Indigenous Peoples – Creating New “Borderlines“?

Lívia Šavelková,

University of Pardubice, Czech Republic



This paper deals with the conceptualizing of the Indigenous Peoples ‘category’. Who are Indigenous Peoples? How has their identity been constructed by academics, internationally recognized institutions, NGOs and by themselves? The concept of indigenous peoples (or the Fourth World) has been widely discussed among scholars and politicians over the last few decades. [2]It is also gradually starting to be used more and more by official representatives of the groups that could be considered indigenous. Is “indigeneity“ a political and ideological concept similar to ethnicity or is it an essential characteristic of a specific group of people?

I would like to discuss the distinction between the process of self-identification of formerly very distinctive groups and the process of creating a new global identity for these groups. What is the relationship between a local identity, such as being a person from a small reserve in Canada, and being an indigenous person at the same time? What kind of borders are more important and enduring for Native identification – geographical or symbolic?

The Fourth World

Who are these indigenous, Aboriginals, Native people/peoples, First Nations, the Fourth World? International organizations use the term “indigenous.” These organizations characterize the world’s indigenous peoples such as more than 350 million individuals, divided into at least 5000 peoples in 70 different countries (Corntassel 75-100). According to Goehring, 80 percent of them live in Asia, 7 percent in South America, 6 percent in North America, 4 percent in Africa, 3 percent in Australia and Oceania and 1 percent in Europe. The term indigenous has been replacing the former term: the Fourth World.

The Fourth World [3]was the name used to refer to the indigenous peoples descended from a country’s aboriginal population who were completely or partly deprived of the right to their own territories and their resources. The peoples of the Fourth World had only limited or no influence in the nation-states to which they belonged. They were characterized as:

culturally distinct groups within nation-states politically weak, economically marginal and culturally stigmatized members of the national societies that have overtaken them and their lands. (Dyck 1)

In terms of geography they were described as:

peoples with a highly localized sense of identity” (ibid.) who were “in contrast to the increasingly centralized modern state scattered over relatively large areas in small, dispersed and often informal communities. (ibid.)

Contemporary indigenous scholars, such as Smith, suggest that the North-South divide has become a more meaningful way of distinguishing between former division to First, Second, Third and Fourth worlds.

As we will see below, the development of indigeneity needs to be seen from different perspectives in terms of history, paradigmatic shifts in science and process that could be called globalization.

Who are the indigenous peoples for international organizations?

The indigenous peoples’ movement’s roots are commonly ascribed to the post-World War II elaboration of an international human rights apparatus (Niezen). Indigenous peoples reacted to assimilationist tendencies and so called development strategies imposed by states and multinational companies mainly in the 1960s and 1970s, and their efforts gained support within international space. According to Niezen, there were four aspects of the postwar era that encouraged the promotion of the rights of indigenous peoples. First, in reaction to the Nazi´s ideology there was a sensitivity to protection of minorities among the general public. Second, the process of decolonization established new international rules with a possibility of support for the self-determination of indigenous peoples. Third, assimilation policies, mainly through education, unintentionally created indigenous leaders capable of forming native support groups and lobbies within international space. Fourth, the rapid rise of global NGOs constituting an international civil society was crucial for the international movement of indigenous peoples.

The main world organizations and NGOs—for example the World Bank, the International Labour Organization, the International Work Group on Indigenous Affairs (IWGIA established in 1968), the World Council of Indigenous Peoples (WCIP established in 1975), the Working Group on Indigenous Populations (WGIP established in 1982) and the Indigenous Peoples of Africa Co-ordinating Committee (IPACC founded in 1997)—created their own definitions to determine who precisely is indigenous.

Basic criteria from different definitions can be described as follows: [4]

1. first come (indigenous people are descended from the people who were there before others),
2. non-dominance (they are governed under alien state structures),
3. cultural difference (difference from the majority population, with the assumption that indigenous people are in the minority),
4. self-ascription.

Aforementioned criteria and their view of the representatives of indigenous groups have been repeatedly questioned in academic and political circles (Scheffel 175-187).

The first come characteristic is the most often politically negotiated and hardly accepted in the Third World, mainly in Africa and Asia, because “all Africans” are considered to be “the first there” before the European colonization (Anaya). Non-dominance and marginalization are questionable concepts because many colonized societies were founded by cultures which had themselves previously colonized existing groups (the Aztecs being one example). Some groups were created by the colonial system, such as the different tribes and bands, and a different system of social hierarchy was introduced. The hierarchical and stereotypical notion of social stratification is present and reproduced among many indigenous peoples, the most often mentioned examples are stratification in Latin America and different levels of “mixbloodness” (Lawrence).

