Question: What do ultimate frisbee, stroopwafels, Pinocchio, DACA, the West Bank, the Catawba Nation, and SCOTUS have in common?
Answer: They all found their way into Peacebuilders Camp’s Right to a Nationality Day!
We began our discussion this morning by sharing what we had learned from the website https://native-land.ca/ about what people’s native land each of us occupy. Most of us live on Muscogee (Creek) land, with Catawba and Cherokee territory also represented. We talked about how indigenous issues relate to the right to a nationality: did you know that Native Americans weren’t granted U.S. citizenship until 1924, and did not gain voting rights in every state until 1962? And just this week, the Supreme Court wrestled with questions regarding both the right to a fair trial, which campers explored yesterday, and the right to a nationality when it ruled that a Muscogee man in Oklahoma should have been tried in a tribal court, not a state court, for a crime he committed on land granted to the tribe in 1866.
As another example of people for whom the right to a nationality is in limbo, we next considered case of Palestine. We were excited to welcome Miranda Knowles as our first speaker of the day. Miranda gave a great overview of the history that has led to the Palestinian people’s land shrinking and the denial of many of their rights. Then she described her own work as a founder of Ultimate Peace, a sports organization that helps Palestinian and Israeli youth build bridges of understanding through the game of ultimate frisbee. After explaining why ultimate is uniquely suited to teaching collaboration and conflict resolution, Miranda had campers at home reenact a critical play from a championship game. Campers then broke into pairs to discuss how to resolve the question of whether one of the players had been fouled, just like players on the field must do in this self-officiated sport.
Our second guest, Lorena Jofre, helped us to understand how young Dreamers in the U.S. struggle to claim their right to a nationality. She described how she came to the U.S. as a child with her parents, and after high school became aware of her undocumented status. Now a DACA recipient and the mother of a U.S. citizen daughter, she views herself as a U.S. American and is a part of this country in every way, except for having the proper paperwork. She encouraged campers to get involved in working for immigration reform through educating others and by helping pro-immigrant candidates get elected to office.
After these two inspiring speakers, we enjoyed a virtual version of Peacebuilders’ annual international potluck. In their peace kits, campers had a selection of snacks from other countries to sample, and some cooked international dishes of their own. Others told folk tales from other countries, including a pre-Disney version of Pinocchio from Italy!
As we move through the different rights in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, we’re discovering how interconnected they all are. In different parts of the world, whether or not a person’s right to a nationality is honored determines how they can or cannot exercise other rights, like the right to work, the right to security, the right to a fair trial, the right to education, or the right to dignity. Our campers are not only learning how to claim these rights for themselves, but also how to use their own talents and skills to uphold them for others.