Saturday, June 09, 2007


Indigenous Movement

We were recently asked by a reader to define the Indigenous Movement. Here's our reply:

The Indigenous Movement is a term used to describe original peoples whose culture is still extant that continue to perceive themselves as a distinct nation or tribe in opposition to the dominant structures and narratives of state-centric and market-oriented systems of social organization. One characteristic these ancient political entities share are systems of governance, cosmology, and economics that precede modern states, religions, and other such institutions.

Examples of Fourth World nations that make up the present Indigenous Movement include Maori, Aborigines, Basques, Saami, Biafrans, First Nations of Canada, and Native American tribes in the US. Worldwide, these bedrock nations number in the thousands, and are seeking some degree of autonomy from the states whose boundaries overlay their ancient territories.

Some confusion has arisen due to the use of the term fourth world by New Age sects and the claim of the term native american by white nationalists. So while any local aspect of a broader social movement can claim to be indigenous to the area in which it was born, to say they are part of the Indigenous Movement would be incorrect in the current context, and only serve to confuse.

To use an analogy, I may choose to pursue my civil rights as part of a class action suit under the law, but that would not make these actions part of the Civil Rights Movement, which is recognized by custom and convention to refer to a specific era and the actions of particular organizations and individuals in obtaining the legal rights which we now have a right to demand and defend.


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