By Megan Sherman
Published June 2021
Indigenous Peoples in North America:
An Overview of Progress and Report of the Regional Dialogues for the United Nations Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues
Numbering over 370 million people in over 70 countries around the world on every continent, Indigenous Peoples are practitioners and knowledge-bearers of distinct cultural, ecological, spiritual, health and healing practices, as well as systems of governance.
Yet tragically, the rights of Indigenous Peoples have been violated worldwide through processes of colonization involving forced relocation as well as removal of children from their families. Large numbers of children were often placed in residential schools, where they suffered severe psychological and physical abuse.
Additionally, attempts to erase language and culture initiated during early colonization, persist through system-wide discriminatory policies, practices, and biases, which have been linked to severe poverty and high morbidity, despite the fact that 148 countries have expressed support for indigenous peoples’ rights through adoption of the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples of 2007 (UNDRIP).
This report provides an overview of the issues of Indigenous Peoples at the United Nations, as well as an extensive report of the current regional dialogues at the United Nations. This is consistent with my study of, and work with, this population throughout my career. Through the course “Psychology and the United Nations” with Professor Dr. Judy Kuriansky at Columbia University Teachers College, I have had the opportunity to delve into the important issues of this population at the United Nations.
Although this report does not aim to provide a comprehensive overview of the rights of Indigenous Peoples in North America, it is important to keep in mind the diplomatic context within which these Regional Dialogues are situated. Nation to nation binding and legal treaties between the colonizing governments and indigenous governments existed prior to the formation of the United States and the U.S. Constitution, such as the Kaswentah treaty between the Haudenosaunee and the Dutch in 1613, acknowledging that the two parties are equals and will not interfere with the internal affairs of the other. What became the United States ratified 370 treaties with Native nations between 1778 and 1871 when the federal government ended treaty-making, and often utilized the courts to acquire formerly treaty-protected land and resources. It is time for this history of discrimination and violation of human rights to give way to adequate enforceable protections of indigenous peoples’ right to self-determination and governance; the right to their land and resources, the right to speak and learn one’s mother language, to freely practice and transmit the breadth of cultural, ecological, spiritual knowledge systems, and the right to the resources needed to thrive individually and collectively.
Over the past several decades, indigenous peoples in varied international settings with very different cultures and practices joined forces to advocate for human rights protection, land and resource rights, and the right to representation with regard to decision-making within the UN, culminating in the establishment of the United Nations Permanent Forum on Indigenous Peoples in 2000.
The UN Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues (UNPFII) is a high-level advisory body to the United Nations Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC), and is also a Civil Society Organization (CSO), which meets annually in April to provide expert advice and policy recommendations on indigenous issues related to economic and social development, culture, the environment, education, health, and human rights. The Forum also serves to promote awareness and coordinate related activities within the United Nations. This forum is tasked with promoting implementation and effectiveness of the UN Declaration of the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (UNDRIP), established in 2007, along with the Expert Mechanism and a Special Rapporteur. As Kim Jerome Gottschalk from the Native American Rights Fund states,
The Declaration recognizes that indigenous peoples have important collective human rights in a multitude of areas, including self-determination, spirituality, lands, territories, and natural resources. It also sets out minimum standards for the treatment of indigenous peoples and can serve as the basis for the development of customary international law.
As a Civil Society Organization, the Permanent Forum is not a Member State (government at the UN), but rather a not-for-profit entity which interacts with member states through consultative status with ECOSOC. Their annual sessions provide an opportunity for Indigenous Peoples around the world to have direct dialogue with UN Member States, as well as with the United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHRC), other expert bodies, and non-governmental organizations (NGOs). Within the Permanent Forum, there are 16 members, eight of whom are nominated by UN Member State governments based on the existing five regional grouping structure of the United Nations, along with eight members nominated by Indigenous Peoples’ Organizations, representing seven regional groupings distributed to ensure broad engagement and participation of indigenous peoples throughout the world.
The Twentieth Session of the UNPFII will be held 19-30 April 2021. This year’s theme is entitled “Peace, justice and strong institutions: the role of indigenous peoples in implementing Sustainable Development Goal 16”. The UN Sustainable Development Goal 16 (SDG 16) is part of the United Nations Agenda 2030 for Sustainable Development, a document agreed by the 193 UN Member States, with the specific Goal 16 pledging to promote peaceful and inclusive societies for sustainable development, providing access to justice for all, and building effective, accountable and inclusive institutions at all levels.
