News-Letter Nr. 502

Krahô/Kanela are in Brasília to ask for help

Representatives of the Krahô/Kanela groups led by chief Mariano Ribeiro are in Brasília to report the distressing situation that are facing in the Loroty Settlement in the municipality of Dueré, state of Tocantins. They came to the federal capital in September of last year to ask Funai to demarcate their land in Mata Alagada, on the Bananal island. Since then, they haven't been able to secure any assistance from the official indigenous agency to carry out agricultural activities and they are starving and facing constant threats of eviction from the National Land Reform Institute (Incra).

This Wednesday (the 6th), they visited leaders of the Workers' Party at the Chamber of Representatives, who assured them that they would request an audience for them with the minister of Justice, Aloysio Nunes Ferreira. Because of the political crisis caused by the breakaway of the Liberal Front Party from the federal government, it is not very likely that the minister will receive the indigenous people this week.

Argemiro, one of the leaders of the group, declared that the deprivations faced by his people in the Loroty Settlement are so big that "if we want to plant pepper, we have to plant it in a pot, because nothing there is ours."

Descendants of the Krahô and Kanela groups of the Chapéu Hill, located in the municipality of Barra do Corda, state of Maranhão, there are reports that these people were forced to migrate in search of new lands in circa 1924 after suffering a massacre. In 1963, the migrating group was received by the Javaé people of the Bananal Island in Mata Alagada, municipality of Cristalândia. They remained there until 1984, when they were expelled from the area by agents of the beer and soft drink manufacturer Brahma. They were then divided. Part of them, 64 people led by chief Mariano Ribeiro, were taken by Funai to the Indigenous Park of the Bananal Island. The other families scattered themselves on the banks of the Formoso river, where they have been living to this day as riverine groups.

Because the Brahma corporation remained in possession of the Mata Alagada land and Funai did not recognize them as indigenous people, the Krahô/Kanela led by chief Mariano ended up being evicted from the Bananal Island. Supported by the Federal Prosecution Service, they were settled by Incra in the Tarumã area in the municipality of Araguacema, state of Tocantins. Displeased, however, with the way the agency was treating them, they decided to return to Mata Alagada and fight for their right to stay there, because they realized it is the area providing the best conditions for them to reunite the scattered families of their people and resume their traditional lifestyle.

When they were in Brasília last year, former president of Funai Glênio Alvarez promised them that he would begin the administrative procedure to demarcate their land. The first step would be to recognize their ethnic origins by means of an anthropological study. Since then, Funai has not taken any steps to do that, arguing that there are no funds available for that purpose. In order to press the official indigenous agency to fulfill its commitment and to avoid more suffering for their people, the leaders of the Krahô/Kanela decided to return to Brasília, taking a few more steps in their difficult and long struggle to conquer their land without evil.

Secretary general of the CNBB receives indigenous delegations

The secretary general of the CNBB, Dom Raymundo Damasceno, received members of the Post-Conference Indigenous Commission and leaders of delegations of the Krahô-Kanela and Pataxó-Hã-Hã-Hãe peoples in Brasília on March 5. The two groups are in Brasília to discuss the reoccupation of their lands with governmental authorities.

The meeting was permeated by the climate of the Fraternity Campaign, whose theme this year is the struggle of indigenous peoples "For a Land Without Evil." Its purpose was to promote a closer dialogue between these peoples and the CNBB through a more direct knowledge of their reality.

Dom Damasceno said that the Fraternity Campaign is being warmly received throughout the country and that he hopes that "more than making people feel enthusiastic about it, it will actually contribute to promote the rights of indigenous peoples."

10th anniversary of the newsletter "The world around us"

Two weeks ago, the 500th issue of the newsletter "The World around us," prepared by the National Secretariat of Cimi to disseminate the indigenous cause, was published. The first issue of the newsletter was published ten years ago, on March 26th, 1992, with a summary analysis of acts of violence committed against indigenous peoples in the previous year.

Today, the newsletter is distributed to 28 countries on the five continents in Portuguese, English, German and Italian. Cimi's Documentation Department in Brasília keeps an indexed record of all the issues of the newsletter at the disposal of researchers.

Brasília, March 7th 2002. Indianist Missionary Council - Cimi

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