Celebrating the world’s indigenous peoples

UN Photo Evan Schneider

“Let us use the media – indigenous and non-indigenous, and especially new outlets – to create bridges and establish a truly intercultural world, where diversity is celebrated; a world where different cultures not only coexist but value each other for their contributions and potential,” said Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon in his message for today’s International Day of the World’s Indigenous Peoples.

In recognition of the first meeting of the United Nations Working Group on Indigenous Populations held in Geneva, the International Day of the World’s Indigenous Peoples was first proclaimed by the General Assembly in December 1994. This year’s International Day will shine a spotlight on indigenous media — television, radio, film and social media — and its role in helping to preserve indigenous cultures, challenge stereotypes and influence the social and political agenda.

“From community radio and television, to feature films and documentaries, from video art and newspapers to the Internet and social media, indigenous peoples are using these powerful tools to challenge mainstream narratives, bring human rights violations to international attention and forge global solidarity,” Secretary-General Ban said in his message for the Day. “They are also developing their own media to reflect indigenous values and fight against myths and misconceptions.”

There are an estimated 370 million indigenous people in some 70 countries around the world. Through practicing unique traditions, they retain social, cultural, economic and political characteristics that are distinct from those of the dominant societies in which they live. Spread across the world from the Arctic to the Amazon, indigenous peoples reflect the world’s cultural diversity and are the custodians of its biodiversity.

At UN Headquarters in New York, an interactive dialogue on the theme “Indigenous Media, Empowering Indigenous Voices”, will take place. The event will feature remarks by UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, DESA’s Under-Secretary-General Wu Hongbo and Grand Chief Edward John, Chairperson of the United Nations Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues.

The event will also include a screening of the film ‘Voices through Time’, documenting the efforts of indigenous men, women and youth in using radio and new communications technologies as a means of building networks and will be followed by an interactive dialogue.

The International Day of the World’s Indigenous Peoples event will be broadcast live via UN Webcast starting at 2:30 pm EST and members of the public are invited to send in their questions to panel members via Twitter using #UNIndigenousDay.

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