State recognition of sections of the population as indigenous peoples is an important first step. And yet, such recognition is in bad faith if it is not based on the historical fact that such people have been living on their ancestral land since time immemorial. Such recognition is discriminatory if it means assimilation to the larger non-indigenous society.
From a human rights perspective, recognition as indigenous peoples is not a matter of state granting rights to such peoples. Recognition should mean an acceptance by the state of the indigenous peoples’ rights as their inherent rights.
Necessarily, recognition in this case means protecting the rights of indigenous peoples to their ancestral land, culture, language, social systems and economic activities. The state has the obligation to protect the indigenous peoples from displacement from their ancestral land and other abuses, in addition to its obligation to provide whatever is available to secure their welfare (health, education, etc.).
Full recognition as indigenous peoples restores the rights and opportunities that they have been deprived of.
Indigenous peoples have rights deserving protection and fulfillment, as much as respect from the government and society as a whole.