Indigenous people make up less than 5% of the worlds’ population representing roughly over 350 million people. These people can be found living across 90 countries around the world. Essentially, indigenous people no matter where they live are known to live very close to nature; almost becoming one with it. Most of them seek to etch a living from their rich habitats. They lead highly traditional lives embracing the teachings and practices of their ancestors who lived hundreds of years ago. In modern society, these people tend to be forgotten in every respect; in most cases, they are perceived to be primitive.
These groups of people add spice to modern living. They have flavorful cultures with unparalleled knowledge about their land and environment. It is not easy being indigenous in the modern day, there are myriads of major issues that these people face. Interestingly, most indigenous people of the world face similar challenges. From the Amazonian rain-forest natives to the Aboriginal people of Canada and the Kwei of South Africa, there are major issues that stand out. This article digs into the five major problems faced by native people of the world.
1. The dispossession and encroachment of land
Indigenous land is often blessed with unexploited resources. Some lands are highly productive and expansive. Governments have been accused of annexing massive chunks of native lands for mining purposes or to put up varied infrastructure. In some countries, this land is sold to big companies who engage in practices that put the environment at risk including the natives therein. Sacred lands have been taken; a good example being the sacred mountain Mauna Kea in Hawaii. This land is highly sacred to the native Kanaka Maoli people of Hawaii. On the flip-side, many governments defend their actions by citing the need for modernization and utilizing available resources to create more opportunities. The land issue has led to many indigenous people being stripped of their lands and homes.
2. Limited access to quality healthcare
Research done on many native populations reveal that health care services are a disaster. Many indigenous people do not have access to quality health care. In this respect, native people are more likely to die from disease compared to other populations. Lack of health facilities and qualified personnel in remote places where these people live is a major cause of poor health care. Additionally, governments have not been able to build trust and change mindsets in these populations. As a result, many natives would rather not seek conventional health care because they do not trust it. Some of the most common diseases in indigenous communities include sexually transmitted diseases like HIV, obesity, drug abuse and mental ailments. In fact, suicide rates among natives are increasingly becoming a cause for concern.
3. Poor education framework
Indigenous people still lag behind when it comes to education. In many countries, these people do not have proper facilities or schools to conduct good quality education. In many cases, limited funding from government makes it very difficult to educate people who actually want to learn. The end result is more and more indigenous people who cannot cope with 21st Century problems. In some regions, education policies have not been put in place to accommodate the culture and practices of indigenous people. Illiteracy continues to be a major issue among natives; which makes access to better opportunities hard.
4. Discrimination and violence regarding women
Native or indigenous women continue to bear the blunt of violence and discrimination. Specifically, these women are more likely to face sexual violence, domestic abuse, teen pregnancy, STDs and maternal mortality. In Canada, hundreds of Aboriginal women have disappeared since 1990 and nothing has been done to resolve these cases. In essence, these women are not prioritized and this is where discrimination comes in. All these problems can lead to addiction and anti-social tendencies including suicide.
Many indigenous people have not been officially recognized by their respective governments. Additionally, many natives do not enjoy basic rights even if they are on paper. This has led to disenfranchisement which has brought a wedge between country leaders and their indigenous people. In many countries, natives are always fighting for their basic rights and recognition by federal governments. Rights to retain and promote their native languages, rights for autonomy and native land rights top the list