There is constant pressure for minorities to assimilate into the larger society. Is there any benefit to support the survival of minority culture in the face of globalization? I think so for several reasons. Our human diversity is what makes it possible for the species to survive disease, climate change, and other less obvious threats. For culture to be pared down to European or Chinese culture we would lose our patrimony, our heritage. In popular conception we would become a part of “The Borg.” We would suffer a cultural Alzheimer’s where we wouldn’t remember what it was we lost. Culture is the “canary in the cage” that will protect us where ever we may end.
“[Humanity] will have to relearn that all true creation implies some deafness to the call of other values, which may reach the point of rejecting or even negating them. One cannot at the same time melt away in the enjoyment of the Other, identify oneself with the Other, and keep oneself different. If fully successful, complete communication with the Other will doom its creative originality and my own in more or less short time. The great creative ages were those when communication had increased to the point that distant partners stimulated each other but not so often and rapidly that the indispensable obstacles between individuals, and likewise between groups, dwindled to the point that excessively easy exchanges would equalize and blend away their diversity. ” Claude Levi-Strauss
For nearly 40 years Cultural Survival has partnered with Indigenous Peoples around the world to help them defend their lands, languages, and cultures. Our work is predicated on the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples. We publicize their issues through our award-winning publications, we mount letter-writing campaigns and other advocacy efforts to stop environmental destruction and abuses of Native Peoples’ rights, and we work on the ground in Indigenous communities, always at their invitation. Our board of directors includes some of the world’s preeminent Indigenous leaders, and our staff, headed by a renowned human rights lawyer, includes both Indigenous and non-Indigenous members. Our headquarters is in Cambridge, Massachusetts, and we have satellite offices in Guatemala and Colorado. Cultural Survival has received a four-star rating from Charity Navigator for outstanding fiscal responsibility, and we have consultative status with the United Nations.