9th August is observed by the United Nations as the International Day of the World’s Indigenous Peoples. It is celebrated on 9th August to mark the first meeting of the United Nations Working Group on Indigenous Populations of the sub-commission on the Promotion and Protection of Human Rights, which was held in 1982.
This day aims to reinforce international cooperation for solving problems that the indigenous communities face in sectors such as health, human rights, education, and the environment. It also seeks to raise awareness about these communities and their needs.
Who are Indigenous Peoples?
According to the United Nations, indigenous peoples are descendants of those who inhabited a particular geographic region or location when people of other ethnicity, cultures, or nationalities arrived. With time, the new arrivals became dominant by virtue of settlement or conquest. However, these indigenous communities have retained their social, cultural, and ethnic characteristics that are very unique and different from the locations and regions in which they live.
These communities are spread across the length and breadth of the world. The Maori of New Zealand, the Aborigines from Australia, the Lakota from the United States, and the Saami of Northern Europe are a few of the indigenous communities.
An estimated 370 million indigenous people live across 90 countries across the world. While they constitute less than 5 per cent of the total population of the world, they make for 15 per cent of the poorest in the world.
Theme for 2019 International Day of the World’s Indigenous Peoples
The theme for the 2019 International Day of the World’s Indigenous Peoples is ‘Indigenous Languages.’ It aligns with the fact that 2019 has been designated as the International Year of Indigenous Languages.
Unfortunately, one indigenous language disappears every two weeks. However, it is such languages that preserve the diversity of the world. By means of this theme, the day seeks to spread awareness about the dangers of extinction of indigenous languages and work towards preserving and promoting such languages.