Ihanktonwan and Chickasaw tribal elder Chief Phil Lane Jr. (right), chair of Four Worlds International Institute, a Panama-based foundation, introduced some of the 50 Latin American indigenous leaders at the Global Canoe event during the Cancun, Mexico U.N. Biodiversity Conference ended Dec. 17. “All of the people I’ve met here are inspired by Standing Rock,” he said. Photo by Talli Nauman
Standing Rock standoff inspires others
Latin American rights defenders draw inspiration from Standing Rock Sioux
By Talli Nauman
Native Sun News Today
Health & Environment Editor
CANCUN, Mexico –– As icy blizzards pelted the spirit camps in Lakota Territory – where defenders of water and Native American treaty land have stood in the way of Dakota Access Pipeline construction since April – representatives of indigenous peoples who gathered here on a blazing hot beach for a two-week international meeting said the historic resistance movement in the Northern Great Plains inspires their hopes for recognition of territorial and human rights in Latin America.
The oil pipeline’s recent setback with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers’ positive response to spirit camp prayers for permit denial of a proposed Missouri River pipeline crossing upstream from the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe’s main drinking water intake resonated with Cuna Grand Chief Igua of Panama, among others.
In Mexico for the 13th annual round of negotiations over the U.N. Convention on Biological Diversity, Igua, whose name translates to Tropical Almond, told Native Sun News Today, “The Cuna people share this triumph and we applaud it. We feel it is a victory for us, too.”
Like the Lakota, Dakota, Nakota, and other tribes who claim the pipeline construction violates territorial and civil rights under the U.S. Constitution and 1851 Ft. Laramie Treaty, the Guna, Embera and Wounaan of the Caribbean Coast are grappling with Panama’s federal imposition of police-enforced restrictions on their use of ancestral homelands that are being damaged by roads and other infrastructure projects.
Igua said that maintaining spirituality is the key to success.
“Today the talk is all about science, climate change, biodiversity and politics. But that’s all new. The original peoples have kept equilibrium based on a thousand-year-old philosophy,” he said.
His Panama hat’s band is decorated with the universal whirling-log design, which he described as a symbol of harmony, stability, peace, “and when we’re fed up, war,” he added.
“We are products of the cosmos and Mother Earth. Without spirituality our struggle will not prosper,” he said.
During the two-week U.N. Biodiversity Conference of national parties to the Convention on Biological Diversity, indigenous peoples’ authorities, subnational governments, non-governmental organizations, academic institutions and business leaders all scheduled events to promote their agendas.
On Dec. 11, more than 180 people took out canoes and kayaks along the coast of the conference venue in Cancun on Mexico’s Yucatan Peninsula to join Greenpeace in conveying a demand for convention negotiators to recognize the central role that indigenous communities play in assuring conservation of air, soil, water, habitat, animals, plants, food, medicine and cultural survival.
The event was sponsored by the Mesoamerican Peoples and Forests Alliance together with the Amazon Basin Indigenous Organizations Coordinator.
Many of the 50 participating native leaders from rural Mexico, Central America, the Amazon, the United States, Indonesia and Morocco, were introduced by Ihanktonwan and Chickasaw tribal elder Chief Phil Lane Jr., chair of Four Worlds International Institute, a Panama-based foundation.
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Standing Rock standoff inspires others
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