(January 20, Washington, D.C.) - Today's swearing-in of Barack Obama as the 44th President of the United States was truly historic. Indigenous leaders from the United States and Canada gathered in Washington to witness and be a part of this world-changing event.
Among those who came to show their support was Grand Chief Matthew Mukash of the Grand Council of the Crees (Eeyou Istchee), who made the trip from James Bay, Quebec.
"President Obama's inaugural speech was inspirational and strong. He showed his determination to bring about real change. The James Bay Cree Nation welcomes the President as a world leader. He is a symbol of renewed hope and justice for all", said Matthew Mukash.
The President declared in his speech that 'all are free, all are equal'. He emphasized that America is "ready to lead once more". The President also reminded the world that America is "shaped by every language and culture". During his electoral campaign, Barack Obama made clear his commitments to Indigenous peoples.
Of particular concern to Indigenous peoples worldwide is the failure of the United States to support the adoption of the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples. The Declaration is the most comprehensive international instrument addressing the human rights of the world's Indigenous peoples. There are over 370 million Indigenous people. Indigenous peoples are hopeful that President Obama will demonstrate the new US leadership by endorsing the Declaration and its implementation.
In his speech earlier today, President Obama expressed the commitment to "roll back the spectre of a warming planet". "This is an issue of central importance for the James Bay Cree Nation and our northern environment. It is also a critical concern for Indigenous peoples around the world", Grand Chief Mukash stated.
President Obama has generated great hope and captured the hearts of people everywhere. "The James Bay Cree Nation strongly supports the changes that the President could bring on such key issues as human rights and climate change. We are ready to work with other Indigenous leaders in North America and globally, in order to ensure President Obama's success.