Category talk:Indigenous peoples

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General discussion on indigenous category[edit]

I don't feel comfortable about categories that seem to be motivated by misconceptions (re: there has been a misconception that these peoples...). I also think this category has POV problems (read Maasai and Mukogodo-Maasai to see one obvious problem). In North America and Australia, this seems to be a term that is commonly used. In Africa however it isn't. Let's stick to using it only where is is in common use — I don't see why we would need to add almost every single ethno-stub to this category. — mark 12:53, 14 Jun 2005 (UTC)

Validity, usefulness and what should be included?[edit]

I should like to further explore in some detail the notions on whether or not this Category is a valid, useful, or desirable one. In my view, I believe that it is (or can be made so- at present, it has only a few, almost random entries, and as such is deficient). In response to some likely questions:
  1. Is there a valid and recognised sense in which the term or label indigenous peoples is applied to a variety of cultural groups in some "unifying" way - given their obviously great diversity of experience, culture and history? Yes. Apart from its "everyday" meaning, the term has a real and specific usage found in national and international law, political, historical and anthropological academia, and specialised organisational and representational literature. Contemporary usage or identification as indigenous is an often quite explicit, even political act, made by the communities themselves or other organisations. The current main Indigenous peoples article does not (as yet!) fully cover this latter point, however where claim to indigenous identity exists it is an important facet of inter-societal relations, national and trans-national debates, and conflicts. Articles on nations, peoples and cultures would be incomplete if they omit reference to indigenous claims where they are substantively made, whether they are fully recognised or not. Indigenous status and recognition has important ramifications for (nearly all) societies at large. As such it is a notable occurrence and worthy of encyclopaedic inclusion- whatever one may personally think about the merits and methods of the claims and counter-claims.
  2. Given that indigenous peoples in the sense above has a valid meaning, why bother to explicitly identify particular groups as indigenous within Wikipedia? A key tool of research is the ability to be able to do comparative studies. Someone interested in the subject should therefore be able to easily track down references to particular indigenous peoples, or peoples for whom this claim is made. The indigenous peoples article itself primarily discusses the case in general only, particular cases will mostly appear elsewhere, not commonly linked. Even if the only thing in common between groups is their varied experience of indigenous status, it is surely useful to be able to review particular cases.
  3. How best then to accomplish this? Categories and "List of..." articles are two complimentary solutions. Browsing by category is frequently used, and Lists can summarise and be organised in useful ways (eg by region). The recent changes feature can be used in both to monitor the development of these thematically-related articles, without interfering with other classification schemes. Having this category will clearly assist anyone interested in the topic.
  4. But there are many such groups, the divisions are not always clear or undisputed, and they may not be specifically or commonly referred to as indigenous. Indeed, there are literally thousands of cultural and ethnic groups and sub-groups. However this in itself should not be a barrier to the attempt. There probably never shall be a completely comprehensive and undisputed listing, but the more examples provided the better. As for whether the particular label indigenous is used- for historical and circumstantial reasons, of course different terms are used in different cases. Nevertheless, the core definition may be applied whatever the descriptor, and indigenous peoples is preferentially used in international forums, such as the UN.
  5. Finally, we come to the vexed question, how to determine whether or not any particular group ought to appear in this category, a decision which may have POV implications- as per the Maasai/Mukogodo-Maasai contrast given above. Recognition of indigenous groups, and even distinction between such groups, can be problematic. But we do not have to rely upon POV judgements. I propose the following criteria:
  • an indigenous people may be identified as such, where notable independent reference(s) can be found that the group's indigenous identity is either asserted or recognised as being indigenous, or some other cognate term, by either:
    1. some government, regulatory body, law or protocol, which may be either sub-national, national or trans-national; and/or
    2. some body, NGO or other organisation, involved with indigenous affairs and recognised as an accredited participant, intermediary or representative in some legal, negotiative, national or international regulatory or rights-based process; and/or
    3. some academic and peer-reviewed literature or publication; and/or
    4. some representative body of the indigenous society itself, where that representation is made in respect of a claim or issue to a government or governmentally-supported organisation (eg the UN, African Union).
That source should naturally be cited on the relevant page. Of course, the difficulties of just what is or is not a credible, notable source remain, but this is true for all Wikipedia articles. And where there is (independent) contention about a particular group or identity in the field, let that contention be noted in the relevant article (and perhaps here); but let us not omit the reference to the claim of indigenous status altogether, particularly if it is an important dimension in the understanding of that society, its history and present situation.
As an addendum - the "misconception" which is noted on the category page here is, I think, validly raised (but could be perhaps better phrased). That is, there is a distinct view that indigenous societies (more generally, subsistence-based societies) are somehow "ancient", necessarily long-standing and little changed, somehow primitive ("not modern"), etc. But this is not so, for a variety of reasons. In short, "ancient peoples" are more properly those who lived in ancient times, which is not a correlate with the term "indigenous".
I do not think therefore that this category is "motivated" by this misconception, but rather stands alone as a valid entry, for the reasons outlined above.--cjllw | TALK 03:23, 2005 Jun 16 (UTC)

