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Speaker Discusses UN Declaration Of The Rights Of Indigenous Peoples

Dawn Ballou

Thanks to the UN Declaration of the Rights of Indigenous People, Native American tribes now have more legal tools than ever before. That’s according to a speaker at a conference on Monday hosted by the University of Wyoming American Indian Studies Program.

Attorney Karla General with the Indian Law Resource Center worked to get the UN Declaration approved. She said native people around the world have big issues to resolve in coming years, like violence against women, chronic discrimination and mineral and water rights disputes. But she says the UN Declaration will lead to major reforms and greater tribal sovereignty. General says it wasn’t easy getting the Declaration adopted, though.

“Indigenous Rights are a divisive issue, internationally. Four countries opposed. But now in 2014, those four countries reversed their position and they now support the UN Declaration. So now 151 states support the UN Declaration of the Rights of Indigenous Peoples.”

The four countries that originally opposed included the U.S., Canada, Australia and New Zealand. General says it took over 30 years of hard work by native peoples around the world to pass the human rights bill. 

Melodie Edwards is the host and producer of WPM's award-winning podcast The Modern West. Her Ghost Town(ing) series looks at rural despair and resilience through the lens of her hometown of Walden, Colorado. She has been a radio reporter at WPM since 2013, covering topics from wildlife to Native American issues to agriculture.
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