Brazilian Indians themselves will show the way to a better Indianist policy. According to the coordinator in charge of the Defense of Indigenous Rights of the National Indian Foundation (Funai), Vilmar Guarani, this is the focus of the Regional Conference of Indian Peoples of the South.
The encounter starts today and runs through Friday, June 10, in Florianópolis, the capital of the southern state of Santa Catarina. The entire meeting will be directed by the Indians.
“This is the first time that they are being consulted and can present their real needs,” Guarani observed.
He noted that, until now, all the policies established for the Indians came “from the top down.”
He said that the Indian Statute, for example, enacted in 1973, was prepared without Indian participation.
“It is important for them to be part of the dialogue. Based on these conferences, we shall create an Indianist policy council that will act in government circles on behalf of the Indians.”
During the encounter the representatives of the Guarani, Kaingang, Xokleng, and Xetá ethnic groups – from the South of Brazil – will present their problems and can suggest the best ways to resolve them.
“For 500 years of history we were excluded, and now we will be heard,” commemorated the Kaingang representative, Brasília Freitas.
He emphasized that “each ethnic group has its needs, and it is necessary to evaluate what is most viable for each tribe.”
This is the third regional conference. The other two were held in Maceió (AL), in December, 2004, and in Campo Grande (MS), with the participation of around 60 thousand Indians.
Through the end of the year, ten meetings are scheduled in various regions of the country.