International Indigenous People Day: Empowering Indigenous People

This is my artwork of an indigenous woman.

Today is a day entirely for celebrating indigenous people and their unique cultures. Indigenous people lead very amusing lives, something I'm quite keen about as personally, I find learning about cultures quite fascinating, especially under-represented and unheard ones. Indigenous people have quite a history too, dating back thousands of years. They are found in over 90 countries, speak 4000 of the world's languages and there are 476 million of them in this world!

In my country, Bangladesh, the main ethnic groups are Garo, Marma, Shawtal, Monipuri and Tripura. Bangladeshi tribes either have the same or similar languages or a completely different set of linguistics, that only its respected tribe can understand.

Some tribes, such as the Garo are matriarchal (women make important decisions), while others, like the Marma are patriarchal (men make important decisions), but there is no gender discrimination in these tribes. These tribes often live in cities rather than rural areas and contrary to popular belief, they don't wear attire we often expect tribal people to wear, but their rural counterparts often wear the traditional clothing. They also know Bengali, besides the language of their tribe.

The most renowned tribal people have to be the Native Americans, indigenous people of the USA. They are often depicted in movies and TV, but not in a positive way. In fact, they are often depicted as violent and those that kill non-indigenous people or people outside their tribe. At some points in history, they were actually brutally killed by their non-tribal counterparts. In reality, despite looking intimidating, they are quite peaceful. They often put on clothing and headgear decorated with feathers for special events, like religious festivals or gatherings.

We all actually lead quite luxurious lives compared to tribal people. While we live in urban areas, they reside in rural ones as they love nature and all things natural. They also live in small, hut-like houses that are very breathable too. They often hunt, pick fruits and grow vegetables for meals. Although this way of life is less common now than in ancient times, it's still there. They also don't have modern technological advancements like the AC, ceiling fans, refrigerators, heaters and gadgets as they live in a natural atmosphere. As they don't live their lives like we do, they are often looked down upon and discriminated against.

People often find tribal people unusual and uncultured due to their lifestyles. However, they aren't uncultured as they can create the best medicines and are quite advanced at medical fields. They are not given the same opportunities we are as people still think of them as 'savages'! This stigma has lead to riots and extreme discrimination.

Their ways of life are quite different than ours but that doesn't make them any less human. At times, they may also find OUR lifestyles quite unusual too. Don't hate, don't discriminate. And for everyone with indigenous ancestry, be PROUD of of your culture, it is colorful and unique, like any other culture! Embrace your heritage, everyone! Be yourselves!

Embrace your differences, don't hide them.
Visual arts