climate change

Data Sources to Assess Tribal Climate and Health Impacts


One of the most time consuming and difficult aspects of conducting climate change and health vulnerability assessments is finding data to assess.

Before tracking down data, you’ll first need to identify the most meaningful and measurable indicators to help you determine the severity and likelihood of potential climate exposures and impacts. Indicators include:

  • Exposure indicators (e.g. Annual Heat Waves)
  • Impact indicators (e.g. Hospitalizations for Heat-related Illness)
  • Population sensitivity indicators (e.g. Uninsured Residents)
  • Adaptive Capacity Indicators (e.g. Households with Air-Conditioning)

Once you know what indicators will be most useful, you’ll need to track down the most credible sources of data for those indicators. You’ll be looking for data that is as location- specific as possible and allows you to evaluate historical, baseline (current), and projected (future) trends. Ideally this data will come in a tool that aggregates and filters the data in useful ways and displays the data visually and spatially in charts and maps. While some data may have to provided internally by the tribe (e.g. Well water levels or Households displaced), below are some of the best aggregated data sources we have come across that allow you to look at local level data.

Resource Type

Hacker, Angie. "Data Sources to Assess Tribal Climate and Health Impacts." Tribal Climate Health Project. April 11, 2019. Retrieved from:, accessed on April 3, 2023)

Tribal Climate Tools To Engage Community & Build Resilience


The following toolkit is designed to support Tribal efforts to prepare vulnerability assessments, and adaptation and resilienceplans. The toolkit includes approaches to community engagement as well as methodologies and tactics to set priorities and develop step by step blueprints to map adaptive measures. Each tool can stand alone or be used in combination with a selection of all or some, depending on the needs and approach of the Tribe. In general, most of the tools are designed to help the user take a more systemic view of the complexity of climate change.

The Toolkit is broken down into the following sections:

  • Vulnerability Assessments
  • Downscalingclimate data
  • Identifying important assets
  • Capturing local information
  • Organizing your assets
  • Preparing a vulnerability assessment
  • Testing your vulnerabilities against system knowledge
  • Ranking your adaptation options
  • Using backcasting to plan for adaptation
Resource Type

Environmental Finance Center West. Tribal Climate Tools To Engage Community & Build Resilience. (September 2019). Environmental Finance Center: West Oakland, California.…

Chemşhúun Pe'ícháachuqeli (When our Hearts are Happy): A Tribal Psychosocial Climate Resilience Framework


Tribes are keenly aware of the interconnection between health, nature, and personal wellbeing. Leading experts in climate change and wellbeing are increasingly encouraging communities to be proactive about protecting and building psychological, social, cultural, and spiritual wellbeing. Often overlooked in adaptation planning, wellbeing interventions can be critical to adapting to the growing stressors and trauma associated with climate change.

Climate changes are expected to present unpredictable, severe, long-term, and recurring adversities for communities across the U.S. They can induce biological stress responses, especially in the absence of personal coping skills and trusted social relationships. New climate stressors compound historical traumas that tribes encountered over generations of ecological and political change, such as the eviction of the Cupeño people from their ancestral homeland in 1903. The need for trauma-and culture-informed interventions is greater and more urgent than ever.

Chemşhúun Pe'ícháachuqeli, Pala’s Tribal Psychosocial Climate Resilience Framework, is designed to help Pala and other communities consider how to safeguard mental and emotional wellbeing when preparing for the impacts of climate change. This report is part of Pala’s National Indian Health Board (NIHB) funded Climate Change Adaptation Plan, which incorporates health and wellbeing strategies.

Resource Type

Gaughen, Shasta and Angie Hacker. Chemşhúun Pe'ícháachuqeli (When our Hearts are Happy): A Tribal Psychosocial Climate Resilience Framework. (June 2019). Pala Band of Mission Indians: Pala, CA. Accessed March 22, 2023:…

Preparing for the health impacts of climate change in Indigenous communities: The role of community-based adaptation


Climate change presents substantial risks to the health of Indigenous peoples. Research is needed to inform health policy and practice for managing risks, with community based adaptation (CBA) emerging as one approach to conducting research to support such efforts. Few, if any, studies however, have critically examined the application of CBA in a health or Indigenous peoples context. We examine the strengths, challenges, and opportunities of health-related CBA research in Indigenous community settings, drawing on the experiences of the multi-nation interdisciplinary Indigenous Health Adaptation to Climate Change (IHACC) project. Data collection was guided by a framework developed to evaluate CBA projects. Semi-structured interviews (n = 114) and focus groups (n = 23, 177 participants) were conducted with faculty-based researchers, institutional partners, community members, students, and trainees involved in the IHACC project in Canada, Uganda, and Peru. Results illustrate the importance of CBA in co-generating knowledge on climate-health vulnerability and adaptation options, capacity building, and informing decision choices. There are also significant challenges of conducting CBA which can have unintended negative consequences, with results emphasizing the importance of managing the tension between health research and tangible and immediate benefits; developing a working architecture for collective impact, including team building, identification of common goals, and meaningful engagement of knowledge users; and the need to continuously monitor and evaluate progress. CBA holds significant promise in a health adaptation context, but only in the ‘right’ circumstances, where considerable time is spent developing the work with partners.

Resource Type

Ford, J. D., Sherman, M., Berrang-Ford, L., Llanos, A., Carcamo, C., Harper, S., . . . Edge, V. (2018). Preparing for the health impacts of climate change in Indigenous communities: The role of community-based adaptation. Global Environmental Change, 49, 129-139. doi:10.1016/j.gloenvcha.2018.02.006

Tribal Climate Adaptation Menu


Climate change has impacted and will continue to impact indigenous peoples, their lifeways and culture,
and the natural world upon which they rely, in unpredictable and potentially devastating ways. Many climate
adaptation planning tools fail to address the unique needs, values and cultures of indigenous communities.
This Tribal Climate Adaptation Menu, which was developed by a diverse group of collaborators
representing tribal, academic, intertribal and government entities in Minnesota, Wisconsin and Michigan,
provides a framework to integrate indigenous and traditional knowledge, culture, language and history into
the climate adaptation planning process. Developed as part of the Climate Change Response Framework,
the Tribal Climate Adaptation Menu is designed to work with the Northern Institute of Applied Climate
Science (NIACS) Adaptation Workbook, and as a stand-alone resource. The Menu is an extensive collection
of climate change adaptation actions for natural resource management, organized into tiers of general and
more specific ideas. It also includes a companion Guiding Principles document, which describes detailed
considerations for working with tribal communities. While this first version of the Menu was created based
on Ojibwe and Menominee perspectives, languages, concepts and values, it was intentionally designed to
be adaptable to other indigenous communities, allowing for the incorporation of their language, knowledge
and culture. Primarily developed for the use of indigenous communities, tribal natural resource agencies
and their non-indigenous partners, this Tribal Climate Adaptation Menu may be useful in bridging
communication barriers for non-tribal persons or organizations interested in indigenous approaches to
climate adaptation and the needs and values of tribal communities.

Resource Type

Tribal Adaptation Menu Team. 2019. Dibaginjigaadeg Anishinaabe Ezhitwaad: A Tribal Climate Adaptation Menu. Great Lakes Indian Fish and Wildlife Commission, Odanah, Wisconsin.

A global assessment of Indigenous community engagement in climate research


For millennia Indigenous communities worldwide have maintained diverse knowledge systems informed through careful observation of dynamics of environmental changes. Although Indigenous communities and their knowledge systems are recognized as critical resources for understanding and adapting to climate change, no comprehensive, evidence-based analysis has been conducted into how environmental studies engage Indigenous communities. Here we provide the first global systematic review of levels of Indigenous community participation and decision-making in all stages of the research process (initiation, design, implementation, analysis, dissemination) in climate field studies that access Indigenous knowledge. We develop indicators for assessing responsible community engagement in research practice and identify patterns in levels of Indigenous community engagement. We find that the vast majority of climate studies (87%) practice an extractive model in which outside researchers use Indigenous knowledge systems with minimal participation or decision-making authority from communities who hold them. Few studies report on outputs that directly serve Indigenous communities, ethical guidelines for research practice, or providing Indigenous community access to findings. Further, studies initiated with (in mutual agreement between outside researchers and Indigenous communities) and by Indigenous community members report significantly more indicators for responsible community engagement when accessing Indigenous knowledges than studies initiated by outside researchers alone. This global assessment provides an evidence base to inform our understanding of broader social impacts related to research design and concludes with a series of guiding questions and methods to support responsible research practice with Indigenous and local communities.

Resource Type

David-Chavez, Dominique & Gavin, Michael. (2018). A global assessment of Indigenous community engagement in climate research. Environmental Research Letters. 13. 10.1088/1748-9326/aaf300. 

Newtok Relocation Effort


Scientists and politicians spend hours debating the facts of climate change, but in many places damaging changes to the local environment are already a reality. In the past decade, more and more human settlements have been threatened by catastrophic flooding, wildfires, or drought caused by variations in usual climate patterns. Climate change is already having devastating effects on Alaska; a 2003 study by the U.S. Government Accountability Office found that flooding and erosion affect 86% of Alaska Native villages. Faced with deteriorating environmental conditions, residents of the traditional Yup’ik village of Newtok, Alaska decided to relocate and move the village to the site of the community’s summer camp, nine miles away from Newtok’s current location. Rather than wait for the United States or the state of Alaska to develop strategies to assist communities affected by climate change, Newtok took its future into its own hands. In doing so, they have become a model for others.

Native Nations
Resource Type

"Newtok Relocation Effort." Honoring Nations: 2010 Honoree. Harvard Project on American Indian Economic Development, John F. Kennedy School of Government, Harvard University. Cambridge, Massachusetts. 2011. Report.

Walter Echo-Hawk: In the Light of Justice: The Rise of Human Rights in Native America & the U.N. Declaration of the Rights of Indigenous Peoples

Indigenous Peoples' Law and Policy Program

Walter Echo-Hawk, legendary civil rights attorney, discusses his latest book In the Light of Justice: The Rise of Human Rights in Native America & the UN Declaration of the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, stressing the need for Native nations and peoples to band together to mount a campaign to compel the United States to fully embrace and implement the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples.

Native Nations
Resource Type

Echo-Hawk, Walter. "In the Light of Justice: The Rise of Human Rights in Native America & the U.N. Declaration of the Rights of Indigenous Peoples." Indigenous Peoples' Law & Policy Program, James E. Rogers College of Law, The University of Arizona. Tucson, Arizona. November 20, 2013. Presentation.

James Anaya:

“The Indigenous Peoples Law and Policy Program is pleased to host a range of thought-provoking speakers in multiple settings over the course of each academic year as part of our multi-faceted program of learning and outreach. This evening we are especially privileged to have with us one of the truly groundbreaking advocates and thinkers of recent decades on issues concerning Native Americans in the United States and abroad, Mr. Walter Echo-Hawk.

A citizen of the Pawnee Nation, Walter Echo-Hawk is a distinguished lawyer who for years was one of the leading attorneys of the Native American Rights Fund, a former justice of the Supreme Court of the Pawnee Nation and now the Chief Justice of the Kickapoo Supreme Court, an author with numerous influential books and articles, and an activist whose energies extend to innovative initiatives to support Native American arts and culture. His vast legal experience includes precedent-setting cases involving Native American religious freedom, prisoner rights, water rights, and rights of reburial and repatriation. His work litigating and lobbying on Native American rights goes back to 1973 and much of that work occurred during pivotal years when America witnessed the rise of modern Indian nations. As American Indian tribes reclaimed their land, sovereignty and pride in an historic stride toward freedom and justice, Walter Echo-Hawk worked at the epicenter of a great social movement alongside tribal leaders on many issues, visiting Indian tribes in their Indigenous habitats throughout North America. He was instrumental in the passage of numerous important laws like the Native American Graves Protection and Repatriation Act of 1990 and the American Indian Religious Freedom Act amendments in 1994.

As a scholar and author, Walter Echo Hawk’s numerous published works include his acclaimed book In the Courts of the Conquerors: The 10 Worst Indian Law Cases Ever Decided. This is an outstanding and insightful critique of the evolution of federal Indian law doctrine and its social implications. This evening we’re privileged to hear Walter talk about his most recent book In the Light of Justice: The Rise of Human Rights in Native America & the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples. In this book, Walter explains how the harm historically inflicted on the Indigenous peoples in the United States still commands attention because of the ongoing affects of the past on conditions today. He helps us understand why justice requires confronting the combined injustices of the past and present and he points us to tools for achieving reconciliation between the majority and Indigenous peoples focusing on the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples of the United Nations as such a tool.

This UN declaration is an expression of standards grounded in fundamental human rights and a global consensus among governments and Indigenous peoples worldwide. It was adopted in the year 2007 by the UN general assembly with the affirmative votes of an overwhelming majority of UN member states, [and] expressions of celebration by Indigenous peoples from around the world who had been long advocating for the declaration. At the urging of Indigenous leaders from throughout the country, President Barack Obama announced the United States’ support for the Declaration on December 16, 2010, reversing the United State’s earlier position and he did so before a gathering at the White House of leaders of Indigenous nations and tribes. In his wonderful new book, Walter Echo Hawk shows us the seeds of change in the Declaration. “With the Declaration,’ he tells us, ‘we are in a rare moment of potential transformation, of a tectonic shift toward a new era of human relations that extends the promise of justice beyond the boundaries set by the past. It is a move farther along the path of greatness for which America yearns.’ This book inspires and moves us to seize that moment. Please welcome, please join me in welcoming Walter Echo-Hawk.”


