The American government is once again betraying indigenous peoples. The Kurds gave their assistance to protect the United States. The Kurds (Syria), Yezidi (Iraq), Mayans (Guatemala and Honduras), Lakota (USA) and others elsewhere in the world have variously been promised US mutual cooperation for mutual benefit, support (economic, military, political) through agreements and public pronouncements. Despite US government commitments, in the end those commitments were worthless. American abandonment of its commitments to indigenous nations is reflected in its two centuries of treaties with American Indian nations as the US government has ignored or taken back commitments made under treaties understood to have international standing.
The Kurds (Syria) committed themselves to place their bodies and their lands at the disposal of the United States to fight and defeat the Wahabbist Islamic State from 2014 to 2019 (I note the Wahabbist adjective to remind us all that the Islamic State is largely a creation of the Saudi Kingdom that is devoutly committed to the very puritanical Muslim sect founded in Arabia in the 18th century by Muhammad ibn-Abdul Wahhab and revived by ibn-Saud in the 20th century.). So deeply afraid of the Islamic State were the Americans that they chose to make commitments to the Kurds that Kurdish territory would be secure from Syrian and Turkish invasion with US support. The Kurds believed them. But now the Americans have changed their mind and opened the door to Turkey and Syria to attack the Kurds. Meanwhile, the practitioners of Wahabbism return to central Syria to commit mayhem and doubtless will seek to exact retribution for their previous defeat at the hands of the Kurds.
The Yezidi (Northern Iraq) were viciously attacked by the Wahabbist Islamic State forces in August 2014 killing an estimated 10,000 Yezidi and among them Mandaeans and Zoroastrians while more than 6000 women and children were captured and forced into slavery as sex slaves and children soldiers. The Americans made a very big thing about the obvious genocide and covered the front pages of newspapers with the horrors mounted against the Yezidi. American planes found a reason to enter Northern Iraq to bomb the ISIS forces to “protect the Yezidi.” The Americans turned to the Kurds (Iraq) for their military capabilities to counter the ISIS onslaught. Instead of aiding the Yezidi, the Americans turned their attention elsewhere and basically have ignored the plight of the Yezidi after more than five years.
Similar stories can be told about how the Americans first recognized that an oil pipeline in Lakota country threatened the water and environment as it was built across water ways and on Lakota lands. The Lakota have treaties with the United States that guarantee the rights and property of the Lakota. The Americans recently turned their backs on the Lakota and in the local state the government there passed laws making public protests against the pipeline a crime punishable by incarceration.
Mayans suffering as a result of climate change induced draughts destroying their ability to feed themselves sought help from their government and the government of the United States. The United State made the promise of protection for refugees … a long standing promise. But when the Mayans appeared at the border seeking refugee status, the Americans turned them away.
Who will forget that the United States along with the Canadians, New Zealanders and Australians voted initially against the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples? It was obvious then the US government was hostile to protecting and advancing the rights of indigenous peoples. The US government’s betrayals of the Kurds, Yezidi, Lakota and Mayans reveal and underlying dishonesty that calls on indigenous peoples to avoid making “deals” with the Americans.
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.access here