⌛ Ainu Identity

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Ainu Identity

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Ainu and Ryukyuans

However, with the government's long awaited official recognition of the Ainu as Japan's indigenous people in , it appears that there has been a revival of Ainu pride among the few Ainu that remain, as they desperately try to preserve what culture they have left. Here, I hope to outline some of the most important aspects of the Ainu language and briefly touch upon the culture in hopes to bring light to one facet of Japan's diversity.

According to the government, there are currently 25, Ainu living in Japan, but other sources claim there are up to , The origin of the Ainu people and language is, for the most part, unknown. However, there have been many theories on the subject. One theory suggests that the Ainu people are remnants of the Jomon-jin, or the hunter-gathers who inhabited Japan during the Jomon Period 14, BC — AD and perhaps even before. Around the year AD, another group of immigrants known as the Yayoi people made their way to the islands of Japan, introducing new agricultural techniques and technology and integrating with the Jomon people.

It is believed that the Yayoi group may not have reached as far as the Northern island of Hokkaido, allowing the Jomon hunter-gatherer way of life to survive in that area. One Ainu myth claims that " They lived in this place a hundred thousand years before the Children of the Sun came. More recent research suggests that the historical Ainu culture could have come about through the merging of the Okhotsk culture and the Sastumon, a Jomon group very similar to the Ainu. Physically, the Ainu stand out distinctly from the Japanese as a separate ethnic group. Ainu people tend to have light skin, a stout frame, deep-set eyes with a European shape, and thick, wavy hair.

Full-blooded Ainu may have even had blue eyes or brown hair. In the past, the Ainu were proposed to be of Caucasian decent, given their appearance, but recently it has been proved through dental morphology and fingerprinting that the Ainu are in fact Mongoloid, not Caucasoid. These days, the concept of a pure Ainu is very blurred. Distinguishing the Ainu from other Japanese is almost impossible due to intermarriage with the Japanese, migration, and denial of the Ainu identity to avoid discrimination. You can see just by the appearance of the Ainu that traditional Ainu culture is significantly different from Japanese culture. First of all, both men and women keep their hair at shoulder length and wear traditional Ainu garb. Men, never shaving after a certain age, usually have full beards, and women undergo mouth tattooing to signify their coming to adulthood.

As hunter-gatherers, the Ainu lived off of the land. Common foods included deer, bear, rabbit, fox, salmon, root vegetables, and much more. Unlike the Japanese, the Ainu always cooked their food, never eating anything raw. Common hunting weapons included poisoned spears and bow and arrows. One way that the Ainu were similar to the Japanese is in the way of religion. The Ainu, just like the Japanese people, were animists and believed that all things are inhabited by spirits known as kamuy. While there are many gods in Ainu belief, one of the most important is known as Kim-un Kamuy , or the god of bears and the mountains. All animals are thought to be the manifestations of gods on Earth in Ainu culture, however, the bear is believed to be the head of gods and is therefore known as kamuy , or "God.

Traditionally, the Ainu sacrificed bears in order to release the kamuy within them to the spirit world. One tradition, called lotame , involves the raising of a young bear cub as if it were an Ainu child and then sacrificing once it has come of age. Now, a special name was needed for each indigenous culture, which would be the first act of justice for the inhabitants of those lands. Indigenous peoples of Ecuador had different origins and nationalities, various cultures, different languages and dialects, and different spiritual practices and beliefs.

A representative from the European Parliament said that a special objective of the Parliament was to underline and accept all the different cultures of Europe. Languages were of great importance for everyone, but even more so for indigenous peoples, he said. As a member of the European Parliament, he wished to apologize for what had been done in previous centuries. The 21 million euros spent over the last three years on funding programmes to help indigenous peoples would grow in the future, he said, as the European Parliament wished to give more support to indigenous communities. The European Parliament wanted to strengthen the relationship with the Forum and with representatives of indigenous peoples, he continued.

