Thursday, February 28, 2013

LAW Defense Has a New Cyber Home and Look!

We have expanded and rebuilt.

Please follow this path to the new location.  

Thank you for supporting LAW Defense since 2007. 

There is much more to prepare for...

Indigenous peoples -- now and the future.  

Friday, September 14, 2012

CHIRAPAQ: Indígenas de Fronteras (Noticias)

Indígenas de fronteras
14th sep 2012 SECCIONES: Noticias
Indígenas de fronteras
Los impactos de la colonialización vista por las mujeres Lipan Apache en la frontera México-Texas.

La organización Defensa de las Mujeres Lipan Apache presentó, en Mayo, un informe ante el Comité para la Eliminación de la Discriminación Racial CERD, sobre el muro fronterizo entre México y Texas. Ellas solicitaron a esta instancia de la ONU el emitir una alerta temprana por las continuas violaciones a los derechos humanos cometidos por los Estados Unidos contra los pueblos indígenas y los latinos pobres a raíz de esta construcción. Entre los atropellos cometidos, el reporte consignaba el uso desproporcional de la fuerza armada y la expropiación forzada de territorios indígenas.
No era la primera vez. En 2008 la Comisión Interamericana de Derechos Humanos convocó a una audiencia sobre el muro. En esa ocasión Margo Tamez, relató como su construcción afectó la autonomía del pueblo Lipan Apache para movilizarse dentro de su propio territorio y acceder a sus sitios sagrados.
Tamez es hija de Eloisa Garcia, reconocida lideresa indígena de ascendencia Lipan Apache, Nahua y española. Ella ha mantenido una serie de demandas contra el Gobierno de Estados Unidos sobre el muro que dividió a la mitad el territorio ancestral de su pueblo. Junto con su madre, Tamez impulsó una serie de acciones judiciales nacionales e internacionales, para detener sus impactos y dar a conocer al mundo la situación de las mujeres indígenas en la frontera.
Ella visitó Lima-Perú, como delegada de la Red Xicana Indígena, durante una jornada que sostuvo el Enlace Continental de Mujeres Indígenas de las Américas ECMIA en esta ciudad.

Seguir leyendo...

Friday, September 7, 2012

Nde' Woman to be Trained in Truth Commission; Will examine history of Indigenous Treaties, Land Claims and Dispossession in South Texas--Mexico border and relations to current human rights violations

Nde' North American Newswire

September 7, 2012

(Vernon, British Columbia, Canada)

 Indigenous Peoples' Truth & Memory must be Explored in Depth and through a Formal Mechanism

On September 24, 2012, Margo Tamez will be joining a select group of internationally recognized experts in the Fourth Intensive Course on Truth Commissions, to be held in Barcelona, Spain.

Founded by the International Center for Transitional Justice (ICTJ) and the Barcelona International Peace Resource Center (BIPRC), this 4th Intensive Course on Truth Commissions will focus this year on the challenge of recognizing the experiences of vulnerable populations in the work of truth commissions.

Key to the work this year are the following questions:

Under what conditions can truth commissions make a positive contribution to gender justice? How can they put in place a friendly process for children? Can they contribute to the rights of indigenous peoples? What are the practical and conceptual considerations facing mediators, donors, and international and national actors as they engage with truth commissions?

This course is intended to provide practitioners with an opportunity to reflect on these and related questions under the guidance of leading experts in the field of transitional justice.

Margo Tamez, an Nde' ('Lipan Apache') human rights defender, educator, researcher, poet, critic, and advocate for Indigenous peoples, emphasizes the significance of organizing a Truth Commission alongside Indigenous peoples in the Texas-Mexico region as a collective and community-based process based upon traditional and academic knowledge systems.  "This process is based on a research partnership created between Nde' knowledge experts and myself over many years." 

In 2007, a significant number of Indigenous peoples were violently dispossessed of their traditional lands when the U.S. government and a number of powerful corporations and independent military contractors coordinated the construction of the border wall.  Since 2009, many families and communities lives have been shattered by the destructive process which unfolded, often in secrecy, and which denied them the right to Free Prior and Informed Consent, the right to meaningful consultation, and opened the path for the escalation of militarization, severance and containment into militarized and policed zones, and further deterioration of Indigenous livelihoods, ownership of lands, access and decision-making relative to traditional food and water sources, and the rights to self-determination as enshrined in the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, endorsed on December 15, 2010 by the United States.

