International Day of the World’s Indigenous People
The International Day of the World’s Indigenous People falls on August 09, 2012 as this was the date of the first meeting in 1982 of the United Nations Working Group of Indigenous Populations. It is observed each year to promote and protect the rights of the world’s indigenous population. This event also recognizes the achievements and contributions that indigenous people make to improve world issues such as environmental protection. People from different nations are encouraged to participate in observing the day to spread the UN’s message on indigenous peoples. Activities may include educational forums and classroom activities to gain an appreciation and a better understanding of indigenous peoples.
Understanding the term “indigenous”
Considering the diversity of indigenous peoples, an official definition of “indigenous” has not been adopted by
any UN-system body. Instead the system has developed a modern understanding of this term based on the
• Self- identification as indigenous peoples at the individual level and accepted by the community as their
• Historical continuity with pre-colonial and/or pre-settler societies
• Strong link to territories and surrounding natural resources
• Distinct social, economic or political systems
• Distinct language, culture and beliefs
• Form non-dominant groups of society
• Resolve to maintain and reproduce their ancestral environments and systems as distinctive peoples and
Indigenous peoples, or Natives, are ethnic groups who are native to a land or region, especially before the arrival and intrusion of a foreign and possibly dominating culture. They are a group of people whose members share a cultural identity that has been shaped by their geographical region. A variety of names are used in various countries to identify such groups of people, but they generally are regarded as the “original inhabitants” of a territory or region. Their right to self-determination may be materially affected by the later-arriving ethnic groups.
Despite the diversity of Indigenous peoples, it may be noted that they share common problems and issues in dealing with the prevailing, or invading, society. They are generally concerned that the cultures of Indigenous peoples are being lost and that indigenous peoples suffer both discrimination and pressure to assimilate into their surrounding societies. It is also sometimes argued that it is important for the human species as a whole to preserve a wide range of cultural diversity as possible, and that the protection of indigenous cultures is vital to this enterprise.