Defining Indigeneity

There are 370 million indigenous people who represent 5% of the world’s population, according to the United Nations report State of the world’s Indigenous peoples (2009).


That report notes that there is no formal accepted definition of indigeneity.

Definitions of Indigeneity and Aboriginality are complex and challenging for government and even among Aboriginal people themselves. In Australia, there is a trend in government to use the term Indigenous, however, some Aboriginal people prefer to be referred to as Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander, as the term Indigenous can refer to any first peoples anywhere in the world

What we can say is that Indigeneity links people to place, as cultural rights don’t expire and can’t be taken away. A common thread also exists among all Indigenous cultures in the collective responses the people have to one another and the importance of community and co-operation. This contrasts with the Western European world view which prizes individual success and achievement, resulting in security for the successful and leaves those at the margins often in the care of the State.