Press Release
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Contact: Jennifer Speight at jspeight@nihb.org
NIHB Vice Chairman makes Statement to United Nations Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues
NEW YORK, NY—April 28, 2022 – The National Indian Health Board (NIHB) Vice Chairman Nickolaus Lewis and Chief Executive Officer Stacy A. Bohlen attended the Twenty First United Nations Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues taking place this week at United Nations (UN) Headquarters in New York.
 
Vice Chairman Lewis, who is the NIHB Portland Area Representative and Secretary for the Lummi Nation remarked, “I am so honored and proud that the National Indian Health Board will be engaged in the Forum. It is important to bring this testimony from American Indians and Alaska Natives to our Indigenous relatives around the world. We are inextricably linked through the history of colonization, proliferated by the Doctrine of Discovery and continuing with forced Boarding school policies. NIHB strongly encourages the UN to consider working directly and collaboratively with Tribal Nations and Indigenous Peoples in all regions of the world to develop of a more responsive and relevant indigenous approach to achieve health equity.”
 
The United Nations Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues (UNPFII) is an advisory body to the Economic and Social Council. The Forum was established in 2000 with the mandate to deal with indigenous issues related to economic and social developmentculturethe environmenteducationhealth and human rights. The Forum:
 
  • provides expert advice and recommendations on indigenous issues to the Council, as well as to programmes, funds and agencies of the United Nations, through ECOSOC;
  • raises awareness and promotes the integration and coordination of activities related to indigenous issues within the UN system;
  • prepares and disseminates information on indigenous issues;
·       promotes respect for and full application of the provisions of the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples and follow up the effectiveness of this Declaration.
 
The Permanent Forum is one of three UN bodies that is mandated to deal specifically with indigenous peoples’ issues. The others are the Expert Mechanism on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples and the Special Rapporteur on the rights of indigenous peoples.
 
The NIHB Board of Directors moved to support the nomination of Mr. Geoffrey Scott Roth, a descendant of the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe, as a Member of the 2023-2025 United Nations Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues (UNPFII). As the only Expert Member on the PFII with experience in public health, Mr. Roth assumed additional tasks during the COVID Pandemic including representing Indigenous peoples and working with the World Health Organization (WHO) and Pan American Health Organization (PAHO). NIHB is proud to support the nomination and to undertake engagement with the Forum.
 
NIHB Vice Chairman Lewis made a statement during the discussion on the six mandated areas of the Permanent Forum (economic and social development, culture, environment, education, health and human rights), with reference to the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, the outcome document of the World Conference on Indigenous Peoples and the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. The statement raised the shared legacy of colonization of Indigenous peoples and how it has resulted in the same poor health outcomes. NIHB has concerns about the WHO Policy on Ethnicity and Health[JVS1] that is being implemented by the PAHO. While this endeavor has opened doors to work with indigenous communities throughout the Americas, we need something different. NIHB strongly encourages the UN to consider working directly and collaboratively with Tribal Nations and Indigenous Peoples in all regions of the world to develop of a more responsive and relevant indigenous approach. This approach is needed to achieve health equity. Indigenous peoples must overcome inter-generational trauma to create paths towards achieving the highest standards of health. NIHB strongly urges the United Nations Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues to make the health and public health issues of the World’s indigenous Peoples a top and urgent priority. NIHB stands ready to support this work and move all of our Peoples toward cultural healing and achieving the highest health status possible.
 
 

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Established by the Tribes to advocate as the united voice of federally recognized American Indian and Alaska Native Tribes, NIHB seeks to reinforce Tribal sovereignty, strengthen Tribal health systems, secure resources, and build capacity to achieve the highest level of health and well-being for our People.
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