Brazil’s Xakriabí¡ Tribe Invades Land They Say Belong to Them

Approximately 35 families of the Xakriabá people from the southeast of Brazil reoccupied part of their traditional territory last Tuesday, May 2.

The group, which since 2000 has been fighting for this portion of its land to be demarcated, was living in an urban area in the municipality of São João das Missões in the north region of the state of Minas Gerais, about 750 km from Belo Horizonte, the capital city.

According to chief Santo Caetano Barbosa, the situation in the region is calm, despite the reaction from farmers who were occupying the area which was reoccupied by the indigenous people.

The indigenous people will have a meeting today with the regional manager of Funai (Indian’s National Foundation), Waldemar Krenak. "We want safety and the right to remain in our land. Funai has to reconsider its decisions, because we are here to stay," the chief said.

A preliminary report drawn up on the Krenak land – suggesting that the traditional land should be demarcated – was rejected by Funai in 2005 under the argument that there was no record of any traditional indigenous presence in the area.

The area claimed by the indigenous people, however, is not part of the portion of land that was set apart for the Xakriabá people in 1728 by Januário Cardoso, son of Matias Cardoso, one of the first explorers to enter the São Francisco River Valley.

The Xakriabá contested the rejection of the report by the Land Affairs Division of Funai, but got no response from it so far. The community is asking the authorities to carry out all the necessary procedures to demarcate and officially confirm the bounds of their lands urgently.

According to information provided by a team from Brazil’s Indianist Missionary Council (CIMI) in the region, representatives of the regional office of Funai are being expected in the area.

The land claimed has approximately 7,000 hectares and is called the Morro Vermelho land. The region was invaded by squatters who threatened the indigenous people even before the reoccupation action carried out in the wee hours.

Part of the Xakriabá people live in two lands. One of them was registered with 46,400 hectares after demonstrations held in the 1980s and the other one was homologated with about 6,000 hectares in 2003.

However, the land claimed by the indigenous people who were living in the city has not been fully identified yet. The area which these people are occupying now is equivalent to about one-third of the area set apart for them in 1728. The title deeds to non-indigenous people were issued in the mid 20th century.

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

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