Most people are familiar with the most basic of rights we stand on, such as the 1st amendment of the US Constitution and the state constitutional laws that stem from them. Some of you are also fairly familiar with the Religious Freedom Restoration Act (RFRA), the Religious Land Use and Incarcerated Persons Act (RLUIPA) ajd then of coarse there’s the American Indian Religious Freedom Act (AIRFA) and others, but we want to share with you Some of the less commonly known “laws” that we as the Native American Church of the Morning Star and Half Moon also have woven into our root fibers.
The United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (UNDRIP) is the first one, which was adopted by the General Assembly on Thursday, 13 September 2007, by a majority of 144 states in favour, 4 votes against (Australia, Canada, New Zealand and the United States) and 11 abstentions (Azerbaijan, Bangladesh, Bhutan, Burundi, Colombia, Georgia, Kenya, Nigeria, Russian Federation, Samoa and Ukraine). It “prohibits discrimination against indigenous peoples”, and it “promotes their full and effective participation in all matters that concern them and their right to remain distinct and to pursue their own visions of economic and social development”.
The Declaration sets out the individual and collective rights of Indigenous peoples, as well as their rights to culture, identity, language, employment, health, education and other issues. It also “emphasizes the rights of Indigenous peoples to maintain and strengthen their own institutions, cultures and traditions, and to pursue their development in keeping with their own needs and aspirations”
According to Article 31, there is a major emphasis that the indigenous peoples will be able to protect their cultural heritage and other aspects of their culture and tradition in order to preserve their heritage from over controlling nation-states.
The Declaration is structured as a United Nations resolution, with 23 preambular clauses and 46 articles. In most articles, an aspiration for how the State should promote and protect the rights of indigenous people is included (see Provision for further explanation). Major themes of the articles include:
- Rights of self-determination of indigenous individuals and peoples (Articles 1 – 8; 33 -34)
- The difference is between the individual and people’s group
- Rights of indigenous individuals and people to protect their culture through practices, languages, education, media, and religion (Articles 9 – 15, 16, 25, and 31)
- Asserts the indigenous peoples’ right to own type of governance and to economic development (Articles 17 – 21, 35 -37)
- Health rights (Article 23 -24)
- Protection of subgroups ex. elderly, women, an children (Article 22)
- Land rights from ownership (including reparation, or return of land i.e. Article 10) to environmental issues (Articles 26 -30, and 32)
- Dictates how this document should be understood in future reference(Articles 38 – 46).
The opening and Article 2 of the Declaration provide that “indigenous peoples are equal to all other peoples” (source). Besides asserting the rights that indigenous individuals and peoples’ have as other peoples, there are Articles (23 of the 46) pointing to how States should interact with the declaration. Most of the articles point to States working in conjunction with the indigenous peoples. Some measures countries are suggested to take are
- To return land (article 26), ceremonial objects (article 12), and human remains (article 12)
- To place “programmes for monitoring, maintaining, and restoring the health of indigenous peoples” (article 29 )
- To protect and uphold the rights of indigenous individuals and peoples (subpoint in many articles; see Declaration)
The American Deceleration on the Rights of Indigenous people…
The American Declaration offers specific protection for indigenous peoples in North America, Mexico, Central and South America, and the Caribbean. It affirms the right of self-determination, rights to education, health, self-government, culture, lands, territories and natural resources, and it includes provisions that address the particular situation of indigenous peoples in the Americas, including protections for those living in voluntary isolation and those affected by a state’s internal armed conflict. Article VII of the Declaration addresses Gender Equality, and includes a commitment that “States shall adopt the necessary measures, in conjunction with indigenous peoples, to prevent and eradicate all forms of violence and discrimination, particularly against indigenous women and children.”
Art. II. Full observance of human rights
- Indigenous peoples have the right to the full and effective enjoyment of the human rights and fundamental freedoms recognized in the Charter of the OAS the American Declaration of the Rights and Duties of Man, the American Convention on Human Rights and international human rights law; and nothing in this Declaration shall be construed as in any way limiting or denying those rights or authorizing any action not in accordance with the instruments of international law including human rights law.
- The States shall ensure for all indigenous peoples the full exercise of their rights.
- The States also recognize that the indigenous peoples are entitled to collective rights insofar as they are indispensable to the enjoyment of the individual human rights of their members. Accordingly they recognize the right of the indigenous peoples to collective action, to their cultures, to profess and practice their spiritual beliefs and to use their languages.
