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Indigenous peoples

Who they are

Indigenous peoples are the descendants of the first inhabitants of the lands where they live today. Having been subjected to various processes of colonization, they are still today under cultural, economic and social dominance; they are political minorities within nation-states which do not recognize them as distinct peoples with their own social and cultural organizations, their marginal lifestyles (hunters-gatherers, transhumant pastoralists, slash-and-burn farmers, etc). Today they represent about 300 million people, in other words 4% of the world’s population.

6,000 peoples scattered around the planet, rebellious spots of colour in the face of a world becoming more and more uniform; peoples whose very existence is threatened and whose rights are denied: colonization of their lands, destruction of their forest homes, environmental pollution, denial of their cultures and socio-political identities.

African Pygmies, Australian Aborigines, Indians of the Amazon, of Chiapas or Colombia, Negritos of south-east Asia : all are threatened with physical and cultural annihilation.

A multitude of forgotten peoples are subjected to the proselytism of intolerant religions, the invasion of their territories by settlers, by companies extracting gold, wood, oil or gas, destroying the environment and the communities which depend on it. 

Where they live

It is not easy to evaluate the number of indigenous people. According to some estimates, the figure is around 300 or 400 million, in more than 70 countries. This represents about 4% of the world’s population.

In most countries indigenous populations are a small minority compared to the national population. In Brazil or Sweden, for instance, they are 0.1% of the country’s overall population. In the USA, less than 0.5%. Indigenous peoples are a majority in a very few countries, such as Greenland (90%), Bolivia or Guatemala (60%).

What they want

Today these peoples are organizing and fighting to be heard.

They want to have right to live with their differences in dignity; they want their social organizations and symbolic systems to be respected; they want an end to the uncontrolled exploitation of resources in the territories they have lived in harmony with from time immemorial.