Report-back on the Indigenous Border Summit

Report-back on the Indigenous Border Summit

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November 15, 2007

For those of you who may not have had the chance to listen to the live online broadcast of the Border Summit, here’s a good 20 hours of audio for you. A big thanks goes out to Earth Cycles for recording and making the audio available on their site.

A few days ago, the 2nd Indigenous Border Summit came to an end in the San Xavier District of the Tohono O’odham Nation.

The Summit brought together delegates and traditional authorities of 19 Indigenous Nations to exchange experiences and information about how the international borders impact their respective communities; and to create a way to unite Indigenous Peoples’ to address and resolve issues of mutual concern.

Participants talked about border policy and human rights violations, the startling number of migrant deaths, the pending Apartheid Wall, and land encroachment issues, among other border-related matters.

A considerable amount of time was also given to discussing other equally-important issues, like Women’s rights, the storage of toxic waste on traditional lands, and the recent Intercontinental Encuentro.

Underlying most (if not all) discussions at the Summit was the matter of Indigenous Sovereignty. For one example, Kahntinetha Horn read a statement on behalf of Mohawk Women Title Holders regarding Indigenous sovereignty and the right of mobility as expressed in the Two Row Wampum. If you only listen to one of the above segments from the Summit, I recommend listening to that one. It’s listed in the above player under Hour 5, Day 1.

The very nature of Indigenous sovereignty was also discussed. By “nature” I mean, the reality of Sovereignty as opposed to manufactured kind that states hold through the barrel of the gun, or which is otherwise granted to them by other states as long as they conform and ‘play nice’ with the other states.

This type of Sovereignty is not Indigenous Sovereignty. Rather, it is an autonomous exercise of governance, economy, culture, language, and tradition. Something that is fundamentally rooted in community and which exists in perpetuity because of our very existence as separate and distinct Peoples.

It cannot exist by claim alone, or for that matter, by having it granted or given away like it’s some sort of paper plate. No, the sovereignty must be lived, much like how our lungs or our hearts must be used in order for us to exist. If they are not used, then our bodies die. So too our Nations if we do not exercise Sovereignty.

The Final Report of the Summit, which was ratified by consensus on November 10, reflects this notion of sovereignty; particularly in the recommendations it outlines for Indigenous Nations. Among them, the report calls out for Nations to:

Overall, the Final report makes 28 recommendations for Indigenous Nations, the United Nations and International Community, State Governments, and NGOs, which altogether represent everything discussed at the Summit.

Well, a great deal is left unsaid here and I’ve run out of time today–but if you want to know more, please head over to the blog for the Summit and have a look at the following articles:

Mohawk Women Title Holders: Right of mobility at artificial borders
End of Game: Indigenous Peoples bringing down Apartheid Wall
Tohono O’odham Council complicit in border oppression
Yaqui delegation detained enroute to Indigenous Border Summit
US Border Patrol attacks the No Borders Camp (More here)

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