By James M. Craven (Blackfoot Name: Omahkohkiaayo i’poyi)
Member and Named (by Traditional Authorities) Solicitor General, Blackfoot Nation
Genocide and the forces that conduct and benefit from it, often wear many masks and disguises. Often genocide is conducted under such banners and rationales as: “missionary zeal and evangelism”; “making the world safe for democracy”; “alliance and treaty responsibilities”; “cultural diffusion”; “natural and inexorable processes of globalization of market forces and cultures”; “Manifest Destiny”; “Lebensraum”; “Haaretz Israel”; “traditional ethnic rivalries”; and other masks, disguises and rationales are possible. Behind these masks, and underneath these surface rationales, certain economic and non-economic interests, imperatives, power structures, institutions, etc can be shown to be common to almost all forms and cases of genocide—past and present—especially if one defines genocide, as it is defined in international law, in Article II of the 1948 UN Convention on the Punishment and Prevention of the Crime of Genocide.
Some of the common denominators, and real motives and reasons underlying various genocides, as revealed in the internal documents and utterances of those conducting genocide, include: quests for relatively secure and cheap supplies of land, labor, capital and natural resources; imperatives to smash traditional non-market institutions and value systems seen to be potentially antagonistic to market-based interests, imperatives, institutions and value systems; quests for expanding and secure markets and market shares; necessary consequences of social systems engineering campaigns; quests for imperial hegemony; antagonistic and clashing ideologies and paradigms; crushing “external enemies” to forge “domestic unity”; etc.
The Blackfoot People, of whom only about 40,000 or so are left, on the verge of total extinction as a People, still constitute a viable Nation despite being subject to every type of genocidal acts and policies listed in Article II of the 1948 UN Convention on Genocide: a) Killing Members of the Group; b) Causing Serious Bodily and Mental Harm to Members of the Group; c) Deliberately Inflicting Upon the Group Conditions of Life Calculated to Bring About its Physical Destruction in Whole or in Part; d) Imposing Measures Intended to Prevent Births Within the Group; e) Forcibly Transferring Children of the Group to Another Group. And yet the story of the Blackfoot, and the genocidal onslaughts to which we have been subject, are, in many ways, not unique. Indeed we share with many other nations and peoples not only common histories in terms of the forms and methods of genocide to which we have been subject, but we also share in common some of the same genocidal oppressors and systems driven by some of the same economic and non-economic imperatives and interests.
Among Blackfoot, we commonly greet each other with the phrase “Ni kso ko wa” which means “We are all related.” The “We” to which we refer, is not simply a reference to fellow Blackfoot–nor does it even refer to all of humanity; the “We” to which we refer is to all of the creations of the Creator. We recognize, as a matter of our spirituality and our own survival, that all of the elements and forms that make up the totality of creation are connected through some intricate, complex and potentially vulnerable webs, networks and interrelationships. We therefore reject any notion of rank-ordering of various genocides, holocausts or victims—past or present—and we point to Blackfoot sufferings only to link up and show the common denominators with, other genocides and victims and to stand in solidarity with those victims. We plead no special case or unique suffering. We do not speak of only our own Holocaust as we recognize that the rank-ordering of human beings, genocides, holocausts or victims is, itself, one of the major instruments of genocide and genocide cover-up.
