by Levi Rickert, editor-in-chief in Native Condition. Comment »
On December 16, 2010 the United States became the last English-speaking nation to lend its support of the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples. The announcement came was made during the White House Tribal Nations Conference.
The United States, along with Australia, Canada and New Zealand, voted no on approving the declaration in September 2007 when it was passed overwhelmingly by the United Nations. Since that time the other three nations approved their support for the declaration.
Bimaadiziwin High School Closing Protest
The document recognizes the rights of the world’s 370 million indigenous populations, affirming their rights to maintain their cultures, institutions and spiritual traditions. Further, it seeks to provide guidelines to battle discrimination and eliminate human rights violations. The Obama administration feels the United States commitment will strengthen government-to-government relationships with federally recognized tribes.
“The aspirations it affirms, including the respect for the institutions and rich cultures of native peoples are ones we must always seek to fulfill,”
President Obama said of the declaration on December 16.
“But I want to be clear, what matters far more than words, what matters far more than any resolutions or any declaration, actions to match those words, ”
the president continued.
Briefly, I think it is a seat at the table we have wrongly been denied for years, commented Larry Romanelli, tribal ogema of the Little River Band of Ottawa Indians, based in Michigan.
Sadly, the mainstream media paid little attention to this momentous occasion.
“Unfortunately, many in the media just don’t have the understanding of the Declaration because it is a too complicated of a subject for them to handle, ”
states Kay Givens McGowan, a Choctaw, who spent time participating in the crafting of the document.
The fact the Obama administration changed its position on behalf of the United States government is total reversal of the Bush’s administration and represents a brighter chapter for the country according to McGowan.
“Unlike other parts of the world, the US seems to do everything it can to ignore native issues, ”
commented Philip Arnold, assistant professor of religion at Syracuse University, who specializes in American Indian traditions of the Americas with special emphasis on contact between Europeans and pre-Columbian Mesoamerican civilizations and Iroquois traditions.
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