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.