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Today marks International Day of the World’s Indigenous Peoples, an important day for language on the international calendar.

This annual event was founded by the United Nations in December 1994, with the General Assembly proclaiming that this day would be celebrated each year between 1995-2004 (during the first International Decade of the World’s Indigenous People).

On 20 December 2004 the Assembly announced the Second International Decade of the World’s Indigenous People, lasting from 2005-2014.


The theme for this decade is ‘A Decade for Action and Dignity’, whilst the primary focus of today is ‘Indigenous Media, Empowering Indigenous Voices’.

It is hoped that this theme will 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.

A special event is planned at UN Headquarters in New York today. There will be a number of guest speakers, whilst videos will be shown and a live webcast will be available to view.

Followers of the event via popular social media channels will be also be able to use the Twitter hashtag #UNIndigenousDay for regular updates on the day, which helps to raise awareness of indigenous people, their fight to maintain their languages, which are often under threat of extinction, and promotes language campaigns and resources to aid indigenous people.

With headquarters in New York, Geneva, as well as various other locations around the world, the UN’s message today will be translated into many languages, and their bid to empower indigenous messages is a universal one.

Great attention will be paid to the power of the media, and with social networks like Facebook and Twitter being available in multiple languages the UN’s aims are sure to be spread across the web.

The event also gives recognition to the contributions and achievements of indigenous people, and the work that they do to improve world issues such as environmental protection.

The visual identifier of the UN Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues was created from artwork by a a Chackma boy from Bangladesh, named Rebang Dewan. Rebang’s art shows two ears of green leaves cradling a globe resembling Earth. The globe itself features a handshake, with a landscape background above. Both are encompassed by blue at the top and bottom within the globe.

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, it 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 for 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.

What are your thoughts on such an event, which highlights indigenous people and their way of life? Do you think more should be done to help preserve indigenous languages? Let us know your thoughts via the comment box below.

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