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NOTHING ABOUT US, WITHOUT US Indigenous Women Engaged in International Advocacy and Diplomacy


NOTHING ABOUT US, WITHOUT US Indigenous Women Engaged in International Advocacy and Diplomacy


TABLE OF CONTENTS The Herstory of the Global Indigenous Women's Caucus (English and Spanish) p. 2-5 Tia Oros Peters

Her Voice is Silent p. 6 Sandra Creamer

Spirituality of Tepeth Indigenous Woman p. 7 Margaret Iriama Lokawua

Intervention of the Sixteenth Session of the UN Permanent Forum (English and Spanish) p. 8-9 Dr. Henrietta Mann Mamakuta and Mayu (Kichwa, English and Spanish) p. 10-11 Alicia Quispe Vacacela

End of the World p. 12-13 Deborah L. Sanchez

Ejo Kokoo p.14-15 Naomi Leleto Lanoi

Uniting Our Voices (English and Spanish) p. 16-17 Eve Reyes-Aguirre The Global Indigenous Women's Caucus Interventions p. 18-19 Kynmaw p. 20-21 Shannon Massar

To my Relatives (Spanish and English) p. 22-23 Haydee Sanchez

The Role of Women in the International Arena (Spanish and English) p. 24-25 Nesha Xuncax

Wai Maori p. 26-28 Tina Ngata

Prediction p. 29-30 Deborah L. Sanchez

Acknowledgements p. 31-32


Co-founding mother and Convener, Global Indigenous Women’s Caucus Keshhi hom A:kuwaye, Indigenous Peoples are ‘international’ in our essence. Numbering in the hundreds of millions, we are of sovereign Nations with the inherent right to our fullest actualization of self-determination. Indigenous women - our mothers and grandmothers, aunties, and sisters, and many centuries of our respective Peoples - have been organizing, thinking, and working proactively for our Nations, communities, clans and families in local, regional, and international arenas. These arenas are where we come together to discuss, advocate, and decide matters that impact our lands, territories, and the vitality and futurity of generations across our nations. Such advocacy has been born from hard sacrifice and selflessness. This advocacy was inspired by Indigenous women, like my beloved sister and early mentor, Ingrid Washinawatok-El Issa of the Menominee Nation. Powerhouse of a woman, Ing, gave her life in 1999 for the Indigenous movement for self-determination and human rights, for the Rights of Mother Earth, and for justice. She embodied the potential of international advocacy for Indigenous Peoples, especially women, and we walk this pathway in her footsteps. Other Indigenous women leaders like Dr. Debra Harry (Paiute) continue to lead us on this journey. This advocacy has grown from our collective dreaming and imagining of a better world, free from oppression. This advocacy has been for our continued survival and thriving, as individuals, families, communities and Nations. It is also pursued, in its multiple dimensions, to help lay forth a pathway to assure our Peoples’ health and well being, and also, importantly, to secure our rights and fulfill our responsibilities to the coming generations. It is from this awareness and responsibility, and in the expression and exercise of our self-determination, that we organized the first Global Indigenous Women’s Caucus May 8 -9, 2002. This was during the inaugural UN Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues (UNPFII) that year. The Caucus first emerged from a conversation between three women / co-founding mothers of the Global Indigenous Women’s Caucus: Tonya Gonnella Frichner, Esmeralda Brown, and myself, prior to that first UNPFII. We joined together for the purpose of creating space with our Indigenous sisters of the world where we could share, explore, create, and develop collective work. We sought to create a collaborative platform for action that would form an empowering matrix based on our responsibilities and our love for our Peoples, lands, territories, cultures, and future generations. It was mindful like that – we realized our collectivity had power. We knew it was more than just one meeting, however, we probably did not fully anticipate the depth which the work on issues and perspectives would reach and impact, nor the legacies of sincere friendship and sisterhood that have grown over these now in 2019, eighteen years of unwavering and dedicated work. My brilliant sister-mentor Tonya, Snipe Clan of the Onondaga Nation, was already a renowned international Indigenous diplomat when we first began working together in 1993. She was dynamic, and fully engaged in the drafting and negotiating of what would later become the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (UNDRIP), a human rights instrument - one that Tonya and I later took all over the Native world providing hands on capacity building to Indigenous nations and community leaders. At the time we established the GIWC, she was serving as the Vice Chair of the Seventh Generation Fund as well as Director of the American Indian Law Alliance, the organization she founded years before, and one of the early few Native organizations to achieve ECOSOC consultative status. Our sister in the work, Esmeralda Brown of Panama, led work at the United Methodist Women, and the Southern Diaspora Research and Information Center. She was key in helping our team coordinate and facilitate space for our first, and many subsequent meetings at the Church Center building. As for myself, I served as the program and special projects director at Seventh Generation Fund at the time, later to become its fourth Executive Director in 2005, following the footsteps of Daniel Bomberry, Dagmar Thorpe, and Christopher Peters. Our organization had always been international in nature. It has worked across sectors and bio-cultural regions for many decades, and with many hundreds of Indigenous leaders, particularly Indigenous women and emerging leaders. And we have continued to do so, as well as to be the logistical coordinating entity and core organizer of the GIWC since its inception.


The GIWC was established independently of regional caucuses, and it conducts its work as its own caucus, with its own mandate and intention. It has maintained its autonomy over the nearly twenty years of tenure in the field, while also working very well with the regional caucuses and also with the Global Indigenous Youth Caucus. All work has been and continues by consensus, and always in at least two languages, Spanish and English. The Women’s Caucus has remained consistent. The work is inherently multi- generational, and in the earlier years, we were blessed by a number of established elder Indigenous women leaders such as Carrie Dan of the Western Shoshone Nation, and Dr. Henrietta Mann, of the Southern Cheyenne - who now serves as Chair of the Seventh Generation Fund, among other sisters from all of the regions – Africa, Arctic, Asia, Pacific, Russia and Europe, and South America, in the world. There have also been many young emerging leaders who have contributed to the collective work. For example, in 2011, we had the youngest Global Indigenous Women’s Caucus co-chair ever, in the teenaged Quetzalli Enrique (Izkaloteka) who was being mentored by the more experienced chairs and Indigenous diplomats. Quetzalli, with the guidance of Tonya, also presented one of our Caucus statements from the floor that year. GIWC Co-chairs have the responsibility of leadership and to work collectively to facilitate the dialogue and assure that our work together is progressing in a good way, and successfully toward resolution of our collective platform for action. The first year, 2002, I had the honor of being selected and serving as co-chair representing North America region along with sister co-chairs from South America, Asia, and Africa. These early years were very challenging for us because so often there were attempts to silence or limit Indigenous women and girls’ voices and perspectives. The GIWC has provided the only opportunity created by and for Indigenous women, to create and collaborate, build skills, knowledge and capacities, across international bio-cultural regions, as Indigenous women delegates engaged in international advocacy. This work is done with Indigenous women leadership, by and for our families, communities and nations, without encumbrance or cooptation, or marginalization. The Global Indigenous Women’s Caucus has grown and evolved for nearly two decades; yet core of our existence remains the same. We have survived the times we were unfortunately not taken seriously, and ignored, as well as the days we were viciously ridiculed – sometimes by our own people in the international arena, when some of our Indigenous brothers, and even some of our own Indigenous sisters postured against us who said that our work as women was redundant and meaningless, and ultimately would have no impact on the larger dialogue for Indigenous Peoples’ rights. We survived, and we thrived. We remained steadfast, committed, consistent to the far reaching goal of developing collaborative and collective platforms for action that amplify the voices and unique perspectives of Indigenous women and girls. We have had great impact bringing forward issues and recommendations on Indigenous Peoples’ human rights, free, prior and informed consent, of protecting water, and our lands and territories. We have been unwavering on our positions on the right of self- determination, as well as of cultural identity, education, language, traditional healing, our missing and murdered sisters, and speaking out against the criminalization of Indigenous human rights defenders. Our contributions to the discussions on the rights of Indigenous Peoples have helped transform the dialogue. And we continue to add dimension and value to the strategies for Indigenous Peoples’ empowerment, self- determination, and liberation in different regions of the world, and in the international arenas. We know that the GIWC has a lifespan and reach far beyond what was first imagined in 2002, when Tonya, Esmeralda and I first spoke about it, as a hope. Hope in a time of devolving social order is imperative for anyone’s survival. It has begun to inspire and birth new collaborations and possibilities, such as the World Indigenous Women’s Alliance (WIWA) which was generated by Indigenous women experienced in the international arena recognizing that we were growing and evolving and that new strategies had begun emerging from our networks, vision, and strengthened capacities. WIWA works through women-centered leadership by creating and advancing sustainable solutions through advocacy, education, and movement building grounded in ancestral knowledge and grassroots action. It is an international sisterhood formed by the network and trust of the GIWC and that now is building its works both within and external to the United Nations. Everything is possible. The work of the Global Indigenous Women’s Caucus is a fertile trajectory that births new collaborations, inspirations, and possibilities. It embodies hope, sacrifice, and creativity. We are now well established and strong in what was formerly a impenetrable field and we have contributed much to the discourse and direction of Indigenous Peoples’ rights, diplomacy and advocacy. We will continue to lift up and amplify our voices and issues, individually and collectively, to secure our human rights, and to advance and fulfill our responsibilities. We will do this to do more than survive; to thrive.

