Since the latter half of the twentieth century, we have come to take for granted a category of people called ‘Indigenous’, with distinctive collective rights and identities. Yet, Indigenous peoples themselves have, of course, been around for millennia, each group developing its own legal, cultural and economic systems. Central to maintaining this distinctiveness has been the use of languages in pursuing trade and maintaining relations between groups across time and space. Language has also been linked to changing cultural practices internal to Indigenous communities, as people have engaged with modernity in diverse ways, creating and reflecting religious, economic and other institutional transformations. As Indigenous identities develop on a global scale and Indigenous engagements with nation-states continue, the role of language in maintaining local identities and in accessing and participating in discourses of power, social transformation and resistance becomes crucial.