President Joe Shirley, Jr. Address to the WSIS Tunisia
Behalf of Indigenous Peoples and the Information Society
"Towards an Indigenous Portal"
Brothers and sisters, Ya’a‘teeh and greetings from the
I am Joe Shirley, Jr.
I am honored and humbled to have the privilege to present
to you the results of the parallel event entitled the
"Indigenous Peoples and the Information Society: Towards an
International Indigenous Portal".
This historic report is now available for your review.
Today, I am here as a member of the International
Indigenous Steering Committee (IISC), which affirms the
hopes and dreams of self-determination for more than 370
million Indigenous people around the world. Our ancestors
were here before others.
Within the deep roots of our Indigenous families is
buried a timeless wisdom.
This wisdom has kept our peoples self-sustainable for
thousands of years.
Information is not wisdom. Information is without value
if it is not available to those who need it.
Knowledge, combined with the wisdom of our peoples, is
what creates true opportunity.
This is why our peoples call for universal Indigenous
connectivity and the development of Indigenous-specific ICTs.
These should be viewed as a necessity for healthy
One such initiative is an International Indigenous
A portal is much more than a web interface. It is a focal
point where Indigenous content will be available from our
peoples and other stakeholders.
Our portal will allow us to share, with our own voices,
our traditions, values, history and language as well as our
aspirations for the future.
In addition, universal connectivity will help us to
address other pressing economic and social development
issues, including poverty alleviation, education, health and
Support for these ICT initiatives, as well as our
connectivity and developmental needs, must come not only
from us but in partnership with our friends.
Such cooperation will help us to establish, operate,
maintain and even expand our portal by ourselves.
Indigenous peoples are a valuable part of the information
society, and universal connectivity will help us to maintain
our values, languages, traditions and sovereignty.
If we do not relate technology to our cultures, and
assert our rights to this new digital territory, we believe
ICTs will become just another solution in search of a
When this Summit ends, we will continue in our efforts to
provide ICT for our peoples so that our children and
grandchildren will have the tools to provide for future
We therefore strongly encourage a Global Indigenous ICT
Forum be held within the next 2 years.
At the heart of our vision is respect for the dignity and
human rights of all Indigenous peoples. These ideals are
enshrined in the Millennium Development Goals, the
Millennium Declaration, and the Second International Decade
of the Worlds’ Indigenous People. This must be affirmed by
all stakeholders if the digital divide is to be truly
This is one way we will exercise true sovereignty.
We are grateful for the opportunity to address you today,
and hope that our paths will continue forward to bring
peace, health, knowledge and sustainability to all our