Indigenous Cultures Research Papers
Indigenous cultures are those groups that have preserved traditional ways of living, often retaining subsistence-level production. Paper Masters will custom write research on any indigenous culture you need studied or present a paper on the concept of indigenous cultures overall.
Notable examples of indigenous cultures are the following:
- The Inuit
- The Tuareg of Africa
- Australia’s Aborigines
- The Sami of northern Norway
- The Yanomamo in South America
Frequently, peoples in indigenous cultures are protected by national or international legislation, as they are often vulnerable to exploitation.
In 1972, the United Nations Working Group on On Indigenous Populations (WGIP) attempted to define indigenous cultures, stating that they were communities with historical continuity to a particular physical location that dates to before colonial invasion, and that these groups consider themselves to be distinct from the prevailing society. While the definition is criticized by some as being flawed, it was the beginning of a recognition that indigenous cultures required protection in order to preserve their way of life.
Today, indigenous cultures range in their level of contact with the larger society. The Maya of Mexico, for example, are almost completely assimilated, whereas other groups, such as the Jarawa people of the Andaman Islands remain almost totally isolated from outside influences. The size and experiences of these many indigenous cultures varies widely across the globe, including the near extinction of some of these groups.
Westerners, in their haste to exploit indigenous peoples for monetary gain, have created a system in which those that produce the food go hungry, while those that purchase it live in a state of materialistic gluttony. As indigenous cultures are lost to the process of colonialism and Westernization, the world losses a valuable base of knowledge that has benefits beyond what man can possibly know. At the present time Linden notes that some 3,000 languages are on the verge of becoming extinct because children do not speak them any more. While this may not seem important to the layman, in actuality, the loss of these indigenous languages may mean the loss of the ability to understand scripts from ancient times that may provide historical information of worth to modern man. Thus, the process of Westernization and colonialism have destroyed more than just the peasant’s ability to find himself; it has destroyed the ability of man to understand and interpret his past.
It is a common misconception that third world cultures benefit from modernization and the westernization of their technological and ecological capabilities. While technological advancements often increase productivity and output in a nation’s economy, this increase is detrimental in other areas such as environmental degradation, loss of private land ownership, and the replacement of human labor in exchange for capital gains. The postindustrial era in third world nations has brought about an unequal distribution of benefits and caused the disparity between the wealthy and the poor.
According to Bates, every act of development includes an act of destruction. In short, third world countries are slow to develop due to their incorporation into the world capitalist system of which they have virtually no power to direct its benefits for their own development. They thus participate as unequal partners with the metropolis in the development process. So extreme is the disparity between the two paradigms that underdeveloped societies feel they do not have a voice. Martha C. Ward notes that the Pohnpeians say it is like “water running under boulders”. This means that one can hear the waters but one cannot see it. Relatively speaking, they can complain about the actions of “high people” but nothing will ever come of it. Bates asserts that it is a mistake to think that complexity equals progress or “improved” adaptation.