TODAY August 9th 2010, marks the 17th annual International Day of the World’s Indigenous Peoples. Established by the United Nations General Assembly in 1994, the International Day of the World’s Indigenous Peoples represents an effort to further strengthen international cooperation in solving the problems faced by Indigenous communities in areas such as culture, education, health, human rights, the environment, and social and economic development.
Indigenous Peoples are among the most disadvantaged and vulnerable peoples in the world. They continue to suffer persistent and widespread discrimination and other grave human rights violations. Past and ongoing colonization and land and resource dispossession have resulted in their impoverishment. The plight of indigenous peoples has most recently been captured in this beautiful photo exhibit created by Dana Gluckstein.
In the United States, nearly 24% of Indigenous persons live in poverty. And Native women in the U.S. are particularly vulnerable – more than one in three Native American and Alaska Native women will be raped in their lifetime and face rates of sexual violence 2.5 times greater than that of women in general in the U.S. Read Amnesty’s 2007 Maze of Injustice report for more information about the situation facing Native American and Alaska Native women in the United States.
The UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples is a non-legally binding human rights instrument which affirms universal minimum standards for the survival, dignity and well being of all Indigenous Peoples. It recognizes the right of Indigenous Peoples, as both a collective and as individuals, to fully enjoy their basic human rights – including Indigenous cultural rights and identity and the right to education, health, employment, and language. The UNDRIP publicly opposes discrimination against Indigenous Peoples and promotes their full and effective participation in all matters that concern them.
In 2007, the UNDRIP was adopted by the United Nations after a vote by the overwhelming majority of states. The United States was one of four countries, along with Australia, Canada and New Zealand, that voted against the Declaration. However, earlier this year the Administration announced that it was formally reviewing the U.S. position on the Declaration – voice your support and let President Obama know you want to see the U.S. endorse the UNDRIP now!