Friday, April 13, 2012

Texas "Strategic Military Assessment" --A Violation of the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples

 Source:  Homeland Security Digital Library, Center for Homeland Defense & Security,, accessed April 13, 2012.

(El Calaboz Rancheria, Nde' Traditional Territory, April 13, 2012)
See Related article


Indigenous Peoples of El Calaboz Rancheria, whose traditional lands and territories are bifurcated by the Texas-Mexico border and by the U.S.-Mexico border wall, call upon Indigenous Peoples, the United Nations member states, President Barack Obama, the U.S. Congress, the international human rights and international law community, the U.N. High Commissioner on Human Rights, the U.S. National Congress of American Indians, Indigenous Nations, NGOs, human rights organizations, as well as Indigenous social organizations, and human rights defenders everywhere to join us in our call for the immediate cease of any further implementation and planning related to the "Texas Border Security: A Strategic Military Assessment."  We call for immediate protective measures for affected Indigenous Peoples by a global community, and call for the urgent attention by the UN High Commissioner on Human Rights to support the immediate structuring of dialogues between respective Texas State representatives, the U.S. State Department, and the impacted Indigenous Peoples and their respective traditional authorities and legal representatives from both sides of the Texas-Mexico international boundary region.

The assessment report, which cost the tax paying public approximately $80,000, and commissioned by Texas State Agriculture Commissioner, Todd Staples and the South Texas Property Rights Association, and given administrative approval by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, was driven by a contract made with General Barry McCaffrey and General Robert Scales to develop the rationale and architecture, providing a scope and implementation plan for fast-tracking "a military-style strategy and operational and tactical requirements to secure the Texas portion of the U.S.-Mexico border."   

The lack of meaningful participation, consultation, Free Prior and Informed Consent, and the exclusion of directly affected Indigenous Peoples in the knowledge of and decision-making in such a serious matter is a major concern.  This issue directly affects Indigenous Peoples' safety, health, futures, and the well-being of Indigenous Peoples' lands, territories, and resources.  The "Texas Border Security: A Strategic Military Assessment", stands as a serious threat to all life in the region, and poses a blatant disregard and disrespect for the Aboriginal rights of Nde' peoples, which is a serious violation of international law and the traditional authority of Indigenous Peoples. 

The plan and implementation of military procedures, actions in Indigenous Peoples' traditional lands and territories, by the State of Texas and by any of its agencies, and the planning and implementation of increased militarization of the Texas-Mexico border without addressing the collective rights of Indigenous Peoples is a violation of the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples. 

Specifically, the assessment and planning report, commissioned by Todd Staples, enacted by General Barry McCaffrey and General Robert Scales,  developed with the participation and decision-making of the South Texas Property Rights Association, and using Texas public funds, violates the following UNDRIP articles:

Article 30
1. Military activities shall not take place in the lands or territories
of indigenous peoples, unless justified by a relevant public interest or
otherwise freely agreed with or requested by the indigenous peoples
2. States shall undertake effective consultations with the indigenous
peoples concerned, through appropriate procedures and in
particular through their representative institutions, prior to using
their lands or territories for military activities.

Article 36
1. Indigenous peoples, in particular those divided by international
borders, have the right to maintain and develop contacts, relations
and cooperation, including activities for spiritual, cultural, political,
economic and social purposes, with their own members as well as
other peoples across borders.
2. States, in consultation and cooperation with indigenous peoples,
shall take effective measures to facilitate the exercise and ensure
the implementation of this right.

Article 18
Indigenous peoples have the right to participate in decision-making
in matters which would affect their rights, through representatives
chosen by themselves in accordance with their own procedures,
as well as to maintain and develop their own indigenous decisionmaking

Article 19
States shall consult and cooperate in good faith with the indigenous
peoples concerned through their own representative institutions in
order to obtain their free, prior and informed consent before adopting
and implementing legislative or administrative measures that
may affect them.

Article 24
1. Indigenous peoples have the right to their traditional medicines
and to maintain their health practices, including the conservation of
their vital medicinal plants, animals and minerals. Indigenous individuals
also have the right to access, without any discrimination, to
all social and health services.
2. Indigenous individuals have an equal right to the enjoyment of
the highest attainable standard of physical and mental health. States
shall take the necessary steps with a view to achieving progressively
the full realization of this right.

