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Rio+20 Demanding Accountability

“Sustainable development is based on the principle that the right to development must be fulfilled so as to equitably meet developmental and environmental needs of present and future generations.” —1992 Rio Earth Summit

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"All the news..."

For two years CS Quarterly has identified global themes important for an understanding of the current situation of tribal groups and ethnic minorities and has brought the urgent situations confronting specific groups to the attention of our readers. While our approach has been well received, many points of view are excluded from the thematic section of the Quarterly and many urgent stories go unreported.

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"I Fight Because I Am Alive": An interview with Davi Kopenawa Yanomami

ALARMED BY REPORTS OF THE desperate situation of the Yanomami of Brazil, the American Anthropological Association resolved to take the unprecedented step of appointing a special commission to investigate matters and recommend actions in support of the Yanomami. Davi Kopenawa Yanomami, the chief spokesman and leader of the Brazilian Yanomami, served as a consultant to the commission; this interview was recorded as his contribution to its support.

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We, indigenous peoples Juruna, Xipaya, Arara of the Volta Grande, Kuruaia and Xicrin of the region of Altamira, Guajajara, Gavião, Krikati, Awa Guajá, Kayapo of Mato Grosso and Pará, Tembé, Aikeora, Suruí, Xavante, Karintiana, Puruborá, Kassupá, Wajãpi, Karajá, Apurinã, Makuxi, Nawa of Acre, Mura from Amazonas, Tupaiu, Borari, Tapuia, Arapiuns, Pataxó, Tupiniquim, Javaé, Kaingang, Xucuru, Marubu, Maiuruna and Mundukuru from the states of Amazonas and Pará and from the other states of the Amazon region and Brazil, farmers and riverine peoples

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"Sharing" the Wealth? Minerals, oil, timber, and now medicines and. genetic wealth-all are fair game for governments and corporations

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"What You Don't Know, Won't Hurt You."

There is an old saying, "What you don't know, won't hurt you." Too often, it has been proven false.

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A Brief History of the Indians of Southern Bahia, Brazil

The area between the Colonia (or Cachoeira) and Pardo rivers, in the municipalities of Itajú do Colônia, Pau-Brasil and Camaca, has been occupied by the Pataxó-Hahahai and Baena Indians from the time of the earliest records of the region (1610) to the present.

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A Project for the Decade

The 1994 session of the United Nations Working Group on Indigenous Populations, like the year itself, may be a turning point for the international indigenous movement.

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A Superportable Immersion Cooler for Vaccination Work in Remote Areas

The Refrigeration Problem Vaccination offers enormous benefits to tribal peoples in many areas. This is especially true among South American Indians, where, for example, mortality rates of 50% or more have resulted from measles epidemics. Vaccination can provide protection from measles and other diseases. However, vaccination work in remote areas such as the Amazon Basin is difficult - the vaccine must be kept cold in hot, dense forests without electricity or other energy sources.

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RIO DE JANEIRO — The indigenous leaders had a plan. They would unite for a last, desperate stand against the mammoth dam threatening their lands in the Amazon, vowing to give their lives, if necessary, to prevent it from being built.

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Amazonian Indians Participate at UN

Indians from five Amazonian countries presented their cases at UN meetings in July/August.

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Arteries for Global Trade Threaten Amazonia

Spanning over 7 million km.2 the Amazon Basin is home to the world's largest tropical rainforest and contains nearly half the planet's terrestrial biodiversity and one-fifth of all freshwater. Before the arrival of Europeans, between 7 and 15 million people from an estimated 2,000 tribes were believed to live in the Amazon Basin. Today approximately 400 indigenous groups remain with an estimated population of 2.5 million.

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Ayahuasca: Shamanism Shared Across Cultures

Ayahuasca is a sacred brew that has a long history of ritual use among indigenous groups of the Upper Amazon. It is made from the stem of the ayahuasca vine (Banisteriopsis caapi, or in Quechua, “the vine of the ancestors”) and the leaves of either the chacruna (Psychotria viridis) or chagropanga (Diplopterys cabrerana).

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After decades of protests and battles, the proposed hydroelectric Belo Monte Dam was given written approval by Brazil’s president President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva. The dam is to surpass the Three Gorges Dam in China in size and volume.  The hydroelectric project on the mouth of the Xingu River will devastate vast regions and ecosystems in the Amazonian state of Para and displace more than 50,000 Indigenous people.

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Brave New World or More of the Same?

Twenty five years ago it was widely assumed that indigenous peoples were dying out; that they were either being physically extinguished by disease and the savage onslaughts of the modem world or that they were abandoning their indigenous identities and disappearing into the mainstream of the societies that surrounded them. This assumption was quite wrong.

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* Brazil agency OKs start-up of huge dam in Amazon * Consortium has go-ahead to clear forest, start site SAO PAULO, Jan 26 (Reuters) - Brazil's environment agency approved on Wednesday the start-up of the Belo Monte power dam, a controversial $17 billion project in the Amazon that has drawn criticism from native Indians and conservationists. The agency, Ibama, issued licenses to the consortium in charge of Belo Monte to start the construction site and to clear 238.1 hectares (588 acres) of forest land, about the size of Monaco.

