Our partner organizations in Arizona have called for the repudiation of the Doctrine of Discovery and the implementation of the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous People.  What do Unitarian Universalists need to know in order to respond faithfully to this call from our partners? This third post in our series was written by the Pacific Southwest District Executive Ken Brown. – Ed.

This past August a number of Arizona Unitarian Universalists met with community people we had been working with for a number of years on issues of migration and the border. The conversation was around what our partners in Arizona would like to see happen at our General Assembly.  Our partners gave us a very clear message that they would like us to pass a resolution calling on President Obama and his administration to implement the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous People.  When this Declaration was adopted by all but four nations in 2007, the United States was one of the four not adopting it.  Three years later, in December 2010, President Obama adopted the Declaration, making the United States the last nation to sign on to this document.

Watch this video made by Tupac Enrique about Columbus from TONATIERRA, a Cultural Embassy of the Indigenous Peoples supporting local-global holistic indigenous community development initiatives in accord with the principle of Community Ecology and Self Determination.

As President Obama declared when he signed the Declaration, “What matters more than the words – what matters far more than any resolution or declaration – are actions to match those words.”  The United States has yet to take the actions needed to implement the Declaration. At General Assembly in Phoenix, delegates will consider a responsive resolution developed by the UUA Board that repudiates the Doctrine of Discovery and calls on the US government to fully implement the standards of the UN Declaration.

There will be many opportunities at General Assembly for attendees and delegates to hear several indigenous people speak on the Declaration and the Doctrine of Discovery, the historical rationale for Europeans to inhabit the lands of indigenous people around the world.  Steve Newcomb (Shawnee/Lenape)  will speak at the opening celebration and Tupac Enrique Acosta (Nahuatl-Xicano) and Bob Miller (Eastern Shawnee) will be part of presentations on Saturday morning.

If you would like to study the issue before you get to General Assembly, there are resources at both the UUA web site and at the Pacific Southwest District website.

Ken Brown is the District Executive of the UUA Pacific Southwest District.


About the Author
Gail Forsyth-Vail
Gail Forsyth-Vail is the Adult Programs Director in the UUA Faith Development Office. She is a Credentialed Religious Educator, Master’s Level, who served congregations for 22 years before coming to the UUA in 2008. The 2007 recipient of the Angus MacLean Award for Excellence in Religious Education, she has written or developed many religious education resources for UUs of all ages. She and her spouse, P. Stephen Vail, are proud and happy parents of three young adult Unitarian Universalists.

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