Indigenous Notes

elcome to the first edition of the Indian Law Resource Center's e-newsletter, Indigenous Notes. We are pleased to share news about cutting-edge issues and information about our work in the Americas to seek justice for Indigenous peoples.  

This issue our Executive Director, Robert "Tim" Coulter, responds to the proposed congressional apology to Native Peoples with an Op Ed entitled  "A Real Apology Means You Won't Do it Again."  Australia recently made a formal apology to Indigenous peoples, and Canada has promised to apologize to First Nations for Indian residential school abuses.  The trend is encouraging as we work toward implementing the U.N. Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples. 

In Guatemala, we are representing the Maya Q'eqchi' of El Estor, who were forcibly removed from their homelands for mining development. We were successful in winning protective measures through the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights for five indigenous leaders whose lives have been threatened as they defend their communities.  The IACHR held a thematic hearing on March 10th where our attorneys presented arguments in preparation for filing a case.

Like many of you, we were appalled to learn that one in three Native women will be raped in their lifetimes, largely by non-Native men.  This shocking statistic grows out of jurisdictional problems that obstruct prosecution of most rapes in Indian Country. We are working with a broad coalition of Native women's groups who appealed to the United Nations Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination to hold the United States accountable for its role in this national tragedy.  Read CERD's recommendations here.

We encourage our readers to respond to critical issues as they arise, such as the threats to indigenous leaders in El Estor.  Our story on Skye Resources mining development contains information that allows you to express your concern to officials who may be able to help offer them protection.

I hope you will find our newsletter useful and I welcome your responses.  Please feel free to pass it along to others and to send me suggestions about relevant issues.  You may sign up to receive Indigenous Notes by selecting the link at left, or by sending an email to  

Thank you for your interest. We look forward to staying in touch.

Valerie Taliman, Editor
Director of Communications

 Mining forces Maya Q'eqchi' off homelands

 Photo by James A. Rodriguez
                            Photo by James A. Rodriguez

El ESTOR, Guatemala  - Beneath the 17 Maya Q'eqchi' villages that line the shores of Lake de Izabal lie rich deposits of nickel, a metal used to reinforce steel used to construct the world's skyscrapers. (More...)

Burned out:
Hundreds of families were left homeless to make way for a nickel mine.

 Coulter Op-Ed:  A real apology means you won't do it again

Congress is considering an apology to American Indians for the wrongs done by this country -  forced relocation, takings of lands, violating treaties, destruction of sacred sites, and outlawing Native religions and languages, to name a few.  But a real apology means you won't do it again, and there is the problem.      (More...)
 Skye Resources delays El Estor mining

 Photo by James A. Rodriguez
                                Photo by James A. Rodriguez  

EL ESTOR, Guatemala - In response to deteriorating financial markets, Skye Resources of Vancouver, B.C. has suspended development of its nickel mining project. El Estor has been the site of protests by the indigenous Maya Q'eqchi' people in response to repeated incidents of violence against them related to the mining project.        (More...)

Anguish: Armed officers stand guard, preventing families from resisting forced evictions.

 Native women ask U.N. to help stop violence against Native women
                      Photo Courtesy of the Navajo Nation

GENEVA - A delegation of Native women traveled to United Nations headquarters to seek interventions that will spur the United States government to take action to reduce the epidemic of sexual and physical violence against Indian women.  (More...)

Seeking justice
: Navajo First Lady Vikki Shirley asking for U.N. intervention to stop violence against Native women.

  Apology pleases, surprises Indian leaders
by Marga Lincoln

HELENA, Montana - Two American Indian leaders in Montana say they are pleased and surprised at the Senate's actions this week apologizing to American Indians.          (More...)
 Australia apologizes to Indigenous Peoples
CANBERRA, Australia - Kevin Rudd, Australia's newly elected prime minister, recently apologized to its Aboriginal peoples for centuries of racism and oppression they suffered, including the removal of an estimated 100,000 children forcibly taken from their families under racist assimilation policies that finally ended in the 1970s.          (More...) 
 Upcoming Opportunities at the United Nations and Organization of American States

Photo by Valerie Taliman    

International law and legal procedures offer a number of opportunities for creative advocacy that aims to change existing, unjust legal doctrines.  There are two upcoming advocacy opportunities at the United Nations and the Organization of American States: the UN Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues and the OAS Working Group to Prepare the Draft American Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples. (More...)
 International Donors support Indigenous Peoples

QUERETARO, Mexico - Nearly 180 representatives of indigenous nations, NGOs and international funders gathered here recently to share information and to discuss critical issues on human rights, resource exploitation and globalization. Attendees expressed great excitement about the recent adoption of the Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples by the United Nations.         (More...)