Tuesday, August 09, 2005

For the Indigenous people

August 9th is being celebrated as the International Day of the World's Indigenous People.

There are about 300 million indigenous men, women and children worldwide. They define the term diversity. More than 5,000 different groups of indigenous people live in more than 70 countries. For a millennia they have lived a rich life, in peace, and in harmony with nature. Exemplifying true sustainable living. Ironically, today they find themselves catalogued as extremely poor.

Couple of months ago, I visited the beautiful island of Kauai. I remember the boat ride along the Wailua river. The tour guide was native Hawaiian. He asked us if we had a chance to taste traditional Hawaiian soul food. It is usually made of taro and requires slow and patient cooking. I wanted to taste it, but couldn't find a place that served it. Every one was silent. The tour guide smiled and said, "We ourselves haven't eaten it in a long time. McDonalds is much easier"

That pretty much summarizes the plight of indigenous people today. All the diversity and rich culture is getting systemically lost under Walmartization, McDonaldization and other homogenizing trends of globalization.

One of the great things about free market economy is the use of law to do unlawful things. The atrocities against Native America is a classic example. Jennifer of whatbox has been writing an emotional series on Native America. Atrocities committed against them in the name of gold, oil,coal, gas and religion, their lives, their hardships, their struggle. It has been eye opening.

Andaman and Nicobar Islands in India is yet another tragic story. Indian government's atrociously stupid policy of assimilation has reduced a 10,000 strong aborginal population (a century ago) to a mere 900.

It will take more than a day of celebration to stop and undo the injustice. It is a start nevertheless. UN's theme for today is "The Cause of Indigenous People is Ours".

There is a growing realization that the cause of Indigenous People is linked to our common global future and health. They offer the best example of sustainable development. Let us respect that, let us understand that, let us imbibe that.

Link: UN Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues

Quote of the day
"The Cause of Indigenous People is Ours"


Chris said...

Oh, how right you are! I also went to Kauai last year with my wife. We went on a nature ride (horseback), and the guide was explaining how many of the plants around us were introduced, not native to the island. One, which is a thorny and aggressive ground cover, was reportedly brought by missionaries who wanted to "civilize" the bare footed "savages" by forcing them to wear shoes to protect their feet! I've tried to verify this story elsewhere... but haven't found much written on the subject of casting the missionaries' role in Kauai in anything but a "touristy" positive light (history-lite, internet style). If you know of any similar story, I'd like to know.

Because, to this day, you can see the stuff everywhere, along with chickens, and other non-native animals and plants.

Despite all the tampering, Kauai is one of the most beautiful places I've been to on Earth, but not to any credit of the non-indigenous folks who have tried to change it (and to a large extent have changed it irreversibly).

Great post, OMR!

One More Reason said...

Thanks Chris. I did hear stories about forced conversions. The story of the thorny bushes is new to me. I will try and find some more information

The stories of forced conversions seems to be everywhere. The portuguese were brutal along the coastal parts of India.

It is tragic to see that the peaceful teachings of Jesus ended up creating such violent patterns of behavior.

I personally feel the Church should stop conversions altogether. Indeginous people have lived harmoniously on this planet for years. We should just let them be.

Jennifer said...

WOW. What a great post. I did not know about the tragedies in India. Thanks for the information! Hearing about the thorns makes me so mad I could just....

I agree, the celebration of culture is an important step in reclaiming it. We can only hope this is the beginning of a turnaround.