The Indigenous Peoples Forum

Rose Johnson, Christofer Fernandez, OFM and myself at North South Conversation

The Indigenous Peoples Forum was another historic event at the UN. Around 4,000 people attended in person.  This gathering was an important convergence of Indigenous people from the Global Community.

Ms. Hindou Oumarou Ibrahim*, (CHAD), Indigenous Peoples of Africa Coordinating Committee – IPACC was elected chair of the Indigenous Peoples Forum for 2024-2025. She is charming, flamboyant, and smart.  She led the forum with enthusiasm and charisma. It was thrilling to be there to see her nomination and election. I have met Hindou at several UN events, e.g. the UN Biodiversity conference in Montreal, December 2022, as well as the UN Youth Summit in New York in 2022.

The theme for this year’s Forum “Enhancing Indigenous Peoples’ right to self-determination in the context of the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples: emphasizing the voices of Indigenous youth” gave wonderful direction for all of us in planning side events for this year’s welcoming of Indigenous peoples. 

The Dominican Leadership Conference sponsored two people from North America to attend this year’s forum. Sister Mary Rae Waller, OP (Cherokee), and Ms. Rose Johnson of the Comanche and Aztec Nations of Adrian, Michigan. They were able to spend the first week of the forum with us and participate in two significant side events that the Amazon Subcommittee sponsored this year.

As the Amazon Subcommittee co-chair, I was delighted to conduct four important side events at the Forum this year. The first was a conversation with our brothers and sisters from Repam, Ceama, and Panama to share their concerns with us. We were blessed to have simultaneous translation using the new JCOR transponder equipment. It made a world of difference for us.  Ms. Brianna Fitzpatrick of Caritas International sponsored the event on the 11th floor of the Church Center for this conversation to take place. Fr. Henry Ramos provided arepas for breakfast as well as Ms. Fitzpatrick who catered the breakfast and secured the room for our conversation.

In addition to this conversation, we had another one on Friday, April 19th at the Salvation Army entitled “North-South” conversation.  The session began with a prayer for all present by the young chief from Panama. We heard incredible stories of Corporations such as Monsanto’s bringing GMO seeds to the Indigenous and impacting their farming severely. As we listened, we became enraged and said we could, and will do something about this here at the UN.

We welcomed the Indigenous from West Papua, Peru, Panama, and Ecuador to both forums the Mining Working Group and Subcommittee of the Amazon to the United Nations. 

The Amazon also supported the side event entitled: Raising Indigenous Youth Voices in Pursuit of Self-determination. This was the first year that we were able to have an all-youth panel for a side event. The following youth participated in this important conversation: Quinn Manson Buchwald, MIR, Director, Indigenous and Traditional Peoples Program at Conservation International | Little Shell Tribe of Chippewa Indians of Montana, Zintkala Eiring, MLS, Range Ecologist, Tanka Fund, Oglala Lakota Winyan, Nathan Samayo, MDiv, Princeton University PhD Student in Religion & Society, Chamarro (Guåhan/Guamanian)Panelist 4 McKell Johnson Comanche/Aztec Native American. To watch the event click here.