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Conservation of Indigenous Cultures: Thinking Globally, Acting Locally

At a time when we can have access to data about various cultures around the world, personal stories pave the way for a better understanding of cultural diversities.

Nobody can deny the important role of indigenous people in defending the environment and Earth’s biodiversity. 80% of global biodiversity is protected by them, while they are less than 5% of the world population[1]. So, they need to be preserved. But how?

In order to help them preserve, we need to take some holistic measures to develop their conditions, make their lives easier, appreciate their lifestyle and all in all, do our best to keep their authentic culture. When it comes to helping vulnerable groups or societies, several issues should be taken into consideration if we’d like to reach the best possible effects. We have seen numerous well-intended efforts done to empower the vulnerable, but they turned out to be a barrier to their growth.

Here in this article, it has been tried to clarify some critical points regarding ‘development’ and ‘cultural diversity’; what is the desired approach to development? what is Cultural Diversity? what are the principles of preserving cultural diversities? Then, we show the ways Iran Nomad Tours is trying to help Iran Nomads develop without impairing Nomads’ local cultures.

A Culturally Sensitive Approach to Development: A Key Dimension of Development

A widely-held view is that if a group or society is undeveloped, it is because of their culture which impedes their progress. So, when organizations or other developed groups decide to help them, they make the situation even worse because they try to change the only authentic feature the indigenous people have: ‘their unique culture’. Therefore, the question of how development should be implemented is really important. For example, throughout the history of Iran, different groups have decided to improve the Nomads’ life, but in reality, they made it even harder for the Nomads. Thus, if any measure is to be adopted to improve the Nomads lives, it needs to be based on their cultures. Back then, forced sedentarization of Nomads under the pretext of improving their lives, with insufficient cultural awareness have resulted in tragic, irreparable consequences. So, the key to any development is awareness of cultural and diversity factors[2]. Otherwise, the development would be doomed to failure. Their culture should be acknowledged. They need to know and keep who they truly are. As former World Bank president James Wolfensohn has said (quoted in Gould, 2007):

 “…We are starting to understand that development effectiveness depends, in part, on ‘solutions’ that resonate with a community’s sense of who it is.”


[1] National Geographic

[2] Investigating in Cultural Diversity

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