Tamez is enthusiastic about the opportunity to learn among an international group of high-level human rights advocates and experts, and is looking forward to infuse her process with Indigenous research perspectives and the first-hand knowledge and experiences of Nde' and related Texas-Mexico indigenous peoples.  "It is a great honor to be selected by ICTJ to participate in this work session and training, as there are many qualified individuals who apply from around the world, and only a few are selected to participate. This course is a logical 'next step' in an organized process to expose truth, memory, and experience from the perspective of Indigenous Peoples in the Texas-Mexico region at the international level.  At the same time, it affords me the chance to learn about organizing and implementing a Truth Commission on the 'ground' in the United States in order to transform normative practices which naturalize discrimination and violence against Indigenous peoples." 

A recent study submitted to the United Nations conducted by the University of Texas School of Law Human Rights Clinic, the Human Rights Clinic Director, Ariel Dulitzky, and Tamez has demonstrated that Indigenous peoples' realities of this large region have been instrumentally marginalized, and systematically obscured in the every day legal, social, economic and political institutions of Texas and the U.S.  As evidenced by the 2008 study on the human rights violations of the Texas-Mexico border wall submitted to the Organization of American States by faculty of the University of Texas School of Law more critical tools and methods have been required to interrogate the states' practices which demand closer scrutiny.  Truth Commissions have contributed significantly to exposing root problems and structuring the transformation in the everyday practices of the state and society.  For Tamez, Texas, the U.S. and Mexico are equally culpable in obstructing Indigenous people's inherent rights to a traditional land-base and to self-determination.  According to Tamez, this includes the rights to Free Prior and Informed Consent, consultation, participation in decision-making, benefits sharing, and redress for historical dispossession from the spiritual, cultural, social and economic benefits of their traditional land-base. 

"Indigenous peoples' sovereign status in our home lands and inherent rights to self-determination in our home lands predated the occupation and colonization of our spirits, minds, bodies, lands and resources by foreign Crowns.  Our inherent rights to all of these were never extinguished by full consent; tactics of coercion, force, deceit and manipulation underlie the colonial system called 'democracy' and 'rights'.  Unfortunately, within those systems is very little room for Indigenous law principles:  Respect, Reciprocity, Responsibility and Redress.  Today, the fact still remains, regardless of the colonial court opinions and rulings and that is that Nde' peoples never ceded inherent rights to Aboriginal lands title, nor to self-determination.  The investigation into human rights violations related to the issues of the border wall-- being myriad and wide-scale-- require more in-depth attention and study into Indigenous people's memory, knowledge, and dispossession with regard to treaties, other constructive arrangements, and 3rd party treaties."

For Tamez, who comes from a traditional background, and who is working to revitalize Indigenous knowledge systems in everyday life, the Truth Commission is an opportunity to interweave traditional Indigenous knowledge with critical human rights analysis.  "I am seeking to learn how the Doctrine of Discovery, and subsequent systems of dispossession and genocide denial laid the ground for state and nation impunity and how this area is known and defined by Indigenous peoples across the inter-generational memory and as evidenced in the primary sources existing in Indigenous communities, in oral history and oral testimony studies.  The official obfuscation of these forms of evidence in settler institutions have created, in my mind, a fertile environment for the escalation of extreme violence and impunity exercised by powerful interest groups throughout the region.  Documented genocide and current-day human rights violations in the Texas-Mexico border region will continue to be trivialized if a Truth Commission is not developed.  This effort to become formally educated in this legal instrument deserves the serious attention of a collective and I seek to be a path breaker alongside Indigenous knowledge keepers to hold responsible parties and entities to account.  The truth is in the public's and greater society's best interest."  


