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Thread: Ethnicity and homeland

  1. #1
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    Default Ethnicity and homeland

    Yikes.

    I made what I hope you folks recognized as an attempted light hearted post about my "indigenous" roots in middle-Paleolithic Europe .... but it does set one thinking.

    The world over, I remember hearing once that the word many languages use to describe themselves translates to something like "the people," (I'm told that's true in Japanese, and among Inuit languages). Everyone else is some version of "Other." So far as we can tell, this sense of identity as a tribal (and later, an ethnic) group has motivated folks to engage in violent conflict with the "other" folks since we could first pick up pointed sticks and rocks.

    Ethnicities became the basis for the idea of the "nation" which has undergirded the way our globe has defined territorial sovereignty for many hundreds of years now. In China, in Japan, in various subdivisions of Asia. In the ancient civilizations of Mesopotamia and the Near East. In Europe, Africa, and the Americas. In each case, on each continent, ethnicity and the connection of one's multi-generational family to a piece of territory has been the constant element of nationalism - which was hugely influential even when other cross-cutting aspects of identity (e.g. religion, class) also were present.

    We have seen how ethnic identity has been the cause of incalculable slaughter from the 19th Century "national unification" projects of Germany and Italy, through the World War and Cold War authoritarian nationalisms of the 20th Century, through the present day neo-nationalisms of the alt.right.

    And yeah, indigenous nationalisms too. The discussion about fishing rights on the other thread, the ongoing discussions about the massive culture-crushing (and ecosystem-crushing) impacts of European migration/colonization followed by modern industrialization. The First Nations people here, as with indigenous peoples throughout the rest of the globe, are expressing ethnic nationalistic identity, not so different from the claims of ethnic identity of the Basques, the Kurds, or frankly the Scots.

    And that's the bit I'm very uncomfortably rolling about in my head. My genetic inheritance, traceable to middle-paleolithic folks in Western Europe and the nomadic herders from the Steppes who co-mingled their blood, means that I'm indigenous to where? To the UK, where I can trace family back for several hundred years? I've never lived there, for all that I feel a weird cultural affinity through literature and history. While I've Germanic/Polish blood from 3 generations back (and the Brit DNA includes that heritage from Paleolithic times too), I'm nothing like German, nor Polish.

    My friends who describe themselves as indigenous Cree and Mi'kmaq also carry around some of the same middle-Paleolithic European DNA that I do - with grandparents who were Irish or Scot, English or French. In some cases, they have as much (and as little) of that German/Polish variant as me. The Cree friend grew up here, but her Cree family has their roots in northern Ontario - about 1000 miles away by road; farther by canoe. Is she more "indigenous" to this territory than my neighbour, whose ancestors also arrived by boat (from Ireland) over a hundred years before hers, and who lives in a house his ancestor built and has passed down through the family ever since?

    I have increasing trouble with the notion of nation, of ethnicity, of a nation's contemporary right to use or utility respecting a piece of territory based on ethnic ancestral residence, whether that claim is made by Kurds, by Cree, by Palestinians, or by mongrels like myself. Humans have, in all the archaeological records from all the continents, always been migratory and colonistic. Have displaced culture after culture of humans who'd previously lived on the same spot - assimilating that territory from as far away as the technology of the time could support across that geography. Ships, horses, feet, canoes, rafts, snowshoes, etc.

    And now I live in what's ostensibly a "nation" of immigrants, cohabiting with the nations which were here before the rest of us and still are. A multi-national state, where our shared nationality within it actually isn't understood as shared by quite a number of the citizens. But I've no other.
    Last edited by TomF; 09-22-2020 at 11:15 AM.
    If I use the word "God," I sure don't mean an old man in the sky who just loves the occasional goat sacrifice. - Anne Lamott

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    Default Re: Ethnicity and homeland

    Ethnic roots will eventually have to be left in the past as people mix more. If not, we are doomed. Nuclear tribalism is not survivable in the long run.

    Mongrels must rule the world!

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    Default Re: Ethnicity and homeland

    I agree, George, but you and I speak as mongrels and invaders. I recognize my own self-interest...
    If I use the word "God," I sure don't mean an old man in the sky who just loves the occasional goat sacrifice. - Anne Lamott

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    Default Re: Ethnicity and homeland

    My ancestors have not invaded anywhere in at least several generations, though they themselves got invaded a good bit. Before that, I bet everyone has at least one genocidal conqueror amongst the great-great-great-great-great-grandparents.

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    Default Re: Ethnicity and homeland

    Quote Originally Posted by TomF View Post
    But I've no other.
    In a nutshell.

