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US must heal Native American wounds – UN

A United Nations human rights investigator has called on the US to do more to heal the wounds of Native Americans, caused by over a century of oppression.

James Anaya, the UN special rapporteur on the rights of indigenous peoples, ended a 12 day visit to the United States on Friday, where he met with representatives of tribes in several states, including Arizona, South Dakota and Oklahama.

"The sense of loss, alienation and indignity is pervasive throughout (Native American communities)," said Anaya.

"It is evident that there have still not been adequate measures of reconciliation to overcome the persistent legacies of the history of oppression, and that there is still much healing that needs to be done."

"I have heard stories that make evident the profound hurt that indigenous peoples continue to feel because of the history of oppression they have faced,"

"Securing the rights of indigenous peoples to their lands is of central importance to indigenous peoples' socio-economic development, self-determination and cultural integrity."

"During my visit, I heard almost universal calls from indigenous nations that the government respect tribal sovereignty, that indigenous peoples' ability to control their own affairs be strengthened, and that the many existing barriers to the effective exercise of self-determination be removed."

Anaya added that the oppression included the seizure of lands and resources, the removal of children from their families and communities, the loss of languages, violation of treaties, and brutality, suffered by the roughly 5.4 million strong indigenous population.

Anaya welcomed the U.S. decision to back the U.N. Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples in 2010, however he said more was needed.

He backed the restoration of control over land Native Americans hold sacred, including the area around Mount Rushmore, which the Sioux tribe considers to be sacred and was illegally seized by the Congress in the 19th century.

Anaya went on to say,

"It is clear that this history does not just blemish the past, but translates into present day disadvantage for indigenous peoples in the country,"

"There have still not been adequate measures of reconciliation to overcome the persistent legacies of the history of oppression, and that there is still much healing that needs to be done."