CHAPTER 2: Indigenous Peoples’ Culture and Identity
For Indigenous Peoples, their Economic, Social and Cultural Rights are mutually
interdependent. Traditional social systems, means of subsistence and cultural
beliefs and practices are indivisible, forming an intricate web that maintains
Indigenous Peoples' cultural identity, social and physical health, and their very survival.
United Nations Commission on Human Rights
Fifty-seventh Session, March 19 - April 27, 2001
Oral intervention by the International Indian Treaty Council
Agenda Item 10: Economic, Social and Cultural Rights
The purpose of this chapter is to review issues relevant to articles 8, 12, 13, 15, 16, and 17 of the Draft Declaration on the
Rights of Indigenous Peoples and to discuss challenges, HRE, and actions on grassroots and international levels.
A. Introduction: Culture, Identity, and Collective Human Rights
As within any culture, there is not one homogeneous Indigenous culture or identity, as Indigenous
Peoples are large in number and widely diverse in culture. It is estimated there are 350 million
Indigenous Peoples in more than 70 countries worldwide. From the Saami in Greenland, the Maori in
Aoetearoa (New Zealand), the Ainu in Japan, to the Koi-san in South Africa, the Quechua in Peru and
the Tohono O’Odham in the United States, Indigenous Peoples, sometimes referred to as Indians,
continue to evolve as the rest of society and the earth does.
Throughout the world, Indigenous Peoples are urban and land-based; blue-eyed, brown-eyed, pale-
skinned and dark-skinned. Indigenous Peoples play drums or flutes, as well as those that play the
guitar in blues bands. The continued evolution of Indigenous Peoples takes place with the influences
of the colonized societies that surround them, yet Indigenous Peoples maintain strong traditional life
ways, as evident in their spiritual beliefs, music, education, language, food, and culture.
However, many overt acts of cultural genocide and ecocide have severely threatened the natural
course of many Indigenous Peoples’ evolution and survival. Still, Indigenous Peoples persist and
maintain traditional ways of passing on knowledge and culture to future generations.
This chapter will provide an overview of the definitions of Indigenous Peoples, Culture, and Identity.
It will illustrate the threats to cultural survival, as well as give positive examples of actions taken
within the human rights framework by local communities to protect and enhance Indigenous Peoples’
cultures and life ways.
Given the interconnectedness which is so much a basis of Indigenous worldview, some topics
presented in this chapter will be addressed to varying degrees in other chapters, though covered in a
different perspective. Development, for example, will be discussed in this chapter relating to its
significant impact on cultural survival. In other chapters, it will be mentioned as it relates to impact
on environment, on land, and covering positive means of Indigenous- led sustainable economic and
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As discussed in Chapter 1, this handbook has assigned specific Articles of the Draft Declaration to
each chapter to orientate the activist to the Draft Declaration by putting it into an applicable and
meaningful context. This chapter will look at the Draft Declaration as it relates broadly to Identity
(Article 8) , Culture (Article 12), Spiritual and Religious Tradition (Article 13), Education (Article 15),
Information and Media (Article 16) within the context of Indigenous Peoples’ cultures, identity and
collective human rights.
The Web: Identity Within a Culture of Connectedness
The “intricate web” that was addressed in the opening quote to this chapter expresses the
interdependent, interconnected nature that Indigenous Peoples globally possess in relating to the
world. This worldview helps explain a significant part of understanding or defining Indigenous
Peoples, their culture, and identities.
This Handbook will look at Identity as it relates to how individuals and groups define themselves
through characteristics and traits, and how they are defined by others. Culture will be used as it
relates to peoples, group dynamics, and social structures like traditional knowledge, food, language,
As explained in Chapter 1, human rights originated on the principle that all humans, by virtue of being
human, are entitled to certain inalienable rights. These rights were expressed in the Universal
Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR). The denial of full enjoyment of these rights, such as through
experiencing discrimination or homelessness, affects ones sense of dignity.
For Indigenous Peoples, self and identity are intricately tied to the wellness of their Peoples and their
community. Furthermore, when defining their community, Indigenous worldview does not
discriminate or exclude the wellness of other life forms, such as plant and animal life and Mother
Earth as a whole. A custodial duty and identity as “caretakers of the land” from which they originated
exists. Setting this standard, of including this broader framework of human rights, is a priority for
Indigenous Peoples within International Human Rights field, as we will see in the section 2 of this
The unique relationship between Indigenous Peoples and land has a great effect on the wellness of
their culture as well as the wellness of the environment.