The concept of cultural difference also continues to be problematic. A substantial part of the Saami peoples, for example, have lifestyles, which are not noticeably different from that of the Norwegian society. [5]Many indigenous peoples speak the language of the dominant society and, due to the assimilationist policy i.e. the system of boarding schools, are not able to speak their “former” languages (Native Americans, the Maori, Australian Aboriginees). The religious issues are also relative considering that some groups converted to Christianity or created specific “syncretic forms” (although this concept is also problematical) – a widely known example is Latin America. The basic criteria for indigenous identification and its critics are very much connected with scientific approaches.

Academic “battles” and ethnic theories

Particular characteristics that define indigenous identity and disputes over their justification were part of a much wider academic debate that took place between scholars of ethnicity and part of the important shift in paradigm of science. Ethnicity as a form of (collective) identity has been a major preoccupation of anthropology for nearly five decades. The following main ideas were proposed [6]:

1. primordialism has focused on the historical ties, assuming that ethnic identity is the essential component which tends to lead to separatism regardless of the social, political and economic context in which the group operates,
2. constructivism (with its “subgroups”, such as instrumentalism, cultural constructionism, political constructionism, radical historicims) has claimed that ethnicity is not a natural entity, but a social construct formed in relation of peoples’ immediate needs and their relationship with others, and it is possible for races to be invented. Constructivists strongly oppose primordialism (Kingsbury).
3. With the so called postmodernism of the 1970s and 1980s and its critique of the “colonial” domination of the “Western Science” that, according to its critics, led to the use of theoretical concepts for oppression, assimilation and exploitation of dis-empowered groups of people, other approaches emerged. Primordialism was strongly refuted for its essentialism and universalism. With this ideological shift, all grand theories, meta-narratives, and taxonomies were repudiated by postmodern or post-structuralist academics, represented by “the Third World and diasporic scholars”, who since 1980s and mainly 1990s also have slowly been joined, with a few exceptions, by a growing number of academics from Indigenous groups. [7]Anthropology in general and studies of ethnicity in particular were being reconceptualised. Anthropology departments, formerly the most specialized of all social sciences with regard to the studies of “tribal” people, went through often hostile disputes[8] and new “disciplines”, such as postcolonial studies and cultural studies, were created. [9]

Academics have usually described the indigenous peoples in contrast to ethnic minorities. Compared to ethnic minorities, the indigenous peoples were characterized as: having no state of their “own”, being highly tied to a distinct place, being politically and socially dispersed, embracing kinship as an important factor in social organization, not being members of one ethnic group and not orienting their political claims to the secession from the nation state [10]. This distinction has been going through the process of revision. As Miller points out,

“there is often a considerable problem in recognizing indigenous communities; members may not appear to be phenotypically different from members of the mainstream or surrounding community. They may appear to be assimilated economically, culturally, and socially. They may appear to have few means to protect their boundaries with neighbouring populations, a process Barth (1969) links with the survival of recognizable ethnic groups, and they may not co-reside, employ one another, or have a dense social network of ties. Many also practise world religions and appear on the surface to have little connection to ancestral spiritual and cultural practise…” (Miller 29).

Although previously mentioned examples of academic and political critiques of criteria related to “who is indigenous” have been constantly used to challenge a common notion and acceptance of the concept of “indigeneity”, the most important challenge to all these examples came from representatives of the indigenous groups with NGO supporters insisting on self-identification rules.

Self-identification policies for indigenous peoples have increasingly become an accepted international legal practice from 1977, when the second general assembly of the World Council of Indigenous Peoples (WCIP) passed a resolution stating that “only indigenous peoples could define indigenous peoples” (Bodley 146).

The “self-identification policy” was considered ambitious by many states and institutions. Clear definitions were required using “objective criteria” that could “bind” a specific group into an “indigenous group” category and could easily be used for bureaucratic purposes. Concerns about the self-determination of “unspecified groups” have led to long-term reluctance of some states to accept the United Nations´ Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, finally endorsed by the General Assembly in 2007 (Anaya). In reaction to the exact definition of indigenous group for example the Saami Council declared in 1997: “…we do not see any reason why we indigenous peoples, among all peoples, alone need to be defined“ (IWGIA, 1999: 89).

Land, territory and space

The land is crucial for indigenous peoples. Land (or/and territory) is present in primordialist and also constuctivist schools as an issue of former homeland, as a mythical and ancestral territory, as a place to struggle for in the land rights disputes and as a factor in economical development of and resources for indigenous groups.

The meaning of the land has several layers. [11] For many of the groups, it still means the only space for survival, the most often given example are the people from the rain forests, which are heavily endangered by lumbering, mining and its results. Purely instrumentalistic positions are too highly problematic to be accepted generally. Where should the line be drawn between a basic need of survival and the utilitarian possibility of the “(ethno)development” of indigenous groups, who should draw the line and who should be affected by the decision? The symbolic meaning of the land (including all characteristics tied with the primordialism) can but does not necessarily become a tool for utilitarian political goals of a particular group. Nevertheless, many members of Native groups do not live on their former territories, ancestral land or on treaty land (such as reservations or reserves).