Since the U.S. government constructed the border wall on the Texas-Mexico border in 2009, Tamez' research has shed light on the severity of impacts suffered by Indigenous Peoples.  Her journey has opened up much obscured documents, archives, and collected facts related to a very large Indigenous population residing in many counties along the Texas-Mexico border.  Tamez has sought to educate the public about Indigenous peoples' struggles, challenges, aspirations, knowledge systems, and to "unpack" how Indigenous peoples' identities have been severely distorted and "mangled" through the state's administrative procedures to assimilate Native Americans, seeking to terminate Indigenous culture and world view systems hand-in-glove with stealing Indigenous property.  "The average person in U.S. and Mexico society is bombarded with biased misinformation about Indigenous peoples that is highly suspect, in other words, full of ideology, fantasy, and fiction, not the diverse and complex reality. Unfortunately, less-than-critical thinking abounds in U.S. and Mexico society, as a direct result of discriminatory education systems and false media portrayals which tied to corporate development interests.  This behavior pattern is deeply ingrained in the dominant culture, and fuels each generations' learned ignorance and biases against Indigenous peoples' and society's best interests.  In turn, this serves to deny Indigenous peoples the rights to practice our cultures--which are interdependent with  our traditional lands, territories and resources.  The ongoing denial of these fundamental needs persists as a colonial form of domination, and Indigenous peoples' resistances against genocidal violence--at every institutional level--is largely framed as 'domestic terrorism' and 'illegal' rather than anti-oppression and in the society's best interest.  There is a huge communication divide and violence permeates this space and fills it to such an extent that many people have difficulty  'reading' the root of the problem without significant processes of re-education.  A Truth Commission serves the broader public need for diverse and alternative versions of a profound truth being repressed in an organized manner."

"A Truth Commission could serve an instrumental purpose in the United States and Mexico border region in light of the militarization programs and unresolved jury trials related to forced and armed dispossession exercised by the Department of Homeland Security against certain communities.  These issues obviously were repressed by the Bush administration, and have been severely peripheralized by the Obama administration, costing the affected Indigenous peoples and taxpayers enormous resources better applied toward improving social relations and systems with the consent of the peoples.  Unfortunately, the border wall--and each preceding system which worked to obstruct Indigenous self-determination in Texas--has been built on historical patterns of ignorance and genocide denial.  The border wall fed societies' frenzied zeal to build a physical barricade across Indigenous-owned lands, as Chertoff said, "by any means possible."  This battle cry against vulnerable peoples on the Texas border--considered a severely structured poverty zone on global scale--fed a negation of an major reality.  That reality is this--the Indigenous peoples' presence and social movements for recognition at all levels are decolonizing North America.  This reality is unsettling (calling into question) the settler society's and elites' domination and supremacy over knowledge, truth, land, and resources."  

Tamez emphasizes the importance of historical and social contexts of a shared history between colonizers and colonized, and the crucial role of state, private, and powerful interest groups who constructed "edited versions" of history.  Tamez argues that a state's education "disciplines" the state's subjects  into ingesting a dominant version of "one and only one truth."

"The history of history writing in Texas, Mexico and the U.S. about Lipan Apaches is a sad example of anti-Indigenous racism as core to the project of colonization of the land's resources for and by the few;  the region is a complex one, and involves many shared histories between sovereigns, settlers, colonizers and the colonized Indigenous peoples--over many complicated and detrimental processes which have continued to be an open wound for the current generation who live out this violent power relationship every day."  

One major significance of a Truth Commission is that it can enable and empower vulnerable peoples to frame collective rights and to be deeply involved in the creation of alternative justice and tribunal spaces.  This is key to raising participation and decision-making in geopolitical areas where the states' juridical system fails to redress and to restitute the rights of Indigenous peoples in its everyday procedures.  "The reality we must confront in the Texas-Mexico border is that it is a site of severe human rights violations, a zone of normalized impunity, a 'no constitution' zone, where the State and nation have protected perpetrators and not protected the rights of vulnerable Indigenous peoples.  This is an embedded pattern that has failed to serve the rights of Indigenous peoples for many generations and must be disrupted." 
According to ICTJ, the program examines truth-seeking as part of a comprehensive approach to deal with massive human rights violations, with the aim of building sustainable peace, strengthening the rule of law, and contributing to reconciliation in divided societies.

