The 1993 Temoaya Declaration
Declaración CONIC Temoaya 1993
"Allowing native languages, cultures and different traditions to perish...
must henceforth be considered a basic violation of human rights.
We might even say that there can be
no human rights unless cultural authenticity is preserved...
Let us organize a watch, and let us sound the alarm
as soon as a civilization, a language or a culture is in danger.
This promise, which is made by the
international community as a whole ... represents
the historic scope of the International Year which is opening here this morning.
In respecting [indigenous peoples],
defending them, in helping them to take their place in the community of
nations and in international life, it is perhaps the world itself that we are protecting."
U.N. Secretary-General Boutros Boutros-Ghali
in the speech to the U.N. General Assembly inaugurating 1993
as the international Year of the World's indigenous Peoples
At the Second Continental Encounter of Indigenous Peoples, delegates of the Coordinating Commission of Indigenous
Nations and Organizations of the Continent (CONIC) called the world's attention to "cultures in danger." More than 300
representatives of Indigenous Nations and Organizations from throughout the Western Hemisphere gathered at the Otomi
Ceremonial Center in the mountains outside Mexico City during the second week of October, 1993.
Representatives of Indigenous Populations from throughout the Americas asserted their presence within the international
community by sounding the alarm that their cultures are indeed in danger of disintegration and extinction. In answer to
Secretary General Boutros Boutros-Ghali's pledge to "organize a watch" for threats to cultural survival, the representatives
identified genocide and ethnocide as the most pressing issues of their communities. Delegates at this historic meeting
noted that the United Nations' designation of 1993 as the International Year of the World's Indigenous Peoples is nearly
past and little benefit has been realized by Native Peoples.
For the past three years, increased communication, strategic planning and coalition building of Native Peoples throughout
the Americas has undergone a political evolution resulting in a grassroots network, The Coordinating Commission of
Indigenous Nations and Organizations of the Continent - CONIC. This coalition of native organizations was established
soon after the historic gathering in Quito, Ecuador in July 1990 called the First Continental Encounter of Indigenous
Peoples. Since then, Native Peoples of the Americas have continued to meet. Together they have shared their common
histories, social and political struggles, and aspirations for more self-determined futures. After successfully mounting
counter celebrations to the 1992 Columbus Quincentenary, Native People started planning this Second Encounter.
"I cannot emphasize too much just how important the personal contact was, the inspiration of meeting each other. These
meetings are the beginning of new stories, new legends to be passed down, the seeds of cultures sown.
-Tupac Enrique of the
Tonatierra Community Development Institute
CONIC was established to implement a process by which the Indigenous Peoples of the Americas can work in solidarity
politically, socially and spiritually. Presently, CONIC is comprised of 26 major Indigenous Organizations and Nations, as
well as many smaller, localyl-based groups from throughout the North, South and Meso America. As a representative
body, CONIC is an inclusive organization, encouraging the participation of other grassrooots native nations and
The Second Encounter
"We are here today, coming together as Indigenous People, because of our shared understanding of the need to
strengthen our own movement-the unique movement of Indigenous People for territory, autonomy, and cultural survival...
We are only now beginning to realize the long-held dream that someday, our own people will be speaking for us in
international forums, no longer through the means of intermediaries. We hope that other sectors of society will support
us, recognizing that Indigenous Self-determination is ultimately of benefit, not only to Indigenous Peoples, but to all of
the inhabitants of Planet Earth.
-Atencio Lopez, General Secretary of Kunas Unidos par Napbguana
A ceremonial eight-mile procession from the town of Temoaya to the Otomi Center inaugurated the
Second Continental Encounter (Encuentro 11). This historic meeting was planned and organized by
CONIC in conjunction with Mexico's Frente Independiente de Pueblos Indios (FIPI) (a coalition of
Mexican Indigenous Peoples and Organizations). Local, national and international Indigenous Delegates met
and conducted discussion groups deliberating critical issues, formulating strategies and consolidating the frame
work for a continental Indigenous Peoples movement for autonomy.
The relationship between the organizations of the North and the South of the continent is seen as the fulfullment of an
ancient prophecy: the re-encounter of the Eagle and the Condor. The spiritual energy brought to the conference by the
grandparents, elders and spiritual guides as well as members of the Dignity Journeys helped to create a ceremonial
presence at the conference.
Holding the event in Mexico boosted the consolidation of Mexico's Indigenous Movement bringing much needed attention
to their political struggles. About 20 delegates from tribal groups in the U.S. and Canada participated in the plenaries and
workshops. Simultaneous translation (Spanish-English) helped bridge the language barrier, although most participants
spoke their Indigenous Languages as well. Allies supporting autonomy for Indigenous Peoples were also present at the
Second Encounter. Finally, the contributions of time and energy of the many volunteers from both Mexico and the United
States helped bring about the success of the event.
