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  • Writer's pictureChris Daniels

On "Defining Indigenous"

Dr. Chris Daniels, from the post "Defining Indigenous"

"What then are we left with in defining ‘Indigenous?’ In order to work with what could be considered a necessary-and-sufficient definition I will presume a more fundamental approach which understands the term as a way of being in relationship with land. I will follow those who start from the position that Indigenous beliefs, ontology, epistemology, and practices, are those derived from being in relationship with the land, and through the land to the universe as a whole. In other words, I agree with Okanagan Syilx scholar and novelist Jeanette Armstrong who insists that Indigeneity is a social rather than racial or political paradigm. It is how you live and relate to the world rather than being from a particular race. Indigenous Peoples, then, are those who, because they have such a deep relationship with the land, have developed these traits. In other words, Indigenous beliefs, values, practices, ways-of-knowing, languages, and culture, would be those developed from radical relationship with the natural world, through the land, by and for the people who live on the land. Indigenous people, therefore, are those that have or have had such a relationship, and consequently developed such beliefs, values, practices, ways-of-knowing, languages, and culture.

This, then, is the understanding I will be promoting when I refer to Indigeneity or Indigenous people. Regardless of any contextual additions, the focus on deep relationality to land in its universal sense is the necessary and sufficient factor for the definition. I recognize that in different contexts, such as political, economic, and ‘religious’ spheres of interaction, additional nuancing may be required, such as the addition by Wilson of the common experience of the oppression inherent in colonialism."


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