Indigenous peoples are the inheritors and practitioners of distinct cultures and methods of interacting with others and the environment. They have kept unique social, cultural, economic, and political traits from the dominant societies in which they dwell. Indigenous peoples are those who reside in an area but whose origins are not related to the current inhabitants of that area. For example, indigenous peoples include the creators of ancient civilizations, such as the Egyptians and Mesopotamians; original occupants of the New World; and modern immigrants from Europe or their descendants.
Indigenous peoples are found in almost every part of the world. Although they may not use the term itself, most agree that Native Americans are indigenous to North America.
There are several different terms used to describe individuals belonging to a particular nation or people: native-born/native citizen, native speaker, native language speaker, indigene, indigenous person, first nations person, tribal member. Many countries have laws protecting indigenous people from being unilaterally declared non-indigenous by government officials or other organizations without their free and informed consent. The United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples states that "indigenous peoples have rights based on their own self-determination," including the right to freely determine their own identity.
In addition to having rights based on self-determination, indigenous people also have rights based on historical preservation.
Indigenous peoples are the keepers and practitioners of distinct traditions and ways of life. Forests provide a living for almost 70 million indigenous women and men, and many more are farmers, hunter-gatherers, or pastoralists. These societies flourish by coexisting with their surroundings. They don't try to transform them into something different.
The world's first economy was based solely on hunting and gathering. By modern standards, this would be called "survival mode". But ancient people were capable of much more. The Inuit in northern Canada and Alaska depend on wildlife for most of their food needs. However, about 8% of their diet comes from cultivated plants. The Yanomami Indians of Brazil and Venezuela have always lived in close contact with the environment, so they've developed ways to get food that other people don't know about. For example, they know how to extract oil from seeds and nuts that grows in trees only accessible by climbing these trees.
People who live in rural areas often have better jobs than those in cities because they can use their knowledge of nature to hunt or farm. Indigenous people usually aren't in need of employment because they have always had roles as teachers or healers which serve communities rather than individual families. But when Europeans arrived in North America, they brought with them new technologies which allowed for greater production of commodities like sugar or cotton. These became important for generating income beyond what natural resources could offer alone.
Indigenous communities, peoples, and countries are those who, because of their historical links to pre-invasion and pre-colonial societies that originated on their territories, consider themselves separate from other sectors or sections of the society that presently exist on those lands. This definition includes those groups of people who, because of economic or political reasons, have been forced to move away from their traditional lands; however, it does not include groups who have migrated to a region with the intention of establishing a new life for themselves without any connection to the original inhabitants of the land.
In addition to having distinct identities within modern society, many indigenous communities also maintain connections to ancient cultures. They may use traditional languages or dialects instead of English in public affairs or commerce, and some still practice certain rituals and ceremonies. In some cases, they may even wear traditional clothing or use traditional weapons in battle.
Although most indigenous people live in underdeveloped regions of the world, some highly industrialized countries have significant populations of indigenous people living within their borders. Canada has the largest population of indigenous people in the Western hemisphere with over 5 million people, mostly descendants of the First Nations, Inuit, and Métis nations who originally inhabited what is now called Canada. The United States has the second largest population with approximately 4 million people, mostly descendants of the Native Americans who originally inhabited what is now called the United States.
The term "indigenous" refers to individuals or artifacts that are indigenous to a certain place or environment. They may grow, reside, be manufactured, or occur naturally at that location. Humans have had an impact on all geographical features, and many of them are not native to their current locations. For example, Columbus discovered America by accident when he landed in the Bahamas looking for India. However, because these foreigners are dominant over other species, they are considered native.
Geographically, indigenous things can be plants, animals, or minerals. Plant and animal immigrants from elsewhere in the world are common but rare fossils indicate that some prehistoric organisms were endemic (native) to North America. Minerals such as gold and silver were first discovered in North America and not imported from outside sources. Although oil is sometimes called a mineral, it is actually produced by plants and bacteria so it is not indigenous to Earth by this definition.
Oil, gas, and other mineral deposits often contain elements that are not found together in any significant amounts in other places. For example, most of the zinc on Earth is found in rocks formed during the evolution of the planet's crust. However, much of it is also contained in hydrocarbons extracted from ancient sea beds. This shows that those deposits contain elements that were present then, but are not currently found together.