Verso - The Radical origins of international indigenous representation - ▻https://www.versobooks.com/blogs/4329-the-radical-origins-of-international-indigenous-representation
While Indigenous representation has become a permanent feature at the UN, its radical origins are less well known. The historic 1977 Geneva gathering was preceded by a simpler, but no less monumental, gathering in Standing Rock, along the banks of the Missouri River. In the heat of the Northern Plains summer, 5,000 people from more than ninety-seven different Indigenous nations met from June 8 to 16, 1974. By the end of the week, the International Indian Treaty Council was founded as an international arm of the American Indian Movement (AIM), tasked with gaining international recognition at the UN for Indigenous peoples of the Western Hemisphere. The Treaty Council’s founding document, the “Declaration of Continuing Independence,” foregrounded nationhood and treaty rights as central features of an American Indian political identity. “We condemn the United States of America for its gross violation of the 1868 Fort Laramie Treaty in militarily surrounding, killing, and starving the citizens of the Independent Oglala Nation into exile,” it read, in reference to the brutal crackdown on AIM following their occupation of Wounded Knee in 1973. The Treaty Council appealed to “conscionable nations” to join “in charging and prosecuting the United States of America for its genocidal practices against the sovereign Native Nations; most recently illustrated by Wounded Knee 1973 and the continued refusal to sign the United Nations 1948 Treaty on Genocide.”2 Following the seventy-one-day siege, AIM leadership had been arrested and tied up in court proceedings. Then came the brutal repression under the infamous FBI Counterintelligence Program (COINTELPRO) that nearly destroyed Indigenous, Black, and revolutionary movements in the United States. The strategic turn to international human rights law largely saved the Indigenous movement from utter collapse in a moment of intense state repression.