Tribal Nations Continuing to Support Action on Climate Change and Paris Accord

Article from the National Council of the American Indian (NCAI). To visit this article on their site, click here

Published on Jun 02, 2017

WASHINGTON, D.C. | In spite of the disappointing news that President Trump has decided to withdraw from the Paris Agreement on climate change, Tribal Nations, the National Congress of American Indians (NCAI), and the Native American Rights Fund (NARF) remain firmly committed to representing and advancing Indigenous peoples’ interests in the ongoing process of implementing the Agreement.

“We will work to ensure that all parties respect, promote, and consider Indigenous peoples’ rights in all climate change actions, as is required by the Paris Agreement,” said NARF Executive Director John Echohawk.

Despite having a negligible carbon footprint, Indigenous peoples often are the most severely impacted by the effects of climate change because of their close relationship with the land and reliance on natural resources. For example, currently as many as 184 Alaska Native villages are threatened with removal due to climate-based changes – and the effects are only getting worse. Communities are losing homes, hunting and fishing ecosystems are changing drastically, and changes in weather patterns are adversely affecting the harvesting of plant-based foods and medicines.

However, because of that same close relationship to the land, Indigenous peoples possess an intimate knowledge of their surrounding environments – and have developed proven solutions for climate action from which the entire world can learn.

“It is essential that this place-based knowledge is included in any discussion of climate change,” said NCAI President Brian Cladoosby. “Through years of tireless effort, the link between traditional knowledge, sustainable development, and cultural resilience is now reflected in the international conversations that take place around climate change policy.” According to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change,

“Indigenous and local peoples often possess detailed knowledge of climate change that is derived from observations of environmental conditions over many generations. Consequently, there is increasing interest in merging this traditional ecological knowledge (TEK)—also referred to as indigenous knowledge—with the natural and social sciences in order to better understand and detect climate change impacts. . . . TEK, however, does not simply augment the sciences, but rather stands on its own as a valued knowledge system that can, together with or independently of the natural sciences, produce useful knowledge for climate change detection or adaptation. . . .”

The parties to the Paris Agreement recognized the importance of place-based and traditional knowledge and established a platform for Indigenous peoples to share that knowledge and experience. We will continue to work with the International Indigenous Peoples Forum on Climate Change to ensure a platform that best serves Indigenous peoples and preserves and shares traditional knowledge in a way that is respectful of Indigenous peoples’ right to self-determination, and that their rights to govern and manage their lands, territories, and natural resources are honored.

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About The National Congress of American Indians: Founded in 1944, the National Congress of American Indians is the oldest, largest and most representative American Indian and Alaska Native organization in the country. NCAI advocates on behalf of tribal governments and communities, promoting strong tribal-federal government-to-government policies, and promoting a better understanding among the general public regarding American Indian and Alaska Native governments, people and rights. For more information, visit

About NARF:  The Native American Rights Fund is the oldest and largest nonprofit national Indian rights organization in the country.  Since its inception in 1970, NARF has represented over 275 Tribes in 31 states in such areas as tribal jurisdiction and recognition, land claims, hunting and fishing rights, the protection of Indian religious freedom, and many others. NARF has been successful in representing Indian tribes and individuals in cases that have encompassed every area and issue in the field of Indian law. The accomplishments and growth of NARF over the years confirmed the great need for Indian legal representation on a national basis. This legal advocacy on behalf of Native Americans continues to play a vital role in the survival of tribes and their way of life. For more information, visit

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Council FIRE Support Letter to Standing Rock Sioux

To:         David Archambault II
Chair, Standing Rock Sioux Tribal Council

Dear Sir and Brother,

The leadership of the Council for First Inhabitants Rights and Equality (Council FIRE) stand in unanimous support of the Standing Rock Sioux, their right to speak for themselves and to demand that treaties signed between the sovereign nations of the United States of America and the Sioux be honored and enforced. As Brothers and Sisters in the battle, we cannot sit idle. When one nation is in need, all nations must rise to defend what is most vital to future generations. People, native and non-native alike, are called to lift their prayers and fight to protect the water, the future will judge each of us on how we acted in this attack on sovereignty and Mother Earth.

Council FIRE calls for the cessation of construction on the Dakota Access Pipeline that encroaches on land and water that has long been granted to the Standing Rock Sioux through multiple treaties. We demand an end to the illegal trespassing, desecration of sacred sites, hostile attacks, violations of the 1851 and 1868 Fort Laramie treaties, the 1899 Fort Belknap treaty, as well as the 1908 Winters Doctrine of the United States Supreme Court. These treaties are no less valid that those the US Government has signed with Japan or Germany, or any other Supreme Court decision – it is long past time that this nation honor its’ word.

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Native American Heritage Month

November has been designated as Native American Heritage Month, signed into law by George H.W. Bush in 1990.  Council FIRE encourages each of you to pause and reflect on the many contributions on those who were here first.

The list of Native accomplishments and gifts are too numerous to mention them all. Whether you offer respect for the Code Talkers for their heroism in the World Wars; for the kindness of those who met the earliest explorers with trust, acceptance and help; for the continuing gifts of traditional medicines, foods and development of cotton and rubber; or the earliest development of Sign Language, there is no shortage of examples where Native culture, practices and history have benefitted all of us. The American colonists modeled their government after the hierarchy of tribes such as the League of Iroquois, and our current US government is based on the same principles.

It is a wondrous culture that continues to deliver gifts. From their respect of the environment and all the creators gifts, to respect for women and elders, and their history of service as warriors who stand to protect the entire nation at a rate higher than any other demographic.

Take some time to learn about Native Heritage month, and the many reasons that First Nations are deserving of respect and more.

Council FIRE is proud to be working with the AFLCIO to see that issues of those who were here first are included in the path for progress that Labor has always championed.

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AFL-CIO Constituency Groups Stand with Native Americans to Stop the Dakota Access Pipeline

Council FIRE is pleased to report that all AFL-CIO Constituency groups have taken a stand to support Native Rights and to stop the Dakota Access Pipeline. Council FIRE has been working with these constituency groups to bring Native issues into mainstream discussions – alongside all other constituencies. We are pleased to join these groups, and the AFLCIO Human Rights Committee, to make sure that all people have access to equality and fairness.

For Immediate Release:         September 19, 2016
Press Contact: Marian Manapsal;    202-508-3733

Washington, DC – Together, the Labor Coalition for Community Action, which includes the A. Phillip Randolph Institute, the Asian Pacific American Labor Alliance, the Coalition of Black Trade Unionists, the Coalition of Labor Union Women, the Labor Council for Latin American Advancement, and Pride at Work, rises in solidarity with Native Americans and our allies in protesting against the Dakota Access Pipeline (DAPL) and defending Native lands from exploitation by corporations and the U.S. government. We advocate for a progressive labor movement rooted in dignity and respect of all peoples, including Native Americans and their families.

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Coalition of Black Trade Unionists Endorse Council FIRE

From Council FIRE Founder and President, Kevin Cummings

I bid a good day to each of you, and hope this note finds you well.

It is with a very happy heart that I let you know that I received a call from CBTU today.  The call came during their national convention, and the delegates voted unanimously to endorse Council –FIRE and included a passage in the proclamation that urges the AFLCIO to do the same!  This is a huge sign that we are on the good road to helping the first people on these lands.  The national convention is being attended by nearly one-thousand delegates from seventy-seven international Labor unions across the US and Canada.  Continue reading

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