For too long indigenous peoples have been defined by outside forces. They often have to contend with education systems that do not acknowledge their cultural specificity, and with government programs and development projects that prod them to adapt and to “progress” along preordained ways – or inversely, with initiatives that encourage them to remain “authentic” and not give in to any form of change.
Government officials, development experts, political or religious actors and even well-meaning activists often believe to know what is best for indigenous peoples – they speak for them, represent their interests, prompt them to organize politically.
Seldom is the time invested or the conditions created to enable these communities to work out by themselves what their way forward should be, to ascertain their own unique responses to the new challenges, and to redefine their place in a changing world.
OrigiNations offers spaces to indigenous communities to better take control of their destinies, through:
- Empowerment to self-determination instead of top-down paternalism and assistance-based models of development
- Activation of local capacities and know-how in order to arrive at suitable answers to challenges, avoiding the uncritical introduction of ready-made solutions
- Strengthening of cultural self-esteem and positive assertiveness instead of indulging in a culture of grievance that over-emphasizes a history of victimization.