ON its January issue, 2014, National Geographic published a detailed article on the Kayapó, the Amazonian tribe which is fighting to defend its territory and lifestyle. Below, there is a brief summary of the article. For further details please refer to the full article.
The Kayapó live in a an area as big as Iceland that includes contiguous tracts of lands demarcated by official boundaries. The reserve is one of the largest protected tropical rainforests in the world and is inhabited by 9,000 indigenous people who follow a subsistence lifestyle in 44 villages connected by rivers and trails.
In 1900, eleven years after the birth of the Republic of Brazil, the Kayapó’s population was made of 4,000 people. By the end of the 1970s the Kayapó’s population decreased to 1,300 people. Nevertheless, the Kayapó went on in struggling for preserving the control and autonomy over their land. Thanks to their warrior’s abilities, the Kayapó have succeeded in driving out illegal miners and ranchers. Over the course of the fighting, the heads of the tribes have acquired language skills and gained the support of major environmental organizations. In 1988, the Kayapó have greatly contributed to make indigenous rights recognized in the new Brazilian Constitution; in 1989, they strongly opposed the construction of the Kararaô dam. However, then the project reappeared with a new name: "hydroelectric complex of Belmonte." The construction of the complex began in 2011 and is planned to become operative in 2015. The environmental impact is expected to be devastating.
In 1953 the Kayapó were made of different tribes in conflict with each other. The missionaries have helped to pacify them. According to some tribal leaders, the situation has improved. However, they also show a deep regret for the fact that the young Kayapó are increasingly influenced by Western culture and losing their usages, skills and traditions.
Source: LTEconomy elaboration
LTEconomy, February 20th 2014
From: “La lotta dei Kayapó”, National Geographic, January 2014