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Indigenous Peoples


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"Our roots are deep in the lands where we live. We have a great love for our country, for our birthplace is here. The soil is rich from the bones of thousands of generations. Each of us was created in these lands and it is our duty to take great care of them, because from these lands will spring the future generations of our peoples. We walk about with great respect, for the Earth is a very Sacred Place."

Sioux, Navajo, and Iroquois Declaration (1978)



Land Rights in the Amazon River Basin

Family Tree

overview Overview

Conflicts Between Cultures
Indigenous peoples in every region of the world have experienced conflicts over land and culture.

During times of colonial exploration and expansion, "New Worlds" and distant lands were discovered and claimed for colonial governments. The peoples who lived there were often overcome by warfare or by colonial policies that gradually aimed to assimilate native peoples.

Encounters with settlers from other regions often brought hardship for indigenous peoples, as their land and natural environments were taken by outsiders.

Land and Industry
Today, land ownership and use continue to be central concerns for indigenous peoples. In the name of development, the mining, construction, and tourism industries have often disregarded the rights of local indigenous groups. These actions include:
  • Foraging of hardwoods in the tropical forests of the Amazon
  • Oil-drilling in Ecuador
  • Construction of hydro-electric dams and power stations in India
  • Military test sites and bases in the United States
  • Creation of national parks in southern Africa that prohibit land use by humans
All of these national or corporate uses of land have had extremely damaging effects on local indigenous populations.

For a more in-depth look at this clash of perspectives and the impact on indigenous peoples, go to the case study on the people of the Amazon region.

To learn more about the land and location of indigenous peoples, try out these activities.

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Land Rights in the Amazon River Basin

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