REPORT of Sacred Sites and the Environment from an Indigenous Perspective

A side event of the Fifth Session of the UN Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues

Sponsored and organized by Yachay Wasi – Hosted by United Nations Environment Programme

May 19, 2006 Panel Discussion at UN Hqrs - UNEP Conference Room DC2-8th Floor


Mr. Parshuram Tamang, Tamang people, Nepal, member of UNPFII; Mr. John Scott, Inigai, Australia, Secretariat of the Convention on Biological Diversity; Ms. Ina McNeil, Lakota Nation, USA; Mr. Luis Delgado Hurtado, Quechua speaking, Peru, President of Yachay Wasi; Ms. Andrea Carmen, Yaqui Nation, USA , Exec. Dir., International Indian Treaty Council; Ms. Naniki Reyes Ocasio, Taino, Puerto Rico; Dr. Albert DeTerville, Saint Lucia, Chair/CEO, ALDET CENTRE; Ms. Mililani Trask, Native Hawaiian, USA, former member of UNPFII

Moderated by: Ms. Marie-Danielle Samuel, Main Rep. to UN for Yachay Wasi

To complement this event, Yachay Wasi sent a Call to Indigenous peoples around the world for submission of papers involving sites sacred to their communities. Twenty seven papers were received from countries including Guatemala, Nepal, Argentina, USA, China, Canada, Russia, Cameroon, Mexico, India, Tanzania, Ethiopia, Kenya, Saint Lucia, Peru.

On 15 May 2002, Yachay Wasi coordinated, on behalf of the NGO Committee on the International Decade of the World’s Indigenous People, a Panel Discussion entitled “Cultural Heritage and Sacred Sites: World Heritage from an Indigenous perspective” which took place at New York University during the historic First session of the UN Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues. This event featured speakers from Indigenous Nations, UNESCO NY Office and UNESCO World Heritage Centre, Office of the High Commissioner on Human Rights and the Secretariat of the Convention on Biological Diversity. Sacred sites case studies from 37 world Indigenous nations were given at the seminar and included in a report.

Even though UNESCO this year decided not to co-sponsor this event, Yachay Wasi was able at the last minute to interest the United Nations Environment Programme in hosting the panel. The Secretariat of the Convention on Biological Diversity participated once more. UNEP conference room was full, with peoples standing and UN Radio covered the event. UN Radio in Spanish interviewed Luis Delgado Hurtado, President of Yachay Wasi, and segment was aired on 30 May. This event brought attention to Indigenous Sacred Sites during the session of UN PFII.

UN Radio segment on Indigenous Sacred Sites recorded during event aired on 10 August 2006

The panel opened with the Huayno "Valicha" performed by Mr. William Luna, composer/musician from Cuzco, Peru. Mr. Luna had been invited by Yachay Wasi to observe the session of the Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues.

Sacred Sites Panel Theme

Sacred Sites Panel Programme

Sacred Sites Panel Conclusions

Photo 1 and Photo 2