RIGHTS OF MOTHER EARTH: RESTORING INDIGENOUS LIFE WAYS OF RESPONSIBILITY AND RESPECT

International Indigenous Conference APRIL 4 – 6, 2012 

Haskell Indian Nations University, Lawrence Kansas

In April 2010, a historical moment occurred.  More than 32,000 people, including Indigenous Peoples, social movements, small farmers and some world governmental leaders, converged in Cochabamba, Bolivia for the World People’s Conference on Climate Change and the Rights of Mother Earth.  Two outcomes of this conference were the Cochabamba Peoples Accord and the Universal Declaration on the Rights of Mother Earth. The Accord and Declaration gave voice to peoples of the world experiencing the effects of climate chaos and its many accompanying issues, including  depletion of freshwater and other natural resources and the problems of food security, poverty and environmental crises, along with the financial meltdown within the United States and globally.

During the Cochabamba world conference, President Evo Morales of Bolivia officially proposed that the United Nations adopt a declaration that recognizes that Nature or “Mother Earth” has certain inherent rights that we humans must respect and defend. The adoption by the United Nations and national and local governments of the Universal Declaration of the Rights of Mother Earth would expand the class of holders of legally rights and would initiate a global process of transformation.

Our prophecies and teachings tell us that life on Mother Earth is in danger and is coming to a time of great transformation. As Indigenous Peoples, we are accepting the responsibility designated by our prophecies to tell the world that we must live in peace with each other and the Earth to ensure harmony within Creation.

Our Indigenous lifeways are the original “green economies.”  This is more than an abstract philosophy. Our Mother Earth is the source of life.  Water is her lifeblood.   The well-being of the natural environment predicts the physical, mental, emotional and spiritual longevity of our Peoples.   Mother Earth’s health and that of our Indigenous Peoples are intrinsically intertwined.  When our homelands are in a state of good health our Peoples are truly healthy.  This inseparable relationship must be respected for the sake of our future generations and for the well-being of the Earth herself.

Alliances are being formed, globally of Indigenous and non-indigenous groups and individuals committed to creating a system of jurisprudence that sees and treats nature and Mother Earth as a fundamental, rights bearing entity. A paradigm, that is based on Indigenous thought and philosophy needs to be forwarded which grants equal rights to nature and which honors the interrelation in all life.

This is the greatest challenge facing humanity in the 21st Century. How do we re-orientate the dominant industrialized societies so that they pursue human well-being in a manner that contributes to the health of our Mother Earth instead of undermining it? In other words – how do we live in harmony with Nature?

A 3 day conference has been scheduled at Haskell Indian Nations University, in Lawrence, Kansas, April 4-6, 2012 with Indigenous Peoples together from the North and Global South to learn more and to have a discourse about this Rights of Mother Earth, Rights of Nature movement.

We invite humanity to come together to improve our collective human behavior so that we may develop a more sustainable world.  We can preserve, protect, and fulfill our sacred duties to live with respect in this wonderful Creation.  We have the power and responsibility for change.

Tom B.K. Goldtooth

Indigenous Environmental Network

Dr. Daniel Wildcat

Haskell Indian Nation University

Click here to Print Invitation Letter (PDF)

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