Producer: Center for World Indigenous Studies
This award-winning site was organized in 1992 in Olympia, Washington by the Center for World Indigenous Studies (CWIS). The CWIS is an independent, non-profit research and education organization established in 1979 by the Conference of Tribal Governments center to foster understanding of indigenous peoples through the publication and distribution of literature. The FWDP's noteworthy Board of Directors and Founding Advisory Board are reflective of the diversity of indigenous peoples. The mission of the Fourth World Documentation Project (FWDP) is to "document and make available... important documents relating to the social, political, strategic, economic, and human rights situations faced by Fourth World nations."
The FWDP provides an online library of over 500 texts, including documents from the World Council of Indigenous Peoples, the National Congress of American Indians, the Affiliated Tribes of Northwest Indians, the Conference of Tribal Governments, the Unit ed Nations Working Group on Indigenous Peoples (UNWGIP), tribal governments, indigenous organizations, and treaties.
The documents are organized by geographic area and by type of document. For example, the link to "African Documents" allows the user to choose from texts ranging from a 1994 Amnesty International report on the Ogoni in Nigeria to speech before the UNWG IP in 1993 on the systematic depopulation of Southern Sudan. The link to "European and Asian Documents" includes valuable primary source materials on the Sami of Scandinavia and other indigenous people including those of Tibet, Vietnam, Bangladesh, and Indian. You can find documents relating to the Maori, Tonga, Papua and Torres Strait Islanders by choosing the link to "Melanesian, Polynesian, and Micronesian Documents." You can also browse by type of document (United Nations, tribal, international, or treaty).
The search facility is particularly useful. A sample search of the site immediately revealed a score of documents about the Lakota and none about the Pima. The search can be limited to all or part of the database and Boolean operators can be used. A button bar also provides links to information about the FWDP, background on the CWIS, how to submit materials, how to order CWIS publications, and links to other indigenous resources.
The site now contains over 500 documents and is growing. Coverage of geographic areas is not equal. For example, among the U.S. documents, there are a disproportionate number of documents relating to Northwest tribes. There is nothing on the Zapatista movement in Mexico, while there are many documents about the indigenous peoples of Nicaragua, Costa Rica, and El Salvador. This may be remedied over time as submissions are new materials are added; there is a page inviting indigenous governments and organizations to submit documents.
There are some real treats in this site including texts of 19th Century treaties, the Constitution of the Hawai'ian Nation, and the Fourth World Journal, a quarterly e-journal. This site has been extremely well-reviewed. It was ranked in the World Wide Web Association's "Top Ten Political Sites of 1996," has a four-star rating from both Excite and Magellan, is a "NetGuide Gold Site", and a "WebCrawler Select" site. This site should be bookmarked by all Web users with research interests in political science, international studies, and indigenous rights.
Mary Jane Cedar Face
Southern Oregon State College