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WedAug 9

International Day of The World's Indigenous People – August 9, 2023

The International Day of the World’s Indigenous People on August 9 pays tribute to the indigenous communities of the world. The latest data reveals that there are about 370 to 500 million indigenous people living in 90 countries. These communities are noted to have their own unique set of languages, traditions, cultures, and governing systems. For many indigenous groups, the systems that their ancestors have followed for centuries have stood the test of time by serving them with positive outcomes to date. Many indigenous people’s special bond and connection with nature have also led to the protection of the general environment. However, on the other side, several indigenous communities face difficulties due to a central government’s covert and overt attempts to control their lives. This has led to indigenous people’s rights violations where they would have otherwise ensured peaceful and harmonious lives for them.

History of International Day of The World's Indigenous People

The first International Day of the World’s Indigenous People was officially celebrated in August 1995. The day had been brought into existence when the 49/214 resolution was passed by the U.N. General Assembly on December 23, 1994. August 9 was chosen as the commemorative date because that was when the first meeting of the U.N. Working Group on Indigenous Populations of the Sub-Commission on the Promotion and Protection of Human Rights was held. Every year, the day is honored by governments and organizations holding education forums and conferences to meet and discuss the social issues faced by indigenous groups worldwide. People are also given information on any ongoing and/or upcoming activities and projects that are being undertaken to help the target communities. Every year, the theme changes to shed light on a pressing topic, and the theme for the year 2021 was ‘Leaving no one behind: Indigenous peoples and the call for a new social contract.’

The social contract theme is a call for accountability in the general populations’ interaction with the indigenous communities and their resources. Over the years, many indigenous groups have found themselves to be on a disadvantageous terrain in the face of urban development projects that have destroyed and denigrated their lands and territories. The central governments and builders involved in such projects never sought permission from or even spoke with the indigenous communities before they took the developmental steps. Organizations and agencies like the U.N. and UNESCO have made efforts for constitutional/legislative reforms for dominant indigenous groups. Yet, the efforts must be focussed on bringing everyone together in the cause, leaving none behind.

International Day of The World's Indigenous People timeline

1982
First U.N. Meeting on Indigenous People

The U.N. holds the first meeting on indigenous people by forming the U.N. Working Group on Indigenous Populations of the Sub-Commission on the Promotion and Protection of Human Rights.

1995
International Day of the World’s Indigenous People

The first International Day of the World’s Indigenous People is celebrated by the U.N. General Assembly.

2005 - 2015
Indigenous People’s Decade

The U.N. proclaims 2005 to 2015 to be the ‘Decade of Action and Dignity’ for the indigenous communities.

2019
Indigenous Languages Year

After a startling 2016 report on the danger of more than 2,000 indigenous becoming extinct, the U.N. declares 2019 to be the International Year of Indigenous Languages in order to create awareness.

International Day of The World's Indigenous People FAQs

What was the 2021 theme for International Day of the World's Indigenous People?

The 2021 theme was ‘Leaving no one behind: Indigenous peoples and the call for a new social contract.’ 

Why do we celebrate International Day of the World’s Indigenous People?

We celebrate the International Day of the World’s Indigenous People on August 9 every year in order to raise our voices for the rights of the indigenous communities in the world. 

Who created International Day of the World’s Indigenous People?

The U.N. General Assembly created International Day of the World’s Indigenous People on December 23, 1994. August 9 was chosen as it was the day of the first meeting held by the U.N. Working Group on Indigenous Populations of the Sub-Commission on the Promotion and Protection of Human Rights.

How To Observe International Day of the World’s Indigenous People

  1. Learn about indigenous groups

    History related to indigenous people is always interesting to read and learn about. They have their own sets of beliefs, customs, languages, and cultures. Their daily lifestyles are also often connected with nature, be it animals, trees, certain plants, or lakes/rivers.

  2. Learn an indigenous language

    The U.N. declared the years 2022 to 2032 the decade for indigenous languages. The goal is to bring to attention the dying languages, since most of them are not taught in schools or are used by the general public. Losing a language is losing an important facet of the history and culture of a people.

  3. Stand by indigenous groups

    The best way to celebrate this day and the rest of the year is by vowing to stand by indigenous groups. The indigenous people have the right to freely choose however they wish to live, much like any other living being on this planet. Protecting their rights also in turn protects your rights in the long run.

5 Interesting Facts About Indigenous People

  1. 80% of the world’s biodiversity

    Around 80% of the world’s biodiversity is in places where indigenous groups are living.

  2. 4,000 indigenous languages

    The 5,000 indigenous communities in the world are credited with having about 4,000 languages.

  3. High poverty rates

    While the indigenous communities account for only 5% of the world’s population, they make up 15% of the world population that is living in poverty.

  4. Short life spans

    Indigenous communities, due to a lack of awareness, have shorter life spans as they die of preventable diseases like malaria and H.I.V.

  5. Leaders in protecting the environment

    Studies have shown that the fauna and flora, and biodiversity thrive and flourish where indigenous people reside.

Why International Day of the World’s Indigenous People is Important

  1. It’s a celebration of indigenous people

    Indigenous people form an essential and crucial part of not only our planet’s history, but also how human beings have come to make systems to lead fruitful lives. The indigenous people’s cultures, customs, and traditions are interesting to learn about for their uniqueness and for what they teach us about the universe and the bigger picture.

  2. It’s a celebration of indigenous languages

    Language, at its core, builds the identity of a people. The involvement of the different phonetics, grammar rules, and formal/informal styles can tell one a lot about where a community has come from, and how their history has shaped them. The same is the case with indigenous languages. The problem lies in their endangerment, and this is why we must strive to preserve them.

  3. It’s a celebration of the freedom to live

    The freedom to practice our rights on a piece of land that has shaped our communities for centuries should not be taken away from anyone. The freedom to practice our customs, traditions, and general lifestyles is another important aspect of living a worthwhile life. For these very reasons and many others, we should join indigenous people in their right to live and flourish however they like.

International Day of The World's Indigenous People dates

YearDateDay
2023August 9Wednesday
2024August 9Friday
2025August 9Saturday
2026August 9Sunday
2027August 9Monday

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