Concept

Young people are the segment within indigenous societies who are profoundly affected by erosion of traditional indigenous way of life, economic change, unemployment, globalization and a number of other factors. Within all these changes there is a perception among indigenous youths that their concerns and needs are not always reflected in policies conceived by their elders and also that the traditional institutions are becoming redundant. This is also reinforced by the perception among indigenous youths that their traditional ways of life are archaic and antiquated, hence needs to be changed. It has given rise to a situation where they are distancing themselves or not taking initiatives in traditional governance and systems. However, this does not imply that the youth are completely disinterested in participating or influencing policies. On the contrary, it points to a lack of finding appropriate space and means to dialogue on their needs, fears and concerns within the same system that they are in doubt of. It has come to represent part of the symptoms of the dilemmas of indigenous societies, within a technology-oriented world, to effectively provide their youths with adequate knowledge about their constantly threatened traditional systems and cultures.  

 
It is important to positively recognize this legitimate need of youths to express their opinions, share their ideas and be participants in the process of change; more importantly, to utilize the youths in harmonizing the differences between traditional and non-traditional systems. At the same time it is also necessary that the knowledge and experiences of their elders smoothly percolate down to the youths. On the other hand, one see that the elders feel neglected and threatened as the youths are seen to be more effective in political mobilization. Such mobilization has given rise to new structural formations that are similar to the politically opposed parties, and thus related to processes of stratification within indigenous societies. Sometimes such formations may pose a challenge to the traditional authority, which is not easily resolved and it has given rise to new divisions between the so-called ‘progressives’ and ‘traditionalists’ in many situations. It has therefore become very imperative to facilitate a process of dialogue between the elders and the youths of indigenous societies. 
 
Such a dialogue would seek to: 

• Make the experiences and knowledge of indigenous elders accessible to the youths and vice versa.

• Find meeting ground between traditional and non-traditional systems that is holistic in its approach to indigenous development and change.

• Dwell on the impact of globalization on the intergenerational transfer of indigenous social and environmental knowledge. 

• Make youths reflect and act upon long-term social and economic development in an indigenous framework within militarized situations.

• To explore the platforms and institutions where Indigenous Peoples can participate. 

 
The dialogue is expected to identify follow up activities to address whatever gaps or differences that may exist between the elders and youths within indigenous societies. Primarily aimed at promoting mutual respect, dialogue between youths and elders will
help communities in the intergenerational transfer of knowledge and value systems that is critical in ensuring continuity of indigenous identity among youths. 
 
The exercise is also to build the capacity and self-confidence of indigenous youth in the region by providing systems of information, exchange and networking. There will be mobilization of indigenous youth by facilitating the exchange of ideas, analysis and experiences that they in turn can contribute and share with their indigenous communities.
 
There will be an attempt to boost the effectiveness and synergies of traditional systems with modern systems by utilising this active and dynamic section of the society who is most receptive to new ideas. Stress will be laid on the shuttling of indigenous peoples between imposed systems of law, governance, economy, education on the one hand and the fading traditional systems. 
 
Other themes for discussion: 

o Youth in the Bio-Diversity protection debate (Convention on Biological Diversity, Climate Change, etc) 

o Indigenous youth in the UN 2nd Decade of Indigenous Peoples, UNPFII, etc

o Understanding traditional clothing and weaving patterns, folk tales and folk dances

o Follow up initiatives to be undertaken within individual communities and organizations to ensure dialogue between youth and elders

 
Participants 
The assembly will gather 30 representatives of indigenous youth organizations and elders from the North East of India. India’s North East has among the highest concentration of indigenous peoples in South and South East Asia. Therefore, the youth dialogue aims to ensure as wide a participation from the region. 
We will encourage more women delegates to ensure adequate representation of women youth leaders. The dialogue participants will include besides youth, some village chiefs, senior citizens – both men and women, university students, student activists, media professionals and human rights workers. The methodology employed will include small group discussions, sharing of personal experiences of elders, short community presentations. There will also be inputs provided by experts followed by consultation.
 
Conclusion
The United Nations Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues (UNPFII) decided in its first session in 2002 to make indigenous children and youth a focal point of its work, in recognition of the fact that the children and youth are the world’s most valuable resource. The indigenous youth are the link between the traditional past and the still-unfolding future of indigenous peoples. It is thus very important to harness the valuable contributions that they can make to any development effort, especially in the protection of the environment and biological diversity. Unfortunately, indigenous youth and women are not accorded equal opportunities for participation in decision-making and the wider socio-political processes.
 
By engaging in a dialogue within themselves and with elders, the indigenous youth will be able to fully articulate their needs and aspirations, and their possible catalytic role in the development process. 

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