are more focused on physical traits, indigeneity is a more complex concept that considers legacy,
heritage and even language.
24 The concepts are similar in that both Indigenous communities and
racial groups can be minority groups within a country.
25 Indigeneity, however, refers to the natural
rights that come with being part of the First Nation people.
Several significant treaties have offered potential definitions of indigeneity, including: the
International Labor Organization (ILO) Convention No. 169 on Indigenous and Tribal Peoples
(1989), that of the World Bank (1991), and the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of
Indigenous Peoples by the General Assembly (2007).
27 The concept can be hard to define and
“something of a mouthful” to explain.
28 Further, common working definitions of Indigeneity, in
contrast to race, combine “subaltern status and first occupancy” as common elements.
these, the “Cobo definition” is generally regarded to be the most widely accepted definition of
30 It states:
Indigenous communities, peoples and nations are those which, having a historical
continuity with pre-invasion and pre-colonial societies that have developed on their
territories, consider themselves distinct from other sectors of the societies now
prevailing in those territories, or parts of them. They form at present non-dominant
Lunch (Sept. 4, 2003),
(explaining the development of the defining of certain world populations as indigenous and the significance of the
classification); Yousef T. Jabareen, Redefining Minority Rights: Successes and Shortcomings of the U.N. Declaration
on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, 18 UC DAVIS J. INT’L L. & POL’Y 119, 125 (2012),
http://jilp.law.ucdavis.edu/issues/volume-18-1/Jabareen_PDF.pdf (discussing definitions of “Indigenous” and
24Erika Sarivaara et al., Who is Indigenous? Definitions of Indigeneity, 1EUR. SCI. J. 371 (2013) (providing definitions
and describing the concept of indigeneity and what it entails).
25By definition, these groups can be ethnic minorities where they are not the majority culture; although this is relative
to each country, its cultural context and the populations of different ethnic and racial groups within that country. See
Ethnic Minority, THE FREE DICTIONARY, http://www.thefreedictionary.com/ethnic+minority (last visited Oct. 5, 2015)
(defining an ethnic minority as, “an ethnic group that is not the dominant one in a particular society”).
26See, e.g., Politics of Indigeneity in the South Pacific: Recent Problems of Identity in Oceania (Erich Kolig and
Hermann Muckler eds., 2002).
27Sarivaara, supra note 21. See The World Bank, Operational Manual: Operational Directive: Indigenous Peoples,
OD 4. 20 1-6 (Sept. 1991); G.A. Res. 61/295, Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples: A Manual for National
Human Rights Institutions (Sept. 13, 2007); Indigenous and Tribal Peoples Convention 169 ILO Jun. 7, 1989,
http://www/ ilo.org/wcmsp5/groups/public/---ed_norm/---normes/documents/publication/wcms_100897.pdf. See,
e.g., Johan Sandberg McGuinne, Indigeneity, Language and Authenticity: Official Definitions of Indigeneity,
https://johansandbergmcguinne.wordpress.com/official-definitions-of-indigeneity/ (last visited Mar. 31, 2015;
Douglas Harper, Indigenous, ONLINE ETYMOLOGY DICTIONARY (2001).
28Jeremy Waldron, Indigeneity? First People and Land Occupancy, 1 N.Z. J. PUB. INT. L. 55, 56 (2003).
29David Roach and Andrea Eagan, The Equivocal Definition of Indigeneity and Ambivalent Government Policy toward
Self-Determination in New Zealand’s Health and Foreign Policy Apparatus, JUNCTURES, 2 (Dec. 2008),
30Yousef T. Jabareen, Redefining Minority Rights: Successes and Shortcomings of the U.N. Declaration on the Rights
of Indigenous Peoples, 18 UC DAVIS J. INT’L L. & POL’Y 119, 126 (2012). See also Jose Martinez-Cobo, Special
Rapporteur on the Study of the Problem of Discrimination Against Indigenous Populations, Final Report, U.N.
ESCOR, Sub-Commission on Prevention of Discrimination and Protection of Minorities, U.N. Doc.
E/CN.4/Sub.2/1986/7Add. 1-4 (1986),
http://undesadspd.org/IndigenousPeoples/LibraryDocuments/Mart%C3%ADnezCoboStudy.aspx (providing the
definition known as the “Cobo definition”).