By the National Congress of American Indians

MILWAUKEE, WI | 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, WI.

“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.

See the resolution below:

The National Congress of American Indians Resolution #MKE-1-7 – 053

TITLE: Supporting the Inclusion of an Indigenous Chapter in any Renegotiated North American Free Trade Agreement

WHEREAS, we, the members of the National Congress of American Indians of the United States, invoking the divine blessing of the Creator upon our efforts and purposes, in order to preserve for ourselves and our descendants the inherent sovereign rights of o ur Indian nations, rights secured under Indian treaties and agreements with the United States, and all other rights and benefits to which we are entitled under the laws and Constitution of the United States, to enlighten the public toward a better understa nding of the Indian people, to preserve Indian cultural values, and otherwise promote the health, safety and welfare of the Indian people, do hereby establish and submit the following resolution; and
WHEREAS, the National Congress of American Indians (NCAI) was established in 1944 and is the oldest and largest national organization of American Indian and Alaska Native tribal governments; and WHEREAS, the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), which superseded the Canada – United States Free Trade Agreement and came into force January 1, 1994, is an agreement intended to remove barriers to trade and investment between Canada, the United States and Mexico ; and WHEREAS, the current Administration has threatened to withdraw from NAFTA unless its provi sions can be amended to improve U.S. interests ; and
WHEREAS, Indigenous Peoples in Canada, the United States and Mexico have significant interests of their own they would like included in any revisiting of the NAFTA framework ; and
WHEREAS, such interests include , but are not limited to, the right to participate in NAFTA negotiations, the protection of longstanding treaty rights, the protection of Indigenous cultural property and traditional knowledge, the inclusion of indigenous negotiators, and the incorporation of the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, the American Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, the International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination, and the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights ; and
WHEREAS, the interests of Indigenous Peoples can be met effectively through the inclusion of an Indigenous Peoples Chapter within NAFTA.
NOW THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED , that the National Congress of American In dians ( NCAI ) strongly supports the active participation of Indigenous Peoples from Canada, the United States and Mexico in any NAFTA negotiations and strongly supports the development of an Indigenous Peoples Chapter within NAFTA ; and BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED , that this resolution shall be the policy of NCAI until it is withdrawn or modified by subsequent resolution.

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