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International Day of the World's Indigenous People

The United Nations’ (UN) International Day of the World's Indigenous People is observed on August 9 each year to promote and protect the rights of the world’s indigenous population. This event also recognizes the achievements and contributions that indigenous people make to improve world issues such as environmental protection.

Indigenous cultures across the planet are recognized on International Day of the World's Indigenous People.

Illustration based on artwork from ©iStockphoto.com/Darek Niedzieski/Nicolette Neish/Victor Maffe

What Do People Do?

People from different nations are encouraged to participate in observing the day to spread the UN’s message on indigenous peoples. Activities may include educational forums and classroom activities to gain an appreciation and a better understanding of indigenous peoples. Events may include messages from the UN secretary general and other key leaders, performances by indigenous artists, and panel discussions on reconciliation.

Public Life

The UN’s International Day of the World's Indigenous People is a United Nations day of observance but it is not a public holiday.

Background

The International Day of the World’s Indigenous People is celebrated on August 9 each year to recognize the first UN Working Group on Indigenous Populations meeting in Geneva in 1982. On December 23, 1994, the UN General Assembly decided that the International Day of the World’s Indigenous People should be observed on August 9 annually during the International Decade of the World’s Indigenous People.

In 2004 the assembly proclaimed the Second International Decade of the World’s Indigenous People (2005-2014). The assembly also decided to continue observing the International Day of Indigenous People annually during the second decade. The decade’s goal was to further strengthen international cooperation for solving problems faced by indigenous peoples in areas such as culture, education, health, human rights, the environment, and social and economic development.

In April 2000, the Commission on Human Rights adopted a resolution to establish the UN Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues that was endorsed by the Economic and Social Council. The forum’s mandate is to discuss indigenous issues related to culture, economic and social development, education, the environment, health and human rights.

Symbols

Artwork by Rebang Dewan, a Chackma boy from Bangladesh, was chosen as the visual identifier of the UN Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues. It has also been seen on material to promote the International Day of the World's Indigenous People. It 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 (two different hands) in the middle and above the handshake is a landscape background. The handshake and the landscape background are encapsulated by blue at the top and bottom within the globe.

For this occasion, Rebang Dewan’s artwork is often seen together with a pale blue version of the UN logo with the words “We the peoples” written in the middle. The logo is set on a darker blue background. The UN logo is often associated with marketing and promotional material UN events. It features a projection of a world map (less Antarctica) centered on the North Pole, enclosed by olive branches. The olive branches symbolize peace and the world map represents people in the world.

World Indigenous Peoples’ Day Observances

YearWeekdayDateNameHoliday Type
2010MonAug 9World Indigenous Peoples’ DayUnited Nations observance
2011TueAug 9World Indigenous Peoples’ DayUnited Nations observance
2012ThuAug 9World Indigenous Peoples’ DayUnited Nations observance
2013FriAug 9World Indigenous Peoples’ DayUnited Nations observance
2014SatAug 9World Indigenous Peoples’ DayUnited Nations observance
2015SunAug 9World Indigenous Peoples’ DayUnited Nations observance
2016TueAug 9World Indigenous Peoples’ DayUnited Nations observance
2017WedAug 9World Indigenous Peoples’ DayUnited Nations observance
2018ThuAug 9World Indigenous Peoples’ DayUnited Nations observance
2019FriAug 9World Indigenous Peoples’ DayUnited Nations observance
2020SunAug 9World Indigenous Peoples’ DayUnited Nations observance

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