500 Years of Indian Resistance
Call to Action on the First Continental Meeting of Indigenous Peoples
This is an invitation to all Indian people throughout
the Americas, to take part in the First Continental
Meeting of Indigenous Peoples on the "500 Years of Indian Resistance"
commemorations in 1992. The meeting will take
place in Quito, Ecuador at the end of June, 1990.
The meeting is being organized by the
Confederation of Indian Nations of Ecuador
(CONAIE). The decision to hold this meeting was
based on various discussions between Indian
organizations throughout the
continent which culminated with a preparatory
meeting held last April in Quito between CONAIE,
the National Organization of Indian People of
Colombia (ONIC), SAIIC, and other national and
international support organizations.
The broad objectives of the conference are:
to promote unity and active participation of
Indigenous peoples and organizations in the 500
Years Campaign and to coordinate counter-commemorations;
to promote a broad, unified front of participation
by other sectors of society, including those groups
committed to human rights, justice, equality, and
protection of the natural world, on a national and
to re-establish inter-cultural relations between
Indigenous peoples of the Americas.
The first three days of the five-day Quito conference
will be meetings between Indian peoples. Non-Indian
people are invited to participate as observers for this
period. The fourth day will be an open meeting with
all the non-Indian organizations to discuss alliances
and strategies, and on the fifth day there will be a
press conference, a visit to local Indian communities,
and in the late afternoon, a cultural exchange with
Following is a statement which was drawn up at the
preparatory meeting in Quito, April 9th, 1989:
A Call to Indigenous People:
There is an urgent need to organize an indigenous
response to the celebration of the so-called
"Discovery of America," now officially called by
some governments "the Encounter of Two Worlds."
Spain, the Vatican, the United States and European
and Latin American governments are preparing many
pompous events to celebrate the "Conquest of
From our Indigenous perspective, there was no
"encounter." The contact between the Europeans
and Indians did not permit equal conditions and
opportunities. On the contrary, it was an armed
invasion motivated by the quest for resources and
by the crisis of feudal European regimes.
The most evident consequences of these violent acts
were genocide, the rape of our women, torture,
political/ ideological and cultural submission and
death through diseases brought to the continent.
Our land and our resources were plundered. Military
and religious power were the instruments of
domination in the conquest.
The conquest and the mentality of "Manifest
Destiny" still prevails in modern society, in the
operation of the oligarchy, in the abuses of the
military, in the plundering of natural resources by
multinational and national companies. These
activities affect a large portion of our society, and in
particular Indigenous people. We are still witnessing
The conquest of the Amazon today is very clear.
This land is under assault in order to exploit its
mineral resources, its reserves of valuable timber and
its great hydro-electric potential. The Indigenous
people of the Amazon are confronting this conquest,
and this is 1989. The Yanomami, the most numerous
of the Indigenous people of the Amazon rainforest,
are facing the loss of their lands and are being killed
because they are viewed as a barrier to the
exploitation of natural resources in Brazil.
Thus October 12, 1992 presents a great opportunity
not to celebrate, nor to cry about our bad luck, but
rather to reflect upon 500 years of the European
invasion and to formulate alternatives for a better life,
in harmony with Nature and with human dignity.
Our peoples are developing forms of political,
religious, cultural and economic interchange and interrelationship - a continental cultural identity; a
civilization. Nevertheless, with the European
invasion and subsequent process of colonization, we
became isolated and out of communication, breaking
a form of development we had attained.
So, it is necessary to re-establish these lines of
communication, to present an indigenous voice, not
only against the celebration of the "500th
Anniversary," but to face up to the innumerable
common problems that we have and work for a
worthy future for our people.
Therefore, we invite all Indigenous peoples of our
continent to reflect upon the real meaning of the
"conquest" and to participate in the First Continental
Meeting of Indigenous Peoples - 500 Years of
Resistance" to be held at
the end of June, 1990.
Source: South and
Meso-American Indian Information Center (SAIIC). Berkeley,
CA. Fall 1989/Winter 1990, p.16-18.