image credit: “United Nations Headquarters” by Daryan Shamkhali @daryan via: unsplash

“Value Change for Survival” United Nations Global Forum of Spiritual and Parliamentary Leaders on Human Survival, 1991

“Our sovereign rights to self-determination are not negotiable.” Betty Lyons, Director of the American Indian Law Alliance

The Haudenosaunee have long been noted for their skills at international diplomacy.  Beginning in the early 1920s Deskaheh (Levi General), from Six Nations Territory in Ontario Canada, traveled to Geneva Switzerland to represent First Nations Peoples before the “League of Nations.”  In 1977 a delegation of Indigenous Peoples from North America (Turtle Island) led by Tadodaho Leon Shenandoah and Clanmother Audrey Shenandoah again traveled to the United Nations in Geneva to deliver “A Basic Call to Consciousness,” which addressed the economic forces driving the exploitation of Mother Earth and the destruction of Indigenous Peoples lands and cultures.  Haudenosaunee leaders always use their own passports when traveling internationally.  In 1991 the U.N. Global Forum of Spiritual and Parliamentary Leaders on Human Survival issued their final statement of “Value Change for Survival.” Al Gore, Mother Theresa, the Dalai Lama, and Faithkeeper Oren Lyons sat on this body.  Lyons and Hopi Elder Thomas Banyacya spoke at the United Nations in New York again issuing a clarion call to stop the destruction of Mother Earth.

In September 2007 Indigenous Peoples from around the world pushed through the U.N. Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples.  Tonya Gonnella Frichner, Founder of the American Indian Law Alliance, was instrumental in crafting this seminal document that ties together issues of sovereign recognition with cultural and environmental destruction.  Today the Haudenosaunee continue to be a leading voice in the United Nations Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues that meets each May.