Despite centuries of sustained attacks against their collective existence, Indigenous peoples represent over 5,000 languages and cultures in more than 70 nations on six continents. Most have retained social, cultural, economic, and political characteristics distinct from other segments of national populations. Yet recognition of their humanity and rights has been a struggle to achieve.
Based on personal experience, James (Sa’ke’j) Youngblood Henderson documents the generation-long struggle that led ultimately to the adoption of the Declaration of the Rights of Indigenous Peoples by the United Nations General Assembly. Henderson puts the Declaration and the struggles of Indigenous peoples in a wider context, outlining the rise of international law and how it was shaped by European ideas, the rise of the United Nations, and post-World War II agreements focusing on human rights.
Henderson analyzes the provisions of the Declaration and comments on the impact of other international agreements on Indigenous peoples. He concludes with his view of what must be done to give the Declaration its full force for Indigenous peoples around the world, and what it means for Canada. The full text of the Declaration and selected excerpts of other key international agreements are included.