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International Day of the World’s Indigenous Peoples

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Authored by Sean Waite
Published on 9th August, 2022 2 min read

International Day of the World’s Indigenous Peoples

A picture of Khasi tribal females carrying children on their back

Today (09/08/2022) marks the annual celebration of the International Day of the World’s Indigenous Peoples. The day was first pronounced in 1994 by the General Assembly of the United Nations and aims to raise awareness and protect the human rights of indigenous communities across the world. 

Indigenous people often suffer the worst effects of social problems, having frequently been marginalised, displaced, and murdered during the process of colonisation. The entrenchment of this marginalisation manifests itself in several ways. For example, indigenous people are three times more likely to be living in extreme poverty and 47% of indigenous people in employment have no education.

This year’s theme focuses on ‘The Role of Indigenous Women in the Preservation and Transmission of Traditional Knowledge’. The passing down of traditional knowledge is often a fundamental pillar of indigenous society that facilitated not just survival, but a harmonious awareness and relationship with the environment people lived in. Traditional knowledge incorporates techniques including plant medicine, shelter construction, hunting skills, and much more.

Much of this knowledge is held in common and learned through everyday activities. More specialised knowledge is usually held by ‘gatekeepers’, who have deep experience with specific expertise and are entrusted to build cultural coherence through narrative of specific events and locales. For many matriarchal indigenous tribes, like the Minangkabau of Indonesia or the Khasi of India, women occupy a crucial role as ‘gatekeepers’ of traditional knowledge.

Climate change is one of the biggest threats to traditional knowledge. For example, temperature changes in the Andes can disrupt crop systems and hunting methods, which in turn can cause food insecurity and energy problems. Global warming has generally meant the increasing destruction of indigenous people’s ancestral environments across the world. At the same time, there has been a renewed interest and drive to highlight and learn from the sustainable relationship indigenous people have had with their environments for thousands of years. Understanding and prioritising traditional knowledge could prove key to preventing the worst effects of climate change. 

Today British Online Archives invites all our users to take a moment to further their knowledge and understanding of indigenous peoples and their importance.

Authored by Sean Waite

Sean Waite

Sean Waite is a Political Science graduate of Birmingham and Aarhus University.

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Notable Days


The British Online Archives Notable Days diary is a platform intended to mark key dates and events throughout the year. The posts draw attention to historical events and figures, as well as recurring cultural traditions and international awareness days, in both religious and secular contexts.

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