The President of the Coordinadora de Mujeres Indigenas de Bolivia, an indigenous women's organization, chaired the
plenary sessions. Each roundtable discussion was moderated by a representative of CONIC. The participants in each group
deliberated a topic/issue. They then developed a statement which reflected the consensus positions of the group. The
topic/issues discussed included the following:
1) SPIRITUALITY AND TRADITION--A lead role in efforts to heal and renew Mother Earth must be assumed by
Indigenous Peoples. Sacred places, ceremonial centers, artifacts and ancestral remains must be returned to Indigenous
Nations. The governments within the United Nations must legally recognize and unequivocally guarantee protection of the
spiritual practices of Indigenous Peoples.
2) MOTHER EARTH, TERRITORY AND HARMONIOUS DEVELOPMENT-The Indigenous Leaders present
reaffirmed their commitments to strengthen traditional world views, cultural identities and the spiritual relationship, with
Earth Mother. The group identified that Nation-state governments must clearly demarcate Indigenous Territories if an
harmonious development was to occur.
3) SELF-DETERMINATION, LEGISLATION AND INDIGENOUS RIGHTS-The laws of the countries of this
hemisphere must recognize our legal jurisdiction over our territories and cease violations of laws enacted to protect
Indigenous Peoples. As a long-term objective, CONIC proposes the restructuring of Nation-states to provide true "pluricultural" governments which recognize the co-existence of autonomous Indigenous Nations.
4) WOMEN, FAMILY AND COMMUNITY-This group recognized women as the source of cultural pride and the
preservors of traditional native culture throughout the hemisphere. Many Indigenous Women determined that the future
well-being of their families and their own autonomy depended on achieving their economic development goals, for which
outside financial resources and training was necessary.
5) YOUTH, CULTURE AND EDUCATION-Educational programs and curriculum must be based on the philosophy
and world view of Indigenous Peoples. Nation-states must support Indigenous Language instruction and, in consultation
with Indigenous Peoples, establish art and cultural centers.
In addition to the roundtables, a day was set aside for organizational meetings to consolidate regional,
national and international alliances, and to build support for and to help protect Indigenous Communities
throughout the hemisphere. More comprehensive reporting of the sessions is presented later in this document.
"We need to be very strong and clear as Indigenous People
about what we want for our communities, in order to be able to forge
an alliance of equals with the popular movement and other sectors of society.
-Margarita Ruiz, coordinator of FIR
A dynamic continental movement of Indigenous Peoples has evolved after years of continued struggles for democracy and
many regional battles to protect life, territory and environment. Unlike previous political initiatives, the current movement
has originated with grassroots Indigenous Communities. This historic coalition of Indian organizations coalesced initially
during 1991-1992 as Indigenous Groups began to coordinate adamant opposition to festivities designed to celebrate
Christopher Columbus' "discovery of the New World." The Coordinating Commission of Indigenous Nations and
Organizations of the Continent (CONIC) was established during this period and has been gaining strength ever since.
CONIC is committed to developing alliances with other sectors of society. CONIC believes that through alliance-building
Indigenous Peoples can protect themselves against the numerous acts of genocide and ethnocide that have continued into
the mid-1990s. Communication systems must be established to help bring many vulnerable Indigenous Communities out of
isolation, thereby building protection against violence and repression.
In this way, CONIC members can sound the alarm when a community finds itself under attack. By its very structure as a
democratic, representative political body, CONIC empowers its communties, by bringing Indigenous Voices and concerns
before national, regional and international political and legal bodies.
During the Second Encounter CONIC agreed to mobilize resources to convene two planning meetings during the next nine
months. The first meeting will take place in Bolivia during the Spring 1994, and will be hosted by the Coordinadera de
Mujeres Indigenas. The second meeting will be hosted by the Consejo de Organizaciones Mayas de Guatemala, and is
scheduled to be held in Guatemala this Summer 1994. The two meetings will be held to organize the Third Continental
Encounter of Indigenous Peoples, where CONIC members will formally organize themselves under a constitution.
ROUNDTABLE SESSION ONE
SPIRITUALITY AND TRADITIONS
Every morning, with the sound of the Drum and the conch, we greet Father Sun and welcome the new day. Our songs,
reaching the heart of Earth Mother, give strength to our voice and illuminate our thoughts. The warmth of the sacred fire
strengthens unity and sparks energy for another day of debate and deliberation. As sisters and brothers from the North
and the South closed the morning circle, ancient prophesies are fulfilled. The spirit of the Eagle and Condor bring hope
for a better tomorrow.
