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Indigenous rights: a never-ending battle

August 9 marks the UN's International Day of the World's Indigenous Peoples – a day to celebrate the culture, heritage and most importantly resilience of indigenous peoples the world over. This day also encourages the world to come together in the continuing fight to protect the rights of indigenous peoples; these communities are not only battling the day to day struggles of living through 2020 but also of protecting their lands, the heritage, their human rights and their rights as citizens of the countries they inhabit.

This year's International Day of the World's Indigenous Peoples theme is COVID-19 and indigenous peoples’ resilience. As the UN writes, indigenous peoples "have been worrying about the threat of a pandemic even before COVID-19: indigenous peoples. Thanks to their traditional knowledge and their relationship with the natural world, they have long known that the degradation of the environment has the potential to unleash disease."

Welcome back to FairPlanet's weekly roundup. This week we're looking at the challenges faced by indigenous peoples and how COVID-19 has made these harder. Read. Debate: Engage.

Indigenous communities protect our planet

Across the world, indigenous peoples are a gateway to protecting nature

Due to their traditional relationship with the natural environment in which they live, indigenous communities are often gatekeepers to lands that would otherwise be destroyed for development and the exhaustion of natural resources. From South America and North America to Africa, Asia and Australia, native communities often have a deeper understanding of the environment than most of us hold.

According to the UN, "as we fight against the spread of the pandemic, it is more important than ever to safeguard indigenous peoples and their knowledge. Their territories are home to 80% of the world’s biodiversity and they can teach us much about how to rebalance our relationship with nature and reduce the risk of future pandemics."

The current pandemic, in many ways, is a result of a warming planet – where the rising temperatures result in an imbalance of natural habitats, insects and bacteria, leading to the spreading of disease. "Indigenous peoples are seeking their own solutions to this pandemic. They are taking action and using traditional knowledge and practices such as voluntary isolation, and sealing off their territories, as well as preventive measures," adds the UN.

Now more than ever, we must look to indigenous communities and learn from their vast knowledge on how to protect our planet, our forests, jungles, waters and seas.

COVID-19's impact on indigenous peoples


As recently reported by FairPlanet in our 'Support' section, "The outbreak of COVID-19 across Latin America has been taking an increasing toll on indigenous populations. With over 7,000 recorded cases reported as of June 21, across one hundred different indigenous communities in Brazil, with 330 recorded deaths.

The situation for indigenous peoples in other South American countries, such as Columbia, Ecuador, and Peru, is just as dire, with rising infection rates and mounting starvation. Across the continent, indigenous tribes lack access to proper health services and are not extended adequate support by the state.

It is crucial that we support if you can through donations, organisations working on the ground to provide indigenous communities with the medical support and resource they so desperately need right now.

You can sign and share Salgado’s petition, and check out our call to action to support Amazon Watch – an indigenous-led NGO that works to defend and uplift indigenous populations living in the Amazon and protecting their lands. Click below for more information!


Sign petition to stop genocide of indigenous tribes

by Yair Oded

Sign the petition to end the genocide of indigenous peoples in South America and support them during the COVID-19 pandemic and beyond.
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A country with over 51 different indigenous peoples

With a population of 32 million citizens, the South American country of Peru is a hub for indigenous heritage and communities. It holds the ancient city of Cuzco, the capital of the Incas as well as the lost city of Machu Picchu. There are 51 different indigenous peoples in Peru. By far the most numerous are the highland Quechua. About 4.5 million Peruvians speak Quechua and 8 million identify themselves as Quechua.

Today Peru is going through an economic boom, with many companies locating to the capital, Lima, and foreign investment being pumped into local enterprises. However, the country is still the world's leading producer of cocaine, which it began taking up after the crackdown of its production in neighbouring Columbia.

Peru's media landscape is dominated by privately run media companies, online, TV and radio broadcasters, with the former growing rapidly as now 56% of the country is connected to the internet.