Mar 5, 2016 - If You Want to Serve Humanity – You Must Think less About ‘ME’ and More About ‘WE’ – Especially at the United Nations! by Damon Corrie

DEDICATION is important – but so is EMPATHY, at the United Nations Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues just about EVERYONE goes there with a determination to ‘speak on behalf of their own Tribal Nation.

When I first went there in 2007 I had the SAME focus and intention (to ‘speak on behalf of my own Lokono-Arawak people), but I was fortunate to have benefited from the Project Access Training program by the Tribal Link Foundation PRIOR to the UNPFII opening… I – (and all my colleagues who were trained that year, about 20 in all) was mentally AND spiritually prepared more than EVERYONE else coming to it for the first time – who did NOT receive this priceless training experience.


Part of the Tribal Link Global Indigenous family

The opportunity for me to speak live in the UNPFII came up for me, but when I realized that other indigenous peoples had BIGGER issues that needed to be addressed MORE urgently, I gave my opportunity to others who were more in need of having their more serious problems aired publicly at the UN.

Some people who have no clue about the real workings of this UN process have the silly notion that if you don’t get to personally speak there – you have ‘wasted’ your time being there. I forgive them for their ignorance, they were not there so they do not know that the knowledge of the inner workings of the UN system – and the invisible bonds of solidarity and global networking among indigenous representatives & leaders we forge in our training – is THE most important benefit we can gain by being their as well as having our issues become part of the official UN records….and this can be done by submission of text whether you get to speak into a live microphone or not.

Like all my mentoring colleagues I have submitted on my own – multiple documents on behalf of Lokono, Kalinago, Wapishana & Makushi leaders, and many more documents in collaboration with indigenous representatives & leaders from around the world. I have been there long enough to see a news article I wrote that was published in several countries – which I turned into a report that I also submitted about the plight of Guarani still living a modern day Conquistador style ‘encomienda system’ in the Paraguay/Bolivia border area – get officially investigated by the UN 3 years later.

Damon Corrie at Columbia University in New York City

My Taino sister Tai Pelli and I were among the first to alert the UN to human rights abuses of Indigenous Crimean Tatars the very day emergency alerts reached us by private e-mails from our Tatar brother there – who was in our training program with us and who has himself been the victim of abuse by Russian entities). Heck, we even created the world’s first Global Indigenous entity dedicated to overtly exposing and covertly non-lethally assisting – Indigenous victims of severe governmental abuse worldwide (The Indigenous Democracy Defence Organization/IDDO)….all this as a result of our eyes being fully opened by the training we received by the Tribal Link Foundation.

There is a very good chance that I will be at the UNPFII again this year, and there is also a very good chance that if I get the opportunity to raise only ONE critical issue, I will decide to raise the life & death plight of the Tatars or any other people who are literally suffering more than my own people….because if you want to be a real leader – you must train yourself to have EMPATHY FOR OTHERS and to readily give priority to your fellow indigenous brothers and sisters – if/when their problems are far bigger – or far worse than those of your own people.

UN Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon with Taino brother Roberto Mukaro Borrero

The UNPFII is NOT a place to go to if your intention is to ‘make a name for yourself’ and get ‘famous on the indigenous activist scene’…..a hell of a lot of SELFLESSNESS and SOLIDARITY and helping each other anonymously behind the scenes goes on there than you can possibly imagine……some of us help write the statements that others read – and you see being received with thunderous applause and standing ovations. I have never spoken live at the UN, but I have written things for others who have – and that is enough for me.

I salute the other quiet helpers (Andrea, Ghazali, Carl, Tai, Roberto) burning their proverbial candles at both ends mentoring & guiding the new recruits to the global indigenous rights struggle!

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