For Tamez, the road to a Truth Commission has been without question one indebted to recovering Nde' knowledge and relationships which require the enactment of the "4 R's" of Indigenous principles, laws and protocols:  Respect, Reciprocity, Responsibility and Relevance.  "I am deeply grateful to the Nde' Elders, Traditional Chiefs, Council Members, and the many Nde' Clan leaders, family heads, and traditional leaders, as well as our Nde' families, youth, and workers who have been my teachers.  As an Nde' researcher and advocate for the human rights of Indigenous peoples, I have been most impacted by the severe barriers and obstructions to justice that Nde' and numerous related Indigenous groups experience in their daily struggle in Texas and the U.S. for their most elemental, fundamental rights to be recognized: as Indigenous Peoples and title holders of the traditional territory of Konitsaii Gokiyaa--and as core decision-makers on all aspects affecting them in the Lipan home lands.  My education is for the Peoples."

Since 2008, Tamez and Elders of El Calaboz Rancheria with their many partners across civil society have worked diligently to educate the broader public in Texas, Mexico, the United States, and the international community about the serious human rights violations which occurred at each stage of the process of the U.S. border wall construction.  However, for Tamez, what has been most disturbing is the Indigenous peoples' revelations through oral testimony and oral history of a  penetrating pattern of a grim situation between the state of Texas, its founding families and the broader settler society--and Indigenous Nde' peoples affiliated with many treaties, Crown land grants, and other sovereign to sovereign agreements made with European colonizers.  The ongoing denial of Lipan Apache formal and constitutional recognition by Texas, Mexico, and the United States is an open wound that will not heal until formally redressed, according to Tamez.  A key flash point requiring immediate attention is Indigenous peoples' documented challenges to Mexico, Texas and the U.S. treaties which constructed a border and a wall through the middle of Lipan Apache traditional homeland and territory.  This barrier to  Nde' self-determination and international recognition  underlies Nde' peoples' calls for a Truth Commission.  

"I will be responding closely to the official mandate of the Lipan Apache Band of Texas, the traditional authorities of Hereditary Chiefs and Elders, as well as the Traditional Societies who in 2011 at the El Calaboz Gathering on Nde' Knowledge, Lands, Territories and Human Rights called for the development of a Truth Commission and an alternative justice space through which truth, memory and justice could be advanced on the many human rights violations associated with the U.S. border wall, militarization, land dispossession, structured poverty, and non-recognition that is endemic to administrative genocide to Lipan Apache peoples and cultural survival.  At the very root of all these issues is a most disturbing history and pattern of genocidal violence, dispossession, and extreme marginalization of Nde' peoples by the Texas settler society, Mexico, and the U.S. federal government which positions Nde' title holders as 'in-betweens' in terms of political status.  Recognized as an 'enemy Nation' by all three governments in their historical documentation of their treaties with Lipan Apaches, none of them officially resolved their obligations and duties to Nde' sovereigns after 1848.  Rather, each constructed legal practices --formal and informal -- that normalized extermination policies.  By 1872, after the Remolino Massacre on the Texas-Mexico border, extermination became the institutionalized form of dominating Nde' into submission and assimilation.  Lynching, murdering, starving, and imprisonment became institutionalized norms to repress uprisings and rebellion.  State and Catholic education were used to institutionalize physical, spiritual, and psychological abuse which disciplined generations of Nde'.  

A key element which is extremely relevant and consistent is the depth of organized violence across Nde' generations in South Texas and along both sides of the Rio Grande.  Nde' peoples' documented resistances and defenses of Lipan Apache home lands and objections to being assimilated as a 'minority group' or 'ethnic group' of Mexico, Texas or U.S. demands re-thinking.  " The fictive narrative of the 'extinction' or 'disappearance' of the anthropological construction of 'Lipan Apaches' is a total construct of the colonizer and its key functionaries--militarized anthropologists, archaeologists and geologists.  These paved the way very early for the lands to be occupied and put into so-called 'private property'.  In my mind, the national parks systems are killing fields, emptied of the 'house owners' for the benefit of the burglars.  Studying the primary sources from an Indigenous viewpoint helps us grapple in a serious way, using more refined tools, with a research program on Nde' memory and knowledge systems."  

