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O'odham and Dineh Women Seek Sponsors to Cochabamba Climate Conference 2015

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Michelle Cook, Dineh (Navajo) and Ofelia Rivas,
O’odham, make plans for Cochabamba.
Photo Brenda Norrell Sept. 2015

By Brenda Norrell

Censored News

TUCSON — Tohono O’odham Ofelia Rivas and Dineh Michelle Cook hope to return to Cochabamba, Bolivia, in October and continue the work that they began five years ago when President Evo Morales hosted the World Peoples Conference on Climate Change and the Rights of Mother Earth. 

Bolivia is hosting the World Peoples Conference on Climate Change and Defense of Life, October 10–12, 2015, and the women who facilitated the Indigenous Working Group at the 2010 Conference in Cochabamba hope to be there.

Ofelia Rivas, outspoken human rights defender living on the border in her homeland, on the Tohono O’odham Nation, is founder of O’odham Voice against the Wall. Ofelia co-chaired the Indigenous Working Group in Cochabama in 2010. 

“Everyone had a voice,” Ofelia said, remembering the gathering in Cochabamba.

Michelle Cook, Dineh (Navajo) flew into Cochabamba from New Zealand in 2010 and assisted Ofelia with the work of the Indigenous Working Group in Cochabamba. Since then, Michelle received her masters degree as a Fulbright scholar in New Zealand, in Maori and Pacific Development, and completed law school at the University of New Mexico. Michelle is currently in the Indigenous Peoples Law and Policy Program at the University of Arizona in Tucson.

The upcoming conference in Bolivia focuses on climate, in preparation for the United Nations COP 21 in Paris, and on the concept of living well.

The O’odham way of being, Him’dag, and the Dineh (Navajo) way of being, Hozho, are knowledge of living and being, which these women can share at the Climate and Living Well Conference in Bolivia in two weeks.

Ofelia Rivas has been held at gun point by the Border Patrol agents. While fighting the ongoing US militarization of her homelands, Ofelia exposed the unearthing of ancestors graves during the construction of the US border wall on the so-called Arizona border. She also led a successful fight against a toxic dump on O’odham ceremonial land in Sonora, Mexico.

Ofelia said, “The O’odham way of life is based on the land that has held the remains of our ancestors since the creation of this world. The O’odham did not migrate from anywhere according to our oral history. Our creation tellings record our history and teach the O’odham principles of life. The survival of O’odham today is based in our him’dag.”

Michelle Cook (on left)
Cochabamba 2010

Michelle, while on a peacemaker delegation to Iran at the age of 23, said, “As Navajo people we are taught to take care of the earth, and in return she will take care of us, this is an ancient practice of ecological sustainability. If we violate the rules of nature, as well as the teachings of the Holy People they can discipline us, therefore we are taught to do whatever we can to maintain hozho. This is what the elders have said. The holy people, also taught us how to live, and not to consume too much of any resource, this teaching extends to oil consumption. Wars should not be fought for oil. Oil is like the blood of the mother earth.”

Indigenous Working Group 2010
Photo Ben Powless, Mohawk

The Indigenous Working Group in Cochabamba in 2010 concluded with a statement that begins, “Mother Earth is a living being in the universe that concentrates energy and life, while giving shelter and life to all without asking anything in return, she is the past, present and future; this is our relationship with Mother Earth. We have lived in coexistence with her for thousands of years, with our wisdom and cosmic spirituality linked to nature. However, the economic models promoted and forced by industrialized countries that promote exploitation and wealth accumulation have radically transformed our relationship with Mother Earth. We must assert that climate change is one of the consequences of this irrational logic of life that we must change.” (See full statement below.)

The upcoming conference in Cochabamba will focus on climate, the threat of capitalism and the concept of living well:

The paths of Living Well as an alternative to capitalism. Living Well in harmony with Nature is in essence the only possible universal way of life. Universal Declaration of Rights of Mother Earth to resist capitalism. Just like human beings are recognized in their rights, all beings must be respected in their rights under the Universal Declaration of Rights of Mother Earth, as an instrument to resist capitalism.

Note: The estimated cost for each woman, Ofelia Rivas and Michelle Cook, for flights, lodging, food, taxi, etc. is $2,500, totaling $5,000. Please write Censored News, Brenda Norrell, [email protected] in order to contact the women directly as sponsors.

