Opinion: Indigenous people must continue to be represented

" Linguists at the Living Tongues Institute for Endangered Languages estimate that on average, a native language disappears every two weeks as elders in these cultures die, taking the last remnants of that spoken dialect with them. In 2008, the last fluent elder of Eyak died, a language spoken in the Gulf of Alaska region. That language as the tribe knew it is gone forever.

Many indigenous tribes suffer from first-world contact in numerous ways. The International Labour Organization Convention No. 169 was established in 1989 as an international law designed to protect tribal peoples across the world, but only 22 nations have ratified it. Field researchers at the organization Survival for Tribal Peoples work to protect these tribes from settlers wishing to mine, drill and log in these remote forests. The threats to their native lands include threats from first contact by non-native individuals — many of us are immune to the diseases we carry in our systems such as influenza and chicken pox. After the Matis tribe of Brazil was first contacted, its population fell by half; many young and elderly tribe members suffered from pneumonia and died."

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Kaley LaQuea: Indigenous people must be represented (Central Florida Future 11/5)

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