I. EXISTENCE, STATUS AND SOVEREIGNTY OF THE BLACKFOOT NATION
Long before there were recognized nations called The United States of America and Canada, and for many years since the genesis and recognition of those nations, Blackfoot People lived as and formed a Whole People and Nation. By any and all criteria under international law that legitimate and mandate recognition of The United States of America and Canada as sovereign nations, Blackfoot People have collectively constituted a “People” and Nation. Specifically, Blackfoot People, historically have possessed, and in the present-day possess:
1) Recognized and Commonly-shared Territory;
2) Recognized and Commonly-shared History, Culture, Spirituality and Language;
3) Recognized and Commonly-shared Legal and Political Institutions, Processes and Traditions;
4) Recognized and Commonly-shared Economic Institutions, Processes and Traditions;
5) Recognized and Commonly-shared Mechanisms and Institutions for Determination of Membership in and Leadership/Composition of the Nation;
6) Recognized and Commonly-shared Ancestors and Ties of Blood–Family, Clan and Tribe;
7) Recognized Capacity to Enter Into Relations with Other Nations;
8) Recognized and Expressed Common Will of Blackfoot Individuals to Live Together in Collectives Forming Whole Societies Greater Than the Sums of the Parts;
9) Close Attachment to Ancestral Lands and their Resources;
10) Self-identification and Identification by Others as Members of a Distinct Nation or Cultural Group;
11) A Recognized and Expressed Desire to Remain Distinct as Blackfoot and not to be assimilated;
As in the case of any Nation, the status and legitimacy of the Blackfoot Nation and the unalienable rights of the Blackfoot Nation and its members to security, peace, prosperity and self-determination do not depend upon any degree or kind of recognition or non-recognition by any other Nation or entity. The objective reality and status (under international law and as a defacto reality) of Blackfoot People as a Nation, and the derivative rights of the Blackfoot Nation to security, peace, prosperity and self-determination, demand–rather than depend upon–recognition, especially by all those Nations seeking or asserting similar recognition (often with less authority) for themselves.
Further, it is established and customary practice, and explicitly codified in international law that no members of one nation can be summarily declared to be members or citizens of another nation without their consent. Blackfoot Peoples and members of the Blackfoot Nation were summarily declared to be “citizens” of the United States of America in 1924 without their consent and were summarily declared to be “citizens” of Canada in 1963 without their consent. Further, it is established and customary practice, and explicitly codified in International law, that no nation or representative government of any nation makes “treaties” with its own citizens; treaties are instruments and agreements between and among sovereign nations.
Prior to the precedents set at the Nuremberg and other International Tribunals, it was thought that “established and customary” practice of international law, and the whole of international law itself, applied only between nations. It was the “customary and established practice” in international law that what governments or parties of nations did or didn’t do to their “own citizens”, or their “own national minorities”, that caused harm to these “citizens” or “national minorities”, was not a matter for or concern of international law. Documents of and research on, the periods during which the U.S. and Canadian Governments summarily declared Blackfoot Peoples to be “citizens” of the United States and Canada without their consent, reveal that one of the clear and stated motives and intent of summary declaration of citizenship was to summarily declare removed–and to remove–certain “national minorities” of the United States and Canada (including Blackfoot People) from any protection, coverage or application of international law or conventions or treaties to which the U.S. and Canada were signatories and were bound–by summarily changing their status to that of “citizens” and thus making their status and treatment an “internal matter” and supposedly not subject to international law; this is in violation of Article 15 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and was done to Indigenous Peoples in many nations during roughly the same periods of history.
Any extent to which any of the core elements of the Blackfoot Nation have been diminished or extinguished as a result of conquest, occupation, and ethnocidal/genocidal policies and practices, does not, and should not, in any way call into question the existence, legitimacy, or fundamental rights to sovereignty and self-determination of the Blackfoot Nation and its members. Were it so, those who sought to eliminate Indigenous Peoples in general, and Blackfoot in particular, would be rewarded for and assisted in the commission of their genocidal crimes against Blackfoot Peoples and International Law.
From the fundamental right of the Blackfoot Nation to survival and self-determination, other facts and conclusions flow inexorably. For example, Canada’s Indian Act, and the Indian Reorganization Act of the U.S., strip recognized Indigenous sovereign nations, such as the Blackfoot Nation, with its recognized right to self-determination, of the power to govern the internal affairs of the Nation and transfer that power to entities of a foreign power (DIA , Minister of Indian Affairs and their “Tribal Council” creations in Canada and the BIA, Department of the Interior and their “Tribal Council” creations of the U.S. Government) thus summarily eliminating the right of self-determination as a prelude to and instrument of elimination of the Nation itself. The paternalistic policies of the Canadian and U.S. Governments purporting to “protect” Indigenous Peoples through a “trustee relationship”, have demonstrably created, and inexorably create, not “protecting powers”, but rather, powers, exploitative relationships and indeed genocidal policies from which Indigenous Peoples need protection through the exercise of the right of self-determination and through international law.
