WHO ARE THE INDIGENOUS?

The United Nations Economic and Social Council, Commission on Human Rights has adopted the following definition:
Indigenous Populations are composed of the existing descendants of the peoples who inhabited the present territory of a country wholly or partially at the time when persons of a different culture or ethnic origin arrived there from other parts of the world, overcame them and, by conquest, settlement or other means, reduced them to a non-dominant or colonial situation; who today live more in conformity with their particular social, economic and cultural customs and traditions than the institutions of the country of which they now form a part, under a state structure that incorporates mainly the national, social and cultural characteristics of other segments of the population that are predominant.

Although they have not suffered conquest or colonizataion, isolated or marginal groups existing in the country should be regarded as covered by the notion of "Indigenous Populations" for the following reasons:

a) they are descendants of groups which were in the territory of the country at the time when other groups of different cultures or ethnic origins arrived there;

b) precisely because of their isolation from other segments of the country's population they have preserved almost intact the customs and traditions of their ancestors which are similar to those characterized as indigenous;

c) they are, even if?only formally, placed under a state structure which incorporates national, social and cultural characteristics alien to theirs.

(U.N., UNESCO, ref: E/Cn.4./Sub.2/L.566, 1982)
While this definition has met with general acceptance, there have been some concerns voiced over its limitations.


The United Nations declared 1993 the Year of the Indigenous.
This was followed by a resolutions declaring 1995-2004 as the DECADE OF THE INDIGENOUS.
The results of these two efforts has been a number of efforts worldwide to address the concerns of the indigenous and has led a number of documents in the UN archives.
CLICK HERE FOR UN DOCUMENTS ON THE INDIGENOUS.

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