Democracy Now!’s Anjali Kamat and Elizabeth Press spoke to indigenous activists at the march and at an earlier event at the Danish National Museum.
ROBBY ROMERO: My name is Robby Romero. I am from the Apache and Pueblo territories of the Southwest, Turtle Island. And I’m here because I think it’s vital that indigenous peoples’ voice is part of the global conversation, especially when it comes to climate change. I believe that everything new is hidden in the past and that indigenous peoples are the first to be impacted. They live at the point of impact and are the first to experience the ruin and unnecessary desecration of land and life. And it’s their wisdom, along with modern science—it’s going to take both—to lead us into a time of healing. And if the indigenous voice is not included in the negotiations here at COP15, it will be a major, major mistake.
JOHNSON CERDA: My name is Johnson Cerda. I am a Quechua Indian from the Ecuadorian Amazon, and I grew up in the rainforest. Now we are here because we understand that climate change—in the climate change negotiation, we need at least to put our voice first. Second, we want to insert some safeguards for indigenous peoples. And the third thing is that we need to also say here that we have knowledge, and we can share our knowledge.
By Terri Hansen
Yet even as they watch as their lands experience some of its earliest impacts, they have little say in the most important climate negotiations to date: the 15th United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change that began Dec. 7 – something that Inupiat Patricia Cochran, chair of the Indigenous Peoples Global Summit on Climate Change, said “epitomizes climate injustice.”
“We did get some gains in the work that we are doing here in Copenhagen,” Victoria Tauli-Corpuz, chair of the UN Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues said. “We managed to bring in the recognition of the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, an important instrument to ensure the rights and the knowledge of indigenous peoples is respected in all climate mitigation and adaptation processes.”
Tauli-Corpuz considers this a major victory because no convention has even discussed the rights of indigenous peoples, much less mentions the Declaration. “Of course, we would have wanted stronger language but because of the opposition by the United States, and that we’ll have to negotiate with them on what is going to be contained in the document, that is the best that we can reach so far.”
Consider how undemocratic it is to have the ruling parties of the ruling countries decide what's best for everyone. If you really believe in democracy, put a climate plan to a vote of the world's people. Not one country, one vote--I'm talking about one person, one vote.
For more on the subject, see Natives March in Copenhagen and Indigenous People Seek Climate Action.