Many of the groups were removed from their former homeland to different areas which had been a home to culturally distinct and different groups – for example the state of Oklahoma was created on the location of the former Indian Territory. The Indian Territory was a place where different Native American groups from the eastern United States were settled by the U.S. Government in the first half of the 19th century.

Some groups left their former homelands due to removals and relocation efforts (Kearny 173-195). Some left for urban areas or different states in search of subsistence and created transnational communities (Delugan 83-97). Others leave because of internal factionalism. More than half of the Native American population in the U.S. and Canada live in big cities (Statistics Canada) as well as more than 80 percent of the Mapuché in Chile (IWGIA, 2006). The Maori in New Zealand are also mainly urban people. Native Americans in Mexico have no reservations at all.

Since the 1950s (partly due to the U.S. relocation programs) the migration of the Native Americans to the cities has become strong. Big cities became a place where the pan-indian movements were created (for example the American Indian Movement creation in 1968 in Minneapolis). Nowadays the pan-indian movement has been replaced or merged into the pan-indigenous movement.

The world institutions have also reacted to the urbanization of Native peoples. For example, the World Bank stated that its indigenous policy did not apply to groups who a) have left their communities of origin, and b) moved to urban areas and/or migrated to obtain wage labor. For this institution, an indigenous identity was lost upon entering an urban area. This requirement was the subject of criticism for indigenous leaders as a denial of the self-definition rights of indigenous peoples and due to this pressure is not included in the World Bank’s revised Indigenous Policy. [12]

What is the relationship of the indigenous peoples living in cities to ancestral territories? Is the territory, being an integral part of definitions of indigenous peoples and a significant focus of the indigenous leaders’ speeches, physically important?

Noticeable disputes are held between on-reserve and off-reserve Native Americans. To keep aside purely instrumentalist explanations of them as a struggle for resources (although it is present very often in the case of membership [13]), many Native Americans are deeply convinced that people living in the cities are different from them and that the latter are heavily influenced by members of dominant society. This happens despite the fact that a significant number of Native Americans currently living on reservations/reserves have a personal experience of the life in the city. Although land has a very crucial role in the primordialistic conception present among many indigenous groups—and the same goes for the constructivist approaches—the priority seems to be placed on the emotional aspect of the (not always “ancestral”) home. As Clifford shows on an example of Jean-Marie Tjabaou and other New Caledonia´s Melanesians, the home is not just a particular village in a valley or on a hillside, but home can comprise the space of the whole area of islands and can include the sea and much wider “spatial” areas. Clifford also asks, “how is ´indigeneity´ both rooted in and routed through particular places?” (Clifford 468-490). According to Barnard: “Being indigenous to a place is not in itself what makes people an indigenous people” (Barnard 1).

Biolsi specifies four different categories of indigenous imagined political space of Native Americans: 1. tribal place, 2. space of comanagement of resources between tribal, state and federal level, 3. a transnational political space, 4. and international political space (Biolsi 249-50).

There is also another aspect related to indigeneity in terms of geography. The concept of indigeneity could apply only to former European colonial areas and leave out parts of imperial Asia and Africa, where some national governments have been denying the category of “indigenous” (Miller 58).

United, divided, stereotyped and “globalized”

One critical factor concerning indigeneity and its characteristics is its acceptance and conceptualization by the very representatives of indigenous groups on one side, and the analysis by scholars on the other side. A typical example of highly emotional disputes concerning different “cosmologies” is the origin of the Native Americans and the arrival of the original groups from the Asia over the Bering Straits [14].

Barnard specifies indigeneity in the following way:

It is an ideological and social construct recognised by those who claim the status, by anthropologists who support their cause and no doubt by the educated public at large.(Barnard 7)

Some anthropologists tend to criticise it for its essentialism and romanticism. They point out that former term “primitive” has been replaced by term “indigenous”or “native”. They also question the role of anthropology in this process of creating such identity, others argue that the main “academic” interest should not be in the category as an “objective” and analytical term, but in the construction of this term in relation to power and as a processional issue. [15]

Indigenous scholars offer other ideas. In their critique of Western notion of science and due to the long-term experience of applied science and uselessness of research for their communities, including unethical behavior of researchers, these critics are accepted as the continuance and dominance of the concept of Western science with its all-problematic issues. Analytical criteria are sometimes considered to be out of place in a critique of the concept of indigeneity.

