International Day of the World’s Indigenous Peoples

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Written By Madeline Shaw

Quick quiz

Q: Do you know the current population of the world?

A: That’s right – just over 7.5 billion – and 253,419 people have been born in the world since midnight in this time zone!

Q: How many people in the world identify as indigenous?

A: In 2018, 5% of the global population identified as indigenous and come from over 90 countries. That’s around 370 million people – about 50 million more than the total population of the United States.

Indigenous Australia

In Australia in 2016, three people in every 100 people identified as Indigenous Australians. That percentage is increasing quickly. In the Northern Territory, that figure is much higher – around 30%. The birth rate around the country is higher for Indigenous women than for non-indigenous women. It is predicted that by 2026, the Indigenous Australian population of Australia will increase by about one third in total.

Indigenous Peoples’ Rights

August 9, 2018 is the International Day of the World’s Indigenous Peoples.

It will be celebrated in almost all countries of the world. First celebrated in 1994, it is a day of recognition, respect and reconciliation and acknowledgement of the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples – which is really worth reading. The theme for 2018 will be indigenous peoples’ migration and movement.

Equality and Difference

We might think that human rights are human rights – the same for everyone. But the declaration embraces difference and equality. It recognises that you can’t fix inequality by seeing everyone as being the same. This year’s theme – migration and movement – is one area where the needs of indigenous migrants are unique and different from other migrants.

The declaration respects the unique cultures of the indigenous people of the world as well as the contributions of all people to our humanity. It declares basic rights such as employment, education and safety and gives recognition to indigenous peoples’ unique relationships with the land and sea.

 The Declaration has been signed by almost all nations of the world. Australian is one of the four countries that initially declined to sign the declaration in 2007, changing t

his decision and adopting the declaration in 2009.

Indigenous Languages

The right to speak one’s own language is a fundamental right under the declaration. In Australia, 120 Indigenous peoples’ languages are still spoken in today, from around 250. The struggle to preserve them continues and raising awareness is a key factor. Some children’s and adult books are published in Indigenous Australian languages. There are school and community programs to assist Indigenous elders to pass their languages on to younger generations.

Celebrate August 9

Look out for your local celebration, performance or ceremony. Events in Australia often celebrate many indigenous cultures. Some Australians are indigenous people in their own country who have migrated to Australia and have a community here. Keep your eye on NITV, your National Indigenous Television station, for what’s on near you.