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Indigenous Peoples are a significant and important portion of humanity. Their heritage, their ways of life, their stewardship of this planet, and their cosmological insights are an invaluable treasure house for us all.
The word Indigenous has many meanings. In every region of the world, many different cultural groups live together and interact, but not all of these groups are considered indigenous or inherent to their particular geographic area. In fact, it is only in the face of a collective or shared sense of identity that the term indigenous peoples has been internationally recognized.
Indigenous Peoples live in every region of the world. They live in climates ranging from Arctic cold to Amazon heat, and often claim a deep connection to their lands and natural environments. For many indigenous peoples, the natural world is a valued source of food, health, spirituality and identity. Land is both a critical resource that sustains life and a major cause of struggle and even death.
Each indigenous culture is distinct and unique. While many peoples may express similar worldviews and a common indigenous identity, their cultures are nonetheless based on different histories, environments, and creative spirits.
The Universal Declaration of Human Rights affirms the inherent dignity, equality, and inalienable rights of all members of the human family. The rights of all members of indigenous populations are included in this declaration. However, Indigenous Peoples also have rights as distinct cultural groups or nations.
"Humankind has not woven the web of life. We are
but one thread within it. Whatever we do to the web, we do to
ourselves. All things are bound together. All things connect." - Chief Seattle
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