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Organizations Sponsor Panels at United Nations Forum

The United Nations Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues, an advisory body to the U.N.’s Economic and Social Council, is mandated to discuss indigenous issues related to economic and social development, culture, the environment, education, health and human rights. Dozens of nongovernmental organizations hosted “side events” at the forum’s sixth session, held at the United Nations in New York May 14 – 25. The following groups sponsored panels on violence against indigenous women and climate change. The following information and resources are found at each group’s website:

Seventh Generation Fund, based in Arcata, Calif., is an indigenous nonprofit organization dedicated to promoting and maintaining the uniqueness of Native peoples throughout the Americas. The organization offers an integrated program of advocacy, small grants, training and technical assistance, media experience and fiscal management, lending support and extensive expertise to indigenous grass-roots communities. The Seventh Generation Fund derives its name from a precept of the Great Law of Peace of the Haudenosaunee (Six Nations Iroquois Confederacy) that mandates that chiefs consider the impact of their decisions on the seventh generation yet to come. The organization has set up a special media center on its website to provide coverage of the permanent forum’s sixth session in live interviews, videos, audios and photos of people and events taking place each day. The content will remain on the website for several months.

• The American Indian Law Alliance, founded in 1989 by Tonya Gonnella Frichner, Onondaga Nation, is an indigenous, non-profit organization that works with indigenous nations, communities and organizations in their struggle for sovereignty, human rights and social justice, both in the United States and internationally. Frichner was recently appointed the North American representative to the UNPFII. AILA has consultative status with the U.N.’s Economic and Social Council. From AILA’s website: “We support our elders and leaders and are accountable to the communities we serve. We welcome our allies, while remaining committed to our original instructions handed down through generations of ancestors in order to preserve Indigenous traditions for our descendants.”

Indigenous Networks on Economies and Trade, based in Vancouver, British Columbia, is a network open to indigenous peoples and organizations from around the globe who want to defend and develop their inherent rights to their territories and indigenous economies.

International Indigenous Women’s Forum (known by its Spanish acronym, FIMI), is a network of indigenous women leaders from Asia, Africa and the Americas. FIMI’s mission is to bring together indigenous women activists, leaders and human rights promoters from different parts of the world to coordinate agendas, build unity, develop leadership and advocacy skills, increase indigenous women’s roles in international decision-making processes and advance women’s human rights. FIMI’s recent report on violence against indigenous women – “Mairin Iwanka Raya: Indigenous Women Stand Against Violence” – is available in English and Spanish on its website.

MADRE, based in New York, is an international women’s human rights organization, founded in 1983, that works in partnership with community-based women’s organizations worldwide to address health and reproductive rights, economic development, education and other human rights issues. MADRE provides resources, training and support to enable its sister organizations to meet concrete needs in their communities while working to shift the balance of power to promote long-term development and social justice. Since its founding, MADRE has delivered more than $22 million in support to community-based women’s organizations in Latin America, the Caribbean, the Middle East, Africa, Asia, the Balkans and the United States. MADRE is a direct-action human rights organization that not only documents and condemns abuses, but also works directly with women who are affected by violations to help them win justice and change the conditions that give rise to human rights abuses. MADRE also challenges U.S. policies that undermine human rights.