Yam Awidelin Tsitda hon k’okshuna:wa



Keshhi hom A:kuwaye,

Mama cofundadora y convocante del Conclave Global de Mujeres Indígenas

Los Pueblos Indígenas del mundo somos internacionales en cuanto a nuestra esencia. Somos ciento de millones de naciones soberanas con derecho a la completa realización de nuestra autodeterminación. Las mujeres Indígenas—nuestras madres, abuelas, tías y hermanas, así como centenares de nuestros respectivos pueblos, hemos venido organizando, pensando y trabajando de manera proactiva para nuestras naciones, comunidades, clanes y familias en escenarios locales, regionales e internacionales—donde nos reunimos para intercambiar ideas, abogar y tomar decisiones sobre asuntos de nuestras naciones, territorios, y para la vitalidad y el porvenir de las generaciones en nuestras naciones. al defensa nació del sacrificio y la abnegación. Esta defensa fue inspirada por mujeres Indígenas tales como mi querida hermana y mentora Ingrid Washinawatok-El Issa de la Nación Menominee. Esta mujer poderosa dio su vida en 1999 por el movimiento Indígena para autodeterminación y derechos humanos, por los derechos de la Madre Tierra y por la justicia. Ella encarnó el potencial de la abogacía internacional para Pueblos Indígenas, especialmente mujeres Indígenas, y nosotras seguimos sus pasos. Otras líderes Indígenas como Debra Harry (Paiute) siguen mostrándonos el camino. Esta defensa ha crecido a partir de nuestros sueños y nuestra imaginación de un mundo mejor, libre de opresión. Esta defensa ha existido para nuestra continua supervivencia y desarrollo como individuos, familias, comunidades y Naciones. Esta defensa se procura también, en sus múltiples dimensiones, para ayudar a establecer un camino que asegure la salud y el bienestar de nuestros pueblos y también, de manera muy importante, para asegurar nuestros derechos y cumplir con nuestras responsabilidades para las generaciones futuras. Fue a partir de esta conciencia y responsabilidad, y como expresión y ejercicio de nuestra autodeterminación, que organizamos el primer Conclave Global de Mujeres Indígenas el 8 y 9 de mayo de 2002. Esto ocurrió durante el Foro Permanente para las Cuestiones Indígenas de las Naciones Unidas (UNPFII). El conclave se originó de una conversación entre tres mujeres/madres cofundadoras del Conclave Global de Mujeres Indígenas: Tonya Gonnella Frichner, Esmeralda Brown y yo, antes de aquel primer foro UNPFII. Nos acercamos con el propósito de crear un espacio con nuestras hermanas Indígenas del mundo para poder compartir, explorar, crear y desarrollar trabajo colectivo— una plataforma colaborativa de acción para formar una matriz motivadora basada en nuestras responsabilidades y nuestro amor por nuestra gente, tierras, territorios, culturas y generaciones futuras. Poniendo atención a esto nos dimos cuenta de que nuestra colectividad tenía poder. Sabíamos que era más que una reunión; sin embargo, probablemente no anticipamos la profundidad ni el impacto que el trabajo en diferentes asuntos y perspectivas iba a tener, ni el legado de amistad sincera y hermandad que se ha acrecentado a través de este trabajo ahora en 2019, dieciocho años de trabajo inquebrantable y dedicado. Mi brilliante hermana-mentora Tonya, del Clan Snipe de la Nación Onondaga, ya era una reconocida diplomática internacional Indígena cuando empezamos nuestro trabajo en conjunto en 1993. Ella era dinámica y estuvo muy involucrada en la elaboración y negociación de lo que sería la Declaración de las Naciones Unidas sobre los Derechos de los Pueblos Indígenas (UNDRIP), un instrumento de derechos humanos que Tonya y yo llevamos a diferentes partes del mundo Indígena, proporcionando una capacidad práctica a Naciones Indígenas y líderes comunitarios. Fue en ese tiempo que formamos el GIW y Tonya era la vicedirectora de Séptima Generación (Seventh Generation Fund fo Indigenous Peoples), así como directora de la organización que ella fundó unos años antes, la Alianza de la Ley Nativo-Americana (American Indian Law Alliance). La Alianza de La Ley Nativo-Americana fue una de las primeras organizaciones indígenas que consiguió el reconocimiento como entidad consultiva ECOSOC. Nuestra hermana-de-trabajo, Esmeralda Brown de Panamá, dirigió el trabajo en la organización Mujeres Metodistas Unidas (United Methodist Women) y en el Centro de Investigación e Información de la Diáspora del Sur (Southern Diaspora Research and Information Center), y fue clave en ayudar a nuestro equipo a coordinar y facilitar el espacio para nuestra primera reunión y las muchas reuniones subsiguientes en el Church Center Building. Yo, por mi parte, serví como directora del programa y de proyectos especiales en la Séptima Generación en ese tiempo, y en 2005 me convertí en la cuarta directora ejecutiva, siguiendo las huellas de Daniel Bomberry, Dagmar Thorpe, y Christopher Peters. Nuestra organización siempre ha sido una organización internacional y ha trabajado en varios sectores y regiones bioculturales por muchas décadas y con muchos cientos de líderes Indígenas, especialmente con mujeres Indígenas y líderes emergentes. Hemos continuado haciendo ese trabajo y también siendo la entidad de coordinación logística y organizadora principal de la GIWC desde sus comienzos. La GIWC se estableció independientemente de las asambleas regionales y realiza su trabajo como grupo propio, con propio mandato e intención propios. Ha mantenido su autonomía a través de los veinte años que aproximadamente opera en el campo, a su vez trabajando de manera óptima con los conclaves regionales y con el Conclave Global de Jóvenes Indígenas. Todos trabajan en consenso y en por lo menos en dos lenguas, español e inglés.


El Conclave de Mujeres Indígenas ha permanecido constante. El trabajo siempre ha sido multigeneracional y, en los primeros años, tuvimos la suerte de contar con líderes Indígenas que eran mujeres mayores, tales como Carrie Dan de la Nación Shoshone Occidental y de la Dra. Henrietta Mann, de Cheyenne del Sur, quien es ahora directora de la Séptima Generación, así como también con muchas otras hermanas de todas la regiones del mundo—África, Ártica, Asia, el Pacífico, Rusia y Europa y Sudamérica. También ha habido muchas jóvenes, líderes emergentes, que han contribuido con el trabajo colectivo. Por ejemplo, en 2011 tuvimos la codirectora más joven en la historia del Conclave Global de Mujeres Indígenas, la adolescente Quetzalli Enrique (Izkaloteka), quien fue asesorada por directoras con más experiencia y diplomáticas Indígenas. Quetzalli con la orientación de Tonya, también tomó la palabra y presentó una de las declaraciones de el Conclave ese año. Las codirectoras de GIWC tienen la responsabilidad de trabajar de manera colectiva para facilitar el diálogo y asegurar que nuestro trabajo en conjunto progrese de manera positiva y con éxito hacia la resolución de nuestra plataforma para acción colectiva. Ese primer año, 2002, tuve el honor de ser seleccionada y servir como codirectora representando la región de Norteamérica junto con hermanas codirectoras de Sudamérica, Asia y África. Esos primeros años fueron muy desafiantes para nosotras porque muy a menudo hubo intentos de silenciarnos o limitar las voces y perspectivas de las mujeres y jóvenes Indígenas. La GIWC ha ofrecido la única oportunidad creada para y por mujeres Indígenas para colaborar, desarrollar habilidades, crear conocimientos y capacidades a través de regiones internacionales y bioculturales y actuar como delegadas Indígenas participantes en la abogacía internacional. Este trabajo se realiza con el liderazgo de mujeres Indígenas, con y para nuestras familias, comunidades y naciones, sin impedimentos, acaparamiento o marginalización. El Conclave Global de Mujeres Indígenas ha crecido y evolucionado por casi dos décadas; sin embargo, el núcleo de nuestra existencia es el mismo. Hemos sobrevivido tiempos en los que desafortunadamente no se nos tomó en serio, en los que fuimos ignoradas, y también tiempos en los que se nos ridiculizó viciosamente—a veces a manos de nuestra propia gente en el escenario internacional, por ejemplo, algunos de nuestros hermanos Indígenas e incluso algunas de nuestras propias hermanas Indígenas que adoptaron una posición contra nosotras. Hemos sobrevivido y prosperado, a pesar de habérsenos dicho ocasionalmente que nuestro trabajo como mujeres era redundante y sin importancia y que a fin de cuentas no tendría impacto en el diálogo general para los derechos Indígenas. Sobrevivimos y prosperamos. Nos mantuvimos fuertes, comprometidas, consistentes con nuestro ambicioso objetivo de desarrollar plataformas colectivas y colaborativas de acción para amplificar las voces y perspectivas únicas de las mujeres y jóvenes Indígenas. Hemos tenido un gran impacto, presentado asuntos y recomendaciones sobre los derechos humanos de los Pueblos Indígenas, el derecho al consentimiento libre, previo e informado, el derecho de protección del agua, de nuestras tierras y territorios. Nunca paramos de ser firmes en nuestra posición sobre el derecho de autodeterminación, la importancia de la identidad cultural, educación, lengua, medicina tradicional, nuestras hermanas desaparecidas y asesinadas y la denuncia de la criminalización de los defensores de los derechos humanos de los Indígenas. Con nuestras contribuciones a la discusión sobre los derechos de los Pueblos Indígenas continuamos cambiando el diálogo y poniendo más dimensión y valor a las estrategias para el empoderamiento de Pueblos Indígenas, su autodeterminación y liberación en diferentes regiones del mundo y en los escenarios internacionales. Sabemos que la GIWC tiene una vida y un alcance mucho más amplio de lo que se imaginó al principio, en 2002, cuando Tonya, Esmeralda y yo hablamos de esto inicialmente, como una esperanza. La esperanza es muy importante para la sobrevivencia de todos especialmente en un tiempo de cambio del orden social. Ahora ha empezado a inspirar y dar vida a nuevas colaboraciones y posibilidades, tales como la Alianza Mundial de Mujeres Indígenas (WIWA), que fue creada por mujeres Indígenas que tienen experiencia en el escenario internacional y que reconocieron que estábamos creciendo y cambiando, y que nuevas estrategias habían comenzado a surgir de nuestras redes, de nuestra visión, y nuestra capacidad reforzada. WIWA trabaja con un modelo basado en el liderazgo de mujeres para crear y avanzar soluciones sostenibles a través de la promoción, educación y creación de movimientos que se basan en nuestros conocimientos ancestrales y acciones de base. WIWA es una hermandad que se formó a través de las redes y la confianza de GIWC y que ahora está desarrollando su trabajo dentro y fuera de las Naciones Unidas. Todo es posible. El trabajo del Conclave Global de Mujeres Indígenas es un camino fértil que está dando a luz a nuevas colaboraciones, inspiraciones y posibilidades. Representa esperanza, sacrificio y creatividad. Ahora estamos bien establecidas y tenemos una fuerte presencia en este campo que antes era impenetrable – hemos contribuido mucho al discurso y la dirección de los derechos, la diplomacia y abogacía de los Pueblos Indígenas. Continuaremos levantando y amplificando nuestras voces y nuestros asuntos de manera individual y colectiva, para asegurar nuestros derechos humanos y continuar cumpliendo con nuestras responsabilidades, para no solo sobrevivir, sino para prosperar.

