Ya’at’eeh, Respectful Greetings.
On behalf of the 14 IITC Board of Directors, I would like to thank our staff and everyone who worked with us and supported the International Indian Treaty Council in 2020. We know that 2020 was a tough year for us all. My own Diné Nation was hit hard by COVID-19. We lost friends, family members and esteemed elders. Our hearts and prayers go out to everyone from all Nations of the world who also suffered that way. As you might know, IITC also lost a respected Board member to the pandemic in August, Mariano Ochoa from the Yaqui Nation in Sonora Mexico, but his example of selfless work for the people is still with us.
The good news is that the work of IITC continued to advance and grow stronger in 2020 despite these challenges. I am proud to say that we helped Indigenous communities to launch and strengthen food sovereignty and seed trading projects to restore our Nations’ health, strength and food independence. IITC continued to defend human rights, protect our sacred sites and way of life, and share information about our struggles. We also continued to bring Treaty violations to the attention of the world. As a veteran of the occupation of Alcatraz Island which sparked the international Indigenous movement in 1969, I am happy that IITC was able to hold our two annual Alcatraz sunrise gatherings in October (Indigenous Peoples Day) and November (Indigenous Peoples Thanksgiving) in spite of the pandemic. We shared our cultures and promoted Truth in History as we have for more than 40 years at these gatherings, but with reduced numbers of on-site participants and social distancing. Elders like me sent recorded messages which were played at the events, and Indigenous Peoples and our supporters around the world joined us through radio and webcasts.
I want to close this message by thanking the foundations, Tribes, organizations and individual donors who provided support to IITC to keep our work going strong in 2020. We hope that we can partner with you in the future, and we send our best wishes to you, your families, organizations and Nations. Together we will stay strong!
Lenny Foster, Diné Nation
Member, IITC Board of Directors
Representing the National Native American Prisoners’ Rights Coalition