Territories, Spaces and Conceptual Maps
The notion of indigeneity has been met with increasing interest over the last few years within the study of culture, due to its analytical potential as a research concept that stands at the core of the expanding field of Indigenous Studies. Indigeneity is also most fundamentally a form a personal or communal self-identification, informing struggles for socio-political, judicial, and cultural recognition. Such politicization underlies the category’s controversial nature as well as its potential for disrupting and correcting preconceived notions, situations of injustice, and forms of discrimination. […]
Clinton Rickard, Border-Crossing and Haudenosaunee Trans-Indigeneity
After a century of working to solve the “Indian problem” through assimilation, the United States shifted toward the ultimate policy of absorption: citizenship. In the early 20th century, this became the primary issue between the American settler-state and Native nations. As the former demonstrated its commitment to settler-colonialism by eliminating Indigenousness as a distinct sociopolitical and ethnic identification, Native people repudiated this erasure through Indigeneity. This assertion of sociopolitical Otherness, rooted in land and attachment thereto, combatted the unilateralism of federal legislation and the abrogation of treaties. Among the Haudenosaunee (Six Nations or Iroquois), these protests occurred in relation to the border-crossing rights inhered in the Jay and Ghent Treaties. After the passage of the Indian Citizenship Act in 1924, Tuscarora chief Clinton Rickard organized resistance through the Indian Defense League of America. Along with securing the ability to freely cross the international boundary between the United States and Canada, he fought for the recognition of Haudenosaunee sovereignty, respect toward Haudenosaunee culture, and the preservation of Haudenosaunee land. By focusing on peace, unity, and treaties, Rickard “protected the line,” meaning both the international boundary and the cultural integrity of the Haudenosaunee and all Indigenous people.
The Beekeeper’s Perspective
A new nationalistic concept of ‘autochthony’ has developed in Sardinia in recent decades, which has progressively intertwined with various territorial matters in seeking to affirm an alleged biological authenticity of Sardinia and Sardinians. As a consequence of this sentiment, safeguarding the biodiversity of Sardinia has become a way to ‘purify’ the island from species that are considered symbols of the alleged subordinate role into which Sardinians have been confined since the Savoy regime. In this paper I discuss the role of beekeepers, focusing on how different notions of the autochthonous are used to shape the edges of territoriality. For the Sardinian beekeeper, working within a territory means becoming part of it, linking one’s own history to the history of the place. As such, working with local honeybees is a way to work with the tradition of su connotu (the known). Finally, I show the differences in discourses of territoriality and spatiality among Sardinian beekeepers and how these differences determine a new category of indigeneity that contrasts with the policies of cultural homogenization aiming to build an ‘authentic’ Sardinia.
The Cognitive and Ethical Implications of a Disregarded Cosmic Occurence
In any form, ‘being indigenous’ has a relational signification. Therefore, what consequences might there be for a conceptualization of indigenism that recognizes the commonality of our being indigenous to the Earth? Could we think of each instance of this common tendency to indigenize the Earth as a vernacularization of a universal inclination to produce indigeneity? In this vein, could we infer that indigenization is nothing but the spatial projection of a universal human inclination to engender culture?
These questions and their implications could have a substantial impact on how we conceive of the relationship between indigeneity and space. Taking the idea of ‘earthly indigeneity’ seriously means reading every place as an epitome of processive threads interwoven through other places and, potentially, originating from every part of the earth. If so considered, the ‘fact’ of indigeneity becomes the result of a dynamic process carried out through a spectrum of planetary semiotic connections, and guided by responsible cognitive action. ‘Ought’ and ‘is,’ the cognitive and the ethical, materiality and immateriality, local and global, can be seen to intermingle within indigeneity in a transformative orbit around the continually self-respatializing life of culture that could be, semiotically speaking, a veritable form of ‘renewable energy.’
Since the early colonial period, indigenous peoples around the globe have been framed as being anchored in the past. The manner in which this was accomplished varied in different locations, yet it was all done with the same intent: to leave them outside of history. Placing indigenous peoples in the past meant assigning lesser value to their forms of life and thought than to those of the West, which allowed for all manner of injustices to be inflicted upon them. In response to this strategic misrepresentation, indigenous peoples reached for their own notions of history and time in an effort to validate an alternate perspective that could discredit the supremacy of dominant Western ideas. Thus, history and time become a highly contested terrain.
In this essay, we explore some of the strategies used by two indigenous communities to decolonize Western representations of these groups. One of the case studies looks at how, in his 1958 novel Things Fall Apart, Igbo Anglophone writer Chinua Achebe deploys narrative time to challenge the Hegelian notion of sub-Saharan Africa as being ‘outside of history.’ On the other side of the globe, contemporary Maya artists use their ancestral philosophies of time that included the coexistence of multiple temporalities, as a way to challenge the universality of Western ideas of progressive time, and thus of Western constructions of history. Through the literary and the visual, the Igbo and the Maya decolonize normative representations of time in their efforts to re-inscribe their place in global history.
A Critique of the Discourse of Dispossession in Indigenous Studies
Indigeneities are widely constructed as emanating not only from the experience of dispossession in the historical past, but as ways of being in the world which are grounded positively in dispossession, and which in being so offer themselves as antagonistic alternatives to Western ways of being, grounded aggressively as they are in possessiveness, of land, of self, and of others. This essay argues that the opposite is true; that the present condition is one of being governed by regimes of power the strategy of which depends on the production of dispossessed and non-possessive subjects. The task is to reject these discourses of entrapment and reclaim possession for ourselves. In doing so much can yet be learned from minor traditions of thought and practice among indigenous peoples, both mythic and real, which, in contrast to today’s dominant discourses on indigeneity, insist on the integral importance of possession as a foundation for political subjectivity. Whether indigenous or non-indigenous, the task is the same; avoid being trapped by power, learn instead to hunt power, and cultivate the ultimate freedoms of autonomy and self-possession.