Indigenous peoples: First Steps

In keeping with a deep-rooted tradition of service to original inhabitants dating back to the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries, a new global network of solidarity with indigenous people is taking its first steps. It mirrors the Society?s concern for ?indigenous peoples in many parts of the world, isolated and relegated to marginal social roles? who see ?their identity, cultural legacy and natural world threatened? (CG 34, D.3, n.14). The coming together in Mumbai of Jesuits and collaborators from all over the world at the World Social Forum 2004 was the inspiration for an informal meeting during which the foundation for an International Network of Jesuits in Solidarity with Indigenous Peoples (INJESIP) was laid. Jojo Fung SJ, the active promoter of this fledgling global endeavour, sees INJESIP working mainly to bring indigenous wisdom, values and energies into the mainstream within the Church and in society at large, and to develop feasible advocacy strategies for indigenous peoples? collective rights to self-determination and cultural development. In his opening welcome speech Fr. Jojo underlined the need for networking on a global scale, connecting Jesuits throughout the world and facilitating a horizontal flow of information between the different assistancies involved with indigenous peoples. In the meanwhile, the yahoogroup for INJESIP has been set up, with its operational hub in Malaysia. It will enable its members to discuss issues of interest and to exchange information. Indeed, as Fr. Jojo put it, ?the Society of Jesus must continue to discern critically whether in this opportune time, we see more clearly the dance-steps of God amongst the indigenous peoples. If God is there dancing before us amidst the marginalized indigenous peoples, we need to learn to harmonize our dance-steps with those of God too?. [HL40302] Jojo M. Fung SJ, Coordinator of Jesuit Companions in Indigenous Ministry (JCIM), East Asia and Oceania.