Who indigenous people are and how do they impact our world today? There are many explanations to describe these people and one is that they are first peoples. By this is meant that they were the first people known to inhabit a land, and are also called natives or aboriginals. The biggest difference between indigenous peoples and any other is that they were the original inhabitants and did not settle in a land from another place.
The behavioral patterns of these people also separate them from others, by maintaining old traditions and adhering to the culture their ancestors formed. Some indigenous people take on board and adopt new elements from the new peoples to their land such as language or style of dress. And some remain loyal to the area and region that is their ancestral home, living in a specific territory which they depend on to live. There are indigenous people to be found on every continent and climate zone on the planet.
It is the land the indigenous peoples live on that defines who they are, it provides natural resources on which they live on, and is linked directly to their culture, identity and their religions and spiritual well-being.
The State of Play
Today there are estimated to be around three hundred and seventy million indigenous peoples all over the world, and they are living in over 90 countries. This accounts for around 5% of the global population of the world. It is sad to realize that this 5% of the population also accounts for 15% of the poorest people that currently live in the world today. Although in numbers they are a minority, in terms of land that they use to dwell upon they inhabit 25% of the surface on the planet. They are also the guardians of 80% of the remaining biodiversity that still exists in the world. Indigenous people are essential to keep information on where they live, to display how to live in harmony with their surroundings and how to reduce disasters and reduce climate acceleration.
Who Owns the Planet?
Many governments around the world do not respect the rights of ownership that indigenous people claim. It is estimated that over half of the planet is under indigenous customary care, but legally they have very little true ownership. Rights of claiming land ownership have led to many wars and conflicts, and does not help social and economic development of a region. All this points to a breakdown of cultural survival, and with it in-depth knowledge about a region or land. This knowledge is the foundation of ecological integrity and the balance of biodiversity and the ultimate health of the land. Which after all impacts the whole planet and everybody living on it.
In part two of this blog we look at possible solutions of how we can improve access to land tenure to help the world maintain a positive and workable solution to climate change. The indigenous people around the world are key to this.