Native Americans, Modern Science, and Globalization
A new Engage podcast is now available. It contains my interview with Allison Davis-White Eyes, Director of the Oregon State University Indian Education Office.
In our discussion, we talked about the National Geographic Society's Genographic Project and that fact that many native groups have refused to participate in the DNA sampling. The goal of the project is to provide detailed genetic maps of human migration over the entire globe. Davis White-Eyes tries to give us reasons for why Native Americans might be hesitant to go along with this collection process.
The most interesting part of this podcast for me was when we started to discuss the meaning of being a "globalized Indian". Davis-White Eyes claims that because of the interconnectivity of the planet, now in the era of globalization, native peoples might have a special responsibility to "indigenize" the world. This means more than simply promoting an end to discrimination and inequality for native peoples, but pushing for some kind of dynamic transformation of philosophical/scientific/political world views to reflect indigenous values.
There is definitely a movement underlying some her comments. In Latin America, there is now discussion of "interculturality". Indigenous leaders in Peru, Ecuador, and Bolivia are urging the rejection of "multiculturalism" (which means finding a way for different communities to live side by side) and the adoption of "Interculturality" (which means finding a way for different communities to inform and interact with one another and develop new principles of cooperation that reflect creative sythesis). Indeed, this principle is quickly becoming a model for building schools and designing curricula in Latin America.
A good book that examines the effect that interculturality will have in our understanding of what it means to be indigenous and the future of the Americas is Walter Mignolo's "The Idea of Latin America".