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UPDATE: U.S. Will Sign Declaration Recognizing Indigenous Rights

UPDATE: U.S. Will Sign Declaration Recognizing Indigenous Rights

UPDATE – December 16
In a step forward for relations between Native Americans and the federal government, President Obama today announced that the U.S. will sign the U.N. Declaration of Indigenous Rights. The President made the announcement at a conference of Tribal Nations held today in Washington.

The accompanying State Department statement affirmed: “US support for the declaration goes hand in hand with the US commitment to address the consequences of a history in which, as President Obama recognized, ‘few have been more marginalized and ignored by Washington for as long as Native Americans — our first Americans.’”

Original Post:
The United States is the only country that has not signed the U.N. Declaration of Indigenous Rights; there are signs this could change. The Declaration rejects discrimination against indigenous people, estimated at numbering 370 million in some 70 countries. The Declaration “emphasizes the rights of indigenous peoples to maintain and strengthen their own institutions, cultures and traditions and to pursue their development in keeping with their own needs and aspirations.”  Hardly controversial, it is also non-legally binding.

The Declaration was signed by 145 countries in 2007, with only four countries voting against: Australia, Canada, New Zealand, and the U.S., mostly objecting around land claims and to ambiguities in the declaration. Since then, all but the U.S. have come round, with Canada signing just last month. The Obama administration announced in April that it is reviewing its position on the Declaration.

Indigenous people around the world suffer disproportionately high rates of illness, poverty, crime, and other human rights abuses, according to the UN’s Department of Economic and Social Affairs. In the U.S., a Native American is “600 times more likely to contract tuberculosis and 62 per cent more likely to commit suicide than the general population.”

This week marks the second White House Tribal Nations summit since Obama’s took office, as representatives from the 565 federally-recognized tribes meet with the President and administration officials on December 16. While some Native American leaders are unhappy at the slow pace of change, others hail the President’s actions on Native American rights and legal issues, including the recent settlement of a land trust class action suit with a $3.4 billion compensation fund. Last October the federal government settled a $760 million case with Indian farmers.

The Obama administration has made strides in Native American rights; signing the Declaration would be one more example of their good faith.

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Photo by Jeanne Boleyn (Own work) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

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7:31AM PST on Jan 10, 2013

Thank you for sharing.

9:18AM PST on Dec 3, 2011


6:55AM PDT on Oct 10, 2011

Isn't it about time......500 years in the making, this law........thank you for signing it.....President it! Be a hero. Also, remember your promise to free Leonard Peltier!!!!!!! We remember you have NOT done so yet.........

11:03AM PDT on May 10, 2011


6:59AM PDT on May 9, 2011

It's about time!!!!!! Should have been one of the articles of the Constitution. America is still a baby, with lots of growing to do.

5:41PM PDT on Apr 15, 2011

In the U.S., American Indians should, of course, have the same civil rights as any other citizen. Since I don't believe in 'group rights', however, I would only be in favor of the same individual rights any American should enjoy.

9:57AM PST on Jan 2, 2011


3:28AM PST on Dec 27, 2010


10:15PM PST on Dec 22, 2010

They all need to quit haggling and get on with it.

It's a no-brainer - sign it.

6:36PM PST on Dec 22, 2010

It's not the earth the meek inherit, it's the dirt.

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