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New Zealand: Decision on Scope of Crown/Maori Relations Portfolio and Establishment of New Office

(Sept. 25, 2018) On September 18, 2018, the New Zealand government announced that the Cabinet had agreed to the final scope of the Crown/Maori Relations ministerial portfolio and to establish a new agency called the Office for Maori Crown Relations: Te Arawhiti. (Press Release, Kelvin Davis, Maori Crown Agency to Be Established (Sept. 18, 2018), New Zealand […]

Norway: Supreme Court: Finnmark Estate Agency Has Right to Regulate Fishery, Hunting and Use of Natural Resources in Finnmark

(Mar. 30, 2018) On March 9, 2018, the Norwegian Supreme Court issued a unanimous judgment in a dispute regarding who may regulate fishing, hunting, and the use of natural resources in the Nesseby municipality in Finnmark (part of the Sápmi region in the northern part of Norway, inhabited by the Sami people).  (Supreme Court Case, […]

Sweden: Appellate Court Grants Sami Village “Better Right” to Hunting Rights, but Not Control over Them

(Mar. 8, 2018) On January 23, 2018, the Appeals Court for Upper Norrland (Hovrätten for Övre Norrland) decided that the Sami village Girjas has a “better right” to fishing and hunting rights in its reindeer-grazing area than the Swedish state, concluding that the state has no right to fishing or hunting in that area. The […]

Taiwan: New Indigenous Languages Act

(June 21, 2017) On June 14, 2017, the Republic of China on Taiwan government promulgated the Indigenous Languages Development Act in order to “achieve historical justice, further preserve and promote the indigenous languages, and guarantee that the languages are used and passed down … .”  (Indigenous Languages Development Act (May 26, 2017), art. 1, Legislative […]

New Zealand: Bill Establishing River as Having Own Legal Personality Passed

(Mar. 22, 2017) On March 14, 2017, the New Zealand Parliament voted to pass the Te Awa Tupua (Whanganui River) Claims Settlement Bill (the Bill). (Te Awa Tupua (Whanganui River) Claims Settlement Bill, Government Bill 129-2, as reported by the Māori Affairs Committee, New Zealand Legislation website.) The Bill “gives effect to the Whanganui River Deed […]

Sweden: Court Recognizes Exclusive Fishing Rights of Sami Village

(Feb. 9, 2016) On February 3, 2016, the District Court of Gällivare announced its verdict in a hunting and fishing rights dispute between the government of Sweden and Girjas, a Sami village (a community of the indigenous Sami people that is a special legal entity with special legal rights and duties different from an ordinary Swedish village). […]

Taiwan: Draft Legislation on Indigenous Language Protection

(Dec. 3, 2015) On November 26, 2015, the Executive Yuan (Cabinet) of the Republic of China (on Taiwan) approved a draft law on the promotion of indigenous languages. (Cabinet OKs Indigenous Language Development Bill, TAIWAN TODAY (Nov. 27, 2015).) The Council of Indigenous Peoples (Yuan-chu min-tsu wei-yuan-hui, CIP) proposed the new legislation.  (Id.) The draft […]

Indonesia: Declaration on Rights of Indigenous People to Forests

(Apr 29, 2015) On April 18, 2015, Indonesia’s Minister of the Environment and Forestry, Siti Nurbaya Bakar, issued the “Mataram Declaration,” named after the capital of the province of West Nusa Tenggara. The Declaration is part of the government’s response to a May 2013 ruling of the Constitutional Court giving indigenous groups control of forested […]

Indonesia: Forest Rights of Indigenous Peoples Affirmed

(June 3, 2013) On May 16, 2013, the Constitutional Court of Indonesia gave indigenous people the right to manage the forests in which they live. It has been reported that this decision will block the government from selling such lands to private businesses. (Indonesia Court Ruling Boosts Indigenous Land Rights, JAKARTA GLOBE (May 17, 2013); […]

United Nations; United States: First U.N. Investigation of Native American Rights

(Apr. 24, 2012) From April 23 to May 4, 2012, James Anaya, United Nations Special Rapporteur on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, as well as Regents Professor and the James J. Lenoir Professor of Human Rights Law and Policy at the University of Arizona, will conduct a U.N. investigation into the rights of Native Americans. […]