Brazilian Urban Indians Are Surviving as Odd Jobbers and Maids

Brazilian Indian family works on handicraft According to the census carried out by the Brazilian Institute of Geography and Statistics (IBGE) in 2000, the indigenous population of Manaus, capital of Brazil's northern state of Amazon, consists of around 7,000 people, spread over the four zones of the city.

These Indians have come from different municipalities in Amazonas and other states, and live in the outskirts where there is no basic sanitation, health posts, schools, security or other basic services. To survive, many families produce and sell handicrafts, the men carry out odd jobs and the women work as maids.

To get a better understanding of this situation and, based on concrete data, formulate public policy proposals, the indigenous organizations in the city of Manaus, together with the Indigenous People's Ministry of the Archdiocese of Manaus (Piama) and the Indianist Missionary Council (CIMI), are attempting to get the support of IBGE to map out the urban indigenous population.

"We want to know where they live, how they are living and what their most urgent needs are", explained Ana Delia Oliveira, from Piama.

These data will start being gathered in the next few days, starting with a training workshop for all those that are going to work on collecting the information, with methodological advice provided by IBGE technicians.

The census will be carried out by the indigenous people themselves, with close monitoring by members of the Indigenous People's Ministry. IBGE will also provide information on where the indigenous people are located.

One of the targets of this project is to show the government institutions, firstly, that there is a significant number of indigenous people living in the city and, secondly, that the Federal Constitution guarantees them differential treatment, which the governments, especially at the state and municipal levels, are not applying.

The first attempt to meet this target involved the meeting of the leaders of indigenous people's organizations in the city and the Indigenous People's Ministry with the mayor of Manaus, Serafim Corrêa.

This meeting took place on April 19, 2005, when the indigenous people explained their difficulties and their needs. The mayor, in turn, determined that his departments were to meet the organizations' requirements wherever possible.

The city labor department set up a handicraft fair, which has been taking place in a square in the city, once a month since February 2006, and which has helped the indigenous people to increase their income. However, as far as health and education are concerned, the difficulties continue.

"Manaus, show your indigenous face", was the theme of the 1st Assembly of the Indigenous People of Manaus, promoted by the Union of the Indigenous Peoples of Manaus – UPIM, with the support of the Indigenous People's Ministry of the Archdiocese of Manaus and Cimi North I, on 3 and 4 April, in the Rector's auditorium at the University of the State of Amazonas – UEA.

Over 200 indigenous members from several different peoples took part in the event which finished with a demonstration in the center of the city.

"One of the most serious problems that the indigenous people in the city have to face is, without doubt, the health service. When they go to hospitals or health posts and identify themselves as indigenous people, they are sent to Funai, which isn't even the institution responsible for providing the indigenous people with health services. As well as suffering from discrimination, incorrect information provided by public servants collaborates to make the lives of the indigenous people who live in the urban region even more precarious", said Ana Delia Oliveira, of the Indigenous People's Ministry.



  • Show Comments (6)

  • ch.c.

    …FOR 3 (IN)decent meals per day !

  • ch.c.

    No one is forcing them to do this ????????
    What is their alternatives ?
    Do you really believe that the “HUGE” hands out of the Bolsa Familia Lula is so proud of….is enough…with 0,50 Reais PER DAY….for
    3 (IN) daily meals as Lula loves to repeat ALL the time ????

    As per Brazilian stats, there are 28 millions Registered Workers……including the 10 % or so of Unemployment !!!!!!
    As a general rule it is considered that 50 % of the population is a “potentially apt worker”, meaning that you have around 90 millions
    of adult workers, while only 25 millions jobs are offered (28 millions less 10 % unemployment).

    Thus let me laugh…..laugh….laugh….when when your Offficial Stats shows a 9 or 10 % Unemployment rate !
    Reality being that 60 % or so OF BRAZIIANS WORKERS ……have SIMPLY been expulsed out of YOUR MANIPULATED STATS…..and thus have no alternative but to enter in the Informal Economy…….AT WELL BELOW THE MINIMUM WAGE……MOST OF THE TIME !!!!!!

    Why do you believe Brazil hold another Gold Medal of having the World Highest Poverty Rate….when compared to their GDP per capita ????? Please read and re-read what I just said !
    I did not say you have the world highest poverty rate…..but the world highest poverty….when compared to your GDP per capita.
    Other Equivalent GDP per capita countries….have 50 % LESS…..POVERTY RATE !!!!!!


  • Bob

    No one is forceing them to do this. on the other hand lets face the facts middle class and rich brazials LOVE the fact that they can still have a slave
    this is the way of life there and in fact if I could get a indian or a nigger to work for me for next nothing I would too

  • Ric

    “market place in downtown”

  • Ric

    A few months ago I was at the markey place in sowntown Manaus which sells mainly local souvenirs. I was surprised to learn that one lady who sold us some items was a Yanomani, recently from the tribal area in the north. If as we read in another article here recently, 60% of all Brazlians are in the informal sector, isnÀ‚´t it reasonable that thatÀ‚´s where one would find most tribal people who have decided to move to the city?

    And even though some Brazilians consider the Indians “other than” human beings, donÀ‚´t they have the right to live wherever they wish to?

    The government would like to abolish the “informal” economy. It my opinion it is the only thing standing between the elected leaders and really serious civil manifestations. DonÀ‚´t mess with it if you know whatÀ‚´s good for you. But thatÀ‚´s only my opinion, and IÀ‚´m often wrong.

  • ch.c.

    What are the majority of Non Indians Brazilians doing ?
    DONT YOU HAVE 60 % of the work force in the Informal sectors ??????
    Meaning too….Odd Jobs and Maids ???????

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