Talk:List of indigenous peoples

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Frequently asked questions (FAQ)
Q: Why does this list only include "minority" ethnic groups?
A: Because we apply the definition of "indigenous peoples" used by international legislation by UN, UNESCO, ILO and WTO, which applies to those ethnic groups that were indigenous to a territory prior to being incorporated into a national state, and who are politically and culturally separate from the majority ethnic identity of the state that they are a part of.
Q: Why does this list not include European ethno-national groups such as Irish, French, Georgian etc. They are also indigenous to their countries.
A: Yes they are indigenous to their countries and territories but they are not indigenous peoples under the definition used by international legislation describe above. The reason this definition is useful is that under a broader definition of "indigenous" it would include all peoples and ethnic groups, because all groups are indigenous to somewhere. The list would then be an exact copy of the list of ethnic groups and would be redundant.

Content of archives[edit]

Please discuss all topics from archives on current talk page.

Archive of past discussion (2005-2007)

  • 2 Current listing
  • 3 Sorbs (Wends) do not identify themselves as an "indigenous people"
  • 4 What should be listed under "Circumpolar North"
  • 5 Are Copts considered a people
  • 6 Are the Jews an indigenous people? also Talk:List of indigenous peoples/Comments
  • 7 No more Ainu on Sakhalin island
  • 8 Indigenous Finns?
  • 9 Tongans: A problematic inclusion
  • 10 Removal of two sub-lists
  • 11 Palestinians are indigenous

Archive of past discussion (2007-2008)

  • 1 Request for Comment Palestinian indigeneity
  • 1 Bedouins vs. Palestinian Beouin
  • 2 Bedouins
  • 3 Jews - Martinez Cobo
  • 4 Inclusion criteria for Southern Africa
  • 5 East Africa
  • 6 Terms of reference
  • 7 Zambonji
  • 8 Breakdown
  • 9 Amero-Liberians
  • 10 Proposal for inclusion
  • 10 Table format proposal
  • 11 Samaritans, Jews, Druze, Maronite Christians, Palestinian Christians, Palestinian Arabs, Bedouin.

So many peoples in this list who don't fit the guidelines....[edit]

Firstly, Non-existent and obsolete peoples are listed, why? Ex: Dzungar people, whom no longer exist (almost totally wiped out in the Dzungar genocide), Vandals, Gauls, Goths, etc. etc. Gauls are part of an interesting trend here of noting the indigenous elements in ethno-national groups: ie, gauls for frenchmen. But the gauls no longer exist as a people, they are absorbed into the French people. (which is gaulish/frankish/latin) Also, groups that are indigenous but not "indigenous peoples" (NOT minorities in their nation state) are included, despite the definition. Ie, Icelanders in iceland, turkmens in turkmenistan, kazakhs in kazakhstan, arabs in arab countries (excluding the bedouin in the southern arabian peninsula, an indigenous people in a non-Bedouin polity)... the only people who is a majority in their state that I can see being included are the Berbers, since even though the population is mostly berber or arab-berber the identity of the country is overwhelmingly "Arab". For the same reason I can see Samaritans being listed but not Jews, since Jews are the majority in Israel... although they could be considered indigenous in Judea, which is part of a non-jewish polity (West Bank). Same with Irish in northern ireland vs those in southern ireland.... the northern irish are part of an irish polity while the southern irish are part of a "british" (but really mostly english) one. Welsh in Wales can be excused by saying Wales isn't an independent country, same with Scots in Scotland. I just think we need to stick to the clear rules. It's not just a people native to a region, but also a people who does not make up the majority political/ethnic identity of the nation in their homeland. --Monochrome_Monitor 17:16, 11 April 2016 (UTC)

Basically it's important to remember that a people indigenous to a region may not be a indigenous people of the region. According to the definition. This does mean the group can go to bed as an "indigenous people" and wake up as "merely" a native people if they gain independence. --Monochrome_Monitor 17:35, 11 April 2016 (UTC)
Anyway, tell me what you think. Perhaps we should ignore very recent independences, like that of turkmenistan/kazakhstan/etc from the ussr? --Monochrome_Monitor 17:37, 11 April 2016 (UTC)
Indeed, these seems to have become an indiscriminate list of ethnic groups. We have similar problems with the main article indigenous people, but I suppose there are less eyes on this. I'll try to clean it out. Joe Roe (talk) 12:44, 19 August 2016 (UTC)
Also, the Europe section redirects to ethnic groups in europe.--Monochrome_Monitor 04:50, 20 August 2016 (UTC)
Feel free to prune. I agree that the indiscriminate nature of the list is a problem. every single people of the world is "indigenous" to somewhere, if the ordinary language usage is adopted instead of the academic and legal definition.·maunus · snunɐɯ· 14:02, 22 September 2016 (UTC)