Beneath the border wall are layers of dispossession issues and issues of incarceration of Nde' that are unresolved and enduring.  The situation of the illegal obstructions by Texas, the United States, and Mexico, of the reality of Nde' Aboriginal Title-- to more than 6.5 million acres is at stake.  "We are fundamentally talking about a Lipan Apache home land and self-determination understood in a radically different model than the normative U.S. paradigm of so-called 'recognized Tribes' as demi-sovereign wards with diminished 'minority' rights."

According to Tamez, the mandate which arose from the El Calaboz 2011 summit is a significant assertion by Indigenous Peoples of the Texas-Mexico border region to establish an alternative justice space which can coordinate an international effort to interrogate historical truth and memory from the unique perspectives of Indigenous Peoples in the Texas-Mexico region.  Tamez will be researching the Truth Commission as a legal instrument to implement the rights of victims of wide-scale human rights violations.  In Barcelona, Spain, Tamez will  learn how and why truth commissions have emerged as accountability mechanisms, and assess their potentials and limitations.  The course balances academic reflection with concrete considerations relevant to practitioners.  On the practical side, Tamez will be learning political and practical challenges around the design, implementation, and follow-up of a truth commission.

Tamez feels very certain that if a Truth Commission is coordinated from its earliest initiatives by, with, for, and alongside Indigenous Peoples there is a greater chance for it to be effective at infusing each step of the process with and through Indigenous methodologies and the 4Rs.  "A Truth Commission on the Texas-Mexico border will contribute substantially to being a mechanism of lasting peace and empowerment for the region's Indigenous peoples and broader implications for improving society.  It could lay down foundations for building capacity to transform normative institutions for the betterment of all humanity, biodiversity, and the Earth.

Thursday, August 9, 2012


Why Peoplesssss?

Indigenous Peoplessssss is an acknowledgement, in the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples that Indigenous Peoples have inherent collective rights to self-determination, sovereignty, with lands, territories and resources.

Now... an important message from CULTURAL SURVIVAL

Today is International Day of the World's Indigenous Peoplessssss

August 9 was first proclaimed International Day of the World's Indigenous People by the United Nations in 1994 to promote and protect the rights of the world's Indigenous population. This day also commemorates the achievements and contributions that Indigenous people make in the world. Today also marks the first time the UN Working Group on Indigenous Populations met in Geneva in 1982.

The focus of this year's International Day is "Indigenous Media, Empowering Indigenous Voices." The theme aims to highlight the importance of Indigenous media in challenging stereotypes, forging Indigenous peoples' identities, communicating with the outside world, and influencing the social and political agenda.

5 things you can do to celebrate International Day of the World's Indigenous People
People around the world are encouraged to participate in observing the day to spread the UN's message on Indigenous Peoples.

1.  Raise Awareness about Endangered Indigenous Languages.
Engage your friends and family and raise awareness about endangered languages by sending an e-postcard with a Native language audio greeting.  
2.  Make Your Voice Heard about Indigenous Peoples' Rights. 
3.  Watch a Live Webcast of the International Day Celebration at the UN Headquarters in NY. 2:30pm - 6:00pm EST. 
This special event at UN Headquarters in New York on August 9 will feature speakers and videos of Indigenous media organizations. On Twitter, use #UNIndigenousDay for regular updates and for sending questions to panel members in the days leading up to and during the event. Watch it here:

4.  Support Cultural Survival's work with Indigenous Peoples. Make a gift today. Our work is only possible because of people like you, who believe in and support our mission to partner with Indigenous Peoples to defend their lands, languages, and cultures.  

5. Spread the Word! One of the easiest and most effective things you can do is raise awareness about Indigenous Peoples. Forward, post this message on facebook, or tweet it! 

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Media Advisory: The U.N. Secretary General Statement on the International Day of the World's Indigenous Peoples

27 July 2012


International Day of the World’s Indigenous Peoples

9 August 2012

Message of UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon

In the five years since the adoption of the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, communities and individuals have been taking advantage of the reach of traditional and new media to tell their story and make their voices heard.

