Human rights

10 messages from indigenous peoples in Brazil to the world

Brazilian indigenous are mobilized as the Supreme Court rules on land demarcation

In Brasilia, indigenous people light the Square of the Three Powers on Tuesday (25) in support of the Brazil’s Supreme Federal Court and against the “timeframe limitation”. - APIB

On the day the Brazilian Supreme Federal Court resumed the judgment that can define the future of indigenous peoples in the country, these peoples echo a message to the world. It was published by the Articulation of Indigenous Peoples of Brazil (Abip, in Portuguese) on Wednesday (25).

This Thursday (26), the Supreme Court resumes the judgment of the Xokleng case, which discuss the so-called "timeframe limitation" thesis. The 11 ministers of the Supreme Court have the future of Brazil’s indigenous lands demarcation in their hands.

To reinforce the importance of this judgment and to show how indigenous peoples relate to their lands, Apib has prepared the list below with 10 messages from indigenous peoples in Brazil to the world:

1) The history of the indigenous peoples of Brazil does not begin in 1500, nor in 1988

The original peoples arrived on this land [currently known as "Brazil"] even before this notion of time was invented. We are heirs to the first feet that stepped on this land. Our time cannot be measured or determined by clocks and calendars that try to ignore our ancestral trajectory.

2) Our lands are our lands, not a source of profit

Unlike the way landlords, squatters and exploiters deal with the land they usurped and destroyed, we, the indigenous peoples, have a deep, spiritual and ancestral relationship with our land. Without land, there is no life for us. We do not explore our territory for profit but to feed ourselves, maintain our culture and preserve our traditions and spirituality.

3) We guard the forests and this is good for everyone

More than once, indigenous peoples were recognized as the best guardians of forests. Our territories are preserved. On indigenous land, the forest remains standing, the water is pure, and the fauna keeps alive. And this benefits the whole world, especially when climate and environmental crisis threaten the very survival of humanity.

Read more: The burning of a statue brought to light the permanence of Brazil’s history of colonization

4) Our diversity and ancestry unite us

The enemies of indigenous peoples try at all costs to build up artificial ruptures and oppositions among us. However, they don't know that our ancestry is stronger and more potent than any division they might try to impose on us.

5) Most of the land is in the hands of landlords – and they are destroying it!

The argument that there is “too much land for few indigenous individuals” has proven fallacious time and again. Actually, most of the land in Brazil is aimed at agribusiness. A small portion is indigenous land, but those ratified as indigenous land are preserved!

6) Our fight is also for the future of humanity

We, indigenous peoples, have a culture of alterity and acceptance. Our fight for our lands is also for environmental preservation. We are fully aware of our role as protectors of forests and biodiversity. We are willing to share our knowledge for the good of all.

7) We, indigenous people, have been fighting for our lives for 521 years. This is a sign that something is very wrong

Since the invasion of our lands, we have had to fight daily to survive: to diseases brought in from outside – like Covid-19, which killed more than 1,100 parentes [a designation used among indigenous people meaning relatives] – against genocide, against attacks. Even today, we have to fight for our lives, which means that, for a lot of people, our lives don't matter. This must end immediately!

8) We have a project to the world and we want to be heard!

We have accumulated millenary technologies of production. It gives us conditions to think of a project of a society without inequalities and based on well-being, care for the land, and free coexistence among peoples. Our project guarantees food free of poison and produces without devastating. The world needs a project like this to save us all from destruction!

9) We are here and here we will remain

We survived the colonial attack; we survived genocide; we survived diseases. Our people are resilient, and even in the worst conditions, we knew how to protect ourselves and stay alive. We will stay alive, and we'll fight for our rights. We hope that more and more people around the world understand that our lives matter and that indigenous peoples want, need, and demand a full and peaceful life!

10) Brazil is an indigenous land! The Mother of Brazil is indigenous!

For 521 years, they have been trying to erase the indigenous ancestry of this land they called Brazil. We stepped on this ground before everyone else. We take care of this land; we adore these forests; we worship the millenary ancestry of this territory. And no matter how hard they try to hide it, they will never succeed because we are many, we are strong, and we are proud of our history!