For twenty-five years, the Center for World Indigenous Studies (CWIS) has worked in collaboration with indigenous institutions like the National Congress of American Indians (NCAI) in the US, the Assembly of First Nations (AFN) in Canada, the Nordic Sami Council in Scandinavia, and the National Aboriginal Council in Australia, developing the intellectual strength and historical knowledge to move forward on human rights initiatives in traditional knowledge, governance, trade, health and medicine, and environmental restoration. Indeed, past presidents Chief George Manuel and President Joe DeLaCruz, of AFN and NCAI respectively, were instrumental in establishing CWIS.
Today, these initiatives influence events on all continents in the form of consultation on analysis and strategy for achieving accords essential to indigenous peoples' survival (like the 2007 United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples), developing strategies for restoring control over territories, formulating strategies for mitigating and adapting to climate change, as well as establishing new institutions for resolving conflicts.
In the 1950s, when Chief George Manuel began organizing First Nations in Canada, the official policy of the two federal governments above and below the forty-ninth parallel was to exterminate indigenous peoples as independent political entities. Assimilation programs designed to annihilate the indigenous cultures was actually designated “termination” by the US Congress.
As tribal leaders in the 1960s, Manuel and DeLaCruz embarked on a journey that would take them to all corners of the globe, igniting a resurgence of aboriginal peoples leading to the formation of the World Council of Indigenous Peoples in 1979, and it's successor, the Center for World Indigenous Studies (CWIS), in 1984. The foundation laid by Manuel, DeLaCruz, and CWIS chair, Rudolph C. Ryser, led to the creation of the UN Working Group on Indigenous Populations in 1982, and the establishment of the UN Permanent Forum on Indigenous Peoples in 2002.
In the present era of networks and netwars, think tanks like the Center for World Indigenous Studies function much like tribal protector societies, only on a global scale. Guarding against toxic ideas that can lead humanity astray, associations of scholars affiliated with these intellectual repositories and networks of activists relying on these learning centers serve to inoculate societies against panic and despair.
CWIS today is considered the premier indigenous think tank and archival repository in the world. Learn more about their programs by visiting their website.