Here are some brief activities that could be used to start off working with indigenous culture and history in a class. The first two activities are a generalized introduction to indigenous peoples and issues. The last two focus on increasing pupils´awareness of privilege, racism and their role in history. I think these last two topics can be hard to raise in a class, and I don´t spend a lot of time on them outside of these activities here, as I feel they are too complexed and challenging for 16-18 year olds to deal within the time that can be allocated to them in my classes (probably 60-80 minutes). On the other hand, I think it is important to mention them as they challenge pupils to reflect over their own cultures, place in history and how that is formed and perceived by others.
Who are indigenous people?
“Called Tribal Peoples, First Peoples, Native Peoples, Indigenous Peoples constitute about 5% of the world’s population, yet account for about 15% of the world’s poor.
There are approximately 370 million Indigenous people in the world, belonging to 5,000 different groups, in 90 countries worldwide. Indigenous people live in every region of the world, but about 70% of them live in Asia.
There is no universally accepted definition for “Indigenous,” though there are characteristics that tend to be common among Indigenous Peoples:
- They tend to have small populations relative to the dominant culture of their country. However, in Bolivia and Guatemala Indigenous people make up more than half the population.
- They usually have (or had) their own language. Today, Indigenous people speak some 4,000 languages.
- They have distinctive cultural traditions that are still practiced.
- They have (or had) their own land and territory, to which they are tied in myriad ways.
- They self-identify as Indigenous”
(Adapted from Cultural Survival: https://www.culturalsurvival.org/)
Discuss: Which indigenous peoples do you know of? List as many as you can. What do you know about each of them?
International Day of the World’s Indigenous Peoples
For more in-depth general information, look at the UN’s webpage produced for International Day of the World’s Indigenous Peoples on 9 August:
Discuss: Which issues are the UN concerned with promoting on 9 August? What are the issues and how do they want to address them?
The west was built on racism. It’s time we faced that – video
Watch the short video in which Kahinde Andrews, professor of sociology at Birmingham City University, England, explains why he thinks western society is built on racism:
Discuss: Are you surprised by Professor Andrews’ argument, or does it seem obvious to you? Do you agree with him? Why/ why not? Why might people have different opinions on the validity of his argument?
Look at the clip on white privilege and/or other themes that interest your class on this website, produced by the Seattle Times:
Discuss the issues that are taken up in the video. What are they? Do you think they bring up important issues in society as a whole? Do you think interviews in your own communities would produce similar or different responses? Why is that?
If you don´t want spend a lot of time focusing a lot on privilege, you could instead briefly discuss the message of this cartoon with your pupils: