The Hill reports that Representative Tulsi Gabbard (D) Hawaii is Trump's pick for Secretary of State. Gabbard was a strong supporter of #Bernie Sanders in the Democratic Primary, and a strong critic of #Hillary Clinton's military interventionist neoliberal foreign policy. As progressives breathe a sigh of relief at #Donald Trump's reach across the aisle, Gabbard's appointment could also be of great significance to indigenous peoples.
In 2010 President Obama signed the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (UNDRIP). One would not know it considering Obama's apathy and inaction on the Police Brutality daily committed against water protectors guarding their legally recognized treaty territory from the threat of the Dakota Access pipeline. How is this possible? Canada, Australia, New Zealand, and the US were the last four states to sign UNDRIP. Known as the “CANZUS” group, it is no surprise that these settler colonial states stood in opposition to indigenous rights.
Immediately after President Obama signed UNDRIP, the US State Department set about creating a series of peremptory domestic legal norms to weaken the Declaration, and prevent its legal implementation in the domestic law and policy of the US. It was clear that the corporate, neoliberal elite who propelled Obama into office had no intention of allowing the implementation of UNDRIP. Indigenous peoples must therefore approach Representative Gabbard to demand the immediate implementation of UNDRIP at all levels of US domestic law and policy affecting indigenous peoples.
Gabbard's indigenous heritage
Gabbard is herself indigenous, she is of Samoan descent. The Samoans are among the many indigenous peoples who have come under the colonial domination of the US. Gabbard, as a Representative for Hawaii, is also likely familiar with the continuing struggle for Kanaka Maoli (Native Hawaiian) self-determination. The Kingdom of Hawaii was illegally annexed to the US by the British in 1893 (the British never had control of the sovereign Hawaiian Kingdom). After the First and Second World Wars global colonial powers were required to begin a decolonization program under the new international legal regime.
Gabbard stands with Standing Rock
Former colonial territories were to be given a vote in an internationally supervised plebiscite in which they could choose from three political options; 1) indepedence, 2) free association, or 3) integration with the former colonial power. The US held an illegal plebiscite under domestic US law, which illegally allowed colonial settlers to vote (only the colonized people were supposed to vote, i.e. the Native Hawaiians). Hawaii was illegally taken off the international list of non self-governing territories and became a US state. Kanaka Maoli people continue to assert their political independence through the international legal system. We do have at least one positive indication that Gabbard supports indigenous self-determination. According to some reports on social media Gabbard plans to join a self-deployment of US military veterans to Standing Rock scheduled for December 4th, the day before the so-called “eviction notice” issued to water protectors by US Army Corps Col. Henderson.
Gabbard must implement UNDRIP
We have already seen that former Secretary of State Clinton wielded enormous power. Unfortunately, she used that power toward the furtherance of imperialistic aims of the neoliberal global elite. Gabbard's strong non-interventionist stance could change all that. More importantly, she could use the office of Secretary of State to reverse the illegal peremptory norms instituted under Obama's presidency, and help to implement the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples at all levels of government. If this happens, projects like Dakota Access will be impossible. Stand with Standing Rock by encouraging Gabbard to implement UNDRIP as Secretary of State.