On Sept. 13th, the United Nations General Assembly approved the U.N. Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples. It has taken over 20 years for the passage of a declaration outlining the minimum floor of human rights for indigenous peoples around the globe. Four nation-states opposed adoption of the Declaration: United States, Canada, Australia and New Zealand. It is no surprise to tribal nations in the United States that the supposed advocate for human rights around the world continues to oppose basic protections for those native to this land and other lands. Even with this opposition, the overwhelming majority of U.N. members (143) voted in favor of these basic protections to provide guidance around the globe.
Article 31 of the declaration states that indigenous peoples have the right to control and protect their cultural traditions and expressions including in sports. As an alumnus of the University of North Dakota School of Law, I am still deeply offended by the continued exploitation of my people, the Sisseton-Wahpeton Dakota Oyate, commonly referred to as the ''Sioux'' by non-Natives. Not only is this offense a continuing educational barrier that should be removed to serve the educational needs of Native peoples in the area, but now it is a violation of the basic human rights principles of indigenous peoples recognized around the world.
May 2008 will mark the 10th year since my graduation from UND and in 2008 we will see the 60th anniversary for the Universal Declaration on Human Rights. With the addition of the Sept. 13 passage of the U.N. Declaration on Rights of Indigenous Peoples, isn't it about time that the major public university in the state of North Dakota stop violating Native human rights with the use of the offensive ''Sioux'' mascot and start joining in the worldwide movement to accord Native peoples with the basic dignities of life that all other populations are entitled to?
- Angelique EagleWoman
(Wambdi A. WasteWin)UND Law Class of 1998Lawrence, Kan.