The right to an education that is consonant with and draws upon the culture and language of indigenous peoples is a human right which is too often overlooked by governments when they develop and implement programmes whose purported goals are to improve the social, economic and political status of these peoples. Educational programmes for indigenous peoples must fully respect and integrate human rights protections, particularly rights to cultural continuity and integrity. Racist attitudes dominate many government development programmes aimed at indigenous peoples. Educational programmes for indigenous peoples are often designed to forcibly assimilate them and destroy the uniqueness of their language, values, culture and relationship with their native lands. Until indigenous peoples are empowered to develop educational programmes for their own communities that reflect and promote their values and culture, their human rights are likely to remain threatened by governments that use education as a political mechanism for coercing indigenous peoples to adapt to a majority culture that does not recognize their rights, and that seeks to destroy their ability to sustain and pass on to future generations their language and culture.