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From the time that proto-human bands roamed the wilds, "within one of the most common geopolitical patterns in world history,"' organized peoples have invaded inhabited territories and tried to make themselves dominant. When they were successful, they developed elaborate religious, moral or legal systems that celebrated and validated their control. The "natives," "aborigines," or "indigenous peoples" were the ones who were there and lost; they either resisted, or were denied, assimilation and survived with a distinct, but not necessarily intact, cultural identity. The term "indigenous rights" has recently come to refer, within the larger system of the international protection of human rights, to a new pattern of claims, made by these surviving indigenous peoples, for direct protection by the international community and, where appropriate, restoration of rights taken from them in the past. Belatedly, indigenous peoples are demanding a place in modern international law.

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