Fundacao Nacional do Indio - National Foundation for Indians - is the Brazilian official agency in charge of protecting indian interests and protecting their culture. FUNAI has the legal duty and rights to accompany the lives of indians all across Brazil, and because of this it is the best source of information about Brazilian indians.
FUNAI estimates that there are today about 345,000 indians in Brazil, grouped in about 215 small societies (tribes).
for a brief summarization (in Portuguese) of the statistics on indians in Brazil.
Check out also the
section for information in Portuguese about Brazilian indians.
Chapter VIII (arts. 231 and 232) of
Title VIII (The Social Order)
of Brazilian Constitution is dedicated to the Indians.
Article 232 gives the indians juridical capability to defend their rights before Courts, with the assistance of Public Prosecutors. Formerly, as a rule (with exceptions), indians needed a tutor to represent them in any Justice claim.
Article 231 determines that the Union must demarcate indian reserves; strict rules must be observed, so as to guarantee that the indians can keep their traditions within the reserves; several special measures are taken to protect both indians and their lands.
Further protection measures are listed by Law nr. 6001, known as the
Statute of Indians
Indians in society
Brazilian indians are much less integrated to society than North and South American indians.
The indian communities still represent a large proportion of certain South American countries, like Bolivia, Equador and Peru; so, indian traditions are protected by the laws and the indian interests are satisfied by the economic agents.
In Brazil, indians represent about 0,2% (two thousandths) of the population; the majority of indians is still living out of cities, and very few reach superior education.
Even though the indian reserved areas are protected from third parties, the indians don't have privileges in exploring their lands. All economic activity conducted by indians or within their reserves must be overseen by FUNAI. Unlike the north american indians, who have special licenses for, among other activities, establish and explore casinos in their reserves, Brazilian indians have no economic privileges. Exploration of mineral resources, common in indian reserves, depends on government authorizations (by force of article 20, item IX, of Constitution, all mineral resources, including those of the subsoil, are property of the Union).
Where the Brazilian indians live.
The site ethnologue.com, which surveys the languages of the world, created this map telling where the Brazilian indians live; notice that, actually, some of these tribes are extinct already; check out this page which explains how many indians still speak their original languages, and which indian languages are no longer spoken.
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