Model United Nations Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues (UNPFII) 2010-2011Fall 2010: SCCSD Students & Advisors Form the First Model UNPFII in the World
The United Nations Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues (UNPFII) is an advisory committee of the United Nations that was created in the year 2000. The committee’s mandate includes a focus on indigenous issues around the world. Its accomplishments are many but most notably the writing of the “UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples” which was adopted by the UN General Assembly in September 2007.
SCCSD students are the first students in the world to be a part of a Model UNPFII. In addition, due to the support of the United Nations, students are invited to be actual participants in the Annual Session of the UNPFII in May of 2011. This is a meeting of 1,500 representatives from indigenous organizations, other U.N. bodies, and governments from around the world.
Model UNPFII student officers with Smitty at WGWE for an interview during the "All Request Classic Lunch",Oct. 27, 2010. You can hear the program at the podcast link below.
Model UNPFII will be an afterschool program that follows the structure, methods, and goals of the actual UNPFII. Each year, students will research the theme of the upcoming UNPFII session based on an assigned nation of indigenous people representing each of the six regions used by the UNPFII. However, if students have an interest in a specific issue the theme can be adjusted. Also, considering the need for strengthening indigenous cultures and languages, if a participating group wishes to represent their own people within the context of the year’s theme, it will be accepted. Students will prepare for a mock session in early spring at which they will represent the assigned group in discussing the concerns and proposing solutions and making recommendations to the appropriate UN body. In May, students will take part in the Annual Session of the UNPFII in New York City.
The students will be fund raising throughout the school year in order to pay for their trip to the UN for the Permanent Forum's Annual Session in May. Donations - which are tax deductible - are also being accepted. Checks should be made payable to "Model UNPFII" and mailed to: Model UNPFII c/o Mr. Musial, Salamanca High School, 50 Iroquois Drive, Salamanca, NY 14779. This program will be a joint effort between the United Nations, the Seneca Nation of Indians, and Salamanca City Central School District.Volunteer Advisors are: Mr. Jerry Musial, History and Seneca History Teacher; Mrs. Rachael Wolfe, Seneca Language Teacher; and Mrs. Suzanne John-Blacksnake, Native American Guidance Counselor.Student Officers are: President, Samantha Smith; Vice President, Breanne Crouse; Treasurer, Danielle Ray; Secretary, Kaylea Miller. These officers represent approximately 40 students who have joined the Model UNPFII. On Oct. 27th, these Officers met with Smitty at the WGWE station (see photo) to discuss the new organization and to promote awareness of Indigenous Peoples issues. You can hear a podcast of their interview here:
“Avatar”: Relate to general Indigenous Issues
What does the term “indigenous” mean?
“Indigenous People and the United Nations Vol. 1”
History of UNPFII
UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous People
Mandate (six areas)
Assign indigenous nation
Structure of UN and UNPFII
Trip to United NationsMay 4, 2011: Salamanca Students Prepare to Present at the United Nations
In these last days before departing for New York City, twenty students in the Salamanca Model United Nations Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues (UNPFII) are finalizing their presentation for the Tenth Session of the UNPFII at the United Nations. The issue they are addressing is “The Effects of Dams on Indigenous People,” using the Kinzua Dam and their personal experience of it as a prime example.The students have thoroughly researched the issue and are now refining all of their information into a compelling, three minute presentation to give before the Tenth UNPFII Session. The students, in an overwhelming show of confidence and support, selected senior Courtney Crouse to represent the group as their spokesperson. The remaining nineteen students will be in the audience, and those that have traditional Seneca garments will wear them to the U.N. sessions.While attending the forum on May 17 and 18 the students will hear three minute presentations from Indigenous Peoples from around the world speak about human rights, as well as environmental, economic and social issues impacting their people. Each student will be wearing headphones to follow the presentations in simultaneous translation. In addition, there will be other meetings and workshops which they will attend outside of the Tenth Session.This trip to the United Nations is an experience that will alter these students’ vision of the world and their potential opportunities in it. So it is with much gratitude that the SCCSD Model UNPFII thanks all the individuals who helped to make this experience possible with personal and monetary support: their parents; the Salamanca Board of Education; advisors Mr. Musial, Mrs. Wolfe, and Mrs. John-Blacksnake; the Seneca Nation of Indians; Tribal Council and President; SNI Education Department; Kinzua Dam Relicensing Commission; SNR Denton; Rotary Clubs of Salamanca and Olean; NYSED for the Learn & Serve Grant award; Smitty at WGWE; and every single person who bought a spaghetti dinner, a taco, a raffle ticket, went to the Native American Film Festival, and gave their support. This would not have been possible without you.May 17, 18 & 19, 2011: Salamanca Students Participate in the 10th Session of the UNPFII at the United Nations
Nineteen Salamanca City Central School students, members of the world’s first Model United Nations Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues (UNPFII), traveled to New York City to attend the initial days of the 10th Session of the UNPFII at the United Nations. Native American students registered for the opportunity to speak on the issue of Free, Prior and Informed Consent (FPIC) rights, part of the U.N. Declaration of Indigenous Rights. Senior, Courtney Crouse, Tonawanda Seneca, Turtle Clan, was recognized by the session and called upon to read the statement she authored on behalf of the SCCSD Model UNPFII students. Strong support was shown by the delegates’ applause and the large numbers who came up to introduce themselves, wanting to follow up with the group in the future. The students were told over and over how much respect the delegates had for them, noting their strength to attend these sessions and present testimony. The students made a positive and lasting impression as they represented the Seneca community and their families to the world.
