Council for a Parliament of the World's Religions
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2009 Parliament

Indigenous People

The Parliament provides an opportunity for Indigenous people around the world to voice their concerns and aspirations, and to share their wisdom and insights. Topics from the 2009 Parliament included the environment, spirituality, rights and governance, culture (including history, education and language), colonization and de-colonization, and more as determined by the Indigenous Task Force. Indigenous perspectives were included throughout the Parliament programming.

A sampling of programs includes:

Protection Prayer in Emergency Room: the Collaboration between Physicians and Dine' Traditional Healers

Many indigenous communities face health problems not easily treated by Western medical interventions. Increasingly these communities have turned to traditional methods for the management of chronic or disabling conditions. This session discussed how traditional healers on the Navajo (Dine') reservation bring a spiritual dimension to patient-centered care.
Dr. Jennie R. Joe

Chiefs' Prophecy: Survival of the Northern Cheyenne Nation

The Cheyenne people lived on the Great Plains of North America for 300 years governed by a divine law of peace and enlightenment called Ma’heo’e. After being forced onto a reservation in 1884, a prophecy revealed that the Nation would return to its traditional philosophies after 100 years. This film presents the history of the Northern Cheyenne and raises the question of whether a new generation of leaders can restore the traditional values of this embattled Nation.
Leo Killsback

Water is the Life Line of the Pueblo Indians

In the arid Southwest USA, Native methods of farming relied on rain and snow to provide water, but the rights to indigenous surface water have been contested in recent years. This presentation focused on the past and present significance of water and the challenges of preserving this essential lifeline for the Pueblo people.
Dr. Joseph Suina

Once we were worlds apart. Now we are part of the same world.

The Australian Aboriginal communities practice the world’s longest continuous cultural and religious tradition, going back more than 55,000 years. Like other Indigenous or First Nation peoples across the world, they live close to the land and its waters. Their traditional knowledge and wisdom guides them in living in harmony with the environment. Across the globe, the lands to which they belonged were invaded; their families, communities and health were severely disrupted; and their respective religious beliefs were undermined.

Leaders of some countries and religious communities have started a reconciliation process with the Indigenous people whom they have marginalized and mistreated. The Parliament offers the opportunity to continue with the reconciliation process in a spirit of trust where trust has previously been destroyed.
Below we begin to offer links to learn more about Aboriginal and Indigenous communities and reconciliation processes.
Australian Apology to Aboriginal Peoples

Australian Prime Minister Kevin Rudd gave a public speech apologizing for all the wrongs Australia has committed against the well-being of its Aboriginal citizens.  Click here to download the transcript (pdf).

Recommended Pre-Parliament Viewing

First Australians: the Untold Story of Australia (2008)
This series is available online and as an affordable set of DVDs; it was produced by Blackfella Films and SBS Special Broadcasting Services Corportation, 2008.  The film respects the Indigenous Cultural and Intellectual Property (ICIP) rights

10 Canoes
A 2006 film now considered a classic; a feature length film entirely in an Indigenous Australian language.

Rabbit Proof Fence  (2002)
Based on a true story of three young Aboriginal girls who walk for nine weeks, 1500 miles, home to their families after forcible placement in a settlement.




Programming also included:

  • The Bahai Faith: An Australian Aboriginal Perspective
  • There are No Back Row Seats in the Hoop of Life
  • Collaboration with Indigenous Ata's in the Philippines
  • Indigenous Traditions and Sacred Sites
  • Revival and Rebuilding of Uma Lulik (sacred house) in East Timor as Communal Healing Process from Centuries of Colonial and Military Occupation and Trauma
  • The Lost & Endangered Religions Project: Preserving the World's Religious Diversity
  • The reality of the Universal Human Family and its bearing on: a) Indigenous / European relations in Australia; b) the efforts to bring peace and justice to war-torn Burma and c) as a working foundation for action-based interreligious cooperation in healing the earth.

And more!



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