THE "HEART OF THE
Aug. 7, 1997
Gros Ventre and Assiniboine Nations' Territories
Fort Belknap Reservation
State of Montana, U.S.
THE NORTH AMERICAN INDIGENOUS PEOPLES SUMMIT
BIOLOGICAL DIVERSITY AND BIOLOGICAL ETHICS
We, the participants in the North American Indigenous Peoples Summit on
Biological Diversity and Biological Ethics, held in conjunction with the 8th
Annual Indigenous Environmental Network Protecting Mother Earth Conference and
hosted by the White Clay Society and Buffalo Chasers Society and Gros Ventre
and Assiniboine Nations in what is now Montana, of the United States; express
our profound concern for the well being of our Mother Earth and the Indigenous
Circle of Life known as "biological diversity".
We wish to add our voices to ongoing global discussions regarding the
protection of biological diversity, the safeguarding of traditional knowledge
and sustainable development practices, and the ethical use and treatment of all
forms of life based on harmony, respect and the spiritual interconnectedness of
the natural world.
We endorse by consensus the following principles as a statement of our
beliefs and a guide to our actions.
Mother Earth and all human, plant and animal relatives are sacred,
sovereign, respected, unique living beings with their own right to survive, and
each plays an essential role in the survival and health of the natural world.
As sovereign Peoples and Nations, we have an inherent right to Self
Determination, protected through treaty rights. We must be consulted through
prior informed consent regarding any and all appropriation, commercial use and
or intrusion onto our lands, ecosystems, bodies or other natural resources. We
reserve the right to say no.
Human beings are not separate from the rest of the natural world, but are
created to live in relationship and harmony with it and with all life.
The Creator has given us a sacred responsibility to protect and care for
the land and all of life, as well as to safeguard its well being for future
generations to come.
We uphold the sacredness of
life and oppose ideas, systems, world views and practices, including global
finance and patent laws; which define the natural world, its life forms and the
knowledge of Indigenous Peoples as property or "commodities".
We oppose biological
engineering and manipulation of the natural world and life forms through
biological prospecting, genetic research, cloning, organ harvesting and human
We oppose the actions of
government agencies, corporations, educational institutions and religious
bodies which promote the idea that the natural world is to be dominated and
exploited by humanity using non-sustainable development practices that
contaminate or destroy the natural world, species and habitats, sacred sites
and our communities and homes.
In order to protect
Indigenous Peoples' cultures, survival and way of life, we assert our right to
fully informed participation in global policy making where matters of
biodiversity, genetics and the use of biological resources and sustainability
are being discussed, negotiated and determined.
1. We strongly support the call by Indigenous Peoples for a moratorium on
the patenting of all life forms including human, animal and plant cells, seeds
and genetic material, until the rights and traditional world view of Indigenous
Peoples can be fully recognized and assured.
2. We call for the United Nations and all countries to fully recognize our
basic right of Self Determination as well as the rights to the protection of
our cultures, traditional knowledge, lands, ecosystems, resources, and
sustainable development practices
3. We call for the United Nations Commission on Sustainable Development
(CSD) to recognize the rights of Indigenous Peoples and include Indigenous
Peoples' input on the use of natural resources, subsistence plans, health and
education efforts and the safeguarding of all biological resources in their
4. We call for the United Nations Convention on Biodiversity Conference of
Parties (CBD/COP) to assure Indigenous Peoples the protection of their
knowledge as well as the protection and use of all biological resources within
their traditional territories.
5. We call for the United Nations Education, Social and Cultural
Organization International Biological Ethics Committee (UNESCO/IBC) to (a)
adopt a global standard of biological ethics that reflects Indigenous world
views, recognizes Indigenous rights, and respects the sacredness of life; (b)
declare a moratorium on all activities related to human genetic diversity
specifically involving Indigenous Peoples, including access, sampling, testing,
research and experimentation; (c) return all samples of genetic materials
obtained from Indigenous Peoples without their full prior informed consent.
6. We call for all global policy making institutions to establish
mechanisms for the broad and full participation of Indigenous Peoples with a
special emphasis on spiritual leaders, traditional practitioners, elders, youth
7. We commit ourselves to disseminate information and provide assistance to
Indigenous Peoples and tribal governments regarding these vital issues, to
assure the widest possible participation in global policy making.
8. We recommend establishing an information clearinghouse for all human and
botanical genome collection, research, experimentation and use, on Indigenous
Peoples or in our communities.
9. We commit ourselves to safeguard, protect and reaffirm, whenever
possible, the use of traditional medicines and practices within our own
Peoples, Nations and communities, as an alternative to Western medicine,
medical practices and technologies.
THE FOLLOWING INDIGENOUS PEOPLES AND NON-INDIGENOUS SUPPORTERS HAVE
INDICATED THEIR ACCEPTANCE OF AND COMMITMENT TO IMPLEMENTING THIS DECLARATION
INDIGENOUS ENVIRONMENTAL NETWORK (NATIONAL)
INTERNATIONAL INDIAN TREATY COUNCIL
INSTITUTE FOR AGRICULTURE AND TRADE POLICY
NORTH AMERICAN INDIGENOUS PEOPLES BIODIVERSITY PROJECT
IF YOUR COMMUNITY OR ORGANIZATION WISHES TO BE ADDED TO THIS LIST PLEASE
INDICATE SO BY CONTACTING:
ROY TAYLOR, COORDINATOR
2105 FIRST AVENUE SOUTH
MINNEAPOLIS, MINNESOTA 55404 USA
FAX 612. 870. 4846
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