During their second day at the U.N., the students attended a powerful training session on the United Nations, its basic structure, the function it performs, and how to negotiate its processes. This was taught by Joshua Cooper, Director of the Hawaii Institute for Human Rights and a political science lecturer at the University of Hawaii West Oahu. Cooper enlightened students to the common acronyms used for the committees. He likened them to beaches they could land on to discuss certain topics and concerns, saying it is important to know what beach to land on for help.
The students also had the privilege to meet and learn from indigenous leader Marcos Terena, of the Terena tribe of Brazil, whose accomplishments include: founder of the first indigenous movement in Brazil, The Indigenous United Nation (UNIND), and a founding member of Land is Life, the organizers of the training. Marcos told the students that the water has a spirit, that is our spirit, and the Creator gives us all these things. He also stressed to the Native American students the importance of continuing to learn their Native language and songs. Rachel Wolfe, Courtney Crouse and Breezy Crouse honored him with a Seneca song.
On day three, the students had a private meeting with Joseph Melrose, the Acting United States Representative for Management and Reform to the United Nations, to discuss concerns they had about Native issues: the PACT act (to prevent tobacco smuggling, to ensure collection of all tobacco taxes and other purposes), religious freedom, why is Columbus Day a national holiday, class III gaming (under the Indian Gaming Regulatory Act of 1988), and land issues. All of the students’ questions referred to the United Nations Declaration of Indigenous Rights and they did not allow Acting U.S. Representative Melrose to side step their questions. It was an excellent opportunity for them to experience and learn how to handle bureaucratic evasion, commonly employed by officials when directly faced with Native American inquiries.
The Seneca Nation, the Salamanca City Central School District and the Salamanca Community were well represented by these young leaders as they accomplished the tasks established by the group. They overcame great odds to speak at the United Nations 10th session of the UNPFII and would like to take the opportunity to thank those that made this experience possible. Thanks go to the Salamanca City Central School District and community, the Seneca Nation Executives and Council, the Employees of the Seneca Nation, The Seneca Nation Education Department, the Kinzua Dam Re-licensing Commission, SNR Denton US LLP, Jamestown Community College and Julie Musial, April Williams for making the best Indian Tacos to sell, Lawrence Huff Jr. for his donation of a handmade Gasdo:wa, Caleb Abrams for his time to accompany the group to NYC and record this event - which will be available for presentation to the community at a later date - and a special thank you to Smitty at the WGWE for all his support to help keep the students’ efforts at the forefront of the Seneca community and the local listening area. Most importantly, the group thanks their parents, who, as the group’s advisors say, “Have raised children of unshakable faith and inner courage to take on such a daunting task.” These advisors - Rachel Wolfe (Seneca Language and Seneca History Teacher), Gerald Musial (Global History and Seneca History Teacher), and Suzanne John-Blacksnake (Native American Guidance Counselor) - went on the say that they “have been humbled to be surrounded by such strength and courage.”
The May 2011 SCCSD Model UNPFII at their destination in New York City!May 17, 2011: Presentation DayThe photo above was taken of the Salamanca group at the United Nations Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues in New York City on May 17, 2011. On May 18, an email came in from UNPFII student club advisor, Rachel Wolfe, with this news out of New York City: "All the kids did wonderful yesterday. And Courtney did sooo good on her speech and in representing us that we had tears! It was such a powerful thing and Salamanca high school was put "on the record" and history was made for our community!"
Listen to Courtney's speech here: