International Day of the World's Indigenous Peoples - 8/9, SF
The 13th commemoration of the International Day of the World’s Indigenous Peoples will be on Thursday, 9 August 2007 at UN Plaza on Market Street in San Francisco, beginning at 10:30 am with sacred sage and tobacco offerings, honor song and dance organized by the American Indian Movement (AIM West Coast), and non-governmental organizations (NGO’s).
The United Nations General Assembly in 1993 resolution 48/163 of 21 December 1993, proclaimed “The International Decade for the World’s Indigenous People” (1994-2004) with the goal of strengthening international cooperation for the solution of problems faced by Indigenous Peoples in such areas as human rights, the environment, development, education and health. The General Assembly, welcoming the recommendation of the Working Group on Indigenous Populations of the Sub-Commission on Prevention of Discrimination and Protection of Minorities of the Commission on Human Rights that the International Day be observed every year on 9 August, that date being the anniversary of the first day of the meeting of the Working Group in 1982.
It also considered bearing in mind the internationally agreed development goals, including those contained in the United Nations Millennium Declaration and the program of action proclaimed for the Second Decade of the World’s Indigenous People (2005-2014) in resolution 59/174 of December 2004, which are linked and together bring actions to improve the standard of living of Indigenous Peoples. The General Assembly adopted the Second Decade theme of “Agenda for life”.
These are the first steps in mapping the route of human rights achievements in the international arena for Indigenous Peoples, and from where many Indigenous leaders and elders, some who are no longer with us, began to chart a course to navigate western bureaucracy and traditional Indigenous communities for the future of the coming generations. After more than 500 years of persecution on our homelands, disrespected and dislocated, Indigenous peoples have began to dialogue and develop standards toward understanding our cultures and way of life since time immemorial. Although many of our elders are no longer with us their contribution of wisdom and vision for a balanced and harmonious world view challenges us to make reality inclusive of traditional peoples to complete the family of nations. The UN is not complete until the Red Man of the western hemisphere is included.
At the present time leaders of the world’s 370 million Indigenous Peoples are reiterating their calls for the 192-member U.N. General Assembly to recognize their sovereignty over ancestral lands and resources. After nearly three decades of international activism within the halls of the UN, governments and Indigenous peoples carved together forty-six articles to form the draft “Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples”. It already was approved by the newly reformed Human Rights Council in June 2006 and the proposed Declaration was due to be adopted by the General Assembly last year, but due to fierce objections from certain countries it was set aside for further negotiations. In addition to the USA, the countries that refused to endorse the Declaration includes Canada, New Zealand, Australia, Columbia, Russia, Surinam, Guyana and a few African nations led by Namibia.
Those unwilling to sign on to the Declaration have expressed strong reservations about parts of the text calling for recognition of the Indigenous Peoples’ right to self-determination and control over their natural resources. Those in opposition describe the draft Declaration as “fundamentally flawed” and thus have refused to accept the Indigenous representatives’ assertion that their people have the right to self-determination. “Nature conservation is at the heart of the cultures and values of traditional societies” according to Ahmed Djoghlaf, Executive Secretary of the U.N. Convention on Biodiversity. The link between biodiversity and traditional knowledge is evident.” Indigenous leaders hope that despite opposition from a handful of countries, a vast majority of member states in the U.N. General Assembly would vote for the adoption of the Declaration before the end of the 61st session in mid-September this year.
There will be statements delivered on behalf of the Governments of Bolivia and Venezuela, the San Francisco Human Rights Commission and Indigenous speakers representing the sacred four directions of Mother Earth. There is planned a full day of events commemorating Indigenous Peoples Day. In the afternoon beginning at 2 pm at New College of California, 777 Valencia Street, a film “On the Road with Evo!” and with introductory statements by our guests from Bolivia and Venezuela. At 3 pm a Forum on Indigenous Issues of the Day and “Networking and Protecting the Rights of Indigenous Peoples and Local Communities”. There will be a Reception at 5p.m. with light food and refreshments in honor of our distinguished guests and hosted by Dennis Banks, co-founder of the AIM, and AIM Minister of Culture and recording artist, actor, Floyd Red Crow Westerman. Cultural performances by Francisco Herrera, and Drummers, Singers, and Dancers. (Bring food to share, a donation of $10 is requested).
Finally, at the Roxie Theater (16th Street between Valencia and Guerrero) starting at 7 pm with M.C. Floyd Red Crow, and film at 7:30 “Cocalero” by Alejandro Landes, about Indigenous peoples rise to power in Bolivia. Winner of the Sundance Film Festival, Social Justice Award, 2007. ($10 donation at the door, limited sits!!).
The Media and Public is invited. For more information call: 818-636-7578 or 415-577-1492.