International Day of the World’s Indigenous People
Posted on August 9th, 2016

By Afshain Afzal

The United Nations’ International Day of the World’s Indigenous People is observed on 9th August each year to promote and protect the rights of the world’s indigenous population. This year’s theme is Indigenous Peoples’ Right to Education”.  The United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples covers right of education of indigenous peoples recognize the right of indigenous families and communities to retain shared responsibility for the upbringing, training, education and well-being of their children, consistent with the rights of the child. In the same regard, Articles 14, 15, 17 and 21 of the declaration deals with the subject. According to an estimate, there are approximately 5,000 different indigenous people groups in 90 countries worldwide while about 70% of them live in Asia. United Nations organizes events on this day for the original or earliest known inhabitants of a country or region.

We have a very pinching record regarding treatment of indigenous peoples by various countries of the world. USA eliminated almost entire indigenous population and occupied their lands. Australia also followed the same policy and till to-date the country hasn’t signed any treaty with its indigenous owners for the possession or utilization of their lands. If we peep into the history, British were the pioneers, who ruthlessly killed indigenous populations and occupied their lands in a number of countries. It became a fashion to follow same principle to control original inhabitants by killing entire populations. It was a big business at that time; patch of skin used to be scalped off from the top of the head of each killed indigenous men, women and children for bounty money. James Johnson, the famous bounty collector used gun fire to kill as many Indian as possible to collect scalps for the bounty. The bounty money was $100 for braves indigenous including their chiefs, $50 any male or female and $25 for children under fourteen. There was bounty on all the coloured people especially Mexicans. Similar bounty laws were also enforced to encourage French, British and Portuguese to hunt coloured population.

President Martin Van Buren’s believed No state can achieve proper culture, civilization and progress as long as Indigenous (Indian) are permitted to remain.”  President Thomas Jefferson letter to Samuel Kercheval dated 12 July1816, is another important document which reflects US policy towards original inhabitants of US. Similarly, Carolyn Bennett, Canadian minister of indigenous and northern affairs, in a statement said, From coast to coast to coast, the high rate of missing indigenous women and girls could not be ignored.” In 2014 report by Canadian police revealed that 1181 indigenous women were murdered or gone missing in Canada between 1980 and 2012, where 1017 were victims of homicide.

Hannah Duston was first American, who in 1697, got involved in scalps business was able to kill and scalps ten indigenous with knife in Massachusetts for the bounty money. She was the first women in USA to have a statue erected in the honour of her bravery. Hannah Duston Memorial was erected in 1874 and is the first publicly-funded statue in New Hampshire. Similar bounty laws were also enforced to encourage French, British and Portuguese to hunt coloured population. President Martin Van Buren’s historic wordings are preserved in golden words, No state can achieve proper culture, civilization and progress as long as Indigenous (Indian) are permitted to remain.”

President Thomas Jefferson letter to Samuel Kercheval dated 12 July1816, is an important document which reflects US policy towards original inhabitants of US. Carolyn Bennett, the minister of indigenous and northern affairs, in a statement said, From coast to coast to coast, the high rate of missing indigenous women and girls could not be ignored.” In 2014 report by Canadian police revealed that 1181 indigenous women were murdered or gone missing in Canada between 1980 and 2012, where 1017 were victims of homicide.

Colonial mindset is still prevailing in today’s modern world, where millions of original inhabitants of USA, Canada, Australia, Africa, Central Asian states, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Iraq, Yemen, Syria, Somalia, Sudan, Jammu and Kashmir, Palestine  and many other countries are been killed without any reason. There is a need to educate those states which are involved in the genocide or killings or indigenous people and United Nations as well as International Organizations should organize events and programs to develop awareness regarding rights of ingenious people. The theme, Indigenous Peoples’ Right to Education” is valid but when there is life threat to the indigenous populations, how we can move to the next step. One wonders in the present scenario, when the indigenous populations don’t have competition with other communities are not allowed to survive, who will permit an empowered and highly capable ingenious person to move freely in this world of opportunities. [email protected]

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