EAGLE WOMAN FUND IN
Posted: June 02, 2005
by: Editors Report / Indian
© Indian Country Today
June 02, 2005. All Rights Reserved
Nations Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues, now an annual event held
every May in New York City, is an excellent focal point for a spring educational
season or ''teach-out'' on international indigenous peoples.
Native and Ethnic Studies programs and students' groups should seriously
consider the challenge of just such a spring campaign.
The number of serious and informative cases of Native people confronting
various degrees of greedy corruption is quite astounding. As well, excellent
examples of communities doing trend-setting ecological and educational
programs also emerge consistently. The methods and strategies by which
Native peoples are attempting to rebuild and protect their nations are
highly creative and instructive.
Hundreds - sometimes more than 1,000 - of indigenous delegates and allies
come to New York City every year, at sacrificial expense to their communities,
to attend the sessions at the United Nations. Once there, they participate
in the various commemorative dinners and other sponsored side events.
As the seasons progress, more networking, long-term planning and mutual
strategic work becomes possible.
A Declaration of Indigenous Rights, debated now for a generation, continues
to be a tool of convergence for discussion, even though most all nation
states have shied from endorsement, complaining mostly about territorial
demarcations made evident by Native populations, particularly when these
overlap national boundaries.
The difficulty in achieving proper international protections has always
been, of course, expected. The language is debated and parsed and the
promised covenants, always in the future, remain a ball in play in the
forward-moving pelota or lacrosse game that is the U.N.'s indigenous
recognition movement. Nevertheless, the fact of holding permanent U.N.
sessions on indigenous peoples' issues is a tremendous and highly
useful victory by the most accosted and betrayed communities in the American
The May sessions in New York are dictated properly via U.N. bodies after
three decades of sustained and intense work by indigenous delegates and
their allies with U.N. organizations, dignitaries and the many highly-involved
legalistic bodies and committees. The thinking that has guided the sessions
on the indigenous side has been commendable to superb, with an experienced
circle of Native and non-Native non-governmental organizations leading
growing layers of U.N. associates and luminaries, in common, through myriad
commissions and conference cycles of the august international body. This
results in an Indigenous Forum every year at the U.N. This is much to
Native nations big and small, whether economically enabled or destitute,
now come to the U.N. every May. This is a major accomplishment and a tremendous
sacrifice for dozens and dozens of Native peoples' circles of both
professional and traditional leadership. As people meet and traditions
over time are shared by the various cultures, the pressure of difficult
isolation, which has limited and plagued Native nations globally, is broken.
A new potential for communications and thus to be heard, to be understood
in the context of Native kinship nationhood, opens up.
''Poco a poco,''
Anita Menchu, the younger sister of Nobel Peace Prize laureate and Maya
leader Rigoberta Menchu Tum, told the assembled at the Ingrid Washinawatok
El Issa (Flying Eagle Woman) commemoration event. Held at U.N. Plaza,
this event is in the central current of the social cohesion of the many
veteran activists who have strengthened the U.N.'s work. Anita Menchu
offered that ''little by little, we achieve our objectives to
have the voices of indigenous peoples be heard.''
At the Flying Eagle Woman commemoration, just one of several special
events, numerous Native delegates from throughout the Americas attended.
A Lakota Sun Dance staff was held at honor by Chief Joe American Horse,
while a Veterans' Song was offered along with several prayers and
tributes. Many speakers evoked the memory of the transcending and undefeatable
spirit of struggle that was and is Ingrid Washinawatok, and all marveled
at her example as a person whose career mirrored and always fed the international
movement for Indian dignity and cultural/spiritual survival. Katsi Cook,
Mohawk midwife and a mentor of the young Menominee activist, spoke of
''the brilliance that is Ingrid.''
The Ingrid memorial event is always a spiritual highlight to what is a
growing opportunity, once a year, for Indian peoples and the full range
of indigenous peoples to shape and organize a living temporary embassy
to the U.N. in New York City. It is just the opportunity for a growing
international congress and convening of delegations far and wide, and
for boosting the sheer presence of so many indigenous peoples in New York
City. It is an event that should not be so easily ignored by the media.
The North American tribes, particularly the powerful Eastern woodlands
confederacies but without excluding any Native nation, would do well to
help host and engage this U.N. process more vigorously as the hosting
peoples of these lands. This international movement has great leadership
development possibilities, including the engagement of a young tribal
ambassadors program at the U.N.
The universities and high schools that engage themes of international
human rights and development, modernization, American social studies and
indigenous studies should consider listening to the various lectures and
discussions featured during this season that are useful in helping indigenous
peoples' stories to emerge.
Important strategic exchanges can happen at these intense international
events. While the U.N. covenants come slowly and lack teeth, the way leading
to them is filled with potentials and possibilities for networking tribes
and communities to more prominence and more clout in the media and among
institutions of concern.
This hard-gained opportunity for Native peoples to share the spotlight
at the U.N. could be missed if the northern tribes don't engage it
directly and recognize and assist the international delegates, and the
forum itself, during its moment of international attention. Better organization
of sessions that can lead to more effective action in economics and social
life improvements, while financing and contributions to Native communities,
will be crucial in seasons ahead.
© Indian Country Today
June 02, 2005. All Rights Reserved
used with permission