Indigenous peoples, also known as first peoples, aboriginal peoples or native peoples, are ethnic groups who are the original inhabitants of a given region, in contrast to groups that have settled, occupied or colonized the area more recently.
Indigenous peoples may be settled in a given region (sedentary) or exhibit a nomadic lifestyle across a large territory, but they are generally historically associated with a specific territory on which they depend.
It is estimated that there are more than 370 million indigenous people spread across 90 countries worldwide. Practicing unique traditions, they retain social, cultural, economic and political characteristics that are distinct from those of the dominant societies in which they live. They represent the greater part of the world’s cultural diversity, and have created and speak the major share of the world’s almost 7000 languages.
Considering the diversity of indigenous peoples, an official definition of “indigenous” has not been adopted by any UN-system body. Instead the system has developed a modern understanding of this term based on the following:
- Self- identification as indigenous peoples at the individual level and accepted by the community as their member.
- Historical continuity with pre-colonial and/or pre-settler societies
- Strong link to territories and surrounding natural resources
- Distinct social, economic or political systems
- Distinct language, culture and beliefs
- Form non-dominant groups of society
Resolve to maintain and reproduce their ancestral environments and systems as distinctive peoples and communities.
indigenous people and poverty
According to a research, most Indigenous people are under poverty line. The Indigenous poverty headcount (the percent of the population living below the poverty line) is much larger than for the non-indigenous population, and the poverty gap (the distance from the poverty line) is far larger than the national average.
Some reports show that 15% of the indigenous peoples are extreme poor.
Treats to indigenous and defenders
Indigenous peoples live in territories that are rich in natural resources and that are coveted by State and non-State actors alike so Indigenous human rights defenders face severe risks.
These peoples frequently oppose land grabbing, natural resource extraction, mega projects and deforestation activities on their lands and territories, arguing that these endanger their traditional livelihoods, and are harmful to the environment and ultimately unsustainable.
Indigenous peoples' opportunities
In optimist view, Indigenous people hold vital ancestral knowledge and expertise on how to adapt, mitigate, and reduce risks from climate change and natural disasters.
They can make great destination for ecotourism and notable income for their society.
In the face of global environmental change and its emerging challenges and unknowns, it is essential to have access to the best available information and knowledge. While science contributes significantly to understanding earth systems, social systems and their interactions, there is growing awareness that scientific knowledge alone is inadequate for solving the emerging environmental crises. The knowledge of indigenous peoples and local communities – often referred to as local, indigenous or traditional knowledge – is now recognized as essential, alongside science, for developing effective and meaningful action world-wide.
6 ways indigenous peoples are helping the world achieve
- Their traditional agricultural practices are resilient to climate change
- They conserve and restore forests and natural resources
- Indigenous foods expand and diversify diets
- Indigenous foods are resilient to climate change
- Indigenous territories hold 80 percent of the world’s biodiversity
- Indigenous peoples’ lifestyles are locally adapted and respectful of natural resources
FAO considers indigenous peoples as invaluable partners in eradicating hunger and in providing solutions to climate change. We will never achieve long-term solutions to climate change and food security and nutrition without seeking help from and protecting the rights of indigenous peoples.
ways to support the rights of indigenous people
1. Focus on the priorities
Indigenous people can’t choose their own way of life, get control over their own education, healthcare and so on, unless their lands are secure. That’s the overwhelming priority.
2. Include indigenous people in discussions of land use
Without land, indigenous peoples have no livelihood, no identity, no means of survival. In this context, states need to respect the principle of free, prior and informed consent. Indigenous peoples need to be consulted about use of their land and included in development processes. Companies need to take this on board too and conduct proper due diligence prior to embarking on, and during, investment projects.
3. Apply the law to ensure land rights are protected
Laws on land rights are often good, but they’re universally flouted. Brazil’s an example – all Indian tribes in Brazil should have had their land protected in law by 1993 according to the constitution, but dozens are still waiting.
4. Build public awareness
Informed public education and awareness building is critical to the implementation of indigenous rights. This is a responsibility of all.
