By Staff reports SAN FRANCISCO – On March 7, two longtime indigenous activists, Carrie Dann, Western Shoshone and Manny Pino, Acoma Pueblo, were honored by the International Indian Treaty Council for their lifelong work to protect sacred places. Both received the Human Rights Defenders award during the Indigenous Peoples Struggles to Defend Sacred Places training and symposium at San Francisco State University.
Dann and her sister Mary (now deceased) have been on the forefront to protect the traditional lands of the Western Shoshone for more than 40 years. She has worked diligently through litigation and civil disobedience to defend Western Shoshone lands, treaty rights and sacred places such as Mt. Tenabo from international gold mining corporations, the nuclear industry and the U.S. government. Both the United Nations and the Organization of American States have supported the Western Shoshone struggle and most recently the UN Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination condemned the actions of the U.S.
Pino has worked many years to protect traditional indigenous lands and peoples from the destruction caused by uranium mining and defending sacred places such as Mt. Taylor and the San Francisco Peaks. Uranium mining has had a lasting effect on the indigenous peoples from the southwestern part of the U.S. where mines were opened to aid in the production of the world’s first nuclear weapons. Most of its victims, including Diné (Navajo) and Pueblo miners and their families, were unaware of the dangers of exposure. Pino has played a key role in raising awareness of this issue including the impacts of uranium and other types of mining on sacred sites.
Radley Davis, Pit River Nation, Calif., IITC board member and activist, presented the awards on behalf of the IITC. Opening words by IITC Executive Director Andrea Carmen, Yaqui Nation, affirmed the importance of recognizing and honoring indigenous peoples for their dedication and heroism, as examples for our younger generations of what brave and dedicated individuals can accomplish. The All Nations Drum from Oakland provided an honor song for the recipients, their families and friends.
The awards ceremony closed the daylong training on human rights and protection of sacred sites from mining and other forms of imposed development. The IITC’s “Human Rights and Capacity Building Program” trains indigenous activists to use international standards and mechanisms to defend their human rights and increase direct, effective participation in international fora.