African indigenous communities and claims - a particular case[edit]

Considering the particular case of, say, certain African communities where the label indigenous may or may not be commonly applied. I would maintain that in fact at least the sense by which they are (self-)identified as specific indigenous communities has been made, and made frequently and notably. There is evidence of this. Many organisations, academics in the cultural and political fields, and the communities themselves seek to expressly associate these African groups with an indigenous identity, however called. A primary purpose in doing so, which as documentors of worldly significant events an act we ought to record, is to put forward their particular rights and claims which arise from their (asserted) indigenous status. This is done within the context of the wider political and regulatory environments in which they now find themselves.
To this end, quite a few cooperatives and organisations have been formed comprising of representatives of various African communities, who may well be distinct and yet seek to obtain some outcomes in common. One such is the Indigenous Peoples of Africa Coordinating Committee, who note that:
  • "Today, groups claiming to be ‘indigenous’ in Africa are mostly those who have been living by hunting and gathering or by transhumant (migratory nomadic) pastoralism. These are different peoples who have followed particular trajectories of cultural and economic evolution in specific environmental conditions..."
A distinction is noted in the East Africa section, between the "settled" indigenous groups and transhumant groups such as the Maasai; however, these transhumant groups identify as indigenous nevertheless, indeed representatives from this society hold key posts in this organisation.
A further example is a submission made in 2002 by an association of Kenyan peoples to the Constitution of Kenya Review Commission, which had as a main objective securing explicit recognition of their indigenous status in the country's constitution. In part this submission states:
  • "Pastoralists and hunter-gatherers (PHG) have identified themselves as indigenous peoples owing to their culture, relationship and spiritual attachment to their ancestral and traditional territories, in Kenya, and seek to have the new Kenyan Constitution recognize them as such...It is important for PHG ethnic communities to be named and specifically identified within the constitution as groups forming the Kenyan State and owing allegiance to it. This will mean that ethnic groups as constituent parts of the Kenyan state will be recognized and will no longer be submerged under a “Kenyan identity” which only reflects the cultures, history and traditions of the dominant communities."
The claimant groups are identified as:
  • "...the terms “Pastoralists and Hunter-Gatherers” will be identified as indigenous peoples, in reference to and as conceived and adopted under the International Labour Organization Convention (ILO) No. 169 of 1989. These peoples in Kenya include the Maasai, Samburu, Turkana, Ogiek, Sengwer, Terik, Orma, Wardei Somali, Borana, Rendille, Sanya, Ellmollo, to name but a few."
Whether or to what degree their claims are acknowledged by this particular government, the participation and identification of these groups as indigenous in this context is clearly a significant component of their current status, and as such would be appropriate to document in relevant articles. The same applies naturally to all such groups in Africa or elsewhere who share similar positions.
Delegates from many African communities have frequently appeared before bodies such as the UN Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues, representing their people and indigenous claims and concerns. One such example can be found at this link.
All that being said, I propose that groups such as the Maasai are valid candidates for this category, and further that useful mention might be made of their concerns re territorial, cultural, political, and resource rights and claims in the wider political and social context.--cjllw | TALK 03:23, 2005 Jun 16 (UTC)


