What Just Happened in Brazil? 370 Million Indigenous People Have Rights.


We live in an age where a special shoe can order pizza, an entire house can be controlled via a smartphone, cars can navigate without drivers and anything anyone ever wanted to know is a Google search away. We’re spoiled, we like it, and we welcome any new advances designed to further simplify our lives.

As we bask in the warm glow of our tanning beds, it is near impossible to fathom that according to a U.N. fact sheet, there are approximately 370 million indigenous people spread across 70 countries who reject humankind’s modern ways in favor of the more traditional lifestyle of their ancestors. They don’t want, or in some cases are not even aware of the internet. They don’t vacation in the south of France, and they don’t run to their neighborhood Winn-Dixie for a gallon of milk. They farm. They hunt. They live without electricity or running water, and despite their individual tribes being spread throughout various isolated regions of the world, they all share one common denominator. Their desire to be left alone.


Armed with hunting bows and razor sharp arrows, indigenous tribes in Brazil united in protest against being forced to surrender at least portions of the very ground that has maintained their livelihoods for generations. They claim they are being shoved out of the way to make way for modern agricultural processes that will be of no benefit to them whatsoever, and as indigenous as they may be, they still have rights.


Sixteen tribe members died in land conflicts last year when farmers and loggers forcefully attempted removing them. To tribal standards, this was a declaration of war, so they teamed up and took their fight to the capital city of Brasilia where 4000 of them vocalized their disdain of the government not doing more to protect them. When some protesters tried reaching a ramp that led to the Congress, police threw tear gas canisters and fired rubber bullets into the crowd. Protesters answered back with a volley of arrows.


Sonia Guajajara, one of the march’s coordinators, said, “We carried 200 coffins symbolizing the genocide and deaths of indigenous peoples at the hands of the authorities allied to agribusiness. This march symbolizes the crime the government, together with Parliament and the Justice Department, are committing against the rights of indigenous people”.


She said the violent police response did not even compare to the suffering of indigenous people in areas where deadly clashes continue over disputed land.

Whether or not these cries of protest are falling on deaf ears is anybody’s guess, but one thing is certain, the indigenous people of Brazil are taking their complaints to the streets of a society they otherwise care little about.


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