For the above-mentioned and other clear reasons, agencies such as the BIA and DIA, and their creations the “Tribal Councils”, whose policies and actions are all subject to final approval and ratification by the BIA and DIA, can never be recognized as the legitimate leadership and political authority of the Blackfoot Nation. The mechanisms through which the Blackfoot Tribal Councils are selected are non-Blackfoot in nature and in terms of the “final authority” conducting and sanctioning them. Indeed historically and in the present, corrupt Tribal Councils (not an indictment of every person serving or who has served on a Tribal Council) have been selected, used and run by the Canadian and U.S. governments as key instruments of genocide. It would therefore be absurd, and inherently illogical, to suppose that only those same Tribal Councils could have the authority and standing to bring charges against those who have committed crimes against the Blackfoot Nation—crimes in which they were often intimately involved as co-conspirators and key instruments of genocide.
In his opening address to the Nuremberg Tribunal, Chief Prosecutor, Justice Robert Jackson noted:
Never before in legal history has an effort been made to bring within the scope of a single litigation the developments of a decade, covering a whole continent, and involving a score of nations, countless individuals, and innumerable events…Unfortunately, the nature of these crimes is such that both prosecution and judgment must be by victor nations over vanquished foes [but] we must never forget that the record on which we judge these defendants today is the record on which history will judge us tomorrow. To pass these defendants a poisoned chalice is to put it to our own lips as well. We must summon such detachment and intellectual integrity to our task that this trial will commend itself to posterity as fulfilling humanity’s aspirations to do justice. (Nuremberg transcript)
The findings, arguments and judgments of the Nuremberg and later International Tribunals and Conventions clearly established, and incorporated into the corpus of evolving international law, that:
1) Universal jurisdiction exists with respect to crimes against humanity and genocide (no nation can claim immunity from international law or a “sovereign right” to conduct crimes against humanity and genocide against persons living under the control of that nation);
2) No nation may legally arrogate the “sovereign right” to selectively and conveniently meet or not meet the terms of legitimate treaties or international conventions it has ratified and accepted; nor may any nation summarily assert primacy of national law over international law, treaties or conventions in the event of conflicts between national laws and policies and international laws;
3) Even when certain crimes against humanity and genocidal acts against persons and groups have been traditionally practiced and accepted by members of dominant exploiting groups, and even in the absence of certain explicit laws prohibiting such crimes, established principles against retroactivity or ex-post-facto prosecution and punishment (punishing someone for violating laws that did not exist when the crime was committed on the basis the person (s) had no warning that they were culpable for their conduct) may not preclude prosecution and punishments in present circumstances when it can be shown, that alleged perpetrators violated established and customary practices, sensibilities, laws and principles that nations commonly recognized, asserted and obeyed for themselves for their own protection;
4) Individuals and organizations may be held to be criminal and culpable and prosecuted/punished even when acting as agents of broader governmental entities and policies, and, the argument of “only following orders” would no longer be acceptable;
5) Mens rea, intentions, motives and interests may be inferred and considered “proved” on the basis of the highly probable, clearly foreseeable (by an average and reasonable prudent person) or inexorable consequences of given actions or policies even in the absence of witnesses to or recordings of specific utterances or documents explicitly detailing mens rea, intentions, motives and interests;
6) Common plans to wage aggressive wars (crimes against peace), war crimes or crimes against humanity constitute criminal conspiracies and are in violation of international law and established treaties to which the U.S. and Canada were bound even before Nuremberg;
7) Waging aggressive wars and barbaric practices against other nations or groups within a nation constitute “Crimes Against Peace” and “Crimes Against Humanity” in violation of international law and treaties existing even before Nuremberg and to which the U.S. and Canada were bound;
8) Even in all-out war there are limits in terms of outlawed barbaric practices and outlawed targets of those practices that constitute “War Crimes” and “Crimes Against Humanity”;
9) Any “designated authorities”, collaborators or “contrived institutions” placed in control by occupiers over the occupied victims of crimes and aid in the commission of crimes (–e.g. Vichy Government in France during World War II) by those being prosecuted, are also criminal and can never be held to be or recognized as the legitimate and representative authorities and institutions of those seeking prosecution of and punishment for any crimes or violations of international law;
10) Citizens of a given nation are also citizens of a World Community, and since reckless, genocidal and aggressive crimes, policies and actions by parties of one nation have spillover effects on the World Community, and since no one is free and all are threatened when anyone is oppressed, all human beings of the World Community have both the unalienable right and sacred duty to sit in judgment of (and attempt to stop) genocidal and other criminal acts and policies by or against any members of that World Community;
11) Racial stereotyping and caricatures, racial policies objectively create environments that make genocide and crimes against humanity more likely and easier to conduct and accept, and are themselves crimes, even without a specific nexus between a specific policy or polemics on the one hand and the death of specific persons on the other hand;
The governments of Canada (represented by the British government) and the United States were both participants (as prosecutors and sitting in judgment) at the Nuremberg Tribunals. In his opening address, the U.S. Prosecutor, Justice Robert Jackson noted:
The privilege of opening the first trial in history for crimes against the peace of the world imposes a grave responsibility. The wrongs, which we seek to condemn and punish, have been so calculated, so malignant, and so devastating that civilization cannot tolerate their being ignored, because it cannot survive their being repeated. That four great nations flushed with victory and stung with injury, stay the hand of vengeance and voluntarily submit their captives to the judgment of the law is one of the most significant tributes that Power has even paid to reason.
