Genocide and REsidential/Boarding Schools, Part II

Jim Craven jcraven at SPAMclark.edu
Tue Jun 26 13:44:30 MDT 2001


TAPE 3A:
INTERVIEW WBAI 2/15/98
Economics and Politics (Doug Henwood and Jim Craven)

DH: There was a court decision in Canada last December in British Columbia
where the Canadian court decided that Indian claims to property in BC were
actually well grounded and that this may have a substantial effect in
Canada about who owns what. A lot of these disputed lands are rich in
resources, so this is not mere matter of landscape, it's also a matter of
big money.

Jim, before we get going, just a word  on nomenclature. I've been saying
"American Indians" all along, and I know a lot of folks prefer  Native
Americans, or the Canadians use First Nations, what's the word on language
here?

JC: There's a mixed bag on that. Most of the people that I know use the
term American Indian. What they mean by that is an Indian of the Americas.
The reason why many will use that is first of all, Indians weren't even
American citizens until 1924. Many Indians also feel that they're not real
Americans, there's no real place for them in America, and they are
sovereign nations within a nation. They prefer the term Indian rather than
the term Native American.  Also many Indians I know don't like the
nativism that's associated with that term Native American, and there may
be some implication that the further back here your ancestors go, the more
"real" American you are; and most Indians that I know don't share that
kind of sentiment. They don't differentiate people by how far back your
ancestors go. The actual word Indian didn't  come from Columbus looking
for India and missing the boat. Rather, when he came here there was no
India. The Indian comes from the term "la gente en dio" - the people in
god. They're also referred to as "Los Indios." Columbus called them gentle
and loving people and thought they would be easy to turn into slaves,
which is what he actually wrote in his diary. Most of the people I know
prefer to use the term American Indian, but they don't mean an equivalent
to "Irish-American" or Jewish American", they mean an Indian of the
Americas, which includes Central, South American and Canada.

DH:  Now let's talk about this decision from the Canadian Supreme Court.
What's involved with this decision that's relevant to the US?

JC:  First of all, the decision didn't go as far as some people might
think in terms of of really laying out full use, full custody, for
indigenous lands. But it was an extremely important decision in the sense
that it was a recognition that some of the very same rights and privileges
and laws that protect property today in white society, call into question
the very property they protect. For instance, suppose you find all around
you your relatives and neighbors being slaughtered and the people who are
doing the killing send a message that you're next. You flee for you life,
leave your home. Somebody moves into your home and destroys all records,
histories, whatever that show you occupied that home. Then they proceed to
go ahead and sell your home to someone else who had no idea how it was
acquired. The new owner holds that
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property only as long as the true story isn't told. As soon as the true
story is told about how that property was originally acquired, even under
mainstream or capitalist law, that property becomes tainted. The new owner
doesn't get to keep it, even though he innocently bought stolen property.
The same thing holds here. More and more the courts are realizing that
when the true story is told and it becomes evident that so much Indian
land was stolen, and by stolen I don't mean according to Indian law, I
mean according to white law, capitalist law. What happened with the
Canadian decision was that for the first time or almost the first time
they are starting to admit oral histories and historical place names as a
basis for establishing original occupancy. What happened historically was
that American society was confronted more and more with this
contradiction, and this contradiction was by virtue or your own laws, not
Indian laws, this is stolen land; ill-gotten land.

So the answer to that was, first of all, you know Indians never really had
a concept of private property or territory; therefore, in Indian terms,
nothing was really stolen from them. That was the first myth. The second
myth was, well, Indians never continuously occupied territorial lands, or
Indians never made "improvements" on the land; therefore, they don't hold
ownership in the way that we establish legitimate ownership. So there were
attempts to rewrite history to get around that contradiction, that being
by virtue of capitalist law, that property is stolen property. Now what's
happening is that the courts, right now there's a case going on whereby
thousands of non-Indians are being sued by the federal government on
behalf of the Cherokee, Chocktaw and Chickesaw nations having to do with
the Arkansas River because it turns out that as a result of a 1970 Supreme
Court decision, that land was treaty land and it was illegially sold to
non-Indians. So now these mineral and land owners are all being served
notices that they don't hold title they once thought they held. So what
we're seeing now is a recognition that either you're going to have to come
out in an open, naked say and say, yes, we have sacred laws but they're
only situationally applied; they're not really that sacred. If you're
non-white they don't apply. If you're not "American" they don't apply. Or
they're going to have to make some kind of attempt to apply consistency.