What’s in a Name?
To illustrate both how one’s identity as an indigenous person and a culture of Indigenous Peoples are
connected to land and environment, look below at these examples of names of Indigenous Peoples
throughout the world. Unique to Indigenous Peoples, many names of Peoples depict where they are in
relation to their environment.
The Two Knobb People [Alberto]
Yurok [Marlon for Northern Cali!!!]
Other Examples? Hawaii, Africa, Australia, Aou?
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Subsistence Cultures of Indigenous Peoples
Destruction of the land through development or disruptions of ecosystems have direct negative
impacts on Indigenous Peoples of that land and their human rights, right to survival and enjoyment of
those rights. Indigenous Peoples live off the land and are directly affected by its status or wellness.
This includes animal and plant life, the water and other natural resources found on that land. Their
human rights are intricately tied to the land from which they originate and occupy.
There are Salmon peoples, Caribou and buffalo peoples. The ways in which these elements fit into
their lives extends far beyond just their dinner plans. There are songs and ceremonies, food and
tradition, clothing and instruments that reflect their culture. The removal or endangerment of these
elements causes harmful effects to their wellness and survival as peoples. The nature of these
subsistence cultures and the threats they face through development is the impetus for Indigenous
Peoples asserting their rights to self determination and collective right to full participation in decision-
making regarding any development of these lands and resources. (read more on this in Chapter ?? on
Development) (? Not sure what this is trying to say, but whatever it is, it is wordy and confusing)
Individual and (not versus) Collective Rights
Each indigenous person has rights that are recognized in the UDHR. Collective Rights, which are also
recognized in the human rights framework, are not always recognized by Nation States when it comes
to Indigenous Peoples. These collective rights are further illustrated in the UN Draft Declaration on
the Rights of Indigenous Peoples. These collective rights are a cornerstone to Indigenous Peoples
fully realizing human rights. This concept is covered in depth in the following chapter on Self
Determination. However, understanding collective rights as it relates to the interconnectedness
apparent in indigenous culture will assist the activist in better understanding the pivotal argument
Indigenous Peoples engage in regarding having their rights recognized by Nation States. These
collective rights, such as self governance, would further the enjoyment of human rights of all
II. DEFINITION OF TERMS AND THEMES: Indigenous Peoples as defined through standard
Indigenous peoples believe fundamentally in natural law and a state of balance. We
believe that all societies and cultural practices must exist in accordance with natural
law in order to be sustainable. We also believe that cultural diversity is as essential as
biological diversity to maintaining sustainable societies.
Schumacher Lecture, USA.
This section provides a brief overview on the impacts of standard-setting at the International level on
Indigenous Peoples by offering working definitions and clear distinctions between Indigenous Peoples
participating in this work internationally and nationally. Standard setting, which is its own agenda
item (number 4) in the UN Working Group on Indigenous Populations (WGIP), can be understood as
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changing the way that people understand and work in policy. There are many standard setting
instruments that are produced as a result of this work.
Some important standard-setting bodies and instruments will be introduced in this section to orient the
reader to key developments throughout the past three decades relating to culture, identity, and
Indigenous Peoples in the human rights framework.
Through nearly thirty years of international standard setting, Indigenous Peoples have positively
influenced the human rights framework to more accurately reflect the inherent rights of Indigenous
Peoples. This standard setting, in conjunction with visible activism and education at the local, national
and international levels, has contributed significantly to Indigenous Peoples collectively affirming a
global identity as distinct Peoples.
Because of this standard-setting, visibility, and unity in decision-making that Indigenous Peoples have
held which drives these two successfully, progress has been made within the past thirty years which
makes it nearly impossible for Nation States and international bodies to ignore the ongoing debate for
the recognition of Indigenous Peoples’ inherent right to self determination and rights based on a
worldview that integrally incorporates land and environment as essential to survival. (Don’t know
what this is trying to say, but below is an attempt at figuring it out. Still wordy and unclear but easier
Standard setting has resulted in visibility and united decision-making by Indigenous Peoples. Progress
in the past thirty years makes it nearly impossible for Nation States and international bodies to ignore
the ongoing debate on the recognition of Indigenous Peoples’ inherent right to self-determination.
Additionally, it is hard to ignore Indigenous Peoples’ rights based on a worldview that integrally
incorporates land and environment as essential to survival.
