November is Native American Heritage Month, in which we honor the diverse cultures, histories, and traditions of indigenous peoples in the United States. After reading about Native American history in their course, our Virtual English Language Training (ELT) students told us about indigenous peoples in their home countries. We’ve featured some of their responses below.
Gilbert Kandaya, Malawi
One of the indigenous people in my country Malawi is the Lomwe people. This is fourth largest tribe in Malawi. Lomwe people are found in the Mulanje, Thyolo, Phalombe and Zomba districts at the southern part of Malawi. Lomwe indigenous people came into Malawi in the 1930s from Mozambique (neighboring country of Malawi) due to tribal wars. These indigenous people speak the Lomwe language.
Before Malawi got independence, a lot of indigenous people in Malawi were being ill-treated by British colonial rule, and there was no fundamental improvement in the state of cultural freedoms, introducing undemocratic features from its own people. In 1964, Malawi got its independence from British rule and the country had its first multiparty democratic constitution voted into full force on 16th May, 1964. Due to the circumstances that a lot of indigenous people in Malawi were facing, in 2008 the late president of Malawi Professor Peter Wa Muthalika established special heritage for the Chewa and Lomwe indigenous people to develop, revitalize, and preserve the history, tradition, culture, values and customs of these indigenous people.
As Malawi is one of the democratic countries, it is necessary as a country to have the policies that influence and preserve various indigenous people more in terms of culture, tradition, believes and values in order to promote human rights, freedom and equality.
Catya Chicas, El Salvador
My beautiful country is El Salvador, and different ethnic groups live here such as: Lencas, Pipiles, Cacaoperas, Chortis and Uluas.
Out of all of them, there are currently only three small groups in different and remote areas of El Salvador. Since colonization we have almost lost our identity. First, clothing: in society, it is not common to see someone wear a traditional cloth. Here we wear them when we celebrate the Independence Day, to manifest our celebration of being freed from Spanish oppression. But the history is more complicated; with the passage of time and the different social status, there was a gap between indigenous people and capital. In the 1970s many murders occurred, and a large quantity of indigenous people in the military’s hands. That’s a reason why we were losing our identity: because after that, indigenous people decided to hide.
Nowadays, there exists only 3 different groups that make up 12-17% of the population. They show the rest of population and tourists their traditions. Their rights were signed on September 13, 2007.
Today it is important for the government to rescue the tradition, rescue including the native language that is Nahuatl. I think, it is important to care about it, because it is part of our history and identity, and share what it was with the new age, respecting and valuing what little is left.
Su Nam Park, South Korea
Koreans are ethnically one indigenous people. The entire population of Korea including both north and south and all over the world are assumed to be 80 million. We are quite smart because we do not have enough natural resources that support our nation. Historically, Koreans studied very hard since it is the key to success. Koreans have always lived in the Korea peninsula and around there.
Koreans had settled down in the Korean peninsula since ancient times. We have quite a long history. Around 2,000 BC, the first state was established by Dan Gun who is known as founder of Korea. After that, Korea shows a similar pattern in history where sometimes we are divided and also unified together. Now is the divided period, so one day, unified Korea will be coming.
We have produced a lot of great people. One excellent person in Korea is Ban Ki-moon who was the United Nations Secretary General. Also, in entertainment fields, Psy, a singer, has made a sensation of K-POP. His music videos of Gang Nam style were watched thousands of thousands of times worldwide. Soccer players such as Son Heung-min and Park Ji-sung both have experienced the Champions league final match.
As one of the largest groups of people in the world, I hope we Koreans can be reunified as we are same indigenous people. I think we can do it, so just do it!