DH: This speaks to what Marx calls primitive accumulation, which is the
origin of private property through act of theft or in claiming private
land that was previously held in common. So whether we're looking at the
enclosures in England or the theft of native lands here in North America
or in what's going on in a good bit of the Third World today, the
capitalists have not really lost much sleep over the contradictions of
their own tradition. Do you think this is actually going to give them
pause? Force them to come to terms with their own hypocrisy?

JC:  I think that the extent to which this happens is as much is as
necessary. Their primary goal is to maintain the system as it is and the
basic power structures as they are. But they do make concessions when
contradictions require it. Their policies represent very few of ultra
rich, but they need a mass social base, especially when you have the
illusion of a democracy, participatory democracy, they need a mass social
base to ratify policies which are actually in the interests of a very few
ultra rich people. How do you do that? One way is to push hot button
issues, like abortion and whatever. They try to get people to vote one way
or another on single issues for a party that can never represent the
interests of those who are actually voting for that party. That's one way.
The second way is of course through mystification and rewriting history:
American the most moral, decent, productive, efficient, richest, beacon of
democracy, and so on. Of course then they don't discuss all the ugly
dictators we've supported and are supporting cause there's a contradiction
there. The other way they deal with it is to make concessions on an ad hoc
situational basis. So when those contradictions surface, become really
glaring, naked, they will make such concessions as are necessary to keep
the façade going. So they say, yeah, you got me, you got me there.
According to my own laws, this is stolen property, you're right. So
they'll return bits of land, piece by piece. Of course usually what
happens is that land returned bit by bit, they just find another way to
get it. What you'll see is big developers who come in and front certain
interests in the tribal councils, and they wind up getting the land back
through "normal commerce," or they'll find ways to counter-litigate and
tie people up in court for extensive periods of time through expensive,
costly litigation. But still they're caught in that contradiction between
the façade of the system and the façade they need to maintain that system
vs. how the system really works and for whom it really works.

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It's quite clear: out of 22 industrialized countries, the US is No. 1 in
wealth and income Inequality. We're number one in infants born at low
birth weight; homicides; substance abuse; executions; imprisonment. We're
number one in a whole bunch of indicators that don't speak very well for
us. Those indicators are an indictment of that very system itself. The
average life expectancy for most Indian males is between 49 and 52 years
old. For Indian females, 47 and 51 years old. That's as opposed to a white
male around 71 and white female around 73.

DH: Those life expectancies are really about the bottom of the poorest
portion of the Third World. We're talking about some pretty bad social
rankings here.

JC:  That's correct. The infant mortality rate is much lower in Cuba than
it is among Indians in North America. In fact, it's lower than all of
America combined.

DH: Let's talk about the social-economic conditions that Indians in
America life in. I think people who life in urban areas might not think
about it very often. Where do folks live, just how bad off are they?

JC: It will vary, of course. But for the vast majority of reservations in
this country, and I've been on many,  people are isolated, it's very
stark, almost all the businesses are owned by non-Indians. Typically you
get about 12 or 15 cents on the Indian dollar that stays on the
reservation, the rest is shipped out  in banking and other services.
Savings are little, and what little savings that occur don't stay on the
reservation, taken to big banks in the big cities, it's never reinvested
on the reservation. You have tribal councils that sometimes are corrupt
and sometimes not. You have big developers with extensive agendas with
their eyes on the prize, with various ways of identifying the mineral rich
land and moving in to get it 10 cents on the dollar. You have very few
children graduating from high school not to mention going to college and
graduating. You have one Indian Health clinic overworked and understaffed.
You have high incidences of tuberculosis, incidences of AIDS because of
kids going to urban areas and becoming involved in prostitution and drugs
and returning with AIDS. So the clinics are overstretched in terms of
demands and ability to meet those demands. You have high incidences of
alcoholism and drug addiction, about 5 times the national average, teenage
suicide roughly five times the national average.