The focus of this year’s International Day of the World’s Indigenous Peoples is "Indigenous Media, Empowering Indigenous Voices".  From community radio and television to feature films and documentaries, from video art and newspapers to the internet and social media, indigenous peoples are using these powerful tools to challenge mainstream narratives, bring human rights violations to international attention and forge global solidarity.  They are also developing their own media to reflect indigenous values and fight against myths and misconceptions. 

Indigenous voices are recounting compelling stories of how they are combating centuries of injustice and discrimination, and advocating for the resources and rights that will preserve their cultures, languages, spirituality and traditions.  They offer an alternative perspective on development models that exclude the indigenous experience.  They promote the mutual respect and intercultural understanding that is a precondition for a society without poverty and prejudice.

On this International Day, I pledge the full support of the UN system to cooperate with indigenous peoples, including their media, to promote the full implementation of the Declaration.  I also call on Member States and the mainstream media to create and maintain opportunities for indigenous peoples to articulate their perspectives, priorities and aspirations.

Let us use the media – indigenous and non-indigenous, and especially new outlets – to create bridges and establish a truly intercultural world, where diversity is celebrated; a world where different cultures not only coexist but value each other for their contributions and potential.

For original post, click here.

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

Nde' Professor to Present Research at United Nations in Geneva

UBC professor seeks to provide the United Nations 5th Session on the Effective Mechanism on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples the perspectives of Texas border Indigenous peoples on U.S. border militarization and dispossession.  

Margo Tamez has been invited by the United Nations Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights to present research findings on the impacts of militarization on Indigenous peoples, their lands and territories on international borders.

An assistant professor of Indigenous Studies and Gender-Women's Studies in the Irving K. Barber School of Arts and Sciences at UBC's Okanagan campus, Tamez will present during the 5th Session of the Expert Mechanism on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (EMRIP), held July 9 to 13 in Geneva, Switzerland. EMRIP provides the Human Rights Council with thematic advice, in the form of studies and research, on the rights of Indigenous peoples.

"Being selected to participate is an enormous honour," says Tamez. "It comes with a significant responsibility to uphold the principles of Indigenous elders, women, families, youth and workers in regions of North America which have been brutally marginalized in U.S. domestic policy decisions related to border security."
In May, Tamez and research collaborator Ariel Dulitzky, clinical professor of law and director of the Human Rights Clinic at the University of Texas, submitted a study to the UN Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination (CERD) related to human rights violations impacting Indigenous peoples on the Texas-Mexico border in connection with the U.S. border wall.

Tamez plans to inform the EMRIP of this ground-breaking study, which highlights the severity of the detrimental social, economic, and political impacts of border militarization and Indigenous land dispossession directly tied to the construction of the Texas-Mexico border wall across the lands of the  Kickapoo, Tigua, and Lipan Apache Indigenous communities.

The 5th Session of EMRIP will bring together representatives from states, Indigenous Peoples, Indigenous Peoples’ organizations, civil society, inter-governmental organizations and academia. High on the agenda is the global importance of the implementation of the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples at the country level within nation-states and a knowledge exchange about the challenges Indigenous peoples face in achieving this internationally recognized goal.

"I am thrilled to have the chance to work in collaboration with some of the world’s top experts and innovators in Indigenous rights and social movements," says Tamez.  "I look forward to learning more about high-level UN internal mechanisms, as well as gaining deeper understandings of Indigenous women’s roles as researchers, community advocates and international diplomats."

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: Indigenous leaders and faculty of the Human Rights Clinic, School of Law, University of Texas at Austin and Indigenous Studies at the University of British Columbia Okanagan will give public statements and discuss the international and Indigenous law analysis of the Texas-Mexico Border Wall

(en Ingles y Espanol)

Media Advisory

May 29, 2012

Indigenous leaders and faculty of the Human Rights Clinic, School of Law, University of Texas at Austin and  Indigenous Studies at the University of British Columbia Okanagan will give public statements and discuss the international and Indigenous law analysis of the Texas-Mexico Border Wall under the Early Warning and Urgent Action Procedures of the United Nations Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination (80th Session).

