Photographs by Winfield Parks (Aboriginal Australian), David Alan Harvey (Miskito), Franc and Jean Shor (Sami), Frank and Helen Schreider (Taiwanese), Joanna B. Pinneo (Basque), W. E. Garrett (Hmong), Robert Madden (Yanomami), Volkmar K. Wentzel (Zulu), Thomas J. Abercrombie (Tuareg), Gordon Wiltsie (Inuit), Robert B. Goodman (Samoan), James L. Stanfield (Maasai), Chris Johns (San), Robert Clark (Quechua), James L. Stanfield (Fijian), and David Alan Harvey (Tlingit)

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    On August 9, 1994, the United Nations first recognized the International Day of the World’s Indigenous Peoples. Indigenous people are cultures that were the first settlers of an area that was later colonized by people from a different, sometimes remote, region.
    There are indigenous people on every continent except Antarctica—from the Sami (in Scandinavia) to the Bambuti (in Central Africa); from the Hmong (in Southeast Asia) to the Maori (in New Zealand); from the Yanomami (in the Amazon rain forest) to the Yupik (in the Arctic).
    The International Day of Indigenous Peoples supports indigenous rights. Indigenous rights include respect and preservation for the land, land use choices, and cultures of indigenous people.
  • Term Part of Speech Definition Encyclopedic Entry
    Aboriginal Australian Noun

    people and culture native to Australia and its surrounding islands. Also called Aborigine.

    Arctic Noun

    region at Earth's extreme north, encompassed by the Arctic Circle.

    Encyclopedic Entry: Arctic
    colonize Verb

    to establish control of a foreign land and culture.

    continent Noun

    one of the seven main land masses on Earth.

    Encyclopedic Entry: continent
    culture Noun

    learned behavior of people, including their languages, belief systems, social structures, institutions, and material goods.

    desert Noun

    area of land that receives no more than 25 centimeters (10 inches) of precipitation a year.

    Encyclopedic Entry: desert
    First Nations Noun

    indigenous (Native American) peoples of Canada south of the Arctic.

    indigenous people Noun

    ethnic group that has lived in the same region for all of their known history.

    indigenous rights Plural Noun


    respect and preservation of the independence, culture, identity, language, employment, health, and education of indigenous people.

    island Noun

    body of land surrounded by water.

    Encyclopedic Entry: island
    land use Noun

    range of purposes people put to the earth.

    mountain Noun

    landmass that forms as tectonic plates interact with each other.

    Native American Noun

    person whose ancestors were native inhabitants of North or South America. Native American usually does not include Eskimo or Hawaiian people.

    preservation Noun

    protection from use.

    Encyclopedic Entry: Preservation
    rainforest Noun

    area of tall, mostly evergreen trees and a high amount of rainfall.

    Encyclopedic Entry: Rainforest
    recognize Verb

    to identify or acknowledge.

    region Noun

    any area on Earth with one or more common characteristics. Regions are the basic units of geography.

    Encyclopedic Entry: region
    remote Adjective

    distant or far away.

    Sahel Noun

    transition zone in northern Africa between the Sahara Desert in the north and the savanna ecosystems in the south.

    savanna Noun

    type of tropical grassland with scattered trees.

    Scandinavia Noun

    region and name for some countries in Northern Europe: Iceland, Norway, Sweden, Finland, and Denmark.

    settler Noun

    person who migrates and establishes a residence in a largely unpopulated area.

    United Nations Noun

    international organization that works for peace, security and cooperation.