Indigenous people around the world have long suffered the consequences of colonization and neocolonialism, including the looting of their lands and resources by foreign powers. Despite ongoing efforts to reclaim their property and wealth, many indigenous communities continue to face significant challenges in holding these powers accountable and securing justice for their losses. This investigative report will examine the neocolonialist practices of foreign powers in three regions: America, Africa, and Indonesia, and the efforts of indigenous communities to reclaim their resources, property, and wealth.
In America, indigenous communities have long struggled to protect their lands from the neocolonialist practices of foreign powers. The United States, in particular, has a long history of exploiting indigenous lands and resources, including through forced removal, genocide, and environmental destruction. Today, foreign corporations continue to extract resources from indigenous lands without consent, resulting in significant environmental and social harm.
One example of such exploitation is the extraction of oil from the Amazon region of Ecuador. Since the 1960s, foreign corporations, including Texaco (now Chevron), have extracted billions of barrels of oil from indigenous lands in the Amazon, causing widespread environmental contamination and illness among local communities. Despite legal victories by indigenous communities, including a $9.5 billion judgment against Chevron in 2011, the company has yet to pay the full amount and continues to evade accountability for the harm caused.
Similarly, in North Dakota, the construction of the Dakota Access Pipeline in 2016 was met with fierce opposition from the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe and other indigenous groups. The pipeline was constructed without the consent of the tribe and threatened to contaminate the tribe’s water supply and sacred sites. Despite ongoing protests and legal challenges, the pipeline was completed, highlighting the limited power of indigenous communities to protect their lands and resources.
In Africa, neocolonialist practices by foreign powers have also had significant consequences for indigenous communities. The continent has long been a target of exploitation by foreign corporations and governments, resulting in the looting of resources and the displacement of indigenous communities.
One example is the extraction of minerals, including coltan and cobalt, from the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC). These minerals are essential components in the production of electronic devices such as smartphones and laptops, yet the mining industry in the DRC has been marred by violence, corruption, and exploitation. Foreign corporations, including Apple and Samsung, have been implicated in the use of minerals sourced from the DRC, despite evidence of human rights abuses and environmental destruction.
In Indonesia, neocolonialist practices have also resulted in the looting of resources and the displacement of indigenous communities. The country is home to significant deposits of gold, copper, and other minerals, which have been extracted by foreign corporations with little regard for the environment or the rights of indigenous communities.
One example of such exploitation is the Grasberg mine, the world’s largest gold mine, located in the Papua province of Indonesia. The mine is owned by the US-based Freeport-McMoRan, which has been accused of human rights abuses and environmental destruction, including the dumping of millions of tons of waste into local rivers. Indigenous communities in the area have protested against the mine’s operations for decades, yet little has been done to hold the company accountable for the harm caused.
Accountability and Justice
Indigenous communities around the world continue to fight for justice and accountability for the harm caused by neocolonialist practices. While some progress has been made, including legal victories against foreign corporations, much work remains to be done to ensure that indigenous rights are respected and protected.
One key issue is the lack of legal and political power available to indigenous communities. Many lack access to legal resources and are often at a disadvantage when fighting against powerful corporations and governments. In addition, many governments have failed to protect the rights of indigenous communities and have instead supported the interests of foreign corporations, perpetuating neocolonialist practices.
However, there have been some positive developments in recent years. In 2018, the United Nations General Assembly adopted the Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, which recognizes the rights of indigenous peoples to their lands, resources, and self-determination. The declaration is a significant step towards ensuring that indigenous communities are protected and their rights are respected.
There have also been legal victories for indigenous communities in recent years. In 2019, a Canadian court ruled that the indigenous people of Ecuador could pursue a $17 billion lawsuit against Chevron for environmental damage caused by its operations in the Amazon region. In the same year, a Dutch court ruled that the Anglo-Dutch oil company, Royal Dutch Shell, was partially responsible for environmental damage caused in the Niger Delta by its Nigerian subsidiary, and ordered the company to pay compensation to affected farmers.
