Steven Newcomb: Focusing on liberation and self-determination

Steven Newcomb. Photo from Finding the Missing Link

Steven Newcomb of the Indigenous Law Institute explores the fight for self-determination for the original nations and peoples:
John Mohawk was from that generation of Indian intellectuals who believed in the right of our nations to full self-determination. Those men and women, traditional elders and spiritual leaders, intellectuals and activists who wrote and issued the Declaration of Continuing Independence in 1974, and traveled to Geneva, Switzerland in 1977 practiced a spiritually and ceremonially based vision of liberation for our nations when they entered the international arena. They championed complete self-determination for our nations and peoples, not merely the narrow, “domestic” U.S. policy of self-determination that President Nixon first issued and signed in 1970. If that domestic U.S. policy framework had been sufficient, they would have had no reason to move into the international arena seven years later in an effort to gain corrective leverage to use against injustices by the United States, Canada and other settler states.

Morris and I came of age during those years of the international work, and Morris was actively involved in the development of the Draft Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples. Our models have been the likes of Mohawk, Vine Deloria, Jr., Russell Means, Frank Fools Crow, Birgil Kills Straight, Janet McCloud and Phillip Deer.

Morris, along with Sharon Venne and Moana Jackson, was instrumental in ensuring that the current Article 3, the Article on self-determination, became a cornerstone in the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples. They stood their ground, insisting that indigenous peoples deserve the same rights as all other peoples and nations under foreign and colonial domination. Despite people, including many Indigenous individuals, telling them that they were crazy for even trying to put that language forward, they succeeded in keeping Article 3 in tact.

Get the Story:
Steven Newcomb: Let’s Stay Focused on Self-Determination for Our Nations (Indian Country Today 11/19)

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