Last year in January, four Native American tribes from Louisiana and one tribe from Alaska filed a complaint to the United Nations alleging that the United States federal government failed to protect their lives, homes and the places where their ancestors are buried.
Later in September, United Nations special rapporteurs responded to the complaint, expressing concern over the effects of the climate crisis, including the recurring disasters caused by the oil and gas industries, and the lack of protection of levee systems on the well-being and displacement of tribal populations. communities.
UN Special Rapporteurs are independent experts tasked with monitoring and reporting on human rights situations.
“We are also extremely concerned that these indigenous peoples are currently at risk of further disasters and displacement,” the response said. “We further express our concern that the government of the United States of America at the federal and state levels appears to have taken action without the inclusion and full participation of affected Indigenous peoples and therefore has failed to provide them with sufficient protection. “
Now, with the 26th United Nations Climate Change Conference in Glasgow, Scotland, October 31-November 12, Tribes are urging President Joe Biden to call on United Nations special rapporteurs on internally displaced persons to investigate the complaint .
An editorial published by tribal chiefs in Louisiana and Alaska highlights the climate crisis that has disproportionately affected Indigenous communities for years, noting that the Arctic ice cap has melted at an unprecedented rate and that Entire communities are excluded from levee protection systems in Louisiana.
“President Biden can formally invite the United Nations Special Rapporteur to investigate and provide an independent report on the consequences of the climate crisis on our lives so that government action meets, meets our needs and ensures that we We were given the resources we need to be resilient in the face of accelerating environmental change, ”the letter said.
The tribes named in the original complaint are the Biloxi-Chitimacha-Choctaw Indian Band of Isle de Jean Charles, the Pointe-au-Chien Indian Tribe, the Grand Caillou and Dulac Band of the Biloxi-Chitimacha Choctaw Tribe with links territorial communities in Terrebonne and Lafourche as well as the Atakapa-Ishak Chawasha tribe from the Indian village of Grand Bayou based in the parish of Plaquemines and the indigenous village of Kivalina in Alaska.
The original complaint alleges that the inaction of the United States threatens the existence of the tribes. In Louisiana, coastal erosion and rising waters have caused the loss of traditional burial sites and ancestral lands, displacing families and traditional ways of life.
“The government of the United States of America would not have helped affected indigenous tribes identify and implement community-led adaptation strategies by failing to allocate resources, provide technical assistance, engage and consult with affected indigenous tribes, thus placing them at existential risk, ”the original complaint read.
Patty Ferguson-Bohnee, a member of the Pointe-au-Chien Indian tribe and director of the Indian Legal Clinic at Arizona State University, plans to attend the second week of the climate conference virtually.
Ferguson-Bohnee also submitted a resolution that was approved at the annual meeting of the National Congress of American Indians (NCAI). The resolution aimed to address a fair response, recovery and reconstruction after Hurricane Ida and other future disasters.
He urges NCAI to support policy solutions that provide more resources to frontline tribal communities, address FEMA inequalities, and support decisions made by tribes based on “changing circumstances, including adaptation. , reconstruction or resettlement ”.
Those who wish to follow the United Nations Conference in Glasgow online can do so at ukcop26.org.