The Board of the Bi-National Committee of Solidarity with Indigenous People (BICSIP), met in my home a couple weeks ago. This is the name of our Mexican-American team that worked with the Huichol Indians in 2004 to help heal a childhood epidemic caused by sorcery.
I’ve written about this most astounding healing experience in my professional life (Schlagbytes: May 17, 24, 31, 2004); the magic of that experience has had a profound and lasting impact which continues to this day. Six people came together, each with specific skills and expertise, and found a way to tell a healing story with one voice. In our coming together, we also created the opportunity for the Huichol to make their circle whole and well again.
After our visit to the Huichol country five years ago, our organizer and driving force, Fernando Ortiz Monasterio, formed the BICSIP so we could get together periodically and use our influence to support the tribe. BICSIP petitioned the Mexican government to stop the building of a paved road deep into the inaccessible Huichol homeland because the tribe never approved construction of this road, and the government eventually relented.
At this year’s Board meeting, after our traditional welcoming ceremonies (which can last for days), we submitted another petition to the presidents of Mexico and the United States, on behalf of the Huicholes. We encouraged President Obama to adopt the 2007 United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous People.
This declaration supports the respect for human rights, non-discrimination, and good governance, for indigenous people; it also includes the good faith that sacred relics and skeletal remains be returned to the indigenous tribes from where they were obtained (almost always without tribal approval). The UN declaration was signed by 143 member nations; only the U.S., Canada, Australia and New Zealand refused.
The American Museum of Natural History and the Smithsonian, among others, hold more than 20,000 Huichol sacred objects and remains. These are revered because of their spiritual significance which keeps their communities whole. This is a good time for us to join the community of nations to honor and respect our indigenous relatives.
On May 18-29, 2009, the U.N. Permanent Council on Indigenous People will meet in New York City, and we hope the United States will sign on to the resolution. Fernando, our beloved “driver,” will be there to present our petition and also to suggest that the BICSIP would be willing couriers to return the Huichol treasures. We are shamelessly committed to continue going back to the Sierra Madres, so that we can keep working on ourselves.