International Day of the World's Indigenous Peoples: August 9, 2021

August 9, 2021 | Jamie

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Every year on August 9 is the International Day of the World's Indigenous Peoples.

The International Day of the World's Indigenous Peoples was created in 1994 to remember the first time the UN's Working Group on Indigenous Populations met in 1982.

Indigenous peoples are a little over “6 per cent of the global population. There are “over 476 million [I]ndigenous peoples living in 90 countries.” Indigenous peoples only make up a small percentage of the global population, but they "protect 80% of the Earth’s biodiversity."

Around the world, there are over "5,000 Indigenous communities," who collectively speak "around 4,000 different languages."

Today we are sharing some items in our collection in recognition of the International Day of the World's Indigenous Peoples. Most of these were made by Indigenous peoples. Some were made about Indigenous peoples. In all cases, let's elevate Indigenous peoples from around the world!

Please note that if the author or documentarian is Indigenous, their Nation(s) will be in brackets next to their name. All summaries included in this blog post are from the item's record on TPL's website, unless otherwise indicated.


The Girl from Chimel by Rigoberta Menchú

The Girl from Chimel by Rigoberta Menchú (Maya)

"Nobel Peace Prize winner and Mayan activist Rigoberta Menchú brings the world of her earliest childhood vividly to life in this colorful book. Before the war in Guatemala and despite the hardships that the Mayan people endured, life in the Mayan villages of the highlands had a beauty and integrity. This was forever changed by the conflict and brutal genocide that was to come. Menchú’s stories of her grandparents and parents, of the natural world that surrounded her, and her retelling of the stories that she was told present a rich, humorous, and engaging portrait of that lost world. Domi draws on the Mayan landscape and rich craftwork to create the stunning illustrations that complement this engaging story."


Grandmothers Cousel the World by Carol Schaefer

Grandmothers Counsel the World: Women Elders Offer Their Vision for our Planet by Carol Schaefer

"We are thirteen indigenous grandmothers. . . . We are deeply concerned with the unprecedented destruction of our Mother Earth, the atrocities of war, the global scourge of poverty, the prevailing culture of materialism, the epidemics that threaten the health of the Earth's peoples, and with the destruction of indigenous ways of life.

We, the International Council of Thirteen Indigenous Grandmothers, believe that our ancestral ways of prayer, peacemaking, and healing are vitally needed today. . . . We believe that the teachings of our ancestors will light our way through an uncertain future.

In some Native American societies, tribal leaders consulted a council of grandmothers before making any major decisions that would affect the whole community. What if we consulted our wise women elders about the problems facing our global community today? This book presents the insights and guidance of thirteen indigenous grandmothers from five continents, many of whom are living legends among their own peoples. The Grandmothers offer wisdom on such timely issues as nurturing our families; cultivating physical and mental health; and confronting violence, war, and poverty. Also included are the reflections of Western women elders, including Alice Walker, Gloria Steinem, Helena Norberg-Hodge, and Carol Moseley Brown."


Chappy by Patricia Grace

Chappy by Patricia Grace (Māori)

"Uprooted from his privileged European life and sent to New Zealand to sort himself out, twenty-one-year-old Daniel pieces together the history of his Māori family. As his relatives revisit their past, Daniel learns of a remarkable love story between his Māori grandmother Oriwia and his Japanese grandfather Chappy. The more Daniel hears about his deceased grandfather, the more intriguing - and elusive - Chappy becomes. In this touching portrayal of family life, acclaimed writer Patricia Grace explores racial intolerance, cross-cultural conflicts and the universal desire to belong. Spanning several decades and several continents and set against the backdrop of a changing New Zealand, Chappy is a compelling story of enduring love."


