US supports Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples

Watch video or read a transcript of the announcement; download the full statement of support.

Susan Masten, Chairperson of the Indian Law Resource Center Board, comments on the U.S. endorsement of the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples.

Edward Alexander, Second Chief of the Gwichyaa Zhee Gwichin, speaks about the importance of the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples for his own tribe living in the Yukon territory spanning both Alaska and Canada.

Jewell James, Lummi Nation, says the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples sets the agenda for changing the relationship between Indian nations and the U.S. government.

Armstrong Wiggins, Director of the Center’s Washington, D.C. office, shares his view of the U.S. endorsement of the Declaration on WBAI 99.5 FM in New York City on December 20, 2010.

 

 

UN Declaration sets new agenda for US-Indian relations

Commentary by Robert T. Coulter
Executive Director, Indian Law Resource Center

Today, the United States government at last officially endorsed the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples and joined the international community in recognizing that American Indians and other indigenous peoples have a permanent right to exist as peoples, nations, cultures, and societies. 

The United States is the last of the four countries that voted against the UN Declaration to reverse its position.  This endorsement reflects the worldwide acceptance of indigenous peoples and our governments as a permanent part of the world community and the countries where we live.  The Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples is the most significant development in international human rights law in decades.  International human rights law now recognizes the rights of indigenous peoples as peoples, including rights of self-determination, property, and culture. (More…)

 


Message from the Indian Law Resource Center’s Board of Directors:

Dear Friends,

The United States endorsement of the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples is a momentous step towards achieving justice for indigenous peoples around the world.  The Indian Law Resource Center board and staff celebrate this hard fought victory.  International human rights law now recognizes the rights of indigenous peoples as peoples, including rights of self-determination, property, and culture. 

The Center is proud to have been a part of this process for more than 30 years.   But even with this endorsement, we know the work is not over.   In order for the principles of the Declaration to become a reality, we must continue to fight for reform of  the many unfair laws and policies that still apply to Indian peoples in this country.  The Declaration will help us evaluate these laws and set better standards for the future.  It will also serve as a guide for improving government-to-government relationships between the United States and Indian nations.

We believe this endorsement is a critical first step towards addressing difficult issues such as violence against Native women, Land Law reform and protecting the environment.  It is a first step to respecting land and water rights,  and protecting sacred sites.   It also provides guidance to global entities like multilateral development banks, which fund development projects around the world that directly and often negatively impact indigenous communities.

Thank you to all of the leaders and government officials who have made this vision of justice and freedom for indigenous peoples a reality.  We hope that together we can continue to work towards justice for indigenous peoples. 

Sincerely,

The Indian Law Resource Center Board of Directors:

Robert T. Coulter, Potawatomi
President of the Board
 Helena, Montana

Susan M. Masten, Yurok
Chairperson of the Board
 Hoopa, California

Dacho Alexander, Gwich’in
Fort Yukon, Alaska

Michelle Allen
Albany, California

Martin Avery, Navajo
Gallup, New Mexico

Melanie Benjamin, Ojibwe
 Onamia, Minnesota

Norma Bixby, Northern Cheyenne
Lame Deer, Montana

gaiashkibos, Lac Courte Oreilles Chippewa
 Hayward, Wisconsin

Terri Henry, Cherokee
Cherokee, North Carolina

Darwin Hill, Seneca
Basom, New York

Peter John
 Chicago, Illinois

G. Jon Roush
 Portland, Oregon