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GIC Issues - Defend the Sacred

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Oscar-winning director Louie Psihoyos was among the panelists at the PAW and FIN Act briefing where a clip from his latest documentary, Racing Extinction, highlighted the urgency of the crisis.

The Global Indigenous Council continues to be on the forefront of Defending the Sacred with the Wolf Treaty, support for preserving the Endangered Species Act (ESA), and introducing a Native American Endangered Species Act (NA-ESA).

The latest Tribal Nations to support the Wolf Treaty and its principles are the Karuk and Yurok Tribes, the two largest Tribal Nations in California. The Wolf Treaty was present at the Bioneers Conference in San Rafael, California, in October 2019. Ponca Nation Councilwoman and internationally respected elder, Casey Camp-Horinek, and GIC Executive Director, Bear Stands Last, introduced the treaty at the event. Tom Goldtooth, Executive Director of the Indigenous Environmental Network, was among the leaders to sign the treaty at Bioneers. Tom and Casey were instrumental in ensuring indigenous communities had a voice and presence at the recent UN Climate Change Conference COP 25 in Madrid. Both were on the frontlines of the protest held by indigenous leaders and delegates on

December 11.


Tom Goldtooth: Bioneers Conference

Tom Goldtooth, Executive Director of the Indigenous Environmental Network, signs the Wolf Treaty at the 2019 Bioneers Conference.

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The Global Indigenous Council participated in November’s PAW and FIN Conservation Act briefing in the Russell Senate Office Building with Senator Tom Udall (D-NM). The PAW and FIN Act, introduced by Congressman Raul Grijalva (D-AZ) and Senator Udall, seeks to reverse the Trump Administration’s recent rollbacks and gutting of the Endangered Species Act (ESA) that elevate the corporate profits and influence of extractive industry corporations over tribal treaty rights enshrined in the US Constitution. For Tribal Nations, this action by Secretary Bernhardt’s Interior Department is not only immoral, it's unconstitutional and shreds the federal-Indian trust responsibility, which is at the core of the government's fiduciary obligation to Tribal Nations.

“The Endangered Species Act has been a pillar of environmental protection in this nation for 40 years, without which our most iconic species— including the bald eagle, the gray whale, and the grizzly bear— would likely be extinct,” said Senator Udall. “The Trump administration’s new regulations intentionally cripple the ESA – another giveaway to industry that puts near-term profits ahead of our long-term national interest. The Trump effort to gut the Endangered Species Act turns a blind eye to the science that tells us we should be enhancing wildlife habitat protections not dismantling them at the behest of special interests, at a time when human activity threatens one million species with extinction and the United States is losing a football field worth of natural land every 30 seconds. Stopping this rollback of the Endangered Species Act is critical to restoring the best tools we have for protecting our precious plants and wildlife.”

Read about the Act here

Whether you’re Blackfeet standing to protect Badger-Two Medicine or Native Hawaiian gathered to stop the desecration of Mauna Kea, indigenous people call upon these sacred beings categorized as “endangered species” for strength and guidance in a spiritual way. They are foundational to indigenous cultures. ESA delisting issues are 'Trojan Horses' to tribal sovereignty, treaty rights, and religious freedoms.

One of the key aspects of the “Wolf Treaty” is the formulation of a Native American Endangered Species Act (NA-ESA). A NA-ESA would enhance tribal sovereignty, provide vocational opportunity for tribal members, and enable the melding of contemporary biological discipline with tribal Traditional Ecological Knowledge (TEK) in management policies and practices. The tribal alliance of the Global Indigenous Council, Rocky Mountain Tribal Leaders Council, Great Plains Tribal Chairman’s Association and the Blackfoot Confederacy first introduced the concept of a NA-ESA in joint testimony submitted to the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee in fall 2018. Prior to the PAW and FIN Act, Senator Udall expressed his support for the development of a NA-ESA.

Senator Udall’s remarks at the PAW and FIN Act briefing organized by the Animal Welfare Institute can be watched here

The Grizzly Treaty

The Wolf Treaty

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. . . At the time of the Lewis and Clark Expedition an estimated 100,000 grizzly bears roamed from the Missouri River to the Pacific Coast. That was all Indian Country. Now there are fewer than 2,000 grizzly bears and our people live in Third World conditions on meager reservations in the poorest counties in the US. Does she really want to talk about ‘destroying’ a ‘way of life’?” 

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