Japan Finally Recognizes Ainu as Indigenous Peoples
The recognition for Japan's Ainu minority is more than a little bit late in coming. One of the things that I find amazing--how much the Ainu's culture represents that of many Northwestern American Indian tribes.
There's a distinct overlap in many of the symbols of the Haida, Kwakwaka'wakw, Tlingit, Elwha, S'Klallam, and others. From totem poles to iconic symbols, the links between the Ainu and these Northwestern people are obvious. Is there a good chance that these indigenous peoples settled in Japan? As they're sea-faring peoples, it's very likely.
In the 19th Century, Japanese people called the northern island of Hokkaido "Ezochi".
It meant "Land of the Ainu", a reference to the fair-skinned, long-haired people who had lived there for hundreds of years.
The Ainu were hunters and fishermen with animist beliefs.
But their communities and traditions were eroded by waves of Japanese settlement and subsequent assimilation policies.
Today only small numbers of Ainu remain, and they constitute one of Japan's most marginalised groups.