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International Day of the World's Indigenous Peoples
9 August

Theme for 2011: "Indigenous designs: celebrating stories and cultures, crafting their own future"

A man dancing wearing a bird costume.
Bird Apache Dancers perform at the opening of the fourth session of the UN Expert Mechanism on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples in Geneva, 11 July 2011.
(Credit: UN Photo/Jean-Marc Ferré)

This theme for 2011 highlights the need for preservation and revitalization of indigenous cultures, including their art and intellectual property. It can also be used to showcase indigenous artists and cooperatives or businesses who are taking inspiration from indigenous peoples' customs and the indigenous communities who may have participated or benefited from this.

It is also a reminder of the responsibility of individuals as consumers, to understand that there is a story and a personal experience behind every piece of cloth, textile or artwork from an indigenous individual or community.


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At UN Headquarters, New York

The 17th commemoration of the International Day of the World's Indigenous Peoples was held on Tuesday 9 August 2011 at the UN Headquarters in New York, organized by the Secretariat of the Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues DSDP/DESA, the United Nations Department of Public Information, and the NGO Committee on the Decade of the World's Indigenous Peoples. The special event focused on intellectual property in relation to indigenous designs, as well as best practices for protecting indigenous arts and crafts.

A screening of the film "Kalimantan's Craft; Harmony of culture and nature" was followed by a panel discussion entitled: "Indigenous designs: celebrating stories and cultures, crafting our own future", from 2:30pm to 6pm in the ECOSOC Chamber.

Kalimantan's Craft; Harmony of Culture and Nature

Kalimantan's Craft; Harmony of Culture and Nature (2011, Duration: 29:16; Credit: Gekko Studio External Link)

The 30-minute film is a positive example of an indigenous community adapting to the demands of a modern economy. "Harmony of Culture and Nature", by Gekko Studios in Indonesia, tells the story of the Crafts Kalimantan Network, formed with indigenous people in Kalimantan, Indonesia to encourage and promote sustainably-produced community-based handicrafts made by the Dayak people.

The Network sought to provide an alternative source of income to more destructive economic ventures, and one that would also promote the cultural and ecological heritage of the indigenous people of Kalimantan. The Network launched the "Borneo Chic" brand in 2010, consisting of a collection of woven modern/heritage handbags, which has so far been very well received.

This Craft Kalimantan film highlights indigenous weaving traditions used in the production of high quality art products. The products are the work of artisan groups, made up of 90 per cent women, who live in and around the forests in Kalimantan, Indonesia. These groups continue to struggle in defence of their culture and tradition through the art of weaving crafts.

Activities around the World

Nanang Sujiana and Tri Renya Altaria

Panel discussion with Nanang Sujiana, filmmaker and Tri Renya Altaria, representative of the Craft Kalimantan Network. (Photo: Ng Swan Ti/UNIC Jakarta)

Borneo Chic products.

Display of products from the indigenous brand "Borneo Chic." (Photo: Ng Swan Ti/UNIC Jakarta)

UN information centres (UNICs) held events around the world, including:

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