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UN: Indigenous government is a key aspect of development

Servindi, May 2006 .- One of the most relevant documents that was circulating in the 5th session of the UN Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues, points out the importance of strengthening the government structures and institutions of the indigenous peoples in favour of an effective and sustainable development of the indigenous communities. The document is called: Report of the international meeting of a group of experts about the Millennium Development Goals, the participation of indigenous peoples and the good government.

The report points out that indigenous peoples are characterized by their own government structures, but at the same time they are facing a diverse range of issues related with the interaction of the government structures of the countries they live in.

The participants were regretting the fact that many development projects weaken the traditional government structures. The indigenous government it was specified is not static, but it is constantly developing.

The traditional authorities' part in the changing process is very important. If the traditional authorities do not participate in the administration of the changing process, they risk to weaken their power., as the report indicates.

The government models that recognize a diversity of cosmovisions and are based on cultural values and traditions, propitiate an authentic ability of adopting decisions and local control.

The indigenous peoples have interests as citizens but also as peoples with their own ideas about the society they like to live in. Therefore, it is fundamental that the indigenous peoples participate in the state processes of adopting decisions in order to protect their rights and interests.

The document notes that the Millennium Development Goals and its related indicators do not reflect the indigenous peoples' necessities and specific concerns, neither do they permit to carry out a specific follow-up of the progress achieved by these peoples.

The distribution of the eight Millennium Development Goals does not agree with the indigenous peoples' most integral idea of own development, and it does not consider their priorities, for example, concerning land, territories and resources.

The goals are not appropriate for a great number of indigenous peoples because they value more the money income than the unstructured subsistence economies, which are of fundamental importance to satisfy a great part of the indigenous peoples' basic necessities.

There exists the risk that the Millennium Development Goals guide the development work towards a greater and greater participation of the indigenous peoples in paid work and the market economy; two contexts in which their sophisticated traditional knowledge and their government systems have no value.

The document points out that, to approach the Millennium Development Goals, the five goals of the Second International Decade of the World's Indigenous People should form the informative basis. The goals are the following: a) No discrimination and inclusion; b) full and effective participation; c) development politics that are culturally appropriate, concerning the diversity; d) programs and conditions with specific goals for the development of the indigenous peoples, with special attention to the indigenous women, children and youth; e) mechanisms of more strict supervision and presentation of accounts.

The document indicates that some countries only permit the participation of indigenous representatives if they are fluent in the majority's language or if they are members of the national political parties. In order that the centralisation really contributes to the respect of the indigenous peoples' rights the report affirms it is necessary to accept the indigenous peoples' own government structures and their territorial integrity and grant them a different treatment.

To achieve the approval and validity of the processes it is necessary for the associates to participate in the activities on the field of development and to count on the governments' support. Furthermore, it is important that the procedure is adjusted to the cultural demands and that participative methodologies and new technologies are used. Likewise, the Development Goals have to recognize the importance of the women's participation, they have to be developed in indigenous languages and be adapted to the indigenous concepts of time and space.

The document concludes with a series of recommendations for indigenous peoples and governments and points out that the principle of a free, previous and informed consent is fundamental.

The document which the article is referring to, as well as other documents, can be revised and downloaded from the document section on the web page of the United Nations Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues:

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Seven Global Currencies of the Indigenous Peoples
Life Sustaining Systems of Exchange and Reciprocity

An Evaluation Matrix for the Global Economy and Millennium Development Goals

➢The Breath of Life
➢The Water of Life
➢The Givers of Life
➢The Sustainers of Life
➢The Foundation of Life
➢The Sharers of Life
➢The Seed of Life
The Breath of Life: The Air, Winds and Atmosphere

The Water of Life: The Waters, the Clouds, Waterways, Rivers and Streams, and Oceans

The Givers of Life: The Sacred Species: Buffalo, Deer, Salmon, and Eagle

The Sustainers of Life: Corn, Beans. Squash (agriculture)

The Foundation of Life: The Land and Territory, Mother Earth

The Sharers of Life: Community and Nations

The Seed of Life: Spirit –Light

Embassy of the Indigenous Peoples
Tel: (602) 254-5230 P.O. Box 24009 Phoenix, AZ 85074
Email: [email protected]

The Tides of Time

Everyday in the news we hear of the global economy, of events that take place around the world that affect our economic reality as nations, communities and families. It is a great challenge to educate and prepare our youth to encounter success in the future of an increasingly global economic society. To participate in the construction of the future, and not just be dragged along by the effects is one of the principal and practical goals of education. In reality, it has always been a global economy. Traditional indigenous cultures from around the world have always maintained that it is only one earth, one water, one air, and one sun that nourishes us all, and all economic systems reflect this reality as the bottom line - which is not a really a line but a formula, an equation.

What are the factors of this equation? Technology is one, but should not be the prime determinant. Neither should the monetary policies of the World Trade Organization, the World Bank, the International Monetary Fund or the government states be given the exclusive power of determining the value systems by which we identify and implement the economic currencies of humanity.

Seas of Emergence

The term economy gives us a clue by the root "ECO" which also serves in defining the term ECOLOGY. (From the Greek "oikos" which means house.) Traditional cultures from around the world maintain that the entirety of the ecosystem of the planet is our "house" which we strive to make a "home"- a chante - with our cultures for the future generations of humanity. From this perspective, the Sun and Earth maintain a primary role in tandem as authors of the equation of life. From this perspective, the tides of time, which we observe and measure with our calendars, serve to remind us of how far we have come on the journey to success, the journey to achieve our global humanity, and how far we have yet to go.


Good Greetings Relatives,
We have confirmed with Dr. Walter Reid of the Millennium Ecosystem Assessment (MA) for a two-day visit to the Nahuacalli in Phoenix for Friday and Saturday, September the 9-10, 2005. We have shared with Dr. Reid the ilhuicayolotl (schema) of our model: Seven Global Currencies of the Indigenous Peoples - A Matrix of Evaluation for the Global Economy and Millennium Development Goals. For more information please contact our office.

Tupac Enrique Acosta, Yaotachcauh
Tlahtokan Nahuacalli
(602) 254-5230
[email protected]

"We are also convinced that the experience of the MA will transform the nature of future environmental assessments. ‘Scientific’ assessments, which privilege scientific knowledge over other types of knowledge, will now give way to ‘knowledge assessments’ that recognize the value and legitimacy of many forms of knowledge held by different groups of people."

Presentation by Dr. Walter Reid at the UN Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues
Wednesday, May 18, 2005 United Nations, New York, US


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