The Unanimous Declaration of Independence of The Chiricahua Apache Nde Nation
May 14, 2007,
When in the course of history it becomes necessary for one people to shuffle off their status as a domestic dependency and to assume among other nations the separate and equal station to which positive laws and the laws of nature and of Nature’s God entitle them, a decent respect to the opinions of humanity requires that they should declare the causes which impel them to the separation.
We the people hold these truths to be self-evident: that all people, Indian and non-Indian, are created equal by the Creator, that they are endowed by the Creator with certain unalienable rights, and that among these are life, liberty, property, and culture. To secure these rights, Governments are instituted, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, and whenever any form of government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the right as well as the duty of the people to alter or to abolish it, or to modify their relationship to it in order to establish a new government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form as to them shall seem most likely to effect their safety and to preserve their national identity.
The desire for peace requires that claims of sovereignty long established should not be modified or challenged for light and transient causes. But the need for justice is even greater, and when a long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariably the same object, evinces a design to reduce a people and maintain them under conditions of dependency, poverty, and cultural deprivation, it is their right, it is their duty, to modify their relationship to such a government and to provide new institutions for their future security, prosperity, and cultural integrity. Such has been the patient sufferance of the Apache Nde Nation for more than two centuries, and such is now the necessity which constrains them to alter their relationship to the United States. The history of U.S. treatment of the Apache Nde Nation is a history of repeated injuries and usurpations, all directed to the depopulation and expropriation of Apache Nde lands and the destruction of Apache Nde government and culture. To prove this, let facts be submitted to a candid world:
III. Bill of Particulars
The U.S. has employed the legal fiction of “discovery” to claim ultimate title to the lands granted us by the Creator, which range from southeastern Arizona near present-day Nogales and then north and east into New Mexico to the vicinity of present-day Los Lunas and then south to the vicinity of present-day El Paso and then west to the vicinity of Nogales.
The U.S. has imposed alien rule and colonies throughout our lands by way of aggressive and genocidal wars, and now maintains settlers upon our lands without our consent while denying us the power of jurisdiction over them.
The U.S. has repeatedly effected the involuntary resettlement of Chiricahua Apache people and the division and dispersion of the Apache Nde Nation to deprive us of our rights to political, economic, and cultural association, and to further injure us in the possession of our ancestral lands.
The U.S., without trial or judicial process, incarcerated our ancestors and deliberately subjected them to starvation and diseases to further reduce our population, and continues to deny any legal responsibility to provide a remedy.
The U.S. has taken Chiricahua Apache children away from their families for the express purpose of alienating future generations from their ancestors and thereby eroding the culture and political integrity of the Apache Nde Nation.
The U.S. has unlawfully claimed the plenary power to legislate for us in all cases whatsoever and has impose its laws upon the Apache Nde Nation, a sovereign people, against our will and in contravention of international law.
The U.S. has interfered with the exercise of our independent and natural political powers to make those laws which we deem wholesome and necessary for the good of the Apache Nde Nation.
The U.S. has used a system known as “federal Indian law” as a weapon to facilitate and ratify centuries of military and judicial assaults on the sovereignty of the Apache Nde Nation, and to foreclose remedies for its misconduct.
The U.S. has disrupted and prohibited the trade of the Apache Nde Nation with our ancestral trading partners across the North and Central American continent.
The U.S. has imposed taxes upon us without our consent.
The U.S. has plundered our lands for their natural resources and taken from future generations their material and spiritual patrimony.
IV. Ndeh Independence
For each of these oppressions the Apache Nde Nation has petitioned for redress only to be denied a remedy. This causes us great pain, for at its best, and despite its imperfections, the U.S. is an exceptional and decent nation. We seek peace and prosperity together with all people and all nations, and many of us are citizens of the United States even as we are members of the Apache Nde Nation. Accordingly, even now if the U.S. were to acknowledge, recognize responsibility for, and repair the gross injustices suffered by the Apache Nde Nation, the Apache Nde Nation stands willing to grant forgiveness. The U.S. and the Apache Nde Nation can build a relationship that advances on the basis of a recognition of, and respect for, mutual sovereignties, with disputes resolved not by coercion and domination but by negotiation and harmonization, and by the full flowering of justice and prosperity of both peoples. A new era of just peace and brotherhood can and should follow.
Until then, however, we must conclude, therefore, as the author of the U.S. Declaration of Independence, Thomas Jefferson, did so powerfully more than two centuries ago, that we are obliged to hold the U.S., “as we hold the rest of mankind, enemies in war, in peace friends.”
We, therefore, the Representatives of the Apache Nde Nation, in Council, appealing to Ussen to make pure our aims and powerful our actions, in the name, and by authority of, the people of the Apache Nde Nation, solemnly publish and declare that the Apache Nde Nation, which consists of a population, a territory, a government, and the capacity to enter into international relations, is and of right ought to be a free, independent, and sovereign nation. And for the support of this Declaration, with a firm reliance on the protection of Ussen, we mutually pledge to each other our lives, our fortunes and our sacred honor.
STATEMENT OF PRINCIPLES: APACHE NDE NATION
(1) Indian nations, including the Apache Nde Nation, are fully sovereign, co-equal members of the international legal system that predate the settler-state erected around them. As a consequence they are entitled to exercise sovereignty unbounded by the discretion of the states within which they have been subsumed and unlimited by any power or ideology on earth save for the fundamental norms of international law that restrict the sovereign prerogatives of all states through the operation of human rights regimes and humanitarian legal instruments.
(2) Indian nations, including the Apache Nde Nation, enjoy the natural right to be left in peace to enjoy the freedom with which they had been endowed by nature, and they are impressed with the corresponding universal duty to respect the territorial integrity and political independence of all other law-abiding nations.
(3) Any theory of international law that embraces the primacy of the contemporary
system of states to the injury of indigenous prior sovereigns, and in particular the legal authority of the U.S. over the affairs of Indian nations within, thereby contravenes the natural legal rights of Indian nations.
(4) Federal Indian law, an applied positivist theory of international law territorially
limited by the boundaries of the U.S. and designed to facilitate and ratify centuries of military and judicial assaults on indigenous sovereignty, has degenerated so far from its naturalist roots as to merit the brand of an evil legal system.
(5) As a matter of international law, Indian nations’ sovereignty predates and trumps the
sovereignty of the settler-state that now asserts power over them notwithstanding the contrary pronouncements of the legislature or courts of their conqueror. Accordingly, recognition of the full international legal personality of Indian tribes requires simply the restoration of natural legal rights that predate the modern states-system rather than a contemporary creation of international law or a delegation of power from other states.
(6) Indian sovereignty, as a natural legal entitlement, cannot be divested save for in a
overt, voluntary, and mutually agreed-upon manner consistent with natural international legal principles, such as by a treaty procured without fraud or duress. Forcible deprivation of Indian sovereignty, as well as judicial pronouncements of implied divestiture, are ineffective as a matter of domestic and international law.
(7) As a logical consequence of the premise that Indian nations possess and are entitled to
the unimpeded exercise and enjoyment of their sovereignty and full international legal
personality, nearly every law made by Congress and nearly every case decided by the Supreme Court over the last two centuries seeking to impose or sanctioning the imposition of power of Indians is merely an exercise of power and not law.
(8) The United States has international legal duties to rescind and repudiate laws and
judicial opinions purporting to impede the recognition and free exercise of Indian sovereignty and to recognize Indian nations as sovereigns. For the breach of these duties, Indian nations, including the Apache Nde Nation, are entitled to a remedy.
(9) Should the United States refuse to voluntarily renounce its unilateral claims to govern
Indian Country without the consent of the governed, secession and the declaration of formal legal and political independence is a lawful option for those Indian nations that will elect it.
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