Indigenous Peoples

It is also this roots that makes the term Indigenous Peoples, not just ambivalent, but highly paradoxical. Definition of Indigenous Peoples The term Indigenous Peoples has been a subject of much debate but mainstream understanding indicates that people who lived in an area before the conquerors arrive are indigenous. This understanding, however, is muddled with confusion. Indians, for example, were in Louisiana before the arrival of white Americans but ask any American and they would claim original ownership of the land. A further understanding would most likely present two concepts: 1) The First People pertains to the original settlers of a country or area. They are also often called ethnic group or aborigines. 2) Cultural Difference is also used as a major differentiating point between who is indigenous and who is not. Languages, religion or spiritual belief, and socio-economic structure define who is indigenous to the culture In a bid to have a universal understanding of indigenous peoples, a defition was developed by Jose Martinez Cobo in the Special Rapporteur on Discrimination against Indigenous Populations. This was, for a time, accepted internationally (Sanders 214): Indigenous populations are composed of the existing descendants of the peoples who inhabited the present territory of a country wholly or partially at the time when persons of a different culture or ethnic origin arrived there from other parts of the world, overcame them, by conquest, settlement or other means, reduced them to a non-dominant or colonial condition. who today live more in conformity with their particular social, economic and cultural customs and traditions than with the institutions of the country of which they now form part, under a state structure which incorporates mainly national, social and cultural characteristics of other segments of the population which are predominant. However, the definition resulted to many questions and challenged many political, cultural, and social beliefs. For one, the acceptance of the definition makes the identity of indigenous peoples dependent on the chronology of its social development. Next, classifying conquerors as people from other parts of the world effectively eliminates neighboring conquerors which may have been more prevalent before recorded history. The definition fundamentally assumed and solidified that the formation of identity, history and culture were dependent on when Europeans started colonizing different parts of the world. It was beyond simple. It was, in fact, unreasonable as it ignored the more organic formation of culture, history and identity that started hundreds, if not thousands of years before European colonizers. Essentially, the definition that was supposed to uphold the identity of a country was based on discrimination. So much, in fact, that even their definition had to be around the axis of the colonizers. Europeans had to arrive before the presence of culture is recognized. The definition may have been well-intentioned but the result only lead to further marginalization of people that should have never had to fight for their land. There is also the lack of framework on how culture, tradition and beliefs continue to persist even in the face of modernity and continuous strengthening of global hybrid community. What the definition did, though, is make provide a better and stronger mainstream understanding of the