2.1 A look into the Indigenous world

Present on all continents, there are more than 320 million Indigenous people, accounting for 5 per cent of the world’s population. However, Indigenous peoples account for 75 per cent of the world's population living in conditions of great poverty. Conflicts over land and natural resources, discrimination and exclusion, human rights violations and the extinction of traditional cultures are evident from Greenland to the Americas, Africa and Indonesia, and they greatly affect the indigenous peoples.

The United Nations Report on Indigenous Peoples reveals an alarming situation. In the United States, an indigenous person is 600 times more likely to contract tuberculosis than the general population, and is 62 per cent more likely to commit suicide. In Australia, an indigenous child is likely to die 20 years before his or her non-native counterpart. While the difference in life expectancy in Nepal is also 20 years, in Guatemala, the difference in life expectancy is 13 years, and in New Zealand it is 11. At the same time, forced displacement and systematic extermination are some of the offenses committed daily against Indigenous peoples. In this context, digital exclusion has only accentuated mechanisms of isolation, oppression and exclusion of these populations.

Against this backdrop, technological progress represents many positive possibilities. The Internet, radio and television are some of the opportunities that Indigenous peoples now often enjoy. These new media have been employed as instruments to denounce violence and abuse, to support cohesion, and to strengthen and promote the appreciation of their cultures. Therefore, the involvement of original peoples in the Information Society is embedded in their use and adoption of ICTs. There are clear signs that the “digital divide” can turn into a “digital opportunity”.