Brazil: April 19, Indigenous Peoples Day

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Approved in July 2022, Law 14.402/22 of the Brazilian parliament establishes April 19 as “Indigenous Peoples Day” – and no longer Indios Day – to celebrate the culture and heritage of these peoples. The measure adopted by the National Congress leaves aside the term “indios” (Indians), considered to be a prejudice against indigenous peoples.

For Dinamam Tuxá, executive coordinator of the Association of Indigenous Peoples of Brazil (Apib), these prejudices are reinforced by stereotypes that persist in parties and in school textbooks. This creates a racist scenario because these children grow up with the ideology of a native with straight hair, narrow eyes and reddish skin.

For Tuxá, Brazil has gone through a process of racial mixing, and the existence of indigenous peoples has been shaped by centuries of violence, forced acculturation, language deprivation, abuse, forced incorporation of indigenous peoples in a reality that does not belong to them, to renounce the demarcation of indigenous territories and to renounce political measures that favor the culture of indigenous peoples.

Fabrício Lyrio, professor of history at the Federal University of Bahia, points out that the arrival of the Portuguese led to a series of acts of violence against the indigenous peoples, which led to the genocide. While there were five million natives in Brazil in 1500, today there are less than one million. It is above all a symbolic violence of demarcation in a country where other peoples already lived. Both the deliberate violence of war, slavery and unplanned violence but which had devastating effects on the indigenous population, with the arrival of new infectious agents.

Catherine Mills Avatar