August 9 – International Day of the World's Indigenous Peoples

Posted on August 9, 2016

 It is a tricky thing to talk about “Indigenous Peoples” – because indigenous means “originating in a particular place.” When we talk about a plant or animal that is indigenous to a particular continent, region, or island, we mean that evidence shows that that particular species of plant or animal originated in that place. 

For example, a kind of bird with a strong beak that can crack open nut shells might evolve on an island because there are nuts available in abundance there, and there is no competing species eating those nuts.

Well, when we are talking about people, we are all one species, and that species evolved in (originated in) Africa. 

So, what does it mean to talk about people indigenous to Australia, or Alaska, or Brazil?

Are those people some other species, with a completely separate evolution from the rest of us?

Of course not! Like I said, humans are humans – just one species – Homo sapiens sapiens. Like I said, our species originated in Africa and spread out all over the world:

Still, Indigenous Peoples means something!

I've been focusing on the word indigenous...but what about the word peoples?

Now, people is a tricky word. We usually use it as the plural form of the word person: There is one person waiting to see the next president of the United there are five people there are lots of people waiting in a long, twisting line. (This usage is made more complicated by the fact that we can also use persons as the plural of person!)

But people can be a singular noun: A people is a group or population that shares particular cultural characteristics such as a language, customs, and so forth. And of course, peoples (plural) means various groups / tribes / cultures / populations.

And it is this cultural group that has originated in a particular continent, region, or island. We are not talking about a separate biological species, but rather a separate social group.

These days, many Indigenous People choose to wear modern clothes that
are commonly seen all over the world. Some at least at times choose to
wear traditional clothing, or a mix of traditional and modern clothing.

2016 International Day of the World's Indigenous Peoples

"Education" isn't just for kids (above).
It's for adults, too (below).
This year's theme is Indigenous Peoples' right to education. People are trying to make sure everyone has equal access to all levels of education and vocational training. Along with people with disabilities, refugees, and people in war-torn countries or other unstable situations, Indigenous populations in many places in the world often face gaps in educational access.

According to the U.N., some Indigenous populations have faced historical abuses, discrimination, and marginalization in schools (and other systems).

One thing that would help is making sure that Indigenous Peoples have access to the internet. I have loved Sugata Mitra's efforts to help kids teach themselves by building a “school” in the “Cloud.” 

Sugata Mitra didn't just "think up" this philosophy -
that kids can learn anything (or almost anything?)
by themselves - he has shown it over and over again
in some marvelous experiments!

Also on this date:

Smokey the Bear's birthday

Tanabata 2016 

Plan ahead:

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