Walter Echo-Hawk:

“Well, thank you so much Professor Anaya for that very kind and generous introduction. I have admired Professor Anaya for many, many years. We first met in the mid 1970s when Jim was the General Counsel to the National Indian Youth Council [NIYC] and I was on their board of directors, and at that time he was deeply involved in civil rights litigation on behalf of NIYC and international litigation and international tribunals as well way back in the early 1980s. I’ve admired your work and your groundbreaking career for many, many years in the field of international human rights law and I think that your work has really opened new vistas for our Native people here at home and I’m very, I think, indebted to you also for writing the foreword to my new book In the Light of Justice and I’m grateful for that. It just put a lot of pressure on me to do my best because I have respected your work so much over the years.

I want to thank Professor Tatum, Melissa Tatum, the Director of the Indian [Peoples] Law [and Policy] Program here, Professor Mary Guss also as well for your kindness in showing me around town, making my presence possible here this evening. And lastly, I thank each and every one of you for coming tonight to be with me here. It’s certainly my great honor and privilege to be here at the Law School. This ranking law school is well known throughout Indian Country and among my colleagues in the practice of federal Indian law as being an important center for Indian law and policy. Some of the very brilliant scholarship that has emanated here from the Law School with folks like Professor Anaya and the other faculty, all-star faculty that is assembled here at the Law School including Professor Williams, Rob Williams, have truly opened some major vistas for Indian tribes and my colleagues throughout the nation. So I’m very glad to be here, very honored to be at this center of knowledge here. I feel like I’m very at the fount of knowledge if not very close to it.

And so I’m very honored to give a presentation this evening about my book In the Light of Justice, and this book is about a brand new legal framework for defining Native American rights here in the United States. The book does basically three things. First, it examines the landmark UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples that Professor Anaya mentioned. This is a landmark international human rights instrument that creates a very comprehensive stand-alone legal framework for defining the rights of Native Americans as well as Indigenous peoples worldwide. As Jim mentioned, this UN declaration was approved in the year 2007 by the General Assembly. It was endorsed by the United States government in the year 2010 so it’s technically a part of U.S. Indian policy and today 150 nations around the world have also endorsed this UN Declaration, making it the new order of the day it seems to me. Secondly, this book goes on then to compare our existing law and social policy with regard to Native Americans to these UN standards, these minimum human rights standards that is established by the Declaration to see how well our domestic law stacks up against these human rights standards. And then thirdly, the book urges our nation to undertake a social and legal movement to implement these UN standards into our law and social policy.

What I’d like to do tonight is to basically cover three areas with you this evening. First, I’d like to talk about why I felt compelled to write this book. Secondly, I want to describe briefly this declaration and this new human rights framework for defining Native American rights. And then thirdly, I want to discuss some of the findings that I made in my comparative legal analysis and some of my conclusions that I drew in this legal analysis of the declaration and especially to talk about the need for implementing these standards in our own nation here in the United States, including some of the implementation challenges that our generation or this generation will face in implementing these UN standards into our law and social policy. But before I begin, I need to add a caveat here and that is that I am not and don’t hold myself out to be an international law expert. I haven’t gone to the UN, I haven’t gone to Geneva, I did not participate in the making of this declaration and the book simply examines this declaration and its implications purely from the standpoint of a domestic practitioner of federal Indian law to look at the possibilities of this in terms of strengthening our existing law and policy. So with that, I think after I hope we’ll have time for some questions and answers and then we’ll be able to sign a few books afterwards and I think this’ll be a rare opportunity especially if James joins me in signing some books. So you’ll have the signature of both of the authors of this book. So it should be a collector’s edition for you book collectors out there.

But at the outset, I’d like to just begin with the premise of this book and that is this -- that I believe that this is a historic time for federal Indian law and policy and of course we know that federal Indian law is our current legal framework here in the United States for defining Native American rights and we know through our experience in the modern era of federal Indian law that federal Indian law basically has two sides to it. On the one hand, it has some very strong protective features that are protective of Native American rights that arise from the doctrine of inherent tribal sovereignty and the related protectorate principles that was articulated in Worcester v. Georgia, and within that protective side of federal Indian law in the last two generations our Indian nations have made great nation-building advances in this tribal sovereignty movement and we can look around the country and see the fruits of that effort all around us, and it’s been described by Charles Wilkinson as giving rise to our modern Indian nations rivaling the great American social movements, the environmental movement, the women’s movement, the civil rights movement in American history. But on the other side of the coin, federal Indian law also has a dark side to it as well with some very clear anti-Indigenous functions that are seen in a whole host of nefarious legal doctrines that were implanted in the body of federal Indian law by the Supreme Court many decades ago, in numerous unjust legal fictions and a significant body of the jurisprudence of racism as defined by Webster’s dictionary book can be found in some of these Supreme Court decisions that are still the law of the land today. So this dark side to federal Indian law holds us back as Native people, it makes us vulnerable and it also keeps us poor. And so we have these two sides of our existing legal framework.

But today as I mentioned is a historic time because we can now clearly see two legal frameworks for defining Native American rights. Our old legal framework of federal Indian law and then out on the horizon we can see this brand-new human rights framework out on the horizon and it reminds me of an old Pawnee song about a spotted horse that we see way far away and it’s coming our way and it makes us feel good because we know it’s bringing good things for us and that’s how this declaration is. And so we can clearly see these two frameworks now and we stand at a crossroads today between these two legal frameworks here in the United States and I think that the challenge of our generation of legal practitioners and tribal leaders and Native American peoples is to basically work to save the very best from our old framework, our most protective features and to merge that with this new human rights framework to create a stronger body of law that is more just and to make it a seamless…to merge the two frameworks into a strengthened and more just legal framework for the 21st century in a post-colonial world.

So I want to turn to my first task tonight and that is: why did I write this book? I was motivated by three reasons, the first being the need to strengthen federal Indian law. As I’ve alluded to earlier, although we’ve made great strides under our existing legal framework, I feel like we have stalled out in recent years because there’s been a gradual weakening of federal Indian law since 1985 with the U.S. Supreme Court trend towards trimming back hard-won Native American rights beginning with the [William] Rehnquist Court in 1985. Court observers tell us that Indian nations have lost over 80 percent of their cases into the present day, in some terms losing 88 percent of our cases, and that frightening statistic means that prison inmates fare better before the high court than our Indian nations. That’s caused some of our leading legal scholars to ask, ‘Is federal Indian law dead?’ And then we have this dark side to our body of law that I mentioned earlier and that compounds this problem it seems to me. Scholars have thoroughly studied this dark side to federal Indian law. They’ve identified these factors there that make our rights vulnerable today. These nefarious legal doctrines have been traced to their origins in medieval Europe. These internal tensions that are found in our body of law between self-determining peoples that have [an] inherent right of tribal sovereignty on the one hand being hostage to these doctrines of unfettered colonialism, conquest and colonialism. You can’t have these two conditions, they’re mutually incompatible so we have these inherent tensions that struggle…are pitted against one another in our body of law. And so that’s not questioned today in the year 2013 in any serious way, but we’ve lived with this body of law since 1970 at the inception of the modern era of federal Indian law. Our litigators basically took this legal framework as we found it. We didn’t create federal Indian law, we simply took this legal framework as we found it and tried to make the best of it. We tried to coax the courts into applying the most protective features of this legal framework and then simply living with this dark side. But it seems to me that now in recent years we have stalled out. I think we’ve faltered in recent years. I think Indian Country is huddled against an assault by the Supreme Court for its further weakening our legal rights and we’ve stalled out it seems to me at the very doorstep of true self-determination as that principle is broadly defined in modern international rights law and it may be that our Indian tribes have come as far as we can go under this existing regime and to go any further we’re going to have to reform that legal framework. I think there’s an axiom here and that is that a race of people can only advance so far under an unjust legal regime and that there’ll come a time where they have to turn on that legal regime and challenge it to go any further in their aspirations. And I think we may have rode our pony as far as we can and to go further we’re going to have to focus for the very first time on challenging some of the dark side of federal Indian law and strengthening our legal framework. So these problems in the law have troubled me as a lifelong practitioner of federal Indian law and I felt that federal Indian law today is in deep trouble. It needs a lifeline and perhaps this UN Declaration is that lifeline. So I felt it well worth my while to examine this new legal framework.

The second reason that motivated me to write this book was if you look around Indian Country today and in our tribal communities, we will see numerous, hard-to-solve social ills that stalk our tribal communities today. Despite our best efforts to redress these social ills, we see these shocking socioeconomic gaps between Native Americans and our non-Indian neighbors with the lowest life expectancy in the nation, the highest rate of poverty, poorest housing, serious shocking gaps in the medical treatment, mental healthcare, highest rate of violence in the nation, highest suicide rates, unemployment. These ills have lingered for so long in our tribal communities that they’re seen as normal and they threaten to become permanent. How do we account for these shocking inequities? Social science researchers tell us that these are unhealed wounds inherited from our…as historical trauma from [the] legacy of conquest; dispossession, subjugation, marginalization created these open wounds and they haven’t healed yet in the year 2013, despite our best efforts. These are the end products of our current legal regime, our existing law and policy, and I believe that this declaration is specifically designed to redress this inherit…the inherited effects of colonialism through a human rights framework. It’s a prescription for the social ills, and so I therefore thought it was worth my time to examine that framework in this book.

The third reason that I wrote this book is that the UN approval of this declaration in the year 2007, which was done in a landslide crowning victory for over 20 years in the United Nations of work by Indigenous pioneers who accessed the international realm for the very first time in a couple hundred years. This landmark achievement was basically unheralded. It caught the United States by surprise; it caught Indian Country by surprise. I feel like it caught our tribal leaders and our tribal attorneys [who] were unfamiliar with it. We hadn’t read it. It caught us with our chaps down, so to speak. And so since that time, and especially since the year 2010, Indian Country has just begun to read this document for the very first time and our tribal attorneys to read it and educate ourselves. It’s been the subject of a Senate oversight hearing. It’s been the subject of conferences at the federal bar, at NCAI [National Congress of American Indians], at tribal leaders' forums and law school conferences. And as we study this document I felt that it would be helpful to provide some baseline information about this declaration to help our self-education process on this new human rights framework, to look at some of the implications, to provide some baseline information about it, some reconnaissance-level legal analysis and that’s what this book attempts to do, to assist Indian Country and our nation in looking at this new legal framework for defining the rights of our people.

Let me turn now to: what is this UN framework? And let me just ask you, if you’ve read this raise your hand. If you’ve read this declaration, raise your hand. By golly, I’m glad James has read it. That’s a pretty nice substantial fraction. But many places where I ask that question, very few hands will go up.

So I just want to make about seven fundamental points about this new human rights framework. The first, the point is that it…in 46 articles, it lays out the minimum standards, minimum human rights standards for the…protecting the survival, dignity and well-being of Indigenous peoples worldwide -- that includes Native Americans, American Indians, Alaska Natives, Native Hawaiians. As Professor Anaya mentioned, it was approved by the UN in 2007, it was formally endorsed by the United States in 2010, 150 nations around the world as well.

Secondly, this document contains the authentic aspirations of Indigenous peoples in large measure because they wrote it and they negotiated it through the UN human rights framework. And if you read it as a practitioner of federal Indian law, you’ll see that all of the issues that our clients are concerned about and that we’ve litigated on and towards are contained in this document.

Thirdly, these standards as I mentioned earlier are comprehensive in nature. They address the full range of our Native American issues and aspirations. Our property rights, political rights, civil rights, economic rights, social rights, cultural rights, religious rights, environmental rights; it’s all there in this framework. And the interesting thing about it is the rights that are described in here are described as inherent, inherent human rights and I think that that’s very significant because an inherent human right means that the UN didn’t give these rights to Native people. These are rights that we already have.

So these are inherent human rights that nobody gave to Indigenous peoples, but rather they arise from our Indigenous histories, our Indigenous institutions, but were beyond reach by Native people in their domestic legal forums. What the United Nations did here was basically look to the larger body of modern international human rights law and simply pulled the norms and the human rights treaty provisions, pulled it out of this larger body and put them into this declaration and it’s showing the 150 nations of the world how to interpret this larger body of human rights law in the unique context of Indigenous peoples so that Indigenous peoples have the same human rights that the rest of humanity already enjoys. Further, these rights that are described in here, it is said that they’re supposed to be interpreted according to notions of justice, equality, good faith, democracy, a very just foundation for these inherent human rights, more just foundation than that found in the dark side of federal Indian law. Moreover, related to that, these rights are not considered to be new rights or special rights, but simply as I mentioned earlier just simply rights that are drawn from the existing body of international human rights law.

