දැනුම විශේෂ දිනයන්

A day reserved for the ruins alive

Day of the world’s indigenous peoples

Once upon a time, thousands of years ago, a mother had lots of children. The mother gifted them a wonderful life to live. Not only for them but also for their children and grandchildren and so on. In return, the children loved their mother so much. They protected her. Respected her marvelous creations. They never did any harm to their mother. They obtained a vast knowledge of many things including how to stand guard on their mother and continued to follow them as the generations passed. But with time, some of the grandchildren of the grandchildren who were thoroughly ignorant about that excellently ritualized lifestyle gradually wanted to stay apart from their indigenous families, discovered new and great inventions but on the other hand destroyed their mother. They forgot about their dependence on their mother. However, as luck would have it, some of them continued with those rituals of the beginners.

That mother is our Mother Earth. Those people who loved Mother Earth are the indigenous people. While, unfortunately, we all belong to the last category.

Some may say they are not civilized. For some, they may be disgusting. But they’re the first people, first owners of this land who were not deceived by the technological fairy world. They still protect their own community, irrespective of the number of generations passed, while at the same time living a life so close to nature. Today is the day reserved for those Indigenous people living all over the world.

👹 Who are indigenous people?

Indigenous communities are ethnic groups who are the earliest known inhabitants of an area. They are known as indigenous because they maintain the traditions of early culture. The land on which they live and the natural resources they depend on are closely linked with their identities, cultures, livelihood as well as physical and spiritual well-being.

There are approximately 476 million Indigenous Peoples worldwide, in over 90 countries. Indigenous Peoples’ life expectancy is said to be up to 20 years lower than the life expectancy of non-indigenous people. First peoples, First Nations, Aboriginal people, Native peoples, autochthonous peoples are some other names by which indigenous people are defined. Sources reveal that indigenous societies are found in every continent of the world except Antarctica.

👹 Why is it important to care about Indigenous people?

Indigenous people make up only 6% of the global population. They are the symbols of nativeness for a country. As the ancient ruins are conserved for their historical importance protecting these indigenous communities is vital because they can be considered as the ancient ruins still alive.

Another reason is that they account for 15% of the world’s extreme poor. This makes it more important to care about them because poverty is a sign of extinction. If they are not paid enough attention poverty will cause the death of these jewels of the world.

The most important out of all reasons is that Indigenous people help to protect our environment. They safeguard 80% of the world’s remaining biodiversity. They are experts on how to adapt, mitigate, and reduce climate and disaster risks due to their ancestral knowledge. Even in cases of pandemics like COVID-19 they may be able to provide accurate information on disease prevention and support livelihoods and recovery. Yet, they face so many threats in the present world.

👹 Background for the Day of World’s Indigenous peoples.

Some of the indigenous people failed to preserve their strength in continuing with the traditional cultures. So a part of them started colonizing their culture including the dress, religion, language, etc.

Apart from that indigenous people had to face several threats for their economic well-being. They have many hindrances in their access to natural resources, basic services, the formal economy, and justice as well as their participation in decision making. Their rights are not always protected. Their indigenous languages were on the verge of becoming extinct.

Therefore, to raise awareness, protect the rights of the native people, and to appreciate the contribution of them to overcome world issues such as environmental pollution, a day on behalf of them was announced. The 9th of August every year was first pronounced by the United Nations General Assembly in December 1994 as the Day of the world’s Indigenous peoples.

Over the last 20 years, Indigenous Peoples’ rights have been increasingly recognized through the adoption of several international mechanisms. Some of them are as follows:

🏵 United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (UNDRIP) in 2007.
🏵 The American Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous peoples in 2016.
🏵 23 ratifications of the Indigenous and Tribal People’s Convention from 1991.
🏵 The establishment of the United Nations Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues (UNPFII).
🏵 The expert mechanism on the rights of Indigenous peoples (EMRIP).
🏵 The UN Special Rapporteur on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (UNSR).

Indigenous concepts laid the foundation for the super technological world we live in today. The strength of that foundation is a major reason for this developing success. But still, there is so much to learn from them. They are people to be respected because, amidst a world with every facility, they still follow and respect their ancient traditions. They are exemplary figures for us who have almost forgotten the tradition and culture with time.

Therefore, whatever the differences in culture and language they should be considered as a part of mankind, equally treated as the non-indigenous people. What we must always remember is that we, the non-indigenous ones are descendants of the indigenous ancestors. So we must strongly determine to never disregard them or put them down.

Finally, we all in Colombo Beacon, take pleasure in wishing a happy Indigenous People’s day to the indigenous members living all over the world!!!

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