On the true meaning of indigenous peoples

Quite lovely to see Guardianistas tying themselves up in knots trying to prove that there are indeed indigenous peoples who do and should have special rights but that Britons are not such.

Even if they are indigenous.

The distinction seems to be that indigenous people must be an oppressed minority struggling for their rights, not just the people who were there first or who have historically been there, wherever there is.

Which would seem to make Britons an indigenous people when considering the EU for example: we are an oppressed minority fighting for our historical rights of fair trial by jury, the Common Law, truth and honesty in governance and so on. Oh, and hanging bureaucrats of course.

Further, just to further the BNP\’s sort of racial twattery, that would make Britons an indigenous people worthy of having their rights fought for if as and when they are a minority.

It\’s a rather strange way of making the definition don\’t you think?

Better rather to say that all the citizens of a polity have the same rights, all of which should be fought for all the time, no?

9 comments on “On the true meaning of indigenous peoples

  1. Shows you’re not cut out for politics Tim.

    Do things your way (which is also the way *they* espouse until you start making the points you have) and you can’t play groups against each other. You can’t stand as the go-to-guy with whom favour must be curried in order for some coherent block to gain an advantage. Lobby groups would be seriously inconvenienced to not have people like that to zero in on – to get their way they’d have to convince the rest of us and that is far too much like hard work!

    Who do our MPs represent? It isn’t us but the State.

  2. Not sure Gareth is cut out for coherent English but maybe its me.
    Interesting, its a little like the definitions of racism which exclude any racial features and come to mean any favoured ethnic victim group de jour
    Indigenous is a nasty term really , referring, as it does ,to fauna and flora primarily ,and by extension those people who have been considered much the same its carries the associative meanings primitive and not Western
    The English need no such label. There is an English people and it is bound by memory allegiance language and shared culture .The home of the English has on occasion been coextensive with England but not always and not very neatly. Not sure if this has much to do with a Polity which the fact if the English predates considerably , ( goes back the Venerable Bede you know Tim)

  3. This illustrates the general problem with picking out any group for special treatment, it creates a massive incentive for everyone else to define themselves as members of that group.
    This happened in NZ, when there was special government funding for deprived regions. Eventually everyone but Auckland got themselves declared as a deprived region. Then Auckland managed it too. (Then Roger Douglas came in with his sweeping reforms).

  4. isn’t it easy enough to distinguish indigenous from immigrant in the natural way, and then set policy according to whether you think the former are making life miserable for the latter, or vice versa, or neither.

  5. Not that easy. For a start, policies often have unintended consequences. Eg if your law favours one group over another, lots of people will act to get themselves defined as the favoured group. Another reaction is for the group affected by law to take political steps to protect their interests. It is very hard politically for a government to protect an unpopular minority.

  6. Newmania,

    Guardianistas profess a desire for equality and then don’t take it to the logical conclusion that you just need to treat everyone the same.

    If you have a position of authority or influence but treat everyone the same you will not have groups falling over themselves to buy your favour so they can acquire some advantage over everyone else. With regard to the media they can promote your cause, ignore you or destroy you. Which they do depends on what they think they can get out of your story.

  7. Louis,

    How many generations before they become a not immigrant and therefore indinginous?

    Because at the moment non indiginous is being defined by colour/cuture and not length of inhabitance and surely at some point that must count?

  8. Bloody hell.

    “Indigenous” is relevant when you’ve got a group that was in a territory before the majority population, and – through the wonders of genocide and land-stealing by the majority population – has become a small, cohesive minority population that’s economically and socially deprived compared to the majority population according to almost every indicator, and has a completely different set of cultural values.

    It’s relevant because *dealing with such groups in the way you deal with everyone else doesn’t work*. It’s sprung up mainly for practical reasons rather than an overarching philosophy.

    I mean, is anyone going to tell me that the Canadian First Nations, the Native Americans, the Aborigines and the Maoris are doing just fine and we shouldn’t worry about them?

    In the context of the UK, it’s irrelevant nonsense – well, unless we do end up being enslaved by Muslim hordes, massacred, and the survivors subjected to the Caliphate, in which case it would indeed be a fair definition.

    Tim adds: Or perhaps we could mention both the Pygmies and the Bushmen: both the indigenous tribes of respectively Central and Southern Africa, rudely and crudely over run by the Bantu peoples over the last 1600 years or so? Heck, the Bantu didn’t even make it over the Fish River until Europeans turned up with the Mediterranean food package.

  9. John B, the problem is that you don’t get an exclusive right to define what’s relevant and what isn’t, nor does anyone else. There’s a branch of thinking that is trying to take the word “indigenous” that had a relatively simple meaning of “originating where it is found”, and limit it, when applied to humans, to a special category, and then claiming that it’s insulting if people use the other, simpler, definition. Language changes all the time, of course, but it’s a bit ridiculous to expect everyone to fall in with the new definition, and extraordinarily optimistic to do so on a topic where people are likely to see a rhetorical advantage in defining themselves as “indigenous”.

    And, while we’re at it, how well are the descendants of African slaves sent to the Americas doing? How about the descendants of Koreans in Japan? Indians in Fiji? How about the children of alcoholics? And where do people of mixed ethnic backgrounds fit in?

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