Indigenous cultures cannot be incorporated into the processes of development and modernity without losing their cultural identity. The concepts of development and modernity are contrary to the beliefs and cultures of most of the indigenous peoples of the world. Most indigenous peoples share some form of the belief of the “Earth Mother” or at least a deep respect for the health and perpetuation of their biosphere. Completely contrary to these beliefs, the basic principles of development and modernity are based on the “harvesting” of finite resources for sustaining perpetual growth and profits. The human race is unlikely to survive the culture of development and modernity. Before considering if the cultures can adapt to modern practices, there should be some evidence that this is a desirable outcome.
Evidence continues to accumulate that current theories of the economics of development and modernity are based on false assumptions. The resources of the earth are finite. Most indigenous peoples of the Americas realized this. Millions of people were living in the Americas and had been for thousands of years at the time of Columbus’ arrival. These were advanced civilizations that had sustainable communities with methods of harvesting natural resources that conformed to the laws of nature. And the concept of development needs to be examined also. Development can be seen as developing an environment that will continue to prosper and produce resources or the development of mines, factories, and farms to more efficiently deplete the resources and environment.
I contend that the indigenous cultures were the most advanced, and that everything possible should be done to save and support them. It may be our only hope of survival. The Europeans came looking for new resources because of the environmental destruction they had caused on their own continent. Further evidence of this destructive way of thinking has also been made manifest in the Americas, Africa, Asia, The Philippines, both poles, in the sea, and in the atmosphere.
In conclusion, it seems that if the premise of the question is accepted, of course those cultures will be changed. All cultures change as they come into contact with other ideas and cultures. The modern world has not stopped to reflect on where it is heading for over two hundred fifty years now. It is the culture of development and modernity that needs to change and adopt more of the indigenous beliefs.