This is Paradise by Kristiana Kahakauwila

This is Paradise by Kristiana Kahakauwila (Hapa, Kānaka Maoli)

"A visceral, poignant, and elegantly gritty work of debut fiction set in Hawaii, in the vein of Junot Diaz's Drown and Danielle Evans's Before You Suffocate Your Own Fool Self This is the real Hawai'i: life is not the paradisical adventure that honeymooners or movie-goers see. Danger lurks on beautiful beaches, violence bubbles under the smooth surf, and characters come face to face with the inevitability of change and the need to define who they are against the forces of tradition and expectation. In these stories, a young woman decides to take revenge on the man who had her father murdered - only to find that her father wasn't who she thought he was. Three different groups of Hawaiian women observe and comment on the progress of an American tourist through one day and one night in Honolulu. And a young couple have an encounter with a stray dog that shakes their relationship to the core. Intimately tied to the Hawaiian Islands, This is Paradise explores the relationships among native Hawaiians, local citizens, and emigrants from (and to) the contiguous forty-eight states. There is tension between locals and tourists, between locals and the military men that populate their communities, between local Hawaiian girls who never leave, and those who do so for higher education and then return. Kahakauwila is a careful observer of her protagonists' actions - and, sometimes, their inaction. Her portrayal of people whose lives have lost their centre of gravity is acute, often heartbreaking, and suffused with a deeply felt empathy. With a contemporary edginess, a mature style, and a sense of history reverberating into the present, This is Paradise is an incredible debut."


Ideas to Postpone the End of the World by Ailton Krenak

Ideas to Postpone the End of the World by Ailton Krenak (Aimoré and Krenak)

"Humanity is facing the greatest environmental disaster of our existence. Global pandemics, extreme weather events, and massive wildfires all define the era that many are now calling the Anthropocene. In the three lectures that comprise Ideas to Postpone the End of the World, renowned Indigenous activist and leader Ailton Krenak argues that the current environmental crisis is rooted in modern society's flawed concept of 'humanity' -- that human beings are superior to any other form of nature and therefore justified to exploit it as we please. As a result, our entire civilization is built upon structures, organizations, and institutions that alienate us from the land, rivers, and trees, and that have forced the marginalization (and sometimes outright elimination) of any community that refuses to abide by these rules. Indigenous peoples throughout the Americas have already faced the end of the world many times before. Now, to stop our collective march towards the abyss, we must reject the homogenizing effect of our human-first perspective and embrace a new idea of 'dreaming,' one that allows us to regain our proper place within nature. Only then may we find new solutions to survive."


Carpentaria by Alexis Wright

Carpentaria by Alexis Wright (Waanyi)

"Alexis Wright is one of Australia's finest Aboriginal writers. CARPENTARIA is her second novel, an epic set in the Gulf country of north-western Queensland, from where her people come. The novel's portrait of life in the precariously settled coastal town of Desperance centres on the powerful Phantom family, leader of the Westend Pricklebush people, and its battles with old Joseph Midnight's renegade Eastend mob on the one hand, and the white officials of Uptown and the neighbouring Gurfurrit mine on the other. Wright's storytelling is operatic and surreal: a blend of myth and scripture, farce and politics. The novel teems with extraordinary characters - Elias Smith the outcast saviour, the religious zealot Mozzie Fishman, the murderous mayor Stan Bruiser, the moth-ridden Captain Nicoli Finn, the activist and prodigal son Will Phantom, and above all, the queen of the rubbish-dump Angel Day and her sea-faring husband Normal Phantom, the fish-embalming king of time - figures that stride like giants across this storm-swept world."


The Ainu - A Story of Japan's Original People by Shigeru Kayano

The Ainu: A Story of Japan's Original People by Shigeru Kayano (Ainu)

"The Ainu examines the culture of the Ainu people of Hokkaido."


Too Much Lip by Melissa Lucashenko

Too Much Lip by Melissa Lucashenko (Bundjalung & European)

“A gritty and darkly hilarious novel quaking with life-winner of Australia's Miles Franklin Award-that follows a queer, First Nations Australian woman as she returns home to face her family and protect the land of their ancestors. Wise-cracking Kerry Salter has spent her adulthood avoiding two things: her hometown and prison. A tough, generous, reckless woman accused of having too much lip, Kerry uses anger to fight the avalanche of bullshit the world spews. But now her Pop is dying and she's an inch away from the lockup, so she heads south on a stolen Harley for one last visit. Kerry plans to spend twenty-four hours, tops, across the border. She quickly discovers, though, that Bundjalung country has a funny way of latching on to people-not to mention her chaotic family and the threat of a proposal to develop a prison on Granny Ava's Island, the family's spiritual home. On top of that, love may have found Kerry again when a good-looking white fella appears out of nowhere with eyes only for her. As the fight mounts to stop the development, old wounds open. Surrounded by the ghosts of their Elders and the memories of their ancestors, the Salters are driven by the deep need to make peace with their past while scrabbling to make sense of their present. Kerry just hopes they can come together in time to preserve Granny Ava's legacy and save their ancestral land."


