Monday, October 08, 2012

First Stewards #7: Resolution

Below is the resolution for the First Stewards Symposium that I attended earlier this year.

It was a historic gathering and I am pleased to announce that there will be another First Steward's conference in Summer of 2013.

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RESOLUTION of the First Stewards
Coastal Peoples Address Climate Change Symposium
National Museum of the American Indian
Washington, DC, on July 20, 2012

Whereas, we, the indigenous peoples, were and are the First Stewards of the lands
and waters of North America, Alaska and the Pacific Islands, having lived in
these areas millennia before the establishment of the United States;

Whereas, about 300 First Stewards and others convened July 17 to 20, 2012, at the
Smithsonian’s National Museum of American Indian, Washington, DC, at the
First Stewards: Coastal Peoples Address Climate Change Symposium;

Whereas, the Symposium reemphasized the First Stewards’ awareness of the
interconnectedness of the clouds, forest, valleys, land, streams, fishponds, sea,
lakes, canyons and other elements of the natural and spiritual world, and the
use of their expertise and methodologies to assure responsible stewardship
of them;

Whereas, the First Stewards have experienced changes, including the deterioration
of their culture, language, values and land tenures systems, that have resulted
in over‐development of the coastlines, alteration of freshwater streams and
lakes, destruction of life‐giving watersheds, decimation of reefs, and the
decline of marine and terrestrial species;

Whereas, these changes to the natural world have been exacerbated by climate
change and jeopardize the very fabric of indigenous societies;

Whereas, the First Stewards from the West Coast have witnessed that the glaciers
nourishing our rivers and spirits have retreated and disappeared; that
changes in ocean acidity and hypoxia jeopardize the marine ecosystems,
which support our culture, health and economies; that weather events are
more frequently severe and unpredictable; and that our Treaties and inherent
rights are at risk due to the inability of regulatory agencies to meet their trust
responsibilities to sustainably manage resources, in consultation with Native
Americans, that support our cultures’ resilience to climate change;

Whereas, the First Stewards from Alaska found that the very land on which our
communities are built is increasingly compromised and eroding; our animals
and fish are increasingly diseased and displaced; and our northern waters are
facing expanded resource development and vessel traffic; and that these
changes to our air, lands, waters, and ice are endangering our subsistence
way of life and consequently, our cultures, languages, and health;

Whereas, the First Stewards from the Pacific Islands are facing invasive species,
erosion, changing rainfall, intensified typhoons/hurricanes, tsunamis/tidal
waves, and warming of the ocean, air and land, as well as regulations that do not
reflect indigenous expertise and consequently have unforeseen impacts on the
environment and our culture;

Whereas, the First Stewards representatives from the Great Lakes, East Coast and
Gulf of Mexico noted environmental concerns regarding the disastrous oil spill
in the Gulf of Mexico and cultural concerns regarding the disappearance of
sacred plants and found that their climate change adaptation plans including
restoration efforts, such as dam removal, and traditional management
methods, such as prescribed burning, are being obstructed by local, state and
federal attempts to define them and limit their native rights;

Therefore Be It Resolved, that the First Stewards call on the United States
government to formally recognize us and our expertise and to consult with our
tribal governments and indigenous communities for guidance in all policies that
affect our way of life and to support our management efforts, which will
strengthen America’s resiliency and ability to adapt to climate change, and that
this resolution be sent to the President of the United States and appropriate
Congressional committees and government agencies; and

Be It Further Resolved, that First Stewards become incorporated in order to organize
future symposia and to effectively act upon our resolutions.

Micah McCarty (West Coast Region) Kitty Simonds (Pacific Islands Region)
Mike Williams (Alaska Region) Jeff Mears (Great Lakes, East Coast,
Gulf of Mexico Region)

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