Posted by on Dec 23, 2017 in Featured

Oceti Sakowin Nobel Peace Prize Forum Attendees Speak Out

Oceti Sakowin Nobel Peace Prize Forum Attendees Speak Out

Oceti Sakowin Nobel Peace Prize Forum Attendees Speak Out

Denver, CO — Last week in Oslo, Norway, the Norwegian Nobel Institute held its second annual Nobel Peace Prize Forum entitled “Across Dividing Lines: Indigenous Peoples’ Rights Within the Context of Social Justice and Environmental Protection” following the award of this year’s Nobel Peace Prize to ICAN, the International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons.

HolyElk Lafferty, MniCoujou, Oglala and Sicangu Lakota; Tim Mentz, Pa Baksa Dakota and Hunkpapa Lakota member of the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe, of Makoche Wowapi, Mentz-Wilson Consultants, LLC, and Angela Bibens, Esq., Santee Dakota, of Red Owl Law participated in three days of Nobel Institute events. Ms. Lafferty was invited as a panelist and shared the stage Monday, December 11th with esteemed Nobel Laureate, Dr. Rigoberta Menchú Tum, on the 25th anniversary of her Nobel Peace Prize Award.

It was a shock to each of us to learn, on the morning of December 12th, just before the start of the second day of invite only private dialogue, that the Chair of the Morton County Commission, Cody Schulz had also been in Olso, Norway for the Forum. Unbeknownst to any of us, Mr. Schulz was among the other five hundred ticketed guests for the first day of High Level Dialogue where Ms. Lafferty and other notable indigenous panelists spoke.

We later learned from Gina Torry, event contractor for the Nobel Institute that Stephanie Hope Smith, another panelist, who acted under no one’s authority but her own, had reached out to Mr. Schulz to participate in the Nobel Peace Prize Forum. Apparently, Ms. Smith had reassured Ms. Torry this was acceptable to us when, in fact, Ms. Smith had not consulted with any of us prior to our arrival in Oslo.

The fact that we had not been informed of Mr. Schulz’ invitation prior to this event makes it apparent to me that this was an intentional attempt to entrap us in an uncomfortable space with a high level representative from the opposing side of the fight for our sacred water in Standing Rock. What Ms. Smith had hoped for anyone to gain from such a setup is beyond my comprehension. Had I known in advance that her intention was to force such an inappropriate dialogue, I would have declined the invitation, as it puts me in a vulnerable and potentially dangerous position legally and emotionally. I still have pending charges in Morton County after being arrested while in prayer, as well as active daily trauma that is a direct result of the inhumane actions of Morton County. It would have been unwise on every conceivable level for me to knowingly enter this situation and I am deeply offended that my right to make an informed decision to be included in the same event as Mr. Schulz was violated by Ms. Smith,” says HolyElk Lafferty.

I was led to believe that my role at the forum was to talk about the destruction of sacred sites along the Dakota Access Pipeline corridor,” says Tim Mentz. “That was why I came. I said I would refuse to participate on day two with Mr. Schulz present because I am not in a position to engage in high level dialogue with Morton County.”

The Morton County government in North Dakota is responsible for committing thousands of human rights violations through their oversight of the Morton County Sheriff’s Office. With over 300 criminal cases still pending, these violations are on-going. “Ms. Smith’s actions demonstrated a serious lack of understanding of the historical abrogation of our rights as indigenous peoples and the government to government relationship which is an ethical imperative in any type of dialogue of this nature. As neither Mr. Mentz nor myself represent the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe in any capacity, we did not consent to Mr. Schulz’s participation,” says Angela Bibens. The second day of dialogue continued without Mr. Schulz’s presence. We sent a letter to the Nobel Institute documenting our concerns on December 13, 2017.

We commend the Nobel Institute for taking the initiative to host the Nobel Peace Prize Forum and are pleased that the focus of this year’s Forum recognizes the rights of indigenous peoples as “one of the most pressing international peace and security issues of our time.” In no way do we wish for the important dialogue highlighted at the Forum in Oslo to be tainted by this misstep. We hope to have the ongoing support of the Nobel Institute as we continue to strengthen our connections with other indigenous communities and nation states, and with our allies around the world who understand that our rights to protect our aboriginal homelands and sacred sites and to preserve our languages and cultures, are, like our responsibility to protect water as the source of all life, issues of global significance.


HolyElk Lafferty

Angela Bibens, Esq.
Phone: 720.593.9972

Chief Arvol Looking Horse Responds

To Whom It May Concern,

I would like to state that I am very disappointed to learn of how my friends and relatives were treated in Oslo, Norway. My understanding was that there was going to be dialogue concerning Sacred Sites and a panel discussion on human rights. Stephanie Hope Smith had encouraged me to attend this conference, but I had already committed myself to other obligations.