Sabrina & Corina by Kali Fajardo-Anstine

Sabrina & Corina by Kali Fajardo-Anstine (Chicana, Picuris Pueblo)

“Latinas of Indigenous descent living in the American West take center stage in this haunting debut story collection--a powerful meditation on friendship, mothers and daughters, and the deep-rooted truths of our homelands.”


Whale Rider by Witi Ihimaera

Whale Rider by Witi Ihimaera (Māori)

As her beloved grandfather, chief of the Maori tribe of Whangara, New Zealand, struggles to lead in difficult times and to find a male successor, young Kahu is developing a mysterious relationship with whales, particularly the ancient bull whale whose legendary rider was their ancestor.”



Whale Rider directed by Niki Caro

Whale Rider (2003) directed by Niki Caro

"A contemporary story of love, rejection and triumph as a young Maori girl fights to fulfill a destiny her grandfather refuses to recognize." This is based on Witi Ihimaera's book that I shared just a moment ago!


Eternal Amazon (2012)

Eternal Amazon (2012) directed by Belisário França

"The Amazon is a vast laboratory for sustainable experiments that are revealing new relationships among human beings, corporations, and the natural heritage crucial for life on the planet. This is where the guidelines are being drawn up for a new global economic model: the green economy. With an astonishing soundtrack and cinematography, Eternal Amazon presents a critical analysis of how the world’s largest tropical rainforest is understood and utilized.. Exploring the Amazon’s five million square kilometers—home to 20% of the world’s freshwater reserves—the film asks whether it is possible for humans to make sustainable use of the rainforest by featuring nine successful projects for sustainable forest use that directly benefit the local population and foster good economic partnerships. Experts like economist Sergio Besserman, ecologists Bertha Becker and Virgilio Viana, and Amazonians themselves explain activities such as agriculture, fisheries, and animal husbandry. The film portrays the daily lives of the forest people as the guardians of this great natural heritage that, if properly managed, could last into eternity."

Sami Blood (2016) directed by Amanda Kernell

Sami Blood (2016) directed by Amanda Kernell (Sami)

1930s Sweden. 14-year-old Sami girl Elle Marja ("powerful newcomer Lene Cecilia Sparrok" The New York Times) and her sister are torn from their indigenous reindeer-herding family and placed in a government-run boarding school. There Elle dreams of education, of a future, only to be faced with racial examinations that class her people as inferior. What follows is a girl's attempt to escape one world of prejudice and another of old traditions, only to realize later the true cost of freedom.


Rigoberta Menchu: Daughter of the Maya (2016) directed by Dawn Gifford Engle

"In 1959, a little girl was born into a poor family, in one of the most remote, mountainous areas of Guatemala. One year later, civil war broke out in Guatemala, and her tiny village was soon swept up in a tidal wave of violence. What could one family do to stand up for their rights, in a time of such great change? What could one young woman do, to tell the world what was happening, and to try to stop the suffering? What could the indigenous Maya people do, to try to gain a voice in the determination of their own future? ..This is a story about a family, a people, and a destiny -- "Rigoberta Menchu: Daughter of the Maya". After more than five decades of political turmoil, the courage and tenacity of the indigenous Maya people of Guatemala shines through in this beautiful, tragic, and ultimately triumphant film. "Rigoberta Menchu: Daughter of the Maya" tells their story of struggle and success, through the personal journey of 1992 Nobel Peace Prize winner, Rigoberta Menchu Tum."


Boy. directed by Taika Waititi

Boy. (2013) directed by Taika Waititi (Māori)

"The year is 1984, and on the rural east coast of New Zealand Michael Jackson's 'Thriller' is changing kids' lives. 'Boy' is a dreamer who lives with his brother Rocky and his Nan. When Boy's father, Alamein, returns home after seven years away, Boy is forced to confront the man he thought he remembered find his own potential, and learn to get along without the hero he had been looking for."