    Quote Originally Posted by TomF View Post
    A multi-national state, where our shared nationality within it actually isn't understood as shared by quite a number of the citizens.
    There's only one nation -- Canada; and only one nationality. Previous definitions are obsolete.
    Had every Athenian citizen been a Socrates, every Athenian assembly would still have been a mob.

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  6. #6
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    Default Re: Ethnicity and homeland

    Not obsolete if you're French Canadian. Or a First Nations person whose ancestors never ceded sovereignty through treaties etc. These things are established in our Constitution and legal precedents.
    If I use the word "God," I sure don't mean an old man in the sky who just loves the occasional goat sacrifice. - Anne Lamott

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    Default Re: Ethnicity and homeland

    Quote Originally Posted by George. View Post
    Mongrels must rule the world!
    Zoe will be glad to oblige.

    Zoe with Teeth - Smaller.jpg
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    for nature cannot be fooled."

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    Default Re: Ethnicity and homeland

    I find it interesting that two neighbouring countries - the USA and Canada - have radically differing concepts of ethnicity within their nationality: The USA sees itself as a 'melting pot' in which all ethnicities are blended to produce a homogenous creature called an 'American'; whereas in Canada ethnicities are encouraged to retain their ethnic roots and become Canadian by hyphenation and choice. Two differing experiments in nation-building, playing out side-by-side.
    Hope for the best, but plan for the worst.

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    Default Re: Ethnicity and homeland

    The USA sees itself as a 'melting pot' in which all ethnicities are blended to produce a homogenous creature called an 'American'.
    Well, sort of. That was one official doctrine for a long time - but it was one of several, and sometimes more honored in the proverbial breach. While it slowly expanded to include pretty much all European immigrants (well, some problems if they were Catholic first, then Jewish, and those swarthy Italians. . . .), it didn't apply to descendants of African slaves until recently, and only partially to Asians, and folks who spoke Spanish, even if their ancestors had been here in the Spanish Empire since long before 1776 . . . And the 'melting pot' thing has faded a bit lately, first because of a more multicultural ethos like Canada, and recently a resurgence of blatant white nationalism.
    Last edited by Keith Wilson; 09-22-2020 at 12:06 PM.
    "For a successful technology, reality must take precedence over public relations,
    for nature cannot be fooled."

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    Default Re: Ethnicity and homeland

    I came from the suburbs

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    Default Re: Ethnicity and homeland

    We are all African if you go back far enough, it is just that some of us walked and paddled further than others.
    I am English, and so am really a mongrel breed.
    Welsh speaking Welsh less so (BTW Tom, the Welsh call themselves Cymry, which also mean The People).
    And just to wind up the Scots Nats who discriminate against the Sassenachs. Sassenach stands for Saxon, who settled SE Scotland. Place-name studies confirm strong presence of Anglo-Saxon language in Berwickshire, East Lothian, Peeblesshire and Roxburgh from this period. Native Edinburghers are Sassenach.
    It really is quite difficult to build an ugly wooden boat.

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    Default Re: Ethnicity and homeland

    And then there are those pure Aryans, and the Germanic nobility of Europe, and their ancestral right to lord it over the rest of us... were doing it for longer than your average native people fished in the same waters.

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    Default Re: Ethnicity and homeland

    Well, the Aryans are a bit of a figment too, eh? The various Germanic tribes which battled with Rome have their own muddled pre-histories, merging paleolithic farmers with Steppe-dwelling herders, a few invasions from various directions leaving a genetic imprint too. A whole lot can happen over the same bit of ground, given a few tens of thousands of years.

    Traceable now though the genetic record, providing fresh grist for the heated arguments of linguists and archeologists. In every academic discussion of a pre-modern culture, there's eventually the phrase "...who displaced the prior ____ culture."
    If I use the word "God," I sure don't mean an old man in the sky who just loves the occasional goat sacrifice. - Anne Lamott

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    Default Re: Ethnicity and homeland

    Quote Originally Posted by TomF View Post
    Well, the Aryans are a bit of a figment too, eh? The various Germanic tribes which battled with Rome have their own muddled pre-histories, merging paleolithic farmers with Steppe-dwelling herders, a few invasions from various directions leaving a genetic imprint too. A whole lot can happen over the same bit of ground, given a few tens of thousands of years.
    Aryan invokes Godwin's Law. I remember an old meme from the early days of Ancestry.com. "If genealogy tools on the internet existed in the 1930's, German anti-Semitism would have gained no traction whatsoever".
    Europe was settled by so many waves of immigrants from the east that all Europeans are a mongrel as I am.
    Traceable now though the genetic record, providing fresh grist for the heated arguments of linguists and archeologists. In every academic discussion of a pre-modern culture, there's eventually the phrase "...who displaced the prior ____ culture."
    Even in the Americas, there is now a body of evidence that is getting bigger that suggests the "First People" are actually the second. The old Terra Del Fuegans being the remnants of the true first people driven out to the southern fringe. That really ticked off the "First Peoples" spokespersons when it was first mooted.
    It really is quite difficult to build an ugly wooden boat.

