International Day of the World’s Indigenous Peoples: Raising awareness, voices

“The interests of the indigenous peoples must be part of the new development agenda in order for it to succeed. … Let us work even harder to empower them and support their aspirations.”
Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon

Large group of indigenous adults dressed in traditional costume gather around woman speaking

Photo by International Rivers, courtesy of Flickr

SUNDAY, AUGUST 9: This year, headlines are bursting with news for the United Nations’ International Day of the World’s Indigenous Peoples: Pope Francis is issuing apologies, Aztec teens are taking hip-hop by storm and recently, IP Day was officially adopted in the Philippines.

Born of the International Decade of the World’s Indigenous People, the UN declared in 1994 that each August 9 would be the International Day of the World’s Indigenous Peoples. This year, efforts will focus on the theme “Ensuring indigenous people’s health and well-being.” (Learn more here.) Events at UN Headquarters and around the world will draw particular attention to healthcare access for indigenous groups.

Interested in viewing the observance at UN Headquarters? Events will take place Monday, Aug. 10, from 3-6 p.m. View the live webcast here.

In December 1994, the General Assembly of the United Nations first announced the International Day of the World’s Indigenous Peoples. In 1995, the first International Decade of the World’s Indigenous People launched, ending in 2004; the next year, the second International Decade began, which lasts through 2015. The Decade and the International Day is observed to advance and defend the rights of the world’s indigenous populations, while also recognizing the contributions and achievements of indigenous individuals.

NEWS: POPE FRANCIS; AZTEC YOUTH

Pope Francis apologizes: Last month, Pope Francis delivered an hour-long speech to indigenous peoples in Bolivia, asking forgiveness for the Church’s sins against Latin America’s indigenous communities and encouraging the crowd to promote environmental change. (CBS News reported.) Human greed has been primary factor in the planet’s destruction, the Pope said, adding that protecting Mother Earth may be “perhaps the most important task facing us today.” In anticipation of the Pontiff’s visit and speech, the Bolivian government declared the day a national holiday, so that everyone could attend.

Aztec teens, Earth Guardians: A 14-year-old Colorado resident and his younger brother have been catching news headlines with Earth Guardians, an environmental nonprofit, and their hip-hop music that inspires youth to tackle climate change. Having been raised with an Aztec understanding of connection with natural surroundings, the 14-year-old urges all young persons to explore their talents and realize awareness of every action—and its impact on the environment.

Senate approves bill: In the Philippines, a bill was recently approved that declared Aug. 9 as National Indigenous Peoples Day. (Read more here.) UN experts advise the government of the Philippines to follow through with its commitments as internally displaced persons still require “more durable solutions” within the country.

In Bangladesh, more than 200 indigenous people recently lined up to appeal to the government that their constitutional rights be recognized. (UCA News has the story.) Persecution and a lack of protection within the legal system were cited issues, and the people also demanded the government to recognize International Day of the World’s Indigenous Peoples.

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