Statement by Chockie Cottier on Behalf of the Indigenous World Association - UNWGIP, August 1987
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                      U N I T E D   N A T I O N S

                      COMMISSION ON HUMAN RIGHTS

            Sub-Commission on Prevention of Discrimination
                     and Protection of Minorities

                Working Group on Indigenous Populations
                    Fifth Session, 3-7 August 1987

                         Item 5 of the Agenda


     A non-governmental organization in consultative status II with the
     Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC) of the United Nations

     Thank you Madam Chairperson. 

     I am an administrator of an organization that develops 
     social and economic programs for Indigenous families and 
     communities I am also the mother of four children and it is 
     from my experience in these two worlds that I contribute to 
     this discussion on self-determination. 

     I have read the numerous documents and listened to the 
     interventions and I am very concerned. It appears that our 
     discussions in the past ten years have become so technical 
     that much of the human side of us has been left at the 
     threshold of this building. 

     I have suffered the pains of discrimination and exploitation 
     and struggle daily with families and children who are lost, 
     caught in limbo with confused identities, lost culture and 
     no purpose in life. 

     There is no purpose for them because they see no future in 
     this world for Indian (Indigenous) people, as it is today, 
     They don't know what to teach their children or even how to 
     become a part of mainstream society, 

     As a mother I struggle to maintain a circle of spiritual 
     strength and Indian values against what seems like a never 
     ending battle to eliminate our people, if not by the gun, it 
     is through the denial of our existence and through our 
     forced assimilation into mainstream society. 

     From this, I would like to submit to you this list of 
     principles for SURVIVAL. I say survival because this 
     represents the absolute minimum of standards that will be 
     necessary to insure the continued existence of Indigenous 
     Peoples as Indigenous Peoples on this earth, our mother. 

     What I call "survival" you may call "autonomy" or "self-

     Either of these terms is still less than the sovereign 
     nation status that we should have as a right. 

     And so, I present to this body a Minimum Standard for the 
     SURVIVAL of Indigenous Peoples. 

     * The right to choose their own governmental processes, 

     * The right to elect their own representatives, 

     * The right to determine the means of the development of 
       their own resources: human, land, water, air, space, 
       mineral, agriculture, fishing, game, forests, off-shore, 

     * The right to develop and control their own educational 
       systems, codes and curriculum. 

     * The right to choose their own National and Regional 
       languages, and when to use them. 

     * The right to establish and control their own judicial 
       structure, including enforcement and jurisdiction. 

     * The right to define their own membership. 

     * The right to a land base sufficient in size and resources 
       to develop a diverse, healthy and culturally compatible 
       economy, including the right to tax any resident, 
       individual, or business. 

     * The right to sufficient, uncontaminated water to live and 
       support their populations in perpetuity. 

     * The right to protect, preserve, practice and teach their 
       children and their childrens' children their distinct 
       languages, customs and spiritual practices, without 
       interference or exploitation by any other group of people, 
       in particular, the nation state in which their land is 

     * The right to administer and design their own health care 

     * The right to choose whether or not it is in their best 
       interest to participate in any and all forms of military 
       conflict in accordance with their negotiated relationships 
       with the nation state in which their land base is located. 

     * The right to international representation in accordance 
       with their negotiated relationships with the nation state 
       in which their land base is located. 

     * The right to unrestricted movement on their traditional 
       land base, even where recently established borders have 
       divided their territories. 

     * The right to access current technologies at least to the 
       level of the general population of the ration state and to 
       adapt them to their own use. 

     * The right to political representation at the National 
       level as collective entities 


     * The national government should bear the responsibility to 
       provide adequate technical assistance and financial 
       support for health, education, welfare and economic 
       development programs as a part of reparations for 
       historical land theft and exploitation. 

     * The national government should establish an independent 
       office that would have the power to prosecute on behalf of 
       the Indigenous people where the Indigenous peoples are and 
       will continue to be a numerical minority. 

     In light of the historical exploitation of Indigenous 
     peoples by nations and the inherent conflict of interest 
     that may result in implementation of these principles, the 
     Indigenous World Association fully supports the 
     recommendations of the Independent Commission on 
     International Humanitarian Issues' recommendation to 
     establish an International Ombudsman under the aegis of the 
     United Nations to monitor Indigenous situations, and in 
     particular, those that are in crisis. 

     In addition, the Indigenous World Association would like to 
     reiterate our support of an official study of treaties and 
     agreements made between Indigenous peoples and nation 

     Finally, we too support the proclamation of 1992 as 
     "International Year of the World's Indigenous Peoples." 

     Again, I call the aforementioned standards, minimum 
     standards of SURVIVAL and remind you of our continuing 
     struggle to survive, and of the people who have died in the 
     last ten years as you continue to contemplate this issue. 

     Thank you Madam Chairperson 

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