There was more than grotesque irony and hypocrisy in this statement. The architect (Hitler) of many of the very crimes and policies committed by the Nazis and their collaborators for which they were being tried at Nuremberg, had been directly “inspired” (possible scopes, methods, rationales and techniques for gaining mass acceptance of genocide) by aspects of U.S. and Canadian histories, policies and actions related to Indigenous Peoples. According to James Pool in his “Hitler and His Secret Partners”:
Hitler drew another example of mass murder from American history. Since his youth he had been obsessed with the Wild West stories of Karl May. He viewed the fighting between cowboys and Indians in racial terms. In many of his speeches he referred with admiration to the victory of the white race in settling the American continent and driving out the inferior peoples, the Indians. With great fascination he listened to stories, which some of his associates who had been in America told him about the massacres of the Indians by the U.S. Calvary.
He was very interested in the way the Indian population had rapidly declined due to epidemics and starvation when the United States government forced them to live on the reservations. He thought the American government’s forced migrations of the Indians over great distances to barren reservation land were a deliberate policy of extermination. Just how much Hitler took from the American example of the destruction of the Indian nations his hard to say; however, frightening parallels can be drawn. For some time Hitler considered deporting the Jews to a large ‘reservation’ in the Lubin area where their numbers would be reduced through starvation and disease. (p. 273-274).
The next morning Hitler’s ‘plan’ was put in writing and sent out to the German occupation authorities as ‘The Fuehrer’s Guidelines for the Government of the Eastern Territories: ‘ the Slavs are to work for us. Insofar as we don’t need them, they may die. Therefore compulsory vaccination and German health services are superfluous. The fertility of the Slavs is undesirable. They may use contraceptives and practice abortion, the more the better. Education is dangerous. It is sufficient… if they can count up to a hundred. At best an education is admissible which produces useful servants for us. Every educated person is a future enemy. Religion we leave to them as a means of diversion. As to food, they are not to get more than necessary. We are the masters, we come first.’
