Ingenous Peoples. First Nations. Aborigines. Humans. They are the same as us in every way, and different in every way.
Who are they
Stirking up a conservation with a linguistics professor who speaks 9 languages could give you the impression he's quite cultured - now image that of the 7,000 languages spoken today, an overwhelming majority are spoken by indigenous cultures! Far from the savages depicted in decades and centuries old propaganda, these beautiful people are ones fighting for survival - not like you or me, where we are trying to make a living and put food on the table, but for the survival of their culture as a whole.
With a predicted 370 million indigenous people throughout the globe, spread across international borders of over 90 countries, these peoples only account for a whopping 5% of the global population. Out of proportion, however, they make-up 15% of the world’s poorest peoples. Representing over 5,000 distinct cultures, make no mistake that these groups are a diverse entity.
Big Business: First NAtions
Though many people are not aware of it, we have quite a considerable impact on these groups - both directly and indirectly. Through our support of, and reliance on, businesses that exploit indigenous peoples, we are enabling the violation of their rights as human beings, and their cultures' right to survival.
Resource extraction businesses - logging, coal mining, fracking, oil drilling - put a strain on the environment, degrading the quality of the habitat through pollution and noise, changing the dynamic to the point that local natives fall ill due to chemical poisoning - either through drinking water or through eating the meat of animals who have been poisoned.
Big Pharma (the pharmaceuticals industry) combs through entire regions of indigenous rich locales, sending communicators to enlist their help in drug research - only to pay pennies on the dollar to these groups for the herbs they use while profiting billions of dollars on it.
The banking and financial services industry invests in these corporations, giving them the funding to continue exploiting these people. Without financial incentives to deter companies from exploiting people, there is no reason for them to stop. Legal action against them is little to none because of the meager resources of First Nations, further hindered by the few and unfair payments they've received for pharmaceutical research help.
Many NGOs have developed platforms for investors to discover investment opportunities that are socially-conscious to avoid the pitfalls of denying any people their rights. AmazonWatch is one such example, paving the way before any other, providing templates for both research and letters to corporate heads. A new movement, the "B the Change Campaign," is providing further insight into business workings to give consumers a method of discerning socially-aware corporations from the rest.
The United Nations DEclaration on the Rights of Indigenous PEoples
The High Commissioner for Human Rights welcomes the adoption of the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples by the General Assembly on 13 September 2007, as a triumph for justice and human dignity following more than two decades of negotiations between governments and indigenous peoples' representatives.
The UN Declaration was adopted by a majority of 143 states in favour, 4 votes against (Australia, Canada, New Zealand and the United States) and 11 abstentions (Azerbaijan, Bangladesh, Bhutan, Burundi, Colombia, Georgia, Kenya, Nigeria, Russian Federation, Samoa and Ukraine).
The Declaration establishes a universal framework of minimum standards for the survival, dignity, well-being and rights of the world's indigenous peoples. The Declaration addresses both individual and collective rights; cultural rights and identity; rights to education, health, employment, language, and others. It outlaws discrimination against indigenous peoples and promotes their full and effective participation in all matters that concern them. It also ensures their right to remain distinct and to pursue their own priorities in economic, social and cultural development. The Declaration explicitly encourages harmonious and cooperative relations between States and indigenous peoples.