According to Means, once everyone on this earth was indigenous and the whole world lived in communities and on the land. He focuses on believing things – the dominant society in industrialized world is male and Eurocentric and based on concepts which come from the head. On the other hand, indigenous peoples are governed by feelings, coming out of the heart (Means).

For indigenous scholars, such as Churchill, Smith and Alfred, indigeneity is a matter of fact, of sharing the same experiences of communities with traditional knowledge based on strong ties to land, and a shared experience of colonization. Further, it is a hope for communities suffering because of colonialism and imperialism and their impacts on everyday lives. Smith reflects that there are different notions of concepts of the needs of indigenous and non-indigenous peoples, including research activities and the stress of importance.

What is more important than what alternatives indigenous peoples offer the world is what alternatives indigenous peoples offer each other(Smith 105). [16]

The critical “problem” of indigenous scholars from the areas of the former British Empire, who are more easily heard due to the spread of the English language throughout the world, is their dependency on experience with the “Western colonialism”. Although they tend to differ from the Third World scholars in their particular experience of colonialism, their ideas are limited mainly because their concepts are closely tied with the notion and experience of racism in a similar way such as those of the Third World. The experience with the form of colonialism experienced in Central and Eastern Europe could bring new ideas about the whole issue. [17]

Public opinion is a vital player in forming the indigenous identity and the dependence on the supporters of indigenous movements is a very crucial component (Niezen). Not only followers of the Beat generation, hippies, and New Age movement people, but also supporters from different areas of the world with different educations and experiences often have the essentialist and “primitive” notion of “what the indigenous people should look like”.

In his famous “Indian Manifesto” published in 1969 before the strong expansion of indigenous movement, Vine Deloria Jr. has noted: ”The more we try to be ourselves the more we are forced to defend what we have never been” (Deloria Jr. 10).

Decades later, Sylvain and Robbins came to the similar findings based on their fieldwork in Africa among the Sans who respond to identity expectations of the local mainstream society, the state, NGOs and international sponsors that require a bounded cultural entity for easy “delivering” of their policies (Sylvian 354-70). Through the global process of creating the indigenous identity, groups that have traditionally been very distinctive, but not at all without any contact (Wolf), are pushed into one declared and internationally-recognized identity.

Niezen sees the parallel between ethnic nationalism and indigenous unity.

Indigenism…sets social groups and networks apart from others in global ´we-they´dichotomy. It identifies a boundary of membership and experience that can be crossed only by birth or hard-won international recognition. It links local, primordial sentiments to a universal category. (Niezen 9)

Although studies written by representatives of “indigenous” and “non-indigenous” scholars (I am not a supporter of this division) describe concepts of identification of particular groups in depth and represent a variety of these concepts and problems relying excessively on particular theories, the international focus is based more on simplification. As Clifford demonstrated on the example of the Pacific, we should be wary of binary oppositions (Clifford 468-90). May points out:

The construction of pan-Maori ethnic identity has not, however, replaced previous forms of identity formation among Maori, notably whanau (family), hapu (subtribe) and iwi (tribal) affiliations. Rather, it has emerged as an additional form of identity that both accommodates and is in tension with more particularistic and traditional affiliations. (May 102)

Similar way of identification describes Alfred on an example of Mohawks from Kahnawake, that includes localised Kahnawake, national Mohawk, Iroquois (Haudenosaunee) and Native identity (Alfred).

By encouraging to take on an internationally recognized identity and by employing the “western thinking” in the conceptualization of the indigenous peoples or their representatives [18], it is possible to try to improve social, economic and other conditions of marginalized groups of peoples who have been discriminated against for a very long time. The U.N. Declaration on Indigenous Peoples Rights ratified in 2007 could help in protection of these groups. On the other hand, by pushing culturally distinctive groups into one internationally recognized indigenous identity, a variety of collective identities (not meant as static and unrelated issues) that could “enrich the world´s knowledge of diversity” in the Boasian sense, can “be lost” or marginalized. As Biolsi points out:

Kind of globalism practiced by international organizations as well as by the United Nations Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues does not imagine or produce indigenous space beyond individual indigenous nations, and the world indigenous movement is very much akin to an indigenous ´united nations´ in which the common colonial situation of each individual and autonomous indigenous nation is recognized but the mosaic of separate and autonomous Native sovereignties is never questioned. (Biolsi 249-50)

It seems that the formerly very important geographical boundaries and the sense of local identity of these groups have been considerably changed. Geographical borders remain valid for the land rights issues and issues of economical development of the distinct territory, but with the advent of the Internet and modern technologies, these borderlines do not tie people to a specific place and also (re)create other forms of notions of spatial identity. The notion of the indigenous identity is also shared and spread by the indigenous media, TV and radio. These focus on specific communities by means of specific programs used for teaching the languages and maintaining the cultural traditions and customs. On the other hand, these media at the same time inform about indigenous groups from “far away”, refer to them in terms of one identity using the language (and concepts) of the dominant or “postcolonial” society.