Next I’d like to talk about some of my major finding about these rights that I… conclusions that I drew in this book. Firstly, that these UN human rights standards are largely compatible with our U.S. law and policy in its finest hour. And at its very best and in its finest hour ,our federal Indian law in the 10 best cases ever decided about Indians show a fundamental compatibility with many of these standards. And those standards, if they were to become part of our body of law would simply make the very best in our legal culture more reliable and more dependable, but at the same time I also found, secondly, that many areas in our existing law and policy simply fail to pass muster under these standards, they don’t comply with these standards. And the book goes on to lay out these many, many areas that we need…where we need to uplift our existing law and policy so that they conform or are compatible with these minimum human rights standards.

The sixth point I wanted to make about this framework is that the Declaration is not a self-implementing instrument. It’s not legally binding law that federal courts must enforce, but rather the Declaration asks the United States to implement these standards in partnership with Native people, that the United States and all these other 150 nations are supposed to work with Native people to implement these standards, to provide technical assistance, to provide funding, to go forward in a nation-building kind of an effort to implement these standards. And so I think that that is a call to action to Indian Country to sit down with the government and see how we should go about implementing these standards in partnership.

I’d like to begin winding this lecture down here by looking at the need for these standards in our own country here. I think that the threshold question for all Americans of good will, including our tribal leaders and our tribal attorneys, is why do we need these standards in our own country? Aren’t we the leading democracy? Are you saying that we have injustice in our midst? Many Americans of goodwill will admit that yes, our nation was birthed on the human rights principle and we’ve got a very proud heritage of human rights that have always animated our nation from the very inception down to the present day. We’ve gone to war to protect human rights, to punish those who violate human rights, and it may be true that we haven’t always lived up to these core American human right values throughout our history in terms of our treatment of Native people here in the U.S., but are we responsible for healing a painful past when we didn’t personally have any hand in these appalling miscarriages of justice? It’s unfair to come to me when I had no part in that and ask me to heal the past. Others will ask, honestly ask, ‘Is an international law ineffective and unenforceable?’ That’s a myth that I once believed in as a dyed-in-the-wool practitioner of federal Indian law. Besides, many people just don’t like the UN. We don’t want to be bossed around by the UN or international law. Other Americans of good faith, goodwill, will say, ‘Why can’t we just rely on our existing law and policy to address these problems? After all, we have the Bill of Rights. Why not just apply the Bill of Rights and treat everybody alike and nothing more? We’ve got a comprehensive body of federal Indian law already. Why not just rely on it to fix these problems?’ And as advocates we must be able to answer each of these questions in a very persuasive way at the outset, otherwise we should fold up our tents and go home. So this book tries to answer those questions about the need for these standards in our nation. It explores answers. It looks at…it basically sees four reasons regarding the need for these standards: legal reasons, political reasons, social reasons and environmental reasons. And I hope that after you review these reasons in the book that you’ll agree with me that we do have compelling reasons and a compelling need to implement these standards here in the United States.

The first reason being a legal reason. As I mentioned earlier, to strengthen our body of federal Indian law, to reform that dark side of federal Indian law and root out the law of colonialism, the doctrines of conquest, doctrines of racism, all of these dark sides of our existing framework that have anti-Indigenous functions, to resolve our internal tensions and we have to remember that as I mentioned earlier or maybe it was later today that right now in our existing legal framework if you read our Supreme Court decisions in our foundational cases you will see that when it comes to defining Native American rights that the Supreme Court expressly eschews looking at ‘abstract principles of justice’ or ‘questions of morality’ when defining Native American rights. So this has produced an amoral body of law that is bereft of the human rights principle and I think that that has led to an amazing prevalence of unjust cases in federal Indian law. And so there is a need to reform federal Indian law to try to inject this human rights principle. I know as a litigator whenever you’re able to inject human rights into your issue, your position is immediately strengthened, and we found that when we were making the NAGPRA [Native American Graves Protection and Repatriation Act] statute that we were stymied in our negotiations, stalled out because of self-interest between the scientists, museums and the tribal communities until we agreed to follow the human rights principle and that kind of cracked the case and led to the passage of NAGPRA. And you can imagine if your client’s right to self-determination was considered an inherent human right, your client’s right to culture, your client’s right to accountable public media and so on and so forth, rights to protect Indigenous habitat were deemed to be inherent human rights, that’s going to put you in a much stronger legal position. So we have a legal reason here.

Secondly, we have social reasons, that is this inherited legacy of conquest that I talked about earlier, and the need to finally try to solve these hard-to-solve social ills. These are root problems that we’ve inherited in our tribal communities, cry out for healing in a national program of reconciliation and I think that this declaration is the antidote for those social ills and will enable our nation to solve them at long last and then move forward.

Thirdly, we have these political reasons to implement this declaration. Our nation has long been plagued with the Indian question or the Indian problem, ever since the United States first embarked on colonizing Indian lands and peoples. The political question has always been, ‘What do we do with the Indians once we’ve colonized everything? What do we do with them?’ And this has long perplexed our nation and historically…well, it’s a universal problem that all settler states with a history of colonialism have had to confront. How do we bring the Native people into the body politic? What’s the best approach for doing that on a political basis? And we’ve tried many approaches here in the United States. We’ve tried this Worcester framework of inherent tribal sovereignty for domestic dependent nations operating under the protection of the United States. We’ve tried Indian removal, to remove the tribes from our body politic. We’ve tried to exterminate Indians at the zenith of the Indian wars. We’ve zigzagged back to guardianship and Christianization methods to bring Native people into the body politic. We’ve tried self-government under the Indian Reorganization Act of 1934. We’ve swung back from there to termination to make our Indians disappear and then in 1970 swung back to Indian self-determination. So we’ve had these zigzagging policy shifts in U.S. history trying to figure out the best way to bring Native people into the body politic. The problem is that the normal mode for assimilating immigrants into our free and democratic society simply doesn’t work for Native people because we already inhabit the nation and we want to retain our Indigenous rights. Well, this declaration shows us how to do that. It tells us that we want to bring Native people into the body politic using the self-determination principle with our Indigenous rights intact, basically saying that we got it right with our Indian Self-Determination policy of 1970, that we should stay the course and do whatever we need to do to bring Native America into the body politic with all of their Indigenous human rights intact.

Fourth reason that is discussed in this book is environmental reasons. I think that there’s a healthy byproduct in recognizing and protecting Indigenous rights and that healthy byproduct has to do with this environmental crisis that our nation is confronted with. We have a growing environmental problem and a crisis that is a worldwide environmental problem that threatens human security. We see it in the mass extinction of animals and plants, the pollution of Father Sky, Mother Earth, our waters, our oceans. We see it in this climate change. We now live in a warming world thanks to the industrialized nations emitting these gases into the atmosphere. And this has caused…this crisis has caused scientists to fear a catastrophic collapse of some of our important global life systems. And so the scientists are sounding the alarm, but no one is listening. This crisis continues to get worse and not better. We can’t solve it without first getting a land ethic and [an] ocean ethic that can guide us, a moral compass to show humans and our modern society how we should comport ourselves to the natural world. And as far back as 1948, Aldo Leopold urged America, ‘Get a land ethic.’ But it’s never taken root in our nation yet. Why? We don’t have any clear guidance from our Western traditions, the Western religions, science or technology. They don’t tell us how humans should comport to the natural world. We have to look to Indigenous peoples for that, into their value system, our primal tribal religions, our hunting, fishing and gathering cosmologies and those value systems, which were the first world views of the human race that were wired into our biology as humans spread across the planet, and in that set of Indigenous value systems I think our nation will find the ingredients for an American land ethic. Without that ethic, we’re not going to be able to solve this environmental crisis and we’ve placed ourselves on the path of failed civilizations. We can’t solve it, the problem, without an ethic to guide us. It’s just simply too expensive. The problem is too severe. It costs too much money and we lack the political will to address and solve this problem. So we sorely need a land ethic and I think that there is a congruency between protecting Indigenous habitat and Indigenous land uses of Indigenous land, Indigenous cultures, empowering the Native people to protect their ways of life so that they can come to the seat at the table and maybe share some of their traditional knowledge and their value system and help us forge a land ethic. If you look at the Amazon forest, the remnants of that forest exist because of the Indigenous peoples that reside in these habitats that have been empowered to continue to live there and to defend those areas. Were it not for them, that forest would probably have long been gone. So there is that relationship between protecting and empowering Indigenous peoples and their environmental rights and addressing this environmental crisis.

So I’ve spoken too long and I want to just simply close with some quick concluding observations about the challenges in implementing this declaration and I think that I would direct your attention to James Anaya’s report that he submitted to the United States in his capacity as the UN Special Rapporteur on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples. In the year 2012, he conducted an official mission to the United States to consult with the United States government, to consult with tribal leaders to identify the human rights situation of Native Americans and barriers to implementing all of these human rights standards and he compiled this report in August of 2012. It’s entitled The Situation of Indigenous Peoples in the United States of America. And I would urge you to go to your computer and download it, and in fact I think we may have copies here this evening alongside my book tonight, our book I should say, in which Professor Anaya gives recommendations to the United States for steps that our nation must take to implement these standards. He concludes that we have a significant challenge in doing that, in rectifying and addressing our legacy of conquest here in the United States and it calls for changes, fundamental changes in all three branches of the federal government -- Congress, the President and the Executive Branch and our courts -- and these are fundamental changes that he is recommending that our nation take. And so it lays out a big task it seems to me for our generation and the next to implement these challenges to…I think this report is one of those rare policy analyses that come across from time to time, once in a great while, that can become a catalyst for change and so this report is a good starting place to download it and read it and I think you’ll agree that it does lay out a big task for our generation. And there’s a role for our law schools, our law professors, our law students, Native people, Americans of goodwill to come forward, our tribal leaders to come forward, to reach out for these human rights standards and work to implement them.

And I think the first step here is a…there’s a need for a focused national dialogue on the nature and content of human rights for Native Americans. And our nation has never had such a national dialogue of that nature in the same way that we looked at…our nation looked at Black America and the need for equality under the law for Black America. That was serious national conversation, but we’ve never had one when it comes to talking about human rights for Native America and our legal framework has no human rights judicial discourse in it at all and so we need to have a national discourse to understand the need for these standards in our country, to debunk the reasons not to act and I think that that’s a first step.

Secondly, I think we have to build a national campaign to implement these standards, to coax the government into developing a national plan of action through a national program of reconciliation to implement these standards in partnership with Native America. To do that…unless we do that, nothing’s going to happen and these human rights standards will remain beyond reach. So we need the internal machinery to set that in place for a campaign complete with guiding legal principles to develop this seamless new framework, employing some of our finest legal minds in our ranking law schools to help us do that, strategies and a focused public relations and public education campaign to educate the public about this, very similar to the campaign that Black America engaged in for 58 years to overturn Plessy v. Ferguson in the landmark case of Brown v. Board of Education. There’s lessons to be learned there in that campaign. There’s lessons to be learned from our tribal sovereignty movement that could be helpful in guiding a campaign to implement these standards in the 21st century.

And so with that brings me to my final point that this campaign has to also develop some philosophical foundation, some philosophical principles to motivate social action, social justice action and to guide our campaign into the light of justice. I don’t think we have to look far for that philosophical foundation for this campaign. We only have to look as far as to our wisdom traditions of the human race, remembering that from day one of the history of the human race has been one of atrocity, acts of genocide, warfare, catastrophes brought about by man’s inhumanity to man in the whole course of human history and along the way our ancestors developed some wisdom traditions that come to us from the world’s religions that teach us and tell us how to heal historical injuries, injuries of the kind that we have perpetrated on other people. These wisdom traditions work as sure as the rain must fall and they tell us it’s just five steps, it’s not rocket science. The first step being an injury has taken place and here we’re talking about this legacy of conquest that is still seen and felt today.

The second step is whatever tradition you come from your finest and highest teachings tell you that when you’ve injured somebody you must go to that person and apologize, prostrate yourself and ask for forgiveness. It’s a very hard step to do because we often demonize the people that we have harmed, wished them ill and it’s inconceivable, unthinkable to then go to them on bended knee and ask them to forgive us. It’s a hard thing to do, but our wisdom traditions teach us that we have to do that to relieve our guilt, to relieve their shame, to begin clearing the air for a healing process.

And that brings us to our third step in this healing process and that is to accept the apology and forgive; also very hard to do. I think one of the indicia of a traumatized community is simply they’re unable to forgive those who have trespassed against them. It’s hard to do, but it’s important that we forgive. Only the strong can forgive. It’s probably our highest, strongest human spiritual power that we have to forgive and all of our traditions teach us that we must forgive.

That third step then leads us to the…once peace is made it leads us to the fourth step in this process, acts of atonement. The burden shifts back to the perpetrator’s community to perform acts of atonement, to make amends, to wipe the slate clean as best as humans can do. We know we can’t turn back the hands of time, but we can do everything within our power as humans to make things right and I think these acts of atonement and this process are laid out in that declaration. It shows us what we must do here.

Once that step has gone through, it brings us to the last step and that is healing and reconciliation and at that point we’ve done everything that humans can do to heal, taken that high road to heal a historical injury in our midst regardless of the cause and from there we sit at the center of human compassion and we can honestly say at that point that I am you and you are me and we are one. We’ve been reunited and we can go on from there. And so I think that these wisdom traditions work in even the most heinous situations and I think we only need to look that far as a philosophical foundation for a campaign to guide us to that promised land so that we might all stand in the light of justice.”


