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Brazilian Indians Unite and Get Organized

Brazil’s Indigenous leaders in the states of Pará and Amapá evaluated the indigenous movement in the region and decided to launch a process for reorganizing the movement.

Representatives of 20 peoples convened on November 4-7 in Ananindeua, state of Pará, will now return to their villages and discuss the need to reorganize the indigenous movement in their communities until January.


The communities will appoint representatives for structuring the regional movement. They also have plans to hold an indigenous assembly in 2005.


“The priorities of the movement include the right to the land, education, health, and income generation for the communities,” said Luiz Xipaya, who attended the meeting.


According to Claudemir Monteiro, Cimi coordinator in the Regional North 2 area, indigenous peoples in the states of Pará and Amapá have a structured movement in their villages, but felt the need to get better organized regionally to deal with specific issues related to the indigenous policy more appropriately.


“The meeting was held because of the concerns of Cimi’s Regional North 2 office with structuring the indigenous movement, as nothing was being done for that purpose regionally.”


During the meeting, issues related to indigenous lands were discussed, with emphasis on the need to identify indigenous lands and on a proposal for reducing the Cachoeira Seca land of the Arara people, after the Baú land of the Kayapó people in the state of Pará was reduced.


Other topic addressed at the meeting was the health policy model for indigenous people, which is based on agreements between indigenous associations and the National Health Foundation (Funasa).


The management of the agreements creates new power structures in the community which affect social relations amongst indigenous peoples and generate internal disputes.


Jecinaldo Saterê-Mawé, general coordinator of the Coordinating Board of the Indigenous Organizations of the Brazilian Amazon (Coiab), attended the seminar and criticized the agreements signed by indigenous associations.


According to him, “these organizations should play the role of inspectors and social controllers of the actions of public authorities. When they enter into agreements, this role is largely jeopardized.”


The assistance provided to indigenous people living in cities was also discussed in the meeting.


According to Luiz Xipaya, there are about 3,000 indigenous people in Altamira who are not allowed to be treated in hospitals because Funasa only has agreements to provide health care to indigenous people in their villages.


“They are not in the city by chance. They were expelled from their lands or brought to the city, and the law ensures that they are entitled to health care wherever they are,” the leader said.


The indigenous people mentioned that resistant peoples are also entitled to health care. They also want Funai to begin to demarcate their territories. 


Resistant peoples are those which resumed their ethnic identity. In the state of Pará, they are mainly concentrated in the region of Santarém.


The Borari, Cara Preta, Tupinambá, Arara Vermelha, Maytapú, Tupaiú and Tapajó resistant peoples attended the meeting.


Cimi ”“ Indianist Missionary Council

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