AFN Grand Chief Perry Bellegard at National Congress of American Indians 74th Annual Convention & Marketplace. Native News Online photo by Levi Rickert
Published October 19, 2017
MILWAUKEE – On Tuesday, October 18, 2017, the National Congress of American Indians (NCAI) membership overwhelmingly moved to support Assembly of First Nations (AFN) National Chief Perry Bellegarde’s request that NCAI join AFN in working to establish an Indigenous Chapter in the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA).
National Chief Bellegarde was addressing NCAI at the NCAI 74th Annual Convention & Marketplace in Milwaukee, Wiscosin.
“I thank the National Congress of American Indians for passing a unanimous motion supporting in principle an Indigenous Peoples Chapter in a renegotiated NAFTA and supporting our work to protect Indigenous rights,” said Bellegarde. “This is a strong show of solidarity by the First Peoples of Turtle Island and a strong message to the nation-states involved in the negotiations. Our inherent rights, Treaty rights and international rights in the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples must be respected in the negotiations and in any final agreement.”
AFN National Chief Bellegarde spoke passionately to the crowd of tribal leaders during the NCAI Second General Assembly about working across the borders that were created by others and separated our peoples.
“It is an honor to work with our brothers and sisters in Canada to ensure Indigenous voices are a part of the NAFTA negotiations,” said NCAI President Brian Cladoosby. “NCAI member tribes see our collaborative work for inclusion of an Indigenous Peoples Chapter in NAFTA as a necessity to protect the rights of American Indian Tribes, Canadian First Nations, and the Indigenous peoples of Mexico.”
NCAI members will vote to approve a resolution entitled “Supporting the Inclusion of an Indigenous Chapter in any Renegotiated North American Free Trade Agreement (MKE-17-053)” on Friday, October 20, 2017 during the Sixth General Assembly.