Indigenous Peoples and Human Rights

February 19, 2014

Ponca Casey Camp-Horinek opening expert at Rights of Nature Ethics Tribunal

Casey Camp-Horinek – Opening Expert

Casey Camp-Horinek

Presentation of the Indigenous Environmental Network and Indigenous Peoples of Mother Earth and our Grandmothers – and Future Generations

Delivered by Casey Camp Horinek (Ponca – Oklahoma, USA)

to Rights of Nature Ethics Tribunal, January 17, 2014 – Quito, Ecuador

By Rights of Nature Tribunal
Reposted at Censored News
French translation by Christine Prat

Our prophecies and teachings tell us that life on Mother Earth is in danger and is coming to a time of great transformation. As Indigenous Peoples, from the global South and North, we are accepting the responsibility designated by our prophecies to tell the world that we must live in peace with each other and Mother Earth to ensure harmony within Creation.

Indigenous Peoples are people of the land and of the waters; and we are confronting many challenges: challenges such as extreme changes in the climate, extreme weather events, extreme energy development, and the continued push of economic globalization and a continuation of western forms of development.
Fossil fuel development within Indigenous Peoples’ territories, land, water and seas are on the increase. It is business as usual. The petroleum and extractive industries with the helping hand of governments are expanding exploration to find more fossil fuels and furthering its energy addiction and high consumption levels.
The survival of indigenous cultures, languages and our communities’ continue to be affected by a modern industrialized world that lacks awareness and respect for the sacredness of Mother Earth.
Our Mother Earth is the source of life. Water is her lifeblood. The well-being of the natural environment predicts the physical, mental, emotional and spiritual longevity of our communities.
Mother Earth’s health, her nature, and that of our Indigenous Peoples are intertwined. As Indigenous Peoples, we are of the Earth and the Earth is of us. Mother Earth is life. This inseparable relationship must be respected through rights-based instruments for the sake of our future generations and for the well-being of the Earth herself, for all people and all life.
Our Indigenous Peoples believe that our system of governance must reflect our belief in balance and harmony. We believe in the equity of all of Creation, not just ourselves. The animals, plants, rocks and all elements have as much right to exist as people do.
This didn’t mean that we could not harm another living creature, since we require food from the plants and animals, but that we are to respect the sacrifice made by the animals and plants. These sacrifices were part of the Original Instructions to respect each other, to care for each other, because we are related to each other, as brothers and sisters.
We believe by observing the Natural Laws of Mother Earth, we would be able to learn the right way to life – the good way of living, to find balance and harmony with Nature.
Indigenous Peoples are very lawful people. From the Haudenosaunee Indigenous Peoples of North America, to our Ponca Peoples; we recognize our responsibilities and duties to the natural laws of Creation, as defined by our Original Instructions.
Our Original Instructions declares and teaches us of the four sacred elements of life: air, light/fire, water and earth and its pollen and seeds in all their forms must be respected, honored and protected for they sustain life. Our Natural Law teaches us to respect all Creation, from Mother Earth and Father Sky and to all Life that have their own laws, and who have rights and freedom to exist. We are taught we must treat this sacred bond with love, compassion and respect without exerting dominance, for we do not own our Mother.
The rights and freedoms of the people to the use of the sacred elements of life as mentioned above and to the use of the land, nature, sacred sites and other living beings must be accomplished through the proper protocols of respect, thanksgiving and making offerings. These cultural and spiritual practices must be protected and preserved for they are the foundation of our ceremonies, our heritage, and our indigenous way of life. It is the duty, responsibility and obligation of our Indigenous Peoples to protect and preserve the beauty of the natural world for future generations.
Historically, the Doctrine of Discovery was used to justify the first wave of colonialism here in the Americas by alleging that Indigenous peoples did not have souls, and that our territories were “terra nullius,” land of nobody. Mother Earth is the source of life which needs to be protected, not a resource to be exploited and commodified as a ‘natural capital.’
We feel the pain of disharmony when we witness the dishonor of the natural order of Creation and the continued economic colonization and degradation of Mother Earth and all life upon her.
To restore Mother Earth – her nature’s balance, the world needs to shift from a philosophy of control and dominion over nature, and its legal system of property rights regimes, to a relationship of understanding and respect of the Natural Laws and love for the beauty of the creative female energy of Mother Earth.
This inseparable relationship between humans and the Earth, inherent to Indigenous peoples, must be learnt, must be embraced, and respected by all people, for the sake of all of our future generations and all of humanity.
Mother Earth’s rights are inherent. Any law that denies these fundamental rights are illegitimate and a violation of the Natural Laws of Creation.
We can preserve, protect, and fulfill our sacred duties to live with respect in this wonderful Creation. We have the power and responsibility for change.
A paradigm, that is based on Indigenous thought and philosophy needs to be forwarded which grants equal rights to nature and which honors the interrelation in all life.
This is the greatest challenge facing humanity, whether here it’s here in middle Earth Ecuador or globally, to recognize its responsibilities, duties and obligations to the rights of Mother Earth.
Mitakuye Owasin

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