Understanding Indigenous People
I was reading a piece that described the wonders, joy and innate value of the lifestyle and beliefs of an indigenous ethnic group. I started wondering just exactly which groups qualify for that exalted status in the first place. Does that necessarily mean they got there first? Perhaps it means that, while they didn’t get there first, they at least successfully obliterated the previous landowners leaving no trace.
But as I read on, it occurred to me that there is something deeper here. If your clan wants to be revered as an indigenous people, there is more to it than simply being the first group to occupy a patch of dirt. There is an entire lifestyle and philosophical approach that must be adopted if your group is to be spoken of in the reverent tones usually reserved for the dearly departed.
It’s also important to remain pristine. An indigenous person who earns an MBA, wears an Armani suit, frequents Starbucks, invests in Google, has his eyes lasered and spends his holidays cruising the Caribbean with his girlfriend from Budapest is a sell-out who has lost all self-respect and any claim to special treatment or consideration.
I have made numerous visits to locations where I met and mingled with folk that could justifiably lay claim to the being “indigenous people”. Most of them were reasonably pure and had not yet sold their souls to globalism and technology. They were, for the most part, fascinating, friendly people who desperately wanted me to tell them where they could go to sell their souls for some indoor plumbing, an IPod or maybe an Evinrude® outboard motor for their canoe.
If you’re interested, you can easily find volumes extolling the virtues of the natural, holistic spiritual lifestyles of the world’s indigenous peoples. In your readings you will stumble upon a number of phrases whose meaning may strike you as less than crystalline. Here is a key to some of the more frequently used phrases. My interpretations are based on first-hand experiences in communities where, not only do they not have a Starbucks or a McDonalds, they don’t even know what those are.
Buzzphrase: They live close to nature.
Real Meaning: They have fleas.
Buzzphrase: They are very tolerant and patient with their children.
Real Meaning: The kids do whatever they want while the adults are scouring the forest looking for food.
Buzzphrase: They practice homeopathic medicine.
Real Meaning: Make damn sure you don’t get sick while you’re out there visiting or your'e a goner.
Buzzphrase: Spirituality plays a central role in their culture.
Real Meaning: They believe in ghosts.
Buzzphrase: They live in harmony with nature.
Real Meaning: They live a brutish life without electricity or flush toilets.
Buzzphrase: They have a powerful and commanding presence.
Real Meaning: Whew! These mothers really stink!
Buzzphrase: Communal values play a major role in social harmony.
Real Meaning: The village only has one TV.
Buzzphrase: They have a tradition of respecting their elders.
Real Meaning: The village chief hogs the remote.
Buzzphrase: They have a rich cultural heritage.
Real Meaning: Their traditions are hilarious (watch for them on the National Geographic Channel).
Buzzphrase: Theirs is a holistic worldview.
Real Meaning: They don’t know shit from shinola.