This year the meeting is on August 5 and 6. Last year we went to the 'celebration' but were not impressed with the one way sales pitch that was made to us. It was on Aug 7 and 8 1997 on a hot summer day. CASNP sent three people (Kahn-Tineta, Kay and Peter). It was held at the UN Plaza in central Manhattan. Drumming and speeches could be heard from Indigenous peoples from Ghana, Onondaga, the Philippines, Pine Ridge, California, South America, Zaire and other far off places.
After the opening, we sat down in a basement conference room where some minor UN reps talked AT us for hours. Every so often they would stop and ask for 5 questions, none of which were answered. One Equadorean got so made he jumped up and demanded an answer but received none and almost got thrown out.
Elijah Harper, Canadian government icon, was there, seated at the head table and acting as one of the minor reps, a position he used to promote his Sacred Assembly, where he declared that "this land does not belong to the Indigenous people, it belongs to everyone and we are to share it".
Afterwards everyone was invited to a dinner in a church hall across the street. After that we talked again. Following this, there was a reception in the court yeard across the street. Bill Richardson, the American Ambassador, flew in at the last minute and was asked some pointed questions. Rather than answer, he posed for a few photos and left.
The UN does not want to touch the indigenous sovereignty issue. If they did, the nation states would have to concede that Indigenous sovereignty was illegally violated.
Sooooo... this year we are going back in full force to show that we exist, that we are here to stay and that they better start noticing the world's land and resource owners. If you want to go, you have to put your name on the list by sending a fax by July 30th to 212-963-4097 or phone 212-963-5930. It starts on Aug. 5 with an opening and a panel dialogue with indigenous and UN reps. On Aug. 6 there is a human rights training workshop facilitated by indigenous and UN reps. See you there.
For more on last year's (1997) doings, read on.
Elijah Harper was on the opening panel where he announced that he was a World Council of Indigenous People special advisor who had been appointed to help re-orgnaize the organization.
Ray Apodaca of the Indian Law Resource Centre said that he was relatively new and that he was there as a replacement and didn't have too much to say. But he did say, "Too often states have made land right issues complex. State policies and laws are full of legal facades in order to cover th theft of their land and resources. In the 1996 The ILRC proposed a study to the Working Group on land and resources. "We have to asset our nationhood and support each other, not let them define us".
Tony Gonzales of the International indian Treaty Council mentioned Deskahe the Cayuga who went to Geneva in the 1920's to apply for Six Nations to enter the League of Nations. He almost did not when the Canadian Government sent in the Royal Canadian Mounted Police in 1924 to the Council House and threw the Iroquois Confederacy Chiefs out and replaced them with the government band council. "We have a pre-existing right before any colonial force that came to our shores. Neither time nor oppression can extinquish these rights". This has been brought to the UN's attention recently by Richard Hill of Six Nations.
With globalization and international trade agreements countries are looking into their own sovereignty and owership of resources. Many Indigenous people still live in these areas. More bio-piracy will be happening resulting in cultural and ethnic wars, and our people will be caught in the middle. We should be setting up alliances and networking to help each other.
The first steps to advance the Indigenous Peoples' agenda within the UN system started in 1977 but there is still no mechanism in the UN for Indigenous People to participate in decision-making, even though there are 250 million Indigenous people worldwide (comparatively, nearly 4500 of 6,000 world languages are Indigenous of which 2,500 are in immediate danger of extinction).
Doug Anderson of the Tuscarora Nation mentioned that Canada has no constitution and that the US took its form from the Haudenosaunnee (Iroquois Confederacy constitution). "Treaties are the supreme law of the land. We are not to pay taxes. We have passports. Yet on our own land we are not allowed to pursue economic stability. Everytime we try to become self-sufficient, we are stopped, arrested and beaten. I think the Haudenosaunnee should oversee the UN itself."
John Kane, Mohawk Nation, "The NGO concept is an attempt to get to the Indigenous People to bypass the government. If this is so, the approach should be to go to recognized traditional Indian governments. Will the B.I.A. decide who the representatives will be on these permanent boards being set up by the UN?"
Ross John, Seneca Nation, asked, "What do these trade agreement with our nations mean? Is it international trade, nation to nation? Will it be manipulated by large businesses and certain nations? If so, all the dollars will go back to international organizations".
Kakwirakeron, Mohawk nation, asked, "Does the international community and the UN define who a nation is? Or is it only the US and Canada who make the definition so that we shall be continually referred to by other states as an 'internal problem'? This is intolerable".
Deni Leonard, concerned about economic, civil and political rights. A vehicle is needed to resolve issues such as taxation and compacts with the states instead of being set up by the B.I.A. He has a draft paper with the process to develop a system.
Arvol Looking Horse of South Dakota spoke of the Black Hills and their importance to this people. He is a 19th generation keeper of the sacred bundle.
Kahn-Tineta Horn, President of the Canadian Alliance in Solidarity with the Native Peoples, said, "So far, it's a monologue. No one answers our questions. There should be a dialogue, not a scramble for attention. We are nations. Yesterday I said this was lip service, meaning that you will listen, waste our time and money. Our lives will go by and the big white nation states who run things don't have to listen. Who are we talking to anyway? Obviously, not to anyone in a position who will take responsbiility for what they say. A structure is needed with a process where we can make decisions that become legal".
Kahn-Tineta Horn, President CASNP
Canadian Alliance in Solidarity with the Native Peoples
427 Bloor St. W., Toronto Ont. Canada M5S 1X7
WWW: http://www.pathcom.com/~casnp and http://www.cyberglobe.net/users/otsira
In Kahnawake Mohawk Territory:
P.O. Box 991, Mohawk Territory (Quebec, Canada) J0L 1B0