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18. Indigenous Perspectives

  • Page ID
    11259
  • Being Indigenous is about honouring and renewing complex relationships between humans and also with the natural world. The United Nations offers a multifaceted working definition of what it means to be a member of one of the thousands of Indigenous nations living around the world. It includes factors like self-identification, historical continuity and a place-based existence that links to a particular territory. The definition also speaks to distinct governance systems, languages, historical experiences, cultures and ways of knowing. Importantly, it additionally describes communities that seek to maintain their territories and assert themselves as distinct peoples – despite their existence within a state (usually against their wishes). States, on the other hand are constructed around different principles of territorial sovereignty and legally recognised governmental systems and have historically sought to control, coerce, and even eliminate Indigenous peoples from the landscape. The existing, dominant framework of inter-state relations roots itself in state sovereignty. From an Indigenous perspective this has been established through violence, broken treaties and other unjust assertions of power over Indigenous peoples and their lands. This undermines, downplays, excludes and ultimately provokes Indigenous worldviews and counter-arguments that seek to push the state-centric model beyond its narrow confines. By exploring Indigenous perspectives and complex relationships we can more clearly see the problems that come from the many assumptions at the heart of International Relations and its family of theories.