Each year, 9 August is observed globally as International Day of the World’s Indigenous Peoples. It’s a day to reflect on the challenges Indigenous peoples face all over the world and to take steps toward promoting and protecting their rights. The event recognizes and honours their achievements, and it’s also a great time to reflect on and celebrate Indigenous culture, tradition, and heritage.

Read on to learn more about the International Day of the World’s Indigenous Peoples.


History & Theme

In December 1994, the United Nations General Assembly decided to mark every 9 August as International Day of the World’s Indigenous Peoples. The date is significant as it marks the first meeting – back in 1982 – of the UN Working Group on Indigenous Populations.

Each year, the day has a different theme and a different focus for discussion. This year’s theme is Leaving no one behind: Indigenous peoples and the call for a new social contract. The focus is on developing a new social contract that considers Indigenous peoples’ forms of governance and ways of life, created on the principles of free, prior and informed consent, as well as genuine and inclusive participation and partnership.


Anangu Communities Foundation two girls
two indigenous men

Why It's Important

Currently, more than 70 per cent of the world’s population lives in countries with income and wealth inequality, in addition to the typically higher poverty rates and other socio-economic disadvantages many Indigenous peoples already face. For people in these circumstances, it can be more challenging to access vital services like healthcare, education, and justice services.

As part of its 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, the UN is working towards the eradication of poverty and reducing those inequalities. An important part of this work is listening to Indigenous voices, welcoming and encouraging them to participate in the social contract creation.


Quick Facts

  • Indigenous peoples around the globe speak a majority of the world’s estimated 7,000 languages.
  • There are 5,000 different Indigenous cultures globally.
  • At one point in Australia, it’s believed there were more than 300 different Indigenous languages used, with nearly 700 additional dialects.
  • Today, 25-50 of those Indigenous languages are considered “healthy”, meaning they are spoken to children and frequently used.
  • Pitjantjatjara – one of the most common dialects spoken by the Anangu – has been spoken for centuries but only in writing for less than 100 years.
  • According to the UN, Indigenous peoples make up less than five per cent of the world’s population, but 15% of the poorest globally.



Indigenous Experiences at Ayers Rock Resort and Mossman Gorge Centre

Voyages Indigenous Tourism Australia operates properties in regions of Australia with strong Indigenous populations, including the Anangu local to Uluru, in the Red Centre, and the Kuku Yalanji, who live around Mossman Gorge. Through organisations like the Anangu Communities Foundation, Voyages supports development of these communities, and funds raised are used in areas such as health care, children’s programs, and education. The National Indigenous Training Academy provides educational and employment opportunities for Indigenous people, who often end up building long-term, successful careers at Voyages while acquiring transferable skills in a number of growing industries.

More than 40% of the workforce at Voyages is Indigenous and we’re excited to be able to share authentic, immersive educational experiences with our guests to introduce them to local cultures and help foster a deeper understanding and respect for our Indigenous neighbours.

At Ayers Rock Resort, many Indigenous experiences are free of charge, and all guests are encouraged to check out one – or all – of these offerings! A great place to start is Bush Yarns, a 30-minute tour during which you’ll see Anangu men’s traditional hunting weapons and women’s tools for gathering bush tucker in the desert. Listen to local legends and stories – you might even pick up a word or two of Pitjantjatjara along the way!

Feeling hungry for knowledge and dinner? The Sacred Sites & Sunset BBQ is for you – learn about the beliefs of Uluru’s traditional owners and discover the significance of Aboriginal rock paintings and sacred sites before savoring a delectable BBQ meal under the sparkling, starry sky.  

If you’re in Queensland, the Mossman Gorge Centre’s Ngadiku Dreamtime Walks are a wonderful way to get familiar with the local Kuku Yalanji culture and explore the world’s oldest living rainforest at the same time. Ngadiku means “stories and legends from a long time ago” in Kuku Yalanji language, and you’ll get just that during this immersive guided tour – see culturally significant sites, experience a traditional “smoking” ceremony, and see customs like making bush soaps and ochre painting in action.

Wherever you are located, please take a few minutes on 9 August to reflect on the contributions Indigenous peoples around the world have made, and continue to make – learn about an Indigenous artist or activist, master an Indigenous greeting (we’ll help you with this one: “Palya” is the Anangu word for both hello and goodbye!), and consider donating to an organisation such as the Anangu Communities Foundation. And, when the time is right, we’d love to introduce you to our local cultures first-hand at Ayers Rock Resort and Mossman Gorge!