Friday, May 19, 2006


"It is difficult to prove that you are among the most oppressed if the Government does not keep records in that regard” said a participant at the Indigenous Session today.

The second day of the fifth session of the UN Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues (15-26 May) opened this morning with an interactive dialogue between the members of the Forum and indigenous peoples. Some of the issues discussed:

- Several speakers said that their right to development was currently not fully realized. In fact, in many cases, development could be a double-edged sword for indigenous peoples, robbing them of their land and resources. The invasion of national and international oil, lumber, pharmaceutical and mining corporations led to serious violations of indigenous communities’ rights. In the context of globalization, indigenous peoples were often forced to play the role of bystanders when decisions were made, even though their children would inherit the environmental costs of industrialization projects.

-Several speakers insisted that indicators of poverty and development needed to be adjusted to reflect indigenous peoples’ real situation.

- One speaker drew the Forum’s attention to sterilization of indigenous women without their consent and the use of indigenous people as medical test cases for contraceptive studies.

Complete press release at:

This evening will see the opening of the exhibition " Indigenous Peoples: Honouring the Past, Present and Future" accompanied by a cultural programme and reception in the UN Visitor's Lobby at 6.15pm. The art and photographic exhibition consists of display by the ancient Rapanui islanders, along with carving, weaving, quilting, painting, drawing and printmaking by contemporary indigenous artists from different countries, who represent both the traditional approach, as well as a fusion of old and new.
Photographs by the winners of the National Geographic All Roads Film and Photography Festival is also part of the display. This exhibit highlights the work of photographers from Brazil, India, Mexico and South Africa, who document their indigenous local communities as they see them.

Complete press release at:

The Indigenous Meeting continues till 26 May and is being attended by hundreds of indigenous peoples and NGOs. If you would like to receive a press kit or want to schedule interviews with indigenous leaders, please call Oisika Chakrabarti, 212.963.8264 or e-mail

Media Advisory, UN Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues

Click the link below to download a complete media advisory for the current UN Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues taking place:


UN 5th Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues, cont'd

A very colorful, large and diverse meeting starts at the UN next week Monday (15 May). Over 1200 indigenous people are expected from around the world. They will meet with governments and UN officials during the two weeks of the meeting and demand and discuss basic rights which they are often denied: full participation in decisions that affect them, to be counted in the census at the country level, their women and youth prioritized, development policies to be truly oriented towards their development so that it is beneficial, access to education, adequate health
services, etc.

Below is a list of people who will be available for interviews during the meeting and the media advisory with the key events. Interviews Please note the press conference is on Monday 15, 2.30pm in Room S-226.

If you would like a press kit with backgrounders on key issues, factsheets and press release, please contact Ms. Oisika Chakrabarti at or tel: 212.963.8264.


Media may wish to speak to the following experts on indigenous issues. If you are interested in conducting interviews, contact: Oisika Chakrabarti, DPI at 212.963.8264, e-mail

Mr. Phang Roy Assistant President, International Fund for Agricultural Development (ENGLISH): is the Assistant President on Special Assignment for Indigenous and Tribal Issues, IFAD.

Mr. Michael Dodson, Member, UN Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues, Australia (ENGLISH): is a member of the Yawuru peoples, the traditional Aboriginal owners of land and waters in the Broome area of the southern Kimberley region of Western Australia. He served for 5 years up as a member of the Board of Trustees of the United Nations Indigenous Voluntary Fund. Mick has for long participated in the crafting of the text of the Draft Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples in the United Nation Working Group on Indigenous Populations and in its more recent consideration by the Working Group of the United Nations Commission on Human Rights.

Mr. Tom Calma, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Social Justice Commissioner, Australia (ENGLISH): is an Aboriginal elder from the Kungarakan tribal group and the Iwaidja tribal group. He has been involved in indigenous affairs at a national and international level and has worked in the public sector for over 30 years. He is an expert on indigenous education programs and in developing employment and training programs. In the early eighties, Mr Calma worked to establish the Aboriginal Task Force (ATF) which provided second chance education programs for Indigenous people.

Mr. Aden Ridgeway, New South Wales Aboriginal Land Council, Australia (ENGLISH): Aden joined the Australian Democrats in 1990 and was elected as a Democrat Senator for NSW in October 1998. He entered the Senate as Australia's only Indigenous Federal politician in July 1999. He was a member of both Indigenous Native Title negotiating teams following the Mabo and Wik decisions and was a member of the Council for Aboriginal Reconciliation for its last two years.

