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News & Views of Phillips Since 1976
Sunday May 19th 2024

First Declaration of Indigenous Peoples Day at the 1977 Geneva UN Conference

The Native nations from the USA sent a delegation of thirteen members plus staff and observers. In addition, the Iroquois (Haudenosaunee) Federation sent a separate delegation of twelve, plus several observers. Five of the US delegates were affiliated with IITC: Russell Means (Lakota), David Monongye (Hopi, Hotevilla), Phillip Deere (Muscogee), Larry Red Shirt (Lakota), and Roxanne Dunbar-Ortiz (Southern Cheyenne). AIM delegates were Pat Bellanger (Ojibwa) and Clyde Bellecourt (Anishinabe-Ojibwe). An additional fifteen Native people from the USA came as staff and observers, seven of whom were affiliated with IITC, including Peggy Phelps Means (Lakota), Bill Means (Lakota), and Winona LaDuke (Ojibwe). Others included Marie-Helene Laraque (Taino), Joe Lefferty (Sioux), Marie Sanchez (Northern Cheyenne), and David Spotted Horse (Hunkpapa). The Iroquois delegation included Leon Shenandoah, Oren Lyons, and Audrey Shenandoah (Onondaga). Four of the seven Canadian delegates were affiliated with AIM Canada, including Ed Burnstick (Cree) and Art Solomon (Ojibwe).

“One of the most important things to come out of the Geneva Conference did not get much attention at the time, even though it was the first item of the program of action in the final resolutions. It reads: ”¦”˜to observe October 12, the day of so-called ”˜discovery”' of America, as an international day of solidarity with the indigenous people of the Americas.”' Why is that so important?”¦ It means that we have made a very large part of the world recognize who we are and even to stand with us in solidarity in our long fight. From now on, children all over the world will learn the true story of American Indians on Columbus Day instead of a pack of lies about three European ships.” Jimmy Durham, 1977.

Attending 1977 Geneva UN Conference

Ted Means: Born in SD 1946 died 2011, known as affectionately as the “Gov,” veteran of Wounded Knee 1973, a member of the Run for Freedom Runners, American Indian Grassroots, Survival School Family, a Porcupine Singer, Wakinyan Singers and a long-time sundancer. Prior to his retirement, he served as director of the Porcupine Health Clinic, which he helped found.

Greg Zephier: Artist, member of the American Indian Movement (AIM), member of a blues-rock band called the Vanishing Americans during the ”˜60s and ”˜70s. His records, particularly those of Jimi Hendrix, the three Kings (Albert, B.B., and Freddie), and Carlos Santana, were pivotal early influences on Indigenous”' musical aesthetic.

Russel Means: 1939-2012, active in international issues of Indigenous peoples (including Central and South America, and United Nations for recognition of their rights), state and national level, and at his native Pine Ridge Indian Reservation; began acting career in 1992 on numerous television series and in several films, including The Last of the Mohicans, and released his own music CD; autobiography Where White Men Fear to Tread in 1995.

Oren R. Lyons, Jr. was born 1930 in Seneca Wolf Clan but he was adopted into the Onondaga, Turtle Clan as an adult. He is a faithkeeper of Turtle Clan of the Seneca Nations of the Iroquois Confederacy. He has traveled internationally representing water, environment, world peace, and issues in the United Nations.

Larry Red Shirt: from Pine Ridge Reservation, SD.; a Lakota Representative to the 1977 Geneva Council. Pine Ridge is 2.1 million acres, with 1.7 million acres held in trust by the U.S. government. Established 1889 in the southwest corner of South Dakota on the Nebraska border, larger than Delaware and Rhode Island combined.

Francis Andrew He Crow “Kangi Bloka”: 1930-2018, from Pine Ridge Reservation and a Lakota Representative to the 1977 Geneva Council; Gordon, Neb., passed away September 13, 2018.

Indigenous Peoples”' Day is celebrated as an official city and state holiday in various U.S. localities; date varies each year. At the UN and internationally it was August 9, 2018. It began as a counter-celebration held on the same day as the U.S. Columbus Day, European explorer Christopher Columbus. Indigenous Peoples”' Day is intended to celebrate Native Americans and commemorate their shared history and culture. The Minneapolis City Council unanimously voted on April 26, 2014 to recognize Indigenous Peoples Day on the same date as Columbus Day in the future. The federal, state, and city governments will continue to recognize Columbus Day on the second Monday in October, according to the resolution, but now the city will also recognize Indigenous Peoples Day on the same day.

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3 Responses to “First Declaration of Indigenous Peoples Day at the 1977 Geneva UN Conference”

  1. […] Columbus Day, which is celebrated annually on the second Monday of October to honor the Italian adventurer credited for “discovering” the Americas, has always been somewhat of a controversial holiday. Thats because while Christopher Columbus and hisnbsp;…Indigenous Peoples Day is celebrated as an official city and state holiday in various U.S. localitie… […]

  2. It is incorrect that I (Roxanne Dunbar Ortiz) was a delegate, and I am not Southern Cheyenne. I was an IITC staff person, along with Chockie Cottier, Fern Eastman, Paul Smith, Bill Means, and Peggy Means. Please correct.

  3. Baracutey says:

    Let’s some things straight about this article published above with an “unclaimed” author:

    1. The title of this article, “First Declaration of Indigenous Peoples Day… blah blah blah” insinuates the above was a declaration but IT WAS NOT, and it was not called Indigenous People’s Day- it was a CONFERENCE RECOMMENDATION (The Final Resolution: Programme Actions, p.22). The second paragraph of this very article confirms that, and that is important.

    2. The second paragraph -as you read it- was a contribution from a Jimmy Durham- a white Anglo guy that self-professes Cherokee heritage, but like Elizabeth Warren he is only a Wannabe

    3. NOBODY made any mention of ‘Columbus Day’ at these sessions as they were really more about discrimination and self-declaration rights; the only mention of the word ‘Columbus’ at all was of the historical figure mentioned by a Rene Fuerst, Swiss ethnographer of French descent (another white Anglo guy)

    4. FINALLY, the final, bolded paragraph is incorrect: Indigenous Peoples”' Day at the UN and internationally IS STILL OBSERVED AND CELEBRATED on August 9 of EVERY YEAR!(even the State of Nevada was conscientious enough to recognize this!!!)

    And of all of the above corrections, the last one given in this comment is the most important one because, if you want to bring-up articles about U.N. sponsored (global) issues, the International Indigenous People’s Day is indispensable for other Indigenous tribes around the world that need to receive support and solidarity- THIS DAY WAS NOT JUST FOR SELFISH U.S. ACTIVIST GROUPS TRYING TO SPREAD NEGATIVITY ACROSS THE WORLD!

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