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Recognizing International Day of the World’s Indigenous Peoples

Maya Traditions in Guatemala | The Little Market

At The Little Market, our mission is dedicated to supporting dignified income opportunities for individuals in underserved communities all over the world. A core part of our mission is to raise awareness for human rights and to share the meaningful stories behind our products and the people who create them. Here on Cultural Exchange, we share avenues in which our readers can use their voices and actions to help others. We are recognizing International Day of the World’s Indigenous Peoples, observed annually on Aug. 9. 

On Dec. 23, 1994, the United Nations General Assembly officially passed the resolution to recognize the observance, in recognition of the first meeting of the U.N. Working Group on Indigenous Populations, which took place in Geneva in 1982. 

Today, we celebrate and recognize the vast contributions of indigenous populations located all across the world. There are at least 476 million indigenous people across 90 countries around the world. They inherit and practice rich cultural traditions and unique ways of interacting with people and our planet. 

The theme for this year’s observance has been designated as “COVID-19 and indigenous peoples’ resilience.” Now, more than ever, it is important to recognize, celebrate, and learn from indigenous peoples and all they contribute. We have so much to learn from their extensive knowledge, beautiful traditions, and unique relationship with our environment and planet’s resources. 

They also account for approximately 5 percent of the population but 15 percent of the poorest. 

Furthermore, indigenous communities experience limited access to proper healthcare and sanitation, food insecurity and threats to their livelihoods, disproportionate rates of poverty, intergenerational poverty, and limited access to formal education opportunities, which are all heightened challenges during COVID-19. 

Your support is increasingly essential now when we are seeking out new ways to protect one another from afar. They are among the most underserved populations in the United States and have faced various forms of oppression and discrimination for centuries. 

We are proud to work with artisan groups and social enterprises that support producers identifying as part of the indigenous community. They are empowered through dignified income opportunities and fair wages while having a safe space to collaborate. 

From Peru and Palestine to Senegal and India, these groups span 12 countries and practice time-honored cultural traditions. These include knitting with locally sourced materials, basket weaving with natural grasses, farming with eco-conscious practices, and hand-glazing and slip-casting ceramics. Each piece has a special story and we are grateful to share these beautiful pieces with you all. 

Rigoberta Menchú Tum - Nobel Women’s Initiative
Photo Courtesy of the Nobel Women’s Initiative

We are also inspired by activists who have used their voices to speak up for the rights of indigenous people. Rigoberta Menchú Tum is a passionate human rights activist advocating women and indigenous people all across the world. At the age of 33, she received the Nobel Peace Prize for her work to end the oppression of Guatemala’s indigenous people. As a young child, she became involved in social reform activities in her home country of Guatemala as well as participated in the women’s rights movement. She joined the Committee of the Peasant Union, founded by her father. Many opposed the reform work, but the Menchú family was steadfast in its work to advocate for these communities. After fleeing to Mexico, she continued to advocate for indigenous peoples’ rights and speak against oppression in Guatemala. 

“Peace cannot exist without justice, justice cannot exist without fairness, fairness cannot exist without development, development cannot exist without democracy, democracy cannot exist without respect for the identity and worth of cultures and peoples.” – Rigoberta Menchú Tum

Rigoberta Menchú Tum’s story of overcoming oppression and her accomplishments are extraordinary. But unfortunately, the discrimination she and her family have endured is a common, daily occurrence within the indigenous community. 

Through our allyship, we must consider how, with the right opportunities and proper support systems, even more activists could be heard and could reach their full potential. Thank you for joining us in recognizing International Day of the World’s Indigenous Peoples and advocating for equal rights for everyone. To learn more and support, please visit our website

Sources
International Day of the World’s Indigenous Peoples. United Nations 2020. Web. 
“Indigenous Peoples at the United Nations.” United Nations. Department of Economic and Social Affairs. Web. 
“Indigenous Peoples.” The World Bank. Web. 
“Rigoberta Menchú Tum Biographical.” The Nobel Prize. Web. 
“Rigoberta Menchú Tum Facts” The Nobel Prize. Web. 
“Rigoberta Menchú Tum – Guatemala 1992. Nobel Women’s Initiative. Web.

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