-Quote from Encuentro 11, Quito, Ecuador
At the center of the cultural and political identity of Indigenous Peoples is found spirituality and diverse ceremonial
traditions borne of the Earth. The Great Spirit teaches compassion, respect and reverence and shelters Abya Yala (the Land
of Abundance). Our world view unites us with the natural world. Hence, our life philosophies differ significantly from the
conquest and domination mentality of the Euro-Americans.
From this point, we are prepared to fight until the end, including giving up our lives, because we feel that our Mother
Earth is worth more than our lives.
Quote from the First Encounter, Quito, Ecuador-1990
According to Mayan elders the Earth is called "The Mother of All Nourishment." However, the equilibrium between human
societies and the natural world to which the Mayan refer has been broken. Mother Earth is being profanely violated in a
cruel and systematic manner. Industrial society perpetuates the concept of human superiority, or more specifically, the
white man's superiority and domination over the Mother of All Nourishment, and the rest of all humanity as well. This
pattern of thinking is not only arrogant and vain, but also lacks compassion, spirit, and hope for continued life.
Today's highly technical industrialized society, with centralized wealth and power, mandates conformity to economic
models that provoke resource exploitation, over-consumption and the destruction of Earth Mother. As Indigenous peoples,
we now stand and cry out an alarm to the world:
The Mother of All Nourishment Is In Danger.
We plead to all
humanity that the end of the 20th century does not need to be the end of the world. However, it must witness the end to a
civilization of conquest and domination that has forcibly imposed itself upon Indigenous Peoples and the natural world.
The future of all living beings and the health of Mother Earth lies in the teachings of ancient spiritual ways and the holistic
world view of Indigenous Peoples. Therefore, the great challenge for Indigenous Peoples is to gather together a spiritual
energy which will move the world. We must examine our traditional technologies and organic economies to bring forth
viable and sustainable alternatives for the 21st century. Such alternatives must include spirituality, ritual and reverence for
Earth Mother, thus, producing an organic and holistic world view for all of humanity.
With great joy, hope and pain we debated and dialoged until finally we reached consensus on the following
1 . It is vitally important to rejuvenate, strengthen, and continue our cultural and spiritual existence. We
must continue to practice our rituals and ceremonies which consummate our relationship with Father Sun,
Mother Earth, Grandfather Fire, and Grandmother Moon. We agree to provide unlimited support and respect to
the many different traditions, customs, and spiritual practices of the Original Peoples of the world.
2. We will assert our rights and assume our responsibility to educate our children in their indigenous
traditions, languages, and heritage, and work to strengthen their cultural and spiritual identity.
3. We demand that the Nation-states of the Western Hemisphere recognize, respect and legally
protect the traditional spiritual practices of Indigenous Peoples. Furthermore, we demand the immediate
decriminalization of all medicines and sacraments used in spiritual practices of Indigenous Peoples, including:
coca, peyote, mushrooms, and other sacred and medicinal plants and herbs.
4. We demand that Nation-states, national and international agencies and private institutions return
sacred documents, artifacts, and ceremonial regalia to the rightful tribal. nation. Additionally, we demand the
immediate repatriation of our ancestral remains for proper and customary re-interment.
5. Nation-states must return our sacred places and ceremonial centers. These places constitute the
living and sacred heritage of our Peoples and are used to reaffirm our spiritual understandings, Furthermore, we
demand the right to manage and decide the proper care and use of such sacred places and ceremonial centers.
Finally and most importantly, we conclude: It is a basic pre-requisite to the recovery and strengthening of our spirituality
and tradition that the healing and renewal of the sacred Mother Earth must occur.
Indigenous People's Environmental Ethic
When you are going to cut down, you must ask permission of the spirits of the forest. You must study the cycles of
renewal to help regenerate what you have used. You must ask permission and give offerings to the Earth Mother before
opening any wounds in her body with the sharpened steel of your plow. You must study the agricultural calendar and
protect the well-being of the other living beings who accompany you in this life.
When you are going to alter the course of a stream in order to
water your crops, you must first ask permission of the water spirit, and you must be careful to not let the stream dry up
as a result of your actions. If you are going to hunt or fish. you must respect the natural cycles of reproduction.
Everything is connected. When there are trees, there is rain, when there is rain, there is food, and when there is food,
there is health, peace, life and happiness.
ROUNDTABLE SESSION TWO
Mother Earth, Territory and Harmonious Development
The importance of each blade of grass, each tiny insect and each river stone was always highlighted by our elders in their
sage advice to us. All of the changes made by humans
upon the natural environment in the interest of survival were always carefully regulated.
