Real Leaders

9 Photographs That Celebrate Indigenous Culture

In an age of accelerated change, technology and consumerism, it’s easy to forget that ancient, indigenous cultures still have relevant wisdom to share. Remaining open to insights and rituals beyond our own culture, can give us valuable lessons on how to deal with difficult times, and how to live more in harmony with Earth’s natural resources. Here are 9 photographs from the United Nations that celebrate indigenous culture.

United Nations Secretary-General António Guterres (above, left) is greeted in the traditional Maori style of “hongi” — pressing noses together and touching foreheads — during a welcome ceremony upon his arrival to New Zealand. Guterres traveled to the South Pacific to spotlight the issue of climate change ahead of the Climate Action Summit in 2019 in New York. The trip took him to New Zealand, Fiji, Tuvalu, and Vanuatu. In each country, he met with government leaders, civil society representatives, and youth groups to hear from those already impacted by climate change and successfully engage in meaningful climate action.

The group Sjisäwishék “Keeping the fire strong,” indigenous girls of the Onondaga Nation, Haudenoaunee Confederacy, perform at the opening of the eighteenth substantive session of the Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues themed “Traditional knowledge: Generation, transmission and protection.”

A participant at the opening of the Permanent Forum’s eighteenth substantive session on Indigenous Issues themed “Traditional knowledge: Generation, transmission, and protection.”

Grand Chief Wilton Littlechild (seated) speaks with Chief Perry Bellegarde, Assembly of First Nations (center), and Chief Tadodaho Sidney Hill of the Onondaga Nation, ahead of the High-level event of the General Assembly on the conclusion of the 2019 International Year of Indigenous Languages.

A participant at the World Conference on Indigenous Peoples, held at the UN Headquarters.

Members of a Maasai traditional singing group, Kenya.

Two members of the Quileute Nation displaying the intricate patterns of their button blankets during the Qatuwas Festival of the indigenous nations of the Pacific Rim.

Then Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, travelled to Greenland in 2014 to see first-hand the impacts of climate change. Together with the Prime Ministers of Denmark and Greenland, he visited the town of Uummannaq, where they hoisted flags, observed a prayer ceremony in a local church, went dog sledding; and met with indigenous people. 

Descendace Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Dance Theatre of Australia performs the opening presentation at the opening ceremony of a cultural exhibition entitled “Indigenous Peoples: Honouring the Past, Present and Future”, held at UN Headquarters

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