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Brazil Indian Chief Raoni Tells Lula: ‘We Want No Invader on Our Land’

President Lula and chief Raoni on April 19, 2007, ceremony Kayapó Indian leader Raoni has delivered a letter to Brazil's President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva, telling him, "We will not accept mining on indigenous land." The letter, signed by Indians from the Kayapó, Panará, Tapajuna and Yudjá tribes, was prompted by a bill currently being debated in the Brazilian parliament.

If approved the new legislation would open up indigenous territories to large scale mining.

The letter says, "We don't want miners, prospectors, loggers, fishermen or anyone else invading our territory. We want the indigenous rights that were won in the 1988 Constitution to be respected. President Lula and the Brazilian government must respect and protect indigenous peoples."

The Indians also voice their opposition to a series of hydroelectric dams that the government plans to build on the Xingu river and its tributaries. "We will not allow the construction of these hydroelectric dams, which would destroy our territories, our natural resources and the lives of our peoples."

They also demand that the Brazilian government recognize the Kapôt Nhinore territory, which is sacred to the Mebengôkre Kayapó Indians.

The congressional committee dealing with mining in indigenous lands is getting together this Tuesday, November 20 to set the work schedule and define when the initial hearing will take place.

The commission was installed on November 7 when the congressmen chose as the group's president, representative Edio Lopes, from the PMDB party.  Congressman Eduardo Valverde from the ruling PT was selected as reporter.

The committee's task is to analyze the senate bill 1610/96, which allows exploration of mineral resources in indigenous lands when authorized by the National Congress as long as royalties are paid to the Indians and Funai (National Indian Foundation).

While this kind of mining is contemplated by the 1988 Brazilian Constitution, the matter still hasn't been regulated almost 20 years later.

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