Yam Awidelin Tsitda hon k’okshuna:wa 5

HER VOICE IS SILENT Sandra Creamer (Kalkadoon/Wannyi), LLB My great grandmother Opal Ah Bow Maginmarm Her voice and words I can no longer hear Because her language is no longer spoken Her customs and culture as a aboriginal woman nearly lost because of the white man’s fear Removal Her language was the foundation of her life And she married my great grand father and she became his wife Chinese he was, and Sam Ah Bow was his name They lived together where their different languages still made them the same Equal Opal’s words and her stories as an aboriginal woman not handed down Today I sit here with a frown Knowing that I can never pass on her stories In her language to tell my grandchildren to tell them of her glories Honour So celebrating language is important for us all Because the Indigenous world is not small Awareness So great grandmother Opal dear This year we celebrate Indigenous Languages To protect and remember your language which is now important for all to hear Empowerment



Expert Member from Africa, UN Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues 2008 I am from an indigenous tribe known as the Turlte Bokorapeople of Tepeth in Karamojong, a pastoral community with great value for tradition and spirituality. The Tepeth inhabited Karamojang before the arrival of the pastoral tribes; they were originally hunters, gatherers and live on the slopes of mount Moroto. They have their own distinctive language, beliefs and traditional practices. They believe in their God called “Belgen”, who is believed to reside above the sky and in secret places like mountains, rivers and forest, which they worship and invoke for intervention in times of challenges such as natural disaster, ill- health and other forms of insecurities. The spirituality of the Tepeth people is anchored on Communication with their relatives who have passed on to the next world. This is usually done through a special ceremony performed by the elders known as “Kenithan”. Prior to the ceremony, the elders who officiate the ritual rites undergo a six months spiritual cleansing in the wilderness, without any contact with other people including their family members. It is during this process that they receive the gift of communicating with the spirits and thus, the only ones that can perform the rituals. The relatives of the dead person are also spiritually purified and prepared to listen to the voice of their beloved who passed on. Interestingly, women are usually responsible for gathering the materials used for the purification/ cleansing exercise. Obviously, women play an integral role in the spiritual life of the Tepeth people, they serve as seers and healers, administering cure to different ailments and curses afflicting people. Thus, in the context of Tepeth and surely in other indigenous communities’ world over, women are custodians of traditional knowledge and values. Traditional knowledge in this case, encompasses the beliefs, practices, arts, spirituality and forms of cultural experiences expressed by women during ceremonies such as naming ceremony, marriage, and other rituals meant to appease the spirits and even the ancestors. The value of the spirituality of the indigenous women of Tepeth is immeasurable and is evident in our traditional songs that describe women as people of great heart. One of the common songs in Tepeth describes women as “creator with a large heart”. However, with the advent of globalization and push for capitalism and economic greed, the cultural values of our people and particularly among indigenous women are rescinding. To me as an indigenous person, the most cherished

days are those days when our sacred sites in the mountains, forests and rivers where our Gods reside were still intact and respected –not now that they have been invaded, secreted and almost destroyed, without recourse to our spiritual attachment to them. As a response to the cultural deterioration in our community, in 2002, I formed “Women Environment Conservation Project (WECOP)”. The organization works to protect the environment, promote indigenous knowledge and language/ cultural values and also empowerment of indigenous women of Tepeth though skills acquisition training. The UN permanent forum on indigenous issues has published many recommendations arising from the annual forums on issues raised by indigenous people but the implementation in most of this has been a challenge due to different state policies therefore it is necessary in my view to increase the participation of indigenous people in most international and national negotiation. It is my conviction that indigenous women possess traditional knowledge that can significantly contribute to environmental protection and as such, make the world a better place. Therefore, indigenous women must rise above their limitations and channel the strength that is inherent in them in protecting the environment and make the world a more conducive place for us all and for generations unborn. I sum up with a poem as it reads: Sometimes we search beyond boundaries, Looking everywhere for, What we think we need most, But if we could only listen, To that voice deep within, Perhaps our endless searches, Would cease just for once, And we realize that what, We really search is just within us.

Alakara - thank you 7



Special Theme: “Tenth Anniversary of the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples: measures taken to implement the Declaration” April 24 – May 5, 2017 Esteemed and beloved relatives. My name is, Ho’e-ost’oo’nah’e which in my Southern Cheyenne language means, The Woman Who Comes to Offer Prayer. I am also known as Dr. Henrietta Mann. Thank you, Madam Chair, for the opportunity of addressing the Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues. Please allow me to congratulate you on your appointment as Chair, and extend my greetings to each of the esteemed members of the Forum. I am pleased and honored to address all of you today and this entire body, regarding the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples. I am the Chairperson of the Seventh Generation Fund for Indigenous Peoples, a non- governmental organization that, with our many partners from throughout the Indigenous world, are here to speak about the accomplishments and the challenges of the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples. We know that this document took many decades to formulate, and today stands as a monument to the Indigenous intellect and spirit, and of our responsibilities and our rights. However, it could have been relegated to a post note in history had it not been adopted by the UN General Assembly of the United Nations a decade ago. I believe we are assembled to assess the effectiveness of this worldwide human rights instrument, and I assume you also all want to hear the truth. That’s what I am here to share. It is a challenge … Especially for Indigenous Peoples. Thankfully Indigenous Peoples are blessed by having been born Indigenous. The Creator, known by many different names, placed Indigenous Peoples in our respective homelands, with all our natural resources including minerals into our compassionate care at the beginning of time. We are the Original Peoples of our homelands and we have responsibilities, and we have inherent rights. Absolutely nothing can change those facts. The rights of Indigenous Peoples over our lands and our territories, as noted in Article 32, and expressed throughout the


Declaration, clearly articulates that member states shall work cooperatively and respectfully, in good faith with Indigenous Peoples, and that they must secure our Nations’ Free, Prior and Informed Consent before any development, utilization or exploitation of mineral, water or other resources is initiated on our lands and territories. This right of Free, Prior and Informed Consent, as embodied in the Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples is a right of self-determination. It recognizes our rights and responsibilities to defend and protect the SACRED WATER. Let me explain to you very quickly the reason why Water is Sacred. For nine months after each one of us was conceived we were: PROTECTED CHERISHED NOURISHED BLESSED By the womb waters of our Mother. The birth of a child explains the sacredness of Life. This also explains the sacredness of woman. We are also made of: EARTH AIR FIRE We as human beings were given all the Natural World’s abundant gifts, minerals and other elements in this world by which to live. We, as human beings, were given the responsibility of being the stewards of this good Earth in which we were placed to live, a responsibility which continues to exist today. Thus, it is imperative that member-states considering any development projects, MUST seek to obtain the impacted Indigenous Peoples’ Free, Prior and Informed Consent before any project is moved forward. This remains a challenge that too many Indigenous Nations and Peoples are confronted with throughout the world. The full actualization of the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples can only be realized by the recognition of our right of self-determination. And, such a right also means that our Peoples retain the to say no to that development because we are thinking of the well being of our future generations, and of our first Mother, the Earth. Thank you.



Tema Especial: “El décimo aniversario de la Declaración de los Derechos de los Pueblos Indígenas de la ONU: Medidas tomadas para implementar la Declaración” 24 de abril al 5 de mayo de 2017 Estimados y queridos familiares: Mi nombre es Ho’e-ost’oo’nah’e, que, en mi lengua nativa de Cheyenne del Sur, significa La mujer que viene para ofrecer oraciones. También se me conoce por el nombre de Dr. Henrietta Mann. Muchas gracias, señora presidenta, por darme la oportunidad de dirigirme al Foro Permanente para las Cuestiones Indígenas. Permítame felicitarla por su nueva posición como Presidenta y extender mi saludo a todos los estimados miembros del Foro. Estoy muy orgullosa y honrada de poder dirigirme a todos los presentes y a los que son parte del Foro para hablar sobre la Declaración de las Naciones Unidas sobre los Derechos de los Pueblos Indígenas. Yo soy la directora de la Séptima Generación que es una organización no gubernamental. Estamos aquí con muchos de nuestros colegas que son de todas partes del mundo Indígena para hablarles sobre los logros y los retos de la Declaración de las Naciones Unidas sobre los Derechos de los Pueblos Indígenas. Sabemos que este documento tomó muchas décadas en formularse, pero ahora representa un monumento a la inteligencia y al espíritu de los Pueblos Indígenas y también a nuestras responsabilidades y nuestros derechos. Si hace una década la Asamblea General de las Naciones Unidas no hubiera adoptado este documento, no habría sido nada más que una nota a pie de página. Yo pienso que nos hemos congregado para evaluar la eficiencia de este instrumento global de derechos humanos y supongo que todos queremos saber la verdad sobre la eficiencia de este documento. Yo vine para compartir esta verdad. Es un desafío… Especialmente para los Pueblos Indígenas. Felizmente, los Pueblos Indígenas son afortunados de haber nacido Indígenas. Desde el principio de los tiempos el Creador, al que se le conoce con muchos nombres diferentes, puso a los Pueblos Indígenas en nuestras distintas tierras y puso en nuestro cuidado compasivo los recursos naturales, incluyendo los minerales. Nosotros somos la gente original de nuestras tierras y tenemos responsabilidades y también derechos inherentes. Absolutamente nada puede cambiar esta realidad. Los derechos de Pueblos Indígenas sobre nuestras tierras y territorios, según está anotado en el Articulo 32 y según se expresa en toda la Declaración, articula claramente que los estados miembros tienen que trabajar juntos de manera cooperativa y respetuosa con los Pueblos y Naciones Indígenas.

Los estados miembros tienen que asegurar la obtención de un Consentimiento Libre, Previo e Informado de los Pueblos y Naciones Indígenas antes de que puedan utilizar, desarrollar o explotar minerales, agua y otros recursos naturales que están en nuestras tierras y territorios. Este derecho de obtener un Consentimiento Libre, Previo e Informado, según se expresa en la Declaración sobre los Derechos de los Pueblos Indígenas, es un derecho de autodeterminación de los Pueblos Indígenas. La Declaración reconoce nuestros derechos y responsabilidades de defender y proteger lo que es SAGRADO AGUA. Permítanme explicar rápidamente por qué el Agua es Sagrada. Por nueve meses después de haber sido concebidos, fuimos: PROTEGIDOS QUERIDOS ALIMENTADOS BENDECIDOS por el agua en el útero de nuestras madres. El nacimiento de un niño muestra que la vida es sagrada y también explica por qué las mujeres son sagradas. Nosotros también estamos hechos de: TIERRA AIRE FUEGO Como seres humanos se nos dieron todos los regalos abundantes del Mundo Natural, minerales y otros elementos que necesitamos para vivir en este mundo. A nosotros, como seres humanos, se nos dio la responsabilidad de ser los cuidadores de esta buena Tierra en la que nos pusieron para vivir, y esta responsabilidad continúa hoy. Por eso es IMPERATIVO que estados miembros interesados en desarrollar proyectos obtengan el Consentimiento Libre, Previo e Informado de los Pueblos y Naciones Indígenas ANTES de que empiecen el desarrollo de estos proyectos en nuestras tierras. Esto todavía es un desafío para muchos Pueblos Indígenas en el mundo. La única manera en que podamos cumplir plenamente la Declaración de las Naciones Unidas sobre los Derechos de los Pueblos Indígenas es si nuestro derecho a la autodeterminación es reconocido. Este derecho daría a nuestra gente el poder de decir no al desarrollo de proyectos que no son buenos para el bienestar de las generaciones futuras o para el bienestar de nuestra primera Madre, la Madre Tierra. Muchas gracias.


