Indigenous Peoples (GSP 4:1)

Indigenous Peoples (GSP 4:1)

ISSN: 1911-0359
E-ISSN: 1911-9933
This Journal is online at: GSP Online and Project MUSE
Price: $20.00
Description
Theme Issues
Indigenous Peoples Volume 4, Number 1 / April 2009

Indigenous peoples—those people who consider themselves, or are considered by others, to be Aboriginal, ‘‘First Nations,’’ native peoples, Fourth World peoples, or ‘‘original occupants’’ of specific places on the planet—have faced genocide, cultural destruction, and forced removal from their ancestral areas for thousands of years. Over the centuries, colonization—the expansion of populations into new areas and the exploitation of natural and human resources there—has led to significant declines in the populations of indigenous groups. As Patrick Brantlinger notes, ‘‘One of the main causes for these declines is not mysterious: violence, warfare, genocide.’’1 In its headlong rush toward ‘‘progress,’’ ‘‘civilized’’ society has inexorably gobbled up land and resources for its own benefit, not caring a whit about crushing, destroying, or wiping out anything in its path—be it flora, fauna, or people (particularly indigenous peoples).2 Instead of being stewards of the Earth, a large proportion of humanity has blithely and ignorantly become the destroyers of the Earth, seemingly with little or no thought of the ramifications, let alone the morality, of their actions. An estimated 350,000,000 to 600,000,000 indigenous people live in the world today. A significant number of governments, however, do not recognize peoples within their borders as indigenous. In Asia, for example, only one country, the Philippines, has officially adopted the term ‘‘indigenous peoples,’’ has a law aimed specifically at protecting the rights of indigenous peoples, and has a National Commission on Indigenous Peoples (NCIP). India recognizes some 645 ethnic groups as ‘‘Scheduled Tribes,’’ many of whom see themselves as indigenous.3 In Africa, most sub-Saharan countries, including Botswana and Zimbabwe, argue that all their citizens are indigenous. Governments sometimes refuse to recognize groups within their borders as indigenous because they do not want those groups to be able to appeal to international agencies such as the United Nations or the International Court of Justice for assistance. Governments also have significant concerns about the possibility that indigenous groups might seek self-determination, and, in fact, genocides of indigenous peoples are often directed at groups that are challenging the state for greater recognition of their rights or that are seeking autonomy.4 In numerous cases, indigenous peoples have actively resisted incursions by other peoples as well as assimilation and cultural modification efforts by outside agencies. Their cultural distinctiveness and their desire to maintain their lands, resources, and distinctive identities, combined with their lack of power relative to state systems, resulted in indigenous peoples’ being prime targets of genocide. It is apparent from history that those ‘‘in need’’ (actually, in want) of land, resources, and minerals will do whatever is necessary to obtain these goods, in spite of the social, economic, and environmental damage they may cause.5 Because many indigenous peoples live in areas containing substantial wealth in resources, and because some of them have been pushed farther and farther into the hinterland, their mistreatment and decimation often go unchecked. Were it not for certain organizations whose express purpose is the protection of indigenous peoples, and the efforts of indigenous peoples themselves, there is little doubt that most of the smaller indigenous...
(from Editors’ Introduction
by Robert K. Hitchcock and Samuel Totten)

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