All around the world, the rights of indigenous people are being trampled on. They lose their homes to mining corporations. Unjustified attacks kill off so many in the indigenous family. And, little by little, their unique culture is beginning to disappear.
“These worlds don’t just tell us what to think and feel and do,” says Hazel Rose Markus, PhD, Davis-Brack Professor in the Behavioral Sciences at Stanford University and a pioneer in the field of cultural psychology, “they structure how we think, feel and behave. Our social worlds are organized by some culture-specific meanings and practices, and very often these are so much a part of everyday life that they are invisible to us.”
Indigenous people are the original settlers of a specific region. They have lived in that area long before colonizers and other foreigners settled. Since they live isolated from the rest of society, they’ve developed their own unique culture, which includes a distinct set of customs, traditions, and beliefs.
Issues Concerning Indigenous People
Indigenous groups all over the world face various problems. These problems threaten their safety and the preservation of their culture. Here are some issues that indigenous people from around the world have to face:
In America during the year 1924, the administration passed the Indian Citizenship Act. This law granted the American Indians full citizenship. But even with this policy, many American Indians are unable to vote. Multiple factors prevent them from doing so. One of these is the purging of five hundred indigenous voters from the system because their registered addresses were “too obscure.”
When societies bar indigenous people from rights such as voting, that is discrimination. The same goes when indigenous people are not allowed to become citizens, disallowed from entering certain establishments, or refused certain services that should be accessible by all.
Eviction From Their Native Lands And Exploitation Of Natural Resources
Usually, big businesses drive the indigenous people out of their lands. They then exploit the area by taking all the natural resources. They do this through mining and logging, which leave a barren ground that the indigenous people can no longer use, abandoning them with no home and no resources.
Lack Of Political Representation And Laws That Protect Indigenous People
In 2017, the indigenous groups of Indonesia staged a protest. More than five thousand people met to urge the administration to protect their land rights.
Only a few laws call for the protection of indigenous people and their lands, which makes it difficult for them to thrive as they always live in fear of powerful entities taking their property. To solve this, there should be representation from indigenous communities in the government. Unfortunately, rarely are indigenous people consulted during legislation.
In the year 2017, the president of the Philippines threatened to bomb the schools of a local indigenous group. He claimed that the insurgents were teaching the children of that indigenous tribe to rebel against the government.
The violence that harms the indigenous people may stem from different causes. Ignorance of those with power is only one of them. “For instance, research suggests that many have automatically associated Native Peoples with thoughts such as “savage,” “primitive,” “dirty,” and “lazy” – inferiorizing concepts that may lead to discriminatory or unjust behaviors. These automatic negative attitudes toward Native Peoples may contribute to the many issues they face with regard to the justice system,” explains E.J.R. David, PhD, associate professor of Psychology at the University of Alaska Anchorage. Indigenous groups are often faced with brutality when entities evict them from their lands or exploit their resources.
These only scratch the surface of the predicaments that indigenous people have to deal with every day. There is also the issue of poverty within indigenous communities, as well as the lack of healthcare options.
These issues plague the indigenous communities of the world. And they will persist until we act.
Reasons To Protect Indigenous People And Preserve Their Culture
Why should we attempt to fix these issues? Why is it vital to protect the existence of these indigenous peoples? Why should the majority allow them to thrive in their respective regions? The following are the reasons why we must protect indigenous people and their culture:
Indigenous people help protect the environment. They only make use of about a quarter of the world’s surface. But even with the small portion they occupy, they’re able to protect 80% of the world’s biodiversity. Indigenous people actively help in fighting climate change by caring for nature.
The cultures of indigenous groups are rich. The world is multicultural. Indigenous cultures are what contribute to that the most. We must remember that each culture in one’s country adds to the richness of the national identity. People should learn to cherish such diversity. “You learn about yourself too, by meeting people from other cultural backgrounds,” intercultural consultant Marianna Pogosyan, PhD, wrote. “It provides you with different perspectives and enhances creativity.”
We must also preserve the knowledge that one can gain from different cultures. John Hooker, in his book Working Across Cultures, says, “Every view of the world that becomes extinct, every culture that disappears, diminishes a possibility of life.”
They are people. Indigenous people are humans, like the rest of us. As such, they deserve respect. They deserve a land where they can flourish. And, most importantly, they deserve to live their lives.
Indigenous people help us combat climate change. They also add to the richness of the world’s cultures. However, apart from these, we must always remember that they are people. That, alone, is an adequate reason for us to continue to strive from their protection and preservation.