Believe What You Like But Know What You Must

People are free to be consumed with contemplating their existence, their origins, the origins of the universe, supreme beings, controllers of destiny or anything else. But solving "the Great Mystery" is neither a requirement of being Ohnkwe Ohnwe nor does it provide a path to righteousness. I maintain that spirituality does not require faith or the leaps that faith requires but rather awareness. If it helps to believe that "God has a plan" and we just must have faith that "He" knows what "He" is doing, then walk that path. My interest is in taking the mystery out of life by pointing to the obvious that is ignored everyday in the midst of fanatical ideology and the sometimes not too subtle influences of promoting beliefs over knowledge. I have said it before: “beliefs are what you are told, knowledge is what you experience”. I support a culture that prepares us to receive knowledge and to live a life with purpose. I am certainly not suggesting there is only one way to do that.

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Monday, June 20, 2011

Why Does the UNDRIP Recognize What Many of Us Don't?


I am in a constant debate with many Native people over where our Sovereignty and general "rights" come from. I grow frustrated with those that suggest that "treaties" grant us our sovereignty or our rights to and on our own land. I openly condemn the "treaties" that so many hold sacred. They were not pursued by us, written by us and they were rarely, if ever, properly ratified by us (or them for that matter). They do not define us or nor do they limit by their exclusion what our rights are (that is to say that if a "right" or "privelge" isn't spelled out in a treaty that it doesn't exist).
While I am not completely sold on the merits of the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, it is amazing that every participating nation of the UN (with some holdback from the US and Canada) recognized the following:

Recognizing the urgent need to respect and promote the inherent rights of indigenous peoples which derive from their political, economic and social structures and from their cultures, spiritual traditions, histories and philosophies, especially their rights to their lands, territories and resources,

Recognizing also the urgent need to respect and promote the rights of indigenous peoples affirmed in treaties, agreements and other constructive arrangements with States,

Note that the Declaration associates land rights and resources with "inherent rights" not "treaty rights". And that the Nations of the world specify rights "affirmed in treaties" not granted in them.
Our people have to understand these distinctions and stand with the rest of the people of the world in declaring what they already seem to know and should be so obvious to us.

1 comment:

John Kane said...

The significance of both of these lines from the preamble of the Declaration is that it associates indigenous rights with inherent rights and to the extent "treaties' are referenced, it characterizes rights "affirmed" in treaties. This clearly recognizes that rights do not originate with treaties but that the treaties simply acknowledge what already existed. The language of the UNDRIP does nothing to subjugate indigenous people to colonial powers and does not limit our authority or definition to the words in treaties.