International Observance: Bridge Gaps On Indigenous Day

MONDAY, AUGUST 9: Delve into the history and culture of your community today on the International Day of the World’s Indigenous People. (Read more and access links at the official UN page.) The 9th day of August in 1982 marked a milestone UN gathering that pushed for less discrimination, better protection and increased enforcement of human rights for the approximately 370 million indigenous people across the globe. No matter where you live, take time today to seek out information on a nearby group, community, or nation whose territory developed before the rest of society’s structure was in place. Sometimes, these groups will allow neighbors to spend time observing their age-old customs.

Unfortunately, indigenous peoples often face huge challenges in access to health care, education and a role in the world economy. For the latest UN news, check out the site for the UN Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues. Even now, cultures collide. One example occured last month, when the Iroquois Nationals lacrosse team missed its world championship due to international skepticism over native passports.

Originally, the UN deemed 1994-2004 the Decade of the World’s Indigenous People. Then, a second decade was added, extending the mission to 2014. “Indigenous” generally refers to original inhabitants of a region, but that determination often is more complex than it sounds. Wikipedia has some details on definitions.

Late last month, New Zealand joined Australia in endorsing the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples. (Read the full article, courtesy of the UN News Service.)

(By ReadTheSpirit columnist Stephanie Fenton)

(NOTE: To see more short articles about upcoming holidays, festivals and anniversaries, click the “RTS Magazines” tab at the top of this page and select “Religious Holidays.”)

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