United Nations Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues (UNPFII)
Fourteenth Session; New York, 20 April - 1 May 2015
Item 3(c) (continued): Youth, Self-Harm and Suicide; 21 April 2015
Joint Statement by International Organization for Self-Determination and Equality (IOSDE), Winnemem Wintu Tribe, Sacred Places Institute for Indigenous Peoples
"We are concerned about the effects on Indigenous youth and children of the ongoing suicide, self-harm and violence resulting from the desecration and destruction of Indigenous sacred sites and thus traditional political, legal, and medicinal practices that Indigenous youth and children flourish from and have right to live with in peace and dignity as living culture. Along these same lines we are concerned about the effects on Indigenous youth and children of unresolved claims to the right of self-determination and decolonization, including territorial and political independence and sovereignty, and the lack of recognition of peoples as legal, self-governing peoples and nations equal to States.
For Indigenous youth to have access to their cultures as per international law, the territorial integrity of indigenous lands and in particular sacred sites must be recognized alongside Indigenous self-governance and legal traditions therein. Indigenous youth amazingly and brilliantly but unfairly shoulder burdens of structural inequalities and injustices against traditional Indigenous leaderships and legal processes. To force Indigenous children and youth to live amidst the oppressing of their own cultural systems and traditions as well as the destruction of their familial and communal sacred places and practices is to spiritually and culturally displace them. We want peaceful lives for Indigenous youth and children, where they do not feel they must go to battle for even our most basic fundamental rights, but where they can enjoy, share and experience those rights in action, such as rights including the Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC) Article 30 as also referenced in the UNDRIP Preamble.
Self-harm is not the only form of violence Indigenous youth face; the disappearance of youth in the face of State and business land-grabbing, dividing of peoples by imposed borders and laws, discrimination and systematic terrorizing and criminalization of Indigenous communities are also harms and violence to Indigenous youth. We do not want yet another generation of Indigenous youth and children to grow up in a world where their own tribe’s and people’s Indigenous cultural, spiritual, political and legal traditions are strategically placed in conflict and or manufactured submissiveness and/or dependence with the traditions and systems of colonizing or managing State(s)...
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We recommend that Indigenous youth be supported by the UN and its bodies and mechanisms to create their own study on and exploration into the ways in which all of the many diverse Indigenous Peoples of the world have worked for and achieve self-determination, political, legal and territorial decolonization, and the continuation of traditional Indigenous healing, leadership and own Indigenous justice processes via protection of own sacred places."