Indigenous Peoples and Human Rights

June 19, 2012

VIDEO Gwich'in at Kari Oca Human Rights

As the Kari-Oca II is underway in June 2012, during Rio 20, in Brazil, Censored News shares this video from the first gathering in 1992
Photos of Kari Oca II 2012 by Ben Powless at Censored News:

Kari-Oca Press Conference: Karen Snowshoe, Gwich'in Nation. Kari-Oca World Conference of Indigenous Peoples on Territory, Environment and Development, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, June 1992. Speaking on Human Rights and International Law. (Original language: English) Educational links: Dialogue Between Nations, International Relationships Indigenous People's Earth Charter, Kari-Oca

Welcome to my brothers and sisters who are here. I would like to acknowledge first of all the land that we are on the Indigenous Peoples of these territories because my grandmother has taught me to do that I acknowledge and I recognize that we are in a territory. As you can see I am from the Gwich'in Nation I don't represent the Gwich'in Nation but I am a member of that nation. We are the most northern Indian people of the Americas. We live in the Western Arctic the land called the Northwest Territories of Canada.

In following to what my brother has said here, when we talk about human rights we bring this issue up at this conference that seems to deal with only environment and development and we want to make it very clear that you cannot separate the environment from development, from social justice or human rights issues because as indigenous peoples we have our laws they are natural and they are spiritual. We were placed on our respective territories to care for those territories for future generations and I tell you why you cannot separate human rights issues from environment and development because in all these territories indigenous peoples throughout the world their human rights are being violated whether they are being placed on reserves, displaced from their land the continuing genocide the policies of states governments continuing assimilation the saddle tactics of genocide are preventing us from fulfilling our responsibility as care takers of those lands. If you look in our declaration our first section deals with human rights and international law. We talk about collective rights we don't talk about individual rights for our peoples. Because in our traditional forms of governments there was no need to assert individual rights. They were already guaranteed in our sacred circle, in our traditional forms of government.

And so here we are up to this day and we have survived and we will continue to maintain that right for the right to have collective rights. But we want those guaranteed in international law. There is something called the Universal Declaration of Indigenous Rights which is presently in draft form and in our statement it says that we urge governments to support the United Nations work through fund indigenous peoples universal declaration of indigenous rights. But for more examples you can look through our chapter those are just a few words I wanted to share with you.

Thank you for being here.

Karen Snowshoe, Gwich'in


Kari-oca Press Conference, Rio Centro, UN Conference on Environment and Development (UNCED), June 1992. Marcos Terena, Indigenous leader (Brazil), Coordinator of the Comite Intertribal Memoria e Ciencia and Coordinator of the Kari-Oca World Conference of Indigenous Peoples on Territory, Environment and Development, speaks to the international press about responsibilities. The following day, Marcos Terena presented the Declaration of Kari-Oca and the Kari-Oca Earth Charter of Indigenous Peoples in the UNCED Plenary. (Clip is in Portuguese)

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