Diné included in U.S. apartheid report to UN
By Brenda Norrell, Special to the Times
Navajo Times, JANUARY 24, 2008
San Francisco – Navajo victims of coal
mining and uranium mining are among the indigenous peoples
included in a report on racism, forced assimilation
and apartheid in the United States.
The “Consolidated Indigenous Shadow
Report,” was released Jan. 16 by the International Indian
Treaty Council. The report will be presented to the
United Nations Committee on the Elimination of Racial
Discrimination in February.
Dedicated to Floyd Red Crow Westerman,
who passed away on Dec. 13, 2007, the report is compiled
from the testimony of individuals and groups of indigenous
peoples and includes data from a wide range of sources.
The data reveals “a system of apartheid
and forced assimilation,” where indigenous peoples are
“warehoused in poverty and neglect” in the United States.
Alberto Saldamando, IITC board president,
and board member “Lenny Foster, Navajo, who contributed
to the report regarding denials for freedom of religion
for indigenous prisoners in the U.S., will present the
report to the UN Committee in Geneva.
Western Shoshone and other organizations
and nations will join Saldamando and Foster.
The data includes the overwhelming disparities
in the income, life expectancy, poverty and unemployment
between indigenous people and the population at large.
In the report, Abdelfattah Amor, the
special rapporteur on religious intolerance, drew attention
to the forced relocation of Navajos on Black Mesa and
the United States’ refusal to take into consideration
their spiritual practices.
There are over 1,000 abandoned uranium
mines and mills on the Navajo Nation that have not been
reclaimed. It has been over 50 years since the federal
government or the corporations reaped millions of dollars
in the mining and milling processes.
These contaminants pose a continuing
health hazard to traditional Navajos who live in close
proximity to these sites.
The report also mentions the 1970 tailings
spill when United Nuclear Corporation’s Church Rock
Mill near Gallup released 94 million gallons of wastewater
into a wash that flows through reservation communities.
The report also includes the Jackpile
Mine on the Laguna Pueblo Reservation, which is 2,000
feet from the Laguna village of Paguate, the effort
by Western Shoshone to fight against the planned Yucca
Mountain waste dump in Nevada, indigenous peoples who
are protesting the 700-miles wall Homeland Security
wants to build along the border with Mexico and the
taking of the Black Hills in South Dakota, for which
the Lakota have refused to accept money from the U.S.