apache ranchería peoples of El Calaboz Ranchería, those of the Jumano-Apache, all traditional Ndé communities along the Texas-Mexico border whose customary lands are on both sides of the border.
In 2006 under the Bush Administration, the U.S. government implemented the Secure Fence Act, providing for the construction of the border wall and security, surveillance, infrastructural and technological barriers across hundreds of miles of indigenous lands. The U.S. waived 37 Federal laws in order to construct the border wall across tribal, municipal, National Park lands, and binationally revered sites. The U.S. obstructed numerous civil, constitutional, treaty, and international human rights of indigenous peoples spanning the 2000 miles of the border.
Our organization has been diligent to research and document the devastation and indigenous peoples’ responses to the travesty and injustice of the U.S.’ Border Wall Construction Mega-Security Project. I am deeply grieved to report to the Permanent Forum, that at the sub-regional level— our elders and our families are in severe mental, psychological, emotional, spiritual and physical crisis. We connect this pandemic human response to the crisis unfolding as a direct negative consequence of the corporate-driven. Lipan Apaches, and Lipan Apache women and children, are disproportionately impacted by the U.S.’ unilateral waiver of thirty-seven (37) U.S. Federal laws obstructing Civil and Constitutional protections for impacted communities.
Documentation and research necessary to launch intensive litigations, and in that regard, is costly and strenuous, depleting the already impoverished resources of indigenous communities. Our organization emerged to answer this need in the Lower Rio Grande region, of South Texas, in Cameron County. Please take note, that Cameron County is, per the U.S. Census, the poorest county in the entire United States on several important international social-economic indicators.
We mobilized a federal law case in the U.S. 5th District, and 5th Circuit; our International effort at the Inter-American Commission/OAS has been welcomed by the IAS. The Lipan Apache impacted lands are now divided by the 18th foot high steel and concrete wall, leaving cemeteries, sacred sites, biological resources, and subsistence grazing lands sealed off from bi-national access to community members who depend upon their grazing lands to the south of the wall, now a permanent barrier.
The Law Working Group of the University of Texas, in collaboration with the Rapoport Center for Human Rights and Justice, analyzed and documented, in 5 briefing papers, a series of human rights violations taking place against Indigenous peoples of the Texas-Mexico border section, specifically. The briefing papers address issues relative to human rights violations which constitute breaches of the United States’ obligations under the American Declaration of the Rights and Duties of Man, interpreted in the American Convention on Human Rights. These are documented and available on our website.

On October 31, 2008, the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights, stated in a press release:
“During another hearing, the Commission received troubling information about the impact that the construction of a wall in Texas, along the U.S.-Mexico border, has on the human rights of area residents, in particular its discriminatory effects. The information received indicates that its construction would disproportionately affect people who are poor, with a low level of education, […] as well as indigenous communities on both sides of the border.”

Madame Chairwoman and Special Rapporteur Anaya,

We denounce the United States’ untenable position of deploying “the war on terrorism”, “war on drugs”, and the “war on illegal immigration” because they are, from an indigenous standpoint, extensions of the global corporation’s use of militarization to further enslave Indigenous Peoples and Mother Earth— globally, and locally. States’ militarization historically accompanies the overthrow of indigenous law systems and governing systems.
We denounce the United States’ border wall contracts with the Secure Border Initiative Network, and its use of U.S. taxpayers’ hard-earned dollars in the harshest economic financial crash in U.S. History, and the deepened indebting of U.S. citizens to private corporations to construct the border wall. We denounce the following corporations whose boards, CEO’s, and stockholders, increased their personal and private financial wealth on the border wall construction. These include, though are not limited to Lockheed Martin, Texas Divisions of Raytheon, L-C Communications, Northrup Grummen, BAE Systems, America’s Border Security Group-Erriccson, Inc., NASDAQ, Fluor Corporations, MTC Technologies, Boeing, and Kellog Brown & Root-Halliburton.
We urgently recommend that the PF request S. James Anaya, the Special Rapporteur of the Human Rights Council on the situation of human rights and fundamental freedoms of indigenous people, in coordination with the Permanent Forum’s members, and in coordination with local indigenous leaders, work decisively to schedule site visits to the impacted indigenous communities of El Calaboz and El Polvo on the Texas-Mexico border.
We earnestly recommend that the Rapporteur establish local community meetings in which local elders, families and Indigenous organizations can participate to the fullest extent to begin the process of a border-wide investigation into the border wall and its impacts on women, children, elders, families, community health and displacement.
We earnestly recommend the Special Rapporteur investigate ACLU’s analysis of the U.S.-Mexico Border as a “No Constitution Zone”, and the implications for Indigenous women’s, children’s, families’, and communities’ rights to access their mothers, families, communities, education, health education, shelter, livelihoods and spiritual practice in militarized zones.
We earnestly recommend that the Permanent Forum commit to the key concepts: “Militarization, Borders, Customary-Use, Indigenous Peoples, & Gender” as a prioritized framework for the Forum’s 9th Session in 2010.

