Culture and HR Lesson 6 Global Issues in Human Rights: Indigenous Peoples
Culture and HR Lesson 6 Global Issues in Human Rights: Indigenous Peoples

This lesson focuses on the most recent development in international human rights, which is the formal recognition of human rights for indigenous peoples.  This lesson begins with an overview of the UN Declaration On The Rights Of Indigenous Peoples (UNDRIP), followed by a discussion of what the UNDRIP means, and then turns to the first international court to make use of the UNDRIP in rendering a verdict.

Relevant Objectives
1 Identify and describe the main instruments and mechanisms of the international human rights regime, and the global causes to which these instruments respond.
2 Discuss the relation between culture, humanity, and rights.
3 Discuss the problems of cultural universality and diversity in regards to implementing human rights at the international, national, and local scales.
4 Understand the global significance and controversies of human rights in the 21st century.


Possible Classroom Activities

  • Culture and HR Lesson 6 Introduction (0) Opening question: Why do indigenous peoples need human rights agreements and laws that protect their interests?
  • Culture and HR Lesson 6 Discussion on UNDRIP (0) Students should read the UNDRIP before class. In class, discuss the major tenets of the agreement and reasons why states opposed this agreement.
  • Culture and HR Lesson 6 Case Study (0) Break into small groups to work on problems related to extending human rights to Indigenous peoples. Use either the Ruge or Dadigan readings, one of the optional resources, or the movie “Rabbit Proof Fence.”
  • Culture and HR Lesson 6 Activity on Indigenous Rights (0) Ask students to search the Internet for different perspectives on human rights and have them compare and contrast three student perspectives on human rights? What role does culture play in their response to the question “What do human rights mean to you?”. How would your response differ from theirs, and why? What human rights ...


Optional Resources

  • Anaya, S. J. (2008) “Reparations for Neglect of Indigenous Land Rights at the Intersection of Domestic and International Law-The Maya Cases in the Supreme Court of Belize” in Reparations for Indigenous Peoples: International and Comparative Perspectives, edited by F. Lenzerini.  New York: Oxford University Press.
  • Grandia, L. (2009) “Milpa Matters: The Maya Community of Toledo versus the Government of Belize” in Waging War, Making Peace: Reparations and Human Rights, edited by Johnston, B. R. & Slymovics, S.  Walnut Creek, CA: Left Coast Press.
  • Indigenous Peoples and the United Nations Vol.1. (2006) UN PFII. Retrieved from:  (25 minutes)
  • Niezen, R. (2000). “Introduction” The Origins of Indigenism: Human Rights and the Politics of Identity.    Berkeley: University of California Press.
  • Keating, N. B. (2007), “UN General Assembly Adopts the Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, 144-4.  Anthropology News (48):8.