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    Default Re: Ethnicity and homeland

    Quote Originally Posted by Peerie Maa View Post
    Even in the Americas, there is now a body of evidence that is getting bigger that suggests the "First People" are actually the second. The old Terra Del Fuegans being the remnants of the true first people driven out to the southern fringe. That really ticked off the "First Peoples" spokespersons when it was first mooted.
    400 years ago this month at least one of my direct ancestors was bobbing around the Atlantic aboard the Mayflower. Does that make me a "Second" or possibly "Third People"?

    The actual genetic differences between any of us is pretty minuscule but something in our nature insists on creating these artificial cultural distinctions. Unfortunately rather than pulling together as resources dwindle the human tendency seems to be to be to retrench in even more tribalism. I fear it's not going to end well for a lot us.
    Steve

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    Default Re: Ethnicity and homeland

    Unfortunately rather than pulling together as resources dwindle the human tendency seems to be to be to retrench in even more tribalism.
    Despite unpleasantness in the last couple of years, the trends of the last 500 years are in precisely the opposite direction; very dramatically so, in fact.
    "For a successful technology, reality must take precedence over public relations,
    for nature cannot be fooled."

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    Default Re: Ethnicity and homeland

    I agree, Keith. In the past half millennium our killing of the other has tended to happen in burps which cost many many more lives per episode as technology's enabled it, but fewer lives in aggregate than the endemic warfare against all which frequently preceded it. Possibly because the ferocity and efficiency of the technology made its all-out use more frightening.
    If I use the word "God," I sure don't mean an old man in the sky who just loves the occasional goat sacrifice. - Anne Lamott

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    Default Re: Ethnicity and homeland

    Quote Originally Posted by stromborg View Post
    400 years ago this month at least one of my direct ancestors was bobbing around the Atlantic aboard the Mayflower. Does that make me a "Second" or possibly "Third People"?
    Fourth. If you ignore the Spanish in the southern Americas.
    It really is quite difficult to build an ugly wooden boat.

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    Default Re: Ethnicity and homeland

    Quote Originally Posted by TomF View Post
    I agree, Keith. In the past half millennium . . .
    Very true - but my point was about tribalism, not warfare, although there's a connection, of course.. Despite some very recent setbacks, people's view has been getting broader and broader, and their tribalism less and less for many centuries now. Education, travel, and improvements in morality; the difference is huge.
    "For a successful technology, reality must take precedence over public relations,
    for nature cannot be fooled."

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    Default Re: Ethnicity and homeland

    Quote Originally Posted by TomF View Post
    Not obsolete if you're French Canadian. Or a First Nations person whose ancestors never ceded sovereignty through treaties etc. These things are established in our Constitution and legal precedents.
    In my understanding, any rights asserted by anyone for any reason are recognized, or not, by the national government of Canada. That makes the national government sovereign. Negotiations for various things proceed on that basis. The structure of the negotiations implies a consent to be governed. If the consent is denied, then there is a serious conflict. Which can be negotiated, resulting in the explicit giving of consent. Failing that, it's war.

    The question of whether the Constitution permits unilateral secession seems to be answered generally in the negative. I suppose a secession agreement could be worked out; or there could be rebellion, and Canada could surrender. Neither of those have occurred, of course. Meanwhile, the sovereignty of the national government extends throughout the national territory.

    So if there can be a nation without sovereignty, I guess there are many nationalities in Canada.
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    Default Re: Ethnicity and homeland

    Quote Originally Posted by Keith Wilson View Post
    Despite unpleasantness in the last couple of years, the trends of the last 500 years are in precisely the opposite direction; very dramatically so, in fact.
    I may just be feeling pessimistic today. While we may not be engaged in World War sized conflict there is still an awful lot of unrest where people are killing other people. Somalia comes to mind. Various middle eastern dictators against their people. China and the Uighurs. Moslem jihads vs the modern world. Lower level stuff too. US nationalists are anti-immigrant, so are a lot of Europeans. In the "civilized" world there are more ways than direct killing to keep the other at bay.
    Steve

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    Default Re: Ethnicity and homeland

    If you must show time. The Jewish and Chinese peoples have the longest recorded histories. Both go back some 7000 years. As for all of us are African if you go back far enough, remember that not everyone's roots took the same tortured path from that "garden of eden". There were a few differing species that bred with our ancestors to create Homo Sapiens.
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    Default Re: Ethnicity and homeland

    Race and ethnicity are distinct concepts and usually not interchangeable, especially when considering the descendants of colonizers in the context of national identity.