Thank you for your attention to these serious matters.

Margo Tamez
Lipan Apache Women Defense

Brave Heart Society (South Dakota)
Lipan Apache Band of Texas, Daniel Castro Romero, Jr. Chairman
CORE, the Centre for Organisation Research and Education
Native Women’s Association of Canada

Friday, May 22, 2009

"WATER IS A HUMAN RIGHT" Intervention to the 8th Session of the UN Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues May 2009



Intervention to the Eighth Session of the
United Nations Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues 2009

Submitted by the Seventh Generation Fund for Indian Development
Agenda Item 3a: Social and Economic Development

Madame Chair, esteemed Members of this Forum, brothers and sisters of the world community, thank you, for the opportunity of addressing the United Nations Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues. The Seventh Generation Fund for Indian Development, an Indigenous Peoples’ non-governmental organization directly engaged with Indigenous communities and Nations to design and implement ecologically and culturally harmonious strategies for sovereignty, human rights, environmental and social justice, sacred sites protection, and the revitalization of traditional economies, submits this intervention on Agenda Item 3a, with the following signatories: Zuni Tribe of the Zuni Indian Reservation, American Indian Law Alliance, Cheyenne and Arapaho Tribal College, International Organization of Indigenous Resources Development, Tonatierra, Dine’ Agriculture, Tatanka Oyate, International Indian Treaty Council, Lipan Apache Band, Maya Vision, Grupo Maya Kusamej Junan, CORE Manipur, and Western Shoshone Defense Project.

For the last four years our organization and co-signatories have addressed the Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues on the Protection of Water as a human right, and we are honored to do so again under this agenda item. We call for the recognition of Water as essential to Life; that it is crucial for bio-cultural diversity and for sustaining all aspects of Indigenous Peoples’ survival and well-being, assuring our physical health, nurturing us spiritually and central for the continued vitality of our cultures and traditional livelihoods. We recognize Water is the most vulnerable element of all forms of Life in light of climate change and its impacts, and coupled with the encroachment of invasive development – the terracide – raging across the globe and damaging Indigenous homelands and ecosystems, time is of the essence. We must take action now as some places are flooded and others stricken with drought. We urgently reiterate the critical significance of protecting Water sources and Indigenous Peoples’ full, unencumbered access to clean Water on our lands and territories for physical, cultural, and spiritual survival. With this in mind, we respectfully advance these recommendations.

Recommendations1. We urge that the Permanent Forum advocates for the establishment of a United Nations International Year for Water which can conduct focused research and emphasize critical concerns of Water access, potability, and holistic integrity for all aspects of life, including cultural and spiritual facets in relation to Indigenous Peoples, our Nations and ecosystems.

2. We ask that the Permanent Forum take action this year to establish Water as a theme for the ninth session of the Permanent Forum or to include Water in the self-determination theme.

3. Recognizing Catarina de Albuquerque is the Independent Expert on the issue of human rights obligations related to access to safe drinking water and sanitation, we urge the Permanent Forum to call for her mandate to be extended. Further, to work with UNEP for an international study on Water that extends beyond drinking water and sanitation issues alone, and advance this concern in relation to the rights of Indigenous Peoples to access clean water for our spiritual sustenance and cultural livelihoods.

4. We strongly urge that the Permanent Forum recommends to ECOSOC in coordination with UNEP to call for the coordination of an official UN Experts Meeting on Water that specifically initiates a close review and assessment of Water allocation, regulation and access policies that affect the rights of Indigenous Nations, the health of our Peoples and ecosystems, and that of future generations. This high level Experts Meeting on Water can explore and establish indicators of Water Well-being for Indigenous Nations, and the world community.

