Indigenous Peoples: I will return and I will be millions

Summary April 2008 - Issue 410 New Internationalist

April 2008 - Issue 410

Something is happening. In different parts of the world indigenous people are organizing, demanding justice and fighting back. The election of indigenous president Evo Morales in Bolivia has been having ripple effects in other Latin American countries. In Africa, the so-called ‘Pygmy’ people of the Congo basin are taking on the World Bank. In India tribal adivasi people are doing battle with big business. While in Australia aboriginal activists are urging their new government to rethink the disastrous racist policies of the Howard era.

I will return...and I will be millions

I will return

There’s something in the air. After two decades of wrangling, the world – with a few notable exceptions – has signed up to a UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, supporting their centuries-long struggle to recover their lands, dignity and autonomy. In Australia the word ‘sorry’ has finally passed the lips of a prime minister, the newly elected Kevin Rudd, as he officially recognized that stealing a generation of Aboriginal children from their parents was wrong. In Washington the World Bank is being put to shame by Congolese Pygmies, proving that the institution is breaking its own rules by helping logging companies destroy the world’s second lung. While in Bolivia, Evo Morales has just entered the third year of his presidency, putting into practice a programme of radical change that is both indigenous and socialist.

In this issue we look at events around the world that suggest a new dawn for indigenous peoples. But we focus on Bolivia, a crucible where ideas as well as demands for justice are being tested. Much is at stake and there are implications for us all, as we face climate change and depleting natural resources.