Since the sounding of alarms for an Earth in peril at the Earth Summit in 199 2, increased significance has been given to the
Earth-based wisdom of our peoples and our ecologically sustainable livelihoods. Ancient Native traditions and
technologies historically viewed by industrial societies as primitive or backward, are now being re-evaluated by many
progressive organizations as alternative or preferred means of development.
Concurrent with this new attention given to Indigenous knowledge, is the continued and brutal plunder of Native lands, the
illegal appropriation of our resources and the forced acculturation of tribal populations. Furthermore, the Earth-based
knowledge of ecological sustainability, now sought after, is being rapidly extinguished by an expanding cash economy
(capitalism) facilitated by constitutional amendments mandating privatization, pro-growth economic policies that encourage
free-enterprise, and the anticipated passage of the North American Free Trade Agreement, (NAFTA). This dichotomy, as
well as the dire need to protect and preserve our cultures, territories, economies and the Earth Mother herself, were the
subjects of this roundtable work session.
As in the First Continental Encuentro in 1990, participants in the Mother Earth, Territory and Harmonious Development
Roundtable gave tribute to our worldview and sacred relationship with Earth Mother. We do not consider ourselves as
owners of the landit is our Mother. She has always provided sustenance for our ancient cultures. Our spiritual relationship
with the Earth is founded upon the principals of Respect Reverence and Reciprocity - - we always give back to the Earth
more than we take.
Through Earth-based ritual and ceremony, we reaffirm our spiritual relationship with the universe and fulfill our innate
responsibility to assist Earth Mother's rebirth and renewal of EVERLASTING cycles of life. Thus, the basis for respect and
harmony with Mother Earth can only be found in the profound, spirituality of our Peoples. However, that spirituality can
preserved among a free and liberated people that have full autonomous control of our territories and resources. Such
preservation of our Earth-based spiritual understanding and autonomous control over our territories is not only important
for the survival of Indigenous Peoples, but is also critical to the ecological well-being of the Earth itself. The Worldwatch
Institute states that the homelands of Indigenous Peoples.
... regulate hydrological cycles, maintain local and global climatic stability and harbor a wealth of biological and
genetic diversity, Indeed, Indigenous homelands may provide safe havens for more endangered plant and animal species
than all the world's nature reserves. Native peoples, moreover, often hold the key to these vaults of biological diversity.
They possess a body of ecological knowledge encoded in their language, customs, and subsistence practices, that rival
the libraries of modern science.
The principals of Earth-based morality and ecological ethics are important reasons why humanity is beginning to turn its
attention to the plight of our Peoples. In the struggle to overcome the perils of ecological distress and social malaise, there
is an urgent quest for Earth-based ethics and a new spirituality that can lead humankind beyond the present greedy
industrial society. The Worldwatch Institute continues:
A more self-interested appeal appears to be in order: supporting Indigenous survival is an objective necessary, even to
those callous to the justice
of the cause. As a practical matter, the world's dominant cultures
cannot sustain the Earth's ecological health - a requisite of human
advancement - without the aid of the world's endangered cultures.
Biological diversity is inextricably linked to cultural diversity.
In recent years, the demand for our homelands by Nation-states and multi-national corporations has accelerated at an
alarming rate. With this illegal intrusion and resulting
plunder of our territories, we have witnessed a corresponding
decay of our cultural identity and a disintegration of many of
our societies. When we, as Indigenous Peoples lose our homelands, we also lose our cultural and spiritual identity as
well. Thus, for Indigenous Peoples, the defense of our land
and territory is the same as the defense of our identity.
Participants at the roundtable concluded that to effectively
eliminate the continued plunder of our territories and the
physical and cultural genocide of our Peoples, it is absolutely
necessary to undertake a profound reorganization of territory
and land tenure at the continental level. Accordingly, we
demand that all aboriginal homelands of Indigenous Peoples
be returned for their independent and autonomous control.
Additionally, said land must also be demarcated with great
At this historic Second Encuentro, we, as Indigenous Peoples,
reaffirmed our commitment to strengthen our traditional
world view, cultural identity and our spiritual relationship
with Earth Mother. We strongly encourage Indigenous
Peoples to assume a lead role in a continental environmental
movement designed to protect and regenerate Mother Earth.
Of priority, we must dedicate ourselves to the recovery
and rehabilitation of lands and forests. Thus, we demand an
immediate halt to the continued poisoning of Mother Earth.
