NEW YORK – Thousands of Indigenous leaders from around the world gathered today at the United Nations in New York, City as the UN General Assembly convened a high-level plenary meeting known as the World Conference on Indigenous Peoples (WCIP). During the opening session of the WCIP, the General Assembly adopted an Outcome Document that provides for concrete and action-oriented measures to implement and achieve the objectives of the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (UNDRIP). The UNDRIP was approved by the General Assembly in 2007.

A strong delegation of US tribal leaders are attending the World Conference and voiced support for their priorities addressed in the adopted Outcome Document. The National Congress of American Indians (NCAI) has joined with a large group of American Indian and Alaska Native tribes and inter-tribal associations to support four priorities that promote implementation of the Declaration, establish status for Indigenous governments at the UN, prevent violence against Indigenous women and children, and protect sacred places and objects.

“Taking the steps called for in the Conference Outcome Document will mean that Indigenous voices will always be here in the UN to call for respect for our rights. Tribes, as Indigenous governments, must be here, working within the UN system to represent our peoples and achieve the promise of the UN Declaration,” said Jefferson Keel, former NCAI President and Lt. Governor of the Chickasaw Nation, who attended the events in New York as a representative for NCAI, the nation’s oldest, largest, and most representative American Indian and Alaska Native organization.

Current NCAI President Brian Cladoosby released a statement, applauding the adoption of the Outcome Document:

“The General Assembly has established pathways for implementation of the UNDRIP, a vital agreement to protect the rights of our peoples. Our tribal governments, together with our brothers and sisters around the world, will need to continue a sustained effort to work with the various UN bodies, including the Human Rights Council and the Secretary General, to ensure that the commitments made today by the UN member countries are fulfilled.”

President Cladoosby also commended the strong delegation of American Indian and Alaska Native women who traveled to the UN this week to advocate for strong and decisive action to combat violence against Native women and girls, “We stand with our sisters in the effort to ensure that all Indigenous women are able to live lives free from violence.”

Over a thousand delegates representing Indigenous Peoples from around the world are attending the WCIP.