With the word, Chief Ytajibá

About a month ago, I was at the Tukum Village in Olivença, among the Tupinambá indians. Besides knowing their lands, that still have 75% of original tropical forest Mata Atlântica, rivers of translucid, fresh waters under the sun in Bahia, I learned about their history. As it is very commom among Brazilian’s indigenous nations, they’ve suffered genocide, attempts to destroy their language and culture, and expropriation of their goods and rights in the last 500 years. Today, Chief Ytajibá from the Tukum Village of the Tupinambás came to us to ask for financial help to go to Brasília and fight for the rights of his people.

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Please, note their urgence, the deadline to receive donations is April 14th!

With the word, Chief Ytajibá:

We, the Tupinambá people, from Olivença (Tukum Village), Ilhéus, Bahia, are a warrior nation that has been resisting several forms of colonization for centuries. We have been revitalizing our culture and traditions in the last five centuries. Descending from the Tupi linguist branch, we are determined, strong people, maintaining our culture valuing our language, spirituality, costumes, myths and ancestral traditions.

detalhe desenho da Aldeia Tukum

Examining the indigenous Brazilian conjuncture of recent years, we can see that there is a clear, wide intensification of campaigns against indigenous rights. They are starred by politicians, entrepreneurs, landowners and big farmers.

The official agenda of our president, Dilma Roussef, began this year of 2013 with her meeting some of the main Brazilian entrepreneurs and executives. Dilma opted to begin the year listening to money instead of the social movements. It makes sense. Dilma has never hid that her priority is economy.

Themes relative to structural changes, as health, education, basic sanitation, dwelling, agrarian reform, demarcation of indigenous territories, environment, among others, are present in her speeches, but maybe are not transposed to effective government politics. These themes will be in government agenda proportionally to the capacity of social movements to pressure it.

desenho da aldeia

Indigenous people remain an obstacle to the current development model

If the agrarian reform is disappearing from government horizons, the indigenous issues have never been in the political agenda of the Brazilian left in power. We actually went backwards in this period. If we were accustomed to fight for our rights to be fulfilled, today we are fighting to keep these rights, as stated in our Constitution, in 1988. On average, the governments of Presidents Lula and Dilma homologated less land, in number and size, than their predecessors José Sarney, Fernando Collor de Melo, Itamar Franco and Fernando Henrique Cardoso. Defenders of indigenous rights claim that behind this decay is the option of a development model for the fields and forests in the past decade. According to a Brazil de Fato’s report, “because the origin of the government was in social movements, the indigenous movement had a great expectation, but the government has been allied to landowners and mining companies, leaving aside their interests”.

We’ve been seeing actions against indigenous rights on a daily basis, especially invasions of their territories, where the Federal Government is investing huge amounts of money in constructions that have a great impact on the traditional ways of living of indigenous people.


Opportunely right after the United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development (Rio +20), the General Union Attorney office (the official way of the executive power ensure that its actions will not be judicially contested) published a normative resolution that strangles indigenous territory rights. This strangulation is a process that now has more than 20 years, which began with the palsy of the approval of The Indigenous People’s Statute by the National Congress. In 2011 five ministerial resolutions (number 420 to 424) gave the National Indigenous Foundation (FUNAI, in Portuguese) ridiculous amounts of time to consult the indigenous people and position itself relative to Environmental Impact Studies and Licenses of works in indigenous territories. These works include but are not limited to the construction of roads, the passage of power nets, dams, oil exploitation and other mineral activities. To make things even worse, there is a proposal of changing our Constitution (PEC 215/2000) to make possible expropriation of indigenous territories that already have their legally boundaries established (made in 2000, but about to be voted in April of 2013) in favor of landowners, so they can raise cattle and grow soy to the international market. In March 2012, the voting (and approval) of this amendment was postponed because of the protests of several indigenous nations from all over the country (among them Xakriabá, Guarani Kaiowá, Terena, Kaigang, Macuxi, Marubo, Kanamari and Mura) that went to Brasilia to make their voices to be listened by the government.

There are many challenges for 2013, according to the Brasil de Fato’s report: “There are great challenges to be faced by the indigenous and their organizations: among them, present their demands, mobilizing themselves around them to make sure that they are received and transformed into public politics, ensuring their participation on every step of the process; and to lobby the government so their land are effectively delimited, protected, possession and usage ensured to their people and community.