Ms. Hilda Line, Turaga Nation and Tuvanuatu Komiuniti, Vanuatu, Australia (ENGLISH): is a chief of the Turaga nation of Pentecost Island in Vanuatu in the South Pacific, and has been an activist for progressive political causes since she was a teenager. Her name is synonymous with the nuclear-free and independent Pacific movement, with women’s rights, with indigenous rights, and with environmental issues. In 1987, she became the first woman elected to Parliament in Vanuatu.

Mr. David Choquehuanca, Foreign Affairs Minister of Bolivia (SPANISH): is a politician and diplomat and has served as the foreign minister of Bolivia since January 2006. Choquehuanca is an Aymara Indian and has been a long-time activist for indigenous people. He has worked with international agencies and has been an advisor to President Evo Morales, a fellow Aymara,
well before Morales's election to the Presidency.

Mr. Eduardo Aguiar de Almeida, UN Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues, Brazil (SPANISH, PORTUGUESE, ENGLISH): is an expert on environment. He has been a Consultant with the Brazilian Ministry on environmental issues and has also worked as a journalist.

Mr. Marcos Terena, Comité Inter-Tribal Memoria y Ciencia Indígena, Brazil (SPANISH, PORTUGUESE): Marcos founded the first indigenous political movement in Brazil in 1977, the Union of Indigenous Nations. Marcos has been active in gaining a space for indigenous peoples in the United Nations system. He was one of the indigenous spokespeople at the UN Working Group on Indigenous Peoples to move forward the creation of the UN Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues. He was also one of the indigenous leaders that worked to move forward the process of the Draft Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples.

Mr. Wilton Lithechild, UN Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues, Canada (ENGLISH): is the founding member of the Indigenous Initiative for Peace with Nobel Prize winner Rigoberta Menchu-Tum and is a Member of Parliament. He has served on the Indigenous Parliament of the Americas as Vice-President.

Ms. Qin Xiaomei, UN Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues, China (CHINESE, ENGLISH): is an expert on human rights issues. She graduated from Beijing University in 1964 and started working for the Chinese Ministry of Foreign Affairs until 1990. In 1997, she was in the office of the Commissioner of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of China in Hong Kong Special Administrative Region of China. Later, she worked for Chinese Embassy in the Untied States of America. Since 2001, she is with the UN Association of China.

Ms. Victoria Neuta, Colombia (SPANISH): is the Coordinator of the Continental Network's Commission on non-violence, a space for indigenous women to exchange experiences and seek alternatives. Established in 1993 through an initiative of indigenous women from Canada, when they decided to get together to exchange experiences and explore the possibilities of creating a common project for indigenous women from North [words missing in original].

Ms. Liliane Muzangui Mbela (UNPFII Member), Democratic Republic of Congo (FRENCH, ARABIC, ENGLISH): is in charge of the Division for Drafting and Press in the Parliament. She is also a member of the Permanent Authority on Autochtones Questions.

Ms. Ida Nicolaisen, UN Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues, Denmark (ENGLISH): was nominated by Denmark to the Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues. She is an expert on indigenous groups in Southeast Asia with whom she has worked for over 30 years. She has also worked in Africa.

Mr. Santiago de la Cruz, Ecuador, (SPANISH): is the Vice President of the Federation of Indigenous Nationalities of Ecuador (CONAIE). He is one of the few aboriginal peoples surviving on the Ecuadorian coast. There are only 7,000 members in his community, who are of great interest to the geneticists.

Ms. Nina Pacari, UN Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues, Ecuador (SPANISH ): has been a legal advisor to the indigenous communities of the Chimborazo province. She has been a active leader and Coordinator in the political work of the indigenous peoples in Ecuador.

Ms. Carmen Maria Gallardo Hernandez, Chairperson of CSW, El Salvador (SPANISH): is the Chairperson of the Commission on the Status of Women. She was the Coordinator for International Cooperation for her country’s Supreme Court of Justice, a post she held since September 2002. Ms. Hernández’s served as her country’s Ambassador to France and Portugal in 1994. In 1992 and 1993, she was El Salvador’s permanent delegate to UNESCO in Paris.

Ms. Merike Kokajev, UN Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues, Estonia (ENGLISH): is the Director, Division of International Organizations of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. She participated in Commission of Human Rights (1999-2004) and UN Sub-Commission on the Promotion of Human Rights (1999-2002). She worked on a draft UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples and on the establishment of a UN Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues (1999-2002).

