The Native People and Their Rights
According to the United Nations estimations, there are more than 5000 Native groups with a population of about 400 million who are living in about 100 different countries, mainly in Africa, Asia and Americas. Therefore, Native people constitute at least 5 percent of the world population(Amnesty 12). Most of these groups were not colonized and rarely have relations with today’s modern societies. In the western world, there is a large number of native groups that live in voluntary isolation. These individuals and their ancestors had lived in the Americas even before the current United States came into existence. Today many of them are at risk of disappearing amid the political marginalization, social, cultural, and economic discrimination that they go through. In the documentary film, Across the Americas: Indigenous Perspectives by Robbie Leppzer, native men and women lament how the Columbus legacy has negatively impacted their lives and the contemporary struggles over their land and human rights.
The welfare of the native people has been neglected for a long time, and the poverty levels among them are extremely high than the non-native groups. In the US, indigenous people like the Indians have faced constant abuses of their rights such as forceful evictions from their lands, violence, and brutality with the aim of assimilating them(Berger 25). In the Alcatraz is not an island film produced by Jon Plutte, native Americans mainly Indians began the occupation of Alcatraz island after years of assimilation and oppression. The film depictshow the incident drastically changed the US Government policies and programs towards the natives and how it changed how indigenous people viewed themselves, their human rights and culture.
Many critics argue that for development to reach the native groups, they have to be forced out of isolation and quickly assimilate them. Although economic development can unintentionally affect the rights of native people, it can also be used to promote and protect their rights in a constructive manner. Governments should encourage dialog and constant consultations between its agencies and the native people’s leadership. For instance, in projects that are beneficial to the entire country but are likely to interfere with the natives’ land and rights. Therefore, consultations and compromise would go a long way in mitigating possible social and economic tensions.
In the Canary effect: kill the Indian, save the man film written and directed by Robin Davey, it not only shows the past mistreatment by the United States government through its policies towards the Indian people, but it also shows the current affairs in the 21st century such as life, the poverty, and suicide rates in Indian reservations. It is, therefore, important for the government to develop policies that are not insensitive to their cultural diversity and rights. It is not right to displace native communities from their land against their will and not compensate them adequately like the other groups. Policies that involve land ownership, agricultural development, and health or educational services can still be implemented without forcing these groups into the contemporary society that we want them to live in.
There are international declarations and agreements that recognize the native people and their rights. These declarations and agreements should be translated into national laws, policies, and other programs. This may be contested by other groups but, members of the native groups are entitled to universal human rights enjoyed by everyone.
Amnesty. Indigenous Peoples’ Long Struggle to Defend Their Rights in the Americas . London: Amnesty International Publications, 2014.
Berger, B.R. “Indian Policy and the Imagined Indian Woman.” Kansas Journal of Law and Public Policy (2004): 14, 103-115.