The Fourth World Documentation Project
The Fourth World Documentation Project was organized by the Center For World Indigenous Studies (CWIS) in 1992. Its mission is to document and make available to tribal governments, researchers and organizations, important documents relating to the social, political, strategic, economic and human rights situations being faced by Fourth World nations and create a historical archive of the political struggles waged by Indigenous Peoples to assert their rights as sovereign nations. The FWDP gathers documents from nations and organizations around the world and processes them into electronic text for distribution on the Internet, Peace Net and other computer networks. These documents form an electronic archive of voices and ideas from the Fourth World.
In 1979 the Conference of Tribal Governments hosted by the Shoalwater Bay Tribe passed a resolution sponsored by the Muckleshoot Tribe urging the establishment of a documents and research center to advance Indian rights and strengthen Indian Governments. To fill this important need Chief George Manuel (Shuswap) and Rudolph C. Rÿser (Cowlitz) joined by Russell Jim (Yakama), Dr. Kenneth Benshoof, Ralph Eluska (Aleute) and Joseph Ryan founded the Center For World Indigenous Studies (CWIS) as a non-profit research and education organization.
Over the past eleven years CWIS has archived thousands of documents generated by tribal governments, inter-tribal organizations, county, state and federal governments and international bodies like the United Nations. The idea was that researchers, Indian governments, tribal schools and colleges and interested persons could have access to documents once they were collected. The Center's archive is unique in that it forms an historical record of the advances made by Indian Nations throughout the Western Hemisphere. Documents held in the Center's archives record important decisions, issues and data reflecting tribal efforts to regain sovereignty, strengthen tribal cultures and build economies. Many tribal governments and inter-tribal organizations have made contributions to the CWIS archives. CWIS became the repository for a rich collection of historical documents, records, reports, proposals, and publications generated by and about Indian nations.
In 1992 the CWIS organized the Fourth World Documentation Project (FWDP) to make documents and information more accessible to tribal governments and researchers by making documents available via the Internet and other online computer services. Tribal Officials and researchers can now have direct access to a growing number of documents by accessing the Center's many Internet offerings.
Currently the FWDP archives contain over 500 documents on Fourth World nations in the Americas, Africa, Asia, Europe, Melanesia and the Pacific. The documents include essays, position papers, resolutions, organizational information, treaties, UN documents, speeches and declarations. The FWDP forms an electronic library of tribal documents and documents important to tribal governments. Since its inception, the FWDP has become a primary information resource for a number of Universities, state and federal agencies, as well as Indian scholars and tribal councilmen.