The International Day of the World’s Indigenous People – 9 August

The International Day of the World’s Indigenous People (9 August) was first proclaimed by the General Assembly in December 1994, to be celebrated every year during the first International Decade of the World’s Indigenous People (1995 – 2004).

In 2004, the Assembly proclaimed a Second International Decade, from 2005 – 2015, with the theme of “A Decade for Action and Dignity.”

Indigenous peoples are ethnic groups that are defined as “indigenous” according to one of the various definitions of the term, though there is no universally accepted definition.

In the late twentieth century, the term began to be used primarily to refer to ethnic groups that have historical ties to groups that existed in a territory prior to colonization or formation of a nation state, and which normally preserve a degree of cultural and political separation from the mainstream culture and political system of the nation state within the border of which the indigenous group is located. The political sense of the term defines these groups as particularly vulnerable to exploitation and oppression by nation states. As a result, a special set of political rights in accordance with international law have been set forth by international organizations such as the United Nations, the International Labour Organization and the World Bank.

The United Nations have issued a Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples to protect the collective rights of indigenous peoples to their culture, identity, language, employment, health, education and natural resources. Depending on which precise definition of “indigenous people” used, and on the census, estimates of a world total population of Indigenous people range from 220 million Indigenous peoples in 1997 to 350 million in 2004.

The focus of this year’s International Day is “Indigenous Media, Empowering Indigenous Voices”.

The theme aims to highlight the importance of indigenous media in challenging stereotypes, forging indigenous peoples’ identities, communicating with the outside world, and influencing the social and political agenda.

A special event at UN Headquarters in New York on 9 August will feature speakers and videos of indigenous media organizations, with a live webcast. On Twitter, use #UNIndigenousDay for regular updates and for sending questions to panel members in the days leading up to and during the event.

International day shines spotlight on indigenous media UNITED NATIONS, 6 August 2012 – This year’s International Day of the World’s Indigenous Peoples (9 August) will shine a spotlight on indigenous media – television, radio, film, and social media – and its role in helping to preserve indigenous peoples’ cultures,challenge stereotypes, and influence the social and political agenda.

An event at UN Headquarters in New York on the theme of “Indigenous media, empowering indigenous voices” will feature remarks by UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, Mr. Wu Hongbo, Under-Secretary-General for Economic and Social Affairs; Grand Chief Edward John, Chairperson of the UN Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues, and others. It will be followed by a panel discussion with representatives of indigenous media organizations from across the world and video
clips produced by indigenous peoples.

The panel, moderated by Amy Stretten, will include Kenneth Deer, founder of the newspaper ‘The Eastern Door’; Nils Johan Heatta, Chairman of the World Indigenous Television Broadcasters Network; J. Kehaulani Kauanui, a professor at Wesleyan University and radio producer; and Angel Tibán Guala, Director of the television of Movimiento Indígena Campesino de Cotopaxi (TV MICC).

“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,” Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said in his message for the day. “They are also developing their own media to reflect indigenous values and fight against myths and misconceptions.”

There are an estimated 370 million indigenous people in some 70 countries around the world. Practicing unique traditions, they retain social, cultural, economicand 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 bio-diversity. The United Nations Declarati


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