5. We again implore the Permanent Forum for the immediate appointment of a Special Rapporteur for the Protection of Water and Water Catchment Areas to gather testimony directly from Indigenous Nations of the world targeted for or impacted by Water privatization, diversion, toxic contamination, dams, pollution, commodification, non-sustainable energy development, and other environmental injustices that damage Water sources on which Indigenous Peoples rely. This recommendation was carried forth by the Permanent Forum to the Economic and Social Development Council when we first requested this in 2005, and we ask that this appeal is recognized and advanced by this body to ECOSOC again this year.

6. That any initiatives related to Water must observe and recognize all articles of the Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, including treaty rights to Water.

7. We affirm President Evo Morales’ call in 2008 for a UN Convention on Water, and further, that Indigenous Peoples fully participate in the development of that convention.

8. We commend the UN General Assembly for naming April 22nd the annual Mother Earth Day and ask that Water be highlighted as part of the related activities

9. We condemn the use of national militaries and corporate private armies employed to prevent Indigenous communities’ access to their traditional Water sources for drinking, agriculture, fishing, transport, and ceremonies, we call on the Permanent Forum to take leadership in working with ECOSOC to denounce repressive actions and call for a halt to such abuse by security forces and any legislation that inappropriately justifies this.

10. We affirm and support the Permanent Forum advancing the call for a World Conference on Water and Peace with full and effective participation by Indigenous Peoples and Nations and ask that steps are taken to make this a reality.

Narrative Justification
We call it K’yawe, Pa’a, Mni, Ishing, Mahpe’ and Nipi; Water – The Lifegiver. The significance of Water is expressed in a rainbow of songs, stories, and ceremonies, holding a potent place in our cultures, linking us together in a continuous, Life-affirming cycle. And yet, increasingly, our territories are either parched or flooded – being destroyed by the unquenchable greed of industrialization, a feature of colonization. Springs that our ancestors emerged from within the womb of Mother Earth, the precious watersheds that feed our lakes and fields and sustain our bodies, and rivers that carry our prayers to the forever after, are being contaminated, dammed, diverted, and siphoned. Ancient glaciers are fast melting into the sea, displacing our peoples, threatening our coastal zones with submersion and endangering the continuity of all Life.

Human rights violations, including the ongoing invasions onto Indigenous territories, and the attendant wrongful taking of our natural resources, particularly the nearly unhindered exploitation, diversion and commodification of Water, obstruct critically needed access to our Waterways and threaten the survival of Indigenous Peoples and of our distinct cultures. These assaults have direct and tremendously destructive impacts and further impoverish our already vulnerable, besieged Peoples, and threaten our spiritual and physical survival as Peoples.

Air poisons us and now the sun and the rain burn. The land, our Mother Earth, bleeds toxins. Water is undrinkable, or further unreachable. Our ancestors and leaders have prophecies that foretell of these changes now occurring across the globe. And, we must be proactive in finding ways to survive because the Natural Law – the spiritual justice that is unfolding in response to assaults against the Earth - will have no mercy. The accelerating impacts of Climate Change on Indigenous Peoples’ Water systems and accessibility, exacerbated by the continuing privatization and exploitation of Water on our territories by ever-thirsty multi/trans-national corporations, shortsighted governmental development policies, mega-development, and other encroachment by non-indigenous settlements, pose new challenges with which our Nations are faced. This forces us into poverty and pushes us further to the edge of existence, where many are already barely holding on by their fingertips for survival.

As different strategies are created to respond to the loss, contamination or diversion of Water resources, Indigenous Peoples’ retain our right to free, prior, and informed consent before any development takes place on our territories, by any outside entities, including the World Bank and States, whose actions may impact or abrogate our aboriginal and/or treaty rights including the human right of access to clean Water for all aspects of our life. We maintain that Indigenous Peoples have a right to say “no” to halt any development on our territories because we know that what some may consider sustainable solutions does in fact, displace our Peoples, exploit our territories, subvert our cultures, and further oppress the accessibility of our water systems and health of our homelands.

Esteemed members of this Forum, according to UN Water research, “884 million people in the world lack access to safe drinking water, and 2.5 billion do not have access to basic sanitation. ‘Unfortunately, but unsurprisingly, those who suffer the most from lack of access to water and sanitation, are the poorest, the most marginalized and the most vulnerable,’ asserts Ms. de Albuquerque, noting in particular the situation of women, children, and persons with disabilities. Globally, 1.6 million people, mostly children, die each year from water and sanitation related causes.” Indigenous women throughout the world who often have the primary responsibility of locating and carrying Water for the survival of their families, and may risk their lives to do so, now find only dust instead of Water.