Mr. Aqqaluk Lynge, UN Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues, Greenland (ENGLISH): is the President of the Inuit Circumpolar Conference and Vice Chair ICC International since 2002. He graduated from Copenhagen Social Hoekskole, (School of Social Work) in 1976. He became the Social Counselor of Aasiaat, Greenland soon after and has also been a journalist for radio Greenland (KNR) for several years.

Ms. Otilia Luz de Coti, UN Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues, Guatemala (SPANISH): is a member of the UN Permanent Forum for Indigenous Issues and Political Association of Maya Women. She is also a permanent representative of Guatemala to UNESCO Executive Council.

Mr. Juan Leon Alvarado, Spanish, Guatemala (SPANISH): is an Assistant-Secretary-General of the Organization of American States (OAS). He is the Chair of the Working Group to prepare the Draft American Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples.

Ms. Lucy Mulenkei, Indigenous Information Network, Kenya (ENGLISH): Lucy Mulenkei is a Maasai from Kenya who started her career as a broadcast journalist working on issues of environment and development. Lucy presently runs the Indigenous Information Network in Kenya, which publishes the popular grassroots publication, Nomadic News, focusing on environmental issues and successes affecting pastoralists and hunter-gatherers in Africa. For the past several years Lucy has also been working as a Chair and Coordinator of the African Indigenous Women’s Organization in the East African Region.

Mr. Hassan Id Balkassm (UNPFII Member), Morocco (AMAZIGH, ARABIC, FRENCH, ENGLISH): is a attorney accredited by the Higher Court in Rabat since 1982. He is the President of Tamaynut Association and of the IPACC (Indigenous Peoples African Coordinating Committee); Member expert in the IRCAM (Royal Institute for the Amazigh culture).

Mr. Parshuram Tamang, UN Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues, Nepal (ENGLISH, NEPALESE): is from Nepal and has been an indigenous activist for over 25 years. He has founded several indigenous peoples organizations both in Nepal and in other parts of Asia.

Ms. Mirna Cunningham, Nicaragua (SPANISH, ENGLISH): is the President of the Centre for Indigenous People’s Autonomy and Development on the North Atlantic Coast of Nicaragua. She is an experience indigenous leader and medical doctor on the North Atlantic Coast.

Ms. Victoria Tauli-Corpuz, Chairperson, UN Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues, Philippines (ENGLISH) : Victoria has been the Convener of the Asian Indigenous Women's Network (AIWN) since 1993. AIWN is a network of 80 indigenous women's organizations in Asia. She is the founder and Executive Director, Tebtebba Foundation (Indigenous Peoples' International Centre for Policy Research and Education).

Ms. Tarcila Rivera (Chirapaq), Peru (SPANISH) : is a Quechuan activist who has devoted over 20 years of her life to defend and seek recognition and acknowledgement of Peruvian indigenous peoples and cultures. Her specific contributions to the empowerment of indigenous children and women have resulted in the creation of the Permanent Workshop of Andean and Amazon Indigenous Women of Peru, the International Forum of Indigenous Women of the Americas and the Continental Link of Indigenous Women of the Americas.

Mr. Yuri Boychenko, UN Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues, Russian Federation (RUSSIAN, ENGLISH) : is the head of a Division, Department on Compatriot Affairs and Human Rights, Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Russian Federation. He graduated from the Moscow State Institute of International Relation. He is an expert on human rights. He has participated in the UN Sub-Commission on the Promotion and Protection of Human Rights and is a member of the Russian Federation delegation at various UN Working Groups on the elaboration of major human rights documents.

Mr. Pavel Sulyandziga, UN Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues, Russian Federation (RUSSIAN): is the Vice-President of RAIPON since 1997. He graduated from Khabarovsk State Pedagogical Institute in 1984 and became a mathematics teacher in the settlement of Krasny Yar, Primorsky Kray. In 1994, he was appointed the Councillor to the Governor of the Primorsky Kray on Indigenous Issues.

Mr. William Ralph Joey Langeveldt, UN Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues, South Africa (ENGLISH): is the National Commissioner for the Promotion and Protection of the Rights of Cultural, Religious and Linguistic Communities. He is a member of the Commission for Sustainable Development of South Africa.

Ms. Tonya Frishner, American Indian Law Alliance, USA (ENGLISH): Tonya Frishner, American Indian Law Alliance, USA: Is the Founder of the American Indian Law Alliance, Tonya is an attorney, activist, and recipient of numerous awards for community service. She is an adjunct professor of Native America law.

