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A Presentation by Tom B.K. Goldtooth, Executive Director, INDIGENOUS ENVIRONMENTAL NETWORK PowerPoint PPT Presentation

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Traditional Water Knowledge and Global Environmental Change: Creating Sustainable Paths for the Future Session 6.5.4 March 21, 2009 5 th World Water Forum Istanbul, Turkey MNI-WICONI – Water of Life CUNKU-DUTA – Red Road (of Life).

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A Presentation by Tom B.K. Goldtooth, Executive Director, INDIGENOUS ENVIRONMENTAL NETWORK

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Traditional Water Knowledge and Global Environmental Change: Creating Sustainable Paths for the FutureSession 6.5.4March 21, 20095th World Water ForumIstanbul, TurkeyMNI-WICONI – Water of LifeCUNKU-DUTA – Red Road (of Life)

A Presentation by Tom B.K. Goldtooth, Executive Director, INDIGENOUS ENVIRONMENTAL NETWORK

Bemidji, Minnesota - USA

“The Creator has entrusted with us a sacred responsibility to protect and care for the land and water, and all of life, as well as to safeguard its well being for future generations to come.”

-Albuquerque Declaration 1998


  • Infused with Spirituality/Cosmo-Vision

    • Mother Earth ID equals Relationship

  • Elements: Water/Air/Land/Fire

  • Birth – Womb - Water

Water constitutes the physical, cultural and spiritual basis of our existence

Mdewakantonwan Dakota

Mde = Lake

Wakan = Sacred

Tonwan = Village

Dwellers of the Sacred Lakes

Original Instructions


MitakuyeOwasin’ (All My Relations)

My Earth ID – is with the Waters

Role and Responsibilities

Women: Keepers of the Water

Men: Keepers of the Fire

Roles & Responsibilities:Two Leg People – Five Finger Clan

General Principles: IP &Water

  • Indigenous Peoples recognize our relationship with our Mother Earth that obligates us to conserve fresh waters, oceans and the ice for the survival of present and future generations.

  • We reaffirm our roles as local and global Guardians, with rights and responsibilities to defend the sacredness and peaceful availability of water for all Life.

(Cont.) General Principles to Water

  • We have been placed upon this Earth, each in our own traditional sacred land and territory to care for all of Creation and Water (and all elements).

  • Our traditional knowledge, natural customary laws and Original Instructions teach us to be responsible and caring for this sacred gift that connects all life.


1. The central and primordial role of water in the spiritual and physical relationship of Indigenous Peoples to the Earth, and the integration of that relationship into cultural practices in the management, use and conservation of water;

2. The importance of traditional water management and use in the production of the means of subsistence as well as to the maintenance and reproduction of Indigenous Peoples Identity as a collective right, and our cultures, languages, spirituality/religion;

3. Indigenous Peoples’ systems of the millennia of water management and use based upon principles and practices that balance immediate needs with the needs of the environment and other living things, plants and animals as well as other people, and the sustainability of future generations.

4. The negative impacts of expropriation by governments and the privatization of water sources and resources and their debilitating and deadly effects on the physical existence as well as the cultures and identity of Indigenous Peoples.

5. The negative consequences of the compounding affects of global warming and climate change on the physical existence and cultures now being particularly experienced by Indigenous Peoples.


1. The promotion of respect and observance of Indigenous Peoples’ human rights and fundamental freedoms, in particular the right of Self Determination and the free use and control of our lands and territories, necessary for the use and conservation of water and of water sources and resources.

2. Urge governments to change their constitutions to include the Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (DRIP).

3. Fully recognize and implement Indigenous Peoples governance of water through the implementation of DRIP at all levels of jurisdiction, including regional and municipal governments.

4. Reform national and local water policy and laws to recognize Indigenous customary laws and indigenous governance structures that would insure Indigenous peoples participation in any decisions and policy development affecting water, at all levels of government ;

5. Encourage the full participation of Indigenous peoples within each of the UN programs, in the planning and implementation to find solutions to the crisis of water today.

6. Call upon UNESCO World Heritage Sites to recognize Indigenous peoples’ critical role in protecting sacred sites, including sacred sites of Waters. Sacred Springs, Headwaters, etc. for the protection of all of life.

7. Ensure all water developments reflect UN principles on cultural diversity and rights.

8. That all future World Water Forums recognize the importance and value of cultural diversity and further recognize the significant contributions of Indigenous Peoples and cultures and rights to this diversity.

9. Include in education programs local Indigenous contributions to education about traditional values and culture;

10. Support UNESCO to establish a Global Water Center that would function as a neutral space, advocating for rights protection and facilitating meaningful solutions to water grievances. Support a database of water right grievances to be maintained.

11. Support UNESCO to build a global network of Water Guardians, trained to monitor watersheds, protection of seas and ice, educate water users, and mediate and remediate water disputes.

This network would identify and work with Indigenous Water Keepers and Water Guardians.

12. Urge the World Water Forum to recognize, advocate and support the Indigenous Peoples’ planning for the Indigenous World Forum on Water and Peace scheduled for Fall of 2010.

Water Must be Protected to Sustain Life and Peace on Mother Earth


All My Relations!

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