There are indigenous people living all over Brazil!
Some indigenous people (or Indians, as they are sometimes called) live in cities, but most live in areas of indigenous land. At present there are 682 areas of indigenous land in Brazil.Every area of indigenous land is officially mapped-out, and the Brazilian government is obliged to protect it by law. An area of indigenous land belongs to a particular group of Indians. They have the right to live there and to follow their cultural traditions, on a permanent basis. On their land, they can do all the things necessary for their cultural and physical survival. This may include fishing, hunting, gathering and planting. The future survival of indigenous peoples is directly related to the quality of the environment where they live: how pure the water is in the rivers and streams, and whether there are enough of particular species of plants and animals. Is this why you hear that indigenous peoples make a positive contribution to environmental conservation?
This is exactly why. Traditionally, indigenous peoples have non-predatory ways of using natural resources and relating to the environment. Connections exist between indigenous people who live in the same area. These connections may bring them together or keep them at a distance. One way or another, an indigenous territory is a place where paths and forms of communication exist between people. And, above all, these are landscapes where the indigenous people’s history and knowledge have evolved, and continue to evolve. The land each group of Indians lives on is at the heart of their vision of the world. In other words, it is at the heart of their culture.
The boundaries of indigenous lands do not match the borders between Brazil’s states and they do not match the frontiers between countries!
There are indigenous peoples who live on land which crosses the frontiers of two or more countries. They lived there before the countries and the frontiers existed. An example is the Guarani people. They now live in five countries: Brazil, Bolivia, Paraguay, Uruguay and Argentina.
The Yanomami live in the north of Brazil and also in Venezuela. Although such groups have been separated by national frontiers, they still have relationships with relatives living in neighbouring countries. And they maintain networks of trade and communication between their communities.
The Zo´é people live along the River Cuminapanema, in the north of the Brazilian state of Pará. They speak a language from the Tupi-Guarani branch of the Tupi linguistic family. In their language, there is no word for ‘territory’. The word that comes closest is koha, which you could translate as "lifestyle", "well-being" or "quality of life".This indigenous term combines the idea of ‘territory’ with other elements such as the condition of the environment and the actions necessary for conserving the resources necessary for survival. It also refers to the way that Zo´é Indians actually inhabit the land: divided into small groups of relatives, living distances apart.
The Zo´é traditionally spend part of their lives spread out across their land, and part of it concentrated together in their villages. Some of the time they work on their gardens. Some of the time they are out on hunting expeditions, fishing or gathering. However, at the end of the 1980’s their land had to be officially mapped-out. This fixed the boundaries of their territory. It meant the Zo´é had to find different ways of thinking about the land around them. In fact, a new term was created: Zo´érekoha. This means "the territory of the Zo´é".
This happened over several hundred years. First of all the settlers took over coastal areas. Then, little by little, they forcibly occupied the interior of Brazil. As this happened, indigenous people had few options to ensure they still had land to live on. Some of them fought wars with the invaders. Others moved inland to find new territories. This migration inland frequently caused other wars, because indigenous groups looking for new territories had to force out Indians already occupying the land. Even several centuries after the first Portuguese explorers arrived in Brazil, non-Indian settlers were spreading across the country. Land was still being occupied through unjust, violent invasions of indigenous territories.
Yes. More than half of Indians in Brazil today (about 60%) live in the part of the country called The Brazilian Legal Amazon. This region spreads across the states of Amazonas, Acre, Amapá, Pará, Rondônia, Roraima, Tocantins, Mato Grosso and the east of Maranhão. All these states contain a part of the Amazon rainforest.
Areas of indigenous land in the Amazon region are larger than in other parts of the country. This means that indigenous people living there can have a better quality of life. The more land available to an indigenous society, the more they are able to sustain their culture and traditional ways of living. With a larger area of land, indigenous people have access to more natural resources and raw materials to use for food, medicines, and making houses and other objects they need.
Areas of indigenous land are invaded by miners, fishermen, hunters, land-grabbers, farmers, logging companies... Other regions are deforested for the construction of roads, railways, electricity transmission lines. Or they are flooded to create hydroelectric dams. What is more, indigenous peoples often suffer the consequences of things happening beyond their own areas of land. These might include pollution of rivers, deforestation, and forest fires.FFaced with all these threats, indigenous peoples realise that, in order to guarantee at least parts of their territory, it is best to officially map-out the land they need to survive. However, the way that areas of land have been mapped-out has restricted the ability of indigenous peoples to move about. This is because the mapped-out boundaries of their territories do not, in general, give them nearly as much space as they had before.
These days, many indigenous peoples suffer because they are not able to migrate or travel as much as they use to. They have less land. All indigenous peoples had their own way to use the land around them, but their ways have had to change.
The Xavante once spent much time walking through their territory. But now they are forced into sedentary lives. (If you live a ‘sedentary life’ it means you stay in one place. You do not move around.) Although the Xavante still go on short hunting and gathering trips within their territory, the land available for them to travel across has been greatly reduced.
My people have their way of sustaining the fish in the lakes. They ‘hit’ a lake with timbó one year, then wait a year, or two years, before hitting it again. That way there are always fish in the lake that we hit with timbó.My people say that if you hit the same lake with timbó every year, you end up killing all the fish. Then you get weed growing in the water. So we give young people this advice about how to look after fish.(Text provided by from Korotowï Ikpeng)
In this description, Korotowï Ikpeng describes a way of fishing known as ‘hitting’ with timbó.More informations about Hitting with Timbó you can find in the Food section of this website!
The Ashaninka people live in the Alto Juruá region of the Brazilian state of Acre. In Brazil they have a population of over 1000 people. Many more Ashaninka people live in Peru. The population there is more than 95 thousand!The Ashaninka are very concerned about the environment where they live. As a result of logging, fishing and predatory hunting, by non-Indians, the region has undergone much environmental degradation. In response, the Ashaninka came up with a plan to conserve a type of turtle known locally as a tracajá. These turtles had almost disappeared from the region. For three years the collection of turtle eggs and the eating of turtle meat were completely forbidden. As a result, the species of turtle, which had been almost extinct in the River Amônia, rose in numbers again. Since 2003, the Ashaninka have held an annual festival to mark the release of hundreds of turtles into local rivers.Watch this video!
The Xingu Indigenous Park is in the Brazilian state of Mato Grosso. Approximately 5 thousand indigenous people, from 16 different peoples, live in the park. They speak different languages, and have different lifestyles.Leaders of the Kaiabi people noticed something. The seeds of a number of important plants which had been cultivated for many generations were beginning to disappear. As a result they decided to look after these seeds. The Kaiabi people carried out an inventory of all the different types of plants traditionally cultivated. These included peanuts, manioc, bananas, maize and beans. They noticed that they had lost three plant species altogether. And a third of those species that remained were also under threat. So as not to lose any more, they started to distribute seeds to different villages. Little by little, the plant species multiplied. And this made it possible to create a seed-bank. Other Xingu peoples such as the Yudjá, Kisêdjê and Ikpeng, have also begun to tackle the deterioration of natural resources around them, and start forms of environmental management. This work is at an early stage and it is too soon to see dramatic results. But the participation of different communities has shown that it is possible to use traditional knowledge in order to protect biodiversity.
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