Ofelia Rivas, O’odham Solidarity Project, website, with PayPal:

“World People’s Conference on Climate Change 

and the Defense of Life” Oct 10 — 12, 2015

CONVINCED that as children of Mother Earth, our mission is the responsibility with Life according to what our parents and grandparents taught us.
FEELING that the codes, understanding, knowledge and arts of the ancient peoples from the world were ignored by Western civilization and that now the world needs to rescue all the ancient and ancestral wisdom to restore balance and harmony to Mother Earth.
AWARE that the most serious global threats facing us in the defense of life are related with climate change that threatens our own existence and Mother Earth, our water, our land and our forests, our food.
UNDERSTANDING the validity and importance of the findings within the Peoples Agreement of the World People’s Conference on Climate Change and the Rights of Mother Earth, held in April 2010 in Tiquipaya, Cochabamba, Bolivia; and considering the need for an assessment of what we have achieved since then and the need to coordinate our different struggles and strategies for the defense of life.
RECOGNIZING that Pope Francisco in the encyclical “Laudato if” (Thy Name Be Praised) delivered us a message that inspires us to continue our struggle, promoting care of the shared home through the union of the whole human family and the search for sustainable and comprehensive development, simultaneously taking care of nature and giving respect to the delicate balances among living beings that live in this world.
UNDERSTANDING that Paris COP21 shall promote the signing of a new agreement on climate, so that we, the peoples of the world, have to raise our voices again to offer our own visions and solutions to climate change.
REGRETTING that after more than 20 years we have not achieved to establish any meaningful international agreement on climate change, and the fact that in COP21 under the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change is intended to look as an agreement to pretend a global consensus and ambitious commitments from countries, hiding that in reality it does not want to affect the structural causes of climate change.
CONCERNED about the misuse of technology to address the issue of climate change, like in geo-engineering and solar radiation, that on the contrary create enormous risks for Mother Earth, and transfer the solution to climate change to a technological approach and the wrong vision about the domain of humans above nature.
ASSUMING that if we fail to build a universal culture of life, we will only contribute to the destruction of the future of our children and our children’s children.
AWARE of the importance of finding and building joint spaces between leaders of social movements, academics, scientists, government officials and representatives from all continents to agree on proposals for COP 21 Paris and take our responsibilities for the health of our Mother Earth and our own lives.
THE GOVERNMENT OF THE PLURINATIONAL STATE OF BOLIVIA, call, invites and summon the peoples and nations of the world to the “World People’s Conference on Climate Change and Defense of Life” to be held in Tiquipaya, Cochabamba, Bolivia, from October 10 to 12, 2015, to discuss the following topics:
Threats of capitalism against life
  1. The agenda of capitalist interests against life. Transnational enterprises and capitalist interests endanger the health of the land, food, water and forests through actions that cause diseases, pests and death of living beings.
  2. Threats against life: Geopolitical wars of the empires to distribute our lands and territories. The military machinery of the North has been busy destroying entire villages in an effort to seize the strategic natural resources, feeding the financial architecture of capitalism and the industry of death.
The construction of Living Well and the paths of fife
  1. The paths of Living Well as an alternative to capitalism. Living Well in harmony with Nature is in essence the only possible universal way of life.
  2. Universal Declaration of Rights of Mother Earth to resist capitalism. Just like human beings are recognized in their rights, all beings must be respected in their rights under the Universal Declaration of Rights of Mother Earth, as an instrument to resist capitalism.
  3. Knowledge, practices and technologies of the peoples for climate change and life. Capitalism promotes modern technologies that come from the business and the private sector, Peoples should strengthen ancient and millennial technologies for life.
  4. The defense of our common heritage. The peoples strongly defend our natural resources and common heritage from those who trade with life in the name of protecting nature.
Climate change and the culture of life
  1. Climate sciences at the service of life. In the face of misleading scientific reports from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) about causes and impacts of climate change, we need to rescue and build our science about Climate Change.
  2. International Court of Climate Justice and Life. The world requires of an international organization to make us responsible for LIFE and with the fulfillment of commitments that countries should assume for its comprehensive protection.
  3. Mechanisms for non-commodification of nature. Capitalist countries have proposed internationally, market mechanisms as a cynic proposal to solve climate change, so we must promote mechanisms and instruments for the non-commodification of nature.
  4. Capitalism debts: climate debt, social debt and ecological debt. Capitalist countries have produced a set of debts to the peoples; humankind and Mother Earth and they must begin to pay, starting with the climate debt.
  5. Interreligious dialogue to save Mother Earth. The religions of the world struggle with a message of peace and dialogue, to solve the climate crisis, to the global capitalist system that destroys our community values.
Continuing in the path of the defense of Life
  1. Evaluation of the achievements and advances of Tiquipaya and the peoples’ voice for the COP21 of Paris about climate change. Evaluate the Tiquipaya Conference and raise again our voice proposing our own solutions for climate change and the negotiations of countries in United Nations.
To the peoples and social organizations of the world, it belongs us better and join all our forces, move from our towns to defend life and Mother Earth, rebuild the culture of life, the living well and the harmony with nature.
The event is organized to last three days, according to the following details:
– Opening plenary (first day in the morning)
– Organization of 12 working groups, one for each topic previously scheduled (first day in the afternoon and second day in the morning).
– Intergroup plenaries (second day in the afternoon).
– Presentation of results in general plenary (third day in the morning).
– Meeting with governments representatives and international organizations (third day in the afternoon)
– Closing ceremony.
Additional events
The event includes the following additional events:
– Discussion panels with topics to be defined.
– Peoples fair for life, including expositions of participants about different subjects expressing their vision on climate change and the defense of life.
– Performance of artistic and cultural expressions.
The participation in the additional events will be with previous registration of interested people and acceptation by the organizers. 
Previous activities
Prior to the event the following activities are to be held:
– Online Distribution of the preliminary document (September 1 to September 20)
– Online registration of participants to the event (September 1 to September 30)
– Twelve online discussion panels, one for each topic, with a moderator to organize the discussion on the preliminary document and inputs from the working group (September 15 to October 1).
Website: www.jallalla.boDownload the Summon

