Information About The Project Indigenous Peoples

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'The Indigenous Peoples Project'

Indigenous peoples have always had to fight for their rights. Some of their organizations have achieved remarkable results, yet very few governments regard them as true partners who have something to contribute.

IPP, the Indigenous Peoples Project, believes that indigenous peoples have important messages for the developed world, and the developed world has important responsibilities toward indigenous peoples, and important resources to share with them. IPP is about the vital, intercultural dialogue that desperately needs to take place among all the people of the Earth. The purpose of that intercultural dialogue must be to express the need that indigenous peoples have to develop positive relations with more complex cultures, and the need that the complex cultures have to learn from the indigenous peoples and to value those people’s natural and cultural treasures. To avoid or ignore that vital dialogue is to cause loss and destruction to human culture and the natural world.

The Second UN Decade for Indigenous Peoples (2005-2015) does not seem to be slowing markedly the destruction of indigenous cultures and languages. In order to reverse the current, destructive movement, it is necessary to find ways to help indigenous peoples convey the legitimacy of their own cultures and languages. However, only an international, indigenous network that enhances communication among all its members will provide the kind of communication that indigenous people need to have with each other and with developed cultures.

Obviously, the setting up of an international, intercultural network is a very difficult and complex task. One of the questions that will certainly arise is the choice of the network’s language. It has become accepted that contacts between people from indigenous and developed cultures take place in the language of the people from the developed culture. This involves the use of interpreters and translators at a loss of accuracy, time, and money. It also means that indigenous people often learn a national language, such as Spanish or English in addition to their indigenous language, yet still cannot communicate with the greater part of the world’s population. In the past, such a situation was viewed as “the way things are”. Today, it is not acceptable to do things in ways that keep people and cultures isolated from one another. Esperanto, the international language, can now serve as a “bridge language,” a language that links groups that do not have the same first language.

Esperanto, in its role as bridge language, can help indigenous peoples and organizations communicate with each other for mutual support and learning. Through the Internet, representatives of indigenous peoples will be able to discuss issue of health, land retention, and appropriate forms of education and economic development in relation to their needs as indigenous peoples. The combination of Esperanto with available systems of communication and teaching can help use information to develop appropriate methods and goals.

THE FIRST STEP Working from the foundation of a previous program, Indigenous Dialogues, we aim to give indigenous peoples throughout the world the ability to make their presence felt and their voices heard. In order to do that, as many indigenous people as possible will need to learn: ---to speak and write Esperanto as a bridge language ---to use the Internet in order to communicate ---to initiate the use of both skills within their communities and organizations.

FURTHER STEPS By 2015, indigenous peoples, with the participation of people skilled in Esperanto, could be doing the following: ---developing a network of worldwide organizations that experiences no communications


---learning from and with each other how to save a language, enforce a treaty, protect their

   environmental and intellectual property rights, and take other steps that allow them to
   protect and express themselves.  

HOW TO BE INVOLVED The Indigenous Peoples Project is an important way of promoting human and cultural rights. You can support IPP by: ---joining IPP ---becoming informed on the situations of indigenous peoples ---discussing IPP with like-minded people and organizations to encourage support and


---learning Esperanto, in order to enter fully into the work of IPP.

ESPERANTO, THE BRIDGE LANGUAGE The essential purpose of Esperanto is to bring peoples and cultures together by facilitating communication. It is not intended that Esperanto replace national or indigenous languages. Communication in Esperanto can range from instructions for a children’s game to the appreciation of world literature to the sharing of medical and scientific information.

Esperanto is a bridge language, but it is not the first one. The sign language of the Native Americans of North America and the world’s various “pidgins” are some examples of bridge languages. However, previous bridge languages were usually devised to discuss a narrow range of subjects, and were not considered to be fully developed languages. Esperanto, on the other hand, exists as a fully developed language precisely so that it can function effectively as an international bridge language. It also has characteristics that help relatively fast and easy learning and use, such a phonetic sound system, regular verb and plural forms, and the ability to add new words. In addition, Esperanto is already used in publishing, Internet communications, international meetings and publications, and for personal use, such as travel and correspondence.

For more information on Esperanto and the Indigenous Peoples Project, contact Erik Felker at