The enthusiasm was palpable October 12th at Columbia, but also more broadly, about this first Indigenous Peoples’ Day commemoration at our university. Many Columbia entities collaborated for this, but also the New York University community. We congratulate all cosponsors for the interest, spirit of solidarity and decolonization ethic that embraced the event. It was organized by The University Seminar on Indigenous Studies, The University Seminar on Latin America and the Institute for the Study of Human Rights and was cosponsored by The Native American Council; the Center for the Study of Ethnicity and Race; the Center for the Study of Social Difference (in particular its Working Group on "Environmental Justice, Belief Systems, and Aesthetic Experiences in Latin America and The Caribbean”); the Mailman School of Public Health; the Institute of Latin American Studies; and the School of Social Work at Columbia University; and from New York University, the Center for Latin American and Caribbean Studies; the Native Studies Forum; and The Latinx Project.
This pandemic revealed, early on, the continuing inequalities profoundly affecting Indigenous Peoples and African Americans or Afrodescendants in our midst. Although Indigenous people are only 6.2% of the world’s population, they have been disproportionately affected by the pandemic. At the same time their mobilization on the ground has been admirable. Indigenous Peoples have mobilized dynamically in this country, in this continent and around the world since this past Spring, speaking out about their situation, laying out their demands and determination for survival and well-being, seeking support and solidarity, finding ways to resist within their cultures and traditional knowledge and envisioning a better and more just future after the pandemic.
The three Indigenous-rights related UN mechanisms
, the Organization of American States
, the Working Group on Indigenous Populations/ Communities in Africa of the African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights
are among those that have focused on the pandemic in the past months. The new UN Special Rapporteur on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, Francisco Cali, Maya Caqchikel from Guatemala, presented, on October 12th, his first report to the UN General Assembly on the topic of Indigenous Peoples and Covid 19 (https://undocs.org/A/75/185
). He focuses on the impact of the coronavirus disease on the individual and collective rights of Indigenous Peoples, including increased health risks, as well as the sources of resilience of Indigenous Peoples, State and Indigenous responses to the pandemic and the adverse and disproportionate impact of confinement and emergency measures observed on Indigenous Peoples. He concludes with a set of recommendations geared towards an inclusive economic and social recovery and better preparedness for future similar situations.
After a welcome by Sachem HawkStorm from the Schaghticoke First Nation, a Tribe of Lenape descent, and opening remarks by Professor Peter Winn, Chaiperson of the University Seminar on Latin America, panelists spoke as follows: Lisa Bellanger, Anishinabe/Dakota from the Leech Lake Band of Ojibwe, American Indian Movement-Exec Director; Dr. Myrna Cunningham (Miskita), President Fondo para el Desarrollo de los Pueblos Indígenas de América Latina y el Caribe; Victor Lopez Carmen, (Crow Creek Sioux Tribe and Yaqui), Co-Chair Global Indigenous Youth Caucus; Tarcila Rivera Zea (Quechua), President, International Indigenous Women’s Forum, Vice-President, Chirapaj; Sara Nawashahu Yawanawá-Bergin (Yawanawa), Chief of Shukuvena Village, Brazil; Janene Yazzie, (Diné (Navajo)), Dzit Asdáán (Strong Women) Command Center for Covid Relief.
The link to the recording of the event can be found here
Panelists also shared websites and other social media of their organizations that can provide continuing information on their work:
Tarcila Rivera Zea:
CHIRAPAQ, Centro de Culturas Indígenas del Perú:
Enlace Continental de Mujeres Indígenas de las Américas (ECMIA):
Fondo para el Desarrollo de los Pueblos Indígenas de América Latina y el Caribe:
Translations 4 Our Nations:
Victor Lopez Carmen: