An image from Carlisle Indian School in Carlisle, Pennsylvania from the Library of Congress, which listed that it was possibly taken during a chapel service.

An image from Carlisle Indian School in Carlisle, Pennsylvania from the Library of Congress, which listed that it was possibly taken during a chapel service.

Diversity Nation States May Not Support Indigenous Rights

The United States is known for its capabilities to incorporate the views of dissenting groups into its laws and political culture. This American cultural, legal, and political flexibility has been a bane to radical movements and is a feature that is emulated by other countries.

Many nations look to the legal and legislative history of the United States to address their own legal and political issues with gender, race, ethnicity, and other issues. United Nations officials say that the 21st century will be a period when nation states will accept more multicultural points of view within common national, political and legal institutions. The development of multicultural nation states will curb the rough edges of historical nation states that sought to impose a single cultural hegemony over all citizens within a nation. Indigenous Peoples in the United States, for example, are well aware of the history of forced assimilation starting in the 1870s where children were sent to boarding schools, and indigenous languages, ceremonies and everyday practices were discouraged in favor of English language and American culture.

The emergence of civil rights movements and human rights protections are part of the international movement to provide citizens with legal and political protections. There are movements to protect feminism, sexuality, race, ethnicity, and class groups and relations, although few nations have fully incorporated the range of diversity possibilities. Most nation states debate the pros and cons of various diversity movements and diversity rights. New intellectual perspectives provide support to diversity movements by articulating adoption of diversity rights. Universities, one of the central institutions of civil rights and social and cultural integration, often have gender, sexuality, poverty, and ethnic studies centers. Intellectual perspectives, such as feminism, critical race theory, post-modernism, post-colonialism, and others, are dedicated to advancing diversity rights issues.

In most nation states the range of diversity rights are far from achieved. Nevertheless, many people see the future nation state as adopting not only multicultural diversity, but also includes adoption of the range of diversity movements. In other words, an ideal nation state accepts, legislates, and protects by law differences in gender, sexuality, race, class, ethnicity, and culture. The goal of the diversity movement groups is to achieve equality before the law. These movements seek to restructure the nation state to expand its use and understanding of equality and extend those views to a broader range of diversity. The aim of the movements is to assimilate, integrate with, and participate in a nation state that respects and upholds equality and justice for all significant diversity groups and identities in the nation. The diversity movement seeks greater integration and acceptance within the nation state. The achievement of the diversity nation state is still in negotiation and is an aspiration that many strongly support.

Indigenous nations, however, do not entirely share the same assimilation and integration goals of the present-day diversity movements. While Indigenous Peoples seek civil and human rights as citizens of nation states, and therefore can support the diversity movements goals, indigenous nations more centrally seek retention of political authority, territory, and cultural forms where culture, kinship, community and political relations are often tightly interrelated. Indigenous Peoples, however, are not about achieving assimilation, equality, social integration, or civil rights within nation states, but rather seek maintaining government-to-government relations, territory, and cultural autonomy.

The very progressive establishment of the diversity nation state in many ways will not promote indigenous rights. The strong emphasis on civil rights, assimilation, and integration by the diversity movements, will create a situation where non-assimilative indigenous rights are seen as alien and subordinate to the assimilative interests of the diversity movements. The agreement of the diversity movement with the core values of the nation state directly contrasts with indigenous nations who seek to maintain their own core values and institutions. Indigenous nations may find true allies only among other indigenous nations.

Student body assembled on the Carlisle Indian School grounds in Carlisle, Pennsylvania.


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Diversity Nation States May Not Support Indigenous Rights