International Day of the World’s Indigenous People puts spotlight on indigenous media
"They offer an alternative perspective on development models that exclude the indigenous experience"
On Aug. 9, International Day of the World’s Indigenous People, indigenous peoples can reflect on how their media empowers indigenous voices.
“On this International Day, I pledge the full support of the UN system to cooperate with indigenous peoples, including their media, to promote the full implementation of the Declaration [on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples],” said United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon in an Aug. 9 statement.
The International Day of the World’s Indigenous People, first proclaimed by the UN General Assembly in December 1994, was to be celebrated every year during the first International Decade of the World’s Indigenous People (1995 – 2004). Then, in 2004, the Assembly proclaimed a Second International Decade, from 2005 – 2015, with the theme of “A Decade for Action and Dignity.”
The focus of this year’s International Day is “Indigenous Media, Empowering Indigenous Voices,” intended to highlight the importance of indigenous media in challenging stereotypes, forging indigenous peoples’ identities, communicating with the outside world, and influencing the social and political agenda, said a UN news release.
A special event at UN Headquarters in New York on Aug. 9 will feature speakers and videos of indigenous media organizations, with a live webcast, starting at 2:30 p.m., with a panelist discussion at 3:30 p.m..
The event will include remarks by Ban Ki-moon, Wu Hongbo, the UN Under-Secretary-General for Economic and Social Affairs, Grand Chief Edward John, Chairperson of the UN Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues, and others.
A panel discussion with representatives of indigenous media organizations from across the world and video clips produced by indigenous peoples will follow.
The panel, moderated by Amy Stretten, will include Kenneth Deer, founder of the newspaper The Eastern Door, Nils Johan Heatta, chairman of the World Indigenous Television Broadcasters Network, J. Kehaulani Kauanui, a professor at Wesleyan University and a radio producer, and Angel Tibán Guala, director of the television of Movimiento Indígena Campesino de Cotopaxi (TV MICC).
“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,” Ban Ki-moon said in his message for the day. “They are also developing their own media to reflect indigenous values and fight against myths and misconceptions.”
The UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, adopted by the UN General Assembly in 2007, recognizes indigenous peoples’ right to self-determination and their right to freely pursue their economic, social and cultural development, and develop past, present and future manifestations of their culture in various forms, the UN news release noted.
“Indigenous voices are recounting compelling stories of how they are combating centuries of injustice and discrimination, and advocating for the resources and rights that will preserve their cultures, languages, spirituality and traditions. They offer an alternative perspective on development models that exclude the indigenous experience. They promote the mutual respect and intercultural understanding that is a precondition for a society without poverty and prejudice,” Ban Ki-moon said.
On Twitter, you can use #UNIndigenousDay for regular updates and for sending questions to panel members in the days leading up to and during the event