Setting the Standard, Making the Grade “full and effective participation”
Indigenous people and their communities shall enjoy the full measure of human rights
and fundamental freedoms without hindrance or discrimination. Their ability to
participate fully in sustainable development practices on their lands has tended to be
limited as a result of factors of an economic, social and historical nature. In view of the
interrelationship between the natural environment and its sustainable development and the
cultural, social, economic and physical well-being of indigenous people, national and
international efforts to implement environmentally sound and sustainable development
should recognize, accommodate, promote and strengthen the role of indigenous people and
Agenda 21, Section 26.1
International bodies, such as the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization
(UNESCO), the UN Commission on Sustainable Development (CSD), the Commission on Human
Rights (CHR), the International Labor Organization (ILO), and even the World Bank, have come to
develop specific program areas pertaining to Indigenous Peoples. Equally important are the ways that
Indigenous Peoples have been incorporated into the breadth of their work and focus, either through
consultation, working groups with unique structures for Indigenous Peoples participation, or more
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recently with the establishment of the Permanent Forum for Indigenous Issues, which reports directly
to the UN Economic and Social Council (see UN Organizational Chart relating to Indigenous
Indigenous Peoples stress the importance of full and effective participation in processes in which they
participate, or where decisions are made that effect their land and resources. Simply being invited to
“consult” on a process or issue does not generally suffice because Nation States have used this
strategy to imply that decisions where made with approval of Indigenous Peoples. For Indigenous
Peoples, principles for participation are:
Full, and effective participation from consultation to implementation
Free, prior and informed consent
Full participation in decision making
Agenda 21, the plan of action that resulted from the UN World Summit on Environment and
Development in Rio de Janeiro in 1992, specifies the important role that Indigenous Peoples hold in
the implementation of sustainable development. At the follow up summit held ten years later in 2002,
the World Summit of Sustainable Development (WSSD) in Johannesburg, South Africa, Indigenous
Peoples were seen as one of nine Major Stake holders that participated in the process.
One of the most powerful and widely acknowledged tools created from the standard-setting efforts of
Indigenous Peoples is the United Nations Draft Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples.
In addition to the Draft Declaration and the principles of participation, standard-setting (?) has
produced working definitions for the term Indigenous Peoples.
Working Definitions of Indigenous Peoples
There are two definitions widely regarded as the basis of Indigenous identification within the
international human rights framework: the United Nations’ working definition and a definition
established by the International Labor Organization (ILO) in Convention 169. These definitions
provide a working vocabulary and common understanding of the circumstances specific to Indigenous
UNITED NATIONS DEFINITION:
“…those people having an historical continuity with pre-invasion and pre-
colonial societies, consider themselves distinct from other sectors of the
societies now prevailing in those territories or parts of them. They form at
present non-dominant sectors of society and are determined to preserve,
develop and transmit to future generations, their ancestral territories, and their
ethnic identity, as the basis of their continued existence as peoples in
accordance with their own cultural patterns, social institutions, and legal
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This United Nations working definition originated from a study done by Mr. Jose Martinez Cobo,
Special Rapporteur to the UN Sub-Commission on the Prevention of Discrimination and the
Protection of Minorities. The study, entitled the “Study of the Problem of Discrimination Against
Indigenous Populations”, is commonly referred to as the Martinez Cobo Study, or the Cobo Study.
In addition to this working definition of Indigenous Peoples, the Cobo Study also brought to light
many of the violations to human rights that Indigenous Peoples experience as a threat to their
survival. Indigenous Peoples have used the Cobo Study as a platform for seeking redress for these
The ILO definition of Indigenous Peoples is stated in Convention 169, the Indigenous and Tribal
Peoples Convention, 1989. ILO 169, as it is commonly referred, is a revision of an earlier ILO
Convention, the Indigenous and Tribal Populations Convention, 1957 (No. 107).
ILO 169 has defined tribal and indigenous peoples by stating to whom the convention
applies. Below is Article 1 of the Convention:
INTERNATIONAL LABOR ORGANIZATION DEFINITION:
1. This Convention applies to:
(a) tribal peoples in independent countries whose social, cultural and economic
conditions distinguish them from other sections of the national community, and
whose status is regulated wholly or partially by their own customs or traditions
or by special laws or regulations;
(b) peoples in independent countries who are regarded as indigenous on
account of their descent from the populations which inhabited the country, or a
geographical region to which the country belongs, at the time of conquest or
colonisation or the establishment of present state boundaries and who,
irrespective of their legal status, retain some or all of their own social,
economic, cultural and political institutions.
