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Prepared to Lead

Prepared to Lead



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Published by Jay Taber
2009 essay written in collaboration with Dr. Rudolph C. Ryser and Renee Davis at the Center for World Indigenous Studies. (excerpt from cinematic documentary proposal)
2009 essay written in collaboration with Dr. Rudolph C. Ryser and Renee Davis at the Center for World Indigenous Studies. (excerpt from cinematic documentary proposal)

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Categories:Types, Research, History
Published by: Jay Taber on Jul 11, 2009
Copyright:Attribution Non-commercial


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 Prepared to Lead 
 by Jay Taber 
During the first two weeks of December 2008, delegates from aboriginal nations around the worldgathered in Poznan, Poland to share their traditional knowledge with the UN and its member statesmeeting there for climate change talks. One year prior to this convergence to discuss a new vision for the survival of humankind, the UN General Assembly adopted the Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (13 September 2007); at Poznan, the tribal peoples challenged the UN to make thatrhetoric reality.If the one-third of humanity the limited number of indigenous peoples’ delegations represented had therecognized right to exist and flourish under international law, then their voices had to be heard, their delegations welcomed, their gifts acknowledged by states’ government delegates to the United NationsFramework Conference on Climate Change. They were not.In the closing statement of the International Indigenous Peoples' Forum presented to the UNconference, the delegations observed that the denial of full and effective participation in the UNdiscussion is an affront to the rights granted them in 2007. They went on to say that the framework itself undermines their rights, and demanded the immediate suspension of carbon market schemes andother initiatives that, “commodify the atmosphere, promote privatization, and concentrate resources inthe hands of a few.” What we must do, they noted, is to “transform the values of commerce andconsumerism to those of conservation, cooperation, and sharing.”Reciprocity by the UN and its member states would entail recognizing the great gift they received fromthe conservation practiced by First Nations and the Fourth World. Like it or not, the invisible peoplecollectively described as indigenous peoples are still here.
When modern states first initiated plans for exterminating the conservation cultures of the FourthWorld (replacing them with a system of states), religious fundamentalism was the motivating belief of their dominant societies. Intertwined with that belief was an unquestioning faith in market economics.Over time, a rift developed between controlling society’s “haves” and “have nots” over these doctrines, but was not fundamentally challenged until the environmental movement brought into question the basic assumptions of market theology. Today, that rift has widened with the awareness generated by theanti-globalization movement, made famous in Chiapas, Mexico when the Mayan Day Keepers steppedfrom a protective cave and pronounced the world economy in jeopardy, and in Seattle, United States of America, when indigenous leaders challenged the underlying premise of the World TradeOrganization.The recent showdown between the UN and the World Indigenous Peoples' Movement in Poznan,Poland is a classic contest between faith–based fundamentalism and scientific observation. With faithin market doctrine plummeting worldwide, the proven track record of First Nations in conservationeconomics places indigenous peoples in the role of teachers to the disillusioned former members of themarket cult. Still in denial, market–based institutions like the World Bank are struggling to maintaindominance by force, using the myriad UN agencies to implement its brutal schemes.
Illustrating the aboriginal precept that all things are connected, the convergence of the indigenousmovement with the environmental and pro-democracy movements signals an end to the wasteful wayof life promoted by UN member states. How this plays out in terms of new relationships between suchthings as capital and ownership remains to be seen, but the likelihood of returning to business as usual, becomes ever more remote as our collective consciousness surpasses market mania in presenting a newvision for the future of humankind.
The world indigenous movement has been 500 years in the making, and it did not happen accidentally.The indigenous peoples' reemergence -- demanding that the human rights made manifest in the 2007UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples be respected by all nation-states -- is the result of a long preparation. That preparation required recovery from disease and genocide, as well as instructionin self-governance in order to pursue self-determination in the modern world--and that wasn't easy.Designing the tools needed to free themselves from states, global markets, and financial institutionstook a lot of thought and hard work. Research and consultation had to be done. Education had to beconducted by and for indigenous peoples themselves. Networks of indigenous scholars had to be builtand connected with indigenous leaders and activists. Alliances had to be formed.
Standing on the shoulders of those who endured the era of official extermination of indigenous peoples by forces in internationally recognized states, leaders of the indigenous resurgence -- begun under therubric of the 1948 Universal Declaration of Human Rights – in 1979 brought together the indigenousleadership of the globe as the World Council of Indigenous Peoples. The successor to that body, theCenter for World Indigenous Studies (CWIS), is now the premier indigenous think-tank and archivalrepository in the world.For thirty years, CWIS has worked in collaboration with indigenous institutions like the NationalCongress of American Indians (NCAI) in the US, the Assembly of First Nations (AFN) in Canada, the Nordic Sami Council in Scandinavia, and the National Aboriginal Council in Australia, developing theintellectual strength and historical knowledge to move forward on human rights initiatives inrestoration of traditional knowledge, governance, trade, health and medicine, and environmentalrestoration. Indeed, past presidents Chief George Manuel and President Joe DeLaCruz, of AFN and NCAI respectively, were instrumental in establishing the Center for World Indigenous Studies.Today, these initiatives influence events on all continents in the form of consultation on analysis andstrategy for achieving accords essential to indigenous peoples' survival (like the United NationsDeclaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples), developing strategies for restoring control over territories, formulating strategies for mitigating and adapting to climate change, as well as establishingnew institutions for resolving conflicts. During the three decades of its existence, CWIS has helped prepare the indigenous leaders of tomorrow by making sure they understand the dynamics of the present and lessons of the past. Carrying on that vision in the digital age is a challenge and opportunitythe Center is committed to engaging.The JourneyIn the 1950s, when Chief George Manuel began organizing First Nations in Canada, the official policyof the two federal governments above and below the forty-ninth parallel was to exterminate indigenous peoples as independent political entities. Assimilation programs designed to annihilate the indigenouscultures was actually designated “termination” by the US Congress.

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