The World’s Indigenous Peoples – By Peter Halder 

The World’s Indigenous Peoples – By Peter Halder 

Guyana Map showing Regions


            On August 9 Guyana and the rest of the world observed and celebrated  the International Day of the World’s Indigenous Peoples. In Guyana, the indigenous people are known as Amerindians. They comprise some 10.5% of the country’s population. There are nine tribes – Wai Wai, Patamona, Arecuna, Macusi, Wapisiana, Carib, Warrau, Arawak and Akawaio. They live in 120 settlements in Regions 1, 7, 8 and 9.        

            The exploration, occupation, colonization and administration of territories in the ‘new world” by major powers centuries ago, wrought disaster to the homelands of the world’s indigenous peoples. They were despoiled of their lands and the colonialists imposed their own brands and patterns of civilization to replace the traditions, customs, cultures and religions of indigenous peoples.     

            It was not until centuries later, with the establishment of the United Nations Organization in 1945 and the movement towards self-determination and independence that attention was paid to the plight of the world indigenous peoples.

            In 1982, centuries after Colombus discovered the new world circa 1495, the United Nations began working on a Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous peoples. One of the first step was the 1989 ILO Convention on the Rights of Indigenous and Tribal Peoples. In September 2007, the UN adopted a Universal Declaration of the Rights of Indigenous Peoples. August 9 was established as the International Day of the World’s Indigenous People and a Permanent Forum for Indigenous Issues was established at the United Nations.

             The Universal Declaration contains 46 articles which spell out the special rights of the world’s indigenous people including:

*full enjoyment of all human rights.

*are free and equal to all other peoples.

*have the right to self-determination.

*the right to autonomy in internal and local affairs.

*right to pursue, maintain, develop, strengthen their own political, legal, economic. Social and cultural institutions.

*right to life, liberty,  and security of person and not to be forced into assimilation.

*right to maintain, practice and promote their culture, customs, traditions and religious ceremonies.

*right to participate in the social and economic development projects.

*the right to determine and develop projects on their own for their economic and social development.



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  • michael hawkins  On 09/18/2018 at 3:51 am

    From day one they have paied a heavy price as Anglo Saxon race moved across the world. Just take a look at their plite in North America. Sad

  • Desiree  On 09/20/2018 at 5:08 pm

    Great article, Peter!

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