Photo: President Evo Morales at Cochabamba Summit by Brenda Norrell
Bolivian President Evo Morales is preparing to carry the Peoples Agreement, and its standards to protect Mother Earth and the future of humanity, from the Cochabamba Summit to the UN Climate Summit in Cancun.
Which Native American and First Nations leaders will join President Morales? Will President Morales walk alone?
President Morales and the government of Bolivia hosted the World Peoples Conference on Climate Change and the Rights of Mother Earth in Cochabamba, Bolivia, in April. The majority of the 35,000 attending were Indigenous Peoples. Among them were Ofelia Rivas, O'odham, and Manny Pino, Acoma Pueblo, cochairs of the vital Working Group on Indigenous Peoples, one of 17 working groups.
The Declarations from Cochabamba, including the culminating Peoples Agreement, and the Indigenous Peoples Declaration, set new standards and visions for humanity. The Indigenous Environmental Network worked diligently in Cochabamba to expose the fraud of carbon credits, and the necessity of preserving Indigenous sovereignty and the protection of forests.
Timbisha Shoshone President Joe Kennedy and Brad Garness, executive director of the Alaska Inter-Tribal Council, were among the few leaders who joined President Morales in Cochabamba.
One of the dilemmas is this: Much of the money in Indian country is controlled by those who derive dollars from some of the filthiest coal-fired power plants in the US. It also comes from the leases and taxes on oil and gas drilling in pristine and sacred places. On the Navajo Nation, this is where the bulk of the dollars come from.
There are Native American leaders across the continent who have travel funds and could have joined President Morales in Cochabamba. They can still join him in Cancun, Nov. 29--Dec. 10, 2010, with the Peoples message to the world.
The protection of human rights and the safeguarding of Mother Earth are easy words to toss around in press releases contrived by the spin doctors of elected leaders. It is easy to become so distracted by gossip, the quest for power and the divisions of US-colonial politics, that one loses sight of what is important.
Hopefully President Morales' courage and conviction in carrying forward the Cochabamba Declarations will be a wakeup call for American Indian and First Nation governments in the US and Canada.
Who will accept the challenge and join him?
--Brenda Norrell firstname.lastname@example.org
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