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Brazil Restructures Its Indian Agency

On March 19, Brazilian Interior Minister Ronaldo Costa Couto took the country's indigenists and the staff of FUNAI by surprise; the previous night he had signed Decree no. 92.470, authorizing the decentralization of FUNAI and transferring its major functions-notably those of identifying and demarcating indigenous lands for reservations, and making decisions about exploitation of natural resources on indigenous lands-to regional offices.

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For the past three years, the Federation of the Indigenous Organizations of the Negro River (FOIRN) has been responsible for the health of the 20,000 Indians in its constituent region. Because of accumulated debts with medical suppliers after repeated nonpayment of bills, FOIRN has decided to cease all activities in the region. This announcement was made to Ricardo Chagas, Director of the Department of Indigenous Health, on June 2. The organization is unable to pay the salaries of its staff of over 200 people.

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Brazil: An Interview with Silvio Barros II

Silvio Barros II is the secretary of tourism for the state of Paraná, Brazil. Q: What is your definition of ecotourism and the role the ecolodge plays within that definition?

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In an attempt to provide easy access to impartial information about the deforestation of the Amazon, The National Institute of Space Research (INPE) has launched a new website. This site provides information based on the digital records of satellite images, including LANDSAT images and maps of the deforestation. The site allows to spatially localize areas of drastic tree loss; an aide that will permit a more comprehensive analysis of the factors behind deforestation and help develop policies to protect against further forest loss.

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Non-governmental organizations providing healthcare for the Yanomami worry that the Brazilian government’s decision to take over indigenous health care will threaten the survival of the Yanomami, who face serious health risks from contact with illegal gold miners working on their lands. Diseases from the miners have killed hundreds of Yanomami, who demand the removal of miners from their territory.

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Brazil: Land Policy and the Indigenous Movement

Brazilian Indians have taken advantage of the process of abertura ("opening," the process of political democratization initiated by President Joao Figueiredo in 1979) to make significant political gains. But landowners and developers have not stood by idly, and the military government's growing tendency to see and administer land as a national security issue bodes ill for Indian interests.

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The Council of the Yanomami and Ye'kuana Special Indigenous Health District submitted a letter on June 30 to Brazilian Ministers of Justice and Environment demanding expulsion of gold miners that have raided their Amazon reservation.

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On Thursday October 18, the President of Brazil’s Federal Supreme Court  (STF), Minister Carlos Ayres Britto, overruled the decision to suspend the removal of illegal occupants from theXavante Territory of Marawãitsede. Tserewamriwe, a leader from Marawãitsede, applauded the decision and stated, “Because of our struggle, the [court] decided in our favor.  Now we want to recuperate all that was lost: our roots, our trees and animals.  We will plant our gardens to nourish our families.” 

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Brazilian Indians Find Their Voice

Mario Juruna, a Shavante from Namunkurá in the state of Mato Grosso, has become the first Indian ever elected to congress in Brazil. He left his native state to run for ejection in Rio de Janeiro and was voted in as a Federal Deputy on the ticket of the PDT (Democratic Workers' Party) last November.

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The on-again-off-again Belo Monte dam has been halted once again by a judge in Brazil after being the go-ahead by Brazil's president last year. The gigantic dam would flood some 190 square miles of rainforest and displace multiple Indigenous communities, who have been protesting the dam for years. The judge's ruling cited environmental concerns rather than the human rights issues, but if the ruling holds (previous injunctions have been overturned), it will still benefit the Indigenous Peoples of the area.

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Brazilian Presidential Decree 1775 Poses Threat

The signing of Decree 1775 by Brazilian President Fernando Henrique Cardoso on Jan. 8 of this year marked a dramatic reversal of Brazilian policy toward the protection of human rights of indigenous peoples and the natural environment throughout the country, but especially in the Amazon region where most indigenous lands are located.

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In December, Brazil’s Indian Agency (Fundação Nacional do Índio) approved delimitation of the 146,000 hectare Wedezé Indigenous Reserve in the state of Mato Grosso. Occupied by the Xavante people since the mid-1800s, the area was illegally sold to private interests in the 1950s and to accommodate its new owners the Indigenous residents were resettled elsewhere in the 1970s. The reserve includes the site of the historical village São Domingos, where Cultural Survival’s founder David Maybury-Lewis did ethnographic research in the 1950s.

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In December, Brazil’s Indian Agency (Fundação Nacional do Índio) approved delimitation of the 146,000 hectare Wedezé Indigenous Reserve in the state of Mato Grosso. Occupied by the Xavante people since the mid-1800s, the area was illegally sold to private interests in the 1950s and to accommodate its new owners the Indigenous residents were resettled elsewhere in the 1970s. The reserve includes the site of the historical village São Domingos, where Cultural Survival’s founder David Maybury-Lewis did ethnographic research in the 1950s.

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On October 1, 2013 hundreds of Indigenous and non-Indigenous protesters gathered in Brazil’s capital, Brasilia, to challenge a constitutional change that would allow encroachment by agribusinesses and extractive industries on Indigenous owned land.

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