MAMAKUTA Alicia Quispe Vacacela (Saraguro, Kichwa) & Dr. Luis Macas (Saraguro, Kichwa) Instituto Cientifico de Culturas Indigenas The following are excerpts from Kawasayta Kukkunawan Rimaykuna Conversación Con los Cuatro Elementos De la Vida

ALLPA MAMA (KICHWA) Ñukanchikman Karanki, upyachinki, ñukanchikta kuyanki. Kikinpak kawaywanmi tukuylla kawsanchik. Mayta rishapash, paypak makipimi purikunchik, paypak mikuyta mikunchik. Paymi ñukanchikta wiñachin paypak rikrakunapi ukllashpa, pitapash mana sakin. Tukuillami paypi kanchik. Chaymantami maypi kashpapash ñukanchik mamata rikurayana, ama unkuchun, payta ama llakichishpa charina kanchik, allpa mamakuta kuyanami, SUMAK KAWASAYTA utkalla apamuchun.

MADRE TIERRA (ESPAÑOL) Nos alimenta, bebemos de ella, nos ama. Con su vida, vivimos todos. Al caminar siempre estamos sobre sus manos, de ella nos alimentamos, nos hace crecer en sus abrazos, a nadie nos deja. Por eso, donde quiera que estemos debemos cuidar a nuestra Madre, para que no se enferme, hay que mantenerla sin dañarla; a nuestra Madre hay que amarla, para que pronto nos traiga el Buen Vivir. MOTHER EARTH (ENGLISH) She sustains us, we drink from her, she loves us. Her life gives us all life. When we walk we are always in her hands. From her we get our nourishment. She helps us grow in her embrace. She never leaves us. That is why wherever we are we should take care of our Mother so that she does not get sick. We have to maintain her without hurting her. We have to love our Mother so that soon she will bring us the GOOD LIFE


Art by Abel Lligalo (Kichwa)


MAYU (KICHWA) Allpa ukutapashmi puinki, allpa Mamapak yawarshinami maypipash kuyuriunkilla, suchurinkillami. Mayu yaku Mamalla yurakunawan, wiwakunawan, runakunawan maykunapipash kawayta kukukillami. Achka kashpaka sinchita kaparishpa yallikunki, ashalla kashpaka allimanta rimashpa rinki. Yanapayta yachachishpa tukuyta.



Anda subterráneamente, como sangre de la Madre tierra se mueve y recorre sus entrañas.

It flows underground like blood from Mother Earth it moves and runs through her insides.

Agua del río que a las plantas, animales y personas en cualquier lugar, les da la vida. Cuando es abundante, su voz es más fuerte al pasar, cuando es pequeño, es más débil su voz. Enseña a los pueblos: ayudarse unos a otros, amarse y regalar la vida.

Water from the river gives life to the plants, animals and people from all places. When the river is abundant, it has a strong voice as it passes by. When the river is small, it has a weaker voice. It teaches the villages to help each other, to love each other and to gift life.


END OF THE WORLD Deborah L. Sanchez (Chumash/O'odham), JD An Excerpt from a Keynote address at the World Indigenous Law Conference

In 2010, the Seventh Generation Fund for Indigenous Peoples held a gathering of Indigenous peoples in Northern California. Our Mayan guests talked about the Mayan calendar and prophesy. At that time, many people were talking about the end of the calendar being the equivalent to the end of the world, which many had misinterpreted would happen in December 2012. A movie was even made showing the destruction of the Earth, with the tsunamis, fires and the end of the human species. Our Mayan guests thought it was very strange how the American public had interpreted the ending of the Mayan calendar to mean the end of the world. The Mayan traditional people told us that the end of the Mayan calendar did not represent the end of the world, but the end of the world as we had known it. They explained that the galaxy had turned, that the end of the calendar marked the beginning of the Galactic Dawn, the paradigm was shifting. It takes 26,000 years for the galaxy to make a full rotation, yet the Mayans knew this. Passing their traditional knowledge from generation to generation. When NASA compared the Mayan calendar to the atomic clock, they found the calendar to be accurate to the hundredths decimal point. This is indigenous knowledge. Our histories reveal we are keen observers of the natural world. Many of our perspectives as human beings are simply that we are part of the natural world, recognizing the life energy in everything around us, even when other cultures see parts of the natural world as inanimate. Thus, this perspective, this way of life, was headed for a full on collision with people who believed that nature was to be tamed that man is at the top of the food chain, and all of creation was to brought under man’s control.


Dr. Jack Forbes, in his book Columbus and other Cannibals, talks about the psychosis brought to this land from across the sea. A psychosis that is described “relentlessly, insanely, genocidally, ecocidally and suicidally destructive.” It is a greed that consumes the Earth, the elements: land, water, air, and consumes people. These are not just bad choices says Forbes, but a genuine epidemic sickness. Imperialists, rapists and exploiters are not just people who have strayed down the wrong path. They are mentally ill and tragically, the form of soulsickness they carry is contagious. Our own people are not immune.


They are the ones who have lost their way.

A psychosis that Columbus brought to these shores as revealed in his reports after sailing to the West Indies. He described the people, saying: They are “generous with what they have, to such a degree that no one would believe but him that had seen it. Of anything they have, if it be asked for, they never say no, but do rather invite the person to accept it, and show as much lovingness as though they would give their hearts.” Yet these loving people are the very people Columbus enslaved, taking them by force and sending them across the ocean to the King and Queen of Spain, saying that he could provide as many slaves as their highnesses would want. In his book Dr. Forbes provides, example after example, describing ancient prayers, wisdom of the Elders from all over the indigenous world, the philosophies of indigenous people, seeing the world with a great appreciation for all things seen and unseen, and with grateful hearts when a life is taken, even if for food or shelter, plant or animal, because everything has the right to live. There was gratitude when a life was taken. It was a great responsibility when a living thing was killed. A dilemma - even in necessity. And in that responsibility was the practice of using every bit of what had been taken, with gratitude and respect. My grandmother was poor. When my great grandfather killed a mule deer. When he cut the throat of the deer, he told his children to cup their hands as the blood was drained. He told them to drink it. My grandmother was a little girl and she didn’t want to drink the blood of the mule deer. Her father said she must because it showed respect and gratitude for the deer. He also told her that the deer lived on in them through that ceremonial practice.”




Naomi Leleto Lanoi (Maasai), BA, MBA, MLS, and PhD Candidate I arrived at the JFK airport in New York from my motherland Kenya ready and enthusiastic to attend the United Nations Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues (UNPFII). 2 This was my second time participating in the conference. I therefore knew how to navigate my way in the apple city, or so I thought. The biggest hurdle experienced by Indigenous Peoples at any U.S.A port of entry is the rigorous clearing process done by immigration desk. The process actually begins in our home country while applying for a visa. Never the less, as my grandmother puts it, “Indigenous people are made of still.” We never tire despite logistical challenges faced while travelling and participating in international forums meant to amplify our voices. At JFK, surprisingly, my interaction with the Immigration officer was cordial and very friendly. Before stamping my passport, he requested I look around the exist area for a very scared and confused man from Burundi that he had just cleared and was attending a similar conference as mine. “Please help your African brother find his way around.” He said. Well, discrediting myths and negative stereotypes is not the only challenge we face as Indigenous Peoples; I therefore took the request by the immigration officer very seriously. I quickly picked up my luggage and proceeded towards the exist. True to the officer’s words, Nana, an Indigenous brother from Burundi as he later introduced himself to me was conspicuously standing as if looking for someone at the taxi pick up area. It was winter season and Nana was wearing sandals and a nylon shirt. According to him, he was overdressed given his kind of weather and livelihood back at home. Nana could only speak his native and the Swahili 3 language. Language limitation in a foreign land can be very frustrating, I attest. To say the least, I was so apologetic to Nana and sincerely angry with the people who invited him to New York to participate in the UNPFII. I wish they had taken time to explain to him about the weather conditions. I wish they had come to receive him at the airport given that it was his first time to travel outside his own village, leave alone the Country. I quickly retrieved a warm Jumper from my bag, the only one that was in my possession apart from the Jacket I was wearing. I had


1 Grand Mother Says “There is no greater agony than bearing an untold story inside you. ” 2 The United Nations Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues (UNPFII) is a high- level advisory body to the Economic and Social Council. The Forum was established on 28 July 2000 by resolution 2000/22, with the mandate to deal with indigenous issues related to economic and social development, culture, the environment, education, health and human rights. 3 Swahili, also known as Kiswahili, is a Bantu language and the first language of the Swahili people. It is a lingua franca of the African Great Lakes region and other parts of eastern and south-eastern Africa, including Tanzania, Kenya, Uganda, Rwanda, Burundi, Mozambique, and the Democratic Republic of the Congo.

tailor made the Jumper to match my identity as a Maasai woman. It had fine prints on the front reading “Unapologetically Maasai.” I had extra feminine boots in my bag, I gave that to him too oblivious that he was a man. Nana received the items with so much gratitude. He was freezing and so scared. He later told me that I was the good spirit that is believed to visit good people. Nana wore the boots and Jumper until the end of the forum. The only special gift he took back to Burundi I suppose. I also had to share the apartment we had booked for the night until he met his host at the UN headquarters the next day. Nana’s Language limitations continued at the United Nations (UN) plenary and consequent side events. “Why can’t they make Swahili a UN language? So many Indigenous African participants in the UNPFII, especially from East and parts of central Africa could benefit and ensure full participation in the forum. Without you to translate the colonial language to me, I would be floating and totally agape.” He said. The rest of our time with Nana was great. He had acclimatized to the weather. However, towards the end of the forum, we attended a side event that made Nana so angry. A white woman working for an International philanthropic organization claimed to have projects in his territory and went ahead to present false information beside the reality on the ground. When Nana realized that the presenter was talking about his territory, he told me to be attentive. “Ensure you translate everything she says, word-by- word. This lady is not sincere.” He said. Nana fidgeted as I continued with the translation. At some point, he could not hold his breath any more. The calm and lovely person I had known for seven days stood up and angrily spoke his first English word. “Stop, stop, stop.” He repeatedly shouted. He proceeded to the front of the room with lightening speed (sic). Using body gestures he pointed to the presentation and again shouted “No, No, No.” He picked the rest of his conversation using his mother tongue. Everybody was speechless and tongue-tied. Nobody understood what he was saying, myself included. However, I connected with his spirit. I was so proud of him. I requested him to calm down and explain to the audience through my translation what he was saying. It turned out the presentation was a hoax. “We are tired. White saviors come to our villages, take photos and videos of our vulnerability and come to such forums to talk on our behalf. They make decisions on our behalf. Those decisions are implemented without our consent and are only for their benefit. I want to talk about us. I want to share who we are. I want to use a language that the world will understand. Nothing for us without us.” He emphasized.



