P.O. Box 24009 Phoenix AZ 85074
February 2, 1998
UN Special Rapporteur on Religious Intolerance
Mr. Abdelfattah Amor
c/o Center for Human Rights
Indigenous Peoples Section
Dear Special Rapporteur Amor,
It was an honor to receive your delegation at our humble embassy, the NAHUACALLI (House of the Four Directions) and we reiterate in this communication our willingness to work together for the benefit of all humanity under the guiding principles upon which our tradition stands. Our TLAHTOKAN is bound by the archives of honor that were set among stars when the first representatives of the European governments arrived on our shores. They too were received with the smoke of copal, (as you were at NAHUACALLI), with the understanding that the relationship thus initiated between our peoples, cultures, and governments was to be based on mutual respect and reciprocity in recognition of our common humanity.
As Special Rapporteur on Religious Intolerance, during the course of your investigative tour within the US, you have heard and will continue to collect testimony and documentation regarding the institutionalized pattern of practices and policies which perpetuate the destruction of indigenous culture and civilization. Integral to the entire process is an assault upon the land itself, a rape of the MotherEarth which defiles the special and sacred sites of the indigenous traditional peoples who are their caretakers. While the world community quickly is moved to consensus regarding the devastating effects upon humanity of "weapons of mass destruction", the institutionalized intolerance of the US government and society as a whole towards indigenous peoples religious principles and practices is rarely even questioned.
Legal challenges to the destruction of sacred sites and in defense of indigenous ceremonial practices are limited to the parameters of jurisprudence of the US courts, which are alien to the authority of justice of the land, and can only provide a restricted and controlled temporary protection for Indigenous Rights which are inherent and eternal.
As a weapon of destruction, the official and unofficial policy of intolerance towards indigenous religious practice is insidious for the cumulative mass effect over generations which is perpetrated upon indigenous identity and thus destiny and self determination.
In reviewing the history of this policy of discriminatory and criminal treatment, the context of colonialism remains the definitive dynamic for the lack of an impartial evaluation of the issues. The cases presented for your review as Special Rapporteur on Religious Intolerance, describe specific issues of complaint by indigenous nations against the US domains of authority, yet all have in common the issue of identifying the intellectual author of the policies implemented and justified to the national society and world community.
In terms of the Indigenous Peoples of the continent Abya Yala, Itzachitlan [the Americas] what is indicated is the need to expose the philosophical justifications for the continued colonization of our homelands in violation of the principles of the Declaration and other Human Rights standards now accepted by the world's government states. Specifically, we recommend as a point of departure for such an endeavor the elimination of preference in terms of criteria the selection of instruments of evaluation which exclusively are derived from the systems of jurisprudence of the colonizer governments.
Ever since the study by Jose Martinez Cobo on the Problem of Discrimination against Indigenous Populations, the sacred relationship of Indigenous Peoples to the land as Mother Earth and sacred sites specifically have been extensively researched and documented in terms of religious belief systems worthy of respect and recognition on an equal basis by the United Nation member states and their citizens and subjects. Yet in terms of practice and policy, a barrier of resistance remains in place at all levels of the societies of the colonizing nationalities. The Cobo study and your efforts as Special Rapporteur on Religious Intolerance could be seen as investigations along a continuum, but when will the results of 500 years of colonization upon the psychology and practice of the settler states and their members themselves be addressed by the United Nations? This would be especially appropriate for a study of the indigenous issues of religious discrimination and land in the hemisphere of the Americas, since the initiation of colonization and current heirs of the colonial political systems still in place derive their justification from an ethnic religious prejudice that is described mythically as "the Western World".
We of the TLAHTOKAN AZTLAN believe in humanity. We believe in the Spirit of Truth, which resides in Aztlan. We also believe that the Sun of Justice which is dawning for Indigenous Peoples commands that the injustices of the past be exposed and eliminated as forms of oppression and a deformation of our common humanity. It is our desire that through the efforts of your commission as Special Rapporteur, this message serve as a reminder to the organization of government states which you represent, the United Nations. A reawakening as to what should be our relationship as cultures, nations, and Peoples of the Earth must occur for our future generations to achieve true peace with dignity. We of TLAHTOKAN AZTLAN are bound by tradition to uphold our part of the agreement which is transcribed in the smoke of our first encounters. There will be no modification or amendments made to the understanding that we are all human beings and no one Peoples have the right to impose by force a doctrine of superiority over any other.