Kelowna, British Columbia, Canada— UBC Okanagan Indigenous Studies professor, Dr. Margo Tamez will host an international telephonic press conference and will be joined by Indigenous leaders from the Texas-Mexico border region and Professor Ariel Dulitzky, Director of the Human Rights Clinic, School of Law, University of Texas at Austin on Wednesday, May 30, 2012 at 10:00 PST.  The group will discuss the 9-month long collaborative study of the Texas-Mexico border wall from the international human rights and Indigenous rights principles and the submission of the legal brief to the United Nations Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination (80th Session).  On May 10, 2012, Tamez and Dulitzky submitted their 134-page legal analysis of the Texas-Mexico border wall to the UN CERD, calling for international intervention due to the border wall’s severe discriminatory impacts upon Native Americans, Native Mexican Americans, Indigenous Peoples and poor Latinos.  

What:  Indigenous leaders and law and Indigenous Studies faculty to speak about UN CERD submission on Texas-Mexico Border Wall

When:  May 30, 2012, 10:00 a.m.-11:45 a.m. PST

Where:  Telephonic
                 Dial in #: 1-877-807-8664, x 78664
                 Participant Code: 0155788
·   Only 26 phone lines will be provided on a first-come, first-serve basis. 
·   Members of the press are strongly advised to dial in promptly at 10:00 PST. for the 15-minute, pre-press conference instructions and introductions.
·   The press-conference service will conclude promptly at 12:00 noon PST.

Why:  To inform and educate the public about the human rights, international law and Indigenous legal principles relative to the Texas-Mexico border wall.  To invite open discussion about the severe harms suffered by Indigenous and poor Latino peoples as a direct consequence of the United States’ border wall policy and its negative human, cultural, ecological, and economic impacts.  To illuminate the myriad ways that harms are dominantly shouldered by Indigenous and poor Latino peoples without redress, remedy or restitution and contradicts the principles of the U.N. Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples and international law.

For more information contact (in English) Dr. Margo Tamez at 250-807-9837 or  or
(en Español) Ms. Laura Rivas at 510-465-1984, Ext 304, or 510-282-2500.



29 de Mayo de 2012

Líderes Indígenas y profesores de Derechos humanos y estudios indígenas harán declaraciones púbicas y discutirán el análisis desde el derecho internacional y de los derechos de los pueblos indígenas del muro entre Texas y México que recientemente presentaron al Comité  para la Eliminación de la Discriminación Racial de las Naciones Unidas.

Kelowna, British Columbia, Canadá— La profesora, Dra. Margo Tamez UBC Okanagan Indigenous Studies realizará una conferencia de prensa telefónica internacional con la participación de líderes indígenas de la región fronteriza entre Texas y México y el Profesor Ariel Dulitzky, Director de la Clínica de Derechos Humanos Human Rights de la University of Texas at Austin el Miércoles 30 de Mayo de 2010 a las 10:00 PST.  El grupo discutirá el estudio que por 9 meses realizaron de manera colaborativa sobre el muro entre Texas y México desde la perspectiva de los Derechos humanos y los Derechos indígenas. El 10 de Mayo de 2012, Tamez y Dulitzky presentaron sus 134-páginas de análisis legal sobre el muro y su severo impacto discriminatorio sobre los pueblos indígenas, pueblos indígenas Americanos-Mexicanos y sobre Latinos pobres al Comité  para la Eliminación de la Discriminación Racial de las Naciones Unidas (UN CERD).

Qué: Líderes Indígenas y profesores de Derecho y de Estudios Indígenas discutirán sobre la presentación al Comité  para la Eliminación de la Discriminación Racial de las Naciones Unidas  sobre el muro entre Texas-México

Cuándo: 30 de Mayo de 2012, 10:00 a.m.-11:45 a.m. PST

Dónde: Telefónica
                        Marcar #: 1-877-807-8664, x 78664
                        Código de Participante: 0155788
·         Solo 26 líneas telefónicas estarán disponibles de acuerdo al orden de llamada.
·        Miembros de la prensa: se recomienda especialmente marcar a las 10:00 PST. En punto para  15-minutos de instrucciones y presentaciones previas a la conferencia de prensa.
·        Los servicios de la conferencia de prensa terminarán puntualmente a las 12:00 PST.