We urge all Indigenous Peoples to say a definite NO to the
continued use of agrochemicals, herbicide spray, and the
dumping of toxic and nuclear wastes in our territories. We
also encourage Indigenous Peoples to strengthen their
vigilance over our lands in order to stop the continued
destruction that results from timber, mineral and oil
expropriation. Additionally, we demand a halt to the
continued damming, diversion and pollution of the Earth's
rivers and streams. Such action promotes desertification and
threatens all of humanity.
As the Original Peoples of this continent, we adamantly
denounce the pro-growth economic models that continue to
cause environmental degradation. In recent years, the
imposition of such foreign economic models have also left a
wake of misery, marginalization and dependency among our
Peoples. Many of our communities have lost their freedom
and self-determination. Thus, we call upon Indigenous
Peoples of the continent to establish alliances with other
sectors of society to rehabilitate our Indigenous Economies or
work to create alternative economic models that are not based
on continued resource exploitation, over consumption and
We demand that national and international agencies establish
a new relationship with Indigenous Peoples. Such a
relationship must abolish paternalistic policies of the past and
eliminate intermediary institutions while affording greater
respect to the traditional governments of Indigenous Peoples.
Additionally, we call upon the Nation-States to ratify
Convention 169 of the ILO and the International Treaty of the
Fund for the Development of the Indigenous Peoplesof Latin America and the Caribbean. For governments that
have already ratified such accords, we insist that they be fully
During the final months of 1993--The International Year of
the World's Indigenous Peoples, we herewith express our
consternation and dismay with the pitiful response to this
historic year on the part of the United Nations and its member
States. At this late date, we, the Indigenous Peoples, can only
conclude that a "New Partnership" will not be established
and concrete benefits to help overcome the poverty and
marginalization. among our Peoples will not be realized.
Accordingly, we call upon the United Nations to establish the
Decade for the Development of Indigenous Peoples. The purpose
of the decade shall be to place issues of Indigenous self-development on the international agenda.
As Indigenous Peoples, we are confident that our societies
will again prosper and flourish. In this regard, we encourage
other Indigenous Peoples to look to the example of the Kuna
Peoples of Panama. Their
experience teaches that sustainable development of an
Indigenous territorial ecosystem is only possible when Native
Peoples have complete autonomy within their territory.
Clearly demarcated territories and a free and liberated
Peoples with autonomous jurisdictional control are key prerequisites for harmonious, sustainable development that
affirms our cultural and spiritual identities.
ROUNDTABLE SESSION THREE
Self-determination, Legislation, and Indigenous Rights
We are now fully aware that our definitive liberation can only be expressed by means of
the full exercise of our self-determination--without indigenous self-government and
without control of our own territories, autonomy cannot exist.
-Quote from First Encounter, Quito, Ecuador-1990
Indigenous Peoples attending the Second Continental Encounter recognize and are grateful for the many significant strides
that Original Nations have attained in the areas of legal protection and self-determination. However, we lament that in the
reality of daily life, the observance of our basic human and aboriginal rights have been progressively deteriorating and our
territories and autonomy continues to be intruded upon. The new challenges and strategies prompted by such
circumstances was the focus of this roundtable session.
Over the past three years, we have witnessed increased intrusion into and plunder of our territories and natural resources,
escalating violence against our Peoples, and the continued violation of laws enacted to protect Indigenous Peoples. It is
clear that Indigenous Peoples must implement strategies resulting in the development and/or enactment of laws, covenants
and other legal instruments at the continental and international level to protect the autonomy of indigenous nations.
Accordingly, we resolve the following:
Participants of the Second Encounter ratify the resolutions of the First Continental Encuentro of Indigenous
Peoples passed in Quito, Ecuador, and recognize them as being as applicable today as at the time of their
1 . As the Original Peoples of this continent, we demand that all national and international documents
and legal instruments, particularly those developed and/or enacted by the
United Nations, recognize and refer to us as Peoples, not as populations.
2. We demand that the Universal Declaration of the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, as articulated at the
10th Meeting of the United Nations' Working Group on Indigenous Peoples, be ratified by the UN without revision
3. We demand that the Organization of American States (OAS) and countries of this continent
immediately dismantle the Interamerican Indigenist Institute, and, with consultation of Indigenous Peoples,
develop and ratify an Interamerican legal instrument that provides the recognition of Indigenous Rights and
4. We demand that the laws of the countries of this hemisphere and international law, fully recognize
and honor our legal jurisdiction over our territories and peoples. Many countries continue to encroach into
indigenous territories, ven though many of the countries of having entered into or enacted laws forbidding such
encroachment. In response, we denounce the practice of "juridical integrationism" and hereby assert our
sovereign authority as aboriginal nations to legislate and enforce Indigenous Laws within our territories.
