International Day, at Headquarters on 9 August, Will Shine Spotlight on Role Of Indigenous Media
Thursday, 09 August 2012

UNITED NATIONS, 6 August 2012 — This year’s International Day of the World’s Indigenous Peoples (9 August) will shine a spotlight on indigenous media — television, radio, film and social media — and their role in helping to preserve indigenous cultures, challenge stereotypes and influence the social and political agenda.

An event at United Nations Headquarters in New York on the theme “Indigenous Media, Empowering Indigenous Voices” will feature remarks by UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, Wu Hongbo, Under-Secretary-General for Economic and Social Affairs; Grand Chief Edward John, Chairperson of the United Nations Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues, and others.  It will be followed by a panel discussion with representatives of indigenous media organizations from across the world and video clips produced by indigenous peoples.

The panel, moderated by Amy Stretten, will include Kenneth Deer, founder of the newspaper The Eastern Door; Nils Johan Heatta, Chairman of the World Indigenous Television Broadcasters Network; J. Kehaulani Kauanui, a professor at Wesleyan University and radio producer; and Angel Tibán Guala, Director of Television for the Movimiento Indígena Campesino de Cotopaxi (TV MICC).

“From community radio and television to feature films and documentaries, from video art and newspapers to the Internet and social media, indigenous peoples are using these powerful tools to challenge mainstream narratives, bring human rights violations to international attention and forge global solidarity,” Secretary-General Ban said in his message for the Day.  “They are also developing their own media to reflect indigenous values and fight against myths and misconceptions.”

There are an estimated 370 million indigenous people in some 70 countries around the world.  Practising unique traditions, they retain social, cultural, economic and political characteristics that are distinct from those of the dominant societies in which they live.  Spread across the world from the Arctic to the Amazon, indigenous peoples reflect the world’s cultural diversity and are the custodians of its biodiversity.

The United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, adopted by the United Nations General Assembly in 2007, recognizes indigenous peoples’ right to self-determination (Article 3), as well as their right to freely pursue their economic, social and cultural development, and develop past, present and future manifestations of their culture in various forms.

“Indigenous voices are recounting compelling stories of how they are combating centuries of injustice and discrimination, and advocating for the resources and rights that will preserve their cultures, languages, spirituality and traditions,” the Secretary-General said.  “They offer an alternative perspective on development models that exclude the indigenous experience.  They promote the mutual respect and intercultural understanding that is a precondition for a society without poverty and prejudice.”

The event will also include a screening of the film Voices through Time, produced by Centro de Culturas Indígenas del Perú (Chirapaq) and documenting the efforts of indigenous men, women and youth to use radio and new communications technologies as means to build networks and make their cultures, demands and aspirations visible.

About the International Day

The International Day of the World’s Indigenous Peoples is commemorated annually on 9 August, in recognition of the first meeting of the United Nations Working Group on Indigenous Populations, held in Geneva in 1982.  The Day was first proclaimed by the General Assembly in December 1994.

Journalists without United Nations press accreditation please visit the website of the Media and Accreditation Liaison Unit,, or call +1 212 963 6934 or +1 212 963 6937 for details.

For media queries, including interviews with United Nations officials and indigenous representatives, please contact Martina Donlon, tel. +1 212 963 6816 or email This e-mail address is being protected from spam bots, you need JavaScript enabled to view it , Department of Public Information, or Nilla Bernardi, tel. +1 212 963 8379 or e-mail This e-mail address is being protected from spam bots, you need JavaScript enabled to view it , Department of Economic and Social Affairs.

To contact the Secretariat of the United Nations Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues, please get in touch with Ms. Bernardi.

For more information on the International Day, please see or

On Twitter, use #UNIndigenousDay for regular updates and for sending your questions to panel members.


International Day of the World’s Indigenous Peoples, 9 August 2012, Economic and Social Council Chamber, United Nations Headquarters, New York.

