Funai President: “it is essential to reduce prejudice against indigenous peoples”


Funai President: “it is essential to reduce prejudice against indigenous peoples”

Agency Brazil

Publication: 8/25/2012 18:56 Update:

The indigenous population in Brazil increased according to the population census 2010, the Brazilian Institute of geography and statistics (IBGE). Results were expected by the President of the National Indian Foundation (Funai), Marta Maria of Amaral Azevedo. She is a social scientist and demógrafa specialized in indigenous population (is licensed activities of researcher and Professor at the population studies Center at the State University of Campinas-Unicamp).
According to Marta, the IBGE perfected the logistics of data collection and the methodology of verification of information. In addition, there has been, since the Constitution of 1988, improvements in indigenous policies that resulted in increased quality of life and lower mortality. Despite the breakthrough, the President of Funai points to the risks of land disputes and intolerance with indigenous people. The following are the main excerpts from an exclusive interview granted to the Agency, the first since Brazil took possession (last April). 
Agency Brazil – the census recorded indigenous population increases. This surprised?
Marta Azevedo-what happened in the 2010 census is that, in addition to ask race, skin color for all indigenous people, if asked to which ethnic belongs and which languages you speak. There is nothing new, the phenomenon is due to a demographic recovery of indigenous peoples in Brazil.
Marta-there was in fact a demographic recovery since the years 1960-1970, being that we saw it in the Census of 1991. Before that, has no way to measure. In General, the entire human population, when there are serious losses, there is a demographic recovery. In Brazil, the estimates of the population of 16 century vary from 3 million to 7 million, there is not exactly a work of historical demography. But, based on work of other regions of Latin America, this estimate, and were more than a thousand people and, for sure, more than a thousand languages. As for the increase in the number of ethnic groups, many anthropologists have written about this regarding self-identification phenomena of people who belong to a particular people, but which in recent years have passed not to declare himself as belonging to this people and precisely throughout this phenomenon of demographic recovery and valorisation of ethnic identity. Are people who were declaring as caboclos, Browns, and they declare themselves as indigenous peoples. It also has, yet, another phenomenon, is the Declaration of ethnicities that anthropologists considered previously as if it were a subgroup.
Apr – also improved the coverage of the Census?
Marta-much improved. In 2007, a working group between the IBGE and Funai along with the support of the Brazilian Association of population studies (Abep), the Brazilian Association of Anthropology (ABA), and other institutions to make coincide the Cartographic meshes of indigenous lands with the Census sectors. Why the results have come out with a list of indigenous lands and maps. Everything is available also on the website of IBGE
Apr – the demarcation of indigenous lands after the Constitution of 1998 helped?
Marta-look, for sure the land politically demarcated, assured and effectively prepared to these indigenous peoples brings a better quality of life for this population, brings a security, the possibility of a future. The health care service of indigenous peoples, which has been improving in recent years, also impacts infant mortality indicators, which has been dropping.
Apr – But if we compare the situation of the indigenous population, the indigenous population, as well as health care, schooling is very unfavourable to indigenous …
Marta-black and indigenous populations are those that have the worst quality of life indicators That everything has a number of factors that will affect and, for sure, one of which is the safety of Earth.
APR-and the question of indigenous education?
Marta-This right to a specific school and differentiated in their own village, having a teacher who speaks your language is a very recent thing, 90 years here. If we look at the age profile and the number of students enrolled in the school census, which counts every year indigenous schools, enrollment, language of instruction …, we sure got a lot of child from 1st to 4th grade, and then decreases dramatically from 5th to 8th. Few people with access to the second part of the elementary school, very little people with access to secondary education, and less access to higher education. We have to ensure increasingly this access. I think that is increasing the number of high schools in indigenous lands, but the quality leaves much to be desired.
Apr-why leaves to be desired?
Marta-often lack training for technicians from municipal and State departments of education, because many times the indigenous school is far, far away. The State Department of Education does not have to go there to make monitoring, does not have a team to do such monitoring.
Apr-Lack qualified teacher?
Marta-indigenous teachers have been trained in courses of indigenous magistérios. This has been done by Member States with the support of the Ministry of education and with the participation of universities. Many universities are involved in the process of training of teachers, but still lack a lot. The population is growing and each year have to open new schools.
Apr-returning to the census. What explains the increase of Indians in São Paulo?
Marta-In São Paulo, more than 90% of the population are indigenous autodeclarada out of indigenous lands. What does this mean? Indigenous are autodeclararam, but who are living in cities, or else in indigenous lands yet to be demarcated.
Apr-are indigenous who migrated?
Marta-Until the 2000 census, many were people from other States, mostly in the Northeast. But we do not know what is the profile of this population, does not yet have exact studies found on the profile of this population. Who are these people that if be indigenous, they do not recognize an ethnicity? It was the first time I wondered about ethnicity.Apr-somehow this data helps to fix or improve the Funai policies? What are the priorities?
Marta-Funai priorities remain the same: to promote and defend the rights of indigenous peoples in Brazil, that is, has to do with land demarcation, marking identification of land, territorial protection, surveillance, environmental management of territories, has to do with a discussion with the indigenous peoples who are on indigenous lands already demarcated or in the process of demarcation. What are they going to do with this earth? What are the alternatives for the future of the population in these lands? I think the big turn of Funai, the big change there has been in recent years is that Funai has no more of that vision that he had assistance.
Apr-behind this paternalistic vision, had an idea to integrate indigenous cultures to the central culture, say so. We are going through a time of conflict in several areas. It is by this clash of paradigms?
Marta-I think has different types of conflicts. I think the change of paradigms that occurred in the late 1980 with the Constitution, but also in terms of vision of Brazilian society, is that indigenous peoples are of that part of the territory of South America, are not a transient category. Indigenous peoples are here, are part of the Brazilian society, cultural heritage of Brazil which is a multi-ethnic country. In the years 1970, it was very common to most people-including teachers of USP [University of São Paulo], where I I studied social sciences-to say that indigenous peoples were doomed to disappearance. Until the years 1970, demarcate indigenous land was demarcate a village. And demarcate a village or piece of land for a given population meant a reservation with Indians who speak the same language and who live near can be placed inside. The idea was to demarcate the village and not the space for cultural or physical reproduction, which is absolutely fundamental to the survival of this population. It is very important to the existence of forests, water, animals, mountains, an area culturally easier to live … It is not necessary to have a car, refrigerator or computer of the year to be happy.
Apr-this does not mean that the Indian may not have wireless internet …
Marta-they have every right to dialogue, to have computers, trucks like any Brazilian citizen. But they also have right to live in another way, not wanting to say that are delayed or that is not developed. We listen too “those Amazon there are still in the stone age.” Quite the contrary, they are much more advanced than us with another way to live. This discussion which would be very important for us not to Indians and learn also what our society, culture need indeed. This paradigm has not yet changed.
Apr-This certain intolerance against indigenous peoples and those conflicts that we have seen in 21 century lay land that the Brazilian has as chacteristic warmth?
Marta-I’m sure that foreigners have realized that the Brazilians are not as cordial as well, and these issues of violence in Brazil are also placed with non-indigenous. We have issues of violence in major cities, a mortality of young men by external causes in very large cities. Now, in the point of view of improvements the relations of non-indigenous with indigenous here in Brazil is absolutely essential for us to implement that law that demands that non-indigenous schools study the history of indigenous peoples, which even today we see that schools are teaching to children and young people that the indigenous are in a hollow, who were lazy. This to me is one of the most important things we have to do in this Government, prioritize the training of children and young people. Decrease the bias is a fundamental thing.

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