Center for World Indigenous Studies

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Recognition at last for Japan's Ainu

Hokkaido Flag
In the 19th Century, Japanese people called the northern island of Hokkaido "Ezochi".

It meant "Land of the Ainu", a reference to the fair-skinned, long-haired people who had lived there for hundreds of years.

The Ainu were hunters and fishermen with animist beliefs.

But their communities and traditions were eroded by waves of Japanese settlement and subsequent assimilation policies.
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