Final Conclusions working group 7: Indigenous Peoples
Mother Earth can live without us, but we can’t live without her.
We, the Indigenous Peoples, nations and organizations from all over the world, gathered at the World Peoples’ Conference on Climate Change and the Rights of Mother Earth, from April 19th to 22nd, 2010 in Tiquipaya, Cochabamba, Bolivia, after extensive discussions, express the following:We Indigenous Peoples are sons and daughters of Mother Earth, or “Pachamama” in Quechua. Mother Earth is a living being in the universe that concentrates energy and life, while giving shelter and life to all without asking anything in return, she is the past, present and future; this is our relationship with Mother Earth. We have lived in coexistence with her for thousands of years, with our wisdom and cosmic spirituality linked to nature. However, the economic models promoted and forced by industrialized countries that promote exploitation and wealth accumulation have radically transformed our relationship with Mother Earth. We must assert that climate change is one of the consequences of this irrational logic of life that we must change.
The aggression towards Mother Earth and the repeated assaults and violations against our soils, air, forests, rivers, lakes, biodiversity, and the cosmos are assaults against us. Before, we used to ask for permission for everything. Now, coming from developed countries, it is presumed that Mother Earth must ask us for permission. Our territories are not respected, particularly those of peoples in voluntary isolation or initial contact, and we suffer the most terrible aggression since colonization only to facilitate the entry of markets and extractive industries.
We recognize that Indigenous Peoples and the rest of the world live in a general age of crises: environmental, energy, food, financial, ethical, among others, as a consequence of policies and attitudes from racist and exclusionary states.
We want to convey that at the Copenhagen Climate Conference, the peoples of the world demanded fair treatment, but were repressed. Meanwhile the states responsible for the climate crisis were able to weaken even more any possible outcome of negotiations and evade signing onto any binding agreement. They limited themselves to simply supporting the Copenhagen Accord, an accord that proposes unacceptable and insufficient goals as far as climate change action and financing to the most affected countries and peoples.
We affirm that international negotiation spaces have systematically excluded the participation of Indigenous Peoples. As a result, we as Indigenous Peoples are making ourselves visible in these spaces, because as Mother Earth has been hurt and plundered, with negative activities taking place on our lands, territories and natural resources, we have also been hurt. This is why as Indigenous Peoples we will not keep silent, but instead we propose to mobilize all our peoples to arrive at COP16 in Mexico and other spaces well prepared and united to defend our proposals, particularly the “living well” and plurinational state proposals. We, Indigenous Peoples, do not want to live “better”, but instead we believe that everyone must live well. This is a proposal to achieve balance and start to construct a new society.
The search for common objectives, as history shows us, will only be completed with the union of Indigenous Peoples of the World. The ancestral and indigenous roots shared by the whole world must be one of the bonds that unite us to achieve one unique objective.
Therefore we propose, require and demand:
1. The recovery, revalidation and strengthening of our civilizations, identities, cultures and cosmovisions based on ancient and ancestral Indigenous knowledge and wisdom for the construction of alternative ways of life to the current “development model”, as a way to confront climate change.
2. To rescue and strengthen the Indigenous proposal of “living well”, while also recognizing Mother Earth as a living being with whom we have an indivisible and interdependent relationship, based on principles and mechanisms that assure the respect, harmony, and balance between people and nature, and supporting a society based on social and environmental justice, which sees life as its purpose. All this must be done to confront the plundering capitalist model and guarantee the protection of life as a whole, through the search for inclusive global agreements.
3. We demand States to recognize, respect and guarantee the application of international standards of human rights and Indigenous Peoples’ rights (i.e., The UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, ILO Convention 169) in the framework of negotiations, policies, and measures to confront climate change.
4. We demand States to legally recognize the preexistence of our right to the lands, territories, and natural resources that we have traditionally held as Indigenous Peoples and Nations, as well as restitution and restoration of natural goods, water, forests and jungles, lakes, oceans, sacred places, lands, and territories that have been dispossessed and seized. This is needed to strengthen and make possible our traditional way of living while contributing effectively to climate change solutions. Inasmuch, we call for the consolidation of indigenous territories in exercise of our self-determination and autonomy, in conformity with systems of rules and regulations.