The goal of the annual meeting themes is to focus efforts around a topic of specific interest to Indigenous Peoples. Past themes included such important topics as “Traditional knowledge: Generation, transmission, and Protection” in 2019, and “Indigenous peoples’ collective rights to lands, territories and resources” in 2018.
Prior to the 2021 two-week Permanent Forum at the UN, Regional Dialogue sessions were held separately in seven UN Indigenous regions, to offer a yearly opportunity to gather community input, highlight major issues, and collaborate to bring actionable recommendations to the ECOSOC.
The Current Regional Sessions
For North American Indigenous groups, two sessions were held virtually on March 9 and 11, 2021. These two sessions covered four key topics: Covid-19 and Indigenous People, Participation of Indigenous People at the UN, Missing Indigenous Women and Girls, and the upcoming UN Decade of Indigenous Languages.
These sessions were facilitated by longtime Indian rights and health advocate Mr. Geoffrey Roth, a Standing Rock Sioux Tribe descendant in North Dakota, who was recently appointed for a three-year term in 2020 as the current North American member of Permanent Forum. Roth is acknowledged as a specialist in native education, gender diversity, and NGO engagement, who notably coordinate NGOs and the U.S. government at meetings with Canada, New Zealand and Australia. Permanent Forum members are nominated by Indigenous organizations, and then appointed by the current president of the UN ECOSOC, Her Excellency Inga Rhonda King, the Permanent Representative of Saint Vincent and the Grenadines.
Session 1, Part 1: Covid-19 and Indigenous People
The COVID-19 virus is “the great magnifier” of the inequalities and marginalization of indigenous peoples, said H.E. Ambassador Robert Rae, Permanent Representative of the Mission of Canada to the United Nations, in the opening session about the pandemic and indigenous peoples.
Ambassador Rae followed his strong opening comment with commitment of his country of Canada to protect and promote indigenous rights regionally and internationally. With roughly 5% of Canada’s population who self-identify as indigenous, the Canadian government has been particularly proactive in working to address the rights of its indigenous peoples. H.E. Rae announced that landmark legislation was introduced in Canada in December of 2020, to implement the UN Declaration for the Rights of Indigenous People (UNDRIP), which once passed, will be used as a universal human rights instrument, and a framework for application to Canadian law.
“The government of Canada recognizes the trauma experienced by the families and survivors of missing and murdered indigenous women, girls, two-spirit, LGBTQQIA+ people, “Ambassador Rae said, “and is working towards addressing violence against indigenous women and girls through the co-development of a national action plan.”
Next to speak, Chief Medical Officer of the Indian Health Service (IHS) within the Department of Health and Human Services in the United States, Michael Toedt, M.D., provided a clear update on the status of Covid-19 for Native Americans. He pointed to chilling CDC data, showing rates of Covid-19 on reservations approximately quadrupling the U.S. average, and laid out the challenges, shortcomings, and achievements in the IHS response as detailed below.
In response to this problem, U.S. federal funds facilitated the creation of a Critical Care Response team, which launched telehealth services to address critical care needs, and now includes targets for Covid-19 vaccinations. Encouragingly, the IHS is currently ahead of schedule in meeting set vaccination targets.
Currently, the IHS is seeking rapid input on the needs of tribal communities regarding Covid-19 vaccination, as more federal funds may be forthcoming through the American Rescue Plan.
At the Regional dialogue, attendees cited considerable challenges, including excessive 3-4 hour travel time for people to reach clinics, insufficient access to water and plumbing, problems meeting the needs of urban indigenous people, and the vulnerability of elders. They also elucidated important considerations for making progress in communities and for governing bodies. For example, they recommended timely access to disaggregated public health economic data, or that “data sovereignty” should be prioritized, citing inadequate surveillance, as well as barriers and gaps across jurisdictions.
