Indigenous Peoples Engage in Territorial Protection Dialogues

The event was hosted by CTI with support from USAID and the U.S. Department of the Interior

December, 2022/January, 2023 - The “Indigenous Dialogues for Territorial Protection” took place from November at the Penxwyj Hempejxà Timbira Teaching and Research Center, in Carolina, Maranhão. The event promoted knowledge sharing among Indigenous Peoples from Maranhão, northern Tocantins, and six US tribal nations. They discussed challenges, strategies, management and protection for Indigenous lands. 

Participants included representatives of several Indigenous Peoples namely: Timbira (Krahô, Apinayé, Krikati, Gavião Pyhcop Catiji, Apanjekrá—Canela, and Memortumré—Kanela); Guajajara—Tenetehara; Pueblo of Laguna (New Mexico); Quapaw Nation (Oklahoma); Anishinaabe-Ojibwe (Michigan); Huslia Tribe (Alaska); Cherokee Nation of Oklahoma; and Tolowa Dee-ni" Nation (California).

“I feel proud to have made a little contribution toward bringing this dialogue to life. Events such as this are important not only for Indigenous peoples, to enable them take care of their territories, the environment and conserve biodiversity; but also to the global community and the whole world. This is a struggle Indigenous peoples face every day,” said USAID/Brazil Mission Director, Ted Gehr.

The agenda featured thematic panels and roundtables to discuss the different contexts and challenges related to managing and protecting Indigenous lands. Topics included a vast array of environmental concepts, land management strategies, and resource protection approaches including political advocacy for Indigenous communities. Several historical similarities were identified in colonization and dispossession attempts of Indigenous territories in both countries, as well as several differences regarding land tenure, legislative relations with Nation-States, and accountability for territorial protection.

“It is important that we share the knowledge generated here. We believe we can support these groups here. I leave this meeting with hope in my heart, and I will pray for all of us every day. Listening to your struggles touches me in different ways because we went through the same experiences at some point in our history. I will continue to pray for your safety and your fight. Thank you for this opportunity," said Robert Romero, Conservation Law Enforcement Officer Consultant, Native American Fish & WildLife Society (NAFWS).

Territorial protection strategies were presented by various sectors, they included forest guardians, fire brigadiers, environmental agents, and academic researchers. Indigenous leaders also explored the impacts of exploitation of Indigenous lands through illegal mining and logging practices, livestock encroachment, conservation crimes, and agri-business violations.

"The ‘Brazil-US Indigenous Dialogues on Territorial Protection' offered us an unprecedented experience. Except for a few individual exchange visits, it was the first time that North American Indigenous leaders came to Brazil to participate in a meeting involving a significant group of Indigenous nations to discuss such a complex and important topic. Information exchanges were extremely enriching and productive. They explained the immense diversity of situations in Indigenous lands in Maranhão and Tocantins, as well as the situations in the Indigenous lands of the US, which are very different from the Brazilian reality," said Jaime Siqueira, CTI Executive Coordinator.

The North American Indigenous delegates visited the Capitão do Campo village in the Kraolândia Indigenous Land. They explored the rich heritage of the Krahô people and the pressures from agribusiness enterprises in the region. 

The event was hosted by the Indigenist Work Center (CTI) in partnership with the Wyty-Catë Organization of Timbira Communities of Maranhão and Tocantins, the Maranhão Indigenous Organizations Network (COAPIMA), the Maranhão Indigenous Women Network (AMIMA), the Native American Fish & WildLife Society (NAFWS), and the Population, Nature, and Society Institute (ISPN), with support from the United States Agency for International Development (USAID), the US Department of State, and the International Technical Assistance Program of the United States Department of the Interior (DOI /ITAP).