12th October 2020
Today, everyone at the World Indigenous Forum recognises Indigenous Peoples Day, one of a growing and welcomed number of days that celebrate not only the existence of indigenous cultures, but also their sizeable contribution to society.
This particular day celebrates the history of the indigenous peoples of North America, observed on the second Monday of October to coincide with ‘Columbus Day; a US federal holiday commemorating the arrival of Christopher Columbus in the Americas in 1492.
The creation of Indigenous Peoples Day on the same day as Columbus Day is just one example of the growing recognition of both the suffering, and the misunderstanding, of indigenous cultures’ history alongside their more recent neighbours. The Columbus Day holiday had become increasingly controversial, failing to recognise the catastrophic impact the arrival of European settlers had on Native Americans. Indigenous Peoples' Day acted as a counter point.
At the World Indigenous Forum, we feel it critical to our mission to recognise this history and look to understand the chequered relationship between indigenous cultures and the rest of the world, as we look to unite them for mutual value. There is a deep-set mistrust of the outside world that has been sewn into the fabric of many indigenous cultures – and for good reason. Equally, there still remains a huge misunderstanding of the potential good that indigenous people, cultures and businesses can have on global society.
Now, through the World Indigenous Forum, we look to break these barriers down, to give these cultures access to finance, access to knowledge, and through both, access to markets. At the same time, we look to give investors the chance to make their money work; not just for themselves, but for these cultures, the environments they live in, and the huge service they fulfil for the planet itself.
Indigenous peoples are all around us, from Zinedine Zidane to Kamala Harris; these cultures are not restricted to the backwaters of society, hiding away in rainforests, secluded deserts or inaccessible geographies. There is intelligence, skill and personality in abundance and, just like many other parts of society, indigenous people have integrated into the wider society and gained much success.
Indigenous businesses have the same qualities but, unlike the people, are yet to realise their full potential on the global stage. These are highly innovative enterprises, run by dynamic entrepreneurs, but, where indigenous business differs from many others, with an innate sense of culture, spirituality and connection to the environment. In the past, these ethics of planet and profit have marked them as outsiders, now it identifies them as modern and of their time. Many of the world’s largest companies would plough millions of dollars into procuring the sort of core cultural heritage that is found in the fabric of indigenous companies; ethical, sustainable, local, innovative, fair and full of ancient knowledge.
As we look towards the end of 2020, and its seismic impacts on the planet, the business community is looking for recovery and growth once more, but to do so in a way that reflects the new voice of consumers, citizens, ethical investors and a new wave of leaders. To build back better, to realign a long-standing morality that put profits ahead of people and planet.
At the World Indigenous Forum, investors are there to make a difference and realise these lofty global objectives. To support a critical part of society not only gain its economic independence but stimulate its current trajectory as a crucial voice in how a new world order is going to look and feel.