Global Indigenous Gathering Postponed Due To Pandemic

17 March 2020, 2:41 PM
Global Indigenous Gathering Postponed for Pandemic

Group photo at the last gathering after a traditional Aztec dance.

The global URI community is coming together for a Global Indigenous Gathering  - as soon as it is safe to do so.

"The gathering we had in 2014 had a strong impact on us as an Indigenous community within URI," said Audri Scott Williams, URI Global Council Secretary and Multiregion Trustee. So another gathering has been scheduled for 2020. However, due to concerns about keeping participants safe from Coronavirus, it has been postponed to possibly September. (Stay tuned for more details as the time draws nearer and world events unfold.) 

Even as the date of the 2020 Global Indigenous Gathering remains up in the air, expectations and excitement are running high. Originally, the gathering planned to focus on cosmovision, including Indigenous prophecies, stories of origin, and humans' relationship to the earth, sky, and cosmos. It will include discussions of the mythologies and prophecies of different Indigenous cultures. However, the scope has expanded beyond the original vision to include addressing the impact on the environment from extractive industries, burning rainforests, polluted water, and other urgent ecological issues. This is an area of particular concern with Indigenous communities regarding oil pipelines running through their land, and the subsequent tragic spills and protests.

"Our vision is that Indigenous communities from around the world can come together, share our information, and then put out a global statement," says Audri Scott Williams. "We will be building relationships, learning about each other, finding commonalities, and deciding what we want to say to the world."

Since the Coronavirus has become a pandemic, the stakes have become even higher. "In several cultures, there is a prophecy that human beings would be faced with a challenge such as this," Audri Scott Williams explains. "So we are really living the experience of it all. The Indigenous representatives are continuing to pray - we have our Equinox call on the 19th - for the uplifting of humanity and Mother Earth. So we will continue to do the work, as we look forward to coming together in September, as much as we're able to plan the future right now."

Audri Scott Williams sends a personal prayer for the outcome of the gathering. "As human beings that inhabit this planet, we need to begin to listen to some of the teachings of the Indigenous communities, to see how they can inform our lives and the choices that we're making - and also to build a stronger connection to other cultures around the world, and particularly our relationship with the earth. We can't just keep doing what we're doing without a negative impact. The extractive industries need to be mindful how we're pumping oil and other resources out of the earth. When there's not a balance, we run the risk of terrible things happening - like the terrible things we're seeing right now. And we see this in the Indigenous prophecies."

"My prayer is that we walk more gently upon the earth and understand that we are all related."

Currently, the gathering plans to include representatives of many URI Cooperation Circles (member groups) from around the world. From the URI Multiregion (groups that do not have a single geographical hub): United Religions Initiative at the United NationsParadigmNOWTIME Radio, Trail of Dreams World Peace Walk, and Hidden Seeds: Global Indigenous Network20 Million Women Strong. From URI North America: Spirit of Truth Foundation CC, and Spiritual Enrichment Center CC. From URI Latin America and the Caribbean: Aflaiai and an Indigenous Global Trustee, Pueblos Indigenas de Argentina, Mujeres Originarias en la Política Social y Comunitaria (MOPSyC), Amaru, Mujeres Kunas Artesanas CC (Mukua), Comunidad Cosmica, and Los Descendientes de Guatemaya. From Africa: GAUTENG Khoi and San Council.

Many more plan to join in the coming months. In addition, there will be 15 young leaders participating, and representation from the following Indigenous communities: Mohawk from Six Nations, Khomani San Bushman, Gauteng Khoi San, Maluche, Kolla, Maya, Kuna, Qechua, Sayurata, Akon, Lakota, Maori, Muskogee Creek, Celtic, and Cherokee.

Cooperation Circles Involved

United Religions Initiative at the United Nations

"Established in 2000, the URI at the UN Cooperation Circle is comprised of members from numerous faith traditions - Baha'i, Christianity, Buddhism, Spirituality, Shinto, Humanism, Indigenous, and Jainism. Its purpose is to be a presence for the URI at the UN and to make the URI charter a reality, to come together as friends, and to be an international channel for grassroots people on global issues."

NOWTIME Radio

"Our purpose is to build bridges that unite cultures, races and religious/spiritual differences through the power of sharing stories and passions for peace, justice and a sustainable future for generations to come using the medium of radio broadcasting."

20 Million Women Strong

20 Million Women Strong (#20MWS) is a movement around the world for children, families, and the Earth, born of the conviction that, when women stand up together, change happens! Now is the time to create a shift in the consciousness that determines the condition of women, children, families, and the Earth!

Spirit of Truth Foundation CC

“Our purpose is to build upon the foundation we’ve created to promote enduring, daily interfaith cooperation (and intercultural cooperation), to end religiously motivated violence (and violence of any kind) and to create cultures of peace, justice and healing for the Earth and all living beings.”

GAUTENG Khoi and San Council

"Our purpose is to promote the urgent need to respect the inherent rights of Indigenous Peoples which derives from their political, economic and social structures and from their cultures, spiritual traditions, histories, philosophies, especially their right to their land, territories and resources."