The New Challenge to Native Identity: An Essay on 'Indigeneity' and 'Whiteness'
44 Pages Posted: 10 May 2009 Last revised: 14 Jun 2011
Date Written: 2005
This essay suggests that the current challenges to Native 'indigeneity' respond to the perception that 'privilege' and 'status' have attached to the racial and cultural identity of Native peoples in recent years through various 'special' legal rights. This article suggests that, with respect to indigenous peoples, the discourse of 'whiteness' requires analysis within a global, as well as national context. This article examines four areas within which there is an active debate over 'indigenous status': political rights under international human rights law; cultural rights under international human rights law; rights to land and to ancestral human remains under domestic law; and rights to genetic resources. The root issue within each of these areas is who 'owns' Native identity - political, cultural,ancestral, genetic - and what role does the concept of 'indogeneity' play in these assertions of 'ownership'? The article concludes by suggesting that Native cultural sovereignty, including tribal law and tribal epistemologies, will have an important role in asserting and maintaining Native rights to tangible and intangible tribal resources.
Keywords: Native peoples, identity, international human rights law
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