Recognition of Indian land may be limited

January 17, 2006

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The president of FUNAI, Brazil's Indian Affairs department, has implied that Brazil may start to limit recognition of Indian territory because Indians already have enough land.

FUNAI president Mercio Pereira Gomes is reported to have told Reuters last week that the process of demarcating Indians' land and returning it to them was probably nearing its end, because Indian territories already make up twelve percent of Brazil's total land area.

‘It's a lot of land. So far, there are no limits on their new land claims, but it is coming to a point when the Supreme Court will have to define a limit,' Gomes told Reuters.

Only five Indian territories were officially recognised in 2005. At this rate, it will be at least 45 more years before all Brazilian Indians see their land recognised.

Before the arrival of the Europeans, there were at least 1,000 different tribes in Brazil, with an estimated total population of 5 – 13 million people. Today's Indian population is around 350,000. Many are still losing their land to cattle ranching, mining, soya plantations, industrial projects and colonisation by settlers.

Brazilian Indigenous People