Mr. Robby Romero, Red Lake Nation, USA (ENGLISH): Robby Romero, Red Lake Nation, USA: Mr. Robby Romero has a native rock band. Romero is a show-biz kid who early on “found himself in the company of filmmakers like Dennis Hopper and Sam Peckinpah.” Romero’s music output has been prodigious. His film, “All the Missing Children and Is It Too Late?” aims to help runaway and abandoned children. Romero also has a line of hand-crafted Pueblo jewellery and lifestyle products designed in partnership with indigenous peoples.

Ms. Noeli Pocaterra, 2nd Vice-President, National Assembly, Venezuela (SPANISH): is from the Wayuu Nation in Venezuela. She is an appointed chair of the National Commission on Indigenous Peoples and Vice-President of the National Assembly and has become a key player in policy changes for indigenous people in Venezuala. Noeli is also a strong advocate for indigenous children's right and has been instrumental in bringing about positive changes for children at the national and community level by affecting both policy and programming.

United Nations 5th Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues


New York is the indigenous capital of the world (New York, 8 May) –

For two weeks, New York will be the indigenous capital of the world as more than 1,500 indigenous leaders from all over the world meet at the United Nations for the Fifth Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues.

The Forum, to be held from 15 to 26 May, will feature 52 parallel events, mostly organized by indigenous groups. Among them are screenings of short films by indigenous filmmakers from around the world, sponsored by National Geographicmagazine (15 May, 1:15 pm-2:45 pm); a panel discussion on Native American writers, featuring authors Allison Hedge Coke and James Thomas Stevens (16 May, 1:15 pm-2:45 pm); the opening of the exhibition of contemporary indigenous art, with performances by indigenous performers (16 May, 6:15 pm); and the opening of the indigenous bazaar, with art crafts from around the world (17 May, 3:15 pm).

Poetry readings, book launches and workshops ranging from traditional medicine to environmental protection to traditional knowledge will bring to the fore the dynamic contributions of indigenous cultures. The two-week Forum will bring together Miskitu feminists, Mayan poets, Aymara filmmakers, Sami musicians and Navajo ICT experts.

Meanwhile, in the meeting room indigenous leaders will debate and sometimes clash with government representatives over development programmes and full participation and consent of indigenous peoples in the decisions that affect their lives as well as the health, education and human rights needs of some 370 million indigenous people around the globe.

Several events are organized by New York State’s very own Native leaders and artists. These include New York City's American Indian Community House, American Indian Law Alliance, Flying Eagle Women Fund and North-East Two-Spirit Society.

For full schedule, visit:

Journalists without UN credentials who wish to attend should visit:

For media enquiries or interviews, please contact:
Oisika Chakrabarti,
Department of Public Information,
tel: 212.963.8264,
For Secretariat of the Permanent Forum, please contact:

Mirian Masaquiza,
Secretariat of the Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues,
tel: 917.367.6006,

Jose Barreiro: "Six Nations: Good Minds Calm Frayed Tempers"

Six Nations: Good minds calm frayed tempers
© Indian Country Today April 27, 2006. All Rights Reserved.
[submited by Jose Barreiro and reprinted with permission. The CAC Review's Creative Commons Licence does not apply to the contents of this post]

The heated confrontation at Six Nations Reserve in Ontario, Canada, widened and deepened in the past week while at the same time showing sign of progress toward resolution. The deeply rooted Native sentiment on the land and against any type of physical aggression against their own people has stiffened the resolve of Six Nations clan mothers, chiefs and warriors after a bungling assault by police forces fanciful that they could arrest the ''trouble-makers'' and lay low the protesters' encampment.

It was not to be, and within half a day Canada was reminded that the peoples of the old Haudenosaunee Confederacy unite under stress and self-defend in ways most ingenious, straightforward and stark. By day's end, roads around the encampment site were blockaded, bridges were temporarily shut down and across southern Ontario rail lines were immediately threatened so that important train runs between Toronto, Ottawa and Montreal were suspended.

Canadian authorities know, but still do forget, that when they deal with Six Nations people - particularly if the populous Mohawks are engaged - police assaults can trigger an intense, decentralized response among warrior societies. Just the protest at the railroad lines by Tyendinega Mohawks 350 kilometers (217.4 miles) away ''delayed service for thousands of passengers yesterday, and shipment of goods worth tens of millions of dollars,'' according to the Toronto Star newspaper. The railways protest ended April 22 after only a day's paralysis; but as this edition goes to press, the Kahnawake Mohawk warrior society is holding the Mercier Bridge in Montreal at bay, while Akwesasne residents leaflet motorists on the international bridge at Cornwall. Both of these bridges have been shut down by Mohawks before.

