Center for World Indigenous Studies
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Risk of Extinction

Published: January 20, 2012, Author: JayTaber

In asking the question whether the UN will  live up to its commitment to indigenous peoples, Intercontinental Cry notes the notorious track record of the institution in marginalizing indigenous peoples in its own processes. Indeed, in examining the UN system, we discover many programs aimed at undermining indigenous societies, cultures and values.

Perhaps most noteworthy are the barriers erected by UN agencies to indigenous economics in the form of autonomy and sharing. In fact, agencies like the International Monetary Fund, World Trade Organization and World Bank actively oppose any form of socialized wealth, be it indigenous or otherwise. As modern states are regularly punished both economically and militarily for using public resources for public benefit, we have to ask ourselves what it is about the market system that makes it such a misanthropic enterprise.

In forming modern states to guarantee corporate monopolies by force, global markets in the 16th and 17th centuries deployed both God and guns in subduing indigenous peoples, their territories and resources. Looking at the actions of NATO and the Pentagon today, one is challenged to distinguish modern larcenous behavior by powerful corporate states from that of their predecessors.

In reconciling these profound differences between indigenous nations and corporate states, we must begin by recognizing the role of the market system within institutions like the UN. Until we correct these imbalances of power, human rights — indigenous or otherwise — remain an aspiration paid lip service by states while simultaneously being attacked by them on all fronts.

As observed on Intercontinental Cry, there was an opening for discussion on this vital topic recently taking place in Copenhagen. What we now need to do is to make this a main item of media focus, if only, for now,  in online indigenous and alternative media. Until we tame the market system, indigenous peoples and civil society are at risk of extinction.

Chief George Manuel Memorial Indigenous Library

The library is dedicated to the memory of Secwepemc Chief George Manuel (1921-1989), to the nations of the Fourth World and to the elders and generations to come.

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