Link to declaration:


Especially some points concerning protection of traditional indigenous culture, including its proper access to media may sound very pleasing to any traditionalist.

"States shall take effective measures to ensure that State-owned media duly reflect indigenous cultural diversity."

(The point is not whether the media shows an excessive amount of Hollywood stuff and not any... well, for example druid rituals, but whether in general he could demand that)

At first it sounded a bit funny to me, but later I started to wonder which objective criteria would make the European population non-indigenous for the purpose of this declaration. Technically speaking Europeans have been inhabiting their home lands longer than for example Maori. So are there any criteria that would exclude Europeans from such protection or sooner or later some traditionalist (or neo-pagan) may try to invoke rights from this declaration?

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    I believe that cultural minorities such as the endangered small local languages (en.wikiversity.org/wiki/Endangered_languages_of_Europe) are using similar acts to argue for cultural protection, but I'm not sure if this one has been applied.
    – Peteris
    Jul 21, 2019 at 19:50
  • Even if the declaration weren't worded carefully enough to exclude undeserving people, those who enforce it know very well who's deserving, and they have all the latitude the need to make that call. Jul 22, 2019 at 13:52
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    @EdPlunkett The approach that 'those who enforce [rule] know very well who's deserving' is one that has been around for centuries. The important part is some accountability for the consequences of their choices. Jul 22, 2019 at 15:06
  • @LioElbammalf Given Brexit and Trump and nationalists dishonestly trying to take advantage of human rights law, it's pretty clear we need to focus on accountability and consquences for the voters. Jul 22, 2019 at 15:18
  • @EdPlunkett Are you suggesting that this issue is selectively enforced based on whim of people in power? Because in general this type of selective enforcement could lead group denied their rights to work against such political order... And you know at least cast some not fully considered protest votes in elections or referenda...
    – Shadow1024
    Jul 22, 2019 at 18:49

3 Answers 3


The Wikipedia article on indigenous peoples contains various definitions. There are basically two key ideas:

  1. The indigenous population is culturally distinct from the prevailing society in the region.
  2. There is historical continuity from something that predates the prevailing society to the indigenous group.

For the most part, ethnic Europeans living in Europe are not indigenous, because they belong to the prevailing society. The Basque, Sámi, Samoyedic, and Komi peoples are generally considered indigenous, because they are distinct minorities with cultural continuity from prehistoric times.

Celtic, Germanic, and Slavic peoples assimilated into the mainstream culture with the spread of Christianity during the Middle Ages. While there are attempts to resurrect their old customs, those groups should not be considered indigenous due to the lack of historical continuity.

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    However, ethnic Europeans living in Europe are often called "indigenous" by extremist organisations who think they are becoming a persecuted minority. Words don't have fixed unchangeable meanings - they mean whatever the people who use them think they mean.
    – alephzero
    Jul 20, 2019 at 23:06
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    Note that this means that once native Europeans become a minority in a given country (inevitable at current immigration and birth rates), they will become indigenous... Jul 21, 2019 at 2:24
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    @JonathanReez If you project that all lines continue as today. But we know that education cuts birth rates for instance.
    – vidarlo
    Jul 21, 2019 at 10:02
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    That's bizarre, by this definition populations constrained to reservations or living traditionally are not indigenous because they are the prevailing society? Native is not indigenous?
    – mckenzm
    Jul 22, 2019 at 0:26
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    @Tom Historical continuity until the present day. I'm from Finland myself, and from our point of view 1100 AD is prehistory. Paganism was still widespread in the 18th century, but eventually it disappeared. Jul 22, 2019 at 19:26

You seem to use "traditionalist" to mean "pagan". However, the religious beliefs of the indigenous Europeans are principally Christian. The traditional beliefs of the Europeans are for the most part Christian.

The State Media of the various countries are required to "reflect indigenous cultural [not only religious] diversity" So in the UK, the "state media" (the BBC) run TV and Radio stations in Welsh and Scots Gaelic, and have regional news which can give a local view of the news.

Moreover, the indigenous culture is amply provided for. Indigenous sports like football, cricket and tennis are featured prominently on TV. There is regular religous broadcasting of the native religion in TV and radio shows like "Songs of Praise", or "Sunday Evensong", and the local tribal leaders get air time for "Questions to the Prime Minster" and "The Christmas address to the Commonwealth".

There is protection for indigenous cultural diversity. That doesn't apply to a system of religious beliefs that had completely vanished 1000 years ago, even if a small number of people are trying to revive it. That is completely different from the position of the Maori.


State-Owned Media

Many European states have a stronger tradition of public radio and TV stations than e.g. the United States (where the PBS is very much a niche channel). The British BBC or the German ARD are much more visible in public life.

Then there are some East European states which are accused of sliding into authoritarianism. A highly controversial topic, but let me simply say that public broadcasting is rather strong in some of these.

Minority Populations

In Germany, the Sorbs, the Frisians and the Danes are recognized as protected minority populations, with special laws protecting their way of life. For instance, there are multi-lingual road signs, and Sorbs can use their language in court.

The key thing for recognition seems to be

  • a distinct ethnic group in a compact settlement area,
  • which has been around for several centuries, and
  • which did not manage to get itself a nation-state.

What this means

The public broadcasters are supposed to use their budget to subsidize programming for minority populations that could not be financed by advertising revenue alone in a free market.

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