IITC delegate Danika Littlechild, Ermineskin Cree Nation, working for a toxics-free future with Karl Tupper (PANNA) at the UN Stockholm Convention COP 4, April 2011, Geneva. Photo: John Wickens, IPEN.
First and foremost, I am writing to thank you for your support and recognition, expressed in many ways, for IITC’s work for the protection and recognition of Indigenous Peoples’ rights, cultures and ways of life, and to empower their voices to be heard. I also want to share a few of our recent achievements and upcoming activities, and to request your support so that IITC can continue to sustain and advance this work.
- In 1977, IITC was the first Indigenous organization to receive Consultative Status to the UN Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC). On February 2nd, 2011, IITC again made history. ECOSOC recommended that IITC become the first Indigenous organization to be reclassified from “Special” to “General Consultative Status”, in recognition of IITC’s work in a wide range of areas within the UN system representing the rights, concerns and struggles of Indigenous Peoples.
- On December 16th 2010, President Obama announced that the United States would join the rest of the world community in supporting the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples. IITC worked consistently from the beginning of this process over 30 years ago at the UN, and carried out a strong and successful advocacy campaign to bring about the US change of position. IITC is now working on many fronts to ensure that the Declaration is fully implemented.
- IITC continues to focus on training, capacity building, legal and technical assistance to inform Tribes and communities about the UN Declaration and other Human Rights instruments and how they can be used to support local struggles. This year IITC’s efforts has supported community and tribal efforts to protect sacred sites and subsistence rights, halt coal and uranium mining, safeguard community health, protect human rights defenders, stop proliferation of toxic pesticides, address Treaty violations, defend water and land rights, and protect Indigenous children. IITC’s human rights trainings informed and empowered Indigenous communities in New Mexico, Louisiana, California, Pennsylvania, New York, Alaska, Arizona, Mexico, Panama, Nicaragua and Canada. Additional trainings are planned for Savoonga and Gamble Alaska, the San Francisco Bay Area, Tucson Arizona, Oklahoma, Oaxaca Mexico, Calgary and Vancouver Canada.
- Last year IITC launched a new Environmental Justice and Reproductive Health Initiative to address the devastating effects of mineral extraction, mercury contamination, nuclear processing, pesticides, toxic waste dumping and other contamination on the health of Indigenous women, children and unborn generations. IITC organized a first-of-its-kind Symposium that brought together Indigenous women from 7 countries. The outcomes have been widely disseminated and their importance recognized nationally and internationally. IITC is currently organizing a 2nd International Indigenous Women’s Symposium in Alaska which will focus on reproductive health impacts of mining and climate change. An “Indigenous Mothers against Mercury” petition was launched in May to build support and pressure policy-makers to take a strong stand.
- In April, IITC coordinated participation of Indigenous representatives from Alaska, California, Arizona, Canada, Mexico, Nicaragua, Nigeria and Kenya at the 5th Conference of the Parties for the UN Stockholm Convention on Persistent Organic Pollutants. We successfully advanced the rights of Indigenous Peoples and worked with our allies to achieve a history-making global ban of the toxic pesticide endosulfin, as central objectives of our participation.
- IITC provided access for Indigenous Peoples to present their human rights concerns and struggles. In March, IITC coordinated presentations by Indigenous Peoples from California, Alaska, New Mexico, North Dakota and Minnesota to the UN Rapporteur on the Human Right to Clean Water on her first official visit to the US, highlighting the Treaty, cultural and spiritual rights to water for Indigenous Peoples. In June IITC helped coordinate and present testimony to the UN Special Rapporteur on the Right to Food during his first country visit to Mexico.
- IITC continues to be directly involved in global efforts to address Climate Change to ensure that Indigenous Peoples’ rights and concerns are fully respected. IITC also works directly with Indigenous communities to inform them about impacts and facilitate discussions to develop community- based responses based on traditional knowledge and practices as well as human rights. Upcoming activities includes the organization of an international conference in Oaxaca Mexico on Indigenous Peoples and Corn including the protection, restoration and exchange of traditional seeds, practices and knowledge as a survival strategy in response to climate change.
- Continuing our core focus, IITC is a central participant in current discussions at the UN and OAS, and among Indigenous Peoples, for the full recognition and implementation of Treaty rights. This includes work on the 3rd UN Seminar on Treaties Agreement and Constructive Arrangements between Indigenous Peoples and States in 2012, and the creation of fair and just mechanisms for implementation, redress of violations and restitution at the national and international levels.
You can help us to continue these and other important programs by making a mid-year donation to IITC
. If you have already supported us this year we thank you sincerely and ask you to consider an additional gift at this time. Your donation is tax-deductible and we receive no government funding.
Please partner with us to defend Indigenous Peoples’ lands, cultures and human rights and to protect Mother Earth for all of our future generations. Use the stamped, pre-addressed envelope to send a check to the IITC Alaska office or make an online donation via Pay Pal
(log on to www.treatycouncil.org for instructions). You can also subscribe to “IITC e-news”
to stay informed and involved with our work.
We appreciate your friendship and support, and we send our very best wishes and prayers for a blessed summer season for you and your families.
Yours very truly,
IITC Executive Director
P.S. We know that times are hard right now, not just for IITC but for many of our supporters. If you can help with a donation of whatever size, it will be well used and greatly appreciated. If you are not able to give at this time, please continue to keep IITC in your thoughts and prayers, as we will keep you in ours.