Staunton, August 9 – Since 1995, an increasing number of countries around the world have marked this date on the calendar as the Day of Indigenous Peoples. While commemoration of this holiday has been limited in many places, including the Russian Federation, because of the pandemic, this year’s slogan is certain to resonate with many of that country’s smallest nations.
The United Nations whose General Assembly voted in 1994 to establish this day says that at present, there are more than 476 million people, 6.2 percent of the world’s population, in this category in 90 countries of the world. Because of their traditional way of life, they often can’t compete effectively with other citizens (rfi.fr/ru/в-мире/20210809-день-коренных-народов-мира-какой-у-них-статус-и-права-в-россии-украине-и-франции).
They often have less education, their lands are increasingly invaded by developers, and, because of their small numbers and isolation, they often lack the political clout to defend their rights. That is particularly the case in Russia, activists say, despite its 1999 law on their protection (pravo.gov.ru/proxy/ips/?docbody=&nd=102059473, adcmemorial.org/statyi/ugol-protiv-korennyh-narodov/ and huryun.chuvstvo-ostrova.zapovednik.space/).
A major problem is that there is no universally accepted definition of indigenous peoples. The UN’s Jose Martinez-Cobo provided one in 1987 that many countries now use (ru.unesco.org/commemorations/indigenouspeoplesday). But Russia’s is more restrictive as it won’t include any group of more than 50,000 (adcmemorial.org/prava-korennyh-narodov/).
Because of that legal limit, the number of indigenous peoples in the Russian Federation is likely to decline after the results come in from the next census, likely next year. Those on the cusp of that number will lose their privileges and benefits and be even less able to defend their way of life than they are now.
At present, and on the basis of the last census in 2010, there are 47 indigenous peoples recognized by Moscow. They live in 30 regions of the Far North, Siberia, the Far East and the North Caucasus. The greatest number are in the North and the Far East and they are organized in the Association of Numerically Small Peoples of the North, Siberia and the Far East.
In his greeting to these peoples this year, Association president Grigory Ledkov said the holiday is designed to attract the attention of all to the problems of the indigenous peoples and the need for efforts to be made by them and on their behalf (nazaccent.ru/content/36342-grigorij-ledkov-den-korennyh-narodov-prizyvaet.html).