The article gives an overview of the current status of human rights and poverty in the context of the contemporary struggles of indigenous peoples. It aims to describe the framework of indigenous rights as constituted by, and constitutive of, the relationship between legal processes at the international, regional and national levels. The article also makes links to broader issues such as the racial, ethnic, linguistic and cultural human rights instruments, as well as to the important linkage to international poverty law. It outlines the current status of international legal protection for indigenous peoples before giving different cases in which these legal mechanisms have been used and questioned at the regional and national levels. The article concludes by arguing that indigenous rights standards play an important role in terms of serving as 'ceilings' or 'floors' between which indigenous movements and supporting NGOs can mobilize and find a legal framework to form their case.