James Anaya:

“Walt has agreed to take a few questions. You have about five, maybe 10 minutes.”

Walter Echo-Hawk:

“Okay. I was hoping to filibuster so that we wouldn’t have to do any questions, but as long as they’re easy ones but please…yeah, five minutes, questions and then we have some books compliments of the campus bookstore. Anyone? Sir.”

Audience member:

“I think it was wonderful to hear you. And you have talked about how the United Nations Declaration can help the United States of America and do you have anything in the United Nations Declaration, which could be taken from the United States? I mean is there some teachings of United States Native culture, which is endorsed by the United Nations Declaration?”

Walter Echo-Hawk:

“Well, I feel that it’s very important for the United States to take a leadership role in implementing these standards in its own backyard. As President [Dwight] Eisenhower said, ‘Whatever America wants in the rest of the world first has to take place in our own backyard,’ and we hold ourselves out to the world as a human rights champion. We’re always running to the UN to have humanitarian intervention, to get support of the UN, and so I think that we don’t want to be the last nation on earth to implement these standards. We want to be among the first and the rest of the world is already embarking upon implementing these standards and that train is leaving the station and we need to be in there because I think that we are a very strong world power, we have influence around the world and if we’re able to successfully implement these human rights standards here in our own land, in one of the hard-core settler states or settler nations, then that would provide, I would hope, precedent for other nations to do the same thing around the world. It’s getting to be a smaller globe and we need to look across our boundaries to other lands. Certainly that’s what happened in the making of this declaration when Indigenous peoples came together and went to the UN. But I think it’s important for America not to be the last country on the planet to fully implement each and every one of these standards, that we should be among the first to try to take a leadership role to redeem our place as a champion of human rights worldwide because we use this as a tool in our foreign policy. Human rights is an important tool in our foreign policy and so we need to get matters fixed in our own backyards before we can do that in a legitimate way. Ma’am?”

Audience member:

“What suggestions could you give us in regards to getting such a national campaign you’re calling for moving, to find who needs to listen, who can move things and basically who can do what? Do you have any suggestions of how to achieve this, how to support and contribute?”

Walter Echo-Hawk:

“I think that…well, I have a couple, two chapters in the book that’s devoted to that, chapters nine and 10, so you’ll have to read it. You have to buy the book and read it. I think we have to mount a social movement, maybe a mother of all campaigns. To do that we have to internally put in place the machinery to do that, we have to go to our tribal leaders, ask them to get out of the casinos for a little bit, uplift their vision to see this new framework. We need a cadre I think of tribal leaders that can lead us into the light of justice. We need to staff them with some of our best attorneys that we have that are versed in human rights law and we need to have a lot of ingredients internally to vet some of these remedies that we’re talking about. We want to be sure we’re not going to make bad law or we’re not going to weaken our rights as Native Americans that we already have, rather we want to be sure that we strengthen them. Then we have to develop a strategic law development strategy and guided by astute political strategists with a…armed also with a very vigorous public education campaign. So I’m talking about the entire race of people and all of our assets and I think that we’re in a much better place to do that, Native America, in the year 2013. We’ve come a long way. We’ve got the experience, the capability and the resources to do that. Our survival, cultural survival depends on it. And you can look back to when the national…the NAACP was founded in 1910 and they were trying to overturn Plessy v. Ferguson and they had enormous hurdles in front of them at that time and yet it took them 58 years, but they did it. And I think we’re more poised now, Indian Country, to do that, but it’s going to be…take a lot of work. I think our young attorneys have to talk…learn the parlance of human rights, international human rights because we are now in a brand-new era of federal Indian law, a human rights era. And when President Obama endorsed this declaration, it ushered in a brand new era for federal Indian law and I think that the task for this next generation is to implement that declaration. Just like back in 1970, our goal at that time was to implement the Indian self-determination policy and it took a couple generations to basically do that in full measure. As I say, I think we’ve made big advances, we’ve come as far as we can though and now we’re in this human rights era of federal Indian law and policy and I think it’s incumbent upon you younger people, it’s easier for me to say, to take that up and carry it forward. Sir?”

Audience member:

“I was wondering, you mentioned some domestic examples like NAACP sort of leading the way for Black America. You also mentioned we should be sort of the leader as the United States in implementing human rights. Are there any…the declaration granted in 2007, are there any countries that sort of set a good precedent for us to follow?”

Walter Echo-Hawk:

“Yeah, I think…was it Bolivia or which country…? It just simply passed a statute incorporating the whole declaration in one fell swoop, but I think Jim may have a better idea on that. But there’s other countries. I think each country is unique. They have their own Indigenous issues, they have their own legal cultures that they’re looking at and I think we can look around the world and benefit from the experience in other countries in implementing it and the book kind of does that in a few limited examples. But I don’t know if you have anything to offer, Jim, from your perspective? Sir, in the back.”

Audience member:

“In your perspective, what is self-determination? Is there a timeframe of that since 1970 to now or further?”

Walter Echo-Hawk:

“Well, I think that in the United States we reached our low point in 1950. In the ‘50s it was the termination era. It was a low point in Native life in our country it seems to me. The policy was termination, to make Indian tribes disappear as quickly as possible. And our activists and tribal leaders in the 1950s and in the 1960s worked as best they could to resist immediate and wholesale termination by the federal government. And their work…in the ‘60s, Vine Deloria was the Executive Director of NCAI and Clyde Warrior was the President of the National Indian Youth Council. They were articulating, especially Vine was articulating this self-determination principle to set our Indian tribes on a different path to the promised land in the civil rights movement, which was implementing Brown v. Board of Education. He articulated the self-determination policy to -- ultimately, that was approved in 1970 by President Nixon in a historic message to Congress -- and that Indian self-determination policy broke from termination and forced assimilation to transfer power back to the tribes as much as possible. And so from that point, from 1970 to the current date, I think that’s been at the center of our tribal sovereignty movement and I think it will continue to be. The UN Declaration, at the very core of this declaration is the self-determination principle, and so it shows us that our nation is sort of on the right path here with our self-determination aspiration, self-government, Indigenous institutions, tribal cultures, the right to culture. All of these are related to our self-determination or sovereignty -- political sovereignty, cultural sovereignty, economic sovereignty. And so I think that this, as far as I can see, it’s still…and it’s the centerpiece of this UN Declaration and that’s why it’s pretty compatible with our existing U.S. policy and we need to continue on that path by just simply uplifting these different areas where our existing laws fall short of the UN standards.” 

Honoring Nations: Oren Lyons: Governing Our Way to a Brighter Future

Harvard Project on American Indian Economic Development

Onondaga Chief and Faithkeeper Oren Lyons shares his perspective on why governance matters to the sovereignty and long-term prosperity of Indigenous peoples, and stresses the importance of adhering to the long-taught instructions that have ensured the survival of those peoples to this day.

Resource Type

Lyons, Oren. "Governing Our Way to A Brighter Future." Honoring Nations symposium. Harvard Project on American Indian Economic Development, John F. Kennedy School of Government, Harvard University. Sante Fe, New Mexico. February 7, 2002. Presentation.

Oren Lyons:

"[Iroquois language]. That's our greeting for, general greeting across Six Nations country and the Haudenosaunee, people call us Iroquois. It means ‘thank you for being well' and it's important. '[Iroquois language]' means 'peace' and it's the same word for health. [Iroquois language]. ‘Health and peace,' that's our greeting. Thank you for being healthy. Thank you for the peace. We'll come back to that because that's instructive. Time is relentless and so is Andrew Lee. He put together a program, you know, when you look at it and say, ‘Well, how are we going to get through all this?' But here we are. It's Saturday afternoon and we have gone through all of the points that were put out in the program and very well as a matter of fact. It's been very enlightening and I really enjoyed these sessions because I learned so much, there's just so much that I guess we all had the same feeling. 'Boy, I wish everybody was here from my nation so they could have heard this.' So what that means is that somehow we have to transfer this information that we have back to our peoples, back to our nations, and to give them some hope and direction because we are in perilous times, there is no doubt.

Now I thought that we should begin and I should take the time and I will take the time to go through our greeting, our [Iroquois language] we say, the opening or the words before all words. Before we open any session in any meeting, big or small, we start with these words and so I thought you should hear them because as my grandmother said last night as she was talking, my aunt, and she said, ‘There are words, there are directions,' that she doesn't hear much anymore, but they are there and I know all our nations have them and when Regis [Pecos] was talking and he was speaking, when Peterson Zah was speaking his language, he was saying these very words and even though we didn't understand the language, we understood that these were the words and they are the same. They're the same for all our peoples and we're so fortunate that any of our elders can stand and speak for all of us. That's how common we are. Language of course is the soul of a nation and that's what's been put forward. And if you don't have a use for a language you lose it or if somebody transfers your uses to another language then that's what you use. Indian nations -- we didn't lose our language, it was taken from us, it was beaten from us, it was forced from us. We didn't lose it. So we have to fight back for it. We need it. There's a lot of information and instruction in our languages. When we lose these languages, all that instruction is gone. Ceremonies that we run will be gone. So we have to fight for it. Each generation has to pick up that fight and that's where we're at right now.

It's interesting to me, one more statement on the language, is that we're getting a lot of political play these days for the code talkers. Here in Washington people are talking about the code talkers, but the irony I think is missed by most people but probably not by our people. You know, those code talkers -- and there were many -- there were...I know there were the Ojibwes, I know that there were many other languages used but those languages, those Navajo languages that was used this war, the second World War saved thousands and thousands of American lives, thousands, and these were the very languages that they were beating out of us. And what if they were successful? How many lives would America have lost? Isn't that ironic that the very thing that they were taking from us saved...maybe saved the war. Who knows? It was mentioned here that we should forgive and we have and it's amazing but we don't forget. As you know, Indians never forget anything...ever! But we have forgiven and there's an amazing amount of good will in Indian Country to our brothers. We espouse common cause very easily. It's amazing, but I think that's a reflection of our nations, of our cultures cause that's just the way we are.

And anyway, we always start these meetings with the thanksgiving acknowledge we call it. We say first...our first acknowledgement is to the people. So all of the people who are here, all of the people who are not here, those who are sick, those who could not make it, we acknowledge all the people of the world, whoever they are, wherever they are, and we give a big thanksgiving.

And then we acknowledge the earth itself. [Iroquois language] we say, 'Our Mother.' We acknowledge the earth and all the life that she brings and all the generations of faces looking up from that earth...coming...coming...coming. We acknowledge the earth and we give a big thanksgiving for the earth, Our Mother.

And then we acknowledge all the grass and all the bushes and all the medicine that grow on this earth and we think about that. We're grateful and we're thankful and we put our minds together as one and we give a big thanksgiving for all of the grasses and medicines and bushes on the earth.

And then we move to the trees and we think of the leader of the trees, the maple. And we think of all the trees in the world and their duties and we give a thanksgiving, because they continue their duties and it supports us and we're grateful. So we put our minds together as one and give a big thanksgiving for all the trees of the world.

And then we move to all the animals that run in the woods and run in the fields and that live in the rocks and we think about them and we give a thanksgiving for all of these animals for they carry out their duties and their duties provide for us, support us. We think about them and we give a thanksgiving for all the animals of the world, big and small.

And then we move to the waters and we think about the waters, all these waters, the springs, the streams, the rivers, the lakes, the oceans, our life and what it does for us. The water that we cook our foods, we wash ourselves, we cook our medicines; without the water there would be no life. And so we put our minds together and we give a big thanksgiving for all the waters of the earth.

And then we think about all the fishes and the life that's in the waters and how great they are and how they sustain us. And we think about that and we think about the leader, the trout, and we say, ‘The river runs through his mouth' and we say, ‘This is wonderful.' We give a big thanksgiving for all the fishes of the sea and all the life within it. So we put our minds together as one and we give a big thanksgiving. So be it, our way.

And then we move to the birds, those that fly. These are very special. These birds do many, many, many duties. And the chief, the leader, the eagle is the one that looks out for all. And we think of even the smallest, the tiniest, the hummingbird and the songs that they give us that can raise our spirits when we don't feel good. They wake us in the morning, they remind us every day this is another day. They are messengers and we give thanks for all the birds of the world.

And then we move to our grandfathers, the four winds, the ones that bring the seasons. And we think about them, these powerful forces so great in strength that we do not want to see their ultimate strength but we may as we were warned. But still, we love these grandfathers, these winds of the four directions that plant the life on this earth and bring the seasons. And we put our minds together as one and we give a big thanksgiving to the great winds from the four directions of the earth.

And then we think of our grandfathers with thundering voices that bring the rain and when we hear them in the spring we're grateful and we run and we give thanks, special thanks because it means we are going to have rain for another season when they speak, these grandfathers with thundering voices. And we give thanks for them because they water our people, they water the trees, they water the earth and they replenish all the fresh water. So we put them in our minds and we give a thanksgiving.

And then we move to our grandmother the moon and she looks after the female, she works with the female. She sets the duties for the seasons. She raises and lowers the great seas of the earth, very powerful. We call her the night sun. She shows our way at night. And we put our minds together and we give a big thanksgiving for our grandmother the moon.

