Time to Rethink the Ideal of the Indigenous

“Many groups who identify as Indigenous don’t claim to be first peoples; many who did come first don’t claim to be Indigenous. Can the concept escape its colonial past?” Manvir Singh asks in an article published by The New Yorker.

“[In] the nineteen-sixties and seventies. Liberation movements flourished. In New Zealand, the Polynesian Panthers worked with the group Ngā Tamatoa to rally for Māori rights. In the United States, the Red Power movement spawned groups like the American Indian Movement and the International Indian Treaty Council,” Singh writes. “Inspired by decolonisation, activists from these groups coalesced, turning indigeneity into a global identity. What linked its members was firstness. Peoples like the Māori and the Sioux are not just marginalised minorities, activists stressed; they are aboriginal nations whose land and sovereignty have been usurped.”

“The idea of the primordial savage is appealing,” Singh ends. “A symbol of everything modernity is not, it serves as a foil for decrying civilisation’s corruption or for celebrating its achievements. But we cannot escape the colonial inheritance when we insist on summoning its ghosts.”

Original article by Manvir Singh, The New Yorker, February 27, 2023.


Tags: colonialism  indigeneity  New Yorker (The)  Ngā Tamatoa  Polynesian Panthers  

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