Respecting Indigenous Communities
Indigenous communities refer to those groups of people that have historical continuity and possess distinctive characteristics. They are thus determined to, at any cost, preserve and transfer their ancestral ethnic identity to their future generations as a way of ensuring their continuity in accordance with specific cultural and social patterns and legal institutions. It is in this understanding that counselors must proceed with wisdom, caution and objectivity while counseling indigenous communities.
Perhaps the prerequisite of showing respect to the indigenous community is respecting their cultures. This is because their culture is the main bond and the distinctive factor that hold them together as a people. A counselor can achieve this by showing utmost appreciation about their way of life. Despite what he/she might perceive as gross vices, it is important that one establishes a mutual relationship with the community. For example one can highlight important things that he /she has learnt from the community. For instance, a counselor of Yanomami of Brazil-which is as indigenous community of the rain forest, can appreciate how it is possible to live sustainably, benefiting while protecting the ecosystems.
While counseling the indigenous communities, it is also important that a counselor understands that these are people with special rights within the community. By so doing, the counselor will be viewed as being objective which reduces resistance and enhances cooperation. This is because like other communities, they too are social beings and the greatest threat would be anyone who tries to infringe their rights. In many countries, indigenous communities have a right to self-determination. They are therefore free to determine and pursue their political institutions, economic and social developments.
Lastly, when counseling indigenous communities, the choice of words and language highly determine if they will be cooperative or defensive. Therefore, a counselor must be very sensitive in the way they express themselves and how they address the communities. One must therefore as much as possible avoid suggestive words such as black, primitive, uncivilized etc. he/she must show respect, be open and ready to listen and most importantly nonjudgmental.