Every year, August 9 is celebrated as the International Day of the World’s Indigenous Peoples or World Tribal Day.
The date recognizes the first meeting of the United Nations Working Group on Indigenous Populations in Geneva in 1982. World Tribal Day is observed in order to promote and protect the rights of the world’s indigenous population, acknowledging the achievements and contributions that indigenous people make to improve world issues such as environmental protection.
The theme for the year 2019 is ‘Indigenous Languages’ and will focus on the current situation of indigenous languages around the world.
On World Tribal Day or the International Day of the World’s Indigenous Peoples, here are a few interesting facts about the natives.
1. The artwork done by Rebang Dewan, a Chackma boy from Bangladesh, was chosen as the visual identifier of the UN Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues. The symbol features two ears of green leaves facing each other and cradling a globe resembling planet earth. Within the globe is a picture of a handshake in the middle and above the handshake is a landscape background.
2. For World Tribal Day, the symbol is seen together with a pale blue version of the UN logo with the words “We the peoples” written in the middle.
3. According to a UN blog, it is estimated that, every 2 weeks, an indigenous language disappears, placing at risk the respective indigenous cultures and knowledge systems.
4. There are over 100 uncontacted tribes in the world. Some live less than 100km from Machu Picchu, Peru’s biggest tourist attraction.
5. While the Sentinelese tribe is thought to have lived on the Andaman Islands for about 55,000 years, the Moken ‘sea gypsies’ of the Andaman Sea are known for their unique ability to focus under water, in order to dive for food.
6. Tribal peoples have developed extraordinary survival skills over millennia. An Amazonian hunter may mimic a predator to frighten it or copy the call of a female animal to attract males.
7. Bushmen of Southern Africa might have lived there for 70,000 years or more. Recent studies also suggest that the Bushman tribes are genetically closer to the ancestors of all of us than anyone else.
8. The very last remaining speaker of the 55,000-year-old Bo language of the Andaman Islands died in 2010.
9. The Andaman tribes were not affected by the 2004 tsunami. When they saw the sea recede, they immediately retreated to higher ground.
10. The language of the Bolivian Kallawaya healers, still spoken today, is believed to be the secret language of the Inca Kings.