5. Encourage the state to fulfil wider rights
There is a human right to education, and a human right to an adequate standard of living – and there is also a right to development: the right to be included in development processes which affect you. The right to development includes the fulfilment of civil, political, economic, social and cultural rights and freedoms.
Judaism and indigenous people
Judaism teaches that everyone is equal in the eyes of God and that everyone should be treated well.
The Jews have experienced times in their history of being the 'stranger' or 'outsider' without a homeland. Jewish scripture reflects this experience:
When alien lives with you in your land, do not ill-treat him. The alien living with you must be treated as one of your native-born. Love him as yourself, for you were aliens in Egypt. I am the Lord your God. (Leviticus 19:33-34)
They also believe that everyone is descended from Adam and Eve and so should be given equal respect:
Adam named his wife Eve, because she would become the mother of all the living. (Genesis 3:20)
So, discrimination and forcing and oppressing native peoples is a causeless and groundless thing through Judaism.
Christian opinion on indigenous peoples
In Christianity also we have the same perspective about indigenous and minority groups and tribes in society. there is no racism tribalism or any discrimination in Christ Jesus.
All human beings are descendants of Adam.
When God destroyed humanity because of their wickedness by flood (Gen 6-9), He saved Noah. Entire Cain generation was destroyed in the flood. Noah is of the lineage of Seth.
From the children of Noah (Ham, Shem, Japheth) the earth was populated. Every human being on earth today is a descendant of Noah, a descendant of Seth – Jesus came through the lineage of Seth.
Jesus commands us to love one another as He loves us (John 13:34). If God is impartial and loves us with impartiality, then we need to love others with that same high standard. Jesus teaches in Matthew 25 that whatever we do to the least of His brothers, we do to Him. If we treat a person with contempt, we are mistreating a person created in God’s image; we are hurting somebody whom God loves and for whom Jesus died.
According to these paragraphs, it is clear that we don’t have any prove or document forcing native peoples and individuals to accept an opinion or change their beliefs.
Islam and indigenous people
Indigenous people practice various religions from Abrahamic to non-Abrahamic but humanity gives them essential rights of human. The important thing about native people is discrimination and forcing them to accept new rules, culture, religion and lifestyle and leave their traditional beliefs and culture. Is this behavior followed by religions? If not, what is the point of view of major religions?
One of the best documents to prove the prospect of Islam on indigenous people is the method holly prophet of Islam treated with Jewish tribes at the rise of Islam in Medina. The Prophet even given the Jews the right to refer for judgement concerning matters amongst themselves to their own religious laws, and he did not oblige them to follow Muslim laws so long as both parties in the matter were Jewish, unless they referred the dispute to him and asked him to judge between them. the Prophet acknowledged the rights of the Jews and Christians. Those who think that disavowal of the distorted religion of the Jews necessitates mistreating them and taking away their rights are mistaken. The Prophet accepted the presence of the Jews in Madinah and wrote in the constitution of Madinah:
“The Jews of Banu ‘Awf are one community with the believers,” and he guaranteed to them all kinds of rights: the right to life, the right to choose one’s religion, the right to own property, the right to protection and defence, the right to fair treatment and standing up against wrongdoing committed against anyone and so on.
The letter of Fourth Islamic Caliphate to the ruler of Egypt is the other document that shows his attention to the rights of all groups: Do not behave with them like a barbarian, and do not appropriate to yourself that which belongs to them. Remember that the citizens of the state are of two categories. They are either your brethren in religion or your brethren in kind.
This was our attempt describing famous religions’ attitude related to indigenous peoples. As it’s obvious, all religions condemn forcing tribes and individuals to accept a religion or opinions of a prophet and reject oppressing them due to religious issues. However, making people known and give information about a religion without forcing them to accept, is allowed and is a moral action and all prophets were commanded by God to preach, but not forcing them.
People are free to accept and be a follower of a religion or reject it and this is a giant respect peoples’ right in all religions.