Place and Indigeneity

For us, Indigenous encompasses the place from which we see the world, interact with it, and interpret social reality.

The foregoing constitutes a very strong test of indigeneity. On the other hand, it also means that a Kwara`ae person can live anywhere in the world for long periods or perhaps permanently on a day-to-day basis, and still be seen as indigenous. Moreover, Kwara`ae persons can be born somewhere else and still be seen as indigenous so long as they are not of mixed blood. (Children of mixed marriages, for instance, are seen as Native Kwara`ae but not Indigenous.) Space (kula ni tua, literally, "place situated in dwell[ing]"; that is, place not of one's existential being but rather of temporary or even long-term staying) refers to a space that is not of one's identity or origin. Space has to do with the location where a Kwara`ae person may be at any given time as necessitated by contemporary conditions (such as going to an urban area to get a job to meet basic needs, or going overseas in pursuit of an education). The underlying image in kula ni tua is that one is sitting in a space that, should one get up and leave it, will be occupied by someone else. Space is the location a Kwara`ae person occupies while in motion or in circulation, to draw a metaphor from Murray Chapman's work on population mobility and circular migration. For the Kwara`ae, therefore, because of the possibility of space, a person can be anywhere and still be inextricably tied to place. Place is portable and, as we Kwara`ae say, "It's in our blood."

David Gegeo, "Cultural Rupture and Indigeneity: The Challenge of (Re)visioning "Place" in the Pacific."