Other concerns attendees expressed included the need for indigenous language postings and speakers at borders, across which many indigenous people migrate, considering that over 50% of farm workers migrating to the US are indigenous language speakers, and do not speak Spanish (the prevalent language at the border). Several attendees also voiced concerns over the lack of regional protocols for vaccinations, barriers to critical Covid-19 support, insufficient testing and vaccines for urban native people, and problems stemming from the fact that states recognize many tribes not recognized by the federal government.
The Dialogue moderator Geoffrey Roth, explained that indigenous people have had historically lower viral suppression than other populations, evidenced by disproportionate mortality from smallpox, the Spanish Flu, and now Covid-19. Making the clear link between trauma, discrimination, poverty and health of indigenous peoples, Roth cited International Labour Organization (ILO) data showing that 74% of the 477 million global indigenous people survive on less than USD5.5 cents/year, reminding attendees that the most vulnerable feel the most acute economic effects from this current virus, and reminding attendees that the most basic needs for adequate food, shelter, and healthcare have not been met for the indigenous populations.
Furthermore, Roth said, indigenous communities worldwide have lost devastating numbers of elders this year due to the virus. Given that elders carry crucial cultural, environmental, and language knowledge, as well as deep understanding of the land and all non-human inhabitants, one attendee referred to this year’s loss of indigenous elders as akin to losing living “national monuments”.
Session 1, Part 2: Participation of Indigenous People at the UN
The next speaker, Ms. Andrea Carmen, Executive Director of the International Indian Treaty Council, from the Yaqui Nation in southern Arizona, was a team leader for the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples which was adopted on 13 September 2007. She serves as current Co-chair on the Local Communities and Indigenous People’s Platform, which evolved out of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC). Helping contextualize the long fight for recognition of the rights of indigenous peoples by the UN, she offered a moving account of the history of Indigenous Peoples’ struggle to be recognized and “heard” at the UN, dating back to 1923, when Haudenosaunee Chief Deskaheh was denied access to speak as a Chief at the League of Nations in Geneva. Poignantly, panelist Dr. Kenneth Deer speculated that 100 years later, this venerated Chief still would most likely still not be permitted to speak.
Continuing now to affirm positive steps, Ms. Carmen shared that incredible progress has been made, including a historical moment during a negotiation session set up by the Human Rights Council on 22 October 1996, to shape what is now the UNDRIP. Told they were only “observers”, indigenous representatives staged a walk-out to demand full and meaningful participation in the discussions of the UN Declaration for their rights. This action helped clear the path to the passage of the Declaration, by all but four UN member states, who later gave their full support for the Declaration, which affirms the “right to participate in decision-making in matters which would affect their rights, through representatives ”(Article 18).
Another landmark moment occurred as a result of the Paris Agreement of 2015, she related. The UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) recognized the establishment of a “local Communities and Indigenous People’s Platform,” to affirm the rights of Indigenous People and local communities, and the importance of knowledge, technologies, and practices with regard to actions addressing climate change”. This was followed by the establishment of the Platform’s Facilitative Working Group, with direct involvement of seven regionally-chosen Indigenous representatives from the seven UN Indigenous regions including Arctic, Asia, Africa, Pacific, Latin America and Caribbean States, North America, Central and Eastern Europe (which includes the Russian Federation, Central Asia, and Transcaucasia).
Ms. Carmen pointed out that although the Rights of Indigenous Peoples has been affirmed, many barriers to meaningful participation and self-determination persist. À propos to the issue of Covid-19, Dr. Carmen shared findings of a study presented by the Special Rapporteur to the General Assembly in October 2020 which showed minimal involvement of indigenous groups in decision-making processes regarding Covid-19 relief programs, pointing to the life and death importance of representation, decision-making power, and recognition of the specific challenges Indigenous Peoples face.
Panelist Dr. Kenneth Deer further contextualized the current position of Indigenous Peoples at the UN. Respectfully reminding attendees that Indigenous Peoples have been self-governing since time immemorial, with representative institutions and constituencies. He added that securing UN status that recognizes their sovereignty governments, lies at the core of the struggle for Indigenous People’s identity, and NGO status does not achieve this. He asserted that this status is best achieved by establishing Enhanced Participation at the UN, affirmed by former UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon at the UN World Conference on Indigenous Peoples.
