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Diversity, Equity & Inclusion (DEI)

Key Terms

Indigenous Peoples 

It is estimated that there are more than 370 million indigenous people spread across 70 countries worldwide. Practicing unique traditions, they retain social, cultural, economic and political characteristics that are distinct from those of the dominant societies in which they live.

Spread across the world from the Arctic to the South Pacific, they are the descendants - according to a common definition - of those who inhabited a country or a geographical region at the time when people of different cultures or ethnic origins arrived. The new arrivals later became dominant through conquest, occupation, settlement or other means.

Among the indigenous peoples are those of the Americas (for example, the Lakota in the USA, the Mayas in Guatemala or the Aymaras in Bolivia), the Inuit and Aleutians of the circumpolar region, the Saami of northern Europe, the Aborigines and Torres Strait Islanders of Australia and the Maori of New Zealand. These and most other indigenous peoples have retained distinct characteristics which are clearly different from those of other segments of the national populations.

Native Americans

In the United States, the Native American experience is one of rich tradition, faith, and resistance. Before colonizers landed on this continent, Native Americans organized themselves into tribal nations and powerful confederacies. The United States was built on a foundation of colonization, racism, and genocide. Today, compared to the national population, Native Americans have significantly lower median incomes, lower homeownership, increasing health disparities, and twice the level of poverty. These outcomes are the effects of a system of white supremacy which continues today.

From: United Nations Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues. (n.d.). Who are indigenous peoples? https://www.un.org/esa/socdev/unpfii/documents/5session_factsheet1.pdf

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