|A native Mt. Rushmore: Chief Joseph, Sitting Bull, Dull Knife, Geronimo|
The headline in Huffington Post said:
Mt. Rushmore Site Should Be Returned To Indigenous Native American Tribes, U.N. Official Says
But that is not what the U.N. official actually said. It is what the Huffington Post thought he said. Whether made in error or in deliberation, the statement is bad journalism.
What James Anaya, the U.N. special rapporteur on the rights of indigenous people, actually said was that "he'll recommend in an upcoming report that some of the tribes' lands be restored, including the Black Hills of South Dakota," according to the Associated Press account:
Anaya said land restoration would help bring about reconciliation. He named the Black Hills as an example. He said restoring to indigenous people what they have a legitimate claim to can be done in a way that is not divisive "so that the Black Hills, for example, isn't just a reminder of the subordination and domination of indigenous peoples in that country."He did not specify Mt. Rushmore, although it is in the Black Hills. He did recognize, as has the U.S. Supreme Court that the appropriation of the Black Hills by the U.S. was a violation of a treaty through fraud, deadly force, and genocide. In an interview with Indian Country Today Media Network, he said:
I think there are a lot of issues and a lot of specific programs the federal government, in particular, is implementing to address those issues that I think are making some headway. But what I think needs to happen—this is what I heard [on my tour]—there needs to be a real reckoning of the history that indigenous people suffered and an understanding that the social conditions you mentioned—high suicide rates, alcoholism, domestic violence—are a direct consequence of this inter-generational trauma… And until there’s a reckoning and a reconciliation of this history… it’s going to be very difficult to fully address this laundry list of specific issues.
You have two tracks going forward simultaneously. That is, the recognition of Indigenous Peoples’ rights but at the same time greater facilitation for multi-national resource companies to go on indigenous territories to extract the resources often in violation of Indigenous Peoples’ rights. And there doesn’t seem to be a coherent posture in many countries on how to reconcile those two tracks and if anything, the movement forward in extracting resources from indigenous lands is accelerated compared to the movement forward in implementing Indigenous Peoples’ rights.