5. We protest those governments who have not ratified or are not supporting and enforcing the terms
and conditions of the Treaty of the Fund for the Development of Indigenous Peoples of Latin America and the
We unanimously conclude that CONIC develop support and
undergo the required administrative procedures necessary to
gain full recognition as members of full-standing by the
United Nations as Indigenous Peoples and nations. We further
urge that this effort be completed and presented to the United
Nations in 1998 during the celebration of their 50th
For us, the Original Peoples of this continent, the strength
and tenacity of our traditional ways have provided the means
for our survival in the wake of the past 500 years of invasion
and plunder. In looking beyond our immediate survival and
toward everlasting and flourishing lives, we, the Indigenous
Peoples, have begun organizing on an intercontinental level.
The Second Encounter (Encuentro 11) in Mexico established
alliances between many Indigenous Nations resulting in a
renewed political will and resolve to change the adverse
conditions under which so many Indigenous Peoples are forced
As First Peoples, we are well aware that there continues to
exist certain "de facto autonomies in Panama for example,
where Indigenous Tribal groups of Peoples have reassumed
the power of self-government. Autonomy is a fundamental
aspect of Indigenous rights which has been kept out of our
grasp for centuries. To date the international community,
especially the United Nations, has failed to recognize the
autonomy of Indigenous Peoples.
For instance, Covenant 169 of the International Labor
Organization and the treaty of the Fund for the Development
of Indigenous Peoples of Latin America and the Caribbean
have yet to be ratified by some Nation-states. And, for
countries that adopted the aforementioned documents, the
rights established therein are often disregarded. Additionally,
Mexico failed to consult with Indigenous Organizations and
Peoples even though they are required to do so according to
the 4th Article of the Mexican Constitution. In fact, violations
of existing laws, abatement of human rights and outright
violent supression of Indigenous Peoples continues to this very
The voracious appetites of the modern governments for
natural resources has resulted in irreparable damage to lands
upon which the Western Hemisphere's Indigenous Peoples
must subsist and to which they hold a sacred bond. The United
States government and the free-lance brokers of industrial
and agricultural toxic wastes are actively seeking contracts with
unsuspecting, economically depressed tribal communitie. Acts
of violence against Indigenous Peoples have sky-rocketed.
Recently a group of gold miners in Brazil murdered and
mutilated 73 Yanomami People within the Yanomami
ancestral territories. Sadly, the lack of response and
unwillingness to protect the rights and lives of the Yanomami
reflects the attitude of the majority of governments in the
Western Hemisphere towards their Indigenous Populations.
CONIC members demand that the United Nations recognize
our existence, human rights and rights as sovereign Peoples.
As sovereign Peoples, further, we demand full-membership
within the United Nations.
Ultimately, the members of the Commission of Indigenous
Nations and Organizations embark into the future with
confidence of our continued survival and with conviction to
lead our lives as Indigenous Peoples. We urge that the United
Nations designate the next 10 year period (1994-2004) the
DECADE OF INDIGENOUS RIGHTS. In turn, CONIC
members commit to actively develop and implement the goals
and objectives to frame and actualize our future self-determination.
The struggle to develop and enact international instruments
recognizing and protecting the sovereign rights of Indigenous
Peoples has been significant. At the roundtable participants
urged again the immediate enactment and implementation of
the terms and conditions of both the International Labor
Organization's (ILO) Covenant 169 and the International
Treaty of the Fund for the Development of the Indigenous
Peoples of Latin America and the Caribbean. The current
draft of Covenant 169 contains language proclaiming the
rights of Inidgenous Peoples as "distinct" peoples. The
member-governments of the United Nations, and especially
governments of the Western Hemisphere have consistently
challenged any language recognizing the distinction of
Indigenous Peoples. This recognition is vital to our pursuits of
Towards our goal of autonomy, we recognize that certain
advances have occured. A majority of the countries of the
Hemisphere have acknowledged the rights of Indigenous
Peoples withing their constitutions. However, the very same
governments have failed to uphold the rights of Indigenous
Peoples within their judicial systems. Also, a majority of the
national governments have refused to ratify the above international
treaties which will protect the lives and territories of
Indigenous Peoples. There are many examples of national
governments violating the national and international
agreements which protect the rights and territories of
Indigenous Peoples. As example, Mexico signed the
agreement, but has since violated it.
