Wednesday, August 11, 2010

An excerpt from a recent paper on indigenous rights i wrote for college

This is an excerpt from a paper that i recently wrote for college on the Guarani Indians living in South America. But, the entire time I wrote this paper, I had all indigenous people worldwide in my mind, but had to choose just one to write about. Before I go any further, I want to make it clear that I am not a part of a group that has been and is affected by the wrong doings of others, especially industries uprooting people to make way for their own purposes. I am apalled, sickened, and saddened by what people, no matter who they are, have to go through to simply survive in this world.I love these people as i would love any other because of the simple fact that they live on this same earth and should have all the rights that the rest of us enjoy, especially the right to live as they choose, not how anyone else thinks they should live. Also, I have made a couple changes to better fit this post. Another thing that I want to make very clear. This is my personal view and my writing. If you have something to say about this, say it to me and to know one else... i am soley responsible for all that is written here.

For countless years, indigenous peoples worldwide have had to endure a life filled with struggle, pain, torture, discrimination, and oppression. They are made to leave the lands that they have called home for centuries, this done by means of force and cruelty. Their ways of life are destroyed and means of survival are ruined. Much of this is done for reasons of ranching, logging, mining, and so many other forms of industry. Some of these have been legal and others are not. The rights of indigenous peoples are ignored and being pushed to the side. This has gone on for far too long and something needs to be done to help them regain their full rights.

Imagine that you are sitting in your home, surrounded by your family and friends, enjoying the fruits of your labor. All of a sudden, you hear the sounds of people coming up to your door. As you look out the window, you notice that these people are equipped with different kinds of weapons. You start to feel a fear in the pit of your stomach. Thinking you are safe, because some of these are law enforcement, you open the door to the person who is knocking. After a few words of exchange, you find out that everyone in your home has to leave immediately. When you ask why, you are told that you do not have any legal right to live on the land and in the home that you have known your entire life. In fact, this home was passed down to you through generations of family. You even have the documents to prove it, but that does not matter, you still have to go.

As you leave, some of your family members decide that they are not going to leave because they know and believe that it is their right to stay. They have never done anything to hurt anyone and have been good citizens in their community. When they refuse to leave, other members of the party enter your home and start to force them out. When the struggle gets harder, the weapons are then drawn, some using guns, others clubs and fists. You see all of your family being dragged and beaten. You hear their screams and pleas for their lives. You watch, alongside your children, as the head of the household is killed because he refuses to leave the home and life that he has always known. You feel nothing but confusion, pain, and terror as the lives of your family are being ripped apart.

Once everyone is out of the home, you notice that this is happening to your neighbors and all the people of the community who happen to be the same as you. They put you in groups and take you to a place that is strange to you and told to live there. There is no proper food, water, or shelter. Everything that you have ever known is gone in a matter of a few moments. Then, as you look back, you see strangers moving into your home and taking what was yours. The worst part is you feel that there is nothing in your power to stop it all.

This is the place that you have worked your entire life to keep, celebrate your traditions, and rest your head at night. This is also the place where you grew up and where you are raising your children. All that you have is given to others who are going to enjoy and benefit from all your hard work. This is what has been continually happening to the Guarani people of South America for centuries. The only difference, they probably did not get the courtesy of a knock at the door.

There is little hope for the Guarani and other indigenous people worldwide. Yet, there is still hope. There are community, national, and international organizations (such as Amnesty International and Survival International) that are fighting for the rights of indigenous peoples worldwide.

Now you may be asking yourself, what is it that I, only one person, can do to help make a change. Of course, you can donate money to groups like Survival International and Amnesty International, which are needed to help fund projects that further this cause. In addition, through these groups, you can also find information where you can volunteer and if able to do so, can write to local, national and international governments asking for laws to be passed that provide, support and protect tribal peoples. You can also live a more conscious lifestyle that will have less of an impact on indigenous people and our environment. One way to do this is to be more aware of products that you buy and knowing where they are coming from. An example of this would be refusing to buy a certain type of wood that is being cleared from a forest area where a tribe is living.

The easiest way to help the indigenous people is to help raise awareness of struggle for indigenous rights. Learn what you can about the struggles of the indigenous and the world around them. Then, tell your neighbors, family members and others that you meet. Let them know and the information will spread. This is important because once you know about something you cannot turn back. You may not act on what you learn, but you will always know. If you choose to act, there are many resources available on the Survival International and Amnesty International websites.

Through their support, one can help to bring about a better life for all, not just indigenous peoples, but for all peoples. You can help to stop the pain, sadness, oppression, and despair that are being cause by greed and hate. With your help, this small flame of hope can grow and help to light the lives of so many. Lastly, if you need more incentive to do so, think about this. If it is happening to them, it can also happen to all of us.

By Chieko Ross August 2010 ©

Survival International website:
Amnesty International website:


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