Through out the world today it is widely recognized that indigenous peoples are among the most disadvantaged and vulnerable. It is estimated that there are 300 to 500 million indigenous people in the world, representing over 5,000 languages and cultures on every continent. Indigenous Peoples, in their closely dependent relationships to their environment, often state that they have guardianship of the earth – their terrestrial mother, the giver of all life. Expressed another way, they feel they are the spiritual landlords of nations, while the governing, or political landlords are usually not indigenous.
Today, many indigenous peoples are engaged in a struggle to remain on their lands and retain their right to their natural resources. Other indigenous peoples have long since been removed from their lands, denied their languages and traditional ways, and consequently been left impoverished.