Attendees voiced concerns about articles in the UNDRIP (Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples), such as Article 32,which centers on rights to land and resources and the impacts of projects, and Article 46 about how Indigenous Rights fit into the UN charter, and about how multiple recognized sovereignties occupy the same space. Deer suggested that being in dialogue with UN might help resolve seemingly contradictory statements around self-determination and territorial integrity, as well as articles addressing land and resources.
Session 2 Part 1: Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls
The second Regional Listening Session was introduced by Mr. Roth, on the issue of “Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls,” (MMIWG), speaking to the ongoing devastation felt from the loss of women and girls, who are missing or murdered, pointing out that reliable records of these indigenous women still do not exist.
The first speaker was Ms. Gladys Radek, a full-time volunteer advocate for this issue, from the Gitxsan Wet’suwet’en territory in British Columbia, Canada. After her 22-year-old niece, mother of a four-year-old son, went missing in 2005, she spearheaded the Walk for Justice 2008-2011, walking from Vancouver to British Columbia, as well as a project called “Tears for Justice” founded in 2013, in an effort to unite families, raise awareness on this human rights issue, demand official inquiry into these missing and murdered cases, and get a more accurate tally of indigenous missing and murdered persons, which from the numbers indicate ten times the national average and the third cause of death in ages 10-28. When Radek started her walk, 300 women and girls were known to be missing. As of today, at least 4,000 women are known to be missing, with Radek posting 2-3 new missing women every day. She reminded everyone that these women are the life-givers of their communities, in the prime of their reproductive lives, and highlighted the loss of children born from these missing and murdered young women. A final report was released in 2019 of the National Inquiry into Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls, which included 231 actionable recommendations, and demanded a National Call to Action.
According to Radek, Canada has failed to meet 17 articles from the Universal Declaration for Human Rights. She cited concrete ways in which the government of Canada can improve efforts, such as providing better public transportation in rural areas, and providing safe places for victims of domestic violence, a situation which has drastically worsened during the Covid-19 lockdowns. She pointed out the failure on the part of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) to uphold laws, punctuated by a lack of responsiveness to reports of missing peoples, failure to sufficiently investigate missing women, and failure to build relationships with community members to improve trust and responsiveness.
Further, Radek identified the link between the rapid rise in human trafficking of women between the ages of 8-25 throughout the country, the rise in missing and murdered women and girls, and widespread “work-camp modular housing”, also widely known as “man camps”. These “man camps” are temporary large scale housing communities set up for well-paid, typically male laborers for industry projects such as constructing pipelines. These camps, often holding 1,500-3,000 non-native men, have no boundaries, no connection to surrounding communities, no respect for local laws or cultural protocol or for women and girls. Further, the camps have been linked to the infiltration of drugs. It is widely known that local girls are targeted, offered drugs and alcohol, raped, and sometimes killed.
One attendee spoke to the problem of human trafficking associated with the Bakken oil fields, Enbridge Line 3 pipeline, and Port Duluth/Superior iron ore shipping, proposing a cross border study, and interactive dialogue with states “to work nation to nation to bring accountability for what is occurring.”
Radek spoke about Canada’s Birth Alert program as another form of human trafficking and failure to uphold the UNDRIP, a program which persists, she says, despite becoming illegal in September, 2019. The practice allows hospital staff to alert child welfare workers that a newborn may be at risk for harm, but does not inform expectant parents. Related to this, according to 2016 Census Data, although Indigenous youth make up 7.7% of children in Canada, they make up 52.2% of children in foster care. Women and girls lose their children to the government, adding to the trauma that Indigenous Canadians experienced from residential school system kidnappings from the mid-1800s through the late-1990s.
Radek outlined the context that contributes to the high rates of First Nations’ children in foster care, particularly the lack of homes and resources that pushes people to move to cities and become homeless. Explaining the important interconnections in this condition, she shared that,
The lack of homes has hit virtually every community and a lot of our first nations people are now homeless in the major hubs because they are seeking either education or whatever it is that they are lacking in their communities…The vast majority of our people are living in stark poverty and I understand this is how our reservations were built. They are built to confine us to an area, and we are rationed with our food. Therefore our culture of hunting, fishing, and working with the land is not possible in the vast majority of areas in Canada.
