Courtesy of First Peoples Worldwide

Proud to Be Indigenous Launched for UN Permanent Forum

Gale Courey Toensing
May 15, 2013


Indigenous Peoples around the global will have the opportunity to celebrate themselves and their communities on the Internet during the 12th session of United Nations Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues (UNPFII).

Proud To Be Indigenous is the brainchild of First Peoples Worldwide, a nonprofit organization that focuses on funding local development projects in Indigenous communities all over the world. The UNPFII is an advisory body to the Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC) with a mandate to discuss indigenous issues related to economic and social development, culture, the environment, education, health and human rights.

First Peoples Worldwide (FPW) was founded as First Nations Development Institute in 1980 by Rebecca Adamson who, along with her daughter Managing Director Neva Morrison, grew FPW into the only Indigenous-led organization that works at a grassroots, national and international level for Indigenous communities. Proud To Be Indigenous aims to include Indigenous Peoples in the Permanent Forum experience, explained Dan Morrison, Neva’s husband and FPW’s director of communication.

“Rebecca and Neva and the team have been going to the Permanent Forum for years now and last year they did some great things around their ‘Free, Prior and Informed Consent Guidebook’ and their donor breakfast and we were sitting around and talking and realized that most Indigenous Peoples around the world couldn’t go to the Permanent Forum,” Morrison said. “And so how do we continue to do the live event in New York and also to allow Indigenous Peoples from all over the world to actually engage?”

The answer: Social media. “One way is to give them information and some of the news and conversations that were happening at the Permanent Forum, but then allow them to voice some of the issues that they think are important and probably most important in the most positive way, celebrate themselves by sharing stories, pictures and videos about themselves, their culture, their people, their communities. So that’s how we came up with this Proud To Be Indigenous campaign while the Permanent Forum is going on and hopefully it will take on a life of its own,” Morrison said.

The Proud To Be Indigenous campaign is already alive and in operating mode on Facebook where people are already posting pictures and messages and responding to Proud To Be Indigenous postings. One posting, for example, asks “In one word, why are you proud to be Indigenous?” The answers so far include heritage, culture, human being, ancestors, spirituality – and Indian tacos.

The campaign is also active on Twitter at #proud2bindigenous and it has created a Twibbon – a banner that users can add to their profile pictures on Facebook and Twitter. And you don’t have to be Indigenous to participate in Proud To Be Indigenous; everyone is welcome, according to the website.

First Peoples Worldwide will also celebrate Indigenous Peoples in videos on YouTube with a Proud To Be Indigenous channel where participants can sign up for e-mails alerts and updates on news, actions and events.

Check out this video on the firstpeoples channel

For those who will attend the Permanent Forum in New York, the Proud To Be Indigenous campaign will host several events in partnership with almost two-dozen organizations that have formed a coalition to support and publicize the campaign. Indian Country Today Media Network is a coalition partner along with Cultural Survival, Smithsonian's National Museum of the American Indian, Amazon Watch, United Nations Global Compact, Africa Grantmakers' Affinity Group, Buffalo Nickel Communications, Conscious Living, ELEMENTAL, Gwich'in Steering Committee, Indigenous Peoples Issues and Resources, Longhouse Media, Native Arts Collective, Numi Organic Tea, Peopleriver, Pwani Leadership Council (Kenya), Red Alliance Media, Runa, sweetriot, Tanka, Tebtebba, and Vision Maker Media.

Among the events are workshops on Indigenous leadership training and the Native Right to Water, a training session on FPW’s “Free, Prior and Informed Consent Guidebook,” and a not-to-be-missed Cultural Survival Bazaar.

For the full list of events and their times and places, click here.