Signs of Life :: Human Rights

Chile Recognizes Indigenous Rights

Chile’s senate voted to ratify the International Labor Organization Convention 169, the foremost international policy on indigenous peoples. Introduced in 1989, the binding treaty has so far been ratified by 17 countries.

Revising a 1957 document that stressed assimilation of what were considered transitional cultures, ILO 169 affirms the rights of indigenous peoples to self-identification, self-determination, and self-management. The treaty also recognizes land and resource rights, customary laws and institutions, and traditional economies.

More than 1 million Chileans identify as members of the nation’s indigenous groups.

In April, President Michelle Bachelet responded to pressure from indigenous rights groups with promises to restore some traditional lands, promote direct participation of indigenous people in government, and make consultation and compensation mandatory for public projects on indigenous lands.

— Brooke Jarvis



Santiago, Chile by Juan Pedro Catepillán
Photo by Juan Pedro Catepillán.


Each year in the Fall, thousands of Chile's indigenous citizens march through the streets of Santiago in a spirit of historical resistance and celebration. Picutred here are Mapuche, who make up 87 percent of Chile's indigenous population.


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