Eve Reyes-Aguirre (Izkaloteka-Mexica), Tonatierra Community Development Institute

It was spring of 2009 when my feet first touched Mother Earth on Onondaga and Lenape territory, the city known as New York. This was my first time traveling so far away from where I live, on the lands of the O’tham Peoples (Phoenix, Arizona). It was the first time a woman from our community had been sent to represent our people, the Izkaloteka-Mexica, at the United Nations. My mission was to learn the process of the United Nations Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues (UNPFII), so that I could effectively defend our rights, and advocate for our people at the International Level. The UNPFII was one place to do that. As I hit the ground running through the concrete jungle of the city, I had no idea where this journey would take me. I arrived at the Global Indigenous Women’s Caucus the following day. It was my first time participating in an Indigenous Women’s caucus, with women from all over Mother Earth. I walked in with the intention of sitting, watching, and learning. I wanted to learn the history, the process of the UNPFII, and most importantly I wanted to learn about the issues that brought all of us women together. When I entered the room, I was met with Indigenous women from around the world, dressed in their traditional clothing, and jewelry, all with the look of determination in their eyes. Just like me, they were there to learn, work, and fight for their people. As the Global Indigenous Women’s Caucus commenced, I had come to learn of the history of the GIWC, and the founding mothers, Tonya Gonnella Frichner (Onondaga), Tia Oros Peters (Shiwi), and Esmeralda V. Brown, from Panama, who came together to create a space for Indigenous women to gather, feel safe and have their voices heard. I was inspired and empowered by these women and all the hard work they put into making this space possible and available to all indigenous women, and especially grateful for the mentorship they provided me, along with many other strong amazing women, from that day forward. As the call for co-chairs came, I was surprised and shocked to have my name put forward as a co-chair, by a woman I had just met that morning. I humbly accepted to be a mentee co-chair and assist the other co-chairs in any way necessary. I was very grateful for the opportunity I was given to learn the process of the meeting itself, as well as the process for bringing our collective voices together by learning to research, write and present interventions. I have been very fortunate to be present, participate, and eventually come to assist in organizing the GIWC every year since. One of the most important truths that came to be known to me, and many other women, that first year, was that Indigenous peoples, regardless of where we call home, have all experienced the same injustice. We are all fighting for our right to self-determination, our lands, our resources our territories, for the protection of our water, for the rights of Indigenous women and children, and those we call land defenders and water protectors. We are fighting for our right to migrate and to live free from all forms of violence. This was a powerful revelation as it empowered us to uplift our voices and advocate for our collective rights and every year as we gather to participate in the GIWC we do just that. It continues to be an honor to work alongside countless Indigenous women on a yearly basis through the GIWC. Many of us have formed strong relationships which have allowed us to support each others work outside of the UN system. While we must continue to work hard in our respective communities to have our voices heard and our rights recognized, we are empowered by the victories we have had in having our rights as Indigenous Peoples acknowledged and respected with the help of the international declarations and conventions that indigenous peoples have contributed to for generations. Our voices as women, united in strength and struggle, will continue to be heard. “Nothing about us without us, everything about us, with us.”



Eve Reyes-Aguirre (Izkaloteka-Mexica), Tonatierra Community Development Institute

Fue en la primavera de 2009 cuando mis pies tocaron a la Madre Tierra por primera vez en el territorio de Onondaga y Lenape, la ciudad conocida como Nueva York. Esta fue la primera vez que viajé tan lejos de donde vivo, en las tierras de O’tham Peoples (Phoenix, Arizona). Era la primera vez que se enviaba a una mujer de nuestra comunidad para representar a nuestra gente, la Izkaloteka-Mexica, en las Naciones Unidas. Mi misión era conocer el proceso del Foro Permanente de las Naciones Unidas para las Cuestiones Indígenas (UNPFII) para poder defender nuestros derechos de manera efectiva y abogar por nuestra gente a nivel internacional. El UNPFII era un lugar para hacer eso. Cuando llegué al suelo corriendo por la jungla de concreto de la ciudad, no tenía idea de a dónde me llevaría este viaje. Llegué al Conclave Global de Mujeres Indígenas al día siguiente. Fue la primera vez que participé en un grupo de mujeres indígenas, con mujeres de toda la Madre Tierra. Entré con la intención de sentarme, mirar y aprender. Quería aprender la historia, el proceso del UNPFII, y lo más importante, quería aprender sobre los temas que nos unieron a todas las mujeres. Cuando entré en la habitación, me reuní con mujeres indígenas de todo el mundo, vestidas con sus ropas tradicionales y joyas, todas con la mirada de determinación en sus ojos. Al igual que yo, estaban allí para aprender, trabajar y luchar por su gente. Cuando el Grupo de Mujeres Indígenas del Mundo comenzó, aprendí sobre la historia del GIWC, y las madres fundadoras, Tonya Gonnella Frichner (Onondaga), Tia Oros Peters (Shiwi) y Esmeralda V. Brown de Panama, Quienes se unieron para crear un espacio para que las mujeres indígenas se reúnan, se sientan seguras y escuchen sus voces. Me sentí inspirado y fortalecido por estas mujeres y todo el trabajo arduo que hicieron para hacer que este espacio fuera posible y esté disponible para todas las mujeres indígenas, y especialmente agradecido por la mentoría que me brindaron, junto con muchas otras mujeres increíbles y fuertes, desde ese día en adelante. Cuando llegó el llamado a los copresidentes, me sorprendió y sorprendió que mi nombre se presentara como copresidente, por una mujer que acababa de conocer esa mañana. Acepté humildemente ser un mentoreado co-presidente y ayudar a los otros co-presidentes en cualquier forma necesaria. Estuve muy agradecido por la oportunidad que me dieron de aprender el proceso de la reunión en sí, así como el proceso para unir nuestras voces colectivas al aprender a investigar, escribir y presentar intervenciones. He sido muy afortunado de estar presente, participar y, finalmente, asistir a organizar el GIWC todos los años desde entonces. Una de las verdades más importantes que conocí a mí, y muchas otras mujeres, durante el primer año, fue que los pueblos indígenas, independientemente de a dónde llamemos nuestro hogar, han experimentado la misma injusticia. Todos luchamos por nuestro derecho a la autodeterminación, nuestras tierras, nuestros recursos, nuestros territorios, por la protección de nuestra agua, por los derechos de las mujeres y los niños indígenas, y por aquellos a quienes llamamos defensores de la tierra y protectores del agua. Estamos luchando por nuestro derecho a migrar y a vivir libres de toda forma de violencia. Esta fue una revelación poderosa, ya que nos permitió elevar nuestras voces y abogar por nuestros derechos colectivos y cada año, cuando nos reunimos para participar en el GIWC, hacemos precisamente eso. Sigue siendo un honor trabajar con innumerables mujeres Indígenas cada año a través del GIWC. Muchos de nosotros hemos establecido relaciones sólidas que nos han permitido apoyar a los demás para trabajar fuera del sistema de las Naciones Unidas. Si bien debemos continuar trabajando arduamente en nuestras respectivas comunidades para que nuestras voces sean escuchadas y nuestros derechos sean reconocidos, estamos fortalecidos por las victorias que hemos tenido al tener nuestros derechos como Pueblos Indígenas reconocidos y respetados con la ayuda de las declaraciones y convenciones internacionales que Los pueblos indígenas han contribuido durante generaciones. Nuestras voces como mujeres, unidas en fuerza y lucha, continuarán siendo escuchadas. “Nada sobre nosotros sin nosotros, todo sobre nosotros, con nosotros."


THE GLOBAL INDIGENOUS WOMEN'S CAUCUS INTERVENTIONS "One part river, one part land. Weaving the world, strand by strand." -BDT The Global Indigenous Women’s Caucus has developed collective platforms for action and presented interventions every year since our inception in 2002.* We weave our issues, perspectives, and strategies together.

Economic and Social Development Implementation of the recommendations on the six mandates areas of the Permanent Forum and on the Millennium Development goals (MGD’s) (2008) Follow up on the Recommendations of the Permanent Forum: Economic and Social Development (2009, 2011) Comprehensive dialogue with United Nations agencies and funds on the post-2015 development agenda of the Fourteenth Session of the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (2015)

Future Generations

KEY Six Mandated Areas of the United Nations Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues Examples of Interventions Values of the Global Indigenous Women's Caucus


*Not an extensive list

Free Prior and Informed Consent

Education Follow up on Indigenous children and youth (2008)


Agenda item on Education (2013)

Half day discussion on the Right to Water (2011) Half-day on the rights of Indigenous Peoples to food and food sovereignty (2012)

Ancestral Knowledges and Cultural Lifeways

Youth, self-harm, and suicide (2015)

Culture Agenda item on Indigenous Languages (2008) Indigenous Peoples: Development with Culture and Identity: Articles 3 and 32 of the UNDRIP (2010) Agenda item on Culture (2013)

Rights of Mother Earth


Human Rights Follow up on the Recommendations of the Permanent Forum: Urban Indigenous Women and Migration (2008, 2009)


Human Rights Implementation of the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (2010, 2011)

Special Theme: “Climate change, biocultural diversity and livelihoods: the stewardship role of Indigenous Peoples and new challenges� (2008)

Principles of good governance consistent with the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples: Articles 3 to 6 and 46 (2014)

Follow up on the Recommendations of the Permanent Forum: Environment (2011)

Responsibilitiesand Rights-based


KYNMAW (REMEMBER) Shannan Massar (Khasi, Monpa, Adi), MSW

Art by Careen Joplin Langstieh


Indigenous women have been protecting Mei Ram – ew (Mother Earth), cultures and traditions, for centuries. As an indigenous woman, I have come to terms with this responsibility in choosing this path, I am honoring those who spent their lives to strengthen and protect the identities and independence of the indigenous peoples. In doing so, I remember their courage and sacrifice. My engagement with the grassroots has given me exposure to a world of movements. In my travels, I have come to understand the shared challenges and universally experienced impacts of violence against women, children, and entire communities. I often reflect on the severity of these effects and how they will shape future generations. Over the years, this has become the primary driving force in my life as an indigenous person, woman and social activist. I feel deeply committed to intensify my efforts to protect children and women, but am also invested in engaging our men in the conversation on how they can contribute towards the preservation and protection of our indigenous communities. All that I have experienced thus far, in the field and at home, has enriched my corpus of knowledge about the global condition of indigenous women and children. Particularly striking has been the lesson that when our rights are breached, it directly affects the rights of our communities. It is therefore important to remember the values that our ancestors created; and it is even more important to ensure that the systems of meanings we have inherited from them - whether values, ethics or cultural practices - are preserved. We need to remember those who struggled to pave the way for our empowerment and the protection of our children. As Indigenous peoples, we hold a formidable understanding of the need to protect and preserve our intrinsic identity for future generations. Over the course of my journey to understand my place in the universe and my calling to work with fellow indigenous women and children, the alliances that I have forged with strong women have given me the strength to redouble my commitment. I am a Khasi woman from Meghalaya, in Northeast India, a place seemingly far away from the grassroots realities of many sisters - but because of them, today I am inspired to embody their strength, and the resilience of indigenous women. Fierce women whom I have encountered have informed journey and play a significant role as guiding lights in my life’s pursuits. These connections have been forged with love and an understanding to uplift each other. It is this broader sisterhood and consciousness to the universality of our struggles that has taught me greater compassion and empathy.