Art. X. Spiritual and religious freedom
- Indigenous peoples have the right to liberty of conscience freedom of religion and spiritual practice for indigenous communities and their members, a right that implies freedom to conserve them, change them, profess and propagate them both publicly and privately.
- States shall sake necessary measures to ensure that attempts are not made to forcibly convert indigenous peoples or to impose on them beliefs against the will of their communities.
- In collaboration with the indigenous peoples concerned, the States shall adopt effective measures to ensure that their sacred sites, including burial sites, are preserved, respected and protected. When sacred graves and relics have been appropriated by state institutions they shall be returned.
Art XIV. Rights of association, assembly, freedom of expression and freedom of thought.
- The States shall promote the necessary measures to guarantee to indigenous communities and their members their right of association assembly and expression in accordance with their usages, customs, ancestral traditions, beliefs and religions
- The States shall respect and enforce the right of assembly of indigenous peoples and to the use of their sacred and ceremonial areas, as well as the right to full contact and common activities with sectors and members of their ethnic groups living in the territory of neighboring states.
Art. XV. Right to self government, management, and control of internal affairs.
- States acknowledge that indigenous peoples have the right to freely determine their political status and freely pursue their economic social and cultural development and that accordingly they have the right to autonomy or self-government with regard to their internal and local affairs including culture religion education information media health housing employment, social welfare, economic activities, land and resource management, the environment and entry by nonmembers; and to the ways and means for financing these autonomous functions.
- Indigenous populations have the right to participate without discrimination, if they so decide, in all decision-making, at all levels, with regard to matters that might affect their rights, lives, and destiny. They may do so through representatives elected by them in accordance with their own procedures, They shall also have the right to maintain and develop their own indigenous decision-making institutions, as well as equal opportunities to access to all national fora.
Art. XXI. Right to development.
- The States recognize the right of indigenous peoples to decide democratically what values, objectives, priorities and strategies will govern and steer their development course, even if they are different from those adopted by the national government or by other segments of society. Indigenous peoples shall be entitled to obtain on a non-discriminatory basis appropriate means for their own development according to their preferences and values, and to contribute by their own means, as distinguishable societies, to national development and international cooperation.
- The States shall take necessary measures to ensure that decisions regarding any plan, program or proposal affecting the rights or living conditions of indigenous people are not made without the free and informed consent and participation of those peoples, that their preferences are recognized and that no such plan, program or proposal that could have harmful effects on the normal livelihood of those populations is adopted. Indigenous communities have the right to restitution or compensation in accordance with international law, for any damage which, despite the foregoing precautions, the execution of those plans or proposal may have caused them; and measures taken to mitigate adverse environmental, economic, social, cultural or spiritual impact.
Universal Declaration of Human Rights…
All human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights. They are endowed with reason and conscience and should act towards one another in a spirit of brotherhood.
Everyone is entitled to all the rights and freedoms set forth in this Declaration, without distinction of any kind, such as race, colour, sex, language, religion, political or other opinion, national or social origin, property, birth or other status.
Everyone has the right to life, liberty and security of person.
Everyone has the right to freedom of thought, conscience and religion; this right includes freedom to change his religion or belief, and freedom, either alone or in community with others and in public or private, to manifest his religion or belief in teaching, practice, worship and observance.
1. Everyone has the right freely to participate in the cultural life of the community, to enjoy the arts and to share in scientific advancement and its benefits.
2. Everyone has the right to the protection of the moral and material interests resulting from any scientific, literary or artistic production of which he is the author.
The Native American Church of the Morning star and Half Moon have Many additional laws in which we also weave into our right of existence as our church. Some of these include but are Not limited to:
Chapter 26 of Agenda 21 formulated at the 1992 Rio Earth Summit recognizes the right of the indigenous communities and their representatives to undertake reviews as well as develop environmental strategies with regard to land and water based pollution. . . .
The restoration must not be confined just to removing the wastes and pollution, but must also be extended to the social and cultural dimensions of the communities, the nations and the Confederacy. . . .
As sovereign governments, the Haudenosaunee have complete jurisdiction over native territories. The Haudenosaunee jurisdiction should extend cooperatively to the surrounding areas that impact the ecosystem of the native territories. . . .
Haudenosaunee should be assured adequate international legal resources that must ensure that the U.S. and Canadian legal systems recognize a right to full compensation for collective and individual damages from the effects of environmental pollution.
The J Treaty
The Quinn Papers