Berlusconi had promised that the policy towards indigenous peoples would be one of the priorities of the Italian presidency. It was a unique opportunity to support physical activity. The event was being jointly organized with the five indigenous communities from Canada. Seventy delegations were expected, 15 to 20 of whom would be representing indigenous peoples from all over the world. The representative of the European Parliament said the European Council and Parliament must first decide that a particular Forum activity must be supported. It could then provide resources in support of that activity, as a way of assisting indigenous peoples in recovering what had been stolen from them over the last century.

A representative of Canada said his country was unique and diverse, shaped by aboriginal people and their culture. On the international front, it was working with other organizations on cultural policies to promote and further cultural diversity. Canada would like to ensure aboriginal stewardship over their languages and cultures, in preserving that aspect of its national heritage. In addition, Canada was committed to the well-being of the indigenous youth population, he said. It had established Friendship Centres on indigenous reserves, and provided funding to assist urban youth. The representative of New Zealand said that the expression of culture was at the very heart of indigenous identity and his country believed that all indigenous peoples had the right to practice and revitalize cultural traditions and practices.

Language was at the core of cultural identity, he said, and the promotion of indigenous languages was fundamental to the development of indigenous peoples. He urged all States to consider programmes to promote the advancement of the languages and cultures of indigenous peoples. It was also important to protect intellectual property. Existing mechanisms were not sufficient to help indigenous peoples exploit their knowledge for commercial purposes.

The New Zealand Government was trying to prevent the patenting of indigenous knowledge, he continued. For example, laws had been passed so that people could not register trademarks based on Maori text and imagery that would be offensive to the Maori people. He also stressed the importance of the right to repatriation of human remains. Around overseas institutions, mostly in Europe and the United States, held Maori remains in their collections. New Zealand recognized the importance and significance of Maori remains being returned to the Maori people and would be providing funding for that purpose.

Those practices harmed the cultural heritage of indigenous peoples. Cultural integrity was the result of history and tradition. She encouraged States to consider the recommendations of the indigenous peoples in the Forum. Despite the fact that indigenous peoples had their own customs and cultures, their status as a people was denied. They were considered as animals and people incapable of taking decisions. He stressed that indigenous peoples must participate at the political level, and guide their own lives. Political participation was a human right that could not be denied. The Forum should recommend that the Economic and Social Council call upon all countries to provide for the full and complete participation of indigenous peoples in political processes, and that right be embodied in their constitutions.

United Nations bodies should set up or introduce aid programmes, so that indigenous peoples could have a genuine part in decision-making processes. Nevertheless, millions of children continued to be taught in languages that they did not use or even understand. Indigenous peoples lived in very different environments and had retained their particular practices and beliefs. However, education had often destroyed such cultures and languages. The participation of indigenous peoples in decision-making regarding the design of curricula was still limited. Education still fell short of eliminating prejudice and discrimination targeted at indigenous peoples.

The concept of education as a way of integrating indigenous peoples into a dominant society had now practically disappeared. There were a large number of instruments that recognized the rights of indigenous peoples, and in Latin America some constitutions had been amended to recognize the right of indigenous peoples to education in their own languages. Such progress was very important as it strengthened the inter-cultural nature of the educational process. It also believed in the principle of mother tongue instruction, that multilingual education should occur at all educational levels, and that language should be an essential element in inter-cultural education.

Education should also provide training for indigenous peoples so they could compete on the national and international levels, she said. The UNESCO was preparing a report that would cover case studies and best practices and discuss what educators around the world were doing. The UNESCO, she added, had redoubled its efforts to help indigenous peoples around the world by setting up an Action Programme for Education, which would bring about progress in tolerance and mutual respect, and promote equal educational opportunities for boys and girls. He was raising the matter of those treaties because of the blatant and ongoing violations of those rights. Other members of the Forum stressed that education was one of the fundamental pillars of sustainable development, but noted that indigenous people did not have ready access to education to cope with modern technology, science and research.

Other members noted that schools spent little time teaching subjects aimed at preserving the cultures of indigenous peoples, and emphasized that States should draw up curricula to respect the interests of indigenous peoples. She agreed that indigenous peoples should have access to higher education, but noted that children were still excluded from attending school, and that would also need to be addressed. Higher education for indigenous peoples must consider the interaction among various cultures, she said.

