CUAUHYOTL ABYA YALA
Embassy of Indigenous Peoples
5 de Mayo
Interview with Shannon Rivers, Akimel O'Odham
The Legend of Truth and the Doctrines of Power
Migration and Immigration
from the perspective of the Nations and Pueblos of Indigenous Peoples of the O'Odham Nations Territories
As a child I looked into the sun,
Knowing the swirl of light and I were one,
So by the time they reached the Earth to play,
Upon the peaks and valleys of shade and color,
To the Ancient, Red, Land of
my home, it’s name -
The Children of the Sun became
And so I too
Came to Be,
A passing moment, and then now free
As my children grew,
And ages passed before the eyes of innocence
Matlcactli Calli Xihuitl
Song of Winter Solstice
The Geography of Self Determination
Tupac Enrique Acosta
When the United Nations passed General Assembly resolution 1514 in 1960, declaring “All peoples have the right of self determination”, one of the arguments put forward by the member states of the UN was to clothe the concept of territorial integrity of the states themselves as being protected under the same principle. In fact, section 6 of the same resolution GA1514 states:
“Any attempt aimed at the partial or total disruption of the national unity and the territorial integrity of a country is incompatible with the purposes and principles of the Charter of the United Nations.”
In essence, these two statements from the seminal document that made colonization a crime for the first time in international law established an inherent conflict in the UN processes that now, nearly half a century later, have come to a definitive point in terms of historical resolution.
Nowhere is this more evident than in the present by the blatant efforts by the anglophile bloc of government states (US-Canada-New Zealand-Australia) to block the full recognition of the Right of Self Determination in the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples. The position of these government states attempts to place the right of self-determination of the Indigenous Peoples as existing only within the parameters of domestic policy and legal systems, even though these same systems are products of colonization itself.
The political arguments on both sides of the issue are in conflict, not just because of the doctrines of power that gave birth to the concepts of dominion which define the states and the social relations of their member constituencies, but also because the framework for resolution of the issues within the UN system is incompetent to address the spirituality of the earth based territorial reality of the Indigenous Nations, and the system itself is incoherent according to the geographic sciences of modern times.
What is lacking is a mechanism to define the issues in common terms, outside of the intellectual framework of colonization and dominion. What is missing is a clarification of the concept of territorial integrity, as a dimension of ecological and social sustainability and not a bastard relic from the intellectual Regime of Doctrines spawned by the Divine Right of Kings.
Emergence of the Fourth Principle
GA 1514 was followed by GA1541, which specified principles that defined three options for the attainment of “a full measure of self-government”, as the only contemplated political trajectories at the time for relief from colonization. These are:
(a) Emergence as a sovereign independent State;
(b) Free association with an independent state; or
(c) Integration with an independent state.
It is an incontrovertible fact that the transfer of territorial jurisdiction from Indigenous Nations authorities to dominion concepts of control and allegiance by the states is historically flawed and legally suspect. There are unquantifiable elements. The case of the Western Shoshone is contemporary evidence that this is not just history but reality in the context of the hemisphere of the Americas, yet there is a larger issue.
The social and geographic realities of the Indigenous Peoples as Nations continue to exist as a political anomaly in terms of the international legal system of the United Nations. Specifically, in this hemisphere of Abya Yala (the Americas) not only is this true in the face of centuries of colonization but also in terms of the options for relief from the crime.
Self definition being the precept of self determination, the three options of GA 1541 do not adequately describe the outcome of principles of self-determination which would define the Indigenous Peoples and our continuing relationship to our ancestral territories and surviving traditional societies.
The Emergence of the Indigenous Nations is a daily occurrence, one which is manifested in accord with natural laws of reciprocity and harmony with the natural world, which includes our fellow human beings. This ancient tradition is the shared cultural infrastructure of our confederations of families, clans, communities Pueblos and Nations. It could be characterized as a State of Integrity, which is not independent but interdependent within the network of ecosystems that describe our traditional homelands, sacred sites, territories and nations.
Who is it? What is it? Where is it? What does it mean? You may have never heard of it. But if you live in the US, Canada or any other country in the western hemisphere that is where you live. Abya Yala means “land in its full maturity” in the language of the Kuna people of Colombia and Panama. It was Takir Mamani an indigenous Aymara leader who first suggested that Abya Yala should be used in place of America by the indigenous peoples of the western hemisphere. It may have been invented by European colonisers but the word America has itself become even further debased over the centuries. Today most US citizens refer to themselves as Americans, conveniently overlooking the fact that their country only occupies about one third of the northern continent of the western hemisphere. Do not citizens of Mexico, Brazil or any other country in the western hemisphere have an equally valid right to call themselves American citizens? The fact though is that every US administration over the last century or so has regarded the rest of the western hemisphere as its own backyard. So when US citizens describe themselves as American citizens that description in part at least is a reflection of the hegemonic role the US plays in the entire region.
What is so important about a name? In the words of Shakespeare a rose if it went by any other name would still smell just as sweet. Conquerors and colonisers of a country or territory though have invariably chosen new names for the lands they have occupied in order to obliterate and reinvent the past. The territory in the Middle East once known as Palestine today goes by the name of Israel. The reason for the name change being self evident. Using dubious references to Biblical history the name was chosen by the predominantly white European colonisers of the territory who expelled the majority of the Palestinians from Palestine. Similarly when it was ruled by a white colonial minority the African country of Zimbabwe was called Rhodesia, named after the white British colonial leader Cecil Rhodes. Rhodesia or Zimbabwe? Israel or Palestine? In each instance which name you choose symbolises which side you choose, the oppressor or the oppressed. America or Abya Yala? The name you choose may one day come to have the same symbolic meaning.
Takir Mamani argued that placing foreign names on our villages, our cities, and our continents is equivalent to subjecting our identity to the will of our invaders and their heirs. Accordingly it was widely agreed that Abya Yala should be used in place of America at an indigenous gathering in 1992. Most will not know as it was largely ignored by the mainstream media but a summit of the indigenous peoples of Abya Yala took place in March 2007 in Iximche, Guatemala. Furthermore this summit which was attended by over two thousand activists was the third such event to take place in recent years. The summit agreed a final statement “From resistance to power”. The statement took an unambiguous position against US militarism. No doubt those attending the summit were mindful of the fact that what has happened in Iraq could just as easily happen to countries in the western hemisphere like Venezuela or Bolivia whose governments are considered troublesome. The statement also took an unambiguous position against the neoliberal policies of governments throughout the western hemisphere. Neoliberal policies have devastated indigenous communities in the western hemisphere considering many were already economically marginalized. In short “From resistance to power” is an anti imperialist statement even if it does not say so explicitly. Will we ever see the day when people living in the US and other countries in the western hemisphere describe themselves as inhabitants of Abya Yala rather than America? Quite possibly but probably not in the near future.
Embassy of the Indigenous Peoples
Contact: Tupac Enrique Acosta PO Box 24009 Phoenix, AZ 85074
Tel: (602) 254-5230 Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
There were stars
before the sky was turned black by war guns
of alien armies who wished to put flame to
the land, searing scars of inhumanity and greed.
The echoes still roar
hollow eyed sockets
of false reality still see those rockets,
scorching the earth with titles
of manifest destiny, against
They who are we
The stars will
return in the sky.
Tupac Enrique Acosta