Ronald Niezen

in The Origins of Indigenism

Published by University of California Press

Published in print January 2003 | ISBN: 9780520235540
Published online May 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780520936690 | DOI:

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The international movement of indigenous peoples attempts simultaneously to provide its members with three levels of moral certitude and social empowerment. It affirms above all local claims of difference, using such concepts as treaty rights, regional autonomy, and self-determination. The struggle for cultural and political affirmation, taking place largely through and within bureaucratic organizations, aims to restore and reinforce ways of life based upon personal ties of kinship, friendship, and obligation. For many individuals and societies, the tarnished mirror of the recent past cannot reveal the essence of their being, at least not without an additional effort of self-awareness, a return to one's roots, a reconstruction of the self by invoking an earlier, perhaps traumatic, but truth revealing state of existence. The concept of “indigenous peoples” is in part a tool for the clarification of identity through a global assertion of the values of community.

Keywords: international movement; moral certitude; social empowerment; political affirmation; indigenous peoples

Chapter.  2467 words. 

Subjects: Anthropology

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