    Clarity sometimes demands that terms be defined.

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    Default Re: Ethnicity and homeland

    Great. Maybe take a shot at defining them for us?
    If I use the word "God," I sure don't mean an old man in the sky who just loves the occasional goat sacrifice. - Anne Lamott

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    Default Re: Ethnicity and homeland

    God I’m tired of people creating divisions between themselves. How about this:

    We are all indigenous to planet earth.

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    Default Re: Ethnicity and homeland

    Pipped me Sonofswen, but I was going to add my own countries sad history of european invasion and slaughter.

    It has always amused me when people are fererred to as 'ethnically ……………….' Is there an 'ethnic American' category, other than the first peoples? There certainly isn't an 'ethnically Australian' category other than the first people. It's another word for race, but then we are all of the same race as we can all breed amongst each successfully.

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    Default Re: Ethnicity and homeland

    ethnicity is another word for race
    No. It isn't.

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    Default Re: Ethnicity and homeland

    Quote Originally Posted by TomF View Post
    but you and I speak as mongrels and invaders..
    Between Elm tree fever, poison Ivy, and chiggers I eventually figured out I am not indigenous to the American MidWest. I can actually lay in the grass of Central Europe, and never sneeze....
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    Default Re: Ethnicity and homeland

    Quote Originally Posted by skuthorp View Post
    Pipped me Sonofswen, but I was going to add my own countries sad history of european invasion and slaughter.

    It has always amused me when people are fererred to as 'ethnically ……………….' Is there an 'ethnic American' category, other than the first peoples? There certainly isn't an 'ethnically Australian' category other than the first people. It's another word for race, but then we are all of the same race as we can all breed amongst each successfully.

    Only people make that distinctions. A German Shepard will form a pack with a Labrador Retriever and a Siberian Husky and possibly even breed with one or the other. It does not matter to them if they are mutts or Pure Breeds, all that matters is that they are dogs.
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    Default Re: Ethnicity and homeland

    In the US, there are treaties with indigenous tribes that include guarantees of sovereign rights, particularly with respect to subsistence: hunting, fishing, etc.

    Recently, there's been a move to assert sovereign rights (often included in treaties) over arrest and prosecution on tribal reservations, which the federal government has usurped.
    We're merely mammals. Let's misbehave! —Cole Porter

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    Default Re: Ethnicity and homeland

    US governments have a long history of not honouring treaties with the 1st (or second) people of the continent, but at least you acknowledged them as human and made treaties in the 1st place. Here they were treated akin to wildlife because under the laws at the time the business of stealing land and killing the previous occupants was illegal, and some Aussies are still scared the survivors descendents will make a claim to their back yards.
    Of course donald is another matter, all treaties and contracts are mere scraps of paper to him, as is the constitution.

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    Default Re: Ethnicity and homeland

    My knowledge of the subject rests largely on having a wife who's a wildlife biologist, conservationist, lawyer, and law scholar. She's taken on pro bono representation of tribal claims to sovereignty in New Zealand (where it is called rangatiratanga) and the US. In New Zealand, she wrote briefs for Ngatiwai and other iwi contesting wholesale 1080 poison drops by the NZ Department of Conservation on islands such as Hauturu (Little Barrier). She also did research on the enforceability of conservation trusts and published her results.

    In the US, most recently, she helped to research and brief a tribal hunting rights case, Herrera vs. Wyoming, for the US Supreme Court.



    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Herrera_v._Wyoming

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    Default Re: Ethnicity and homeland

    The US Government is in debt to all human beings...that is their oath! Lying POS...

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    Default Re: Ethnicity and homeland

    Quote Originally Posted by skuthorp View Post
    US governments have a long history of not honouring treaties with the 1st (or second) people of the continent, but at least you acknowledged them as human and made treaties in the 1st place. Here they were treated akin to wildlife because under the laws at the time the business of stealing land and killing the previous occupants was illegal, and some Aussies are still scared the survivors descendents will make a claim to their back yards.
    Of course donald is another matter, all treaties and contracts are mere scraps of paper to him, as is the constitution.
    If they could not kill them, they would steal their children to "kill the indian to save the man" by putting them in special schools. It happened to both my Great Grand Parents.
    "If you think you are too small to make a difference, try sleeping with a mosquito"

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