Sunday, August 27, 2017

AILA: Denunciation of Presidential Pardon of Ex-sheriff Arpaio

American Indian Law Alliance
NGO in consultative status with the Economic & Social Council

August 27, 2017

The American Indian Law Alliance denounces the United States President Donald Trump's recent pardon of Joe Arpaio, former sheriff of Maricopa County in Arizona. This despicable act by Trump sends an unequivocal message to "white nationalists" across the United States and around the world which may further incite violent acts of racism against Indigenous Peoples. Joe Arpaio was recently found guilty of criminal contempt for disregarding a US Federal court order in a racial-profiling case.

Such a pardon for a police agent of the state of Arizona who has been found guilty of using the powers of the office of Sheriff of the County of Maricopa to conduct a “War of Attrition” against the most vulnerable members of the community in Arizona, disguised as “immigration enforcement”, is absurd, shocking and a threat to international peace.

Trump's approval of these illegal tactics designed to harass, terrorize and dehumanize people of color, clearly shows his seal of approval and full participation in institutional racism. This mentality of superiority stems from the Doctrine of Discovery that continues to perpetuate the sentiments behind the idea of 'making America great again.' In reality, the scenario that emanates from the Trump presidency is not about 'making America great again' but rather about re-making America in the image and to the service of the “white” elites - yet this land of the Great Turtle Island was never “white man’s land” to begin with. 

The pardon of Arpaio by President Trump closes off the hope for any domestic remedies for seeking justice and accountability for the human rights abuses perpetrated by Arpaio and the system which he constructed as sheriff over twenty years, a system which remains in place under a new administration.

In reports from our relatives of the O’otham Jevedga, Traditional Territories of the O’otham Nations where Arpaio has his political base, we know that the Human Rights abuses and violations of the Rights of our Indigenous Peoples continue unabated and even grows in hatefulness and intensity. That the agencies of the state are complicit in this evil machination that deforms our common humanity is unacceptable. It is a continuation in our time of the Doctrine of Discovery (October 12,1492) upgraded to adapt the doctrine of “white supremacy” to an age where the “white American” populations have become a numeral minority in the very states of colonization that they created.  Arizona itself is a state that was created upon the foundation of “Racial Animus” by the Anglo-Americans whose arrival in the territory came in open warfare on the Original Nations of Indigenous Peoples.

Recognizing these historical facts, we support the call for an International Tribunal of Justice to address the issues of violations of Civil Rights, Human Rights, and Indigenous Rights in the territories of the O’otham Jevedga, Traditional Territories of the O’otham Nations in the Spirit of World Peace.

We support the call to the International Community by our relatives of the Indigenous Peoples of Mexico living in the O’odham Jevedga to investigate the pardon of Arpaio as violation of the Peace established in 1848 by the Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo between the US and Mexico which ended the US initiated war on Mexico, a war driven by the lust for territorial expansion of the US under the racist regime of Manifest Destiny (1845).

We support the call that when such an International Tribunal of Justice is to be established and the historical evidence is compiled to prosecute the violations of Civil Rights, Human Rights, and Indigenous Rights in the O’odham Jevedga territories, such proceeding will not be prejudiced by the Doctrine of Discovery, which has been inscribed in US law under the 1823 Supreme Court Johnson v. M’Intosh decision which has been denounced, repudiated and dismantled as a concept.

We recommend, as an initial point of reference for an International Tribunal of Justice, the intervention titled In Imiuh Tenamaxtle by AILA Founder and then President Tonya Gonnella Frichner (Onondaga Nation), before the United Nations Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues (2012). This intervention is a Report of the Indigenous Peoples Forum on the Doctrine of Discovery, held at the Arizona State Capitol on March 12, 2012 and can serve to begin the process towards a collective path of justice and peace for all.

We support the call for an International Tribunal of Justice to address these issues due to the need to move forward together as the surviving Indigenous Confederations of Peace of humanity to meet the threats to our collective survival as the global chaos of climate change unfolds. Without social justice as a norm, with the recognition and respect for the full and equal human rights of Indigenous Peoples, there will be no real hope for achieving climate justice either in our lifetimes or the future generations. 

It is telling that Trump would make this announcement regarding the pardon of Arpaio while those he governs braced for a category 4 hurricane along the Texas coast. The powers of nature will not be denied, yet it is not innate in human nature to be racist or “white” for that matter. These are cultural concepts that breed insecurity and fear, which inevitably lead to violence in all its forms, including state sanctioned violence disguised as law, such as the AZ SB1070.

Many of those whom are were falsely labeled as “illegal immigrants" under the policies of Arpaio and Trump are Indigenous Peoples whose histories as Original Nations in the O’otham Jevedga are thousands of years in the making. These Original Nations of Indigenous Peoples are our relatives, their existence, like ours, as cultures and nations precedes the history of the states and the international borders imposed upon their territories without the Free, Prior, and Informed Consent of the Indigenous Peoples as is mandated by the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (2007).

The situation is similar for us as Haudenosaunee, whose rights as Original Nations of the Great Turtle Island are systematically violated when we are prevented from freely passing, working and enjoying life on our traditional lands, whether on the Canadian or US side of the international border between these states in the north.

Sadly, it is no surprise to witness that the sentiments of racism are being touted from the highest office of the US. The Haudenosaunee were present in 1776 in Philadelphia at the birth of the USA when they broke ties as colonies of England to become a federation of American States. It is a historical tragedy still being played out today that the US was built on racism, white supremacy, and the divisions of class and race, built on the illegal colonization of stolen lands and through the enslavement of Indigenous and Black Peoples.

We are reminded of the words of the Tadodaho of the Haudenosaunee, 
"Why does one man's freedom have to come at the expense of another?"
There are qualities which Haudenosaunee women look for in a leader. The women of the Haudenosaunee are responsible for the selection of our leadership, we watch our boys as they grow to find qualities such as strength (not bullying), honor, integrity, the ability to take care of a Clan family, kindness, pride (not arrogance), and being humble. We are disappointed that this same level of care is not taken when vetting leaders of the US.


This preliminary study establishes that the Doctrine of Discovery has been institutionalized in law and policy, on national and international levels, and lies at the root of the violations of indigenous peoples’ human rights, both individual and collective. This has resulted in State claims to and the mass appropriation of the lands, territories and resources of indigenous peoples. Both the Doctrine of Discovery and a holistic structure that we term the Framework of Dominance have resulted in centuries of virtually unlimited resource extraction from the traditional territories of indigenous peoples. This, in turn, has resulted in the dispossession and impoverishment of indigenous peoples, and the host of problems that they face today on a daily basis.