There are an estimated 370 million indigenous people in some 70 countries around the world. Practising unique traditions, they retain social, cultural, economic and political characteristics that are distinct from those of the dominant societies in which they live. Spread across the world from the Arctic to the Amazon, indigenous peoples reflect the world’s cultural diversity and are the custodians of its biodiversity.
United Nations and many other organizations are focusing on the rights of the indigenous people. One of the important decisions taken was declaring 9th August as international day for indigenous people. By resolution 49/214 of 23 December 1994, the United Nations General Assembly decided that the International Day of the World's Indigenous People shall be observed on 9 August every year during the International Decade of the World's Indigenous People. The date marks the day of the first meeting, in 1982, of the UN Working Group on Indigenous Populations of the Subcommission on the Promotion and Protection of Human Rights.
The theme for this year’s celebration is "Indigenous Media, Empowering Indigenous Voices". This year’s theme shine a spotlight on indigenous media — television, radio, film and social media — and their role in helping to preserve indigenous cultures, challenge stereotypes and influence the social and political agenda.
“Indigenous voices are recounting compelling stories of how they are combating centuries of injustice and discrimination, and advocating for the resources and rights that will preserve their cultures, languages, spirituality and traditions,” the Secretary-General of UN Ban-Ki –Moon said.
“They offer an alternative perspective on development models that exclude the indigenous experience. They promote the mutual respect and intercultural understanding that is a precondition for a society without poverty and prejudice,” added Ban-Ki-Moon.
2011 — "Indigenous designs: celebrating stories and cultures, crafting their own future"
2010 — "Celebrating Indigenous Film Making"
2009 — “Indigenous Peoples and HIV/AIDS”
2008 — the observance focused on reconciliation between States and indigenous peoples
2007 — the observance in 2007 centered on the urgent need to preserve indigenous languages
2006 — “Partnership for Action and Dignity”
From community radio and television to feature films and documentaries, from video art and newspapers to the internet and social media, indigenous peoples are using these powerful tools to challenge mainstream narratives, bring human rights violations to international attention and forge global solidarity.
(This article has inputs from a UN Publication)