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Celebrating International Day of the World’s Indigenous Peoples

Channel1 Los Angeles
09 de Agosto de 2018

The United Nations designates August 9th as the International Day of the World’s Indigenous Peoples in recognition of their special heritage, as well as unique cultures, languages and ways of relating to people and the environment. Indigenous peoples have long sought recognition of their identities, ways of life, and rights to traditional lands and natural resources. Yet, they account for a large percentage of the world’s poorest populations, and today they are arguably among the most disadvantaged and vulnerable groups in the world.

The UN’s annual observance represents an opportunity to acknowledge and address the critical challenges facing these communities. It also recognizes their achievements and the breadth of their presence across the world. Indigenous peoples number more than 370 million and live in some 90 countries. In Latin America and the Caribbean, 50 million people identify themselves as indigenous, but the definition of that identity varies from country to country and often depends as much on socio-economic context and culture, as on genetics.

Since its creation by the U.S Congress nearly a half century ago, the Inter-American Foundation has been tasked with stimulating “ever wider participation in the development process” – which we interpret as a specific call for the inclusion of historically marginalized groups throughout Latin America and the Caribbean. The IAF has supported initiatives undertaken by these communities that have included training in technical work skills, community mapping, land titling, small businesses, agricultural development, conservation of natural resources, and access to health care, among others. A review of the IAF’s active portfolio reveals that IAF grants currently promote citizen-led development in indigenous communities in 15 countries and are benefiting more than 500,000 people.

Although much remains to be done to alleviate the poverty faced by these communities, the IAF will continue to make strides towards fostering economic development, alternatives to migration, social inclusion, and protection of natural resources by supporting their citizen-led initiatives. The IAF would like to take this day to celebrate indigenous peoples throughout the world, and to highlight some of the successful efforts of our grantee partners.

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