An inter-American legal instrument to protect the rights of
Indigenous Peoples has been proposed by the Organization of
American States-OAS. CONIC demands that the OAS and
the national governments of the region guarantee the full
participation of Indigenous Peoples in the development and
implementation of this document. The logical first step
towards creating a new protective document is the dissolution
of the unilateral Inter-american Indigenist Institute, a
creation of the OAS. In its place we recommend a bilateral
organization comprised of representatives of the national
governments and representatives of the many Indigenous
We recognize the importance of such legal changes. We know
that such changes are the result of on-going efforts by
Indigenous Groups at the the local, regional,
national, continental, and global levels, demanding that
national governments amend their constitutions, and support
international treaties. We also recognize that historically the
national governments tend to decide arbitrarily and
unilaterally to infringe and curtail the rights of Indigenous
Peoples. As such, we support and encourage continued efforts
by Indigenous People of the Hemisphere to actively promote
initiatives recognizing the indigenous and aboriginal rights to
assure the well-being of their people and the integrity of their
One of our greatest challenges is created when national
governments invoke legal interpretations and philosophies
which ultimately accept that we are a distinct peoples but are
not allowed to govern ourselves according the Indigenous Laws.
The concept of legal relativism, prevalent throughout the
Hemisphere, at first recognizes Indignenous Rights, but
denies legal jurisdiction within Indigenous Lands to the local
Indigenous Populations. It is our belief that such inequities
must be addressed and resolved.
We must begin valuing, reclaiming and practicing our
traditions from this very day, including exercising our right to
live according to traditional indigenous laws. This is
especially important when considering the impacts on the
land by western development and western legal practices. The
struggle of the Original Peoples of Kuna Yala
(in Panama) is
good proof of effective Indigenous Self-government.
Autonomous self-government must be developed in every
region of the Western Hemisphere. Autonomy is a
fundamental aspect of Indigenous Rights. It is essential that
we begin practicing it immediately. Furthermore, each
Indigenous Group, and each Indigenous Nation must assert its
own autonomy according to the age-old traditions of its
culture and philosophy. Towards this end we consider it of
vital importance that CONIC commit to organizing an
intercontinental convention of indigenous representatives to
begin discussing the future building of autonomy within
Indigenous Nations throughout the hemisphere.
ROUNDTABLE SESSION FOUR
Women, Family and Community
There was a sense of joy at being present at this Encounter and discovering the strength of 'women who pass on to their
daughters the messages of their grandmothers.' We need to continue as the conservers, preservers and diffusers of our
From remote times, our Peoples established the family as the basic unit of social organization. The roles of men and women,
youth and elders were different in function, but equal in importance. Historically, women have carried a great burden of
responsibility in our communities. The continuity of our culture depends on the strength and conviction of indigenous
women who educate their sons and daughters in traditions and customs.
The world view of Indigenous Women is a holistic one, one that does not divide and separate. Indigenous Women know
the pain of being mothers, often single mothers, whose children may become alienated. Even recognizing the real inequality
and social mistreatment of women, many of whom are illiterate and malnourished, Indigenous Women still look for harmony
with men, not confrontation.
As Indigenous Women we must recover the secrets of our ancestral wisdom, valuing ourselves spiritually, morally and
materially. With spirituality as our strength, and utilizing the experience and wisdom of our elders, the participants of this
roundtable concluded that Indigenous Women need to work in creative ways to generate options for a better life. We insist
that funds be channeled specifically for the purpose of strengthening indigenous families during 1994, designated by the
United Nations as the "Year of the Family." And furthermore:
1 . Women see that solutions to problems in the culture and
community begin with the family. We need
to build closer relationships with our children, instilling in them a sense of pride in being Indian. Pride in their
culture will help to counter the tendency of our youth toward alienation from their own people. In recent years more
Indigenous Youth are leaving home because of conditions of poverty and lack of opportunity.
2. Focusing on the complementary nature of men and women within the community with our tolerance
and intelligence we can attempt to change the sexist attitudes of men. We cannot overlook the
men continue to extend to women. We are all daughters of the Sun and of the Earth Mother.
3. Serving important leadership roles in our communities, as well as being mothers, counselors and
community members, women are the principal force behind the conservation, preservation and diffusion of our
culture. We must seek support for teaching the community to read and write in our own languages, and
educating our children within the family in our own culture and mother tongue. We must encourage our sisters to recover our
original dress and wear it with pride.
4. Indigenous women of CONIC resolve to develop our political awareness, translating that to concrete
actions. For instance, in the economic realm, we must help women working in traditional crafts to develop
markets, training them to protect their rights, so they will not need intermediaries to advocate for them. We need
to promote women's organizations, in coordination with family and community, as well as to communicate with
native women of other Original Peoples in order to exchange valuable experiences.
ROUNDTABLE SESSION FIVE
Education, Culture and Youth
Indigenous youth are concerned about the problems of
our communities ... with every plunder, and every loss of land a
young person is
denied a future, a child will grow up without living in their own community or within their own culture.
