Genocide of indigenous peoples

Other Names:
Massacres of minority tribes

The genocide of Indigenous peoples, colonial genocide, or settler genocide is the intentional elimination of Indigenous peoples as a part of the process of colonialism.

According to certain genocide experts, including Raphael Lemkin – the individual who coined the modern concept of genocide – colonization is intrinsically genocidal. Other scholars view genocide as associated with but distinct from settler colonialism. Lemkin saw genocide via colonialism as a two-stage process: (1) the destruction of the Indigenous group's way of life, followed by (2) the settlers' imposition of their way of life on the Indigenous group.

The expansion of various Western European colonial powers such as the British and Spanish empires and the subsequent establishment of colonies on Indigenous territories frequently involved acts of genocidal violence against Indigenous groups in Europe, the Americas, Africa, Asia, and Oceania.

The designation of specific events as genocidal is frequently controversial. Some scholars, among them Lemkin, have argued that cultural genocide, sometimes called ethnocide, should also be recognized. Others scholars contend that genocide should be thought of exclusively in physical and biological terms according to the 1948 Genocide Convention, with cultural genocide being addressed as a human rights issue.


40 million indigenous Americans died within a century of contact with Europeans. Out of a total population of 145 million Brazilians, indigenous Indians now only number less than one quarter of a million and claim only 10% of the country's area. In Brazil, one tribe a year has been wiped out.

Related UN Sustainable Development Goals:
GOAL 10: Reduced Inequality
Problem Type:
E: Emanations of other problems
Date of last update
04.10.2020 – 22:48 CEST