Center for World Indigenous Studies
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The Practice of Ethnic Cleansing

Published: August 27, 2008, Author: JayTaber

Genocide against tribal peoples involves more than just rape and murder. The practice of ethnic cleansing, for instance, entails forced removal of aboriginal nations from the lands and resources that give them their sustenance and identity. Once removed from their lands and resources, it becomes impossible to continue their indigenous way of life, thus rendering them something other than that to which they have evolved as collective societies.

Non-tribal people worldwide, having grown accustomed to the authority of the modern states that forceably displace tribal peoples for power and profit, are not only cognitively co-opted by this systematic crime against humanity; they are also largely oblivious to indigenous peoples’ existence as alternative systems of social organization. Despite there being over 500 million people living as tribal entities around the world, their non-aggression apparently makes them invisible.

It is perhaps the most tragic of paradoxes that in order to garner attention and respect, indigenous peoples are expected by dominant societies to behave as savagely as modern states. If we continue on this trajectory of relationships with aboriginal societies, we unfortunately might reap what we have sown.

(Jay Taber — recipient of the Defender of Democracy award — is an author, columnist, and research analyst at Public Good Project.)

Chief George Manuel Memorial Indigenous Library

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