December 26, 2008

The plot to preserve Native cultures

The Debate:  Aboriginal Identities at a Crossroads?1.2 million strong and growing, but with more than half of Canada's First Nations now living off-reserve, can the traditional way of life be maintained?

Comment:  This is an hour-long show on the issue of assimilation. It's based on the book Disrobing the Aboriginal Industry: The Deception Behind Indigenous Cultural Preservation. The book argues that unscrupulous lawyers are manipulating Indians into cling to traditions that they'd be better off giving up.

The show starts with the lawyers' role, but quickly segues into the core issue. Namely, whether Indians are better off with a traditional or modern lifestyle or some combination thereof.

In my Stereotype of the Month contest, I've refuted arguments like the authors' many times. No doubt they have a point about tribes resisting change, but their basic premise is false. No one is suggesting that Indians choose traditional knowledge or training over a college education, for instance. These days Indians can participate in the global economy and in their local traditions.

Worth watching

In the show, the authors of Disrobing debate with representatives of the First Nations community. It's a pretty lively affair--certainly better than this year's presidential debates. The parties engage each other's arguments and moderator Steve Paikin keeps them focused. (By giving everyone a chance to speak, asking followup questions, and interrupting people if necessary, Paikin does a superb job of moderating. Every debate should be this well moderated.)

Overall, I'd say the video is worth listening to. I listened to it in the background while I worked on other computer tasks.


Anonymous said...

What of the obvious 90 +% of Native Americans who are federally recognized members of federally recognized Tribes and Nations in the US not now, nor having ever lived on a "reservation" or Nation land???

P.S. Long standing annoyance of ignorance, the fact that even the people of India often don't like being called "Indians," they like to be referred to by their tribes and families specifically, so let's just stick with First Americans, Native Americans, Indigenous Peoples...something that makes the beginning of sense and doesn't copy a drunken lost idiot who "discovered" the land we're all standing on.


Rob said...

I think the percentage of Indians who live off-reservation is closer to 70% than 90%. In any case, what of them? The issue raised in this video--preserving Native cultures--is relevant to Indians whether they live on or off the rez.

Yes, Indians prefer to be called by their family, clan, or tribal names first. But when a group name is necessary, they prefer "Indians." The evidence for this is clear. See "American Indian" vs. "Native American" and "Indian" vs. "Native American" for details.