The United States of America has been the beacon of freedom of democracy to the world’s suffering masses for 100 years, but since September 2001 US democracy has persistently declined. Fear and emotional trauma resulting from the recognition that US territory is no longer immune to violent attack caused otherwise freedom and liberty loving US citizens to embrace guns, prisons, government secrecy, military interventions, secret surveillance of everyone (via video cameras, telephone tapping), searching and seizure without court orders, and governing by obstruction and corruption. Open government and civil freedom have long been the hallmarks of liberal democracy. Democratic government in the US gave hope world wide that freedom and fairness in society would inspire peoples throughout the world. The US has bent to the exercise of authoritarianism and plutocracy undermining civil discourse and the expansion of human freedoms.
Indigenous peoples in the US and all over the world are at considerable risk now that powerful states like the US oppose indigenous peoples’ right to self-determination and the free right of self-government. (Yes, I know, the US finally endorsed the UN Declaration of the Rights of Indigenous Peoples four years after it opposed that set of principles in 2007, but you will recall that this support is based on a “reservation:” The US will define the choices for American Indians, not American Indians.) The US government under George H W Bush, William Clinton, George W Bush and now Barak Obama has intensified US government opposition to state policies recognizing indigenous peoples’ right to free, prior and informed consent on matters that directly affect their peace, security, and prosperity.
When the US government becomes less committed to advancing democracy peoples all around the world suffer. US policy unleashes authoritarian governance permitting widely used state military power to control indigenous peoples…denying them their freedoms. Fear has replaced the embrace of freedom closing the space for dialogue and comity. Brute force replaces the open hand. Such an environment can only lead to greater violence in the world.
The effort of indigenous peoples to engage states’ governments on matters of constructive cooperation and collaboration can only be undermined when states like the US turn away in fear and suspicion. Indigenous peoples’ freedom can only be squelched by the growing state authoritarianism.
The library is dedicated to the memory of Secwepemc Chief George Manuel (1921-1989), to the nations of the Fourth World and to the elders and generations to come.access here