In the first part of this study we are going to deal with the problem of definition of an indigenous people in order to identify the subjects of international legal protection. At a second stage it is necessary to seek possible justifications in favor of a special protection of indigenous minorities. Why shall indigenous minorities be granted a privileged status under international law?In the third part of this contribution we will focus on indigenous protection from a general human rights and anti-discrimination perspective. It has to be understood that indigenous rights are an integral part of international human rights law. However, the internal cultural and religious self-determination of indigenous peoples has to be conceived in line with the basic principles of human rights protection. Therefore, we will have to ask whether, after centuries of colonialism, human rights doctrine applies a paternalistic approach towards indigenous minorities and introduces a new kind of colonial domination.