Isn't the point of legislation on this issue to protect the rights of native peoples to their own land? Yet, certain governments are reserving the right to grant and deny these rights, clearly a perverted use of power. Under certain political definitions, a people that was never colonized would not be an indigenous people (and hence be available for annexation)! Furthermore, a people who simply transitioned from minority to majority (by the census of the reigning regime, of course), would also lose their protective status, which is outrageous. Common sense and logic dictate that a colonizing power becoming an indigenous people is an impossible travesty, and equally impossible and laughable is the idea that an indigenous people could stop being indigenous, and even become so immoral as to colonize their own land. Yet this is exactly what could happen under these political definitions. By removing the indigenous status of a people, if such a thing were actually possible, the goal of restoring rights to native lands is automatically defeated. Don't you love politics?

Instead, as scholars studying peoples writing an article about peoples, we should be using the anthropological definition of indigeneity. Politics poisons everything. Here is a sampling of definitions from anthropology glossaries and dictionaries:

  • indigenous - referring to the native population of an area.
~ Cultural Anthropology Terms, Palomar College
  • Indigenous peoples - culturally distinct peoples who have occupied a region longer than peoples who have colonized or immigrated to the region.
~ Some Technical Terms Used by Anthropologists, Professor Alan Macfarlane
  • aborginal. indigenous; pertaining to the original occupants of a given region.
  • indigenous. native to, originating in or occurring naturally in a given place; aboriginal.
~ Above two from A Glossary of Manitoba Prehistoric Archaeology, U. of Manitoba
  • indigenous peoples - The original inhabitants of particular territories; often descendants of tribespeople who live on as culturally distinct colonized peoples, many of whom aspire to autonomy.
~ Mirror for Humanity, Professor Conrad Phillip Kottak

These sources all agree that the defining factor of an indigenous people is this: that their connection to a land is the first, or at any rate, predates that of any other people. Even when anthropology texts import (or more often, simply cite without adoption) the warped opinions of the UN, mentioning minority status, they invariably qualify the description with terms like "typically" and "often." For example:

  • Indigenous peoples, according to the guidelines laid down by the United Nations, are defined as groups that have a long-standing connection with their home territiories, a connection predating colonial or other societies that pravail in that territory (Sanders 1999). The are typically a numerical minority and often have lost the rights to their original territory. The United Nations distinguishes between indigenous peoples and minority ethnic groups such as the Roma, the Tamils of Sri Lanka, and African Americans....
~ Cultural Anthropology, 7th ed., Professor Barbara D. Miller
  • Indigenous societies - peoples who were once independent and have occupied their territories for a long time but are now usually minority groups in larger states.
~ Survey of Anthropology, Bonovillain

Again, the above definitions all put ancient connection with the land as the first and primary part of the definition. The other characteristics are ancillary and descriptive, not prescriptive and essential. Kottak, further above, only cites the UN in the very last chapter, "Global Issues Today," and is quite scathing of such politics in general. And with good reason.

Clearly, the UN is not a valid authority in defining who is indigenous and who is not. Its decisions are based primarily on political considerations, rather than on anthropology and actual scholarship, and this official document is a clear example of this. It shows that they have no official definition, and the UN does whatever the hell they want with no oversight.

To quote them, "an official definition of 'indigenous' has not been adopted by any UN-system body.[...] According to the UN the most fruitful approach is to identify, rather than define indigenous peoples" (emphasis mine). In other words, a committee picks and chooses their favorites.

This opaque, arbitrary approach is completely contrary to the scholarly method appropriate for an encyclopedia. Their opinion should not be cited except in a distinctly secondary role compared to scholarly sources.

