Not everyone knows, but August 9th marks a day close to our hearts: the United Nations’ International Day of the World’s Indigenous Peoples. By declaring this day over 20 years ago, the UN sought to recognize the achievements and contributions of Indigenous people in improving world issues as well as promoting and protecting the rights of the world’s Indigenous population. Not sure how to help? We’ve got a way for you to get started.
What do you know about Indigenous Peoples?
Indigenous Peoples, also known as First, Aboriginal, Native, or Autochthonous Peoples, are inheritors and practitioners of unique cultures, languages, knowledge systems and beliefs.
According to the UN, there are an estimated 370 million Indigenous people in the world living across 90 countries. They make up less than 5 percent of the world's population, but account for 15 percent of the poorest. They speak an overwhelming majority of the world's estimated 7,000 languages and represent 5,000 different cultures.
We are raising awareness of Indigenous rights by promoting the preservation of an important element of cultural heritage: Indigenous languages. As the UN’s Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues puts it, “preserving indigenous languages is a matter of great urgency and is crucial to ensuring the protection of the cultural identity and dignity of indigenous peoples.” Most Indigenous languages are endangered, and if we fail to preserve them, we risk losing not only the unique spoken word, but also their deep ancestral knowledge and traditions.
How you can do your part.
You can help preserve these languages by respecting and learning more about their speakers or by learning the language yourself. As part of our continuing mission to enrich lives with language and culture, we are providing access to our endangered language courses for free, including Cherokee, Dzongkha, Scottish Gaelic, Tuvan, and Yiddish. Not only are these languages historically and linguistically valuable to learn, but they are a testament to what drives the work we do.
Become an advocate for language preservation. Create your profile to gain access to all of our endangered language courses for free.