The homologation of Brazil’s Raposa Serra do Sol indigenous reserve last week legitimized the Indians’ title to lands they have occupied for around four centuries. This is what the archeological records show.
Characteristics of the language, in turn, reveal even more remote origins. The Indians of the state of Roraima are likely descendants of Caribbean tribes that have lived on the American continent for four thousand years.
“The occupation of this region by the Indians is immemorial. Some registers survive in figurative form in the oral tradition, in the myths and legends of the tribe,” affirms Paulo Santilli, professor of Anthropology and Ethnology of the University of the State of São Paulo (Unesp).
“For centuries the Raposa was a target of invasions. Under these circumstances, conflicts were inevitable. Homologation is, in general, a pacifying measure. It meets long-standing indigenous grievances,” he remarked.
The National Indian Foundation (Funai) used Santilli’s studies in its demarcation of the Raposa Serra do Sol. He has been researching the Indians of the region for 15 years.
His studies reveal the multiple invasions that the Raposa’s indigenous communities have suffered. As far back as the era of colonization, Dutch, English, Spanish, and Portuguese were attracted to the region by its abundance of rivers.