Even worse, they brought in a completely unprecedented and unrelated criterion to restrict indigeneity to native peoples who "Form non-dominant groups of society." Hmm. Is this exclusion, prima facie, valid? Obviously, they are trying to exclude somebody. And that stinks of politics.

But enough. I challenge any of you to find a dictionary or anthropology textbook that defines indigenousness this way. I'd be especially interested in such a definition predating the UN Working Group on Indigenous Population's (WGIP) draft guidelines from 1989.

Just as legislation cannot redefine up to be down or make one equal two, legislation can't give and take away indigeneity. That's an inherent part of who a people is, an inalienable birthright. Musashiaharon (talk) 17:17, 22 September 2016 (UTC)

No the point of legislation is to protect that land of non-state ethnic groups to land they were inhabiting before another ethnic group built a state around it. Also onte that of the definitions you have added all except one include mention of status as a colonized minority within a state society. Also the UN does not keep a list of peoples that are or arent indigenous (making your critique of the UN as misguided as it is confused), just as they do not define who are indigenous but provide the criteria through which different world states can implement the category in their legislation.·maunus · snunɐɯ· 06:18, 23 September 2016 (UTC)
I think Maunus's formulation smooth, and fairly solidly grounded. It, like all definitions, fails with particular examples such as the Sentinelese, who have never been occupied, or dominated by a colonial majority. In that case, the addition of a word like 'generally' is advisable. The article has significant inclusions that fail many given definitions. Unless a field is defined with precision, what is to be included or excluded cannot be determined. And that is the problem here.Nishidani (talk) 17:53, 22 September 2016 (UTC)
I don't think there is a significant difference between the scholarly usage and the usage in international legislation. Note that three out of five of the definitions you quoted are of "indigenous", not "indigenous peoples" (they are separate concepts). The other two explicitly define indigenous peoples in relation to colonization, as the UN does. We use the UN definition purely because it provides a clear and concise statement of the common usage of "indigenous peoples" by academics, legislators, indigenous rights organizations and indigenous peoples themselves. An authoritative definition is necessary because of persistent, politically-motivated attempts to apply the etymological fallacy to this and related pages, defining "indigenous peoples" in such a way that it includes pretty much every person on Earth, and therefore rendering our coverage of them worthless. Joe Roe (talk) 18:00, 22 September 2016 (UTC)
I don't think it faisl with regards to the sentinelse whose territory has been incorporated in to the British empire and subsequently into the state of India which considers them a "scheduled tribe".·maunus · snunɐɯ· 06:26, 23 September 2016 (UTC)
@Musashiaharon: I'm also curious as to what peoples you think are being wrongly included/excluded under the current consensus definition. On a list article like this definitions are only important in so far as they determine the scope of the list, so arguing semantics alone is a bit of a waste of time. Joe Roe (talk) 18:13, 22 September 2016 (UTC)
This is not merely a matter of semantics. It has practical import. History has shown time and time again that even the most benevolent of governments will do injustice and bend the law wherever they believe they stand much to gain and little to lose. But first, I will address the issue of etymological meaning. It is true that words do not always follow their original meaning, as they were originally constructed from their donor languages. In our case, "indi" means "inside," similar to "endo," and "genous" means "brought into being." Thus, the meaning "brought into being inside" some region. This is still the meaning used in most every other field of study, including geology, biology, linguistics, and so on. Although the meaning of a word may change, the context of the change is highly significant. This includes the time of the change, in what usage it is being changed, who is changing the meaning, and, finally, what they stood to gain by this modification.
Applied to our case, the attempt to change the word's meaning was in the 80s and early 90s, in the context of international law, by the world governing authority of the time, the UN (Kottak 296). What did they stand to gain from the change? First, they could claim to be in full support of a popular concept, and thus gain the support of the masses and the governments they elect. However, if the UN gave their resolutions "teeth," the member governments would be required to surrender land or power to indigenous groups. So we find that the UN would have been interested in making sure they complied with the letter of their declarations, without actually doing anything concrete about it. So, as governments do, they played games with their definitions to escape real responsibility, with extra insurance that the indigenous peoples, the unpopular kids on the playground, could never raise their heads to take any precious power from the quite lawful and moral-minded elite.