Always contemptuous of the Russians, Hitler said: ‘For them the word ‘liberty’ means the right to wash only on feast-days. If we arrive bringing soft soap, we’ll obtain no sympathy…There’s only one duty: to Germanize this country by the immigration of Germans, and to look upon the natives as Redskins.’ Having been a devoted reader of Karl May’s books on the American West as a youth, Hitler frequently referred to the Russians as ‘Redskins’. He saw a parallel between his effort to conquer and colonize land in Russia with the conquest of the American West by the white man and the subjugation of the Indians or ‘Redskins’. ‘I don’t see why’, he said, ‘a German who eats a piece of bread should torment himself with the idea that the soil that produces this bread has been won by the sword. When we eat from Canada, we don’t think about the despoiled Indians.” (James Pool, Ibid, pp. 254-255)
And from a speech by Heinrich Himmler (date not given):
I consider that in dealing with members of a foreign country, especially some Slav nationality…in such a mixture of peoples there will always be some racially good types. Therefore I think that it is our duty to take their children with us, to remove them from their environment, if necessary, by robbing or stealing them… (Telford Taylor “Anatomy of the Nuremberg Trials”, Alfred A Knopf, N.Y. 1992, p. 203)
And from John Toland, preeminent biographer of Adolf Hitler:
Hitler’s concept of concentration camps as well as the practicality of genocide owed much, so he claimed, to his studies of English and United States history. He admired the camps for Boer prisoners in South Africa And for the Indians in the Wild West; and often praised to his inner circle the efficiency of America’s extermination—by starvation and uneven combat—of the ‘Red Savages’ who could not be tamed by captivity.” (John Toland, “Adolf Hitler” Vol II, p 802, Doubleday & Co, 1976)
Scholars such as Charles Higham, Christopher Simpson, John Loftus, Mark Aarons and others have thoroughly documented that the U.S. and British Governments that prosecuted and sat in judgment at Nuremberg and at other war crimes trials of Japanese war criminals, and certain companies of the U.S. and Britain (over 300 U.S. companies traded with the enemy throughout World War II), were actively complicit in some of the crimes of the Nazi and Japanese fascists through various economic and political relationships that continued throughout the war between U.S. and British Governments and companies and German and Japanese Governments and companies. These scholars have also documented that many of the wanted war criminals of Germany and Japan were sheltered, employed, placed in post-war political positions and aided in escape by the U.S. and British Governments that prosecuted and sat in judgment of other Japanese and German war criminals. Despite the myriad and naked forms of hypocrisy and duplicity on the part of the U.S. and British Governments at Nuremberg and at other war crimes trials, the precedents and judgments they set were nonetheless valid and incorporated into international law.
Many of the genocidal practices and policies for which German and Japanese fascists were put on trial and punished at Nuremberg and other International Military Tribunals, along with the real motives and interests behind those practices and policies, were inspired by and directly paralleled, U.S. and Canadian histories, policies and practices (past and present) with respect to Indigenous Peoples in general and Blackfoot People in particular. Specifically, and not limited to:
1) forced relocations and transfers of Indigenous children and adults;
2) coerced/deceptive sterilizations of Indigenous children and adults;
3) coerced and deceptive uses of Indigenous children and adults for medical experimentation;
4) coerced and deceptive uses of “blood-quantum” criteria and categories to establish categories of “status” (versus non-recognized and “non-status”) Indians specifically designed and intended to define Indigenous Peoples (and eliminate the “persistent Indian problem” ) out of existence;
5) arrogating to summarily eliminate traditional Indigenous institutions and ways of determining Indigenous leadership (Chiefs) and membership/composition of Indigenous Nations and replacing those traditional Indigenous institutions and ways with non-Indigenous organizations, entities, mechanisms and criteria designed to impose compliant and collaborationist/sell-out agents of the non-Indigenous forces intent on policies and practices defined as “genocide” under Article II of the 1948 UN Convention on Genocide;
6) outright thefts and takings of traditional Indigenous lands and resources and making and summarily breaking treaties constructed and imposed through unconscionable relationships, threats, fraud, deception etc;
7) designating and using Indigenous Reserves/Reservations as dump sites for highly toxic wastes and causing a wide range of diseases and disease trends that served as instruments of genocide;
8) calculated uses of various instruments of chemical and biological warfare designed to exterminate large populations of Indigenous Peoples;
9) practicing and/or knowing about and/or tolerating and/or covering-up and/or being willfully blind to: routine murder, sexual and physical abuse, mind control, torture, illegal confinement, starvation, unsanitary conditions, deleterious non-Indigenous diets, abductions, illegal “adoptions”, forced assimilation into non-Indigenous cultures, denial of basic due process, coerced abortions and forced religious conversions in Residential and Boarding Schools and other institutions;
10) establishing and/or knowing about and/or tolerating and/or covering-up and/or being willfully blind to corrupt Government-sanctioned “Tribal” authorities, institutions, policies and practices that resulted in losses/misappropriations of billions of dollars of desperately-needed and owed Nation/Tribal resources
11) Systematic refusal to ratify and apply various precedents, Conventions and principles of international law as they relate to Indigenous Peoples.
