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'Iolani School Indigenous Peoples' Day: Who, Where

What is indigenous identity? What does "indigenous" mean?

Terminology & Brief Definitions:


"Indigenous peoples are descendants of the original people or occupants of lands before these lands were taken over or conquered by others. Many indigenous peoples have maintained their traditional cultures and identities (e.g., way of dressing, language and the cultivation of land). Therefore they have a strong and deep connection with their ancestral territories, cultures and identities"
(page 5)


"There is no international agreement on the definition of indigenous peoples. Indigenous peoples decide whether they consider themselves to be indigenous. This is known as self-identification. Indigenous peoples take pride in their identity and are determined to maintain their distinctness as indigenous peoples"
(page 13)


"What makes Indigenous people Indigenous is our connection to the land."
- Rebecca Nagle, Citizen of Cherokee Nation, Episode 2, This Land podcast

There is also conversation in multiple episodes regarding tribal affiliation as political affiliation, not racial.

Feature articles, videos, etc:

"Indigenous derives from the Latin noun indigena (meaning 'native'), which was formed by combining Old Latin indu (meaning 'in' or 'within') with the verb gignere (meaning 'to beget'). Another term that comes from the indigena root is indigene, a word for a plant or animal that lives, grows, or originates in a certain area. Indigene is the older of the two; it has been used in English since the late 16th century, whereas the earliest documented use of indigenous occurred nearly 50 years later. Indigenous is used in scientific contexts to describe organisms and the habitats to which they belong, and in expressly non-scientific contexts, as in 'emotions indigenous to the human spirit.' Most often, however, it's used to describe the native inhabitants of a place."


Names Used to Refer to Original Inhabitants

Indigenous Peoples Tribal Peoples
Native Peoples Indians
First Peoples Native Americans

Did you know?

"Indigenous Peoples: Indigenous peoples use the term ‘peoples’ because it is more closely linked to the inherent recognition of their distinct identity, their possessing both individual human rights and collective rights, as well as their right to self-determination."
(p. 15)

For more information see:

Where are Indigenous Peoples?

"The 370 million indigenous peoples around the world contribute to enriching the world’s cultural and linguistic diversity"
(page 33)

"Indigenous Peoples worldwide number between 300-500 million, embody and nurture 80% of the world’s cultural and biological diversity, and occupy 20% of the world’s land surface. The Indigenous Peoples of the world are very diverse. They live in nearly all the countries on all the continents of the world and form a spectrum of humanity, ranging from traditional hunter-gatherers and subsistence farmers to legal scholars. In some countries, Indigenous Peoples form the majority of the population; others comprise small minorities. Indigenous Peoples are concerned with preserving land, protecting language and promoting culture. Some Indigenous Peoples strive to preserve traditional ways of life, while others seek greater participation in the current state structures. Like all cultures and civilizations, Indigenous Peoples are always adjusting and adapting to changes in the world. Indigenous Peoples recognize their common plight and work for their self-determination; based on their respect for the earth.

Despite such extensive diversity in Indigenous communities throughout the world, all Indigenous Peoples have one thing in common - they all share a history of injustice. Indigenous Peoples have been killed, tortured and enslaved. In many cases, they have been the victims of genocide. They have been denied the right to participate in governing processes of the current state systems. Conquest and colonization have attempted to steal their dignity and identity as indigenous peoples, as well as the fundamental right of self-determination."

"Pacific Islanders refer to those whose origins are the original peoples of Polynesia, Micronesia, and Melanesia. Polynesia includes Hawaii (Native Hawaiian), Samoa (Samoan), American Samoa (Samoan), Tokelau (Tokelauan), Tahiti (Tahitian), and Tonga (Tongan). Micronesia includes Guam (Guamanian or Chamorro), Mariana Islands (Mariana Islander), Saipan (Saipanese), Palau (Palauan), Yap (Yapanese), Chuuk (Chuukese), Pohnpei (Pohnpeian), Kosrae (Kosraean), Marshall Islands (Marshallese), and Kiribati (I-Kiribat). Melanesia includes Fiji (Fijian), Papau New Guinea (Papua New Guinean), Solomon Islands (Solomon Islander), and Vanuatu (Ni-Vanuatu)."
Defining Diaspora: Asian, Pacific Islander, and Desi Identities | California State Univ. San Marcos citing
SEARAC, Southeast Asian American Statistical Profile, 2004;;


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See also, Library Bill of Rights.