In fact, the history and practice of Indigenous diplomacy extends beyond western relationality, thought, and practice.
The Native Study Group’s trip to China reveals that trans-Pacific connections can be strategic learning opportunities. In this particular case, the Native Study Group was interested in learning how an anti-imperialist country can determine its own course of action outside of western colonial interests. The Native Study Group also wanted to learn about China’s minorities and how they navigate self-determination and cultural revitalization.
In Indigenous Asia, the 1970s was also a distinguishable period for forming and developing Indigenous identities. For instance, the Ainu delegations to China were monumental markers of Ainu agency because, during these trips, the Ainu presented themselves as an Indigenous minority. In other words, these delegations were important expressions of the Ainu people as culturally distinct from the dominant Japanese culture. Moreover, in these delegations, the Ainu show that as distinct peoples, they have the self-determination to form international diplomatic connections.
Although the Red Power Movement is tied to this specific era, Indigenous activism, organizing, and diplomacy are far from over. In fact, the delegations of the 1970s ushered in a web of complex and ongoing Indigenous trans-Pacific alliances. These alliances are as diverse as the Indigenous peoples who are part of these connections.
Image source: ann-elise lewallen