my past life at the UN

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with the ongoing ear infection issue, in spite of the fact that i am in a new city and all that, i have been staying pretty close to home and taking advantage of the internet connection at long last. for ages, i have wanted to switch to gmail but i have so much history in my yahoo account that i have not been able to let go and make the move.

yesterday, i began to go through the thousands of old emails i have saved. a huge chunk of them are from the years i was working as a freelance journalist at the UN reporting on indigenous people and human rights. it brought back so many memories of wonderful people, many of whom have passed on since then. Grampa Tony Black Feather, for one, who completely changed my life. i was the only person to go to many of these meetings and write detailed, almost anthropological, accounts of what was going on. moreover, the emails were disseminated literally to thousands of human rights activists, indigenous peoples and interested parties all over the world. in fact, those years working at the UN i drained every bit of my savings to do the work until finally the money dried up and i had to get a real job.

oddly enough, the money ran out just about the time that many of my mentors, native Elders, were passing away. i don’t think this is a coincidence. the Elders always had faith that the UN would be the answer to all of the struggles of indigenous peoples around the world. that if the UN would take responsibility, become caretakers of a sort, then the rights and recognition of native peoples would finally come to fruition. it seemed the Elders were the only ones that had this faith, and i beleived it too at the time because i trusted them and i beleived that faith could move mountains.

when they began to pass on to the Spirit Realm, it seemed the meetings at the UN changed drastically. a personality shift occurred, and many of the underlying ego issues of various delegates and groups began to bubble to the surface as the strong spiritual presence of the Elders began to dissipate. it was easily one of the most disgusting things that i witnessed in my time there. as disgusting as the governments who were opposed to human rights and self-determination for indigenous peoples. in fact, those groups of ego-driven individuals who were many times working against their own communities for whatever personal or financial reason began to erode the work the Elders had done over the last 20+ years. this culminated in the adopting of a Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples that is geared more towards protecting States from granting human rights to the protection of indigenous peoples, and was in complete contradiction to the Elder’s wishes of a text that 100% supported the rights of native and tribal populations.

going through my old emails, it was almost as if it could be seen coming. the grand betrayals, the ego trips, the lack of respect for indigenous peoples as a whole and a growingly nearsighted perception of human rights. aside from the Obstructors within the process, it is obvious to me now how futile the search for human rights at the UN really is. it took the UN over a month to respond to the war in Lebanon. they have still yet to deal with the genocide in Sudan. they were unable to deal with the genocide in Rwanda, though they knew full well what was happening. they stood by and watched as the USA invaded iraq. what gives the impression they will do anything for indigenous peoples? if they will do nothing for so-called recognised nations, why would they help native populations? we all had faith in the UN because State governments will do nothing to change; they are responsible. but the UN is comprised of these same governments! the UN works in their favour and the UN has no muscle.

when i was forced to stop attending the meetings because of financial restraints, at first i felt such a great sadness because Grampa Tony always told me how important the work was. but he also told me to Let the Spirit Lead, and i had to accept that the Spirit was leading me down a different path. the hardest thing about stopping my reports was knowing that for the few years i did it, people felt connected to the UN for the first time ever. those who had only been able to attend a UN meeting once and could never return for financial reasons or what have you finally had a window into what was happening. or those who came from extremely poor communities who would never have the opportunity finally did have a chance to peer into the window. and my reports were a good window, too. a window that showed everything. there were people who loved the honesty of my writings, and those who hated me for being so honest because they saw how ugly their reflection was. apparently, as i heard from so many people, my reports were as good as being there, if not better. it was really an amazing and powerful time, and with the backing of the Elders i felt protected even though i was saying things that no one in their right mind would ever have the balls to say. i had no fear and i felt like a warrior. i suppose i was a warrior, a word warrior, which suited me just fine. i would have continued, i long to return, but in Letting the Spirit Lead i know that the moments have come and gone and my role in the battle has since passed.

everything continually went downhill after my quiet exit. and now i think it was for good reason. i no longer have the Elders who gave me my support and my mandate, and i needed them to continue. i was no match for the dark forces behind many participants, both indigenous and governmental. in fact, as i read official reports, i think it is good that i am not there. my honesty would be perceived as negativity, as that seems to be all that remains. and the most shocking product is the watered down Declaration that speaks nothing of the 27 years of negotiations and the 500+ years of the ongoing genocide of indigenous peoples. Grampa Tony would be so disappointed. i used to think he would be disappointed in me for not being able to continue with the work, but i feel now that he is responsible for me not continuing. the UN is not the righteous path anymore, it and its denizens have proved to be dishonourable and dishonest. he always said to keep away from people like that, they are poison.

the warrior is still awake in me and has not had a reason to rise for some time now. i wonder if this is why i feel like there is something missing in my life, though on the surface i have everything i could need or want. more than anything, i miss the Elders. i miss their quiet strength and loving support. i miss how i felt part of a struggle that is so old and so righteous, and my part in it was important in its own small way. i was able to contribute something to a grand struggle and for the first time in my life, i felt that my presence on this planet has meaning. i haven’t felt that so strongly since and i pray, i watch and wait for the next big thing so i can feel it again. Grampa, Uncle Hati, Kee, i miss you so much. thank you for everything you taught me, i will never forget.

In honour of Tony Black Feather, Hati Ponika and Kee Watchman,

love and respect from your wincincala, your little girl, sezin

Thoughts?