International Leonard Peltier Defense Committee

Indigenous Rights and Tribal Sovereignty

Indigenous Peoples of the United States are no strangers to hardship and abuse at the hands of the dominant population. We also are no strangers to treaty negotiation and betrayal. Between 1778, when the first treaty was signed with the Delaware, and 1868, when the final one was completed with the Nez Perce, there were hundreds of treaties between the U.S. government and the Indian Nations. Not one of these treaties was honored by the government.

The United Nations itself says that human rights must be applied to all Peoples without discrimination. Accordingly, the United Nations Declaration for the Rights of Indigenous Peoples was adopted. The text of the Declaration has been endorsed and supported by hundreds of Indigenous Peoples and organizations around the world as the minimum standard required for the recognition and protection of Indigenous Peoples’ rights internationally. We demand that the United States government implement the provisions of the UN Declaration for the Rights of Indigenous Peoples.

There have been continued attempts by federal, state, and local governments in the U.S. and nation states worldwide to undermine efforts to protect the human rights of the Indigenous Peoples. We cannot allow our rights to be negotiated, compromised, or diminished.

Indigenous languages are the backbone of culture and must be preserved. It is only in traditional Native languages that Native worldviews, values, and teachings can be fully conveyed. We call on the United States government to support the preservation of indigenous languages and to recognize and affirm the value of school curricula that incorporates Native language instruction and cultural content.

Indigenous knowledge has as much value as western scientific knowledge and contains valuable lessons for indigenous and non-indigenous communities alike. We call for respect and support for traditional health and healing practices, indigenous resource management strategies, and relational worldviews shared by many Native communities.

Further, the United States must protect sacred places from intrusion and destruction from development in any form.

In addition, the rights of tribal members must be protected to continue to hunt, fish, and gather on traditional lands and places and engage in subsistence practices.

We remain committed to doing our part to unite all Native Peoples in the world in an effort to uplift their communities and promote cultural pride and sovereignty. We work closely with U.S. groups, as well as international human rights and Indigenous organizations to protect our Peoples and, with the help of our friends and supporters, maintain a presence at the United Nations.

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