In Radek’s tireless efforts to soothe the hearts of families who have lost women and girls, she turned her attention to establishing a place for families to honor and grieve their losses, outside Terrace, British Columbia, along Highway 16, known as the Highway of Tears, where up to 50 women and girls have disappeared.
Related to this need for care and concern at all levels, Radek made a strong appeal for stakeholders to respond to the need for healing and wellness centers, pointing out that the rate of drug overdoses in the past year for indigenous peoples far exceeded deaths from Covid-19.
“We try so very hard to teach our girls when they are young that women and girls are valuable,“ she said. “Women and girls are valuable to every society because we are the life-givers of society and it is time that we start to protect them to the fullest extent of the law, to the fullest extent of the UN Declaration of Human Rights and the UN DRIP”.
Final Regional Dialogue session for North America
The final Regional Dialogue session for North America, entitled “United Nations Decade of Indigenous Languages”, was led by Cree Chief and lawyer Wilton Littlechild. He recounted that indigenous peoples account for the majority of the approximately 7,000 living languages on Earth and these languages carry an entire cultural storehouse of stories, meaning, values, worldview, spirituality, and knowledge about how to survive, heal, and thrive specific to ecosystems and human communities. The Language Conservancy claims that over 200 Native American languages have become extinct, and about 41% indigenous languages worldwide are endangered.
The UN Backgrounder on Indigenous Languages states that,
The threat is the direct consequence of colonialism and colonial practices that resulted in the decimation of indigenous peoples, their cultures and languages. Through policies of assimilation, dispossession of lands, discriminatory laws and actions, indigenous languages in all regions face the threat of extinction. This is further exacerbated by globalization and the rise of a small number of culturally dominant languages.
Chief Littlechild, a residential school survivor, suffered directly from the Canadian government policies from 1863-1998 which placed over 150,000 children in state-run boarding schools, where they were prohibited from speaking their language or practice their culture, and were often severely abused.
Littlechild went on to become a staunch advocate for Indigenous Peoples worldwide, even consistently advocating for the creation of the World Indigenous Games, which provides competitive events for Indigenous athletes from around the world. In his impressive advocacy and career, he became a member of the Indigenous delegation to the UN in 1977, worked on the UNDRIP, was elected as a member of Parliament for Wetaskiwin, was appointed as a member of the UNPFII 2008, and served as one of three commissioners in charge of Canada’s Truth and Reconciliation Commission,among other accomplishments and honors. Most recently, he was a member of the Steering Committee for the International Year on Indigenous Languages (IYIL2019). This Committee was instrumental in creating the Los Pinos Declaration organized by UNESCO, a roadmap of principles, directions, and procedures for a Global Action Plan on Indigenous Languages, guided by the landmark Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada. This International Year on Indigenous Languages laid the foundation for the upcoming UN Decade of Action for Indigenous Languages, 2022-2032.
The Los Pinos Declaration,
emphasizes indigenous peoples’ rights to freedom of expression, to an education in their mother tongue and to participation in public life using their languages, as prerequisites for the survival of indigenous languages many of which are currently on the verge of extinction. With regard to participation in public life, the Declaration highlights the importance of enabling the use of indigenous languages in justice systems, the media, labour and health programmes. It also points to the potential of digital technologies in supporting the use and preservation of those languages.
Basic human needs and rights have been historically denied to indigenous peoples, he said, and loss of language is both fundamental and symptomatic of these intergenerational violations.
As mentioned by other speakers, indigenous elders are most often the fluent language speakers and culture-bearers, and suffer the most losses due to Covid-19, accelerating the trajectory of language loss.
Littlechild emphasized that the UN Decade of Indigenous Languages is an incredibly important time for all advocates for indigenous peoples to pull together for the sake of humanity and the earth, to move toward a vision of health and healing, through indigenous language revitalization, as well as attending to the most basic and human needs, human rights, and self-determination of Indigenous Peoples.
Opportunities exist, he said adding an optimistic note, to help shape the mission of the United Nations Decade of Indigenous Languages at the upcoming Permanent Forum for Indigenous Issues (UNPFII), and its connection to SDG 16, about Peace, Justice, and Strong Institutions.