This is not a new story. It's been repeated time and time again in the past, and not just with dictatorships. Even that bastion of freedom, America, has had a dark past, where the founding fathers turned a blind eye towards slavery in the Union with the infamous two-fifths clause, defining non-whites to be worth less than a full white man with regard to the census count. Why? This way, slave states could get themselves extra representatives in the House, without giving their slaves any actual representation via voting rights at all.
Even after the liberation of the slaves after the Civil War, Jim Crow laws kept the newly-"freed" people subdued. Although the law permitted no discrimination on the basis of race in the polling booth, many locales side-stepped the law by the introduction of a "grandfather clause," only permitting a citizen to vote if their grandfather shared that right. This, of course, had the effect of barring any descendants of slaves from voting, and was a thin mask for de jure, or institutionalized racism.
To this day, the concept of disenfranchising political opponents by legal redefinitions lives on in the common practice of gerrymandering. Under this tactic, voting districts are redefined to break up the opposition and concentrate friendly voters to favor the interests of the ruling party. By this artifice, a government can control the outcome of an election, and make a mockery of the foundations of democracy. If done cleverly, no one could catch the ruse without detailed insider knowledge of voting patterns.
Based on knowledge of the above, I have already pointed out how the UN's non-definitive guidelines could be used to deny indigenous peoples their due rights. I'd rather not get embroiled in the controversial details of particular examples at this point. Suffice it to say, it is safe to assume that where a government can exploit loopholes to their advantage without strong opposition, they will.
Yet if you insist on specifics, another issue particular to the previous consensus here is that under the definition followed until now, genocided indigenous peoples may be swept under the rug of history as "no longer relevant." Since these peoples were often left in unmarked graves later desecrated and lost to humanity, the least we can do is to memorialize them here, perhaps in a special section. Maybe their eloquent testimony can guide us to a better future, where would-be mass murderers today are warned that we will vilify them for their deeds, and their victim's voices will never be silenced, for there will always be those who pick up their battle flag and fight for justice. We will preserve this history and not cooperate with any attempt to whitewash the oppressor, but let his name continue to wallow in infamy. So may we be on guard against any future oppressor, foil his plans, and thus preserve justice. Musashiaharon (talk) 05:11, 23 September 2016 (UTC)
Very little of that wall of text has anything to do with writing an encyclopaedia, Musashiaharon. We are not a government, nor are we here to right the great wrongs of governments. The only point of substance you've made is that the current consensus definition may exclude extinct indigenous peoples. I don't see how this is the case and I don't think it's ever actually come up on this page or others related to indigenous peoples. If you would like to add now-extinct indigenous peoples who were victims of genocide, please feel free. But overall you seem to be arguing against us using the UN definition because you have strong opinions on the UN, not because there is anything actually wrong with the definition or because it is affecting our encyclopaedic coverage of indigenous peoples. Joe Roe (talk) 10:30, 23 September 2016 (UTC)
The article already has a precedent for including extinct indigenous peoples, i.e. Beothuk. So that objection, that the articles excludes such peoples, ignores the evidence of the page.Nishidani (talk) 12:20, 23 September 2016 (UTC)
It is true that the list never has followed its definition 100%, this is however hardly a reasonable argument for adopting a definition and inclusion criteria so wide that every known ethnic group could be included (everyone is "indigenous" to somewhere).·maunus · snunɐɯ· 18:52, 23 September 2016 (UTC)
The anthropological definition does not include every known ethnic group. It only permits the earliest known ethnic group of that territory. Any later group claiming that same territory is necessarily a colonizer, not the original inhabitant. Musashiaharon (talk) 19:30, 23 September 2016 (UTC)
I would be fine with that but it gets tricky where ranges overlap. Anyway if there was a more detailed definition along the lines of "descended from the original people (and not migrants/colonizers)" I'd be happy to include it somehow.--Monochrome_Monitor 21:39, 3 October 2016 (UTC)
It looks to me like Macfarlane's and Kottak's definitions above both satisfy your criterion. If we have issues with boundaries, I think we can deal with those better when we have when we have specific examples. Musashiaharon (talk) 04:32, 23 October 2016 (UTC)

