Back in 2007, the United Nations adopted the Declaration on Rights of Indigenous People—those who identify as descendants of pre-colonial inhabitants within a region and who retain close ties to their traditional cultural and economic practices. The declaration, signed by 144 member nations, recognized a range of basic human rights for native communities—including the right to land use, control, and ownership.
But the declaration isn’t legally binding, which means there are still many governments out there that don’t formally recognize the rights of indigenous groups. And with the expanding worldwide population and commercial interest in gobbling up new land, it’s hard for such communities to claim what is rightfully theirs. It’s even more difficult when there’s no systematic way of illustrating the boundaries.