Haydee Sanchez (Nahuat), Central Cultural Techantit

To My Relatives: TAY NE TUNANTZIN NAGA MUSHI YOLISTI UAN TAHUILUT QUE LA MADRE TIERRA NOS LLENE DE VIDA Y BENDICIONES MAY MOTHER EARTH FILL US WITH LIFE AND BLESSINGS The indigenous woman and her struggle. My existence and life’s path were marked by wise indigenous women. Love for others sprang from these women so that they healed not only the people of the village but even doctor’s children who would be brought in their parents’ arms to ask for help because they could not cure those children’s illnesses. I did not learn the language of my ancestors (Nahuat) because it was forbidden to speak Nahuat and other native tongues in El Salvador. I remember the grandmothers would say that to safeguard our lives it was best not to know the Nahuat language. Indigenous women and girls in my country grew up, as did I, suffering double discrimination for being both indigenous and female. Even now, the indigenous woman is relegated to second-class status. Yet, with sacrifice and effort, they have reached positions previously reserved for men. I have been involved in social struggle from my youth, but not for the indigenous. In school, I read books from Salvadoran poets who wrote of the indigenous people as though we no longer existed. Our language, customs, traditions and culture were buried in a place of “nonexistence.” My catholic college text books denied my existence, causing me to disregard my identity while they contemptuously reminded me who I was. One day, far from my homeland, I heard the indigenous people of North America speak about their fight for the rights of the indigenous people. Then I said “I am here! I am also indigenous!” I declared myself present because I could never forget the miserable existence that our people had been reduced to since 1932 when the Salvadoran government massacred thousands of indigenous people. When I first arrived to the ONU (United Nations) at the North American and Guatemalan brothers and sisters’ invitation, I felt somewhat lost, because of the conflict between the knowledge that I was indigenous while my country denied existence of the indigenous. I admired the eloquent and proud way that the brothers spoke of the rights and values of the indigenous people. At the end of the day, I told myself “I am indigenous and I have a challenge to fulfill. Not only do I have to rescue our ancestral roots but also empower our indigenous people in order to reclaim everything they have taken from us.” Since then I have continued to fight to make the indigenous people of El Salvador visible and accompany them in their fight. As a Salvadoran Nahuat Pipil indigenous woman I have accompanied the original/indigenous people of the territories Cushcatan/Chapanastique/El Salvador for the first time before the United Nations. Even before the government of El Salvador recognized that we were a multiethnic and multicultural country, other indigenous nations of the continent recognized that El Salvador had indigenous people. One day, I, along with other Salvadoran brothers, went to El Salvador to explain to the grandparents their rights as indigenous people of the ONU. They were entirely unaware of these rights. Some feared to learn of them, lest claiming them would cause them to be killed. Kernel by kernel, the maize basket began to fill: they had rights and are due respect. The support from the original people of North America, especially that of the 7th Generation, have allowed the development and empowerment of the indigenous leaders of El Salvador leading to the uniting of all the indigenous territories and formation of a national network of original people called “El Jaguar Sonriente.” That maize seed germinated and multiplied. Now we find a woman as the network’s head. Being named the co-president of Global Conclave (Commission) for the Indigenous People provides me the opportunity to learn, visualize, and organize, claiming the rights of the original people of El Salvador. The indigenous woman’s fight must continue despite threats, harassment, abuse and obstacles. The forced displacement must not be a reason to stop fighting; on the contrary, we must continue on our path wherever we find ourselves, be it as healers, organizers, leaders, spiritual guides or simple indigenous women, givers of life, and bearers of the culture, tongue, wisdom and ancestral knowledge. My message of respect and admiration is directed to you, my strong and brave indigenous sisters wherever it may find you. We will make our planet a better place to live for the coming generations.




Haydee Sanchez (Nahuat), Central Cultural Techantit


Mujeres indígenas sabias marcaron mi existencia y el camino de mi vida. De estas mujeres emanaba tanto amor que ellas no solo curaban a la gente de sus pueblos, sino también curaban a los hijos de médicos que éstos traían en sus brazos pidiendo ayuda porque ellos no sabían cómo curar sus enfermedades. Yo no aprendi la lengua de mis antepasados (Nahuat) porque estaba prohibido hablar Nahuat y otras lenguajes indígenas en El Salvador. Yo me acuerdo que las mujeres ancianas decían que para salvar nuestras vidas era mejor que no supiéramos la lengua Nahuat. En mi país las mujeres y niñas indígenas como yo crecimos sufriendo dos formas de discriminación, por ser mujer y por ser indígena. Hoy todavía las mujeres indígenas sufren porque son relegadas a personas de segunda clase. Sin embargo, con sacrificio y esfuerzo han podido conseguir posiciones que antes estaban reservadas solo para hombres. Yo me dediqué a las luchas sociales desde que era joven pero nunca me enfoqué en ayudar a los pueblos indígenas. En la escuela leía libros de poetas salvadoreños, quienes escribían poemas sobre la gente indígena como si ya no existiera. Nuestra lengua, nuestras costumbres, nuestras tradiciones y nuestra cultura estaban enterradas en un lugar de “inexistencia.” Mis libros católicos en la universidad negaban mi existencia, haciendo que yo menospreciara mi identidad, pero a la vez me recordaban de manera despectiva quién era yo. Un día, lejos de mi tierra, escuché a gente indígena de Norteamérica hablar sobre su lucha por los derechos de los pueblos indígenas. En este momento yo dije, “¡Aquí estoy! ¡Yo también soy indígena!” Me declaré presente, porque nunca podía olvidar que en 1932 el gobierno de El Salvador masacró a miles de personas indígenas y nos redujo a una existencia miserable. La primera vez que yo vine a la ONU (Naciones Unidas) fue por invitación de mis hermanas y hermanos de Norteamérica y Guatemala. Me sentí algo perdida por el conflicto que yo tenía, sabiendo que yo era indígena pero que mi país negaba la existencia de sus pueblos indígenas. Yo admiraba la manera elocuente y orgullosa en la que mis hermanos hablaban sobre los derechos y los valores de los pueblos indígenas. Al final de ese día yo me dije a mí misma: “Yo soy indígena y tengo un desafío que cumplir. No solo tengo que salvar nuestras raíces ancestrales pero también tengo que empoderar a nuestra gente indígena para que podamos recuperar todo lo que nos han robado.” Desde entonces he seguido luchando para que los pueblos indígenas de El Salvador sean reconocidos y los he acompañado en su lucha. Como mujer indígena Nahuat Pipil he acompañado a la gente original/indígena del territorio Chushcatan/Chapanastique/El Salvador cuando fueron a las Naciones Unidas por primera vez. Incluso antes de que el gobierno de El Salvador reconociera que somos un país multiétnico y multicultural, otras naciones indígenas de este continente reconocieron que El Salvador sí tiene pueblos indígenas. Un día yo fui al El Salvador con algunos otros hermanos salvadoreños para explicarles a los ancianos que en la ONU, ellos tienen derechos como gente indígena. Ellos ignoraban completamente que tenían estos derechos. Algunos tenían miedo de escuchar sobre los derechos, pensando que reclamarlos podría significar que los asesinaran. Pero grano a grano la canasta de maíz empezó a llenarse: ellos tienen derechos y se merecen respeto. Con el apoyo de la gente original de Norteamérica y especialmente de la Séptima Generación hemos podido capacitar y empoderar a líderes indígenas en El Salvador. Esto nos permitió unir todos los territorios indígenas y formar una red nacional de la gente original que se llama “El Jaguar Sonriente.” El grano de maíz germinó y se multiplicó. Ahora una mujer es la directora de esta red. Ser nombrada copresidenta del Cónclave (la Comisión) Global de Pueblos Indígenas me da la oportunidad de aprender, visualizar y organizar cómo reivindicar los derechos de la gente original de El Salvador. La lucha de las mujeres indígenas tiene que continuar a pesar de las intimidaciones, acosos, abusos y obstáculos. El desplazamiento forzado no puede ser una razón para parar de luchar; por el contrario tenemos que continuar nuestro camino en donde nos encontremos, ya sea como curanderas, organizadoras, líderes, guías espirituales, o simplemente como mujeres indígenas; las que dan luz, las que portan la cultura, la lengua, la sabiduría y el conocimiento de los antepasados. Mi mensaje de respeto y admiración se dirige a Uds., mis hermanas indígenas, fuertes y sabias, en donde se encuentren. Crearemos un planeta mejor para las generaciones futuras.



