Indians actually get to keep their land

“By 10 votes to one, judges ruled to maintain an Indian reservation in the northern border state of Roraima as a single, continuous territory.

It means that a small group of outside rice farmers with plantations in the area will now have to leave.

The head of the court also accused the government of failing the Indians.

This was the third occasion the court had met to reach a decision on the question, and the delays appeared to be just another indication of the sensitivity involved, the BBC’s Gary Duffy reports from Brazil.

The Raposa Serra do Sol reservation, which stretches more than 1.7m hectares (4.2m acres) along the Venezuelan border, is home to up to 20,000 Amazonian Indians.

Indigenous leaders had feared a ruling against them would have signalled to land-owners and loggers that it was acceptable to invade their territory.”

More on this story here at BBC. For the story which preceded it, go here. Unfortunately, in addition to rice farmers and surely logging companies, there’s also gold miners illegally mining gold from indigeneous territories, such as in this 25 minute documentary on the subject.

Possible Precedent for Indigenous Tribes

An Indian of the Amazonian Koruba tribe protests in Brasilia on 10 December

“In one part of the court room, in among lawyers, politicians and other activists, sat members of Brazil’s indigenous tribes – some dressed in traditional headgear with tribal paint on their faces.

On the other, a group of rice farmers and their leaders – less distinctive in their clothing but, it seemed, no less determined.

Map showing location of reserve

Both groups were there to hear Brazil’s Supreme Court deliver a landmark decision over the rights of the country’s indigenous people.

The court had been asked to rule on whether an indigenous reservation, which stretches over 1.7m hectares (4.2m acres) in the Amazonian state of Roraima, should remain a single unbroken territory.

The area, known as Raposa Serra do Sol, which translates roughly as “land of the fox and hill of the sun”, is home to up to 20,0000 indigenous people and was declared an official indigenous reservation in 2005.

Indian leaders viewed the case as setting a crucial precedent regarding the protection of their rights and ancestral lands, with implications for all of Brazil’s indigenous communities.

Their fear, they said, was that a ruling against them would be a signal to land grabbers, prospectors and loggers that it would be acceptable to invade their territory.

An adverse judgement would also create a set of “islands”, weakening the whole concept of an indigenous community, they said.”

The rest of the article can be seen here at BBC.