Levent Baştürk - World Bulletin
Two parties negotiate a contract with the assumption that it will be binding for both consenting parties. They also assume that it will have repercussions if one party violates the agreement codified onto a legal document. Nevertheless, this is hardly the case when a state enters into such agreement with indigenous peoples.
Most of the time, these legal documents are just a lip-service when they are between indigenous peoples and the U.S., Canadian, and other governments who have destroyed and continued to crush the rights of indigenous peoples without any risk of retribution. These governments continue to deprive indigenous peoples of their land, their livelihoods, and their cultures.
There are nearly 600 treaties negotiated between the United States government and Native people. The US has violated most of them. For example, if it were committed to respect the terms of its own agreement, it would have recognized the Lakota Nation`s ownership over much of the Midwest. This region is rich with the vast resources, including fresh water. However, these agreements do not reflect reality.
Many Lakota live on reservations like Pine Ridge, which are more like prison camps, and are the most impoverished places in the United States. Unemployment rates run around 70 percent. As of 2011, approximately 50 percent of Pine Ridge residents have been living below the federal poverty line. Like very poor countries of the world, life expectancy rates in this area is around the late 40s and early 50s, in sharp contrast to the rest of the U.S, where the average women lives to be 81 and the average man to 76.
Other statistics concerning the Native American population further illustrate their misery.
The rate of suicide for the US indigenous peoples (including Alaska Natives) is far higher than that of any other ethnic group in the United States. It is 70% higher than the rate for the general American population. Indigenous youth are the hardest hit. They have the highest rate of suicide for males and females aged 10 to 24, out of all the ethnic groups. On certain reservations, the incidence of youth suicide a few years ago was 10 times higher than the national average.
These statistics are by no means new developments. Some studies showed similar numbers between 1989 and 1998. These reports also mentioned a few risk factors specific to Native American populations living on reservations, including rampant alcohol and drug abuse, high sexual assault rates, low socioeconomic status, etc.
In the early 2000s, the government allocated some funds for programs dedicated to prevent youth suicide. Unfortunately, however, the federal government`s recent dramatic budget cut, amounted to $220 million, has had a negative effect on these programs.
Compared to the US, Canada has done no better. Violating its agreements to indigenous groups, the Canadian government has stolen the land and poisoned the water, soil, and air in which many from the First Nations live. On October 15, 2013, the United Nations special rapporteur on the rights of indigenous peoples James Anaya issued a disturbing report, which mentioned that 20 percent of indigenous peoples in Canada live in homes in need of serious repairs. The suicide rate among their youth is five times greater than that of all Canadians. The report called the situation a “crisis”, rooted in the Canadian government's policies that broke up homes and destroyed indigenous cultures by sending their youth to horrific boarding schools where they were forced to become as integrated as possible.
Not taking critical reports seriously, the Canadian government opted to further oppress its indigenous population. Just recently, when indigenous peoples and their allies organized to protest in New Brunswick, a natural gas extraction process that devastates the land and ground water, the Canadian security forces responded with brute force.Last Mod: 23 Ekim 2013, 11:44