Impactful steps can be taken, in his view. For example, Cree has been declared the official language of the Northwest Territories. In the past two years, the percentage of Cree speakers grew from 9% to 15%, through learning initiatives in schools and development of a dictionary and an app, that had the effect of uniting the Cree community and giving people hope. This Decade of Indigenous Languages as a critical opportunity to change the current trajectory of language loss, Littlechild declared, including ten proposed holistic and interconnected themes around different dimensions of language promotion, to preserve, revitalize, and promote protection. These proposed themes range from “Eradication of hunger and support for Indigenous food summits” to “Digital Empowerment: language technology, freedom of expression, and media development”.
Chief Littlefield wrapped up the day with a story. When asking an old man to offer an opening blessing at the UNPF, the old man said, ”I’m very honored you would ask me, but I want you to listen very carefully to the sound of my voice, and to the words I am going to use, because I am the last living speaker of our language.” A month later the old man died. “It was just like someone hit me in the middle of my gut, because I heard a language die, an indigenous language die, “chief Littlefield said. “Now we have an opportunity to work on reinvigorating, promoting, recapturing our language, where they have been lost, rebuild them…”
Personal reflections of the four Regional dialogues
The four sessions within this Regional Dialogue highlighted some of the most pressing issues facing North America’s Indigenous Peoples. Covid-19 has brought many tragedies, but it may be viewed as a catalyst for implementing long-awaited changes to the legacy of disenfranchisement, discrimination, and devaluing of life, toward a new era in which Indigenous ways of being, knowing, speaking, resolving conflict, and taking care for the earth are interwoven throughout international collaborative structures at the UN and throughout the world.
I am passionate about caring for the diverse animal, plant, water, and land networks that weave together all life. I offer my commitment of awareness, time, learning, action, and prayers as a way to honor the beauty in the legacy, life, ancestors, and living descendants of all indigenous peoples.
As a pathway to the UN Sustainable Development Goal 3 regarding “Good Health and Well Being”, I am committed to addressing the insidious impact of colonial hardships and historical trauma forced upon traditional peoples and living networks worldwide, and aim to lift the burdens of inequity on Indigenous and other marginalized communities. Additionally, as a graduate psychology student at Columbia University Teachers College (TC) in the concentration on Spirituality, Mind, and Body, I aim to center multicultural ways of knowing and healing for more resilient, more holistic, and effective healthcare systems toward our collective well-being.
I am so grateful to my professor, Dr. Judy Kuriansky, who teaches the class “Psychology and the United Nations” at TC. Through this dynamic class, I am learning how my concerns for human rights, mental health, and well-being are expressed and mitigated through diplomacy, research, advocacy, and action at the United Nations, and honing my own contributions to this holistic global challenge. I was compelled to take this class, because I feel like the more we link arms across faiths, cultures and geography, our understanding and compassion deepens, and through this interconnection, healing of our bodies, our relationships, and our earth, can more readily and naturally occur.
Before entering the field of psychology, I worked closely with bears and salmon as a field biologist in rural Alaska, as an environmental researcher with the Qawalangin Tribe in Alaska, and with the Center for Alaska Native Health Research within University of Alaska. In Nepal, I lived and worked as a health care liaison with a remote Sherpa and Tamang community, and volunteered with the Council of Thirteen Indigenous Grandmothers. Over the past 16 years, I have worked closely with people in their bodies, as a clinical massage therapist, and as an interventionist on a study of a mind-body-awareness-based treatment for opioid use disorder with the University of Washington. When I am not working to provide and promote empowerment-based healing strategies, I can be found savoring my connection to the earth and the universe, wandering the forests in the traditional territories of the Lummi and Nooksack People, known as Bellingham in Washington State with my son Cedar and my dog Lupine.
Regional Dialogue Session1
Regional Dialogue Session 2
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Cite this article as: Sherman, M. (2021). Indigenous peoples in North America: An overview of progress and report of the regional dialogues for the United Nations Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues. The International Association of Applied Psychology, IAAP at the United Nations, meetings and events. https://iaapsy.org/iaap-and-the-united-nations/reports-meetings-events/indigenous-peoples-in-north-america-an-overview-of-progress-and-report-of-the-regional-dialogues-for-the-united-nations/