Monday, February 28, 2011

Neutralizing Indigenous Sovereignty

As Rick Harp, editor of Media Indigena, notes, one way of neutralizing indigenous sovereignty is by undermining indigenous institutions. In the old days, that took the form of outlawing their councils, languages, economies, gatherings, and protector societies; today that takes the form of federal interventions that usurp indigenous governance all together. Laying the ideological groundwork for such bold acts of dominion, says Harp, involves sowing dissension by attacking the only institutions with the experience and ability to guard against transnational corporations and modern states intending to lay waste to indigenous territories.

Says Harp, this is already happening in Australia, and will happen in Canada, too, if Canada’s prime minister has his way.

While indigenous institutions like the Assembly of First Nations and the National Congress of American Indians play different roles than NGOs like the Indigenous Environmental Network or think tanks like the Center for World Indigenous Studies, they are all part of the indigenous peoples movement infrastructure, infrastructure that the movement requires to defend themselves. Cutting off the leadership from resources, impugning their integrity, or peddling crises to impute their viability, is all part of destroying indigenous sovereignty, and as Harp warns, the attack has begun.

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