Indigenous nations, referred to in Canada as First Nations due to their inherent status as the original governing political entities there, are not recognized by the UN and its myriad agencies as such. Rather, they are recognized as peoples and tribes who incidentally exercise varying degrees of self-government, but not as equals to UN member states. In this way, the UN and its members perpetuate the colonialism begun by European powers five centuries ago.
By denying Indigenous nations their rightful participation alongside these states that dispossessed them, UN agencies can continue assisting its members in subduing Indigenous nations’ resources, properties and territories, unencumbered by the process of good faith negotiation. At the same time, the UN can claim through its declarations and other conventions to be a protector of Indigenous peoples’ right to exist as distinct cultures, as long as they don’t demand to be treated as human beings with the capacity and intelligence to speak and negotiate for themselves.
When it comes to negotiating economic, environmental and social protocols for adapting to climate change — which, as constituted, will empower UN agencies and members to rule Indigenous nations with impunity — the relegation of aboriginal peoples, their customs and laws to the status of observers, with no seat at the table of nations, is little different from the division of the Americas by the Vatican to accommodate the European discovery, conquest and plunder of paradise.
The library is dedicated to the memory of Secwepemc Chief George Manuel (1921-1989), to the nations of the Fourth World and to the elders and generations to come.access here