Tag Archives: indigenous people

Conquest of Indigenous Populations

The native Americans of the Great Lakes region were thankful for the opportunity to trade fur with the multitude of nations that presented themselves in friendship from the 14th to the 17th centuries (Reader’s Digest, 1978, p. 149). It was the conquest of land, ordered by King James I and King Charles II, that negatively affected the indigenous populations (p.149). It was this progressive agenda that marginalized the native Americans and ultimately caused King Philip’s year long war as well as other campaigns against the white settlers of the east coast (p. 152). Throughout this time, many tribal nations were decimated by other nations while competing for trade of the more powerful weapons the white settlers could provide. The tattered tribes would move and join in alliances with other defeated tribes to minimize the possibility of a recurrence and to ensure procreation and ultimate tribal survival (p. 152). This intermingling surely had an effect on the biological make-up of the various tribal nations. I feel that much of the negativity could have been avoided with a simple sense of respect.

Currently, there are many indigenous peoples facing a number of problems with colonization. The aborginal women of Ontario, Canada, are a specific example of how an overall lack of respect leads to the marginalization of a whole culture. “Aboriginal women have a lower life expectancy than non-aboriginal women, and higher incidences of diabetes, HIV/AIDS, tobacco addiction, and suicide (up to eight times the rate experienced by other women)” (as cited in Ontario Native Women’s Association [ONWA], n.d., p. 4). To address these concerns, the community has formed organizations like ONWA and the Native Women’s Association of Canada to provide a unified voice to advocate for improved status for aboriginal women in Canada. As their position paper states, “the ONWA makes recommendations for future actions to begin the process of initiating the necessary changes with a special focus on the need for grassroots control, activism, and leadership development for Aboriginal women” (p. 1). In addition to advocating for the equality of aboriginal women, the ONWA also advocates for the environment recognizing the increasing levels of waterway pollution and other environmental concerns.

Thus far, the ONWA has developed programs to address health concerns, gambling addictions, workforce development, housing and justice (ONWA, 2010). As a grassroots activist organization, the ONWA appears to be gaining ground for the equality of aboriginal women in Ontario.


Ontario Native Women’s Association. (n.d.). Contemporary issues facing aboriginal women in Ontario: An Ontario Native Women’s Association position paper. Thunder Bay, ON: Author.

Ontario Native Women’s Association. (2010, May 27). About us. Retrieved from http://www.onwa-tbay.ca/aboutus.htm

Reader’s Digest. (1978). In J. A. Maxwell’s (Ed.), America’s fascinating Indian heritage. Pleasantville, NY: Reader’s Digest Association.

Indigenous People

In order to define a term, such as “indigenous peoples”, one must examine the words that make up the phrase. “Peoples” are collections of societies, and “indigenous” implies nativity or autochthony. I have always considered “indigenous peoples” to be those societies that have an intrinsic relationship to the land inhabited. Ergo, when a society is provided for by the land, the act of habitation changes the land, and that land changes the society in a fundamental way. Whenever this is true and can be applied to a society, then it is a society of indigenous people.

The largest difficulty in defining or categorizing human beings is the resultant scale upon which they are measured as a group. I do not hold such inclinations as to group and sort people based on ethnicity, societal values, economics, or any other humanly devised subjective measures. The United Nations (2008) requires a society to be impoverished or suffer some other gross inequality in order to claim indigeny. I feel that this approach only serves to feed ideologic notions by marginalization and deprives the society from a rightful claim. By attempting to create a system to help indigenous peoples from inequality, the United Nations has sought to identify these peoples and have instead cast a definition upon them. Certainly, this is a problem.


Secretariat of the United Nations Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues, Division for Social Policy and Development, Department of Economic and Social Affairs. (2008). Resource kit on indigenous peoples’ issues. New York, NY: United Nations. Retrieved from http://www.un.org/esa/socdev/unpfii/documents/resource_kit_indigenous_2008.pdf