Thursday, March 08, 2012

Owe Aku International Justice Project

Owe Aku International Justice Project: Owe Aku International Justice Project

Owe Aku International Justice Project Goal, Mission, Guiding Principles, Methods, Program Priorities


The goal of Owe Aku International Justice Project is to secure human and environmental rights for and by Indigenous peoples. In the Lakota language, “owe aku” means “bring back the way.”


The mission of Owe Aku International Justice Project (“IJP”) is to be a resource to traditional Indigenous leaders and communities who are preserving ancient Indigenous wisdom and a world view that honors and respects the earth and all her descendants That is, we seek to bring back the way.


1. In all of our efforts IJP recognizes that reliance upon Indigenous wisdom has resulted in the survival of Indigenous peoples against overwhelming odds while still managing to preserve and protect the last pristine environments on Earth. In the 21st century, we must be equally resilient and irrepressible

2. IJP relies upon our ancestors and elders because they have preserved generations of Indigenous knowledge, we receive our direction from leaders who stand on traditional cultural values, and we attempt to imitate the historical and contemporary courage demonstrated daily by our communities to whom we are always accountable.

3. IJP develops strategies for projects harnessing international human rights standards that compliment the efforts and address the concerns expressed from within Indigenous communities and nations. This is maintained by allegiance to identifiable Indigenous leaders and communities, in particular, we look to Owe Aku, a traditional cultural, social, environmental and educational organization of the Lakota Oyate (Sioux Nation).

4. IJPʼs mission, goal and principles are clearly defined. However, IJP does not set the agenda. Although we are active in all processes involving our efforts, we rely upon Indigenous leaders and communities to provide the framework for IRAPʼs activities and programs.


•To provide logistical, organizational, and developmental assistance to traditional Indigenous leaders and communities, especially Owe Aku, Bring Back the Way,1 and its allies.

•Research, write and submit organizational plans and strategies for execution of projects and program work as requested by IJPʼs constituency.

•Preparation and submittal of reports on all projects and program work that meet Indigenous standards of accountability as well as those of supporters and funders. These reports are to include quantitative data as well as objective narratives of progress and/or challenges that have been encountered.

•Preparation of multimedia publications and presentations designed to inform, educate and recruit allies and support for projects and program work.

•Recruit and supervise specialized expertise and resources required for projects and program work.

•Facilitate and be present for projects and program work in a way that is consistent with individual responsibility and community accountability.


•Support and advocacy on behalf of the Black Hills Sioux Nation Treaty Councilʼs International Court of Justice Project under the leadership of Chief Oliver Red Cloud and Alexander White Plume, Eyapaha.

•Owe Akuʼs Sacred Water Project protecting the Lakota Nation and people from uranium mining and its environmental devastation.

•Educational materials for Owe Akuʼs Unite to Fight with particular attention to international mechanisms for Indigneous peoples.


Kent Lebsock, Coordinator

Professor Maivân Clech Lâm, Consultant on International Law and Relations


Alexander White Plume

Rosalie Little Thunder

Kent Lebsock

The Owe Aku International Justice Project (“IJP”) was formed by Lakota people who received direction from traditional leaders. IJP was launched to expand Owe Aku’s cultural, educational and environmental work to include international human rights as an additional level of advocacy to preserve the Lakota land-based way of life for future generations.

International human rights work provides us with the opportunity to join with other Indigenous nations and communities as well as allies around the world to ensure the preservation and revitalization of Lakota lifeways. These cultures have preserved wisdom that will sustain and protect Mother Earth, sacred water and all of the relatives upon which we rely for existence.

IJP’s specific mission is to educate all peoples about the critical value of our land-base and continue with strategies that utilize international human rights standards that recognize our sovereignty. Lakota sovereignty, an inherent human right of all peoples to determine their destiny, is also preserved in our treaties with the United States and its people. We have developed strategies that bring our traditional leaders into international forums, not just to those mechanisms assigned to Indigenous peoples, but all of the resources available. This is also a means to assert our inherent sovereignty and, as a result, bring well-needed encouragement and empowerment to the members of our communities within the Lakota nation.

We also carefully monitor and utilize international standards to advocate for issues such as health care concerns on the reservations to enforcing Lakota treaties and conserving treaty territory. As a result of this direct participation in the process by our leadership, with the technical support of IJP, new strategies are constantly examined, ensuring that evolving trends in international law from such places as the Organization of American States and the International Court of Justice are employed to maximize the benefit to our communities. Increasingly, human rights based strategies apply pressure on the United States and other countries resulting in more just and equitable resolutions of Indigenous issues. Many of these issues have been ignored for more than 500 years and working outside of a single domestic authority, historically committed to denying our rights, permits us to build a framework dedicated to the continuation of future generations within the wisdom and tradition of the Lakota way of life.

The Owe Aku International Justice Project is guided daily by traditional leaders and elders who speak our language and live our Lakota way of life. This approach has preserved our nation for 170 years against unyielding attempts to annihilate, assimilate and legislate us out of existence. Our goal is to do nothing more than continue the process left to us by our ancestors.

Owe Aku International Justice Project strives to secure human and environmental rights for and by Indigenous peoples. In the Lakota language, “owe aku” means “bring back the way.”

For more information please contact Kent Lebsock, director,

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