Indigenous Peoples: An Encyclopedia of Culture, History, and Threats to Survival

ABC-CLIO. 4 vols. Feb. 2020. 1,248p. ISBN 9781440861178. $432. REF
The thoughtful introduction to this impressive work elucidates the complex definition and contested classification of 400-plus groups of Indigenous people, the many issues they face, and the history of developments about their rights (an appendix gives the full UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples). Williams (Celebrating Life Customs Around the World) identifies health care and education as ongoing issues but also cites precarious land ownership, preservation of language and culture, physical and psychological safety, environmental vulnerabilities, and socioeconomic status as other pressing concerns. “See also” references, further reading, and a selected bibliography add value. Black-and-white photos; a box with concise data on location, population, and language heading each entry enliven the text. Each entry covers the same features (overview; population/diaspora/migration; geography/environment; history/politics; society/culture/tradition; health care/education; threats to survival), facilitating comparisons. Admirably ambitious in scope, the work is not comprehensive: Onge, Roma, Bavarian, Rohingya, Hindi, Mosuo, Lakota, and Sorb are among the almost 400 entries, but Navajo/Diné, Dakota, and many others are not. The index uses proper group names (e.g., “Sami,” “Inuit”), very rarely redirecting alternatives. The author concludes that both exploitation and conservation can endanger the physical or cultural survival of Indigenous people.
VERDICT Scholarly coverage is aimed at researchers, but this set will also appeal to general readers.

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