- Indigenous people’s claims are fundamentally based on the ...
Indigenous people’s claims are fundamentally based on the claim to sovereignty.
The central problem to this essay is the status of indigenous
population in such countries, as Australia, Canada and New Zealand.
All three are the members of the British Commonwealth and despite
having substantial autonomy from the Crown are being nominally
governed by the Queen. More broadly, the question of the status of
indigenous population depends on how indigenous peoples are fitted
into the Old World' discourse of civilisation. It will not be wrong
to assume that major problems that concern the indigenous peoples
of the mentioned countries are connected to such issues, as
sovereignty and self-determination.
In the European philosophical and political discourse
sovereignty was until lately construed mainly as a geopolitical
autonomy. Hence self-determination was also entailed to politics
and was unquestionably linked to land possession and
self-government. However, as politics began to include individual
and cultural aspects, so sovereignty also began to be perceived in
terms of cultural autonomy. And even in this case the question of
land remains important because on many occasions 'indigenous
population' means hunters-gatherers and nomadic tribes (as opposed
to sedentary peoples), who are very often pagan. For them, land is
not solely an indicator of their sovereign status; it is also the
means for existence, as well as the place of religious worship.
Finally, as Ivison observed,
the development of the Indigenous Sector [T. Rowse] shows that
self-determination, no less than assimilation, demands a certain
kind of acculturation into mainstream institutions and processes.
But this doesn't mean that one necessarily collapses into the
other--that self-determination has failed and assimilation
unavoidable or indeed that assimilation is always wrong. Instead,
the value of self-determination has to be judged from the
perspective of those it is supposed to empower (Ivison, 2004).