Tuesday, April 17, 2018

UNPFII 2018 Bears Ears Prayer Run Alliance Statement

Thank you, Madame Chair, for the opportunity to address Agenda Item 8 to the United Nations Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues. We, the Bears Ears Prayer Run Alliance, an affiliate of the Seventh Generation Fund for Indigenous Peoples, are a delegation from the Pueblo of Laguna, Acoma, Hopi, Navajo and Ute. We take this time to thank the Indigenous Peoples of this land for welcoming and allowing our visit. I would like to acknowledge the spirits of the Indigenous Peoples that came before us.

My name is Jasmine Felipe, I am Sun Clan, my mother is Monica Felipe and my father is Harold Felipe. (Will state name in my native language) My name translates as, East side Water Hole Girl – where the koshare live. I am the youth delegate for the Bears Ears Prayer Run Alliance and the Seventh Generation Fund for Indigenous Peoples. I am a traditional farmer and trapper. I haul wood, hunt and fish. I am a proud cultural participant. I am an advocate for the Violence Against Woman’s Act (VAWA) and a Water Protector.

Mother Earth is me and I am her. I get to be with my mother every day and she heals me. I am not better than her or is she greater than me. I speak for the animals and the future generations. The Bears Ears region is the indigenous home of our ancestors. Tribal leaders and President Obama set forth to protect and safeguard the region for future generations. Our indigenous identity is represented in the relationship of the land, language, culture, ceremony and traditional resources. Protection and the boundaries have been reduced by 85% within the southeastern Utah region. This demonstrates clear and unfortunate disrespect for the human beings that we are and the human rights that we deserve.

March 12 2018, the Bears Ears Prayer Run Alliance engaged in a prayer run into the sacred region of our ancestors. Youth, elders and members of the indigenous people, as well as non-indigenous people, came out to run and our migration of our ancestors. Six nights of camping, where stories of the land and a time of our people were shared around the camp fires. The movements of our elders were mimicked in our actions in that moment. We felt their presences and acknowledged their existence.

We would like to take this time to recommend the Special Rappoteur on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples to join in critical support of our next prayer run. To be our guest, learn about and experience the land, to hear the stories around the camp fire, share in meal time and build a relationship to the landscape in the manner our ancestors did when they ran out on our homelands as we have. To understand and then to return to the UN Permanent Forum next year to report back on the importance on saving sacred sites, using Bears Ears, an endangered and targeted sacred site, critical to our identities, cultures, environment and human rights, as a living example.

Thank you for this honorable consideration for our sacred sites of our ancestors and homelands of our elders. To visit and learn, and report back to the world the realities of our homelands, and how they are targeted by corporations and extractive industries, will provide the experience of our ways, culture, customs and the Indigenous needs and threats to our Mother Earth and identities and human rights. My Mother is not a commodity.

On behalf of those who have gone before us, those who are here today, and those who have yet to come. Thank you.