It is difficult to estimate how the content and connotation of the concept of “the indigeneity” will change as a result of events such as the election of the Aymara Evo Moráles as the first “indigenous president” and how this event may be accepted and interpreted by the Inuits, the Maori or Ainu peoples, and how the indigenous media and their virtual world may influence the dichotomy of ‘us-them’.

By accepting “so called Western thinking” for creating symbolical borderlines (often based on the notion of race and essential – or strategically essential in terms of Spivak’s [19] – characteristic of culture), indigenous peoples create the same stereotypes that have been traditionally attributed to and blamed on the members of the dominant societies. These stereotypes do not involve only the non-indigenous topics but include also stereotypes pertaining to themselves. Doing this, they help to reproduce and maintain the stereotypes about the indigenous groups. [20]

Conclusion or who is in power?

It remains open to the debate whether the indigenous identity will become a form of identity (or process of identification) different to that of ethnicity [21], or whether it will become more narrow in its meaning and function only as one of the forms of ethnic identity with its borderlines “only” partly redefined in the process.

Although the findings of Clifford, Biolsi, Goodale, or Smith show that concepts of aspects related to indigeneity and “worldviews” are very different, I think that there is a tendency to strong “ethnization” at the political levels. It would be very interesting to focus on the “power relations” among different Native groups’ representatives and the NGOs in creating indigenous identity. According to Niezen and Swepstone, in the 1980s the “north-south” divide was present between indigenous organizations. Those from the “north” were the more prepared to deal with the international bureaucracy by the virtue of their education and experience, and their interests were different from those of the “south” (Swepston 221-35). As Niezen observed, since 1989, with the end of the bipolar division of the World with regard to the capitalist and socialist or communist countries, the gap between the “north” and “south” has been tailing off. Although Sylvain argues that one of the distinctive features of the indigenous movement is that it is formed from the bottom-up, it seems to me that there is also a noticeable top-down process (Sylvian 354-370). Is there any particular group or coalition that could be considered the most successful in the promotion of the characteristics of the united indigenous identity? How is the former “indigenisimo” tied together with the Latin America influence on the concepts of the north Native Americans? Is there a particular group from a particular area or areas dominating in this process? Are the English and/or Spanish languages the most effective means of communication, and if so, are the representatives of the groups from other language speaking areas marginalised? What is the position of Native scholars, mainly from the First, Third and “the World within the First one”, in the process of conceptualizing of indigenous theories? In relation to Gellner’s theory of nationalism [22] – is there already a “united indigenous elite”, or more “specific elites from different areas of places inhabited by different indigenous groups” with some of them dominating the debate?

With regard to the anthropological debates over the term “indigenous” or Native [23], instead of the deconstruction of the “indigenous category”, it would be more interesting to focus on the following few points: first, on the specific concepts of identification of particular, very often transnational native groups; second, on the political framework existing in local and urban communities. How is the “indigenous identity” articulated, promoted, refused and accepted by the Native groups themselves? It takes us back to the “classical anthropological fieldwork” (by this statement I do not mean insensitive positivistic research), regardless of whether it is carried out by anthropologists, or members of a native group, whether in mutual collaboration or not. Let us go from the table and comforts of hotels and get “back to the field”, back to learning the language and back to learning mutually from the everyday experiences shared, conceptualized, lived, and articulated with “common people” without reliance only on official statements of political representatives of particular indigenous groups and NGOs.


Acknowledgements. I would like to thank my “transnational” friends and colleagues with whom I met in Canada, worked in the Czech Republic, and who reside in New Zealand now, Dana Gabľasová and Václav Březina, for their long-term help in correction of my use of the English language. I would also like to thank them for providing me with an access to articles from academic journals, because the access to this basic resource for academic work is as a result of insufficient university funds in the Czech Republic very limited. I also acknowledge the Czech Science Foundation for supporting my research (P410/11/P107). I would also like to thank the anonymous reviewer for his/her useful comments.

[1] A shorter version of this paper (under the same title) was presented at the 32nd American Indian Workshop held in Graz in April 2011 organized by the Center for the Study of the Americas, Karl-Franzens-Universität. Title of the conference was “Approaching Native American Cultures from an Inter-American Perspective: Similarities and Differences”.