People say then, well what about the casinos? The best studies I've seen
suggest that out of each casino gross profit dollar about 18 cents
actually goes to the tribe because you're taking out consulting, licensing
fees. So only about 18 cents stays with the tribe and of that a large
amount is taken off by the powers that be in the tribe, so that maybe 5
cents of a casino dollar comes anywhere near the average Indian on an
average reservation. So casinos are not the panacea that everyone talks
about. Plus you lose part of the heritage and culture when you enter that
type of enterprise. It's a very sad, stark existence. It's an indictment.
People talk about genocide on Bosnia, and we should definitely be
concerned about that because we're all human beings, we're all part of
this planet. It's interesting by the way that in the Inuit language
there're 103 words for snow, but only one for people: which is "Inuit"
(human being) There's no work for black people, white people, red people,
there's just one word: human being. And so we should be concerned about
Rwanda and Bosnia, but there's genocide going on right here in America,
and as long as it keeps going on it's an indictment of this country. For
those who say why should I care, I'm not Indian, the issue is that the
best form of "national security" is having a society that's worth being
secure.

DH: How does the situation of American Indians compare with that of other
indigenous peoples around the world, say in Australia or Canada or New
Zealand?

JC: Well, from what I've been able to see, the situation in New Zealand
and Australia with respect to aboriginal people is actually somewhat
better than the US in terms of available services, recognition of
aboriginal rights - it's not a rosy picture, there's still very brutal
exploitation there--but there is more recognition that when this kind of
subjugation and genocide is going on inside your borders it's an
indictment of the whole nation. In terms of services and national
sovereignty, in Canada, in my opinion, it's much better than the US,
although again if you go to Saskatchewan and Alberta and whatever, it's
still a very stark existence on Indian reserves. I worked on a Cree
reserve and conditions then and still are pretty
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 raw. But I would say that they're better than here in the US. The US is
way behind in terms of addressing not only land issues but issues of
national sovereignty and what's happening. If something isn't done now I
suspect that there won't be any Indian people left in three generations.

Narrator: Because of their death or because they will blend into the
surrounding society?

JC: All of it: death, blending, all of it. Part of it has to do with the
redefinition of Indian people by non-Indians. This is a serious issue. The
other thing is the powerlessness. Just imagine if you had a football team
called the New York Niggers. Or the Kansas City Kikes. Or the San
Francisco Spiks. Imagine that they have the watermelon shuffle. Some
caricature of a black person coming out and shuffling around. There would
be an absolute outrage and rightly so, because that's really ugly stuff.
But nobody thinks even twice about the Washington Redskins, the tomahawk
chop Kansas City Chiefs, the Cleveland Indians with the buck-tooth,
illiterate looking Indian icon. We've seen so much sensitivity, and
rightly so, to injustices that have been done to blacks, Jews, Hispanic
people, and we should, but when it comes to Indians, we see all sorts of
stereotypes and caricatures that no one would dare make with respect to
any other group, and part of it comes from the fact that we have no
national Indian voice or leadership, but part of it is the whole history
that well, they're dying anyway, they have no power anyway, they're off on
their own anyway, so just let them go.

DH: You say there is no national Indian movement, virtually one
publication of any significance. Why is there this lack of cohesion, lack
of voice?

JC: Well, a lot of it has to do with the divide and rule tactics that have
been used against Indian people for hundreds of years, where they would
separate tribes and where there were some territorial disputes, and not
even disputes really, disputes were created. A good example is the Hopi
and Navaho. The Hopi and Navaho have been inter-marrying for generations.
But because there is some uranium and coal some land disputes were
started. The Paiute and Navaho are another example where the powerful,
mostly for economic interests, played one off against the other. These
divisions continue to this day. Just imagine: we don't have, for example,
a Bureau of African American Affairs, of Polish Affairs. But we have a
Bureau of Indian Affairs. What do they do? Right now, for example, there's
close to $3 billion missing in BIA accounts. Missing! Nobody knows where
it went. And the records were all torched, they weren't even put on
computer backup. We've got another case where, because Indian royalties
were undervalued by oil and mineral interests according to the formula
they were using, almost $6 billion of royalties due tribes being ripped
off by undervaluation of oil and gas royalties. The BIA also has been
caught, for example, fronting for developers, identifying mineral rich
lands and then aiding developers in getting some of the land at 10 cents
on the dollar. The BIA should be abolished; they've done far more hard
than good. Their argument is that now, for example, to recover your money
you've got to stick with us because otherwise you have no chance of
getting the tribal monies that are missing - almost $3 billion dollars
missing. But the BIA is a custodial agency, a broker on Indian issues. It
was formed to take care of "internal colonies" - it's part of the
Department of Interior and says, "we can't trust you Indians to deal with
non-Indians directly." So if non-Indians want to deal with Indians they
have to go through the BIA. There are some exceptions to that, but not
many. It's a gatekeeper between various nations and non-Indian people and
other interests. Again, we get to the same problem. Can you imagine if we
had a Bureau of African American Affairs, or Bureau of Caucasian Affairs?
There would be an outrage if there was something like that, but nobody
says anything when it comes to Indians.

