There are currently around 5,000 Indians living in 28 villages in the state of São Paulo, according to Amauri Vieira, head of the assistance service in the Bauru Regional Administration of the National Indian Foundation (FUNAI) in the state.
Members of the Guarani, Terena, Kaigang and Krenak ethnic groups are scattered among communities in the west central region, the Ribeira Valley, the capital, and the northern and southern coasts of the state.
"There are also Indians who live in the capital and work there, but they don’t live in villages, nor do they have a fixed territory. That is the case with the Pankararu, more than 1,500 Indians from the northeastern state of Pernambuco who have been in the capital for many years," Vieira observed.
Besides the Pankararu, there are members of the Fulnió, Xavante, Xucuru, Xucuru-Kariri, and Pankararé ethnic groups living in the São Paulo metropolitan area.
Altogether, the state has 17 thousand hectares of Indian lands. The largest, the Aguapeu territory, with 4,500 hectares, is located in the coastal city of Mongaguá.
"The indigenous areas in the capital are really very small. The conditions in which the Indians live are arduous, especially the Guarani in the Jaraguá village, where 300 Indians inhabit less than 2 hectares of land demarcated by the FUNAI," Vieira commented.
He explains that each of the three Guarani villages in the capital will see its territory enlarged by the end of this year. This measure is the fruit of a partnership among the FUNAI, the Indians, and the DERSA (Highway Development S.A.), which is an enterprise linked to the state government.
"What is occurring nowadays is an expansion of the Indian population. Fortunately, this has been happening all over Brazil, not just in São Paulo. There is already talk of around 470 thousand Indians residing in villages throughout the country," Vieira concludes.
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