Indigenous People

The Situation

Indigenous women and girls, in particular, face many difficulties to access quality education. Developing tailored, culturally and linguistically appropriate educational programmes for indigenous learners should be a priority. Traditional occupations, skills and knowledge are assets, which can provide a basis for self-employment, and creation of enterprises and cooperatives. Many of the most widespread causes of mortality among indigenous children are preventable, such as malnutrition, diarrhea, parasitic infections, and tuberculosis.

Many indigenous peoples remain extremely vulnerable to land grabbing, forced displacement, and involuntary resettlement in contexts where their customary practices are not fully recognized.

The vast majority of the world’s genetic resources are found on indigenous peoples’ lands, and their specialized livelihood practices and traditional ecological knowledge contribute significantly to low-carbon sustainable development, biodiversity conservation, sustainable use of biodiversity and maintaining genetic diversity.

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Downloads & Resources

Side Event-UNPFII 16th session

Side Event-UNPFII 16th Session.mp4

   The side event focused on:
  •    A community based intervention with the Badjao nomadic tribe, known as “sea gypsies,”     in Cebu, Philippines, and the resulting transformation in the realities of that community and emergent partnerships
  • The self-organizing and forging partnerships by the Bukidnons and the Atis indigenous peoples in Negros, Philippines, to preserve biocultural diversity, their struggles, achievements, and recommendation
  • The impact of the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples and the Sustainable Development Goals from the North American perspective

Who are Indigenous People and where are they?

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It is estimated that there are more than 370 million indigenous people spread across 70 countries worldwide.

Download this factsheet to learn more.

The State of the World's Indigenous People

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Indigenous peoples are custodians of some of the most biologically diverse territories in the world. They are also responsible for a great deal of the world’s linguistic and cultural diversity, and their traditional knowledge has been and continues to be an invaluable resource that benefits all of mankind.

Yet, indigenous peoples continue to suffer discrimination, marginalization, extreme poverty and conflict. Some are being dispossessed of their traditional lands as their livelihoods are being undermined. Meanwhile, their belief systems, cultures, languages and ways of life continue to be threatened, sometimes even by extinction.

Increasingly, governments are recognizing these threats, and matching such recognition with action. From land claims settlements and constitutional amendments to important symbolic actions such as apologies for past treatment of indigenous peoples, governments around the world are making important steps towards addressing indigenous peoples’ concerns.

The State of the World’s Indigenous People

Alta Outcome Document

altaoutcomeWe Indigenous Peoples and Nations (hereinafter referred to as Indigenous Peoples) representing the 7 global geo-political regions including representatives of the women’s caucus and the youth caucus have gathered in the traditional territories and lands of the Sami people at Alta, Norway. This document sets forth our recommendations along with the historical and current context of Indigenous Peoples in preparation for the World Conference on Indigenous Peoples.

Alta Outcome Document

Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples

indigenouswomenThe United Nations adopted the Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples on 13 September 2007.

Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples

2014 National Migration Conference Keynote Address

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At the 2014 National Migration Conference, His Eminence Óscar Andrés Rodríguez Maradiaga, Archbishop of Tegucigalpa, Honduras gave a powerful and meaningful reflection on migration. Even though his talk focused on the United States, his message is universal.

2014 National Migration Conference Keynote Address

 Let us pray for the gifts of compassion and justice for our world.

Rights of Indigenous Peoples

Through consciousness, our minds have the power to change our planet and ourselves. It is time we heed the wisdom of the ancient indigenous people and channel our consciousness and spirit to tend the garden and not destroy it.

Bruce Lipton

The Preunpfii_logosentation world has been actively involved in the issues of Indigenous peoples with a very vibrant Presentation international working group under the dynamic leadership of Sister Lucy Van Kessel from Australia which has given  feedback to the UN from countries with Presentation presence. We are also expecting to bring seven indigenous people from Asia, Africa, Australia and Latin America for the World Conference to Indigenous Peoples in September 2014. Thank you for the contributions of Presentation People from around the world on Poverty Eradication Day in 2013. Your contributions made this possible.

Indigenous people are defined in international or national legislation as having a set of specific rights based on their historical ties to a particular territory, and their cultural or historical distinctiveness from other populations that are often politically dominant. The concept of indigenous people defines these groups as particularly vulnerable to exploitation, marginalization and oppression by nation states that may still be formed from the colonizing populations, or by politically dominant ethnic groups.

Indigenous peoples have rich and ancient cultures and view their social, economic, environmental and spiritual systems as interdependent. They make valuable contributions to the world’s heritage, thanks to their traditional knowledge and their understanding of ecosystem management.

Indigenous peoples have in-depth, varied and locally rooted knowledge of the natural world. Because traditional indigenous lands and territories contain some 80 per cent of the planet’s biodiversity, indigenous peoples can play a crucial role in managing natural resources.

Unfortunately, indigenous peoples too often pay a price for being different and far too frequently face discrimination. Over the centuries, they have been dispossessed of their lands, territories and resources and, as a consequence, have often lost control over their own way of life. Worldwide, they account for five per cent of the population, but represent 15 per cent of those living in poverty.

 The Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples was adopted by the General Assembly in 2007 by a majority of 144 states in favor, 4 votes against (Australia, Canada, New Zealand and the United States) and 11 abstentions (Azerbaijan, Bangladesh, Bhutan, Burundi, Colombia, Georgia, Kenya, Nigeria, Russian Federation, Samoa and Ukraine). The United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, establishes a universal framework of minimum standards for the survival, dignity, well-being and rights of the world’s indigenous peoples. It addresses individual and collective rights; cultural rights and identity; and rights to education, health, employment and language. It outlaws discrimination against indigenous peoples and promotes their full and effective participation in all matters that concern them. It also ensures their right to remain distinct and to pursue their own priorities in economic, social and cultural development.

Hopefully, the Indigenous Forum and the World Conference will result in an optional protocol that will give teeth to the Declaration on Indigenous peoples

Elsa Muttathu
IPA NGO Representative at the United Nations

Key facts

  • There are more than 370 million self-identified indigenous people in the world, living in at least 90 countries.Most of the worlds’ indigenous peoples live in Asia.
  • Indigenous peoples form about 5,000 distinct groups and occupy about 20 per cent of the earth’s territory.
  • Although indigenous peoples make up less than 6 per cent of the global population, they speak more than 4,000 of the world’s 7,000 languages.
  • One of the root causes of the poverty and marginalization of indigenous peoples is loss of control over their traditional lands, territories and natural resources.
  • Indigenous peoples have a concept of poverty and development that reflects their own values, needs and priorities; they do not see poverty solely as the lack of income.
  • A growing number of indigenous peoples live in urban areas, because of the degradation of land, dispossession, forced evictions and lack of employment opportunities.