And then we think of our eldest brother the sun, without whom we wouldn't have light today as we can look outside and we can see he is doing his duty and we are served by that and we are fortunate. He works with the earth to bring life, together they produce life, this eldest brother, a mighty thanksgiving. Each day we are fortunate. Someone once said here, ‘Tomorrow never comes' and that may well be. So today is here. So we put our minds together and we give a big thanksgiving for our eldest brother the sun.

And then we move to the stars, those beautiful stars. They hold a great deal of knowledge and our people used to know the knowledge. But we now say we don't know much anymore. But yet they still guide us at night, yet they still lead us and they lift our hearts with their beauty and they bring the dew in the morning and work with water. And so we put our minds together and we give a big thanksgiving to the stars in the heavens.

And then we move to the spiritual beings and these spiritual beings who look out for us every day, these spiritual beings whose duty it is to work with this earth and help us, support us. They're the ones that catch you just before you fall; they're with us all the time. And they're with us if you want to work with them and if you want to ask them, they're there, these spiritual beings, and we don't know who they are and they work in many ways. And so we put our minds together in a big thanksgiving for these spiritual beings that work for the Creator.

And in our lands we give thanks for [Iroquois language], this man who was given a message to us 200 years ago that helped our nation survive, that gave us the directions that we needed, spiritual message. And so we put our minds together and we give a thanksgiving for [Iroquois language].

And then we come to the Creator, [Iroquois language], giver of all life; this might force who sustains us, looks after us, provides for us. Finally, with all our minds and thinking of all the things that we can think of that he has given us. We put our minds together in a mighty, mighty thanksgiving and we give a thanksgiving for [Iroquois language], the Creator.

So then we say we have now finished our first [Iroquois language], which is the words before all words and now we have provided a context as to who we are and what our duties are and we go about our business. And so with that I thought I could share that with that with you. [Iroquois language] So now we'll begin the business.

They told us, make your prayers, get up and make your prayers and then go to work, 'cause nothing happens without work. So the context then, who are we? In this great earth that we heard about, where is the human being and what is our responsibility because we have intellect, because we have hands, because we can build things and especially because we have the foreknowledge of death? We know that we are going on. Animals know when they are going, they prepare. If you watch your dog, in the morning when he goes out and he's making a bed and he disappears for a day and then two days then three days and five days and he doesn't come back because he knows it's his time. We used to know that too. We've lost a lot of things. Animals know, but they don't know beforehand. We know beforehand, so that's our responsibility. That means we have to look up for life and that's our responsibility and that's where leadership comes, that's where governance comes and that's where the relevance of our peoples today in today's context is very important because of these great knowledges that our nations have. We don't want to lose them. Everybody will suffer by that loss.

So now we want to talk about identity. You heard about it. What is our identity? Our identity is our land. That's our identity, it's our land, it's our water, it's where we live, it's where we've lived for thousands of years and who knows how long. I get such a big kick out of anthropologists and archaeologists and historians who say, ‘Well, you Indians have only been here 10,000 years yourself,' immigrants talking to us. We've been here a lot longer than 10,000 years and we know that. And I told them that. I said, ‘I'll just simply wait because eventually your science will turn it up.' They get very angry. But identity, yes, that's us, that's our land.

My uncle took the time when I was just graduated from college, took the time, realizing that I was head strong, kind of full of myself and feeling pretty hot...pretty hot stuff here. He said, ‘Hey, let's go fishing.' I said, ‘Good idea,' because I knew he knew where the fish were. We went in a boat, we got out in a boat and we were over by where the bass were and sitting there quietly, got our lines in and he said, ‘Well, I see you're just graduated from the university.' And I knew right then I was in trouble. I was in a boat, I couldn't go anywhere and he was the one that had the motor on the other hand. But it was interesting because he said, ‘Well, you must know who you are then. You know a lot of things.' ‘Yeah, I learned a lot of things.' ‘Well, you must know who you are.' ‘Yeah, I know who I am.' So I gave him my Indian name, I gave him my clan, gave him the nation and every time I would add something then he'd say, ‘And that's it, huh?' After a long struggle I finally had to be quiet for awhile and then he says, ‘You need some help?' I said, ‘Yeah.' ‘Good,' he says, ‘good.' He said, ‘Look at that tree up here,' and he pointed to a cliff and there was a beautiful tree not very old, a spruce it looked like, beautiful. He said, ‘You're the same as that tree.' He says, ‘Your roots are in the earth, that's your Mother.' He says, ‘You're the same as that tree.' He says, ‘You're one in the same, you're a little ant, your mother's the earth.' He said, ‘That's who you are.' That was the biggest lesson. I never forgot it and that's what we have to remember.

So identity, the land, that's what I mean, you're part of the earth. It's us and it's our responsibility. So how do you maintain this responsibility? Well, we were instructed to one, give thanks, which we did and two to enjoy life. We're instructed to're supposed to enjoy life. You're not supposed to be walking around like them pilgrims we saw come over, they were so grim. They only wore black clothes and worked seven, no six days. They worked six days. Our people thought they were kind of crazy. They took their little children in the middle of the winter and they put them in the water and they were just born and some of them died. And our people said, ‘What are you doing?' And they said, ‘We're saving them.' We never really figured that out yet. ‘We're saving them.' But anyway, they were pretty grim, but our people are not. They like bright clothes. Look at my shirt, nice. One time when we were talking with these...white, they're my brothers, they're Dutch...we were making an agreement, a treaty called the Two Row. After all was said and done, they said, ‘Well, how will we know one another?' And we said, ‘You will know us by the way we dress.' Now, think about that. If you have a hard time, they'll see a lot of us these days, won't they, by the way we dress. What does it mean ‘by the way we dress?' That means your culture, that means who you are. So wear something, carry something, show who you are.

Now, my clan is the wolf and we had a lot of discussion here about the wolf and I'm glad my young nephew Aaron brought that up. He talked about the wolf. A good question, ‘Who is the wolf?' Well, the clan, that's me, I'm the wolf. I'm proud of it. And people ask me, they say, ‘Well, what's your sign?' I say, ‘The wolf.' And they get confused, but the signs that they talk about come from another land and another idea and another way. We have our identities, we know who we are, and I'm so glad you spoke about your clans, who you are because that is really important, that's our identity. And who is the wolf then, who is the wolf? Really, even among our people, an enigma. We know powerful, we know spiritual, and we know our white brother looks at the wolf the same way he looks at us. He likes us because we're proud, he likes us because we're fierce, he likes because we fight hard. So he takes his picture and puts it on his uniform and says he is a warrior or he is an Indian because we're fierce and we fight, but that's not who we are and that's not who the wolf is. Anyone will fight when you're coming in your front door. The mouse will fight you if you corner them. You know you've got to be careful, he'll bite you. You have to respect. And so who is the wolf, then?

We were having a ceremony in the longhouse and it was a great feather dance, the Creator's dance, and we had a singer coming from [Iroquois language], Mohawk, and he was singing and I was listening. I couldn't understand exactly I went to my grandmother and I said, ‘He's talking about? The wolf?' She said, ‘Yes.' She said, ‘That's an old song. I haven't heard that in a long time'. And I said, ‘What is he saying?' And she said, ‘In this road to the path to the Creator, this beautiful path that we all go on and we're walking,' she says, ‘we're walking and on the sides of the road are the strawberries, the leader of the fruit, strawberries all the way out.' 'And we're walking,' that's what he saying in his song, his preamble before we begin the dance. And then he said, 'To my side my grandfather the wolf, on his own path, side by side we're walking, we're walking through the Creator's land.' And that gave us some indication of who our brother the wolf is because I think, yes, I think he represents the natural world and I think how it goes with the wolf goes with us. We're the same and we're also the same with all our brothers. And so how it goes with us will go with them, although they don't know yet, don't understand yet. So somehow we have to educate and explain to them that we need all of us to survive, we can't lose one. We can't lose great leaders like the wolf or the bear; again, spiritual, again, powerful medicine, we know that.

We say in Onondaga, Haudenosaunee, that the leader of all the animals is the deer. Now with the deer with his horns we come around and in between these horns like radar and he can see far beyond his eyes here. He's all over the world, as the wolf is all over the world, as the eagle is all over the world the leader, they're all over. That's how you can tell they're leaders, they're everywhere. Not all animals are everywhere, but these are leaders. And so, yes, who is the wolf? I think the wolf represents humanity, life as we know it. We lose that, we lose everything, us included, and it will be miserable and slow. You're not just going to fold over and die, you're just going to die slowly, one generation after the other. It's going to take generations suffering. We don't want that. So how do we stop that? By keeping our ceremonies, by keeping our dances, by giving our thanksgivings. That's what he said. ‘As long as you give thanks, life will go on.' Simple instruction. Are we too busy, are we too busy to take the time to give thanks? So those are questions that we have to answer ourselves in today's time when time is relentless. It is relentless because we've entered into the same time frame as the rest of the world so we feel the same thing. There are some people who still operate on the time of the earth and they're quite happy, they're quite content. They just go along with the day. Kind of a nice way to live, but it's not the way things are today.

And so the identity: land. Then with the land is the jurisdiction. And jurisdiction is the ultimate authority over that land and if you don't have jurisdiction on your land, then you don't have the land. You're just there until somebody wants to move you and they will. Our people have a great history of being moved. You know about it. We know where we live, we know where we come from and still remember. We had great leaders who gave their lives for our people, great leaders who would look at us today and wonder, wonder about us. Do we have the strength? Do we have the conviction? Do we have the will to survive as our peoples, as who we are? We've talked about political will. Well, that's the bottom line, political will. If you don't have the political will to survive, you won't. You have to fight and you have to fight on all levels and yet in all of this is a common cause and the common cause is survival. There was an old Indian leader who came from the west, I don't know what exactly his name was but he said, ‘There is going to come a time when people will cease to live and begin to survive.' What did he mean by that? He's talking about quality of life and that's the values we talk about. What is the quality of life? Is the quality of life a BMW? Is that your quality of life? Or is it your grandchildren singing Indian songs? Is that a quality of life? It's up to us to choose that. Every generation has to look out for itself. You can't live your children's lives. You have to give them enough instruction to survive. That's our responsibility, instruction. Each generation will have its leaders, each generation will have its heroes and each generation will have those people whom nations will despise. All of us are spiritual beings and every day when we get up we try to keep the spiritual center and be a good person. We don't want to be too good over here because then you just follow this way and of course you get too bad then you follow this way. So every day we have to make choices of who we're going to be today. And any one of us on any given day can be the worst enemy of our people ever...every day. These are decisions every day. So we need a lot of instruction. We need ways to keep in a good way. So we said with ceremonies. Now we'll move on. We'll move on.

In the borders of nations, you have three specific borders in the area of sovereignty. You have a geographic border. You can see a map and you can draw yourself a couple borders here. You have a political border. That border can look fuzzy. And then you have an economic border. Now you're really getting fuzzy. If you don't watch all three borders, you lose your sovereignty. Money, necessary, currency, around the world. At the U.N. [United Nations] or in Europe now we have the Euro. They now have a common currency. They've decided that they're going to work together and become like the United States. It seems to be working. Now we have to live every day in this society and societies, they're all different. But we have to keep our own identity and so think about that, every day think about your geographic border, think about your political border, and think about your economic border and try to keep them clear because the clearer you keep them, the stronger you are, the more sovereign. And you're at risk all the time.

So we heard about women. Somebody said women are important. Well, I guess so. When they talk about...I'm traveling around the world, which I do a lot and they're, ‘Oh, you're a chief'. ‘Well, yeah, one of the leaders'. The first question they ask, ‘Can a woman be a chief?' I said, ‘No'. I said, ‘No more than I could be a clan mother'. But the question comes from Western society. The question comes from what they call the battle of the sexes, the conflict that Western society has between men and women and the battle that women have gone through to even be recognized as equal and not quite yet. But we knew long ago, our people knew long ago that women were the center of our nation. We're partners. We've always been partners, full and equal, with duties of the woman and duties of the man. Not difficult. No one better than the other but working for the good of the family and working for the good of the nation. Not a problem, this idea of equality. It's old to our people, but our brothers in Western society is just beginning and having a hard time with it. So we should not be carried away by their discussion. We should retain and understand our own and we all remember and know that women are sacred. They carry life. We can't do it. And I think that's why the white man fears them. But I don't know.

Now, what is the danger that we face today? The dangers that we face today is this idea of government and governance, we were talking about it and I hear a lot about it. And people that have played sports, lacrosse or basketball or hockey, and these sports in particular, transition is a big factor. And if you can lay your attack on a transition, you catch your opposition in a vulnerable position and you can score. The transition game, it's getting to be a common talk. We knew about this transition game long ago. So changing, the nation is changing, you're in transition, you're in this contest and if you're not aware, you're vulnerable. So if you're changing from a traditional government to an elected government or have changed, you're still in transition. You're vulnerable because it's not your rules that you're playing by. Somebody else set these rules. So not only have you played a game, you've got to know the rules and know them good enough so you don't get caught in transition. And what are you transitioning to? From Indian to what? Envision and looking forward to who? But what I hear that gives me such great hope, strength, enthusiasm is every single one of the projects and schools people are talking about hanging onto the ways and borders. And that's where we're at.