Thank you, cjllw, for your thorough and sensible response. I find your remarks very astute and upon reading, I must admit that I did not research the issue as deeply as you obviously did. I am convinced by your account — I agree that this category is a valid and useful one, and that both Maasai and Mukogodo-Maasai could very well be included in this category. Incidentally, I'm very glad with your research in that particular case as I wasn't sufficiently aware of the quest for constitutional recognition of many of the peoples I've been writing articles on (Terik, Okiek, etc.). In short: my apologies for rushing matters and thank you for your sensible response.
By the way, I have removed this category from Category:Ancient peoples. We should find a suitable alternative. Category:Ethnic groups might be a good one. — mark 11:33, 16 Jun 2005 (UTC)
Thanks, Mark. For the moment, I have parented this category with Category:Human societies, Category:Anthropology, and Category:Ethnic groups, until the overall categorisation schema can be more fully reviewed.--cjllw | TALK 07:11, 2005 Jun 17 (UTC)

I still find this category problematic. "Indigenous people" is used often (I would say primarily) in political advocacy, making the criterion "some representative body of the indigenous society itself" especially problematic, if not inherently POV, while "some recognised body, NGO or other organisation, involved at least in part with indigenous affairs" seems very vague. The other two sound good, at least in principle. Also, the word itself is a misnomer, if a widely used one. - Mustafaa 19:15, 22 Jun 2005 (UTC)

It is true that claims to indigenous status often have a political aspect, even explicitly so. However, this in itself does not mean it is inappropriate to document these in Wikipedia. WP records many events of a political or contentious nature, and documenting the political experience and aspirations of a people, ethnic group or nation will add to the overall understanding of the relevant topic, no less than social, geographical, historical and demographical data. As long as this is done as per NPOV, notability and citation guidelines, there should hopefully not be cause for issue.
I suppose that deciding whether a view or claim coming from a group, body or organisation is representative enough for notability may entail (unavoidably, even) some POV-judgement on behalf of the writer who may wish to use it in an article. But this remains true of other reference sources, and where cited would be subject to the same process of challenge and peer review. Have also now "tightened up" the 2nd & 4th criteria.--cjllw | TALK 2005 June 30 07:20 (UTC)

Sub-categorisation by region[edit]

Since there are potentially very many entries which could be made in this category, further sub-categorisation by region and sub-region would be useful, particularly for articles on individual indigenous groups. To be comprehensive, the following breakdown is suggested:

where these regions and sub-regions encompass the areas delineated in their respective Wikipedia geographic articles.

A given indigenous people or group should be placed in its relevant sub-regional category, and optionally perhaps the "continental" region as well - instead of under the parent Category:Indigenous peoples. Note that there may be some overlap between the regions as these are not always uniformly defined, and further that some groups may warrant placement in more than one regional sub-category, if they are so distributed.

Further sub-categories by country may also be warranted/convenient, where there are a significant number of different groups.

Presently, Wikipedia has collective articles and reasonable coverage on Indigenous peoples of the Americas (cf. Native Americans), but indigenous peoples of other regions are in the main poorly represented.--cjllw | TALK 2005 June 30 08:17 (UTC)

Further to the above, and as implied on Category:Indigenous peoples of North America, bringing this here, for a while now there's been a need for sub-regions of North America to have their own cats; i.e. not in the subcats of Category:Aboriginal peoples in Canada and Category:Indigenous peoples in the United States, with their respect province/state subcats Category:First Nations in British Columbia or Category:Native American tribes in Washington, as examples. The culture-areas reflected in Category:Indigenous languages of the Americas are pretty much correlative to the propose category structure: not sure of all titles but here's samples:

And I'll leave it there, as I'm not sure at all about Great Plains/Woodlands/Appalachia/Southeast etc....I'm mostly concerned about the NW Coast and Plateau, as there's a heap of articles/peoples in that region and will be lots more;f if not objections I'm just going to start the NW Coast peoples cat; it has a main article already Indigenous peoples of the Pacific Northwest Coast.Skookum1 (talk) 22:51, 10 November 2008 (UTC)