DH:  What might a more humane set of policies look like?

JC: I can only speak for myself, but basically it comes down to the fact
that there needs to be more coherent and cohesive outreach to non-Indians.
Indians alone are not going to be able to solve these problems. They need
natural allies. Part of the problem is to break down a lot of the
stereotypes and myths, you know, about the rich Indian from casino money,
and so on, among non-Indians. Indians need to work with working class
people and progressive intellectuals and whatever, to say, these are the
myths you've been told about us. We don't think you're the enemy, because
your skin color is different. Please join us
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 because our fight is your fight. You know, there was a time in Germany
when people said, well, I'm not Jewish, or homosexual, or trade unionists
and therefore this isn't my problem. What happened is they were living in
a Nazi society where it was only a matter of time that anyone with a heart
or an IQ over 60 could be next. It's the same thing about Indians in
America. If you don't care about Indian issues, well go ahead and say that
now, because you may be next, because it means you live in the kind of
society that allows genocide, that allows this kind of desecration of the
sacred, if you want to put it that way. And it's only a matter of accident
as to whether or not you're next. So we need to reach out, we need to
build united fronts, common concerns, break down stereotypes, and need to
educate. We need to say, listen this is all of us, we need to stay
together. We don't want to take your land, please don't steal ours. By
virtue of the very same principles that you hold sacred that defends your
property, then please understand that our lands, our rights, our
birthrights, our cultures and heritages have been stolen from us and we
need to define ourselves, we don't need non-Indians defining what is
"authentic" Indian and what is not.


TAPE 3B:
WBAI Interview:  6/18/98 (Doug Henwood and Jim Craven)

Narrator: Tell us about this panel you've been serving on investigating
crimes of genocide in Canada.

JC: This was an inter-Tribal court made up of tribal judges from different
tribes and nations. It was sponsored by the International Human Rights
Association of American Minorities which is a consultative body of the UN.
It was a  UN-NGO-observed tribunal. Any comments I make here are personal,
not official findings as these findings have not been made public yet. The
tribunal was conducted under the rules of tribal law. The director of
IHRAAM was present, and it had to do with allegations of systematic and
various forms of abuse of Indian children in the residential school
system. It also had to do with allegations of genocide under the terms of
the UN Convention on Genocide. This Convention defines genocide as
follows: A. killing members of the group, B. causing serious bodily and
mental harm to members of the group; C. deliberately inflicting on a group
conditions of life calculated to bring about its physical destruction in
whole or in part, D. imposing measures intended to prevent birth within a
group, or E. transferring children of the group to another group. So it
was also to investigate the patterns in residential school systems and
other things: de-Indianizing land, privatizing Indian land and whether
they constituted genocide. And finally the Canadian government. has
imposed  a settlement of $326 million because there's already been an
admission of guilt to some extent in a British Columbia Supreme Court
decision. We were also to investigate whether those monies had been paid
to the victims, or the terms under which they would be paid, and whether
there were other victims who should be covered under that settlement. So
that's basically it. As of now, none of that money has been disbursed and
we are supposed to investigate. There are some disputes between some of
the nations where some don't want a blanket settlement. They want to fight
it tribe by tribe, nation by nation, and the reason for that is because a
blanket settlement - "we're sorry, here's $356 million, now the guilt is
over" - some people feel we need to get out the particulars of what went
on, not just  to point the fingers of blame, but also to bring individuals
to justice that need to be brought to justice and also to point out a
pattern.

