Bankrolling Indigenous cultural events, Truth and Reconciliation Commissions, and Indigenous NGOs might be good business for corporate criminals like Shell Oil, but Indigenous self-determination grants take us into the theatre of the absurd. While this phenomenon is not surprising given the idea comes from the preeminent corporate social responsibility darling — Shell Oil partner First Peoples Worldwide — the fact it isn’t rejected outright by anyone with intelligence and integrity shows how far down the road we have gone on the corporate collaboration model. As corporate brokers like Rebecca Adamson promote this and other methods of assimilating Indigenous peoples into the corporate system, it would be wise to remember the maxim, “Dependency limits strategies.” While corrupting Indigenous governing authorities and Indigenous NGOs is the raison d’etre of First Peoples Worldwide, the role of Indigenous thought leaders like Adamson is more akin to Christian missionaries who played a similar function in converting Indigenous peoples on behalf of corporate states in the 16th Century. I guess that’s what one might call coming full circle.
[Jay Taber is an associate scholar of the Center for World Indigenous Studies, a correspondent to Forum for Global Exchange, and a contributing editor of Fourth World Journal. Since 1994, he has served as director of Public Good Project. As a consultant, he has assisted indigenous peoples in the European Court of Human Rights and at the United Nations.]