Roxanne Dunbar Ortiz – Indians of the Americas. Human Rights and Self-determination

Roxanne Dunbar Ortiz
Indians of the Americas.
Human Rights and Self-determination
Paperback 314 pages
ISBN 90-6265-153-4
Zed Press Londen / In de Knipscheer
Eerste uitgave 1984

Concerned with American Indian self-determination, this book proposes that international human rights and the international political system are the means whereby the political aspects of Indian self-determination in the Americas – both North and South – must be achieved.

The first half of the book deals with the legal and political status of Indian peoples, that is, self-determination and human rights in law and principle; the second half comprises two case studies, one on Indians in the United States, the other on the Miskitu natrion in revolutionary Nicaragua.

The author – herself both a professional historian and an American Indian activist – shows that, what in the 1970s became known as ‘the new Indian wars’ – the growing attacks on Indians by repressive regimes, along with their dispossession as a result of the activities of transnational corporations – did not simply begin again in that decade but, along with Indian resistance, had never ceases since 1492. The distinguishing feature of the 1970s was that Indians abandoned their defensive and purely local struggles, and took tot the political offensive, this time on a world stage. No longer victims, they became fighters, allied with other indigenous peoples in a struggle for survival – aware that defeat would probably mean an end to Indian civilization in the Americas.

Roxanne Dunbar Ortiz’ book is not only about this entrance of Indians to the world scene and the long overdue opening of the debate on the Indian question; her book also constitutes an integral part of this process, written as it is by one of the participants.

Roxanne Dunbar Ortiz is Associate Professor in American Indian and Ethnic Studies at Californië State University. She is the author of four previous books including: The Great Sioux Nation: Oral History of the Sioux-United States Treaty and Roots of Resistance: History of Land Tenure in New Mexico. She edits Indigenous World?El Mundo Indigena, the international documentation bulletin. And she has been active also at the international level in the struggle for indigenous rights, being one of the organizers of the 1977 and 1981 NGO Conferences on Indigenous Peoples held at the UN in Geneva. She received a Diploma in het International and Comparative Law of Human Rights at the International Institute of Human Rights in Strasbourg in 1983.