Listen, the word genocide came from a Polish jurist named Raphael Lemkin
in 1944. It comes from "genos which means race in Greek and "cide" or the
killing of, which is Latin. The UN has subsequently differentiated
"ethnocide" where a group is progressively destroyed, but there may not be
an intention to destroy that group as a group. An example is warfare, like
in Bosnia let's say, where one group is at war with another group and gets
wiped out, but supposedly the intention is not to wipe out these people as
a people. That's called ethnocide. Genocide means that there's a
conscious, deliberate intention, what they call in law mens rea - an
intention to destroy a people as a people. One of the reasons why some
people are opposed to a blanket settlement is that it may gloss over or
not allow us to get to exactly what is going on and whether there is
genocide going on and not just ethnocide. I found it interesting: the
Canadian Prime Minister Jean Cretien said "It looks like the Court has
attributed (he's talking about the BC Supreme Court) to the federal
government some responsibility. If we had responsibility we have to meet
our responsibilities." The Canadian government was summoned to be at this
tribunal, but sent no observer. The
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 Catholic Church was asked to be there, because a lot of the residential
schools were being run by them (UC, Catholic, Methodists, Anglicans, and
there was some mention of Mormons), but they sent no one. Observers from
these churches were asked to be there also. No only to look at what has
happened but to make sure it doesn't happen again. They chose not to send
any observers even though they knew this was an official UN tribunal.
Another quote from Jerry Kelly of the Canadian Conference of Catholic
Bishops: "This is a major threat to every church in the country." "The
potential costs are exceedingly high. I don't really know what's going to
happen. The number of cases have just grown and grown." So the churches
are well aware that there are some serious allegations being made and
they're mounting, but they chose not to send representatives.

DH: The situation is that the churches were subcontractors of the Canadian
government to run schools and they were essentially subcontractors for
genocide.

JC: Well, I wouldn't necessarily use that term "subcontractors" but I
guess that would be proper. Under Canadian law in the case of broken
families it's a matter of law that the children are put into residential
schools. The residential schools are run by the churches. So that gets
into the forced assimilation issue as opposed to choosing to be
assimilated. Under international law if people choose to assimilate with
another group, that's not a crime. But if people are forced to assimilate
into another group, that comes under one of the particulars of genocide.
We heard allegation after allegation of people whose parents put them in
residential schools believing they were under a legal obligation to do so.
We heard allegations that children were beaten for speaking their native
language, being left handed, for practicing traditional rituals or
practices. We heard testimony where children were forced off their
traditional Indian diets and residential school diets designed to be
cheaply provided, heavy and carbohydrates and fat, where you could feed a
lot of people for very little. As a result a lot of them today are
suffering diabetes and kidney failure and other kinds of diseases
associated with diets they were pushed on to in the residential school
system. We heard repeated allegations of sexual abuse, physical abuse,
murder, intimidation when people reported murder, threats of retribution
when reporting murder. We heard allegations of secret graveyards, of
victims who were buried, graveyards of children the products of liaisons
between a priest and children that were disposed of.

DH:  And these horrors were something in the distance past, right? We're
talking about fairly recent events?

JC:  Oh yes, going back to the 30's all the way up to the present. The
allegations we heard go right on up to the present.

DH: And this is not just freelance abuse but part of a pattern amounting
to genocide?

JC: Yes. What we are looking for is whether there is a pattern. Lemkin,
when it wrote his original book on genocide, said that genocide involves
two phases: The first phase is the destruction of a national pattern of
the oppressed group; the second phase is the imposition of a national
pattern of the dominating group. So what we heard were allegations of the
destruction of the national pattern of Indian peoples, meaning diet,
religion, language, culture, family structure, belief systems, moral value
systems - all of it.  Then we also heard that the residential schools were
being used to de-Indianize, and impose the national pattern of the
dominant group - to Christianize them, to de-Indianize them.

DH: Why were they doing these things?

JC: There are various motives involved. One is economic. For example, one
of the cases we heard that was typical was known as the Lot 363 case. This
had to do with traditional native ancestral land on Flores Island which is
off BC, of the Ahousaht  people. This land was expropriated by the UC,
sold in 1953 for about $2,500 to the grandson of a church missionary
despite repeated protests of the Ahousaht elders, and that land was then
sold to McMillian-Blodell  for over $1 million in 1994 - it was very rich
in old-growth timber. So part of the motive had to do with de-Indianizing
children as a way of breaking their connections
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 with their tribes, their nations, but also breaking the connection of the
nations with their ancestral lands, to privatize ancestral lands. The
second motive we heard of course is the usual arrogance of some of the
mainstream religions that, you know, "We are the true church," Our way is
the only way," "These children are savages practicing a savage religion,"
"They represent an affront to the mainstream culture," and so on.

DH: Again, we're talking about the present, not the 19th century?

JC: That's right. It goes on today. We heard allegations, for example, of
just recently very very severe beatings by RCMP and others, and again it
seemed that if you're Indian, you have no protection, no rights, it's just
open season. We heard allegations of public beatings within a context that
probably people from other groups would not suffer the same intensity. We
heard about not only priests and church officials being involved, but
members of the RCMP, allegedly, members of the government.