Article 26
1. Indigenous peoples have the right to the lands, territories and
resources which they have traditionally owned, occupied or otherwise
used or acquired.
2. Indigenous peoples have the right to own, use, develop and
control the lands, territories and resources that they possess by reason
of traditional ownership or other traditional occupation or use,
as well as those which they have otherwise acquired.
3. States shall give legal recognition and protection to these lands,
territories and resources. Such recognition shall be conducted with
due respect to the customs, traditions and land tenure systems of the
indigenous peoples concerned.

Article 27
States shall establish and implement, in conjunction with indigenous
peoples concerned, a fair, independent, impartial, open and
transparent process, giving due recognition to indigenous peoples’
laws, traditions, customs and land tenure systems, to recognize and
adjudicate the rights of indigenous peoples pertaining to their lands,
territories and resources, including those which were traditionally
owned or otherwise occupied or used. Indigenous peoples shall have
the right to participate in this process.

Article 32
1. Indigenous peoples have the right to determine and develop
priorities and strategies for the development or use of their lands or
territories and other resources.
2. States shall consult and cooperate in good faith with the indigenous
peoples concerned through their own representative institutions
in order to obtain their free and informed consent prior to the
approval of any project affecting their lands or territories and other
resources, particularly in connection with the development, utilization
or exploitation of mineral, water or other resources.
3. States shall provide effective mechanisms for just and fair redress
for any such activities, and appropriate measures shall be taken to
mitigate adverse environmental, economic, social, cultural or spiritual


The United States endorsed the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples
 on December 17, 2010.  However, the UNDRIP has had nominal affect on U.S. and U.S. states' policies of the use of armed force in the traditional territories and lands of Indigenous peoples.  Indigenous peoples who experience the heavy impacts of militarization within the U.S. have been vocal and critical.  Since 1994, the continued and controversial use of military forces against Indigenous peoples within the U.S. borders has had violent consequences in the Texas border Jumano Apache community of Redford, where Ezequiel Hernandez was executed by a U.S. marine, and in the Nde' ('Lipan Apache') community of El Calaboz, where a staunch anti-border wall movement holds to the position of Aboriginal title underlying U.S. and Mexican national sovereignty claims to the land and resources.

On May 2002, in a United Nations communique entitled, "Militarization of Indigenous Areas a Growing threat, Permanent Forum Told," the perspectives of Indigenous Peoples relayed crucial information relative to the relationship between militarization and economic development of elite social classes, who themselves benefit from a history of the dispossession wars against local Indigenous Peoples.  The intimate weaving between militarization, the economy, and special interest groups contributes to militarization as "a root cause of many forms of human rights violations."  
The ongoing use of militarization to uphold the economic well-being of powerful interest groups is a growing trend viewed by Indigenous Peoples to be deeply enmeshed in the settler state and settler nation which have long histories in legitimizing dispossession, displacement, and systemic violence in Indigenous lands by and through the use of the military.  
Since 2002, the U.N. Permanent Forum delegates have consistently submitted interventions calling upon the U.N. to "consult affected indigenous peoples' request United Nations agencies to ensure that funds allocated for development are not used for military activities; and recommend the appointment of a Special Rapporteur on militarization in indigenous areas" (HR/4601, May 2002).


Militarization as a structure both engenders and spatializes racist-sexualized and sexist-racialized violence, and thereby works hand-in-glove with the settler economic and political occupation of Indigenous place. 
Cynthia Enloe argues militarization is never gender neutral and is “a step-by-step process by which a person or a thing gradually comes to be controlled by the military or comes to depend for its well-being on militaristic ideas...and involves cultural as well as institutional, ideological, and economic transformations” (Enloe 2000:3).  
Catherine Lutz argues militarization is connected to “militant nationalisms and fundamentalisms... to the less visible deformation of human potentials into the hierarchies of race, class, gender, and sexuality, and to the shaping of national histories in ways that glorify and legitimate military action” (Lutz 2002:723).  Ndé memory and Oral Tradition today narrate heretofore negated aspects of militarism and militarization on the repression of Indigeneity and Knowledge.  
During Lipan Apache Women Defense's ongoing work alongside Nde' peoples, we have listened and engaged in crucial dialogues with Elders, women, youth, men, families and Chiefly peoples who have raised critical questions about the serious relationship between historical and contemporary uses of force against Ndé and related Indigenous Peoples of the Texas-Mexico border region.  
A working group of Nde' leaders are researching how current-day militarization of the Nde' traditional lands and territories is part of a larger social, historical, economic and political process to colonize, dispossess and assimilate Indigenous Peoples through use of force, coercion, and domination.  Currently, Nde' peoples are examining how current-day dispossession is tied to historical legal constructs rooted in the Doctrine of Discovery.  This line of inquiry is a concern to Indigenous legal scholars as well (Frichner 2010; Miller 2005). 


