Center for World Indigenous Studies
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Rhetoric and Reality

Published: December 25, 2010, Author: JayTaber

In December 2009, when President Obama cut a back room deal at the UN
gathering in Copenhagen, using threats and bribes to undermine
indigenous peoples’ participation in climate change talks, that was
reality. When he promoted his Copenhagen Accord on behalf of major
polluters as progress, that was rhetoric. In July 2010, when President
Obama lifted the ban on US funding for Indonesian death squads
assassinating indigenous leaders in West Papua, that was reality. In
December 2010, when he said he endorsed the UN Declaration on the Rights
of Indigenous Peoples, that was rhetoric.

As Steven Newcomb observes in Indian Country Today, there is nothing new
in Obama’s “endorsement” of UNDRIP. His position is the same as Bush:
federally recognized tribes in the US are not truly sovereign; they are
free to develop as they wish as long as they don’t oppose US policy. In
other words, they are not self-determined, but rather, remain under the
domination of the US government, which will continue to represent them
in international fora, thus denying them their rightful voice in world

As President Obama and Secretary Clinton continue to
back murderous regimes from Colombia to Palestine, the genocide of
indigenous nations will be perpetually cloaked in official rhetoric. As
with UNDRIP, that rhetoric will not match the reality of their deeds nor
the official documents misrepresented by their public relations; what
remains is to hold them accountable for both the crimes they commit and
the frauds they perpetrate in covering up those crimes.

Chief George Manuel Memorial Indigenous Library

The library is dedicated to the memory of Secwepemc Chief George Manuel (1921-1989), to the nations of the Fourth World and to the elders and generations to come.

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