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Indigenous Rights Caucus meets at National Museum of the American Indian

WASHINGTON - Delegates to the Indigenous Rights Caucus of the Organization of American States visited the National Museum of the American Indian on Jan. 21. The delegation of 50 strong dined on Native cuisine in the museum's Mitsitam cafeteria, took a guided tour of the museum's exhibits, and finished a meeting begun at OAS headquarters in Washington.

The subject of the meeting was the Universal Declaration of Indigenous Rights, which the United Nations has so far declined to adopt. But the work goes on, said H. Isabel Ortega Ventura, an Aymara and Quechua parliamentarian from Bolivia. ''We're here to work on the Universal Declaration of Indigenous Rights ... to formulate this proposal to the nation states of the hemisphere.''

NMAI represents tribal cultures from throughout the Western Hemisphere and Hawaii. Approximately 30 percent of the museum's collections originated from outside the United States. Around 90 percent of the delegates were from the southern Americas, along with others from Alaska, Canada and the United States.

NMAI hopes the delegates will feel that ''our home is your home,'' said Jose Barreiro of the museum staff.

''We made a special effort to reach out ... to open up the museum as a special place to meet and to gather.''