Earth Day: The Rights of Indigenous Peoples

ON THIS Earth Day, the Mercury believes it is appropriate to consider the words of the World Council of Indigenous Peoples — a group which supports Amerindian and aboriginal rights around the world.

And we should look at their wise words in a new light — perhaps a light that the World Council itself has not considered: all peoples — including Palestinians, Europeans, Africans, Indians, and all others — are indigenous peoples, and preserving each unique genetic and cultural heritage must be a sacred duty to all who care about the Earth.

We should consider adding to the Declaration the goal that nation-states must exist only to serve the self-determination of each people — with the goal of abolishing multinational empires. Globalization must not be allowed to reduce us all to the “equal” status of homogenized “workers,” slaves and peons on a global plantation. We are more than that, and our children deserve better.

World Council of Indigenous Peoples
Declaration of Principles

1. All human rights of indigenous people must be respected. No form of discrimination against indigenous people shall be allowed.

2. All indigenous peoples have the right to self-determination. By virtue of this right they can freely determine their political, economic, social, religious and cultural development, in agreement with the principles stated in this declaration.

3. Every nation-state within which indigenous peoples live shall recognize the population, territory and institutions belonging to said peoples.

4. The culture of indigenous peoples are part of mankind’s cultural patrimony.

5. The customs and usages of the indigenous peoples must be respected by the nation-states and recognized as a legitimate source of rights.

6. Indigenous peoples have the right to determine which person(s) or group(s) is (are) included in its population.

7. All indigenous peoples have the right to determine the form, structure and jurisdiction of their own institutions.

8. The institutions of indigenous peoples, like those of a nation-state, must conform to internationally recognized human rights, both individual and collective.

9. Indigenous peoples, and their individual members, have the right to participate in the political life of the nation-state in which they are located.

10. Indigenous peoples have inalienable rights over their traditional lands and resources. All lands and resources which have been usurped, or taken away without the free and knowledgeable consent of Indian peoples, shall be restored to them.

11. The rights of the indigenous peoples to their lands includes the soil, the subsoil, coastal economic zones all within the limits specified by international legislation.

12. All indigenous peoples have the right to freely use their natural wealth and resources in order to satisfy their needs, and, in agreement with principles 10 and 11 above.

13. No action or process shall be implemented which directly and/or indirectly would result in the destruction of land, air, water, glaciers, animal life, environment or natural resources, without the free and well informed consent of the affected indigenous peoples.

14. indigenous peoples will re-assume original rights over their material culture, including archeological zones, artifacts, designs and other artistic expressions.

15. All indigenous peoples have the right to be educated in their own language and to establish their own education institutions. Indian people’s languages shall be respected by nation-states in all dealings between them on the basis of equality and non-discrimination.

16. All treaties reached through agreement between indigenous peoples and representatives of the nation-states will have total validity before national and international law.

17. Indigenous peoples have the right, by virtue of their traditions, to freely travel across international boundaries, to conduct traditional activities and maintain family links.

18. Indigenous peoples and their designated authorities have the right to be consulted and to authorize the implementation of technological and scientific research conducted within their territories and the right to be informed about the results of such activities.

19. The aforementioned principles constitute the minimal rights to which indigenous peoples are entitled and must be complemented by all nation-states.


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2 Replies to “Earth Day: The Rights of Indigenous Peoples”

  1. marni wroth

    thank you. i am humbled, i am ashamed at what the Earth has had to endure and its sacred
    First Nation Peoples have had to sacrifice…

    Will we ever find our way home to the Mother!??

    marni W


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