The U.S. Government and the Canadian Government (represented by the British Government) were major forces in initiating and conducting the International Military Tribunals at Nuremberg; and those Tribunals were a major force in the origination and content of the 1948 UN Convention on Genocide. Yet the U.S. Government did not ratify the UN Convention on Genocide until 1988, forty years after the original UN Convention on Genocide. Further, the U.S. government summarily placed a “restriction” on its ratification of the UN Convention on Genocide known as the “Lugar-Helms-Hatch Sovereignty Package” which stated in Article I (2):
Nothing in the Convention requires or authorizes legislation or other action by The United States of America prohibited by the Constitution of the United States as interpreted by the United States.
This is a clear violation of Article 27 of the 1969 Vienna Convention on the Law of Treaties (recognized by the U.S. Supreme Court as the definitive international law on treaties) as it is in violation of Article VI, Section 2 of the U.S. Constitution itself:
[Treaties are] the supreme law of the land and the judges in every State shall be bound thereby, anything in the Constitution or laws of any State to the contrary notwithstanding.
Documents of the U.S. Government reveal clearly consciousness of guilt on the part of the Government and its agencies. Debates in the U.S. Senate reveal that there was a general awareness of and fear that the U.S. Government could/would be charged with genocide and related acts for historical and present-day policies and actions related to African-Americans and American Indians.
The Government of Canada was even more ingenuous in its attempts to appear to ratify the 1948 UN Convention on Genocide while effectively obstructing its recognition and application. The government of Canada put the crime of genocide in the criminal code of Canada as a crime. However, of the five specific acts mentioned as constituting genocide in Article II of the UN Convention on Genocide, three were deleted from the definition of genocide in the Canadian criminal code. So from Article II of the Genocide Convention, b) “Causing serious bodily or mental harm to members of the group”, and d) “Imposing measures intended to prevent births within the group” and e) “Forcibly transferring children of the group to another group” were deliberately not included in the Canadian criminal code definition of the crime of genocide. Only a) [deliberate] killing members of the group, and part of c) an intentional plan to “bring about the physical destruction the group in whole or in part” were retained. The clear intent was to make the definition of “intent” very narrow and the proving of mens rea or intent next to impossible–and therefore prosecution next to impossible to pursue. Indeed there has been only one case of anyone being charged with the Canadian Criminal Code’s “genocide” and that resulted in an acquittal.
For these and other clearly calculated machinations on the part of the Canadian and U.S. Governments and some of their agencies, they are also in violation of the following articles of the United Nations Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide:
The contracting parties confirm that genocide, whether committed in time of peace or in time of war, is a crime under international law for which they undertake to prevent and to punish.
The following acts shall be punishable:Genocide;Conspiracy to commit genocide;Direct and public incitement to commit genocide;Attempt to commit genocide;Complicity in genocide;
Persons committing genocide or any of the other acts enumerated in Article III shall be punished, whether they are constitutionally responsible rulers, public officials or private individuals.
The Contracting parties undertake to enact, in accordance with their respective Constitutions, the necessary legislation to give effect to the provisions of the present Convention, and, in particular, to provide effective penalties for persons guilty of genocide or any of the other acts enumerated in Article III
Persons charged with genocide or any other acts enumerated in Article III shall be tried by a competent tribunal of the State in the territory of which the act was committed, or by such international penal tribunal as may have jurisdiction with respect to those Contracting Parties which shall have accepted its jurisdiction.
Genocide and the other acts enumerated in Article III shall not be considered as political crimes for the purpose of extradition. The Contracting Parties pledge themselves in such cases to grant extradition In accordance with their laws and treaties in force.
Any Contracting Party may call upon the competent organs of the United Nations to take such action under the Charter of the United Nations as they consider appropriate for the prevention and suppression of acts of genocide or any of the other acts enumerated in Article III.
Disputes between the Contracting Parties relating to the interpretation, application or fulfillment of the present Convention, including those relating to the responsibility of a State for genocide or for any of the other acts enumerated in Article III, shall be submitted to the International Court of Justice at the request of any of the parties to the dispute.
The Governments of the United States of America and Canada have refused to recognize, and have sought to exterminate, the traditional elements, authorities and institutions of the Blackfoot Nation and replace them with collaborationist elements and institutions that would/could never charge those Governments of crimes against international law or with crimes against their own laws even if they were so inclined and the evidence mandated such charges.
