Indigenous peoples in Argentina

Argentina is a federal state comprising 23 provinces with a total population of almost 40 million. The results of the Additional Survey on Indigenous Populations, published by the National Institute for Statistics and Census, gives a total of 600,329 people who recognise themselves as descending from or belonging to an indigenous people.

The indigenous organisations do not believe this to be a credible number, however, for various reasons: because the methodology used in the survey was inadequate, because a large number of indigenous people live in urban areas where the survey could not be fully conducted and because there are still many people in the country who hide their indigenous identity for fear of discrimination. It should also be noted that, when the survey was designed in 2001, it was based on the existence of 18 different peoples in the country whereas now there are more than 34. This shows that there has been a notable increase in awareness amongst indigenous people in terms of their ethnic belonging.

Many Argentinians believe there are no indigenous people in their country, either because the majority have died out or are on the verge of doing so, or because "their descendants" were assimilated into Western civilisation long ago and they now live like any other citizen. Generalised stereotypes have forced many indigenous people to defensively hide their identity in order to avoid being subjected to racial discrimination. Even so, the use of pejorative terms likening the indians/indigenous to lazy, idle, dirty, ignorant and savage are common in everyday language.

Legislation concerning indigenous peoples

Legally, the indigenous peoples have specific constitutional rights at federal level and also in a number of provincial states. ILO Convention 169 and other universal human rights instruments such as the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights and the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights are also in force, with constitutional status. Argentina voted in favour of the adoption of the UN Declaration of the Rights of Indigenous Peoples in 2007. 

Yearly update

Download the 2015 yearbook article on indigenous peoples in Argentina to learn about major developments and events during 2014.

Read the 2012 yearbook article on indigenous peoples in Argentina to learn about major developments and events during 2011 (internal link)