NEWS RELEASE: International Indigenous Summit on Energy and Mining (June 29, 2011)

Joint Statement: Assembly of First Nations and the National Congress of American Indians

Today, across North America, unprecedented opportunities exist to develop the energy and mining resources on Indigenous lands in ways determined by the First Peoples of these lands.  The work and collaboration of Indigenous peoples must grow to ensure responsible development, as driven by Indigenous peoples and governments, meets the growing global demand for natural resources and energy.

This week, over 800 Indigenous leaders and citizens, representatives from government and industry from across North America and around the world, gathered in Niagara Falls, Ontario for the first-ever International Indigenous Summit on Energy and Mining. 

Hosted by the Assembly of First Nations (AFN) and the National Congress of American Indians (NCAI), the three-day Summit, which closed today, featured presentations, dialogue and discussions on key topics in resource development such as international partnerships and trade opportunities, sustainable and responsible resource development, free prior and informed consent, green energy, education and labour force development and the implementation of the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples.

“This is truly an exciting time for Indigenous peoples in Canada and around the world,” said AFN National Chief Shawn A-in-chut Atleo.   “We have an opportunity today to change the thinking from the ‘Indigenous problem’ to ‘Indigenous potential’.  We see the opportunities in resource development as a key to unlock the full potential of Indigenous peoples across the globe in ways that are responsible, sustainable and mutually beneficial to all parties.  We have shown we can build on existing successes, learn from the problems and challenges and recognize opportunities for Indigenous peoples to work together and lead the way based on the original relationships set out in Treaties and the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples., We can transform these relationships in ways that strengthen our citizens, communities and economies. It is time for Indigenous Peoples to lead the way.”

The National Congress of American Indians, the oldest, largest, and most representative American Indian and Alaska Native organization in the United States, worked with the Assembly of First Nations to develop the agenda for the International Indigenous Summit on Energy & Mining.  As a result of this collaboration, the organizations have agreed to chart a path for tribal and First Nations driven development of the resources on the Indigenous lands of North America.

“It is our sovereign right as the Tribal Nations of North America to be responsible for the management of our energy and natural resources.  We will do so together in affirmation of the Declaration of Kinship and Cooperation among Indigenous Peoples and Nations which our organizations signed 12 years ago,” said Jefferson Keel, President of NCAI. “The environments our people have depended on for generations hold vast energy and mineral resources. When respectfully managed by our nations, these resources will benefit our peoples, our countries, and the ecosystems we all share.” 

The growing realization of untapped energy and mining wealth within the traditional territories of Indigenous peoples in North America simultaneously inspires the need for First Nations and Tribal Nations, in light of tragic histories, to direct the path of these opportunities.  The Caucus of Indigenous leaders of First Nations and Tribal Nations in North America unanimously stated the desire and commitment to build indigenous capacity to negotiate the terms of energy development.

Based on the dialogue at this event, the AFN and the NCAI will work together to foster Indigenous participation in all aspects of energy and mineral development on Indigenous lands that works for us, our nations, the environment, and our economies.

As such, the AFN and the NCAI will collaborate on the following initiatives:

o Establish a North American Indigenous Task Force on Energy comprised of representative organizations
o Participate in  global leadership forums to promote awareness of strategies that include Indigenous peoples;
o Create an Indigenous Virtual Institute on Energy and Mining to:
 Build expertise, literacy and education regarding tribal energy and mining development, particularly among Indigenous nations and peoples;
 Assist Indigenous nations in building and strengthening business acumen;
 Engage private industry and federal agencies to help enhance the capacity of nations; and
 Enable tribes and Indigenous nations to track and take advantage of existing market trends and opportunities such as debt financing,power export, and carbon markets.

The opportunity to fuel prosperity among respective nations, enhance economic decision making systems, and establish new relationships with the private sector, sector specialists, federal, provincial, territorial, and state jurisdictions and other stakeholders requires a coordinated effort.  The AFN and the NCAI commit to work together and with other jurisdictions to build a multi-stakeholder energy initiative.  The AFN and the NCAI will design an action plan to set this initiative in motion.  For more information please visit www.afn.ca and www.ncai.org

This statement is the product of dialogue during an Indigenous Caucus meeting of First Nations and Tribal Nations representatives. 

The AFN is the national organization representing First Nation citizens in Canada.

The National Congress of American Indians, founded in 1944, is the oldest, largest and most representative American Indian and Alaska Native organization in the United States, serving the broad interests of tribal governments and communities. 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 www.ncai.org\
For further information:

Don Kelly, Assembly of First Nations A/Communications Director
613-241-6789 ext. 334 or cell: 613-292-2787 or email dkelly@afn.ca

Jenna Young, Assembly of First Nations Communications Officer
613-241-6789, ext 401 or cell: 613-314-8157 or email jyoung@afn.ca

Alain Garon, Assembly of First Nations Bilingual Communications Officer
613-241-6789, ext 382 or cell: 613-2920857 or email agaron@afn.ca

Thom Wallace, National Congress of American Indians Communications Director
202.630.1094 or email twallace@NCAI.org

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