Not only have the genocidal onslaughts against Blackfoot in particular, and Indigenous Peoples in general, paralleled those of the Nazis, they directly informed and shaped the policies, techniques and rationales of the Nazis. For example, The Alberta Sterilization Law of 1928, used extensively against Blackfoot and other Indigenous nations, was the exact model used and cited by the Nazis in their own “eugenics” and sterilization laws. Under the Alberta Sterilization Law of 1928, twenty-five percent of the victims were First Nations Peoples who constituted only 2.5 percent of the total Alberta population. (“War Against the Weak: Eugenics and America’s Campaign to Create a Master Race” by Edwin Black, Four Walls, Eight Windows Press, N.Y. 2003, p. 242) These sterilization laws, that defined Natives as inherently and per se “feeble-minded”, were later passed in British Columbia in 1933 (same time as the first Nazi sterilization laws) and in 27 of the 48 States of the United States of America.
The reasons for the sterilization laws, particularly in the case of First Nations Peoples, were clearly related partly—and primarily—to policies and intentions to eliminate First Nations as Nations and Peoples in order to break their just claims (even in capitalist terms) to ancestral, and resource-rich lands and to legally codify the thefts and forced acquisitions of those lands and resources. Under capitalism, any property not acquired and/or not legally titled and owned in accordance with the core values and institutions of private property and the requisite social capital of capitalism, is either vulnerable to being deemed not legally taken and held, and thus is vulnerable to being returned to the legal owner, and/or, such illegal “takings” potentially undermine and expose the potential hypocrisy and arbitrary applications of those same private property values and institutions central to the social capital of capitalism. This is one of the primary reasons why colonizers, particularly those driven by capitalist imperatives, employ treaties, coerced sales and other legal/commercial devices—along with genocidal methods: to attempt to legitimate and make “legal” (in their own terms) that which was clearly illegally taken and held (in their own terms). In other words, some of the private property institutions, laws and values that are central to the social capital of capitalism may well wind up potentially undermining and indicting some of the very property they are commonly employed and purported to protect and legitimate.
Although some genocides have been conducted by regimes and forces calling themselves socialist and communist, the vast majority of genocides past and present have been conducted by regimes and forces nominally pro-capitalist. Capitalism, like any social system, requires certain core institutions, power structures, values, traditions, relationships and organizing principles (social capital) for its continued operation and expanded reproduction. In the past and present, colonialists recognized that many of the elements of the “social capital” of Indigenous societies (traditional values, relationships, etc) were not only fundamentally inconsistent with the core elements of the social capital of market-based societies, they were seen to be antagonistic and even an indictment of the elements of the social capital of capitalism and capitalism itself.
For example, in many traditional societies, there is the sacred practice of “Potlatch” or “Give Aways” (Blackfoot) in which prized personal possessions are given away. These ceremonies are designed to teach the transience of any material possessions, not to become a slave to personal possessions, community spirit, compassion and that happiness of others is more important than individualistic and selfish desires and possessions. These traditional values are decidedly not consistent with market-based economies that are commonly based upon—often celebrated in elements of their social capital–greed, selfishness, ultra-individualism, competition, materialism, acquisitiveness, narcissism and the logic of profits-for-power-and-power-for-profits. That the conflicting core values, relationships and institutions of traditional Indigenous societies were in direct conflict with—and could not co-exist with–those of market-based societies was seen early on in U.S. and Canadian histories. For example:
DEPARTMENT OF THE INTERIOR
Office of Indian Affairs-Washington
Supplement to Circular No. 1665 February 14, 1923
At a conference in October, 1922, of the missionaries of the several religious denominations represented in the Sioux country, the following recommendations were adopted and have been courteously submitted to this office:
1. That the Indian form of gambling[sic] and lottery known as the “ituranpi” (translated “Give Away”) be prohibited.
2. That the Indian dances be limited to one in each month in the daylight hours of one day in the midweek, and at one center in each district; the months of March and April, June, July, and August be excepted.