Por qué: Para informar y educar al público sobre los principios de Derechos humanos, Derecho internacional y Derechos indígenas relativos al muro entre Texas y México. Invitar a una discusión abierta sobre los severos daños que los indígenas y latinos pobres sufren como consecuencia directa de la negativa de Estados Unidos de considerar las consecuencias negativas del impacto humano, cultural, ecológico y económico del muro. Exponer las múltiples formas en que estos daños son sufridos principalmente por indígenas y latinos sin ningún tipo de reparación, remedio o restitución en violación de la Declaración de Naciones unidas sobre Derechos de los Pueblos Indígenas y del derecho internacional.

Para mayor información contactar (en ingles) a la Dra. Margo Tamez al 250-807-9837 o  or
(en Español) Ms. Laura Rivas at 510-465-1984, Ext 304, o 510-282-2500.

See also, NNIRR post

Friday, May 25, 2012

INDIAN COUNTRY TODAY: 'Early Warning/Urgent Action' Sought Against US Human Rights Violations at Border Wall

By Gale Courey Toensing (May 24, 2012), INDIAN COUNTRY TODAY

A group representing human, indigenous and women’s rights accuses the United States of violating international human rights laws and private property rights in constructing the security wall along the Mexican border and has asked the United Nations Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination (CERD) for help to stop the violations.
Ariel Dulizky, director of the Human Rights Clinic, School of Law, University of Texas at Austin, Dr. Margo Tamez (Lipan Apache) on the faculty of the University of British Columbia Okanagan teaching Indigenous Studies, and the Lipan Apache Women Defense, an Indigenous Peoples organization, submitted a request May 10 asking CERD to intervene to stop the continuing “negative impact” of the border wall. “The construction of the wall occurred in a discriminatory manner, and continues to have discriminatory effects. The intervention of the CERD, utilizing its Early Warning and Urgent Action procedures, is necessary to stop the harm that the border wall is continuing to inflict on indigenous communities and poor Latinos,” Tamez and Dulitzky write.

Read more, Indian Country Today

Monday, May 21, 2012

LAW-Defense, UT School of Law Human Rights Clinic, and UBCO Professor Partner on U.N. CERD Submission | Expose Increased U.S. Human Rights Violations along Texas-Mexico Border Wall

(El Calaboz, TX) On May 10, 2012, in another historic move, the Human Rights Clinic, School of Law, at the University of Texas at Austin, in collaboration with Dr. Margo Tamez (Lipan Apache Band of Texas; Faculty of Indigenous Studies at the University of British Columbia Okanagan), and alongside the Lipan Apache Women Defense (LAW-Defense), submitted a request for consideration under Early Warning and Urgent Action Procedures of the United Nations Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination.

Addressed to Ms. Grabiella Habtom, Secretary of the United Nations Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination in Geneva, Switzerland, the authors submitted a 134-page critical legal analysis of the United States’ human rights violations against Indigenous Peoples, Native Mexican Americans, and severely marginalized Latinos. In extensive detail, the brief exposes and underscores how the border wall and militarization have severely impacted all life along the Texas-Mexico border, and raises the critical perspectives of impacted peoples, several who provided affidavits, who call into question the legitimacy of the U.S. uses of controversial legislation, armed force, coercion, and eminent domain in the hostile dispossession of Indigenous peoples’ traditional lands, territories and resources.

The group plans to host an international telephonic press conference to discuss the key issues and purpose of the legal brief, the recommendations to the U.N.CERD, hoped-for outcomes, and the need to inform and educate the public and the international legal system about the U.S. government's human rights violations against Indigenous Peoples, Native Mexican Americans, and marginalized Latino peoples who live and work along the Texas-Mexico border.

See full text of the submission to U.N. CERD here:

Please stay tuned for details regarding the International Press Teleconference, forthcoming.

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.