The Value Of Indigenous People And Their Culture

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.

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:

  • State Discrimination

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.”

Source: flickr.com

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

Australia, in the year 2015, declared war against its indigenous people and drove them out of their homelands as the government claimed that it could no longer support their indigenous people.

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.

  • Violence

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.

Source: wikipedia.org

The violence that harms the indigenous people may stem from different causes. Ignorance of those with power is only one of them. 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. 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.
Source: flickr.com

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.

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