3. That none take part in the dances or be present who are under 50 years of age.
4. That a careful propaganda be undertaken to educate public opinion against the dance and to provide a healthy substitute.
5. That there be close cooperation between the Government employees and the missionaries in those matters which affect the moral welfare of Indians.
…After a conscientious study of the dance situation in his jurisdiction, the efforts of every superintendent must persistently encourage and emphasize the Indian’s attention to these political, useful, thrifty, and orderly activities that are indispensable to his well-being and that underlie the preservation of his race in the midst of complex and highly competitive conditions. The instinct of individual enterprise and devotion to the posterity and elevation of family life should in some way be made paramount in every Indian household to the exclusion of idleness, waste of time at frequent gatherings of whatever nature, and the neglect of physical resources upon which depend food, clothings, shelter, and the very beginnings of progress.(Ni-Kso-Ko-Wa: Blackfoot Spirituality, Traditions, Values and Beliefs, Long Standing Bear Chief, Spirit Talk Press, Browning, 1992, pp. 8-9)
The infamous Indian Boarding Schools in the U.S. and Residential Schools in Canada, which ran on the slogans “Kill the Indian to Save the Child”, were about more than creating a pool of unskilled and semi-skilled cheap labor for capitalist-based divisions of labor. These schools were also about “de-Indianization” of the children as a method of de-Indianization (and forced assimilation) of whole Indian communities. And they were definitely about all-out assaults against traditional Indigenous institutions, values, relationships, spirituality and any other aspects of Indigenous societies that did not fit in with—or perhaps more importantly challenged—the essential elements of the requisite social capital of capitalism itself.
The long history of barbaric, criminal and genocidal activities committed by the Governments of the United States and Canada and their accomplices, against Indigenous Peoples in general and Blackfoot People in particular, continues today. Every attempt to expose, stop and obtain redress for various criminal activities through the institutions of the perpetrators has been met with more denial, cover-up and repression. Further, attempts to establish a World Court or International Criminal Court free of the biases and influences of the perpetrators of crimes against Indigenous Peoples have been obstructed by those very perpetrators.
The Blackfoot Nation and People are on the verge of extinction. Victims of and witnesses to the various charged crimes are dying. Blackfoot People individually and collectively cannot wait for the formation of an International Criminal Court (blocked by the U.S. Government) to hear Blackfoot charges against the Governments of the U.S and Canada and other named parties. The Blackfoot and People cannot wait for the U.S. and Canadian Governments to allow charges to be heard by the ICJ at The Hague. The Blackfoot Nation and People Blackfoot cannot wait for the traditional authorities, institutions and self-determination of the Blackfoot Nation to be recognized and respected by the very Governments of the U.S. and Canada intent on elimination of the Blackfoot Nation and People and their self-determination. The Blackfoot Nation and People cannot wait for the U.S. and Canadian Governments to “decertify” and de-recognize their puppet and complicit entities (Tribal Councils, BIA and DIA) and to recognize the traditional authorities and institutions of the Blackfoot Nation that are certified and legitimated by the recognized right of and international law governing self-determination of the Blackfoot Nation and People.
The competent, legal and traditional authorities of the Blackfoot Nation propose that ultimate authority and power is truth, reason, law and evidence. Power pays no real ‘tribute to reason’ when the conquerors put on trial—rather than summarily executing or jailing without due process—the conquered. Power pays only a ‘tribute to reason’ and law when the powerful submit to the very laws, standards, precedents and morality to which they purport to hold others and to which the powerful purport to be bound–by their own words and deeds.
Finally, on the question of the amount of time that has lapsed since some or many of these alleged crimes have been committed (and we allege that many of the crimes continue in various forms today), we note that it is widely recognized in international law that there is no “statute of limitations” on gross violations of human rights (Article 1, “Convention on the Non-Applicability of Statutory Limitations on War Crimes and Crimes Against Humanity”, Nov. 26, 1968 see “A Comprehensive Handbook of the United Nations”, Vol. II, 1979) Also, under the U.S. Document “The Third Restatement of the Foreign Relations Law of the United States (Section 702):
“A state violates international law if, as a matter of State policy, it practices, encourages or condones: a) genocide; b) slavery or slave trade…g) a consistent pattern of gross violations of internationally recognized human rights”