In a ceremony held today in the Planalto Palace, in BrasÀlia, capital of Brazil, to commemorate the Day of the Indian, President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva homologated six indigenous territories.
The new places are located in the states of Roraima, Tocantins, Maranhão, Amazonas, and Pará. The announcement was made by the president of the National Indian Foundation (Funai), Mércio Pereira Gomes.
According to the Funai, the areas that were approved total around 600 thousand hectares. The measure will benefit communities from eight indigenous ethnic groups.
The largest of the six reserves, the Inãwébohona, contains 377 thousand hectares in the state of Tocantins. The area is inhabited by 97 Indians from three ethnic groups: the Avá-Canoeiro – considered an endangered nation by the Funai -, the Javaé, and the Karajá.
The Awá reserve, which contains 116.5 thousand hectares in the state of Maranhão, is home to 198 Indians from the Guajá ethnic group.
In Amazonas state, two indigenous territories were homologated: the São Sebastião, with 61 thousand hectares occupied by 224 Indians from the Kaixana and Kokáma ethnic groups, and the Espírito Santo, with 33 thousand hectares inhabited by 121 Kokáma Indians.
Representatives of the Macuxi and Wapixana ethnic groups obtained the authorization of the Tabalascada indigenous territory in the state of Roraima. 302 Indians from the two ethnic groups live in this area of 13 thousand hectares.
President Lula also homologated the Maranduba Indian reservation, inhabited by 31 Karajá Indians in an area of 375 hectares in the states of Pará and Tocantins.
Approval of the six areas brings to 55 the number of reserves authorized during Lula’s Administration. According to the president of the Funai, the government’s goal is to homologate 100 indigenous territories by the end of 2006.
According to the president of the Funai, there are currently 440 thousand Indians in Brazil, representing 220 ethnic groups that speak 170 different languages.
The Funai recognizes 604 Indian territories, 481 of which have already been authorized or are in the process of being demarcated.
“Homologation is the final step in the formal recognition of an indigenous territory. First it needs to be identified and demarcated; then the President confers the official seal of the Brazilian Republic on an indigenous area,” Gomes explained.
During his speech President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva affirmed that the social area of the government is preparing a “citizenship package” to assure the indigenous population health, education, electricity, and the development of productive activities.
“We have to be especially careful, after an area is demarcated, not to allow the Indians to be offended by farmers who sometimes pollute the rivers and destroy part of the forest,” the President commented.