In 2007, following decades of advocacy by indigenous peoples, the United Nations General Assembly adopted the Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (Declaration).

A photo of a group of people standing and smiling
Project staff and partners: Sue Noe,
Mauda Moran, Walter Echo-Hawk,
Greg Bigler, Kim Gottschalk,
John Echohawk, Kristen Carpenter,
Danielle Lazore-Thompson

Today’s challenge is to realize the promises of the Declaration in the lives of indigenous peoples. In 2018, the University of Colorado Law School (Colorado Law) and the Native American Rights Fund (NARF) committed to working on this challenge in the context of American Indian, Alaska Native, and Native Hawaiian rights. Together they launched the joint “Project to Implement the U.N. Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples in the U.S.” by co-sponsoring a Conference at the University of Colorado Law School in Boulder, Colorado, on March 15–16, 2019. Over two days, attorneys, scholars, tribal leaders, activists, students, and others discussed challenges in federal Indian law and the potential role of the Declaration in advocacy efforts. Collectively, this cohort considered advocacy opportunities in language rights, business and human rights, religious freedoms, cultural rights, Indian child welfare, climate change and environmental policy, and technology, media and communications.

The Project has multiple aims, including to foster awareness of the Declaration in Indian Country and to work closely with indigenous leaders on implementation efforts. The Project partners with non-governmental organizations, universities, and organizations in furtherance of indigenous peoples’ human rights, while advancing education about the Declaration. It also fosters relationships among attorneys, tribal members, and others interested in the broader effort. While this is primarily a legal advocacy project, its participants include both lawyers and nonlawyers, some of whom are tribal leaders, traditional cultural practitioners, and members of tribal communities. Indigenous peoples’ lifeways, values, and knowledge always guide this Project.


Implementation Project Resources

The UN Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues held its Twenty-First Session (UNPFII21), April 25 – May 6, 2022, with the theme “Indigenous peoples, business, autonomy and the human rights principles of due diligence including free, prior and informed consent.” The Project held several online events, about the Forum, implementing the Declaration in the United States, and the International Decade of Indigenous Languages.


In 2020, the Implementation Project published its Tribal Implementation Toolkit, in partnership with UCLA School of Law. This Toolkit is intended to assist tribal leaders, lawyers, and advocates in implementing the UN-Declaration.

In addition to the digital version, which features artwork by Joni Sarah White, we also offer a text-only version more suitable for screen readers or other accessibility aids. 


The Project’s first publication was the 2019 Conference Report on Implementing the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, available in the CU Law Review.

The report grew out of the March 2019 conference, “Call to Action in Indian Country,” where the Implementation Project was launched by CU-Law and NARF. The conference featured workshops on cultural rights, environmental advocacy, business and entrepreneurship, Indian child welfare, technology and communications, Indigenous languages, and how to address Indian Law changes in the United States using an international human rights framework. (Watch the recorded conference).


Project News & Upcoming Events

Colorado Law Hosts UNPF Meeting on Indigenous Peoples in a Greening Economy

Colorado Law Hosts UNPF Meeting on Indigenous Peoples in a Greening Economy

Manuel Heart, Chairman of the Ute Mountain Ute Tribe, provides a welcome and blessing for participants.Photo credit: University of Colorado ...
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Join Us At NCAI's 80th Annual Convention and Marketplace For Our Breakout Sessions This November

Join Us At NCAI’s 80th Annual Convention and Marketplace For Our Breakout Sessions This November

We hope you can join us in New Orleans this month for our two sessions at the National Congress of ...
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Join us Wednesday, July 19, at EMRIP for our Side Event "Sacred Sites and Human Rights"

Join us Wednesday, July 19, at EMRIP for our Side Event “Sacred Sites and Human Rights”

The Implementation Project is heading to Geneva, Switzerland, for the annual session of the United Nations Expert Mechanism on the ...
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UN Permanent Forum Side Event for “Advancing the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples”

UN Permanent Forum Side Event for “Advancing the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples”

On Monday, April 24th The Implementation Project held our UN Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues Side Event titled “Advancing the UN Declaration on ...
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The Implementation Project’s Annual Preparation Event in Advance of the UN Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues

The Implementation Project’s Annual Preparation Event in Advance of the UN Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues

On April 11th, The Implementation Project hosted our annual preparation event focused on preparing for the UN Permanent Forum on ...
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UN Permanent Forum 2023 Registration – March 13th and April 4th Deadline

UN Permanent Forum 2023 Registration – March 13th and April 4th Deadline

Registration for this year’s session of the UN Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues is now open! ...
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UN Permanent Forum  First Time Attendees – March 13 Deadline

UN Permanent Forum  First Time Attendees – March 13 Deadline

Tribal Leaders, Lawyers, Professors, and Colleagues, Are you or your organization planning to attend this year’s session of the UN Permanent ...
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Photos of panel presenters

Preparing for Upcoming Indigenous Knowledge Consultations

In fall of 2022, as an adjunct event to the National Congress of American Indians 79th Annual Convention, The Implementation ...
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New to the Team: Mason Estes

New to the Team: Mason Estes

Mason Estes has joined the NARF team as a Project Coordinator for The Implementation Project, a joint initiative of the ...
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