The Peoples of the World Foundation
Education for and about Indigenous Peoples
Our mission is a very simple one: To provide education for and about indigenous peoples.
Why indigenous peoples?
Indigenous peoples face a variety of issues throughout the world. There are many consequences that arise from these issues and among them are discrimination, marginalization, poverty and loss of culture. These are among the issues that we believe are the most significant and need to be addressed most urgently:
- Loss of ancestral land. Indigenous peoples today find themselves in countries that play little or no part in their cultural heritage. Instead those countries are often the artificial stamps left behind by dissolving, colonial occupants of the region. Historically the colonists have granted independence but have also carved up a region politically and have left behind regimes that are unsympathetic to claims of ancestral, indigenous land rights.
- Political participation and self-determination. Rarely are the interests of indigenous peoples given a voice in the political makeup or domestic policies of these "new" countries. Instead the countries' original inhabitants are, at best, tolerated but most often expected to simply adapt to national policies. This expectation leaves them marginalized and discriminated against and, if they want to adapt, leads to the loss of their language and culture.
- Sustainability. If there is one common theme in the pre-history and pre-colonial history of indigenous peoples it is that they understood that their environment held the keys to their future survival. It is ironic that at a time when Al Gore wins the Nobel Peace Prize for popularizing this same understanding, indigenous peoples are losing access to and control of the environmental resources they have successfully stewarded since humans first began migrating. As the sustainability of their environment diminishes in the name of globalization the sustainability of indigenous peoples themselves diminishes along with it.
- Expolitation of knowledge. At the same time that much of the "modern" world dismisses indigenous peoples' linguistic and cultural heritage, it craves their exploitable knowledge. This is especially true of transnational pharmaceutical corporations. The "outside" world has come to expect that indigenous peoples should surrender this knowledge with little or no compensation.
Anyone reading this is probably quite well educated and already has some interest in indigenous peoples. It may be so common in your culture to receive an education that you take that education for granted. While indigenous peoples are rapidly being denied their traditional resources the most essential resource that, in our opinion, could help them address many of these problems is also being denied them. That resource is education. We also believe that by receiving education about indigenous peoples our visitors will be more motivated and more empowered to act.