Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Breaking New Ground

Freedom, for First Nations, is an achievement by Fourth World peoples, not a gift bestowed by modern states. The inherent aboriginal human rights -- acknowledged in international law through instruments like the 2007 UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples -- are not privileges granted by institutions, but rather acknowledged moral, legal and ethical obligations.

The World Indigenous Peoples' Movement – organized to protect their ways of life from the states that still seek their annihilation -- is a unified and concerted effort to end genocide, while simultaneously stimulating the consciousness of mankind. The success of this initiative, depends on the voluntary cooperation of civil societies, as well as the active support of conscientious individuals worldwide.

The indigenous peoples' story – of the struggle to exist free to learn, live and prosper within a socio-political framework of conservation, cooperation and generosity -- is eloquently posed in such genres as the novels of N. Scott Momaday, the songs of Archie Roach, and the oratory of Tom Goldtooth. Through the medium of film, this noble endeavor is now breaching the wall of denial constructed by modern states; through film and the Internet, we and our friends at the Center for World Indigenous Studies are breaking new ground in this struggle.

Monday, December 22, 2008

Energizing the Social Nexus

In a new venue but familiar function, I recently participated in composing a meta narrative for the International Indigenous Peoples' Forum on Climate Change. Corresponding with colleagues and associates at the UN climate change talks in Poznan, Poland over the last two weeks, I was indirectly involved in clarifying the indigenous position to world leaders and world media.

While dealing in ideas -- in my case working with words -- necessarily entails building on the work of others, collectively constructing a conceptual guide involves new creations and forms of collaboration. Crafting a narrative that can complement visual and audio images in such communicative instruments as art, song, dance and film, helps in energizing the social nexus where core values converge.

Creating a synthesis of these values held in common by the World Indigenous Peoples' Movement, as well as the environmental and democracy movements, requires mastering the arts of communication, humanities, and leadership within a political science context. Meeting that challenge is both exciting and daunting; navigating the global terrain, however, calls forth lessons and principles learned about relationships at a foundational level. Everything we build on them goes back to the element of respect.

Friday, December 12, 2008

Democratizing Capital

Sometimes the subheading on our Public Good homepage is misunderstood. When we talk about defending democracy, we're not talking about nation-states or other institutions, but rather about grassroots, civil society efforts, that more often than not are in response to undemocratic institutions behaving as though they are above the law.

Promoting a just economy, democratic political life, and responsible citizenship through the democratization of capital ownership, is a value we share with our friends in the World Indigenous Movement and other human rights endeavors. We hope you will join us.

While you're here, take a look around and see if there's something in particular that catches your eye. We enjoy collegial correspondence.

Monday, December 08, 2008

Practicing Reciprocity

The United Nations, like its member states, is an institution based on the forceful suppression of inherent indigenous rights. As a partner of market-based economies, these institutions have always conceded to aboriginal nations as little as was deemed necessary to maintain the illusion of inclusion.

With the advent of the environmental and human rights movements in recent decades, that illusion has become more difficult to perpetuate, resulting in the establishment of UN forums, committees and declarations to mollify the 1/3 of humanity left out of UN decision-making altogether.

This is not to say that no UN programs benefit original peoples in any way, but merely to note that concessions are not the same as cooperation. Cooperation begins with respect, and leads to reciprocity; reciprocity by the UN and its members would entail recognizing the great gift they received from the conservation practiced by first nations and the Fourth World. Practicing reciprocity would mean adopting the supreme indigenous value of generosity as the foundational value of the UN--a change of heart that has yet to take place.