She also pointed to the poverty of many indigenous areas, as well as the lack of attention indigenous peoples received in government policies. The UNESCO was examining how indigenous peoples had developed their own initiatives, and determining how best to proceed in ensuring that they became more central players in developing national policies. While it was necessary to learn the languages and ways of colonizing countries, a lack of indigenous education would continue to set indigenous youth apart from their own cultures. Boarding schools, residential schools and missionary schools had had devastating effects on indigenous communities.

That type of education could be devastating. Indigenous youth had suffered mental, physical and even sexual abuse within those school systems. He recommended that indigenous languages be integrated into national curricula, and asked the United Nations agencies to design materials sensitive to the cultural and education needs of indigenous peoples. Special attention should be given to young girls in the education sector. He also urged the adoption of the draft declaration on the rights of indigenous peoples. However, contact with the United States Government had suppressed Navajo values and, in some cases, replaced them with European values. The United States Government and private businesses had failed to recognize Navajo common law, which had been carried from generation to generation and influenced the structure of Navajo government.

He recommended that the United Nations support the existence and application of common laws in Indian tribes, and ask States to do the same. It should also encourage businesses to respect traditional common laws. However, with no funding to educate indigenous youth, that road would be a long one. A large number of young people were dropping out of school, giving up because of mental health problems or because the educational system was too different from their own culture. They were losing self-esteem because they were adapting to western standards. Greater attention must be paid to youth who were dropping out of school, she said, by offering culturally specific help.

It was time to recognize the need to empower youth before they were lost. Indigenous youth with language problems must be given special attention. Indigenous youth, she added, needed encouragement in the fight against colonization. It had also familiarized indigenous peoples with the United Nations system. The former fellows recommended the programme and encouraged States to endorse the draft declaration on the rights of indigenous peoples. All regions of the world should initiate training programmes for young indigenous peoples.

The candidacies of professionals from indigenous communities should also be considered for positions in international organizations. ROY, representing the Bangladesh Adivasi Forum, said that indigenous peoples living in Bangladesh experienced a great deal of discrimination. The indigenous peoples of Bangladesh needed education to protect their rights. In some areas of the Chittagong Hill Tracts, the teachers went without salaries, and young children walked up and down steep mountain slopes everyday to attend school.

However, most children could not study beyond primary school, as their parents could not afford to send them away. Illiteracy in that area was well below the national average. Although those were difficult obstacles, they could be overcome, he said. Governments should be encouraged to revise their educational policies and introduce primary education in the mother tongue of indigenous peoples. Also, the Committee on the Rights of the Child should take particular note of the fact that indigenous languages were endangered. Children had unquestionable rights to education in their own cultures and languages. Moreover, the World Bank and other agencies should recognize the inherent right of indigenous peoples to a high standard of education.

In addition, the Forum should work with United Nations agencies and Member States to guarantee indigenous education as a fundamental right with adequate salaries, teachers and educational resources. Education was a human right, she said, as was the right to self-determination. Indigenous peoples had the right to follow their own destiny, particularly with respect to education that was culturally appropriate for their children. Indigenous peoples in Canada had seen nearly 10 languages become extinct, which was unacceptable.

In public education, the Ainu children had a lower rate of school attendance and that disparity became even more pronounced in higher education. That was due to the economic inequality between the Ainu and the Japanese, reflected in the fact that the proportion of Ainu families on welfare was twice that of the Japanese. The Japanese Government claimed that a policy to address those inequalities had existed since , but even after 30 years of such measures, the disparity in education had not declined to any significant degree, primarily because the land rights and economic rights of the Ainu were not respected.

Even when Ainu children entered public schools, they were at a much higher risk of dropping out due to the discrimination that they experienced. Such discrimination could be addressed by teaching Ainu culture and history in public schools, to both Japanese and Ainu children. At present, the Ainu children were deprived of the opportunity to take pride in their indigenous background, which hindered their identification with the Ainu culture and history. For those reasons, he urged the Japanese Government to establish an ethnic education programme.