If this doesn’t happen, “it’s not possible to visualize any effectiveness in combating violence, omission, and dependence of palliative and compensatory politics”. Without it, when the time to discuss public politics comes, indigenous people will be treated as barriers in this model of development that privilege few and penalize many.


In holding the meeting II National Indigenous Leadership Meeting, we intend to feed reflection and debate among the main indigenous leaderships of Brazil about what concerns the current indigenous politics and the several juridical tools that are being utilized to attack indigenous rights already guaranteed by the Federal Constitution.

Yatjiba e Acaua
Cacique Ytajibá e Nádia Acauã

From what we presented until here, we are confident that the strategy of anti-indigenous sections of society (articulated and supported by the Brazilian National Agriculture Confederation, which is providing political and juridical pomp) is to prevent recognition and demarcation of indigenous territories, and most absurd, invade and commodify the lands already demarcated and legally recognized.

Our main fight today is to maintain the Indigenous People’s rights. In this context, indigenous leaderships from all over the country and indigenous entities proposed to hold the II National Indigenous Leadership Meeting to better understand the several ways that are being utilized to attack their rights.

The Meeting will bring together representations of indigenous people and leaderships from every corner of Brazil, and its main objective is to seek strategies to fight back the attacks they are suffering. For that to happen, we’ll have to count with the support of our allies so our people can get to the meeting.

Themes to be held in the II National Indigenous Leadership Meeting

  • Seek strategies to confront the Federal Government so we can guarantee the protection and effectiveness of Indigenous Rights, as predicted by our Federal Constitution and by the 169th Convention of the International Labour Organization;
  • Fight against the several ways indigenous rights have being denied;
  • Analyze the current indigenous politics.

The meeting will be hold in Centro de Formação Vicente Cañas, Luziânia, Goiás (a city located around 40 miles from Brasília, Federal Capital of Brazil) from April 15th to April 19th.

a tristeza do índio



  • Allow reflections about the Brazilian indigenous politics, understanding the political framework of the country and local, regional and national issues;
  • Detail analyzes of the serious effects of legal and political maneuvers used by the great capital to attack the indigenous people’s rights;
  • Strengthen and enlarge partnerships e support nets in the fight for legal determination of indigenous territories boundaries;
  • Guarantee the indigenous leadership training;
  • Make presence in Brasília, saying out loud what are our positions in every political space designated to indigenous issues;
  • Face the violence and criminalization of fighting that our leaderships are suffering.


Leaderships from several Brazilian indigenous nations will be present at the meeting.


We expect from 150 to 400 leaderships to be present at the meeting.


We intend to have, on average, 45 persons of each nation.


We need around US$7,500.00. Only to transportation, we’ll spend US$5,000.00 (to rent a bus for 42 people from Olivença to Brasília, round ticket). The others US$2,500.00 will be spent to feed our people during the meeting (average of US$4.00 for person, for meal). Until now, we don’t have any official help to be there, fighting for our rights.  We hope that, after what explained here, you can help us being there.

a fuga de marcelino


The ideal for us is to have as many people as possible at the meeting, and this number would be 42 people (the number of people that we can take on a single bus). This would really make a difference, because the more people we take, greater the pressure we do. However, we believe that it’s better to be there in a few, that don’t be there at all. For this reason, we present here the amount we need in two other scenarios.

The first is to rent a van and go in 16. For that we would need U$3,500.00 for the van and US$1,000.00 to feed ourselves during the meeting. With this number we still can take a great part of our elders, although not them all as we think it’s really the case.

To take four of us there by bus, (our chief Ramon Ytajibá Souza, and three other leaderships of our village), the cost to get to Brasilia from Ilhéus by bus is US$175.00 (round-trip) per person, or US$700.00 for four people. We need another US$250.00 to get to the place of the meeting, which is 2 hours from Brasilia. With another US$15.00 a day for meals for person, we get to US$250 to feed four people for five days. So, our minimum is US$1,250.00.

Our commitment is with the development of our community. If there is no sufficient money for none of us to go to Brasilia, the money raised with this campaign will be spent in the school. This is a very special place for us, because this is the place where our children learn our ways and get to be literate (and further on). We have a special material, developed by teachers of the community, in which we contemplate our traditional knowledge of nature, our language, our myths, and so on. In our school, we teach our children how to remain fighting for their rights, that being indigenous people is something that they should be proud of, and that they deserve to be respected. In this way, we believe that, using the money received with them is a continuation of the initial goal of it.

águas tupinambas


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