According to recent demographic data, children and young people comprise the highest percentage of the total
indigneous population in North, Central and South Americas. Indigenous youth, however, are often deprived of a
childhood. Within the harsh reality of poverty and powerlessness that so many our native
communities must struggle to
survive, our children assume responsibilities of adulthood very early. Education is often forsaken when survival of families
requires that all must work, even the children. Very early on youth become aware of the problems facing their communities.
Accordingly, as indigenous youth, we are concerned less with youth-related issues and are more concerned with the
problems facing our communities and our Peoples as a whole.
Indigenous Peoples are faced with the great challenge of responding positively to the restlessness of our young people.
We understand that the survival of our families and communities is dependent on cultivating within our youth a firm sense
of their cultural identity. Therefore, all projects initiated for Indigenous youth must be developed within the framework of
our cultures. Additionally, we realize that the problems confronting indigenous youth are directly related to the larger
struggles of basic human rights, recovery of territory, and autonomous development. Thus, the solutions faced by our
youth are integral to the solutions needed to resolve the problems confronting Indigenous Peoples as a whole.
The attacks on our cultural values via the schools and the mass media have created a conflicted sense of identity and a
tendency toward alienation among Indigenous youth. Ancestral principals are taught in the home. Non-indigenous values
are learned in school. Cultural values are ignored in the schools or dismissed in favor of more European based educational
models. We now find that internal conflicts between traditional and non-traditional systems of belief and values is
disrupting and in some cases disintegrating age old traditional cultures throughout the Hemisphere.
In response to our concerns the following positions were reached:
1 . We understand that the cultural identity of our children must be established at home. It must be
strengthened and reinforced in school. It is necessary to establish education systems and institutions which
actively integrate the philosophy and world view of our peoples. Additionally, such educational systems must
include curriculum that teaches our own history and features heroes and leaders of our Peoples.
2. We demand that nation-states establish education programs designed to professionally train
Indigenous Peoples as educators. Furthermore, scholarships must become available for Indigenous students at
all levels of education.
3. We demand that each country of the continent establish indigenous language programs for the
purpose of recovering and strengthening original languages.
We demand that art and cultural centers be established to support and recover the cultural values of
our Peoples. Additionally, we urge that resources be provided to enable our elders to conduct seminars and
workshops for our youth, thereby ensuring the continuity of our ancient
The participants of the Second Meeting (11 Encuentro) of Indigneous Nations and Organizations, in a plenary
session with over 300 individuals present, adopt the following resolutions.
1 . Protests towards the government for not enforcing the Covenants and International Treaties which it has
signed, such as Covenant
of the ILO and the Treaty of the Fund for the Development of Indigenous Peoples of
Latin America and the Caribbean.
2. Categorical rejections of the reforms of the 27th article of the Mexican Constitution. These reforms open the
door to the plunder of Indigenous territories and are in violation of Covenant
articles 13 to
3. A denunciation of the Chamber of Representatives and of the National Indigenist Institute for implementing
the legal consequences of the 4th article of the Constitution regarding Indigenous Rights without the knowledge of
the Peoples. This lack of consulting Indigenous organizations is in direct violation of Covenant
of the ILO
which recognizes the right of Native Peoples to be consulted whenever they will be affected by any changes in the
4. CONIC salutes the efforts towards unity among the Mexican Indigenous Organizations that have
consolidated themselves here at this 11 Encounter. Additionally, CONIC hopes that through such consolidation
that their struggles to implement Indigenous Rights in Mexico will be strengthened.
For the purpose of promoting harmonious sustainable development based on community values, we, the
Indigenous People of the Second Continental Encounter, strongly denounce and oppose the North American Fair
Trade Agreement (NAFTA) and the General Agreement On Trade and Tariffs (GATT) for the following reasons:
1. It will have an adverse effect on Nature.
2. it will allow exploitation of the indigenous work force.
3. It will violate the indigenous intellectual property rights with respect to medicinal flora and fauna.
4. It will adversely effect efforts of Indigenous Peoples to build self-determination and indigenous rights.
5. It favors large multi-national agri-business over small-scale agriculture.
6. As written the North American Fair Trade Agreement (NAFTA) and the General Agreement On Trade and
Tariffs (GATT) can be construed to allow the development and exploitation of a child labor force.
CONIC resolves, strongly denounces and opposes the Human Genome Diversity Project and further demands that
the project immediately cease and desist in its efforts to collect human genes from Indigenous Peoples.
Source: The Temoaya Declaration--1993.
A Report of the Second Continental Meeting of Indigenous Nations and
Organizations. The Coordinating Commission of Indigenous Nations and
Organizations of the Continent. Temoaya, Mex. Oct. 13, 1993.