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Global Studies: Indigenous Peoples


Indigenous Peoples

(November 14, 2013)

The quietest voices

Have the loudest meaning

Every word said is like

An earthquake.

It sends a big movement

It moves the biggest barriers down

It can open a new state of mind.

The quietest voices

Can join and become

A million voices.

For what we say can

Be pushed aside

Forgot about.

But when we come together,

We are heard

We do count

We are ready to stand up

We won’t take no for an answer

We will speak until

Everyone hears us

We will not be quiet anymore

We are important

We do count.

Don’t take our voices away.

With this poem from Rethinking Schools, Global Studies class at Talking Stick began a lesson on indigenous peoples.  We posed questions such as: Who are they? Where are they? What does it mean to self-identity as an indigenous person? Why are indigenous cultures diminishing? What do concepts like sovereignty, environment, access to natural resources, disease, forced trade, natural disasters, drought, rain forest destruction, and government action, mean when applied to indigenous populations? Is it important for the human species as a whole to preserve as wide a range of cultural diversity as possible? If so, is the protection of indigenous cultures vital to this enterprise?

We identified peoples from every continent and placed their locations on our world map. I presented a slideshow of pictures of 48 different groups of indigenous peoples and we noted the commonalities. (For more on specific tribes Survival International is full of outstanding photography and information about endangered populations.) I shared a Native American story from Keepers of the Earth, and we went on to play a game called "predator and prey" which involved blindfolds and lots of sneaking.

Our takeaway from last week was that as a group we know very little about this topic. With this introduction we have now become awakened to the idea that there are people who are largely excluded, socially and politically, from global society.