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Victory in Chief Raoni's fight for the demarcation of the ancestral territory of the Kayapó people

Image : Matthieu Suprin

Since the 1990s, the great chief Raoni Metuktire has been tirelessly fighting for the recognition and demarcation of the "Kapot Nhinoré" territory. On July 27, 2023, by a fortunate twist of fate, a significant milestone was reached in this struggle just as, in response to his solemn call, all the chiefs of the Amazon gathered in Piaraçu to demonstrate their unity and determination to preserve their lands and cultures. Indeed, the long-awaited identification study of this territory, necessary for its official recognition and demarcation, has finally been approved by the National Foundation of Indigenous Peoples (Fundação Nacional do Índio, FUNAI).

Kapot Nhinoré, the last unprotected land of the Kayapó people, is not only the birthplace of Raoni but also the sanctuary of the Kayapó, home to the ancestral burial ground of his people, including his father's grave. The preservation of this territory holds profound significance and is vital for the survival and honor of its people.

However, the path to full recognition and physical demarcation of this indigenous land is still fraught with challenges. After being excluded from the initial demarcation process of Kayapó territories in 1993, serious threats have loomed over its integrity, whether due to illegal mining or deforestation linked to intensive agriculture. Moreover, demarcating indigenous land entails a rigorous process. Even the subsequent identification of Kapot Nhinoré's boundaries has required many years. The territory identification study involves anthropological, historical, and environmental research to establish its traditional and ancestral occupation, as well as the cultural relevance of indigenous communities in the region. Also, new comprehensive consultations with the affected communities must now take place. Finally, negotiations with various non-indigenous stakeholders occupying and exploiting the region may further delay the official registration and physical demarcation of the Kapot Nhinoré territory as indigenous land.

The approval of the identification study for the demarcation of the Kapot Ninhoré indigenous land already represents a significant advancement in the struggle of Brazil's indigenous communities to preserve their lands and cultural heritage. It aligns with the broader process of recognizing indigenous lands, which was revitalized by the government of Lula following his new presidency in January 2023 and culminated in the recognition of no fewer than seven new indigenous territories in his first six months in office.


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