UN x ILO: International Day of the World's Indigenous PeopleKarrine Steffans

August 9, 2013 marks the United Nation’s International Day of the World’s Indigenous People –– a day and a cause of which many of us have never heard.

Well, lucky for you, that ends today!

Here is what I have learned during the upstart of my work with the United Nations’ International Labour Organization about IDWIP 2013:

 

What is the IDWIP?

The International Day of the World’s Indigenous Peoples was first proclaimed by the General Assembly in December 1994, to be celebrated every year during the first International Decade of the World’s Indigenous People (1995 – 2004). -UN.org

 

What is This Year’s Theme?

The focus of this year’s International Day is “Indigenous peoples building alliances: Honouring treaties, agreements and other constructive arrangements.”

The theme aims to highlight the importance of honouring arrangements between States, their citizens and indigenous peoples that were designed to recognize indigenous peoples’ rights to their lands and establish a framework for living in proximity and entering into economic relationships. Agreements also outline a political vision of different sovereign peoples living together on the same land, according to the principles of friendship, cooperation and peace. -UN.org

 

My Personal Take on IDWIP:

In brief…

There were people who were here first — people who are, indeed, indigenous. Many of these people are people of color or, as some governments would like us to believe, minorities. But, I believe, that we are all citizens of the world and, when we are all added up, these minorities, we minorities, aren’t so minor, after all.

I believe that race and the manmade phenomenon of racial supremacy had and has a lot to do with the overtaking, raping, and draining of indigenous people, their lands and resources.

And when you deplete them, you deplete us.

When a group of people believe they are better because there seems to be more of them at any particular time or because they base their strength on the weapons they hold and the evil they possess, horrible things can happen.

And they have. 

I believe the manmade phenomenon of money and the greed it breeds is also to blame for the systematic tearing down of all that is original and respectful to the way life was meant to be lived. I believe in a God who gave us enough and maybe even more than we need and that we can sustain ourselves off the land, air, and water provided if we do so with the care and consideration known by indigenous people.

They have so much to teach us. 

I question society and the corporations that run and influence our governments. The corporations that are buying and stealing land rights to harbor minerals, oil, precious metals, water and other resources with no care of the indigenous people who actually live on that land, not because they wish to bleed it dry but because it is all they know, love, and respect.

Qualities societies and governments can stand to learn.

Here inlays my digression. And now…

 

A Message from Q’orianka Kilcher

Human Rights and Environmental Activist and Actress

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