The announcement from President Barack Obama that the US government has reversed its decision and now endorses the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples will advance the long struggle to have an internationally recognized instrument promoting those rights around the world.
“The circle is now complete” stated Willie Littlechild of Hobbema, international chief of the Treaty No. 6 Confederacy “
The announcement came Dec. 20, bringing cheers from the chiefs meeting in Gatineau, Que. This represents the final country that had voted against the UN Declaration when it was earlier passed by the United Nations General Assembly. Canada endorsed the Declaration on Nov. 12. The UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples is an international instrument providing recognition of basic rights for the indigenous peoples throughout the world. It was adopted by the UN General Assembly Sept. 13, 2008.
“I congratulate President Obama for supporting the indigenous peoples; he is a sincere and courageous leader looking out for all peoples,” Littlechild said. “I also give my appreciation to the Maskwacis Cree for their work and support towards this important recognition of the rights of indigenous peoples, along with the International Organization of Indigenous Resource Development with their US partners from the Council of Energy Resource Tribes.
“I also acknowledge the leadership from the First Nations of Treaties 6, 7 and 8 of Alberta” Littlechild said. “It has taken commitment and support of a number of individuals and First Nations over these years to have this UN Declaration developed and adopted. This sets the framework for relationships between the First Nations and the governments.
“Finally I applaud president Jefferson Keele and former president Tex Hall of the National Congress of American Indians on behalf of the tribes for their efforts in getting the US government to support the declaration.”