The variety of realities that exist are the varieties of realities that are across this nation. There's a full spectrum. So we have to watch and as we move into the international field and we have people probably on their way back or assessing the last meeting at the U.N. in Switzerland and very important that Chief Justice [Robert] Yazzie was there and we had a discussion the other day. He was explaining what was going on in Geneva as they discussed your and my fate in an international forum. Were you there? Do you know about it? Eventually you'll hear about it. There's coalitions of states out there, Canada, United States, Australia, New Zealand, coalescing against Indigenous people. We had a statement here from the federal government said, ‘Self-determination is our good governance.' And yet our number one opponent at the U.N. is the United States against self-determination. Did you know that? You know how long we've been fighting them on that simple term? Well, it's not quite so simple, is it? Self-determination: the right to determine for yourself who you are. It carries great political impact and since 1994, when we put the draft declaration for the Rights of Indigenous people to the Human Rights Division in ECOSOC [U.N. Economic and Social Council] at the U.N., out of 45 articles they have only since 1994 agreed with two. Forty three of the articles of self-determination and human rights they have not agreed to. That's the kind of fight going on over there. The Haudenosaunee led that delegation to Geneva in 1977 and I was one of the leaders there and the people responsible. One hundred forty four people in that particular event, North, Central and South America. Indigenous peoples of the western hemisphere, we said, ‘That's who we are.' And the last meeting they had there was over 1,000-1,100 delegates, Indigenous people.

They moved to establish a permanent forum for Indigenous issues in ECOSOC. We are now developing the rules and regulations for governing that. That's going on and the ECOSOC will be in May at the U.N. in New York. It's going to reflect all the peoples of the world. But from the time that we stood outside the U.N. in 1973 petitioning to speak to them on behalf of the Lakota Nation, who was struggling at Wounded Knee, they wouldn't let us across the street. Phalanx is the police. We couldn't cross the street to the U.N. In 1992 I gave the first address to the United States body at the U.N. in their forum from their roster. And if you didn't' have the longevity of knowing the fight in between those years you would have said, ‘We haven't moved a step,' but obviously we have. So you have to have a perspective. You've got to know about these things. The same slam you're fighting at home, these fights are going on over there. You've got to support the people that are there. It's hard, it's expensive, it's really excruciatingly slow. We just last year, from the Clinton Administration, got an agreement that we were peoples, in brackets yet, but still. They didn't even agree to that before.

So I want to end this little discussion with some news from my country. Good news, I think. It makes me feel good. On the 14th of April we are going to raise the next Tadodaho, the next leader of the Haudenosaunee for the Six Nations, we're called the Iroquois. This title is 1,000 years old and although I feel apprehension for this man that's going to take this position because it's such a difficult position, yet, I have a lot of real hope. He's a good man. He was one of our very best lacrosse players. He was one of the very best defensemen we ever had. And now he's going to take this position. His name is Sid Hill. About 46, pretty young for the position but he is working hard and I think he's going to do it. So in the process and procedure of governance that we do and how we raise our leaders, we're going to raise this leader and there isn't going to be any Bureau of Indian Affairs there and there isn't going to be any Department of Interior and we're not asking anybody for anything. We are just doing what we should be doing, which is to raise our leaders in our way and the process is 1,000 years old. It's hard, it's tough to maintain that in these times but we have. And I never realized until I started traveling how important that was. And I don't think a lot of our people, our own people, realize how fortunate they are to still have chiefs because all of our nations know about chiefs. They revere these people, very selfless leaders. We still have them. And I've been on that council for a long time now, since 1967, and I can say one thing, that there is no budget for the chiefs. We don't get paid. I think that might be a good idea for governance. You will certainly change the people who want to be in charge. No, nobody wants to be the chief where I come from. It's too much work, it takes you away from the family and I heard it the other day, when you're working for the [Iroquois Language] you can even lose your family and it's happened, I've seen it. It's hard but it's important. It's what you call leadership in governance. What is the purpose of leadership, but to defend and promote the welfare of your nation and your people and to really be concerned for that seventh generation, the long vision?

So we have to raise our leaders and I thought Lance [Morgan] had a good idea. I said, ‘He's really put his finger on the problem that I see with elective systems which is that two- to four-year fight that goes on which can be really fierce in Indian Country, disruptive and no continuity.' And I thought his idea was a good idea. Maybe we should look at that because you want continuity. And it's nothing to it except to change it. You know you can do that if you just have the political will. That's all it takes. So having been taken far out and finding our way back, we have to take advantage of all of these things. And I tell you that I could take all the events...I can take it home to our people and say, ‘We can learn from every one of these projects. They're positive, they show spirit, they show the will of our people.' And I congratulate you. We've just got to keep it up and somehow we have to share and we have to be better coordinated to work with each other and support each other wherever we are. And so we have to give up some of our people we love to hate, long-time battles. We have to really set them aside now and work together and be more understanding and be more tolerant with the problems of all of our brothers wherever they are, the nations and their struggles.

They're asking...the world is asking for the wisdom of the elders of the traditional Indigenous people, all over the world. I know because they call me. And I'm just the runner. I'm just a runner. All I do is talk about what the nation knows and I'm careful about that. I'm learning all the time. I know who the leaders are and I know what it takes to be. So we have to support them. And in our own way being at this meeting we're all runners. We now have to go back and take the message home and share it and be concerned. It is the future. It is our people. And it's not only our people; it's the rest of life. I don't think that it's too late but we are, the human race, approaching a point of no return. We are approaching this point of no return. The ice is melting in the north as we speak. Global warming is here, we're in transition and the work that we're going to be doing today we are not going to be doing for ourselves, we are going to be doing for the next two or three generations. That's who's going to...who will gain by our work. Not us. We have to understand that we're going to have to take what's coming and not be weak and raise our leaders to meet these problems and they're going to be big. And if you think two towers going down in New York was a problem, wait. You're going to see some real problems coming. That's when we have to be strong and that's when we have to rely on the wisdom of our nations and remember them and hold them and keep the language. And with that I'm going to end my discussion. I'm going to, I think, urge you as we say [Iroquois language] -- try hard, do your best. [Iroquois language]"

Oren Lyons: Looking Toward the Seventh Generation

University of Arizona

Onondaga Chief and Faithkeeper Oren Lyons discusses the increasingly urgent issues of global warming and climate change and points to Indigenous peoples, their core values, and their reciprocal relationships to the natural world as sources of instruction for human beings to heed in order to combat those issues.

Resource Type

Lyons, Oren. "Looking Toward the Seventh Generation." American Indian Studies Program, University of Arizona. Tucson, Arizona. April 17, 2008. Presentation.

“A lot of thank you’s today and I especially want to thank my elders here who gave a blessing and reminded me as well as everybody else that we are connected to the earth very closely and we should be thankful for everything that we do. And that was our instructions: give thanks, be grateful. I want to thank the American Studies in…Indian Studies in Arizona for bringing me here, and Moran for taking the time, and Carol for trucking me about, and to David for taking care of me. And everybody’s been so great to me so I really appreciate it here. Obviously going to have to come back and spend more time. Right now, I’m just on the move, but the reason why is important. It’s my mission to bring news to you, maybe not good news, but news that you should know about and things that are going on in the world.

I come from Onondaga, upstate New York. I come from the Six Nations. English call us 'Six Nations,' French call us 'Iroquois,' and we ourselves are the 'Haudenosaunee.' Six Nations: the Mohawks, the Oneidas, the Onondagas, the Cayugas, the Senecas and the Tuscarora. We’re an old alliance, we’re a confederation based on peace and we were gathered together some thousand years ago to cease fighting amongst ourselves and to become productive in creating and working with one another bringing peace. There was a spiritual being, messenger we called The Peacemaker. He has a name and the only time we ever use that name is when we raise leaders and we raise the [Native language], what you call 'chiefs,' then you’ll hear his name, but otherwise than that we call him The Peacemaker. And he came to five warring nations at that time and I won’t go through the epic story of his life and how he arrived at the Mohawks and how he went from one Nation to the other changing these fighting men to peace. So finally gathered on the shores of Onondaga Lake, where 50 men who formerly were enemies of one another and he laid down for us the whole constitution based on peace, the principle of peace and health, of equity, justice for the people and of unity, the power of the good minds and the power of the collective working together --one mind, one body, one heart, one spirit. And we’ve prospered under that instruction over these many years.

And today I represent in the council at Onondaga the Turtle Clan. I myself am a Wolf. I’ve been borrowed from the Wolfs to the Turtle -- temporarily, they said -- that was 41 years ago. You know how Indians are. So I’ve been there for a long time and the Onondaga Nation is the central fire of the Confederacy and we still maintain our structure of raising leaders and removing leaders. We’re probably the last of the traditional governments still in charge of land. And on our nation at Onondaga, we have no Bureau of Indian Affairs; we’re independent. I just traveled from Sweden to here. I traveled on a passport issued at Onondaga and we’ve been using that passport for now since 1977. It’s an instruction in maintaining your identity, who you are, the importance of being who you are and knowing who you are, instructing your children as to who you are. And most of that comes from songs like Mr. Lopez was singing -- that’s our instruction -- to the moon. We call that our grandmother. We have close relations with the earth. The earth’s our mother. You can’t get any closer than that. And from that point on, we’ve always been instructed by the Peacemaker on many things. When he gathered the people at Onondaga on the Onondaga Lake so many years ago and he instructed us how we would sit and what our clans would be and the authorities and the duties of the women and the men and the people and how this would continue and we’ve maintained that. Now in today’s times, we’re kind of alone in this traditional government, but traditions are everywhere. Every nation has kept their traditions, even though the BIA may be there and even though there may be government authorities, the traditions are still there, songs are still there, language is still there. And the information that’s in the language is what people are seeking today, some instruction.

And so I’ve been a runner for the Onondaga Nation and then the confederacy itself and at times for Indigenous people around the world. I was one of those people who were educated and they said, ‘Well, you can talk like they do. You get out there and you tell them.’ And so I get my instructions from the councils. I don’t have any great wealth of wisdom or so forth. I just understand what I’ve been instructed with and pass that on. Our leaders, our people, don’t like to get up in front of people and speak like that unless it’s our own people. Then they can really speak. So what is the nature of my discussion today, tonight? I had the good fortune to speak to your students here and some of your faculty this morning and it kind of outlined for me what I thought I should be talking about. First of all the introduction of ourselves: the Six Nations has about 18 communities, territories, both about half in Canada and half in the United States. We’re in three states. We’re in Wisconsin, New York and Oklahoma and two provinces in Canada, Quebec and Ontario. And then we have our people all over. Met an Onondaga girl tonight at dinner. She’s over here and her family was here and it was really nice to meet one of my young people here. So we travel far and wide and the message is always the same, it’s always about peace. But today some of the things that were told to us might be helpful here.

When The Peacemaker finally had laid out the whole system for us, he said, ‘Now I’m going to plant this great tree of peace, this great white pine.’ He said, ‘It’ll be the symbol for your Nation.’ He said, ‘It will have four white roots of truth for reaching the four cardinal directions of the earth.’ And he says, ‘Those people who have no place to go can follow the root back to its source and come under the protection of the great tree of peace.’ He said, among a lot of instructions to us as leaders, ‘Prepare yourself for the work that’s in front of you.’ He gave us a lot of instructions. Some of them I’ll tell you about. He said, ‘You as leaders will now have to have skin seven spans thick, seven spans like the bark of a tree,’ he said, ‘to withstand the abuse you’re going to take as leaders. And it won’t be from your enemies, it’s going to be from your family and your friends.’ He said, ‘And don’t wait for any thanks because that’ll be slow in coming.’ He said, ‘Move on.’ He said, ‘When people are angry and they speak in a loud voice, you have to listen to what they’re saying because they’re saying something.’ He said, ‘Try to hear the message through the anger.’ And he said, ‘You cannot respond in kind. Listen. Hear what they’re saying.’ And he said, ‘When you sit and you council for the welfare of the people, think not of yourself nor of your family nor even your generation.’ He said, ‘Make your decisions on behalf of the seventh generation coming. Those faces looking up from the earth,’ he said, ‘layer upon layer waiting their time.’ He said, ‘Defend them, protect them, they’re helpless, they’re in your hands. That’s your duty, your responsibility. You do that, you yourself will have peace.’

So he told us to look ahead. It was an instruction of responsibility of what we are supposed to do. So because I stand here as a representative of our Nation, still carrying the titles, seven generations ago someone was looking out for me or else I wouldn’t be here. So each one of us are any seventh generation and ahead of us are our responsibilities. And we have to take that seriously if they are to have a good life like ours. Our people have gone through a lot of pain and a lot of misery. We’ve suffered removals, genocide, yet we’re still here today. I heard the song and I knew we were still here and everywhere you go you’ll hear those songs. So today as a human being, as a species, I don’t think we have time for being Red or being Black or being White or being Yellow or Brown. I don’t think we have time for that anymore. We have to work together. We have to put aside all of that racism that’s been so destructive, continues. We just don’t have time for that. There’s changes coming and they’re close at hand and very soon we’re going to have to gather ourselves together around the world, and mobilize in our own defense, for our own survival, as a human species. We won’t have time for wars. We’ll need all the money that’s being spent on arms for defense of ourselves and protection of all of nature.

