Celebrating World Indigenous Peoples’ Day and Confronting Challenges in Defending Indigenous Languages and Territory

Celebrating World Indigenous Peoples’ Day and Confronting Challenges in Defending Indigenous Languages and Territory

By Jalileh Garcia, RightsViews staff writer  August 9th marked the 2019 International Day of the World's Indigenous Peoples. The theme for this year is Indigenous Peoples’ Languages.  According to the United Nations Development Programme, it is estimated that there are 370-500 million indigenous peoples in the world, representing over 5,000 different cultures. Furthermore, a majority of the 7,000 languages in the world were created and are spoken by Indigenous Peoples. Yet, despite this immense lingual diversity, human rights experts indicate that four in 10 Indigenous languages are in danger of disappearing. The main reason for the disappearance of these languages is the fragility of systems to ensure that Indigenous Peoples rights to land and territory are respected, protected, and guaranteed, including, among other reasons, forced assimilation.  As such, entire cultures are at risk of disappearing as companies and governments are stripping Indigenous communities of their lands. These cultures include the belief in a special relationship with the environment─land has physical, cultural, and spiritual...
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