Indigenous peoples

Friday 9 August was United Nations Indigenous Peoples’ Day.

The rights of indigenous peoples are important for many reasons. They are important first and foremost because they are fellow human beings with a right to live safe and free, but also for other reasons.

Indigenous peoples often understand how to live in harmony with their environment, and have built up unique lifeways and mythology to help them live in harmony with it. Consider the Hopi traditions around the Three Sisters, corn, beans, and squash. They also have unparalleled knowledge of the plants and animals in the places where they live. And they have unique and irreplaceable cultures.

When they are ripped out of their environment, lifeways, and culture, they do not flourish. Look at the problems experienced by First Nations people in North America. Look at the alienation of Europeans who are divorced from our indigenous lifeways both by capitalism and barren forms of religion.

What can we do to help indigenous peoples?

One thing you can do is join Survival International and take part in their campaigns. Without the support of ordinary people who write to governments in support of indigenous people, more massacres will occur.

The destruction of ancient pagan religions in Europe was a tragedy from which the European psyche has never recovered. As members of the contemporary Pagan revival, struggling to recover our ancestral ways from the wreck of history, we owe it to our relations, the indigenous peoples of the world, to help prevent such a tragedy for them.

I first learnt about Survival International from the UK Pagan Federation magazine in the late 1980s. Survival International was founded in 1969 and is a human rights organisation that campaigns for the rights of indigenous and uncontacted peoples, and helps them to determine their own future. Their campaigns usually focus on tribal people’s fight to keep their ancestral lands. Part of their work is to re-educate people about misconceptions that help justify violations of human rights against indigenous people, and the dangers that they face from the advancement of corporations, governments and also good intentions based on ideas of “development” that are forced on them. Survival believes that their alternative ways of living are not deficient, that they represent a model of sustainability in the environment of which they are a part and that they possess a rich culture from which others could learn.

Even as I write, the Yezidi people, who have a unique religion and indigenous culture, are being persecuted by the terrorist organisation calling itself Islamic State. Please sign and share this petition calling on the United Nations to protect them.

See also:
International Day of the World’s Indigenous Peoples. What It Is & How It Relates To You
August 8, 2014 by Rua Lupa

Update:

And here are some more actions you can take to raise awareness and help indigenous peoples:

Stop uncontacted tribes being annihilated: send an email

A massacre caused a group of uncontacted Amazon Indians to emerge from the rainforest last month. Help Survival International persuade Brazil and Peru to take action.

Download & share a tribal quote

Give tribal peoples a platform to speak to the world. Share this quote with your friends on Facebook, Twitter or Instagram.

Set up a monthly $5 gift to Survival

Regular giving is the best way to support Survival. It involves less administration, allows them to plan their work, confident in the knowledge of your regular support.

Watch & share the short film The things they said

The extinction or assimilation of tribal people has been predicted for over 500 years. Wrong then, wrong now.

Distribute Survival flyers in your local area

Display Survival flyers in your local library, museum, at work or anywhere you think they will get noticed.

About Yvonne Aburrow

Yvonne Aburrow has been a Pagan since 1985 and a Wiccan since 1991. She has an MA in Contemporary Religions and Spiritualities from Bath Spa University, and lives and works in Oxford, UK. She has written four books on the mythology and folklore of trees, birds, and animals, and two anthologies of poetry. She is the editor of the Theologies of Immanence wiki, a collaborative project for creating grass-roots Pagan theology.


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