On September 12, 2003, the international representatives of Indigenous Peoples convened in Cancun, Quintana Roo, Mexico, articulated the intricate relationships between powerful interest groups in local arenas of power, transnational economic development, and militarization.  The International Cancun Declaration of Indigenous Peoples stated, "the militarization of Indigenous Peoples' lands and territories, and the many cases of assassination and arbitrary arrests and detention of Indigenous activists and leaders and people who are supporting them, as well as the criminalization of Indigenous Peoples' resistance, all significantly increased..." It is important to note these processes unfold within the nexus of a powerful matrix of domination dominantly exercised by and through complex relationships forged between powerful local interest groups, politicians, local authorities, national elected leadership, transnational organizations and institutions, and transnational corporations--across international boundaries.


In May 2009, at the  U.N. Permanent Forum, Eight Session, the Lipan Apache Women Defense (LAW-Defense) submitted an intervention to Agenda Item 4, entitled "Human Rights, Indigenous Peoples, Militarization and the Texas-Mexico Border Wall."  In this statement delivered to the United Nations, Nde' Peoples' concerns and perspectives, related to the increasing scales of militarization on and in the Nde' traditional lands and territories, were put before UNPFII Indigenous delegates, the U.N. Special Rapporteur on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, and U.N. member states. 
At that time, the Lipan Apache Women Defense provided details of the destructive effects on Indigenous Peoples social organization, traditional knowledge, families, lands, water, and cultural resources.  At that time, LAW-Defense provided evidence of the level of impunity in which local, regional, state, and national actors, organizations, and systems were dismantling Indigenous land-based social and economic forms of inherent belonging with Nde' traditional lands and territories.


The settler society in South Texas and on the Texas-Mexico border has historically and persistently used racial, religious, economic, and cultural assimilation as tools of colonization and domination.  This fact is made explicit in traditional Texas historical narratives, in Texas road-side 'history', in Texas popular culture, and in the Texas Creation Myth ('TCM').  Brian DeLay has analyzed the TCM as comprised of the following components:

"This story, which we can call the Texas Creation Myth, was retold and refined in books, articles, and pamphlets published in cities across the U.S. Texan ambassadors to the United States chanted the Creation Myth like a mantra, and sympathetic U.S. politicians soon knew it by heart.35 The myth contained three basic components: First, Texas had been a wasteland before Anglo-American colonists arrived, because the Mexicans, "either through a want of personal prowess or military skill ... were unable to repel the frequent incursions of their savage neighbors." Second, officials in Mexico invited American colonists into Texas both to redeem the wilderness from the Indians and to protect northeastern Mexico from Indian attack. Third, the Americans quickly accomplished these twin tasks. As one author put it, "the untiring perseverance of the colonists triumphed over all natural obstacles, expelled the savages by whom the country was infested, reduced the forest to cultivation, and made the desert smile." (Delay, "Independent Indians and the U.S.-Mexico War," para. 25, The American Historical Review.)

Since the construction of the Texas-Mexico border wall in Nde' traditional territories and lands, the increasing force of dispossession, displacement, environmental harm, threats to Indigenous knowledge--coupled with high levels of harassment, surveillance, abuse, psychological warfare, low intensity conflict measures, and impunity in the Lower Rio Grande Valley communities along the path of the border, have been well documented as being directly related to the militarization of Indigenous places.  The increasing scales of repression exercised against Indigenous governance systems, and those who defend them, has direct correlations to deepened erosion of safety and security of Indigenous Elders, children, youth, women, men, workers, and family social structures--on the traditional territories and lands.  For Nde' human rights defenders--aggression, surveillance, and violence has spilled over into other places where they lead their lives defending Indigenous Peoples' human rights in El Calaboz and Nde' traditional places.