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Who are indigenous peoples?

Last edited: December 20, 2011

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Indigenous peoples are distinct from minorities, but share many of the same characteristics in some contexts. It is important for the state to uphold the rights of indigenous women which may be infringed upon by the collective rights of their indigenous group. Indigenous peoples include (Makoloo, 2005):

  • Tribal (and in some cases migratory) peoples in independent countries whose social, cultural, and economic conditions distinguish them from other sections of the national community, and whose status is regulated wholly or partially by their own customs or traditions or by special laws or regulations; and
  • Peoples in independent countries who are regarded as indigenous on account of their descent from the populations which inhabited the country, or a geographical region to which the country belongs, at the time of conquest or colonization or the establishment of present state boundaries and who, irrespective of their legal status, retain some or all of their own social, economic, cultural and political institutions.

In addition to rights as individuals to non-discrimination and equal treatment, indigenous peoples lay claim to collective or group rights, especially in relation to land, self-determination, and retention of culture.

See the United Nations Forum on Minority Issues.

See additional information on minority issues from the United Nations.