Ranchers threaten Enawene Nawe Indians

March 17, 2008

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A group of armed men have walked into an Enawene Nawe fishing camp in the Brazilian state of Mato Grosso, and threatened the Indians with reprisals unless they leave. When the Indians asked who they were, two said they were policemen. The others identified themselves as landowners from the area.

Lalowalohiene, one of the Enawene Nawe present, said, ‘We heard the sounds of gunshots. They fired lots of shots. I asked, why do you have revolvers? We are not bandits. We Enawene are just fishing on the river for our ritual that’s all.’

As is customary, there were children at the fishing dam, participating in the ritual known as ‘yankwa’ where the Enawene Nawe spend several months in fishing camps trapping and smoking fish before returning to their village.

Kameroseene Enawene Nawe said, ‘How can they show guns to our children? This is very wrong. We are all sad.’

The fishing camp is in an area known as Rio Preto. The Enawene Nawe have been lobbying the Brazilian government to recognize their ownership of this area, which is of huge economic and ritual importance to them because it is rich in fish, nuts and genipapo fruit.

However, a group of landowners, who are progressively invading and logging the area, obtained a court injunction last year preventing the Enawene Nawe from building their fishing camps there. A judge is due to rule on the legality of the injunction.

A group of Enawene Nawe has travelled to the state capital Cuiabá to meet with public prosecutors and the government’s Indian Affairs department, FUNAI, to ask them to take action against the landowners and to uphold their right to fish on the rivers.

Enawene Nawe