Upon return of the delegation it was brought to my attention that the Chair of the Morton County Commission, Cody Schultz, had been invited by Stephanie to attend this conference. I feel responsible for putting my friends and relatives in a situation where they were unaware of the Commissioner’s attendance because I asked them to attend on my behalf. This uncomfortable situation has jeopardized the reputation and safety of my friends and relatives that attended, as well as myself.

I was not made aware of the plans for any kind of panel discussion involving political figures, which has now been publicized in American media. The media has portrayed the situation to look as if this meeting in Oslo had been planned with all parties in agreement and with prior knowledge, when that was not the case. I have been informed by the delegates that they were taken by surprise at the announcement of his presence. The situation was addressed and Cody Schultz was excluded from any interaction or dialogue with the delegates. I am very disappointed that the event was not what I been informed it would be.

Sacred Sites and Human Rights are the focus of my peace work. I am a spiritual leader, I am not a political person to be in agreement with any government official in creating discussion about any issue that pertains to Standing Rock.

Mitakuye Oyasin,
Chief Arvol Looking Horse

Nobel Peace Prize Global Engagement forum description

It was Alfred Nobel’s vision that the international prizes bearing his name, and financed by his private fortune, would inspire and reward work “for the greatest benefit to mankind”. The Norwegian Nobel Institute’s work contributes to the spirit of the Nobel Peace Prize and the advancement international peace and security.

Nobel Peace Prize Forum Oslo

The Nobel Peace Prize Forum Oslo – which takes place the day after the Nobel Peace Prize award ceremony – provides a unique, global opportunity to address, as well as advance, coordinated political action on the most pressing international peace and security issues of our time.

On 11 December the Nobel Peace Prize Forum Oslo convenes a high-level internationally broadcast two-hour discussion. Over 500 international leaders gather in the beautiful and historic Aula at the University of Oslo, decorated by Edvard Munch’s astonishing paintings. The Forum brings together a unique constellation of Nobel Peace Prize Laureates and other thought leaders; representatives of governments and international organizations; scholars; international civil society leaders and activists, including those building peace in fragile, conflict and post-conflict situations, business and private sector actors; journalists; and youth across the globe, including students.

The following day, the Forum will seek to bring a select group of delegates into purposeful conversation, aiming to strategically advance work and progress on the year’s selected focus area through a daylong peace congress.

2017 Nobel Peace Prize Forum Oslo: “Across Dividing Lines”

2017 Nobel Peace Prize Forum Oslo will take place on 11 December 2017 – with the theme: “Across Dividing Lines”.

In 1992 Nobel Peace Prize was awarded to Rigoberta Menchú for her “work for social justice and ethno-cultural reconciliation based on respect for the rights of indigenous peoples”. As the Norwegian Nobel Committee noted at the time “Rigoberta Menchú stands out as a vivid symbol of peace and reconciliation across ethnic, cultural and social dividing lines, in her own country, on the American continent, and in the world”.

At the 25th Anniversary of Dr. Menchú’s winning the Nobel Peace Prize and the 10th anniversary of the adoption of the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, the Nobel Peace Prize Forum Oslo

will address indigenous peoples rights within the context of social justice and environmental protection and on the need to work toward peace, dialogue and reconciliation in countering violent extremism.

Dr. Menchú’s keynote will reflect on the 25 years since being awarded the Nobel Peace Prize and present her views on the topic at hand. We envision her keynote address being 20-25 minutes long, followed by a 60-minute debate led by a prominent international journalist/program host. The discussion will focus on two recent examples of intrastate conflict involving indigenous peoples over energy and environmental resources. More specifically, the speakers will discuss and compare the Standing Rock conflict, which led to war-zone like conditions within the United States from September 2016 to February 2017, and a somewhat similar conflict between the indigenous Sami population in Arctic Norway and the Norwegian state. Both the Dakota tribe and the Sami people will be represented on the panel. The Forum will take place at the “Aula” at the University of Oslo, a stunning lecturing hall decorated with original paintings by Edvard Munch. We expect an audience of up to 500 people with a variety of backgrounds. The Forum will be broadcast live by NRK, the leading Norwegian radio and TV network, and possibly by another leading international news network. The Forum will be streamed live by Nobel Media, the global digital outreach unit of the Nobel Foundation, and made accessible across the world on YouTube. We also expect extensive coverage by international news media, present in Oslo to cover the Nobel Peace Prize Award Ceremony on 10 December.

The following day, the Forum will seek to bring a select group of delegates into purposeful conversation, under the Chatham House Rule, aiming to strategically advance work and progress on the year’s selected focus area through a half-day peace congress.