THE ROLE OF WOMEN IN THE INTERNATIONAL ARENA Nesha Xuncax (Maya Kanjobal), Maya Vision Introduction: Since the beginning of humanity, Indigenous women have been the protectors of their creations and all that surrounds them. At the same time, I would also like to recognize the fight that my non-Indigenous sisters started for gender equality and the right to vote in governmental elections. In our current society, women have rarely been recognized for their contribution to development, while Indigenous women focus their attention on advocacy that is rooted in their ancestral and natural knowledge and that uplifts their ancestral communities. With grave violations that have occurred, Indigenous women have had to be in the forefront of the fight against giant transnational companies which have contaminated their environment and their habitat. The infiltration and the stealing of Indigenous properties has caused a mass displacement, it has also created victims of famine and persecution. These same individuals are then criminalized for crossing borders to survive. What has that meant for the life of our communities? It has had a negative impact: the loss of our identity, where we cannot practice our languages or wear our clothes. It has utterly disconnected us from our spiritual practices, practices that harmonize us with our Mother Nature. It has disconnected us from the traditions that unite our communities, the practice of our values; for example, respect for life-- our highest value in front of so many challenges. The Global Indigenous Women’s Caucus builds instances of community, where a space for dialogue and gathering of female leadership from around the world is provided. It has allowed us to create strategies of dialog, where we have been able to receive support from high commissioners of human rights of the United Nations, who go as observers to the communities where violations of human rights take place. It is important to note that there are strong organizations and foundations such as the Seventh Generation Fund for Indigenous Peoples that create coalitions of Indigenous organizations from the local level, to the national level, and the international level. My own testimony as an Indigenous Maya woman is that this foundation showed me the tools and educated me on how to use diplomacy in all levels of power as well as advocate for the liberation of my Indigenous brothers who were unjustly incarcerated (this happened in Santa Cruz Barrillas). Why were they unjustly incarcerated? Because defending their own mother, our mother earth is not a crime. Seventh Generation Fund gave me the mechanisms and the resources to conduct diplomacy and present intervention on


allegations of injustice before the United Nations. They also gave me the tools and strategies to present interventions about these specific issues: persecution, advocacy for the liberation of unjustly incarcerated people, reporting on the Indigenous brothers/sisters that have been assassinated for defending their means of survival which are their rivers and mountains, the recognition of Indigenous Tribes (one example is the recognition of Indigenous Tribes in El Salvador), and how to contribute in the fight for inclusion and empowerment. It has been part of my life experience to participate in the movement and advocate for the declaration of human rights. The United Nations Commission on the Status of Women has also been a vehicle in which it was allowed to make recommendations on regulation for the FDA and the World Health Organization in regard to the protection of our biodiversity. Some examples of the regulations addressed are: Pesticides, genetically-modified plants, the normalization of military force, racism, discrimination, nullification of policies of counterclaim that mining companies apply, the World Bank, the problem of not getting the Free, Prior Informed Consent from Indigenous tribes, and the need for investigations into the murders that occur daily on the border between Mexico and the United States. The Global Indigenous Women’s Caucus will continue to use new strategies in advocacy and diplomacy to find viable mechanisms to work against major problems faced by death machines and others faced positions of power. The global powers and the big corporations only want economic gain and power through the sale of fire arms, creating war, use of nuclear weapons, virus mutations, and weapons to wipe out humanity. All of this is highly concerning as this could make our greatest threat become a reality in the form of world war three. As for the collective of Indigenous women that are participants and key players in the protection of human rights, they are tasked with continuing to find and create new ways that can counteract the effects of the harm that is trying to eliminate humankind. The spiritual mind and fiscal being must be healed in order to have a positive effect on persecution and war. A great responsibility is placed upon the Women’s Caucus. It must find the medicine that will ease and cure humankind. This is only possible by using mechanisms that will allow for new legislations and regulations that are appropriate and viable to implement change.

EL ROL DE LAS MUJERES EN CÓNCLAVE A NIVEL DE LAS NACIONES Nesha Xuncax (Maya Kanjobal), Maya Vision Introducción: Desde el comienzo de la humanidad, el rol que la mujer indígena ha desempeñado es ser la protectora de su creación y de todo su entorno. A la misma vez hago el reconocimiento de otra línea de pensamiento de hermanas mujeres no indígenas, que también comenzaron su lucha por la igualdad de derechos y por ser incluidas en el poder de votar para la elección de gobernantes. En la sociedad actual, la mujer ha sido muy poco reconocida por su aporte al desarrollo, mientras la mujer indígena, basada en sus principios ancestrales y naturales, se enfoca más en la abogacía, la buena gobernanza en pueblos de origen, pero a medida de los crecentes atropellos, la mujer indígena ha salido a la vanguardia en la lucha en contra las gigantescas transnacionales que han enfermado su ambiente y su hábitat. La infiltración y el robo de propiedades indígenas han creado los desplazamientos masivos y ahora son víctimas de hambruna y de persecución y son criminalizados por cruzar las fronteras como medio de sobrevivencia. ¿Qué ha significado esto en la vida de nuestras comunidades? Han impactado negativamente en la pérdida de nuestra identidad, donde no podemos practicar nuestras lenguas, nuestro vestuario. Nos ha desconectado rotundamente de las prácticas espirituales. Dicha práctica nos armoniza con nuestra madre naturaleza, las tradiciones que hermanan nuestras comunidades, la práctica de nuestros valores como por ejemplo, el respeto a la vida, nuestro más alto valor ante tantos desafíos. El cónclave de mujeres crea las instancias de colectividad, donde se provee un espacio de diálogo y encuentro de mujeres lideresas de todo el mundo y nos ha permitido crear estrategias de diálogo, donde se ha podido conseguir acompañamientos de altos comisionados de derechos humanos de las Naciones Unidas, quienes van como observadores a las comunidades donde se cometen violaciones de derechos humanos. Cabe mencionar que existen organizaciones fuertes y fundaciones como Seven Generation Fund, quienes encabezan las grandes coaliciones de organizaciones indígenas locales, nacionales y continentales. Como testimonio propio y mujer indigena maya, la fundación me enseñó, me educó sobre las herramientas necesarias para aplicar la diplomacia en todos los niveles de poder y la abogacía para la liberación de los hermanos indígenas (hecho ocurrido en Santa Cruz Barrillas) quienes fueron encarcelados de manera injusta. ¿Por qué injusta? Porque defender a su propia madre, la madre tierra no es un acto malo. Seventh Generation Fund me dio los medios y recursos para las gestiones de diplomacia, intervenciones sobre denuncias de las injusticias presentadas ante las Naciones Unidas, las herramientas educativas, y estrategias colectivas

para poder hacer una intervención con los siguientes contenidos: persecuciones, abogacía para liberación de encarcelamientos injustos, denuncias de hermanos indígenas asesinados por defender los ríos y las montañas que producen sus medios de sobrevivencia, reconocimiento de pueblos indígenas (como por ejemplo el reconocimiento de pueblos indígenas de El Salvador), el cómo contribuir con la lucha de inclusión y de empoderamiento. Ha sido una de mis experiencias de ser parte del movimiento y la abogacía por la declaración de los derechos humanos. El cónclave de mujeres a nivel de las Naciones Unidas ha sido uno de los vehículos que también ha permitido hacer recomendaciones acerca de la revisión de las normativas del FDA, Organización Mundial de la Salud en relación a la protección de la biodiversidad. Algunos ejemplos: los plaguicidas, los transgénicos, las normativas de prácticas militares, el racismo y la discriminación, la anulación de políticas de contrademanda que usan las compañías mineras, el Banco Mundial, no contar con previa consulta y libre consentimiento de los pueblos indígenas, petición de investigación de muertes que ocurren a diario en la frontera de México y Estados Unidos. El cónclave de mujeres continuará creando nuevas estrategias de abogacía y diplomacia para poder enfrentar y encontrar la viabilidad de mecanismos que puedan ser efectivos ante los crecientes problemas relacionados con armas mortales y diferentes producidos por abuso de poder, las potencias mundiales y las grandes corporaciones que solo buscan ganancias económicas y poder a través de las ventas de armas, creación de guerras, armas nucleares, mutaciones de virus, armas fuertes para eliminar a la humanidad. Todo esto preocupa grandemente, porque podrían hacerse ciertas las grandes amenazas del pronunciamiento de una tercera Guerra mundial. Al cónclave de mujeres indígenas que participan y son actoras importantes dentro de la protección de los derechos humanos, le queda de tarea y compromiso continuar en la búsqueda y creación de nuevas estrategias que puedan contrarrestar el efecto nocivo que busca amenaza eliminar a la humanidad, la sanación del espíritu mental y físico como efecto de persecuciones y guerras. Una gran responsabilidad queda para el cónclave de mujeres; buscar la medicina de alivio y la curación de la humanidad solamente es posible utilizando mecanismos que permitan crear nuevas legislaciones, regulaciones apropiadas y viables para su implementación.




Tina Ngata (Ngāti Porou)

In this excerpt from the new book Mountains to Sea: Solving New Zealand’s Freshwater Crisis, Tina Ngata talks about the whakapapa of life-giving freshwater.


Ko wai tēnei When I speak to wai I speak to myself – and that is not only to acknowledge the inherent understanding that many Māori carry, which is ‘Ko wai mātou – we are water’ – but also that my knowing of wai has been developed through my own distinct exposure to elders, experts and experience. This linguistic relationship can also help us to understand our traditional perspectives, and the central role that water has played in our sense of identity and wellbeing. ‘Ko wai mātou’ also means ‘Who are we’. ‘Waiora’ relates to a sense of well-being across our physical, spiritual, emotional, communal and environmental dimensions, while ‘Wairangi’ describes a state of emotional and mental upheaval. Māori narratives of water are as diverse as they are rich – and so while I acknowledge the commonalities that carry across not just iwi, but also across many Indigenous peoples, I also honour the distinctiveness of my knowing, just as we should honour the distinctiveness of each waterway, and offer this as my own.

The whakapapa of water Our world, Te Ao Māori, is a whakapapa – one vast genealogical chart that connects us as siblings, mutually dependent upon all that surrounds us in this time, and across time. Water first manifests in this genealogy as Wainuiātea – the great expanse of water, the gathering of all waters – who was the first partner of Ranginui, the Sky Father. Freshwater first appears as a consequence of the parting of Ranginui, Sky Father, from Papatūānuku, Earth Mother. Their grief and yearning for each other presents as the teardrops (rain) of Ranginui and the sighs (mist) of Papatūānuku. We can therefore see freshwater as the inevitable consequence of atmosphere, upon which all life depends. It is brought about through the separation of land and sky, held in place through the Atua Tāne, in the form of trees. In this form, Tāne is known as Tāne-TokoRangi – Tāne who holds up the sky. One of his multitude of other forms, however, is Tāne te Waiora – Tāne of the life-giving waters, of light, well-being and prosperity. It was the union of Tāne te Waiora and Hinetūparimaunga, the Atua of mountains, that brought about Parawhenuamea, personification of freshwater on land. That first sacred teardrop became Te Ihorangi, Atua of rain, parent of the hundreds of different forms of rain and snow that each had its own name, and also parent of Tuna, the freshwater eel. Once born, Tuna was given into the care of Parawhenuamea and Hinemoana, Atua of freshwater and saltwater. Traditionally, these genealogical relationships aided our movements through this world. They helped us to understand our relationships to the trees, to the animals and the elements, and their relationships to each other. Whakapapa helped us to consider the consequences of our actions across multiple spaces, and make sense of what was happening around us. Indeed, relationships – whakapapa – are regularly cited as a foundational principle of Te Ao Māori. Māori scholars have often reflected upon the severe impacts of the loss of Mana Atua upon our people’s wellbeing, upon our perception of the world around us and our place in it. Indeed, the de-sanctification of nature has played a central role in the psychological assimilation of Indigenous peoples around the world. Most certainly our belief system of interconnectedness underpinned a different set of obligations to nature, and in turning away from that system, we also turn away from those obligations. What was once a relationship based upon connectedness and reciprocity between us and our non-human ancestors thereby shifts towards one of dominion over and ownership of assets. The sacredness of water When we consider these genealogical relationships, and the positioning of water within that genealogy, we see water for the sacred entity that it is – no less so than Rangi and Papa, the parents from whom we all descend. This is reflected in the many sacred rituals conducted with the use of water. The act of immersing oneself in water can, in some contexts, be seen as a powerful prayer in and of itself. It is not only physically, but spiritually, cleansing. Wai has the function of imbuing mauri (life essence) and mana, of committing any one thing or person to a sacred purpose. It can transition you from the restrictive spiritual state of tapu to the safer state of noa, and back again. Wai is present at our most sacred rites of passage – that of birth, and that of death. Even within sacred water forms, distinctions existed for the use of wai tapu, which could be used for the cleansing of corpses, and waiora, which could be used for healing and giving life. Particularly for wāhine, as the carriers of the birth waters, wai is a potent reminder of our own ability to give life and to oversee transition to death, and our duty to maintain whakapapa. In addition to the sacred dimensions of water we had, and have, many other uses for it too. Water, of course, is vital for food, and mahinga kai (food systems) form the centre of village life. For Māori, the ability to provide food direct from our sources was a reflection of our mana – it demonstrated our ability to work together, to care for our resources, to remember and retain the skills that our ancestors refined over thousands of years, and to honour our responsibilities to Atua. All of these practices would reward us with abundant kai, and that in turn increased our esteem as hosts. Water, like rain, and wind, was understood through a deeply complex framework, reflected by a multitude of names, each related to a different characteristic. Waiunu refers to drinking water; Waipukepuke is water that has been whipped by the wind to form peaks; Waihuka is frothy water; Manowai is water that has deep, strong undercurrents; Waiwhakaika refers to the specific ceremonial waters for the embedding of knowledge; Waiariki refers to healing or curative waters, often hot springs. At the other end of the scale we have Waiparu, clouded waters; Waipiro, odorous waters; Waikino, polluted waters; Waikawa, rancid, slow-moving waters; and Waimate, stagnant, dead or death-inducing waters.


