Thursday, January 15, 2009

Indigenous Peoples

This photo is from the Russian Association of Indigenous Peoples of the North, Siberia and Far East (RAIPON).

A post on her Open Salon blog by Smithbarney on 22 Oct 2008 about the plight of the Adivasis in India reminded me about the first time I heard about the Ainu people of Japan and when I later supported efforts to stop the government of Botswana from destroying the nomadic habits of the Bushmen. In the 1970's, friends visiting from Japan saw a book we had called Arts of the Eskimo: Prints by Ernest Roch. They were astounded at the similarity in style, feeling, aesthetics to the art of the Ainu. Since that time, I have been made aware many times over of the plight of indigenous people and how much we, as the human community, are losing in our knowledge of the world as these people occupy a smaller and smaller space in it. It is heartening, however, to know that there are many organisations and people involved in this struggle and many ways we can all get involved. At least one of these links should spark some interest and generate some action.

1 comment:

atypicalhaze said...

As a volunteer with the UW-Keio University Exchange Program last summer, I helped advise groups of Japanese students on presentations related to the environment. One of the groups centered their presentation around indigenous peoples, and decided to compare Native American environmental ideas with those of the Ainu. However, when they contacted a museum in Japan (I believe it was the Ainu Memorial Museum, but I'm not sure) for more information, they were told, "just make something up. They're Americans; they won't know any better."

I'd like to think that that attitude is not representative of the majority of Japanese attitudes towards the Ainu, but for a museum to be so careless is inexcusable. Unfortunately, we didn't follow up on the conversation.