2. Self-identification as indigenous or tribal shall be regarded as a fundamental
criterion for determining the groups to which the provisions of this Convention
3. The use of the term peoples in this Convention shall not be construed as
having any implications as regards the rights which may attach to the term
under international law.
Though this Convention is very useful to Indigenous Peoples in many ways, the definition stated in
ILO 169 also states that the “use of the term ‘peoples’ shall not be construed as having any
implications regarding the rights which may attach to the term under international law”.
This type of qualifier is harmful to Indigenous Peoples and is often proposed by Nation States and
other International bodies as a way of undermining Indigenous Peoples’ right to self determination.
This is covered in Chapter 3 on Self Determination. However, this addresses a key point in defining
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Most International bodies see the UN and ILO definitions as the most applicable under existing
International Standards. Indigenous Peoples, however, advocate in solidarity that the only aspects of a
definition that they support fully are these two:
1) Self-identification, and
2) Acceptance by the group.
Self-identification is widely seen as the main variable for defining Indigenous Peoples. When using
other definitions, there is a risk of excluding some Indigenous Peoples, though their claim of inclusion
may be undeniable. Take for example, the Indigenous Peoples of the United States. The US does not
consider itself a colonial power. Therefore the definition relating to Indigenous Peoples as those who
have been subjected to colonization, would actually exclude the Native Americans of the US. The
other criteria relating to a land base would potentially exclude those living in Urban settings, or those
who have been displaced from their traditional lands. [other examples, India, Africa]
It is important to be aware of the existing UN and ILO definitions because they are currently the
means by which International agencies identify Indigenous Peoples. However, for the purposes of
achieving equal rights for Indigenous Peoples, it is important to be mindful of the shortcomings of
these definitions, and the choice of Indigenous Peoples to resist them.
Indigenous Peoples’ Right to Define Themselves
Externally, the term “Indigenous Peoples” has become a political distinction. Internally within many
communities, it has impacted their empowerment to act at a local level and assert their inherent,
collective human rights. The basic and complex similarities of Indigenous Peoples’ throughout the
world unify Indigenous Peoples in the movements and struggle to achieve recognition of, and
empowerment through, self-determination.
Because working definitions of Indigenous Peoples now exist within the international human rights
framework, many Indigenous Peoples have claimed their identity, and have used this as a means of
seeking and securing redress for the violations of human rights brought on by colonization that has
affected all Indigenous Peoples.
The act of stating or claiming status or identity as Indigenous Peoples is a right that is addressed in the
Draft Declaration. Article 8 of the Draft Declaration states:
Indigenous Peoples have the collective and individual right to maintain
and develop their distinct identities and characteristics, including the
right to identify themselves as indigenous and to be recognized as such;
The reality faced by many Indigenous Peoples does not reflect the full enjoyment of the right stated
here in Article 8. Indigenous Peoples, their cultures and existence, have been threatened in
devastating ways through the abuses and repercussions of colonization. Genocide, ethnocide, racism
and a prevalent ignorance by mainstream cultures of colonial powers, have contributed significantly to
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the destruction of many Indigenous Peoples’ land, cultures and way of life, causing serious threats to
In more than just a few isolated examples, some Nation States refuse to even recognize or
acknowledge the existence of Indigenous Peoples within their territories. And where they are
acknowledged, they are oftentimes ignored (both in policy and in national counts) therefore seeming
invisible and, in large part, extinct.
Examples: India, Africa (How are these countries examples?)
The U.S. Census grossly undercounts the population of Native Americans with each census count and,
in doing so, negatively impacts the funding that is administered based on those numbers.
Indigenous Peoples establish their own criteria for membership in their nations. This
(what?..membership?, right to decide it?) is a collective right that is recognized for all peoples. This
(this what? Membership?)may entail location, living on the lands and territories of Indigenous
Peoples, or for some Indigenous Peoples, it is a matter of bloodline, blood quantum, and heritage.
Within the United States, Native Nations are recognized as having the right to determine criteria for
membership. This in large part has also been shaped in vary significant ways by federal policies.
This topic will be covered more in the following section on challenges.
Why Indigenous Peoples are not Minorities
In some countries, Indigenous Peoples are considered to be an Ethnic minority, but
what distinguishes Indigenous Peoples from national minorities and other racially
oppressed groups are the fact that they are the original inhabitants of the land from
which they were displaced by an invading group. While Indigenous Peoples can be a
national minority in most countries, in some cases they constitute the majority of the
population, as in Bolivia and Guatemala.
