Brazil’s Krahí´-Kanela Indians About to Get Their Own Land

The hopes of Brazil’s Krahô-Kanela indigenous people to finally live in their own land have been renewed. The Brazilian minister of Justice is expected to soon approve the concession of land for that.

The Legal Advisory Department of the Brazilian Ministry of Justice must submit a draft decree creating an indigenous reservation for the Krahô-Kanela in the state of Tocantins to the minister of Justice, Márcio Thomaz Bastos.

The minister, who decided in favor of creating the reservation, may sign the draft decree and submit it to the Civil House.

The Civil House will then analyze the document and submit it to the President of the Republic. The presidential decree needs be published in the Diário Oficial (Official Gazette) by mid-December for a fund of US$ 3.7 million (8 million reais) released in August by the National Land Reform Institute (Incra) specifically for creating the reservation not to be lost.

The three leaders of the Krahô-Kanela people who came to Brasí­lia to try and settle the issue of legalizing their land will remain in the city until the process is completed. In their four-day pilgrimage in the National Congress, the indigenous people managed to secure the support from different senators and representatives.

Senator Paulo Paim (Workers’ Party/state of Rio Grande do Sul) said that he will call the Civil House as soon as the draft decree is submitted to that agency.

In December 2005, Paim organized a public hearing at the Human Rights Committee of the Federal Senate to discuss the case of the Krahô-Kanela. He then attended a meeting which resulted in an agreement between Incra and Funai to create the reservation.

Risk of Conflicts

In August, about 90 Krahô-Kanela moved to the land, which they call Mata Alagada (Flooded Jungle), located in the municipality of Lagoa da Confusão (Confusion Lagoon) (state of Tocantins). They left the house they lived in for years, which was located in an old garbage dump.

Today, they are living in makeshift canvas tents which were torn apart by heavy rains which have been falling lately. The owner of the land, Marcos Viní­cius Santana, prevented the indigenous people from building homes or growing crops there before they get their compensation payment for leaving the area.

For the time being, his relations with the indigenous people are peaceful. However, he said that he will file a repossession suit if the leaders return from Brasí­lia before the expropriation decree is published in the Official Gazette.

Cimi – Indianist Missionary Council

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