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Guest Opinion. On this day, established by the United Nations in 1994 to recognize the rights, struggles and achievements of Indigenous Peoples, the International Indian Treaty Council (IITC) salutes and congratulates Indigenous Peoples around the world for their continued courage, vision and dedication. We especially recognize the unwavering stands taken by Indigenous defenders of human, treaty, cultural and environmental rights, who continue to protect their lands and ways of life in the face of brutal repression and criminalization. You are our heroes!
 
After decades of work in the international arena, Indigenous Peoples succeeded in leading States to take on a series of commitments through the adoption of international instruments such as the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, the American Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, and the outcome document of the World Conference on Indigenous Peoples. Indigenous Peoples have taken a leadership role in creating new bodies and initiatives to advance and defend their rights and cultures and knowledge systems. These include the Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues, the Expert Mechanism on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, the Special Rapporteur on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, the Facilitative Working Group at the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change and the international Decade of Indigenous Languages.
 
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Despite these achievements, we are currently seeing regressive measures being pushed by States around the world. In many cases, these exist in coordination with the economic interests of extractive industries and other mega projects, and the creation of so called “protected areas” on their traditional territories without agreement or consent. These activities continue to result in severe violations of the rights of Indigenous Peoples through the plundering and appropriation of their lands, territories, resources, and cultural heritage as well as the persecution, criminalization and in too many cases, assassination of leaders, authorities, and community members who are opposing these threats to their Peoples’ rights and survival.
 
We are likewise concerned about the promotion of racism and discrimination which is often legitimized through national policies and legislative actions that further undermine Indigenous Peoples’ sustainable systems and institutions for resource and land management, food sovereignty, governance, health and administration of justice. At the same time, effective mechanisms for real, participatory dialogue with States to address and resolve violations of their rights are practically non-existent.

On this August 9, IITC and our affiliates from North, Central and South America, the Arctic, Caribbean and Pacific regions renew our founding commitment to build solidarity with Indigenous Peoples around the world to defend our inherent rights against the forces of colonization and impunity and confront the atrocities we continue to face.

Let us all continue to walk down the path that our ancestors and forebears have left for us as the legacy we will leave to future generations.
 
The International Indian Treaty Council (IITC) is an organization of Indigenous Peoples from North, Central, South America, the Caribbean and the Pacific working for the Sovereignty and Self Determination of Indigenous Peoples and the recognition and protection of Indigenous Rights, Treaties, Traditional Cultures and Sacred Lands. 

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