[News] Indigenous Peoples Day

Anti-Imperialist News news at freedomarchives.org
Wed Oct 10 10:27:24 EDT 2007

October 08, 2007


Indigenous Peoples Day

by Roxanne Dunbar-Ortiz
"I'm convinced that indigenous peoples are the moral reserve of 
humanity." Evo Morales, Aymara, President of Bolivia, 
September 26, 2007.

Every year as October 12 approaches, there is a certain sense of 
dread that can be felt in indigenous communities in the Americas. 
That it is a federal holiday in the United States is regarded as 
hideous, a celebration of genocide and colonization. However, 
beginning thirty years ago, indigenous peoples formed an 
international movement, demanding, for one thing, that October 12 be 
commemorated as an international day of mourning for the Indigenous 
Peoples of the Americas. Informally, the day has been appropriated as 
Indigenous Peoples Day.

This year feels different in indigenous communities as they celebrate 
the great victory of the adoption of the 
Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples by the 
General Assembly on September 13, 2007, the culmination of a 
three-decade struggle by indigenous activists at the United Nations. 
The UN Declaration was adopted by a majority of 144 states in favor, 
with only four votes against: Australia, Canada, New Zealand and the 
United States. Interestingly, these are precisely the four 
nation-states where intentional genocidal policies were pursued, 
policies that sought to exterminate all the indigenous peoples living 
in the lands seized by settlers from the British Isles. The 
populations of those states should be ashamed, not only of their 
horrific pasts, but of the present refusal of their representative 
governments to make amends with the descendants of those indigenous 
peoples who survived these genocidal policies.

Perhaps those governments and their citizens think they do not have 
to recognize the rights of indigenous peoples within their claimed 
boundaries because the populations are small. Yet, the survival and 
flourishing of indigenous communities and nations is important to the 
future of humanity and to the survival of habitation on earth.

Speaking to the United Nations General Assembly on September 16, 
Bolivian president Evo Morales stressed the need to understand the 
indigenous way of life, saying that living well in a community meant 
living in harmony with Mother Earth. "This new millennium must be the 
millennium for life, placing our bets on human dignity." 

<http://www.reddirtsite.com/>Roxanne Dunbar-Ortiz is a historian, 
university professor, co-founder of Indigenous World Association, 
which lobbies the United Nations on behalf of indigenous peoples' 
rights, and is author of a number of books and articles on indigenous 
peoples of the Americas, most recently, 
<http://www.reddirtsite.com/bk-roots-1.htm>Roots of Resistance: A 
History of Land Tenure in New Mexico. She is at work on a history of 
the United States from the indigenous perspective, which is 
forthcoming from <http://www.beacon.org>Beacon Press.

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