In search of Ainu voices for the future generations : "usa okay utar uaynukor wa, pirka horari, sasuysir pakno situri kuni"

Okada, Mitsuharu
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[Honolulu] : [University of Hawaii at Manoa], [May 2013]
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The Japanese government recognized the Ainu as an indigenous people of Japan in 2008. Over a hundred years of discriminatory assimilation policies have impacted erosion of the Ainuʻs cultural values and traditional ways of living. Very few studies on the Ainuʻs awareness and perspectives on their status, current situations cause lack of the knowledge in Japanese society about Ainuʻs challenges. The overarching research questions are: 1) In light of the government recognition in 2008, how do the Ainu perceive their standing as a people (culturally, politically, and individually)?; 2) What are the opportunities and challenges for the promotion of the rights of the Ainu as an indigenous people?; and 3) What are the hopes for future generations? Utilizing qualitative methodology, fifteen Ainu people were interviewed to grasp the topic focus of Ainu individuals. Significant findings which emerged from the study are: 1) Japanese government policies document more than one hundred years of disruption of Ainu ways of living, values, and cultural traditions the impact of which we are just beginning to understand. 2) As a result of this determined destabilization, Ainu represented in this study do not have a unified position. 3) Ainu values and ways emphasize living in harmony with nature and other beings, and therefore, have not developed a warrior tradition. This has left them open to Japan's past nation-building ambitions. 4) Study participants realize there are numerous issues that need to be resolved in order to advance their aspirations for cultural restoration. Analysis of policies and participant interviews, suggest that honoring, teaching and applying the Ainu values and worldview to contemporary living may be inextricably tied to the Japan's future relevance and survival in a changing world. This transformation may be accomplished, for example, by strengthening the country's governance through inclusion of diverse worldviews, and recognizing the importance of indigenous peoples' practices in sustaining well-being. Based on these findings, recommendations offered include: Reforms in national policy and education, the growth of leadership within the Ainu society, and access to guidance from other indigenous groups, and relevant consultants.
Ph.D. University of Hawaii at Manoa 2013.
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Theses for the degree of Doctor of Philosophy (University of Hawaii at Manoa). Social Welfare.
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