If you don't understand why it's wrong to claim Indigenous identity when you are not Indigenous, here's my 2 centavos. An unbelievably long thread.
If you're in the USA, it's easy to understand WHY it's bad to cosplay Native American if you are not one. Whether you are white or brown or black. Not only is it in bad taste, but you also occupy and exploit spaces, resources, intellectual property, etc. that don't belong to you.
If you're a white person posing as Native American, it doesn't matter how pure your intentions are. There's no way it's okay. Well, same thing applies if you're brown, black, or other non-white. FTR, the same thing applies even if you're authentic Indigenous from another country.
This is all very easy to understand, right? Because we all know the history of how Native Americans have been exploited, mistreated, displaced, massacred, their cultural property misappropriated, coopted, etc. It's just wrong on all levels, & playing Indian only perpetuates this.
So let's move on to the Philippine context. I've explained a lot of this in my own work and on recent social media posts. But it seems that the core question of why the Indigenous distinction is important to maintain. I'm speaking as someone who is a Visayan from Mindanao.
I've also worked with the same Lumad group (Higaunon) for 2+ decades now (yes I'm old). As well as archival research on Lumad life in the Spanish colonial period. Lumad is the modern category name for the non-Muslim groups that are indigenous to Mindanao. Lumad means indigenous.
There are other native words for indigenous. A popular one is Katutubo. But nationally & bureaucratically, the Philippines uses the English term "Indigenous Peoples", referencing the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples. We made a related law, the IPRA.
Now, the Philippines is unlike the USA. It's not a country made mostly of immigrants. Almost all Filipinos alive today have indigenous roots. But after almost 4 centuries of Western colonialism & assimilation, a lot changes took place, as you can imagine.
The short, oversimplified version of history is that the majority of our ancestors assimilated in the Spanish colonial period & became what we recognize as typical Filipino folks. Catholic, lots of Hispanic influences, very Westernized. We're the majority, dominant peoples now.
Some of our ancestors resisted, or did not assimilate to quite the same extent. There are many nuances to this statement, to be sure, but this is Twitter, so I'm keeping it simple. Given the pre-existing diversity of island Southeast Asia, these folks were/are a mix of types.
You had the various peoples who had converted to Islam, now know as Moros, who range from sea nomads to sultanates. And you have the rest, who were mostly small-scale agriculturalists, plus some hunter-gatherers, living in less accessible upland interiors.
When the USA colonized us (after Spain), they classified our ancestors into 3 categories: 1) Filipinos - the 'Hispanized' majority; 2) Moros; & 3) the Non-Christian Tribes. They saw them having different needs & should be administered separately. Today we are all called Filipino.
Despite how racist the American colonizers were, it is notable that they expressed serious concern about how much the majority Filipinos would exploit & oppress the Moros & the non-Christian Tribes, who were both in the minority. Because they already saw it happening at the time.
The Non-Christian Tribes consisted of the many different ethnic groups we now call Indigenous Peoples, or IP's for short. This includes the various culturally distinct "tribes" of Cordillerans, Lumads, Mangyans, Palawanos, Negritos, etc. The modern term "IP" applies only to them.
Though Moros & majority Filipinos are also indigenous, as in, they are natives, not immigrants. NO ONE in the Philippines refers to these folks as IP or Indigenous. Those terms refer to the former non-Christian tribes. Moros do claim indigeneity to Mindanao/Sulu but don't use IP.
Even before Philippine independence, majority Filipinos had already been exploitative & abusive towards IP's. To recount this violent history is frankly, soul-killing. Look it up. We've also appropriated their traditions & cultural property for decades for various purposes.
This exploitation, abuse, appropriation, & violence continues to this day, done by majority Filipinos (such as Tagalogs, Kapampangans, Visayans, etc.). Meanwhile, IP's try desperately to retain what little land, traditions, distinctiveness, & political voice they can muster.
As a Filipino from one of the majority/mainstream cultures, I totally understand how attractive IP traditions & cultural property can be. Not only is it very cool on its own, it also triggers a nostalgia for an imagined romantic ancestral past, if only we had not been colonized.
But our nostalgia is purely imaginary. In part because the IP cultures you see today are also a product of their own colonial experience. IPs have their own colonial experiences & histories. IP's & their cultures are all just as modern as us/ours, not relics of the past.
The other part of it is that our nostalgia is misplaced. All the majority groups have distinct colonial experiences, histories, & distinctive cultural traditions, all of which remain alive, & very accessible & deserve to be honored by their descendants.
If anything, majority cultural traditions & histories are much more accessible & better preserved than any IP cultures & traditions. If your ancestry is from a majority Filipino culture group, there is no need or justification to copy/appropriate/cosplay/steal from IP cultures.
If your Filipino heritage is from a majority culture group, like mine (Visayan), we are the political, cultural, economic, & social equivalent of white people, if we were to compare it to the North American context. Many of our ancestors used their majority privilege & advantage
to do harm to the IP's. There are many who continue to do so. Our national government (staffed mostly by people like us, & basically represents our interests above those of IPs & Moros) continues to do so. Not just theft of land & cultural property, but actual assault & murder.
So, in this fuller context, perhaps you can begin to understand why it is extremely offensive for a majority Filipino to claim to be IP. But wait, there's more! Offensive, yes, but surely it's harmless for a Filipino to play Indigenous? I mean, we're all indigenous, right? Wrong.
I'm going to take a break and then start a second thread to tell you about the very real harm caused by fake IPs, that I've seen myself in my field research area, affecting people I know personally. Which explains why I can't help but react strongly to all the recent nonsense.
Update: I've finally finished the 2nd thread. It's a bit more circuitous than this one so I apologize in advance. 🙃

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More from @oona_paredes

17 Oct
Some real things I know directly from field research with Indigenous peoples in the Philippines -- Part 2 of my already mind-numbingly long thread on why it's wrong to claim Indigenous identity when you're not Indigenous. This time focusing on the direct harm caused by fake IP's.
I'm an anthropologist, and a Visayan from Mindanao, & Mindanawon because my strongest ancestral roots are in Mindanao. But I'm not an IP. Not from a Lumad ethnic group. But I work with/for a Lumad group, called the Higaunon. I've written a lot about them.
For me, Higaunons are some of the funniest people I've ever met, & also the most complicated. Some, I've known since they were small children. Some, I have loved from the start, some I've had to learn to love. There are a few I detest, but I'm sure there's some who detest me too.
Read 33 tweets
14 Oct
All Filipinos (x/o) should read this recent FB post by @RHIANAYAZZIE regarding someone named Rulan Tangen, who claims to be Indigenous. We should all be disgusted by a fellow Pinoy perpetuating this kind of fraud, appropriation, and erasure. Nakakahiya!
FTR, so there's no ambiguity: While almost all Filipinos' ancestors are native (as in, not immigrants) to the Philippines, the category of "Indigenous Peoples" there is reserved for particular marginalized minority communities. Kapampangan is NOT one of them, & never has been.
For a half-Kapampangan who (from her bio) has not lived in the Philippines to NOT ONLY claim Indigenous status there, BUT ALSO who has for 30 yeas passed herself off as Native American by attachment, association, or not correcting mistaken impressions...all I can say is WTAF??
Read 5 tweets

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