The word ‘territory’, for example, is an offensive word that can be used to refer to the territories of people of colour, the deaf, the disabled and others.
Yet it’s also a symbol for the colonialist, racist and imperialist powers who were using it as a military and economic tool in order to subjugate Indigenous peoples, the report said.
Indigenous peoples around the world, however, have long fought against the colonial history and its legacy, and the report noted that the current language is being used in a way that contributes to the spread of racism and violence.
The United Nations has a long history of working to protect Indigenous languages and languages and the world has been moving away from the racist use of language to avoid the word, the authors said.
“The term ‘terribleness’ is being applied to the Indigenous languages,” they said.
They cited a survey in the UK in 2015 which found that 40% of people believed Indigenous languages were in danger and that there was a danger of the use of the word “territoriality” in their own communities.
They also noted that, while Indigenous languages have been widely adopted by the world’s governments, the word was not being used as a tool to justify colonialism, especially when the Indigenous language itself is being taken for granted.
The report found that the United Nations had adopted a resolution on Indigenous languages, which calls for “a commitment to recognise, acknowledge and respect Indigenous languages”, and said that language is a tool for understanding and building social justice.