Opening the full day of events in New York were representatives of the local Iroquois Nations followed by a message from Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, which noted that “the international community has grown increasingly aware of the need to support indigenous people -- by establishing and promoting international standards; vigilantly upholding respect for their human rights; integrating the international development agenda, including the Millennium Development Goals, in policies, programmes and country-level projects; and reinforcing indigenous peoples’ special stewardship on issues related to the environment and climate change.”
In relation to the promotion of international standards and human rights, a number of official statements issued on the International Day made direct reference to the Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, as adopted by the UN Human Rights Council in June 2006. The Declaration is currently being considered for adoption by the General Assembly.
In a message from the Chairperson of the UN Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues, Victoria Tauli-Corpuz stated that “The imminent adoption by the General Assembly of the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples could well be a major step towards eliminating the widespread human rights violations suffered by Indigenous people worldwide.”
Tauli-Corpuz continued strongly appealing to all the member-states of the United Nations to adopt the Declaration before the 61st Session ends in September 17, 2007. She noted that the Declaration was the “result of more than three decades of indigenous peoples’ engagement with the United Nations” and that it is a “moral imperative” for States to adopt it to “seriously address more than 500 years of injustice and oppression suffered by indigenous peoples.”
The themes of peace and unity were also highlighted throughout commemorative program. Addressing these themes a group of over 50 indigenous youth organized via the “Spirit of the Youth: Unity Run” made an overnight journey by foot from upstate New York to the United Nations to deliver historic declarations, which highlighted various community concerns. The youth also expressed their full support for the adoption of the Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples.
A sacred pipe ceremony was also conducted to honor indigenous youth, languages, and sacred sites. Indigenous representatives, UN and government officials, as well as representatives of non-governmental organizations (NGOs) participated and shared the sacred pipe. The ceremony was facilitated by Miksuya and Makasa Looking Horse (Lakota), Johnny Smith (Shinnecock), Jason Whitebear (Saulteaux), and Roberto Mucaro Borrero (Taino). Borrero, who is the Chairman of the NGO Committee on the UN International Decade of the World’s Indigenous Peoples also served as the International Day’s Master of Ceremonies.
Other events scheduled during the International Day included a film screening and discussion focusing on the Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, and a panel entitled “Honoring Indigenous Youth and Languages.”
The International Day of the World’s Indigenous Peoples is officially commemorated on 9 August annually in recognition of the first meeting of the United Nations Working Group on Indigenous Populations in Geneva in 1982.
UCTP Taino News Editor’s Note: Click here to view the programme of events and background information on the International Day of the World´s Indigenous People.
To view the events on archived UN Webcast see Special Event: Ceremony to mark the International Day of the World's Indigenous Peoples. [ Website ] [Webcast: Archived Video - English: 1 hour and 8 minutes]
Special Event: Panel discussion on "Honoring Indigenous Youth and Languages". Speakers will include: H.E. Mr. Alberto Virella, Permanent Mission of Spain to the United Nations and Ms. Dawn Hill (Mohawk Nation, USA). [ Website ] [Webcast: Archived Video - English: 2 hours and 16 minutes]
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