My name is Ruslan Garipov. I am PhD in Law (International Law) and Chair of the Department of State and Law Disciplines of the Tatar State Humanitarian and Pedagogical University (Kazan, Russia). From March to September, 2007 I was a Fulbright-Kennan Scholar at Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars, Washington, D.C., United States of America.
This six months that I spent in America was an unforgettable time for me. During this period I did a lot and I hope that my activity will flow out into a huge work dedicated to Native Americans Rights Protection. I collected a lot of materials in libraries and I met a lot of interesting people, many of them became my best friends. I think that Kennan Institute and the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars were the best places for my research. And I have a wish to come back there again.
I also participated in many different events outside the WWICS. I attended a lot of events organized by the National Museum of American Indians in Washington, D.C. (cultural events, conferences, discussions and so on). I found them extremely interesting and I met a lot of specialists in the field of the Native Americans Rights Protection there. I also visited different organizations, such as: Native American Rights Fund; Cherokee Nation Washington Office; Navajo Nation Washington Office.
I tried to travel a lot inside the US, so I visited some places outside Washington, D.C.: the McNickle Center of the Newberry library and American Indian Center in Chicago. I visited the United Nations Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues in New York City, where I spent one week as an observer. More than 1,000 participants from the world were at the Sixth Session of the Forum. There were people from different governments, from other United Nations bodies, some academic representatives and a lot of non-governmental organizations with observer status. The opening of the Forum was held by the Onondaga chief. He was invited because the land where the United Nations is located, was his tribe’s land before colonization. He welcomed the participants of the Forum in his native language and wished them good luck.
I visited Navajo and Hopi reservations in the south-west. There I spent several days among the Navajo in Arizona and was personally introduced to their style of life. It was one of the unforgettable impressions during my stay in America. I visited the capital of the reservation, Window Rock, where I met with Navajo Nation officials. I visited several medicine men, participated in sacred ceremonies, and I slept in a Hogan (Navajo National House) at Sheep camp near Kayenta. All of these activities were good opportunities to know more about Navajo Nation culture, traditions, and their legal and political systems.
I also attended an “Oral Arguments of the Navajo Nation Supreme Court” which was held at American University Washington College of Law. I met with practicing lawyers in the field of the Federal Indian Law. I visited the National Powwow in Washington, DC. I tried to travel a lot in order to participate in different events and to know more about beautiful culture and traditions of Native people in America. All these journeys and all the attended events were very interesting and helpful to me.
Originally my topic was, “The federal structure of the United States of America in its comparison with that of Russia”. I was especially interested in the legal status of the American Indian territories. When I arrived in the United States and saw such an opportunity for my research I decided to broaden my topic and to conduct research about Native American Rights Protection. In which I would also include questions about the federal structure of the United States and the legal status of the American Indian reservations. I decided to investigate the international and domestic protection of the indigenous peoples in the United States. I decided to explore the existing system of reservations and tribal self-government in the United States and its role in the preservation of the traditions, language and culture of Native Americans.
There are more than 370 million indigenous people in some 70 countries worldwide. Native Americans are one of the most important parts of the indigenous world. Their culture is unique and is not similar to any other. I think that Native American culture is one of the biggest treasures of the United States and Native Americans themselves hold a special place in the American mosaic. I decided to write about Native Americans with the aim to raise awareness of this unique culture in the scholarly community. In the future I also would like to write a book in order to inform people in Russia about Native Americans and to introduce our people to the system of Indigenous Peoples’ Rights in the United States.
In conclusion I would like to say that it was just excellent time to stay in America. I visited New York City, Chicago, Philadelphia, Annapolis, Baltimore, Williamsburg, Jamestown, Mount Vernon, Monticello, St. Mary, Phoenix, Grand Canyon, Canyon de Shelly, Monument Valley, Gallup, For Corners and a lot of other places. So, I had been to following parts of the USA: Arizona, Utah, New Mexico, Colorado, Illinois, New York, Pennsylvania, Virginia, Maryland and District of Columbia. It is very diverse and wonderful country. I received so many good impressions and I get a lot of new good friends there. I really fall in love to this land and to this people. I visited many beautiful places and I met there only good people. I came back home with a big wish to come back again sometime and to explore more about this beautiful country! Thanks to Fulbright Program!