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Climate declaration in the works at Mystic Lake

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PRIOR LAKE, Minn. – An inimitable gathering of grassroots organizers and environmental advocates representing tribal regions across the United States met Friday to write a declaration on global warming impacts on indigenous peoples.

As part of the Native Peoples Native Homelands Climate Change Workshop II, more than 300 people gathered at the Mystic Lake Casino Conference Center to write the Mystic Lake Declaration.

“What we’re trying to do with the Mystic Lake Declaration is give a principled statement of the issues, the ideas that we want to affirm on who we are as indigenous peoples on Mother Earth,” said Daniel Wildcat, director of the Haskell Environmental Research Studies Center.

“It wasn’t our culture, our economies that created this problem, but we are facing the disproportionate and deadly effects of this incredible climate crisis,“ said Wildcat, and a co-chair of the Native Peoples Native Homelands Climate Change Workshop II.

The way out of this mess is for us is to look at our own intellectual heritage, our indigenous ingenuity to address the problems.” The conference ends Saturday. A committee of some 15 people have been writing the declaration, which is a compilation of “all the hope of the people here at the conference,” Frank Ettawageshik, executive director United Tribes of Michigan of Harbor Springs, Mich., one of the primary writers.

The declaration, a statement of the grassroots organizers and tribal colleges, will be sent with an American Indian delegation to the United Nations Climate Change Conference in Copenhagen, Denmark in December.

The drafting committee expects to have a final version of the document completed by Saturday afternoon.