[2] Manuel, George and Michael Posluns. The Fourth World: An Indian Reality. Ontario: Collier-Macmillan Canada, Ltd., 1974.; Maybury-Lewis, David. Indigenous Peoples, Ethnic Groups, and the State. Boston: Allyn and Bacon, 2001.; Miller, Bruce Granville. Invisible Indigenes: The Politics of Nonrecognition. Lincoln and London, University of Nebraska Press, 2003.; Kuper, Adam. “The Return of the Native.“ Current Anthropology. 44.3 (June 2003): 389-402.; Barnard, Alan. “Kalahari revisionism, Vienna and the ´indigenous peoples´debate.” Social Anthropology 14.1 (2006): 1-16. ; Anaya, S. James. International Human Rights and Indigenous Peoples. New York: Aspen Publishers, 2009.; Warren, Kay B. Indigenous Movements and their Critics: Pan-Mayan Activism in Guatemala. Princeton, New Jersey: Princeton University Press, 1998. back to text

[3] The term ‘Fourth World’ came into popular usage in 1974, with the publication of The Fourth World: An Indian Reality. Manuel, George, and Michael Posluns. The Fourth World: An Indian Reality. Ontario: Collier-Macmillan Canada, Ltd., 1974. back to text

[4] For these criteria see: Barnard, Alan. “Kalahari revisionism, Vienna and the ´indigenous peoples´ debate.” Social Anthropology. 14.1 (2006): 1-16. ; and Saguestad, Sidsel. The incovenient indigenous. Remote area development in Botswana, donor assistance and the first people of the Kalahari. Uppsala: Nordicka Afrikainstitutet, 2001. back to text

[5] For Saamis see Thuen, Trond. Quest for Equality. Norway and the Saami Challenge. St. John´s: ISER, Memorial University, 1995.; and Paine, Robert. “Ethnodrama and the´Fourth World´: The Saami Action Group in Norway, 1971-81.“ In Indigenous Peoples and the Nation-State: “Fourth World” Politics in Canada, Australia and Norway. Ed. Noel Dyck. St. John´s: ISER, Memorial University of Newfoundland, 1985: 191-235. back to text

[6] For different approaches to ethnicity and identity, see Fenton, Steve. Ethnicity. Cambridge: Polity Press, 2005.; Anderson, Benedict. Imagined Communities: Reflections on the Origin and Spread of Nationalism. USA: Verso, 2000. ; Barth, Frederik. Ethnic Groups and Boundaries: The Social Organization of Culture Difference. Middleton: Waveland Press, 1998.; Eriksen, Thomas, Hylland. Ethnicity and Nationalism: Anthropological Perspectives. London: Pluto Press, 1993., and Hall, Stuart, and Paul du Gay, eds. Questions of Cultural Identity. London, Thousand Oaks, New Delhi: Sage Publication Ltd., 1996.; Smith, Anthony D. Nationalism and modernism: a critical survey of recent theories of nations and nationalism. London, New York: Routledge, 1998. back to text

[7] The most famous “Third World scholars“ are Said, Edward; Bhabha, Homi; Spivak, Gayatri Chakravorty. For Native representatives see for example Deloria Jr., Vine; Ortiz, Alfonso; Ortiz, Simon; Cook-Lynn, Elizabeth, Alfred, Gerald Taiaiake; Churchill, Ward; Smith, Linda Tuhiwai, Napoleon, Val; Monture-Angus, Patricia; Mohawk John, Lyons, Oren; Mihesuah, Devon A., and a lot of others. back to text

[8] The break-up of the Department of Anthropology at Stanford University into separate departments is a very “famous” case. back to text

[9] John Comaroff rejects both primordialist and constructionalist interpretations of identity claiming that no characteristic of a group or characteristics common to all of them can be found. Ethnicity as a thing, a noun that refers to a bounded set of groups, makes no sense. According to him, ethnicity must refer to relationships. Since “the substance of ethnicity and nationality cannot be defined or decided in the abstract… there cannot be a theory of ethnicity or nationality per se, only a theory of history capable of elucidating the empowered production of difference and identity”. Comaroff, John L. “Ethnicity, Nationalism, and the Politics of Difference in an Age of Revolution.” In The Politics of difference: Ethnic Premises in a World of Power. Eds. E. N. Wilmsen and P. McAllister Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1996: 166. Print. Lewellen calls this ethnic theory ‘relationism’. Lewellen, Ted C. The Anthropology of Globalization: Cultural Anhtropology Enters the 21st Century. Westport: Bergin & Garvey, 2002. back to text

[10] see Eriksen, Thomas, Hylland. Ethnicity and Nationalism: Anthropological Perspectives. London: Pluto Press, 1993.; Alfred, Gerald Taiaiake. Heeding the Voices of Our Ancestors: Kahnawake Mohawk Politics and the Rise of Native Nationalism. Ontario: Oxford University Press, 1995. ; Connor, Walker. Ethnonationalism: The Quest for Understanding. Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1994.; Fenton, Steve. Ethnicity. Cambridge: Polity Press, 2005. back to text

