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8 Statistics you Need to Know on World Indigenous Peoples Day (And Every Day)

August 9th is a day for the international community to rally behind the UN's Declaration of the rights of Indigenous Peoples. While every human being deserves dignity and equal treatment every day, let us today commit ourselves to better understanding the specific ways in which native peoples have been disproportionately affected by colonization and discrimination, in order to find ways both close to and far from home to get involved in ending the discrimination the world's indigenous peoples face on a daily basis.

Fact #1

There are an estimated 370 million indigenous people in the world, living in 45% of the world's countries (90 countries).

  Although no definitive definition of "indigenous peoples" exists, the United Nations and the International Labour Organization have outlined a few characteristics that usually define an Indigenous group. Indigenous peoples typically have in common that they....

- Are descendants of the pre-colonial/pre-invasion inhabitants of their region.
- Maintain a close tie to their land in both their cultural and economic practices.
- Suffer from economic and political marginalization as a minority group.
- Define themselves as Indigenous.

 Regardless of where we live, Indigenous Peoples are suffering from eviction, violence, exclusion, discrimination and disenfranchisement, leading to poverty, health issues, and the destruction of our cultures. 

Facts #2 #3 & #4:

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Colonization and the implementation of privatization policies have had a profound effect on the economic practices of many communities: native peoples are disproportionately affected by resource-intensive and resource-extractive industries. 

While indigenous groups account for 5% of the world’s population, they represent 15% of the world’s poor and 30% of the world's extremely poor rural people.

These statistics have the secondary debilitating effect of constraining our perspective of native peoples to "poor people," which typically evokes pity or may take agency away from the person/group being discussed.
Less discussed are the many ways in which native communities and cultures are richer and more holistic than "Western" cultures, or about how native activists are working within the Western legal system every day to find solutions to the problems their groups face.
When we use the word "poor," in this article, we mean either "unable to afford access to basic resources," or more generally, "deprivation of basic human needs, including food, safe drinking water, sanitation facilities, health, shelter, education and information."

In Latin America... (Fact #5)

In Latin America, 40% of indigenous people live in urban areas where they are alienated from their traditional lands and customs and disproportionately affected by the resulting poverty. As much as 50% of the indigenous / non-indigenous wage gap is “due to discrimination and non-observable characteristics, such as quality of schooling”.

In Guatemala... (Facts #6 #7 & #8)

“Since the arrival of the Spaniards (in the late 15th century), Guatemalan society has had the idea that what is indigenous has no merit, and only what is Western has value. That concept is nothing more than a racist and discriminatory viewpoint, but it is repeated through the governments, the political parties and even the media”

-Eduardo Sacayón, director of the Interethnic Studies Institute at Guatemala’s University of San Carlos, quotes from IPS.


So what role can you play in rectifying these imbalances?

1. Check out the Native Land App to find out whose land you live on and consider ways to get involved in your local community to support indigenous people local to you. 

2. Buy directly from indigenous peoples and artisans when possible and avoid buying textiles that are billed as "upcycled, recycled, repurposed, discarded, used, or vintage." (This indicated the weaver is not directly profiting from the sale.) 

3. Consider supporting one of the following organizations that fight for the rights and sovereignty of indigenous populations in the Americas and around the globe!

Native American Rights Fund

The oldest and largest nonprofit law firm dedicated to asserting and defending the rights of Indian tribes, organizations and individuals nationwide.

National Congress of American Indians

The most representative American Indian and Alaska Native organization serving the broad interests of tribal governments and communities.

The International Indian Treaty Council

An organization of Indigenous Peoples from North, Central, South America, the Caribbean and the Pacific working for the Sovereignty and Self Determination of Indigenous Peoples and the recognition and protection of Indigenous Rights, Treaties, Traditional Cultures and Sacred Lands. 

Cultural Survival

Advocates for Indigenous Peoples' rights and supporters of Indigenous communities’ self-determination, cultures and political resilience since 1972.

. . . . . . . .
Tell us how these statistics make you feel - we'd love to read your comments!
. . . . . . . .
Utz Threads champions transparent production practices; all our products are handwoven on a backstrap loom by indigenous Maya Quiché women in the highlands of Guatemala and are never "repurposed" or "up-cycled" from an item of clothing. Instead, each piece is made intentionally and in a way that respects the artistry and cultural heritage of the Maya Quiché peoples. 
Follow us on Instagram for daily insights into this place, people and culture. 


All our infographics were created by us with data published by the UN unless otherwise stated.

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