More than 3,000 Indians in Brazil Celebrate Return of Reservation Indians

Two tuxaua Indians (leaders) accused of involvement in a fire at the Raposa/Serra do Sol Training and Cultural Center, previously known as the Surumu Mission, were arrested, September 28.

According to the Federal Police, Genival Costa da Silva, a councilmen for the PFL (Liberal Front Party) in the city of Pacaraima, and Fernando da Silva Salomão were charged with conspiracy, illegal ownership of a firearm, damage and threatening behavior.

The same group accused of the fire at the Training Center set fire to part of a bridge, which accesses the Maturuca settlement, where around 3,000 people had gathered to celebrate the official confirmation of the bounds of the Raposa/Serra do Sol indigenous land, on September 22.

The Indigenous Council of Roraima (CIR) and Cimi agree that the imprisonment of those responsible for the violence is essential so that the population of the Raposa/Serra do Sol land does not go back to suffering from this type of incident, which had been preceded by fires in entire communities.

There were also kidnapping of missionaries and countless other attacks and acts of persecution over the 34 years that the indigenous people have been fighting for their land.
Cimi also believes that it is essential to arrest the rice grower Paulo César Quartieiro, mayor of Pacaraima, who the Federal Police have indicated as one of those responsible for the crimes.

The tuxaua and coordinator at the Training Center that was burnt down said that the community had decided to rebuild the school, the hospital and the church that had been destroyed by the rice farmers and by some indigenous people that they had co-opted.

"We have learnt during these years of struggle not to give up. They want the school to close down, because it is focused on the struggle, on work, on reality. We are having a party, but there is already a group rebuilding the school and classes will not stop," the tuxaua Anselmo said.

The attacks have not prevented indigenous members of the Makuxi, Wapichana, Taurepang, Pantamona and Ingarikó peoples from holding their celebrations. The party in the Maturuca settlement was a time for paying tribute to the people and institutions that supported the struggle for ratification of Raposa/Serra do Sol.

It was also a time for thanking the leaders of the five peoples. The celebrations involved a lot of dancing: during the early mornings of the three days of partying, forró songs with lyrics that referred to the ratification were played without a break by indigenous musicians.

More than 3,000 people from various parts of the indigenous land, which covers 1.7 million hectares, were in Maturuca, sleeping in colored hammocks, feeding on the cattle that they had reared themselves since they started to resist the ranchers who invaded their lands with their animals. This week, parties were held in two other Raposa/Serra do Sol communities, known as Cantagalo and Bismarck.

Cimi – Indianist Missionary Council – www.cimi.org.br

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