Our Chief and Head Man are headed to Washington DC again, on their own dime, without certainty that they will be heard but with a heart full of commitment on behalf of 90 percent of the tribes in California who were "de-recognized" by the federal government in the 1980's. They will be seeking to be heard about what has been done to the California Indians by the very same Federal Government who is hosting a discussion on whether or not to reconsider their non-ratification vote of the UN Declaration of Human Rights regarding Indigenous Peoples since New Zealand recently joined Austrilia in ratification. The State Department has invited feedback from "FEDERALLY RECOGNIZED TRIBES" and NGO's -- or Non Governmental Organizations.
One would hope that the Winnemem would be "allowed" to speak at least if NGO's can speak unless this so-called free and democratic government also has the arrogance to determine who are federally recognized non-governmental organizations as well. I appreciate that Chief Caleen Sisk Franco and Headman Mark Franco are flying clear over there and taking the energy and time once again to speak on behalf of the tribes/salmon/water and speak to the injustices. If they are heard, then this government is finally doing the right thing. If they are told "you cannot speak; we do not recognize you" it gives the people of this country some valuable information, more evidence that there's something really rotton in Washington when it comes to basic human rights for the Native Peoples of this land. Whether a tribe is recognized or not, whether Caleen and Mark will be allowed to speak as even a non governmental organization or not has nothing to do with the legitimacy of the Winnemem Tribe. There is no doubt that they are a historical, traditional tribe respected around the world. Their legitimacy is not at question here. And there is no question that their leaders are legitimate. Their leaders are being Winnemem and leaders no matter what, against great odds, at great personal sacrifice. I know no leader equal to them when it comes to prioritizing leading over all personal gain, doing what is right for their people, their ancestors, their future generations, for the Earth, their spiritual responsibilities for all the people of the world. Leaders don't get more legitimate than that. If the State Department representative won't hear what Caleen and Mark have to say, the absurdity of federal recognition of tribes will be revealed.
Do you suppose the BIA and the government also have a federal recognition list of who is a non-governmental organizations, or a federal recognition list on who is a human being? A federally recognized human being? Federal Recognition reveals more and more to thinking peoples the rotten core of this policy. Thinking people, if they learn about what federal recognition really is, will all finally arrive at the single observation -- that Federal Recognition is a human rights violation of the worst kind. It's what a government uses to try to hide their sins against humanity by choosing who is Indian and choosing who is to be invisible and stripped of all rights due them by any treaty, the Constitution and the UN Declaration of Human Rights.
I appreciate from the bottom of my heart that Caleen and Mark are flying back to DC once again. I am grateful they keep doing this because it is something leaders must do. They must not allow extermination of their culture and historical presence, responsibility and participation. They cannot disappear. Caleen and Mark are doing the right thing. The big question mark is will the State Department do the right thing.
Caleen Sisk Franco was one of the framers of the UN Declaration of Human Rights for Indigenous Peoples 2009. She was asked to testify, then she was asked to keep coming and representing. Her presence there opened up the whole conversation on "federal recognition" as a tool for human rights violations against indigenous peoples all over the world at the UN conference. What kind of blind arrogance and stupidity would keep one of the very people who helped frame this document from speaking about it? Guess we'll see and I hope the World sees. If you know some journalists out there in DC land, far from the great mountains of California, its rivers, the ordinary people of California, certainly the tribal people of California, let the journalists and media people know to look for Caleen and Mark taking a letter from 90 percent of the California Tribes and their allies around the world and all over the country to help the US understand and make the right decision to ratify the UN Human Rights Declaration for Indigenous People. Tell the story. Were they able to walk through the door? take the floor? speak? be heard? Please give them the back story and encourage them to cover this. If you're in DC and you have a camera and can do YouTube, find where this is happening, and please show up and upload the story. What did you see? Granny said to us, tell the world and the good people of the world will hear you.
It will take us all to get the word out. There will be a Prayer Fire in Eugene, Oregon, praying for justice for the Winnemem and a safe journey there and back for the Leaders.
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