Waited patiently, to no avail, for a reply from U.N. Special Rapporteur, University of Arizona, Professor, James Anaya to the NPPA’s email and letter dated January 27, 2014 (see 1/27/14 blog below). The letter was in response to the January 24th “Media Advisory/Press Release” and Prof. Anaya’s visit with Peltier at Coleman Penitentiary. (Footnote #1)
The “press release” incompletely quotes Prof. Anaya but referenced his 30 August 2012 “Report of the Special Rapporteur on the rights of indigenous peoples, James Anaya, on the situation of indigenous peoples in the United States.” (The ‘Report’)
The latest “Director” of the newly reformed ILPDC quoting from the Report, pages 13 & 20, relates directly to Peltier. But, there’s even-money that Harry David Hill did not read beyond those two quotes or the entire fifty-page Report. But we did.
Prof. Anaya compiled an historical document reviewing dozens of reports, federal programs and information and allegations in summary form presented in Appendices I and II that comprised fully one-half of his Report (pp. 24-50), and by visiting seven States in eleven days between April 23 to May 4, 2012 to reach his conclusions presented in the first half of the Report.
Nothing new was presented in Prof. Anaya’s Report, analysis, and statistics reviewing the history of the treatment of Native Americans (and other indigenous cultures). He comes to conclusions that are commonly known and accepted by all who understand these historical perspectives.
Early on he mentions “Of course their (Native American tribes, Indian Nations) greatest contribution is in the vast expanses of land that they gave up, through treaty concessions and otherwise, without which the United States and its economic base would not exist.” This is a common theme that Prof. Anaya fails to, or avoids placing into its proper perspective. Of course these things happened, but contrary to the prevailing myth, before the Europeans entered the continent and under Manifest Destiny continued the push from the Atlantic to the Pacific, the North American continent was not a Valhalla as many are led to believe. Long before, and during the European colonial powers or the successor United States and the white man’s relentless quest for land and resources, there was trouble in paradise.
And for the vast stretches of the continent, who’s to say who owned what? Many tribes claimed rights and ownership of the same lands.
Anaya’s Report devotes considerable space, an entire section, to crimes against women.
While visiting and posing for smiling photos with Peltier at Coleman Penitentiary, did the good professor ever think to ask Peltier to clarify the details of when and why he stuck a gun in Anna Mae Aquash’s mouth trying to force her to admit she was an informant (or provocateur as they like to be labeled). Or why Peltier’s AIM comrades went with their unfounded suspicions anyway and put a bullet in the back of her head, dumping her body in a ditch? Or, how Peltier knew that Anna Mae was dead in December 1975 when her body wasn’t found until the next March? Was that part of the Anaya-Peltier hug fest in the visiting room? Obviously, not.
A challenging statistic offered in Anaya’s Report (p.11) is:
“Estimates are that nearly 80 per cent (sic) of the rapes of indigenous women are by non-indigenous men, many of who (sic) have made their way into indigenous communities but who are not presently subject to indigenous prosecuaorial authority because of their non-indigenous status. Congress has yet to pass key reforms in the Violence Against Women Act that would bolster tribes’ ability to prosecute these cases.”
Neither of the references Prof. Anaya offers (Steven W. Perry, Statistical Profile and U.S.D.O.J. Report) supports that conclusion. Although, Perry’s decade old study relating to “Victimization in Indian Country” indicates that “Violent victimization of American Indians, by race of offender and type of victimization, 1992-2001,” the “rape/sexual assault” statistic does approach 80%, but the findings do not account for or differentiate those crimes against Native American women by white offenders occurring on “Reservations” per se, or elsewhere. It does, however clarify that attempts were made to determine “…how many victimizations took place at those locations (Reservations or Indian lands). “From 2000 to 2002—0.5% of all reported violence—occurred on Indian reservations or Indian lands.” And that, “Victims could be of any race.” Not all Native Americans live on Reservations, nor are all residents on Reservations, Native American. So, Professor Anaya’s 80% conclusion is suspect and may be erroneous.
Although based apparently on a faulty assumption, Prof. Anaya’s point of allowing more tribal authority against anyone who commits a crime on a Reservation or tribal land is well taken.
Prof. Anaya’s support of Peltier is fatally flawed (Fn. 2). He has bought into the mythology that in some perverse way a free Peltier will see some level of reconciliation and some payback of the “historical” (white man’s) “debt.” A careful examination of the facts, adding to that Peltier’s own self-incriminating statements over the years since his conviction should be the topic of the professor’s next Report.
Referring to Peltier as an “activist and leader in the American Indian Movement,” describing the murder of Agents’ Coler and Williams’ as “…a clash on the Pine Ridge Reservation” clearly indicates that Professor Anaya needs more time for additional research on both the facts surrounding Peltier’s actions that day at Jumping Bull and the devastation wrought by AIM, an organization that contributed nothing, along with Peltier, to the betterment of Native America.
In the Spirit of Coler and Williams”
1) Didn’t really expect a reply, nor not waiting or expecting one from Robert Redford. It’s so typical that supporters want to avoid any serious follow-up discussions. They make their emotional pleas and then move on to other matters. Healthy debate uncovering the precise details and facts only serve to remove the sheen from the Peltier folklore and that’s unacceptable to the diehards. Especially when those details come from Peltier’s own words.
2) Not an uncommon theme in the history of the Peltier matter.