August 9 every year is set aside by the United Nations as International Day of the World’s Indigenous Peoples to create awareness on these population groups.
The day was specifically dedicated to celebrate perhaps the most vulnerable and marginalised class of people on the planet.
It was chosen in recognition of the first meeting of the UN Working Group on Indigenous Populations held in Geneva, Switzerland, in 1982.
Based on the UN projection, there are 476 million indigenous peoples in the world living across 90 countries. They make up less than 5 percent of the world’s population, but account for 15 percent of the poorest on account of discrimination.
Historically, the indigenous peoples are the descendants of earliest inhabitants a country or a geographical region at the time when people of different cultures or ethnic origins arrived. But they were later displaced by the new arrivals through conquest, occupation and settlement, among others.
They spread across the world from the Arctic to the South Pacific and found among the Mayas in Guatemala, the Saami of northern Europe, the Aborigines and Torres Strait Islanders of Australia, the Maori of New Zealand and Amazon Basin in Brazil.
In Sub-Saharan Africa, these groups of people are found in Kenya, particularly among the Abagusii, Kikuyu, Lahya, Massai and Samburu.
In Tanzania, the Hadza and Iraqw are among the Indigenous Peoples in the country
The Indigenous People speak more than 4,000 languages and represent 5,000 different cultures. These population groups are found mainly in Asia, the world’s largest continent.
They are also known as First Peoples, Aboriginal Peoples, or Native Peoples. In some countries there are specific terms such as Adivasis (India) or Janajatis (Nepal).
These disadvantaged groups of people frequently face persecution despite their efforts to maintain cultural identity or exercise control over their traditional lands, which are often rich in resources and biodiversity.
They also suffer higher rates of landlessness, malnutrition and internal displacement than other groups.
Features of the Indigenous Peoples
This class of people of people are known for certain characteristics different from other groups across the globe.
- They have a strong link to territories and surrounding natural resources
- They have distinct social, economic or political systems
- These groups are marginalized and discriminated against by the state
- They maintain and develop their ancestral environments and systems as distinct peoples
- They are known for a distinct language, culture and beliefs.
Did you know?
1/3 of the world’s 900 million extremely poor inhabitants of rural communities are Indigenous Peoples.
News Dept., Union Television
LiDa Broadcasting Systems