Group seeks sovereignty for Alaska and Hawaii
GENEVA » A group claiming to represent native Hawaiians and Alaskans says it is appealing for U.N. support to pressure the United States into granting indigenous peoples in Alaska and Hawaii full rights as independent states because the occupation of their lands is against international law.
Indigenous World Association, which represents groups from both Alaska and Hawaii, has submitted reports to the U.N. Human Rights Committee, the first step in a process that could end in the General Assembly or even with the appointment of special investigators to examine the situation.
"We are independent and occupied peoples," Indigenous World Association spokesman Ronald Barnes said Thursday. "Neither Alaska nor Hawaii has ever ceded these powers."
Indigenous World Association, an umbrella group which has for the first time brought together tribes from Alaska and Hawaii, claims that indigenous lands in both states were illegally occupied. They say they are being taxed but get no representation in return and point out that it is against one of the founding principles of the United States.
The Human Rights Committee has sent a list of questions to Washington and will examine U.S. officials at its next session, in Geneva in July.
These include a request to detail which U.S. law allows authorities to contravene established tribal property rights, and also to explain how federal laws apply to indigenous tribes.
"Anybody who has property that belongs to them, in their right mind, is going to say, 'Please don't take my property,'" Barnes said. "Domestic federal Indian law is repugnant to international law."
U.S. officials were not immediately able to comment.