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.
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....
- 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:
(last image from firstpeoples.org)
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.
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!
The oldest and largest nonprofit law firm dedicated to asserting and defending the rights of Indian tribes, organizations and individuals nationwide.
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.
Advocates for Indigenous Peoples' rights and supporters of Indigenous communities’ self-determination, cultures and political resilience since 1972.
All our infographics were created by us with data published by the UN unless otherwise stated.