According to the United Nations, there are currently more than 370 million Indigenous people spread across 70 countries worldwide. In total, they belong to some 5,000 different Indigenous groups and speak more than 4,000 languages. Many of these groups have distinct social, economic, and political systems, as well as distinct culture and beliefs. Sadly, they are often marginalized or directly threatened by more dominant powers in society — despite having been the original inhabitants of the land they occupy.
Indigenous peoples often have a strong attachment, understanding, and respect for their native lands, be it the great plains of the United States, the Canadian prairies, or the Amazon rainforest. This connection is frequently apparent in the wise words of Indigenous leaders both past and present. Today, with many Indigenous communities on the frontlines of the battle to protect our natural world, this wisdom is perhaps more important than ever.
“Even though you and I are in different boats,
you in your boat and we in our canoe,
we share the same River of Life.
What befalls me, befalls you.”
-Oren Lyons, Onandaga Nation Chief
and member of the Indigenous Peoples of the Human Rights Commission of the United Nations
Indigenous Peoples’ Day is a holiday that celebrates and honors Native American peoples and commemorates their histories and cultures. On October 8th, 2021 President Joe Biden signed a presidential proclamation declaring October 11th to be a national holiday.
– credits: Penobscot History Museum, United Nations