An appropriate education system would be the first step in improving school enrolment rates, retention rates and unemployment rates of the Ainu people. When the Brazilians had arrived, his people were placed in captivity and they lost part of their culture. In the s, however, indigenous lands had been demarcated, and in bilingual teachers were introduced into indigenous communities. His people were preparing schoolbooks in indigenous languages and researching indigenous ceremonies and music.

United Nations specialized agencies should help to preserve indigenous languages and reinforce the idea of bilingual education. The population of indigenous groups in the region was small and, as a result, they were among the most vulnerable groups. He then described various efforts to assist indigenous peoples in the region. The Ainu Times publishes in both. Other phonemes use the same character as the IPA transcription given above. Its pitch accent is denoted by acute accent in Latin script e. This is usually not denoted in katakana. John Batchelor was an English missionary who lived among the Ainu, studied them and published many works on the Ainu language. He was the first to write in Ainu and use a writing system for it.

Other books written in Ainu include dictionaries, a grammar, and books on Ainu culture and language. A Unicode standard exists for a set of extended katakana Katakana Phonetic Extensions for transliterating the Ainu language and other languages written with katakana. The extended katakana are based on regular katakana and either are smaller in size or have a handakuten. This is a list of special katakana used in transcribing the Ainu language. Most of the characters are of the extended set of katakana, though a few have been used historically in Japanese, [ citation needed ] and thus are part of the main set of katakana.

A number of previously proposed characters have not been added to Unicode as they can be represented as a sequence of two existing codepoints. Example with initial k :. Since the above rule is used systematically, some katakana combinations have different sounds from conventional Japanese. The Ainu have a rich oral tradition of hero-sagas called yukar , which retain a number of grammatical and lexical archaisms.

Yukar were memorized and told at get-togethers and ceremonies that often lasted hours or even days. The Ainu also have another form of narrative often used called " Uepeker " , which was used in the same contexts. Many of the speakers of Ainu lost the language with the advent of Japanese colonization. During a time when food production methods were changing across Japan, there was less reason to trade with the Ainu, who mainly fished and foraged the land. Japan was becoming more industrialized and globalization created a threat to Japanese land. The Japanese government, in an attempt to unify their country to keep out invasion, created policy for the assimilation of the Ainu diversity, culture, and subsistence.

More recently, the Japanese government has acknowledged the Ainu people as an indigenous population. In general, Ainu people are hard to find because they tend to hide their identity as Ainu, especially in the young generation. Two thirds of Ainu youth do not know that they are Ainu. Despite this, there is an active movement to revitalize the language, mainly in Hokkaido but also elsewhere such as Kanto. Due to the Ainu Cultural Promotion Act of , Ainu dictionaries transformed and became tools for improving communication and preserving records of the Ainu language in order to revitalize the language and promote the culture.

Efforts have also been made to produce web-accessible materials for conversational Ainu because most documentation of the Ainu language focused on the recording of folktales. The course put extensive efforts in promoting the language, creating 4 text books in each season throughout the year. In addition, the Ainu language has been seen in public domains such as the outlet shopping complex's name, Rera , which means 'wind', in the Minami Chitose area and the name Pewre , meaning 'young', at a shopping centre in the Chitose area. There is also a basketball team in Sapporo founded under the name Rera Kamuy Hokkaido , after rera kamuy 'god of the wind' its current name is Levanga Hokkaido.

Another Ainu language revitalization program is Urespa, a university program to educate high-level persons on the language of the Ainu. The effort is a collaborative and cooperative program for individuals wishing to learn about Ainu languages. Another form of Ainu language revitalization is an annual national competition, which is Ainu language-themed. People of many differing demographics are often encouraged to take part in the contest. Since , the popularity of the contest has increased. On 15 February , Japan approved a bill to recognize the Ainu language for the first time.

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia. Language spoken in Hokkaido, Japan. This article is about the language spoken on Hokkaido. For the language family, see Ainu languages. The Ainu text, in katakana , is second down from the top on the right side of the sign. Language family. Ainu Hokkaido Ainu. Writing system. Katakana current Latin current. E-itak 2SG -speak. Kuani I. Aynu person. Pon small.

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