Indigeneity: Two Worlds

Indigeneity is a concept which embodies a global identity towards being indigenous, which can perhaps be related to Pan-Indianism. Pan-Indianism is a unity among different types of American Indians, where the movement originated in North America. Indigeneity is an emergence of personhood in which it is a performance to some. However, the question remains: to whom is this performance of Indigeneity for? By performance, I mean something that is put on and taken off in order to present for a certain group of individuals. In this case, the performance of Indigeneity is to those who are not included within the tribal circles, such as white people. Within some court cases where indigenous peoples defend their being and kinship to land can be related to artifacts. These artifacts represent a knowledge that preceded white westernized knowledge. Most newspapers covering stories on indigenous artifacts categorize them as items meant to be in museums; they are seen as primitive, invalid, and only something historic rather than very real and present. Artifacts Indigenous people present as validation for our existence are items white people do not want to be read or validated as knowledge and evidence for indigenous people’s existence because it contradicts the selected knowledge white Americans have today.

To be “valid” in America, you need papers and documents. However, what if papers are not enough to prove your existence? Indigenous peoples have already recognized their identities without papers or written documents. By questioning the symbols of Indigeneity and including new forms of knowledge represented by artifacts and oral storytelling, we create new spaces where indigeneity can exist and Indigenous ways of thinking emerge.