There’s a perception on the part of “civilized” peoples everywhere that aboriginal peoples are lazy, stupid, slow, etc. They cite how large percentages of the native population are uneducated and don’t want to hold a job or make a living. They conclude that aboriginal people are just lazy and prefer to stay drunk on “free money” from the government to work.
While I can’t argue that aboriginal populations have more than their fair share of social problems, my reasoning is different. I believe that the values and worldview of aboriginal peoples is fundamentally different from those of the people in the dominant global system. The cultures are mutually incompatible. So a tribe member is not being lazy when he sits and drinks all day, he is unable to take part in a society that is completely foreign to who he is. His way of life has been completely destroyed, in most cases. He can’t go back to what was, and he can’t or won’t take part in an insane system. And while first world governments have ceased to kill native peoples with bullets, for the most part, the Indian Wars are far from over. Aboriginal people everywhere continue to have their culture destroyed, their land taken away from them. Whites can be heard to say “They need to get off their asses and get a job!” You’re telling someone whose whole belief system is centered around harmony in nature to go, say mine the earth, something which is forbidden in some of their cultures? Or to move to a city, away from their land, to work in a factory which pollutes the earth? Why is the person who refuses to do these things in the wrong, instead of the person who does them?
I find the Hopi prophecies really interesting in this light. They view the whole of Western culture as nothing more than a sickness, one which has unfortunately blighted the land they care for. Whereas Western governments usually want Natives out of the way so they can “make use” of the land in various ways (i.e. destroy it thorough mining, burying toxic waste, etc.), certain Natives are just waiting for the government to fall so they can get back to a life in balance with nature. Perhaps the “prophecy” is just a reflection of this hope. However, we seem to live in a world where those in the system have trouble understanding how truly crazy their lives are. It’s going to take a lot to wake them up to this fact. Even those of us who realize this usually continue with out crazy lifestyles because it feels safe, we’re used to it, and we don’t see a real alternative. After all, we’ve seen what happens to people who willingly or unwillingly stay out of the system- just look at the sad events that occur in most Native populations. It seems more than a little naive to think that our civilizations will collapse and that Native populations will thus be restored to their former state, whatever that state is. But in 2011 we have increasingly clear signals that collapse is imminent. But for many people, it will be too late to consider whether the Natives were really right all along.