Monday, April 28, 2008

Statement to United Nations on rights violations of Yankton

United Nations Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues Seventh Session, New York,
April 21 to May 2, 2008.

Joint Statement Submitted by the International Indian Treaty Council and the Indigenous Environmental Network

Item 4: Implementation of the six mandated areas of the Permanent Forum and on the Millennium Development Goals, f) Human Rights
Thank you Madame Chair and Respectful greetings to all Delegations. We join with all other delegations to congratulate the world community and the 144 member states who voted to finally recognize Indigenous Peoples as full members of the family of Nations on September 13th 2007. We now have a solid floor and a universally recognized minimum standard for the, promotion and defense of Indigenous Peoples’ human rights, to which all UN member states are accountable.
The Declaration reaffirms Indigenous Peoples' right to free prior and informed consent in all matters affecting our lives, lands and ways of life. The Declaration also affirms the obligation of UN member states to uphold the rights affirmed in Nation- to- Nation Treaties they have signed with Indigenous Nations and calls upon the International community to take responsibility to ensure this is carried out.
We call your attention to an urgent situation in which the human rights of the Dakota Indigenous Nation is being violated in South Dakota, United States. Various provisions of the UN Declaration including Treaty Rights, rights to own control and use traditional Lands, territories and resources, and the Right to Free Prior Informed Consent over development actives are being violated.
At this time, the Ihanktowan Dakota, known as the Yankton Sioux Tribe based in Marty, South Dakota is protesting violations of human rights and the Tribe’s sovereignty including violations of the 1851 Treaty between the U.S. Government and the Dakota Nation (Sioux). On April 15, Yankton Sioux Tribal members began a peaceful protest against the construction of a large scale corporate hog farm which will be operated by Long View Farms based in Hull, Iowa.
Tribal members are calling attention to the environmental degradation the hog farm will bring to the reservation and surrounding communities. The air quality in the community will be impacted and the threat of contamination to surface and ground water due to shallow aquifers in the area, posing serious threats to community health.
The proposed hog farm site, projected to permanently house more than 3000 sows and produce 70,000 pigs each year, is located within Treaty lands recognized as belonging to the Dakota (Sioux) Nation and is surrounded by Indian reservation land. Tribal and local community members are blocking an access road to the site which is under the jurisdiction of the Yankton Sioux Tribe. The Yankton Sioux Tribe has filed a lawsuit opposing the construction of this facility which will use approximately one million gallons of water and produce over 7 million gallons of liquid hog waste a year. Its proposed location is only four miles from the Missouri River, a major source of water for many communities and home to many endangered species. Parents of a pre- school located less than three miles from the proposed site have also filed a lawsuit based on the health threats to their children. US federal laws mandating an Environmental Impact Statement and public hearings before such projects can be implemented have also been violated.
The Sheriff of Charles Mix County and the South Dakota Highway Patrol have initiated a police occupation of Indian land on the Yankton Reservation. More than 70 county, state and federal law enforcement officials, including homeland security officers, with armed swat teams and dogs, snipers with automatic weapons and helicopters are being used to contain a peaceful non-violent action with women and children present. In the last week, thirty eight people have been arrested including minors and elders. The state of South Dakota does not have jurisdictional authority on federal trust land and is therefore violating the sovereignty of the Yankton Sioux Tribe within its own borders.
The Yankton Sioux tribal members are asking if these State of South Dakota and federal law enforcement officials are being used to protect corporate interests at the expense of Indigenous Peoples’ human rights. The Rosebud Sioux Tribe of South Dakota and the Santee Sioux Tribe of Nebraska have written resolutions opposing the hog farm. Additional information has been provided to the North America member of the Permanent Forum for review by all members of the Forum.
The United States joined with only 3 other countries at the General Assembly last year to vote against the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples and on that basis has attempted to maintain that the Declaration does not apply to them. We remind the US government that their own Constitution, Article 6 states that “Treaties are the supreme law of the land”. We also remind them that on March 7th 2008, the United Nations Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination (CERD) released its recommendations in response to the United States’ Periodic Report, and recommended that the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples be used by the US as a “guide to interpret the State Party’s obligations under the Convention relating to Indigenous Peoples”. This recommendation ties the implementation of the UN Declaration by the US and other state parties to the legally binding obligations of all state parties to the Convention on the Elimination of all Forms of Racial Discrimination.
Indigenous Peoples are not alone in recognizing that Industrial livestock production poses a serious threat to the environmental integrity and health, both where it is located as well as around the world. In its recent report, “The Long Shadow of Livestock”, the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) cited large scale livestock production as a major source of greenhouse gasses, water contamination and land degradation.
The IITC therefore recommends that the UNPFII7th session:
Transmit without delay the most urgent and critical human rights situat ions which Indigenous Peoples have presented to this session, including those caused by unsustainable imposed development, to the new Mechanism on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, the UN Rapporteur on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, and the High Commissioner on Human Rights to ensure further investigation and response
Congratulate Human Rights Council for the resolution adopted at its last session “Human Rights and Climate Change [A/HRC/7/L.21], calling upon the UN High Commissioner on Human Rights to undertake a detailed analytical study of the relationship between climate change and human rights, and to submit a separate report as the UNPFII containing the information and testimonies which have been presented to this session to the UN Human Rights Council for inclusion in this Study.
In closing Madame Chair, we thank you for this time and your attention, and we ask that the UNPF determine additional ways that it can monitor, encourage and otherwise support the UN system to fully integrate and implement the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples at all levels, and in all UN bodies and agencies.
Press Release: Yankton Head Start Parents

The Yankton Sioux Tribe Head Start (YSTHS) concerned Parents are not an entity of the Yankton Sioux Tribe but parents and Grandparents which consist of YST, other Tribal parents, non Indian contributors, and common people supporting the children and families enrolled in the YSTHS program therefore are not under the Authority of the Tribe.That the YSTHS Concerned Parents Law Suit is on behalf of our children's Environmental Health and Safety, working independently towards the best Interest of our children and families.
Although the YST is regulated by city, state, county, YST B&CC and BIA Agencies, not one is protecting the Rights, Health and Safety of our children And families. Instead the city, state, county, YST B&CC and BIA are Protecting the interest of a foreign company with all owners residing in Hull, Iowa.
The YSTHS Concerned Parent are not represented by the YST B&CC and their Attorney Charles Abourezk. Nor have received funding from the YST B&CC. All contributors are Parents, Grandparents, local non- Indian farmers, different tribal members, other supporters concerned with the Overall environmental protection, rights to clear air and clean water, Which includes the water beneath the ground. Any act to dismiss Federal proceeding and due process rights is a hostile act against our Children and future generations to come.
In closing we pray that federal laws will be upheld and protect our Children’s federal right. Passing on the words of an elder from Rosebud. "This is not economic Development but in fact economic Genocide and this is our children's and future generation's land
Water, and, God. We are only here to protect those who cannot Protect themselves. It is our right and our honor, if we do nothing Then we are also neglecting our children.
Members of the YSTHS Concerned Parents
Contact #: (605) 491-2674 or (605) 491-2827
Anyone who wishes to contribute to the YSTHS Concern Parents
Mail check or money order to:
Concerned Parent Fund
C/O Robin Bair
Box 34 Wagner, SD 57380

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