Our ability to interact with these many forms of water appropriately depended upon our ability to ‘commune’ with the water, to listen, smell, taste and observe the waters and understand what each variation meant. Water has intelligence, comprised of its nature and the multitude of life forms within it that respond to various stimuli. Water communicates its needs to us, and our comprehension depends entirely upon the intimacy of our relationship with it. The maintenance of this relationship sits at the heart of kaitiekitanga – our principle of care and protection. Waiora and ahi kaa – waters of life, and fires of occupation We cannot understand the needs of our waterways unless we live with and by them. When we tell the story of the decline of the well-being of our own ancestral Waiapu catchment, we often link it to the depopulation of our rural lands. Indeed, in many cases the degradation of our waterways, from a Māori perspective, is a part of a larger story of colonisation, urban migration and the loss of ancestral knowledge around care and communication with nature. We must physically be beside our waterways in order to utilise them, to speak with them, to listen to them and what they are saying through their scent, through their sound, through the taste of their kai, through their levels, through the life within them (or lack thereof), in order to realise this sacred relationship. The extraction of my people from our waterways has occurred across physical, epistemological, philosophical, cultural and spiritual dimensions. The tools of extraction have been political, legislative, economic and educational. When you ask me what it is that I want to see for the future of my people and our waterways – my ultimate vision lies not within the themes of ownership, which is not natural to us anyway, nor is it a vision of pristine cleanliness or even a standard of abundance – both of which will naturally ebb and flow. My vision is the full restoration of our relationship to our waters. The honouring of our divine whakapapa, our genealogical relationship to and intimate interdependency with the waters. The means of achieving this vision will require those same political, legislative, economic and educational tools. Within this vision rests the requirements for us to repopulate our territories and occupy our ancestral spaces. Within this vision also rests the requirements for us as Māori to engage with the gifts and skills left to us by our ancestors to inform our own creation, uptake and application of modern technology, in order to be the very best kaitieki we can be. IN 2017, PARLIAMENT PASSED A HISTORIC BILL TO RECOGNISE THE SPECIAL RELATIONSHIP BETWEEN THE WHANGANUI RIVER AND WHANGANUI IWI WHICH PROVIDED FOR THE RIVER’S LONGTERM PROTECTION AND RESTORATION BY MAKING IT A PERSON IN THE EYES OF THE LAW. While our ancestors left us valuable messages and inspirational models, we should never forget that our lands and rivers were different for them, with different needs, surrounded by different systems of living. Possibly the most powerful model of inspiration that we can draw from our ancestors is that of careful, purposeful care and observation. Through approaches informed by time-honoured holistic observations, and enhanced by technological advancements, our fluency in the reo of the awa can be renewed. Across our islands, our communities are taking up this challenge, and renormalising the ancestral arts of holistic, systematic observation and tracking. The granting of legal personhood to the Urewera ranges, Whanganui River and Mount Taranaki recognises a shift in the colonial systems of conservation and care towards perspectives that are rooted in Māori ancestry and centred in rights of care rather than rights of ownership. In celebrating these steps, we must always remember that the displacement of our people from their traditional roles of authority and care in relation to our lands, rivers, and mountains remains an act of injustice that can only be fully restored when our relationship to them is fully restored. This restoration journey will therefore continue to demand bold conversations around the wielding and distribution of power within settler–colonial systems. If we wish to envision a future that truly moves beyond our presumptions of ecological dominion, we must also consider the framework of domination that our very nation is built upon. I hold out great hope for our future – the intertwined future of our waters and us as people. Our healing journey as a nation, however, must begin now. It must begin with an honest account of colonisation and its impacts, it must begin with an understanding of the social dimensions of environmental devastation, and it must begin with immediate shifts in the power dynamics that have thwarted social and environmental progression. Where steps have been made in that direction, healing has begun. It is my vision, and prayer, that those steps continue.


Mauri ora


Deborah L. Sanchez (Chumash/O'odham)

The sense of doom thick in the air hanging from the ceiling of the hotel meeting room sticking to name tags dangling from coffee cups The speaker paced the room promising to answer everyone's questions the anxious participants waiting for bits and pieces of information to be thrown to them holding their breath or his prediction of how the end would come In the back a table neatly stacked "All DVDs 50% off!" cash only please The marketing of the apocalypse clever The urgency apparent The secret sanctuaries only revealed in one-on-one sessions for a price

It made me smile Completely entertained by the hundreds of people with questions and opinions It was well worth the money spent on this curiosity ticket and even the hours of driving in the cramped-economy-rental car crossing state lines into the spectacle of human drama In the back of the room initially listening, absorbing I faded into a memory of Elders gathered years ago on the land of the Swinomish people at the time of the yearly canoe journey Elders sitting 'round a fire me and the Firekeeper hovering on the outside all of us close to the ocean the calm waters of the sound touching the shore and returning I listened to their wisdom experiences shared When the opportunity was presented I told them of the dread I felt described the psychosis brought to these lands by the newcomers The exploitation without end of people land and resources The killing of Mother Earth


I cried for my grandchildren for traditions lost spoke of our Peoples surviving the invasion barely escaping the genocide only to be here Now unable to stop this devastation the rampant exploitation and the New World Order I knew and they did too

Looking out onto the dark waters a small island framed by the coming twilight dense with the greenest of trees This also told me I was exactly where I was meant to be

Coming back into the present I realized I was here in this meeting room on the basement level beneath the casino Old prophesies floated in front of us listening to this speaker in a room filled They nodded as I spoke with the fearful, psychotic and curious recognizing the anguish the sadness simply to remind me Then quietly they told me bringing back the memory of the Elders Live your life bringing me back to peace Do all the things you were meant to do Without saying more I understood Exactly where I was meant to be the transition time has begun and we are desperately entangled I knew they knew we all knew Wiping my tears I was at peace


Art by Christi Belcourt (MĂŠtis)

ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS AND GRATITUDE We honor and acknowledge our Ancestors who made principled decisions and difficult sacrifices in laying down a clear and honorable pathway for us to follow for self-determination.

REMEMBERING Tonya Gonnella Frichner (Onondaga Nation) Chair, Seventh Generation Fund Founder/President, American Indian Law Alliance Ingrid Washinawatok El-Issa (Menominee Nation) Fund of the Four Directions


NoVo Foundation Indigenous Communities Program Kalliopeia Foundation

The contributors to this publication; all of our donors, supporters, our sisters and brothers from around the world, with special thanks to:

Christensen Fund Tides Foundation American Indian Law Alliance Southern Diaspora Research and Development Center Flying Eagle Woman Fund for Peace, Justice & Sovereignty Onondaga Nation United Methodist Women Urgent Action Fund for Human Rights Defenders


AUTHORS IN ORDER OF APPEARANCE Tia Oros Peters (Zuni), MFA Sandra Creamer (Waanyi, Kalkadoon), LLB Margaret Iriama Lokawua (Karamajong), MA, Expert Member from Africa, UN Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues 2008 Dr. Henrietta Mann (Southern Cheyenne) Alicia Vacacela (Saraguro, Kichwa), Instituto Científico de Culturas Indígenas Dr. Luis Macas (Saraguro, Kichwa), Instituto Científico de Culturas Indígenas Deborah L. Sanchez (Chumash, O'odham), JD Naomi Leleto Lanoi (Maasai), BA, MBA, MLS, and PhD candidate Eve Reyes-Aguierre (Izkaloteka-Mexica), Tonatierra Community Development Institute Shannon Massar (Khasi, Monpa, Adi), MSW Haydee Sanchez (Nahuatl), Central Cultural Techantit Nesha Xuncax (Maya Kanjobal), Maya Vision Tina Ngata (Ngāti Porou)

ARTISTS Tāwera Tahuri (Ngā Ariki Kaipūtahi, Whakatohea, Ngati Uenuku), MMVA, and PhD Candidate, Artist for Cover Abel Lligalo (Kichwa), Artist for "Mamakuta" and "Mayu" Careen Joplin Langstieh, Artist for "Kynmaw"

EDITORS AND DESIGN Chisa Oros (Zuni,Yoeme) BA, MA, Principal Editor Carla Cheney (Peruvian, German) MA, MSW, Editing/Translation Dr. Angela Helmer (Peruvian), Translation Chelsea Miraflor Trillo (Pangitaa), MSW, Publication Designer Tia Oros Peters (Zuni), MFA, Executive Director, Seventh Generation Fund Featured Photos with permission from Tia Oros Peters, Deborah L. Sanchez,


Seventh Generation Fund Archives, and Global Indigenous Women Caucus Archives

Photo and items courtesy of: Tia Oros Peters


Be a Good Ancestor.





For any inquires or more information about available units, please contact: redpapers@7genfund.org

Profile for Seventh Generation Fund for Indigenous Peoples

Nothing About Us, Without Us  

This publication features Indigenous Women engaged in international advocacy and diplomacy.

Nothing About Us, Without Us  

This publication features Indigenous Women engaged in international advocacy and diplomacy.