The PC crusade for indigenous peoples' rights

Human history is a story of migration. If physical anthropologists are to be believed, all humanity began in Africa, and the rest of the world was populated through a process of migration. Individuals, families, tribes, and nations continued to wander, driven by hunger, opportunity, war, disease and other factors.

Despite this history, it has become quite a fad among the PC crowd to declare some people "indigenous" to a certain spot and to grant them privileges and rights superior to others deemed interlopers. Usually the former are perceived as weak and powerless, while the latter are perceived as strong, wealthy, accomplished, and therefore deserving of penalty.

The most visible cases are Israel, North America, and Australia. But the fad has its expression in Scandinavia, too. Our contributor Diana Muir has written a rewarding essay in the New Criterion about an exhibition at the Smithsonian Institution that endorses the Scandinavian variant. It is well worth reading, but here is a minor excerpt:

'Frost: Life and Culture of the Sami Reindeer People of Norway,' on display at the Smithsonian's National Museum of Natural History in Washington, D.C., is a display of striking photography and startling scholarship. This exhibit comes as Sami (Saami) activists are asserting their right to political autonomy and filing legal claims to large tracts of territory based on indigeneity. The Smithsonian archeologist Noel Broadbent is 'helping the Sami people assert their unique identity' with a digging program called 'Search for a Past.' His efforts are concretized by a helpful wall map of a purported thirteenth—century 'Sami homeland ... called Sampi or Samiland, which once occupied most of Norway, Sweden, and Finland,' and which some Sami activists would like to reclaim.

The photos capture a timeless landscape of reindeer husbandry. In one, a lasso catches the sunlight against a gray sky in the instant before it drops around the neck of a reindeer calf; in another, a herd of reindeer is dramatically backlit against a brilliant patch of orange sunset, dwarfed by a sea of white snow and white cloud.

But it is the explanatory panels that stun, authoritatively informing viewers that Sami (you and I grew up calling them 'Lapps' and referring to their territory as 'Lapland') 'are the indigenous people who live in northern [Scandinavia]... . Mitochondrial DNA identifies the Sami as an early European population, their ancestors migrating to the Nordic region at the end of the last Ice Age almost 10,000 years ago.'

Diana goes on tto debunk the racialist theorectical underpinnings of this PC dogma. Read the whole thing. Diana promises more work on the subject, and I can't wait.

Thomas Lifson  4 7 06

Human history is a story of migration. If physical anthropologists are to be believed, all humanity began in Africa, and the rest of the world was populated through a process of migration. Individuals, families, tribes, and nations continued to wander, driven by hunger, opportunity, war, disease and other factors.

Despite this history, it has become quite a fad among the PC crowd to declare some people "indigenous" to a certain spot and to grant them privileges and rights superior to others deemed interlopers. Usually the former are perceived as weak and powerless, while the latter are perceived as strong, wealthy, accomplished, and therefore deserving of penalty.

The most visible cases are Israel, North America, and Australia. But the fad has its expression in Scandinavia, too. Our contributor Diana Muir has written a rewarding essay in the New Criterion about an exhibition at the Smithsonian Institution that endorses the Scandinavian variant. It is well worth reading, but here is a minor excerpt:

'Frost: Life and Culture of the Sami Reindeer People of Norway,' on display at the Smithsonian's National Museum of Natural History in Washington, D.C., is a display of striking photography and startling scholarship. This exhibit comes as Sami (Saami) activists are asserting their right to political autonomy and filing legal claims to large tracts of territory based on indigeneity. The Smithsonian archeologist Noel Broadbent is 'helping the Sami people assert their unique identity' with a digging program called 'Search for a Past.' His efforts are concretized by a helpful wall map of a purported thirteenth—century 'Sami homeland ... called Sampi or Samiland, which once occupied most of Norway, Sweden, and Finland,' and which some Sami activists would like to reclaim.

The photos capture a timeless landscape of reindeer husbandry. In one, a lasso catches the sunlight against a gray sky in the instant before it drops around the neck of a reindeer calf; in another, a herd of reindeer is dramatically backlit against a brilliant patch of orange sunset, dwarfed by a sea of white snow and white cloud.

But it is the explanatory panels that stun, authoritatively informing viewers that Sami (you and I grew up calling them 'Lapps' and referring to their territory as 'Lapland') 'are the indigenous people who live in northern [Scandinavia]... . Mitochondrial DNA identifies the Sami as an early European population, their ancestors migrating to the Nordic region at the end of the last Ice Age almost 10,000 years ago.'

Diana goes on tto debunk the racialist theorectical underpinnings of this PC dogma. Read the whole thing. Diana promises more work on the subject, and I can't wait.

Thomas Lifson  4 7 06