The 2022-23 theme for the Oak Institute is Indigenous Rights. Indigenous people and communities reside in every corner of the world, maintaining their livelihood, traditions, and culture on their ancestral lands. Colonialism and the formation of modern nation-state borders have created mass human rights violations for Indigenous peoples and made cultural survival increasingly difficult.
Human rights abuses towards Indigenous communities are extremely prevalent. The activist’s work may focus on exposing violations such as forced assimilation, systemic racism, criminalization of protest, disappearance of Indigenous rights defenders, ecological exploitation, militarization of Indigenous lands. The activist may support efforts against unjust treatment of Indigenous peoples, as well as promote Indigenous sovereignty.
Indigenous People’s Day
Native American Boarding Schools
The United States Interior Department has started, for the first time, identifying burial sites of Native American children who were sent to government funded or backed boarding schools. Acknowledging, documenting and identifying these burial sites can be seen as the US Government working towards giving a voice to the Indigenous people hurt by these programs and helping survivors and families heal.
Following the leak of a majority decision by the United States Supreme Court to overturn Roe v. Wade a landmark 1973 decision that legalized abortion in the United States. States are preparing for abortion law to be deferred to state legislature causing some to rejoice, others to panic, and overall uncertainty for the future of reproductive rights in the US. In general, states are either preparing or passing legislation that is either in favor of protecting abortion rights in their state or in favor of banning abortion anywhere from six weeks to fifteen weeks after conception. In the aftermath of these changes, the largest barrier to obtaining an abortion is likely to be information.
Current National Policy
In the aftermath of numerous mass shootings across the country, bipartisan support on an unprecedented level led to the passing of gun safety legislation through the Senate. Working against the clock as Congress will recess for about a month starting on July 4th, the US Senate has fast tracked the bill and it is expected to quickly clear the House and make its way to President Joe Biden’s desk. The bill, if passed, will expand mental health services, expand background checks, divert funding to help states implement red flag laws, and close a longstanding loophole called the “boyfriend” loophole.
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Following Texas Governor Greg Abbot’s February order to state health agencies, indicating that the administration of gender affirming care should be investigated as a form of “child abuse”, the state of gender affirming treatment for transgender youth remained in limbo. Then, in March the Texas Supreme Court gave the state the ability to investigate guardians of transgender youth for child abuse. However, Texas Judge Jan Soifer has placed a temporary block on state investigation into the families of transgender children who have recieved gender affirming medical care.