Solidarity with Indigenous Peoples

Indigenous peoples in many parts of the world have always faced discrimination, exclusion and even threats to their survival as peoples. The WCC has been their committed and consistent partner. It has stood in solidarity with them in their struggles for land, identity, language, survival of indigenous cultures and self-determination.

As communities everywhere go through rapid and complex changes in today's globalized world, these issues have assumed new dimensions necessitating new strategies and new responses. It is in this spirit that the Indigenous Peoples Consultancy, based in Geneva since December 2008, continues the WCC activities in solidarity with indigenous people.

The 9th Assembly of the World Council of Churches in 2006 reaffirmed its commitment to accompany the indigenous peoples in their struggles for justice and rights. It also called on the churches to ensure inclusion and participation of the indigenous peoples at all levels.

The WCC, therefore, has decided to focus on initiating and nurturing local and regional networks, building capacities of regional and local-level leadership, supporting grassroots' movements for justice, development, land, identity and self-determination, enabling the participation and contribution of the indigenous peoples in the life and ministries of the ecumenical movement and churches at various levels, and supporting the participation of indigenous peoples in international meetings relevant to their struggle.

Besides the networking, two main areas are the priority for the Indigenous Peoples Consultancy in partnership with the regional networks:

  1. Advocacy, especially within the framework of the United Nations through the Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues in New York and the Expert Mechanism on Indigenous Issues in Geneva.

  2. Theological conversation between indigenous theologians in their diversity, contributing to the WCC's ongoing theological reflection and strengthening the church life in the indigenous churches.

Indigenous peoples invite all Christians to dream up "a new earth and new heaven" as it is promised in the Bible and as it is the marginalized peoples' common vision that another world is possible.

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Related documents

Recflections by indigenous theologians on the WCC 10th Assembly theme

More than 30 theologians from around the world, representing the Ao and Chang Naga, Aymara, Igorot, Maori, Maya, Mizo, Quecha, Santal, and Turtle Island, met at Yu-Shan Theological College and Seminary, Taiwan, in September 2012 to reflect on the assembly theme - God of life, lead us to justice and peace - and discern what their theologies could contribute to the ecumenical movement.

Sources and Resources of Indigenous Theologies

Report from a consultation of indigenous theologians held in Geneva, Switzerland in October 2009.

Statement by the WCC Living Letters team visiting Australia

An international ecumenical delegation visited the Indigenous Peoples of Australia from 12-17 September 2010 on behalf of the WCC.

Joint Declaration of Indigenous Churches

Declaration presented at the United Nations Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues, 21 May 2009, calling for recognition of the right to life not only for people but for Mother Earth, too.

Transformation from within

Indigenous voices and the life of the church: a statement to the 9th Assembly of the WCC, Porto Alegre, 2006.

Statement on the Situation of Indigenous Peoples of Australia

The WCC Central Committee meeting in Geneva, 16-22 February 2011, epressed its solidarity with the Indigenous Peoples of Australia, the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Peoples, and their right to live in traditional lands; maintain and enrich culture and ensure traditions are strengthened and passed on for generations to come.

Related publications

The Earth as Mother

The 16/1999 issue of the ECHOES magazine put a special focus on indigenous spirituality and land.