The warrior response is not always pretty or romantic. Often it bubbles with anger nearly impossible to contain. But it is a real and organic action/reaction based on a long historical memory. While one local paper described them as ''the so-called clan mothers,'' the circle of elder women who hold wampum and select chiefs and other officials for Six Nations longhouses can still cause great movement among their peoples.

Undoubtedly, the Six Nations traditional councils and longhouses are too often contentious, within and among themselves, on interpretations of the Great Law of Peace and on what courses of action to coalesce around. But some issues, most emphatically those relating to land, treaty rights and freedom from police aggression, particularly for elders and children, activate large numbers of Haudenosaunee people, extended relations that connect through impenetrable and unbreakable familial and clan ties.

Expectedly, the heat of action and youthful energy will recede to allow the Six Nations negotiating team, guided by the clan mothers and now led by the Confederacy chiefs in collaboration with band council representatives, to sustain what provincial and federal authorities describe as ''marathon talks'' held through the weekend of April 22 - 23.

These talks have apparently produced some breakthroughs as the Indian delegation grew in sophistication and unity and Canadian authorities contemplated the depth of sentiment and breadth of potential action on the Native side. According to the Toronto Globe and Mail newspaper, Ontario Cabinet Minister David Ramsay emerged confident the dispute ''can be resolved peacefully,'' after the opening talks.

For the traditional side, the core longhouse governments of the Haudenosaunee Confederacy in Canada, there was a victory just in having been recognized as lead negotiators by the band council government. The long tribal memory is keen on the details of Canadian ''regime change'' on Six Nations Reserve in 1924, an incident that reverberated in Europe as the League of Nations was petitioned by traditional chiefs of that day, notably the greatly respected Cayuga chief, Deskaheh.

It was Deskaheh who between 1921 and 1924, as ''Speaker of the Six Nations,'' first traveled to Geneva, Switzerland, to make the case over land, jurisdiction and the right of a ''small nation of the world'' to survive and to govern itself according to its custom and tradition. Deskaheh was denied an official hearing at the League of Nations but continued on a speaking tour that garnered great attention and support for the Six Nations cause. Nevertheless, Canada attacked then as well, imposing the Federal Indian Act, exiling Deskaheh, dispersing the traditional government and installing an elective system that 80 years later is called the Six Nations Band Council and governs day-to-day affairs and services on the reserve.

The band council is here to stay, 80 years later, and is not nearly as nefarious as its origin. Yet a strong moral and, many contend, legal authority still rests with the traditional longhouses, which are culturally central to the communities.

For elected Chief David General and most of his council to defer authority to the longhouse government on the land claims negotiation is the biggest political change in nearly a century.

As Hazel Hill, not a clan mother but an elder longhouse woman leader who was wrestled to the ground by five police officers during the April 19 assault, told the Star: ''It's monumental. It's big. I can't even explain the enormity of what's happening.''

The hope is that the unity of Native leadership now in talks with Canadian authorities will sustain and deepen.

Already, the resolute stand has brought Canada to the dialogue it long avoided, and the reality of purposeful negotiation has brought the beginning of common approach to a community divided into elective and traditional systems.

One big obstacle to good relations is the standoff itself, which sees the camp occupants worried about a police assault and, in response, keeping important roads around the reserve blockaded. This is highly provocative and building intense anger among many non-Native local residents who are calling for force against ''the Indians.'' Interestingly, at least according to Haldiman County Mayor Marie Trainer, local residents still support the Native quest of land claims justice, reported CBC Newsworld.

It behooves the Indian activists to fully cultivate this lingering support and turn it in a positive direction.

Deskaheh, the ancestor chief who called on the world for support of Six Nations causes in 1924, wrote a letter to his people from his European mission. He requested from them a longhouse meeting back home, where ''you must combine all the good people ask [the Creator] to help us in our distress of this moment and you must use Indian tobacco, in our usual way we ask help from our Great Spirit.''

Deskaheh specified that the tobacco-burning must be done ''very early in the morning, so that our God may hear you and the children.'' We join Deskaheh's insightful call for the positive thought, so that good minds may prevail on behalf of our future generations.

Please visit the
Indian Country Today website for more articles related to this topic.