The International Day of the World’s Indigenous Peoples is annually observed on the 9th of August. It is a day to commemorate Indigenous People around the world by honoring their rights, way of life, mind, and their craft.
Indigenous People are distinct ethnic groups who are descendants of the original inhabitants of a given region, in contrast to the colonial settlers. Thus, they are also known as First People, Aboriginal People, or Native People. There are 476 million indigenous people living across 90 countries, taking up approximately 5% of the global population. There are Hadza people from the African Great Lakes, Pygmy people from Central Africa, Andic people from Caucasus, Vedda People from Sri Lanka, Hmong People from China, Aeta People from The Philippines, Afar People from Ethiopia, and countless more.
Indigenous Peoples are known for the harmonious way of life they lead as one with nature. They have built their identity, livelihood, culture, worldviews, spirituality revolving on their biophilic connection, which moulded them into inheritors and practitioners of unique set of values, creations, and customs.
However, there are instances where this uniqueness is seen as an otherness. This unfortunately leads to discrimination against Indigenous People making them one of the most disadvantaged and vulnerable groups of people in the world. This is the reason why fights for Indigenous rights have become a necessity for the preservation and recognition of their identities, way of life, languages and their right to traditional lands, territories, and natural resources.
The fruits of these long fights for rights can be observed when the past and present are juxtaposed. The positive change in not only the laws but the worldview of the Indigenous population is a victory. While there is more to be done, the fact that Indigenous Peoples do not have to fight alone, that there is an international community who has recognized that special measures are required to protect Indigenous People’s rights and maintain their distinct cultures and way of life, is a sign that the path has been set right.