Indigenous peoples are those groups specially protected in international or national legislation as having a set of specific rights based on their historical ties to a particular territory, and their cultural or historical distinctiveness from other populations. The legislation is based on the conclusion that certain indigenous people are vulnerable to exploitation, marginalization and oppression by nation states formed from colonising populations or by politically dominant, different ethnic groups. 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 has issued a Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples to guide member-state national policies to collective rights of indigenous people—such as culture, identity, language, and access to employment, health, education, and natural resources. Estimates put the total population of indigenous peoples from 220 million to 350 million. A defining characteristic for an indigenous group is that it has preserved traditional ways of living, such as present or historical reliance upon subsistence-based production (based on pastoral, horticultural and/or hunting and gathering techniques), and a predominantly non-urbanized society. Not all indigenous groups share these characteristics. Indigenous societies may be either settled in a given locale/region or exhibit a nomadic lifestyle across a large territory, but are generally historically associated with a specific territory on which they depend. Indigenous societies are found in every inhabited climate zone and continent of the world. Indigenous peoples are increasingly faced with threats to their sovereignty, environment, and access to natural resources. Examples of this can be the deforestation of tropical rainforests where many native tribe’s subsistence lifestyles are threatened. Assimilative colonial policies resulted in ongoing issues related to aboriginal child protection.
- CONNECT WITH A SPECIALIST