Much of the discrimination that Indigenous Peoples face is societal and economic, such as personal racism, discriminatory hiring practices, a misunderstanding of and disrespect for cultural practices, and lack of proper education opportunities, healthcare facilities, or legal oversight due to institutionalized bigotry. Much of this discrimination is written into laws – and many of these laws still exist or were terminated only a generation or so ago. Below are three examples of discrimination laws from Africa, Australia and North America. It is by no means a comprehensive list. If you have an example of a law you would like to share, please leave it in a comment at the bottom of this post.
1. It was legal to hunt San (Bushmen) in southern Africa until 1936. When Dutch settlers arrived at the Cape of Good Hope (South Africa) they eradicated most of the local San population within 150 years, shooting and killing thousands and forcing more into labor. From the 1600s-1800s, commandos (mobile paramilitary units) were ordered to hunt San tribes, whom the Dutch settlers feared and greatly misunderstood. By 1873, the San of the Cape were hunted into extinction, with other groups of San in the area surviving under constant threat. When the British claimed the land at the end of the 18th century, they vowed to end the violence by encouraging the San to become more “civilized” – primarily, by adopting an agricultural lifestyle. When this failed to work (shockingly to the British, the San, the oldest people on earth, were not keen on giving up their semi-nomadic pastoralist or hunter-gatherer lifestyle), British policy became much harsher and more violent. The killing of San was accepted and encouraged – the last permit to hunt San was issued in Namibia by the South African government in 1936. Understandably, concrete information on this practice is difficult to find – while some sources argue that San hunting only occurred in Namibia from 1912-1915, other sources purport that the practice lingered until the 1970s. Furthermore, South Africa, Namibia, Angola, and Botswana all had shoot-to-kill policies that allowed officials to kill San that believed may be hunting wildlife.