Tue, Jan 10, 2006 - Page 2 News List

Nation's Aboriginal communities visited by rights activist


An indigenous rights activist from the US yesterday continued his visit to local Aboriginal communities, sharing his experiences in supporting and boosting the rights and welfare of indigenous peoples worldwide.

Ali El-Issa, founder and president of the New York-based Flying Eagle Woman Fund and husband of the late renowned Native American rights activist Ingrid Washinawatok, visited Wushe (霧社) in Nantou County, where he paid his respects to Aboriginal warrior Mona Rudao at a shrine for the famed Atayal who opposed the Japanese at great cost to his community.

El-Issa visited another Atayal tribal community in the mountains of Hsinchu County on Sunday in the company of Aboriginal independent Legislator May Chin (高金素梅).

The founder of the Flying Eagle Woman Fund -- the first US organization devoted to the welfare of indigenous peoples around the world -- El-Issa said he was happy to help May Chin and other Aboriginal people who want to lobby for entry to the UN.

El-Issa, who established the Flying Eagle Woman Fund in late 1999 after his wife Ingrid was kidnapped and murdered during a visit to the Uw'a Indians in rural Colombia, said yesterday that he was continuing Ingrid's commitment to native philanthropy, the sustainable development of indigenous communities and support for indigenous welfare everywhere.

"The Flying Eagle Woman Fund will not allow any nations or governments around the world, including China, to interfere with entrance by indigenous peoples into the United Nations NGO Committee of the International Decade of the World's Indigenous Peoples," El-Issa said.

Ingrid Washinawatok was born on the Menominee Reservation in Wisconsin and given the name Peqtaw Metamoh (thunderbird woman).

Ingrid, who started her work promoting the rights and welfare of native groups in the US at age 14, is a co-founder of the Indigenous Women's Network, an advocacy group that promotes the revitalization of indigenous languages and cultures, the protection of religious and cultural practices as well as land and environmental protection.

She served as chairwoman of the UN Committee of the International Decade of the World's Indigenous Peoples. She was also a member of the Indigenous Initiative for Peace, convened by Nobel laureate Rigoberta Menchu Tum.

Ingrid was honored with more than 10 international awards and honors during the 1990s, all for her work relating to native sovereignty, indigenous languages and cultures, native rights, education, sustainable community development, philanthropy, justice and peace.

Ingrid was recognized as the 1998 Indian Woman of the Year in New York and selected by the Rockefeller Foundation as an outstanding leader in the National Generation Leadership Program.

"After my wife's death, I left my job to start the Flying Eagle Woman Fund for Peace, Justice and Sovereignty and have been doing this for the last six years in memory of my wife," El-Issa said.

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