World Council of Churches (WCC)
One prevalent misconception regarding Indigenous Peoples is the classification of Indigenous Peoples
as minorities. Within international law, there are many distinguishing factors which differentiate
Indigenous Peoples from the definition of minorities.
The distinctions which differentiate the two definitions are very significant, especially when
determining courses for redress and participation in decision making relating to land and resources.
Indigenous Peoples, being the original inhabitants of the land, in many cases exercise a government-
to- government status with Nation states, which is another significant distinction.
The government-to-government dynamic is acknowledged among many Nation States regarding
policy that effect Indigenous Peoples, especially in cases where treaty agreements were entered into
between colonial powers and Indigenous Peoples (such as in the US, Canada, Australia?, and New
Zealand (Aoetearoa) ).
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Where there is no such existing relationship, international law, with the participation of Indigenous
Peoples, is setting the evolving standards to help ensure that Nation-States are fulfilling their
obligations to maintain and recognize the rights of Indigenous Peoples within their borders. This
The following section looks at challenges that Indigenous Peoples face as they continue to participate
in these international processes. It will also look at the challenges of organizing at the grassroots level
to effectively impact the state of Indigenous Peoples globally in an effort to ensure the passage of
culture to future generations.
Our stories are stories of people with a great deal of tenacity and courage, people
who have been resisting for centuries. If we do not resist we will not survive.
In native culture we think ahead to the seventh generation; however, we know
that the ability of the seventh generation to sustain itself will be
dependent on our ability to resist now.
Schumacher Lecture, USA.
This section addresses the distinct impacts of colonization on Indigenous Peoples as it relates to their
survival and the continued cultivation of their peoples and cultures.
With colonization comes the attempt to assimilate the existing peoples into the culture of the
colonizing nation. This generally includes development, the exploitation of lands and natural
resources, and a multitude of tactics utilized to integrate Indigenous Peoples. These methods have
taken the form of religion, education, policy, and more. This section looks at the challenges that
Indigenous Peoples face in maintaining their cultures under the pressures of these and other specific
forms of colonization.
Article 12 of the Draft Declaration speaks to the rights of Indigenous Peoples to maintain and transfer
their culture and resources to future generations in the face of colonization. It speaks of culture as it
relates to objects, lands, resources, and more:
Indigenous peoples have the right to practice and revitalize their cultural
traditions and customs. This includes the right to maintain, protect and develop
the past, present and future manifestations of their cultures, such as
archaeological and historical sites, artifacts, designs, ceremonies, technologies
and visual and performing arts and literature, as well as the right to restitution of
cultural, intellectual, religious and spiritual property taken without their free and
informed consent or in violation of their laws, traditions
Cite for above?
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However, throughout the world similar forms of colonization have been implemented by various
nation states that have greatly threatened Indigenous Peoples’ ability to protect the “past, present and
future manifestations of their culture”, as stated in Article 12.
Attempts to assimilate Indigenous Peoples into the colonized societies surrounding them has resulted
in governmental programs targeting women, children, religious systems and beliefs, educational
systems, traditional lands and more.
Additionally, many of the belief systems, traditional knowledge and intellectual property of
Indigenous Peoples have been stolen or misappropriated by outside cultures. This misappropriation
results in misuse and, in many cases, degradation of spiritual objects, sacred lands, languages and
belief systems. The resulting harmful effects on Indigenous Peoples and their cultures inhibits their
ability to effectively transfer knowledge and life ways to future generations.
Intellectual property (covered in Chapter ?? on Development??) can mean the…as well as…
These are examples of devastating abuses in the areas of cultural exploitation which are not specific to
just one region:
Ancestral or sacred artifacts being housed in museums- including ancestral bones;
The patenting of DNA and traditional knowledge;
The appropriation of traditional designs for marketing or mass production without permission
or the denial of the profit made from such exploitation;
Some Examples: Cuauhtemoc Headdress (Mexico), Ishi’s Brain (US), Lucy, Koisan (So. Africa)
Religious Freedom, Religion and Spirituality as Tied to Land and Sacred Sights
Religion and spirituality of Indigenous Peoples, like identity and culture, is also very integrally related
to land. Many sacred sites and burial sites have been taken, threatened, or obliterated by development
from external forces. Development can take place in a way that does not threaten the well being of the
original inhabitants of those land areas. However, in instances where it is more cost effective to seize
and move forward (as is often the case), Indigenous Peoples are consistently not considered.