But it's not purely biological, and anthropologists certainly don't see it that way. There's the matter of having a culture with continuity to the original inhabitants- including speaking their language, having a derived religious tradition, and traditional knowledge of the land inherited from the original population. Of course this ignores the forces of Christianization and Islamization (and probably other izations). Anyway it's not just a matter of blood-for example mexicans are to a significant extent native american, but are not considered such, whereas the Metis people are partially european, yet are considered indigenous. The difference is one maintained strong ties with the original culture.--Monochrome_Monitor 22:57, 3 October 2016 (UTC) Musashiaharon (talk) 19:30, 23 September 2016 (UTC)

Why the hell is this article in I/P collaboration? I/P is the last thing we need here. --Monochrome_Monitor 22:59, 3 October 2016 (UTC)

Major changes[edit]

@Moxy: Your edit summary said "move project draft here" – can you clarify where it came from? I'm seeing a lot of changes and not all of them appear to be improvements. – Joe (talk) 22:29, 1 March 2017 (UTC)

Northern subarticles[edit]

We currently have two articles that function as near-forks of sections of this list:

Both seem to have originated as sections linked specifically from Template:Cultural areas of indigenous North Americans, but given the unconstrained titles, they have ballooned into lists spilling over into Siberia and Northern Europe. On the other hand, all of their prose content remains specific to North America, and they give no justification for their general existence. Should we either:

  1. merge these lists into this one?
  2. restrict these articles as North America-specific?

--Trɔpʏliʊmblah 18:10, 20 August 2017 (UTC)

Jews are listed again[edit]

This question has been discussed at least three times previously:

and it apparently has to be discussed again because Jews are listed on this page. We have the Martinez-Cobo definition: "Indigenous communities, peoples, and nations are those that, having a historical continuity with pre-invasion and pre-colonial societies that developed on their territories, consider themselves distinct from other sectors of the societies now prevailing in those territories, or parts of them. They form at present non-dominant sectors of society and are determined to preserve, develop, and transmit to future generations their ancestral territories, and their ethnic identity, as the basis of their continued existence as peoples, in accordance with their own cultural patterns, social institutions and legal systems."

Jews in Israel do not qualify because they are dominant. Jews living in other parts of the world does not have a "historical continuity with pre-invasion and pre-colonial societies" to the places they are living in.

Furthermore, according to Judaism the Israelite tribes invaded Canaan which would disqualify them from indigenous status. Much in the same way that Saxons and Normans invaded England and therefore cannot be indigenous to it. There is little archaeological evidence for the [of Canaan], but many religious Jews believe in it and therefore do not self-identify as being indigenous.

The only coherent argument [1] to Jewish indigenousness is presented by Ryan Bellerose, who is an activist and certainly not an expert on indigenous peoples. Articles on Wikipedia should be written using a Neutral Point of View and it is not neutral to claim that Jews are indigenous. Since not a single topic-expert agrees with that characterization.

Palestinians would not qualify either (afaict) and thankfully they are not listed on this page either. ImTheIP (talk) 19:01, 21 September 2017 (UTC)

It appears to be not just Jews. The list is full of errors. Like the Bantu peoples (which I removed) who aren't indigenous at all. Wikipedia has a real problem with list pages like these. If you write some text in an article, then there are supposed to be sources proving that text to be true. But there is no similar safeguard against adding items to list pages. For example, if someone adds X to to this page, then that is equivalent to claiming that X is an indigenous people. But it not required to provide a source, which is silly. I have noticed the same problem on a lot of "list of" pages. ImTheIP (talk) 19:23, 21 September 2017 (UTC)

First, I find your insistence that a Native American who is active in the indigenous rights movement is "not an expert" to be highly problematic. Who is more expert on defining a group than the members of that group? Second, as you belatedly acknowledge the Biblical narrative of the Jewish people conquering the land from assorted other Canaanite tribes is not supported by historical scholars. Third, even if we were to accept the Biblical narrative, it does not contradict Jewish indigenousness; Jews did not come from Egypt, as far as their national origin, even in the Biblical tale - they made a temporary move FROM Canaan, due to a famine, with every intention of returning. So in what way does this not fit with defining Jews as indigenous? The fact that Jews felt a special connection to the land in which their ancestors became a people is part of the definition! Further, the fact that many religious Jews do not use the word "indigenous" when referring to themselves has more to do with the negative connotations long associated with the term, and with Jewish attempts to blend into their diaspora societies, and keep their differences hidden. But ask any religious Jew where the Jewish people come from, and he or she will tell you that they come from Israel; not a single one will tell you that Jews come from Egypt. So your argument is pointless. PA Math Prof (talk) 20:14, 29 October 2017 (UTC)

