The western idea of personal property is defective. Indigenous peoples have it right

The western idea of personal property is defective. Indigenous peoples have it right 1

Monday 27 March 2017 eleven.00 BST Last changed on Monday 27 March 2017 sixteen.Fifty-eight BST
We live in a world ruled by the precept of private belongings. Once indigenous humans were dispossessed of their lands, the land became surveyed, subdivided, and sold to the very best bidder. From high above, continents now seem like an infinite property patchwork of inexperienced and yellow farms, beige suburban homes, and steel gray town blocks stretching from sea to shining sea.

The principal good judgment of this regime is productivity, and certainly, it has been monstrously productive. In tandem with the industrial revolution, the fruits of billions of acres of dispossessed and parceled indigenous land throughout the Americas, Africa, Asia, Ireland, and Australia enabled two English-speaker empires – first, the British the American – to upward push to worldwide dominance. The latter remains the most efficient economy in the world.

The property also embodies and upholds a hard and fast of values and relationships to land. It propagates a utopian vision referred to as the American Dream. Hard work, land, and a domestic are a platform for boundless opportunity – or at the least escape – from capital domination. It separates humanity from all different animals and cements the guy’s mastery over the natural world and all living matters.

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While the property has transformed the arena, its flaws have in no way been extra apparent. If it ever virtually existed for the common man’s taking, open land on the frontier is long past. Homeownership no longer provides the monetary safety it as soon as it did and looks out of reach for younger generations. The richest 1% holds extra wealth than the rest of the world combined. At the equal time, environmental degradation and weather change continue at a terrifying tempo.


Our capitalist property regime and economical machine have succeeded at generating a great surplus. But the advantages of this machine too frequently go with the flow to a small fraction of the populace, while land, water, air, and people pay the long-term price.

Prior generations replied to comparable crises by turning to communism. But these days, Marx, Lenin, and Mao do not offer a scythe sharp sufficient to fell the stalks of capitalism.

Another, more modern-day opportunity is to heed the numerous indigenous voices displaced and drowned out through imperialism. From Standing Rock to Queensland, colonized and indigenous humans are annoying new relationships to water that sustains the life and land which offers for the humans.

This method entails returning lands and assets to indigenous management and rethinking our dating to the surroundings by spotting and protecting indigenous values and the rights of nature through the regulation.

While indigenous values, ideals, and practices are as numerous as indigenous humans themselves, they discover not unusual roots in a relationship to land and water, notably specific from the perception of assets. For indigenous human beings, land and water appear as sacred, living households, ancestors, locations of the origin, or any mixture.

My own, Tsq’escenemc Secwepemc people, as an example, express those perspectives every day through our phrases and vicinity names. Both the phrase Secwepemc, which is the call of our nation, and Tsq’escenemc, the call of our network, comprise the suffix EMC, which has a couple of uses and translations, which include man or woman, the human beings, land, floor, or soil, and even to exploit or to nurse.

Versions of this suffix, common to all Salish languages, derive from the proto-Salish word tmícw, which means that global, dirt, nature, earth, land, and spirit are in lots of Salish languages. Linguistic fashions propose that each Salish-speaker people, whose homelands span parts of Washington, Oregon, Idaho, Montana, and British Columbia, shared a common ancestral language among three,000 and 6,000 years in the past.

In every Salish network, the concept is the concept – even older than our indigenous languages – that the human beings are the land, and the land is of the humans. These kindred spirits are alive and inseparable.

Indigenous epistemologies had been all, however, removed using colonization. British and American empires dispossessed indigenous humans in their lands in the name of property and productivity. Many indigenous children were sent to the church and government schools wherein their languages and cultures have been overwhelmed.

Despite these brutal and enduring records, indigenous human beings today stand on the frontlines of worldwide actions combating for a more just dating among humanity and the land.

One promising precedent on this direction to a put up-imperial destiny has emerged in Aotearoa/New Zealand. The Whanganui Maori iwi simply gained a one hundred forty-year criminal battle to apprehend that their ancestral Whanganui river has criminal rights equal to a person.

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The Whanganui settlement, which became signed through the Whanganui iwi in 2014 and enacted into law with the aid of New Zealand parliament closing week, was established to behave on behalf of the river, one from the crown one from the iwi. In addition to the legal popularity of the personhood of the Whanganui river, the agreement supplied monetary redress to the iwi of NZ$80m and an extra NZ$ 1m contribution to establishing the prison framework for the river.

Less than a week after the legislation went into effect, India’s Uttarakhand high court docket mentioned the Whanganui selection when it dominated that the Ganges and Yamuna rivers have the prison fame of a person.

While the results and consequences of these prison experiments are but to be visible, these are doubtlessly modern precedents that provide a route forward to redefine relationships among governments, indigenous peoples, and the land inside the 21st century.

At their middle, those decisions understand what indigenous people have believed all alongside that land and water are sacred, living loved ones and ancestors whose properly-being humanity depends upon for our endured health and lifestyles upon this earth.

Between the productivity of belongings and the recognition of indigenous rights and the rights of nature, there lies the potential for a new just future for the land, the water, and their human relations.