Do indigenous peoples benefit from ‘development’?

Excellent article here: Guardian UK article on indigenous peoples and development – http://www.guardian.co.uk/global-development/poverty-matters/2011/nov/25/indigenous-peoples-benefit-development-tribal/print

Quoting a bit here:

What’s “development” for? . . .

What should development mean for those who are largely self-sufficient, getting their own food and building their dwellings where the water is still clean – like many of the world’s 150 million tribal people? . . .

It’s easy to see where it has led. Leaving aside the millions who succumbed to the colonial invasion, in some of the world’s most “developed” countries (Australia, Canada and the US) development has turned most of the survivors into dispossessed paupers. Take any measure of what it ought to mean: high income, longevity, employment, health; low rates of addiction, suicide, imprisonment and domestic violence, and you find that indigenous people in the US, Canada and Australia are by far the worst off on every count – but no one seems to heed the lesson.

These are the consequences of a dispossession more total in North America and Australia than almost anywhere on Earth. The colonists were determined to steal tribal lands, and unquestioning about their own superiority. They espoused politico-economic models in which workers produced for distant markets, and had to pay for the privilege. The natives, using no money, paying no taxes, contributing little to the marketplace until forced to, were “backward”. At best, they were to be integrated to serve colonist society.

Colonialism set out to take away their self-sufficiency, on their own territory, and lead them to glorious productivity, as menials, on someone else’s. There’s little point in calling for retroactive apologies for this because it’s not confined to the past: most development schemes foisted on tribal peoples today point in exactly the same direction.

. . . It isn’t “backwardness” that makes many tribal peoples reject development projects, it’s rational anxiety about the future.As for largescale infrastructure development – dams and mines, even irrigation – its real effect on the ground is invariably to enrich the elites while impoverishing the locals.

So is it possible to offer tribal peoples any truly beneficial development?

Yes, if we accept their right to reject what we, with our “advanced” wisdom, can give; we have to stop thinking them childish when they make decisions we wouldn’t. Everyone wants control over their future, and not everyone wants the same things out of life, but such truisms are hardly ever applied.

Development, at least for most tribal peoples, isn’t really about lifting people out of poverty, it’s about masking the takeover of their territories. The deception works because the conviction “we know best” is more deeply ingrained even than it was a generation ago; Victorian-era levels of narrow-mindedness are returning. As a Botswana Bushman told me: “First they make us destitute by taking away our land, our hunting and our way of life. Then they say we are nothing because we are destitute.”

In a 21st century of expensive water, food, housing, education, healthcare and power, self-sufficiency has its attraction. It may not boost GDP figures, but there are many tribal peoples in the world who live longer and healthier lives than millions in nearby slums. Who’s to say they’ve made a bad choice?

Well, in North Turtle Island, Stephen Harper made a retroactive apology to First Nations for kidnapping them and forcing them into the humiliating and brutal residential schools for 100 years.  See it here at the government´s official Youtube channel:

Here is the text from http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/story/2008/06/11/pm-statement.html:

The Canadian Press

Date: Wed. Jun. 11 2008 8:47 PM ET

Text of Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s residential schools apology:

Mr. Speaker, I stand before you today to offer an apology to former students of Indian residential schools.

The treatment of children in Indian residential schools is a sad chapter in our history.

In the 1870s, the federal government, partly in order to meet its obligation to educate aboriginal children, began to play a role in the development and administration of these schools.

Two primary objectives of the residential schools system were to remove and isolate children from the influence of their homes, families, traditions and cultures, and to assimilate them into the dominant culture.

These objectives were based on the assumption aboriginal cultures and spiritual beliefs were inferior and unequal. Indeed, some sought, as it was infamously said, `to kill the Indian in the child.’ Today, we recognize that this policy of assimilation was wrong, has caused great harm, and has no place in our country.

Most schools were operated as `joint ventures’ with Anglican, Catholic, Presbyterian or United churches.

The Government of Canada built an educational system in which very young children were often forcibly removed from their homes, often taken far from their communities.

Many were inadequately fed, clothed and housed. All were deprived of the care and nurturing of their parents, grandparents and communities.

First nations, Inuit and Metis languages and cultural practices were prohibited in these schools.

Tragically, some of these children died while attending residential schools and others never returned home.

The government now recognizes that the consequences of the Indian residential schools policy were profoundly negative and that this policy has had a lasting and damaging impact on aboriginal culture, heritage and language.

While some former students have spoken positively about their experiences at residential schools these stories are far overshadowed by tragic accounts of the emotional, physical and sexual abuse and neglect of helpless children and their separation from powerless families and communities.

The legacy of Indian residential schools has contributed to social problems that continue to exist in many communities today.

It has taken extraordinary courage for the thousands of survivors that have come forward to speak publicly about the abuse they suffered.

It is a testament to their resilience as individuals and to the strength of their cultures. Regrettably, many former students are not with us today and died never having received a full apology from the government of Canada.

The government recognizes that the absence of an apology has been an impediment to healing and reconciliation.

Therefore, on behalf of the government of Canada and all Canadians, I stand before you, in this chamber so central to our life as a country, to apologize to aboriginal peoples for Canada’s role in the Indian residential schools system.

To the approximately 80,000 living former students, and all family members and communities, the government of Canada now recognizes that it was wrong to forcibly remove children from their homes and we apologize for having done this.

We now recognize that it was wrong to separate children from rich and vibrant cultures and traditions, that it created a void in many lives and communities, and we apologize for having done this.

We now recognize that, in separating children from their families, we undermined the ability of many to adequately parent their own children and sowed the seeds for generations to follow and we apologize for having done this.

We now recognize that, far too often, these institutions gave rise to abuse or neglect and were inadequately controlled, and we apologize for failing to protect you.

Not only did you suffer these abuses as children, but as you became parents, you were powerless to protect your own children from suffering the same experience, and for this we are sorry.

The burden of this experience has been on your shoulders for far too long. The burden is properly ours as a government, and as a country.

There is no place in Canada for the attitudes that inspired the Indian residential schools system to ever again prevail.

You have been working on recovering from this experience for a long time and in a very real sense, we are now joining you on this journey.

The government of Canada sincerely apologizes and asks the forgiveness of the aboriginal peoples of this country for failing them so profoundly. We are sorry.

In moving towards healing, reconciliation and resolution of the sad legacy of Indian residential schools, implementation of the Indian residential schools settlement agreement began on September 19, 2007.

Years of work by survivors, communities, and aboriginal organizations culminated in an agreement that gives us a new beginning and an opportunity to move forward together in partnership.

A cornerstone of the settlement agreement is the Indian Residential Schools Truth and Reconciliation Commission.

This commission presents a unique opportunity to educate all Canadians on the Indian residential schools system.

It will be a positive step in forging a new relationship between aboriginal peoples and other Canadians, a relationship based on the knowledge of our shared history, a respect for each other and a desire to move forward together with a renewed understanding that strong families, strong communities and vibrant cultures and traditions will contribute to a stronger Canada for all of us.

God bless all of you and God bless our land.

Read more: http://www.ctv.ca/CTVNews/QPeriod/20080611/harper_text_080611/#ixzz1pBcyQi00

Oh là là, what a mouthful!  Does this do justice to 100 years of cultural genocide?  You decide!

For equality of every

man, woman and child

on the face of the earth,

 

Dimitri

 

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About sleepless in turtle island

Hi, I´m Dimitri. I have lived in Turtle Island for awhile now, so my cultural understanding is slowly improving. Also, I can see things in this place that boggle my mind. Thus this blog...
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