In December, Catherine Murupaenga-Ikenn used a power tool to erase the words on a museum display of the Treaty of Waitangi, an 1840 document that asserted British sovereignty over Aotearoa, also known as New Zealand.

For years, many Māori, like Murupaenga-Ikenn, had criticized their national museum for displaying the English-language agreement that their ancestors did not endorse, wrongly suggesting the Māori people had agreed to relinquish their sovereignty. Activists had spent years waiting for the museum to change the display; when nothing happened, they took matters into their own hands. Her case is now in court.

Murupaenga-Ikenn is now in New York City this week, attending the U.N. Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues, the largest annual global gathering of Indigenous advocates and leaders. There, she spoke on the United Nations General Assembly floor on Wednesday, drawing a connection between the disillusionment her people feel with their state government and the frustration Indigenous people feel with the United Nations as a whole.

A decade ago, global leaders stood in that same room and agreed to respect and promote the rights of Indigenous peoples. At the World Conference of Indigenous Peoples in 2014, they negotiated a 40-paragraph agreement — known as an outcome document — loaded with promises like providing equal access to health care for Native peoples; respecting their contributions to ecosystem management; and working with Indigenous peoples to address the effects of extractive industries. To date, little has been accomplished, and now many like Murupaenga-Ikenn want the United Nations to urgently course-correct.

“Ten years on from the adoption of the outcome document, what I see is the U.N. is suffering a crisis of Indigenous peoples’ mistrust,” Murupaenga-Ikenn said.

Wednesday’s meeting, where Murupaenga-Ikenn spoke, was particularly important because it featured Dennis Francis, the president of the General Assembly, a high-ranking official of the United Nations, second only to the secretary-general, António Guterres.

But unlike the conference in 2014, this conversation focused heavily on the climate crisis. The original outcome document features the phrase “climate change” only once.

“It is thanks to Indigenous peoples, as guardians as 80 percent of the world’s biodiversity, that the sophisticated traditional knowledge and practices they employ, that we have seen gains in the conservation and sustainable use of our increasingly threatened biodiversity,” Francis said in his remarks to attendees. “We must harness the potential of Indigenous knowledge and innovations to mitigate the effects of climate change.”

Read the full article about false promises to Indigenous peoples by Anita Hofschneider at Grist.