COVID-19 and Indigenous Peoples’ Resilience
Human beings have always been inquisitive and explored the world to conquer new landscapes. Long and hazardous journeys taken by explores, be it Columbus, Vasco da Gama in search of discovering. History has recorded, visits of scholars from various continents travelling long distances to newer kingdoms to study and understand the diverse cultures. With the advancement of Science and Technology, travel has become easier and humans started exploring newer places in search of greener pastures. It is proudly said now the world is a “Global Village”. People migrated in search of better opportunities and comfortable lifestyles, are finding it difficult to internalise the local culture at later stages of their lives. While enhanced connectivity is bringing people of diverse backgrounds to come together, also posing challenges in adapting to the local situation. The dying of folk arts, indigenous traditions are becoming a concern to societies across the world. The situation with indigenous tribes is very bad. Humans in their greed to harness the natural resources, started encroaching into the landscapes of indigenous people. It is happening to such a large extent that the very existence of the indigenous communities is being threatened.
International Day of the World’s Indigenous Peoples is observed on August 9 since 1982. The day is being observed to create awareness about the rights of indigenous people, explain the accomplishments and benefactions that the autochthonous people contribute in tackling issues like environmental protection.
Except for Antarctica, indigenous people are inhabited along every continent of the world with an estimated 476 million indigenous peoples living in 90 countries. It is estimated that they constitute 5% of the world’s population, but account for 15 per cent of the poorest. They speak an estimated 7,000 languages and represent 5,000 different cultures.
Indigenous people believed that the man belongs to the world
while civilized people believed that the world belongs to the man
Indigenous peoples, inherit and continue practicing unique cultures and ways of relating to the environment and adopt harmonious living. They have retained social, cultural, economic and political characteristics that are distinct from those of the dominant societies. Indigenous peoples are fighting for retaining their identities, way of life and their right to continue to adopt traditional lifestyles. History records, how their rights have been violated.
In the era of COVID, Indigenous peoples are seeking their solutions to tackle pandemic. By employing their traditional knowledge and practices and demonstrating their capability to adapt.
Realising the rights of indigenous people’s means ensuring their inclusion and participation in COVID-19 response and recovery strategies. Indigenous peoples must be consulted in all efforts to build back stronger and recover better.António Guterres
Indigenous peoples today, are arguably among the most disadvantaged and vulnerable groups of people in the world. The international community now recognizes that special measures are required to protect their rights and maintain their distinct cultures and way of life.
2022 will be the beginning of a new decade for the indigenous community: the celebration of the Decade of Indigenous Languages, a door that was opened previously in 2019 with the celebration of the International Year of Indigenous Languages.
Humanity is being threatened by COVID pandemic with no end in sight and times like this are opportune to introspect and adopt a lifestyle with minimum disturbance to nature. Indigenous people are limited in number and fast dwindling, if we do not take steps they would be lost, and future generations would see them and know them only from what has been written about them.