Article 13 addresses the need for protection of these sites and the rights of Indigenous Peoples to these
lands, as well as the repatriation (giving back) of human remains when they have been removed for
Article 13: Indigenous peoples have the right to manifest, practice, develop
and teach their spiritual and religious traditions, customs and ceremonies;
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the right to maintain, protect, and have access in privacy to their religious
and cultural sites; the right to use and control of ceremonial objects; and the
right to repatriation of human remains.
States shall take effective measures, in conjunction with the indigenous
peoples concerned, to ensure that indigenous sacred places, including burial
sites, be preserved, respected and protected;
Indigenous remains and sacred objects are often removed and put in museums and research
laboratories to be studied or “preserved”. This has been done without the consent of Indigenous
Peoples in many instances.
Other times, sacred areas, such as the Black hills are acquired for development (in this case for gold).
In the case of the Devils Tower, the land has been used as a public park space for mountain climbers.
Other sacred areas become parking lots, such as with the Ohlone Shellmounds in Emeryville,
[Site different studies as appropriate, without extending into land chapt]
Assimilation, Termination and Relocation
A great general has said that the only good Indian is a dead one, and that high sanction
of his destruction has been an enormous factor in promoting Indian massacres. In a
sense, I agree with the sentiment, but only in this: that all the Indian there is in the race
should be dead. Kill the Indian in him, and save the man.
Capt. Richard C. Pratt
Founder, Carlisle Indian School
From a paper read at an 1892 convention
If the Great Spirit had desired me to be a white man he would have made me so in
the first place.
Assimilation is another harmful tactic used to absorb cultures into the mainstream, and this too comes
in many forms. Relocation is discussed in Chapter ?? on Land as it relates to Article 10 of the Draft
Declaration. Relocation’s effect on indigenous culture and identity is drastic. Sometimes relocation is
voluntary; however, generally it is not. In the US there was a political era referred to as Termination
and Relocation (is this the end of the sentence?)
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Commonly, educational systems do not include accurate and thorough history pertaining to
Indigenous Peoples, nor are they responsible to do so. Oftentimes, what is found instead is the
exclusion of accurate history that depicts:
1) the culture of the Indigenous Peoples globally and the original inhabitants of lands within the
borders of their own nation states, and
2) the accurate portrayal of the history of colonizing; the methodologies which were responsible for
countless massacres; and the destruction of many preexisting cultures and peoples.
Article 15 of the Draft Declaration states,
Article 15: Indigenous children have the right to all levels and forms of
education of the State. All Indigenous Peoples also have this right and the
right to establish and control their educational systems and institutions
providing education in their own languages, in a manner appropriate to
their cultural methods of teaching and learning.
Indigenous children living outside their communities have the right to be
provided access to education in their own culture and language.
Also, the use of racial mascots throughout schools in the US is another form of racism in educational
systems that harmfully effects and infringes upon the right to quality education (infringes how?) in a
safe environment free from harm (discussed below relating to Articles 16 and 17).
Assimilation, Termination and Relocation [US, Mexico]
A. Ex. the Indigenous Peoples of Mindanao, collectively called the Lumads (born of the earth)
B. California Gold Rush, So. African Gold Rush, Black Hills
C. Mexico, Other
1) Mixed blood, Role numbers
3) Urban and traditional land based
Biodiversity (should we leave this for another chapter?)
Cultural Appropriation, Mascots and Stereotypes
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Article 16: Indigenous peoples have the right to have the dignity and
diversity of their cultures, traditions, histories and aspirations appropriately
reflected in all forms of education and public information.
States shall take effective measures, in consultation with the indigenous
peoples concerned, to eliminate all prejudice and discrimination and to
promote tolerance, understanding and good relations among indigenous
peoples and all segments of society;
One way in which Indigenous Peoples are stripped of their dignity is with the use of mascots in
Nations such as the United States. The loosely made characterization of Native American Indians
works to perpetuate the false beliefs and stereotypes that racism and misrepresentation and (end of
sentence?) (Move this to supra discussion on mascots or move that paragraph here)
Article 17: Indigenous people have the right to establish their own
languages. They also have the right to equal access to all forms of non-
States shall take effective measures to ensure that State-owned media duly
reflect indigenous cultural diversity;
Globalization/Development and Ecotourism
2) Two indigenous communities in Bolivia, Coroma and Kila Kila, are examples of the
struggle to maintain cultural diversity and heritage.
