Remarks by the President at the White House Tribal Nations Conference
The aspirations it affirms--including the respect for the institutions and rich cultures of Native peoples--are one we must always seek to fulfill. And we’re releasing a more detailed statement about U.S. support for the declaration and our ongoing work in Indian Country. But I want to be clear: What matters far more than words--what matters far more than any resolution or declaration-–are actions to match those words. And that’s what this conference is about. That’s what this conference is about. That’s the standard I expect my administration to be held to.
UN Declaration Sets New Agenda for US-Indian Relations
By Robert T. Coulter
The United States is the last of the four countries that voted against the UN Declaration in the UN to reverse its position. This endorsement reflects the worldwide acceptance of indigenous peoples and our governments as a permanent part of the world community and the countries where we live. The Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples is the most significant development in international human rights law in decades. International human rights law now recognizes the rights of indigenous peoples as peoples, including rights of self-determination, property, and culture.
Here's what'll happen next:
Obama adopts U.N. manifesto on rights of indigenous peoples
By Valerie Richardson
Before signing, Canada hedged its support by adding that the declaration would be endorsed "in a manner fully consistent with Canada's Constitution and laws," a caveat that was included over the objections of that country's tribal leaders.
The State Department is expected to issue details on the signing that could include similar conditions.
"We're holding our breath to see what the State Department releases," said Kenneth Deer, secretary of the Mohawk Nation at Kahnawke in Canada. "We're hoping it's not as mean-spirited as Canada's. That [document] was couched in very restrictive terms, and I don't know how many times it said 'nonbinding.'"
Unlike most of the Natives who cheered this announcement, I sneered at it. Some of my snarky comments:
Just curious: Instead of saying he'll support the UN declaration, why didn't Obama just sign it then and there?
When asked why he didn't sign it two years ago, since nothing has changed since then, Obama said, "No particular reason. I just didn't get around to it until now."
Obama said actions matter more than words. Translation: Don't count on our limited "support" for the words in the UN declaration to satisfy you. If you do, you'll probably be disappointed.
Heck, "lends its support" could mean the US will "honor" the UN declaration whenever it's convenient without signing it. By definition, "lending" is qualified and impermanent. There's really no reason to be impressed until Obama specifies what his weaselly words mean.
For more on the subject, see Canada Signs UN Declaration and Obama Should Sign UN Declaration.
Below: "President Barack Obama meets with tribal leaders in the Roosevelt Room of the White House, December 15, 2010."
That's Tex G. Hall--chairman of the Mandan, Hidatsa, and Arikara Nation: Three Affiliated Tribes--in the headdress. Although he has a right to wear it--unlike most people--it seems strange to wear it in a business meeting. Maybe save it for ceremonial occasions?