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Definition: Indigenous and tribal peoples


Indigenous and tribal peoples in independent countries are defined as those who:

(1) are regarded as indigenous on account of their descent from the populations which inhabited the country, or a geographical region to which the country belongs, at a time of conquest or colonization or the establishment of present state boundaries and who, irrespective of their legal status, retain some or all of their own social, economic, cultural and political institutions;

(2)  are tribal peoples whose social, cultural and economic conditions distinguish them from other sections of the national community, and whose status is regulated wholly or partly by their own customs or traditions or by special laws and regulations.  

For both categories (1) and (2) self-identification as indigenous or tribal shall be regarded as the fundamental criterion for determining the groups. (Source: ILO Convention No. 169 on "indigenous and tribal peoples").
Economic Commission for Europe of the United Nations (UNECE)/ Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), Terms and Definitions, "Temperate and Boreal Forest Resources Assessment 2000", United Nations, July 1997