A quick Google search turns up numerous sources that discuss Jews as indigenous to Palestine [2], and ditto for Palestinians [3]. Most are plainly heavily slanted one way or the other, but ideally this article should provide a source-based outline of all significant views, which may well include the view that Jews or Palestinians are indigenous peoples.
This article is indeed a mess. If someone had the time and inclination, I think it would be a good idea to prune the list of anything remotely controversial/debateable, and only re-add them if their inclusion can be supported by reliable sources. – Joe (talk) 19:33, 21 September 2017 (UTC)
Thank you! I think that too. We have a similar problem over at the article Talk:Stateless_nation#Criteria_for_a_stateless_nation. It includes a list of stateless nations (Stateless_nation#Claims_of_stateless_nations) and people have been adding entries to that list because they think they belong there even though sources do not support them. I tried to fix that, but ran into opposition. I suspect people feel that their hard work is destroyed when "their" entries are removed, so they naturally resist that. ImTheIP (talk) 08:52, 22 September 2017 (UTC)

The "dominant" criteria is problematic in that it essentially precludes indigenous peoples from ever achieving self-determination, at least if they want to keep their status and all of the attendant protections. That makes this article (and subject matter) tricky, to say the least. That being said, Jews are certainly not the dominant sector of society in the West Bank (or Gaza, or Western Jordan), so it still applies to Jews. And I'm fairly certain that the "historical continuity" part means historical continuity with the lands they claim indigeneity to (and Jews do have this, as the sources show).

Lastly, according to the traditional Jewish narrative, the Israelite (and by extension, the Jewish) identity, culture, language, etc were all born and forged in Canaan. They only fought the Canaanites after *returning* from Egypt. Nowhere does it say that they are a foreign born people whose identity and culture were exported through conquest, like the Saxons and Normans. So in that respect, Jews do identify as indigenous and, as far as I can tell, meet virtually all of the criteria for inclusion.2601:84:4502:61EA:9CBC:A986:BF6A:4890 (talk) 11:28, 29 October 2017 (UTC)

Also, inclusion on this list does not require a seal of approval from topic experts. At least, I don't see that criteria being applied anywhere else on this article, so I see little reason to do it here. Reliable sources demonstrating that they meet the accepted definition should be enough (and they are there, last I checked). There's also this ( from a Canadian expert/worker on indigenous issues. 2601:84:4502:61EA:9CBC:A986:BF6A:4890 (talk) 12:29, 29 October 2017 (UTC)

Yes, inclusion does require several things: 1. sources showing that a people is generally considered indigeneous under the definition used by the article. And 2. a consensus among editors that the sources sufficiently demonstrate that the proposed addition reflects the scholarly consensus on the matter.·maunus · snunɐɯ· 12:56, 29 October 2017 (UTC)
I don't see that criteria being applied anywhere else on this article, and for good reason. By this metric, 90 percent of the peoples listed in this article would have to be deleted.2601:84:4502:61EA:9CBC:A986:BF6A:4890 (talk) 17:37, 29 October 2017 (UTC)
You are free to remove any item that you consider not to be sufficiently supported by sources to merit inclusion. But per WP:OTHERSTUFF you cannot use the inclusion of some other dubious item to support the inclusion of another.·maunus · snunɐɯ· 17:55, 29 October 2017 (UTC)
That's not the point. We are supposed to include populations that meet the stated criteria, and whose qualifications can be backed up by reliable sources. Jews and Samaritans fit this bill, as the sources show.2601:84:4502:61EA:9CBC:A986:BF6A:4890 (talk) 18:34, 29 October 2017 (UTC)

It is a ridiculous idea that an indigenous people who regain their self-determination, or those who once again become a majority on their ancestral lands, therefore cease being indigenous. Some people who were personally familiar with Martinez-Cobo said that he included that part of the definition out of Antisemitic feelings, specifically to make it impossible for Jews to apply the definition to themselves. But it is logically inconsistent to define indigenous status that way, because the moment any indigenous people regained control, they would then be stripped of all protections that might allow them to remain in a state of self-determination. PA Math Prof (talk) 20:20, 29 October 2017 (UTC)