3) Mexico, Indigenous Manifesto [May 1, 2001]
4) UNESCO Cultural Unit [Nov 2, 2001 Press Release]
Intro will discuss 1 2) collective ideology inclusive of individual rights 3) racism and internalized
oppression [mascots] 4) poverty and development, economic development, 5) cultural appropriation and
stereotyping, 6) identity based on “looking” Indigenous (Saami),
B. EXAMPLES OF ACTIVISM
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Documents in this section acknowledge the Culture and Identity of Indigenous Peoples as
being intrinsically linked to Land, Environment, Language, Etc. and the Human rights
violations that threaten these truths and…. and supports the movement of inclusion of
Indigenous Peoples in the decision making processes for
3. Declaration of Indigenous Peoples, The Fourth Russell Tribunal (1980)
“We believe that the charges brought before the Tribunal provide the most eloquent
testimony that Nation-States have national policies of ethnocide and genocide of
Indigenous Peoples and that such policies are unacceptable to the conscience of humanity.
We condemn genocide and ethnocide in all its forms.”
4. and decision 1994/105 of the Commission on Human Rights Final report of the Special
Rapporteur , Mrs. Erica-Irene Daes, in conformity with Subcommission resolution
1993/44 and decision 1994/105 of the Commission on Human Rights
In a formatted text box consistent with other chapters
Indigenous Peoples around the world say: "We are deeply conscious of our relationship with our
Mother Earth, and the sacredness of our lands and territories. We affirm that our identity, culture,
languages, philosophy of life, and our spirituality are linked to a balanced relationship with all of
creation. This relationship has ensured our continued existence in spite of oppression, exploitation
and attempted assimilation by dominant socio-economic-politico-cultural and religious entities."
Wherever Indigenous People are - Aotearoa-New Zealand, India, Australia, Brazil, Africa, Canada
or the Arctic territories - one unifying factor and distinguishing characteristic of Indigenous
Peoples is their relationship with the land. No matter where they live or what their political or
social culture beliefs may be, they all view land, as the basis of their very survival. It is this world
view, more than anything else that distinguishes them from being considered a minority and from
other racially oppressed people. Today the overwhelming majority of these populations are
landless. Some of them live in desperate poverty with little or no access to services offered by the
states in which they live. They are the people who have the legitimate right to the land now in the
procession of the dominant group. From the World Council on Churches, Land as the
A. STRATEGIC PLANNING IN THE COMMUNITY
Language revitalization Programs (Aotearoa, Hawaii, Mohawk, Lakota)
The Alternatives: Co-Management, Autonomy, and Group Rights
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B. SUGGESTED ACTIONS:
Internalized Oppression, and Decolonization
o Ted Moses, grand chief of the Cree, was co-chairman of a consultative conference in
August (YEAR ?)at the United Nations headquarters to prepare for a Permanent Forum
on Indigenous Issues. This body is set to become a part of the U.N. structure in the next
few years, along with a Special Rapporteur for Indigenous peoples’ issues. Activists
hope they will give Native concerns a much higher international profile.
“When your community is invisible, the rest of the world does not know of your issues,
needs and/or aspirations,” Thomas said in a statement presented to the World Racism
“The consequence is colonial acts of oppression and repression go unredressed.
“The 21st century must usher in a new era, one where the decolonization of Indigenous
Peoples and their homelands by colonial governments becomes a reality.
o Decolonization is a process of centering Indigenous experience in historical and
contemporary discourse, firstly by re-creating and re-claiming alternative Indigenous
histories and knowledge, and secondly, by developing Indigenous projects that
contribute to the multi-layered processes of self-determination (Turning Point)
o Accept that the cultural identity of indigenous peoples is bound up with ties to the land
and sea. By doing that, and explaining your understanding to others, you can contribute
a lot to reconciliation.
Sacred Hoop www.whitebison.org
C. Global Actions
On 2nd November 2001 the General Conference of the United Nations Educational, Scientific
& Cultural Organisation (UNESCO) adopted a major new international ethical standard for
cultural development and cultural relations: the Universal Declaration on Cultural Diversity. It
is hoped that this will eventually acquire as much recognition and moral force as the 1948
Universal Declaration of Human Rights. Accompanied by an Action Plan, the new Universal
Declaration insists, among other things, that cultural diversity is a key element in developing
the range of options open to everyone: "it is one of the roots of development, understood not
simply in terms of economic growth, but also as a means to achieve a more satisfactory
intellectual, emotional, moral and spiritual existence".