Riffing off my fixes to the category names, the California cat is OK as a name, although I think there's some overlap with Mexico (albeit Mexican California but also inland I think), but mostly because there's no probs with the Native American/First Nations problem re overlaps with Canada, which is why "Indigenous peoples" works for the Northwest Coast; which btw also overlaps with Alaska Native but by only one tribe (Tlingit, who are also in Category:First Nations in British Columbia and Category:First Nations in Yukon but not in th Sub-Arctic category, curiously (as their territory overlaps with that of peoples in the Sub-Arctic grouping).
Here's the listing of related language-area subcats:

Which I guess is more than an adequate breakdown for the suggested corresponding "ethno" cats. That last one looks like for standards' sake should be Category:Indigenous languages of teh North American Eastern Woodlands. All these will overlap and sometimes haev as subcats the respectiev linguistic-group and province/state cats in various ways.Skookum1 (talk) 23:14, 10 November 2008 (UTC) Tidied this up some; there are reasons, apparently, why some of these langaugae-areas don't work as culture areas, or aas regions to divide other culture-areas up by; I'm mostly concenred with those in my (northwestern) area/turf; I know the Anishinaabe already have a subproject of the {{NorthAmNative}} project, for example...but that's delineation by ethnic group, not culture area, or is it?Skookum1 (talk) 23:22, 10 November 2008 (UTC)

Bad link to Category::Indigenous peoples of Southeast Asia[edit]

User:Sinama-Webmaster/Sama people is turning up listed under < S > on the Category--Indigenous peoples of Southeast Asia page. I have edited his user page to break the link but it is still appearing Felix505 (talk) 19:03, 21 August 2010 (UTC)

Category:Indigenous_peoples_of_North_Asia vs. Indigenous peoples of the Russian North[edit]

I having issues with the term "Indigenous peoples of North Asia" as it looks like original research. Both within Russia and internationally "North Asia" is simply not a common geographic frame of refernce. The same is true for UN contexts. Here, when indigenous peoples are being categorised by region, the regions will typically comprise: Latin America, Asia (which almost always excludes Russia), Africa, North America, sometimes Oceania and either Europe including Russia or Europe and Russia as two distinct regions. The term most commonly used is "indigenous small-numbered peoples of the North, Siberia and the Far East", or "indigenous peoples of the (Russian) North, for short.

Another problem with "indigenous peoples of North Asia" is, that it excludes indigenous peoples in the European North of Russia. For indigenous peoples in Russia, the distinction between the European and Asian parts of the Country is entirely meaningless. Nenets live on both sides of the Ural, on either side they are indigenous. If you have a look a the interwiki links of Category:Indigenous peoples of North Asia, you will note the inconsistency. Most notably, the Russian counterpart is called: ru:Категория:Коренные народы Севера (=Category:Indigenous peoples of the [Russian] North), . So if the category is to remain in en.wp, the interwiki links will have to be removed, because the English category is different from the Russian one.

There is another problem making the whole thing not that complicated: The Russian term excludes ethnic group of more than 50,000 individuals, thus, in Russian contexts, the Buryat, Yakut, Tuvans, Komi and Khakass are not recognised as indigenous.

So maybe there should be two separate categories which will be largely overlapping: Indigenous peoples of the Russian North (as a political categorisation, in accordance with the definition stemming from Russian legislation) and "indigenous peoples of North Asia" as a merely geographical categorisation. In addition, there are, I would say, the indigenous peoples of the (geographical) Artic, which includes some but not all of Russia's IP of both the Asian and European parts as well as of Northern Scandinavia, Greenland & North America. So, the Chukchi would end up in three categories: IP 1) of North Asia, 2) of the Russian North and 3) of the circumpolar rim, the Nenets even in four, the fourth one being IP of Europe, as they are living to both sides of the Ural. The Yakut would go into IP of North Asia & of the Circumpolar Rim but not into IP of the Russian North, as they are not legally indigenous in Russia. The Udege would be IP of North Asia and of the Russian North but not of the Circumpolar Rim, as they live too far to the south..

What would you think of such an approach? --Johannes Rohr (talk) 09:55, 1 July 2012 (UTC)

So, I have now added a regions sub-category Category:Indigenous peoples of Russia with a sub-category Category:Indigenous small-numbered peoples of the North, Siberia and the Far East and I have changed the interwiki links accordingly. --Johannes Rohr (talk) 07:28, 3 July 2012 (UTC)