Self-Determination, LBJ and UNDRIP –

On a sunny September day in New York City in 2007, the United Nations General Assembly gathered to adopt the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous People (UNDRIP). The event marked the culmination of three decades of intense international work by thousands of indigenous leaders and the start of a new chapter in human rights.

Nearly 40 years earlier, in March of 1968, a troubled Lyndon B. Johnson stood in the White House surrounded by a nation engulfed in turmoil. Both the launch of the Tet Offensive and the My Lai Massacre had occurred in Vietnam just a month earlier and student and civil rights protests were now turning violent across the country. At the end of the month, President Johnson stunned the nation by announcing on television that he would not seek re-election.

Seemingly lost in the events of that March, and the assassination of Dr. Martin Luther King weeks later, was a watershed moment in American history.

On March 6, 1968 President Johnson sent an urgent message to Congress describing the historic injustices wrought on Indian tribes and proposing “a policy of maximum choice for the American Indian: a policy expressed in programs of self-help, self-development, self-determination.” With these words, Johnson laid the framework for the modern federal policy of Indian Self-Determination.

Self-Determination means that Indian people have the power to govern themselves as sovereign nations, as they have done so for millennia.

Article 3 of UNDRIP states the Self-Determination means the right of indigenous people to “freely determine their political status and freely pursue their economic, social and cultural development.” Article 4 adds that Self-Determination carries with it “the right to autonomy or self-government in matters relating to their internal and local affairs, as well as ways and means for financing their autonomous functions.”

FULL ARTICLE: Self-Determination, LBJ and UNDRIP –

About Kurly Tlapoyawa (1010 Articles)

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