In the high desert, arid southwestern region of the United States, the Zuni River is critical to the physical and spiritual sustenance of the A:shiwi/Zuni people. During the fourth and fifth Permanent Forum Sessions (2005-2006), we shared with the Forum the unique characteristics of the River as a sacred waterway, an umbilical cord linking the A:shiwi with a spiritual destiny, carrying prayers and offerings to Zuni Heaven, a final everlasting place. When it flowed freely, the River fed streams and springs that nurtured thousands of cultivated acres of corn, beans, squash, and alfalfa fields that sustained the people, and supported an abundance of wildlife necessary to nourish A:shiwi cultural sustenance and a rich ceremonial life. In the 1890’s the River was dammed and diverted by the Ramah Cattle Company empowering Mormon missionaries upstream, altering the natural flow and life of the waterway. Today, what was once a vibrant, moving waterway that sustained thousands of people, animals, plant and water-dependent species has been drained, leaving only a dry riverbed. 1982 was the last time the Zuni River freely flowed through the village since the Ramah Dam was built. Now sadness lays hard on our land – now our land is always thirsty.

And on the same Indigenous territory, a sacred site known as Zuni Salt Lake, has been targeted for coal and methane gas development. Salt in an arid environment is critical to the Peoples’ survival. For the A:shiwi, this is also the dwelling place of a spiritual mother. It is also a place of peace for neighboring tribes to ceremoniously gather salt. The exploitation threatening Zuni Salt Lake would siphon millions of gallons of pristine water from beneath the lake for the mining, and create persistent toxins and contaminants that would forever alter the integrity and home of Salt Mother, including the well-being of the Zuni and other tribal Nations in the region who are culturally and nutritionally reliant on Zuni Salt Lake.

Elsewhere in the southwest region, when the Navajo Dam was built, it destroyed key cultural sites, including the place of the Water that Flows Together Clan. And the waters and riparian zone of the Rio Grande River, a primary waterway in the region, have been severely impacted by the spraying of toxic contaminants by non-Indigenous entities, where the Nde’ People’s traditional plants and herbs live. These poisons have leached in to the waterways and primary municipal waters sources affecting the plants, animals, peoples, lands, territories and cultural lifeways of the Nde’.

These are just a few examples in one region of the world. Such violations take place across the globe. We know that in too many places a polluted stream is our only source of Water. In too many places, our peoples are struck down by waterborne and vector borne disease, due to the lack of accessible, clean water on our territories caused by diversion and contamination, and the impacts of climate change. We hunger and can no longer plant our gardens, not because we have forgotten how to nurture life from a seed, but because without access to Water, our crops cannot flourish, and we cannot thrive without them. Our Water ceremonies are dying and our songs for the Water no longer fill the air.

Brothers and sisters of the world, are we prepared for what will happen when the world grows dry and quiet? What were once rich landscapes awake with forests and gardens, rivers and cornfields, alive with animals and birds, and a harmonious biodiversity of Indigenous cultures, are quickly becoming parched lands which only our tears can soften. Soon, even our most lush lands will be barren. Soon, even our tears will dry up and we will only have blood in our eyes as the wars for oil quickly transform into Water Wars that shroud the globe in a clash which humanity cannot survive. The Earth will burn. Too many of us are already dying of thirst. Our children, and the generations to come, will inherit this conflict and it is for them that we call upon the Permanent Forum and offer this intervention, for the Water - the essence of Life, for peace.

Elahkwa – Thank you.

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Human Rights Violations Texas-Mexico Border Wall

As we prepare to submit our intervention, tomorrow, on the issues of Human Rights, Indigenous Peoples, Militarization and the Texas-Mexico border wall at the United Nations Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues,

We warmly invite you, our sisters, brothers, and allies, to review the papers on these issues as they pertain to our case at this site, here.


Margo Tamez

Monday, May 18, 2009

Lipan Apache Women Defense an Indigenous Peoples' Organization (United Nations)

Today we are representing the community concerns of human rights violations at the United Nations Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues

See the video of Global Indigenous Women Caucus, in which the Lipan Apache Women Defense has participated in dialogues, discussions and debates related to customary title, aboriginal title, cultural resource management, social and economic issues, and human rights related to the the issues confronting Indigenous Women in a local, regional, national, international and global context.