International Indigenous Leadership Gathering on St’at’imc land (BC)

International Indigenous Leadership Gathering on St’at’imc land (BC)

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John Ahni Schertow
March 12, 2009
 

Reprinted below, an invitation to attend and support the International Indigenous Leadership Gathering, which runs from April 30 to May 7, 2009 in the Territory of the St’at’imc Nation (southern British Colombia).

The focus of the gathering will be on Protecting the Sacred.

International Indigenous Leadership Gathering

INTERNATIONAL Community, if you can join us, please call, to register, volunteer or witness. we need cooks.

Worldwide, Indigenous Peoples are facing rapid culture loss – due to the aggressive assimilation policies still underway. At the same time, the remaining Old People are quickly passing on. Continent to continent, the teachings that have guided countless generations, rooting the children and connecting the youth, are at risk.

Recognizing this crossroads, the Old People across many Indigenous cultures have warned that we must act now, to safeguard the teachings. Governments call these teachings ‘traditional knowledge’; however, it is sacred knowledge, of sacred life relationships, connecting us all in the Circle of Life. The Hopi, the Lakota, the Maya, the Kogi and other Indigenous Peoples across Turtle Island say that the time for reconnection is now. Recent messages from the Old People in Thailand and Australia echo this. Time is short for restoring the balance. The children need us to move with love and discipline. We have been instructed to come together for real reflection.

The International Indigenous Leadership Gathering will bring together Old People, Ceremony Keepers and mandated leaders from the four directions: Asia, Africa, the Americas (including Arctic), Australia and the South Pacific which will be based on funding availability. They will gather at the foot of the sacred mountain in the St’át’imc Territory, to discuss issues of common concern as well as visions for honouring the shared responsibilities. Unlike other meetings, this Gathering will take place at a sacred site, in the heart of an Indigenous Nation’s ancestral territory.

Critical issues to be addressed at the International Indigenous Leadership Gathering include:

These topics will be addressed in their full depth, with appropriate care, because talks on ‘traditional knowledge’ at the United Nations are dangerously abbreviated and misleading.

Addressing such topics in their proper cultural context will provide a breakthrough for Indigenous Peoples internationally. It offers protection for the children and grounding for the youth, at a time when meaningful initiatives for tackling the root causes of culture loss are scarce. There will be relevant guidance, from recognized spiritual authorities, instead of further outside ‘expert’ prescriptions. Indigenous Peoples themselves will address the pressing global issues at which their Peoples now find themselves the centre of – for example, climate change.

Preparations for the International Indigenous Leadership Gathering began in 2002, when the St’át’imc Chiefs Council submitted a proposal to the U.N., together with the International Support Centre for Sustainable Tourism, putting the U.N. on notice that a proper forum must be convened enabling Indigenous Peoples’ self determination: consistent with the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples. Thanks to a number of international supporters – including the Maasai People of East Africa, the Government of Fiji and Great Council of Chiefs in Fiji, as well as influential lobby groups in Asia – we secured U.N. recognition for the initiative.

The International Indigenous Leadership Gathering is ground-breaking because it is grounded in cultural protocols and guided by ceremony. Decision making at the Gathering will be guided by the Old People and Ceremony Keepers, from across the continents. Visions and concrete recommendations will be delivered to the world stage, in strict accordance with cultural protocols, so as to communicate the message of the Gathering in its full spirit and depth.

Since 2002 invitations to the Gathering have been hand-delivered across Turtle Island, as well as in Africa, Australia, Asia and the South Pacific. Meanwhile, talks have been underway across the continents, among both spiritual and political leaders, to prepare a sacred space for the dialogues. The sacred fires have been lit. Maya Day Keepers are helping to guide the preparations. In August 2008 tobacco was delivered to Chief Arvol Looking Horse (Lakota), 19th Generation Keeper of the Sacred White Buffalo Calf pipe, to formalize his invitation.

Fundraising for the Gathering has been undertaken locally, so as to not compromise other Indigenous Peoples’ funding sources vital to southern Peoples.

All guests will be billeted with St’át’imc families, in order to extend a warm welcoming and to minimize expenditures.

We are respectfully appealing for support, because this Gathering addresses the issues at the very core of protecting the children and future generations.

Inquiries can be directed to Chief Darrell Bob at (250) 256-4800 or cell (250) 256-9161

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