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What is Indigenous?


Turn of the century Sapmi

The indigenous way of life:
HARMONY WITH NATURE
Western "progress":
DOMINATION OF NATURE
Everything has spiritual value.
The spiritual and the physical are united.
Everything has monetary value.
The spiritual and the physical are separated.
The laws of Nature are emphasized.
Nature reflects the Creator.
The laws of man are emphasized.
The Creator is in Man's image.
Feelings are important.
Feelings are rationalized.
Society is based on cultural pluralism and the extended family.
Roots are remembered.
Society is based on the melting pot and the nuclear family.
Roots are forgotten.
Cosmology is spatial and timeless.
 
Cosmology is lineal and time-oriented.
Education is experiential. Teachings are from Nature and family elders.
 
Education is from the mass media and salaried professionals.
Epistemology is based on cultural renewal.  
Epistemology is based on personal atonement.
Technology serves the people and Nature.
 
The people and Nature serve technology.
Material wealth is shared and given away.
 
Material wealth is hoarded and consumed.
Behavior is cooperative.
 
Behavior is competitive.
Justice and equality are achieved by cultural forms.
 
Justice and equality are achieved by legislation.
Society is egalitarian. Women and men have equal freedom and power.
 
Society is patriarchal.
Women must emulate men.
Leaders put the People above themselves.
 
Leaders put themselves above the people.
The balance of Nature is maintained.
 
The balance of Nature is destroyed.

What Do You Mean, Indigenous?

The official definitions by the World Council of Indigenous Peoples is:
"1. the original inhabitants of an area; 2. the descendants of the original inhabitants of an area who are colonized, or 3. those who live in an Indigenous way."

The Sami Council adds: "those whose grandparents spoke the Sami language, or who live in a Sami way and are recognized as being Sami by the Sami society." Or, as some say, "It's a way of life we have!"

(Adapted from BÁIKI
Issue #18, Fall 1998)

   

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