By Ruthie DiTucci
[Image above provided by GNI: on the left is the new Governor of the sovereign Indigenous (35 Million member) Nation of Mexico (GNI) Alejandro González Leon and on the right is Secretary of the Exterior and BCR’S Representative in Mexico, Alberto Castellanos.] Both received Honorary Doctorates for their Humanitarian work.
This week we asked Alberto Castellanos if he would mind if we published some of the background events that went on when our Business Manager, David McNulty and I met their delegation at the United Nations and he said, “Absolutely, it’s fine to share what happened”. This was a historical event after all.
The GNI had received an invitation from the publisher of the “Society & Diplomatic Review” Ms. Gloria Starr Kins to attend an evening she was hosting In honor of a member of or an event related to the Nigerian consulate on November 7, 2019 in New York City.
When I heard about the event, and called Castellanos to confirm, Castellanos told me that they had already booked flights and accommodations and that only one or two of them needed VISAS.
I explained that the United Nations was celebrating “The International day of the indigenous” on November 9th (just 2 days later) and that they MUST not only change the airline tickets and accommodations from the 7th to the 9th but also ask the American Embassy to re-issue new VISAS for whomever needed them.
Castellanos put the Governor on the phone so that I could explain why changing their travel plans was so important to their work and Hipolito agreed with me that attending two days later was wiser.
As an invitee to the Nigerian November 7th event, the Governor of the Indigenous people of Mexico would be “a guest”. By attending the Indigenous Peoples event on November 9th, just two days later, he would be setting a precedent. It would be the first time in history that his 35 Million people would be represented at the United Nations.
It would also be the first time all three North American leaders of the Indigenous People would be in the same place at the same time.
Hipolito certainly was not going to disappoint his people by being present and wasting such a remarkable opportunity. He patiently waited but it was nearing the end of the day and the panel seemed to want to wrap up the event.
No one could ignore the quiet, stoic and dignified man wearing his trademark cowboy hat and traditional white shirt and slacks with his hand still up waiting to be recognized to address the room.
He was recognized and asked if he wished to speak. Suddenly, his microphone was turned on and from his seat, he addressed the United Nations. Hipolito made history that day.
Hipolito was one of three leaders at the event representing the International Indigenous People from north America. That day, Grand Chief Edward John (Tl’azt’en Nation) a Hereditary Chief of Tl’azt’en Nation located in Northern BC Canada was representing the Indigenous of Canada and Chief Howard Thompson of the Mohawk Nation and Indigenous leader of the Indigenous People of the United States were both present. With Hipolito there as well, it meant that all three leaders of the Indigenous People of North America were present.
If Hipolito would listen to my request to change the entire delegation’s travel plans, he would be influencing history because it would be the first time in world history in which all 3 governors of the indigenous nations of Canada, the United States, and Mexico would be together under one roof on such a memorable day as the International day of the indigenous and in the same room at the United Nations.
Grand Chief Edward John (Tl’azt’en Nation) a Hereditary Chief of Tl’azt’en Nation located in Northern BC Canada was a panelist for the occassion. Chief John is a former Expert Member of the UN Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues. He served as a leader on the First Nations Summit Political Executive and was an indigenous Co-Chair of the International Year of Indigenous Languages. As a panelist he sat on stage with the other speakers.
During that unforgettable event, Chief Howard Thompson of the Mohawk Nation and Indigenous leader of the United States Indigenous People sat right next to Hipolito Arriaga Pote. There they were, all three leaders of the Indigenous Nations of North America, together in the same room at the same time.
Hipolito Arriaga Pote’s speech: http://webtv.un.org/watch/part-1-2019-international-day-of-the-worlds-indigenous-peoples-theme-indigenous-peoples%E2%80%99-languages/6070601643001/?term=/#t=2h20m30s
Brian Keane’s speech: http://webtv.un.org/watch/-brian-keane-docip-on-international-day-of-the-worlds-indigenous-peoples/6070415025001/?term=/