A survey by the Brazilian government statistical bureau (IBGE) has found that Brazil’s Indian population is growing more than the average population.
Between 1991 and 2000, the number of Indians and their offspring rose 150%, nearly six times faster than the general rate of population increase.
In 2000 the indigenous population totaled 734 thousand, compared with 294 thousand at the beginning of the 1990’s.
The survey also points to a growing Indian presence in urban areas, especially in Southeastern state capitals.
According to IBGE president, Eduardo Pereira Nunes, the study "eliminates once and for all the possibility of extinction" for the country’s Indians, a prediction that was common until the 1970’s. He also notes that the survey "confirms the end of individuals’ reluctance to admit their origins."
Nunes claims that government policies have contributed to the recovery of Indian traits: "The demarcation of Indian lands begun in the ’80’s, the extension of health and educational services, and, more recently, the assurance of places in universities – a policy also adopted by some companies – are encouraging people to recognize themselves as descendants of Indians."
As for the increasing number of Indians who live in urban areas, Nunes says that this phenomenon reflects the quest for employment and hospital care.
The study, "Demographic Trends: An Analysis of Indians Based on the Results of the 1991 and 2000 Population Censuses," shows that over half the indigenous population lived in urban centers in 2000 (383.3 thousand people, as against 350.8 thousand in rural areas) and registers the existence of 604 legalized indigenous areas in 437 municipalities, most of them in the North and Northeast regions.
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