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Nationalisms and Identities among Indigenous Peoples

Case Studies from North America

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Edited By Martina Neuburger and H. Peter Dörrenbächer

This book investigates nationalisms and the emergence of national identities among the Indigenous peoples across North America. It examines the many difficulties which the Native communities have had to face in order to assert themselves as nations, as well as looking at the ambiguity of the term 'nation' within First Nations-government relations. The volume gives a broad perspective on the historical development of Native American nationalism and also explores a variety of political, educational, sociological, cultural and even literary viewpoints. The experiences of the Indigenous peoples are compared with the experiences of other Aboriginal groups across the globe, in order to enrich our understanding of global indigenous nationalisms.
The contributors to this volume represent the perspectives of a variety of different First Nations and a wide range of disciplinary fields, from history, anthropology and political science to communications, law, linguistics and literary studies.
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Decolonizing Indigenous Histories and Justice

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In 1992, the West […] celebrated the quincentenary of Columbus’s first voyage from an ‘old’ world to a ‘new’. Conventional history, written by the winners, has always taught us that this ‘discovery’ was one of mankind’s finest hours […]. The inhabitants of America saw it differently […] within decades of Columbus’s landfall, most of these people were dead and their world barbarously sacked by Europeans […].1

The official history assigned to the Indigenous peoples of North America is not that of their own culture or knowledge. In Canadian schools, for example, Western versions of history are taught, more particularly Eurocentric British history, written through the eyes of colonial historians, writers, travellers and others whose one-sided and distorted stories have since dominated popular school texts and the education curriculum. Usually, this misleading and distorted history has depicted Indigenous peoples as backwards and inferior, lazy and primitive, with their culture devoid of justice and law (Smith 1999; Adams 2000; Hookimaw-Witt 2010). According to the historian Adams (1999: 20–1), Eurocentrism is more than a glorification of the colonizer’s culture as it functions to ‘inferiorize Aboriginals’ by viewing Europeans ‘as culturally and politically superior to all other peoples of the world’. Adams (1999: 21) maintains that ‘Eurocentrism as an ideology is the major contributor to the devastation and suppression of Aboriginal civilizations’. Aboriginal perspectives and worldviews were disregarded through the process of colonialism and Eurocentrism was brought in to define Aboriginal people. Such Eurocentric perspectives have been ← 15 | 16 → an important factor...

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