Sunday, December 5, 2021

Why are indigenous people still outsiders of history?

While History was being written with a capital letter, the indigenous peoples were outside its circle. Consequently, entire groups of peoples, entire continents such as Australia, and entire periods of time of humanity drop out of history.

Why did indigenous peoples become outsiders of history? One of the reasons is the official historical discipline that originated in Europe and is based on the analysis of written texts.

Traditionally, history has used books and articles to share its findings. He also relied on documentary archives for his data. And yet, indigenous cultures around the world have had their own methods of preserving history: storytelling, art, rituals, dance, and song. Many cultures still practice this today.

In our compendium, Routledge – A Companion to Global Indigenous History, we reveal that truly global history cannot be written if we do not take into account the depth, scale, and scope of indigenous stories.

Our book brings together a wide range of contributors (indigenous and settlers) working in a wide variety of geographic regions, including Africa, Asia, Northern Europe, and America. The collection spans many time zones, from the travel of a person from Africa hundreds of thousands of years ago, detailed by Martin Porr, to the forced migrations of the peoples of North America in the 1820s and 30s, to mixed groups resulting from slavery in the Caribbean.

Indigenous authors include Paulette Steves, May-Britt Oman, Kirstin E. Möller, Kella Robinson, Judy Weeks, and John Maynard. These authors reconnect with their traditions by exploring ancient Native American archeology, Sami fishing tales, and hidden stories of Australian indigenous identity. These personal stories repeatedly show us that we have a lot to learn from the stories of indigenous peoples. Not only in content, but also in the way of presentation.

More: For too long, research has been done on indigenous peoples, not on them. Universities can change that

Indigenous stories

Over the centuries, indigenous peoples have shaped a vision of a world shared by humans and their environment – animals, plants and their intricate stories. This is something that is interdependent and closely related. It’s emotional and nurturing.

In the age of discovery – when imperial and colonial powers were mapping, documenting and occupying their lands – indigenous peoples were observed, but often as a backdrop, a rapidly fading presence. They are expected to disappear soon, in Australia they were a “dying race”.

Traditionally, Western historians focus on change, key moments, and events. As a result, indigenous peoples before the arrival of Europeans were mistakenly viewed as immutable people, confined to a timeless zone, a kind of uncertainty before the beginning of history itself.

The indigenous people were not immutable, they were resourceful and dynamic. The long-term care of indigenous peoples over their forests, rivers and seas paves the way for a more sustainable future. With the growing climate emergency facing the world today, indigenous knowledge is more important than ever.

In recent decades, much has been written about the arrival of colonialism as a huge breakthrough, a dramatic turning point after which nothing could be the same. Consequently, the historical literature focuses on the plight of indigenous peoples after Europeans arrived in their lands: violence, massacre, disease, land appropriation, and cultural destruction.

Read more: ‘Singing up Country’: awakening the Black Duck Songline 300 km in Southeast Australia

Recognition of the rights of indigenous peoples on the global stage

In 2007, as their tragic story became better known, the United Nations approved the Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples. This declaration was the culmination of meetings of more than 700 indigenous representatives, participants from a wide variety of backgrounds and regions of the world. Indigenous peoples have long demanded the restoration of their basic human rights. Now they are being heard on the international stage.

It is noteworthy that Australia and its English-speaking allies, the United States, New Zealand and Canada, initially opposed the declaration. In the end, after agreeing to sign, they remain concerned about its potential impact on their national sovereignty.

The UN Committee has recognized that indigenous peoples are entitled to a special category of rights. In the declaration they shared the common right to what they had historically and was still under threat:

their political, economic and social structures and […] their cultures, spiritual traditions, history and philosophy, especially their rights to their lands, territories and resources.

Our global indigenous history companion, Routledge, takes a few more steps to recognize this historic suffering and ongoing global injustice. But Companion does not lose sight of the wealth, power and strength of the indigenous peoples.

They have developed their own historical interpretations and ways of historical practice over the millennia. In our collection, authors Paul Lane, Chris Ballard, Peter Wet and his colleagues Paulette Steves and John Maynard explain deep stories held on land, at sea and in the sky.

The history of the deep past and the present-day gifts of indigenous peoples is the history of the peoples who are the guardians of the planet on which we all live. They are gone and continue to leave a deep legacy.

In a planet where waterways, seas, lands and skies are increasingly exploited, indigenous peoples’ respect for the environment offers inspirational ideas for future generations.

This article is republished from – The Conversation – Read the – original article.

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