An effort to open up land in Wyoming’s northwest is coming to a head as the U.N. human rights council votes to uphold the case brought by Native Americans and other groups.
The vote Tuesday by the International Human Rights Committee (IHRC) comes a week after a panel of the United Nations’ human rights committee upheld the constitutionality of a plan by the state of Wyoming to purchase land in a community known as the Village Inn.
The decision by the U,N.
commission, which has been criticized by indigenous activists, said it was “an essential step to prevent the displacement and dispossession of communities in the area.”
“In a case like this, where land is at stake, there is a clear and overriding obligation to protect and safeguard the rights of Indigenous Peoples to their land,” the commission wrote in its decision.
“If the commission is to be able to take action on this case, it must also be able on the basis of its own analysis to determine the legal and practical challenges it will face in exercising its jurisdiction,” the resolution states.
“It is essential that the commission consider the impacts of its decision, and it must take into account the views of indigenous communities, their rights and obligations, and the international community’s recognition of their rights.”
A coalition of indigenous groups, including the Lakota, Nuu-Chah-Nulth and Haudenosaunee tribes, has long argued that tribal land in their territories is not theirs and that they have no legal rights.
The U.H.C. is the U-N’s human rights body, which enforces the convention.
The resolution says the IHRC has “been unable to assess the impact of the resolution, which would have a major impact on the status of the matter.”
The vote, which was initially scheduled for Friday, was postponed by an hour to accommodate the panel’s decision.
The United Nations Human Rights Council, the main body of the world’s 193-member body, has not made a decision on the Wyoming land deal in nearly four years.
It was last voted on in 2013.
The tribe’s attorneys said they expected the vote would uphold the tribal ownership and land claim in a bid to protect the land.
The tribal community of the Village in Haudensauk, Wyoming, is owned by the Sioux Nation.
The tribe has lived on the land since the 1859-1865 Indian Wars, when the Uintah, Cheyenne and Chickasaw tribes invaded.
In a lawsuit filed in 2011, the tribes argued that the federal government failed to protect them from the invasion and has violated the federal Indian Gaming Act and other laws.
The case was the first to challenge the UGC, which allows the federal Bureau of Indian Affairs to acquire tribal land for economic development projects.
The Native American lawsuit, filed in 2015, argued that land ownership rights should be recognized and enforced by the federal courts.
The tribes said the UMC did not enforce tribal ownership rights and that the tribal government failed in its duty to protect tribal interests.