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Dismantling Gaps and Myths: How Indigenous Political Actors Broke the Mold of Socioeconomic Development

Indigenous Political Actors
Sarah Radcliffe

For over two decades in Latin America, indigenous actors from diverse environments and political contexts have struggled for social, economic, and cultural rights and for control over the processes of social and economic devel- opment. The need to improve on existing socioeconomic development efforts for the greater benefit of indigenous groups is indisputable. Indigenous people are on average poorer and less well provisioned with basic services than other ethnocultural groups (the"development gap"), and development programs have historically aimed to assimilate Indians through the destruction of distinctive cultures and the pursuit of Western-style modernity (the"development myth").1 Additionally, policy makers and academics have paid little systematic attention to creating frameworks that permit indigenous populations to determine for themselves how to best guarantee their livelihood, security, and social welfare in a manner that preserves their distinctive ethnocultural identities and ways of life (the"development challenge"). The core demands of diverse indigenous movements across the Andean re- gion and beyond include self-determination, land rights, and cultural survival