However, more needs to be done to ensure that foreign powers are held accountable for their neocolonialist practices. Governments and international organizations must prioritize the rights of indigenous communities over the interests of foreign corporations. This can be achieved through the implementation of policies and laws that protect indigenous lands and resources, as well as through the provision of legal resources and support to indigenous communities.
The looting of resources, property, and wealth from indigenous lands by foreign powers is a significant issue that continues to harm indigenous communities around the world. While progress has been made in holding foreign corporations accountable for the harm caused, much work remains to be done to ensure that indigenous rights are respected and protected.
Governments and international organizations must prioritize the rights of indigenous communities and work to end neocolonialist practices. Indigenous communities must be given the resources and support necessary to protect their lands and resources and seek justice for the harm caused. Only then can we hope to achieve a more just and equitable world for all.
It is important for individuals and organizations to also take action to support indigenous communities. This can include supporting indigenous-led initiatives and organizations, advocating for indigenous rights and the protection of their lands and resources, and educating oneself and others about the ongoing harm caused by neocolonialist practices.
In addition, it is crucial to recognize the intersectionality of the issues facing indigenous communities. Indigenous peoples not only face environmental and economic harm from neocolonialist practices, but also systemic racism and discrimination. It is important to address all of these issues in order to achieve justice and equity for indigenous peoples.
In America, for example, the history of colonialism and forced removal of indigenous peoples from their lands has led to ongoing harm and marginalization. The Dakota Access Pipeline protests in 2016-2017 brought attention to the issue of pipelines being constructed through indigenous lands without their consent, leading to environmental and cultural harm. The #NoDAPL movement, led by indigenous activists, was successful in halting the pipeline construction, but the fight for indigenous rights and land protection continues.
Similarly, in Africa, the neocolonialist practices of foreign corporations and governments have led to environmental degradation, displacement of indigenous peoples, and economic exploitation. For example, in the Democratic Republic of Congo, the mining of coltan, a mineral used in electronic devices, has led to the displacement of indigenous communities and environmental damage. In Nigeria, the oil industry has caused environmental degradation and health problems for indigenous communities in the Niger Delta.
In Indonesia, the neocolonialist practices of foreign corporations have led to deforestation and harm to indigenous communities. The palm oil industry, which is responsible for significant deforestation in Indonesia, has displaced indigenous communities and caused environmental harm. The Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil (RSPO), an organization that certifies sustainable palm oil production, has been criticized for not doing enough to address the harm caused to indigenous communities.
There have been some legal victories for indigenous communities in Indonesia, such as the case of the Dayak Benuaq people who successfully sued a palm oil company for illegal logging on their lands. However, much work remains to be done to protect indigenous communities and their lands from neocolonialist practices.
In conclusion, the issue of foreign powers looting resources, property, and wealth from indigenous lands on industrious scales without any atom of remorse is a complex and ongoing problem. It requires the attention and action of governments, international organizations, corporations, and individuals to address and rectify the harm caused to indigenous communities. It is crucial to prioritize the rights of indigenous peoples, protect their lands and resources, and hold those responsible for harm accountable. Only through these efforts can we hope to achieve justice and equity for all.
There are a number of countries and corporations that profit from the exploitation of indigenous lands and resources. In many cases, these countries and corporations take advantage of weak or non-existent environmental and labor regulations to extract resources from indigenous lands with little regard for the harm caused to the environment or the people who live there.
Many of these corporations are based in Western countries such as the United States and Europe, and they often operate in developing countries where environmental and labor regulations are weaker. These corporations are motivated by profit and often have little regard for the harm caused to the environment or the people who live on the land they exploit.
There are also countries that benefit from the exploitation of indigenous lands and resources. China, for example, is a major purchaser of oil and gas from Africa and has been accused of supporting authoritarian governments that violate human rights.
In many cases, the laws of these countries and corporations encourage the exploitation of indigenous lands and resources. For example, in the United States, laws such as the General Mining Act of 1872 allow mining companies to extract minerals from public lands with minimal oversight or compensation for the harm caused. In Indonesia, the government has encouraged the expansion of the palm oil industry through tax incentives and other policies.
