Native Hawaiians participating in UN forum

Native Hawaiians are in New York this week participating in the fifth session of the United Nations Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues, states a press release from the Koani Foundation, a Kaua‘i-based unity organization.

The Hawaiians join other Pacific Region representatives, senior United Nations officials, academics and over 1,200 indigenous community members to discuss challenges and strategies for improving conditions of the world’s indigenous peoples, the release states.

“Hawaiian Nationals are proclaiming their identities (and) reclaiming their heritage, their land, resources and rights,” Koani Foundation board member ‘Ehu Kekahu Cardwell says in the release. “They will never accept second class citizenship in their Hawai‘i homeland.”

The Koani Foundation is presenting recommendations on human rights and universal education for Pacific Region Indigenous Peoples.

“Hawaiians are treated like outcasts in their own homeland,” Cardwell states. “The Hawaiian Nation survives today despite more than a century of belligerent occupation, forced assimilation and cultural oppression.”

The Permanent Forum designated health, education and inclusion in decision making for indigenous peoples as the focus for this year’s gathering.

Established in 2000 at the recommendation of the UN Commission on Human Rights, the forum started Monday and runs through May 26.

Other Pacific Region participants include representatives from New Zealand, Easter Island, Australia, Fiji, Papua, Melanesia and Micronesia.

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