Narrator: We hear all about NAFTA, the economic borders between the US and
Canada supposedly disappearing rapidly. You told me a case this afternoon
of people who were prosecuted for crossing the border to trade wheat with
other tribe members.

JC:  Yes. Among the Blackfoot people, there are four main tribes, the
Akaina or Blood, the Northern Peigan, the Siksika which are Blackfoot, and
the Southern Peigan or Blackfeet which are in Montana. There was a case of
one person, Harvey Franks  who brought wheat down across the border to
sell to the Blackfeet tribe in Montana (keep in mind that these are all
part of one natural people who existed there long before there was a
Canada or a United States or indeed any kind of border.) He was put on
trial in Alberta for violating the Wheat Export Control Act because in
Canada all wheat is brokered through the Wheat Board. So his argument was
that Blackfoot people are a whole people, that members of one tribe have
every right to sell to fellow Blackfoot, and further that this interfering
with  commerce between tribes of one nation is effectively helping to
promote the destruction of that whole nation. I'm not sure where the case
stands right now, my understanding is that it's in abeyance right not as a
result of protests against it. But this is an example of whereas NAFTA is
supposed to break down borders for free trade, free commerce, here's
someone who just from one tribe of a nation came to sell to his fellow
tribal members and was put on trial for it. I suspect part of the reason
is because of the sovereignty implications of it. In other words, because
we have the Jay Treaty which the US has recognized but Canada doesn't
which calls for free and unmolested travel on both sides of the border
between indigenous people (so many of the nations are divided because of
the border) and in order to keep one nation together and preserve what's
left there has to be free exchange back and forth. This has been
interfered with on both sides of the line.

DH: The border exists at the pleasure of capital and the state.

JC: Indeed. As to the tribunal, we took it very seriously, it was
conducted under tribal law, everybody understands that allegations are not
facts in and of themselves, they may lead to facts, but they're not facts
in and of themselves. I suspect personally that non-Indians got a much
fairer hearing from Indians than Indians have ever received from
non-Indians in their courts.

DH: We're running short on time, but is one of these tribunals planned for
the US?

JC: Yes. It's still in the works right now. This was the first tribunal of
its kind to investigate not human rights in China, in Tiennaman Square or
whatever, but now we're talking about genocide inside our own borders. And
the people who are doing this know how to use that term very carefully. So
what's being planned now is inside the borders of the US because the
Boarding School system, which is equivalent to the residential school
system in Canada, many of the same atrocities and abuses allegedly
occurred in those schools, too. There are so many Indian nations in the US
who have made these kinds of allegations for years and they've never been
investigated. So the next stop will be inside US borders to look at the
same kind of thing.


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Narrator: Has this tribunal been publicized well in Canada, do people know
about it?

JC: What happened was at the tribunal we had people who brought to us how
they had allegedly been threatened inside the tribunal. We had false press
releases sent out telling people to go to another place at another time so
that press wouldn't show up. The government of Canada and members of the
churches refused to show up even though it was a UN tribunal. Right now
I'm sitting on another phony press release saying that findings have
already been made from this tribunal which is not the case. We also saw
during the tribunal numerous examples of attempts to sabotage what was
being done there. So yes, it  was publicized but not as widely as you
might think because there were some forces at work there trying to prevent
it from being fully publicized. Nevertheless it did occur and it was
generally conducted with a great deal of integrity although we did have
some problems internally.

DH:  Any idea of who was doing these disruptions?

JC: I can only speculate, but I suspect it was the people who were being
examined, they would have the greatest motive to do so.

DH:  How would you compare the status of the Indian peoples in the US vs.
those in Canada?

JC:  The fact that something like this could even go on in Canada is
indicative of something. On a formal level, I believe that in terms of
indigenous rights and so on, Canada is probably ahead of the US. On the de
facto level, perhaps that's another question. But I think the Canadian is
probably more "advanced" than our own government in the US in terms of
being willing to consider the possibility that there were some serious
crimes and wrongs that need to be addressed and prevented in the future.
The settlement for $356 million, as much as that may be a blanket
settlement and designed to not deal with the specifics that may be
uncomfortable to deal with, is a heck of a lot farther than what we've
seen here in the US. In capitalist law, if you wrong somebody, you've got
to pay damages. It's the same thing here: some people have been horribly
wronged and until we're honest about ourselves and our own history we're
going to have a real tough time pointing to human rights violations in
China, and Burma and other places, when there's genocide going on right
inside the borders of the US and Canada.








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