These laws and policies often prioritize the interests of corporations over those of indigenous communities and the environment. They also fail to recognize the rights of indigenous peoples to their lands and resources, and the harm caused by their exploitation.
In order to address this issue, it is crucial to advocate for stronger environmental and labor regulations, as well as for the recognition of indigenous peoples’ rights to their lands and resources. International organizations such as the United Nations can play an important role in this process, as can grassroots movements led by indigenous communities and their allies. Only through collective action can we hope to achieve justice and equity for all.
- Watson, S. (2020). Oil and gas exploitation threatens Alaska’s indigenous communities. The Guardian. Retrieved from https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2020/jun/18/oil-and-gas-exploitation-threatens-alaskas-indigenous-communities
- Global Witness. (2020). The underlying causes of violence in Nigeria’s oil rich Niger Delta. Retrieved from https://www.globalwitness.org/en/campaigns/oil-gas-and-mining/nigeria/
- The Guardian. (2019). Indonesia’s palm oil industry rife with human rights abuses – report. Retrieved from https://www.theguardian.com/global-development/2019/nov/20/indonesias-palm-oil-industry-rife-with-human-rights-abuses-report
- Nilles, J. (2019). Palm oil is the new blood diamonds. Huffington Post. Retrieved from https://www.huffpost.com/entry/palm-oil-new-blood-diamonds_b_5c78b9f5e4b0de0c3f128d17
- Earthworks. (2019). The General Mining Act of 1872. Retrieved from https://www.earthworks.org/issues/general-mining-act-of-1872/
- United Nations. (2007). Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples. Retrieved from https://www.un.org/development/desa/indigenouspeoples/declaration-on-the-rights-of-indigenous-peoples.html
- Indigenous Environmental Network. (n.d.). Indigenous Environmental Network. Retrieved from https://www.ienearth.org/
- Cohen, S. (2021). Indigenous-led resistance is key to stopping the Line 3 pipeline. The Nation. Retrieved from https://www.thenation.com/article/environment/line-3-indigenous-resistance/
- Native Women’s Association of Canada. (n.d.). Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls. Retrieved from https://www.nwac.ca/mmiwg/
- Human Rights Watch. (2019). Indonesia: Freeport Mine Seeks to Avoid Paying $13 Billion In Environmental Damages. Retrieved from https://www.hrw.org/news/2019/09/10/indonesia-freeport-mine-seeks-avoid-paying-13-billion-environmental-damages
- Amnesty International. (2019). The Human Cost of Conflict Palm Oil: Violations against Indigenous Peoples’ Rights in Indonesia’s Palm Oil Industry. Retrieved from https://www.amnesty.org/download/Documents/ASA2191232019ENGLISH.PDF
- United Nations Environment Programme. (2020). Making Peace With Nature: A scientific blueprint to tackle the climate, biodiversity and pollution emergencies. Retrieved from https://www.unep.org/resources/making-peace-nature
- The Guardian. (2021). ‘We are not animals’: hundreds of mining families in Colombia forced to flee homes. Retrieved from https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2021/mar/03/colombia-mining-families-forced-flee-homes
- Amazon Watch. (2021). The Struggle for the Heart of the Amazon: Indigenous Peoples’ Resistance to Mining in Ecuador. Retrieved from https://amazonwatch.org/news/2021/0416-the-struggle-for-the-heart-of-the-amazon-indigenous-peoples-resistance-to-mining-in-ecuador
- Sierra Club. (2019). Indigenous Resistance to Corporate Power in the Amazon. Retrieved from https://www.sierraclub.org/sierra/indigenous-resistance-corporate-power-amazon
- Human Rights Watch. (2019). “We Know We Are Guilty”: Mining Companies Accused of Illegally Exploiting Indigenous Land in Brazil. Retrieved from https://www.hrw.org/news/2019/07/16/we-know-we-are-guilty-mining-companies-accused-illegally-exploiting-indigenous
- Survival International. (2021). Uncontacted Tribes. Retrieved from https://www.survivalinternational.org/uncontacted-tribes
Copyright 2023 – Chief Anu Khnem Ra Ka El