IATE Term of the Week – International Day of the World’s Indigenous People



We are sure you all know that on the 9th August the International Day of the World’s Indigenous People is celebrated. Right?

So, for those of you who may not be quite aware of that, here’s some useful information. After reading this post, you will no longer be afraid of having an insightful conversation on the topic.

The word “indigenous” actually dates back to the middle of the 17th century, and has a Latin origin: indigena, meaning native. Recent estimates show that there are more than 370 million indigenous people spread across 70 countries worldwide, making up more than 5,000 distinct people – that’s actually 5% of the world’s population. However, indigenous people are among the most vulnerable. According to a UN Factsheet on Indigenous Issues, they are “practicing unique traditions, [and therefore retaining] social, cultural, economic and political characteristics that are distinct from those of the dominant societies in which they live”.

Due to their particularly delicate situation, where they constantly face challenges to preserve their own identity, the idea to celebrate the International Day of the World’s Indigenous People arose out of the United Nations General Assembly, back in 1994. Back then it was proclaimed to celebrate this International Day every year during the first International Decade of the World’s Indigenous People (1995 – 2004). A second International Decade, from 2005 – 2014, has been proclaimed in the meantime.

This year’s International Day of the World’s Indigenous People focuses on the topic of ‘Bridging the gap: implementing the rights of indigenous peoples’, and it aims to “highlight the importance of implementing the rights of indigenous peoples through policies and programmes at both the national and international level”.

But there’s more to it! Later this year, on the 22-23 September, the 1st World Conference on Indigenous People will be held at the UN Headquarters, in New York. This is pretty much a sign that it is considered a hot topic and that something is being done to defend the rights of indigenous peoples – though we all know that there’s still a long way to go.

At the Terminology Coordination Unit of the European Parliament, TermCoord, we care about language issues, so we could not finish this article without mentioning that on the 13th September 2007, the United Nations adopted the Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous People, which includes language rights. This has definitively been an important step towards the preservation of indigenous people identity, since languages cannot be dissociated from it.


CaptureWe invite you to suggest the equivalent terms in the missing EU languages, or alternatives to the existing term in your language if you consider the proposed term inaccurate. Provide your answer with a reliable reference and an accurate definition and/or context if possible.

A terminologist for the language in question will revise your answer and decide whether to validate them. Given the implications of the process, a delay is to be expected.







Ana Rita Remígio, PhD

Researcher at the Centro de Linguística of the New university of Lisbon and at the Centro de Línguas, Literaturas e Culturas of the University of Aveiro
Trainee at TermCoord

Mariel Müller

Master student in Terminology and Language Engineering at Cologne University of Applied Science
Study Visitor at TermCoord

Soraia Monteiro
Master student in Terminology and Specialized Information at Universidade Nova de Lisboa (FCSH-UNL)
Trainee at TermCoord