Issues Facing Indigenous Peoples

A series on issues facing indigenous peoples around the world

Many of the following reports bear remarkable similarity as indigenous communities around the world are struggling to defend their territories, their health and their cultural identity. 

The Northern Frisians

Classified by Unesco as severely endangered and spoken only by around 10,000 people you would think a “model” democracy like Germany would pull out all the stops to support Northern Frisian. But Welsh and Scottish Gaelic enjoy much more government help. Here is me singing the “national” anthem of Oorem/ Amrum island. I hope this little video increases awareness (sorry for the wind noise at the start).

The state of the Frasch (Northern Frisian) language: Since recording this video on the island of Oomrem/ Amrum I have found out that you can do an A-level/ Higher in Frisian only in one (1) high school situated on Feer/ Föhr. A very brief overview of the current situation:

As part of my report on the German general election I interviewed the candidate for the Danish and Frisian minority for parliament, Stefan Seidler, where he explains that the Frisian language and culture have no continued funding, but rely on project funding, which he hopes to change. For the first time in 60 years his party, the SSW is represented in the German parliament, the Bundestag. (“An Là” on BBC ALBA, 24/9/21) in Gaelic.

Canada’s Supreme Court recently granted the Sinixt hunting rights in their traditional territory. Some celebrated this as a reversal of the declaration of extinction of the Sinixt people by Canada in the 1950ies. But others say it’s not, as they still don’t have land rights. As seen on “An Là” on BBC ALBA on 1/6/21 (Sinixt territory footage by Ali Kazimi).

Is it possible to revive a dead language? The Wampanoag language had died in the 19th century, but with the help of an old Bible (and other documents) they have reconstructed it and are now teaching classes. There are said to be around 10 fluent speakers so far. An exhibition about their culture has opened in Plymouth. An Là News on BBC ALBA (22/5/21).

Indigenous peoples in Peru are feeling threatened by oil, mining and logging companies grabbing their lands. Their cultural identity is also softening. An Là News on BBC Alba (7/1/20)

The language and way of life of the Sakha people of Siberia is under threat. One of the challenges is climate change which also threatens their identity. An Là News on BBC ALBA (18/11/20) 

Illegal mining destroys Canaima World Heritage Site in Venezuela and threatens indigenous Pemon people. An Là News on BBC ALBA (31/8/20) 

Indigenous tribes of Colombia fighting for their ancestral lands in the Sierra Nevada de Santa Marta endangered by mining. An Là News on BBC ALBA (20/07/20). Lockdown broadcasting: Created from Zoom interviews and User Generated Content 

In the Year of Indigenous Languages (2019) I scrutinised the state of the indigenous languages of the United Kingdom in five reports over one week

Scots is one of two indigenous languages of Scotland alongside Gaelic. It has a history as a literary language and dialects of it are today spoken mostly in the Lowlands and Northern Isles. An Là News on BBC ALBA (18/11/19).


Cymraeg/ Welsh is widely considered to be a successful example of language revitalisation efforts. An Là News on BBC ALBA (19/11/19).

Kernewek/ Cornish is a language once considered dead has again got hundreds of fluent speakers. An Là News on BBC ALBA (20/11/19).

Gaelg/ Manx is another language that was once extinct and is now experiencing increasing popularity. An Là News on BBC ALBA (21/11/19).

Gaeilge/ Irish is one of the most popular minority languages worldwide is Irish. An Là News on BBC ALBA (22/11/19).

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