(UNESCO Press Release, which also includes the final text of the Universal
Declaration as formally adopted.)
And Native Americans
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1.The Sonoma County Free Press has a section about cultural
2."Some Readings on Cultural Appropriations, Native America, and the New
Age", by Diane Bell, at
http://www.hanksville.org/sand/intellect/NAbibBell.html (if inaccessible,
try Google's cache)
3."Wanting to be Indian: When Spiritual Teaching Turns Into Cultural
Theft", by Myke Johnson, at http://www.dickshovel.com/respect.html
Teaching Indigenous Languages, www.jan.ucc.nau.edu/~jar/TIL.html
a. The Center For World Indigenous Studies www.cwis.org
C. Books, Articles and Documents
a. Peace, Power and Righteousness: an indigenous manifesto, Taiaiake Alfred
The Cultural Dimensions of Environmental Decision-Making Dr Richard A. Griggs,
International Youth Parliament, Culture and Identity Working Group Report
Angelina Weenie, Learn in Beauty
Rainforestweb.org World Rainforest Information Portal
Official Report of the Nineteenth Annual Conference of Charities and Correction (1892), 46–59.
Reprinted in Richard H. Pratt, “The Advantages of Mingling Indians with Whites,” Americanizing the
American Indians: Writings by the “Friends of the Indian” 1880–1900 (Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard
University Press, 1973), 260–271. http://historymatters.gmu.edu/d/4929/
Native American Based Education
Science, Math Texts and Activity Supplements
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The Cradleboard Teaching Project
Genocide of the Americas]
Of the indigenous Uyghur women In Eastern Turkistan
WCAR Statement of Indigenous Women of the Americas
Stolen Wombs article
UNESCO Press Release on the Universal Declaration on Cultural Diversity
Madam Dias Studies on…..
Exercise 1: What Does an Indigenous Person look like?
Sami from Europe: Finland, Greenland, Norway, and Denmark
Aboriginal Australians, “Black fellas”
Russia, Africa, North America, pacific, etc.
Exercise 2: Reflection-- Do you… fish for your daily meal? Hunt the caribou that you eat, then use the
rest of the animal for blankets, sinew, etc? can you imagine the effects if this were the case, and these
sources where polluted or kept from your control? What would they be, or what are they?
References/ suggested reading
Study of the problem of discrimination against indigenous populations’, UN Sub-Commission on the
Prevention of Discrimination and the Protection of Minorities, by Special Rapporteur, Mr Martinez Cobo,
UN Doc. E/CN.4/Sub.2/1986/7 (1986).
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Leaflet no. 1 Indigenous Peoples and the United Nations System: An overview
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Articles from the Draft Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples:
Indigenous peoples have the collective and individual right to maintain and develop their distinct
identities and characteristics, including the right to identify themselves as indigenous and to be
recognized as such;
Indigenous peoples have the right to practice and revitalize their cultural traditions and customs.
This includes the right to maintain, protect and develop the past, present and future manifestations
of their cultures, such as archaeological and historical sites, artifacts, designs, ceremonies,
technologies and visual and performing arts and literature, as well as the right to restitution of
cultural, intellectual, religious and spiritual property taken without their free and informed consent
or in violation of their laws, traditions and customs;
Indigenous peoples have the right to manifest, practice, develop and teach their spiritual and
religious traditions, customs and ceremonies; the right to maintain, protect, and have access in
privacy to their religious and cultural sites; the right to use and control of ceremonial objects; and
the right to repatriation of human remains.
States shall take effective measures, in conjunction with the indigenous peoples concerned, to
ensure that indigenous sacred places, including burial sites, be preserved, respected and protected;
Indigenous children have the right to all levels and forms of education of the State. All
indigenous peoples also have this right and the right to establish and control their
educational systems and institutions providing education in their own languages, in a
manner appropriate to their cultural methods of teaching and learning.
Indigenous children living outside their communities have the right to be provided access to
education in their own culture and language.
Indigenous peoples have the right to have the dignity and diversity of their cultures, traditions,
histories and aspirations appropriately reflected in all forms of education and public information.
States shall take effective measures, in consultation with the indigenous peoples concerned, to
eliminate all prejudice and discrimination and to promote tolerance, understanding and good
relations among indigenous peoples and all segments of society;
Indigenous people have the right to establish their own languages. They also have the right to equal
access to all forms of non-indigenous media.
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States shall take effective measures to ensure that State-owned media duly reflect indigenous
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