The UNESCO Courier issue on indigenous languages and knowledge


2019 marked the International Year of Indigenous Languages with 900 events hosted by 77 countries. The message is clear: we must leave no one behind. Our unique experiences create our unique stories.

These new steps are crucial for peacebuilding and sustainable development. Our commitment to them will be vital in protecting our cultural and natural heritage worldwide.

We invite you to discover the UNESCO Courier issue dedicated to indigenous languages and other stakes of the communities that speak them.

In the Philippines, for example, the government has launched the use of mother tongues in schools, but no resources are available in terms of teachers and learning materials to allow for indigenous children to be taught in their mother tongues. It is a similar situation on Easter Island, where Rapa Nui is being swallowed up at a dizzying speed by Spanish, with significant negative consequences on the community’s values.

This survival of the languages also depends on the media, but indigenous media in Latin America, for example, have many problems to overcome, in spite of favourable national legislation. In Africa, it is precisely national legislation that is lacking, while at the regional level countries formally commit themselves to defending the rights of indigenous peoples.

In Canada, the Siku project demonstrates the ability of Inuit to combine the oldest knowledge with the most modern technologies. Wapikoni, another Canadian project, helps First Nations youth to flourish through audio-visual creation.

The Courier reviews issues related to indigenous languages and knowledge in other latitudes as well: among Fijians in the Pacific, the Dong in China, the Sámi in Swedish Lapland, the Bahima in Uganda, the Maori in New Zealand and the Mixtec in Mexico.

Read the full issue of the UNESCO Courier