OAS to celebrate Inter-American week for indigenous peoples

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WASHINGTON, USA – The Organization of American States (OAS) will celebrate the cultural traditions, languages, history, and societal contributions of the Indigenous peoples of the region during the Fourth Inter-American Week for Indigenous Peoples in the Americas, which will take place from August 9 to 13.

Under the theme “Leaving no one behind: Indigenous peoples and the call for a new social contract in the Americas,” the OAS will hold several virtual activities designed to highlight the challenges faced by Indigenous peoples, particularly in light of the COVID-19 pandemic.

OAS secretary-general Luis Almagro stressed that there is a consensus in the international community to create a new social contract adapted to a post-pandemic world. “We must ensure that this new social contract includes the diverse voices of Indigenous peoples throughout the hemisphere. Their participation in the design and implementation of new forms of social, economic, political and cultural arrangements must be a priority,” he said.

The OAS assistant secretary-general, Nestor Mendez, highlighted that this year’s commemorations will be held “with the aim of addressing the socio-economic challenges faced by Indigenous peoples and the opportunities which exist to reshape our world through the implementation of policies geared towards creating a more just and inclusive society.” He underscored the importance of observing the annual event noting that “the voices of the Indigenous peoples must be heard, and their needs and concerns clearly reflected in this new social contract.”

The activities will include:

August 9 to 13: A virtual exhibition by the Art Museum of the Americas (AMA). The exhibit will include artwork from the AMA’s permanent collection as well as artwork from member states, showcasing Indigenous peoples’ life, culture, and history. The exhibition will be displayed on social media platforms.

August 11: The Permanent Council will hold a virtual special meeting to commemorate the International Day of the World’s Indigenous Peoples and the Inter-American Week for Indigenous Peoples. The session will feature high-level authorities from sub-regions of the hemisphere. Panelists include:

  • Froyla Tzalam, Governor-General of Belize;
  • Luis Pachala, minister of the secretariat of management and development of peoples and nationalities of Ecuador;
  • Ausencio Palacio, vice-minister of indigenous affairs of Panama;
  • Ana Millanao, special advisor for indigenous affairs of the indigenous affairs coordination unit, ministry of social development and family of Chile;
  • Gustavo Pineda, head of the unit for the promotion of the rights of indigenous peoples and afro-descendants in the ministry of culture of El Salvador;
  • Álvaro Pop, indigenous leader and former secretary of the fund for the development of indigenous peoples of Guatemala;
  • Gabriel Méndez López, indigenous leader from Mexico;
  • Wayne Garnons-Williams, chair, international inter-tribal trade and investment organization and senior lawyer and principal director, indigenous sovereign trade consultancy, Canada
  • Patricia Velasquez, OAS Goodwill Ambassador for the rights of indigenous peoples;
  • Antonia Urrejola, president of the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) and Rapporteur on the rights of indigenous peoples

Additionally, the Organization’s national offices will hold activities in member states throughout the week focused on the preservation of indigenous languages and culture.

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