One time, long ago, sitting in the long house when we were having one of our ceremonies, Thanksgiving, we had a visitor who came from the north. He was a Mohawk and they asked him to sing and he was singing the [Native language], the Great Feather Dance. I couldn’t understand Mohawk, but I understood some of the words and then he spoke about my family, [Native word], the Wolf, and I said, ‘What is he saying?’ Because as they sang this Great Feather Dance, there’s a preamble where the beat is slow and they sang and they talk about a lot of things before the dance starts. This was all slow. In our Longhouse, the men are on one side of the house and the women on the other side of the house. So I went down to my grandmother who was sitting there and I said, ‘Gram, what is that man saying?’ And she says, ‘Oh,’ she says, ‘it’s an old song.’ She said, ‘I haven’t heard that in a long time.’ I said, ‘He’s talking about the wolf.’ She said, ‘Yes, he is.’ I said, ‘What is it?’ ‘Well,’ she said, ‘he’s talking about the road to the Creator and how beautiful it is and how we should all be walking in that direction and see the strawberries on the side of the road, the path that we’re taking.” The ‘Good Red Road’ they call it, the ‘Good Road.’ And she said, ‘What he’s saying is that on the side in a path like ours, walking beside us is a wolf, both going in the same direction.’ And I said, ‘What does that mean?’ She said, ‘Don’t know. It’s always been a mystery.’

I ponder that a lot of times and I think that he is the representative for the animal world, the spiritual way. And he’s my family, so I’m wondering what does that mean? And I think that he’s like a, well, our uncle maybe. And that whatever happens to the Wolf is going to happen to us. I think that’s what he is. He represents the earth itself and all the life on it. So when you look about and you see what’s going on today and how they’re treating the Wolf, it makes you think that we have to do better, we have to understand. Our nations, they do know about relationship and that’s what it is, it’s a relationship. Our Lakota friends and relatives they say, at the end of their prayer, ‘All our relations…all of our relations,’ and what they mean is literally all life. And when The Peacemaker was instructing the leaders so long ago, he said, ‘Now into your hands I am placing the responsibility for all life in this world.’ And he meant all the trees and all the fish and all the animals and all the medicine and all the water and everything there is, all life, and that’s a responsibility that has kept us here all these years. That’s how we’ve survived. He said, ‘Give thanks, be thankful for what you have.’ And so I see that our nations, the Indian nations, have created great ceremonies of thanksgiving, some that last for days, of thanksgiving and connection with your relatives. And I think that’s what people have to do now in the world. They have to recognize that they are not independent, that they’re just a part of life and you can’t remove all the animals or cut all the trees or catch all the fish without consequence. And so here we are, today’s times facing the consequence of our lost relationship and our lost responsibility.

When we raise leaders in the Longhouse, the old style, what they call the great condolence, it’s a long day. We go through all the laws, all the instructions, instructions to the leaders, instructions to the clan mothers, to the faith keepers, to the chiefs, and then instructions to the people. And it’s the longest instruction when it comes to the people. The people receive the most instruction because they have the most work to do. Leaders are there to help guide you, to be responsible, to initiate positions but the people are the ones that do the work, they’re the ones that have to be the nation. In our language, we don’t have a word for 'warrior.' That’s an English word and it comes from Europe and they were fighting over there. I’ve been traveling over there and I looked at their history, centuries and centuries of fighting. There’s great battlements over there, there’s castles, there’s amazing instruments of war. In Oslo, Norway, there’s a battlement and it starts way back somewhere around the 10th century and each year they made it bigger and bigger and soon it was big enough to hold horses and soon it was big enough to hold battalions of men and it just got bigger and bigger. And I looked on the walls and I saw the armaments and the shields, the axes, the battle axes and they were chipped and broken, heavy swords were nicked and the shields were sliced. And I said, ‘These people fight. These people fight hard.’ I said, ‘It must be hard to be that kind of a life where all you do is fight from one generation to the next.’ We call our men '[Native language].' '[Native language]' means ‘those men without titles who carry the bones of their ancestors on their backs.’ That’s what we call our men, not warrior, '[Native language],' responsible beings, strong men, strong. And they were [strong] or else we wouldn’t be here. And the women right there with them, strong women. Strong families, good instruction, close relations, carried us for a long time until we run across technology of war, weapons and guns, powder.

I won’t go through all that, but all that’s in our history, all that’s in the past and here it is today. And interesting that I’m standing here representative of the Haudenosaunee talking to you about peace and how do you get peace and how do you find peace. You find it by being thankful for what you have and you find it for being grateful for what you have and being in defense of what you have and being closely related to the life that sustains us. We’ve become so independent from the earth itself that we think we are independent and that’s brought us to this point here where we are. Now we’re about to see what the real authority is and how inconsequential we are. We have to work together now. We have to put aside all of this and we have to raise leaders about peace. We have to raise leaders who are going to look out for the people, who are going to look out for the earth and for the lands and the waters. The cod fishing up here off the east banks of the United States is broken; cod is broken. Cod that were once five feet long, hundreds of pounds, down to one and two pounds, fishing them right off the bottom. Can’t fish the cod anymore. Herring, we’re losing the herring. We’re polluting the oceans themselves. We’re polluting the earth itself. We’re leaving a legacy for our children which is really destructive. The high incidents of asthma in children in the east is amazing now, all the kids got asthma and that comes from bad air, that comes from pollution.

And so the instructions that our people had a long time ago still reverberate, long-term thinking, decision making, long-term thinking and you come across the discussion today about bottom lines. What is a bottom line? That’s an economic term, it means the bottom line. Is it a profit or is it a loss? It’s an economic term, that’s what bottom line means. Somebody asked me one time, they said, ‘Well, what’s your bottom line? Everybody’s got a bottom line.’ It caught me a little off guard. I said, ‘Gee, I never thought about that. What is our bottom line?’ And I thought about it awhile. I said, ‘You know, we don’t have a bottom line.’ He says, ‘Everybody’s got a bottom line.’ I said, ‘No, no, no.’ I said, ‘We don’t have a bottom line.’ I said, ‘We live in a cycle, a circle.’ I said, ‘We just go around and around. There’s no bottom line.’ He didn’t have an answer to that, but that in fact is the way it is. Our ceremonies go around the lunar clock, we reach the end it starts over again.

I was talking to the Mayans, our brothers down there in Central America, and I was saying to them, ‘Well, you guys have a calendar that’s coming to an end in 2012.’ ‘Yes,’ they said, ‘that’s true.’ I said, ‘Well, what’s going to happen? What’s going to happen when the calendar comes to an end?’ ‘Well,’ they said, ‘these are 5,000-year calendars so we’ll just start another one.’ Yeah, they made me feel that way too, a little relief there. They did say, though, they said, ‘However,’ they said, ‘there will be a period of enlightenment.’ ‘Oh, what is that, enlightenment?’ ‘Well, you see something.’ I’m thinking, ‘A period of enlightenment, what could that be?’

Well, I thought of this man that was working very hard, decided he was going to take a day off and he was out there on Long Island. Good fishing out there off the Montauk Point in Long Island, big fish out there, come right around the corner. So he said, ‘Well, I’m going to go fishing today, the heck with everything.’ So he went, nice boat, way out there. Hot day. He said, ‘The water looks good. I think I’ll jump in the water, take a little swim.’ So he did. He’s swimming around there, a little ways away from the boat and then he sees this big fin coming towards him, big fin. ‘Oh, no,’ he said. He’s looking at the boat, looking at the fin figuring, ‘how much time have I got?’ Well, that’s a moment of enlightenment. So I hope it’s not going to be that way for us.

The other thing The Peacemaker said was, he said, ‘Never take hope from the people.’ It’s a good instruction. Never take hope from the people. He said, ‘Find a way, find a way.’ So this is hard today, find a way. I’ve been on this road now about global warming for some time and human rights. I’ve been working for our human rights and maybe that’s another section of discussion we should have. In September 2007, September 12th of 2007, Indigenous peoples of the world weren’t peoples. We were populations. In the vernacular of human rights and political discussions in the United Nations, we were always referred to as populations because populations don’t have human rights. Peoples have human rights and for 30 years we’ve been battling in this United Nations for that to be recognized that we are people. And I wondered and I wondered, ‘Why is it or how could it be that there is a declaration, the universal declaration on human rights, so should we not be included and why aren’t we people and why aren’t we included?' Because all those 30 years we’ve been at the U.N., we’ve been developing our own declaration on the rights of Indigenous peoples. They would not accept the term 'peoples.' They never used that term, we did. They didn’t. And 'peoples' with an 's'. 'People' is a generic term, it means everybody. But when you say 'peoples' with an 's', ah, now you’re talking about Tohono O’odham, you’re talking about Arapahoes, Cheyennes, Apaches, Senecas. You know there’s 561 Indian nations in this country today. That’s a lot of peoples and there were many, many more than that that are gone forever. Still there’s quite a few of us. Here we are. So 'peoples' with an 's', we were fighting to be recognized. Well, on September 13th, the next day, the United Nations adopted the Declaration for the Rights of Indigenous Peoples with an 's'. We made a huge step on the political scene of this world. Of course we always knew we were peoples but that’s a political term and highly charged. We learned that. When you start fussing around there with language, we learned about terminology, what tribes mean, what bands of Indians mean. That’s why we say we are nations. We are nations! The buffalos are nations. They are nations. The wolves are nations. That’s who we are. Yes! But they didn’t think so and we were subjugated.

And how is that, how can that be, how can you take a whole Indigenous people of the world and subjugate them to something less than human? Well, that was done in 1493 by the papal bulls of the Roman Catholic Church and they said in this directive, this bull, they said, this was the pope, ‘If there are no Christian nations in this new lands that you’ve discovered, then I declare those lands to be terra nullius, empty, empty lands,’ old Roman law, terra nullius, ‘Furthermore, if there are people there and they are not Christians, they do not have right of title to land. They have only the right of occupancy.’ And there, one year after the discovery of a whole hemisphere by fiat, it was taken by a declaration from a pope in Portugal. How about that? And we’ve been struggling ever since. We’ve been struggling to come out from underneath that. King of England said, ‘Well, I’m as good as a pope. I like that idea. Works for me.’ So he issued the same directive, 1496 to the Cabots, colonizing the new land. ‘By my authority the land is yours.’ Over here of course, here we were, happily planting. We were planting corn and they were planting flags. Big difference. It was pointed out today, this morning in our session, someone had noticed that just a few months ago that the Russians had taken a submarine up to the North Pole and planted a flag at the North Pole. Anybody remember that? Now why do you think they did that? It’s the Doctrine of Discovery. They took a lot of trouble to get a submarine and go to the bottom, find the North Pole and put the Russian flag there. They were claiming land. And if you remember, when the United States landed on the moon, what was the first thing they did? I think I saw a flag standing there wasn’t it? First thing. Doctrine of Discovery: it’s operational today. So you say, ‘How can that be?’

Well, it became installed in U.S. federal law in 1823 in Johnson vs. McIntosh and the issue was Indian land and Judge [John] Marshall, a very famous judge said, and it was not Indians fighting over lands, it was two white men fighting over Indian land, saying, ‘Boys, boys, boys. You’ve got it wrong,’ he said. ‘Don’t worry, that land doesn’t belong to the Indians,’ and recited the Doctrine of Discovery. And he went back and he quoted the King of England and the Cabots and installed that into U.S. federal law. 1955; Tee-hit-ton Indians made a land claim and they were defeated by the Doctrine of Discovery [in the] Supreme Court of the United States. Gitxsan Indians made a land claim, British Columbia 1991, not very long ago, and they lost the case to the Canadian government based on the Doctrine of Discovery. Last year, small town Sherrill, New York, suing the United Nation of New York for taxes, went to the Supreme Court. The Supreme Court said, ‘Yes, Oneidas, you owe them money based on the Doctrine of Discovery.’ So you think that’s an old law? It’s operational today. That’s why we’re having all this hard time. So it’s racist and it’s also religious law, what you call…a country that proclaims that religion and state are separate. Not under those rules they’re not. How can that be?

Well, we’re studying that. We challenged the 'Holy C' because that’s the root of it all naturally and supported by all Christian nations because that became what they call the Law of Nations. They just made up a law and said, ‘Let’s all get in on it,’ so we lost our land. And if you go to court, you’re going to wind up right there. So there can’t be any justice in the court for us. So the paradigms have to change. When people realize that things are so bad and you understand what’s right and what’s wrong, then you have to change the paradigm itself. Common usage, well, if it’s wrong, it’s wrong. So we’re challenging now the Holy C and we did have a meeting. I gave a strong position on treaties and the Doctrine of Discovery last year at the Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues at the United Nations and 10 minutes after the Holy C came up to us and said, ‘We have to have a meeting,’ because they have a seat at the United Nations. I don’t know why, but the Roman Catholic Church has a seat there. And they said, ‘We’ve got to have a meeting.’ So we said, ‘Fine. Fine. 500 years, about time isn’t it?’ So we went upstairs and we met with their leaders, the bishop, very well versed and he had his lawyers with him and he said, ‘What is it that you want?’ I said, ‘Well, you’re going to have to do something about this Doctrine of Discovery because it’s causing us great pain in the courts today, right now.’ He said, ‘Well, we don’t…we’ve disavowed that many times.’ I said, ‘Well, it’s not good enough. It’s not good enough. You’re going to have to do something better, more profound.’ And he said, ‘What would that be?’ ‘Well,’ I said, ‘it would be good if your pope confessed to the Indians and Indigenous people that he was wrong, that the Church was wrong; a confession from the pope.’ I said, ‘You people believe in that confession pretty much, don’t you? Good for the soul they say. How about that?’ ‘Well, there’s got to be a better way,’ they said.

