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MDP student at the Summer Program on Indigenous Peoples at the Columbia University

Wed. Jul. 16, 2014

Dulce Maria Gonzalez Ramirez and Victoria Tauli-Corpuz Dulce and Victoria Tauli-Corpuz, UN Special Rapporteur on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples

By Dulce Maria Gonzalez Ramirez
2 year MDP Student

The 2014 Summer Program on Indigenous Peoples’ Rights & Policy (ISSP) at the Columbia University was a unique and special opportunity that enriched my professional and personal experience, bringing a puff of breath and hope for my path in the development world and fight for Indigenous Peoples rights.

Through an interdisciplinary approach, this intensive two week program analysed major questions in Indigenous affairs today. We analysed the interaction between Indigenous movements and the governmental systems over the past 50 years paying special attention to its questioning of and impact on international norms, institutions and major global debates such as the UNDRIP. The course was situated at the intersection and debate through lectures and workshops of human rights studies, international laws, political science, Indigenous studies, ethnic studies, development studies and sociology.

We had the privilege to have lecturers Elsa Stamatopoulou, Director of Indigenous Peoples' Rights Program at Columbia University, Mattias Åhrén, president of the Saami Council, Victoria Tauli-Corpuz, the UN Special Rapporteur on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, and Mirna Cunningham, Chairperson of the UN Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues.

The ISSP 2014 was complemented with a special visit and lectures at the United Nations headquarters in New York. Also, we had the wonderful opportunity to visit the St. Regis Mohawk Tribe and meeting with its officials. At the same reserve, we visited Akwesasne Freedom School that since 1979 adopted a total Mohawk immersion curriculum focusing on their young people to reverse the assimilation process and ensuring that the Mohawk people do not lose their language, culture and identity.

Group photo from 2014 Summer Program on Indigenous Peoples’ Rights

Among 28 participants from 20 different countries, we were lecturers, development practitioners, lawyers, ambassadors and students that brought together amazing experiences and knowledge to build hope for ourselves and for Indigenous Peoples around the world.