[11] For interesting insight into the Western Apaches’ conception of space, see: Basso, Keith H. Wisdom Sits in Places: Landscape and Language Among the Western Apache. Albuquerque: University of New Mexico Press, 1996. back to text

[12] See Corntassel, Jeff J. “Who is Indigenous? ´Peoplehood´ and Ethnonationalist Approaches to Rearticulating Indigenous Identity.“ Nationalism and Ethnic Politics 9.1 (Spring 2003) : 75-100.; and “Indigenous Peoples – Indigenous Peoples Policy.” Social Development: Indigenous Peoples. World Bank, Apr 2010. Web. 1 Nov 2011. <,,contentMDK:20443667~menuPK:906528~pagePK:210058~piPK:210062~theSitePK:407802,00.html>.; and McKay, Fergus. “The Draft World Bank Operational Policy 4.10 on Indigenous Peoples: Progress or More of the Same?“ World Bank, Apr 2010. Web. 1 Nov 2011. <>.
The author of this paper did not find any reference in OP 4.10 version from 2005 to the continuance of determination of denial to support urban indigenous peoples. back to text

[13] See for example the reaction of the on-reserve residents to the endorsement of Bill C – 31 in Canada. back to text

[14] see Kuper, Adam. “The Return of the Native.“ Current Anthropology 44.3 (June 2003): 389-402; and Flanagan, Tom. First Nations? Second Thoughts. Montreal & Kingston: McGill-Queen´s University Press, 2000. back to text

[15] One of the most important debates over the term “indigenous peoples” took place in three prominent anthropological journals – Current Anthropology 44.3 (June 2003), Anthropology Today 20.5 (October 2004) and Social Anthropology 14.1 (2006). back to text

[16] For more information on this topic see also: Churchill, Ward. From a Native Son: Selected Essays on Indigenism 1985 – 1995. Boston, Massachusetts: South End Press, 1996.; and Alfred, Gerald Taiaiake. Wasáse: Indigenous pathways of action and freedom. Canada: Broadview Press, 2005. back to text

[17] My aim is to develop this idea and describe experiences in the future paper. back to text

[18] For example, we can discuss how the concept of intellectual property such as copyright is really typical for indigenous communities. back to text

[19] see Spivak, Gayatri Chakravorty. “Subaltern Studies: Deconstructing Historiography.” In The Spivak Reader: Selected Works of Gayatri Spivak. Eds. Donna Landry and Gerald MacLean. NY: Routledge, 1995. back to text

[20] The role of NGOs in this stereotypisation is very important. As Sylvain shows on an example of the local NGOs working with the San people: “On the one hand, they are commotted to promoting the San´s human rights, which involves challenging the stereotypes that denigrate and dehumanize them, on the other hand, securing fundind and promoting cultural survival means that they are compelled to strategically adopt the very stereotypes they challenge.” Sylvain, Renée. “Disorderly development: Globalization and the idea of ´culture´ in the Kalahari.“ American Ethnologist 32.3 (August 2005): 362.; see also Robbins, Steven. “Bushmen” and Double Vision: The Khomani San Land Claims and the Cultural Politics of “Community” and “Development” in the Calahari. Journal of Southern African Studies. 274 (December 2001): 833-853. back to text

[21] I am aware of the different perspectives on this term and that from the “postmodernist” perspective it is irrelevant to ask this question. back to text

[22] see Gellner, Ernest. Nations and Nationalism. Oxford: Basil Blackwell, 1983. back to text

[23] see Current Anthropology 44.3 (June 2003), Anthropology Today 20.5 (October 2004) and Social Anthropology 14.1 (2006 ). back to text

Works Cited

Alfred, Gerald Taiaiake. Heeding the Voices of Our Ancestors: Kahnawake Mohawk Politics and the Rise of Native Nationalism. Ontario: Oxford University Press, 1995.

Alfred, Gerald Taiaiake. Wasáse: Indigenous Pathways of Action and Freedom. Canada: Broadview Press, 2005.

Anaya, S. James. International Human Rights and Indigenous Peoples. New York: Aspen Publishers, 2009.

Barnard, Alan. “Kalahari Revisionism, Vienna and the ´Indigenous Peoples´ Debate.” Social Anthropology 14.1 (2006): 1 – 16.

Biolsi, Thomas. “Imagined Geographies: Sovereignty, Indigenous Space, and American Indian Struggle.“ American Ethnologist 32.3 (May 2005): 239-259.

Bodley, John H. Victims of Progress. 4thed. California: Mayfield Publishing Company, 1999.

Churchill, Ward. From a Native Son: Selected Essays on Indigenism 1985 – 1995. Boston, Massachusetts: South End Press, 1996.

