Steven Newcomb: Colonialism and the rights of indigenous peoples
"During and shortly after World War II (1939-1945), a number of anthropologists were writing about the topic of indigenous peoples and what was then being referred to as the “colonial administration” of various empires. Looking back at those writings today enables us to shed some additional light on the historical context of what are now commonly referred to as “indigenous peoples” and the U.N. Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples that was adopted by the United Nations General Assembly on Sept. 13, 2007.

In 1945, Columbia University Press published a book of essays entitled “The Science of Man in the World Crisis,” edited by Ralph Linton, who was a professor of anthropology at the University of Columbia. One essay, “The Colonial Crisis and the Future,” was written by another anthropology professor named Raymond Kennedy. His essay was framed primarily in terms of the differentiation “between colonial and noncolonial areas,” or between “dependent and independent nations.”

“The present pattern of colonialism,” wrote Kennedy, “has an easily explainable historical origin, for it had its beginnings about four hundred years ago, when Europeans ‘discovered’ the rest of the world.” In other words, he traced the beginning of colonialism to the so-called Age of Discovery dating back to the mid-1500s.

The “record of the last four centuries,” Kennedy continued, “has been one of steady conquest of the native populations of the Americas, Africa, Asia, and Oceania—a conquest accompanied by political subjugation and economic exploitation.” Thus, the “colonialism” to which Kennedy refers is characterized by a process whereby originally free and independent nations and peoples throughout the globe had been forced, through various means, to exist under the authority of sea-faring European nations and their offshoots transplanted to all the other non-European regions of the world. "

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Steven Newcomb: Colonialism and the human rights of indigenous peoples (Indian Country Today 7/30)

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