So we are in discussion with them. They did write a letter back but in the meantime we’ve talked to Pace University and they have agreed to do a moot court on the Doctrine of Discovery so we’re going to vet this issue. Right now they’re preparing a position to be made at the United Nations in Barcelona, Spain, this fall on the issue of the Doctrine of Discovery. And I would like to see a hearing held in every one of those Christian nations; France, Italy, Spain, Portugal, England, Germany, Belgium, Holland, Sweden. There’s your Christian nations and every one of them should be taught their own history because they don’t know about it, American people don’t know about it but the governments do, they know. So the battle is on. Be that as it may, and we will strive on, but I think before we see the result of that we’re going to be engulfed in global warming and it’s going to take our attention off of everything else except what we’re going to face as humanity.

I was working with a group called the Global Forum of Spiritual and Parliamentary Leaders for Human Survival. Through the ‘80s, ‘90s we were meeting on that issue [global warming] and there were very luminous individuals there like Mother Teresa, the Dali Lama and the Archbishop of Canterbury and Al Gore. Al Gore was talking back then. He was saying, ‘Hey, problem here.’ And we met and we met [in] Moscow hosted by President [Mikhail] Gorbachev, who’s a great environmentalist by the way, knows what he’s talking about. In 1991, we said, ‘Well, how long are we going to meet here? We’re going to meet, just meet, meet, meet and we don’t come to a conclusion, let’s get to a conclusion.’ So in Tokyo, we came to a conclusion and it was four words. After all these meetings, all these years, we came down to four words: 'value change for survival.' If you don’t change your values that are running this world right now, you’re not going to survive. You can’t run on the values you’re running on right now. You’re going to have to change it. You’re going to have to look to the Indians for that change. Thanksgiving, sharing. You’re going to have to share. Not accrue; share everything, big time. We’ve got a chance. We’ve got a chance. Just the fact that you’re all here. If you’re going to wait for leaders to lead you, see you on the other side. You have to do it yourself. You’ve got to do the leading. You have to step forward and you’ve got to speak up in defense of your families and your lives in the future. You don’t have time. Things are just going to get worse. Talk to the Inuits or the hunters up in Alaska they’ll tell you, ’Whoo hoo, it’s bad up here. Dogs won’t go out on the ice. Hunters don’t know whether they’re going to come back.’ They’ve got to go. They’re subsistence hunters. They’ve got to go but whether they come back is always a question now. They say the same thing in Greenland, same thing in Nunavut. It’s really…you can see the change up in the Arctic Circle better than any other place because it’s really moving at a very fast pace and it’s accelerating.

Now, this is the other thing that you have to keep in mind. The process that we’re engulfed in is a 'compound' action and if you ask what a compound is, compound is what Professor Einstein said was the most powerful law of the universe, a compound. We have two compounds going on right now. One is the ice melt and the other is human population. When I was 20 years old in 1950, there were 2.5 billion people in the world. Here we are 58 years later and there’s 6.7 billion people in the world. That’s a compound, unsustainable and growing as we stand. Every four days there’s another million people born. Did you know that, every four days? That means food, water, shelter and land for every one of those individuals. We’re pressing the caring capacity right now. That’s a reality. It’s hard news, but you’ve got to hear it. And so what do we do? Ah, that’s the question. So you do, you know what you do, you gather your people in a circle, your families, your community and you say to each other, ‘All right, let’s have a meeting here. Let’s have a meeting and let’s decide what we’re going to do.’ And you will, you will decide and you will find a way when you sit and talk to each other like that because that’s how we always used to do. The people will decide. So the fate of our own lives and of the future is in our hands, no one else’s and it doesn’t do me or anybody else any good to say, ‘Well, I told you so.’ That doesn’t mean anything. But mobilization, yes, and this country, the United States has the greatest possibility for change than any other country in the world. We use one quarter of the world’s resources. We’re less than six percent of the population of the world and we use one quarter of the world’s resources. Well, just our change will help a great deal. But that’s the values. You have to make up your mind.

In our meetings overseas talking about energy, a big issue water and energy, because water’s life, water’s food, energy. Well, for so long we were just level -- if you notice, you see the graphs -- for millions of years here we are, human beings just going along like this. And then suddenly about the beginning of the Industrial Revolution they called it, the graphs changed and they start going this way. They start climbing about 1850; both the population and…they’re just together. So what does that mean? It means at one time we were living by the energy of the sun for one day and we could only use one day’s energy. We couldn’t save it, couldn’t store it, there was no electricity, you had to work with the sun and we did. That’s how we planted, that’s how we harvested. We worked with the sun, one day at a time so we couldn’t exceed, there was no way. Well, when we discovered electricity, ooh, things changed. Now there was refrigeration, now there was storage, now there was energy storage and the more energy we made the more we used and if we make more energy today we’ll use more. Why? Because that’s our values; so we have to change our values then. Can we do it? Well, I say yes but that’s really your answer, not mine.

I mean we live at Onondaga, eh, we’re like you guys. We’re pretty close, the same kind of lifestyle but we do keep our ceremonies and we do know who we are and we do give thanks and I think that’s what you’re going to have to do. You’re going to have to find your ceremonies again, you’re going to have to find a way to give thanks, to get your relationship back, to understand how close you’re related to the trees that you’re cutting down, your grandfathers. There’s renewable if you know how to do things, if you’re judicious. Old Indians used to have a game; it was a game everybody played. And you’d be traveling back in the old days and make a camp beside a stream somewhere, river, good place to spend the night, you’d make a camp. Then the next day you would leave but before you left you would put back every leaf, every twig so that the next person coming along would have to look and look and look to see whether somebody was there. It was a game. It was a game about being thankful. It was a way to understand how to keep things so they wouldn’t even know you were there. What a good game. What a peaceful way to deal with Mother Earth. That was our style.

So we have to think about things like that. We have to work with one another, we have to be much more friendly than we always were and we have to share. That’s the biggest issue, share. It goes against the grain of private property, goes against the grain of capitalism, but that’s brought us to where we are today. So if you want to hang onto that, there’s consequence. Our options are fewer and fewer every day. Every day we don’t do something we lose a day. We’re approaching the point of no return when no matter what we do will not matter at all ever. We turn our fate over to the great systems of this earth who will regulate, who’ll regulate our population, will regulate the temperature of the earth and we will be involved there as a consequence. So this is what I’m telling you and I’m not an alarmist, but I have been running this road for a while now and I think people have to know the truth and this administration that’s presently in control has been really negligent about giving the truth of the situation of the earth itself because it interferes with business. Well, Telberg, they said, ‘Business as usual is over. You can’t do business as usual, you just can’t.’ And it’s going to be cooperation rather than competition. You’re going to cooperate. If you’re going to survive it’s going to be cooperation rather than competition. It goes against the grain of this great industrial state here but nevertheless it’s a reality: share, divest, share.

You’re going to have to deal with Africa. You’re going to have to look after Africa. What happens to Africa happens to us. You have to feed people where they live, you have to provide for them, otherwise they’re here. They’ll go where the water is; they’ll go where the food is. So great migrations pushed by circumstance is what we’re looking at. Anyway, I think that we have maybe another Katrina, the fires that you’ve been enduring here, they’re not going to go away, they’re just going to get worse. Fires are here, floods, wind, grandfather. We call them grandfathers, soft winds, but they’re powerful; they’re coming. And let’s hope we have foresight and I say let’s hope we have the will, the fortitude to take on the responsibility of value change for survival. We have to inspect ourselves, every one of us, myself included and we’ve just got to do better. We have to enlighten ourselves, we have to learn, we have to understand what is coming, then you can deal with it. We’re always instructed, ‘Don’t put your head down, never put your head down, keep your head up and keep your eyes open and look and see. Always keep your head up.’ That’s where we are right now. There’s something in the wind, we know that, so we have to find out specifically what it is.

So in that regard, I’ll be a little practical here, I’ve been…I use these books myself and, let me see, here’s one, 2008, called the State of the World: Innovations for a Sustainable Economy. Good ideas in there; practical approach to reality. You can find this book. It’s only about $20. It’s the 25th anniversary of the World Watch Institute and they have a huge science section and they’ve been collecting this information and every year they just add more on so they’re right up to date. Good book to educate yourself. It’s available for $20; you can spare that.

Here’s another one. Plan B, what’s that tell you? Plan B, we’re already in Plan B. Lester Brown. Okay, this is this year. Oh, man, this guy’s got it down. You get through this thing you’ll know what they’re talking about. But he doesn’t leave you without hope. He gives a lot of direction, a lot of ways to move and what to do so you’ve got to keep your head up and you’ve got to move and you’ve got to take…we don’t have time, time’s a factor now in everything really.

Okay. Let’s see what else we’ve got here. Oh, here’s one. Pagans in the Promised Land: Doctrine of Discovery. This is the hottest one. It’s just come out. You can get it on Amazon. Pagans in the Promised Land, this is the Doctrine of Discovery and this really discusses laws and all of the information here. Steve Newcomb. A young man came to us, elder circle 1991 carrying stuff under his arm saying, ‘Hey, you guys got to see what I got here.’ And that’s when we found out about the Doctrine of Discovery. Now it’s…we’re in consultation.

Here’s one: Voices of Indigenous People. This is the first statements that we made at the U.N. [in] 1993, the first time we addressed the United Nations. 1972, I was with a group of people who were trying to get to the United Nations and they wouldn’t let us across the street. We couldn’t go across the street. There was a phalanx of police and we had to be on this side of the street looking at the U.N. building, 1972. 1993, I was the first one to address the general assembly on the dais of the U.N. So the progress, hard fought progress to get there. But these are the words of the leaders of Indigenous people around the world, pretty much the same today as when they were done. But what’s good about this book here is it has the Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples in its pure form. Now the one that’s passed has been modified. We lost traction here and there but we did keep our main principle but we did lose some. But the original is right here in this book. So some day maybe you’ve got the time to see what that is.

Here’s another one. It’s written by Lindsey G. Robertson called Conquest by Law. This is again the Doctrine of Discovery. And here was a guy that was just curious about it. He got some names and he said, ‘Gee, I ought to follow what happened to these people.’ And he found out that the law firm that was fighting this case had all of these papers and that they put it in a big trunk, it was going to go to England. So he found the family in Ohio and he said, ‘Can I find out where you sent those…that trunk of papers on the Doctrine of Discovery, Johnson vs. McIntosh?’ They said, ‘Well, it never went. It’s downstairs in the cellar.’ So that’s what this book is. So stuff like that, stuff we didn’t have before we do now and things have got to change and fairness to everybody. I’m going to leave some of this stuff with the University.

Do you know that in March of this year that the State of Arizona supported the Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples as a state? Did you know that? That’s a great event, first state in the Union to do that. I have it right here. I was here or up there in…so you can be proud. Here’s the event that’s in here. It also has a complete description of the Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples as it is now. So I’m going to leave that here, people can copy [it] and you can look at statements made.

What else here? I know we have somewhere…oh, here we are. Statement: The ice is melting in the north. This was a statement that was given by the Indigenous people at the United Nations in the year 2000, eight years ago we said, ‘The ice is melting.’ Now they didn’t listen to us then but here we are halfway there but we’ve still got time. So I’ll leave this with you as well. So you’ll have something to work with and maybe it’ll be the great State of Arizona that changes everything, who knows and why not? You’ve got to start somewhere. You’ve got a lot of Indigenous people here, you’ve got a lot of Indian nations here still hanging in there.

So I think that’s enough for tonight, don’t you? I mean I don’t know what you were expecting. But we’re all in it together. There’s one river of life, we’re in our canoe, you’re in your boat, we’re on the same river. What happens to one happens to the other. So it’s in our hands; that’s the end of my message, I think. It’s up to us to organize. They’re doing it in Europe, big time so you’re not going to be alone. You’re not going to be alone. They’re looking for allies. We’re looking for allies. So as a runner from the Haudenosaunee, well, I’m walking now, I don’t run much anymore but I bring you this message as a fellow human being and as a man with a mission and I think it’s a good fight. I think it’s a good fight and I like a good fight. Let’s do it, let’s get on…let’s get on with it. Educate yourself. I’m leaving some stuff here and organize, sit in the circle, talk. Don’t just do something; make sure it’s a good move. Talk it over, work together because unity…

When The Peacemaker brought the five nations together he took an arrow and he broke the arrow, then he took five arrows for the five nations and he took the sinew of the deer and he bound those arrows together, he bound them together hard and then he said, ‘Here is your strength, to be united, one mind, one body, one heart, one spirit, your strength.’ We’re brothers and sisters, we can change blood. That’s how close we are.

Take your time, take your reflections and think about it and ponder it and talk and talk and work your way careful into a good move, strong move. Tell all your relations.”