Clifford, James. “Indigenous Articulations.“ Contemporary Pacific 13.2 (Fall 2001): 468-490.

Comaroff, John L. “Ethnicity, Nationalism, and the Politics of Difference in an Age of Revolution.” In The Politics of Difference: Ethnic Premises in a World of Power. Ed. E. N. Wilmsen and P. McAllister Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1996.

Corntassel, Jeff J. “Who is Indigenous? ´Peoplehood´ and Ethnonationalist Approaches to Rearticulating Indigenous Identity.“ Nationalism and Ethnic Politics 9.1 (Spring 2003) : 75-100.

Deloria Jr., Vine. Custer Died for your Sins: An Indian Manifesto. New York: Avon Books, 1969.

Delugan, Robin Maria. “Indigeneity Across Borders: Hemispheric Migrations and Cosmopolitan Encounters.“ American Ethnologist 37.1 (February 2010): 83 – 97.

Dyck, Noel, ed. Indigenous Peoples and the Nation-State: “Fourth World” Politics in Canada, Australia and Norway. Canada: Institute of Social and Economic Research, University of Newfoundland, 1985.

Fenton, Steve, and Stephen May, ed. Ethnonational Identities. New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 2002.

Gellner, Ernest. Nations and Nationalism. Oxford: Basil Blackwell, 1983.

Goehring, Brian. Indigenous Peoples of the World: An Introduction to Their Past, Present and Future. Saskatoon: Purich Pub, 1993.

Goodale, Mark. “Reclaiming Modernity: Indigenous Cosmopolitanism and the Coming of the Second Revolution in Bolivia.“ American Ethnologist 33.4 (November 2006): 634 – 649.

IWGIA. The Indigenous World 2006. STIDSEN, Sille. Copenhagen: Denmark, 2006.

IWGIA. The Permanent Forum for Indigenous Peoples: The Struggle for a New Partnership. Document No. 91. IWGIA: Copenhagen, 1999.

Kearney, Michael. “Transnational Oaxacan Indigenous Identity: The Case of Mixtecs and Zapotecs.“ Identities 7.2 (2000): 173-195.

Kuper, Adam. “ The Return of the Native.“ Current Anthropology 44.3 (June 2003): 389-402.

Manuel, George, and Michael Posluns. The Fourth World: An Indian Reality. Ontario: Collier-Macmillan Canada, Ltd., 1974.

Means, Russell. Where White Men Fear to Tread: The Autobiography of Russel Means. New York: St. Martin´s Press, 1995.

Miller, Bruce Granville. Invisible Indigenes: The Politics of Nonrecognition. Lincoln and London, USA: University of Nebraska Press, 2003.

Niezen, Ronald. The Origins of Indigenism: Human Rights and the Politics of Identity. Berkeley: University of California Press, 2003.

Pearson, D. A Dream Deferred: the Origins of Ethnic Conflict in New Zealand. Wellington, N.Z.: Allen and Unwin, 1990.

Robbins, Steven. “’Bushmen’ and Double Vision: The Khomani San Land Claims and the Cultural Politics of ‘Community’ and ‘Development’ in the Calahari.” Journal of Southern African Studies. 27. 4 (December 2001): 833-853.

Saguestad, Sidsel. The Incovenient Indigenous. Remote Area Development in Botswana, Donor Assistance and the First People of the Kalahari. Uppsala: Nordicka Afrikainstitutet, 2001.

Scheffel, David Z. “The Post-Anthropological Indian: Canada´s New Images of Aboriginality in the Age of Repossession.“ Anthropologica 42.2 (2000): 175-187.

Smith, Linda Tuhiwai. Decolonizing Methodologies: Research and Indigenous Peoples. London, New York: Zed Books Ltd, 2004.

Spivak, Gayatri Chakravorty. “Subaltern Studies: Deconstructing Historiography.” In The Spivak Reader: Selected Works of Gayatri Spivak. Ed. Donna Landry and Gerald MacLean. NY: Routledge, 1995.

Statistics Canada. Aboriginal Peoples in Canada in 2006: Inuit, Métis and First Nations, 2006 Census. Ottawa: Minister of Industry, 2008.

Swepston, Lee. “The Adoption of the Indigenous and Tribal Peoples Convention, 1989 (No. 169).“ Law and Anthropology 5 (1990): 221-35.

Sylvain, Renée. “Disorderly Development: Globalization and the Idea of ´Culture´ in the Kalahari.“ American Ethnologist 32.3 (August 2005): 354-370.

Thuen, Trond. Quest for Equality. Norway and the Saami Challenge. St. John´s: ISER, Memorial University, 1995.

Wolf, Eric R. Europe and People Without History. 2nd ed. Berkeley and Los Angeles, California: University of California Press, 1997.