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afn-ncai

afn-ncai

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Published by tehaliwaskenhas
National Chief Shawn A-in-chut Atleo
October 22, 2012
National Congress of American Indians
69th Annual Convention | Sacramento, CA

OUR RIGHTS, OUR SOVEREIGNITY, OUR RESOURCES, OUR ECONOMIES
National Chief Shawn A-in-chut Atleo
October 22, 2012
National Congress of American Indians
69th Annual Convention | Sacramento, CA

OUR RIGHTS, OUR SOVEREIGNITY, OUR RESOURCES, OUR ECONOMIES

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Published by: tehaliwaskenhas on Oct 24, 2012
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 [Traditional greetings]Good day and thank you for welcoming me to your beautiful territory. I am trulyhonoured to be here – to learn from you of the challenges and priority issues in yourterritories, and to share with you some of our plans for moving forward based onFirst Nation rights and Treaties.I opened in my own language by thanking the Indigenous peoples of this territory – the Nisenan and Plains Miwok.It’s great to see so many familiar faces, including President Jefferson Keel. TheAssembly of First Nations and NCAI touched base just a few weeks ago during a visitin Washington. Last year, the AFN and NCAI co-hosted an International IndigenousSummit on Energy and Mining on the Canadian side of Niagara Falls. But more onthat later…My message builds on your messages here today. I’d like to reflect on your theme‘Our Rights, Our Sovereignty’ from a perspective of considering “Our Resources andOur Economies”, and highlight the opportunities and importance of moving forwardtogether.You see – there are many similarities in our work and I see a true moment of reckoning for all of us to capitalize on these similarities and shared priorities andgoals to achieve a better day for indigenous peoples across North America andaround the world. While we have distinct cultures, traditions, ceremonies, we havesimilar challenges and priorities. And above all we share a responsibility – to ourpeoples, to our lands, and to our brothers and sisters around the globe – to standfirm on our rights, our sovereignty – to create healthy, sustainable, thrivingcommunities for our peoples to learn and grow.I believe that after several centuries of struggle and strife, now is the time for ourpeoples to strengthen our cultures, our economies, and our Nations.Our Peoples have much in common, and all in this room are familiar with ourkinship. Many of us share the same DNA and the same language origins.
 
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 The Dene in the Yukon, the Northwest Territories and northern Alberta share thesame dialects with the Apache and Navajo in California and Arizona.The Indigenous Peoples on the Pacific Northwest coast – from Alaska, to BritishColumbia, to Vancouver Island, where my territory is, and south to Washington andOregon – have the same shared lineage, heritage, and customs.While this year may mark the 25th anniversary of the North American Free TradeAgreement – NAFTA – many people in this room know that Indigenous peoples hadalready been freely trading among each other for thousands of years. In fact, 800years ago, the ancient city of Cahokia – near present day St. Louis – was bigger thanany city in Europe at the time, including London and Paris.Cahokia was built upon trade with the Indigenous peoples of the north – some of whom traveled from smaller trade centres located in what is now Toronto andWinnipeg – as well as those Peoples from the southern part of the United States andMexico.And trade wasn’t just limited to our peoples. In the past few years, archeologistshave found Chinese coins that are 300 to 400 years old in Alaska and the Yukon. Infact, the Tlingit used these coins to decorate clothing.Let’s face it; both of our respective countries – the United States and Canada – would not be two of the wealthiest nations in the world if not for the naturalresources in our territories.When our Peoples signed Treaties with the Crown, it was understood that the landwe agreed to share with the newcomers would equally benefit everyone for as longas the sun shines, the rivers flow and the grass grows. When the Chiefs in northernOntario signed Treaties 150 years ago, they said they felt “the rustling of gold underour feet”. They expected a fair share of that wealth.The City of Sacramento wouldn’t be here today if it weren’t for the gold rush of the1840s and 1850s. The same can be said for Whitehorse and Dawson City in theYukon – Fairbanks and Skagway in Alaska – during the second gold rush of the 1890s.

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