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  • Indigenous people march in Acapulco, Mexico, on International Day of the World's Indigenous People, August 9, 2018.

    Indigenous people march in Acapulco, Mexico, on International Day of the World's Indigenous People, August 9, 2018. | Photo: EFE

Published 10 August 2018
Is the UN really addressing the most important Indigenous agendas? Not really, writes Itzamna Ollantay.

The United Nations' International Day of the Indigenous Peoples, commemorated worldwide every August 9, this year focused on Indigenous migration in a bid to "raise societies' awareness."


Territorial Disputes 'The Root of Indigenous Struggles': UN

But is the UN really addressing the most important Indigenous agendas? Not really: the day is mostly focused on culture, highlighting languages, costumes, rituals and food.

Every August 9, the 'good indians' who are aesthetically presentable for the taste of the colonizer, with their presence and 'ancestral' rituals, decorate the hypocritical discourse of the ethnographic states and the charitable cooperation that sees beggars in us.

When August 9 is over, our sisters and daughters, despite being symbolically crowned as 'Indigenous beauty' queens, go back to cleaning houses and doing the laundry for the creole, mestizo boss, in exchange for misery salaries and under 'modern slavery' conditions.

On August 10, nobody remembers the institutionalized racism and the legal looting that we suffer in our territories. On August 10, as every other day in the year, the Indigenous raising their head or daring to encourage their sleeping brothers to defend their rights is criminalized or murdered in impunity, all under the permissive gaze of the creole states.

The restitution of the territories, the Indigenous self-determination and autonomies, and the pluri-national states are some of the central and essential issues for us, but they are absent in the 'celebrations' every August 9. While they don't give us our territories back and let us be self-governed, any attempt to address Indigenous issues will remain disguised hypocrisy in racist societies.

Speaking about migration, languages, customs, legal pluralism and identity without addressing a route to give back our territories is nothing more than publicity dynamizing the market and the tourist industry (so they keep on staring at us as museum pieces, that's why they call us ethnic groups). That's what we, the Indigenous people more or less awakened, must understand.

The restitution of territories and the self-determination of the peoples necessarily imply overcoming the failed model of the nation-state and dare to move forward towards projects such as the plurinational state with Indigenous autonomies.

If the 'full citizens' in multicultural countries can't recognize the failure or the limits of the nation-states and don't dare to discuss the project of the plurinational state, they're then forcing Indigenous peoples to organize and consider their sovereignty and independence.

Itzamna Ollantay is a Quechua nomad; son of the Pachamama; activist and reflexive defender of human rights and Mother Earth; lawyer, theologian and anthropologist trained in Western science.

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