At the same time we demand that states respect the territorial rights of Indigenous Peoples in voluntary isolation or in initial contact, as an effective way to preserve their integrity and combat the adverse effects of climate change towards those peoples.
5. We call on States not to promote commercial monoculture practices, nor to introduce or promote genetically-modified and exotic crops, because according to our people’s wisdom, these species aggravate the degradation of jungles, forests and soils, contributing to the increase in global warming. Likewise, megaprojects under the search for alternative energy sources that affect Indigenous Peoples’ lands, territories, and natural habitats should not be implemented, including nuclear, bio-engineering, hydroelectric, wind-power and others.
6. We demand changes to forestry and environmental laws, as well as the application of pertinent international instruments to effectively protect forests and jungles, as well as their biological and cultural diversity, guaranteeing Indigenous Peoples’ rights, including their participation and their Free, Prior, and Informed Consent.
7. We propose that, in the framework of climate change mitigation and adaptation measures, states establish a policy that Protected Natural Areas must be managed, administered and controlled directly by Indigenous Peoples, taking into account the demonstrated traditional experience and knowledge towards the sustainable management of the biodiversity in our forests and jungles.
8. We demand a review, or if the case warrants, a moratorium, to every polluting activity that affects Mother Earth, and the withdrawal of multinational corporations and megaprojects from Indigenous territories.
9. We urge that states recognize water as a fundamental human right, avoiding its privatization and commodification.
10. We demand the application of consultations, participation, and the Free, Prior and Informed Consent of Indigenous Peoples and affected populations in the design and implementation of climate change adaptation and mitigation measures and any other intervening actions on Indigenous territories.
11. States must promote mechanisms to guarantee that funding for climate change action arrives directly and effectively to Indigenous Peoples, as part of the compensation for the historical and ecological debt owed. This funding must support and strengthen our own visions and cosmovisions towards “living well”.
12. We call for the recovery, revalidation and strengthening of Indigenous Peoples’ technologies and knowledge, and for their incorporation into the research, design and implementation of climate change policies. This should compliment Western knowledge and technology, ensuring that technology transfer processes do not weaken indigenous knowledge and technologies.
13. We propose the recovery, development and diffusion of indigenous knowledge and technology through the implementation of educational policies and programs, including the modification and incorporation of such knowledge and ancestral wisdom in curricula and teaching methods.
14. We urge States and international bodies that are making decisions about climate change, especially the UNFCCC, to establish formal structures and mechanisms that include the full and effective participation of Indigenous Peoples. They must also include local communities and vulnerable groups, including women, without discrimination, as a key element to obtain a fair and equitable result from climate change negotiations.
15. We join in the demand to create a Climate Justice Tribunal that would be able to pass judgement and establish penalties for non-compliance of agreements, and other environmental crimes by developed countries, which are primarily responsible for climate change. This institution must consider the full and effective participation of Indigenous Peoples, and their principles of justice.
16. We propose the organization and coordination of Indigenous Peoples worldwide, through our local, national, regional, and international governments, organizations, and other mechanisms of legitimate representation, in order to participate in all climate change related processes. With that in mind, we call for an organizational space to be created that will contribute to the global search for effective solutions to climate change, with the special participation of Elders.
17. We propose to fight in all spaces available to defend life and Mother Earth, particularly in COP16, and so we propose a 2nd Peoples’ Conference to strengthen the process of reflection and action.
18. The ratification of the global campaign to organize the World March in defense of Mother Earth and her peoples, against the commodification of life, pollution, and the criminalization of Indigenous and social movements.
Created in unity in Tiquipaya, Cochabamba, Bolivia, the 21st day of April, 2010.

Brenda Norrell has been a news reporter in Indian country for 29 years, serving as a writer for Navajo Times and a stringer for AP and USA Today during the 18 years she lived on the Navajo Nation. After being a longtime staff reporter for Indian Country Today, she was censored and terminated. She then created Censored News, focused on Indigenous Peoples and human rights, now in its fifth year.


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