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Contemporary Thinkers Gather to Consider Mexico's Current Indigenous Reality

Francisco Lopez Barcenas - La Jornada
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August 11, 2016

Is there indigenous thought in Mexico? If so, what are its characteristics? What does it mean to think about reality from the viewpoint of indigenous peoples? How is this thinking developing? Above all, are indigenous people thinking about building a future other than the one we are living today?

To try to answer these and similar questions, 30 indigenous intellectuals from 18 indigenous peoples of Mexico met this week at a Colloquium held in the Tlatelolco Culture Center of the National Autonomous University of Mexico [UNAM].

The event, relevant in itself, becomes even more important because the meeting takes place when our country and the world are mired in a deep civilizational crisis. To this are added the intentions of corporate capital to control the lives of the pueblos in order to exploit their natural resources. Those of us who are preparing explanations of the social situation from the perspective of the pueblos to which we belong, cannot ignore this situation, because it is the same one in which our ideas are born, develop and relate to others that are different. We have to keep in mind something else; namely, that we are the product of a history, most often violent. In the twentieth century, our pueblos still remain subordinated to outside powers who decide their present and their future.

VME Note: The word 'pueblo' carries a double meaning; it refers both to the people and their land, including the village, where they dwell. Like other indigenous peoples around the world, Mexico's indigenous peoples retain a strong bond to their land and its natural resources. For that reason, this translation retains the word 'pueblo' with the intent that readers take in the indivisible peoples-land connection.

To find answers to the questions raised, nor can we forget that the pueblos to whom we belong represent contemporary societies, which are not backward in the face of any other. Consequently, the thought of indigenous intellectuals throughout history has always been contemporary, even when it wasn't necessarily on the side of the pueblos. The paradigmatic case occurred in the twentieth century when the State created indigenism. Some indigenous people then placed themselves on the side of the government to produce the official line of thinking, developing partial and subordinate ideas, and giving rise to a specific category of indigenous people later dubbed "the permitted indian."

Read the rest at Voices of Mother Earth | Spanish original

Related: 15 Organizations Promoting Indigenous Knowledge in the Food System (Food Tank)

Related: Right to Education Still Elusive for Native People in Latin America (Inter Press Service)

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