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Indybay FeatureRelated Categories: Central Valley | U.S. | Education & Student Activism | Racial Justice
Indigenosity, Aboriginality, and the Dubious Concept of Indigenization
This is a short essay on the definition of words that are used to define Native American Indians and the subsequent intended and unintended effects.
As a wordmonger, I like to know the etymology (it literally means the study of the truth) of the words I use. “Indigenous” is unfortunately often used interchangeably with “aboriginal”.
“Aboriginal” means "first from outside". Many use it to detract from the fact that we are of this continent. That way we can be considered foreigners in our own lands. Nothing could be so far from the truth. It says we are "less than" and tries to justify the whole European invasion as just something we did before them; that their action was no different, in a counterfeit effort to justify their own presence.
“Indigenous” is altogether different. It means we were independently generated, which made us a unique group(s) of peoples, by acclimating to our surroundings, thus becoming a fully integrated part of our lands and the ecologies of our different regions. We would not be who we are if we had not spent 20 to 50 thousand years on Turtle Island. It says we paid our dues, evolved, and became literally part of the land. No one else can therefore claim that right. 521 years of genocide, germ warfare, hegemony, institutionalized racism, religionism, languageism, and "dominant" society oppression by the invaders still does not qualify others as indigenous to the Western Hemisphere.
The verb “to indigenize” is therefore a lie in any form that comes out of the pen or mouth of someone not Native American Indian. In my mind, the use of such a word changes the meaning: It becomes a synonym to "patronize", (literally, to act like our father, implying we are children). Being Indigenous, I cannot “indigenize” someone or a group, either, because we already have been indigenized, not by any human being, but by Turtle Island's Mother Nature. We breathe the dust of our ancestors with every step we take. We are one with every relative; every plant, animal, and rock of this continent. We are not aboriginal, and we cannot be indigenized, for we are Indigenous: Period.