TAHOLAH, WA – “Securing the rights of sovereign Tribal governments takes constant effort and perseverance at many levels,” said Fawn Sharp, President of the Quinault Indian Nation, the Affiliated Tribes of Northwest Indians and Northwest Regional Vice President of the National Congress of American Indians (NCAI). This past week, some of the focus was on the national and international levels, she said. Sharp completed a round of talks with the US Department of State in Washington DC early this week, exploring how American Indian governments and the US government can formalize an agreement on policies to be considered by the United Nations-sponsored World Conference on Indigenous Peoples.
The World Conference on Indigenous Peoples will be a meeting of the 194 member governments of the United Nations considering how best to implement the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples—a document that affects the rights and interests of American Indians, Alaskan Natives, Native Hawaiians and hundreds of other indigenous peoples around the world.
“We have begun talks to formalize a framework between our governments so we can more effectively negotiate balanced solutions to problems such as climate change, damages caused by development to indigenous territories, and improving economies in tribal territories,” said President Sharp.
During the course of the week, Sharp consulted with Swinomish Chairman Brian Cladoosby, who was recently elected President of NCAI, and was joined in the talks by Colville Confederated Tribes Chairman Michael Finley who also serves as First Vice President of NCAI. He stressed his strong endorsement of President Sharp’s proposals to the Department of State, which urged development of an intergovernmental framework agreement that will ensure that the US government and Indian governments work closely and harmoniously as they engage UN member states at the World Conference of Indigenous Peoples in September.
President Sharp and other tribal leaders from across the country will continue talks with representatives of the Department of State in February.
President Sharp further noted, “We have been conducting talks with the Department of State since last August and expect we will come to a mutual agreement on an intergovernmental framework concerning the UN conference in February.”
The Quinault government has been leading discussions with the US government and several UN Member States regarding the World Conference and facilitating joint Indian government meetings to ensure the maximum participation of Indian peoples in plans for the World Conference.