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Indigenous

This photo, from the National Museum of the American Indian reveals how Native artists continue to be influenced by tradition.

Indigenous peoples make up less than 5 percent of the world’s population, yet comprise 15 percent of the world’s poor. Despite significant changes in poverty overall, the proportion of indigenous peoples living in poverty – at almost 80 percent – did not change much from the early 1990s to the early 2000s.

Very few states do not have laws in place that give Aboriginals the same rights their own citizens. Canada’s constitution was overhauled in the year 1982 to extend the rights of the original British settlers to the local Indian, Inuit and Métis peoples (interestingly enough, this was also the first time that the Canadian Constitution changed its wording to accept that it was no longer a British Colony). Other nations are not as kind.

Since its inception the American Constitution claimed that their “Congress shall have the power… to regulate Commerce… with the Indian Tribes.” This effectively restricted the ability for Native American tribes to trade, and as such, removed them from the potential to join in with the incredible financial prosperity that other states enjoyed.

The regrettably derogative treatment of aboriginals all over the world has, for all intents and purposes, been eradicated. Unfortunately the attitudes of previous centuries have left many of the native populations unable to compete economically on a local or national scale.

Their primary obstacle lies with a lack of, or a nationally unrecognised ownership of property. Banks are unwilling to lend money to people without a formal address, and a business cannot be started without this initial capital. Whereas no single entity can be blamed for this, the subtle discrimination still exists. This article outlines some recent efforts concerning Amazonian tribes in Peru being given deeds to their land.

The problem is not an easy one to solve outright. Blanket measures may not apply to a vast proportion of the 370 million people who are defined as indigenous. Each individual tribe or group has different cultures, faiths, languages and goals, so something that may be a great success for one group may have the opposite effect on another. In fact, the International Labour Organization defines their status as "regulated wholly or partially by their own customs or traditions or by special laws or regulations", which may mean that the people themselves may not respond to external intervention.

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