2:30 p.m to 6 p.m — “Indigenous Media, Empowering Indigenous Voices”, 2:30 p.m; screening of “Voices through Time” by Chirapaq ( Peru).

3 p.m — Traditional welcome by the Chairperson of the NGO Committee on the International Decade of the World’s Indigenous Peoples, Roberto Múcaro Borrero (Taíno, Puerto Rico); message of UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon; remarks by Under-Secretary-General for Economic and Social Affairs and Coordinator of the Second International Decade of the World's Indigenous Peoples, Wu Hongbo; remarks by the Chairperson of the United Nations Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues, Grand Chief Edward John (Tl’azt’en, Canada).

Moderator:  Chandra Roy-Henriksen, Chief of the Secretariat of the United Nations Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues.

3:30 p.m — Interactive Dialogue, Panellists:  Kenneth Deer (Mohawk, Canada), The Eastern Door; Lily Valtchanova, Cultural Affairs Officer, United Nations Educational Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO); Nils Johan Heatta (Sápmi, Norway), Chairman, World Indigenous Television Broadcasters Network; Professor J. Kehaulani Kauanui (Kanaka Maoli, Hawaii), Center for the Americas, Wesleyan University; and Angel Tibán Guala (Kichwa, Ecuador), Director, TV MICC.  Discussants:  Monika Ille, Director of Programming, Aboriginal Peoples Television Network, Canada; Keoni Lee, General Manager, Ōiwi TV, Hawai’I; Emil Her Many Horses (Ogala Lakota, United States), National Museum of the American Indian, “ Our voices on the Air:  Reaching new audiences through indigenous radio ”

Videos produced by:  Komi Television, Russian Federation; TV MICC, Ecuador; Indigenous Information Network, Kenya; Atama Katama, Malaysia.

Open Discussion

Closing remarks by Roberto Múcaro Borrero (Taíno, Puerto Rico), Chairperson of the NGO Committee on the International Decade of the World’s Indigenous Peoples.

Moderator:  Amy Stretten, Founder and Editor of (programme subject to change).

Organized by the Secretariat of the United Nations Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues, United Nations Department of Public Information and the NGO Committee on the International Decade of the World’s Indigenous Peoples.

Potential Interviewees

1. Kenneth Deer:  Started The Eastern Door in 1992 upon realizing that indigenous peoples were not represented fairly in mainstream media.  The weekly publication quickly became a trusted source for news in Kahnawake ( Canada) for 16 years under his leadership.  Mr. Deer currently devotes his time as an indigenous activist at the international level.

2. Nils Johan Heatta:  A member of the Executive Committee of the World Indigenous Television Broadcasters Network (WITBN), since its foundation in 2008, he has also been its Chairman since March 2012.  Mr. Heatta has worked as a sound and video engineer and journalist.  Since 1985, he has been director for Sami Broadcasting in Norway, NRK Sápmi, which is a part of the Norwegian Broadcasting Corporation (NRK).

3. J. Kehaulani Kauanui:  An indigenous woman from Hawaii, Ms. Kauanui is an Associate Professor of American Studies and Anthropology at Wesleyan University, and the sole producer and host of a public affairs radio programme, “Indigenous Politics:  From Native New England and Beyond”.

4. Angel Tibán Guala:  Director of TV MICC, the first indigenous TV channel founded in Ecuador, in 2009.  Broadcasting in Quichua and Spanish for the indigenous communities living in central Ecuador, TV MICC provides an opportunity to preserve and strengthen indigenous identity, especially for future generations.

5. Amy Stretten:  A graduate of CUNY Graduate School of Journalism in New York City, Ms. Stretten is a Native American from the Chickahominy Tribe, and the creator of, a blog that aims to give a voice to communities whose stories are rarely covered by mainstream media.  She is also the founder of, a multimedia arts and culture news site for indigenous youth.  In 2011, she covered the United Nations High-level Meeting on AIDS in New York from June 6-11, through an award, “UNITY: Journalists of Color”, a 2011 Global Reporting Fellowship.

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