Indigenous peoples vs. Ethnic Minorities

Not all ethnic minorities can be defined as indigenous peoples

Indigenous peoples, also referred to as native people or aboriginal people, are ethnic groups native to a certain place. Most Indigenous peoples are defined as ethnic minorities in modern society caused by different historical reasons, such as territorial change after war or migration due to disasters. However, not all ethnic minorities can be defined as Indigenous peoples.


Ethnic minorities are groups of people who differ from the dominant group, constituting small part of the population. They could be native to territory or immigrants. Macanese in Macau, Indonesian in Hong Kong and even Chinese in Malaysia can be defined as ethnic minorities but not indigenous peoples, because they immigrate to places with different reasons.


A majority of people living in native lands could be both Indigenous peoples and ethnic minorities, such as Maya peoples, Inca peoples in America, Sámi people in Northern Europe, Batwa in Africa, Ryukyuan people in Asia and Māori people in Oceania.


Even though some indigenous peoples do not live in their homelands, their identities are still recognized due to their beliefs, symbolic meaning, spiritual values, as well as social and economic functions in communities. Thai peoples, Khmer peoples and Champa peoples who accounts for two thirds of total population of Sabah, are recognized the indigenous identity by Malaysia.


By Victoria





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